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Political Correctness Weakens Resolve

January 19, 2002

I was totally disgusted reading about the weak manner in which the U.S. wields its military power in response to the most violent provocation in our history as a nation (''Fear of Civilian Deaths May Have Undermined Effort,'' Jan. 16). I knew from the minute this whole campaign began that we would never capture Bin Laden or effectively put the terrorists out of business.

As a nation still led by guilt-ridden, upper-middle-class Caucasians, we are simply unable to be tough, because we fear being labeled as racists. The same ''culture of hesitation'' regarding the military affects our entire judicial system, immigration enforcement, education establishment and workplaces. Caucasians in positions of authority in such institutions are totally incapable of calling bad things bad, good things good and untruths lies. Political correctness is a poison to a nation's cohesiveness and resolve.

Mike Burns

Bakersfield

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I was appalled by your article, in which military sources complain about not being able to bomb anything that moved (''interdicting moving targets'') and offer no rationale for the claim that such caution raises the long-term cost in lives.

A war on terrorism is by definition an effort to avoid the deaths of civilians. Therefore, it is absolute nonsense to whine, as nine-tenths of the article does, because concern about innocent people ''influence[s] wartime decisions,'' thus somehow infringing on command prerogative. I believe that most of our brave men and women in uniform understand that.

Elizabeth Palmberg

Claremont

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As we debate whether to extend the use of military force beyond Afghanistan, we should acknowledge that we have to get as close as possible to casualty-free wars, because that is the only chance for an all-volunteer force to work. This nation's large and politically potent upper-middle class is not about to have its privileged sons herded off to become privates. We must be careful not to confuse facile patriotism with any willingness to make sacrifices. I do not know how President Bush could ask the people of this nation to have their children forcibly taken from them while the noblest duty otherwise is to spend tax cuts on domestic travel.

It is little wonder ''God Bless America'' has become so popular; requesting protection from a deity is certainly easier than requisitioning money or combatants.

David Johnson

Chula Vista

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