Response to Harsch: `Gorbachev's Ace'

I disagree with the analysis ``Gorbachev's Ace In the Game for Europe's Future,'' Dec. 7. Joseph C. Harsch states, ``Those 19 divisions (of the armed forces of the Soviet Union in East Germany) are Mr. Gorbachev's ace of trumps.'' An ace, yes, but not of trumps.

The uprising in Eastern Europe was surely spawned by the suppression of the people plus the poor economic climate in that area, so that finally the people saw that the Communist regime, by its inefficient business system, as well as the dishonesty and bureaucracy on which it existed, was to blame for their plight.

The 19 divisions that Mr. Harsch mentions are, in fact, part of the unproductive element that has brought the economic crisis to a head.

While military might can, for a considerable time, hold a people in subservience, it is also a drain on their economy. The cost of such military development and maintenance has so impoverished these nations that rebellion for better economic conditions became inevitable. So, while a high military profile is undoubtedly an ace, the ace of trumps is the right and ability to trade worldwide. This is the aim of Gorbachev and the desire of the people of Eastern Europe. C.G.L. Morley Los Angeles

It has been almost 45 years since World War II. Isn't it time to loose it of our distrust, animosity, and revenge. For 45 years Germany has bent over backward to resurrect its status as a nation of decent, caring, intelligent human beings. To not support the German people's right to be united is a form of revenge. We should have progressed beyond such thinking by now.

The word reunification implies a return to what once was. I like to say united instead - a Germany united in a bond of freedom for themselves and all mankind. What's more, unification is in the German constitution.

Mr. Harsch says that Germany might become a power. West Germany is now the economic power of Europe. Perhaps we Americans need to stop thinking about what would be best for America, or thinking what Russia might do because it would be best for Russia, and start thinking about what would be best for Germany and Germans. It is their country. A friend who only supports you when you agree with them and in good times is more an enemy than a friend. The Germans can use some friends right now but it seems as though their friends are deserting them. Marcia E. Schwartz Boston

Mr. Harsch makes it sound like Gorbachev is an extension of Stalin. I don't feel stuck in an ``us'' and ``them'' situation any longer. The dramatic changes in Eastern Europe represent so much more than the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. There's a softening and a coming together, more evident in the two Germanys but still there between all of the ``East'' and ``West.'' But we must not sit back and wait to see what all this means, how it will evolve. Gorbachev is hanging on by his fingernails! Changes in the economy of the sickly East bloc can't be made as fast as political change. So the millions over there looking forward to less hardship won't get it for a while. That is likely to result in political upheaval with a winner at the top more like Stalin than Gorbachev. That could be a major ecological disaster.

There's good evidence that Gorbachev understands our ecological challenges today, perhaps better than Western leaders. He knows that his war machine is not only damaging his economy, he knows it significantly harms the environment. Our planet can't handle it much longer.

Can we start helping our neighbors around the world in finding softer, gentler solutions?

Paul H. March Seattle

It was very refreshing to read Harsch's column. Surely the question of the reunification of Germany, and whether or not Gorbachev releases East Germany to the West, should be a matter for the whole German family, and this can come about only through democratization and the ballot box. The idea expressed by Henry Kissinger is surely that of a highly principled optimist, and the forthcoming actions of Gorbachev in this respect will certainly display to the rest of the Democratic world, not so much as to whether he is a stupid man, but whether he is worthy of his mettle. Robert A. SladeWSSurry, England

Oh how we've missed Joseph Harsch. Margaret Gentle Wellesley, Mass. Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to ``Readers Write,'' One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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