Letters To The Editor


October 12, 2007

Democrats struggle to alter our course

The Sun's editorial "The do-nothing Congress" (Oct. 4) fails to hold accountable the one person who bears the greatest responsibility for the Iraq war and its cost in both lives and taxpayer dollars: President Bush.

During more than 4 1/2 years of war in Iraq, the president has failed to learn the lesson that war should require shared sacrifice. He has asked for no sacrifice from the American people - except from our men and women in uniform and their families - while adding hundreds of billions of dollars in debt for future generations to repay.

Some have suggested that shared sacrifice should take the form of a draft; others have suggested a surtax to fund the war.

Those who oppose a tax and the draft also should oppose the president's war.

But just as I have opposed the war from the outset, I am opposed to a draft and to a war surtax.

Democrats in Congress are fighting a daily struggle with the administration and Republicans on Capitol Hill to change course in Iraq.

We do not want a political issue; we want an end to this tragic chapter in our history.

The choice is between a Democratic plan for the responsible redeployment of our troops and the president's plan to spend another $1 trillion on a 10-year war in Iraq.

Nancy Pelosi


The writer is speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

U.S. not militarizing its links with Africa

The authors of the column "Don't militarize U.S.-Africa ties" (Opinion

Commentary, Oct. 5) have a valid position in calling for a rebalancing of U.S. government resources from defense to diplomacy. But the example they cite of the militarization of U.S. policy in Africa - the new U.S. Africa Command - is the wrong one.

U.S. military security assistance programs in Africa represent about 3 percent of the United States' total $9 billion aid and development package for Africa.

That proportion won't change under AFRICOM. And there will not be a significant increase in troop activity on the continent.

The very reason the Pentagon created AFRICOM is to reduce the need for U.S. troops in Africa over the long term by helping Africans build greater capacity to provide for their own security - whether by countering terrorism, protecting natural resources, responding to disasters or conducting regional peacekeeping operations.

The U.S. military can help boost the training, logistics and planning aspects of those activities and help Africans ensure their security mechanisms are credible.

If one looks at the African Union's record in Darfur, it is clear that its forces there currently are not credible.

Pat Mackin

Stuttgart, Germany

The writer is a colonel in the U.S. Army and director of public affairs for the U.S. Africa Command.

Let administration heed its own advice

Responding to reports of a possible Turkish offensive into northern Iraq, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, "If they have a problem, they need to work together to resolve it, and I'm not sure that unilateral incursions are the way to go" ("Turkish incursion into Iraq weighed," Oct. 10).

I think the United States should heed its own counsel.

Michael J. Gorman


Malcontents block city schools' success

Let me get this straight - rather than accepting any responsibility for appalling test scores, low graduation rates and the overall pitiful state of the city school system, the city teachers union's leaders are still moaning about 45 minutes of planning time per week ("Teachers call for ouster of Alonso," Oct. 10)?

I couldn't find the words to express my outrage over this arrogance until, fortunately, I found them right from the horse's mouth. As Loretta Johnson, the co-president of the Baltimore Teachers Union, said: "This is absolutely asinine that we are out here fighting over planning time."

In the private sector, malcontents who forget the organization's best interests get fired.

In public education, they apparently run the union.

I wonder why the school system can't seem to make any progress.

Robert S. Abramson


Teacher can't share union leaders' views

I am in my 12th year teaching in Baltimore's public schools, and I was outraged by the headline "Teachers call for ouster of Alonso" (Oct. 10). I think "Teachers union leaders call for ouster" would have been a more apt headline.

While I appreciate the fact that I have always been paid on time and have health insurance, the philosophy of the Baltimore Teachers Union does not reflect my educational philosophy or that of my teaching teams over the past 12 years.

We have always taken time to plan as a team for instruction, professional development, even the way our school's lunchtime is conducted.

Why? Because students and staff benefit immeasurably from having a set of adults who understand students' strengths and needs, and who understand each other's thinking about teaching and learning.

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