Re: Fighting words, Jan. 23.
While I agree with the spirit of your editorial, it seems as though the discussion is lacking a sense of Realpolitik. The use of U.S. armed forces must be politically justified to the American people and to the Congress as either a moral imperative or as a defense against an imminent threat to the security and safety of the nation. Both reasons have been used to justify the war in Iraq; one is logically inconsistent and the other is science fiction.
Nevertheless, the war was still necessary. So long as freedom is synonymous with product consumption, and the prosperity of democracies is measured in terms of economic growth, wars to secure the stability of regions where increasingly scarce petroleum resources are still abundant will be a necessity. Let us remember that our military engagement in the region began with Operation Desert Shield in 1990, an operation to protect Saudi oil fields.
As the developing world continues to develop and humanity swells to 10-billion people over the next 30 years, the relatively profligate lifestyle of the American consumer can only be maintained by acquisition and control of diminishing planetary resources, and the global projection of U.S. military power is a vital part of that equation.
But the naked truth is not only unpleasant, it is also political suicide. Jimmy Carter tried to give straight talk to the American people about the connections between economic stability, foreign resources and foreign policy. And the American people answered him with this: "We want cheap gas, convenience, and economic growth, and we don't care who you have to invade, kill, or do business with to get the job done. Just tell us lies and make sure we feel good about it." Enter the Reagan administration and its subsequent reincarnations.
Sure, the current Bush administration tells lies; we have gotten what we have asked for. It is naive and self-serving to blame this administration's officials for it. They could not supply any lies if there was no demand for them. So why should they apologize? Giving the public what it wants is, after all, the humble job of a public servant.
Jason K. Jolliff, ClearwaterIt was mass deception
Re: Ex-inspector: Weapons hunt a dud, Jan. 24.
Bush-appointed special CIA adviser David Kay resigned after concluding that his exhaustive hunt for weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) with the Iraq Survey Group was a bust. While Kay, a former U.N. weapons inspector, believes further searches will be fruitless, this report leaves a great deal unsaid.
The same David Kay had been used by the mainstream media to counter conclusions of former inspector Scott Ritter disputing White House claims, before the pre-emptive invasion of Iraq. Ritter, a former U.S. Marine, vehemently opposed the White House contentions saying that "by 1995, Iraq had fundamentally disarmed."
But the president, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Secretary of State Colin Powell (addressing the United Nations) insisted the WMD threat remained. Ritter claimed that if the Iraqis didn't report what the White House said Iraq had in WMDs, that nation would be "in breach and will come under attack." He insisted the administration had no intentions of allowing the inspectors to complete their work before the invasion.
Kay, once a supporter of "imminent threat" contentions for going to war, now essentially agrees with Ritter, that administration prewar claims were unfounded. Nevertheless, the White House, scrambling in the face of a massive intelligence failure, will try once again with yet another U.N. inspector to find "the smoking gun" while peppering the American public with missiles of mass deception.
Lou Kiefer, HernandoWorried about the nation's future
Someone recently described the behavior of many Democrats at the State of the Union speech, those who refused to stand up and applaud the president's initiatives, as "naysayers." Well, I am a naysayer, even though I am politically independent.
I am because I love this country and I fear for the younger generations who are coming behind us.
In 10 years, my generation of the baby boomers will be sucking money from the federal government at an alarming rate as we retire in force. The nonpartisan General Accounting Office (GAO) has issued a series of alerts that the present budget deficits are careening into record areas. The next generation, and their as-yet unborn kids, will be paying off our present debts.
Some may say "no problem," but I can tell you that the ever-growing interest payments alone will cause 1) significant increases in taxes and/or 2) severe cuts for other necessary programs. By necessity, quality of life in America will go down. There is no escape from this fact, unless the U.S. government defaults on its borrowings, and that is unthinkable.
The United States is in danger of becoming a second-rate country in my lifetime. It happened to our good friends the United Kingdom. It happened to our enemy the Soviet Union. It happened to the Roman Empire. Ambitions, no matter how noble at the time, far outstretched their means.
If you overspend, you must raise the money somehow, sooner or later. You can print money, but we found out in the '70s and '80s that the resulting inflation is horrible. You must raise taxes, or borrow for awhile. It's as simple as that. Money doesn't grow on trees.
How can any sane person really think about putting men on the moon and Mars at a time when deficits are soaring to record levels? While bringing peace to the world is a very noble ideal, is it worth bringing this country down in your lifetime?
Say it won't happen? I hope you are right. But we better start understanding what is happening in this country, and to this country. You better have more than hope and a gut feeling.
If that makes me a naysayer, so be it. I love this country, too. I would hate to think that I lived in the last great era of the United States.
Don Robertson, LutzKeep focusing on dead and wounded
Re: Attack kills five soldiers in Sunni area, Jan. 25.
Well done, St. Petersburg Times. You got the news of the tragic deaths of our soldiers on the front page where it belongs. Some previous editions put war deaths in the back pages. The public must be reminded that we are still in George Bush's war, and young men and women are dying almost daily.
Also, too little attention is given to the thousands of soldiers who have been wounded and end up in veteran's hospitals, which will need additional funding for many years to come. Wounded soldiers will also be eligible for disability payments, further adding to the cost of war.
The poignant photo of the 500 empty pairs of combat boots, which represents 500 soldiers killed, should have been placed on the front page, and a framed copy of it should hang in the Oval Office.
Jack Bjornberg, ClearwaterWe're paying an enormous price
Our troops are being killed almost every day in Iraq, and somehow this has become a routine thing on the evening news, which will spotlight the item for five seconds and then move on to the day's next sound bite.
However, somewhere in the United States, someone from the military will come to an American family home with the news: The secretary of Defense regrets to inform you . . .
This is where the real tragedy of this war is felt: in the hearts and souls of America. The price Americans are paying for the mistakes this administration has made are enormous. The killing of our young men and women is unacceptable when they are sent to fight a war for the rich or to fight a war that for all intents was declared illegal by the world community.
Many say that our military personnel volunteered and that we should not complain about the way our troops are being used. I reply: None of our troops should be sent to fight a war that is unnecessary, illegal and not declared a war by Congress.
Our troops should be sent into harm's way only as a last resort, and when Americans are given a full explanation as to why we are going to war. To our leaders who have not been held accountable for this war: Expect to be shown out the door in the 2004 election.
Luis Zamora, BrandonStand fast against our enemies
As the 2004 presidential election draws nearer, I would like to share my viewpoint with voters.
Why, during America's time of war and threat to our security, should we entrust our future to the left-wing voices within our government? The antiwar voices fail to recognize the consequences of opposing our commander in chief's U.S. foreign policies, which are now centered on a global war against terrorism. Their devout hatred for our president has clouded their ability to know the facts.
Americans have been the victims of terrorism for many years. The sources of our grief go beyond our borders: the attack on U.S. Marines in Lebanon in 1983, the Gulf War, the terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia, Yemen and East Africa. In recent months, terrorism has made far too many headlines _ terrorist attacks such as the one at a resort in Bali, in buses with innocent children in Jerusalem and at universities and marketplaces.
Anyone who doubts our president's commitment to eradicate evil and its terrorists should visit Iraq. They should witness the progress that the Iraqi people are embracing. They beg for democracy, their first constitution and freedom from the atrocities of rape and torture.
It is unimaginable to witness the hypocrisy within the Democratic Party today. Our past Democratic leaders such as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy (like Presidents Bush and Reagan) understood the nature of America's economy when it came to our country's national security. These leaders also recognized the need to arm against our enemies. Consequently, they never questioned the "cost of war."
I hope my humble points of view act as "a call to action" for all Americans to do their homework before they vote.
Joan Atkins, Palm Harbor
Liberal slants are the real problem
Re: Mixing politics, journalism and contributions, Jan. 20.
As he usually does, the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz skirts the real issue. He must have spent hours researching to reveal journalists who have made monetary contributions to political campaigns. What really is at issue is the value of newspaper space and TV/radio time in which journalists express subjective viewpoints supporting (about 99 percent) liberal politicians, liberal causes and anti-administration positions.
Today's journalists no longer are objective reporters of events. They are subjective centers of influence. Today's definition of journalism/journalist is far different from what it was when I earned my journalism degree 60-plus years ago.
F.L. Gus Cooper, DunedinHypocrisy in CBS' ad policy
Re: Anti-Bush ad denied Super showcase, Jan. 20.
That CBS refuses to run two Super Bowl advertisements, one sponsored by MoveOn.org and another by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, yet will allow an advocacy ad sponsored by the White House, reeks of hypocrisy.
It is bad enough the Bush administration restricts our freedoms; now it seems the media giants are censoring political opinion.
Brian Mintz, Tarpon SpringsShare your opinions
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