LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Appeasing terror is the real danger

The Sun's editorial "Bush boomeranged" (Feb. 24) hammered the Bush administration for "stoking the fears of random violence" and "manipulation of terrorist fears to win support for pre-emptive war" and then referred to "Americans conditioned to be afraid."

Appealing to the "fear factor" or playing the "fear card" has been a repetitious theme in editorials, and letters. So let me tell you what this "fear-conditioned" American is really afraid of.

First, that we will waver in our resolve and not get all the terrorists.

I'm afraid that we will get cute and try to distinguish good terrorists from bad ones. But all the terrorists are bad, since no cause or provocation is an acceptable excuse for killing the innocent and defenseless.

Al-Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and all the other "jihads" are interconnected financially and philosophically and share the belief that the United States is the root cause of all their problems. They all have the potential and motivation to attack us.

I'm also afraid that we will forget those killed in the 9/11 attacks and on the USS Cole, and all the other Americans murdered by terrorists, and treat terrorism like a police matter.

The terrorists would love this; they would much rather face Interpol or the FBI than the U.S. Army Special Forces.

Another fear is that we will fail to act on information and pre-emptively attack because we are gun-shy after the intelligence failures over Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

But my worst fear is that under the next president, the United States will relinquish leadership in the war on terrorism and fall in step with the United Nations and the Europeans, thus effectively surrendering.

The Sun is correct: I have a lot of fears. But they are not about manipulation by the Bush administration.

They are from those who claim to be tough and committed in this war but who oppose every policy that makes life miserable and short for the terrorists - which is exactly how I want their lives to be.

William D. Sauerwein

Phoenix

Bush bears blame for slide into chaos

The bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra has led to violence that brings Iraq closer than ever to an all-out civil war, and The Sun's article "Shiite shrine in Iraq bombed" (Feb. 23) indicates that "some Shiite leaders accused the United States of being partly to blame."

I would suggest that while barbaric zealots are obviously the ones who committed this horrendous act, the United States is ultimately more than partly to blame.

It is clearer than ever not only that our pre-emptive, virtually unilateral war on a sovereign nation, for reasons that have been discredited (as Saddam Hussein's regime had no weapons of mass destruction, no link to the 9/11 attacks, no ties to al-Qaida, etc.), has led to the unnecessary deaths of nearly 2,300 American soldiers and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi people, but also that the destabilization and resulting chaos we precipitated are likely to culminate in a civil war in Iraq and in the consequent instability in the entire region for years to come. This may well lead to the deaths of thousands more innocent people.

This will be the legacy of the arrogant and incompetent President Bush and his merry band of neoconservative handlers.

Bill Blackwell

Timonium

Iraqi ethnic groups overdue for divorce

Surprisingly, The Sun's editorial "Circle unsquared" (Feb. 24) reflected a continuing uncritical repetition of the fallacy that Iraq should remain a united nation.

However, since the 1950s, that nation has seen a brutal dictatorship comprised of an overlapping Baathist political party and a minority Sunni religious sect, intertwined to some extent with regional tribal loyalties.

The Sunni-Baathist brutality held the Shiite and the Kurds subjugated. It was not a peaceful union of Iraqi people.

Unless the Sunni leadership promptly and effectively joins the existing government of Kurds and Shiites, the destruction of the Golden Mosque should be the last straw.

The United States and the government of Iraq should proceed to negotiate and implement a three-state solution.

This would be complicated, but the divorce of other Iraqi ethnic groups from the abusive Baathist and Sunni elements is necessary and overdue.

Thomas Rafferty

Crownsville

Access to Plan B pill boosts public health

I read The Sun's article on emergency contraception with great interest, but found the discussion on its use by teenage girls to be misleading ("Plan B battle shifts to states," Feb. 24).

Several recent studies (published in prestigious, peer-reviewed health journals) have concluded that providing teenage girls with access to emergency contraception does not cause teenagers to engage in risky sexual behavior - i.e., teenagers do not have more unprotected sex, do not have more partners and do not have an increased rate of sexually transmitted diseases.

Furthermore, the clear and convincing scientific evidence confirms the safety and effectiveness of emergency contraception.

For these reasons, the American Public Health Association passed a policy resolution in 2003 supporting over-the-counter access to emergency contraception for all women, including teenagers.

Unhindered access to emergency contraception is sound policy and good public health practice.

Duchy Trachtenberg

North Bethesda

The writer is president of Maryland NOW.

Doesn't the state operate our port?

With all the brouhaha about who will manage the port of Baltimore ("Arab firm agrees to probe of port deal," Feb. 27), I am at a loss to understand why we need someone to manage the port.

Isn't this the function of the Maryland Port Administration?

Robert Dvorak

Arnold

Historic paintings belong in library

State Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller provides a prime example of the arrogance of political officeholders in his attempt to extort the paintings of the first Lord Baltimore and five successors from the Enoch Pratt Free Library so he can adorn the State House with them ("Sides drawn in portraits tussle," Feb. 20).

The paintings in question were purchased privately and donated to the library.

They hang prominently in the grand lobby of the building, and can be enjoyed by every visitor to that building, including many schoolchildren and those who use the vast Maryland history collection housed at the Pratt. The paintings belong where they are.

Mr. Miller obliquely referred to the amount of state funds received by the Enoch Pratt Free Library in justifying his demand that the paintings be sent to Annapolis.

But the Pratt serves all Marylanders, and deserves every dollar it receives and more.

If the descendants of the Lords of Baltimore are unhappy with the way the paintings are displayed, let them make a generous grant to the Pratt to clean, rehang and relight them.

I'm sure the Pratt would be happy to note that gift on the new labels.

Fran Gunther Minges

Baltimore

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