What Would We Win From War in the Gulf?

Regarding the opinion-page column ``Winning Without War,'' Dec. 13: It is easy to make war when you have the firepower, but difficult to make lasting peace when you are not willing to learn from the events of the past. Ayatollah Khomeini fought in vain for years to destroy Saddam Hussein while the US supported him against Iran. Times have changed. Where Khomeini did not succeed, the US is now ready to fulfill his legacy, namely to destroy Saddam and Iraq.

During the upcoming war, the delicate balance of powers will be destroyed. If Saddam's regime is destroyed, there could be a political landslide. The now-ruling Saudi family could be pushed from power and replaced by a religiously fundamental government which will be less friendly toward the US. Is this what the Bush administration wants?

Dr. I. Kurt Arndt, Waynsville, N.C.

A bluff is sometimes used to win when one does not have a very good hand, but it is useless unless the bluffer is prepared to fold if the stakes get too high. If one has a good hand, one does not need to bluff. President Bush's words suggest he doesn't have a very good hand. The only reason for increasing the stakes is to get the opponent to up the ante and increase the winnings. We have upped the ante several times but have nothing more to win unless we actually intend to wipe out Saddam Hussein and his military machine.

If the president really wants to go after Saddam, then he has followed a consistent course. If, on the other hand, Bush is prepared to back down if Saddam doesn't withdraw, then he has sadly misled the American people and the world.

I find no justification for war under these circumstances. Quite apart from any damage it might bring us as a nation, it is inhumane to bomb women and children and not any more justifiable than other forms of terrorism.

The current US position is highly hypocritical given our use of force many times over the past several decades purely for national objectives. In most cases I feel that our national objectives have been counterproductive and not at all in the national interest. The carnage wrought by the US in other people's wars is a contradiction of our national purpose.

Howard Osborn, Lusby, Md.

Nicaragua's unrest The article ``Chamorro's Coalition Woes,'' Dec. 14, paints the Sandinista Popular Army and police force as being primary causes of unrest in Nicaragua. It has been my personal experience that the returning National Opposition Union (UNO) officials, many of whom had adjusted to life in Miami, expected to return to the Somocista Nicaragua they left in 1979. This element of the UNO coalition ignores the fact that the Sandinistas still remain the largest political party in the country with the largest number of followers.

It is naive to expect this segment of society to accept the rollback of what they consider to be hard-won victories. In no other Central American country would the elected president dare gut forces as Chamorro has done. Only a professional army, interested in bringing stability to the country, would allow itself to be restructured as the Sandinistas have.

I worked only miles from the town cited in the article, and saw first hand how returning Somocistas and contras provoked and threatened Sandinista supporters and officials. If Chamorro wants reconciliation, she should purge these individuals from UNO as she removed Sandinistas from the army, police, and public sector.

Benjamin Tupper, Syracuse, N.Y.

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