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The essay asserts that moral rectitude ought to play second fiddle in the conduct of statecraft. To treat the people of other nations as pawns in a geopolitical chess game is a damnable proposition. The U.S. enjoys unprecedented dominance in the economic and military spheres. We have witnessed a continual increase in the number of the world's democratic states. It is unconscionable to fritter away our moral capital by entering into Faustian bargains with thugs. Those pacts have yielded appalling results for Americans and the rest of the people of the world.
New York City

Krauthammer is correct that the U.S. has always tolerated despots but wrong that this is how we fought and won the cold war. We chose to coexist with the Soviet Union in order to avoid the mutually assured destruction of nuclear war. I would remind Bush that it was precisely because we did not attack Russia that we survived to win the cold war.
Williamstown, Mass.

At a time when thousands of lives are sacrificed in war upon the altar of democracy and when the U.S. President is using it to enhance his position in the international community, the argument of necessity triumphing over ideology comes across as hollow, defensive and downright flawed. It is disappointing that Time published this example of American self-justification.

Krauthammer's logic is shocking. The U.S. has a history of cultivating people who become Frankenstein's monsters. Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf will no doubt join this group in a short time. Evil dictators are evil; there is no difference in the degree of evil. You cannot support a dictator just because his enemies are your enemies.
Bangalore, India

As a Pakistani, I was saddened to see our President pictured as one of the "lesser evils" in Krauthammer's Essay. But I am confident that Musharraf got a kick out of it, was even secretly gleeful to be grouped with such malevolent giants as Stalin, the Shah of Iran and Marcos. With all due respect to Franklin Roosevelt and his quip that Nicaragua's Somoza was "a son of bitch. But he's our son of a bitch," it is the mother who nurtures the infant and shows him how to walk and talk. So if the enfant terrible behaves inappropriately, please understand that s.o.b.s across the globe are only walking the walk and talking the talk.

Rattling Sabers and Nerves

President Bush has two motives for wanting to proceed alone with war on Iraq [SPECIAL REPORT, Sept. 16]. He is tired of people suggesting that he wants to finish what his father left undone, and the only way to silence these critics is to get on with the job. More important, he desperately wants to divert the American public from scrutinizing his dismal record on the economy. Bush has finally emerged as what he truly is: a bully who wants to use America's might to follow the path of some of his predecessors.
Chatham, Ont.

Iraq invaded Kuwait. China invaded Tibet. Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. So does China. Iraq ignores human-rights laws. So does China. So why should Iraq be bombed, while China gets the Olympics? The world has been happy to ignore the atrocities committed against the Tibetans. I don't suppose the lack of oil in the Himalayas has anything to do with it?

Si vis pacem, para bellum is latin for "If you want peace, prepare for war." I hope that these words will guide us and that the Iraqi people will be liberated from the dictator Saddam Hussein.

When I was 9, I was told to fear missiles coming to the U.S. from Cuba; they were never fired. When I was 19, I was told that the Vietnamese would join the Chinese and make all of Asia communist; it never happened. When I was 29 and a soldier, I was told what a menace the Russians were, almost invincible. Now I am 49 and a bit more skeptical. Considering everything Bush has said, I still can't see how anything Iraq can do threatens the American way of life one iota. I don't envision Iraqi missiles hitting Des Moines, Iowa, anytime soon. Just as the Soviets painted the U.S. as the bogeyman to control the masses, America must have something to fear to divert attention from domestic problems.
Bekescsaba, Hungary

The daily trivialities of the U.N. have been made it seem as if the nervous minds there are capable of acting only when confronted by a possible rival show led by the U.S. and Britain. This has reinforced the view of the U.N. as a public talking shop that cannot or will not act.
Wotton Under Edge, England

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