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Prayer and the Joint Chiefs

June 02, 1985

I never thought a letter published in your paper would ever stir me to respond, but the one (May 18) from Adm. James D. Watkins did it. After reading it I became somewhat frightened at the thought that the admiral and his praying friends on the Joint Chiefs of Staff hold the nation's security in their clasped hands.

It appears that once again we have the nation's future in the hands of a born-again Christian(s). It's no wonder our military planning and operations in the last 10 or more years has been so amateurish and ineffectual. We can't even plan and execute a rescue operation.

I would like to suggest that the joint chiefs devote their time to the study of the art of war and how to plan for it, and forget the praying and worrying about the moral considerations in decision-making. One would hope that at least one course at the Command and General Staff School, or the War College would teach the senior members of the services that neither God nor moral considerations win battles or wars, and that international relations operates on the basis of Realpolitik . The admiral and his friends are like a number of well-meaning but really naive Americans who base their approach to world affairs on a rather simplistic belief that faith in some God and a "goody-goody-two shoes" morality vis-a-vis the rest of the world will make the country secure, and influence or impress other nations.

I'll bet the Soviet General Staff really broke up when it received a clipping of the admiral's letter. Like the good chess players they are, they will see the fundamental weakness in our game--softheadedness.

I respectfully suggest that the admiral and his praying friends resign, move to the Bible Belt, get a blue polyester suit and a church. Then he can appear on Sunday morning TV with the rest of the "used car" salesmen.

TOM LaBELLE

Los Angeles

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