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October 13

Protecting Shelton's honor

Letters index(Click on date to jump ahead)

October 13 Protecting Shelton's honorOctober 15 Case not made for Iraq war Tour plan has domino effect Thanks for help on OkinawaOctober 16 Cut cowardice to the quick No 'do over' for Iraq

I’m writing in response to the Washington Post article “Shelton overcomes severe spinal injury,” which appeared in the Oct. 6 Stars and Stripes. The story said that Gen. Hugh Shelton received the Medal of Honor “in honor of his 38 years of military service.” I was ready to question the integrity of Congress for bestowing America’s highest honor for actions that seemed less than deserving of the nation’s highest honor. But while researching this, I found out that it seems to be a misprint by Stars and Stripes. Shelton actually received the Congressional Gold Medal, an honor in itself, but not nearly as prestigious as the Congressional Medal of Honor.

The picture that was published with the story showed this obvious mistake that should have been caught by a paper which serves predominantly military personnel. The Medal of Honor is only presented by the president, not a congressman, as stated in the awards manual. I expect better research and accurate articles from a paper that serves military personnel, especially when dealing with such a high honor. The Web site shows that Shelton was actually awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, not the Congressional Medal of Honor.

I’m glad I did a little research, which the reporter should have done, before going off the handle and making a fool out of myself by sending a letter to every publication I could find. I wish I could say the same for Stripes. I think Stripes owes an apology to its readers, and more so to Shelton. At first, I questioned his integrity for accepting what I thought was an award for actions that seemed less than deserving of the Medal of Honor. As it turns out, Shelton accepted an award that he deserved for his hard work and dedication to the U.S. Army. I hope that in the future Stripes will do a better job of editing its articles and not misinforming its readers.

Scott CyrNaples, Italy

October 15

Case not made for Iraq war

On Sept. 23, Al Gore made a major speech accusing President Bush of having an increasingly stubborn stance on Iraq. Gore questioned the wisdom of targeting Saddam Hussein at this time. He was also concerned with the president wanting to take unilateral action against Iraq should U.N. backing not materialize.

The response from President Bush’s White House was predictable: Gore’s comments were “irrelevant.” This response was not only crude, but also insulting to a man who served eight honorable years as vice president and was the Democratic candidate for president in 2000. While making its statement of “irrelevancy,” the White House conveniently forgot that Gore received 500,000 more votes for president than Bush. Who is “irrelevant” here?

Gore doesn’t stand alone in his convictions. He’s joined by such notable retired military generals as Anthony Zinni, Bush’s trusted peace envoy for the Middle East; Norman Schwarzkopf, a veteran fighter against Saddam Hussein, Wesley Clark, ex-NATO commander; Brent Scowcroft, a veteran presidential adviser, and finally, Colin Powell, Bush’s own secretary of state. Are all of these military experts “irrelevant?” I think not.

The current President Bush’s father, who received my vote for president, wore the uniform of the U.S. Navy and was a true hero as a young man. He was one of the most experienced incoming presidents in modern times. Even with all his experience and with the advice of his generals, he ended the Persian Gulf War without eliminating Saddam.

On Sept. 26, Bill Clinton said Saddam has weapons of mass destruction. But Clinton warned that we should work through the United Nations and not go it alone. The former president has as much knowledge of Saddam as does the present administration. As yet, President Bush has not classified Clinton’s words as “irrelevant.” Does the possibility exist that Gore may be Bush’s opponent in 2004, and as such, affects Bush’s opinion as to what may be “irrelevant” or “relevant?” I’ll bet it does.

The Bush administration bases its position of “relevancy” on the statements of Vice President Dick Cheney. On the Sept. 8 “Meet the Press” TV news show, Cheney said, “We assume that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.” In his Sept. 12 speech to the United Nations, President Bush said that “when we would know for sure that Iraq has nuclear weapons is when they launch them at us.”

These less-than-positive statements don’t support the reason for going to war. President Bush is placing himself in the position of committing a criminal act in violation of the U.N. Charter. Violation of international law is not “irrelevant.” The charter mandates that members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means and shall refrain from threatening or using force against the political integrity or political independence of any state. If Bush invades Iraq without U.N. backing, he will be committing a criminal act. Is this “relevant” or “irrelevant?”

President Bush would be wrong to commit the young people of our country to die in a foreign land to satisfy his personal agenda, which is the control of Iraq’s oil and the need to finish his father’s war. President Bush must have better reasons than these to commit our youth to disaster. How many of President Bush’s children, and the children of members of Congress and those in his administration, would be in the first wave of an attack on Iraq?

There are many in the Bush administration, including Vice President Cheney and the assistant secretary of defense, who have never worn a military uniform. But they all stand tall as warmongers, willing to sacrifice our country’s youth to premature death. Without a doubt, all those in Washington, D.C., who want to go to war are motivated by profit in one way or another. The losers are our youth, who will be making the supreme sacrifice, along with those who survive and mourn them. This is a “relevant” statement.

Donald ClarkPark Forest, Ill.

Tour plan has domino effect

I’m a wife, a military spouse and a mother. I’ve read quite a few of the letters sent in about the unaccompanied-tours proposal, and I understand where everyone is coming from. But the point is still being missed by a long shot.

The military wants to save money. Isn’t that the reason this idea to end accompanied tours has been brought up? That seems to be the reasoning behind this idea, right? Well, has everyone forgotten about the separation pay and basic allowance for housing, depending on one’s ZIP code, that the military would have to pay out? Can readers imagine the waiting list for military housing if everyone has to stay put? And what about all the money that has gone into renovations to military housing, playgrounds, roads and piping for underground water? Was that a waste of taxpayers’ money? We spouses pay taxes, too.

But unaccompanied tours would increase esprit de corps, right? What? I belong to a very active family-readiness group. We’re always there for our military members and soldiers. We have our boss too, and we’re the spirit of our soldiers with our “hail and farewells,” “welcome homes,” and parties aimed at raising morale among soldiers and their families. Take that away, and what does a soldier have? A microwavable dinner and AFN.

An end to drugs and drinking? Or worse yet, driving while under the influence? What is a soldier to do with all the free time on his hands with such an abundance of clubs on and off base? And who would work in these clubs, base exchanges, commissaries and shoppettes? Who will need a job at one of these places? A soldier? Are readers seeing the bigger picture yet?

What about leave? Everyone, single or married, would be fighting tooth and nail to get home for the holidays. Who would make that decision? And what about the families who come to Europe to visit? Would they stay in barracks or at an expensive hotel off base? Without families here, there really wouldn’t be a need for our on-base hotels and fixed rates.

I’m not writing to bash anyone’s idea of a better environment for soldiers. But does something that has worked for so long really need a solution? Does someone really see a problem that needs to be fixed in something that American soldiers and their spouses have been doing for so many years? People should look at the bigger picture before forming their opinions, because it would affect everyone, no matter who they are.

No matter what happens, I want readers to know that military members go to work every day because they know that their families will be there at the end of each day with open arms. They not only fight for their country knowing that they may go to war one day and might never come home, they are also fighting for families who will never forget them.

Tressa L. LloydLandstuhl, Germany

Thanks for help on Okinawa

I wish to thank the many contributors who attended the grand opening of the Camp Foster commissary on Oct. 8, and those who donated to Okinawa Memorial Post 9723’s Buddy Poppy Drive. I was particularly impressed by the many parents who let their small children drop the donation in the box. It is gratifying to see that parents are showing these small children the importance of charitable giving.

Dennis E. ProvencherQuartermasterVFW Post 9723Aza Yogi, Okinawa

October 16

Cut cowardice to the quick

The words of U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III should be emblazoned on the front of every newspaper in the United States. He said: “You were willing to give your life for the Taliban but not for your country.” This is an apt description of being a coward.

This was Judge Ellis’ response to John Walker Lindh, who had volunteered to join the Taliban fighters, then couldn’t leave because he feared for his life after the United States entered the war in Afghanistan. But then he did nothing to warn the United States about future al-Qaida terror attacks planned after Sept. 11, 2001. This is an American who has embarrassed America by showing his cowardice. With the full knowledge that there are many fellow Americans who will and have given their lives in service of their country, Lindh hid from his duty as an American.

To further demonstrate that cowardice is a disease that has infected American society, we now have the news of a sniper shooting a 72-year-old Washington, D.C. man. According to CNN, “this same sniper has been linked to five earlier shooting deaths in nearby Montgomery County, Md., and police said on Friday that the same high-powered rifle was used in at least four of the killings.” Now we have a person or people who show the ability to kill by selecting the most vulnerable targets, then terminating the victims’ lives, loves and dreams from a distance.

Of course, we’ll expect the pro-gun lobbyists to be out in full force in a few days with the hackneyed excuses for maintaining all types of firearms. “Enforce the gun laws presently on the books,” is a frequent war cry tossed out in defense of holding on to their most prized assault weapons. This seems to be their only way of dealing with gun-control lobbyists, who will just as readily be coming out soon with their crying towels. “We need to control guns” is the chant we can expect to hear as they make every effort to eliminate what the Constitution wanted to protect. (Of course, the purpose was different in the 18th century.)

“Enforcing the laws” does not bring back a 72-year-old man to his family. This sniper may have had the legal right to learn how to use his weapon, but there’s nothing to explain the cowardice that infiltrated his mind.

Being a U.S. citizen is a gift. Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer immunity to being a coward. That infectious disease has been brought on by many different aspects in American society. But, from my perspective, it would be nice to bring back the draft. Maybe that would help teach more people a different concept: bravery.

William HatchettNauheim, Germany

No 'do over' for Iraq

It’s time for us as a nation to say, “No more.” No more to tyrants who threaten free societies. No more to tyrants who invade neighboring nations in the hope of stealing their oil reserves. And no more to tyrants who scheme to delay inspections while they frantically construct ever larger weapons of terror.

It’s quite well established that Saddam Hussein’s regime has been working diligently toward developing nuclear weapons, and had Israel not removed the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981, it would certainly have succeeded in that task long ago. Two decades ago it was possible to thwart Saddam’s ambitions by bombing a single nuclear installation. But with today’s technology, Saddam no longer needs a large reactor to produce the material necessary for atomic weapons. He can now use certrifuges the size of home washing machines that can be hidden anywhere in the country. Even without the noncompliance practiced by Saddam’s government in the face of previously attempted inspections under the U.N. agreements, inspections cannot now be reasonably expected to uncover these newly portable manufacturing sites of international terror and mass murder.

We can have little doubt that once acquired, any such weapons would be used to threaten and attack all who stand in his way. We have clear evidence of that in Saddam’s use of his already existing weapons of mass murder against his own citizens, as well as against Iran during Iraq’s long war with that neighboring country. Saddam then turned his attention to Kuwait in an effort to take over Kuwait’s oil fields. And in that attempt we saw the slaughtering, pillaging and raping of the citizens of that sovereign nation.

It’s my expectation that the fear of aiding in the creation of a Pan-Arab state that would have allowed Iran to gain control of much of the Persian Gulf region stemmed our enthusiasm to remove Saddam when he was previously in our sights. But now we must weigh that possibility against the virtual certainty of the ultimate risk of having Saddam utilize nuclear weapons against America and others.

Iraq now wants to call for a “do over” with the readmittance of the previously rejected United Nations inspectors. What should we answer to such a last-minute “time out?” Saddam’s Iraq has repeatedly committed offenses against the law of nations as recognized by the civilized nations of the world, as well as the United Nations. In addition to the atrocities that I’ve already enumerated, it’s well established that Iraq plotted to assassinate former President Bush in 1993. Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Iraq’s deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, has said that Iraq would now increase its offered payments from $10,000 to $25,000 in cash to the families of suicide bombers. Iraq is thereby directly purchasing suicide bombers to the considerable grief of all civilized people.

Obviously, we would all opt for a negotiated resolution of all international disputes, just as we would opt for peace and peaceful relations with all nations, including the theocracies and dictatorships of the Persian Gulf region. But time has grown late and our patience is not limitless. We have learned some hard lessons in and from that part of the world.

We must now say to those who would threaten the otherwise peaceful nations of the world that the day of reckoning is upon them. We have witnessed these rogues and rogue nations radicalize, politicize and bastardize one of the major religions of the world. It has been made clear to us that negotiations are meaningless when dealing with these radicalized would-be martyrs. Measured and restrained retaliation to this terrorism merely purchases and generates another round of terrorism. When terrorists try to obtain nuclear weapons, certainly eradication is the only means of dealing with them.

Fortunately, even the rogue nations of the world have a significant population of those who can be made allies in our now necessary and lawful fight. The realization that those held captive by rogues and terrorists in such countries as Afghanistan and Iraq will benefit as much as ourselves should again greatly assist us in maintaining a coalition of nations to assist our efforts. But coalition or not, never doubt that any appearance of weakness on our part will not go unpunished by the terrorists of the world, and the price of weakness will again be the lives of our citizens. We dishonor ourselves and those who have already perished at their hands if we give heed to those who would once again call for appeasement. An agreement grounded in appeasement is a contract written entirely in fine print — an illusion that only gives temporary pause to the real necessity of confronting evil and thereafter most certainly exacts an even greater price for maintaining our freedoms.

Again the tyrants of the world fail to understand America. They don’t truly understand the nature of a free people who are dedicated to the ideals of democracy and freedom worldwide. They don’t understand that freedom is a part of our national soul. In America, freedom lives in each of us, and freedom’s reckoning is coming for Saddam.

Sam C. MitchellWest Frankfort, Ill.


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