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Letters in this week's News-Times include thoughts on Afghanistan and COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

A Vietnam veteran's thoughts on the lessons of Afghanistan

The news and commentaries of the unfolding events in Afghanistan, and catastrophic deaths of 13 military personnel saddened and unsettled us all, angering some.

As we endured the longest war in U.S. history (2001-2021), we have this need to blame (others): Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and especially Joe Biden (now), the military, the diplomatic corps, and the intelligence community.

Yet, I maintain a broader view of accountability is in order. Let history be our guide.

From the Revolutionary War through most of the Vietnam War, conscription existed. Unsurprisingly, mandatory service resulted in resistance in the form of demonstrations, protests and riots.

Presidential candidate Richard Nixon (1968) entertained termination of the draft as a political strategy at the height of the Vietnam War. He reasoned (correctly) that if there was no draft, there would be no protests.

After the 1972 general election, with active combat winding down, Congress chose not to renew the Selective Service Act (1973). The Pentagon offered no objection. Its leaders, no doubt, clearly preferred to recruit, train, and manage a military force of volunteers, not conscripts. We the public weighed in by our silence.

Few would disagree that the length of the Vietnam War (1965-1973) was shortened not because of cogent decisions by the executive and legislative branches, but through protests. Between 2001 and 2021, the vast majority of us citizens had little or no incentive to monitor what the government did in Afghanistan, supposedly on our behalf, because only volunteers and their families paid the ultimate price of war.

Going forward, I suggest, first, we thank and pay respect to our active-duty personnel, especially combat veterans, the missing in action, those injured and killed most recently, and their families.

Second, we should examine and learn from the similarities of both the Vietnam and Afghanistan wars. The Vietnamese outlasted the Chinese, French, and Americans, and the Afghans defeated both the Russians and Americans. Further, the final days of both wars were mismanaged, blemishing our credibility and honor home and abroad. Our enemies persevered in their resistance despite being overmatched in sheer military power and treasure spent.

Third, we should reflect on ways to hold our elected officials accountable. The responsibility is not theirs alone but ours together. Democracy, like ending wars, is messy.

David A. Nardone, Hillsboro

Time for Oregon's COVID vaccine mandate

Now that Gov. Kate Brown has reinstated a statewide mask mandate, let's go all the way with a vaccination mandate.

Many of us have friends and neighbors who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine and have refused to get it, thusly slowing the end of the pandemic and increasing the danger for other citizens.

Ask yourself this: Do you want to be browsing for books at the library or bookstore next to an unvaccinated person? Do you want to be shopping for produce next to an anti-vaxxer?

Hats off to the bars and restaurants that are leading the way by restricting entry to those who can show a valid CDC vaccination card. Let's do this, elected leaders, or get out of the way.

The COVID-19 virus will only leave when it has nobody left to infect.

Frank DiMarco, Portland


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