John Hughes's column ``Peace in Nicaragua?,'' Aug. 26, epitomizes the ethnocentric, self-deceptive public justifications generally used to explain United States intervention in Central America. Mr. Hughes recited the familiar litany of offenses committed by the Sandinista government: It is Marxist-Leninist; it exports revolution; it is under Soviet and Cuban influence; it represses its own people. Eyewitness accounts indicate that these statements are to some degree true. Yet however horrendous the Sandinistas' offenses, they do not approach those of former US-backed dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle.
Over a century of US intervention in the affairs of Central American countries shows little concern for the well-being of the region's people, and a great determination to protect US economic interests. Jenny Tomkins Beaver Dam, Wyo.
John Hughes's analysis of the Nicaraguan situation is the kind of thinking which has wrecked any hopes for peace in the region: Democracy cannot be brought to a people by savaging their economy, causing widespread suffering, and supporting terrorists who kill civilians and destroy ``key installations'' like hospitals and sewage treatment plants. To think otherwise is not to understand democracy. Christine Rodgers Seattle
Gunboat diplomacy In his column ``Sandinista peace concessions due to pressure from friend and foe,'' Aug. 21, Joseph C. Harsch asserts that Reagan's ``gunboat-style diplomacy'' is paying off. In reference to US bombing of Libya, Mr. Harsch states, ``... Reagan's bombers smashed a lot of buildings in the colonel's [Qaddafi] two main cities....'' However, they also ``smashed'' a lot of innocent lives. Are lives less valuable because they are Libyan, not American?
Reagan's tenacious funding of the contras is based on this same callous unconcern for the lives of those of other nations, of other races and colors.
The injustice that results from running over countries and peoples who cannot retaliate diminishes the stature of the US in the eyes of the world. In the long run, this cannot be considered successful diplomacy. Ann Miller La Selva Beach, Calif.
The actions Mr. Harsch points to have raised the temperature in already unstable areas of the world. Gunboat diplomacy in a world that is capable of destroying itself is militarily irresponsible. Reagan's gunboat diplomacy has attempted to put the United States above the law by refusing to abide by the World Court decision regarding the mining of harbors in Nicaragua.
The Iran-contra affair is yet another result of throwing one's weight around, outside the rule of law. This seems to me a dangerous policy. Mary Murray Terre Haute, Ind.
The editorial ``Dithering over Nicaragua,'' Aug. 19, well describes the current Nicaraguan situation. I disagree, however, with the statement ``If Washington does not want an agreement, there probably won't be one.'' The administration probably doesn't have any control over the matter. Initiative has shifted from Washington to Central America. But anxious to ``do something,'' the administration flails about for a course of action when the only real option is to await developments.
Something historic happened in Central America: The leaders have joined forces to take control of their region's destiny. Although claiming only moral suasion, they are backed by the power of the US Congress.
Nothing could be better for the prospects of peace and stability in the region. William L. Schlosser Indianapolis
`Minus distortions' Earl W. Foell's analysis of the situation in the Gulf, ``Iran-US situation minus the distortions,'' Aug. 11, is poignant and scholarly.
The four points he raises and analyzes should be studied by all who are involved in United States policy in the Gulf.
Of particular significance are the points about Iran's embrace of Moscow. The Ayatollah's Iran can never get too close to communist Russia, and Moscow has nothing in common with the Iranian theocracy. Their only common interest is promoting anti-Americanism.
Israel's interest in the Gulf war has not been fully realized: Iran is a market for Israeli arms, and the war is between two avowed enemies of Israel. Harvey Parhad Vernon Hills, Ill.