China and the US have a shared interest in curbing North Korea
Regarding the April 5 editorial, "North Korea's challenge for Obama": This is one of the most insightful Monitor editorials in recent memory.
The task of diplomacy always must include demonstrating to the regional neighbors of a troublesome nation that shared mutual interests will guide finding solutions.
The United States shares China's interest in containing North Korea's pursuit of deliverable nuclear weapons. China shares the larger world's interest in having the North Korean people get relief from starvation by diverting the investment in rockets and other weapons materials.
Perhaps the expenditure for saber rattling is considered by Pyongyang to be a modest investment to leverage agricultural aid and other nation-building assistance from concerned nations outside the former Soviet axis.
If they are brought to the table to negotiate away any further offensive moves, then we have to be clear on what we are prepared to give in return.
David K. McClurkin
Gates's budget decision signals change in Washington
In regard to the April 6 article, "Gates axes some costly weapons, emphasizes 'irregular' warfare": This plan is change we can believe in; a well-respected Republican working within a Democratic administration to spend defense dollars on projects that get the job done at minimum cost in American lives and dollars.
I trust Defense Secretary Robert Gates, based on his performance over two years. As a fiscal conservative who campaigned for President Obama, I'm thrilled to be seeing some results of the people's dissatisfaction with the old way of doing things.
Congress has for too long collectively used the budget as a mechanism to pump each local economy (proportional to the clout of the individual member) at the expense of the nation as a whole. The worst example of this, the earmark tradition, allowed some members of Congress to do this in the dark while other members ignored what was being slid in under the covers. This is certainly not what our founding fathers intended or hoped for.
I was disappointed that the new administration felt it necessary to play ball with the fat cats of Wall Street in order to minimize the damage they had caused. I was also disappointed that Mr. Obama did not insist on the elimination of earmarks in the recent budget. The result was that the stimulus package provided a grand opportunity for the Democratic majority in Congress to continue old ways.
It's time to take a stand. The president needs to keep his commitment to efficient government forefront in doing the business of the people that elected him. As long as he does this, he can count on their support, and Congress will get on board. We citizens must make sure they do. This is not a Democratic or Republican issue; members of both parties and independents can find principled reasons to support this change.
It was interesting to note that the reporter covering the story of Robert Gates cutting the military budget chose to get the opinion of a representative of a "peace group" in Washington.
Perhaps he might also have asked some of our military men and women what they thought about the recent North Korean missile launch and our ability to knock down such missiles. If I remember correctly, our defenses worked just fine against such missiles in the last several tests.
For justice, extenuating factors must be taken into account
Regarding the April 6 article, "Accused Nazi guard faces deportation to Germany": The fact that John Demjanjuk has already served seven years in an Israeli prison for his alleged war crimes should be a strong extenuating factor in deciding his sentence, if he is also convicted of war crimes in Germany.
As I recall, he is almost 90 years of age, and has not been in good enough health to stand trial until now. Is there a possibility that his trial could be modeled after Desmond Tutu's and Nelson Mandela's public humiliation of accused criminals from South Africa's apartheid government? To me, that was most effective justice – even more effective than physical punishment and confinement.
Fair Oaks, Calif.
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