Q is for quagmire

Letters to the Boston editor: March 31, 2006
By EDITORIAL  |  March 29, 2006

In response to your recent coverage of the president’s policy in Iraq (see, for example, “Numbing Carnage,” March 17), I would like to point out that the House of Representatives passed an amendment to the 2006 Supplemental Appropriations Act which forbids the Pentagon from entering into any basing agreement with the government of Iraq. Shortly after the House acted, President Bush said he refused even to consider a timetable, insisting that the future of the Iraq war will have to be decided by “future presidents.” The frightening implication of this loaded statement is that US troops can expect to stay in Iraq for at least three more years.

The increased sectarian violence over the last month, which now threatens to become full-scale civil war, would catch US troops in the middle and make them targets for all factions. The US does not have enough troops to subdue a civil war. And, as a Marine who had served two tours of duty in Iraq suggested to me, if the way the US troops are being instructed to act continues, they will only continue to serve as a provocation to the situation in Iraq. Senators Kennedy and Kerry could, and hopefully will, play a positive role in changing US policy by attaching an amendment to the Iraq-war supplemental bill coming up next week, stating that “It is the policy of the United States to withdraw all US military troops and bases from Iraq” and initiating steps for a withdrawal this year.

Shelley Barron

In the game
David Bernstein’s story about health reform (“Your Health Is in Their Hands,” March 17) seriously underplays the role the Massachusetts Hospital Association (MHA) and its member hospitals have played in the development of a compromise health-reform package.

Throughout the intense negotiations between the Senate and the House, the MHA has been meeting with all the key players — the Health Care for All Coalition, the business community, the legislative leadership and conferees — to ensure that the hospital position is clear: expanded coverage, increased reimbursement, a secure safety net, affordable private-insurance plans, a common payment system, and both an employer assessment and an individual mandate.

Health reform has been our primary focus for months. To imply anything less does a disservice to the many hospital CEOs and others who have been up at the State House throughout the process.

Michal Regunberg
Senior vice-president of communications
Massachusetts Hospital Association

Pork Place
Your editorial on higher-education cuts (“College Students Be Damned,” March 24) raises a point worth exploring in depth: the reason why “obtaining a college degree continues to outstrip the rate of inflation.” Access to college not only enriches the graduate in earning power and cultural literacy, it also benefits the community and the country. We need an educated work force to compete globally, or so we’ve been told scores of times. So where’s the hearing on why college costs are going through the roof unchecked?

Could it have something to do with the pork barrel? Any member of Congress in a district with a federally supported college, university, or trade school might be reluctant to limit the slop for fear of slowing down the flow of dollars to his or her district. The many questions raised about private-sector profiteering from federal student-loan programs also hint at an answer, especially when the schools themselves feed off that revenue stream as loan originators.

I don’t expect high-level hearings anytime soon on these troubling questions. It would be great to see the Phoenix, one of the few relentlessly curious publications still around, dig into the issue here in the Athens of America.

Virgil Wright

Related: Bush's secret army, Trapped in Iraq, Debating the Middle East muddle, More more >
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