Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has criticized President Barack Obama as a person who often "avoids the battle" and says Mr. Obama's efforts have been to "steer the country away from costly and ineffective wars."

I say thank God for a return to sanity. Dwight D. Eisenhower, a war hero, commanding general and former president of the United States, warned us more than 60 years ago to beware the danger of the military industrial complex.

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In 1985, Richard Barnet, founder of the Institute for Policy Studies, remarked that "though the U.S came out of WWII the most powerful nation on earth, perhaps, briefly, the paramount nation of all times, it has not won a decisive military victory since 1945 despite trillions spent on the military and the frequent engagement of its forces.

"What the U.S. got instead of victory was a national security state with a permanent war economy maintained by a military industrial complex, and, despite its power, it was afraid," Barnet wrote.

We find ourselves today listening to "fear-mongering" and urgings not only to use air power but to put "boots on the ground" again in the Middle East. I give Mr. Obama credit for having the courage and leadership to pause, think and attempt other solutions.

I wonder if the arms dealers and manufacturers are helping inflate the situation. They are in great shape to sell war materiel to all sides. I am not saying there is never a need for military force, but we need to find alternatives when possible, avoid conflicts where we can and note that recent history tells us our military forces may just be making things worse.

The more we bomb and shoot, the more we fear and the more enemies we gain. We live on a planet with limited resources and a fragile ecology. Remember Eisenhower's warning: "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

Barbara Risacher, Joppa

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