Angola's UNITA Wouldn't Unite With Zaire

"Angolans Join in Battle for Zaire" (March 14) illustrates continued misperceptions about the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA).

It seems unlikely that UNITA would commit its best fighters to save an army that will not fight to save itself. In 1975, Zairean forces entered the Angolan civil war to help the anti-government coalition which included UNITA. UNITA learned that Zairean troops are more interested in looting and pillaging than fighting. Even if President Mobutu Sese Seko falls, Zaire will remain a shambles for years, allowing UNITA continued access to a base in Kamina or wherever.

Under the terms of the current Angolan peace agreement, over 60,000 UNITA soldiers are in cantonment camps, dozens of officers have been incorporated into the Angolan military, tons of war materiel destroyed, and UNITA is preparing to return to the capital to serve in a new Government of National Reconciliation and Unity. Sending troops to Zaire to defend the indefensible seems foolish.

The situation in Angola is too precarious for UNITA to be exporting soldiers to prop up regimes on the verge of collapse. Jonas Savimbi, UNITA leader, is too crafty to be lured into the Zairean morass.

Dr. W. Martin James

Arkadelphia, Ark.

Head of African Studies

Henderson State University

Far from treason

"How Foreign Nations Curry Favor With the US" (March 13) contains an example of the hysteria to which this subject has been carried. Charles Lewis, director of the Center for Public Integrity says, "Americans may have a high threshold for corruption, but I'm not sure they have one for treason."

Treason is defined in the Constitution (Article III, Section 3): "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court."

To suggest that even the most serious misdeeds charged (not proved) in this matter approach the level of treason is outrageous.

Joe H. Clark

Belmont, Mass.

Power and guns - not limited to Mao

In "China's Commander in Chief Walks Tightrope With Army" (March 6) you say Mao Zedong coined the precept, "political power grows out of the barrel of a gun." Rather than attribute that belief to China, why don't you name at least one country that doesn't practice that attitude?

The minutemen in Massachusetts believed that axiom, even if they couldn't maximize it at 3400-to-800 odds between Concord and Lexington, and the US has never looked back. When we bought territory we did it at gunpoint. I assumed that the reason more countries didn't act like us was that they felt too weak and poor to get away with it.

Arthur Stier

Glastonbury, Conn.

Foreign policy resource on the Web

The opinion page article "From Journalism's Summit, a Word of Warning" (March 12) suggests that it is essential that the American public have access to quality reporting on international issues in order to make intelligent judgments about them.

The US Information Agency (USIA) already provides this information. The Daily Digest, a roundup and analysis of world press opinion on key foreign policy issues, is posted Monday through Friday on our internet server (http://www.usia.gov).

This report features quotes excerpted and translated from foreign newspapers, radio, and television each morning by American Embassy press-office staffs overseas. They are forwarded electronically to USIA's Washington headquarters, where the Digest is prepared and distributed to officials at the White House, the State Department, and other US agencies that deal with international issues.

Patricia McArdle


US Information Agency

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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