Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

In Favor of Opting out of War

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

In Favor of Opting out of War

Article excerpt

In the recent opinion-page article, "Politics, Morals, and `Opting Out' of War," June 14, the author argues that President Bill Clinton's avoidance of military service in the Vietnam War flouted the law of the land, and, although not stated directly, was an act of cowardice. Mr. Clinton, as well as many other young men at that time, found themselves in a no-win situation. Their choice: Either be drafted and serve or evade the draft and protest. Neither course was viewed as particularly righteous, at that time or since.

What must be accepted, particularly in view of recent world developments, is that the Vietnam War was avoidable and unnecessary. Former President Eisenhower cautioned against a land war in Asia, and his advice should have been heeded.

Speaking as one who was drafted and served in Vietnam, I have no problem with Clinton's position, or anyone else's who truly followed his conscience. If we are to go forward as a nation, we must cease to defend what was a mistaken enterprise, regardless of the sacrifices of so many brave and dedicated young men and their families.

Vietnam and World War II were not fought in a vacuum. And we cannot make moral assessments in a vacuum. The two wars were not the same. Michael Shannon, London In Favor of Opting Out of War

The author asks, "... should individual Americans be able to choose what wars they want to fight?" The question is oversimplified and naive. There is a matter of conscience at stake. Germans opposing Hitler ended up in concentration camps; Americans opposing Vietnam fled overseas. Both are consequences of acting on conscience.

I'm a veteran demonstrator and protester of the Vietnam War. What we denounced then - that it was unjust, costly, and extremely destructive - is generally accepted by most historians now.

The end of that cruel and misguided war was brought about at a faster pace because of the protests and demonstrations against it around the world. No one against the war then should apologize for it now. Jacquelyn Reid, Lakeview Terrace, Calif. A man-made natural disaster

I strongly support the article, "Famine Threat Revisits East Africa," June 17, that stresses the early response of food aid from the international community. …

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