1. Archive

U.S. not in the business of saving absolute monarchies

Re: Kuwaiti official says embargo will not work against Iraqis, Oct. 11. The Kuwaiti ambassador, convinced that sanctions against Iraq are futile, feels that stronger action is needed to force the withdrawal of Iraq from Kuwait. What he is suggesting, not too delicately or obliquely, is that we use our armed forces to drive Iraq out of Kuwait.

This presumptive attitude on the part of a family-owned piece of oil-rich real estate warrants careful attention. The inhabitants of the Middle East have been invading, conquering and murdering each other for thousands of years, except for a hiatus now and then, and this will continue. We are not in the business of wasting our young men and our resources to save absolute monarchies.

Our purpose was accomplished when we prevented Saddam Hussein from invading Saudi Arabia, thus assuring our access to oil. As only 5 percent of our imported oil, easily compensated for, comes from Iraq and Kuwait, the altercation between these two countries does not vitally affect us. We are nobody's Hessians; we are not a surrogate army financed by Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Germany and Japan to fight their war.

We should treat the conquest of Kuwait as a fait accompli, station U.N. forces at the border of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and withdraw our forces. Once Saudi Arabian oil is secure, the problem becomes one for Germany and Japan. The thought of thousands of American lives lost to protect Kuwaiti oil and the German and Japanese economy is obscene. We will pay more for oil, an equitable trade for thousands of lives.

David Lefrak, New Port Richey

Congratulations to Bil Keane for his Oct. 10 Family Circus in which the little girl says to her father: "If so many people get hurt in war, why do they keep playin' it?" Yes, so many people do get hurt in war and, yes, they do keep playin' it. Why, indeed?

People not only get hurt, of course; they get killed. More than 22-million people have been killed in 135 wars since the end of World War II. That's almost half-a-million deaths per year. Almost two-thirds of these deaths have been civilians, reaching a high of three-quarters in the 1980s. What can be just about wars that kill so many unarmed people?

Not only were these wars unjust _ they were absurd, since the starters of these wars won only about one-third of them on the average, reaching a low of 20 percent in the 1980s. What can justify killing so many people, mostly unarmed civilians, when the chances of winning are so slim? And yet we are poised in the Persian Gulf, ready to have another go at it, ready to play the game that nobody wins. Why, indeed? What manner of self-destruction drives us to it?

This is a game that only governments, and those who want to be the government, play. What can we do to get governments to stop playing this highly destructive and eventually self-destructive game? If they represent the people, and if enough of us tell them to stop playing this game, they ought to listen.

William Eckhardt, Dunedin

Re: Bush urged to retreat, Oct. 10.

A recent contributor to your letters to the editor section made the following statement: "It is daily becoming obvious that Kuwait got exactly what it deserved." He also stated that "Kuwait provoked Iraq by overproducing and selling oil at lower prices."

How can the letter writer actually believe that the daily slaughter of Kuwaiti civilians was well deserved? In the U.S. News and World Report Oct. 1 issue, it states that "on the sixth day of their invasion, Iraqi soldiers reportedly entered the Adan Hospital in Fahaheel looking for hospital equipment to steal. They unplugged the oxygen to the incubators supporting 22 premature babies and made off with the incubators. All 22 children died." With such reports coming in daily from those Kuwaitis and Westerners lucky enough to escape with their lives, it is likely that these reports are true and accurate.

I have always believed that America stands for freedom and equality and that our nation exists to prevent such barbarism. The letter writer has proven that some Americans do not believe the same as I. I can only hope that he was ignorant of these reports before he said such things, although ignorance should not be an excuse for any who may air their views in a public forum.

Also to quote from U.S. News: "Homes are ransacked, rapes and executions are common, families are thrown out of the country without papers and their homes are taken over by Iraqis imported in from the North. It is clear that Saddam Hussein means to repopulate Kuwait with his own people." The reason that the U.S. military exists is to carry out national security interests wherever that might be, be it economic or political, as determined by our duly elected representatives. In this case, the mission is not only economic but also humanitarian.

I hope that in the future Americans will think about the terror and violence we are protecting Saudi Arabia and probably the rest of the Mideast from before they demand we withdraw our troops. "The worst crime of all," as Justice Robert Jackson said at Nuremberg, "is to plot and wage aggression upon innocent people," and that is one of the reasons that our troops are there.

Eric F. Paterson, Tampa

If the Gulf Crisis and budget fiasco are President Bush's trials-by-fire, we are fortunate a "moderate" is running Washington instead of his predecessor shortly after his election. With Reagan's early "evil empire" simplifications, military bluster, inattentiveness and laissez faire style, disasters could have ensued.

Cowboy rhetoric would match Saddam Hussein's bravado. Before Lebanon, when the Marine barracks bombing stabbed the nation's psyche, Reagan's gung-ho attitude leading a nation angry over the Iran hostage crisis could have demanded early military action to liberate Kuwait. Reactively premature military involvement would have not only risked humiliation at Iraq's hands, with dire consequences of facing energy blackmail and having our regional interests threatened; prematurity would have also precluded the new Arab alignment gained by assisting moderate Arab states to defend themselves; precluded landmark consensus of the U.N. Security Council, worldwide condemnation of Iraq, and promises of a "new world order" of reason, international law and justice enforced by world opinion and alliance of the world's most powerful governments.

President Reagan's voodoo economics, Teflon coat and genial demeanor, proved "you can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time." The nation applauded Reagan's sleight of hand as he cut taxes, built up defense, and created the immense deficit overwhelming his successor and Congress today. The nation mortgaged its future for a few illusionary years of growth and plenty, and now the balloon payment is due.

Fortunately, President Reagan's foreign policy matured during his tenure. Like Nixon's rapprochement with China, old red-baiter Reagan realized a new relationship with Gorbachev's Soviet Union. This made possible President Bush's international consensus so valuable today against Iraq. President Bush, however, has to cajole us into paying for Reagan's deficit, an unenviable task. Fortunately his slow and steady nature and his foreign policy expertise enables him to lead us adroitly during the Gulf crisis. Facing war with Iraq, none can say President Bush courted or precipitated it. The president, rightfully, yet sadly, will be enforcing the will of the world. The solutions to both crises will be painful for our pacifistic and mortgaged nation. Let us hope our leaders rise to the task.

David C. Atkins Sr., Clearwater

The U.S. decision to send thousands of troops, planes and ships to the Persian Gulf in response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait is a grave mistake.

The Iraqi invasion on Aug. 2 violated every principle of non-intervention and self-determination. Iraq should end its occupation and halt production of nuclear and chemical weapons.

Still, we must challenge this administration's claim that it is a promoter of stability and democracy in the region, and a protector of international shipping lanes. The United States has little respect for human rights or self-determination in the region, as demonstrated by the U.S. support of the shah of Iran, and monarchies of the Saudi Arabian peninsula, of which Kuwait was one. The most wealthy Kuwaiti citizens divided enormous oil profits amongst themselves while hundreds of thousands of Palestinian and other immigrants slave-labored to keep the oil industry operating for the past 40 years.

The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait is only one battle in a much larger war for control over Middle Eastern oil, money and power. The United States and other industrialized, consumer-oriented countries have fought for control of the Persian Gulf oil fields, largely to the benefit of multinational oil companies, car drivers and plastic consumers.

In placing troops in the region, the United States has done nothing to end the crisis. As in Beirut seven years earlier, when 241 U.S. Marines were killed in a suicide bombing, the deployment risks the lives of young Americans, heightens anti-American sentiments, and creates new obstacles to peace and compromise in the region.

U.S. politicians and the U.S. media are currently attempting to dehumanize Saddam Hussein, Iraqis and Arabs in general. Similar propaganda campaigns against Moammar Gadhafi and Ayatollah Khomeini paved the way for U.S. attacks on Libya and Iran. This whips the U.S. public into a frenzy and creates the conditions necessary for sustained bloodletting between our countries. Doesn't this anger and sicken U.S. citizens to know that politicians and the media are using the lives of the young men and women in the services? It does that to me!

This crisis should not divert attention from the need for massive cuts in the U.S. military budget, so that funds can be used to rebuild schools, health care and housing.

Jennie Kranak, Port Richey

Public will pay

I am not the type that writes letters to the editor repeatedly. But the two articles I read in the Oct. 16 St. Petersburg Times have me boiling.

The first was the headline that emission tests would mean double expenses for me and others since we have two cars, then you read further in the paper and see the article, Bus agency plans to switch fuels that will cause buses to billow out excessive black smoke.

This only means the public will have to pay big money to have their cars tested and about one-third of us will have to pay for necessary repairs to lower emission and pollution, but the buses, to save cost of fuel, will pollute the air much more during the peak hours for public transportation uses than all the cars put together.

The people in the St. Petersburg Times reading area should be more aware of these articles and shower the paper with letters to the editor denouncing the unfairness of what's in store for Mr. and Mrs. Public.

Gordon Haug, Seminole

Evolution a fact

I have just about had it with this "evolution is not a fact, but only a theory" baloney. Any rational person must know that evolution is as plainly a fact as is she, herself (or he, himself, if applicable). The fact is unquestionable. Literally, a world of evidence proves it completely and flawlessly. Anyone disagreeing with it is either ignorant of the evidence, mentally deficient or lying.

There are many interesting scientific theories concerning various details of evolution's processes and history. Scientists devote lives to seeking small and large revelations of these processes and histories. Revolutionary discoveries have occurred within the past 20 years, with more to come as long as curiosity persists. Every discovery becomes part of the great body of evolution theory (both true and false), but the fact of evolution is intellectually unassailable.

Curiosity is a daughter of Imagination, humankind's most valuable resource. Without it, there would be neither science nor religion. Both should be taught. The former to explicate physical reality, the latter to show the astounding beauty and breadth of poetry, myth, symbolism and passion (and the horror and brutality) which occupies minds ignorant of reality, and which is our heritage. After all, the route by which we arrived spiritually and intellectually in the present is at least equal in importance to that by which we arrived physically.

They must be taught in different courses, for neither must be equated with the other. Any teacher properly equipped to teach one could hardly be so equipped for teaching the other. No rational, truthful teacher can teach creation mythology as a physical possibility.

The universe wasn't sired by the north wind. We didn't spring from serpent's teeth sown in Pelasgian soil, nor did either Prometheus, the archangel Michael or the Great Spirit form us from dust. These myths, and infinite others, reveal something about our inner selves as valuable to us as scientific fact. In a real sense, they are facts in the science of us.

M. Tritschler, Clearwater

Even as a student of evolutionary biology, I have to agree with the Oct. 12 letter writer _ go ahead and let them teach creationism in the schools. Part of defending any theory is being able to point out the shortcomings of opposing viewpoints. I believe that, with proper education, children will be able to see for themselves which theory is soundly supported by the scientific data.

Karen Moody, St. Petersburg

Re: Creationism in the schools, Letters, Oct. 7.

I am confused about which of the many accepted versions of "creationism" will be taught to our students. Will it be Christian, Buddhist, American Indian, Confucianism or the "flat earth" folks' theories? Who will get the nod? All? Some? One? What about those who don't get to tell their side of the story? Will we end up with an underground creationism counterculture?

According to a number of early cosmologies and the Jewish/Christian/Muslim tradition, the universe started at a finite (and not very distant) time in the past. St. Augustine accepted a date of about 5000 B.C. for the creation of the universe! Aristotle relegated everything to four elements _ earth, air, fire and water. Knowledge was simple then, but explainable with legend and introspection.

Now it is more complex, with measurements replacing intuition. The sun has existed for 5-billion years, based on the radioactive processes which fuel it. The Earth has existed for over 4-billion years. Mutagenic factors in past and present history (sunlight, chemicals, natural radioactivity, cosmic rays) produce minuscule DNA modifications in all living creatures that are replicated in future generations, producing lifelines either more or less adaptable to their surroundings. Astronomers describe the light from quasar 3C273 as having traveled for over a billion years.

It would seem to be a disservice to students to expose them to the present intradisciplinary knowledge developed by generations of archaeologists, biologists, physicists and astronomers around the entire world, while in other classes they are encouraged to accept the theories of the "earth, air, fire, water" era.

Ralph H. Kalb, Largo

Equal opportunity

Re: Locker room controversy.

The principal concern has been lost in emotional rhetoric. Lisa Olson did not deserve to be assaulted in a locker room that she had a legal right to be in. Professional athletes (and I question professional) did not act accordingly.

When did we start rationalizing and condoning the behavior of men in locker rooms anyway? Athletes or otherwise, why should it be acceptable to behave with a disregard for the values and morals of others (including decent and civilized males). And when did being an athlete excuse responsibility for unacceptable behavior? The boys will be boys mentality is yet another rationalism which should be offensive to all men.

The next issue will be to accuse some male reporters of being gay and therefore, banning certain men, and so on and so forth.

To suggest that women do not have a right to pursue a career in sports journalism because of the poor behavior of some athletes is an outrageous attempt to deny equal opportunity. Men should assail this divisiveness at once and change the image of sophomoric locker room antics.

Michael G. Dwyer, Safety Harbor

Whether I feel Lisa Olson "belonged" in the locker room or not has no bearing on what happened when she was there. She was doing her job and she was abused and threatened. That's the issue, not whether or not the neanderthals she was interviewing were too shy to talk to her in their robes. She was assaulted and wherever it happened, that is still a crime in this country.

Once again, the victim of a sexual assault is blamed for the bestial behavior of her attackers (letter to the editor, Oct. 15). The letter writer lays the excuse for Zeke Mowatt's behavior on an inappropriately expressed sexual reaction. Sexual assault is not attraction. It's violence and rage expressed sexually _ that is what happened to Lisa Olson.

P. Bryden, St. Petersburg

In response to the response garnered by Diane Mason's sexual assault article.

I find it both compelling and reassuring to note the fact that I share my membership in this community with so many people who are aware and involved. Citizens of all ages, sexes and backgrounds are not only reading, they are reacting. What I do find distressing, however, is that of the six responses printed in the St. Petersburg Times, regarding Lisa Olson's locker room debacle, not a single writer seemed to grasp the real point. Ms. Olson is a human being first, a woman second and a reporter third. This was not a case of football players intimidating a reporter, but of a group of physically superior naked men who wanted to threaten and intimidate a woman after she was granted admission to the locker room as a reporter. One letter writer even went so far as to suggest that these kinds of behaviors are to be expected _ it goes with the territory. I guess it would logically follow that date-rape is a consequence of dating. If you can't stand the heat . . .

It scares me to think that those six letters were a fair representation of the way people think.

Lorna M. Collins, Largo

"Remember free speech'

Re: It can happen here, editorial, Oct. 11.

Can we presume that the late Justice Hugo Black falls under the ax of your blanket condemnation? Are you editorialists the only people who are capable of the correction of former sins?

Read the biography of the Rev. John Newton, author of the hymn, Amazing Grace.

It is your continual sense of superiority that makes your paper so hard to read at times _ even when one agrees in large part with what you believe.

I would hope that you'd learn and practice a little humility, and stop denigrating everyone who does not march in lockstep with your views. Where is your vaunted liberality?

David Duke is a pretty unadmirable one, indeed. Remember free speech, will you?

William C. Harris, Tallahassee