Letters to the Editors
Foreign policy shift deserves a debate
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 13, 2003
Re: "Neocons" espouse preemption policy, April 6.
Finally, David Ballingrud has taken the time to inform the public 1) who and what neocons are, 2) what neocon foreign policy objectives are, and most important 3) that this war in Iraq is not about 9/11 but is instead a pilot project dreamed up by Project for the New American Century years before 9/11 ever happened.
The transformation of the Department of Defense by Donald Rumsfeld, et al., into the Department of Aggression has been masked by state sponsored propagandists and their campaign of irrational fear. It is time now for a public debate on this foreign policy shift from deterrence to global conquest. I applaud the effort of the Times in that regard.
My only complaint: What took you people so long?
Re: "Neocons" espouse preemption policy.
I appreciate your piece on the "neocons" by David Ballingrud. It was informative and insightful to a point. I do, however, take issue with your definition: Isn't a "free democracy" a redundant term? And if not, what sort of democracy exists in this country? Greg Pallast of the BBC argues quite convincingly that we Americans have the best democracy that money can buy. So do we live in a "free" democracy or one that can be bought by the highest bidder? New York Times columnist Paul Krugman would argue that we do not have a democracy at all but rather some sort of plutocracy.
So exactly what "values" are these neocons trying to force on other peoples? And I certainly take issue that their motives are to prevent terrorism or the use of weapons of mass destruction. Their policies (conceived and proclaimed way before 9/11) are now being played out in Iraq, in full view, and against the wishes and beliefs of much of the world.
It will be interesting to see how their use of terrorism ("shock and awe" is the definition of terrorism) and weapons of mass destruction (cluster bombs, bunker busters, depleted uranium, etc.) will somehow prevent their use by others.
Peace made problematic
Re: "Neocons" espouse preemption policy.
Deftly done. What took so long?
With the neocons ruling the Bush administration roost, any peace agreement between Israel and Palestine is unlikely, as is any lasting peace in the Mideast. As historian Arthur Schlesinger said recently, U.S. foreign policy in the Mideast is being run by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
Value at home
In her April 6 column, For too many Americans, homes out of reach, Robyn Blumner takes issue with a conclusion of my book, It's Getting Better All the Time, which celebrates a dramatic rise in home ownership rates over the past 50 years. Blumner writes that housing prices are making new homes less affordable for many young Americans.
Two quick points. First, the latest report by the Department of Housing and Urban Development finds that home ownership rates hit an all-time high of 67 percent in 2001. It also found that home ownership rates for black Americans have also hit all-time high. This is hardly the sign of a crisis in home ownership.
Second, the rise in home values is a good thing for Americans, not a bad thing. Since two-thirds of Americans own their own homes, and since their home is typically the principle asset that they own, the rise in the value of their homes makes Americans richer. Americans wouldn't feel too good right now if their homes were losing value.
The argument that the rise in home values is bad news for Americans is as fallacious as saying that the decline in the stock market over the past two years is good for Americans because it makes stocks more affordable to buy!
Criticism vs. treason
Sen. John Kerry recently stated that a regime change was needed in the United States as well as Iraq. A number of the GOP leaders went ballistic. The senator was branded as unpatriotic, stepping over the line and close to treasonous. I understand that it was also considered treasonous for Iraqis to criticize Saddam Hussein. I have been a citizen of this country since birth, more than 80 years ago. It had never occurred to me that criticizing the president would be considered treasonous.
Standards are lowered
Re: How affirmative action has benefited newspaper readers, April 6.
The St. Petersburg Times, as is its wont, adores diversity and affirmative action. Among its large stable of liberal writers is Washington Post columnist David S. Broder, who attempted to make the case for affirmative action.
Here is how he shades the truth: Neither the University of Michigan nor the Washington Post, he declared, "lowers its standards to admit minorities. They look for minorities within the large pool of qualified applicants." What Broder fails to mention is that any large pool of qualified applicants contains a range of abilities. True, all are qualified, but some are better and some are the best. If American institutions do not choose the top applicants in a pool in order to select minorities, that is lowering standards! But, you see, Broder is arguing from the heart, as bleeding-heart do-gooders do. For that reason, I doubt he knows he contradicted himself.
Broder continues to shade the truth, claiming that both institutions can further their missions if "people of diverse backgrounds are welcome." Translation: Failure to employ lesser-qualified minorities means they are unwelcome. Baloney. Far from being unwelcome, Jews and Asians are welcomed to the extent of being overrepresented in American institutions. It is a matter of survival in this competitive society that you select not just qualified candidates, but the best qualified candidates. That redounds to everyone's benefit. Would you prefer a merely qualified physician or the very best?
"In addition, there are the rewards of friendship," says Broder. Fair enough. America is a diverse society and it will operate a lot smoother if the various ethnics develop cross ties and work together.
If you believe that helping some minorities enter the mainstream trumps every other consideration, it would be intellectually honest to say so. But don't try to sell affirmative action as nondiscriminatory. It isn't.
Age and wisdom
Re: Schools, vouchers and Republican Darwinism, April 6.
A different war
Re: Today's mission: Wash these dogs, April 5.
We could have used a Lt. Col. Chris Hughes during the Korean War. It hit my funny bone to hear his men had not had a shower for 11 days. During the Korean War, 1950-51, C. Company, 19th Infantry, 24th Division, spent four months on the line never having our clothing off. We held back the communist forces without a break until April of 1951 while the U.S. forces rebuilt strength. Talk about filth, our bodies were covered with body lice and scabies.
It's good to hear that today's troops expect better sanitary conditions. Let's hope this war comes to a quick conclusion and brings our troops home safely as soon as possible.
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