John Berry recently declared that a bloodbath in the Gulf could do wonders for the world economy {Outlook, Oct. 7}. His position is an outrage. What is a booming economy with blood on its hands?

Several weeks ago, TV news anchor Peter Jennings asked American soldiers in the Gulf why they were there. The expected answers, "to get the Iraqis out of Kuwait" or "to restore the government of Kuwait," were missing. Two of the soldiers who were interviewed said that if it meant giving up their lives for Americans back home to have lower gas prices, then it seemed a good enough reason for them to be in the Gulf.

These soldiers have fallen under the same spell that John Berry has -- that every life has its cost and benefit. If this is true, then let's not hide the truth. If we go to war, let's plaster the pictures of the war's victims on the gas tanks and trucks that supply us with lower prices. Then we can honor our dead as we wax poetic about a surge in the economy. -- Nancy E. Snow The writer is an instructor in peace studies at The American University. Memory Lapse

Have you, who so lavishly documented the daily details of Watergate, forgotten one of the most obvious facts about that episode?

Richard Nixon was not impeached while serving as president, as your Sept. 29 obituary of Lawrence F. O'Brien Jr. stated. The House Judiciary Committee voted to recommend impeachment on three articles (obstruction of justice, abuse of power, defiance of committee subpoenas), but Nixon resigned before the House took any further action.

Thus Andrew Johnson remains the only president who faced such an indictment, choosing to fight for vindication in a Senate trial.

-- Stephen Harris Mixed Message

No wonder Richard Cohen has difficulty assimilating changes bought on by feminism {"The Battle of the Sexes," Good Health Magazine, Oct. 7}. Many women still give sharply conflicting messages about equality and responsibility. For example, the day before Cohen's column, the Free For All page featured a letter from Jacqueline Richmond, who said she marched for women's rights 25 years ago. She also complained of receiving no income from her husband of 27 years.

Women will never be perceived as equal until they take full responsibility for their life decisions. I have seen too many woman choose financial dependency and the freedom of being able to dabble at careers, then later demand alimony for the career sacrifices they made during marriage. And I am not speaking of women with young children at home.

As Cohen's article mentioned, alimony is sexist. Women will never achieve equality until they free themselves from the lure of financial dependency on a man. -- Jean V. Johnson 'Mountain' Tops

I was one of the fortunates at the opening of "Mountain" at Ford's Theatre. The audience was enthralled by the action and the acting in this play about the life of the late Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas. Rarely have I heard a more spontaneous or enthusiastic standing ovation.

Megan Rosenfeld's review was pitiful {Style, Oct. 3}. She coupled a synopsis of the plot -- the easy out -- with a boring, overly long, moralistic look at Douglas's life style and his politics.

"Mountain" is good theater.

Your readers deserve better than Rosenfeld's misleading diatribe. -- Herbert Bain Justice Wasn't Served

I was offended by the gratuitous comment about Justice William Douglas's fourth wife, Cathleen Heffernan, in "The Bachelors" {Style, Oct. 3}. She may once have been a "cocktail waitress," but she is now a partner in a leading Boston law firm, sits on the boards of many important corporations and is active in Democratic politics. She is considered to be one of the brightest women in Boston.

In addition, she was a wonderful and loving wife to Douglas during his last years and his illness.

-- Karen Fawcett Perils of Wisdom

Ruth E. Thaler-Carter said that peril is not a verb and that she didn't want it to go the way of another abused noun, impact {Free for All, Oct. 13}.

Peril did not just go that way -- it arrived safely.

Webster's 1988 Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary cites peril as a verb in use in 1567, and Webster's 1958 New International Dictionary, Second Edition (Unabridged), cites John Milton's use of peril as a verb.

-- Joseph N. Sweeney