Lincoln made more moves
The June 23 analysis “A general’s contempt” states, “[I]f he fires [Gen. Stanley] McChrystal, [Barack] Obama will enjoy the dubious distinction of being the only president in U.S. history to sack two wartime commanders in little more than a year.” But in June 1862, President Abraham Lincoln appointed John Pope as the commander of the American Army. In September he replaced Pope with George McClellan, in November 1862 he replaced McClellan with Ambrose Burnside, in January 1863 he replaced Burnside with Joseph Hooker, in June 1863 he replaced Hooker with George Meade, in March 1864 Meade was replaced by Ulysses S. Grant.
There are little glitches to all of these hirings and firings, but the end result is that the president of the United States has in fact fired many commanders in a shorter period of time then Obama did.
First Sgt. Eric S. Russell
Sheikh Isa Air Base, Bahrain
Just borrowing trouble
Regarding James K. Galbraith’s June 19 column “Scary how ‘national security’ misused”: Galbraith is a typical academic whose education exceeds his intelligence. Scarier than any supposed misuse of “national security” as an argument to justify Congress’ fiscal indiscipline is Galbraith’s assertion that our ballooning national debt is really no big deal.
He bases his argument, in part, on the fact that the U.S. emerged from World War II massively in debt yet managed to grow its way to relative debt stability in just 34 short years(!). One key point Galbraith misses is that the U.S. enjoyed global industrial superiority for nearly that entire time (1946-1980). That’s certainly no longer the case. Growth rates seen by the post-WWII generation are not likely to ever be seen again in this country, so the idea of continually piling debt on our children and grandchildren and growing our way out from under it is tragically misguided.
What’s worse, today we’re amassing debt not even for the noble purpose of ridding the world of expansionist evils like Nazism, Japanese imperialism and Soviet communism. Instead we’re borrowing from future generations just to make transfer payments to current retirees, for wasteful pork-barrel projects (like unneeded military aircraft upgrades), to support public employee unions and legions of contractors, and to conduct two “contingency operations” whose value in terms of promoting our national security are highly debatable.
Debt, like fire, can be useful, but it can also be very dangerous. For decades our national leaders have behaved like children playing with matches. Cautionary tales about the hazards of debt play out every day in the headlines: Bear Stearns, General Motors, Greece. Bottom line: You can’t borrow your way to security or prosperity, but you can certainly borrow your way into insolvency and receivership.
Sgt. 1st Class Paul McGuire
Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq