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Letters: Dec. 15, 1997

9 minute read


“It was clear after the Gulf War that Saddam Hussein wouldn’t just let things be. Now is the time to put an end to all this.” KARI PATILA Joutseno, Finland

Your report on the crisis with Iraq was thought provoking [WORLD, Nov. 24]. Why has the most powerful free nation in the world allowed Iraq to become its nemesis? A few dictators now control world policies. The U.N. has become little more than a propaganda forum for those who wish to disparage the U.S. The U.N. must have all nations in agreement for its decisions to be carried out. It would be impotent if it didn’t have its kicking dog, the U.S., to back up its resolutions for sanctions. FREDERICK A. CLARY Roseville, Minn.

If only U.S. leaders could see themselves as clearly as they purport to see Iraq’s Saddam: punitive, authoritarian, armed to the teeth and prone to solve problems with violence. It is hard to say which side is more frightening. SUZY T. KANE Bedford Hills, N.Y.

I was disappointed by your portrayal of President Clinton and Saddam on your cover. The juxtaposition of Clinton and a maniacal-looking Saddam panders to a comic-book view of the crisis. I pray for a day when conflict can be handled with maturity and restraint, and we can finally leave the “boys-with-big-guns” attitude behind us. DAVID BESTWICK-SATTERLEE Philadelphia

If we do not get rid of the chemical and biological weapons over there, we’ll eventually be dealing with their consequences over here. BILL MURDOCK Newport Beach, Calif.

The bitter fruit of George Bush’s decision not to finish off Saddam is with us today: the suffering and death of thousands of Kurds and Arabs, constant subterfuge and concealment of Iraqi efforts to rearm with terrorist weapons, infliction of deprivation that Saddam blames on the U.N. sanctions, and a litany of other atrocious deeds. No wonder the Israelis, realists by bitter experience, are once again buying gas masks. Former President Bush, like Macbeth, has “scotch’d the snake, not kill’d it,” with predictable consequences. DAVID H. SPODICK Northborough, Mass.

We need to understand the cultural reasoning of America’s adversaries. Your article demonstrated a knowledge of the workings of Saddam’s mind. He is concerned not with world opinion but with becoming a leader of an Islamic jihad that will topple the “Great Satan” (the U.S.). In order to be successful, we must obtain open support from the Arab countries in the region before taking any action. We cannot allow Iraq’s leader to be viewed as an Islamic martyr; he must be seen for the tyrant he is. Any assassination attempt on his life by the West would be counterproductive. MARK W. MCLAUGHLIN Walpole, Maine

The U.S. already has a bad reputation as a browbeating, capitalistic, violent society capable of using any means necessary to maintain economic power. In writing about the possibility of killing Saddam, J.F.O. McAllister says, “It’s not smart for the U.S., which has a huge stake in world order, to be seen as resorting to a little terror of its own” [VIEWPOINT, Nov. 24]. But that is a lame excuse. The only “unintended consequences” of assassinating Saddam would probably be higher morale all around and a newfound respect for the U.S. CAROL BANKS WEBER Honolulu

The assassination of Iraq’s murderous dictator might be rationalized by the biblical injunction of “an eye for an eye,” but it would not be the right kind of retaliation at a moment when the world needs a lesson in justified, legal criminal prosecution. Governments have acted ambivalently and timidly in recent “ethnic cleansing” atrocities in Bosnia, Iraq, Africa and elsewhere. Capturing Saddam Hussein and enumerating his evil acts in an international court of law could rekindle lapsed indignation about unconscionable behavior. Saddam’s punishment under law, almost certainly a death sentence, would make it clear that moral imperatives supersede oil interests, trade deals or political pacts in dealing with the world’s outlaws. DAVID S. HUDSON Harrisonburg, Va.

McAllister is on the mark in asserting that “the biggest obstacles to killing Saddam aren’t moral or legal but practical.” Americans who are squeamish about political assassinations may be surprised to learn that one advocate of tyrannicide was Abraham Lincoln, himself the victim of an assassin’s bullet. Lincoln believed that when a people have suffered under a tyrant for a long time, all legal and peaceful means to oust him have been exhausted and prospects for his early departure are grim, then the people have a right to remove him by drastic means. McAllister is correct: this is not a job for Americans to undertake, but we should have no moral qualms about providing financial inducements or technical assistance to others. ERNEST W. LEFEVER, Senior Fellow Ethics and Public Policy Center Washington

Saddam should have been punished for his crimes after Desert Storm. You don’t just chase away a rattlesnake. You hunt it down and kill it. JACK DENNIS Milledgeville, Ga.


Brent Sadler’s report on Iraqi commandos training outside Baghdad told of frenzied recruits disemboweling a dog and pulling apart live rabbits. Such acts of cruelty and torture serve only to dehumanize these soldiers, not turn them into gallant men worthy of a military uniform. I served in Vietnam and saw the best of soldiers, both American and Viet Cong. There were honorable men there, not rabble. How can Iraq countenance such barbarism? RICHARD PAUL CLEMENCEAU New York City


When the president of the U.S. is forced to take his eye off the ball and spend time on personal affairs, the losers are the people of the U.S. That is what is happening in the Paula Jones case [NATION, Nov. 24], as her new supporter John Whitehead pursues this matter as a “human-rights issue.” Next May the case comes to trial, and the President will have to defend himself. Will he then be able to watch the store full time? ARTHUR REIS JR. New York City

So the religious right’s Whitehead and his Rutherford Institute have taken up Paula Jones’ cause! This illustrates the biggest weakness of Protestant morality: focusing on sexual mores instead of the questionable actions of vested interests that threaten the common good. Nothing worthwhile can come from this case. If Jones wins, other opportunists will believe the court system will reward them too. And win or lose, the American presidency will be damaged. DAVID COWARD Pensacola, Fla.


Roger Rosenblatt, in writing about the newly revealed tape recordings made by Richard Nixon, recalled with fondness the laughs evoked by some of the remarks of past American Chief Executives [ESSAY, Nov. 24]. As a U.S. historian who focuses on the presidency, I found Rosenblatt’s commentary downright hysterical until I got to the quote he attributed to Woodrow Wilson. In fact, it was Calvin Coolidge who said when a great many people are unable to find work, unemployment results. It’s worth noting that Silent Cal had a sense of humor so dry that Alice Roosevelt Longworth said he looked like he’d been weaned on a pickle. DAVE ESPOSITO State College, Pa.


Your article “Matters Of The Heart” provided an excellent summary of the highlights of the American Heart Association’s annual meeting [HEALTH, Nov. 24]. We were pleased that you recognized the importance of the study, which showed that in men and women with normal and near normal cholesterol levels, treatment with Mevacor reduced the incidence of first coronary events such as heart attack or unstable angina 36%. Unfortunately, the article incorrectly cited the generic name of Mevacor as pravastatin. The correct generic name is lovastatin. JOHN BLOOMFIELD, Director, Public Affairs Merck & Co., Inc. West Point, Pa.


The Society For The Preservation Of History markets a high-quality collectible porcelain doll bearing the likeness of the late Princess Diana. In your “Di-ploitation Watch” item [PEOPLE, Nov. 17], you falsely claimed, without ever seeing an actual doll, that we are marketing a “cheesy Franklin Mint knockoff.” The fact is our collectible doll is an original design produced by renowned artisans using the highest-quality materials. We did not copy any product of the Franklin Mint, and, in fact, we advertised this doll weeks before that firm came out with its model. Our doll is sold with an unconditional money-back guarantee. MARC J. KAPLAN, President The Society for the Preservation of History Inc. Urban Dale, Iowa


Apparently, strong public opinion against federal regulation of health plans has left Margaret Carlson dazed and confused [WASHINGTON DIARY, Nov. 24]. Health insurers actually support consumer protection and favor reforms. Carlson ignores legislative proposals that would raise premiums anywhere from 7% to 39%. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that a 1% hike in health-insurance costs would cause around 200,000 people to lose their coverage. Four out of five respondents to a recent survey rejected federal regulation of managed-care plans. Perhaps they, unlike Carlson, are aware that more federal regulation means more uninsured. MICHAEL P. FORTIER Vice President, Federal Affairs Health Insurance Association of America Washington


Your report on the increased numbers of TV programs for preschoolers [TELEVISION, Nov. 24] needed more balance. Concerned parents should read Jane Healy’s Endangered Minds and Marie Winn’s The Plug-In Drug before plopping their kids down in front of a TV set for hours a day. Evidence and research point to the need for severely restricting (if not eliminating) TV viewing for preschoolers. It is not what we watch; it is that we watch. JEFFREY R. DAVIS Durham, N.C.

Today’s preschooler may become tomorrow’s teenager, wasting hours staring at the wasteland of tabloid TV and its dysfunctional social values. TV will then become bubble gum for the mind. MIKE SAVINO Sacramento, Calif.


I’m nearing 70 and was intrigued by your guide to the latest consumer products [THE WIRED HOME 1997, Nov. 24]. One of the kitchen gadgets you touted was the Odor Steeler, a piece of stainless steel that you can use to rid your hands of “pesky garlic or fish smells,” for $11.95 a pop. A few years ago, I picked up a hint from the columnist Heloise for free. To wit: when washing your hands after dealing with smelly stuff, rub them on the chrome faucet or the sides of a stainless-steel sink, and the odor will go right down the drain. Why pay almost $12 plus shipping and handling when you can fix the problem for free? JANE SUNDELOF JONES Washington


Our Technology Buyer’s Guide story “House of Dreams” [THE WIRED HOME 1997, Nov. 24] had the wrong phone number for Famo’s Comfort Mate remote-controlled thermostat. The correct number is 800-780-2997.

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