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'Crisis' is a relative term

July 29, 2006

David Bosco conjectures about the possibility of the Middle East crisis being the start of World War III (Current, July 23). Because I am an amateur historian, I looked back 40 years.

Mao Tse-tung had just exploded China's first atomic bomb; Pakistan and India were battling over Kashmir; there was a civil war in the Congo; we were in a Cold War; Bali had a problem with militants murdering civilians; and our friends in the Middle East were rattling sabers for a change. Going back more than 80 years, I found that Turkey was fighting a civil war; the Anglo/Somali war was going strong; the Russians were fighting the Poles and themselves; and the Japanese were beginning to talk about building warships. Five hundred thousand people died of a drought in East Asia, and an earthquake killed 180,000 in China. I somehow feel relieved.

JEROME STOLL

Newport Beach

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Israel bombing Iran's nuclear sites; Iran invading Iraq to engage U.S. forces; North Korea shelling South Korea -- all frightening scenarios, but let's put these crises in perspective from America's self-absorbed point of view: Will any of this affect gas supplies for our SUVs, raise prices at Wal-Mart or even disrupt "American Idol" on television? Let's keep our priorities straight.

STEPHEN C. LEE

La Habra

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