Saturday Mailbox

SATURDAY MAILBOX

September 21, 2002

Plans for war alter our role in the world

Just when President Bush's address to the United Nations on Iraq had me wondering if some common sense had found its way into his administration, he returned to typical, arrogant form by mocking those who believe the United States must work through the United Nations ("Bush pressures Hill Democrats over Iraq vote," Sept. 14).

I have news for Mr. Bush: Working through the United Nations on Iraq is what's best for the United States.

Saddam Hussein is not a clear and present danger to the United States. And we have no business unilaterally attacking Iraq.

The high-principled country I grew to love even as a child doesn't go around invading sovereign nations without being attacked first.

Mr. Bush's recent threat to do just that is a disgrace to our national honor.

Scott Norris

Baltimore

At the United Nations, President Bush urged action against Iraq to achieve the "just demands of peace and security." I believe that a pre-emptive strike would have the opposite effect.

As a nation we are extremely vulnerable to terrorism. Invading Iraq would increase the risk of such attacks by magnifying the hatred many people throughout the world harbor toward us.

And while the possibility of a country such as Iraq acquiring weapons of mass destruction is daunting, we had better get used to it. There is no way we can prevent other countries or terrorist groups from acquiring such a capability, and this is not a problem we can solve through brute force.

Indeed, attacking Iraq would exacerbate the problem by showing the rest of the world that its independence and security depends on its ability to counter such attacks.

Finally, an attack would set a terrible precedent. If we feel such an attack is justified, why shouldn't India attack Pakistan or Israel attack Syria?

In physics, it is axiomatic that every action causes an equal and opposite reaction. Violence follows a similar law.

The United States should use its position of world leadership to break the cycle and set a precedent of nonviolent conflict resolution.

Larry Magder

Baltimore

As President Bush works to rid the world of one dictator, he is creating a new one -- himself.

The threatening tone with which he addressed the United Nations has been surpassed by the threatening tone in which he addresses members of our own Congress, and those in this country who don't agree with him.

What is happening to our democracy? It's going the way of our constitutional rights.

Mr. Bush needs to be reminded that we are a nation of more than 270 million people, not one man.

Kurt Kroncke

Baltimore

Few disagree that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and his weapons programs a threat, although probably not an imminent one, to our security.

However, I believe war is unjustified, since we have not received an attack or a credible threat of attack, as international law requires to justify war. In addition, there are more effective ways of eliminating the danger Iraq poses.

If our goal is eliminating Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, then the more appropriate means to that end is resuming intrusive inspections. In fact, the destruction of Iraq's missiles and chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs in the 1990s was the result mostly of inspections, not military attacks.

Bringing U.N. inspectors back to Iraq could neutralize what remains of its weapons programs.

And lifting sanctions when disarmament is complete would alleviate the suffering of Iraqi children and adults.

Marilyn Carlisle

Baltimore

As a community of women who follow the gospel of Jesus, we must voice our concern about our government's aggressive promotion of its intent to initiate a war with Iraq.

War with Iraq would be costly. The human cost is of primary concern. American and Iraqi military personnel would lose their lives. Civilian casualties would be inevitable.

Resources that could go into making life better for people at home and abroad would go into creating devastation and destruction. The cost to our moral force as a nation that stands for peace and justice would also be staggering.

The risks of initiating a war with Iraq far exceed the possible benefits. Perhaps Saddam Hussein would be killed or captured. But would that create peace and stability in that region? Or create further instability in a region already fraught with tension?

Could we even be risking Christian-Muslim warfare of global proportions?

Violence begets violence. War will not be the solution. It will only intensify the problem.

Sister Kathleen White

Baltimore

The writer submitted this letter on behalf of the Benedictine Sisters of Baltimore.

Gratitude seems to have such a short memory. For 50 years we were Europe's rock and shield against Soviet subjugation. And for 50 years the Europeans were so grateful, so shamelessly accommodating.

But now that threat is gone, and so is the last glimmer of gratitude.

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