Meaningful Distinction:

Patrick S. Lasswell Look outward for something to accomplish, not inward for something to despise.
pslblog at gmail dot com
Thursday, January 27, 2005
Michael Totten Helps Democracy

To the Editors,

Your editorial of January 27, 2005 "Chemical weapons should stay put" is wonderful civics lessonā€¦for those who believe that obstructionism is a civic virtue. For those of us who consider intelligent sacrifice worthwhile, however, your position is frankly despicable. For starters, you take the wrong lesson from history when you remember Tom McCall's principled position to stop the movement of chemical weapons from overseas. Looking at the mechanics of importing chemical weapons from Okinawa in 1970, you are confronted with corrupt and incompetent longshoremen at the docks, badly designed roads to the depot, high numbers of drunk drivers on the road, non-existent hazardous materials handling standards, and conscript weapons handlers at the destination. In 1970, it would not be a question of if, but how many chemical munitions spills would occur. Compared to the situation thirty-five years later, we are talking about quite miniscule risks. The materials handlers are highly paid professionals operating with extremely stringent hazardous materials standards, the materials will travel on best roads in the world, with virtually no drunk driving, and no interaction with a corrupt dockside union.

Additionally, your terrorist scenario is more of a movie script than a serious consideration. In order for a terrorist group to hit the weapons hauling trucks in route, they would have to spend months scouting the routes and familiarizing themselves with the situation. During this time citizens, the local police, FBI, and Army security forces are supposed to be ignoring them? This is not like a foreign national registering for flight school; this is a scary dude acting exactly like a stalker. If they were willing to risk this, they'd be far better off taking potshots with RPG's at railroad chemical tankers which carry greater payloads with much less protection. Your bogeymen do not hold up to scrutiny.

Finally, your position on contributing to the national defense appears to be "Do no more than we are absolutely required to." Just once, why don't you take a higher road and decide that Oregonians can contribute to the nation. Certainly the residents of Colorado and Kentucky would have reason to be grateful. Taxpayers might like to shut down extra weapons depots that are holding these toxic relics instead of paying for the stockpiling of nightmares. Oh, and the Army could certainly use the money to do things like fighting the war and paying the soldiers who are making victory possible a greater fraction of their worth.

By the way, what was the motto of this state? Oh yeah, "The Union." Perhaps you should maintain your editorial stanceā€¦just change the title of the paper to, "The Obstructionist?"
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