How safe are US cities?

Rushworth M. Kidder's column on the jury's finding Bernhard Goetz in-nocent of the 1984 New York subway incident is the best I've read since Walter Lippmann [``Society must move forward to more livable cities,'' June 22]. The column focuses on the real crisis: Are cities in the United States livable? They are perilously close to unendur-able. Yet an overwhelming percentage of the American people live in urban centers.

The diminishing resources and consequent environmental damage in the US have made a national dispersal of population impossible. Quality of life in cities should be improved, and Mr. Kidder's challenge to ``reinterpret the purpose of the city for the 21st century'' must be addressed. K. Wallace Longshore Kent, Wash.

Your editorial on the Bernhard Goetz verdict, ``Goetz and city safety,'' June 18, stands as a model of fairness and dispassion. One of the more difficult tasks is to repair the damage done to people's confidence in our laws. The ``unhelpful'' allegations of racism have already been dealt with adequately elsewhere. But there is a contradiction between a verdict that says that in firing his pistol, Mr. Goetz used only necessary force, and at the same time acknowledges that under the laws of the state of New York it is illegal to carry a pistol. The irony of this contradiction is inescapable. William Dennis Longview, Wash.

Gulf responsibilities John Hughes's opinion-page column ``Iran: What's next?'' June 24, makes the classic argument of great-power responsibility as the basis for United States intervention in the Persian Gulf.

The US does have great responsibilities due to its stature in the world; However, Mr. Hughes's interpretation of these responsibilities is about 70 years out of date, as well as akin to the reasoning that foisted the ``white man's burden'' upon the world.

The time for unilateral police actions to enforce peace is long gone. What is desperately needed is US leadership in finding global solutions to the Iran-Iraq war - not more superpower intrigue which will further entangle the US in a web of violence and continue the erosion of our world leadership.

The US has a rare opportunity to work with the Soviets and a chance to reactivate the UN Security Council in the interest of all humanity. Randy Hershey Wichita, Kan.

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