Many of your editorials (Final Word, “Time for a New Appraisal,” April/May 2007) have indicated that you do not believe the war in Iraq is appropriate or progressing well. I disagree with your opinion.
Removing the regime of Saddam Hussein was a good start. But more was accomplished by eliminating a tyrant, as you called him. Occupying Iraq places significant military pressure on a second front for Iran and also creates a second front for Syria if they invade Israel again. It also eliminates pressure on Jordon and cuts off funding from Iraq for the Palestinians. Plus it places the U.S. in a good position to fight and destroy Islamic fascists.
Most armed conflicts are not the total victory that was achieved in WWII over Germany and Japan. Most conflicts resolve a power struggle by defeating and often killing the enemy’s leadership and putting down the forces that supported them. When the pressure becomes un-bearable, the enemy will negotiate. We are seeing signs that Iran and Syria are getting close to that point. When the Palestinians decide they cannot win by force because there is no one to fund them, they will negotiate. We are not to that point yet either, but we are getting closer.
This is not an issue of profits and losses. CEO skills are not well-suited for the politics of national power and position and the use of war as a tactic.
The Trouble with Big Auto
We all agree that union greed is a large factor in Detroit’s lack of competitiveness (“Lutz Free Wheelin’,” March 2007) and the erosion of our industrial base in general, but there are numerous other problems that GM’s vice chairman overlooks. Cost cutting is important in any enterprise, but it should not be the driving force.
· Despite all those magnificent concept cars hauled by the Big Three auto-makers from show to show around the globe to wet our lips, no Detroit executive since [Lee] Iacocca had the guts to put his career on the line to produce any of them. While I personally don’t have any problem with well-qualified and performing executives making millions, anything over $250,000 per year should be based strictly on performance, period. This would shut off the unions and activists at the bargaining table.
· Engineers in Detroit take the easy way out and concentrate on brute engine performance and completely ignore aesthetics, handling and other vital qualities that sell cars. The Chrysler 300 is a perfect example. It’s a very popular and well-performing car, but its appearance comes a close second to a 1960s Checker cab!
· It should not take three to four years to develop a new model. But it takes talent, vision, experience, hard work and discipline to minimize compromise. Douglas Aircraft developed the A-4 fighter in less than six months with hand-drawn drawings-and what a fighter it was!
· That Detroit is run by marketing people is its most fundamental problem. Compare to others-such as BMW, Mercedes and SAAB-that are run by engineers. You cannot cover up lack of quality, performance and style with creative marketing and rebates.
Detroit should concentrate on competing on style, quality, performance and fuel economy and less on price. Then and only then will they have a chance to regain their competitive edge.
Ted W. Kennedy
Kennedy & Assoc.Long Beach, CA