Letters to the Editor

The "military drawdown" is a myth; readers split over Out of the Blue; and Reiter took a needless slap at Michael Moore.

Published April 19, 1999 4:45PM (EDT)

Prince of deception

David Horowitz writes about Clinton's "military drawdown"? With no
peace dividend since the end of the Cold War, with a recent increase
in "defense" budgeting of over $100 billion, I must wonder what
our militarists want.

If the armed forces are short of money, it is because they are
misspending it, according to William Greider in his "Fortress
America." There has been no review of "defense" strategy and
military priorities since the end of the Cold War. Secretary Cohen
promised a "bottoms up" review, but never delivered. The politics of
reallocating "defense" expenditures is too hot for the administration
(or Congress) to handle. This is why the armed forces are short on
replacement parts and on training allowances. They are getting plenty
of money; they are simply spending it on old force structures for lack
of will to modernize -- except with even more money than already
allocated and misused.

-- Alvin D. Hofer

Gainesville Fla.

David Horowitz lays the blame for the current Kosovo crisis solely at the doorstep of President Clinton, then asserts that the "if you're in it, you must win it" policy favored by conservatives will require a commitment of 200,000 U.S. ground troops, a bloody war and subsequent occupation of Kosovo for many years to come. Horowitz then wonders, "Are we as a nation prepared to take these risks, and accept these casualties, with the present occupant of the White House as our current commander in chief?"

The answer is, America can't have it both ways, and neither can David Horowitz -- if Clinton had not gotten involved and tried to stem Milosevic's ongoing bloodbath in the Balkans, Horowitz doubtless would have complained about that, too.

The sad fact is that America, not just Bill Clinton, is going to have to make up its mind: America can't parade itself around the globe as the sole remaining superpower and progenitor of human rights everywhere, and then not intercede on behalf of entire ethnic populations being raped and slaughtered. America can't assert global dominance in matters of finance and trade, and then shirk its obligations and revert toward the neo-isolationist view now favored by conservatives such as Pat Buchanan.

Horowitz might take comfort in the knowledge that Clinton's tenure as commander in chief will end long before NATO ground troops leave Kosovo. I wonder, would David Horowitz feel better if the troops were being led by the sure, steady hand of either Dan Quayle, Pat Buchanan or George W. Bush?

-- Craig Spector

We are living in an era when military conflict and strife happen on TV and
only on TV. People do not understand the dynamics that keep it from
becoming a reality in our own backyards. With every new token airstrike that Clinton authorizes, there is a further, silent erosion of
the two things that allow us to sleep at night with no insecurities
whatsoever: our military dominance and our stockpile of ammunition.

Bill Clinton was elected by a nation of people that have grown numb to
the reality of danger in the world. If there is a war, we'll be watching on CNN, eating popcorn.
Now, he is destroying our security by needlessly putting forth a
weakened image of America with half-assed attacks that do nothing but
waste missiles and piss off half the world.

America is getting what it deserves. Putting our faith in a man who
continually proves to be America's top scumbag is coming back to bite
us in the ass -- and it's happening right before our very eyes.

-- Luke Cavanagh

While reading David Horowitz's article I thought of an incident that
occurred while I was in college. In my second year, our basketball coach
recruited Bill, a 7-foot player who had never touched a basketball. He trained all summer and
when he came out on the court for his first game, you could see the fear
in the faces of the other team. But although he looked very intimidating, he
did not have the "killer instinct" needed to play serious, competitive,
college basketball -- and it took the opponents about three plays to discover

America is fast becoming like Bill. We give the
appearance of a force to be reckoned with. Until action is required,
that is all you need to be effective. But like on our basketball court,
when our foot is stepped on and we do nothing, we are no longer

-- Malcolm Sterling


Bad passenger, bad!

I have waited for years with little hope for a text version of Jerry
Springer. Thanks for answering my prayers. Airborne intercourse! Attempted
strangulation! Out of the Blue has it all -- and by sticking to the bulleted
list format, it blessedly avoids any of that nasty context or insight that
would force me to use my brain. Salon has clearly entered the stratosphere
with this compelling new feature. I look forward to more excrement in the
next installment.

-- Gary Miller

Hmm. Another tut-tutting story about airline passengers acting like
animals. Maybe it's because airlines treat passengers like animals.
Actually, scratch that: Calves in feedlots get more space than coach
passengers -- because the government insists on it. Cram people into a tiny space,
reduce their oxygen supply (airlines do that to save money), feed
them next to nothing, subject them to a million frustrations and
rudenesses and what do you expect? Instead of complaining about how
passengers act, how about the airlines showing some responsibility
for how they act?

-- Professor Glenn H. Reynolds

College of Law

University of Tennessee

Knoxville, Tenn.

Mushroom cloud over Denver


I was surprised to read this sentence in "Mushroom cloud over Denver":

"Once inside of Rocky Flats, McCallum observed, terrorists would only need
to slap some high explosives on the nuclear materials, light a fuse and
voil`: 'a little mushroom-shaped cloud' would soon be rising over Denver
and heading across the United States."

A close reading of the article will show that it only implies that you
can easily create a nuclear detonation "with some high explosives and
plutonium." Of course you can't -- and a close reading of the article
will also show that, at worst, you can create a dangerous mess (vaporizing the
plutonium with the high explosives).

But will the budding Timothy McVeighs out there read so carefully? I can
just imagine one on his way to Rocky Flats, thinking, "I'm gonna build me
one o' them nookler bombs ..."

-- Keith M. Ellis

Your article on the Rocky Flats situation reminds me of the Los Alamos
Chinagate situation. In both cases, the problem is caused by the use of
private security firms instead of military personnel, a policy that took
hold during the Reagan years

Thanks to Ronald Reagan, we were stuck with rent-a-cops guarding not only
our nuclear research, but also the nukes themselves. Wonderful.

No wonder the Chinagate hearings are being kept behind closed doors: The
Republicans would find it very difficult to blame Bill Clinton if the full
truth were out in the open.

-- Herbert Rogers


The price of fame

Nothing Personal described Michael Moore as a "shamelessly self-promoting big-business gadfly." This statement reflects a trivial, reactionary and uninformed dismissal of one of the few cultural personalities who actually try to mix a little education and social responsibility with their entertainment. I feel the statements addressing Moore were both derogatory and undeserved, totally lacking in big-picture perspective.

-- Dana Witzel.

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