Next president must first focus on consensus building
In response to John Hughes's Sept. 26 Opinion piece, "A to-do list for the next president": I think that the most urgent assignment for America's next president will be to serve as a consensus builder in a government that is so polarized that it is often dysfunctional, to begin repairing the image of the United States throughout the world, and to surround himself or herself with advisers who are capable of flexible, pragmatic, and creative thinking. It is then, and only then, that he or she will be able to begin checking off the items on Mr. Hughes's to-do list.
US military's role in Africa
Responding to the Oct. 2 article, "US steps up its military presence in Africa," Africom's plans to continue to "build local capacity" could be a disguised way to gain local military leverage. Could it be that the Ethiopian military forces that marched into Somalia recently were influenced by the US, who provides trainers for Ethiopia's forces? The US strategy could be pulling the strings of African governments' forces when US interests are threatened.
US will stay in Iraq for access to oil
In response to the Sept. 27 article, "Iraq's oil exports to north rise": It doesn't take much reading between the lines to figure out that the referenced oil giants – Conoco Phillips, Shell, and Chevron – are already queuing up to stake a claim in Iraq. Moreover, this article affords a glimpse at how the accession to Iraqi petroleum reserves by foreign investors will be reported to the American people in the future: as part of positive stories about increasing security in Iraq.
Oil has been the unmentionable subtext of this Mesopotamian misadventure, and all the political science fiction crafted by the Bush administration will never cover that up. Iraq is not the central front in a terror war; it is the central fount of Middle East crude oil. That, ultimately, is why our troops will remain there indefinitely.
The weak central government in Baghdad has no choice but to acquiesce to this permanent state of occupation, dependent as it is on American forces for survival.
The world's supply of oil is dwindling, and unless we fundamentally change how and what we use as energy, the misery wrought by the Iraq war offers a bitter foretaste of things to come.
Watch candidates' stands, not standing
In response to the Sept. 28 articles, "For voters, 'tough' now trumps 'nice' " and "Clinton's rivals tread carefully in N.H.": The popular media tends to cover presidential election campaigns as if they were football games, focusing most of the attention and analysis on political strategy and appearance, rather than on issues and what the candidates intend to do about them.
The Monitor has, unfortunately, followed this trend in these two articles. Both emphasized the importance of appearance and strategic posturing, while ignoring substantive differences between candidates. How does this help voters choose a candidate?
Oil at $1,000 per barrel will help
In response to the Sept. 24 article, "He tallies hidden costs of free parking – one space at a time": The issue of parking is a worldwide problem. I think the only solution to this problem is to let oil prices increase to $1,000 per barrel – or, if possible, more. Only then will mankind learn to abandon their cars.
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