Obama, not Bush, to blame for latest quagmire in Iraq
This is in regard to Richard Alvarez's June 22 letter of criticism toward former Vice President Richard Cheney's advice about Obama taking strong military intervention in Iraq to prevent the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) from taking over Baghdad.
Mr. Cheney also wrote that Obama should have left a small contingent of troops over there after the surge. Then this would not have happened. On that, many agree. You wrote that a good guiding light for Mr. Obama's foreign policy as concerns Iraq would be for the president to do the very opposite of whatever Mr. Cheney advises. I am guessing that what you mean is that you approve of what the president is doing now, which is nothing.
Sending 300 military advisers to possibly be killed in Baghdad is nothing, and it's very dangerous for those troops. And what are the advisers for, exactly? Advisers to tell their prime minister that he, Obama, has no intention of helping them by saying: "Sorry. While I could have left a contingent of forces here, it was more important for my political image to take every last soldier out and leave a vacuum." We might also install a big sign that reads, "U.S. president not willing to keep troops here for selfish and political reasons. And by the way, we're welcome to invade whenever ready!"
Meanwhile, Syria was a breeding ground for terrorists groups right under his nose, along with a lot of other countries training up al-Quaida cells while he was telling the world that they were on the run and decimated. While he was running around Palm Springs golfing and speaking on climate change in the last two weeks, a very determined and dedicated enemy of Israel and the United States, ISIS, was busy overrunning Mosul, Sharqut, Harviga, Kirkuk, Sulerman Beg, Udhaim, Tikrit and Fallujah.
While he swung his golf club, they swung their axes, beheading and executing people as they've set their sights on the prize of Baghdad and beyond. The crisis in Syria is one of the most important reasons why ISIS grew capable of mounting such an effective attack on the Iraqi government, and Obama drew his red lines while they laughed because they knew he didn't mean it because he's weak.
This quagmire, as you call it, Mr. Alvaraz, may have been started by Mr. Bush. But you and many other Bush haters have no idea of the hell that's been unleashed over there. We have only begun to see the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Obama's abysmal failure and lack of knowledge when it concerns foreign policy, what it's doing to our country, and what is going to come our way under this failed administration and its policies of appeasement.
Don’t close the book on climate change
I have enjoyed the several recent letters expressing well-thought-out views that human activity, resulting in the production of carbon dioxide (CO2), is the root cause for climate change. A logical conclusion follows: If human activities cause climate change, a change in human activities can reverse climate change. Left unsaid but inferred: We can save the world.
I do not share that belief system, but that is not my point. I object to the attempt by the learned believers to squelch or stop other learned views by saying, "the science is settled" on the climate change issue. Being a practicing engineer for over 40 years before retirement, I have never found that the "science is settled" on any subject. As an example, who would ever present an opinion that the nation should stop all research on cancer, as the "science is settled."
Everyone understands that the climate has been changing for over 200 years, long before the industrial revolution and the minute increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. No one has ever satisfactorily explained why the Earth experienced a sharp rise in temperature between 1910 and 1940 with a stable CO2 content, followed by a 35-year cooling period ending in the mid-'70s, while the CO2 content slowly increased.
One could go on and on discussing past climate change. I would enjoy hearing an explanation from the geology professor for the four inter-glacial warming periods over the last 1.8 million-year ice age. But that fact is important to few people.
It is my understandings that science has identified dozens of factors where human activities have no impact on the causes of climate change. Perhaps a major factor is methane gas releases, which is a very potent "greenhouse" gas. Human activities release minor amounts of methane, such as from the Saratoga landfill. But huge quantities of methane are released annually from the millions of square miles of tundra in the Arctic regions.
Although the Obama administration has initiated policies believing that we can control the climate, human activities will not change the enormous energy dynamics that produce climate change. Do not squelch discussion. May research continue to shed understanding on the subject.
Glenville drivers pose threat to kids
Re June 25 letter, "Fed up with drivers on roads in Glenville": I share Mr. John Roscioli's frustration regarding some Glenville drivers and police indifference.
For years I have tried to get a police presence in our neighborhood, on a random time basis, to monitor an intersection in which the stop sign violations are frequent and flagrant. I've had face-to-face and/or e-mail contact with a town board member, the police chief, his assistant, a detective, a patrolman and a dispatcher. It's all been wasted effort.
School is now out for the summer. Unsafe as it may be, kids will be playing on the streets. One can only hope that someone will be watching out for them. I fear the situation is an accident waiting to happen.
Train oil spills can threaten aquifers
I read with interest Thomas Donahue's June 15 Viewpoint, "Area faces danger from railcars filled with oil," piece in The Sunday Gazette about the Bakken oil being transported by regional railroads to the Port of Albany.
While the explosive nature of the liquids being carried through our valleys is alarming, another potential disaster continues to be ignored -- contamination of Schenectady's aquifer.
A derailment of only one of these tank cars, spilling Bakken oils into the Mohawk River, could be the end of our sole source of drinking water. In the past, there have been train wrecks along the Glenville/Rotterdam rail corridor, which is immediately adjacent and uphill from the Great Flats Aquifer and other sections of the ancient aquifer for many miles.
Donahue's convincing technical analysis of the unique flammability of the Bakken oil components needs to be expanded to figure out if Bakken liquids could penetrate the cobble and gravel layers of the aquifer that filter and condition clean drinking water for 150,000-plus folks in the area. Geophysical deposits from 15,000 years ago could be compromised in a matter of hours if a Bakken source spill occurred.
If my observation has any merit at all, emergency planners need to examine ways to prevent spills. How about triple-hulled tanker cars; well-maintained rail beds, ties and rails; speed limits on curves; engineer sobriety and related mental alertness; a rail-side berm and a liquid-capturing system?
Come to think of it, might a "controlled" burning of spilled oil in a non-residential setting be preferred to allowing the liquid to seep into streams and rivers that recharge aquifers?
James M. Schaefer
The writer is a member of the Rotterdam Conservation Advisory Council.
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