September 28th, 2009 :: Permalink
I'm a bit surprised at the reaction to Ms. Caraway's post. She leads her comments noting that Mr. Tsai's account of "the Thunderbirds' 'thrilling' and 'patriotic' Hickam performance is no doubt an accurate reporting of the crowd's response." Compliment #1 ...
She follows by pointing out that "the skills of the pilots must have been impressive." Compliment #2 ...
Without criticizing the base article, Ms. Caraway only requests that Ms. Tsai, "add depth and context to the story ..." by providing a bit more information about costs.
I wouldn't classify this letter as castigating the newspaper and busting the chops of a hard-working reporter. I believe this is a bit of hyperbole.
As "maxcat" eloquently points out, freedom isn't free, and we all should do a better job of applauding and honoring our nation's veterans and active service members.
On the other hand, do we ever do enough to strengthen efforts for peace? For peace is much deeper than the simple absence of war. How about honoring our troops who were involved in the humanitarian airdrops after Indonesia suffered their massive tsunami? I believe our armed forced participated in rescue efforts in Pakistan when they suffered tragic earthquakes recently. Both of these missions likely did a great deal to help America win "hearts and minds" of people in these areas.
Surveys showed a dramatic drop in support for Usama bin Laden in Indonesia (the world's largest Muslim nation) after our rescue intervention in the country although support for Bin Laden had increased after our military foray into Iraq.
I have also met some of the pilots who fly in our elite units. I definitely agree with "maxcat" that they are some of the finest young people I have ever met. I also know that, of those whom I have had the honor to meet, they would prefer never to need to use their impressive arsenal of weapons. These professionals know that the worst peace is superior to the best war.
Looking at the $20 bill, our American icon, the bald eagle, is portrayed with one claw grasping an arrow - and the other holding an olive branch.
I believe Ms. Caraway was simply asking for a bit more balance.
Second Post: September 29th, 2009 at 7:25 am
"Kailuaresident" claims Ms. Caraway is "very critical of the military - both of a PR event ... and of them in general."
On today's front page, HA points out that Honolulu's Rail PR effort has cost over $5.6 million, much after the public vote on this issue. Boy, are people hopping mad over this perceived "wasteful" spending!
Yet a congressman's wife questions military PR spending during our Great Recession and is consider highly critical of the military. The annual cost of our military exceeds $600 billion, add our wars and veteran costs and we approach the trillion a year. Economists project we will run federal deficits near the trillion dollar mark each year and the military appears to be off-limits for austerity concerns.
We have around 840 military bases across the globe. We police the entire universe - funded by the American taxpayer. I believe a rational country would at least demand the rest of the world shoulder some of this financial burden.
Today we also read about the distress to Hawai'i's families caused by 17 days of furlough by public teachers. How many military PR events could be reduced to help cover this shortfall? Why do we need to advertise for our military? Isn't patriotism sufficient to attract young people to service?
From an economics perspective, a society must choose between providing guns or butter for its people. Guns represent military/security while butter represents social programs.
We recognize social programs are being reduced; why not ask for balance on the military front? Such a call is not a critic of the performance of our service members similarly as cuts to education budgets are not indictments of teachers or administrators - it is simply public finance reality.
Policing the world and showing off our technical superiority may be of little use if our keiki cannot complete high school. For an excellent review of our current world leadership position, please see, "Twilight of Pax America," in the LA Times today. Think about where America is heading ...