December 4, 2013 at 7:34 PM
Focus efforts on reducing national debt instead
Your editorial couldn’t be more timely and overdue after 12 years of futile fighting and vast expenditures on the part of U.S. taxpayers [“Leave Afghanistan," Opinion, Nov. 29].
Your reasons cited for being against another “10 years of U.S. blood and treasure invested in that country” seem to be lost on our military, as well as on a significant number of congressional leaders.
September 2, 2013 at 7:29 AM
Similar cases, different outcomes
If a Muslim (Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan) kills 13 adults, he is sentenced to death. [“Fort Hood shooter gets death,” News, Aug. 29.]
But if a Christian (Sgt. Robert Bales) kills 16 civilians, some of them children, he is only sentenced to life in prison. [“Afghans decry Bales’ sentence,” page one, Aug. 24.]
True, there are technical reasons for the disparate sentences, such as demanding a trial versus pleading guilty, but these distinctions may be lost on the wider Muslim world.
Charlie Blackman, Seattle
April 8, 2013 at 6:33 AM
United States should keep funding development for countries in need
Indeed, the costs of foreign wars will keep mounting if the United States doesn’t do more to improve the lives of the poorest people around the world [“Wars in Iraq, Afghanistan could cost up to $6 trillion,” front page, March 31].
In countries suffering from weak institutions and corruption where people lack opportunities for self-betterment, extremist organizations are able to thrive. These organizations are the same ones that threaten our national security, resulting in this $2 trillion burden on taxpayers.
By supporting communities in need with basic goods like clean water and education, suddenly the places that have provided a safe haven to terrorist groups like al-Qaida are now able to experience greater stability and contribute to global security.
Often, Americans argue that spending money overseas worsens our financial situation, but the public perception of how much the United States spends on poverty assistance doesn’t match the reality.
While most people think around 20 percent of the federal budget goes to developing countries, the real amount isn’t even 1 percent. This minimal investment has a huge impact by providing millions of people basic services and resources, which, in turn, can prevent the need for costly military engagements.
It was said best by former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates: “Development is a lot cheaper than sending soldiers.”
Shannon Keith, The Borgen Project, Seattle
March 29, 2013 at 4:05 PM
Remember the act of sacrifice
Today is a Good Friday for many reasons. One is the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Vietnam War across the country and in our Capitol in Olympia [“After 40 years, Vietnam memories are still strong,” seattletimes.com, March 29]. Today is a good day to remember the act of sacrifice.
Long ago, America went to help a people they didn’t know, in a country few had learned in school, in a place far away. We went to help them in their fight for democracy.
We remember today, and for the next 10 years, with gratitude the soldiers of the Republic of Vietnam and the United States and all of our allies who fought and died for freedom and democracy in Vietnam. It is a value we held together that created a bond worthy of self-sacrifice. We shared duty with honor for our countries, and for the right of freedom for all mankind.
We remember today with the honor that we keep our promise and never forgot our brothers and sisters who shared the experience of the Vietnam War, and we will never forget.
–Skip Dreps, government relation consultant, Northwest Chapter Paralyzed Veterans of America, Burien
February 27, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Shrapnel is dangerous
Bill Distler is 100 percent correct in his description of the effects of shrapnel, “precision” and “effectiveness” of drones by our nation to fight “terrorists” [“Drone attacks are not precise,” Opinion, Feb. 25].
As a Vietnam veteran of the 4th Infantry Division myself, during 1967-68, I saw the effects of shrapnel. Although, I didn’t incur any personal injuries, I was present when one of my fellow soldiers dropped a live hand grenade after slipping in the mud, killing four of our own men. Also during the 1968 Tet Offensive we endured may rocket attacks and saw the halo of hot shrapnel that was produced.
To refer to the effects of shrapnel as precise is indeed misleading. Trying to explain to a family that has lost a member accidentally, due to our use of shrapnel-delivering devices, that we are there to “help and protect” is absurd.
Yes, I too believe we are creating more enemies than friends and we ourselves are the terrorists to the local people that we declare we are defending.
I also think that the appointment of John Brennan to lead the CIA is a mistake.
–Gerald C. Anderson, Mountlake Terrace
Current weapons more precise than during Vietnam
“Drone attacks are not precise” significantly misses the aiming point — opposition to the war in Afghanistan. Precision is measured by how close to the intended target the munition will hit.
The weapons carried by U.S. drones — Hellfire missiles and laser or GPS-guided bombs — will strike within two to five yards of the aim point compared with Vietnam-era artillery with a first-shot accuracy of about 300 yards.
The Hellfire’s extreme accuracy and small warhead translate into high lethality for the intended target while dramatically reducing collateral damage — civilian or friendly forces. Current fratricide rates (1.24 percent) are a small fraction of the 12 percent to 15 percent in Vietnam. Similarly, civilian deaths from coalition action in 2012 were about 400 individuals from all causes, including several thousand drone strikes, compared with about 65,000 North Vietnamese civilians killed in U.S. bombing raids.
Sadly, in war there will be unintended victims. However, the current levels of fratricide and civilian deaths are astonishing low compared with previous conflicts as a result of the extreme accuracy (precision) of allied munitions of all types.
Bill Distler should state the reasons for his opposition to the war rather than clouding the issue with unrelated, inaccurate and misleading sentimentality.
–Pete Soverel, Capt., U.S. Navy, retired, Edmonds
September 1, 2009 at 4:00 PM
Sirota whiffs again on Afghanistan
I always look forward to David Sirota’s columns on Sundays. He never ceases to amuse as he steps up to the editorial plate, swings and misses. The truly amusing part is not the whiff itself (I expect him to miss) but the extent of the whiff. One wonders if Sirota even has an editorial bat, much less the ability to swing it.
In this week’s edition of “Watch Dummy Dave whiff again,” Sirota ["Military's science-fiction pitch sanitizes the brutality of war," Opinion, syndicated columnist, Aug. 30] blames the brutal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on the troops. He forgets President Obama is the commander-in-chief of the military. They all work for him.
Obama could, if he really wanted, turn off the wars tomorrow and start bringing our guys home.
The troops don’t have that power. They work, ultimately, for the president. They didn’t start the war.
If Sirota had been old enough, he would have been one to spit on the returning Vietnam vets, who got drafted and sent off to a war they didn’t start.
Then as now, the troops work for the president.
Sirota remains off base once again. Way off.
– John Hafen, Woodinville
What if Bush were doing this bad?
Here is my what if: What if George W. Bush were in office today? Just imagine the national unemployment nearly at 10 percent and August being the worst casualty month in Afghanistan since the start of the war.
And if in the midst of all that, Bush went on a vacation to Martha’s Vineyard ["Martha's Vineyard greets Obamas for weeklong stay," News, Aug. 24], what would the headlines be?
– Marc L. Totten, Seattle
Not another war like Vietnam
The story “War strategy due for shift as patience runs short” [CloseUp, Aug. 24] says our generals will ask for more troops to fight in Afghanistan. I hope we are not being gradually sucked into a wider war like we were in Vietnam 40 years ago.
– Richard Partington, Bellevue
August 7, 2009 at 4:00 PM
Army will learn from deaths of soldiers in Wanat battle
On July 13, 2008, nine brave American soldiers died fighting courageously in a fierce battle in Wanat, Afghanistan.
Our hearts go out to their families. From this tragic loss, we will learn; in addition to a formal commander’s inquiry conducted after the battle, two independent reviews are underway.
The first is a Department of Defense Inspector General review in response to a request from the families of our soldiers lost in the battle. The Army inspector general is participating in this effort.
As with other studies dealing with battles, and separate from the reviews, the Army’s Combat Studies Institute is conducting a historical analysis of the battle.
We will look at ourselves, draw lessons, and implement those lessons across the force. While references have been made to a draft report ["Army's missteps set stage for tragedy, study finds," page one, July 31] this study is in fact an incomplete working paper.
Interviews, fact-checking and the review process, including peer-review by other historians, must be completed. It will then be published as a study with the benefit of a broad range of interviews, firsthand accounts and detailed analyses of the circumstances.
It is essential to note that the courage, valor and discipline of the soldiers who fought that battle have been universally acclaimed. These soldiers defended their position under an intense attack and persevered in a fashion that is a testament to their bravery and tenacity.
The Army commends their example and honors their heroism.
– General Peter W. Chiarelli, U.S. Army vice chief of staff, Washington, D.C.
In Wanat tragedy, Army must acknowledge its failure
In a world where we can find out every detail about Michael Jackson or Farrah Fawcett’s death, we never get to hear about true heroes, doing things that require extraordinary courage.
When I read the article about the Army’s missteps, so beautifully written by Hal Bernton and Cheryl Phillips, I cried into my coffee cup while they described a bunch of young men — American men — who were left for cannon fodder in a place where they had to dig with their bare hands to make reinforcement walls and didn’t even have enough water to sustain life in such a harsh environment.
As our city’s only newspaper, your responsibility to the citizens of Seattle is to bring these things to light and as citizens, our responsibility is to act on the information presented. I urge everyone reading this to call their congressman, senators and any other elected official to help ensure no more American lives are wasted in these types of situations.
Shame on the Army for not providing adequate support, but I believe they should be forced to acknowledge their role, even if by government intervention, to ensure this type of slaughter never occurs again.
Jackson and Fawcett were iconic entertainers, and we enjoyed their performances. But these men and women who serve our country while we are all enjoying Seafair and summertime are the real heroes and should be treated as such.
My condolences to the families, and my kudos to The Seattle Times for printing the story and shedding a little light on the subject.
– Charlotte Lawson, Seattle
May 8, 2009 at 4:00 PM
Where are the protests?
President Barack Obama — who appears to have changed his name to “O-bomb-them-all” –has recently sent 21,000 more troops into Iraq, above the Bush administration levels of troops ["Gates: Afghan-bound U.S. troops outpacing equipment," seattletimes.com, Politics & Government, May 7].
He is sending more than 100,000 troops above the troop level of the Bush administration and yet there have not been any protesters. Remember, the Russians went into Afghanistan with 130,000 and without the U.S.’s concern for civilian casualties and got their butts kicked.
It seems to me that the many Seattle war protesters, Democratic Party politicians (where are Rep. Jim McDermott and Sen. Patty Murray?) and Seattle media who constantly protested and spouted anti-war sentiments are no longer concerned about war and the frightening consequences of major wars in Afghanistan and Iraq at the same time.
As an independent, I worried about this when the Democrats took control of the military because of their well-known history of war. I am actually old enough to remember when the cry across this land was, “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?” — and they were not talking about a Republican president.
– Preston Massey, Oak Harbor
Pursuing Pakistan’s prize
Throughout recorded history, no country or empire that has invaded Afghanistan has ever emerged victorious. Think about that; from the Roman Empire in ancient times to the U.S.S.R. about 20 years ago, no invader has ever succeeded.
We invaded Afghanistan in 2003 under the Bush administration’s misguided and totally inept policies. Now, the Obama administration is going to send thousands of additional U.S. troops into Afghanistan to counter the resurgent Taliban, which is well on the way to gaining political and military control of both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
But the stakes are higher now, because the prize is greater than ever before. And just what is the prize? Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and the people who know how to use it.
Perhaps the only solution is to remove the prize from the table.
– Harry B. Bosch, Silverdale
March 9, 2009 at 4:00 PM
A broken promise
I must say I am glad President Obama is taking some steps toward bringing our troops home from Iraq, but I am disheartened by his decision to push withdrawal back to August 2010 and leave up to 50,000 residual troops in the area until December 2011.
This marks a broken promise to the American people, who want our troops home now.
An estimated 1 million Iraqis and 4,253 American troops and have already died in this unnecessary war.
A recent article in The New York Times spoke of the brutal reality of Iraqi war widows:
“As the war has ground on,” the article states, “government and social-service organizations say the women’s needs have come to exceed available help, posing a threat to the stability of the country’s tenuous social structures.”
Our money should go toward helping Iraqis rebuild their shattered lives, not toward maintaining U.S. bases and military operations.
I call on Obama and his administration to immediately withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq, as well as contractors and mercenary forces.
The U.S. government should increase efforts in diplomacy, humanitarian aid and refugee resettlement, instead. Continued troop presence will only encourage more armed opposition within Iraq and will not force the Iraqi government and Iraqi factions to negotiate power.
In addition, with the continued presence of U.S. troops, the international community will doubt U.S. commitment to withdrawal and will wait to invest in diplomacy and reconstruction efforts.
– Gabriel Lavalle, Lynnwood
Time to preserve our pennies at home, reduce our pennies abroad
At a time when we need every penny at home, our involvement with Afghanistan grows deeper every day, and apparently we do not have a clear objective for such occupation.
If our objective is to prop up the corrupt Karzai government, we will have to stay there endlessly.
If we are there to stop opium production, we first need to get rid of the ruling warlords who are the main cultivators of opium.
If we want to get rid of terrorism, we have to discourage Israel from continuing the occupation of Palestine.
The claim that the surge has worked in Iraq is highly doubtful. This is why President Obama plans to retain 30,000 to 50,000 troops, in order to intervene if an undesirable situation develops.
History has shown that occupation of Afghanistan has never produced the desired goals of the occupier. The best strategy for Afghanistan is to end the occupation and let the internal forces reach an equilibrium.
Based on such an outcome, we can devise a realistic strategy.
– Ali Karimli, Kirkland
February 20, 2009 at 3:47 PM
Fighting yesterday means fighting today
Editor, The Times:
Sending more troops to Afghanistan is like buying more refrigerators to stop global warming ["More troops to Afghanistan," Times, Nation & World, Feb. 18]. Neither President Obama nor the Pentagon has given us a clear explanation of what victory would look like.
What are American troops supposed to do there?
Simply put, we are fighting in Afghanistan today because we were fighting in Afghanistan yesterday. We won’t quit, though bringing economic stability and political normalcy to Afghanistan probably requires our military departing.
Once our troops are out, the current government may fall. This will prove it was too corrupt and incompetent to win public support.
We know what works: listening to local people, letting them set the agenda for their own social and economic development and providing local people with resources they need to improve their lives. It’s about letting them, not global corporations with insider contracts, manage their development.
We need to admit poverty, ignorance, religious extremism and totalitarianism are problems that can’t be fixed with laser-guided bombs.
– Fred Miller, Seattle
Selling our souls
We’ve deployed 17,000 more American soldiers to Afghanistan. Can you still feel the hope?
No one in the Bush administration is being held accountable. Can you still feel the hope?
President Barack “bail ‘em out” Obama sold his soul to the oligarchs of America. (The devil was outbid.) Can you still feel the hope?
Without progress, hope is nothing but a pipe dream.
– Marty Zupan, Seattle
Protesters were quick to rally against troop deployments under former President Bush, calling him a murderer and a war monger and blocking the movement of ammunition at key ports.
Can I assume we will see the same thing with President Obama’s decision to send 17,000 troops to Afghanistan to murder more babies, children and innocent civilians?
Also, can we expect to see papers such as yours report the hypocrisy of the lack of protests for Obama’s decision to put American troops in harm’s way?
– Art Francis, Issaquah
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