To achieve peace, redirect the billions earmarked for...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

February 14, 2002

To achieve peace, redirect the billions earmarked for war

The president's proposed budget displays dinosaur thinking in a constantly changing world ("Defense is cornerstone of Bush's budget plan," Feb. 5). I always thought that Democrats were the spenders. How the tide turns when a Republican has an agenda.

The massive tax cuts and enormous increase in military spending are completely uncalled for. The president is using the heightened emotions of the people to beef up the military and continue to bully smaller, weaker nations around the world. This will only create additional animosity toward the United States.

I believe that peace in the Middle East will happen only when nations such as the United States and Israel wage peace instead of waging war.

To be able to take a blow such as the Sept. 11 attacks without flinching and without retaliating would force any hostile nation to reconsider its position. This is what made the civil rights movement so powerful. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and others took many blows but continued to refrain from using violence.

Although I do believe in the right to defend ourselves, the president's plan actually doesn't call for defense spending, it calls for retaliatory spending.

If the United States made peace instead of war, it would eliminate any reason for major military spending increases, and save taxpayers billions of dollars that could be used to boost the economy.

Jonathan R. Burrs

Baltimore

Bush's budget addresses the threat of terrorists

The Sun's editorial "Questions, no answers from Bush budget plan" (Feb. 7) says the country needs to know what it's getting in the 2003 budget, with its 14 percent increase in defense spending, "especially when it means rolling back social programs and raiding the ... Social Security surplus."

The Sun neglects to mention that since 1998, federal discretionary spending has grown by a whopping 28 percent, mostly for non-defense programs. This was possible because federal tax receipts were a post-World War II-record 20.8 percent of the gross domestic product in President Clinton's last year in office.

Furthermore, the so-called Social Security surplus is nothing more than an accounting charade; the fact is that no Social Security benefits are affected.

What we are getting in this budget is long overdue attention to enemies who would repeat Sept. 11 a thousand times over if given the chance.

And since when does allowing citizens to keep more of their own money to spend and invest as they see fit, as opposed to letting politicians feed at the federal trough, create an uncertain economic future?

Doug Lombardo

Timonium

U.N. population control work deserves American support

Congress has reserved $34 million for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for fiscal year 2002. However, President Bush has not yet authorized this funding, nor does his 2003 budget request any funds for UNFPA.

UNFPA's work with women and their families is critical. It is a leader in delivering maternal and infant health programs, basic family planning services and vital HIV/AIDS education.

Recently, Mr. Bush gave $600,000 to UNFPA to distribute emergency birth kits and sanitary supplies to refugee women in Afghanistan. Clearly, the administration knew UNFPA had the capacity and expertise to deliver supplies to women who desperately needed them.

Neglecting to contribute to UNFPA would send a clear signal to American women and the rest of the world that no matter how much the president and the first lady talk about Afghan women, the United States is only rhetorically committed to women's health and rights.

Ritu Sharma

Washington

The writer is executive director of Women's EDGE, a coalition of relief and women's organizations.

Failing to limit population creates continuing menace

The Sun's article "Tenet survives despite CIA woes" (Feb. 6) attributes the horrific events of Sept. 11 to "a government-wide breakdown," not just an intelligence failure.

In reality, it was an obvious failure to protect our borders and limit immigration into America. That is the responsibility of our elected representatives and of the president, who oversees the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

But the most recent failure is President Bush's denial of family planning funding for developing nations. As population density increases worldwide and the quality of the environment is degraded, desperation and instability will be the rule, and will reach out and touch us again and again.

G. Houghton Huppman

Manchester

Tired of the excuses for American Taliban

I am so tired of hearing about poor John Walker Lindh. Ever since he was brought back to U.S. soil, his family and lawyers have been telling stories about how he did not really want to hurt anyone, he was just a misguided teen-ager and he would never have hurt any Americans.

Well, I for one do not believe any of it. He willingly went and joined the Taliban regime, which was known for being ruthless toward its people.

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