Carter's deeds are noteworthy, but he errs in his stance on Iraq

The Nov. 4 synopsis of the Monitor breakfast with President Jimmy Carter prompts us to write. We have the greatest respect for a president who initiated the Camp David Accords; however, we beg to differ with his stand on Iraq.

It's debatable whether this administration decided to go to war with Iraq before the 2000 election. Certainly Iraq's biological weapons capabilities concerned the Clinton White House, Congress, and the UN enough that inspectors were sent to investigate. What's not debatable is that Saddam Hussein's WMDs included a nuclear plant (destroyed by Israelis in 1981) and chemical weapons used against Iranians and Kurds. Add to that entry into war with two of its neighbors, torture, a possible attempted assassination of the first President Bush, a hijacked Oil for Food program, and no-fly zones and resolutions that were ignored - and a compelling argument to intervene for the sake of humanity emerged.

Just as Mr. Carter strove for Middle East peace, the safe return of American hostages from Iran, and to protect oil supplies, Mr. Bush has been attempting to resolve some of these same issues - and more. What we need today are statesmen and citizens willing to propose solutions so that even a state like Iraq is held accountable to the global community.
Sue and Barry Wills
Ballwin, Mo.

Questions on faith are appropriate

Regarding the Nov. 4 article, "Should senators ask Alito about the role of his faith?": Manuel Miranda's complaints that asking a judge about the relationship between his Roman Catholicism and his court decisions is in appropriate lack validity and substance. Such questioning is to be expected given the threatening comments of some Catholic clergy during the last presidential campaign about the excommunication of or the withholding of sacraments from politicians who supported the right to choose.

Had the church hierarchy resisted attempts to control or influence politicians, such questions would indeed be offensive and anti-Catholic. However, such questions are a logical consequence of the way that some church officials behaved.
Rev. Jim Bridges
Washingtonville, N.Y.

In battle to win hearts, helping helps

The Oct. 20 article, "In 'heartland of jihad,' an American helping hand," suggests to me that lending a hand to foreign peoples may be more successful in changing their countries than the use of force. In Iraq, for example, what if we, the US, had first "bombed" the country with several billion dollars worth of food, medical supplies, radios, TV sets, portable generators, and clothing? In addition, what if we had offered to take over Iraq's foreign debt, possibly at a discount?

The first action could well have resulted in our being welcomed by Iraqis of all persuasions with flowers and cheers, and it may have reduced or eliminated the subsequent insurgency. The second gesture might well have led to the proper UN Security Council approval for a military invasion and garnered us major partners in that invasion.

Beginning the campaign in Iraq with gestures of goodwill might have cost the US less in wealth and lives and made the United States loved rather than hated. We certainly would not be much worse off than we are now in terms of cost or lives lost, and it's possible we could be far better off. I believe history shows that persuasion and aid lead to better results than violence.
Samuel Sensiper
Goleta, Calif.

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