That the Navy's Fifth Fleet was the one to declare the U.S. intention to keep the Straight of Hormuz clear, rather than the president or the secretary of defense speaking for the nation, suggested a weakening of the principle of civilian control of the military ("U.S. 5th Fleet vows to keep oil route open." Dec. 29).

That suggestion is given greater credibility when coupled with Congress' lack of effective oversight of the CIA and Pentagon drone operations due to the rapid growth and secrecy of those programs.

And regardless of the perception, the very fact that America possesses the ability to project military power in the region predisposes it, to a large extent, to use force rather than diplomacy when conflicts arise.

John G. Bailey, Edgemere