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U.S. Urges Nicaragua to Destroy Its Missiles

November 12, 2003

"Nicaraguan Missile Danger" (editorial, Nov. 8) castigates Nicaraguan President Enrique Bolanos for refusing to march in lock step with the Bush administration by destroying Nicaragua's arsenal of anti-aircraft missiles, although there is no evidence Nicaraguan weapons have been used against the U.S. -- at least not in Iraq. The irony is that these weapons were supplied by the Soviet Union to the Sandinista rebels, who had first asked the U.S. for aid as they battled the fascist Somoza regime, which the U.S. had long propped up with military and financial aid. The U.S. then supported the terrorist thugs known as the Contras.

Perhaps if the U.S. had left the Nicaraguans alone to run their own democracy they wouldn't have needed such weapons. But Bolanos believes they need them now. How shameless of Secretary of State Colin Powell, and The Times, to blithely dismiss Nicaraguans' concerns about their territorial integrity and the regional balance of power. Powell is asking Nicaragua to do something the U.S. would never do: compromise its national security for the sake of a (supposed) higher good. In return, The Times suggests anti-drug-trafficking aid, which primarily serves the interests of American drug warriors and is something of Trojan horse, in that it brings American influence to bear in the guise of assistance. Bolanos is right to do what he thinks is best for his country in the face of American pressure. I hope Nicaragua continues to flout the arrogant, selfish demands of reactionary American administrations.

Dan Brezenoff

Long Beach

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Powell has been unsuccessful in getting Nicaragua to destroy about 2,000 surface-to-air missiles of the same type that recently destroyed an Army helicopter in Iraq, killing 16 of our troops. It is too horrendous to even contemplate the havoc that could be created -- not only in the United States but worldwide, with every commercial airplane at risk -- if these missiles were to fall into the hands of terrorists.

This scenario is somewhat similar to Iraq, regarding weapons of mass destruction, but unlike in Iraq, these weapons are in plain sight. Perhaps our administration, with its zeal for preemptive strikes, should send in the Marines and confiscate these weapons. We have already offered to compensate Nicaragua for these missiles but have been rebuffed.

Nate Rubin

Los Angeles

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