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Issue Home June 1, 2004 Site Home

Letters to the Editor Policy

Rationally Assessing The War

There’s been an ongoing debate, here and across America about the Iraq War. This debate is well and good, but I think that rather than wallowing in emotion, we should submit it to a dispassionate, cost-benefit analysis. So here goes.

Benefits: We deposed a truly evil tyrant who was oppressing his own people and threatening his neighbors. And it makes some of us feel better in thinking we’re doing something to address the threat of terrorism.

Costs: Over a hundred billion dollars (and rising) for reconstruction costs, alone. 800 American deaths and rising. Thousands of injured, many disabled. An estimated 14,000 Iraqi civilians dead. And, our international standing has been shot to hell.

Kind of a stiff price to pay for the above benefits. Especially when you consider that deposing Saddam does not automatically result in a stable, new Iraq. It may yet collapse into chaos, which would give Al Qaeda a new, failed country to exploit. Or it could become an anti-American, Iranian-style theocracy. In either case, we will have sacrificed blood and treasure for a Pyrrhic victory.

As far as making us more safe, it may well have the opposite effect. We have alienated virtually the entire world, so their assistance and cooperation in fighting terrorism will not always be readily forthcoming. We have provided Arab and Muslin hotheads with more motive to attack us, and a great recruiting inducement for Al Qaeda.

Under "Benefits," I indicated that it makes some of us feel safer. A misguided feeling is all you’ll get here, not a reality. We know that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, the secular Baath regime of Saddam did not support Al Qaeda, and there were no Weapons of Mass Destruction. So Iraq, though ruled by a monster, was not a threat to us.

I suppose there is one benefit that I forgot: the highest-ranking people in the Bush administration have been exposed as radical, reckless, and living in an ideological world rather than in reality.


Stephen Van Eck

Rushville, PA


Deserving Group Of Veterans

The Susquehanna County Office of Veterans Affairs has a special message for a deserving group of veterans – America’s former prisoners of war. I ask that you help me in getting that message out to this special group of veterans.

VA has liberalized their benefits to cover increasing numbers of former POW’s. Several illnesses have recently been shown as related to their wartime captivity. Even former POW’s already receiving compensation from VA may be eligible for additional benefits.

I am encouraging former POW’s living in Susquehanna County to check their eligibility now and make sure they’re receiving the benefits they’ve earned. Former POW’s are eligible for special compensation and health care benefits that many may not know about.

The VA Regional Office and Insurance Center (VAROIC) in Philadelphia has mailed information about benefits to several hundred known former POW’s. However, VA knows there are many more POW’s for whom they do not have an address.

The VA is working with the local County Office of Veterans Affairs as well as state and national veterans’ service organizations. The Philadelphia VAROIC has established a former-POW coordinator position and assembled a special team to process these claims from this deserving group. VA is asking us to help spread the word that benefits and services may be just a phone call away. For information, former POW’s should call the Department of Veterans Affairs toll-free at 1-800-827-1000 or contact me at the Susquehanna County Office of Veterans Affairs at 278–4600, ext. 260.


John Bronchella

Director Veterans Affairs


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Letters To The Editor MUST BE SIGNED. They MUST INCLUDE a phone number for "daytime" contact. Letters MUST BE CONFIRMED VERBALLY with the author, before printing. At that time you may request to withhold your name. Letters should be as concise as possible, to keep both Readers' and Editors' interest alike. Your opinions are important to us, but you must follow these guidelines to help assure their publishing.

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