Less for MoreEditor: What do self-service gasoline...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Less for More

Editor: What do self-service gasoline stations remind me of? Bah, humbug!

Holiday family visits are fun, but Baltimore's self-service $1.129 versus New Jersey's served $1.059 credit card priced regular unleaded equivalent gas isn't.

Where is the price saving? Where are the old $5 per hour gas-pumping jobs? Were there price saving promises made when Maryland went to a self-service gasoline state? Does Maryland get less for more?

#Joseph J. Fallon Jr. Voorhees, N.J.

Duke Attitude

Editor: The extremist rhetoric expressed by Rep. Helen Bentley, R-2nd, in her Pearl Harbor Day speech does not represent the feelings of all of her constituents.

The last thing this country needs right now is to add fuel to the David Duke attitude.

Mrs. Bentley's rhetoric encourages this attitude and the ignorance that goes along with it.

Instead of promoting suspicion, ignorance and hatred, she should promote education so that the U.S. might improve its international competitiveness.

I acknowledge that American workers and exports need protection from the onslaught of foreign competition. But we should approach the problem with constructive legislation, not by raising fears of nuclear threats from Japan.

The only thing Representative Bentley accomplished with this was to inspire fear and hatred for the Japanese and for millions of Americans of Japanese heritage.

% Marynell Slusark. Fallston.

Fail Safe

Editor: Am I the only person in Baltimore who has noticed that license plates or tags are dated? Granted, the Motor Vehicles Administration (MVA) is supposed to remind car owners that their tags are up for renewal, but anyone with common sense should be able to note renewal dates all by themselves, just by looking at their very own tags once in awhile. And here's another amazing fact -- tags expire a year after initial purchase. Thus, if I buy tags in April of 1991, then by gosh and by golly, I need to renew them by the end of April 1992.

Here's a suggestion for those who are too lost in the chaos of the universe to use their eyes, or brains: Just in case the MVA lets me down and forces me to think for myself for a moment, I put a note on the last page of my current calendar, listing renewal dates of things like tags, car insurance and vehicle emissions inspection. Then I just transfer these handy reminders into the appropriate places (about four weeks before the deadline and again on actual D-day, both in bright red ink) in the new year's calendar. Hasn't failed yet -- even the one year the MVA notice was just late enough to create a potential problem.

%Ruth E. Thaler-Carter. Baltimore.

Shame on Bush

Editor: Maj. Robin Higgins at the burial of her husband Col. William R. Higgins: "If we forget, if we thank these savages . . . Shame on us."

But the Bush administration wishes us to forget, to forget that Syria was in total control of the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, which sheltered the terrorist kidnappers who dumped the bodies of Higgins and William Buckley like so much garbage, and the terrorists who bombed Pan Am Flight 103, and the terrorist who killed 241 Marines in 1983.

Not only has Bush wielded the whitewash brush with abandon, he has indeed actually thanked Syria -- yes, mind-boggling as that is, thanked Syria for releasing the hostages it had colluded in taking in the first place. The erstwhile report of that sickening sycophancy was enough to make one throw up.

Assad is a dictator subtler than Saddam but just as ruthless, slaughtering 20,000 of his own people in Hama without a qualm. And he is just as much of a threat to peace in the Middle East. Ostensibly attending "peace" conferences with Israel, Assad wants not peace but only the return of the Golan Heights from which he can resume shelling Israeli farmers in the valley below. And Assad's eventual goal is the incorporation of all of Palestine, i.e. Israel, in a "Greater Syria," a goal for which he is currently amassing hundreds of missiles from North Korea with the billions of dollars that our good ally Saudi Arabia is furnishing him.

Syria has already swallowed Lebanon in its entirety now in its relentless quest for that "Greater Syria" of old, without one single murmur of protest from the West. Syria is a threat to be reckoned with and countered, not an entity to be pandered to, if peace in the Middle East is ever to be attained.

ea Knisbacher. Baltimore.

Somalia's Shifting Alliances

Editor: Another civil war breaks out in some Third World country and before the guns are cooled, the blame-America-first crowd hits the op-ed pages of the country's daily newspapers. I refer to a Dec. 27 piece written by Rakiya Omaar, executive director of Africa Watch, a human rights advocacy group based in New York.

In analyzing the current civil war in Somalia, the country of her birth, as well as mine, she wrote that "today's tragedy. . . is . . . the result of a selfish and short-sighted American view of Somalia. From 1978 to 1989, the United States supported -- with arms, money and diplomatic ties -- a ruthless dictator (Mohammed Siad Barre) whose divisive tactics polarized society and set the stage for the nightmare that now engulfs Somalia."

As one who lived in Somalia from 1964 to 1983, I can assure your readers that most Somalis never considered U.S. assistance to that country as either "selfish" or "short-sighted."

Somalis thought the United States was a friend because the two countries had a mutual interest. Somalia, which went to war with neighboring Ethiopia over the control of the Ogaden region, needed military aid to defend its territorial integrity.

And the United States, which was engaged in the containment (( of communism with the erstwhile Soviet Union, wanted naval bases on the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean to keep track of the Red Navy which had bases in Ethiopia and Yemen. It was a marriage made in heaven.

Contrary to her assertion, the United States wasn't the only country that gave aid to Somalia during the dictatorship of Siad ++ Barre. From 1971 to 1976, the Soviet Union gave Somalia close to a billion dollars in military assistance.

In addition, extra aid came from Somalia's friends in the Arab League -- Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait and other oil-rich states. As recently as 1988, Somalia was purchasing weapons from regional terrorists like Libya's Muammar el Kadafi, when the Reagan administration cut off military aid to Siad Barre as a result of the civil war in the north of that country.

Her statement that the United States had "diplomatic ties" with Somalia must have insulted the intelligence of your readers.

Somalia wasn't some obscure little island run by a gang of thugs. Somalia became independent in 1960 and proceeded to join the United Nations. It became a member of the Organization of African States in 1963 and joined the Arab League in the middle '70s.

The tragedy that now engulfs Somalia, beyond the mere questions of who supplied what kind of weapons and how many such weapons, is deeply rooted in the country's long-standing tradition of inter- and intra-tribal warfare.

Somalis have been fighting over grassland and water wells for their livestock (the country's main export revenue) since time immemorial.

& Abdul Rahman Abdi. Greenbelt.

Dog Eat Dog

Editor: The Cubans who fled here to freedom can stay -- as heroes. The Haitians couldn't.

This inconsistent response on the part of the U.S. government reeks of self-serving political motivations.

By responding this way the government can indirectly define "good" and "bad" foreign governments.

The American people and Congress need not be consulted. Later, we can put ourselves in the business of going after the "bad" government we have created. This is brilliant foreign policy.

I guess when our president says he'll do anything to get re-elected, he really means it.

Someone should explain to the Haitians about the "dog-eat-dog" world.

Lizbeth T. Binks. Baltimore.

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