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Letters to the Editor. World Court -- a disturbing drift

October 22, 1985



President Reagan's decision to limit American recognition of decisions by the World Court indicates a disturbing drift away from acceptance of international law [``Reagan pulls US away from World Court,'' Oct. 8]. This decision is part of a pattern of unilateralism that includes the US invasion of Grenada, the mining of Managua's harbor, and the President's initial approval of Israel's raid in Tunisia. During Nicaragua's uncontested case against the US before the World Court, US officials used the press as their forum for responding to Nicaragua. We lacked the statesmanship to place our case before an international tribunal where its merits could be determined by a representative and respected panel of jurists. Our disregard for the World Court -- the only permanent international forum for conflict resolution between nations -- increases its weakness and makes peace more remote.

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In his first term, the President made an idealistic speech to the UN General Assembly at the beginning of its 38th session (Sept. 26, 1983). He said: ``Our goals are those of the UN's founders, who sought to replace a world at war with one where the rule of law would prevail, where human rights were honored, where development would blossom, where conflict would give way to freedom from violence.'' Alas, our foreign policy is moving away from this goal. Our high-minded objectives, however sincerely state d, seem hollow where our actions undermine them.

The UN should strengthen its court to require that nations accept its jurisdiction and abide by its decisions, as citizens do within nations. President Reagan said last May 1, ``Without law, there is no freedom -- only chaos and disorder.'' That is as true on the international level as on the national. Scott L. Hoffman, Executive Director World Federalist Association of New England

It is good to see increasing interest in the Danish pastor Kaj Munk and his writings, ``The quest for Kaj Munk,'' Sept. 26. But to write that ``For many years now, Danes have been under pressure to forget the bitter years of Nazi occupation and victims such as Munk'' is not true. We have not been under pressure from anybody to forget what happened between 1940 and 1945. That period of Danish history is dealt with on the same level, and with the same respect, as the rest of Danish history. Jorgen Kappel-Hansen Black Earth, Wis.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none individually acknowledged. All are subject to condensation. Please address letters to ``readers write.''