By year's end, they'll be home | Oct. 22
A successful end to U.S. mission
Last week's announcement by President Barack Obama that all troops would be out of Iraq by the end of this year was welcomed by the majority of our service members and their families. The reactions of the current presidential candidates were strikingly different. Characteristic of those reactions was Mitt Romney's portrayal of the withdrawal as an "astonishing failure to secure an orderly transition in Iraq." Such statements reveal a fundamental lack of understanding about Iraq, our military and perhaps even U.S. national security policy as a whole.
First, while the White House, maybe unwisely, attempted to frame the withdrawal as making good on a campaign pledge, the reality is that it was merely abiding by the 2008 security agreement between the Bush administration and the government of Iraq. That agreement mandates withdrawal by the end of this year. In other words, while you would never know it by listening to Romney or Obama, the current administration is simply carrying out the withdrawal deadline imposed by President George W. Bush.
Second, after ending true combat operations in 2010, our military assumed the more limited role of advising, training and assisting the Iraqi Security Forces in preparation for the transition related to that deadline. As a veteran of Operation New Dawn who returned just weeks ago, I can attest that the troops continue to work tirelessly toward that end. They have accomplished all that could be expected of them in light of conditions on the ground. Romney's statement that the transition is an "astonishing failure" is thus puzzling. Why would someone running for commander in chief signal to the troops that they have utterly failed to accomplish their current mission? Furthermore, exactly what else would Romney have our troops do before we can declare mission accomplished in Iraq and go home?
Finally, Romney's analysis of the coming transition overlooks the fact that thousands of other Americans will remain in Iraq focused on ensuring that country's stability. Our embassy in Baghdad is the biggest in the world. It houses thousands of dedicated State Department workers, and there are thousands more such workers and military contractors all over Iraq. Romney also fails to take notice of our large troop presence in neighboring Kuwait.
Jeffrey P. Lieser, Tampa
Editor's note: The views expressed are those of Jeff Lieser alone and not those of the Department of Defense.
Rubio's history wrong | Oct. 22
We should expect better
It is clear that Sen. Marco Rubio is a son of immigrants, not exiles. When one twists such simple, obvious facts, it makes people wonder if they can trust anything the person says. The author Stephen Covey says, "Trust is one thing that changes everything." Trust is the foremost personal and organization value.
Shouldn't we expect more of Rubio and our politicians?
Richard Oliver Mayer, Palm Harbor
The article on Sen. Marco Rubio's history was petty to say the least. The main idea is that Rubio's parents did the right thing once in this country: They worked very hard to provide their children with food, clothing, shelter and education. They didn't engage in a conversation of dates or years of the past.
We understand Rubio very well because we are in the same situation. We came as residents in 1957, running from a deteriorating political situation in Cuba. Our son was born in 1959 in Jersey City, N.J. We never had conversations of dates or years of our arrival to the United States.
What matters is what we have accomplished and our love and respect for this country.
Nereyda Reboiro, Clearwater
Immigrants, not exiles
The revelations in the press about Sen. Marco Rubio's inaccuracies in representing the dates and facts of his parents' departure from Cuba are consistent with his past record, evidenced by his use of Republican Party credit cards for his personal expenses. That is, do what is best for Marco and don't let facts confuse the issue.
The record indicated that his parents left Cuba voluntarily to establish residence in Florida. Fidel Castro was not in the picture at the time they emigrated. As such they were immigrants, not exiles.
The senator laments the fact that his parents could not return to Cuba to see their relatives. Yet he continues to support the embargo against Cuba and did his best to prevent legal air travel directly from Tampa to Cuba.
I am not a friend of Fidel Castro or his government. The foreign policy that our country has adopted toward Cuba is one of embargo and isolation. This policy has only served to create extreme hardship to the average Cuban citizen and to help Castro maintain a tight grip on his country.
L.G. Diaz, Tampa
Scott plan shortchanges Florida Oct. 24, editorial
Sad state of affairs
Gov. Rick Scott, along with the Republicans in Congress, can push to give all the tax breaks to the corporations and the rich they want, but what drives our economy is supply and demand.
Without the demand for goods, businesses don't need to hire to create the supply. Without a job, people don't have money to purchase the goods.
Republicans understand this basic principle, but ignore it to make the rich richer at the expense of our schools, teachers, police, firefighters, the homeless and disabled whose benefits continue to be cut in order to pay for these tax breaks. It's a sad way to run our state and our country.
Ed Harrar, Lithia
Bill seeks to make license rules simpler Oct. 24
License was piece of cake
State Sen. Greg Evers must be easily shocked. Renewing my driver's license was one of the easiest no-brainers I've ever been asked to do.
You put aside two recent bills with your address. And since I brought my passport, which is good for 10 years, the clerk didn't find it necessary to look over my birth certificate or marriage license. From a folder that holds my family birth, marriage and death certificates and Social Security cards, I pulled out a 61-year-old Social Security card.
I took the eye test, which is simple if you can see well enough to drive and you know your ABCs. I wasn't there to prove I wasn't a terrorist; I was there to prove I was a citizen. It was a piece of cake.
Doris Carroza, Clearwater