Readers write

Even some 'hawks' want military base closures

Your April 12 article "Defense priority No. 1: military readiness," correctly illuminates the broad strategy and spending issues facing the Bush administration. However, not only "doves" recognize that new rounds of base closures will effectively reduce excess infrastructure and provide resources for more important military needs.

Vietnam veteran Sen. John McCain and Sen. Carl Levin, the ranking members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, have sponsored legislation authorizing two new rounds of base closures in 2003 and 2005.

Sen. John Warner, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has publicly acknowledged the need to revisit base closures in the face of a 23 percent excess in infrastructure. Even President Bush in his budget outline introduced in February took the opportunity to mention the necessity of closing excess bases.

Regardless of the size of the defense budget, there is no room for waste and inefficiency. Closing or realigning bases works to ensure that the nation's military has adequately balanced infrastructure with the needs of the fighting force.

Alise Valene Frye Washington

Justice is key to Yugoslavia's healing

In her April 12 opinion piece "Help Yugoslavia heal," Helena Cobban calls for the United States to grant Serbia financial aid and devise a Marshall-like plan "to help all the peoples of former Yugoslavia heal." She is concerned with how to help "Serbia's fledgling democracy thrive and prosper" and overlooks the facts that democracy was never absent in Serbia and that Slobodan Milosevic was democratically elected twice during the 1990s to launch his genocidal wars in the Balkans.

Ms. Cobban's claim that "The question of Milosevic's future has become yesterday's news" is both insensitive and baseless. Let us not forget, for example, that Mr. Milosevic and his fellow war criminals masterminded and perpetrated the mass killing and rape of over 200,000 innocent people in Bosnia. For the victims, these criminals can become "yesterday's news" only after the Balkan wound has been properly cleansed. Cobban's idea of healing without justice is, therefore, bad.

Salah Ezz Cairo, Egypt

Crediting Truman's wisdom

I was surprised to see Alvin S. Felzenberg, in his March 16 column "James Madison, the clearest thinker," attribute one of my favorite Harry Truman quotes to Ronald Reagan.

The saying: "There's no limit to what a man can accomplish if he does not mind who gets the credit," was one of Truman's favorite sayings, as discussed in the biography by David McCullough.

Given the sentiment expressed in the quote, I doubt that Truman would have minded his saying being lifted. I think proper credit should be given to the modest man from Missouri, who is now recognized as one of our greatest and most effective presidents.

Jerry Weaver Wichita, Kan.

Snowmobiling an affront to wilderness

It is interesting that you chose a picture of a snowmobiler to accompany your March 13 article "Drilling in Rockies sharpens split over wilderness vs. oil." Many of us consider snowmobiling to be an affront to the wilderness (not as much as drilling for oil, clearly, but still not a good thing) because of noise pollution, exhaust from the engine, etc. Why not show someone truly enjoying (and not destroying) the mountains, such as a cross-country skier or snowshoer?

Karen Jacot Brighton, Mass.

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