Oil and a President's Pride Are Not Worth the Price of War

Regarding the opinion-page column ``What's Behind Bush's March Toward War,'' Nov. 13: The United States has always been ready to wage war on other people's territories. War in the Gulf, however, would be different. If Iraq and Kuwait are destroyed, Saddam Hussein is prepared to launch a blitz of terrorism against the continental US. A bomb that could devastate major US cities is no longer unthinkable. Casualties would not be mere statistics from abroad; they would be neighbors, friends, and loved ones. A strategically placed device could take out power installations and leave thousands without light, heat, and other amenities. In short, there would be chaos, apart from dead and injured. All this in addition to the devastation inflicted upon innocent civilians in the Gulf area.

Is it worth it to protect oil supplies? Ede Osborn Victoria, British Columbia

As an historian I am struck by the alarming differences between the manner in which President Kennedy dealt with the menacing Cuban missile crisis and President Bush's reckless handling of the Persian Gulf crisis. At the same time Kennedy was defending vital US interests, he was deftly and deliberately avoiding driving Khrushchev into a diplomatic corner from which he had no face-saving escape. In contrast, Bush has resorted to hyperbolic comparisons of Saddam Hussein to Hitler and other rash statements which can only increase the danger of war. Furthermore, Bush has gone so far out on a limb that it may be difficult for him to save face short of precipitating a war. Thousands - perhaps hundreds of thousands - may die for the sake of ego and oil. Congress and the public must prevent the president from launching us into a war we can not possibly win. American military might could crush Iraq (at terrible cost) but what would we gain? The US would become a pariah to Muslims around the world. Already Bush's conduct has caused a rapprochement between the two worst enemies among the Muslim states - Iran and Iraq. After a war in which American forces inflict thousands of casualties on Iraqi troops (and inevitably on civilians as well,) Americans will be remembered throughout the Muslim world as the infidel imperialists who invaded the Near East to slaughter innocent Muslim women and children to control their oil.

Cheap oil and pride are not worth the price, nor the life of a single American. Allen F. Chew Colorado Springs, Colo.

The opinion-page column ``A Nation in Search of Leadership,'' Nov. 7, says that ``the latest polls show that there is gloom abroad,'' and well there should be. The elections had no bearing on the issue of starting what could be World War III, with close to 10,000 times the force in weapons of World War II. This would be suicide, not war. Those who ran for election were so busy competing among the trees that no one dared be diverted by contemplating the forest. Bush's attitude borders on vicious when he speaks of Saddam Hussein as Hitler revisited. The president, who had the backing of Margaret Thatcher, is the one preparing to attack!

The author says, ``President Bush ... needs to project an image of unity and confident purpose.'' He can't have unity when his purpose is war, however. W.W. Gilchrist Brunswick, Maine

The editorial ``Weighing a War,'' Nov. 9, asks the right questions. Here is one more: We already have one memorial in Washington with thousands of names of men and women who did not have to die. Do we need another one with names from Desert Shield? Helene Maris East Brunswick, N.J.

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