I take exception to the editorial "Saddam in the Saddle," May 9, calling upon "the international community's willingness to use its remaining economic leverage to pressure Saddam to make good on his liberalization promises." The author is concerned about the fate of Iraqis, but calling for continued economic sanctions is not the answer. The International Red Cross estimates that 5 million nonrefugee Iraqis are at high risk from illness and starvation. These people have undergone a massive military assault. Bombing destroyed much Iraq's infrastructure, consigning many of those who survived to a future of illness, famine, and death.
Iraq is still forbidden to sell oil for food, unfreeze its assets, or even regain purchased food frozen in transit. Meanwhile, most of the media have chosen to focus almost exclusively on the terrible refugee situation. It reports less on the lack of relief assistance to the Iraqis.
I hope we can regain some of our lost humanity by assisting those whom we have brutalized.
Ann Gardner, San Francisco
Saddam not the only violator
The article "Put Saddam in the Dock for His War Crimes," May 10, provides a pretty complete list of Saddam's recent crimes against humanity. Saddam, to Western eyes, qualifies as a terrorist and war criminal.
Yet Israel too ignores the UN Charter, to which it is a signatory, regarding the use of force against the territorial integrity of any state. Israel captured Arab land in 1967 after initiating a war with preemptive strikes against Egypt and Syria; it refuses to relinquish land and increasingly settles it.
Israel invaded Lebanon nearly 10 years ago; it still occupies a part of Lebanon, terrorizing and bombing Lebanese villages and towns. It attacked a nuclear reactor in Iraq and bombed sites in Tunisia; both resulted in a number of deaths and incited no objection from the US government.
The article says Iraq violated the third Geneva convention on treatment of prisoners of war. Its examples - television pictures aired shortly after the capture of allied pilots - are specious.
More recent reports indicate most of the airmen's injuries occurred while landing, before they became prisoners.
Israel's treatment of its war prisoners, however, is atrocious and well-known in the halls of Congress. Yet it continues with no objection from the US.
William V. Kelley, Austin, Texas
The US and the Maghreb
The article "North Africans Debate Ties to West," May 13, describes the anger of the North African Arabs against the United States for its participation in subduing Iraq.
These Arabs feel we have thrown our values aside in favor of force. The Maghreb population was surprised (as was Saddam) that we stood up for a small country which was being pillaged and savaged by a malevolent dictator.
The West is expected to act like a helpless giant and turn the other cheek in the face of aggression, not only toward Israel, but toward their own Arab brothers, as well.
People in the Maghreb do not understand our values any more than Saddam did when he took what we considered a calculated risk but what he considered to be easy and nonchallengeable.
Yale J. Berry, Boston