- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 1, 2006

The horse’s mouth

Sen. John Kerry, speaking before California students at a Democratic rally on Monday, said, “Education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.” Needless to say, this has raised the eyebrows of many in the military (“John Kerry thinks,” Editorial, yesterday).

Actually, this reminds me of a study by Tim Kane titled “Who Bears the Burden? Demographic Characteristic of U.S. Military Recruits Before and After 9/11” which says the opposite.

Indeed, recruits in the U.S. military tend to be much more highly educated than the general public, and this education disparity increased after the war on terrorism began.

The fact of the matter is that 98 percent of all enlisted military recruits have an education level of high school or higher compared to the national average of 75 percent. Here are the other facts:

The study found that, on average, recruits were more highly educated than the equivalent general population, more rural and less urban in origin and of similar income status.

The report did not find evidence of minority racial exploitation (by race or by race-weighted ZIP codes). It did find evidence of a “Southern military tradition” in that some states, notably in the South and West, provide a much higher proportion of enlisted troops by population than other states.

The household income of recruits generally matches the income distribution of the American population. There are slightly higher proportions of recruits from the middle class and slightly lower proportions from low-income brackets. However, the proportion of high-income recruits rose to a disproportionately high level after the war on terrorism began, as did the proportion of highly educated enlistees.

KEVIN MELLY

Mendham, N.J.

It isdisgusting that conservatives are trying to twist the words of Sen. John Kerry.

It is perfectly clear to any fair-minded person that what Mr. Kerry meant to say is that all of those dumb rubes in the military can still be successful if they can find a rich heiress to marry.

And while on the subject of dumb folks, many people wonder: Is George Bush dumb?

Fact: George Bush’s SAT scores were higher than Al Gore’s.

Fact: George Bush’s GPA at Yale was higher than John Kerry’s.

Fact: George Bush qualified to pilot state-of-the-art fighter jets; John Kerry qualified to pilot low-tech Swift Boats; Al Gore qualified to pilot cars and small trucks.

JOHN EIDSON

Marietta, Ga.

Sen. John Kerry’s statement that only losers join the military aligns precisely with his uncorroborated testimony before Congress about how I, and others of Task Force 116, committed unspeakable atrocities against the South Vietnamese.

In my little corner of the war, our boats and ships were ordered not to return fire from the village of Nam Can as they transited to and from Seafloat. We were expected to gut it out through the kill zone because the village was designated by us as a sanctuary from the war for civilians.

Now Mr. Kerry regards my son, who joined the Marine Corps infantry out of high school, as intellectually failed and never considers the possibility that my son may have deferred college to serve his nation.

My son had the aptitude scores and security clearance to serve a tour with Marine Presidential Security Forces, before joining 3rd Battalion 4th Marines security.

Life has come full circle.

NOLAN NELSON

Eugene, Ore.

Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts thinks our men and women serving in Iraq do so because they didn’t do well in school and got “stuck” there. Of course, that is nonsense because our soldiers’ level of formal education exceeds that of the civilian population, just as yesterday’s editorial “John Kerry thinks” points out.

Military service today is voluntary, not mandatory as it was when the C-minus Yale graduate served in Vietnam. It isn’t hard to see why Mr. Kerry characterizes service in the military as something you get “stuck” with because I believe that’s how he views his own military service.

He has put forth a feeble defense of his outrageous remarks, which has made the matter worse. Democratic spinmeisters have attempted to soften Mr. Kerry’s meaning or change the subject, again without success. Could it be that the senator meant what he said?

Looking at Mr. Kerry’s military and political career, it becomes readily apparent that he loathes all things military. He was a leader of the antiwar movement once his controversial Purple Hearts got him out of Vietnam. He called his fellow soldiers murderers and rapists and likened them to Genghis Khan in testimony before Congress.

No, I believe Mr. Kerry meant every word he uttered about our men and women in uniform. This senator has never supported our military unless he saw a political gain for himself or his party. He is a wealthy, arrogant elitist who isn’t fit to be in the same room with anyone serving in our armed forces. Mr. Kerry is a disgrace to his party, his state and this nation. He shouldn’t apologize, he should resign.

RICHARD W. RESSLER

North Olmsted, Ohio

Sen. John Kerry’s response to White House criticism of his remark that if you do poorly in school, “you get stuck in Iraq” is typical. Using his status, he counterattacks by saying he’s “sick and tired of these despicable Republican attacks that always seem to come from those who never can be found to serve in war but love to attack those who did. I’m not going to be lectured by a stuffed suit White House mouthpiece standing behind a podium.”

I’m a Republican, a Vietnam veteran (165 combat missions over North and South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos). I’m nobody’s mouthpiece and don’t own a podium, so I’m not lecturing, just asking some questions.

What motivated him to go to Vietnam? His college record was spotty, so maybe he’s admitting his academic shortcomings. It’s more likely he was emulating John F. Kennedy.

Was it devotion to our country? I doubt it because his Paris meeting with the North Vietnamese government violated U.S. Code 18 U.S.C. 953 — “A U.S. citizen cannot go abroad and negotiate with a foreign power.”

Was it devotion to fellow servicemen? I doubt that because he returned home and went on record accusing U.S. troops of Genghis Khan-like atrocities. This gave North Vietnam justification for its treatment of my colleagues being held prisoner.

He stands on his record, but not all of it. Signing Standard Form 180 would release files the Navy admits it is still withholding and answer many questions. Questions arise because when a dishonorable discharge is issued, all pay, benefits and allowances as well as medals and honors awarded are revoked. He claimed he lost his medal certificates and that is why he asked for them to be reissued. Five months after he joined the Senate in 1985, all the medals were reissued.

Any answers, Mr. Kerry?

COL. DALE HILL

Air Force (retired)

Colorado Springs

Facing East

The article “China cited as N. Korea supplier,” (Page 1, Tuesday) notes from a report that “China has contributed at least indirectly to North Korea’s nuclear program,” and that Chinese companies and government organizations “continue to provide weapons, weapons components and weapons technology” in violation of nonproliferation agreements. It also notes that the report recommends tightening sanctions on Chinese companies engaged in illicit arms sales. Perhaps it is time to consider steps to bring pressure on the Chinese government itself with diplomatic recognition of Taiwan.

The process involved in establishing Taiwanese independence would be a long and deliberate one. Each of the steps would allow for a gradual ratcheting-up of pressure on China, and should we see positive progress with its energy partner Iran, or its client state North Korea, then we could suspend the process.

We can begin with small public steps, while at the same time letting Chinese officials know secretly through diplomatic channels that we would continue up until recognition, unless they acted in our favor. A solid first step would be for the United States to press for Taiwan’s inclusion in the World Health Organization (WHO). It would not unduly draw international attention, and yet would send a clear signal if properly backed up by diplomatic threats.

If the People’s Republic had been a real partner on the world stage, then a conciliatory approach would be justified. But we have not seen cooperation in any form from China. It is time to start acting like a superpower, one that is not afraid to engage in power politics. Or we can continue to pretend China is helping, while reforming our foreign policy to deal with nuclear adversaries in both Iran and North Korea.

PETER LOCKE

Ashburn, Va.

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