Wednesday, May 22, 2013
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.
Brunswick Naval Air Station and other closed bases would still be open if it were up to Congress. Two readers support spending more on diplomacy and less on war.
File photo/Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer
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.
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.
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.
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