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Humanitarianism Puts Military to Good Use

The opinion-page article `` `Armed Humanitarianism' Has No Place in US Foreign Policy,'' Dec. 15, states that the use of United States military forces for humanitarian missions is a waste of time and misuse of resources. On the contrary, it is an excellent ``projection of power'' (a major military strategic role) and training vehicle, aside from long-term goodwill that may be generated.

Military forces typically have rather boring and unproductive months or years until suddenly they are faced with terrifying combat situations. Having them do something useful while they wait to fulfill the combat role is good for all concerned. At most only about one of every 10 soldiers actually has a direct combat job. The other nine transport, feed, clothe, and otherwise support that single combatant. Thus conducting a humanitarian mission allows the 90 percent to practice their jobs under ``real'' circumstances similar to what combat would be like.

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Our forces are paid, fed, and given resources for training every day; why not use these well-equipped, fast-reacting, talented groups to meet human needs?

The author also mentions not getting involved with the brutish actions within another culture. That is not a defensible argument given that small threats can multiply into huge problems if left unchecked.

It is often only a very small, powerful elite exercising the destructive manipulation within a country. The challenge is to neutralize that negative influence peacefully while helping common people who are caught up in forces they cannot control or escape.

Is there a role in that for the US military? I believe so. Early, sharp reaction - perhaps destruction of a token economic target without loss of life - may have reduced or halted Serbian aggression.

Haiti is another case where the mass of people are victimized by a few. Had our recent contingent of trainers and helpers been escorted by a small combat force, that country could now be functioning with its elected government in place.

The role of the military in the future will probably involve little of ``Desert Storm'' and lots of Serbia/Somalia/Haiti situations. Robert M. Gregson, Vashon, Wash. A world language

Foreign language study is becoming more attractive due to business opportunities abroad, as mentioned in the article ``As the World Shrinks Executives Hone Language Abilities,'' Dec. 3. But which foreign language is ``best''? In high school students might decide to study Spanish only to learn in later life that they really needed German.

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The ideal situation would be for everyone to speak their native language in their own country and to also learn one common international language. This would be good not only for commerce, but for the UN (and UN troops), Olympic meets, and all international affairs.

Each major country believes that its language should be the international language. But these languages are full of irregularities that make them difficult to learn and which put non-native speakers at a disadvantage.

Several million people in more than 70 countries have solved this problem by learning and communicating in the international language Esperanto. Because it is a constructed language, without exceptions, it has already been accepted as ideal for computer translation and is being promoted as a communication medium for the European Union. The savings from dispensing with multiple translations would be enormous. Prenda E. Cook, Harlingen, Texas Corruption in US universities

Regarding the opinion-page article ``Corruption Undermines Education in India,'' Dec. 6: If I can rely on memory, the United States State Department funded advanced degrees for Middle Eastern and Far Eastern students in the hope of compromising their judgments in matters affecting commercial negotiations after World War II.

The universities were told to issue PhDs to these students whether they passed or failed and regardless of their ability to understand English. The universities compromised their integrity for guaranteed tuitions.

The universities in the US preceded those in India in undermining education by some decades! Glen Wheeler, Penn Valley, Calif.

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