Letters to the Editor

The following are but a few of the letters to the editor by some of the citizens of the Upper Valley.


Letter to The Dartmouth:

To the editor:

President Bush is on the brink of making decisions that could affect every student in unwanted, even disastrous, ways. Even amidst the pressures of starting a new academic year, it is of critical importance for each of you to make your opinion known to the White House and to your Congressional Representatives and Senators.

As the search for Osama bin Laden became unproductive and the War on Terrorism floundered, President Bush changed focus. He introduced and intensified his commitment to remove Saddam Hussein in a "regime change" involving an unprecedented pre-emptive strike. He has criticized those who question his judgment or his authority, including respected members of his father's advisory group and the military leaders of the Gulf War. The only member of the president's "war cabinet" who has had active military experience (Colin Powell) has been the member least in favor of a rush to war.

Expressions of concern about the US bypassing the UN, the fate of other Middle Eastern countries, and plans for the aftermath of a "successful" removal of Saddam Hussein remain unanswered. The President has been as vague about such plans as he has been about clear evidence that the US is under serious threat from Iraq now, in the near future, or at all.


The rapidly approaching congressional elections serve to heat up the political rhetoric on all sides. The president seems ready to act with or without congressional backing, yet he also appears responsive to political influence.

No date has been set, but our forces are massing in the Middle East and in other positions, ready to move. It has been estimated that an invading force as large as 250,000 will be required and that casualties, both civilian and military, will be high- far greater than those during the Gulf War or the recent actions in Afghanistan. The likelihood of a conflagration in the Middle East is high, along with biological and chemical counter-attacks and a proliferation of terrorist acts on our own soil. As the tragedy of 9/11 showed, our nation is as vulnerable as any other.

Students on campus today may feel less concerned than those during the Vietnam War, and may find the euphemism of "regime change" an easy concept to accept. But as the day of decision in Washington comes closer, I ask those who favor war if they are ready to volunteer and report to the nearest recruiting office. I ask those in opposition to speak out and let their Senators and Representatives in Congress know immediately. Time is short.

Email addresses for both senators and members of congress by state are available at http://www.webslingerz.com/jhoffman/congress-email.html For complete contact information for all senators: http://www.senate.gov/senators/senator_by_state.cfm

Robert W. McCollum, MD
Dean emeritus
Dartmouth Medical School


To the Editor:

One of the reasons people study history is to profit from the mistakes of the past. Many of our national leaders are either woefully ignorant of history or short minded of its significance or both.

To encapsulate some 80 years of history. After World War I an organization, the League of Nations, was formed to provide for the collective security of all nations. The organization failed for many reasons not the least the refusal of the United States to become a member. Because of the short sighted policies of Britain, France and the United States World War II ensued some 20 years later. When this ear ended all nations recognized the need for a viable organization to provide collective security to the nations of the nations of the world. The United Nations thus became the vehicle to insure a peaceful world order and the United States was in the fore front of the nations supporting this new organization. It is indeed tragic that the world leaders of the forties and fifties are no longer present to explain the significance of the collective security to the nationalistic Ideologues who are controlling America's destiny today.


Why has the media failed to ask the right questions and demand answers from our leaders instead of swallowing the daily pablum fed to them by Ari Fleicher? More importantly, why are responsible members of the Congress [the representatives from Vermont excluded] appearing to become lemmings following the President blindly and unable toe assess for themselves the realities of the current world situation?

Congressional approval for a war against Iraq is not enough. We need the unqualified approval of the Security Council of the United Nations before we embark on such an aggressive course of action. To do otherwise is for our leaders to place themselves in the company of such personages as the leaders of Nazi Germany. Count Two of the Neuremburg War Trial indictment stated: "Planning, preparation or waging aggressive war" is a war crime. Is there no limit to our abuse of power and our disregard of international institutions designed to promote a peaceful world society? For the United States to take unilateral action against Iraq, without the unqualified endorsement of the Security Council is for our country to torpedo the very institution we helped to bring into being some sixty years ago.

Arthur P. Silvester


To the editor:

Amidst the Bush administration's dark and terrifying efforts to engage us in war with Iraq, there are a few beacons of light and hope.
On September 28, UVM will host the "We the People Summit for Peace" It is open to the public, and will include discussion of U.S. Congressional Bill HR2459 which proposes creation of a Department of Peace and Peace Academy.


Details about agenda and speakers are found on website www.shiesl.com/peace but readers lacking access to computers may write us at POB 187, Etna, NH 03750 for information.
How can we view ourselves as a civilized nation unless we devote as much effort to supporting life and resolving conflict peacefully as we do to destroying life--our own as well as that of our declared enemies?

Audrey and Bob McCollum


To the Editor,
I was one of about 16 Upper Valley residents who joined a throng of people in Washington, D.C, on Saturday, April 20, in a march protesting the Bush administration's militarized foreign and domestic policies. The event was called "War is Not the Answer: Another World is Possible." The Associated Press reported the crowd's size at around 35,000 people, but the television news in D.C., people in attendance, and other news outlets reported the number at close to 100,000.
The size of the crowd matters, as does the great variety of the people within it. Both show that there are many of us from many different backgrounds in the United States who not only do not support the so-called "War on Terrorism", but who are actively looking for NON-VIOLENT solutions to terrorism. American citizens with ancestors from Africa, the Americas, Asia, the Middle East, and Europe were all present in large numbers at the march, and they carried thousands of signs asking for peace in hundreds of different ways, and in different languages, including Spanish, Hebrew, Arabic, and what looked like Chinese.
I felt privileged to walk in the midst of that peaceful, American crowd, and to assert my right to free speech and assembly.
  It is a right that millions of people around the world envy, and yet, truthfully, our own government is uneven in its support of civil rights both here and abroad. Today, for example, thousands of men and women of Middle Eastern descent living in the U.S. are held without evidence and without due process for questioning in connection with terrorist activities.
I do not advocate a passive response to terrorism, but I do advocate a creative, non-violent response, one that would strive to alleviate the suffering around the world that leads to desperation and terrorism. I heard recently that the U.S. spends $10 million a day in support of the Israeli military. I wonder, often, what the world would be like if we spent $10 million a day on medicines to cure sick children, or on self-sustaining agricultural programs to help small farmers produce more food, or on programs to bring non-polluting electricity to under-developed areas, or on mediation programs to help warring religious and ethnic groups learn to live together.
You may think I'm unrealistic, but I bet a lot of the people who marched in Washington on April 20 are wondering the same thing.

Linda Ide
East Thetford, VT 05043


To the Editor of the Valley News:

Michael Lorrey's May 1 letter supports the Bush Administration's plans to develop new "usable" nuclear weapons that can be dropped wherever the U.S. suspects the presence of anti-U.S. activity. He disagrees with Dr. John Radebaugh's April 14 letter warning us that the renewal of nuclear testing and weapons development will place the U.S. on the threshold of a permanent state of war and a permanent war economy. He condemns that warning as a "typical left-wing lack of mental follow-through."

Mr. Lorrey's argument, despite its impressive technical content, lacks another type of "mental follow-through"-- one that allows for serious consideration of a future of perpetual war. Only 15 to 20 years ago, most U.S. voters and even school children understood the human and environmental devastation that would be unleashed by nuclear warfare. Does Mr. Lorrey suppose that the United States can use "tactical" nuclear weapons like the "bunker buster" without giving the green light to the many nuclear nations to use their own weapons? Does he permit himself to think about the era of worldwide misery that would follow? Does he consider the possibility that our lives in the U.S. could resemble those of ordinary people in Iraq and Afghanistan today?

Those lines of thought lead me to the conclusion that using nuclear weapons is a line we cannot afford to cross. (Those who place their hope in a "Nuclear Missile Defense" that would protect Americans in the case of nuclear attack may have forgotten a similar absurdity offered in the early 1980's by the Federal Emergency Management Administration.


The official Civil Defense plan in that tense period of Cold-War nuclear stand-off instructed all citizens to dig a large hole in the back yard with a heavy door to cover it and equip it with drinking water and a small radio with fresh batteries. In case of attack, we were told to climb in, cover up, and wait for instructions!)

Since 9/11 we know only too well that there is a segment of people who hate everything America stands for. The dangerous and honorable work of finding them and bringing them to justice does not require an ever-expanding "War on Terrorism" and more weapons of mass destruction, funded by a vastly bloated military budget. The currently proposed $399 billion military budget is THREE TIMES the combined military budgets of all potential U.S. military enemies (China, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Russia, Sudan, Syria) and SEVEN TIMES the military budget of any one of our current allies.

Yet the root causes of violence and war are poverty, oppression, and ignorance. The long-term solutions are in meeting human needs and strengthening the international rule of law. At this time, the U.S. ranks last among developed countries in the percentage of gross domestic product that goes for international development (0.11%), and weakly supports the United Nations.

People whose thinking extends beyond immediate defense and retaliation to envision the kind of world we want to live in may wish to tell their government officials that a huge military budget will never eliminate the roots of terrorism and that new nuclear weapons will not increase our safety.

Kathleen K. Shepherd


10 May 2002
Martin Frank
The Valley News
7 Interchange Drive
West Lebanon NH 03784
Dear Editor:

I didn't know the sign I wore at the April 20th peace demonstration in Washington would draw as much attention as it did, and so I wasn't prepared when cameramen, cable correspondents and newspaper reporters sidled up and asked why I was in Washington. How to reduce 15 months of opposition to Bush administration policies and 8 months of opposition to our nation's "war on terrorism" to a cogent, snappy sound bite?

I couldn't, but the questions made me reflect again on why I disagree so deeply with the direction America is taking. We are the richest, most powerful and most dominant nation in the world, ever; our citizens occupy a position of great privilege relative to those in most other countries, certainly all developing countries, where the overwhelming majority of the world's population lives.

So for me, the questions have become clearer, if not simple: What kind of world do we want to live in? And how will we use our power and privilege to work toward making that world a reality?

Do we want to live in a secure world that is at peace or a world where no one is safe and we are constantly at war? And if we want a stable, peaceful world, are we most likely to achieve that through the persistent use of force and violent means, or through the rule of law, international cooperation, and political solutions based on non-violence?




If we want to kill more of the world's people and make sure no one feels safe, then we are headed down the right path: we can with impunity withdraw from international arms agreements and treaties, insist that the tactical use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states is legitimate, finance a national missile defense system, oppose the creation of an international criminal court, subvert the Vienna Convention, maintain over 350 military installations in sovereign nations around the globe, provide millions of dollars daily to the Israeli military, Colombia, Indonesia and others…..We can, as we are doing, militarize our foreign policy and develop a domestic war economy.

Suppose instead, as Linda Ide suggested in her letter which appeared on Saturday, May 4th, we did something else with our brains, energy, creativity and money? Suppose we worked toward the peaceful prevention of deadly conflict, and found alternatives to the wars we are now waging? Anyone who prefers this scenario to the other should beware and speak out now, because soon, if the gentlemen in Washington have their way, this will no longer be an option during this administration. The February issue of The Friends Committee on National Legislation newsletter is devoted to the topic of an alternative to the War on Terror. I would gladly send copies to anyone interested in learning more.


Lindsay Dearborn
Lebanon NH


To The Editor:

Presidents Bush and Putin are expected to meet this week in Moscow. This is a real opportunity for them to decrease the danger posed by nuclear weapons and to act as leaders in ridding the world of the nuclear danger. That danger is not widely publicized in recent years, but aging Soviet weapons, with weak security systems in a nation beleaguered by major organized crime syndicates, continue to imperil people everywhere.

Real reductions in the nuclear arsenals are needed to increase safety worldwide. First, the U.S. must work with Russia to remove and dismantle all nuclear weapons from strategic deployment. Second, there must be a verification system for these reductions. Third, the rate of retirement of weapons must also be accelerated. Placing them in storage does not stop them from being re-deployed when the agreement expires.


Because of the expected U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty on June 13, 2002, tensions between the U.S. and Russia may rise, so it is important that the U.S. and Russia take steps now to increase nuclear stability and transparency. A comprehensive verification system for these reductions would help, and should have a place in a new legally binding treaty with Russia.

Those who share this concern for our safety may wish to contact Secretary of State Colin Powell at the Department of State, 2201 C St. NW, Washington, DC 20520, or fax: 202-647-4000.


Kathleen Shepherd


To the Editor:

September 11th seared our psyches with images of ordinary people doing what they could in the time they had to help others and serve the common good. Ordinary people making transcendent choices showed the rest of us something about (1) the power of choice, (2) the possibility of discerning or creating choices where there seem to be none, and (3) the average person's intrinsic goodness.

Sadly, our government's "war on terrorism" falls short of honoring their example. It kills, maims, displaces, terrorizes, and dispossesses the innocent; it consumes resources that could be spent combating the real threats to peace and security (hunger, poverty, illiteracy, injustice, and oppression); and it supports the military-industrial complex, which promotes the machinery and economy of war, not to mention the underlying psychology of polarization (we/they, win/lose, good/evil, either/or) that is antithetical to peace.

The "war on terrorism" confirms America's image as the bully on the block while perpetuating the cycle of fear and retribution that feeds terrorism in the first place. True, we toppled the Taliban, but our bombs and land mines have killed more civilians in Afghanistan than were lost on our soil last September.


We need only consider the FBI's latest warnings about future terrorist attacks to gauge the success of our military action: Osama bin Laden may be long gone, but terrorism continues and Americans are no safer now than we were nine months ago.

However much we glorify it, warfare remains an outmoded option that cannot bring peace or serve the common good. We owe it to our children and grandchildren-if not those who died on September 11th-to halt the juggernaut of violence by choosing more thoughtful, humane, and democratic answers to terrorism. We, the people, have what it takes to confront the injustices that divide our world. We can stop overpopulation and environmental degradation simply by sharing, conserving, and practicing self-restraint. We have it in us to do that.

As we saw on September 11th, nonviolent grassroots efforts can transcend self-interest to address suffering with compassion, generosity, decency, and even-handedness. If we craft such efforts cooperatively, they can speak for all of us and carry our collective support. They can be the essence of democracy and the highest expression of patriotism. We, the people, can see to it that they serve the common good.

Deb Hawthorn
South Strafford


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