Robert Novak's Dec. 26 op-ed column, "Sharon's War," which implied that Israel is a Middle East obstructionist exerting a sinister influence on U.S. policy, did a disservice to the United States by suggesting that ignoring Hezbollah will be in the U.S. interest.

U.S. intelligence has identified Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah as a major threat not only to Mideast peace but also to U.S. interests and integrity. If we follow Mr. Novak's advice, we will have another 9/11 disaster with a Hezbollah label.

HENRY KAPLAN

Saratoga, Calif.

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Robert Novak implied that any war fought by the United States against Iraq is solely for Israel's sake. He based this conclusion on the fact that Israel would benefit from Saddam Hussein's demise.

What Mr. Novak does not mention is that most countries in the world also would benefit. He also ignored the question of exactly how the Bush administration's policies help Israel.

President Bush and his top officials have said many times that if Saddam Hussein reacts to a U.S. invasion by attacking Israel, Israel should not retaliate. Saddam Hussein cannot interpret such statements as anything other than an invitation to strike Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Can Mr. Novak explain how this is to Israel's advantage?

MICHAEL FLEISCHHACKER

Silver Spring