Even the child-free want better world for children

Regarding your Aug. 29 article "Whose family? The revolt of the child-free" about people choosing to be child-free: In my case, I chose not to have children, at least in part, because I believe I'm not equipped to be the kind of parent a child deserves. How I was raised, and the adult I became because of my upbringing, led me to decide that I didn't want to havechildren.

I wonder how many people, the so-called self-absorbed, have chosen the child-free path because of similar introspection? I am often saddened when I witness people with children who are not equipped by personality and/or character to be good parents, but had children because of familial and societal pressures to do so.

I'm not at all angry about people with children, nor children themselves. Children deserve all the love and support in the world. They often don't get it. I guess you'd call me one of those "child-free" adults who does support just about any and all workplace, societal, and personal programs and efforts to provide a better world for children to grow up in.

We'd have a happier world if all children grew up in loving environments.

Bruce Stern Sonoma, Calif.

Kursk disaster reveals unstable Russia

Jon B. Wolfsthal's Aug. 28 opinion piece, "The message implicit in Kursk disaster," is disturbingly naive. He ignores the instability of thepost-cold war era, and evidentlyhas not shed the oldbipolar worldview.

What is worse than a misunderstanding of the role of naval forces in US national security, however, is the ignorance of the hard lessons of recent history: namely,that we maintain ourmilitary preparedness, even if minimal.

That includes the US submarine force, which must be preservedbecause of its strategic value as adeterrent.The Russians, too, have national-security concerns, not all of whichinvolve theUS.

If history has taught us anything, unilateraldisarmament is foolhardy, and general disarmament is unworkable.

The real message of the Kursk incident is that the Russians have many very serious internal problems that the government is failing to address, all of which means continued instability in the post-cold war era - not an environment likely toinspire disarmament.

Rick Russell Herndon, Va.

Don't let Alaskans decide on refuge

Regarding your Aug. 29 editorial "Arctic oil, frozen dialogue": One very huge reason why Alaskan state politicians (and their colleagues in the Congress) favor oil exploration on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the fact that every Alaskan every year gets a fat royalty check from drilling operations in his or her state.

But putting that aside, oil exploration in a national wildlife refuge is flat-out wrong. It's a "refuge for wildlife," not a "national sacrifice area" for Big Oil. President Carter is correct. If the only way to keep Big Oil out of the refuge is to declare it a national monument, then President Clinton should do so and right now, without delay.

Alaskans, just like folks in other states with a great deal of federal public land, tend to forget that we all share our national public resources. Just because a refuge or a park is inside the border of a particular state does not mean that all Americans don't have a say.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is exactly that: a refuge for wildlife from the (mostly) uncaring hand of mankind. Let's leave it alone and start conserving our existing oil stocks as if there's no tomorrow.

Alan C. Gregory Conyngham, Pa.

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