Letters to the Editor – Weekly Issue of April 25, 2011

Readers write in about defense spending and the cost of undeclared wars as well as the US Civil War legacy.

The cost of global policing

In his April 4 column, Walter Rodgers is a voice crying in the political wilderness ("To really cut the budget, stop waging undeclared wars"). Even though I hated economics, I do remember learning that you had to choose between guns and butter.

Not only should America not be the world's policeman, we can't afford it! It's time to replay Eisenhower's prescient warning of the military-industrial complex.

Paul Sedan

San Francisco

Over the past 60 years, America has fought several undeclared wars. Not one of these was financed with the sale of war bonds (as was done in World War I and II), and ongoing US involvement in the most recent conflicts has been a significant factor behind today's national debt.

The wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Libya have collectively cost billions, but it seems Republicans are still pretending that domestic social justice programs are responsible for the huge national debt.

Bipartisan reason must prevail, and budget cuts must be made to both social programs and defense.

Roy Wetherington

Tifton, Ga.

US Civil War legacy

The April 4 story ("The War That Made Us 'We' ") illustrates how 150 years can alter the narrative and everyday perception of the most compelling experience in American history.

Although I was reared in Georgia when the Civil War was not yet 100 years past, I had the benefit of having direct ancestors who served both sides in the conflict. Learning to recognize the deeply felt passions of family members gave me a priceless perception of what was at stake and what a tragedy it was for all involved.

There is some solace in knowing that those four years turned our country toward recognizing the dignity of all its people, giving poignant new meaning to the words written by Francis Scott Key some 50 years earlier, "The land of the free [slaves no more] and home of the brave [630,000 lost]."

David K. McClurkin

Beachwood, Ohio

Are we trying to rewrite history? After spending the past five nights rewatching Ken Burns's "The Civil War" on my local PBS station, I am more convinced of the validity of that concern.

The article quotes Mr. Burns himself: "Slavery is the cause of the war, and anybody who tells you differently doesn't know what they're talking about."

If slavery was the main cause of the Civil War, why did Northerners get so upset about the Emancipation Proclamation? And Union soldiers were heard to protest fighting to free the slaves. The Civil War began over the issue of states' rights. Viewers and readers are done a disservice with oversimplifications to the contrary.

Barbara Suetholz

Racine, Wash.

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