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Syrian Troops in Lebanon and the Taif Agreement

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The editorial of Nov. 28 ``Grieving Lebanon'' asserts that the Arab states that sponsored the Taif accord ``skirted the issue of Syrian occupation.'' Not true. A whole section of the Taif agreement text is devoted to the issue of Syrian troops in Lebanon. Nowhere in the agreement is their presence called ``occupation.'' Syrian troops entered Lebanon in 1976 by invitation, not invasion, and have stayed there at the request of the Lebanese government and under a mandate from the Arab League.

Unlike Gen. Michel Aoun, Syria has fully backed the Taif accord and has therefore fully recognized Lebanon as a free, independent, and sovereign state. Syria has also accepted the principle of an eventual troop withdrawal from all the Lebanese territory, and a preliminary timetable for the redeployment of Syrian forces to areas closer to the Syrian-Lebanese border.

What is preventing peace from returning to Lebanon is not Syria's ``occupation,'' but the suicidal ghetto mentality of General Aoun and his supporters. Abe Eifadel, Brookline, Mass.

The hypothethical boiling point Robert Cowen, in his commentary ``Take a Second for 1990's New Standards,'' Nov. 28, says that schools are teaching 100 degrees C. as the boiling point of water as ``ineluctable'' truth. He also states that standards of measurement ``are based upon unchanging natural laws.''

In 32 years of teaching chemistry and physics, I have never taught ``100 degrees C. as the boiling point of water'' as an ineluctable truth. The boiling point of water of a certain purity and at a certain atmospheric pressure was set at 100 degrees C. by human definition. Definitions in science are maintained so long as they are fruitful for understanding, predicting, and shaping events.


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