Letters to the Editor

Readers write about military service and free trade.

Politics have taken American values out of military service

In response to Colleen Reiss's July 14 Opinion piece, " 'I'm joining the military' shouldn't be a jaw-dropper": We cannot trust the proprietors of our military might to act wisely. I refer not to the military professionals but to the civilian authorities who make the decisions about how to use the military.

Since the last necessary war in which the United States participated, World War II, our civilian leaders in the executive and legislative branches of government have bumped or shoved – or in the case of Iraq, stampeded – us into armed conflicts all over the globe.

It's been a dismal record, with not many victories to validate the effort.

After three years of military service in World War II, some of it spent in three combat zones in the European Theater of Operations, I was in favor of President Truman's idea of Universal Military Training (UMT). I thought it would be a sound and sensible way to teach young people a valuable lesson in service to our country, to learn self-discipline, self-reliance, and a genuine concern for less-fortunate fellow human beings.

If part of this service included combat, there would be a good reason for it. But all that changed. I would not now recommend military service without a return to the true American values such service used to represent and protect.

Norman Anderson
Mercer Island, Wash.

Regarding the recent Opinion piece on military service: The shortsightedness of many educated Americans when it comes to service in the military is simply a variant of a NIMBY (not in my backyard) attitude.

A new point I hadn't heard on the hypocrisy of academia was Reiss's slam-dunk: The same universities that prohibit on-campus ROTC because of the military's policy on gays are happy to accept campus visits by the very US lawmakers who approved that policy.

As a parent of a Marine, I am ashamed of my alma mater's official hypocrisy on ROTC. By such policies, colleges make it less likely that their alumni will ever have direct influence on the conduct of war.

Gordon Imrie
Chicago

Trade barriers hurt small farmers

In response to the July 7 article, "As G-8 meets, free trade under fire": The coverage of the G-8 summit shows that trade issues are closely tied to domestic politics and social justice.

Rich-country trade barriers have added to the problems of globalization. Continuing farm subsidies by the United States and the European Union worsens the world hunger crisis by preventing developing world farmers from competing with those in the US and Europe.

Congress recently missed a golden opportunity by failing to reform the Farm Bill, which continues to concentrate payments to the largest and wealthiest landowners. Congress has locked the United States into another five-year protectionist system that hampers the desperate efforts of millions of small farmers around the world to feed their families and escape from grinding poverty.

Congress can make amends by doing two things in the current session: increase funding that directly addresses the root causes of global hunger and poverty, and ensure that this money is spent effectively by rationalizing the foreign assistance programs of the US government.

Pierre de Vries
Kirkland, Wash.

Board member, Bread for the World

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