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'Prudent Yet Restrained'

October 30, 1987

President Reagan sadly declined a recent Soviet proposal to bring the United Nations to bear in the Persian Gulf troubles (Part I, Sept. 24). It was a ploy, the President said, by Russia to become a "player" in the gulf.

"Playing" indeed seems to be what the President is intent on doing. Lots of posturing and bluster. Reflagging foreign ships so we can argue endlessly with the irrational Iranians over who shot at what. "Punishing" China for doing exactly what we did a year ago: sell arms to Iran. Squandering American lives and money on a police action that ought to be a truly international responsibility.

I suppose it's just more fodder for the "Rambo" Americans who like to fantasize about war. But some of us would like to see the building of a world order in which peace can be more than just a haphazard break in the action. The Soviet offer was an important chance for an international consensus which Iran could not afford to ignore. Peace based on such a consensus is apparently too disturbing to those ingrained to the comfort of old enmity. If only they could equate the courage to face peace with the courage to face the enemy.

TONY BIRD

Van Nuys

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