Consider alternatives before closing US military bases
Regarding your April 6 editorial "How to Close Military Bases": You might be correct, but no bases should be closed until there has been public debate about the reduction of military personnel outside the US. If personnel should be transferred from external bases to US, more bases might be needed stateside. Also, some of the bases might be converted to National Guard bases, under the jurisdiction of states.
Fifteen years after the end of the cold war, there seems to be little reason for keeping more than 100,000 US troops in Europe. The Okinawans in Japan have wanted us out for decades. Osama bin Laden objected to our leaving troops in "the land of Muhammad" (aka Saudi Arabia) a decade after we had moved them there to support Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in the Gulf War. Sept. 11 was partly intended as a reminder of our failure to move the troops. The US government announced a year ago that we will finally evacuate the Saudi bases, but only to station them in other Arab nations. Once we no longer have an administration that appears to believe that the sun should never set on the American empire, the exodus from our foreign bases can begin.
Donald J. Fritz
Many US military bases haven't been needed since World War II ended, much less the cold war. To lessen the impact on communities affected by base closures, Congress should evaluate moving some civilian agencies out of Washington and into vacated bases. Most of these agencies could operate at a lower cost outside of enormously expensive Washington. Prime candidates would be the departments of Agriculture and Education, which could be located elsewhere than inside the Beltway.
Regarding your April 8 article "War zones erupt again in Iraq": If the best course of action in Iraq is to increase international participation in the peacekeeping and postwar efforts, where is the assistance from Arab nations? If the US is perceived as an outside interloper by the Arab world, shouldn't there be efforts from the Arab community - many of them our supposed allies - to work with the Shiite and Sunni populations in Iraq to rebuild the country? If the Arab and Muslim communities are opposed to US involvement in Iraq, it would serve their interests to build a globally compatible regime in Iraq. If they are unwilling to risk their international stature to do so, then they belie their claims to leadership in the Muslim and Arab world.
Mount Holly, N.J.
Regarding your April 6 article "Pricey Texts Strain Student Budgets": There are some problems with your analysis of the textbook-pricing issue. First, new textbook editions are published every three to four years, a conservative time frame in light of new and frequent scientific discoveries, changes in accounting practices, and new pedagogy. According to the College Board, student expenditures on books and materials have increased between 3 and 4 percent annually since 1999. This increase is considerably less than the 41 percent number that was given in your article.
This issue has come to a head recently in light of increasing tuition and fewer dollars being allocated for higher education, and it's important to maintain perspective. US publishers should not be scapegoats for greater problems in higher education. The Association of American Publishers supports tax breaks for students, as well as a dialogue between students, professors, and lawmakers about making textbooks more affordable.
Stephanie Lee Beer
Association of American Publishers
The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number.
Any letter accepted will appear in print and on www.csmonitor.com. Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to Letters.