Military Targets and Archeological Treasures

Regarding the opinion-page article "Preserve Cradle of Civilization," Feb. 20: The author's characterization of the United States military policy on preserving antiquities and cultural artifacts in Iraq as "vague assurances" is elitist sniveling, though it is understandable, coming from one whose life revolves around antiquities. It is the policy of the US military to target military targets, and we cannot afford to waste half-million-dollar smart bombs on nonmilitary targets. If we did chance to hit some cultural site, it is almost certainly because that site was emitting radio signals of a clearly military nature, meaning it had become a command center.

As for those sites which have been damaged, I am virtually certain that our Defense Department is both honest and correct in blaming Saddam for bombing his own religious sites for the propaganda war.

M. Connaughton, Hacienda Heights, CA

The article is commendable. I was astonished, however, that the author included Ctseiphon of the Sassanian Dynasty (Persia) among the monuments found in Mesopotamia (Iraq). If ancient Mesopotamia was the spring of civilization, the Persians were the aqueducts that irrigated the ancient civilization. It behooves the author not to confuse the ancient Persian monuments with those of Arab Iraq. Many of the monuments in present Iraq were built by the Persians. Since Cyrus the Great, Mesopotamia became an integral part of the Persian Empire (Iran) until the appearance of Islam. The mosques which the author mentioned in Baghdad were designed and built by the Persians after Islam.

During the eight-year war between Iraq and Iran, Iraq was dropping bombs from 30,000 feet without regard for innocent people, ancient monuments, or military targets. But at that time, nobody wished to write such an article, and until this moment, Iranians are considered leprous people.

Historians and preservationists should not forget the contributions to art, culture, and literature made by the Persians (Iranians).

F. Sadeghpour, Wellesley Hills, Mass.

Looking at the wrong threat Regarding the opinion-page article "US Defense Policy and the Japanese 'Threat'," Feb. 20: The author's complacency regarding Japan's lack of a military presence in the world today is quite naive. The wars of the future will not be fought with bullets, but rather with powerful economic blocs. Let the US, therefore, be vigilant against a possible Japanese economic 'invasion' of our country, in the near future, with a bundle of yen shipped from Tokyo for the purchase of the United States.

Herbert J. Clarke, San Francisco

'Inclining' vs. bombing The editorial "The Soviet Peace Plan," Feb. 20, states that "the political survival of Saddam 201> will hardly incline Israel to new peace talks on the [Israeli] occupied territories."

It has become obvious that nothing but great force would have got Iraq out of Kuwait. Yet the shocking hypocrisy of the different attitudes to Iraqi and Israeli invaders sticks in my gullet. Why should we "incline" Israel to get out of the territories it has occupied, yet support the blasting of the Iraqis out of Kuwait?

T. F. McAinsh, Glasgow, Scotland

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