Hussein poses little threat

Regarding John Hughes's Oct. 9 Opinion column "Whom should the US trust: Bush or Hussein?": The challenges posed are usually not black and white, right or wrong, or even Bush or Hussein. The attempt to simplify this question into whom do you trust does a disservice to any type of dialogue necessary before a democracy decides to go to war.

Let's be clear about what the president is proposing: He wants to have the power to declare war; he wants the power to launch a preemptive strike against a sovereign nation, one that has not attacked us or our allies. As much as we don't like Saddam Hussein or the way he treats his own people, the fact remains that he poses little threat to his neighbors or to us.

Why is Mr. Hussein an imminent threat now, after 12 years? The timing certainly seems convenient for the midterm elections, which were shaping up to be a referendum on the faltering economy. If the elections were all about the economy the Republicans would have stood to loose ground in the Senate. In the end, whom do I trust, Bush or Hussein? Neither.
Jim Spadaccini
Sausalito, Calif.

Regarding "Whom should the US trust: Bush or Hussein?": A better question might be, should we trust George Bush, Saddam Hussein, or the broad consensus of other world leaders?

International statesmen in other countries and the UN are overwhelmingly opposed to Saddam Hussein's brutal tactics against his own people, and also opposed to any invasion of Iraq by the US which would yet again increase the Iraqi people's suffering.

We should listen to the reasoned and compassionate opinion of the rest of the world.
Daniel R. Collins
Watertown, Mass.

Playing cowboys and war

Going to war is not a John Wayne scenario. President Bush may wish to sharpen his spurs, but he has the wrong horse.

It is not in the self-interest of the US to try to impose our power, institutions, and way of life on the globe. International policy has to be looked at as a cooperative game. We do not wish to set precedents that are similar to the history of aggression by dictatorships and empires.

Many of us who sympathize deeply with the Iraqi people would be happy to see peace and democracy in a prosperous Iraq. Unfortunately, the US is not and should not be policeman to the world.

We have neither the resources nor the knowledge to guide the Iraqis through the political turmoil we would create with the fall of Saddam Hussein. The job we would face is not the equivalent of having the posse gallop to Tombstone, rescue the maiden, and restore the ranch to its rightful owners.
Martin Shubik
New Haven, Conn.

Get rid of plutonium

Your Oct. 7 article "World looks for ways to thwart dirty bombs," reveals that straight-forward choices to increase security are being ignored and avoided. One easy step, halting the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel to remove weapons-usable plutonium created during reactor operation, is being avoided due to narrow commercial interests in the nuclear industry.

In Russia, France, and the Britain, the state-supported plutonium industries have now stockpiled almost 200 tons of this material and are attempting to increase its circulation in commerce.

The odds of theft and diversion of plutonium will increase as long as the reprocessing industry continues. It's time to bring a halt to the failed experiment to use plutonium as a reactor fuel and to discuss how to securely dispose of it.
Tom Clements
Greenpeace International campaigner
Takoma Park, Md.

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