Letters

What is fighting fair?

I was saddened to read Daniel Schorr's April 4 column "Grasping a new war reality." What the Iraqi irregular forces are doing is not merely waging asymmetric warfare; they are grossly violating laws of armed conflict.

These "tactics," as Mr. Schorr calls them, should be called what they actually are. Fake surrender falls under the definition of perfidy. More heinous, however, are the tactics of using human shields; fighting in civilian clothes; and using hospitals, historic sites, schools, and religious structures to store military equipment. These actions violate the core of the laws of armed conflict designed to protect civilians. These laws are not merely "the rules ordained by the superpower" or "asymmetric warfare." No, these rules were ordained by mankind to minimize horrendous suffering inflicted upon civilian populations during wartime. A man who has seen the history that Schorr has should know better than to trivialize such crimes.
Carl Meuser
Coronado, Calif.

I have to laugh at the surprise of the allied forces at Saddam Hussein's unconventional fighters and tactics. He had months to prepare for a typical American attack, and it's known that he has studied American war strategies, far more, it seems, than the US has studied Iraqi strategies. I doubt Hussein is surprised. But more important, we should get rid of ideas of "fair fighting." If the US were invaded by an overwhelming force intent upon changing our government to suit itself, every citizen would consider it his or her duty to fight in any way possible to drive off the invaders. Desperate times call for desperate measures, no matter who you are.
Jane Smiley
Carmel Valley, Calif.

Peter Arnett's misstep

Regarding Jeffrey Shaffer's April 4 opinion column " On the TV front line": Was Peter Arnett's Iraqi interview treasonous? Pulitzer Prize winner, not hapless victim of media exploitation, Mr. Arnett knows Iraq has no free press. Saddam Hussein strictly controls and censors every printed page, every sound bite.

Did Arnett violate journalistic ethics? The Society of Professional Journalists tells Arnett to avoid conflicts of interest, entanglements in associations which compromise integrity or damage credibility, and political involvement. And to be vigilant and courageous about holding power structures accountable. These standards are goalposts. Fouls are fouls whether or not the white lines are a little blurred or the running back's feet a little too long.

However, is running afoul of ethical journalism treasonous? Under the Constitution, treason is "levying war" or giving enemies "aid and comfort." If Arnett is convicted of treason, he will be canonized. Never make a martyr out of a mole - a martyr has miraculous powers. His ethical failings are forgotten; arrogance becomes astuteness; cowardliness becomes conviction; imprudence becomes instructive. What's more, if he is convicted, we ordinary folk miss the grand opportunity of shunning and condemning him until he finally escapes to Europe.
Raafat Toss
Jersey City, N.J.

Temporary erosion of civil liberties

Regarding the April 7 article "Daley draws fire for being 'autocratic' in airport flap": Mayor Daley's bulldozing is one more example of the eroding of public freedoms, post Sept. 11. In this way, the terrorists seem to have succeeded in disrupting American society. The war on terror will not be over soon, and a nation in a perpetual state of war is one which will suffer a loss of freedom. Our duty as citizens is to remember the freedoms we have so that when war ends we may return those freedoms to our society.
Tanya Tickel
Chicago

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. We can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number.

Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to oped@csps.com.

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