We must stop asking troops to do...


We must stop asking troops to do more with fewer resources

It's interesting to compare the recent column by Ivo Daalder and Michael O'Hanlon "Where to cut U. S. military presence" (Opinion Commentary, Sept. 11) with two previous articles in The Sun, "Military distress provokes campaign war of words" (Sept. 8) and "Military priorities shaped in political fray" (March 2) both by Tom Bowman of The Sun's national staff.

Mr. Daalder and Mr. O'Hanlon assert that, "Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney are simply wrong to claim that deployments are up 300 percent over the last decade."

Yet in his March article, Mr. Bowman stated that both Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush "point to a three-fold increase in missions for a U. S. military force reduced about 40 percent since the end of the Cold War, a pace that is wearing down equipment and personnel."

Mr. Daalder and Mr. O'Hanlon concede that operations abroad have indeed increased, but only by perhaps 15 percent. However, they apparently have disregarded the growing commitment of U.S. forces to the anti-drug effort Colombia and elsewhere in South and Central America, as well as the Caribbean.

Nor do they dispute the claim that our military and naval forces have been reduced by 40 percent.

Two things are clear: Our forces have been cut nearly in half while mission requirements have increased and the consequent strain on people and equipment is causing increasingly severe problems in our armed services.

The bottom line is that the United States must balance military and naval resources with mission requirements, either by increasing the former or reducing the latter, or some mix of both.

We simply cannot continue to ask our young service men and women to keep doing more with less.

J. A. Sagerholm, Timonium

The writer is a retired vice admiral in the U.S. Navy.

A modest proposal: Why not decriminalize murder?

I read with great interest the recent letters regarding drug de-criminalization ("Show of force may help, but won't stop drug violence," Sept. 14).

I was particularly impressed with the argument that "we saw all this before with alcohol prohibition" and therefore "it's time to repeal drug prohibition."

I have become a convert, but I feel the letter does not go far enough: I would point out that governments have, since the time of Adam used repressive laws in an attempt to eradicate the practice of murder.

Judging by the murder rates in recent years, this "war on murder" is a massive, expensive failure. To paraphrase one of the letters, the people have spoken -- and many of them want to kill.

Accordingly, I propose a complete decriminalization of killing.

John C. Robinson, Baltimore

Redesigning our money shouldn't be a priority

Although I do believe the U.S. currency's design is somewhat dated, I also believe that the issue is one of the least important that faces the nation ("Coin experts to discuss changing U.S. currency design," Sept. 12).

As a senior in high school, I believe that how money is distributed to the citizens and the schools is more important than the feelings the currency provokes in the hearts of Americans.

I was shocked to even hear that there is an actual congressional committee to oversee such nonsense.

In my opinion, we have enough monuments, statues and memorials to incite feelings of honor and pride in our country. Why spend money on the design of coins if we can spend it elsewhere?

Jessica Zimmerman, Pikesville

The writer is a student at Pikesville High School.

Governor Bush's ad takes politics to a new low

From all appearances, a dangerous precedent has taken place in this year's presidential race: Texas Gov. George W. Bush's political operatives have resorted to deceptive mind games in an effort to influence American voters ("Campaign ad: Was it a mistake or a subliminal GOP message," Sept. 13).

The "RATS" subliminal message in Mr. Bush's ad could never have been inserted accidentally. It was planned and executed in an attempt to influence the sub-conscious minds of American voters.

Presidential politics have reached a new low in America. The only rats in this situation are the ones who tried to pull the wool over the eyes of the American people.

Jack Powell, Salisbury

'Rats' message just told the truth

I don't understand all of the hoopla surrounding Texas Gov. George W. Bush's "BureaucRATs" ad. Everyone wants truth in advertising, especially for political ads, and when they get it they complain.

One General Accounting Office report showed that $13.5 billion out of a Medicare budget of $171 billion was lost through improper payment of claims last year.

I smell more than one rat.

Michael D. Megary, Berlin

I'll bet had the Democrats pioneered the use of subliminal suggestions in campaign ads, The Sun's front-page story would have read: "Al Gore and the Democrats do it again, brilliant, genius... Bush once again put on the ropes, campaign in shambles."

Lewis Ray Paugh, Middle River

Subliminal advertising won't sway any voters

The Sun's article on the now-infamous subliminal message "RATS" in a Texas Gov. George W. Bush campaign ad quoted a psychologist who said simply that the word "would work fine in our experiments as an unpleasant-meaning word" ("Campaign ad: Was it a mistake or a subliminal GOP message?" Sept. 13).

The fact is that there is scant evidence that such subliminal advertising ever produces persuasion and there is no valid evidence that such advertising would have any effect on the votes of Americans for president.

The use of such deception is contemptible, but it is also stupid -- precisely because even if the deception had gone undetected, it doesn't work.

Richard E. Vatz, Towson

Inaccuracies marred article on child's death in Botswana

I am pleased that The Sun decided to investigate the state of the tourism industry in Botswana. At the same time, there were certain inaccuracies and factual distortions in Rena Singer's article "A deadly safari ends in a cry for answers" (Sept. 17).

The strong implication that I have brought legal action against any of the entities or individuals involved in the circumstances surrounding my son's death is false and misleading.

The Botswana attorney advising me is about as "flamboyant" as a cup of tea.

Ms. Singer is mistaken in attributing to me the statement that a "conspiracy of silence" surrounds my son's death -- a friend of mine coined that phrase.

Ms. Singer quoting me as saying "everybody here wants me to leave" is stale and, hence, out of context.

While I may well have said something to that effect shortly after Garrit's death, I have since met many compassionate, kind people in Botswana. I would not make such a defensive, all-inclusive statement today.

Although I informed Ms. Singer of this prior to publication of her article, she ignored my attempt to bring her up-to-date.

Brucie Jacobs, Maun, Botswana

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