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A Solution for the War on Drugs?

In the Opinion page article "Needed: Multilateral Attack on Drug Trade," Feb. 6, the author reiterates conventional wisdom on illegal drugs and the international drug smuggling industry: crackdown, eradication, use of military force.

We should know by now that drug use and the multibillion-dollar drug trade are unconventional problems that will eventually call for unconventional solutions.

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One obvious solution - a panacea to some, a pariah to others - is to legalize drugs. This one act would destroy all smuggling operations and international drug cartels overnight. The money currently wasted by world governments on attempts to stem the flow of drugs could be spent on social and development programs worldwide - including those concerning substance abuse.

Drug abuse is a serious problem, one that demands radical solutions. Prohibition is just one more form of repression, and in this case it is costing us all dearly. R. Scott Durkee, Vashon, Wash.

Regarding the article "War on Drugs Becomes More Cooperative, Global," Jan. 29: If anyone seriously wanted a stronger, more innovative approach to fighting the war against drugs, they would fight to make them legal. This article makes it plain that the whole mess is fueled by the tremendous amount of money that's made from the illegal sale of drugs.

If opponents claim that illegality is preventing drugs from claiming more victims, how do they explain the number of casualties after decades of strict illegality? J. E. Herendeen, Lyndonville, N.Y. Military facility conversion

In the Opinion page article "Softening the Blow," Feb. 11, the author addresses the problem of "finding jobs for out-of-work Americans and eliminating obsolete cold-war military programs that still employ hundreds of thousands of workers." He remarks that these two aims seem incompatible.

Among the options he reviews, he dismisses as "the most fanciful and unrealistic proposals" those that involve "economic conversion." The reason he offers for this rejection of economic conversion is that, "Despite idealists' wishes, it is next to impossible to change the deep-seated culture of an aerospace military contractor into an approach that successfully competes in the consumer marketplace."

The author's implicit assumption is that aerospace military contractors must necessarily be left in charge of economic conversion. If in fact they are so unadaptable, the solution is not to abandon proposals for economic conversion, but rather to replace hidebound aerospace executives with executives, perhaps ones who have recently become unemployed, who have the ability to make economic conversion succeed. Darrel Abel, Waldoboro, Maine Where the buffalo roam

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The article "Buffalo Roam Onto US Menus," Jan. 30, reiterates the popular but erroneous notion that buffaloes are easier on the land than cattle.

Buffalo and cattle have essentially the same diet and grazing habits. They both stimulate grass growth by cropping it, fertilize the soil with their droppings, and break up the soil with their hooves for aeration and reseeding.

Buffalo are heavier and stay more bunched up than cattle. They assimilate their food better and eat certain foliage that cattle do not.

Regardless of these differences, the ratio per acre to cow/calf unit is about the same. It is upon this ratio that the health of the land depends. The land will suffer from overstocking by buffalo or cattle. E. B. Severin, Alpine, Texas

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