In response to your Oct. 29 article "As troops ship out, stress is rising": How challenging it is to determine the truth about international events. I pray that our country's leaders are guided morally in determining causes of action. A case in point is President Bush's thrust in the past two months to aggressively pursue Iraq's intransigence regarding disarmament at the end of the Gulf War. Iraq failed, and the US did not pursue it to fulfillment at that time.
Mr. Bush claimed there was a nexus between Al Qaeda terrorists and Iraq's antidisarmament policy, which now justifies US action.
Hard evidence for his countrymen, allies, and the UN, however, has been difficult to find.
Some unsympathetic observers characterize Bush as a cowboy going it alone and pulling a reluctant nation into another dangerous and costly foreign adventure. I would like to believe that our president has the best intelligence information available and his motives are guided morally as he serves world peace by acting forthrightly to preempt any propensity of Saddam Hussein to export weapons of mass destruction.
Bush is progressing to the level of an international statesman willing to ponder considerations of other national leaders with collateral concerns before he takes actions his own opinions may dictate.
Newport Beach, Calif.
Regarding "As troops ship out, stress is rising": I am appalled that the US Congress gave President Bush full authority to attack Iraq. I fully understand that Saddam Hussein is a despot and the world would be better served by a more humane and democratic administration in Iraq. However, being the most powerful nation on earth does not give us the right to invade other countries.
As the standard bearer of freedom and democracy, we must first pursue all possible peaceful means to achieve our purpose. Instead of being the leader of the free world, we are now perceived as bullies, unilaterally enforcing our will without the advice of our allies.
We must find nonmilitary means and strategies to contain this threat if we are to reestablish the US as a peaceful and democratic nation, a model for the rest of the world. We must respect and value human life regardless of nationality or viewpoint. War should be the very last option used under the most extreme circumstances.
Sandra L. Stiles
Regarding the Nov. 8 Opinion piece "The perfect bookshop weathers the storm": I spent hours of delight in The Avenue Victor Hugo Bookshop (complete with cats), always finding works from long-lost authors it seemed I alone still cared about.
Only moments after I finished sharing with my mother some of the books by E. Phillips Oppenheim I purchased there years ago, I read your article. After weeks of shootings in the East, murders of faculty members on our university campus, an earthquake in Italy that killed a classroom of first-graders, Senator Wellstone's plane crash, deaths at the hands of Chechen rebels, and proclamations of war, I skimmed the Monitor in search of a "safe" read. Immediately recognizing the aisle in the photograph, I thought I had found it.
The closing of the bookshop cannot be equated to the unnecessary loss of lives, but rather it is the loss of a peaceful and uplifting refuge I know many persons frequented when looking for that one last shred of a civilized existence. Mr. McCaffrey, you have given millions more than you dream of the "perfect bookshop" over the years.
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