With respect, I must disagree with the implication, in your Oct. 8 editorial, "Lessons of the Duelfer Report," that the US decided to invade Iraq because of weakening sanctions and Saddam's desire to resume chemical-weapons production if the sanctions were lifted.
Prior to the invasion, the American people were told that Saddam actually had weapons of mass destruction, that the sanctions had failed, and that it would take a war to disarm Iraq and shut down its weapons programs. All of those statements could reasonably be argued to be false and yet those statements - not a concern that Saddam wanted to acquire chemical weapons - were the basis for the invasion. The most important point of the Duelfer report is that the sanctions accomplished their objective of disarming Iraq and that the assumptions upon which the war was based were wrong.
There was an opportunity to rework the sanction process once the threat of war got closer to becoming a reality. My take ofnthings at that time was that UN was willing to rethink the sanction process, but that it never got the chance to be tested.
Sanctions need as much commitment as war, and this editorial gives some reasons why. I just hope that the Bush administration does not let any future faltering sanctions, for want or lack of other solid reasons - such as might truly develop against North Korea or Iran - be the excuse for overthrowing another regime by force.
Richard Kagan's Oct. 6 Opinion piece "Skewed views of 'Bush doctrine' " sparks a couple of questions: First of all, doesn't author Michael Walzer distinguish between preemptive action against an imminent threat, which is usually viewed as permissible because it is the geopolitical equivalent to self-defense, and preventative action against a "gathering threat" with no specific harm or timetable considered?
Second, was the increasing complexity of alliance networks during the cold war really an aberration, or is it related to an irreversible advance in technology, transportation, and communication?
I could see good arguments on both sides of these issues, but they certainly shouldn't be glossed over.
Regarding the Oct.1 article "Want to travel on a private space jet? Pack nerves of steel": I find it so disappointing that the same kind of enthusiasm that Bert Rutan and Richard Branson have for reaching space can't be harnessed for something that would really make life better on our planet.
Instead of the Ansari X-Prize offering $10 million to whoever can reach space first from the private sector, how about a prize for whoever in the private sector can design the most efficient solar panels, most efficient hybrid engine, or the cleanest way to burn coal?
In short, applying the same kind of incentive and ingenuity shown by the space-race game to researching alternative and clean energy sources is critical to avoiding an immense economic and social meltdown as the world runs out of cheap oil and we find ourselves in a hopelessly polluted environment.
Since world governments have shown no inclination to tackle the really immense problems facing humanity, this task is left to the private sector. Unfortunately, this private space race sets a bad example and shows how misplaced our priorities are.
Castle Valley, Utah
The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number.
Any letter accepted will appear in print and on www.csmonitor.com .
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 Letters.