War is delightful to the inexperienced
Thank you for Jonathan Rowe's Sept. 24 Opinion piece, "Different trenches, same lessons," which delineates the consequences of war from the perspective of those young men who are asked to fight them.
As a guileless lad of 18, I was sent into combat as an infantryman in Europe and ordered to kill other men like myself, but with a different uniform, while they in turn had been told they must kill me.
It seems a vicious game of politicians and statesmen, men who having failed in their task to resolve a seemingly intractable problem are not asked to endure the consequences of their folly, the personal danger required of younger men they send off to war: the cold, the mud, the intermittent terror of overhead artillery, the machine-gun fire in the night coming from an unseen source.
Erasmus, the 16th-century scholar, wrote more than 400 years ago: "Dulce bellum inexpertis" (War is delightful to the inexperienced).
Rudolf S. Scheltema
Woods Hole, Mass.
Regarding your Sept. 23 editorial "Netted politics": Spam is not about content or delivery mechanism, it is about consent. I am currently voluntarily subscribed to several candidate- and elected-official mailing lists. That does not mean that I should be subjected to my mailbox being filled with every piece of junk mail from every candidate in the US or other nations.
The result of inundation of e-mailboxes with political spam will be the same as mailboxes being inundated with offers for Viagra, bank scams, cheap mortgages, and pornography: Mailboxes will cease to be tools for useful, consensual communications.
Regarding the Sept. 24 article "Utah U. president tries to keep concealed weapons at bay": It is ridiculous to assume that the possession of concealed firearms on any campus would "inhibit" the free flow of ideas and discourse.
First of all, the background check for concealed carry is very in-depth and the permit is awarded only to persons of good character.
Second, the presence of firearms in the hands of law-abiding citizens has always been a deterrent to criminals.
Third, any student brandishing a firearm in order to intimidate others would be looking down the barrels of many firearms.
Mark G. Pretz
I was puzzled by John Hughes's Sept. 18 Opinion piece "West Nile virus: part of Hussein's plan via Cuba?"
For one thing, he refers to an alleged statement of the Iraqi leader in which, just after West Nile virus turned up in Queens in 1999, Hussein spoke of an "ultimate weapon" developed outside Iraq.
Is Hughes suggesting that the West Nile virus is the "ultimate weapon"? Surely not, for it is hardly a weapon at all. This is a worrisome health problem, but it represents no threat to our national security.
Nor is there any evidence that the virus was developed by terrorists.
It is a wild idea that the virus was introduced by migratory birds from Cuba. The virus we are dealing with first appeared in Queens, and then spread west and south. It could not have been propagated by birds from Cuba because they do not fly directly and nonstop to New York, and would have infected other areas on the way up.
Wayne S. Smith
Center for International Policy
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