U.S. belligerence provokes Iran

Sanford Gottlieb's sober comments on our hypocritical insistence that others abandon nuclear weapons as we pursue them are welcome at this time of increased danger ("America's nuclear hypocrisy undermines its stance on Iran," Opinion * Commentary, March 16). Unfortunately, our hypocrisy is not what motivates Iran to develop nuclear weapons.


In September 2002, the National Security Council announced that the United States would use force against any perceived challenge to American dominance in the world. Iraq was a test case for that new strategy.

Despite the incredible military disaster that Iraq has become, the fundamental immorality of our invasion and overwhelming world opposition to our invasion and occupation, in the new national security strategy document released last week, President Bush's NSC re-declared that "we do not rule out use of force before attacks occur, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy's attack" ("Gentler document affirms pre-emption," March 17).


In other words, the United States is re-declaring that it will feel free to attack anyone it suspects may be planning or thinking about planning attacks, or who may at some point in the future begin thinking about planning attacks.

As the annual military expenditures of the United States are approximately equal to those of the rest of the world combined, Iran cannot possibly hope to beat back an American invasion. The only sane alternative for Iran is to construct nuclear weapons.

We are instructing Iran to do so, in word and deed: We invaded non-nuclear (but oil-rich) Iraq while engaging in worthless "six-party talks" with nuclear-armed North Korea, and we make clear that we will attack anyone we choose.

It is our belligerence, not our hypocrisy, that motivates Iran to develop nuclear weapons.

We should face that fact squarely.

Feroze Sidhwa


At least Feingold shows some courage


At least Sen. Russ Fein- gold has the courage of his convictions, which is more than can be said for the rest of the Democrats ("Democrats, cool to Feingold's plan to censure Bush, avert floor vote," March 14). How can they ever expect to win the next election if they remain so lily-livered?

Al-Qaida will never bring this great nation to its knees. Indeed, air pollution and automobiles each kill many thousands more Americans each year than any terrorist ever has, and we think little about those threats.

Mr. Bush, however, with his disdain for the law and his pliant Congress and courts, has made great strides toward eliminating our Constitution and, ultimately, our liberty.

Our enemies take comfort in seeing our republic subverted.

We need to listen again to President Franklin Roosevelt's words: "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."

And we must not be ruled by fear-mongering.


William Trolinger

Ellicott City

Perceived threat led to invasion of Iraq

Cynthia Tucker asserts that "the overriding reason" President Bush invaded Iraq was to ensure a continuous supply of cheap oil ("Using our might to keep oil cheap," Opinion * Commentary, March 20).

In so doing, she relies on a technique that is becoming more and more fashionable in the liberal press - i.e., make an outrageous accusation and offer no proof to back it up.

The best she can do for an argument is to assume that this had to be the case because, as she states unequivocally, Iraq had no ties to al-Qaida and no weapons of mass destruction.


Is it not remotely possible that the "overriding reason" to invade Iraq was that, according to the best intelligence available at the time and against the backdrop of the 9/11 attacks, Saddam Hussein's ability to help Islamo-fascist terrorists posed a real threat?

Michael H. Ries


Hamas threatens Israel's existence

Shibley Telhami's column "Seeing Hamas through different lenses" (Opinion * Commentary, March 15) does not focus on the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

But the fact that no links are found between Hamas and al-Qaida and that Hamas "never has sent fighters to foreign Islamist causes ... and never directly targeted the United States or carried out attacks outside Israel and the Palestinian territories" does not negate the fact that Hamas threatens the existence of Israel.


Bernard Siegel


Choice in drug plans working for seniors

Opponents of the new Medicare prescription drug benefit often claim that "the dizzying array of choices is overloading beneficiaries and discouraging them from signing up" ("Changes in drug benefit weighed," March 15).

But choice is exactly what is giving some seniors a better deal than anyone anticipated when Congress drafted the drug benefit.

The private plans offering coverage are competing intensely for customers, and seniors are reaping the rewards.


One prescription drug plan costs as little as $1.87 a month in premiums. Others eliminate the $250 deductible so seniors get first-dollar coverage. And still others are providing drug coverage for the dreaded "doughnut hole," the gap in the standard plan in which insurance coverage is interrupted between low and high drug expenses.

Seniors have until May 15 to sign up. And the wide variety of choices gives them an opportunity to find a plan that's ideally suited to their prescription needs.

Grace-Marie Turner

Alexandria, Va.

The writer is president of the Galen Institute, a nonprofit research organization that studies health care policy.

Project imperils beauty of Shore


All of Maryland should be concerned about a developer's plan to build on 1,080 acres near the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Dorchester County ("Fears for the farm life," March 20).

On a family visit to Blackwater this month, my young children were thrilled to spot bald eagles, a pair of nesting ospreys, great blue herons and scores of turtles, geese and ducks as we enjoyed the peaceful rural landscape near the proposed development site on our drive to Cambridge.

How can we threaten this state treasure for more retail space and cul-de-sacs?

People visit Dorchester County for its unique Eastern Shore beauty and heritage - and to get away from suburban sprawl, not to see more of it.

Julie Ellen Squire



A scary precedent for future sprawl

I read with sadness the article "Fears for the farm life," (March 20), which documented the justifiable fears of area farmers about the proposed development near the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge.

I have fears myself - fears that this destructive development will set the stage for massive future development on the Eastern Shore.

And fears that seeing our governor and his administration encourage this type of development in pristine areas will be a welcome mat for developers from across the nation.

George Osing

Ellicott City