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Sunday letters: The Cold war proved to be a national security distraction

Unmaking of a company man | Sept. 5, Perspective story

A national security distraction

I'm betting most officers and NCOs, especially retired, are going to see Andrew Bacevich's book Washington Rules as the cautionary and prescriptive tale it appears to be. Bacevich gives voice to a generation of soldier leaders whose careers were based on defending the Fulda Gap — a strategic mountain pass in Germany where America's war planners intended to halt any Soviet tank attack. My own logistics duties required me to think about deploying field hospitals inside Scandinavian mountains right up to the fall of the Berlin Wall. As the Soviet system imploded, Afghan mujahedeen were mutating into the proto Taliban, who would become mischievous soon enough. Few strategic thinkers took notice for a decade and beyond.

Bacevich says our provincialism and 60 years of reliance on military might provided an excuse to avoid serious self-engagement outside the box. That claim is credible in light of our strategic failure to examine and debate the history, ideology and goals of militant Islam before going to war. Had we taken time to do that intelligently, more achievable missions in the Middle East and South Asia — not nation building — would have been self-evident.

Bacevich's book might cause some, like himself, to rethink their contribution to national security over a career of service. That's a small and necessary price if our country's future is better for having done it.

Gary Harrington, St. Petersburg

Unmaking of a company man | Sept. 5, Perspective story

In search of a threat

With World War II drawing to a close, it was logical to presume that funding for the military branches and their suppliers would diminish, unless a new threat could be found. Hence, the Cold War! Our contact with the Soviet Union having been limited, it was easy to paint it as a giant, monolithic nemesis. People who knew of the many internecine conflicts of different parts of our government insisted the Communist world was of one piece, ruled by Stalin. Our intelligence failure to see the North Korean assault against South Korea stemmed from the belief that all the Communist world obeyed Stalin.

Throughout the Cold War, we were told that all the unrest in the world could be traced to Moscow. Today, in place of the Red menace, we hold that all the unrest can be traced to Islamofascists.

Let us hope that Bacevich's book opens a few eyes, although I doubt it. He will probably be branded a dupe of the Muslims.

Donald Rourke, Tampa

Unmaking of a company man | Sept. 5, Perspective story

Aim our energies at home

The excerpt of Andrew Bacevich's book, Washington Rules, though circuitous, told the story that most thinking folks must have figured out before. I realize the weaving of this tale needed verbosity to grab the reader, to get one involved in the truth, to reinforce what we suspected for years.

My hope is that it garnered enough readers to raise voices in favor of a new era of American strategy. "Fixing Cleveland and Detroit" should be our goal — fixing our infrastructure, our educational system, our public health system, our waterways, and yes, our political system. We are a huge country with huge possibilities, but we are squandering our resources, not the least of which are our people, on the presumptuous notion that we are here to save and convert the world.

Bacevich rightly says we have reached a state of almost "perpetual war." Let us make wiser decisions before it's too late.

Lilyan Dayton, New Port Richey

Unmaking of a company man | Sept. 5, Perspective story

A shifting allegiance

Andrew Bacevich remains a company man although he has changed companies. Just as a chameleon changes color to match its environment, Bacevich has adapted fully to our nation's left-wing academia where it is expected that one be critical of everything American, particularly if it is our stature in the world.

Somehow he now sees the United States at fault for the 45 years of the Soviet Union's merciless exploitation of the German people. He has yielded to the left wing the pride he should have in his service to achieve the end of that era.

David Ghen, Redington Beach

Aid for outsourcers

Jobs, jobs, jobs. What is the problem? The government has so many alphabet organizations and departments, that no one knows what the others are doing, or what is going on.

USAID, the U.S. Agency for International Development is contributing $10 million to a $36 million program to train workers, including information technology specialists, in Sri Lanka.

They are partnering with private outsourcers to teach advanced IT skills and call center support, and to brush up workers on their English, taking advantage of the Asian subcontinent's low labor costs, creating 10,000 jobs.

Would someone please explain why we, the taxpayers, are subsidizing private companies to send jobs overseas? What do we owe Sri Lanka? Why not train or hire qualified Americans to do these jobs?

Someone needs to look into this and ask questions.

Nancy Frederich, Madeira Beach

Reincarnation lives in history | Sept. 5, Floridian story

Shades of fakery

In a recent Times article about reincarnation beliefs, the president of the International Board of Regression Therapy, Janet Cunningham, concedes, "I think some people might go into fantasy."

Indeed. Experience shows me that 100 percent of the people I've encountered who claim to be reincarnated never profess to have been a hookworm or a tertiary syphilis victim or any other unappealing entity. (Comparatively speaking, even an ox or caveman has distinct advantages.)

While therapists should categorize these mental inventions with dreams, one must question those who "guide" patients into manufacturing such inventions. It does not seem therapeutic and smacks of fraud from the charlatan fortune teller's playbook.

Valerie Wolf, Riverview

No jail in school attacks | Sept. 9, story

Justice not served

What a shame for the victim. It is absolutely ridiculous that these teens were allowed to plead to lesser charges. The justice system, judge and prosecutor failed this victim.

The judge said, "Their punishment does not diminish what happened." I think it is very clear that it does! These kids got a free pass on the crimes they committed. Community service and probation is not sufficient punishment. What does it take for prosecutors and judges to properly deal with the misfits in society these days?

Hopefully the victim will find a way to not be scared, embarrassed, or marred for the rest of his life. I wish him the best.

Ray Mackin, New Port Richey

Obama distorts Boehner's "government jobs" remark | Sept. 10, PolitiFact

Questionable ruling

The president excites an audience by stating that Rep. John Boehner talked about "government jobs that weren't worth saving." PolitiFact has determined that Boehner never said this and the president's statement that he did was clearly false.

So why do you rate the president's statement as "Barely True"?

Dave Farrell, Belleair Beach

Sunday letters: The Cold war proved to be a national security distraction 09/11/10 [Last modified: Friday, September 10, 2010 6:40pm]
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