Saturday Mailbox

SATURDAY MAILBOX

June 10, 2006

As allegations of further atrocities in Iraq surface, I feel that there must be many other Vietnam veterans who, like me, are shaken by feelings of dM-ijM-` vu.

And one portion of The Sun's article "U.S. denies civilians were targets in raid" (June 3) stands out in particular.

Referring to a raid apparently targeted at two people firing from one house, the report says, in part, that air support came "from an AC-130, a powerful gunship."

The article should have gone on to inform readers that an AC-130 can cover every square foot of a city block with machine gun fire within seconds and that specific targeting is impossible.

When troops are engaged by gunmen in one house in a small village, using an AC-130 for air support makes the killing of innocent civilians in that village an absolute certainty.

My God, has the military learned nothing about tactics and their relationship to "collateral damage" in 30 years?

When the military establishment speaks of lessons learned from Vietnam, it always seems to be in terms of some arcane notion of domestic support from the American people.

Anyone like myself who was a low-ranking enlisted man in that war can look back and easily see that tactics tantamount to using a sledgehammer to kill a fly may succeed in killing the attackers, but that the killing of innocents is far more than morally wrong.

It also undermines the mission and creates far more enemies than it destroys.

The old saying about "those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it" has rarely had as much validity as it does in Iraq.

Our troops are being led down exactly the same dead-end street they were led down in Vietnam.

As a result, our mission in Iraq is doomed.

Joe Roman

Baltimore

Anti-terror funding yet another outrage

I was shocked to see that an article about the administration cutting anti-terror funding to the most high-risk cities was relegated to Page 3A of The Sun ("Big cities get less anti-terror money," June 1).

I wonder when the press and the American people are going to hold the administration truly accountable for its actions and express the outrage that has been mysteriously absent.

If the administration decides to cut anti-terror funding to New York City nearly in half yet increases funding to Louisville, Ky., and Omaha, Neb., it is clearly putting its political agenda ahead of the safety of the American people.

How is this not considered the most appalling event of the day, instead of Page 3A news?

This administration has shown a heartless disregard for our courageous soldiers, sending them into an unprovoked, ill-planned war based upon fabrications or woefully inaccurate information and not even bothering to provide the proper armor the troops needed to protect themselves.

It has created thousands of new veterans, yet found in its greedy hearts a way to cut Veterans Administration benefits.

Through policies based upon torture, arrogance, xenophobia, fundamentalism, war-mongering, homophobia, greed and imperialism, this administration has turned America into a monster in the eyes of the world.

The American people are not monsters, but we do appear indifferent and lazy.

We need people to step up, be heard and confront these greedy and violent leaders.

Matt Golden

Baltimore

Playing politics with abuse charges

The writer of the letter "Leaders bear blame for pattern of abuse" (June 6) asserts, based on a few high-profile incidents of abuse, that there is a problem with the command structure of today's military.

While these incidents are regrettable and must be dealt with according to the rule of law, they do not indicate a problem with the command structure of the military. They indicate our difficulty in understanding and dealing with an enemy that will resort to any means to kill Americans.

I'd like to remind the letter writer that we are at war.

It is a war that stretches across the world with no true boundaries - against an enemy who does not wear a uniform, an enemy who absolutely follows no rules, particularly with respect to human rights.

I am a recently retired soldier who served tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. Every single soldier I knew in those tours said the same thing: "There is no way I will allow myself to be captured."

That is because they all knew that if they were captured, they would be brutally tortured and ultimately killed, and perhaps beheaded in front of a camera.

The letter writer should write a letter condemning our enemies for their lack of concern for human rights, especially given that the insurgents are primarily targeting innocent civilians.

Our military leadership is concerned with ethics and morality.

Every soldier continuously receives human rights training from the time he or she enters the service. These lessons are constantly reinforced in situational training.

Unfortunately, seeing your friends blown up and shot on a daily basis can cause soldiers to do ugly things.

The only answer is to show our soldiers and the world that it will not be tolerated.

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