Saturday Mailbox

SATURDAY MAILBOX

October 15, 2005

War overwhelms effort to aid image

Although there is nothing wrong with his approach as far as it goes, Sanford J. Ungar's column advocating the international exchange of college students as a way to help people in other countries understand the United States and "help erase the damage done by Ms. [Karen] Hughes and other American supremacists" misses the mark ("Preaching U.S. supremacy won't help image abroad," Opinion

Commentary, Oct. 9).

What Mr. Ungar misses is the total intractability of a flawed national policy.

Under such circumstances, no amount of "information" or propaganda can make a dent in the hearts and minds of people around the globe.

Public relations - or public diplomacy - is a limited tool. It is totally ineffective when national policy or the pronouncements or the behavior of a national leader cause people to dislike, even hate, the country in question.

This applies equally to a superpower such as the United States or a small country.

As Vladimir Posner, for many years the advocate in the U.S. media for the Soviet Union, observed: No matter how brilliant the propaganda, without a good cause, it is worthless. He should know.

Mr. Posner liked to quote an old Russian saying: If you have an ugly face, don't blame the mirror.

Julian S. Stein Jr.

Union Bridge

Lack of sacrifice may lose the war

President Bush, in his Oct. 6 speech to the National Endowment for Democracy, said, "Wars are not won without sacrifice, and this war will require more sacrifice, more time and more resolve."

Many people have been wondering privately and a number of columnists have wondered publicly: Where, in this country, in our everyday lives, is the sacrifice that accompanies most wars?

Where is the gasoline rationing that might lessen the flow of cash to Islamic nations that finance schools where children are taught to hate America?

Where is the crash program to develop alternate fuels for transportation and for heating?

Where is the tax increase to cover the gargantuan cost of this $5 billion-per-month war?

Where is the leadership to help us, as a nation of peace-loving people, do some introspection about how our own national attitudes of pride and greed and bellicosity might have been waving the red cloak at the bull?

Where is the involvement of our citizenry?

Go anywhere in these United States, through any village, any city, and you see no sign of a nation at war other than stickers on the backs of cars or "Support Our Troops" signs on front lawns.

Otherwise, it is business as usual. Keep consuming, keep spending, folks. No belt-tightening, no giving up anything.

The only sacrifice the administration has required of us up to now has been the lives of more than 1,900 gallant and courageous men and women, and the piling up of the national debt on the shoulders of our grandchildren and great- grandchildren.

We could lose this war and others if our view of sacrifice is too narrow.

J. Edward Muhlbach

New Freedom, Pa.

Base realignment is huge win for state

While The Sun's article "20,000 more Md. jobs forecast" (Oct. 1) highlighted many important facts, the statement that "only in recent weeks have state and military officials begun to fully grasp the number of private workers likely to follow" undercuts the positive economic impact and overstates the challenges ahead for local and state officials.

The reality is overwhelmingly positive, with approximately 20,000 new jobs coming to the state as a result of decisions made by the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission.

Maryland served as a national model in this BRAC process.

While many states spent millions of dollars on lobbying firms to best position themselves to benefit from the BRAC, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and the state legislature worked together for more than two years to prepare for the BRAC process.

Their commitment resulted in the passage of a 2003 bill that established the Maryland Military Installation Strategic Planning Council.

In my role as chairman of the council, I was instructed by Mr. Ehrlich to assemble state, local and federal officials as well as civic advocacy organizations to develop and execute a statewide strategy to prepare for and respond to the process.

This approach succeeded, as Maryland performed as well as or better than any other state in this BRAC, when primary and indirect jobs are taken into consideration.

In addition to the estimated 8,000 to 12,000 jobs that will be brought on to Maryland's bases, the magnitude of secondary job creation will be significant, combining to offer a "brain enhancement" to the region.

To further support the missions of the council, Mr. Ehrlich has again worked with the legislature to extend its sunset date until 2008, so that we may remain committed to ensuring that all Marylanders reap the greatest benefits from this tremendous victory.

Aris Melissaratos

Baltimore

The writer is secretary of Maryland's Department of Business and Economic Development.

Abortion message still reeks of racism

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