How to spend $48 billion more for defense

Regarding "Bush seeks massive defense hike" (Jan. 29): So President Bush is proposing a $48 billion increase to the defense budget, bringing it to what the Center for Defense Information says is $391 billion. It's already larger than the combined spending of the seven countries traditionally identified by the Pentagon as our most likely adversaries.

Even as our country is collapsing into debt, we are continually reminded of a long-term war on terrorism. We need to lay our egos aside and give more of the burden to the other nations of the world equally affected by terrorists.

We already have the United Nations. Let's start empowering it to get this disorganized world working together. After all, our initial US states were like antagonistic countries, with their own taxation policies and armies, before we developed the wisdom of a federal government. By spearheading these "wars" under our name we are perpetuating enemies for generations to come and impoverishing our future.

Deborah E. Metke
Franksville, Wis.

President Bush gave a pretty good State of the Union speech. As expected, the magic words "war on terrorism" were frequently mentioned. And while we can agree that attempting to end terrorism is good, there is a risk that fighting terrorism will justify foreign-policy atrocities.

The war on terrorism, we were told, would be a different and new type of war, stretching over the coming years. But look at where the proposed extra military spending in the budget will be used: raising pay, buying more precision weapons, and building missile defenses. Nothing in the budget seems particularly suited to the needs of intelligence for effectively combating terrorism in the world. In fact, it looks exactly like the familiar and lingering cold-war model of escalating weapons and heaps of money subsidizing the high-tech weapons industry.

Needless to say, the defense shield that puts nuclear weapons in space seems to have little applicability towards terrorism and looks like wasteful cold-war-era spending.

Arthur Taylor
Mason, Mich.

The 'legal' card isn't always right

Regarding "Enron and campaign finance" (Jan. 29, Editorial): Society is witnessing a struggle between what's legal and what's ethical. And what's legal seems to be winning out. So-called respectable lawyers, politicians, and business professionals have developed a misguided philosophy of "If it's legal, it's OK." Well, they're wrong.

Laws set parameters and guidelines in which we operate as a society. Ethics go far beyond. Ethics are the core of trust and honorable dealings. Politicians see nothing wrong with taking enormous campaign donations and stating that donations don't influence their decisions. We are in grave danger if laws trump ethics rather than the other way around. Laws are useless unless ethical behavior is the governing watchdog.

Robert Brandes
Fredericksburg, Texas

Truth-tellers needed

"Imagine a world where nary a lie is told" (Jan. 24, Ideas) suggested some interesting processes for checking for the truth. These are much needed in a society where officers of tobacco companies swear - under oath - that tobacco is not an addictive product. Individuals like James Brosnahan, the lawyer for John Walker Lindh, says the US government did not allow his client to have a lawyer before being questioned, while the US government says he signed a release allowing himself to be questioned. And then there are the officers of Enron.

The public and press need to spend more time condemning these leaders who lie.

James Lambert
Chino Hills, Calif.

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