Letters to the Editor for Thursday, July 26, 2007


European and Mideast editions

(EDITOR’S NOTE: These are the letters that appeared in each edition of Stripes on this publication date. Click here to jump ahead to the Pacific edition letters)

Issues of the nation

This is a response to Peter Brown’s column, “One nation, indivisible but divided on many issues” (Opinion, July 11).

Brown explains nothing new in American society; he detailed a certain sympathetic aspect of America’s personality but his gripes are just exploits of the nature of the beast of American melodrama.

This discussion on same-sex unions is interesting but to say that this issue is as important as abortion or the environment shouldn’t be a contender at all. Take a look at the gay population in American public, it should be no bigger than your typical Asian-American population. That is a better issue to talk about — which ethnic/various type population has more pull than others, like does the black population have more political pull than the Latin population?

I agree the U.S. government should legalize same-sex marriages because that would be the lesser of two evils — meaning the unions made by those who choose to be joined should not be interfered by government because that is a personal and individual choice and not a public one, regardless of the religious/governmental pulls that exist.

Either way you look at it — people will be people. As the population rises, I am sure there will be a smorgasbord of various people in America and these issues should be dealt with now but not exploited nor kept for a later generation to handle.

What the American public needs to know and solve is all the hate crimes that happen all the time. What will it take to open our nation’s eyes to these crimes and to finally put them to rest?

Spc. Julius Cavira

Read the Constitution

It seems to me the author of “Atheist revival bad …” (letter, July 13) needs to read the Constitution he swore to uphold and defend, and study some American history.

Our nation was not “founded under God, upon Christian principles.” The first settlers of the new world were seeking, among other things, escape from religious persecution, not to form a faith-based colony. As Americans, we are granted the freedom of religion, which includes not having one, not the freedom to choose which form of Christianity we follow.

The author seems to think Camp Quest is somehow dangerous to our country and our youth, when in fact it’s people exercising their right to free assembly. The number of religious-based summer camps far outweighs the atheist ones, and those based on a system of beliefs will prove to be more of a “training ground” than any that encourages free thought.

I highly doubt any of the children at Camp Quest would be chastised if they thought a higher power might exist. On the other hand, what would happen if a child at a Christian retreat voiced doubt that Jesus was the son of God?

Atheists come from every walk of life and many are educated about several faiths. As a child I was fortunate enough to be allowed to attend many churches. By the third grade I knew there was no God, and still educated myself by attending a variety of services. This is common with a lot of atheists. Many people force their children into the family religion and shun other beliefs, that’s the true “brainwashing.”

There is no atheist revival, we’ve always been here as a silent minority, most just choose to live their own lives and let you live yours.

Staff Sgt. Gene Horrigan
Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar

Camp Quest is legal

After reading “Atheist revival bad for U.S.,” I couldn’t help but laugh. Does no one research anything for themselves anymore? Or do they just repeat what they heard from someone else?

The writer complains how atheist children have their own summer camp (Camp Quest). And that someone else is actually happy about it. Well, it’s 100 percent legal, because of the U.S. Constitution.

It’s just as legal as any other private organization, such as Bible camps and churches. The next thing that bothered me was the claim that the U.S. was founded “under God.” And that it was based on Christian principles and values. Well, that just sucks for a lot of people, doesn’t it?

Since America is a Christian nation, I guess everyone else is just second-rate! Sorry (insert religious minority here), you’re not good enough. Nowhere in the Constitution is there a mention of a God. Religion is referenced as exclusionary. Such as stating that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust.” (Article VI) That sounds secular to me.

The U.S. is a free nation. The First Amendment applies to every private citizen. And that includes us atheists. It is the individual freedoms that make our nation great.

Spc. Jeremy Hall
Camp Speicher, Iraq

Reservist’s fifth tour

I am writing in response to “Reservist fights fifth war deployment,” (article, July 15). I have read several articles on Sgt. Erik Botta’s situation and feel that all the facts were not presented in this article.

It is true that Botta has been deployed four times already, but it failed to mention that Botta’s previous deployments do not even equal 12 months.

He was deployed to Afghanistan for about seven months in 2002, then Iraq for one month in 2003 and three months in 2004, then 15 days later that year. I have been in the Army for five years now and I am on my first deployment. By the time I return home, I will have been deployed longer than Botta, and I know that there are soldiers out there who have been deployed at least three to four times, each time staying a full 12 months, maybe even longer. I believe that Botta’s decision to fight this deployment is completely wrong and a disgrace.

How can he complain about a fifth deployment when he doesn’t even have a total of 12 months in four deployments and the rest of his brothers and sisters in arms are currently being extended to 15 months on one deployment?

Staff Sgt. Derald D. Swain
Forward Operating Base Normandy, Iraq

Botta did what he had to do

Reading “Reservist should follow orders” (letter, July 20) illustrates yet again ignorance about the reserves.

The writer believes that servicemembers shouldn’t complain when they have to serve five deployments in six years, but I wonder if he ever voiced opinions on being extended or having a full 12 months’ dwell time between deployments.

We volunteer and we follow orders, regardless of the expense or peril. Now here’s the reality: Regardless of any laws, try getting a job and explaining that you’ve been deployed repeatedly and don’t expect to be home very long, but please give me a job anyway. Or starting a college semester but having to repeat the course because you were pulled away in the middle (and your degree doesn’t accept online courses).

Career advancement is limited when you don’t attend Noncommissioned Officer Education System schools as soon as you come home but immediately deploy again.

Add these to the family issues and emotional strain of repeated deployments with no break while the soldier next to you is complaining about a three-month extension on his first deployment, and soldiers will get fed up.

Instead of missing movement or claiming he didn’t receive notice, Sgt. Erik Botta addressed the situation head-on. It takes soldiers like this to bring attention to the hard issues of deployments.

Yes he did volunteer to join, but I’ll be surprised if he volunteers to re-enlist, and that’s the bottom line.

Staff Sgt. Mark Tegtmeyer
Logistics Support Area Anaconda, Iraq

Facts about body armor

Regarding “Troops push on despite heat, loads to carry” (article, July 17), I would like to address some inaccuracies.

As the officer in charge of the Army’s Program Executive Office Soldier, I am concerned with the well-being of every soldier. PEO Soldier provides virtually everything a soldier wears or carries, and our mission is to enhance their combat effectiveness, survivability and quality of life.

We seek ways to achieve that mission while reducing the combat load. I am concerned by writer Mark St.Clair’s implication that the Army’s body armor is ineffective and therefore adds unnecessary weight. This assertion is not borne out by the facts. Interceptor Body Armor has been proven in combat to stop bullets and fragments, including those from sniper rifles, specifically 7.62 mm armor-piercing rounds. It is incorrect to state that body armor is rated to only stop bullets from handguns, and irresponsible to suggest that soldiers might be better off without the extra weight. It is equally irresponsible to disclose specific protective levels and inform the enemy about which rounds our armor does and does not stop.

We make our soldiers’ jobs easier by lightening their loads, though not at the expense of their safety. The new Improved Outer Tactical Vest reduces the weight of IBA, while increasing area of ballistic protection.

I am grateful for the dedication of all of our soldiers — and I applaud St.Clair for highlighting their success and their sacrifice. They are magnificent, as are the families who support them. We should take care to thank them and empathize with their burdens but also to avoid undermining the confidence that soldiers and their loved ones have in the equipment that the Army provides, which is the best in the world and the history of warfare.

Brig. Gen. R. Mark Brown
Fort Belvoir, Va.

Lawmakers’ raises

I really don’t know how to start but to say that I feel we servicemembers have been left out to dry.

We’ve always been told that we must not talk about things that we can’t control and I believe that to a certain extent. However, I feel compelled to talk about what I read on the CNN Web site.

I can’t believe the House gave itself a raise of $4,400 a month and then they have the audacity to call it a cost-of-living allowance that would bring their income to $170,000 a year. What bothers me the most is we only get 3 percent or 3.5 percent raises, which only increases our salaries anywhere from $100 to $200 per month. It is a slap in the face to those who wear the uniform and I am truly disappointed in our political leaders.

We joined the military to protect our country and to make a living. The fact is, we do our jobs and we do it better than any other military in the world. The little extra money that we make being deployed is nothing compared to what the House just approved for itself. Talk about being fair — is it?

Staff Sgt. Tommy Brown
Fallujah, Iraq

U.S. is not crowded

In response to “Too many illegal immigrants” (letter, July 20) the writer states that America is “already crowded with 300 million residents.”

This statement could not be further from the truth. The U.N. World Population prospects for 2005 show that the population density of the U.S. is 31 people per 1 square kilometer. Compare this to the United Kingdom’s 246, Germany’s 242, Netherland’s 392 and South Korea’s 480 and you will soon see how dangerously underpopulated the United States is.

Granted, the cities may be densely populated and some may argue that a lot of land is uninhabitable but wasn’t Las Vegas built in the middle of “uninhabitable land?” Doesn’t Alaska have a city or two?

There is plenty of room for more city developing nationwide. If the writer still believes the U.S. is crowded, I suggest he get out a bit more. Also, does he not consider that the pilgrims who landed a few hundred years ago were illegal immigrants as far as the American Indians were concerned? Three words spring to mind: pot, kettle, black.

David Maddison
Griesheim, Germany

Don’t buy imported oil

We are fighting the war from the wrong end. Americans are funding both sides of the war. First, Congress passes a spending bill of billions to fund U.S. and coalition troops and “rebuild” Iraq. Second, we buy Arab oil.

In a Department of Homeland Security news conference, we were told al-Qaida has rebuilt with more weapons, more recruits and new money, along with other extremist organizations. Where did all that come from?

Since the Iraq invasion, the price of oil has gone up 250 percent. The radical Islamists’ supporters have 250 percent more disposable cash that they can invest. Part of that goes to support terrorism. As long as there is even a possibility of a disruption of the oil supply, the price stays high.

When Iran kidnapped the British sailors and marines, within a week, the price of oil went up $4 a barrel, just because there was a threat. That put an additional $10 million a day into Iran. That money goes into their nuclear program, sending weapons and support to the militias and insurgents in Iraq and support to Hezbollah in Lebanon, who, by the way, is sending fighters and weapons to kill Americans in Iraq.

The solution is simple. Stop buying their oil! There are so many alternative energy sources. My personal favorite is bio-fuels. If the U.S. would switch to bio-fuels we could eliminate dependency on imported oil and gain our security and sovereignty back. Not to mention they are environmentally friendly.

Consider this, if there is a disruption of the money going into the Middle East, maybe the Arabs who don’t support the extremists would go after them themselves. What a concept, Arabs policing themselves.

We could concentrate on securing our borders and getting the 15 million criminals out of the U.S.

Rodney Crandell

Defending Ann Coulter

Ho hum, another week, more liberal calls for Ann Coulter to be silenced. Coulter is one of the most intelligent, well-researched, articulate and witty commentators on American politics today; her only crime warranting liberal censorship is her accuracy. As a front-line soldier of the conservative majority, she makes a popular target for booksellers, liberal bloggers, John Edwards and other leftists, but she is not the only target.

To wit: The same crowd that regularly demands Coulter be banned regularly calls for “Fairness Doctrine” to silence Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity on the AM band while our tax dollars fund leftist thought on National Public Radio. The movement behind front-runner candidates caught on tape plotting to exclude other candidates from the debates they aren’t boycotting on Fox News is also the party of Harvard University students heckling and shouting down FBI Director Robert Mueller (April 26) and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales (April 28). And the original American leftists, the Federalists, were the ones behind the Sedition Acts, primarily notable for suppressing four of the five largest Republican news outlets during the 1800 elections.

Liberals hopping mad about Coulter and other conservative voices are nothing new, their mantra has scarcely changed in centuries, only the high pitch of their fervor has in recent years, exacerbated by continued electoral frustration by informed voters, and pining for conditions decades ago when media monopoly could tilt the scales of battle against our deployed troops.

To quote Benjamin Franklin from the 1746 edition of Poor Richard’s Almanac, “The sting of a reproach is the truth of it.”

Sgt. Nathan McNulty
Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo