Getting a handle on El Salvador's small arms I applaud "getting a handle on small arms" (Feb. 17). I must write, however, because I feel that the information on the weapons collection program in El Salvador was misguided.

El Salvador's private sector created and implemented (with 50 percent national and 50 percent international economic contributions) the Goods for Guns program that has collected more than 8,000 weapons and over 100,000 rounds of ammunition in two and a half years.

The implementing organization has made these weapons unusable and they are in storage waiting for incorporation into a peace monument.

Bill Godnick, Monterey, Calif. Director, Project Prep Com Monterey Institute of International Studies

What's next Mr. President? Regarding Godfrey Sperling's opinion article, "Now what's next, Mr. President" (Feb. 23): Mr. Sperling sounds a lot like a typical post-impeachment conservative Republican.

He implies that our society's weak, "don't rock the boat" attitude has "saved Bill Clinton's bacon," and that the lethargy of the American people is the reason Mr. Clinton is still popular. He never mentions any other possible reasons for Clinton's success.

And he questions whether the president can ever really govern effectively, even though a majority of people in our country want him to do exactly that.

Sperling then compares Clinton's impeachment to Andrew Johnson's, and uses this to show how much the presidency has been hurt. Just in case none of us can relate to that bit of history, Sperling throws in Watergate, and reminds us of how hurt we are and of how long it will take for us to recover.

Of course, he explains, the recovery will come when we get the kind of leadership that Ronald Reagan provided. Here, Sperling forgets to mention that Mr. Reagan is thought by many to have subverted Congress and the constitution by waging a private war in a foreign country - a truly impeachable act that would have tarnished Reagan's good name had the country "rocked the boat."

Finally, Sperling predicts difficult times for Clinton ahead. Sperling feels somewhat satisfied that Clinton may not be considered a great or even good president, certainly not as good as Reagan. This is the mantra of many Republicans across the country. Meanwhile, Clinton works on as we desire him to, and the rest of us work for healing.

Bradley Hendrix, Rochester, N.Y.

Thumb up for Sterritt My challenge has been putting the machinery of life on pause to send a note genuinely thanking David Sterritt for the depth and clarity of his film reviews. I suspect I speak for a wide range of readers.

I don't see every film, but I read every one of his reviews. When I see a film, I can invariably relate to the points Mr. Sterritt makes, even if my response is different. It's a one-way friendship.

I am disappointed with the "Monitor Panel" rating system. It seems to be a grade by unaccountable, anonymous people with unknown success criteria. On the other hand, a rating from Sterritt carries with it a relationship extending many years. I've come to know and respect what's important to him, and his reviews are more meaningful.

Kirk Matteson, Des Moines, Wash.

Another thumb up - for Bennett You found a treasure when you chose Clay Bennett as your editorial cartoonist. His style is unique and the messages incisive. I am prompted to write because of the Feb. 22 gem, "Be fruitful and multiply ... Now divide." It's a subject too many of us find hard to confront. Jeanne Nash, Rogers, Ark.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail, only a selection can be published, and we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. Letters must be signed and include your telephone number and city. Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to oped@csps.com

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