Letters to the Editor

Readers share concerns about US soldiers, online death threats, and apologies to Japan.

Pass 'once is enough' law for weary soldiers

In response to the article from April 4, "Is US Army bent to the breaking point?": I am a former Navy Judge Advocate General officer who spent a good deal of time trying to help sailors and marines returning from Vietnam. I also spent a lot of time working with families of those killed and injured.

In light of these personal experiences, I think it is deplorable that the military is trying to cover up its own deficiencies by ordering multiple combat deployments, many of them allowing less than a year at home in between. This could cause physical and mental harm to these men and women.

What we now need is legislation that would allow any service member who has completed a combat tour, or who has been unable to do so because of combat-related injuries, to have the option of applying for and receiving an honorable discharge upon his or her return. We could call it the "once is enough" law.

Passing a law such as this is the least we should be able to do for those who have put their lives, and their families' futures, on the line.

The choice of additional tours should be theirs, not the Pentagon's.

Lawrence J. Fleming
St. Louis

Online self-policing doesn't suffice

In response to the article from April 4, "How do you deal with unprincipled citizen journalists?": This is a thought-provoking article and subject.

The common belief that self-regulation is sufficient and appropriate is incorrect. Usually, it is self-regulation that doesn't work well. The online death-threats mentioned in the article are but one example of failure to adequately self-police. Contrary to popular opinion, creating a code or codes of ethics for bloggers can work to prevent the "unprincipled citizen journalists" from acting inappropriately online.

Codes can work in at least two ways. First, they establish a standard by which behavior may be judged – the more widely accepted the code, the more normative social force is brought to bear to enforce it. Socially accepted codes can be enforced in many different ways.

Second, codes may be enforced in the legal realm – the most commonly identified way may be through the formal courtsystem.

Mark Anderson
Garden Home, Ore.

US shouldn't overlook Japan apology

In response to the April 2 Opinion piece by Gi-Wook Shin, "Beyond apology, moral clarity": He states that "urging Japan to apologize for war crimes is not enough. The US must confront its own role in ignoring Asians' suffering." What he wrote was responsibly calling America to account.

However, it's amazing that he didn't mention America's act of wiping out the innocent civilians in two Japanese cities with atomic bombs. Talk about the elephant in the room that we Americans won't address!

Bill Zeckhausen
Laconia, N.H.

Soldier's parents comforted

In response to the article from March 26, "What can we do for our sons and daughters in Iraq?": I just want to say a quick thank-you for the article on praying for troops in Iraq. Our son is expecting to be deployed to Afghanistan with his National Guard unit this year. I've kept a copy of this article and expect I'll reread it many times.

Also, thanks for the many articles about Afghanistan you've published recently. I'm trying to educate myself about this country that seems so far away. The Monitor's thoughtful focus is very helpful.

Carol Cummings
Polson, Mont.

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 our website, 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 oped@csps.com.

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