Letters to the Editor – Weekly Issue of July 26, 2010
Readers write in about the war in Afghanistan, census workers, and CEO pay.
Afghanistan is unwinnable
The article and editorial about Afghanistan in the July 5 issue ("Shifting generals, but not strategy" and "The Afghanistan price tag") could not, of course, begin to cover all the unplumbed complexity of the Afghan puzzle. Having lived in Afghanistan for three years in the mid-1970s, let me offer other angles that deserve serious thought.
Perhaps the most insuperable barrier to our "winning" (an irrelevant concept in the Afghan puzzlement) is the belief by the Taliban and many other Afghans that the American and NATO forces are foreign invaders and must be denied any right of presence or control. President Hamid Karzai's desperate dependence on our presence must tarnish him irreparably, despite his occasional rants against our killing of Afghans.
Using the Iraq surge as a template for the US mission in Afghanistan seems a dangerous delusion. Gen. David Petraeus's "walk on water" in Iraq is overblown. A key to our very tentative "success" in Iraq was the changing of sides by the formidable Sunnis of Anbar Province, a fortunate development that coincided with the US surge. One hopes that Petraeus will soon recognize that his groping for a similar "awakening" in Afghanistan is almost certainly pointless. Afghanistan may be "unwinnable," but clear-eyed analysis may salvage a satisfactory evolution if political emotions don't obtrude.
I wish to thank John Yemma for his article, "Foot soldiers in the fulfillment of America's promise" in the June 28 issue. Currently serving as one of these "foot soldiers," I was very moved by his assessment of this activity that dates back to the first census in 1790. I shall be sharing this article with some of my fellow census workers!
Nancy L. Brown
Exorbitant CEO pay
In one of his ever-informative and statistics-laden articles, David Francis writes again in the July 12 issue about the shamelessly skyrocketing pay of CEOs. In the 1960s, American CEOs got about 30 times the wage of the average worker. Today, CEOs get about 300 times the average wage.
This is the outcome of the brute forces of our perverted capitalism: corrupt politicians, greedy billionaire-industrialists, an advertisement-enslaved press, and a gullible public. The percentages of billionaires – and the poor and homeless – are far higher here in America than in Western Europe.
Though uneasy to hear, the American capitalistic system will have to learn more from the socialized and civilized European model of capitalism, than vice versa.
Ifat A. Shah, MD