Whose Weapons Inspectors?

Regarding the article "Enigma: Saddam Courts Disaster" (Nov. 17), it is so difficult to get a clear picture of what actually happened in the expulsion of the US weapons inspectors working for the UN.

However, I believe that if the US were genuine about working with the UN for a peaceful agreement, instead of using the UN for its own agenda, this confrontation could have been avoided. The US could have just swallowed its (enormous) pride and encouraged UN inspections to continue without them.

The US has certainly been seen as aggressive toward Iraq since the Gulf War. It does not seem unreasonable for Saddam to feel uncomfortable about US officials being in his country in such close proximity to his military installations.

Could not the weapons inspections have been just as effective if completed without US officials? Were the weapons inspections a US or UN activity? Surely, if the UN were really running the show, the peaceful removal of US officials from the inspection teams so that the inspections could be completed would not be in conflict with their aims.

I do not support Saddam and his actions, but neither do I support Clinton and his actions when their aim seems to be continuing confrontation with Iraq. If the US would like to have another war with Iraq, it should stop all this political maneuvering and just come to the point. But it should not use the UN as a tool for its own agenda. Is the UN just a patsy for the US?

Rodd Clarkson

Las Vegas, Nev.

A lesson from the au pair trial

The media frenzy surrounding the trial of British au pair Louise Woodward certainly has highlighted the problem of selecting the right caregiver for children of career-oriented parents ("In 'Mirror' of Au Pair Case, Families See Themselves," Nov. 12). As the author points out, the public's reaction to this trial " can have as much meaning as the event itself ."

In addition to parental concern and fear for their children's safety, however, there can be other significant, positive results from the enormous press and television coverage of this fascinating trial. Millions have been instructed as to the danger of shaking a baby or striking a child in the head. While most parents and caregivers already know this, this case of the tragic death of Matthew Eappen has dramatically reinforced the results of violent behavior in the handling of small children. Hopefully, this can help avoid physical injury and even death for scores of infants in the US and UK.

George A. Dean

Southport, Conn.

Human rights double standard

The opinion-page column "Telling the World What to Do: Is US a Model or a Busybody?" (Nov. 6) hits the nail on the head. I couldn't help but think that President Jiang Zemin showed great restraint in not bringing up incidents like Kent State, My Lai, and the use of a plunger handle by the NYPD to assault a resident.

Author Pat Holt is right on when he suggests that our influence in the world is a function of our ability to serve as a model. Include me as one who did not appreciate the protesters to President Jiang's visit making our country look foolish in the eyes of the rest of the world.

Ben Janson

St. Louis

Nothing to block the view in Vermont

Steve Delaney's opinion-page article "Flo and Bert Alert: They're Heeeerre" (Oct. 28) misses an important reason why people flock to Vermont to see the fall colors. He says the leaf-peepers "clog up the back roads and marvel at the sights they could have stayed at home to see." Wrong, Mr. Delaney. Back in their states the roads would have commercial billboards everywhere. In Vermont "these clever people" passed a law against billboards many years ago, and people come to see the fall colors in a setting of unspoiled beauty. I have had a second home in Vermont for 38 years and I never cease to marvel at the difference this makes. Vermont is a very special state.

Marguerite Q. Schenkman

Central, S.C.

Your letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none acknowledged. Mail to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to

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