letter to the editor

War policy is best determined by professionals


To the Editor:

I must take exception to the editorial appearing in the July 26, 2007 issue of the RI Catholic. "President Bush, Congress must

heed Bishops' pleas."

The lead sentence to the piece states, "The U.S. Bishops have acknowledged that the current situation in Iraq is unacceptable and unsustainable." By using the word "acknowledged," the author implies that the remainder of the sentence, i.e., the situation in Iraq, is unacceptable and unsustainable, is fact. It is not.

While I am aware that many newscasters and politicians continue to make such statements, the commander on the ground and commander-in-chief believe otherwise. LTG Raymond T. Odierno, the number two commander of forces in Iraq, recently stated that the decrease in US deaths over the past month may be an indication that the current strategy is taking hold. ("Military heartened by decrease in deaths,” Providence Journal, 26 July, 2007.)

The editorial then quoted Bishop Thomas Wenski, chairman of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, saying, "Too many Iraqi and American lives have been lost and the human and financial costs are too high." Perhaps Bishop Wenski is too young to remember D-Day, 6 June, 1944. On that day alone, we sustained 2,500 deaths and over 10,000 wounded. In the ensuing days of that Normandy battle, more that 110,000 died.

Finally, the editorial refers to statements made by popes past and present, in which war is seen as immoral and tragic, with grave consequences and calling for cessation.

This rhetoric on the part of popes and bishops may lead us lay persons to believe that we are compelled to believe as they do. Not so.

What it is that we should do is support and believe in the strategies and execution of those plans put forth by our President and executed by our military. It is they who have the ultimate responsibility and authority for our national security.

While I believe in the Church hierarchy to guide and direct us in matters of faith and morals, we are not required to follow them in matters of national defense. These matters are best left to those who have the responsibility, authority and resources.

Robert G. Arciero

Col., U.S. Army, Retired