Does the US Need a Department of Peace?

The opinion-page articles ``Domestic Agenda: From the Left and From the Right,'' Feb. 11, have many plausible points on both sides: reduce the federal budget and cut spending, lower personal income taxes, build up the infrastructure, improve education, increase job opportunities, and cut defense spending. Regarding the latter, there is the unfortunate involvement of the US Defense Department spending taxpayers' money to have arms produced in the US and then sold to countries such as Iraq, only to embroi l the US in a war resulting in enormous increases in defense spending. To help prevent such absurd upward spiraling of defense costs, I propose that a US Department of Peace be created which would reduce the costs and influence of the Defense Department (and perhaps eventually replace it), and which would cooperate with the United Nations and build on the unity of the anti-Iraq coalition to help establish and maintain concerted efforts for peace for all nations.

The time is ripe for a Peace Department and the time is at hand for the US and its partners to wage and coalesce peace-producing prospects to forestall belligerency, hot or cold; to curb and eventually eliminate ways and means of waging war; to insure global peace through adherence to, and radical reliance on, universal law and order; and ultimately to foster a worldwide brotherhood, under one Supreme Being, with peace and good will everywhere.

Charles F. Rasoli, Long Island City, N.Y.

Bush's `enigmatic' new world order Regarding the opinion-page column ``It's George Bush in '92 - If...,'' Feb. 12: The author describes Bush's words on his new world order as ``enigmatic'' and says ``their implementation ... depends on success in the Gulf war.'' It sounds as though we are to be passive onlookers to the unfolding of Bush's personal agenda.

I am dismayed at the thought that the ``enigmatic'' words of one man may have become our future national policy. We cannot afford to be passive onlookers, and yet, in our political system today, individual citizens seem very remote from the process by which decisions defining our national policy are made. Willing and informed as we may be, how can we take an active role?

Marie Pavish, Vashon Island, Wash.

Immoral arithmetic The title of the article ``Nuclear Arms: Would Use Save Lives - or Backfire?,'' Feb. 13, seems a little weird. Clearly using nuclear weapons would kill, perhaps thousands. So how would this use save lives?

Oh, I get it - save American lives. The thousands of Iraqis wouldn't count.

This is a terrifyingly immoral sort of arithmetic.

Richard Plagge, Portland, Ore.

Heroism in `colorful smudges' Regarding the article ``Colorful Smudges of Childlike Wonder,'' Feb. 14: I first saw Todd McKie's art in Boston a few years ago. I was instantly entranced. Thank goodness he's continued producing such ``smudges.''

I sometimes wonder if, in this troubled world, an artistic vision can be authentic and celebratory. Todd McKie's dreamlike world, of objects and characters and shapes and colors, ``lost with wonder,'' proves it's possible, even in the face of personal tragedy, to do both. Such is the stuff of heroism on a human scale.

D. Paul Green, Columbus, Ohio

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