Letters

Beyond Land Mines, Toward a Safer World

In reference to the Jan. 8 editorial, "Stop Land Mines Now," I encourage you to look at the problem of creating a safer, more humane world from a broader perspective.

Although I, too, am saddened by the deaths and injuries land mines inflict, I find it disturbing that the editorial writer, like most who speak on this issue, does not raise the possibility of looking at violence in general as the problem.

The harm these weapons cause is very regrettable, but our reluctance to rule out the use of violence is the root of the matter and will threaten humanity on every front in which we permit it to.

I like very much the proposal to have a moratorium on the land mine business. But if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that it would be a small gain - no cause for self-congratulation.

The real work can begin when we give up efforts to make war more "fair" by inventing or using only "safe" or "smart" weapons, the kind that supposedly kill only people who are our "real enemies." We should ask the Clinton administration to drastically reduce the US arsenal across the board, not merely land mines. We should also ask for drastic reductions in US weapons exports and sales.

It would be naive and self-righteous of us to suppose that our international neighbors will feel a great deal more secure with a land mine moratorium when we continue to spend so many billions of tax dollars on the military, and deploy it so cavalierly in episodes such as the "liberation of Kuwait."

John Baumann

Spokane, Wash.

Off target

In the Jan. 24 opinion piece, "Dangerous Liaisons: War and the Environment," the author focuses on the tragedy that the Gulf war caused to the environment and virtually ignores the violence of war and its ineffectiveness as a technique in conflict resolution.

The writer calls on US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to support several measures that would "mitigate the price" of war, missing the point that from the Punic Wars on, war as conflict resolution does not work. Based on her rhetoric and history, this is not a position I anticipate Ms. Albright to advocate. She appears to be convinced that yet more military violence and its threat is an appropriate way to resolve conflict and effect desired change in foreign governments.

Meanwhile, children are killing children, and adults tell them not to resort to violence to solve problems. Apparently, the horrors of warfare on young men and women, on societies, and on relationships between people is of less serious concern - which in turn causes me to have very serious concern.

Rocci Hildum

Wenatchee, Wash.

Trampled rights

In the Jan. 10 editorial, "No Gun if Convicted," you show great bias in the statement, "no one who has been convicted of domestic violence should be carrying a firearm, even if it's part of the job." A few important items to consider:

*This is an ex post facto law that violates the letter and spirit of the Constitution. This law even prevents firearm ownership.

*Use of fists, knives, and clubs make up 92 percent of domestic violence and clearly show no tendency to use a firearm.

*How soon will it be until another law like this is passed, removing the right to own a firearm from anyone who has ever been in a fight, made a verbal threat, or has ever lost his or her temper?

Another chink has been removed from the Second Amendment, and the news media are again being used to sway public opinion away from this fact.

No one wants domestic or any type of violence, but you should take a closer look at the penalty being issued for even a misdemeanor charge and the ex post facto manner in which it has been issued.

Frank Coniglio

Murphysboro, Ill.

Your letters are welcome. Letters for publication must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published and none acknowledged . All letters are subject to editing. Letters should be mailed to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, faxed to 617-450-2317, or e-mailed (200 words maximum) to OPED@CSPS.COM

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