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U.S. Boycott of World Court

January 29, 1985

In the musical comedy, "Guys and Dolls," a heavyweight hoodlum gambles with his own dice, which are blank. The dots are worn off, he explains, "but I remember where they formerly was," and no one dares contradict his count.

Our government takes a similar stand in boycotting the World Court's hearing of a complaint by Nicaragua against U.S. support of subversion there. Our government argues that it could not present an adequate defense without disclosing sensitive intelligence about "Nicaragua's aggressions against its neighbors." If we can't read our own dice, we won't play.

When the founders of this nation took up arms against the British crown, they acknowledged that "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them." Apparently our government feels no such obligation even to the World Court to whose authority it has long been committed.

As for the argument about sensitive intelligence, we've heard that before. Only 10 years ago we were involved in similar subversion in Angola. John Stockwell, who was chief of the Angola task force in the Central Intelligence Agency, reported:

"In the Angolan operation we were now lying to each other, even while we read and wrote cables which directly contradicted those lies. In fact, there were several levels of untruth functioning simultaneously, . . . one for the working group, another for unwitting State Department personnel, yet another for the U.S. Congress."

Stockwell writes also in "In Search of Enemies," "I would not have undertaken to expose the clandestine services if I felt they were essential to our national security. I am persuaded they are not."

LEON LUKASZEWSKI

Walnut Greek

We deplore the recent suspension of bilateral peace talks with Nicaragua and the boycott of the proceedings of the World Court regarding the suit brought by Nicaragua.

We believe that such talks are absolutely necessary to bring honorable peace to a nation that has for too long been subject to unjust and blatantly selfish attack by the United States. Nicaragua is a sovereign, independent nation that must be allowed to determine its own destiny. Our nation has no right to use overt or covert military force or economic blackmail to influence the political course of another country. Negotiations, either bilaterally or through the Contadora process, will, now or later, be the only way to end our interference in that country's internal affairs.

Similarly, we believe that boycotting of the World Court is a desperate, shameful act by our Administration that will bring further dishonor to our nation in years to come. The suit was brought by a justifiably injured party. Our refusal to accept jurisdiction is correctly interpreted by the rest of the world as an admission of responsibility. It is sad that the Reagan Administration cannot show the courage to be honest but has to continue its cowardly policy of deceit.

We, as a strong and free country, which espouses so fervently the belief in democracy, can, of all countries, afford to act with honor toward all other nations.

RICHARD and MARBA

HAZZARD

Whittier

To reject the authority of the World Court, as our government has done in regard to our conduct in Nicaragua, is disgraceful. It reminds me of a little kid purposedly spilling the Monopoly game when it looks like he is going to lose.

ARLEN GROSSMAN

Los Angeles

The decision by this Administration to boycott the World Court is reprehensible and shows the moral bankruptcy of this Administration.

Mining the harbors of nations with whom we disagree is certainly a case that should be heard by the World Court.

MARTHA KUHN

La Mesa

Your article (Jan. 19) on the Nicaragua case in the World Court failed to mention that the 16-judge panel of the World Court is composed of judges from both the East and West, including the United States. Fifteen of those judges (the American judge dissented) ruled against the United States in the Nicaraguan decision.

With such an impartial body of jurists (who previously ruled in favor of the United States in the Iranian hostage case), to imply that the court is becoming "politicized" seems incredible.

The Reagan Administration should be ashamed of itself.

MICHAEL J. BAZYLER

Los Angeles

As we inaugurated President Reagan for his second term, we learned that Reagan has decided to refuse to take part in further World Court proceedings in Nicaragua's suit against the United States. Such an action really disturbs me and I begin to wonder if there is any hope for this country. However, my sense of hopelessness is not complete, for I do recall what happened to the last second-term President who thought he was above the law!

DONALD A. BENTLEY

Dublin, Calif

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