In the Press Herald of May 23, it was reported that a Senate subcommittee had overruled a military request to close bases they no longer need.

It has also been reported that another congressional committee has insisted on including in the budget an East Coast missile defense project that the Pentagon said was unnecessary. In Congress, there is plenty of support for the military-industrial complex and military budgets.

On May 28, Coleman Gorham, in a Maine Voices column (“To honor our war veterans, let’s prepare for and promote peace”), suggested that we need to prepare for peace. He recommends a Peace Department and a Peace Academy. He’s right.

We have a beginning in that direction. The United States Institute of Peace has been in existence for several years. Congress voted to build a building, but the budget for the program has never been large and has been cut in the present spending proposal.

The institute gets little press coverage. Its work isn’t as exciting as battles, and it doesn’t have a football team. It has done such things as teach diplomatic appointees the language of the countries to which they will go, so they don’t have to use interpreters. Very useful.

If we are ever to have peace again, we have to plan for it.

Charles Brown

Brumswick

In response to Coleman P. Gorham’s column, I agree that the United States should have a Peace Department, and with Cabinet-level status. We all need a world free of war and the threat of war.

Our economy is hamstrung by expenses for war. Our society loses valuable resources in the deaths reported weekly of our young servicemen and servicewomen. We must learn better ways to avoid deadly conflict.

What percent of our national budget is planned for war and the repayment of costs of war? What percent is set for diplomacy and measures to avoid war?

We all want a stronger economy and reduction of our huge debt. Our funds for defense interfere. We need better answers. A Peace Academy could build valuable skills in our society.

Today I will visit a friend in one of Maine’s veterans homes. A peaceful and just society could be the best memorial to those who served our country.

Marlee Turner

Raymond

Our senators help confirm judge, but more needed

As the delegation from Maine that traveled to the White House and Capitol Hill recently to promote the need for timely confirmation of President Obama’s nominees for federal court judgeships, we applaud Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins for joining only seven of their Republican counterparts in voting May 21 to confirm Paul Watford to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

The 9th Circuit covers California and surrounding states, and Watford will be only the second African-American judge on a court with 29 seats. He has stellar legal credentials, including serving as a Supreme Court clerk, federal prosecutor and a partner in a private law firm. He earned the highest rating of “well-qualified” from the American Bar Association.

Despite his qualifications, Watford’s nomination (like many others) had long been held captive by the Republican leadership, which has used the filibuster, among other tactics, to prevent Senate action on Obama judicial nominees. Watford’s nomination was delayed for almost five months, before the GOP would allow it to come to the floor for an up-or-down vote. Even then, only seven Republican senators were willing to break ranks to support this largely non-controversial candidate.

There remains a long list of federal Circuit and District Court nominees still waiting for an up-or-down vote, including William J. Kayatta, the attorney nominated by President Obama to fill Maine’s critical seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit. Kayatta has stellar qualifications and enjoys strong support from Maine’s senators. But in this politicized environment, even that sometimes is not enough.

We urge Sens. Collins and Snowe to continue to work actively to press the Republican leadership in the Senate to bring Kayatta’s nomination to a vote without further delay.

Benjamin R. Gideon,

partner, Berman & Simmons PA

Freeport

Eliza Townsend,

executive director, Maine Women’s Lobby

Portland

Christians far from unified on gay marriage beliefs

On May 30, letter writer David Del Camp suggested that pro-gay marriage groups are intolerant of ALL Christians (his words, emphasis mine).

He went on to suggest that society is required to accept the writer’s point of view that all Christians hold the belief that marriage is only meant for a man and woman. He wrote “it’s about obedience: something we all fall short of.”

In America, land of religious freedom, no one puts their hand on the Constitution and swears to uphold someone else’s interpretation of a Bible. If this letter writer thinks that all Christians believe what he believes, he needs to get out and visit a large number of Protestant churches. Is he so arrogant as to declare their faith as a sacrilege? I’d like to read the passage in his Bible giving him that authority.

Let’s settle the issues of conflict between various religions and the law of the land. Eliminate the word “marriage” from all government venues and substitute “civil union.”

Let each church define marriage and afford civil unions as right for all adults, not a privilege for some.

Jeffrey Lunt

Cape Elizabeth

Most grads won’t be asked to think independently

I question Jay Friedlander’s ideas on teaching College of the Atlantic students independent thinking (Maine Voices, “Let’s prepare grads for the unexpected,” May 27).

If you’re talking about those on the frontiers of innovation and discovery, for example, about curing cancer, yes, great.

But the average student will more likely work for a company that wants them to follow orders, not challenge established procedures. Just do your job and shut up.

Usually their work will fall within guidelines aimed at production of goods and/or services. If they choose to propose changes (have you read “Dilbert” lately?), they can do it on their own time, not the company’s.

The VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity) acronym is interesting, especially in the context of the military. You’re paid to follow orders — not try new ideas or thinking. Remember “Into the Valley of Death rode the six hundred”? Not “Let’s look at this foolhardy plan again.”

William R.Laidley

South Portland