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'No Confidence in Contras"

September 25, 1986

Anyone with common sense and some knowledge of Latin America has to applaud your editorial (Sept. 12), "No Confidence in Contras." Unfortunately, those who most need to read it--President Reagan and his advisers--will certainly ignore it.

Not long ago I visited Washington and, as a retired Foreign Service officer, discussed Central American affairs with a number of knowledgeable officials. It was soon made clear to me that the Reagan Administration's watchword on the Sandinistas is "whatever it takes" to get rid of them.

Our direct invasion of Nicaragua may be a last resort, but it clearly lies within the scope of this directive. Inventing a plausible excuse is easy for an Administration more concerned with images than facts. (Why not start with a rumor that Sandinista troops are being given maps of Texas?)

In the foreign policy field, I believe that Reagan has no higher priority than liquidating the Sandinista regime, perceiving this as a cheap and easy victory in his grand confrontation with the Soviets.

But our invasion wouldn't be cheap or easy like the Grenada adventure that helped us forget our fiasco in Lebanon. I share former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger's concern over the "international upheaval" that would ensue, and I wouldn't want to be anywhere in Latin America when it occurs.

One looks in vain to our pliant Congress to curb the monomania that seems to be leading us into an awful quagmire. The War Powers Act might as well have been written in the sand.

MARSHALL PHILLIPS

Long Beach

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