While I was riding along enjoying the beautiful Maine foliage, President Obama came over the radio telling us he has sent our military into Africa to intervene in a conflict. What a way bad news can spoil a beautiful Maine day!

Obama says its in our national interest to send our military into yet another conflict. I find that logic very hard to swallow. By that reasoning we should send our military into every national dispute over the whole world.

Where is the Congress in these issues of sending our military sons and daughters to die in countries scattered all over the world? I believe the laws say the president must consult Congress to make war in other countries. Do our representatives and senators approve of sending our military into a national dispute in Africa?

Our military is now involved in more wars and conflicts than most of us can name. This type of intervention around the world is wrong. Expecting our military to continue these never-ending wars is wrong.

Watching our military sons and daughters die in these questionable wars (not supported by the majority of Americans ) is obscene.

Where is the outrage in the media over Obama’s escalating military actions around the world? When George W. Bush was president, every newspaper would run stories against the wars. Casualties would be front-page stories. Now that Obama is president, I rarely see pictures of the coffins coming home or stories against the wars.

Please phone our congresspeople and voice opposition to these never-ending wars.

During the Vietnam war, America lost 58,000 brave soldiers — for what? Can anyone tell me the result of Vietnam was worth 58,000 lives?

How many will die today in our new war in Africa? Why? When will we leave? Is it worth even the loss of one life?

James Waterhouse


One expects columnists and statesmen to have a good grasp of their subjects. Most do. Where Israel and Palestine are concerned, most don’t, including Press Herald syndicated columnists — and George Mitchell.

In six columns last year, George Will ignored that conflict’s central reality, the “Nakba” or catastrophe — Israel’s ethnic cleansing of three-quarters of the Palestinians from homes and land when they challenged a U.N. partition that gave the largely colonial Jewish 30 percent control over half of Palestine.

Israeli forces cleansed 200,000 in the six months before Arab armies appeared. Israelis then took half of the projected Palestinian-majority state and refused refugees their right to return home. Continuing thefts have increased Jewish ownership from 6 percent to 80 percent of Palestinian real estate.

Will ignored subsequent Israeli aggressions, seeing only a menaced, peace-loving country.

Charles Krauthammer (Oct. 3) cites Palestinian unresponsiveness to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 10-month settler freeze when construction actually continued throughout. He calls Palestinian refusal to open the way to further ethnic cleansing and dismissal of refugee rights “rejectionism.”

Cal Thomas (Sept. 22) overlooks Israel as a colonial settler state aggressor, seeing only Palestinian anti-semitism threat.

The other night, George Mitchell repeated, before a capacity audience, the discredited Israeli-Leon Uris propaganda myth: “Israel accepted the U.N. partition, the Palestinians rejected it (being unreasonable, his expression added), and five Arab armies attacked Israel.”

Afterward, Mitchell acknowledged ignorance of Israeli historian Ilan Pappe’s book, which traces, through military records, the cleansing of more than 700,000 Palestinians.

Urging negotiations, Mitchell does not give Palestinian rights or international law force, as has the international community, including Washington, since 1967.

Rather, realism, Israel’s takings and power, factor large: majority Palestinians with 15 percent — less fertile land, Israel controlling its aquifers and borders — have yet more to sacrifice. Translation: unequal land swaps and no refugee justice.

William H. Slavick


Decisions we make now regarding cuts to the federal budget will have far-reaching consequences. I urge our senators to consider the ramifications of cuts in foreign development assistance, an easy target for those who feel that with limited funds, we need to take care of problems at home first.

Think again. Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates had it right when he said, “Development is a lot cheaper than sending soldiers.”

Preservation of funding for development aid focused on lifting people out of poverty — a hand up versus a hand out — comprises less than 1 percent of our federal budget. Money well spent, these development funds include aid to small farmers so they can feed their families and nutrition programs focused on the health of mothers and children.

Poverty-focused development assistance is vital and strategic. Such investments will make it less likely for the United States to have costly military interventions.

Hunger and poverty are breeding grounds for unrest. Giving people the tools to feed themselves and to create income creates stability and prosperity.

Fiscal year 2012 funding for poverty-focused development assistance needs to be protected.

Gail Witherill


Australian visitor thanks South Portland couple

Back in July 1982, I was on my first big overseas trip on my own, having just graduated from university in Australia.

I traveled across Canada, then came back across the U.S. I took the bus from Montreal, with the intention of visiting my American cousin who was then living in Blue Hill.

I got to Portland in the late afternoon — and found the bus I needed wouldn’t be going till the following afternoon! It was then that a South Portland couple I’d met on the bus offered to put me up for the night.

They said that others had put them up on their travels, and they felt a duty to help out other people in the same situation. I remember their home was above a shop. The following day, we went out strawberry picking. I gave them my name and address, but regret that I lost theirs.

I was reminded of all this recently when re-reading my travel diary. If they’re still in South Portland, I’d like to thank them, whoever they are. It was a great example of Maine hospitality.

David Morgan

Sydney, Australia