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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Bush's N. Korea Policy Comes Home to Roost

March 07, 2003

Re "U.S. Said to Be Resigned to a Nuclear Korea," March 5: We rush to war with Iraq because we say it has weapons of mass destruction, but we have no credible evidence to prove it. We are resigned to allow North Korea to develop atomic weapons, touting our to-be-developed missile defense system to guard us, all the while knowing that any country that can get a missile here can easily outwit our defense.

We are spending like crazy, bankrupting the country and enfeebling our police, firefighters, schools, medical care and cities. And George W. Bush is called a strong president? I don't get it.

Granville Henry

Claremont

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Shortly after he took office, President Bush derailed South Korea's increasingly successful bid to defuse tensions with North Korea, rebuffing South Korea's President Kim Dae Jung, champion of the rapprochement and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for that effort. There was no substantive rationale for Bush's step; it made sense only as a fillip to his right flank.

We are now paying the price for politics having trumped substance, with the tensions high, missiles flying and the administration preparing to accept North Korea as a nuclear power. Bush's misguided adventurism toward Iraq also promises unintended and unanticipated consequences.

The tragic irony of this is that in his election campaign Bush promised to bring "adults" to the making of foreign policy. Instead he has unleashed cowboys and political hacks like Karl Rove, who lack any policy experience, and has dismantled decades of work by Republicans and Democrats alike to build international agreements to limit the spread of weapons of mass destruction. The world is vastly less safe as a result.

John Peterson Myers

Charlottesville, Va.

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The Bush administration's acceptance of North Korea's nuclear potential is an indication that the impending war would be waged only because Iraq does not pose a threat.

Arno Keks

El Monte

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The Bush policy on Iraq seems to be: war for any justification, war at any opportunity, war at any financial cost, war at any national security price, war against any moral or religious values, war against any international and democratic opposition, war with allies or without. Military, political and economic power for its own sake.

Robert Wolf

Claremont

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A cursory search, although not complete, yielded these abysmal figures for Americans killed for the last 20 years of attacks by Arab terror: one on the Achille Lauro; 241 Marines in Lebanon; 17 Navy personnel on the Cole; 19 in the Khobar Towers; 189 on Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland; 12 at the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya (and 213 non-Americans); 2,981 on 9/11 (Americans and people on American soil).

This listing excludes the thousands who were maimed for life and the property losses, and it is not exhaustive. I am sure you can add to it with no great effort. For example, you could add diplomats killed in other places. Systematically adding people of other nations to this list would make your hair stand up.

Is this enough of a reason to go to war with a state sponsoring Arab terror?

Albert Reingewirtz

Carlsbad

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Canada has proposed an entirely rational approach to the situation in Iraq: Give the Iraqis until the end of March to complete a specific list of tasks to avert war. It struck me that this is exactly the kind of logic missing from the debate. With all the Bush administration's talk of "total disarmament," there is never a specific demand. Never a laundry list of things to do that will satisfy. Never "give up these things on this list and we will withdraw our troops and lift the sanctions."

Why not? Is this because they don't want to be satisfied? Only they know for sure, but we must demand that the warmongers stop talking in generalities and start telling the world what it is they are demanding before plunging the Middle East into an abyss of human suffering.

Alex Bogartz

Van Nuys

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