Gadfly for Mayor
Editor: Sen. Julian L. Lapides is considering running for mayor of Baltimore City. Although some may view the senator from Bolton Hill as a legislative gadfly and not a serious candidate, the people of Baltimore should pay close attention to what the senator has to say.
As a member of the House of Delegates from 1963 to 1967 and a member of the Senate since 1967, Senator Lapides is one politician who has the expertise to address Baltimore City's budget problems because he knows how to talk dollars and sense.
Editor: So you think Superintendent Ray Keech's budget for the Harford County Schools is "unrealistic?"
Our children try to work in classrooms where there are 27, 30, even 36 students for every teacher. The elementary schools lack any formal art curriculum or qualified specialists to teach it.
The problems engendered by this void are clearly evident by the time children attend middle school. Outdated climate controls force children to study in classrooms whose temperatures routinely rise to 100 degrees and higher in late spring.
Those underpaid, experienced teachers lauded for their production of high-achievers under such circumstances are being forced to apply to schools with adequate salary structures, because those teachers are also breadwinners.
Those same experienced teachers with each passing day spend less time teaching and more time mediating social, medical, economic and disciplinary crises. And the fact that Harford County can expect an enormous influx of new students over the next few years makes the future look grim indeed.
Harford County residents, politicians and administrators have prided themselves on their frugality in such matters in the past. Their approach has obviously been penny wise and pound foolish.
You are correct to point out that Harford County has a narrow tax base and inadequate commercial revenues. The county can look forward to nothing better if the community thinks it will attract new businesses, investments and wealthy residents with overcrowded, understaffed schools that teach outdated curricula with inadequate materials in rotting physical plants.
Dr. Keech, the teachers, the students and the parents of Harford County are not "unrealistic." We know what the future will demand.
The Sun is being wildly unrealistic if it thinks that we can continue sacrificing our children and their educations to political exigencies.
Ellen B. Cutler.
Priorities at Home
Editor: I am one of the minority that doesn't support the war in the Middle East. President Bush's policy is specious at best, and ignores the reality that war has never solved a problem or led to lasting peace.
If liberating people from oppression is such a priority for George Bush, why doesn't he put a half a million people to work in the inner cities to liberate the homeless and drug-oppressed of this country? Their plight presents a much more clear and present threat to this nation's security and prosperity. And resolving those domestic crises stands a much better chance of achieving peace than sending armies into the Middle East.
Eve B. Scheffenacker.
Editor: I am deeply concerned about all the negative attitudes toward anti-war protesters.
I am not yet a protester, though I am vehemently opposed to this and most wars. I support the men and women we have stationed overseas. I pray for their safety every day.
On the other hand I do not blindly support the commander-in-chief in this endeavor. I feel he committed the United States to a situation with consequences he did not completely fathom.
My heart is with the troops. I support the troops, but not the war. Remember it is possible to be pro-American and anti-war.
Joshua B. Taylor.
Editor: Referring to the letter of Donald Klein published in The Sun on Feb. 1, it seems to me that we Americans cannot afford to be too self-righteous.
It is true that the Germans supplied Iraq with chemicals with which to make weapons, but it also true that the United States supplied Iraq with other forms of military technology and that Saddam Hussein was considered an ally during the war between Iraq and Iran.
Instead of venting our anger at others we must begin to discuss globally how to prevent this sort of thing in the future. Military sales should be outlawed. Every day that this war continues makes it more obvious that we must all learn to live together.
I hope Mr. Klein will reconsider his decision not to purchase anything made in Germany. (Would that, by the way, include the music of Bach, Beethoven and Brahms?)
Ignoring Air and Land Tactics
Editor: Peter D. Zimmerman's bleak scenarios of massive Iraqi air strikes on allied forces in the event of a land attack into Iraq and Kuwait ("The Case of the Missing Air Force," Jan. 23) demonstrates a profound ignorance of modern air and land tactics.
In an effort to discredit U.S. policy, Mr. Zimmerman has apparently neglected to take into account several factors which make his projections as likely as an Iraqi victory.
Mr. Zimmerman states "if Iraq's planes stay out of the battle, its anti-aircraft missiles and artillery have a free-fire zone and can shoot at anything that flies." Hasn't that been what the Iraqis have been doing? The Iraqis have been markedly unsuccessful in their attempts to down allied aircraft.
In his descriptions of the probably inevitable land assault, Mr. Zimmerman assumes that the allies will make a classic and unimaginably bloody frontal assault, in the grand tradition of the Battle of the Somme. This is almost assuredly not the case.
Unlike the entrenched troops during World War I, the Iraqis suffer from an extended supply line which will become increasingly vulnerable. Already there are reports of shortages of food and other essential supplies.
In addition, the Iraqis have never been exposed to massive and constant air bombardment. Sand, unlike the rock fortifications the Japanese used on Iwo Jima, is not incredibly hospitable to bastions.
As for the attack itself, the allies are not fool enough to charge head-on but will use tactics of envelopment and maneuver to concentrate firepower. Surrounded, under constant air and artillery strike, running low on ammunition, food and morale, Iraqi conscripts will be in poor position to do anything but surrender.
The bloodbath which some envision is unlikely to occur.
Finally, Mr. Zimmerman fantasizes that the Iraqi Air Force will launch a massive and devastating twelfth-hour strike. This attack will not, and cannot, occur for a variety of reasons.
Mr. Zimmerman notes that the allies have only confirmed a few dozen downed Iraqi craft. This number represents only the number of aircraft destroyed in the air or immediately visible on the ground. The numbers destroyed in their bunkers and other hardened sites can hardly be confirmed.
Additionally, aircraft are not much use if they cannot get off the ground. Runways have been prime targets. They can be patched up, but after repeated attacks even the vaunted Seabees would be hard- pressed to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.
Fuel is also critical for modern military jets, and with the destruction of Iraq's refineries, the Iraqi Air Force will find it difficult to find the high-quality aviation fuel needed.
As for this massive, darkening-of-the-sun-type attack by the Iraqis, it is going to be mighty hard to coordinate considering that the Iraqis use Soviet tactics, which entail an incredible amount of command and control of the air from the ground.
In order to accomplish this, advanced radar and communications are necessary to vector the aircraft and get them there. As the secretary of Defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have repeated many times, communications and radar systems have been a high-priority target since the first moments of the offensive.
Finally, it must be realized that with each passing hour, the Iraqi air defense system and Air Force continue to be degraded by the largest air offensive ever mounted. How long can the Iraqis hold out?
War is not Nintendo, though many seem to have that mistaken impression. It is both bloody and brutal. My above arguments do not mean that the allies will not take increased casualties. They will.
However, to assert we are being led into a trap by that widely acknowledged strategic genius Saddam Hussein is premature and, at this time, absolutely unwarranted.
Ernest D. Miller Jr.