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Aspen was recently graced with the presence of the multi-talented U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The former Music School student played piano before an admiring audience. If I may say so, Condi played while the world burns.One wonders, in the Bush administration, if the State Department is even open for business. Oddly, our diplomats have, in many cases, been ordered not to talk to other countries. Can anyone recall any recent announcement of a diplomatic success by our foreign service? The New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof points out that we have more people playing in military bands than we have in the entire Foreign Service. The department is in dire straits, with many positions unfilled and suffering from severe budget cuts. No such shortage occurs in the Department of Defense. Politicians are lining up to push for increases in every conceivable program from fighter jets to submarines and more brigades of soldiers. All guaranteed to produce votes at election time.A most unlikely champion for the diplomatic service has emerged, the Secretary for Defense, Robert Gates. He points out that there are more people on one aircraft carrier than in the entire American diplomatic corps. He says that the military alone cannot be successful in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that terrorism is a problem to be dealt with primarily politically, not militarily. Strange that we haven’t heard impassioned cries from Condi for a greater role and more resources for her own Department of State. Condi may best be remembered for her testimony on the Presidential Briefing in Crawford that said terrorists were in the country and planning to attack us (“historical” information); or her claims that a “mushroom cloud” could be expected from Saddam Hussein. But my personal favorite is the utter betrayal of the people of Haiti by her and then Secretary of State Colin Powell. Haiti was the first country of former African slaves to gain their independence. Condi and Colin, also of African descent, arranged the coup d’état of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the democratically elected president. Haiti’s situation has declined from terrible to worse. The population is starving despite promises of help from the US and others. Things are so bad that people are mixing dirt with what little flour they have to feed their children.What other historical reference should we attribute to Condi: “Let them eat dirt?”Patrick Hunter Carbondale

Re: Clara Thorsen’s letter, “Bolt vs. Phelps” (PI, Aug. 23)Clara Thorsen declares that Phelps is “the best” because “he can win so many events in the pool or any other sport.” However, the genuine “best” athlete is the winner of the decathlon, a two-day endurance feat of 10 events. On day 1 the athlete does the 100 meter dash, the long jump, the shot put, the high jump, and the 400 meter race. On day 2 s/he does the 110 meter hurdles, the discuss and javelin throws, the pole vault, and then finishes the two-day ordeal with the 1500 meter run.When you think of “the best” athletes, let’s think of Jim Thorpe, of whom the king of Sweden said when Thorpe won the 1912 Olympics decathlon, “You are truly the world’s best athlete.” Or Bob Mathias (1950, 1952). Or Rafer Johnson (1958, 1960). Or Bruce Jenner (1975, 1976). Or Dan O’Brien (1992), or Brian Clay (2008). These are truly the people who go higher, faster, farther.Karl OelkeGlenwood Springs


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