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War in the Persian Gulf

October 04, 1987

Few people in the free world like the current Iranian regime and I am no exception. The Iranians sow mines through international waterways, practice intellectual and religious persecution and encourage terrorism and insurrection throughout the civilized world. All in all, they have done very little to cause anyone to feel that they should be treated as a member of the world community.

Yet I cannot help but feel that something has gone askew in our view of Iran's role in the Persian Gulf War. True, the Iranians have struck a blow against peace by not accepting a United Nations-sponsored cease fire in the gulf. But their condition for accepting such a truce is to have an international tribunal investigate and fix blame for and award damages in the conflict. (I seem to recall that Iraq started this whole affair in 1979; perhaps fear of responsibility is why Iraq has called for an unconditional acceptance of the truce.)

I do support the principle of the Western allies maintaining a police force in the gulf to protect shipping. However, I believe that it is unfair to solely blame Iran for acting to protect its interests while the Iraqis continue to attack shipping bound for Iran despite Iran's vehement conduct. There is a bitter irony in our forgetting or ignoring the fact that, even as we often called for the Iranians to respect the rule of law in their conduct, they have expressed an interest in impartial arbitration to settle the dispute.

What could really be wrong with meeting Iran halfway on this matter and turning the question of responsibility and compensation for this destruction over to the World Court? Is this not what the court was designed to do? If invoking the court is all that it would take to get Iran to accept a cease fire, then that is a bargain, both for peace in the Persian Gulf and for the cause of civilized conduct among nations.

S. KENNETH KAWANO

Redondo Beach

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