Letters To The Editor


January 24, 2007

Bad strategy loses wars, not media

Columnist Thomas Sowell's suggestion that the media "lost" the Vietnam War leaves me uneasy ("As in Vietnam, the media may cost us victory," Opinion * Commentary, Jan. 18).

I teach military and national security strategy to future generals and ambassadors at the National Defense University, and our curriculum emphasizes that it was bad strategy that lost that war, not being stabbed in the back by the media.

To extend into Iraq that old, timeworn and thoroughly discredited argument - that losing a war is or was the media's fault - is pernicious and dangerous.

It shifts the focus of attention away from mistakes in strategy onto a straw-man argument.

There is no such thing as a "purely military" element of war; war cannot be separated from its political dimension, and those who attempt to do so are on a fool's mission that inevitably leads to defeat.

If we are losing in Iraq - and that remains a very large "if" - it is not because our forces need looser rules of engagement but rather because we have to relearn - some would say re-relearn - how to conduct counterinsurgency operations.

The "real war" in Iraq didn't end with the toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue and regime; it began at that point. We are still figuring out how to turn the undeniable military successes of the march to Baghdad into political victory.

This isn't a problem created by the media. The media have merely called our attention to it.

Daniel T. Kuehl


Thomas Sowell's assertion that the press defeated us in Vietnam is as much poppycock as his assertion that the same is true in Iraq ("As in Vietnam, the media may cost us victory," Opinion * Commentary, Jan. 18).

Until the mid-1960s, the American press was generally supportive of the U.S. effort in Vietnam. It was not until those such as David Halberstam began to see a genuine disharmony between what we were actually accomplishing and what the generals asserted that a few of the more distinguished American newspapers began to dissent.

It's also nonsense for Mr. Sowell to suggest that the primary reason South Vietnam caved in was that Congress held back its funding after we pulled out.

From the beginning, the South Vietnamese army rarely fought with any doggedness, let alone distinction, and as the last helicopters removing our forces were scrambling to get off the embassy roof in Saigon, the North Vietnamese were already entering the city.

Jack Eisenberg


U.S. funds help Zionist agenda

The letter "Israel isn't serious about making peace" (Jan. 22) might shock and offend many, but it is old news to some of us. Now that we have the Internet, we can step beyond the many myths, lies and insults generated by Zionist propagandists.

Apartheid Israel receives the lion's share of America's foreign aid, plus many a private donation and investment by American individuals, businesses, charities and religious organizations that have all been played by the agents for a foreign country and ideology. Thus, ironically, our money and resources have been used to stifle free speech and undermine real democracy, justice and peace both here and abroad.

Anne Selden Annab

Mechanicsburg, Pa.

Politics, unions hurt education

The issue at stake between teachers and the Washington Education Association cannot be boiled down to the question of whose First Amendment right is more important ("Justices hint at support for union fees law," Jan. 11).

The 10 years of litigation the WEA has devoted to its fight for each dollar it can use on its political agenda clearly illustrates that its priority is protecting Big Labor to the exclusion of education.

This exemplifies the fundamental disconnect between teachers and labor unions.

Teachers are not laborers; they are professionals, like doctors, lawyers and engineers.

Industrial-style unionism neither advances the respect and compensation educators deserve nor improves the quality of education for kids.

Gary Beckner

Mission Viejo, Calif.

The writer is executive director of the Association of American Educators.

Public employees are not overpaid

In the Jan. 22 article on William Donald Schaefer's pensions ("Pensions add up for Schaefer"), The Sun quotes Pete Sepp of the National Taxpayers Union as saying that "public employee pensions generally are much more generous than those found in the private sector. ... That's doubly true for elected officials." Thank you for perpetuating the myth that public employees are overpaid for the work they do.

Pensions are calculated on salaries paid. It is clear from my experience that the salaries of most public employees are less than comparable to salaries in the public sector. Hence, the pensions are clearly less generous. When considering pensions of public-sector executives, I need only to point out the obscene severance packages offered to CEOs of even failing corporations.

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