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September 30, 2013

READERS’ FORUM: Sept. 30, 2013

Syrian crisis handled well

Spoiler alert! Although the story in Syria is still being written, conservative pundits have given away what they have assumed to be the ending at every turn and in only, but only, every possible negatively charged alternative outcome. This refers in particular to Kathleen Parker’s column of Sept. 8, wherein she dismantles her own credibility by means of her failed attempt to impugn the credibility of President Obama.

Parker faults the president for being principled enough to draw a line at the use of chemical weapons, especially, in Syria’s case, against civilians. Would we expect any less of our president?

Parker and other conservatives have said that the president misspoke, that he stumbled, but did he really? She cavils him for vacillating and then for being determined to rush forward with foolish petulance. She drones on about a perceived proclivity for missile launches. All are imaginary nits picked solely for partisan show in yet another self-perpetuating, apoplectic Tea Party wack attack.

Once upon a time, Parker appeared to be a solid thinker, even an objective one, but since she signed on as a Fox News associate, a more fair and balanced approach has tipped the scales and the slant of her views decidedly to the right.

It seems rather odd, and will take some getting used to, that liberals are now cast as being the ones too tough and aggressive when it comes to matters of national security. Yet, with rare exception, our presidents since the Vietnam era have sent American troops to toil on foreign land. Most of these incursions were justifiable, if unfortunately so. Panama and Somalia, perhaps, not so much.

To date, President Obama has put American boots on new ground exactly once. May Day in Pakistan, in order to take out Bin Laden and, even then, the boots were not on the ground for very long, just long enough to kick what needed kicking and then they were pulled back pronto.

How much clearer could Obama’s foreign policy be? He doesn’t like to use force but, obviously, he will when necessary. Ask the former leadership of al-Qaeda if the president vacillates.

The president got the French to do the heavy lifting in Libya so that the U.S. didn’t have to yet again. The French carried the load in northern Africa last year as well and are prepared to stand the ground with us in dealing with Syria if necessary, though boots on the ground are unlikely. Even so, Obama has not hastened to act but continues to wait for events to unfold and for more peaceful possibilities to develop. Still, Parker urges the president to be more wise in these matters. What manner of wisdom do you suppose she is looking for?

International politics (and war, too) are sometimes compared to a game of chess. If memory serves, some of the most satisfying results in chess occur when all seems to be lost then, poof!, an opening appears seemingly out of nowhere. The game progresses not exclusively on the strategy and movements of one player but on those of both. On the world stage, numerous players have roles, involvements, objectives, entanglements. (Remember how the Cuban missile crisis played out in ’62?) The element of chance is always a factor.

So, has President Obama reached a workable deal with Putin and Assad? It is too soon to tell. Parker closes her attack on the president’s Syrian policy with the admonition that “sometimes, it is helpful to note, a coiled snake is more effective than one that reflexively strikes.” Indeed.

It is likely that Syria’s President Assad will try to employ the North Korean gambit, to extend his playing time through a series of vows to divest his regime of chemical weapons, followed by a period of retrenchment. For the sake of America’s credibility, the president will want to remain hopeful with a stern eye to the future.

Damned if he conquers. Damned if he capitulates. It may have been premature for a committee in Stockholm to have awarded President Obama the Nobel Peace Prize back when all he had accomplished was to have successfully concluded an inspiring political campaign. Yet the president has been earning one ever since.

— Clay Wilkinson

Terre Haute

Moving that line of right, wrong

I’d like to offer a response to a letter from William J. Wilhelm, Ed.D., who regards House Joint Resolution No. 6 as “unjust and immoral.” I would like to thank Professor Wilhelm for the insightful offering of his opinion. In addition, I never would have imagined to read a pro-gay marriage opinion with quotes from the late Dr. Martin Luther King. Quite obviously, taken out of the context of race discrimination that Dr. King was referring to, but it was nonetheless interesting.

Apparently I’m still somewhat “confused,” since I in fact lay claim to some of my morals from things “articulated in religious scripture.” In this case, my scripture quote references the Bible, specifically Romans chapter 1 verses 24 through 32. The apostle Paul is quite clear. It states that those who practice this particular lifestyle are committing a sin. Just like we all do every day. However, I don’t want to start a religion or not-religion argument. So for those who consider themselves Christians, please dust off your copy and find the reference. There are, of course, other sources of my morals including, but not limited to, my parents’ hands across my mouth and back side.

Then on to the question of what is moral or not? My dictionary references at home state that immoral is: wicked, lewd, licentious — a few words worth looking up as well, particularly lewd. Then, moral is defined as: dealing with, or capable of, distinguishing between right and wrong.

So is gay marriage right or wrong? Who should decide this? Yes, I know the voters will decide if it is “unjust and immoral.” Should we stop at this moral issue? What about bestiality? Is it right or wrong? Are there people out there who think of themselves as better humans because they prefer sexual relations with animals?

There are obviously some who think that laws against gay marriage will degrade, segregate and demean humanity. So then should we indeed move the line between right and wrong over one notch? Why not move it two notches and include bestiality in the mix? Will people then say, “Whoa, wait a minute there, too immoral.”

If we as a society keep moving the line between right and wrong, will there still be a wrong side? For me, I personally thank God for my heterosexual parents.

— Rick Noorlag

Rosedale

Off to a great start for Link

What a great start to this school year. Link kicked off the year with their freshman orientation, 400-plus freshmen attended the program and made some great acquaintances with several upper classman. Link leaders volunteered to work with our younger students helping them get settled in at South.

Our link crew is sponsored by John Stephens. Through his leadership, our freshmen have a chance to come to South and get to know their schedules and the building with upper classmen close by to answer questions and lend a hand.

Students and staff have also been working together to provide weekend bags of food for needy students. The bulk of this operation has been spearheaded by our JROTC Brave Battalion. With guidance from our first-year Senior Army Instructor Maj. Miller and first-year Army Instructor Sgt. Maj. Kellams, the Brave Battalion has organized and continues to provide this service for Terre Haute South.

Additionally, JROTC Brave Battalion did a campus clean up the weekend of Sept. 14. These students/cadets showed up at 8 a.m. and worked four hours cleaning up the Terre Haute South campus. Picking up trash was just a small part of their activities. They painted curbs, mulched landscaped areas, pulled weeds and trimmed bushes. It is very refreshing to see young people taking an interest in their schools, community and showing compassion for others in need.

I feel blessed to work with such outstanding students and staff at Terre Haute South.

— Steve Joseph

Paris, Ill.

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