Did We Win?A decade ago, former heads of the CIA and the...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

October 23, 1992

Did We Win?

A decade ago, former heads of the CIA and the KGB became vice president of the United States and president of the Soviet Union. Now Yuri Andropov is dead and George Bush is president.

Russia has brought its troops home from Germany and begun the difficult work of integrating them into civilian society.

The U.S. can't bring its troops home, because, Bush says, they would be "on the streets."

ARussians have learned the hard way that maintaining a military of a size that the civilian economy can't or won't pay for has ruined many a once-great power. Americans haven't. Have we really won the Cold War, yet?

Thomas Permutt

Baltimore

Exporting Arms

I'm writing in response to the article in The Sun Oct. 15 reporting the United States' position as chief arms salesman to the world.

The arms trade has been compared to the drug trade in that it is degrading to the buyer and corrupting to the seller. Our government and our arms industries are put in the same position as a drug dealer. They have to pump up the market for their deadly wares, justifying themselves with statements like, "These people are going to get arms from somewhere, why not from us?"

How does this differ morally from a drug dealer who makes the same excuse for why he sells crack or heroin to his hapless clientele?

The corruption in our country is apparent on many levels. How can we make a credible stand against violence in our own nation when we are busy supplying the means for other countries to pursue their political ends in a violent manner?

Since we do not restrict our arms sales to democratic governments -- quite the contrary, our best customers are dictators and police states like Saudi Arabia -- our pieties about promoting democracy around the world remain empty platitudes.

How can we wring our hands over the human suffering in Somalia or Croatia or, as we did two years ago, in Kuwait, when we provide the means for these wars to be fought?

We don't create the conflicts, but we give the warring parties the means to escalate their disputes to the most highly technical and deadly level.

In Iraq, we faced our own weapons turned against us.

And of course, as in all wars, the greatest victims are not the generals, but the widows, orphans and refugees. It is estimated that 85 percent of the inmates of refugee camps around the globe are women and children.

You reported that the U.S. government was crowing over the economic benefits of our arms sales, but that may be the most short-sighted policy of all.

We need to be building a sustainable economy, one that both meets today's needs and also protects the prospects for future generations. Such an economy would provide long-term employment. The possibilities are immense, and include such opportunities as developing renewable energy resources, transportation that gives us both mobility and clean air, affordable and efficient housing, etc.

For the first 200 years of our country's history, we were the exporters of the ideals of freedom and democracy. Let us put aside the merchandising of death and return to our higher purpose.

Shelley Cole Morhaim

Owings Mills

People's Choice

The anxiety of the citizen is that one of the contestants will become president.

Elmer Spurrier

Middle River

Sly Insights

Congratulations on the wonderful Oct. 11 article by Richard O'Mara, "What if the Old World had never come to the New?"

It is a brilliant, insightful and well researched piece, with sly humor. It really deserves a prize of some kind.

) Thanks for making my day.

Jane Swope

Baltimore

Latchkey Teens Need After-School Activities

According to a Sun article of Oct. 2, 70.1 percent of Maryland households with children have all of the parents in the family working (20.5 percent are one-parent-working families; 49.6 percent are two-parent-working families).

If each family has only one child (most have more), then 70.1 percent of young teens (12 through 15) are likely to be unsupervised after school, on school holidays and vacations, as well as most of the summer.

This occurs not because parents do not care about these children, but largely because of the absence of after-school day care and full-time summer day camps for children this age. Is it any wonder that crime and teen-age pregnancy are growing so fast among individuals of this age?

It is an awful age for the child and the adult who loves him -- ask any parent or teacher of children of this age. The child is separating from his or her parents' identity and rebuilding a personal identity, and what goes along with it is not easy to live with for anyone:

* An adult body with a child's lack of self-discipline.

* A perception that parents (and therefore all adults) are the enemy (and know nothing anyway).

* A perception that peers (who are as much in transition as they are) know it all.

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