Editor: The Sun editorial, ''On Going to War,'' states that the war powers of Congress are, ''quite murky under law.'' There is nothing murky about the general powers of Congress under the Constitution.
Congress has the power to ''declare war'' -- period. The real problem is that Congress is too cowardly to use the power.
Just because Congress ''declares war,'' doesn't mean the United States has to come out shooting. Congress could, as visible moral support to our military in the Gulf, respond to President Bush's assessment that Kuwait is ''of vital interest'' and declare war on Iraq, with never a shot to be fired.
Then again, Tom Paine did once write something about summer senators and sunshine representatives.
Quentin D. Davis.
Fixing the Blame
Editor: In a Nov. 5 letter, A.W. Goodman criticized the United Nations for trying to send a delegation to investigate the death of Palestinians at the hands of the Israelis in Jerusalem, when the U.N. had earlier failed to investigate gassing of another internal minority, the Kurds, by Saddam Hussein. He then stated that Mr. Hussein later gassed the Iranians and that the U.N. again failed to investigate.
There are at least 10 detailed Security Council reports of several U.N. teams headed by physicians and other experts from neutral countries -- such as Spain, Sweden and Switzerland --who visited Iran on multiple occasions, and once Iraq, between 1983 and 1988. Those visits were made, at considerable personal risk to the scientists, to investigate allegations of chemical warfare against Iranians, and on one occasion, against Iraqis. The attacks were alleged to have occurred from 1981 to 1988; the reports are dated between 1984 and 1988.
They describe compelling scientific evidence of the use of mustard gas and nerve agents against the Iranians, but do not substantiate the use of chemical agents against the Iraqis. Unfortunately, the Security Council members, including the U.S., made no serious effort during those years to blockade or otherwise isolate Iraq. The U.S. is even said to have assisted Mr. Hussein.
Mr. Goodman will not, however, find any reports of a U.N. investigation of the alleged genocide of the Kurds by Saddam Hussein's troops in 1988. Mr. Hussein refused to admit the U.N. experts. Turkey also refused to admit U.N. investigators into Kurdish refugee camps on its territory. Smaller private groups and one U.S. government team did carry out investigations which supported allegations of genocide of the Kurds by chemical weapons. One was the Boston-based Physicians for Human Rights which published a report of its investigation in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1989.
There are two serious take-home messages here.
The first is that both Saddam Hussein and the Israeli government seriously undermined United Nations efforts to investigate and prevent genocide of minorities by refusing to cooperate with U.N. teams of experts from neutral countries. If there is nothing to hide, there should be nothing to fear from an expert investigation.
The second is that the United States and other Security Council members failed to take firm action against Iraq in 1983-1984 and during the ensuing years when multiple investigations clearly documented repeated violations of the Geneva Protocol by Iraq. If they had acted at that time, they might have prevented the subsequent invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
Are the lives of Iranians and Kurds worth less than the lives of Kuwaitis -- or does the U.S. government care more about oil than about the lives of poor people in developing countries?
Editor: This is in response to Will Englund's Oct. 18 article about Mayor Kurt Schmoke seeking ideas for schools. The mayor continues to overlook an important source of ideas, the teaching staff, specifically those teachers who have completed the Maryland Writing Project's course of study.
This particular group of teachers has demonstrated a commitment to students by participating in a five-week intensive course offered each summer by the Maryland Writing Project at Towson State. For the past 10 years, the MWP has quietly been revolutionizing teaching in these summer and in-service courses.
As one of this summer's participants from across the state, I had the opportunity to observe dynamic teachers from Baltimore City's system and their teaching methods. From the kindergarten to the high school level, each individual was a talented, articulate, caring person who has stayed within the system for the students.
Here is a wellspring of creativity from which to draw. Here, already on the front line and not in the main office, are the people in touch with students and parents alike. Stop making pronouncements and let these people, Maryland Writing Project teacher consultants, demonstrate what they do best, teach Baltimore City's students.
Stephanie M. Leddy.