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
March 23, 2013 at 6:11 AM
Use of drones is morally wrong
One lesson Christians learn early in Sunday school is that killing is wrong. As U.S. citizens, we learned early that murder is wrong and punishable, perhaps especially if the victims are innocent bystanders. Further, we learned that people are innocent until proved guilty.
There has been a lot of news lately about the U.S. use of drones in the Middle East [“U.N.: Drones a violation to Pakistan,” News, March 16], presumably to kill the leaders of al-Qaida. But many innocent men, women, and children are being killed as “collateral damage” by these drone attacks.
As a Christian and U.S. citizen, I wish to publicly state my objection to the use of drones as instruments of war. Where is the outrage from others in this country? I wonder. Our country is killing perhaps guilty people, but if so, it is without due process. Our country is also killing innocent people and is thus guilty of murder. And I object.
I would not be surprised if some of our leaders are tried in the World Court as perpetrators of crimes against humanity. We are creating more and more enemies all the time. People have very long memories when they lose family members to foreign powers. What will happen to us in the U.S. when China, for example, employs drones to take out some U.S. citizens it doesn’t like. We are setting a very bad and dangerous precedent here, and, one more time, I object to this morally repugnant behavior.
–Jim Rettig, Woodinville
March 22, 2013 at 4:04 PM
Sen. Harry Reid’s response inappropriate
Have we become so calloused that when tragic events occur, nothing seems to faze us?
Where is the outrage over the insensitive, outlandish remarks by Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid?
Speaking on the Senate floor, Reid had the gall to link the deaths of seven United States Marines [“U.S. bans mortar rounds after blast,” News, March 20] to the sequester. The senator’s remarks are unconscionable and I believe he owes the American people in general an apology, and certainly the U.S. Marine Corps in particular.
His politicizing such a horrendous occasion is thoroughly disgusting and is beneath the dignity of a Senate leader. It will be interesting to see just how his office will “spin” his latest gaff.
–Boyce Clark, Edmonds
March 8, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Angels as American as apple pie
It saddens me that there is a strong possibility that we will not have a Blue Angels show this year at Seafair, so I couldn’t possibly disagree more with the letter writers who have basically said “good riddance” to this longtime Seattle summer tradition [“Blue Angels Seafair show, others, expected to be canceled,” Northwest Voices, March 5].
It’s true that our spending priorities are way out of whack and that the $20 million cost for the Blue Angels could be better spent elsewhere, but I have a some sensible solutions to fund the show. Why not keep an aircraft carrier in port for an extra couple of days? Why not keep the C-17s that fly out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord on the ground for a week? Why not take $20 million (at least) out of the billion-dollar aid checks we write to countries that hate us?
The Blue Angels are as American as apple pie and the Fourth of July. Patriotism abounds and Americans come together when these F/A-18s are ripping over Lake Washington at 500 mph. I know that the tens of thousands of spectators who attend this exhibition of American grace and power agree with me.
Quiet skies during Seafair would only serve to remind us of the collective ineptitude of our elected officials in Washington D.C. As for those of you who complain annually about the noise and interruption to your life for those few days a year, I say get over it and come join the party.
–Gary Allen, Tacoma
March 5, 2013 at 4:01 PM
Manning’s actions are a public good
Pfc. Bradley Manning is on trial — and facing 20 years in prison — for releasing classified information on American troop actions in Iraq ["Private saw WikiLeaks as chance to start a debate," News, March 1]. One video shows American forces killing civilians — including children — then firing on those who came to their rescue. These actions are war crimes under the Geneva Convention.
Yet Manning is the only one being punished, while the [shooters] go free. They are even referred to as “heroes” because they wear the uniform. They give our real heroes a bad name.
Manning has done us a good turn by bringing war crimes to light.
–Anne Thureson, Seattle
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
August 3, 2009 at 4:00 PM
Air show too expensive to leave the ground
As much as I enjoy watching the Blue Angels perform, I believe they should be disbanded.
Why? They cost the U.S. many millions of dollars a year in wages for pilots and mechanics, airplane maintenance and fuel. Also they pollute the air, and about 18 Blue Angel pilots have died over the years.
– Vincent Jolivet, Kenmore
Blue Angels a symbol of soldiers protecting us
The Blue Angels just flew over my house in Bellevue, en route to their next show. What a thrill!
We recently came back from North Carolina where we were visiting my son who is serving in the U.S. Navy as a Corpsman attached to the Marines. He has served in Afghanistan and may soon be deployed to Iraq.
The sign at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina reads, “Pardon our noise, it’s the sound of freedom,” no doubt referring to the sound of the jets.
Now, when I see the Blue Angels flying overhead, I hear them as the sound of security, keeping our country and my son safe while he is defending us.
God bless America, and God bless our troops.
– Kenneth R. Esemann, Bellevue
July 23, 2009 at 4:00 PM
Washington senators vote foolishly on military spending
The vote by Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell to spend $1.75 billion to buy seven more F-22 fighter jets ["Senate roll call: Washington state's senators vote no," seattletimes.com, Politics & Government, July 21] was a disappointing reminder of how badly hooked they are on the drug of pork-barrel military spending.
Fortunately, the majority of their colleagues did not agree with them, and the Senate cut the proposed F-22 funding from the defense budget. While there were jobs at stake, there are ways to create jobs that do not involve wasteful spending.
Currently we are spending at a rate of around 25 percent of the gross domestic product while we raise less than 20 percent of it in taxes. This is unsustainable — increases in taxes and spending cuts are inevitable.
The severity of the cuts and the tax increases will depend on whether or not responsible legislators take advantage of good opportunities to cut spending and cutting the F-22 was one of them. It is a shame Murray and Cantwell did not see that.
I hope in the future we can count on them to look out for the financial well-being of this country instead of defense contractors’ interests.
– Lee Daneker, Seattle
Murray and Cantwell giving in to pork-barrel politics
As a longtime Democrat and supporter of Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, it pains me to see them cave in to the lowest form of pork-barrel politics they have long claimed to be above.
By voting for nearly $2 billion in funding for just seven new F-22 fighters, planes the secretary of defense and the president have long claimed we don’t need and can’t use, they have fed directly into the opposition, who continue to charge — this time justifiably — that Democrats can’t find a spending program they won’t support.
We didn’t elect our senators to bring home the bacon; we elected them to make smart decisions that increase our national security, and their votes did neither. The opportunity cost of continuing the F-22A program is enormous.
Undoubtedly, they or someone will claim they had to vote this way to support jobs at home. This is a lie.
Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, a state that also directly benefits from the F-22 program, voted with his conscience to kill the useless and costly program. Why can’t we expect the same from our senators?
I would like to see Cantwell and Murray re-elected but not if they continue making misguided votes like this one.
– John Lederer, Seattle
Despite F-22 cut, still too much spent on military
Since I’m opposed to wasteful military spending, I’m happy the Senate voted to save $1.75 billion in the coming military authorization bill by stopping the F-22 fighter program ["Senate votes to kill fighter-jet program," News, July 22].
But looking at the bigger picture, I’m not happy with the $679.8 billion still left in the bill, more than double what it was when George W. Bush took office. And it doesn’t count the roughly $50 billion in the intelligence budget, the $15 billion to protect and upgrade nuclear weapons or the billions spent by Homeland Security. Shouldn’t all these be called defense programs, too?
It seems we’re spending almost $1 trillion a year on defense and then wondering why we can’t keep our schools open, have real health care and give our wounded veterans the care they deserve.
We can redirect our spending and not a single defense worker has to lose their job. We can shift from making jet engine turbines to wind turbines, from cruise missiles to solar panels.
I’d be glad to see my taxes go toward retooling and retraining for sustainable energy needs, for peace instead of war.
– Bill Distler, Bellingham
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