President Bush called upon the United Nations to show some backbone in the Iraqi situation [front page, March 18]. What he fails to recognize is that it has shown backbone -- by standing up to the United States.

I applaud the United Nations' desire to find a peaceful resolution to the problem of Saddam Hussein, something President Bush has been far less willing to do. True leaders work for peace, and in this regard the United Nations has been a far better leader than our own.

JIM STIPE

Washington

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When U.S. and allied military forces take control of Iraq, I have no doubt that ample proof of banned weapons will be found. We may find that Saddam Hussein has been working on nasty surprises we knew nothing about.

It makes no difference if some of the Bush administration's accusations turn out to be unfounded. It is not the weapons that Saddam Hussein possesses so much as his proven willingness to attack other countries that makes him a dangerous threat worthy of a preemptive strike.

DAVID LINCOLN

Gaithersburg

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President Bush's speech was both a declaration of war and an admission of failed diplomacy. Despite more than a year of campaigning, the United States now faces war with only a handful of allies and without the support of close allies such as Mexico, Canada, France, Germany, Belgium and Turkey.

The administration pulled its U.N. Security Council resolution off the table not because of the threatened vetoes from France and Russia but because even bribery and bullying had failed to convince most council members of the rightness of the Anglo-American cause.

The arguments put forth by the allies have been unconvincing. When pressured for facts and questioned about long-term consequences, the Bush administration has reacted with bombastic retorts and insults of those who dare to question U.S. authority.

President Bush basically declared on Saint Patrick's Day that the United States can no longer lead by benign example and must now resort to raw force to impose its will upon the world.

ERIC ERICKSON

Washington

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Just to be absolutely clear: Our new foreign policy doctrine -- strongly supported by The Post [editorial, March 17] -- is that we will invade and occupy countries that may have the means to attack us in the future. We will install political and economic systems in those countries during an open-ended period of occupation. And we will use proceeds from the sale of the invaded country's own resources to pay for the installation of those systems.

All of this was authorized by last fall's congressional vote to disarm Saddam Hussein.

Did I miss anything?

E. SCOTT THOMAS

Bethesda