War Is Bloody
Editor: War is not a game of Nintendo. It is a bloody mess full of horror. Despite heavy-handed attempts at propaganda and censorship by the military, the truth of this war will not long be hidden from the American people or even the world, by euphemisms or evasions.
Quite a large number of Americans will die and be maimed in the dessert. Due to the superior efficiency and technology of our armed forces, a much larger number of Iraqis and others who get in the way will be killed and maimed, military or civilian, adults, women and children. This is over and above a lot of of property damage.
A lot of damage has been done to humans and property in Kuwait by the Iraqis. Wait till we get done with that poor, unfortunate country. Consider what we did in Vietnam, another country we wanted to save.
Meanwhile back in our country, there is going to be a lot of "collateral damage." We don't seem able to find funds to finance education properly. Our health-care system for most of the people in the country is the disgrace of the Western world. What are we to do with our growing number of homeless? Are we not to make needed investments in our crumbling roads, bridges and water-purification plants?
We've punished the Iraqis sufficiently. We've prevented the further expansion of Iraq, halted and indeed reversed its weapons development. Let's finish the job with the much more benign sanctions procedure. Let's bring a large percentage of our people home. We've tested our weapons. The fun and games are over.
Mr. Bush, can you lead us to the "gentler and kinder America"?
Editor: Let's have an end to these phony television polls where the public is to call to say "yes" or "no" to some current public question.
The television station knows full well that the organizations are favored, whether it is a large group of bureaucrats fighting the tax cap or a relatively large group of war-minded people pursuing their inclinations.
They know that these groups are better organized to form teams of callers to make multiple calls in their interest.
enry H. Franz.
Editor: Maryland Gov. William Donald Schaefer is calling for a 5 percent tax on gasoline. The citizens of Maryland are fed up with his calls for higher taxes to support spending.
How about cutting spending? Are social programs untouchable? Are social programs to be continued and increased at the cost of services to the taxpayer?
Welfare, employment, and other supplemental income programs were not meant to be replacements for gainful employment.
Let's Plant Trees This Spring!
Editor: Trees are a valuable part of the urban community. They beautify our cities with their spring flowers, summer foliage and fall color. Their presence softens the bleak expanses of brick, concrete and asphalt and reduces the heat which builds up in them. When on the street on a hot day, we readily seek out the cooling effect of an urban tree. Three properly-planted trees around your home one day can reduce your air-conditioning bill by as much as 50 percent.
But what's most important, urban trees reduce impressive amounts of harmful pollutants, which the crush of motor vehicles and industry releases day and night into the city air. In this role, urban trees are 15 times more important than rural trees.
One tree absorbs about 13 pounds of carbon dioxide per year -- enough to offset the carbon dioxide produced by driving one car 26,000 miles. Recent research tells us that some trees like red maple and white birch also absorb the sulphur dioxide while white oaks are especially adept at removing ground-level ozone. And in return they all give back into the air life-giving oxygen. Trees truly help us make our cities livable.
At the present there are not enough trees in our urban areas. An aggressive plan on the state and local level aimed at saving the existing trees and planting more trees is needed.
The forest conservation bill, currently before the General Assembly, is an important step in this direction. Otherwise an additional 240,000 acres of farm and forest lands will be lost to development by 2020 in the Baltimore metropolitan area alone.
In the meantime, we all can help today. Let each of us plant a tree this spring -- in our backyard, near plants, on school grounds, in cities and towns. By doing this, we will help to make our community a healthier and better place in which to live.
Wolodymyr C. Sushko.
Editor: The recent resignation of Adele Wilzack as secretary ++ for the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene should be viewed as a loss for the entire state of Maryland. This woman has demonstrated superb leadership and genuine concern for the health needs of this state throughout her tenure.
She directed an agency with a budget of over $2 billion. The Maryland Games incident was regrettably a result of this impossible span of control. This incident must be balanced against 26 years of public service in which Ms. Wilzack has given unceasingly of her time, skills and her heart for all those served through her department. She has earned the right to be judged by more than the Maryland Games.
Harold A. Smith.
The writer is executive director of the Associated Catholic Charities.
Editor: Disgust is the only description of Cal Thomas' call to use tactical nuclear weapons against Iraqi forces (Opinion * Commentary, "Nukes in the Gulf: Used Tactically, They Could Save Lives," Feb. 6).
This shocking proposal is racist and naive. It reflects an immorality -- or rather amorality -- that is ironic, given the author's background as a leader in Jerry Falwell's so-called Moral Majority.
No nation has used nuclear weapons against other human beings since 1945, when the United States used two of them against the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in a deed whose morality and necessity are still fiercely debated 46 years later.
It has been claimed that those attacks were justified because without them the loss of life, both American and Japanese, would have been much higher. Mr. Thomas makes the same claim now.
In 1945 most Americans generally accepted their use, because after 3 1/2 years of war with the Japanese, we had "demonized" the enemy, had come to view all Japanese as less than human. That the Japanese had yellow skins, appeared different to Americans and practiced a different religion reinforced the image that we were dealing with animals who deserved extermination.
Iraqis are conveniently dark-skinned and practice a different religion from most Americans. Once we learn to treat them as animals it won't be hard to quit worrying about incinerating them in large numbers. Cal Thomas seems to have already made that leap.
Mr. Thomas is naive about how nuclear weapons would be used against Iraq. He pictures a surgical tactical nuclear war, in which weapons with the explosive power equivalent to "only" 1,000 tons of TNT would be used selectively against military forces. But the United States forces can be provided many types and sizes of tactical nuclear weapons, each designed with the same sort of "surgical" precision in mind.
If nuclear weapons are not already in the gulf, they can soon be brought there. Once the first one is used, any inhibitions against using others will disappear. If the Army can use its 1-kiloton Lance missile warhead to destroy 2,000 men, why shouldn't it take advantage of the Lance's "dial-a-yield" feature to explode a 10-kiloton warhead? And why should the Army be the only nuker? Shouldn't the Navy use its extraordinarily accurate Tomahawk cruise missile to deliver the 200-kiloton warheads designed for it? And the Air Force would want to use its extensive nuclear arsenal too.
The aftermath of a U.S. nuclear first use would be appalling: Radioactivity from ground bursts would leave huge areas of Kuwait and Iraq uninhabitable for centuries. The United States would be a pariah among nations.
Any thought of containing world-wide nuclear weapons proliferation, in the Middle East or anywhere else, would be gone forever.
It's a stupid, outrageous idea.
Thomas A. Halsted.