The opinion-page column ``Councils of Caution Undercut Peace in Gulf,'' Dec. 3, is a refreshing, factual appraisal. The author clears away some of the misunderstanding of recent weeks. Avoiding war is imperative. The costs of conflict are terrible and no effort should be spared to find a peaceful solution. At the same time, Congress and the public must give careful thought to appeasement of those such as Saddam Hussein. He is a dangerous, unpredictable leader whose word means little and whose personal ambition knows few bounds. Widely publicized congressional hearings and public protests are only aiding and abetting Saddam. He realizes that if he stalls long enough we will begin to lose resolve. We must stop and think about the kind of message and gift we are sending Saddam. The message is one of doubt and weakened determination. The gift is time - time to continue to perfect Iraq's weapons capability while opposition crumbles. Sanctions will eventually have an impact, but how many months will it take? How much economic damage can the world endure while it waits? What will be the price if Saddam is not, somehow, disarmed? Beverly Watson, Renton, Wash.
The article ``Quiet Criticism Emerges Inside Iraq,'' Nov. 28, says, ``The egalitarian and revolutionary ideals invoked by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein have rallied the support of millions of Arabs and Muslims.'' Saddam's professed intent before the attack on Kuwait was to change the feudal system of those emirates who enriched themselves without concern for disenfranchised Arabs in Palestine and Yemen. Had we encouraged his purpose, it would have helped speed the peace process with Israel, and given our president pause before reacting to the invasion. An American victory will be won not in the desert but in the White House, the Pentagon, and the UN if we take Saddam at his word and make Kuwait a new Republic of Arabians. Carmel Forsyte, Providence, R.I.
Regarding the article ``Allied Ranks Form Up Behind Deadline for Iraq,'' Nov. 29: The only sensible solution to this conflict is negotiated mutual disarmament. We should use diplomacy to avoid the bloodshed and destruction sure to follow an all-out war. It took Saddam to awaken a world drugged by materialism. Are we ready to sacrifice hundreds of thousands of brave young men and women on such an alter? Howard B. Anderson, Hancock, Mich.
Regarding the opinion-page column ``Iraq's Human-Rights Toll,'' Nov. 26: We have seen too much hypocrisy in recent months. Saddam is a brutal tyrant, but that didn't deter the US from dealing with him in the 1980s. Iraq is guilty of illegal invasion and human-rights violations, but so is the US. Our invasion of Panama resulted in approximately 3,000 deaths and more than 18,000 homeless there. The wounded and homeless have still not received compensation. Where are the articles denouncing illegal US actions and human-rights abuses? Mev Puleo, Cambridge, Mass.