Questioning the Moral Leadership of the Military

The opinion-page article "US Military Leads Society's March," Oct. 28, reminds me of a small boy worshiping his older brother who bullies those weaker than himself.As a Native American, I share with millions of my fellow Americans remorse, pain, and horror arising from the United States's role in the Gulf war. I do not share the author's feeling that it "brought the American people 'up close and personal' with their military. And the people liked what they saw." Praise of our military and its involvement in a war that many feel was without cause, and in which our forces attacked and murdered hundreds of thousands of innocent people, is appalling. Our military was not used for defense or for a noble cause. Its brilliant maneuvering, modern expertise, and fabulous monetary support from a nation fast becoming totally illiterate, was employed to destroy. Where is America's conscience? Mary Burg Whitcomb, Somerset, Calif.

I found the column's cushy view of the US military repulsive. To claim that the US Army is leading the way to a cleaner and better future is absurd. After all, the purpose of the military is to kill men, women, and children who may be in the way of what we perceive as our rightful interests. It is a dirty business any way you look at it. Don David, New York

Losing with the lottery The thoughtful piece, "No, Virginia, There Is No Jackpot," Oct. 29, which shows the lottery to be a scam, is a good example of journalism at its best. In the late 19th century, Goethe was deeply impressed by the ruinous effects of the state-supported lottery he saw while traveling in Italy. In his witches-kitchen scene from "Faust," he has the cynical Mephisto remark: "How lucky every monkey would think himself/ If he could only play the lottery too." Why do I care? I've been a teacher for the past 31 years and thus hate to see our culture giving up on the idea that individuals and communities have some measure of control over their own destinies. Salvatore F. Allosso, Woodland, Calif.

Concerns raised by Oakland fire The article "Oakland, State Officials Sift Rubble for Answers," Oct. 24, raises interesting issues surrounding the Oakland fire. Unwise building projects and permits granted in high-risk situations practically guarantee disaster. Another issue raised by the fire is rent gouging in Oakland as fire victims hunt for living quarters. Most of the homeless on our streets all across the country were put there by outrageous rental figures. Are unreasonable profits worth the damage to our society? San Francisco and Silicon Valley have lost valuable businesses that moved away because their employees cannot afford to live in the area. Those of us who have labored persistently to support rent control do not object to a fair return for landlords. It is the skyrocketing rents and substandard maintenance we deplore. But in parts of California these practices persist. For example, in East Palo Alto a vicious campaign against rent stabilization continues. Respect for law is minimal. Facts are distorted. Are we a compassionate society or not? Legitimate concerns for the Oakland fire victims should be expanded to include all the nation's homeless. M. L. Wallace, Menlo Park, Calif.

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