Saturday Mailbox

SATURDAY MAILBOX

April 22, 2006

Taiwan no threat to region's stability

In their otherwise excellent overview of U.S.-China relations, Jeffrey A. Bader and Richard C. Bush characterize Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian as untrustworthy and unhelpful to maintaining the status quo ("Confronting the China challenge," Opinion Commentary, April 20).

Quite to the contrary, President Chen is committed to maintaining the status quo, and so far has done a remarkable job of helping do so, considering the "China Challenge" my country continues to face.

Many of the criticisms leveled at Mr. Chen's remarks claim that they violate the "Five Nos" enumerated in his 2000 inaugural speech - in which Mr. Chen promised not to carry out any unilateral changes to the status quo. However, many critics have forgotten that the "Five Nos" were predicated on the PRC's renunciation of the use of force against Taiwan.

Also forgotten are the many peaceful overtures Taiwan has made across the strait over the years, all of which have been ignored by the People's Republic of China.

Needless to say, the more than 800 missiles the PRC has aimed at Taiwan, its so-called Anti-Secession Law and its diplomatic hostility to my country represent a clear and present threat to Taiwan and its freedoms, not to mention to the status quo we endeavor to maintain.

Albert Liu

Washington

The writer is deputy director of the press division of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office.

Critics of Rumsfeld find voice too late

I am getting tired of hearing the liberal media characterize statements by six retired generals criticizing Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld as a kind of a Pentagon revolt ("Bush backs defense chief," April 15).

Six dissident voices out of hundreds of generals on active duty and thousands of retired generals do not a revolt make.

And I don't see any mass resignations or retirements in protest over Mr. Rumsfeld's policies. I hope, and believe, that there are enough honorable senior officers on active duty that we would see some evidence of that if things were so bad.

While I am sure that the media are drooling over the six retired generals who are criticizing Mr. Rumsfeld, I have to question the credibility and intestinal fortitude of these officers.

For those generals who served in Iraq, why did they wait until retirement to speak out?

The Marine Corps always taught me that the welfare of the troops was paramount.

If these generals thought that the war was improper or being poorly prosecuted, they were derelict in their duty in not speaking out before this time.

An ill-conceived or poorly prosecuted war needlessly risks the lives of the troops, and as commanders, the generals should have protested sooner.

The same comments, incidentally, apply to the unnamed "Pentagon personnel" who have reportedly been encouraging Rep. John P. Murtha to vigorously oppose the war.

Either Mr. Murtha is lying about this, or we have some pretty weak-kneed military leaders in the Pentagon. Neither is good for the country.

To all those in Pentagon policy positions, I would say: If you think we're doing the wrong thing either by being in Iraq in the first place or in the way we are conducting the war, please do the troops a favor and have the guts to speak up.

Don't go sneaking to the nearest member of Congress and whispering about it in his or her ear just to protect your career.

Klaus Heinemeyer

Essex

The writer is a retired colonel in the Marine Corps Reserves.

Foes of takeover write off students

Statistics are a funny thing. When the state announced that it would take over 11 city schools, critics were quick to point out that the city schools (although not the schools to be taken over) were showing signs of improvement and needed more time.

When Oprah Winfrey misstated the percentage of students who graduate, they were also quick to point out that the number is higher than she reported and to suggest that we should focus on the two or three city high schools that do perform well.

What they didn't seem to want you to know is that at Frederick Douglass High School (one of the schools slated to be taken over), from 2004 to 2005, the percentage of students passing the biology assessment test went from 11.3 percent to 1.4 percent and the percentage of students passing the government test went from 30.2 percent to 11.1 percent.

In a few years, passing these tests will be required to graduate. At this rate, the graduation rate at Fredrick Douglas will then look even worse than Ms. Winfrey suggested.

The high schools the state wants to take over have been habitually poor performers, and the numbers just do not support the idea that enough is being done to make these schools better.

By focusing on the improvements that are being made at city elementary school levels as a basis for their argument against a state takeover, critics of the state are essentially writing off the current batch of high school students and waiting for the younger students to start making the high schools look better.

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