The Post reported on the sending of reporters to Iraq by the American television networks as if it were some sort of contest to be won by the first network to produce the most daring and provocative stories from inside Iraq using the network's most well-known anchors and reporters {Style, Aug. 16}.

The networks should stop treating the Middle East crisis as a race among themselves, and The Post should stop reporting it as such. We all want to be kept up to date on the situation in the Persian Gulf region, but have the networks considered the possibility that by sending Ted Koppel, Dan Rather, et al. to Iraq they may have ended up doing more harm than good? How would America have responded if these well-known reporters had been taken hostage along with the thousands of other Americans already being detained in Iraq and Kuwait? What would happen if Saddam Hussein had decided to show his defiance of the West by having a public figure like Dan Rather executed? From what we've learned about Saddam Hussein recently, such ideas are not far-fetched.

The American television networks should stop flirting with the possibility of creating an international incident and possibly triggering a war. Their high-profile anchors and reporters should be kept out of Iraq. JOHN DUGAN Fairfax