In nearly 40 years of reading (and mostly admiring) the editorial views of your paper, I can't remember a more jingoistic piece than your Feb. 11 editorial "Standing With Saddam." Whose opinion do you hope to sway by scolding that Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder "could poison international relations for years to come" because of their aversion to immediate preemptive war? Do Russian President Vladimir Putin and Pope John Paul II, sharing that aversion, also "stand with Saddam"?

Yes, this is a deeply dangerous moment in world affairs, but your paper does its own illustrious history a disservice by such "fur us or agin us" editorial rhetoric.

-- Martin Sullivan


This is an opinion from "tiny" Belgium. The majority of our population (89 percent) here does not support any action against Iraq without the approval of the United Nations. So our people support the decisions of our leaders -- democracy, you know.

The fact that we're a "tiny" country is beside the point. Your editorial makes it sound as if we are too small to have an opinion. Talk about arrogance! As you know, Belgium has often been the battleground of Europe throughout the ages. So we know what we are talking about.

The U.S. population has almost no experience with war on its turf. We feel that we should give a diplomatic solution every chance, however "tiny" that chance may be.

-- Antoon Jamine


Your editorial accuses the French of "standing with Saddam" and threatening the credibility of NATO and the United Nations for resisting efforts to prepare for war in Iraq. On the same day, however, you offer op-ed columns by Morton Halperin and Richard Cohen that set forth for an individual or a country the rationale for objecting to war. Because credible arguments are being made against war, both in your pages and among majorities in Europe, how else would countries such as France or Germany object to a war within the framework of international law?

Exactly in the manner in which they are moving.

As for the credibility of NATO and the United Nations, isn't it the United States that is using such rhetoric as "we are going in with or without the U.N. and NATO" and "U.N., do your job"? Aren't we ourselves threatening the credibility of NATO and the United Nations?

-- Julian Brown


Jim Hoagland's Feb. 9 op-ed column, "Why It's War, Dear Friend," is based on two fundamental fallacies that also underpin the Bush administration's position on Iraq. The first is that it is given unto the United States to alter the Arab topography and to bear the torch of progress and change into that heart of darkness.

Hoagland embarks on a polemic of astonishing arrogance, listing all the Arab ills seen through Western eyes in a bid to establish what is no more than a self-righteous claim to war. It bears repeating, as Russian President Vladimir Putin did on French TV last weekend, that the U.N. charter does not give any country the right to change the regime of another, however disreputable that regime might be.

The second fallacy, as Sen. Edward Kennedy has pointed out, is that by "winning" the war the United States is going to win the peace. There is no way of telling that the situation will not deteriorate much more. Is this a case for inaction? No, but it is a case for a different kind of action, such as that being proposed by the more sane elements in this debate, France and Germany.

-- Kaustuv Roy


Michael Kazin's Feb. 9 Outlook article distorts the atmosphere of the major antiwar rallies by stating that "the organizers . . . refuse to say anything critical of Saddam Hussein." At the Oct. 26 rally in Washington, I heard Jesse Jackson -- not your most low-profile guy -- vehemently denounce Hussein. And a sign waved in numerous places read, "Anti-war is not anti-American." From all I hear, the mood at the rallies in recent weeks has been similar.

Kazin dwells on statements by the Workers World Party, an otherwise obscure group that has supplied organizers for the rallies. But this group's ideology is not representative of the vast, diverse crowds that participated.

I've been handed literature by both the Libertarians for Peace and Socialists for Peace -- who had set up tables side by side. Among demonstrators, I've also seen huge numbers of those very "Middle Americans" whom Kazin says "the American left" has turned off.

Probably like many of those people, I grew up in a family that proudly flew the flag on patriotic holidays. My family were liberals, but that was before the symbol of the flag had been co-opted by arrogant, "are-you-with-us-or-against-us?" government leaders. Like most Americans, I've spent my life believing in liberty and democracy as American values.

The responsibility for betraying those values does not lie with "the left."

-- Chris Edwards