Friday Reading

Supporting the troops: Getting an education is one reason people enlist in the military, whether as active duty or in the National Guard. The Mountain Times of Boone, North Carolina, has an inspiring story about what happened when a young woman named Jordan Byrd finished her commitment to the Guard — her originally agreed-upon six years plus a full year in Afghanistan plus a full year in Iraq. Sounds like she did her part and then some. When she got out of the service with an honorable discharge, she went to her local college to sign up for classes. Long story short, the Army’s reneging on its commitment. The apparent reason: Byrd didn’t enroll in school soon enough to collect her educational benefits. The reason she didn’t was that the Army sent her to Afghanistan and Iraq. Thanks, soldier!

From the home of Bj√∂rk: Sometimes a New York Times subscription pays for itself just in the issues ads that show up in the paper. Today, for instance, there’s a full-page ad bannered, “War Ends Today,” pushing a new book by Deepak Chopra, “Peace Is the Way.” There’s another full-pager from a San Francisco group called ForestEthics that blasts Victoria’s Secret for cutting down swaths of Canada’s boreal forests for paper for its catalogs (which have been declared “a world cultural resource” by the U.N. High Commission on Reading Matter for Men). On the next page (in my edition) Christians for Middle East Peace asks our president to do something meaningful about peace between Israel and the Palestinians (specifically: a solution with two viable states and Jerusalem as the shared capital).

But the ad that caught my eye was a statement from The Movement for Active Democracy in Iceland. It denounces the government’s support for the war in Iraq, noting in passing 1) that parliamentary approval for support was never sought, 2) that Iceland refused to declare war on Japan and Germany in 1945 as a condition of joining the United Nations as a charter member, 3) that even when it joined NATO in 1949, it was with the understanding that Iceland would never declare war on another nation, and 4) that the most recent polls show that 84 percent of Icelanders oppose the government’s support for the war.