Serving in Vietnam Did a Disservice to US

Serving in Vietnam Did a Disservice to US

Robert McNamara, in his new book ''In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam,'' acknowledges his substantial role in America's Vietnam tragedy. As a surgeon in Vietnam in 1969 and 1970, I participated in the war effort, and by my mere presence supported a war widely recognized as unwinnable, if not patently wrong. Despite the perpetual war cries for those who served, I performed no ''service to my country.'' Rather, I performed a disservice by my passive support. I, like others there, and like the majority of the country who supported the effort, must accept responsibility, too: blame for the 58,000 Americans who died and blame for the many more who will suffer for the rest of their lives.

I feel an awesome grief and responsibility when I read the names that I knew -- and the many more I did not know -- on ''The Wall'' in Washington. Pride for having ''served my country'' is not among my feelings. The war belongs to all those who failed to stop it. The heroes were those innocent individuals not in a position to object, and those who recognized the wrong and courageously did their part to bring it to an end.

Richard A. Brand, Iowa City, Iowa

Professor, College of Medicine, The University of Iowa

The Seawolf: a first-rate sub

Regarding the article ''Deep Water Seawolf Sub Runs Silent,'' March 21: I understand Seawolf's capabilities because I work in the tactical analysis department on the staff of the commander of Submarine Development Squadron 12. Our job is to write the tactical procedures that Seawolf will use to dominate undersea warfare around the world.

The author lays out many compelling reasons for continuing new submarine construction, but a few of his points beg for correction. First, our nation does not have more submarines than we need. Each is productively employed conducting valuable missions worldwide.

We have, however, determined that under today's fiscal conditions we have more submarines than our nation can afford.

Second, Seawolf is not only the world's finest deep water submarine, but also the best in shallow water as well. Designed to counter the cold-war threat, Seawolf is a true multi-mission submarine, also designed for great flexibility. Seawolf's tactical capabilities, both crew and ship, will keep the US as the world leader in undersea warfare in both deep and shallow water -- a superiority our future national security needs.

Alan M. Weigel, Groton, Conn.

Commander, United States Navy

Addicted to reading, not television

I felt compelled to write after reading the article ''Americans Test Sound of Silence: Week With No TV,'' April 18. As a student in high school, I think that it is necessary to point out that not all children or adults are addicted to TV. I do not watch TV at home, and the total number of hours I spent watching TV last year could be counted on my fingers. I routinely go months without watching anything. Instead, I read and bicycle, both of which I find much more enjoyable than watching a show on television. It would not be difficult to persuade people to view fewer hours of TV. This would give people time to do more constructive activities.

Peter E. Harrell, Atlanta

Accurately depicting Gaza

Thank you for the editorial ''The Gaza Bombings,'' April 11. It is reassuring to know that a major news daily is accurately describing the conditions that people in Gaza must endure, and to correctly ascribe much of the blame to Israel. It is also good to see that you do not continue to perpetuate illusions about the success of the so-called peace process, but rather state the profound disillusionment Palestinians feel about it.

Gamal Abouali, New Haven, Conn.

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 may be sent by mail to One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, by fax to 617-450-2317, or by Internet E-mail (200 words maximum) to OPED@RACHEL.CSPS.COM.

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