European edition letters for the weekof October 20 - October 26, 2002
Letters index(Click on date to jump ahead)
October 20 Luxury housing FAO story No apologyOctober 21 Dire warning It's all about oilOctober 22 Day care DoonesburyOctober 23 Where are great leaders? False beliefs Parking on baseOctober 24 Bush holds respect Ramstein day careOctober 25 Revolution on horizon Getting things straight Reasoning doesn't fit Integrity questioned
October 26 Bush dedicated, courageous Bush/oil Shame on writer
When I read the story “USAREUR won’t release results of study” (Oct. 10), which said that the deputy European commander stays in a house that to maintain basically costs what I make in a year, I was flabbergasted, to say the least. I guess he’s having champagne wishes and caviar dreams like “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” I have no doubt that he has a crucial and important job, and part of his job is rubbing elbows with the rich and powerful. But let’s not forget that while he’s living in extravagance, some troops are staying in housing and billeting that are so archaic and run down that they are basically slums.
I’m not foolish enough to forget that rank has its privileges. But 11,000-square-feet of views of Stuttgart, Germany, and wrap outdoor terraces are a little overboard. U.S. Army Europe also spent $100,000 to “study” the issue. That $100,000 could have built or renovated the Kleber child care facilities, which are severely lacking. Or it could have fixed the combined club in Meisau so single soldiers could have something to do besides gazing at ammo bunkers.
As the head of my family, I can’t imagine living in some luxurious penthouse suite while my family lived in a van down by the river. I’d suspect that anyone who is in charge would feel the same way about his subordinates. I have no doubt that there is a workable solution, such as housing the commander at Ramstein Air Base, which is an extremely nice place to stay. Or he could move to SHAPE, Belgium, with the rest of the NATO bigwigs. I’m sure that there has to be a nice, affordable place for him to “entertain” dignitaries at a reasonable price. (Been inside the officers club lately?) These are our tax dollars.
Here’s a far-out idea if they decide to keep the “South Fork” ranch in Stuttgart. How about inviting those troops on the front lines, those standing guard in the freezing nights, those separated from their families, to a weekend retreat? Most of us regular Joes will never have the opportunity to stay at a residence such as the one in question. I can’t even afford to drive by it. But I bet it would boost troop morale and, most importantly, bring the haves and have-nots a little closer together.
I can’t say I have a beef with anyone who has served his country for more than 30 years. He or she has done an honorable thing. That goes without saying. But if the deputy commander lives in a $1 million home, then where in God’s name is his boss, the actual commander, residing? And how much is that costing us?
Stephen MaloneKaiserslautern, Germany
It was nice to see the Army’s Foreign Area Officer program get some coverage in the story “Marshall Center takes an enrollment hit” (Oct. 6). But I’d like to clarify some points raised in the article.
With Officer Personnel Management System XXI (or OPMS III, as it’s now called), the Army has changed the way it manages officers, particularly FAOs. FAOs no longer have to divide their time between their FAO activities and those of their basic branches. The article was correct in saying that officers can no longer pursue a career in two career fields. But most officers view this as a positive result of the new system. Thus, the Army is not “forcing” FAOs to focus. On the contrary, it is now allowing FAOs to focus.
FAOs no longer have to spend half of their careers serving in their basic branches, and their selection rates for promotion and military education are now on a more even level with their peers across the Army. (These are both very positive outcomes of the new system.) So the Army does not need to train as many FAOs. Therefore, the Marshall Center Eurasian FAO program has fewer students. With new classes starting every six months, we expect 7-10 students per class. Pre-OPMS III, our class size was usually more than 20. While a class size of four is indeed small, the system is not “anti-FAO.” These very low numbers are primarily a result of understrengthed year groups and the Army’s decisions about how this shortage is distributed.
An important issue we are facing with the Marshall Center Eurasian FAO Program is related to the career field designation process. Officers make a career decision when they begin FAO training. They have to devote a significant portion of their careers to preparing for this new endeavor. These officers’ families also make a significant emotional investment in committing to a lifestyle that will see them repeatedly posted to austere overseas assignments away from Army communities. But when a CFD board sends most of these officers back to their basic branches after they’ve already devoted two to four years of training, this is a crisis for the officers and a loss for the Army. The FAO community loses bright prospects, and the basic branches get back officers who have spent a significant amount of time in nonbranch related training. This is opposed to their peers, who have remained close to the basic branch flagpole. The most recent disappointing CFD results were published on Sept. 4 and were very much on my students’ minds during their interviews with Stars and Stripes that same week.
I strongly believe that the Foreign Area Officers fulfill, and will continue to fulfill, an important role in their service to the Army and the nation. I hope that this helps readers better understand some of our current challenges.
Lt. Col. Christopher J. ToneDirector, Eurasian FAO ProgramGeorge C. Marshall CenterGarmisch, Germany
Apologize for what one thinks. Doesn’t that sound foreign? It sure does to me. Yet that is becoming the norm.
A young journalist recently wrote a column on the Internet called, “Why I hate Muslims.” It wasn’t a very good column. But the writer is young. Maybe he will improve when he gets older. But what happened after the column was published? He had to apologize. Free speech be damned. Muslims around the country decided that the writer had obviously made a mistake. People living in America, citizens or not, decided that the writer should have to apologize for expressing his opinion.
I have a question. Are these the same people who call us Zionist/Christian/Jewish pigs and Great Satans? Are these the same people who danced as the Pentagon burned and the World Trade Center towers collapsed? If so, where is my apology? I don’t like their views or their expressing them.
Jerry Falwell has also apparently had to apologize. Why? Because he thinks that Mohammed was a terrorist. I don’t agree with what Falwell says pretty much most of the time, so I ignore him. That’s what normal people do. They listen to other people’s opinions and choose to ignore the ones they disagree with.
Muslims don’t think that Jesus Christ was the son of God. They’ve said so. I’ve heard it. So where’s my apology? Or better yet, they should keep their apology and take it home with them. If they don’t like America, or if they hate America so much, they should leave. But whatever they do, they shouldn’t stay in the United States and try to bully people into their narrow-minded, Dark Ages thinking.
America is a free country. So if I think someone is ignorant and terrorist worshipping, I can and will say so. And no one will catch me apologizing either. That’s the American way.
Robert WillsRamstein Air Base, Germany
Our federal government has recently made a decision that will have our country expanding its war on terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. In light of this decision, I feel that I, as a U.S. soldier, should issue a dire warning to the United States public concerning the state of military morale and our prospects for victory.
I’m willing, even eager, to go into combat for my country. I’m willing to fight and even to die to protect the United States and the world at large from terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. In this I am not alone. But I’m considerably less willing to fight for a president who himself lacked the courage to fight, for an administration clearly representing big oil, and for an Army leadership that seems unconcerned with the rights and welfare of its soldiers. In this, too, I am not alone.
Once again, our country’s top leadership is asking us to live and die by principles that they do not possess themselves. The first President Bush was a war hero. Jimmy Carter’s credentials as a humanitarian are stellar. For these men I would fight with all my heart. But for an administration clearly representing the interests of the wealthiest people in America, and for a president with no personal courage or dedication to his country, I’m only willing to obey orders. The difference is crucial. Wars are not won by people obeying orders. They are won by people fighting with passion.
Our current president and vice president are oilmen. Our national security advisor used to be on the board of a major oil corporation. Any examples of volunteer service or charity on the part of any of these people could easily be exposed as having been done merely for the public relations value. Thus we have an oil-rich administration telling us we must invade an oil-rich nation, and to trust these people when they tell us it is in the best interests of our country. The inevitable skepticism that has resulted from this is shared by many decorated and respected veterans, including several retired generals.
In recent months, there has been much talk about the Army’s decision to reduce re-enlistment bonuses. At the same time, the Army is using stop-loss to keep its most experienced soldiers in the ranks to fight a war. For those not familiar with how this works, stop-loss is the means by which a soldier, who signed up for a specific period of service, is required to extend his or her enlistment beyond this time. In other words, stop-loss is a draft. Soldiers who have fulfilled their obligations, who have done more in the service of their country than their current commander in chief, are required to extend their commitment against their will so that their government and their Army do not have to provide them with the incentives and rewards that they deserve. If soldiers were treated with the respect and gratitude that they have earned, stop-loss would be totally unnecessary.
Adding insult to injury, the Army has ordered Special Forces soldiers serving in Afghanistan to shave off their beards and wear their uniforms strictly according to regulation. This was done because aid workers in Afghanistan complained that these soldiers looked like civilians. This, of course, was the whole point. If aid workers in Afghanistan think the Army’s policies make the environment they have volunteered to serve in too dangerous, they can pack up and go home. The soldiers cannot. The humanitarian mission in Afghanistan is important and honorable, but it’s still the secondary objective. The primary objective requires that our troops be effective and protected from the enemy.
So let’s sum this up. America’s soldiers are fighting for a commander in chief who lacks the courage to fight, for an administration more concerned with oil profits than the well-being of its country, and for an Army with little gratitude for the sacrifices of its soldiers, concern for their well-being, or respect for their rights as citizens. This high-tech military force is now engaging in a long war, on multiple fronts, with a low-tech enemy who fights with fanatical passion and devotion against impossible odds. The last time we did this, we lost more than 50,000 Americans for nothing. This time we may lose far more. The last time, a small, rather unimportant nation fell to communism. This time, a large, powerful region of the world may fall to something even worse. America’s sons and daughters will die, indeed are dying already, fighting this war. Only selfless and principled leaders can ensure that they not die in vain.
Spc. Adam RedgraveCamp McGrath, Kosovo
It's all about oil
In my opinion, the only reason why President Bush wants to invade Iraq is so his Texas oil buddies can control the Iraqi oil fields. This Iraqi oil acquisition is a business deal by an administration full of businessmen with questionable business practices. Both of our top two leaders have had their oil dealings questioned by the Securities and Exchange Commission in the past. So before we get emotional and bring up Sept. 11, 2001, patriotism and terrorism, let’s just put the facts on the table.
Texas oil money contributed heavily to the campaigns of President Bush and Dick Cheney, according to the USA Today story “Oil industry supports Bush campaign” (July 2, 2000). Once elected, they first tried to repay their oil friends by pushing for new oil drilling in Alaska. The American people wouldn’t stand for them destroying Alaska, so now they’re invoking Sept. 11, 2001, in hopes that we won’t mind them destroying Iraq for its oil.
In a recent speech, President Bush told the world that America would rebuild Iraq. Just a few months earlier, he was demanding that Europe and Japan rebuild Afghanistan. What’s the difference? There’s no oil in Afghanistan. Who do readers think will manage the captured/stolen Iraqi oil fields? President Bush’s oil friends! Could there be reasons other than oil for ousting Saddam Hussein? The Bush administration lists two primary reasons for wanting to invade Iraq. The first is that Saddam is a cruel and dangerous man who has amassed weapons of mass destruction, supports terrorism and is a danger to his neighbors and his own people. The second reason is that he has failed to follow U.N. resolutions.
If these reasons are worth invading another country, then there’s a long list of countries that should be invaded before Iraq. Why is there no talk of invading North Korea? The evilest of the “axis of evil” is not trying to amass weapons of mass destruction. It already owns them. It boasts of selling them to the highest bidder unless the U.S. pays it bribe money. It’s killing its own people through starvation in order to feed its military. Not only does North Korea sponsor terrorists, it produces them. Its terrorists have brought down airliners, killing American, South Korean and Japanese citizens. It has admitted kidnapping citizens of other countries and dares anyone to do anything about it. While the Bush administration feels that Iraq may attack its neighbors at some future date, North Korean forces have already attacked its neighbors, just a few short months ago, causing deaths and sinking a South Korean naval vessel. The fact is that North Korea has a long and continuous history of killing Americans. But it has no large oil fields, so President Bush is not interested.
As far as obeying U.N. resolutions are concerned, Israel has refused to obey a number of U.N. resolutions. It builds settlements on lands that the U.N. and the U.S. have demanded to be returned to the Palestinians. This has gone on for decades. But there’s no oil in Israel, and so again the Bush administration is not interested.
Finally, how can a patriotic American question the actions of the president of the U.S.? It was the Republican Party that pointed out to the media and the world that a person could be the president of the U.S. and his actions could be wrong and should be questioned by the American public. Just asked former President Bill Clinton.
The al-Qaida terrorists who attacked us are alive and well and killing people. An example is in Bali. Our military needs to go after those terrorists and leave the acquisition of oil fields alone.
James CarrethersHeidelberg, Germany
The Air Force has the reputation of being the most family-oriented branch of the military. That may be back stateside, but it isn’t the case here at U.S. Air Force Europe headquarters. It’s hard to measure the support provided by the Air Force until families arrive overseas. Servicemembers don’t realize this stateside, because wherever the Air Force falls short of support there’s always adequate alternatives off base. But families don’t have the same options here in Germany.
Whatever the circumstances, children should never have to take a back seat when it comes to adequate day care. That should be the base commander’s main priority. I’ve read plenty of Action Line letters in the Kaiserslautern American addressing this issue. The base commander acknowledges that substandard day care exists at Ramstein Air Base, and he even labels it a “quality of life” issue. Since he’s aware of the problem, why isn’t he exhausting every effort to resolve it? He’s responsible for every problem that takes place on his base, including day care. I believe he and his staff are responsible for giving their best effort and attention to completely resolve this disaster and give Ramstein’s families some much-needed relief.
I’ve decided to forego writing the commander an Action Line letter because I’d rather not be placated with excuses for why his staff can’t solve the problem. I’ve done extensive research into this problem and have found that it’s not as impossible as they say it is. I don’t care who’s responsible. But when I look around and see that no expense is spared to improve the base golf course and build a new enlisted club, I realize that day care just isn’t on the list of popular endeavors. I can’t believe that the services’ management and civil service employees responsible for this tragedy get paid their fat salaries for not having provided any results and keep giving excuses. Instead, the base commander should use their salaries to make another day care facility and hire more child care providers. I’m convinced that their priorities are far out of whack.
Day care is more important than any venue on base. Do readers realize that for every child in the child development center, there are tens of children waiting on a list of “priorities” who aren’t likely to ever get in? Moreover, why are there categories of “priority” to get into day care? I don’t care if someone is a single parent, military to military, or a servicemember with a working spouse. There should never be concessions involved with day care. It’s apparent that favors are being played out here, which results in a case for discrimination. They’ll say that categories exist because of policies established a long time ago. But their agenda and policies don’t make sense. A lack of thought and planning has created this problem.
Single parents get priority over everyone else for day care? Why? Does anyone realize the status of our force readiness when we incorporate single parents into the military? What business do they have being overseas with children? This situation sends the message that the Air Force promotes and encourages dysfunctional families. Only a few circumstances thrust these individuals into being single parents. They either got accidentally pregnant or chose to get divorced. If their spouse died, then they should get out on a hardship discharge in the best interests of their children. Regardless, how does this irresponsible behavior constitute or guarantee them priority at the top of the list?
From what I’ve gathered, the only thing they’re required to do in the event of being deployed is to go to the legal office and appoint a reliable friend or family member to take care of their children in their stead. This has nothing to do with child care during the day at Ramstein. It’s the concern of every parent to find adequate child care during the day over here.
The next category is two military spouses. Again, there’s no reason for concessions here. They made the choice to marry each other and have children under the circumstances, so they knew what they were getting into. The same responsibilities fall on them regarding deployments too. So again I ask: Why is this a reason for priority child care during the day over others? Dual military members get more money than anyone else to live over here. They’re compensated enough to have a live-in nanny if they want. The truth is, if they knew they couldn’t use their “head of the line” card for day care, they probably would’ve thought twice about having children or even bringing them overseas.
So whose shoulders does all the irresponsibility fall on? Those in my category -- military with working spouse, which comes after these two. This means that if more of them PCS over here later, my daughter is automatically bumped back, ensuring that she’ll never get in as long as we’re here.
It’s implied that because I’m a spouse, I can afford to sit on my butt at home and watch the kids. But what if our expenses dictate two incomes? With two kids and my wife’s E-3 income, I’m required to work as well. How is this in the best interests of families with spouses who need to work? Our circumstances are no less valid for adequate child care during the day than categories one and two. We deserve proper day care in the appropriate order on the list. It should be first come, first served. If the Air Force is willing to bring families over here, then it has every responsibility to support them or they shouldn’t be brought over at all.
Inadequate day care at Ramstein is like a bad pair of shoes. It totally affects one’s whole attitude toward life in the Air Force. In fact, this weighs heavily on our decision to stay in. This is more than just a quality of life issue. It’s a retention issue. The Air Force can’t just throw re-enlistment bonuses at airmen and expect that to solve all the problems and unnecessary hardships that families have to endure because of the Air Force’s carelessness. The Air Force needs to treat its families overseas better.
Eddie KautzmanRamstein Air Base, Germany
Garry Trudeau went too far in his “Doonesbury” comic strip published in Stars and Stripes on Oct. 18. In this day’s strip we found Trudeau’s lackey liberal characters questioning President Bush’s press secretary, “Ari” (Ari Fleischer), about a possible war with Iraq. In the last panel of the four-panel cartoon, Trudeau’s bland lackey liberal heroes referred to the Bush people who run things by saying, “It’s like dogs are in charge!” Another bland lackey liberal (these characters all look the same and talk the same) said, “Yeah, dogs! Really big dogs!” So this was the punch line. George Bush and his “people” are a bunch of “big dogs” (of war, if you like). They are, as the cartoon said, “the only people in the world who are really hot for a big, fat, bloody conflict right now.”
Yes, Trudeau has gone over the line before. And no, I don’t think he should be banned or censored. I just think that he’s not funny here, and usually not funny. Nothing is worse than a satire which ends up not being funny and only insulting to the target of its satire. So it’s set up as to make unintended satire on the self-righteous, self-congratulatory political left in America.
Martin Sheen, a great American actor, has recently referred to President Bush as a “moron.” At least Sheen is commenting outside the arena of his expertise -- acting. Trudeau is making his unfunny comments in his line of work -- political satire. To make his points against the Bush administration, Trudeau reveals his liberal agenda of bland and blind conformity to appearances and hypocrisy in all their superficiality.
I read Doonesbury to better understand the hypocrisy of the liberal mind-set today.
Raymond KeenWürzburg, Germany
Where are the great leaders?
I agree with the letter “No apology” (Oct. 20). We’ve become so politically correct that it makes me sick! Instead of doing what we need to do to get the job done, we’re walking on eggshells around the rest of the world’s opinions. Since when did the rest of the world dictate our rights? Since when did the U.N.’s opinion count more than our rights?
Take a look at what’s going on at home as well. Who grows up to have so much power that they can get enough people to protest prayer in schools and have the Pledge of Allegiance thrown out? I understand the whole separation of church and state. But we had prayer in our schools long before these people. As long as kids keep showing up in schools with guns, there needs to be prayer in schools. “I ask the Lord to watch over this school and keep the bad kids out.” Simple, really.
When I was in school, if it was against someone’s beliefs to say the pledge or pray, he had the right not to say them. We didn’t care. We’re censoring and banning our right to practice religion. We’re on our way to outlawing our own rights, all in the name of looking good to those who don’t want to step on toes. Did our forefathers not leave Europe in the first place so they could escape religious persecution?
As for terrorism, what do readers think our leaders in the past did to get stuff done? They stepped on toes. Were they always perfect? Did their plans always work? No. But we didn’t walk around on eggshells asking anyone else if it was the right thing to do. What am I getting at? Going after the “evil doers.” Many countries lost someone on Sept. 11, 2001, but only Britain had enough guts to stand up and say it would help us. The rest of the world? Well, these countries are just too scared to deal with the people who killed their countrymen. They’re scared that others from their countries may die so the rest can live in peace. Overall, it looks good to them not to do anything. It’s not politically correct anymore to raise Cain.
Where is Patton? Where are all the great leaders of our past who did what had to be done and to heck with the rest of the world? I don’t want to be just another person saying the same things that a small number of people are. But I don’t have millions to spend to get on television. I’m not running for office. I’m just an American who loves my rights and hopes we’ll still have some that count to pass on to my son.
The world has changed. It will never be the same. We need to stick to our guns and our rights and our way of life. Like the letter writer basically said, the heck with those who don’t like us. The heck with those who live in and enjoy the rights of the United States but then whine when they see true Americans exercising their rights. Get out.
Jason MayfieldHanau, Germany
If we so-called Christians are not careful, many of us will end up in hell due to false beliefs. This is because false beliefs turn us into Pharisees and hypocrites. They mislead us to believe that we are the “moral majority” or “most righteous” on Earth. They cause us to see sin in others but not in ourselves. Here are examples of commonly expressed false beliefs by self-righteous Christians:
1. “I am saved, sanctified and filled with the Holy Ghost.”2. “I do not practice sin.”3. “I am a sinner saved by grace.”4. “Once in grace, always in grace.”5. “Our sins are buried in the sea of God’s forgetfulness.”6. “Salvation is free.”
Self-righteous Christians memorize and recite Scriptures like parrots but fail to understand what they recite. Accordingly, they don’t know that the above beliefs are false. They are false because the quotes are not the exact words of God but adulterations of Scriptures. The “inventors” simply leaned to their own understanding and thereafter added their opinions to the words of God. They willfully ignored Proverb 3: 5, which warns, “Lean not unto thine own understanding.” They also ignored Proverb 30: 6, which warns, “Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.”
Self-righteous Christians are willfully ignorant of the true meaning of the above false beliefs. If one says, “I am saved, sanctified and filled with the Holy Ghost,” the person implies that he or she does not have sin. This is false because 1 John 1: 8 says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” It is also false for one to believe that he or she can have sin and be filled with the Holy Ghost. This is because the Holy Ghost does not dwell where there is sin.
If one says, “I do not practice sin,” the person is trying to camouflage his or her present sins. According to 1 John 1: 8, all of us have sin in one form or another. If one says, “I am a sinner saved by grace,” he or she does not understand Ephesians 2: 8. This Scripture says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith.” Accordingly, one cannot be saved by grace unless the person has faith and believes that if he or she repents, God will forgive him or her.
It is wishful thinking to believe that, “Once in grace, always in grace.” I’m not a bishop, but I have the sense to know that God’s grace ends when one commits sin and fails to repent. It is also foolhardy to believe that “our sins are buried in the sea of God’s forgetfulness.”
According to Ezekiel 33: 13 and 1 John 1: 9, God will not forget our sins unless we repent. Those who say that “salvation is free” lack knowledge of the truth. The inventor of this belief has misled Christians by adding his or her opinion to Ephesians 2: 8. I believe that “salvation is not free” to those who fail to repent.
I also believe that people who repent will make it to heaven through God’s grace and his everlasting covenant. But I don’t believe that God will extend his grace and covenant to so-called Christians who fail to repent. They will end up in hell with their false beliefs.
Olemeforo I. NwangoroDarmstadt, Germany
Parking on base
Parking on any base is at a premium. Parking on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, is an especially excruciating process. Parking around the base exchange is the ultimate in driver frustration.
Last year, during the height of force protection measures and reduced parking, someone at the BX made the decision to put up a Christmas market tent in the parking lot, right next to the entrance. Chalk it up to a bad decision.
This year, another tent is now up in the exact same location. Chalk that decision up to not learning from past mistakes. This is utter nonsense. Nearly 60 prime parking spots gone for three months. Want to add to the madness? The main parking lot is being repaired. Half of the lot will be closed for several weeks.
For several years, the Christmas market tent was erected in the Commons, which was an excellent place for it. It should be put back there. It worked. Move a couple of the AAFES New Car Sales vehicles for a time.
Selecting the parking lot to put up the tent and inconveniencing customers is just plain ridiculous. Whoever made the decision should be standing at the curb with a valet’s jacket on and parking cars until this foolishness ends in January. Until then, I’ll take my business elsewhere. It probably won’t matter to AAFES, because customer service doesn’t seem to be its concern. But at least I’ll be able to find a parking place.
Senior Master Sgt. Les JonesRamstein Air Base, Germany
Bush holds respect
I was incensed after reading the letters “Dire warning” (Oct. 21) and “It’s all about oil” (Oct. 21). I can’t believe Stars and Stripes printed this uninformed, ignorant tripe. I won’t even waste my time addressing the writer of “It’s all about oil,” who said President Bush’s reason for going after Saddam Hussein is to control Iraq’s oil. That claim is intensely shallow.
Stars and Stripes’ policy says letters should stick to one subject, be short, and not contain malice. The writer of “Dire warning” totally ignored Stripes’ policies. Yet Stripes printed this nonfactual, un-American litter and propaganda. Through intent or ignorance, this is detrimental to military morale.
“Dire warning” began with the federal government’s decision to expand the war on terrorism. Then, through paranoia or delusion, the writer decided everyone needed his “dire warning.” Then he went on to military morale. Next he skipped to his willingness(?) to fight and die for his country, but with an exception — not for the current President Bush. He then babbled about the current Bush administration “clearly representing big oil” and that Bush has “no personal courage or dedication to his country.” (I consider this malice.)
Then readers got a lesson in the difference between people fighting with passion and those fighting because they’re obeying orders. The latter, the writer said, would lose a war. He also wrote that Army leadership seems unconcerned with the rights and welfare of its soldiers. Then he switched to “his facts” and said he’s not alone in his beliefs. He didn’t mention one name, though I’m sure there are a few others who would turn coat. I challenge the writer to provide the names of those “respected veterans and several retired generals” who agree with him.
The writer then claimed our country’s top leadership (generals included, I assume) is asking him and his phantom others to live and die by principles which members of the leadership do not possess themselves. (This is more malice). What a dynamite perception! Then this “soldier” explained how he would fight “with all his heart” for some presidents, but not for our current president. Then he switched from re-enlistment bonuses to stop-loss, his formula to eliminate stop-loss, Special Forces in Afghanistan, beards, uniforms, aid workers and the humanitarian mission there. Then the writer had to “sum it all up” for everyone by again stating that “the president of the United States lacks the courage to fight, that the administration is more concerned with oil profits than the well-being of its country.” (This is more malice.) The writer ended his rant with his knowledge about our high-tech military force, its low-tech enemy, and the impending doom of death.
The writer’s diatribe on his self-proclaimed bravery — if only others were running the country — and his illiterate knowledge of our president embarrasses me to no end. That Stars and Stripes printed this rubbish shames me as well.
Although current President George W. Bush did not serve in a war, he did serve during Vietnam. And like his father, I’m sure he would have gone had he been called. I say I’m sure because of the saying, “like father, like son.” George W. Bush followed his father all the way to the presidency. He received a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a Master’s of Business Administration from Harvard Business School. He then served his country as an F-102 pilot for the Texas Air National Guard. I wonder what the letter writer has accomplished.
President Bush has earned a reputation as a compassionate conservative who shapes policy based on the principles of limited government, personal responsibility, strong families and local control.
The writer said he respects President Bush’s father and would “die” for him. Our current president campaigned hard to get his father elected to the position the writer says he is so willing to die for.
Our current President Bush was elected governor of Texas in 1994 with 53.5 percent of the vote. In a historic re-election victory, he became the first Texas governor to be elected to consecutive four-year terms, winning 68.6 percent of the vote. Today President Bush holds the respect of the majority of our brave soldiers.
President Bush has proposed bold initiatives to ensure that America’s prosperity has a purpose. He has also addressed improving our nation’s public schools by strengthening local control and insisting on accountability; reducing taxes on all taxpayers, especially for those Americans on the fringes of poverty; strengthening the military with better pay, better planning and better equipment; saving and strengthening Social Security and Medicare by providing seniors with more options; and ushering in the responsibility era in America.
Through President George W. Bush, the U.S. armed forces have the best equipment ever with which to fight a war. Their servicemembers have also received the largest pay increases ever granted in the military. They are larger than the ones granted during President John F. Kennedy’s term.
It is my humble opinion that the letter writer is not as brave as he claims. Rather, he hides his deep fear behind false accusations which Stripes printed. The likes of the writer and his self-proclaimed gallantry in no way represent me. He and the writer of “It’s all about oil” should be ashamed.
Anthony F. RetelMannheim, Germany
Ramstein day care
After reading so many letters concerning day care at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, I feel compelled to write a letter in its defense. Until recently I was an operations clerk at the Ramstein Child Development Center. I have never seen more hard-working people than the ones who spend all day, every day with the wonderful children of the Kaiserslautern Military Community.
I’d like to start with a few facts:
1. It takes approximately 10 children to pay one child care provider’s salary.2. According to the Air Force instruction governing CDCs, it is up to the installation commander to determine child care usage priority.3. Air Force child care providers do not receive discounts for their own child care expenses.
The KMC offers many wonderful opportunities for child care, but parents must be willing to go outside the gates of Ramstein to receive it. The Air Force offers child care at Vogelweh and Sembach, as well as Ramstein, and has many well-trained family child care providers. I’ve heard many times, “I will not put my child in home day care.” I understand the fear some parents have of leaving their children in strange homes. If this is not an option, there is also Army Child and Youth Services, located conveniently throughout the KMC.
Not everyone is born to be a child care provider. We must ask this question: Do we want to hire just anyone who walks in off the street to care for children, or do we want only people who will treat each child as their own? The CDC does not have people beating down the door of the Human Resource Office to apply for jobs. Sure, they can raise wages in order to attract more individuals for the jobs. This would possibly create more child care space. But this would be passed along to parents in the form of outrageous price increases.
My son attends Kaiserslautern Elementary School, so I had to take him from the Ramstein CDC and place him in the Vogelweh CDC while I was still working at Ramstein. I don’t care how far I have to drive. I’m just thankful that my son has such a wonderful place to go every day.
The mission of the child development center is to support the military mission. Single and dual military members have priority because they are the ones who hold the contract with the government. Any slots left over are offered to military members with employed spouses.
Again, thanks to all the wonderful child care providers who offer my son such a positive experience. I never thought I’d see the day that he actually asks to go to “school.”
Trudy PrygaRamstein Air Base, Germany
Revolution on horizon
My name is Jeffrey Lee Wellbaum (aka Jefferson Lee Wellbaum), and I’m a super patriot who will do anything to preserve and protect our great and glorious republic. As readers can see by my name, I was unintentionally named by my parents after two great Americans — Thomas Jefferson and Robert E. Lee.
I believe there’s a third American Revolution on the horizon, the first being the American Revolution and the second the Civil War. It will not necessarily be a bloody and futile war, but a great reawakening of our founding fathers’ principles that will preserve our republic.
John Adams and I agree that the body politic is just like an organic animal — it ages with time. Our body politic is aging rapidly, with tyranny and oppression and continuous wars and meddling in the affairs of people who only want liberty, food, water and warm shelter. Meanwhile, the tyrants of the world battle for world dominance so they can be idolatrous worshippers on the tyrannical throne of greed, self-interest and avarice. It is our patriotic duty to change the tide and reverse the damage done by the tyrants who enrich themselves on other people’s suffering and very survival.
It’s time for us to live up to our sacred Constitution and the creed of “government for the people, by the people,” and not one of a government by the special interests, for the special interests. I feel in many ways that it is almost like 1753 or 1763 all over again as tyrants in a far away government take away American liberties.
I’m an advocate of peace, with war as a last resort to ensure our security. I don’t support the radicals in some so-called patriot movements who believe in racism, radical Christian beliefs and the overthrow of the federal government. I believe in the power of the people to create change and make our country a better place for liberty. The American people have more than one choice. The Republican and Democratic parties are one and the same, controlled by the rich and special interests. People should vote for alternate party candidates who will bring about change instead of the status quo.
I believe in the grand balance between liberty and security, and that the pendulum has swung too far toward too much of a security state. In light of the increasing threat from terrorists, this extra security is necessary, but only for so long. We need to make adjustments and swing the pendulum back toward the middle and thus keep it from swinging off its balance.
If we play our cards right, we can keep our grand experiment in democracy going strongly for another 200 to 300 years instead of the current pace of 20 or 30 more years if we’re lucky. If we continue to be influenced by the special interest money men, oilmen and Israeli factions, we’ll be putting the final nail in the coffin of our American way of life. I fear if the United States and Britain invade Iraq, we’ll lose not 3,000 plus American civilian lives but 20,000 to 30,000 innocent Americans. I cry myself to sleep some nights for those who died so needlessly on Sept. 11, 2001, and for the many more patriots who will die at the hands of tyrants and terrorists in the future if we don’t repent and change our ways.
Spc. Jeffrey Lee WellbaumHeidelberg, Germany
Getting things straight
The writer of the letter “Day care” (Oct. 22) needs to get a few things straight about the day-care program. First, my wife and I are both active duty, and I’m trying to figure out where the writer came up with his numbers showing how we’re compensated more than enough to afford a live-in nanny. The last time I looked at my paycheck and compared it to a majority of the civilian employees working for the Department of Defense in Europe, they make quite a bit more than I do. Second, because I’m dual military and my spouse and I are both E-5s, I pay a considerable amount more for day care than the writer does. In fact, the child development center believes that my spouse and I make as much as a general officer. Go figure.
I agree with the writer that day care is a headache and takes some time and effort to find. Once my family arrived in Europe, it took us roughly a month to find a home day-care provider. We were on the waiting list to get into the CDC for eight months. I drove 20 minutes out of the way every morning and evening to a home day-care provider. And after eight months, my provider PCS’d, putting me in a situation of no day care at all.
The writer said if servicemembers can’t provide for their families because they’re single or dual-military, they shouldn’t bring their family members to Europe. I feel the same way, and that also goes for the writer. If he and his spouse can’t afford to provide adequately for their family to be in Europe, then they shouldn’t have come over. It’s a volunteer assignment. Everyone has to make the best of it. The military doesn’t issue a family, but it tries to help as much as possible.
Maybe the writer should look into running a day-care center in his home. He’d have the best day care possible for his child and make an extremely nice income to boot.
Michael YorkWürzburg, Germany
Reasoning doesn't fit
What a hypocrite! I am of course referring to the person who wrote the letter “Day care” (Oct. 22) about the day-care problems at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The writer feels slighted because his family doesn’t have day-care priority because they fall into the wrong category. But his reasoning doesn’t fit. He’s a dependent spouse married to an E-3 with two children. In my opinion, what he said about military married to military fits his situation perfectly: “There’s no reason for concessions here,” he wrote. “They made the choice to marry each other and have children under the circumstances, so they knew what they were getting into.” So I, too, ask, why is this a reason for priority child care during the day over others?
Master Sgt. Peggy UshmanRAF Mildenhall, England
The letter “Dire warning” (Oct. 21) raised some serious questions about the writer’s integrity. The writer laid out a laundry list of things he feels are wrong with our commander in chief, citing President Bush’s military service and ties to the oil industry. The writer also used his letter to describe the level of service the United States could expect from him. Apparently the writer feels servicemembers can fight with passion only if they agree with who happens to be sitting in the Oval Office at the time of a given national crisis. I can just hear him ranting to his fellow servicemembers. “Forget the ideals and values America stands for. Tell me who the president is, and I’ll tell you how much service my country can expect of me.” Does it really matter who resides in the White House when our country is under attack? Does it really matter that President Bush has ties to the oil industry when a few thousand Americans were killed just because they were Americans?
The writer also went on to say how the Army reduced re-enlistment bonuses and even implemented stop-loss. He observed how the Army used stop-loss “to keep its most experienced soldiers in the ranks to fight a war.” Heaven forbid! The writer’s strategic military skills are undoubtedly needed at the Pentagon immediately! What rational nation would want experienced soldiers fighting in a war?!
The writer closed with what in my opinion was actually an intelligent observation. He said that when America’s sons and daughters are fighting a war, “only selfless and principled leaders can ensure that they not die in vain.” Well, here’s my observation: A selfless and principled leader would never base his level of effort for his country on his affection for its commander in chief.
Master Sgt. Patrick JohnstonAviano Air Base, Italy
Bush dedicated, courageous
Unfortunately, the writer of the letter “Dire warning” (Oct. 21) is as bad at history as he is at showing respect for his superiors. Any soldier, sailor, Marine, or airman should understand that questioning the courage and intentions of our commander in chief is disloyal and disrespectful. It doesn’t matter if a servicemember disagrees with his own lieutenant or the president of the United States. He still has a professional responsibility to be respectful. Obviously, the writer feels that he doesn’t need to show respect to anyone he disagrees with.
The writer based much of his argument on President Bush’s apparent lack of courage and dedication. But these suppositions are proven false by President Bush’s history. Our president completed, through hard work and dedication, a bachelor’s degree at Yale University and a master’s degree of business administration at Harvard. What has the letter writer dedicated himself to and completed? Our commander in chief then volunteered for pilot training through the Texas Air National Guard and became an F-102 pilot. Simply making it through pilot training to successfully pilot the world’s first supersonic all-weather jet interceptor showed a great deal of courage and dedication. Doing so at the height of the Vietnam War, when many people were looking for any possible way to avoid service, also showed courage.
No, our president did not in fact deploy to southeast Asia. If that is the writer’s acid test for dedication and courage, I feel sorry for those around him. I’ve been in the military for many years and have deployed my share, but I know that’s not the mark of courage. I’ve served my country proudly. But the writer should know that there are many brave, dedicated people who never leave the shores of our great nation.
Our president was successful and made a lot of money in the oil business. Is this somehow wrong? Would the writer rather have had U.S. voters elect an unemployed person who never succeeded at anything in his life? Our president has shown dedication and courage throughout his life, and especially since Sept. 11, 2001. The writer has shown ignorance, disrespect and a lack of loyalty by writing his letter. I hope his superiors explain to him his duties and responsibilities as a junior member of our military.
Tech. Sgt. Patrick CarrollRAF Lakenheath, England
I’m in the military right now so that the writers of the letters “Dire warning” (Oct. 21) and “It’s all about oil” (Oct. 21) have the right to practice their freedom of speech. Having said that, let me start off with the whole President Bush/oil topic. If the United States invades Iraq, which I hope it does, it sure will be a blood bath. Many American sons and daughters will die. Many will get hurt, and a lot more people will hate Americans. The letter writers might not like that answer because they have no friends or family in the Middle East. And besides, why should we care? It’s on the other side of the world, right? But when they signed on that black line, they signed away their right to protest. And that is exactly what they’re doing. It might not be in front of a gate or with a billboard, but they as soldiers are telling the American people that our cause is not just and that President Bush is trying to steal poor Iraq’s oil.
We need to go after Saddam Hussein now. If we wait, and he has weapons of mass destruction, it will be too late. Then we can close our eyes and try to ignore the problem. But as soon as he uses them against Iran or Israel, the United Nations will ask us to send our troops in to stop Saddam. Granted, those 5,000 to 6,000 people who could die now are still alive. But let’s say 20,000 innocent people in Israel died. Then we send in troops to deal with Saddam, and let’s say we have 8,000 GIs at Prince Sultan Air Force Base, Saudi Arabia. Boom, they’re all gone, because our friend grew some anthrax in the past two years. After about two years we finally liberate Iraq, Saddam’s gone, and its people are free.
I’m telling readers right now that if President Bush tried to take oil for the United States, the international community would not like that very much. It will never happen.
Now let’s talk about stop-loss. It’s not a draft. Does the letter writer remember having to sign up for four years of inactive reserve when his four or six years are up? That’s why it’s not a draft. He made a conscious decision when he signed up for that.
It’s not whether the military treats the writer well or not, because it does. Starting with President Bush all the way down to the local AAFES manager, they all try to improve our quality of life. They know that the writer is not the first soldier who doesen’t like being yelled at all the time just because he’s the lowest ranked, or having to pull charge of quarters duty all night on a Saturday, not to mention having to share a dorm room with four other guys. But we can’t beat the benefits we have, and if it wasn’t for that screwed up chain of command that maybe the writer got stuck with, the military would be a great place. The writer should just wait until he PCS’s. Maybe things will be better. But he shouldn’t blame my president and the armed forces for a sergeant’s or captain’s shortcomings.
Airman 1st Class Ronald LeeRamstein Air Base, Germany
Shame on writer
I can’t believe the temerity of the letter “Day care” (Oct. 22). The writer should be ashamed of himself for pointing the finger at single parents and dual-military couples for his base’s lack of child care. The writer suggested that single parents should be forced out of the military and dual-military couples should know better than to have children. Well, I’m a single parent, and prior to my divorce I was part of a dual-military couple. I hate to burst the writer’s bubble, but even with priority our son was unable to get day care at our last base. There’s a problem throughout the services with inadequate day care. As for this assignment, I don’t know where the writer is getting his information, but we never came close to being able to afford a live-in nanny.
This sounds to me like one more case of a jealous dependent. Let me guess. The writer is one of those people who gets angry when military personnel in uniform get priority at the base exchange and the commissary. He wants the benefits but doesn’t want to wear the uniform. The writer should grow up. The military is not here to serve only him. Maybe the writer should have thought of his financial situation before he had kids instead of just going for it and expecting the military to take care of everything.
It’s not the base commander’s responsibility to find child care for the writer. The base commander has an entire base to run, and he didn’t make the decision for the writer to have two children on an airman’s paycheck. How about the writer being part of the solution instead of part of the problem? Instead of complaining, the writer should become a home day-care provider. He’d be able to spend time with his children, get paid for watching other children, and know that he was doing something for the good of his community.
The military wouldn’t be able to perform its mission without all of its single parents and dual-military couples. Being in the military is not easy. We are spread thinner than ever. We need all of our people working together, not pointing fingers at each other. If all the writer is willing to do is whine about what he doesn’t have instead of being grateful for the countless benefits that he receives, then by all means he shouldn’t bother staying with us.
Staff Sgt. Joanna RiedelCamp Darby, Italy