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For Gulf Peace: Strongest Must Show Respect and Humility

The editorial ``Working Toward Peace,'' Jan. 25, reminds us that Jew, Muslim, and Christian revere one God and that the Holy Scriptures and Koran should provide the basis for resolution of conflicts. However, bitterness and hatred abound among the Arab peoples, against the wealth of their own sheikdoms and against the wealth and historic actions of the West. The Christian West started the Crusades and that has for 900 years colored Muslim perceptions of the West. If there ever will be peace on earth, its most likely start will be for the strongest nation to appear genuinely humble. We should lead toward peace by showing complete respect for other cultures and their religions and, through the United Nations, create a mechanism for maintaining peace.

William B. Klee, Hilton Head Island, S.C.

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The editorial states that war ``is sometimes the lesser of two evils.'' I disagree. There is never any justification for warfare even when it appears to be destroying ``the elements ... that generate violence.'' This is because war is an active state that those participating in are responsible for, while peace is the state that naturally exists through divine Providence. The prayerful person is not one who ``recognizes that the destruction of evil is essential to the establishment of peace,'' but one who allows the natural state of peace to shine through. Peace goes far beyond the absence of war; 45 years of the cold war proved that. There was no war, but no peace either.

Nicholas R. Mann, Sedona, Ariz.

The editorial is a very sad commentary on aggression within American society today, essentially saying that if we do it, it is morally okay, whereas if they do it, we must respond with devastating force. When will we learn to set an example of peace, nonviolence, diplomacy, and conciliation for the world to follow? The world is currently following our example of self-righteousness, hostility, and war.

Tom Masterson, Boulder, Colo.

Isn't it true that war is always war - the greatest of evils? The US had other choices. It should have decided immediately against ground forces on Arab soil, then built a powerful coalition to cut off the shipment of all but vital food and health-related goods to Iraq.

The truth is, President Bush grew increasingly obsessed with Saddam Hussein, even as President Reagan did with the leaders of Libya and Nicaragua.

John Lincoln, Ithaca, N.Y.

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The editorial rightly points out the difference between peace and appeasement. But there is also a difference between prudent defense and wanton destruction. In its quest for total victory over Iraq, the United States has embarked on the latter path. The record shows that the US actually thwarted possibilities to secure Iraq's withdrawal from Kuwait by sanctions and diplomacy. Some officials called Iraqi withdrawal - America's stated goal - the ``nightmare scenario.'' To them, war offers the chance to destroy Iraqi power and teach a terrifying lesson to any third world nation that might be tempted to challenge our interests.

But destroying Iraq may only ignite the entire Middle East. Nor can the US hope to curb the worldwide spread of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons while we continue to develop them and undermine arms control initiatives.

The editorial's call to spirituality should spur creative initiatives, not a complacent acceptance of ``the lesser of two evils.''

David Keppel, Essex, Conn.

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