Letters to the Editor

Fighting pirates is a job for the U.N.

Fight the pirate plague | Nov. 22, editorial

A job for the United Nations

So now the good old U.S.A. is responsible for making the sea lanes safe for the entire civilized world. Not the United Nations. Not the European Union. Not the Organization of African States or any other quasi-multinational outfit.

A U.S. ship has yet to be attacked and seized by pirates (at least not since the days of the Barbary Coast pirates). Tell me again why the United States should get involved, then explain to me why the Times has stated that we were wrong to invade Iraq even though the use of force was authorized by the U.N. Security Council.

Then explain to me why you believe that the United States bears any responsibility for the sorry state of affairs in Somalia. If you recall, the United States left when the only response to what was a humanitarian mission (distribution of aid) would have been massive military intervention to smash the rebels and armed gangs that made completing such a humanitarian mission impossible.

Truly, these pirates must not be allowed to continue their depredations on international shipping, but I believe that this cries out for U.N. action. Those countries that have seen ships and cargo seized should already be standing before the United Nations and pleading their cause, and the United Nations should immediately respond with a multinational force. The United States could perhaps contribute naval and air forces as well as satellite and other airborne surveillance.

While operations could no doubt be mounted to liberate ships, crew and cargo, this probably will result in extensive loss of life and treasure.

We need to be prepared for that eventuality.

Stephen Small, Indian Rocks Beach

Skip the lip service

Your recent editorial struck me as odd. It's odd that an institution such as the St. Petersburg Times would choose this issue to press the notion that we are a superpower, therefore we need to police the world.

Did the Times support the U.S. presence in Somalia after our soldiers' corpses were dragged through the streets of Mogadishu? Do you favor our presence supporting democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan? Or do you simply support the notion of military action in a vacuum — like the Clinton administration, which was all in favor of cruise missile strikes, until American blood was spilled, then lost its stomach for democracy rather quickly?

If you are going to put forth the idea that we should do something to combat terrorism on the high seas, then the root cause lies in Somalia, in the slums among the competing warlords. Would you advocate American boots on the ground in a combat role, or are you just paying lip service to the idea of solving the problem? My guess is the latter rather than the former.

Don't involve America and American forces unless you are prepared to finish the mission and sacrifice American lives in the process.

Ronald Keller, New Port Richey

Turtle has powerful ally in Gov. Crist Nov. 21

Citizens need an ally

against rising power costs

Like many other readers, I went over this article with mitigated interest. No doubt that Gov. Charlie Crist's decision to personally intervene to the defense of the softshell turtles is commendable, almost moving.

Yet, there is another endangered species here in Florida, and it seems that nobody is raising hell in its defense: I'm talking of the thousands of "softback" citizens, mostly old, mostly trying to survive on modest fixed incomes, and who feel their "soft shell" crushed by the heavy soles of invisible monsters like Progress Energy.

I feel like screaming: "I want the same rights as a softshell turtle!" Stop stepping on me, stop crushing me, I can take it no more!

Please, somebody out there in this selfish world made of anonymous corporations, explain to me how we are going to pay for these electricity bills, when we hardly can face the old ones? Less medicine? We are already doing that. Less food? Been there, done that. Fewer garments, restaurants, cinemas? These businesses haven't had my visit for two decades.

So please, governor, organize my budget, and tell me how, with a $950 income, we can survive the foot crushing our soft backs. Thanks for your consideration.

Simon Agmann, St. Petersburg

Palin could pardon only one | Nov. 22, photo

Getting in a dig

The liberal press must really be afraid Sarah Palin will come back to bite them in 2012. They take every opportunity to show her in a bad light.

The picture of her "pardoning" a turkey was fine, but the caption about her not commenting about the "slaughter" of turkeys was stupid.

How does the caption writer think those turkeys get on the table, die of old age?

Tom Bennis, Sun City Center

Troubled times need unity

America made history on Nov. 4 by electing our first African-American president.

The interesting thing was that he was elected because he was considered the best person for the job, and his election was not largely based on race.

What is more important at this time are the incredible challenges that our new leader will face. America and the world are facing troubles that are at the least as great as the two great wars, and perhaps even more challenging.

We are facing not only a troubling threat of terrorism, but also two undeclared wars, and an economic crisis that has not been paralleled since the Great Depression. Major U.S. corporations are going down, despite government actions to save them, and our last major manufacturing base (the U.S. auto industry) is about to go under.

Our new president is going to have all of this (and more) on his plate when he takes office on Jan. 20.

As Americans, we must get behind him. It does not matter at this point if you are Republican, Democrat or independent. It matters not if you voted for Barack Obama. This is the time for Americans to do what we do best: come together as an American team, support our leader, and fight our way out of the mess we are in.

Ken DeRoche, Tampa

A retro look

The Obama voters wanted change, and they sure got it. So far, his Cabinet picks look like those who have hibernated over the past eight years. I'm surprised he didn't offer Bill Clinton a spot.

Those who voted for change, I hope you are happy. You got change that goes back eight years, not ahead.

Elaine Wagner, Seminole

VA hospital problems

Formula for improvement

Recent articles and letters have pointed out serious problems in VA hospitals throughout the nation. Most seem to be administrative (shredding important papers) rather than medical. Even discharging an oxygen-dependent patient without ensuring there was oxygen available at his home was probably caused by an administrative failure.

I have two suggestions that, together, could result in great improvement. First, replace as much of the administrative staff with veterans who better know and understand the needs of other veterans.

The second suggestion would be more difficult to initiate, but would provide the greatest improvement. That is, eliminate all of the current medical benefits for members of Congress and require that, during the term in office all members of Congress obtain all of their medical treatment from VA facilities. I'm sure that poor facilities and insufficient funding would end immediately and service for everyone would improve significantly.

Alfred J. D'Amario, Hudson

He was the eye in the sky for Tampa Bay Nov. 19, Epilogue

Fond memories

Your obituary for Al Ford reminded me of how much he enriched our lives, both as the "Eye in the Sky," reporting traffic conditions, and as a wonderful public speaker with so much humor and common sense.

He will be remembered also by many of us as the guy who played Santa Claus in the week before Christmas for several years at MacDill Air Force Base for the kids whose fathers and mothers were away, serving in Vietnam. For many of the kids, it was the biggest event of their holiday season.

Robert E. Wharrie, St. Petersburg

Fighting pirates is a job for the U.N. 11/24/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 26, 2008 3:05pm]

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