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Threat of Persion Gulf war sparks student debate (2)

(Editor's note: The Tech received a copy of this letter addressed to President George Bush.)

Congress has given you the authority to start a war; I write to ask you not to use that power. Please consider:

1. Your sanctions are working brilliantly! Every foreign item used in Iraq is a foreign item not replaced. The media tell us that their gross national product is down 40 percent and still dropping -- an enormous loss that must be felt at many levels of Iraqi society.

On the issue of sanctions, your coalition is holding. You have achieved some of our most important goals: The hostages are free, and Saudi Arabia is safe. By contrast, Saddam Hussein has achieved nothing. He didn't invade Kuwait for its oil; he invaded for the money he thought he could get from the oil. And he isn't getting any.

2. A war would be incredibly costly. Many of our young people would die. Anti-Americanism in the Middle East is bad enough now, but the sight of Americans killing Arabs would make it much, much worse. "Remember Iraq!" could become a rallying cry for terrorists for decades to come.

Among the dead would be many Kuwaitis -- the very people you want to help. Also, many Iraqi civilians would die, even though the people of the United States have no quarrel with the people of Iraq.

3. It's not clear that a war would help us achieve our objectives. We would end up destroying much of what is left of Kuwait in order to "save" it.

Saddam could be strengthened within his own country -- as we all know, it's one thing to dislike your leader in peacetime when you feel he is erring, but in a war, patriotic feelings grow much stronger. Surely this is as true in Iraq as anywhere else. And if he is killed or deposed, would the next person be much better?

4. A war could have results no one can predict -- except that they are likely to be unpleasant. Will the Saudis support a campaign in Iraq? How long will the Egyptians fight? Do you really trust the Syrians? Will anything happen to the government of Turkey?

For these reasons, I ask you: Cajole, use pressure, threaten if you must, and let Saddam worry about what you might do next. But please don't start a war! There would be no winners; only losers.

We can outlast Saddam. We waited 40 years to win the Russians over, and I daresay the results are encouraging. We can do it again if we have to, but Saddam is much weaker than the Soviets and is not likely to last anywhere near as long as that.

William Jockusch G->