The opinion-page column "Who Should Keep the World's Peace?," Aug. 29, overlooks the fact that from the United Nations' first mission in Korea in 1950 to its recent role in the US-Iraq war, its "peacekeeping" function has been constrained by its most powerful members, especially the United States.With the USSR and China now going begging to Western creditors and governments, the future UN will increasingly reflect Western ownership, consolidated through the overwhelming financial contributions made by European countries and the US. The "ownership" of the UN by these capitalist nations is reflected in the undue influence exercised by representatives from European countries and the US in staffing and running the UN bureaucracy, as well as in the UN's record of selectively sanctioning the use of for ce to solve regional disputes. Clearly, there is no disputing the fact that the UN has in the past "kept the peace." Given the pivotal role which the US and the new Europe will play in the "new world order" of the coming decades, one can expect the UN to play an important "peacekeeping" role in the future. The question is not whether the UN will fulfill such a function, but rather, "whose peace will the UN keep?" G. Guillory-Crevince, La Crosse, Wisc.
Soon after its formation at the end of World War II, the UN became compromised in the cold war. The UN needs to be restored to its full promise. It should be in the forefront of international relations, the leader rather than the led. Only the UN should have the right to call up military force and to control the sale of arms and nuclear technology. The permanent powers' veto should be abolished and a majority vote in the Security Council should prevail. A system of rotation of all the seats on the Council should be created. Today we are watching nationalism run rampant around the world. The case for a true world government, such as the UN has all the provision to be, does cry out. The opportunity is now. Al Somers Buist, New York
Ill-defined education goals Regarding the article "Secretary Outlines Academic Plans," Aug. 27: This interview with US Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander displays his genuine concern for improving education, but if I were grading the national education plan, I would return it and say "Let's try again." An increase in literacy and graduation is identifiable and measurable, but phrases such as "ready to learn" and "learn to use their minds well" are open to personal interpretation and difficult to accurately assess. Mr. Alexander's goals describe English, mathematics, science, history, and geography as challenging subject matter which students will be required to learn. I am concerned with the neglect of the arts in this agenda. The arts help teach about other cultures, past civilizations, nonverbal communication, and creative problem solving. How better to prepare a child for an increasingly global society? Jennifer Call, Virginia Beach, Va.
Too small to bail out Regarding the article "Japan Ponders Securities Watchdog," Aug. 30: Is there a moral difference between compensating wealthy Japanese for losses in the Japanese securities market and granting preferential treatment to American banks "too big to fail"? Did not the FDIC permit small banks and their depositors to go under while paying full compensation to wealthy depositors in large banks? Why is this permitted in the US amid objections to the Japanese practice? Edwin Kessler, Purcell, Okla.