Opinion | U.S. Military Power, and the Lessons of History

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To the Editor:

Re “Rethinking U.S. Foreign Policy” (Op-Ed, Feb. 25):

Stephen Wertheim’s thoughtful call against arms in U.S. foreign policy is reminiscent of Graham Greene’s famous quip about America’s overly militarized behavior during the Cold War: “I never knew a man who had better motives for all the trouble he caused.” And it is certainly true that the United States could have done — and indeed always should do — much better in balancing military force with its other important leadership values.

But Mr. Wertheim’s solution, to withdraw U.S. hard power from the world and focus on other pressing issues like global pandemics and climate change, would be akin to throwing the baby of American leadership out with the bath water.

We would be wise to remember what happened in the 1920s and 1930s, the last time the United States removed its military power from world affairs, trusting instead disarmament conferences and antiwar treaties: The world was left at the mercy of rising regional and global actors with no compunction at all in using force to accomplish their goals.

American military power and leadership were eventually required to restore the peace, and they remain just as vital today. And while a more sustainable balance between force and diplomacy is sorely needed, it would be a mistake to think that we can trade one for the other.

Stuart Gottlieb
New York
The writer teaches American foreign policy at Columbia University.

Covid and Fitness Centers

To the Editor:

Re “C.D.C. Advocates Stricter Precautions in Gyms” (Science Times, March 2):

Fitness centers can play an important role in improving physical, mental and immunological health as we begin to combat the consequences associated with Covid isolation.

But the report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a stark reminder that we must continue to take the necessary precautions, including proper hand hygiene, physical distancing and mask wearing when engaging in social activities, especially indoors, with nonfamily members.

Fitness centers should engage in rigorous sanitization efforts, require that employees and members wear masks where recommended by local public health officials, mandate physical distancing between members and have sufficient air circulation and filtration systems.

During the pandemic we have seen an increase in weight gain and obesity, as well as mental health challenges. Physical exercise can help improve overall health and well-being. Because many Americans are not able to afford or accommodate at-home fitness equipment, large, big-box fitness facilities are their best option.

The fitness industry and its members, working with public health officials, can help reduce potential Covid exposure and spread, while also improving overall health.

Richard Carmona
Tucson, Ariz.
The writer was the surgeon general of the United States from 2002 to 2006.

Help Seniors Get the Vaccine Shots

To the Editor:

Re “Seniors Seeking Vaccines Face Internet Issues” (Business, March 1):

Knock on any door, and you may find a senior unable to navigate the internet to schedule a vaccine appointment. As a senior myself, I recognize the frustration of trying to schedule an appointment. How about centers that seniors can visit to find help to arrange appointments for vaccines?

Enlighten folks to find seniors in their neighborhoods who need their help to make appointments. My husband and I were fortunate that someone did reach out to us and made our appointments. Even though we are savvy on the internet, it was still quite a challenge.

Helene Kirschner
New York

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