The US Role in Setting Standards for World Conduct

While reading the article "Regional Dispute Tests Unity of Former Soviet Republics," Jan. 2, images of the United States bombardment of Baghdad last winter came to mind.

The Azeri attempt to control Nagorno-Karabakh by relentlessly "pouring hundreds of rocket and artillery rounds a day onto the regional capital of Stepanakert" reflects a historical tradition of warfare. Yet, did the US not reinforce this barbarism last year, adding impetus to an already accepted paradigm?

The high profile of the US demands that it exhibit responsibility in setting higher standards of behavior, standards our world shows great need of. Perhaps if we publicized the frustration of our current administration with the unresolved nature of Operation Desert Storm's results, other nations and peoples would be less willing to resort to such blind, brute force. Marie Shih, Seattle More on the capital-gains tax

Regarding the Opinion page article "Truth About Tax Cuts," Dec. 30: The author's comment that President George Bush's proposed capital-gains tax cut would "give most of the relief to the people who make their gains by trading, not by investing in new enterprises," is particularly interesting.

The comment reminds me of a professor who stumped our accounting class with the question: "Why are capital-gains taxes lower than regular income taxes?"

The professor shot holes in all the stock answers such as encourages investment, creates jobs, etc. One student finally came up with the reason, the only reason, why capital gains might be taxed lower than regular income tax: The people investing money are the people with money, and this gives them the economic and political clout necessary to see to it that when the laws are passed they will favor people with money.

Rather than encouraging new products and services by manipulating capital-gains taxes, I would like to see innovative and enterprising entrepreneurs encouraged by investment tax credits. Georgiana Hall, Rabun Gap, Ga. Military aid should cease

In the Opinion page article "Foreign Aid Serves US Interests - Keep It Flowing," Dec. 31, the author's case for keeping foreign aid flowing states that it "goes for humanitarian needs and US security purposes."

I spent most of my 31 years of United Nations service in the development assistance business and I wouldn't quarrel with the author about the value of meeting humanitarian needs. But I believe that whatever legitimacy may have been ascribed to US military aid withered with the collapse of the "evil empire."

Military aid now serves mainly to keep in power the governments, good or bad, that receive it. Their guns are trained more often on their own people than on external threats to their security. The case that US military aid enhances our own security is tenuous at best. The world would be a better place without it. R. Bruce Stedman, Hayward, Wis.

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