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U.S. Actions in Persian Gulf

May 11, 1988

At last, some sensible talk. Senate Democratic Leader Robert Byrd of West Virginia, is quoted in The Times (Part I, April 30) as saying: "I can't forget that Iraq started this war; I can't forget that Iraq killed 37 Americans in one night, hitting our ship with a missile; and I can't forget that Iraq is using chemical weapons and killing even their own people. I think we ought to be very careful that we don't tilt either way."

Byrd was urging President Reagan and Defense Secretary Frank C. Carlucci to bring the U.S. back to a semi-neutral stance in the 8-year-old war between Iraq and Iran.

But, as the British magazine The Economist April 23 edition says: "The Americans started the convoy operation to guard Iraq's seaward flank in the Gulf War, by protecting from Iranian attack the oil exports of Iraq's helper, Kuwait. They also wanted to wash away the stain of their arms for hostages fiasco with Iran, by showing the Gulf Arabs that America could protect them better than the Russians could. Both aims have been well served by the American navy and the European warships that followed it into the gulf."

The security needs of our oil companies, being met by tax-supported naval excursions into the Persian Gulf, are tilting the manic war between President Saddam Hussein of Iraq and the Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran in Iraq's favor, thus encouraging Iraq to act even more irresponsibly (for instance, the shelling of Iranian cities with randomly fired missiles which land on ordinary citizens, killing, wounding, and inspiring a return shelling by Iran of Iraq's cities).

The U.S. should be doing just as Byrd sensibly suggested: using all its diplomatic clout in all possible ways to bring about an end to this war, including bringing the Soviets into the negotiations to add clout.

The money spent to date to maintain the U.S. fleet in the gulf would have been better spent on revitalizing the Rust Belt, the Farm Belt, on providing child care, prenatal care, care of the aged, greater educational funding, health care--all crying needs of our nation, unmet because of inadequate (read unvoted) funding.


Santa Monica

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