Walter Cronkite didn't lose Vietnam warPeter Jay is a...

LETTERS

December 22, 1996

Walter Cronkite didn't lose Vietnam war

Peter Jay is a master at delivering a sneak punch against someone in the midst of a column that, to the casual reader, seems to be a balanced appraisal. This generally happens when he is writing about someone who is a known liberal or suspected of liberalism (e.g., James Reston, Paul Tsongas).

In his Dec. 12 column ("He was our uncle"), Mr. Jay says some laudatory and even affectionate things about Walter Cronkite, but then drops the bomb. He charges that Mr. Cronkite, with one comment, single-handedly lost the Vietnam war. I guess that gets Jane Fonda off the hook.

Because of that comment, according to Mr. Jay, Lyndon Johnson decided to resign, the rest of the press came out against the war and the North Vietnamese, who were almost ready to give up, decided to keep fighting after all.

There are many problems with this argument, but the most important one is the idea that we lost this crazy war because we lost our will to continue. Actually, it was lost because it did not make sense to continue. It was lost before it started.

Many thousands of our best young people were being slaughtered, thousands more became drug-addicted, an entire generation was alienated, and for what? So that we could kill, in the cause of ''anti-communism," hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese peasants who didn't have a clue as to the difference between capitalism and communism, and didn't much care.

So that we could drive a million people, supposedly our allies, from their homes, defoliate their food supply, and bomb their cousins in the north to smithereens. All in the name of an unsupported theory about ''dominoes."

It is ironic that many of the same people who were most fervently convinced that we were morally justified in dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki because it might have saved a million American lives are the same armchair generals who now say we should have kept sending American men to Vietnam to be butchered in those jungles.

This was a war of attrition; whoever sacrifices the most lives is the ''winner," whatever that means. Does Mr. Jay really think the United States could have won such a race to the death?

Bruce Rollier

Ellicott City

Help for homeless, hungry benefits all

Those who contribute liberally to hospitals and the medical institutions are to be applauded for their generosity.

However, if they donate 10 percent of that amount to establish a foundation for eliminating hunger and homelessness in Maryland, we may go a long way in preventing diseases.

Helping the women, the children and the starving is a requirement to perpetuate a civilized society.

Bail L. Rao

Pikesville

Many theories, no solutions

In his Dec. 13 Perspective article, "The Lebanon terror connection," Steve Yetiv seems to have an abundance of theories, but nothing to help solve the problem.

Mr. Yetiv wants the U.S. to "look hard" at Lebanon, a country trying to shake the effects of a long war. The Lebanese, who never called themselves the "Swiss of the Middle East," are not allowed to determine their own destiny.

The U.S., and the rest of the world, must do more than take a hard look at Lebanon by taking a harder look at the situation in the Middle East as a whole. That region's problems stem from lack of democracy and justice, which are main ingredients for eliminating terrorism.

Lebanon, until recently the only democratic country in the Middle East, is currently occupied by foreign armies. Southern Lebanon, occupied by Israel, continues to bleed. The rest of Lebanon -- and the Lebanese government -- are at the mercy of their Syrian "guests."

When Israel, Syria and Iran have a problem to work out, they do so on Lebanese soil, using the same impoverished people who suffer from their conflict. These impoverished people are Mr. Yetiv's "terrorists." These "terrorists" are funded, supported and given reason to act by countries other than Lebanon. The Lebanese people are, by far, the biggest victims of the "terror connection" and its many dynamics.

The disintegrating peace process, which will make the situation worse, is where the U.S. andthe rest of the world should be taking the hardest look.

Dimitri Saad

Reisterstown

Public schools cannot succeed

I thoroughly enjoyed the Dec. 15 Perspective article, "Cash alone won't save schools,'' by Donald F. Norris.

He rightly points to the socio-economic context of the school as one of the primary corollaries of success. He argues persuasively for decentralization of poverty, housing, jobs and transportation programs to change that context.

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