Topic: United States
You are viewing the most recent posts on this topic.
September 30, 2013 at 6:23 AM
We need to give more
My whole life, I was always proud to call myself an American, because I believed the United States did its best to help those who lived in other countries who were less fortunate than me.
It wasn’t until about a month ago, when I became a regional director for the Borgen Project, that I found out the U.S. actually puts aside less than 1 percent of its budget for foreign aid.
How many Americans are aware of this number? Very few. Even many of my peers studying international affairs believed this number to be much higher.
The fact is that foreign aid and efforts to reduce global poverty are believed by many Americans to be receiving much more of our country’s money than they really are.
What can we do as citizens to fix this problem? First, we can share this number with everyone we know. The first step to change is raising awareness. Second, we can let our congressional leaders know that we are not satisfied with this number. We can ask them to support legislation that promotes transparency of foreign aid and an increased focus on reducing global poverty.
Possibly the most powerful solution that is available to the American citizen is the ability to redirect the attention of the media. The media follows the news stories that we choose to follow. They track the links we click on and the articles we read.
If 90 percent of us click on Angelina Jolie instead of poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, then the media will give us more Angelina and less global poverty.
Is there a direct correlation between the percentage of news articles about global poverty and the percent of the U.S. budget that goes toward foreign aid?
The only way to find out is by changing our habits.
Kelsey Garcia, Woodinville
September 29, 2013 at 7:56 AM
What is the alternative?
For those who believe that defunding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as “Obamacare”) justifies the shutdown of the federal government and/or America’s default on its financial obligations by not raising the debt ceiling, please do one thing. [“Obamacare foe presses fight,” News, Sept. 25.]
Explain to the rest of us, who believe Obamacare is needed health-care reform, what health-care reform you would propose in its place. In the clamor about the adoption of a new fiscal year’s budget, raising the debt ceiling and defunding Obamacare, I’ve yet to hear what those who oppose Obamacare would replace it with.
Now, if you respond that health-care reform is unneeded in our country, then I would ask you, how do you compare America’s decline in the performance rankings with other developed countries in major health and health-care indicators?
America spends more per capita on the health-care industry than any other developed country, yet our outcomes are second tier. Why is that?
Finally, once you’ve answered these questions, why is the U.S. “defense” industry, and budget line, so sacrosanct in these budget discussions, when the U.S. spends nearly as much as the next 15 countries combined?
Robert Rench, Seattle
September 28, 2013 at 6:53 AM
U.S. should stay out
Although I agree with the unethical nature of the use of chemical weapons, I do not agree with taking quick action with Syria. [“Diplomats reach deal on Syria’s chemical weapons,” page one, Sept. 27.]
Despite much evidence indicating that President Bashar Assad was indeed behind the attacks, news coverage has also shown that Russia has reason to believe that Syrian rebels, not the president’s troops, were responsible for the attack — evidence that Sen. Kerry is, for the most part, denying.
By moving on Syria rather impulsively, the U.S. fuels its reputation for quickly exercising hard power on other countries. Moreover, despite this action seeming justified by the human-rights abuses in Syria, the U.S. is forgoing a primary objective: the protection and success of the state.
While an invasion may have quelled domestic paranoia and propagated the Middle East as a place of eternal conflict, resources are expended that could be used for the U.S. itself, a detrimental effect, especially while we are already running on virtual credit.
That being said, the U.S. may need to retire its role as international sheriff and focus its efforts internally, for we cannot give what we do not have.
Nicholas Louie, Tacoma
September 17, 2013 at 4:41 PM
Not the responsibility of the U.S.
I am writing regarding Syria. This is a problem for NATO. [“U.N. probe shows link to Syrian government,” News, Sept. 17.]
Rather than lob bombs at another country with unknown consequences and no clear idea of who the rebels are, how about a worldwide embargo and economic sanctions instead?
All deaths are bad deaths in war; what difference does it make if they are caused by poison gas or obliterating bombs?
Do we really think attacking Syria will keep us safe at home? Vietnam veterans Senator John McCain and Secretary of State John Kerry have short memories. What country was it that dropped napalm and Agent Orange on innocent civilians, and then spent years denying responsibility for our military personnel who were poisoned?
Where is the righteous indignation about Monsanto and other corporations poisoning the environment, oil fracking setting our water on fire, or the failure to contain radiation leaks at the Hanford nuclear power plant?
Concerns for another country’s citizens is hypocritical when we are not taking care of our own. Of course the use of chemical weapons is horrible, but war in any form is horrible; all the more reason to stay out of another one.
Sandra Watkins, Mountlake Terrace
Bad either way
Although clearly a lie, the Russian claim that rebels perpetrated the gas attack in Syria would foster an even greater threat: that the chemical weapons are in the hands of others, outside of the established government’s containment and control.
Angel Hewit, Issaquah
September 13, 2013 at 11:36 AM
Change begins at home
“This is not a world we should accept,” exclaims President Obama from the front-page headline. [“‘This is not a world we should accept,’” page one, Sept. 11.]
Yes, we should not accept chemical warfare. By the same token, we also should not accept diplomacy through destruction and death.
We should not accept blasting impoverished Pakistani villagers from above with drones in video games made horrifically real, including game language such as Predators, Reapers, Hellfire. A minority of the people we kill are “suspected” terrorists, and the others include children. Where are the news media pictures of those killings, Mr. President?
We should not accept the proposition that killing those children is acceptable because it was done with bombs instead of gas. We should not accept a government which collects and stores communications between all its citizens.
Yes, Mr. President, this is a world we should not accept.
Change should begin at home.
Sam Furgason, Medina
Think like a humanitarian
Today’s headline in The Seattle Times quotes President Obama as saying “This is not a world we should accept.”
What many Americans cannot accept is another war, more bombing or possibly provoking a wider war in the Middle East.
Violence begets violence as demonstrated by the president’s instant response and insistence on bombing Syria.
The wiser response would be to think in humanitarian terms and work toward peace-building, instead of pretending this is a video game and we can just press buttons that deliver drones and missiles.
Kathryn Keve, Bainbridge Island
September 13, 2013 at 6:58 AM
Economy not finite
I was appalled by the article in today’s Times about the top earners in the nation. [“Top 1% take a record share of U.S. income,” page one, Sept. 11.]
The article says “The top 1 percent took more than one-fifth of the income earned by Americans,” implying that a dollar earned by one person means a dollar less for someone else.
It’s not a finite pie. In fact, when a business owner (most of the “one percent”) makes a profit, the odds are proportionately increased that another job will be created.
This entrepreneur got to be part of the “one percent” the same way most of us did: through hard work, sacrifice, eschewing the security of a paycheck and benefits (which we provide to our employees) and laying everything we own on the line every day.
Most of us went years being the last one to get paid, if we got paid at all.
Terry Cole, Bellevue
September 11, 2013 at 3:56 PM
Need for compassion
Twelve years ago, I sat in my office in New York City and watched as airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center and their subsequent collapse. The images, fear and sadness of that day will stay with me for a lifetime. [“Nation pauses on 9/11 to pay tribute to victims,” seattletimes.com, Sept. 11.]
We all faced a brief exposure to the horrible scenery of war and the incredible loss it fosters. On this anniversary of that horrible day, I was immediately drawn to the front-page image of the destruction in the Syrian town of Deir Ezzor.
My heart instantly related it to the images of New York City after the attacks.
These people have faced this war for more than two years. They have lost family, friends and their way of life. The destruction is beyond our comprehension.
We know a family that fled Homs, Syria to seek shelter in Egypt. They left everything behind. The children haven’t been in school for more than a year, and Egypt isn’t offering this opportunity. The children don’t smile any longer. The family discusses returning to Syria to die at home.
Those who face the atrocities of war live 9/11 for years on end. They need our compassion and assistance. How do we provide it?
Aaron Edwards, Bainbridge Island
A way to give
Twelve years ago, al-Qaida took nearly 3,000 innocent lives. I was too young to understand why, but I knew that the Islam I followed didn’t teach violence.
I knew that the Quran condemns the taking of innocent lives; to kill a person is like killing all mankind.
I knew Prophet Muhammad stated that God has made the blood, property and honor of every human being sacred. I couldn’t understand that, when Islam clearly condemns bloodshed, why some people kill and call it an act for the sake of Islam.
For 12 years, I have been searching for the right answer for this question. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community ended my search when I came across the “Muslims for Life” campaign.
The goal for the campaign is to collect blood and save lives. In 2012, more than 11,000 pints of blood were collected nationwide. This year’s goal is to collect 12,000 pints of blood, which can be used to help save 36,000 American lives.
This is the best jihad by Muslims I’ve ever encountered.
Sheheryar Ahmad, Lynnwood
September 9, 2013 at 7:22 AM
U.N. and NATO: Step up
Am I wrong in wondering why the United Nations and NATO haven’t been more vociferous and outspoken on the current use of chemical weapons in Syria? [“U.S. may set up training Syrian rebels,” page one, Sept. 6.]
It seems to me that they, and other international groups, should be heading up, speaking out and being the collective-decision makers.
Following the Nuremberg Trials of “crimes against humanity,” protocol should become an established worldwide concept and understanding.
Lucille Berkowitz, Bellevue
Cyberattack is logical
The toxic-gas attacks of President Bashar Assad’s regime are without doubt terrible atrocities and deserve severe punitive response.
A ballistic-missile response might destroy strategic real estate and perhaps personnel. The downside is that it is unlikely to spare innocents; not likely to endear the U.S. in the hearts and minds among a population across the Middle East, where we are already detested by many.
An initial, forceful cyberattack on military centers, followed by repeated cyberattacks against other sites to cripple the infrastructure could make the point without direct human mortality.
Thank you, Professor John Yoder, for a well-reasoned proposition. [“Guest column: U.S. should launch cyberattack on Syria, not military strike,” Opinion, Sept. 5.]
Bill Collins, Sequim
September 8, 2013 at 8:01 AM
Step by step
The history of U.S. foreign policy is often of a very shortsighted view, resulting in decades of blowback and unintended consequences. [“U.S. may set up training Syrian rebels,” page one, Sept. 6.]
Given this, what should be done in Syria?
We should bring in U.N. peacekeepers to enforce an immediate cease-fire. Draw the lines “rebel held” and “government held” and protect the people inside these borders. Promote self-governance.
Next, mount a humanitarian effort for food, water, shelter and safety to all who have been displaced and for those who cannot survive in Syria where they are.
Then we should prosecute war criminals in the International Criminal Court. Convene “Geneva II,” including all current political entities in Syria. Include a huge dose of nonaligned Syrians, particularly Syrian women, whose primary concern is the safety of their children.
The goal: free elections and a new constitution. Post the discussions online and provide daily Twitter feeds. Allow the Syrian people to make comments directly to the negotiators.
If this stalls, recess for a month, send people back to their constituencies to hold public meetings, then go back to the negotiating table.
Repeat as necessary.
Margo Polley, North Bend
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sarin gas is similar to an insecticide, but much more potent. It’s odorless and, obviously, silent. It’s heavier than air and sinks to the basements where many civilians hide from the bombing of the Syrian regime.
Nerve gas kills or nearly kills all living things. That’s your babies, adults, cats, dogs, chickens, etc. It’s a painful way to die — convulsions, eye pain, respiratory and digestive difficulties or failure, paralysis.
Those who survive can have lasting psychological side effects. There are so few international taboos — genocide, slavery, chemical weapons are the primary ones. We saw what happened in Rwanda when the world turned away: more than 500,000 hacked to death.
I agree with the president. If others are too timid to fight for one of the few international rules that most human beings have been able to agree upon, that fact should not provide us with an excuse to do nothing.
Yes, we’ve made gross foreign-policy mistakes in the past. Yes, there are no perfect options. But to do nothing in the face of moral obscenity would be shameful and potentially dangerous for the world, including us.
Bernadette Foley, Suquamish, Kitsap County
September 7, 2013 at 7:56 AM
I write as one US citizen of many who stands strong against U.S. strikes in Syria. [“U.S. may set up training Syrian rebels,” page one, Sept. 6.]
President Obama, give me my hope back. I do not stand with your decision to destroy the lives of Syrians.
I am speechless as I remember when we heard the news in Chicago and I stood with you when I traveled to Washington, D.C. and chanted “we are one” on the morning of your inauguration.
Now I watch as you decide to commit acts of war. As an African-American woman, I must speak out and state that in these days of U.S. strikes, never-ending days of Guantánamo, in these days where 1 in every 3 African-American men are likely to be incarcerated during their lifetime, your home-sweet-home Chicago public schools close and an economy that seems to continue to shrink, I wait for that feeling of hope to return.
In these days, I realize it is up to me to keep you accountable, as you stated when elected. Yet, where to begin? We, the American people, do not support this strike.
As history will tell its own story, I will, at the very least, be able to say that when I felt hopeless, I spoke out, if only in the margins of this paper, to shout out loud that I stand for peace, not war. I stand for justice, not killing. I stand for hope, not destruction.
My heart and prayers reach out to the people of Syria in peace on this day as I raise my hands and cry out, why has our government acted once again in the name of destruction and murder with the rhetoric of peace and stability?
Catron Booker, Seattle
Courses of action
The ideal is a U.N.-authorized punishment of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime for gassing his people, effected by whomever is willing.
However, this is likely to be blocked by Russia and China, just as the U.S. blocks U.N. sanctions against the illegal actions of Israel.
We should advocate talks toward the remaking of Syria. The talks should be sponsored by six major and equal sponsors: the U.S., Russia, France, Turkey, Iran and the Gulf states (including Saudi Arabia).
The practical thing would be a coalition of NATO and Arab countries supporting punishment of Assad, to be effected by a subset of such a coalition.
The minimum? We play the world’s policeman by punishing Assad for gassing his people, shaming those who sit on the sidelines, and loudly proclaiming that any other use of such weapons by any group will be treated similarly.
Peter Haley, Seattle
Trending with readers