Letters to the editor

Iraq or a hard place?

“You have the watches. We have the time.”

The above statement is attributed to a captured Taliban fighter in 2011. It speaks volumes about the cultural divide between the West and the most recent Mideast crisis.

The “country” of Iraq was created by European diplomats following World War I. Ignoring centuries of infighting and hatred between Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, they drew boundaries for Iraq on the back of an envelope during negotiations. A flag was created so they could pretend they were one nation. Since its inception, Iraq has been subject to four military coups and four foreign invasions, including the current crisis. Fighting is not an aberration, it is a lifestyle.

Ignoring history and geopolitics, George W. Bush and his neocons invaded Iraq in 2003 under the false pretense of WMDs and the illogical assumption that Western troops would be welcomed as liberators from bloody dictator Saddam Hussein. Hussein was bloodthirsty but fit the Mideast mold of Mubarek, Kaddafi, Saleh and Sadat. He did not tolerate jihadists. Like Sadat in Syria, he feared they would overthrow him. He allowed Christians to practice their faith. Religious diversity lessened the likelihood of jihad.

What followed was predictable to those who understood the Mideast. Hussein’s Sunni army was disbanded and his soldiers were barred from serving. Many are now fighting for ISIS, the current invaders who hate the Shiite government now governing. Christians, no longer protected, are being persecuted and killed for practicing their faith. The havoc we are witnessing is not a Western creation, though the Bush invasion reignited centuries of hatred and animosity in the region. Current neocon leader John McCain argues we left too soon. In reality, Sen. McCain, we should have never intervened. George H.W. Bush, much wiser than his son, stopped Desert Storm in 1991 at the Iraqi border. He recognized the dangers of destabilizing the area. If only his wisdom and foresight had passed from father to son.

Ed Engler


Golf carts

Statute 316.212 is operation of golf carts on roadways. State law prohibits them from roadways unless a municipality or county government approves their use. The statute says you must have a valid driver’s license and your cart equipped for street use. Besides improvements for road use, they must be registered and insured. Who is registering them and how many are insured?

A few comments on Mr. Catala’s article. First, Avon Park Lakes is not a golf community. The nearest golf course is River Greens, about five miles to the east. Secondly, I am wondering if a golf cart sales and service center has a self-interest in increasing the use of golf carts in communities they serve and is their motive truly safety? Thirdly, have Tanglewood, Sun ‘n Lakes and the other mentioned communities been designated by the county for the use of golf carts? Who is inspecting these golf carts – 1,100 of them alone in Tanglewood according to their association president – and as for driving them to Walmart, these people must have a death wish.

There are statutes, and statutes are enforced by the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office. Has anyone asked Sheriff Benton her opinion?

Unfortunately they are undermanned and some offenses are overlooked. This is not to blame the sheriff’s office, it is just the way it works; some things have to be given priority and others put on the back burner. This county is so big and patrolled by so few that there is no need to add additional duties to a force already strained to the breaking point. It stands to reason that some rural areas never see a marked car unless they ask for one.

In the interest of safety, Statute 316.212 section 5 states “A county or municipality may prohibit the operation of low-speed vehicles on any road under its jurisdiction if the governing bodies of the county or municipality determines that such prohibition is necessary in the interest of safety.”

Protect and serve. I hope those we elect have the courage to resist this popular move in the interest of safety.

James T. McClugage

Avon Park