Are US Pride and Prestige Worth a War?

The opinion-page column "Views From Someone Who Called It Right," March 5, says that the Gulf war was about "the regaining of US pride and prestige." Is this as high as our aspirations go? Many people apparently feel satisfied with this much. But if we want lasting peace and security, in the Persian Gulf or anywhere else, it can be gained only by mutual respect and understanding, not domination or prestige.

Let's temper our pride with the memory of Israel's invasion of Lebanon, which we did nothing to stop. Are we always on the right side? Do we always have the courage to act honorably and justly, above and beyond self-interest? When we are capable of this, we will be not only good warriors, but good peacemakers as well, and we will deserve the world's respect.

Sally Bergquist, Olympia, Wash.

Pride, yes - that our young people were able to do the job they had to do. But on their own initiative, with no organization or command, will they now be able to fight for future peace, help to the distressed, rehabilitation of the Earth? And can we really be proud that we have killed perhaps 100,000 Iraqi soldiers and citizens, leveled their cities, destroyed their country? Can we be proud that our enormous war debt will take money that is badly needed for domestic problems? There is neither life nor truth in pat phrases about war: "the Iraqi people are not our enemy" or "US pride and prestige" or any other coined so cheerfully by politicians or journalists.

Ruth Pusch, Chestnut Ridge, N.Y.

Why replace efficient oil energy? The opinion-page article "Bush Stalls on Energy," Feb. 28, avoids one issue of great importance. Not once does the article mention the issue of costs versus benefits. Any so-called conservation of oil that costs more than the oil it saves is not conservation, but a net waste of resources. If it requires federal subsidy or law to make economic sense to a consumer, it obviously is not frugal on its own merits.

There is no shortage of energy! As long as oil remains the most cost-efficient fuel for a given purpose, why should Washington try to make us use something else?

Improving the average mileage of cars is a worthy goal, but what if the resources required to do this could accomplish something better spent elsewhere? Perhaps those resources applied to computers and telecommunications would allow workers to telecommute, saving even more fuel and reducing the need for paper, thus saving trees.

It is the collective wisdom called market forces to which President Bush rightly trusts our energy future.

John H. Early, Amarillo, Texas

President Kennedy committed the nation to putting a man on the moon within a decade of his inauguration. We did. President Bush should now commit the nation to a policy that will end oil imports before the century ends, putting our most efficient industry, agriculture, back to work. We can do that, too.

Frank Anderson, Oconomowoc, Wis.

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