In Favor of Opting Out of War

In the recent opinion-page article, ``Politics, Morals, and `Opting Out' of War,'' June 14, the author argues that President Bill Clinton's avoidance of military service in the Vietnam War flouted the law of the land, and, although not stated directly, was an act of cowardice. Mr. Clinton, as well as many other young men at that time, found themselves in a no-win situation. Their choice: Either be drafted and serve or evade the draft and protest. Neither course was viewed as particularly righteous, at that time or since.

What must be accepted, particularly in view of recent world developments, is that the Vietnam War was avoidable and unnecessary. Former President Eisenhower cautioned against a land war in Asia, and his advice should have been heeded.

Speaking as one who was drafted and served in Vietnam, I have no problem with Clinton's position, or anyone else's who truly followed his conscience. If we are to go forward as a nation, we must cease to defend what was a mistaken enterprise, regardless of the sacrifices of so many brave and dedicated young men and their families.

Vietnam and World War II were not fought in a vacuum. And we cannot make moral assessments in a vacuum. The two wars were not the same. Michael Shannon, London

Your letters are welcome. For publication they must be signed and include your address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published, and none acknowledged. Letters should be addressed to ``Readers Write,'' and can be sent by Internet E-mail (200 word maximum) to OPED@RACHEL.CSPS.COM, by fax to 617-450-2317, or by mail to One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115

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