Daniel Schorr's March 21 opinion column "Moment of truth's equation" suggests that finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq would be a triumph for Mr. Bush. If that's true, it reveals a shallow understanding on the part of the American people of the issues we have been struggling with for the past months. The troubling issues regarding war were never about whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Rather, they were about whether Iraq posed a threat to the US and, most important, whether diplomacy and threats of massive retaliation instead of war were a more appropriate course for containing Iraq. When the military campaign is over, those who sought war, or resigned themselves to it, will be looking for rationalizations to justify the war. Discovering or not discovering weapons of mass destruction will not be one of them.
The March 21 article "As attack on Iraq begins, question remains: Is it legal?" understates the fact that noncompliance with UN Security Council Resolution 1441 wasn't necessary prior to beginning military action. The resolution passed by the UN in 1991 was simply a cease-fire, legally speaking, conditional on Iraq's agreement to destroy its weapons of mass destruction. Noncompliance by Iraq was tantamount to starting the current action. President Bush went to the UN in 2002 to introduce Resolution 1441 in a gesture of consideration to the Iraqi government, and UN member nations, not because there were any legal hurdles to be cleared or permission needed for military force. Iraq's noncompliance thwarted the diplomatic process.
In response to your March 18 editorial "The other US invasion": The US government's Radio Sawa is yet another manifestation of the marketing approach to public diplomacy. Skeptics, like me, view Sawa as a concession by the US government that it cannot effectively articulate our foreign policy in the Arab world. It is pure fantasy to believe that Sawa will remold Arab thinking by playing round-the-clock Top 40 songs with only a few token discussion programs. Ironically, a year after the creation of Sawa, one of the most popular songs in the Middle East is "The Attack on Iraq," in which an Arab singer rails against US policy toward Arab and Islamic states. You probably won't hear that song on Sawa, but it may be a lot closer to the emotions in the Arab world. This detachment from reality lies at the heart of what is seen as the Sawa fiasco, bought and paid for by American taxpayers.
President, AFSCME Local 1418, Radio Broadcast Technicians, Voice of America
Thanks to Henk Rossow for his honesty in the March 20 review of Paul Theroux's latest book "Dark Star Safari." Mr. Theroux's clever use of language obscures the triteness of his attitudes and descriptions of African countries and cultures. His approach is rarely different from that of travel books, describing what doesn't work, what frustrates, instead of seeking and appreciating the common humanity he encounters. The review, thankfully, points this out, reminding readers that disrespect and reinforcement of tired stereotypes are not enticing, even when written by the noted Theroux.
Nevertheless, your reviewer and Theroux contradict themselves if they think that rereading Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" will dispel 19th-century attitudes.
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