Other People's Mail

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What Is Military's Mission?

To The Washington Post, June 15, 2009

In Michael O'Hanlon's analysis that the Obama administration is underfunding the Pentagon, he failed to address the most important question: What is the mission that would justify perpetuating the colossal U.S. military budget?

Should the United States occupy Iraq and Afghanistan indefinitely (Mr. O'Hanlon has supported both wars)? Are our huge military budget, which at more than $600 billion per year is almost as large as those of the rest of the world's countries combined, and more than 700 foreign bases justified by a global "war on terror"?

Evidently Mr. O'Hanlon is not interested in these questions, just in ensuring that the Pentagon continues to get more than half of the federal discretionary budget while programs for education, affordable housing, health care and the environment go begging, thereby degrading our economy and our overall quality of life.

The military-industrial complex that President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us about has become a nearly omniscient political power with an interest in its own self-perpetuation that has little to do with defending the country.

Mr. O'Hanlon ought to question what the military's mission is before shilling for it.

Kevin Martin, Peace Action, Silver Spring, MD

Obama and Iran

To the Los Angeles Times, June 23, 2009

I don't know what Jonah Goldberg wants President Obama to do to bolster the supporters of Iranian reformist presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi. We are more popular in the Middle East than we have been in many years, but more popular doesn't mean popular.

If Goldberg wants to kill this movement in Iran, then by all means, let's tell the Iranians what to do. After all, that was the George W. Bush foreign policy (plus some added military force), and how has that been doing?

Mitch Engel, Los Angeles,CA

Democracy May Grow in Iran

To The New York Times, June 17, 2009

President Obama is wise to observe discretion with respect to commenting on the unrest in Iran. The CIA overthrow of a democratically elected leader, Mohammed Mossadegh, in the 1950s is still an open wound in Iranian society, and the appearance that the United States was backing reformists today would play into the hands of those who oppose them. Let the Iranians determine their own future.

Tom Miller, Oakland, CA

Iran's Election Unrest

To the Los Angeles Times, June 18, 2009

One of former President George W. Bush's major goals was to bring American-style democracy to the Muslim world. I am sure he must be ecstatic to see that Iran has taken the lessons of his Florida election to heart.

Omer Murray, Newhall, CA

Stand Up To Tyranny

To The Seattle Times, June 26, 2009

One has to wonder where the U.S. would be today if, at the time of our revolution, France had taken the same posture the Obama administration is taking with respect to the protests and election in Iran.

Had France said it didn't wish to be the foil for the tyrannical English monarchy and that the revolution was an internal matter between the British monarchy and the colonies, we likely would still be under British rule.

Instead, France stood with us, supported us and tipped the balance. With its help, which was certainly not limited to verbal or written encouragement, the revolution was won, and we are the free country we are today.

We need to stand with those who would be free of tyranny, clerically inspired or otherwise.

Dick Roberts, Lynnwood, WA

Iranians Show Their Resolve

To The New York Times, June 17, 2009

I did graduate-level research at Stanford University from 2001 to 2003 on the role of the Internet in Iran. My field work in Iran at the time indicated that it was freedom of expression and access to unfiltered information that served to undermine the self-legitimacy strategy of the Iranian government. …