Letters

A separate UN policing force needed

In your June 1 article "Bush shifts his stand on peacekeeping": I am disappointed that UN peacekeeping was not mentioned - even though relying on it is an important alternative to sending US military forces into crisis situations, and even though the Bush administration has requested $266.2 million for the US share of UN peacekeeping costs in 2001. In fact, the budget document accompanying that request notes: "Acting through the United Nations allows the United States to share the risks and costs of responding to international crisis."

One measure in Congress (HR 938) goes even further. It calls on the president to indicate US support for the creation of a permanent UN rapid-deployment police and security force, composed of volunteers who have agreed individually to serve in that force. Such a force would be an important new tool in UN peacekeeping. The forces could be trained in advance to do police-type work as well as peacekeeping operations; the UN could react to crises much more rapidly than it now can; and the motivation of national governments to oppose the creation of peacekeeping forces on grounds that there might be casualties in their own national military forces would be removed. The existence of that kind of force could have prevented the massacre of over 800,000 people in Rwanda in 1994.

Ronald J. Glossop Jennings, Mo.

Personal piety or holy war?

So President Bush recently prayed in his office with a visiting dignitary, and in doing so unnerved some folks. Oh, please! When will we learn how to differentiate between piety and holy war?

Richard Rodriguez has written that the "ism" to fear in the 21st century is fundamentalism. That's the people with "perfect" vision in every religion. Muslim fundamentalists blow up historic statuary because they know "the truth." Jewish fundamentalists build settlements to goad a nation into suppressing Palestinian hopes for land on which to be autonomous. Sikh fundamentalists assassinate Indian leaders. Christian fundamentalists extinguish good-faith questioning by insisting that they know what God meant in the Bible, and no one else does.

We rightly fear those whose narrowness of belief elevates them over any who believe otherwise. So far, President Bush has seemed more like one who grounds his actions in genuinely held spiritual convictions, than a zealot imposing "His way" on others.

Daniel E. White Wailea, Hawaii

Tiny car enthusiasts

Regarding your May 31 article "The little Sparrow that could - only carry one person": The Sparrow one-seat vehicle may be a new idea in the US, but anyone who has been to Europe knows that tiny cars are not new there. Small one- and two-seaters have been popular in Europe since at least the 1960s. Reason: Gas has always been more expensive there than in the US. On a recent trip to Holland, I was amazed at the number of tiny, fuel-saving, easy-to-park cars on the streets. Even Mercedes (Daimler-Benz) makes one.

Why aren't more such cars available in the US? Perhaps strong demand for the Sparrow will make car companies realize that there is a market for tiny cars in the US as well.

Jeff Johnson San Francisco

In 1955, Messerschmitt (of Germany, naturally) produced the KR200. At less than 500 lbs., with the capacity to go 60 m.p.h. carrying two people, it, too, had three wheels. This car still has a following and a club. I do hope some credit and recognition can be given to the real, first, true compact fuel-efficient vehicle. Maybe one day we will not look back and say those Corbin boys started it all. I have no dog in this fight, but the truth should come out.

Savard Adams Smyrna, Ga.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Mail submissions to One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to oped@csps.com

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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