Regarding "In this crisis, history offers Bush few lessons" (Oct. 29), there is one lesson: Military action in foreign venues that pose no threat to us is inappropriate. We are better off having the moral courage to sort out cause and effect, and look for a diplomatic solution.

The Bush administration's response to Osama bin Laden is not well thought out, considering the difficulty of bringing Mr. bin Laden to heel through military means. The Pakistani volunteer movement to reinforce the Taliban is just the beginning of the Muslim response.

Bin Laden is not a Hitler or anything like our cold-war foes. He is a spokesman for millions of Muslims, and his message is their message. We must listen, and answer Muslim concerns.

The anthrax attack through the mail is similar to actions (and rumors) of foreign saboteurs in World Wars I and II. Our response then, as now, was filled with ignorance and overblown fears. We should not point fingers until we have evidence. Historically, Americans have not been patient with needless war. The antiwar movement is rising - just as it did during Vietnam.

Glenn Young San Juan Capistrano, Calif.

If Sept. 11 was a wake-up call, isn't it time we took a reality check? Tony Blair's role as America's roving ambassador has worried the British Parliament, which has been presented with foregone decisions after Britain was dragged into the consequences of America's foreign policy and disregard for domestic security. If America is using Mr. Blair as part of its psychological warfare to cut deals that America has no intention of honoring, then where will this leave Britain?

Jack Straw informs us that Britain will help foot the bill for rebuilding Afghanistan - at the expense of British farmers, British disabled, and our National Health Service. Ought not the British government show the same enlightened self-interest as the American government showed during World War II, when it demanded British assets in payment for aid under the Lend-Lease scheme?

P. Couch Plymouth, England

I'm no fan of Saddam Hussein, but if we're going to have our children send money to Afghan kids, shouldn't we also have them send money to Iraqi children suffering as a result of our sanctions? The use of children for political ends is Orwellian and obscene.

Neil Wright Santa Cruz, Calif.

State over church in Guatemala

Regarding "Guatemala's new law overrides church objections" (Oct. 26): The commandment "Thou shall have no other God but me" gives Christians and Jews the power to be free from false gods of superstition, intellectual fashion, and political doctrine. The Roman Catholic Church - an otherwise beautiful institution - clings to its opposition to family planning, as if parishioners cannot make loving, rational choices. In the past 40 years, the world's population has doubled, creating obvious difficulties in our duty to preserve God's creations and give each child the freedom to make rational choices.

Catherine Etheridge Hadley, Mass.

The tarnish of diamond self-interests

In " 'Conflict' diamonds aren't forever," Oct. 25, opinion page), it is no surprise to me that the diamond industry would support a Clean Diamonds Trade Act. This is not an effort to minimize conflict in war-torn countries; rather, it's an obvious effort to control supply in order to manipulate prices.

If Congress and the diamond industry want to mitigate conflict in Africa, the first thing they should do is give back the diamonds - and then get out of Africa.

Ron Bolding Los Angeles

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