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Your Aug. 31 article “Noda’s new challenge: Futenma issue likely not a priority for new Japanese prime minister” wrongly asserts that Sen. Carl Levin and I have “urged the Department of Defense to scale back” its basing plans in Japan and East Asia. In fact, we have consistently maintained that the U.S. must reinvigorate its historic and continuing role as the guarantor of stability in East Asia and do so in a way that maintains the strategic balance in the region.

Sens. Levin, John McCain and I put forward legislation — approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee in June — to require the Department of Defense to re-examine the current plans for restructuring U.S. military forces in East Asia, which are unrealistic, unworkable and unaffordable. We have recommended practical, cost-effective alternatives that would reduce the burden on the Okinawan people, fulfill our commitment to the U.S.-Japan security alliance, and strengthen the U.S. contribution to regional security.

These recommendations were the product of a great deal of consideration based on many years of thought and study that began with my time in the Pacific as a military planner in the 1970s, and included two visits to Okinawa, Guam and Tinian over the past 16 months.

Our country has reached a critical moment in terms of redefining our military role in East Asia. This moment in history requires that we clearly articulate our operational doctrine, thus reshaping the structure of our military posture in that region, particularly in South Korea, Japan and Guam. Our forward-deployed military forces are integral to our relationships in the region, and the success of these relationships depends upon a workable strategy for aligning our forces in a way that strengthens regional security and enhances our close alliances with Japan and South Korea.

Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va.

Chairman, Senate Foreign Relations East Asian and Pacific Affairs



Less space for trivial issues

Over the past few months, Stars and Stripes’ Letters to the Editor and Opinion pages have featured lots of opinions (as they should). However, all of the arguments I’ve read just go to prove that, when all is said and done, Americans don’t have real problems.

Not one American is fighting over clean water, getting his or her hands chopped off for voting or being physically tortured for any belief that he or she holds (though some would have you believe otherwise). So to those of you who would like to argue over meaningless stuff: Please keep it to yourself.

First, “atheist chaplains”: They already exist, they are called therapists. Please see one if you feel like, as an atheist, you are not being represented in the religious community.

Second, gay marriage: States have the power to decide who can get married. It really is that simple! Most states already have plenty of rules on people getting married (can’t be brother and sister, must be of a certain age and so on). That being said, my top five reasons for supporting gay marriage are: 1) Gay people are taxpayers too and deserve the same public declaration or document as every other taxpayer. 2 through 5) So those who want it to be legal will shut up.

The rest of us only have a finite amount of time on this planet and people who argue this and other points (such as whether to legalize marijuana, which light bulbs to use, what gas mileage my car should get) need to be sent away from the rest of us, so they can argue out of earshot until the Earth ends.

Nate Conley


An improper comparison

How can the author of the Aug. 31 letter “Some people will never get it” compare gay rights with slavery or civil rights? I know of no instance when families were murdered or separated by people who denounce homosexuality. I have yet to hear of any homosexual not being allowed to utilize the same public facility as a heterosexual person.

To be quite honest, I’m downright offended that someone would compare gay rights with either of these two categories. Such letters earn more bias toward homosexuals than help. Even though I don’t believe in homosexuality (I call it a phase, because I don’t believe it’s something that has longevity and will endure), I believe everyone is entitled to equal treatment.

First Lt. Dion Edwards



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