November 14, 2012

Letters to the editor
Obama underestimates Islam as threat

Benghazi could have been a striking example of American resolve. The president chose, unnecessarily, to protect Islam from American free speech instead.

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U.S. actions in connection with the attack in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11 reflect President Obama’s “deliberate refusal even to acknowledge the 1,400-year- old religious, cultural and political friction between Islam and the West in any world-historical context,” a reader says.

Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post

The protected status of ambassadors is an ancient protocol. Even 1,000 years ago, anyone who'd harmed a Mongol ambassador would not have been surprised by the consequences.

Without a reliable explanation for such a serious incident, it seems plausible that our unprotected ambassador died in the ubiquitous crossfire of Islamic North Africa and the Middle East. Washington authorities decided that, so close to an election, they were simply unwilling to send help or publicly amplify the trouble in any way, regardless of the consequences. The ambassador and his brave associates may have paid for that political decision with their lives.

Islam never gets the credit it deserves. It was Islamic traders in the Indian Ocean, and Mongol converts along the old Silk Roads, who introduced Europe to things like numbers, paper, gunpowder, medicine, science and sails. Crusaders came home with knowledge and novelties they'd picked up in the markets of the Middle East.

But Islam is a serious adversary. The greatest threat to Western civilization, the challenger with the most significant differences, who has come the closest to toppling the entire legacy of ancient Greece and Rome, was never Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan. It was Islam, on at least four occasions, beginning 1,000 years before America was born.

The significant thing about the president's deliberate refusal even to acknowledge the 1,400-year-old religious, cultural and political friction between Islam and the West in any world-historical context is willful blindness. It reveals a dangerous absence of critical, strategic thinking.

If we keep on going with the president's approach, the price will get steeper and the 1,400-year-old dustup will finally muscle its way into the headlines where it belongs.

Dick Baker

North Yarmouth


Maine schools work hard to assist anti-obesity effort


As a former Maine adjutant general, parent and grandparent, it is alarming to read the astronomical figure from a University of Maine researcher who projects that the medical cost of obesity for children and adolescents in Maine could reach over $1.2 billion in the next 20 years.

The news article also states that last year the medical costs of obesity for all age groups in Maine were nearly $453 million. Both the sheer dollar amount, and the projected rate of growth, are reasons for grave concern.

This is more than just a fiscal and health issue, it is a national security issue.

Being overweight is the leading medical reason why young adults cannot serve in the military, which could impact future recruiting efforts.

While there is no silver bullet for combating obesity, I agree with the Institute of Medicine's assessment that schools are an important partner, along with parents, in a broader effort to promote healthy living to our youth.

That is why I and other retired generals and admirals of the national security nonprofit group called Mission: Readiness support efforts to improve the nutritional quality of foods sold in schools.

I commend the many schools in Maine that are upgrading their nutritional standards and encourage all schools to join this important effort. We must all act now so that our obesity crisis does not also become a national security crisis.

Earl Adams

major general, U.S. Army (retired)



Criminalization of pot use lacks logic, compassion


I found the Nov. 3 Associated Press article on Israel's marijuana policy very meaningful and, hopefully, instructive ("Marijuana in Israel: Medical pot hot, but not a hot potato").

It is not surprising that a country founded by a people who lived through the Holocaust would value and appreciate anything that alleviates pain and suffering.

(Continued on page 2)

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