America stands at the edge of a dangerous historical precipice. If our planned invasion of Iraq becomes a bloodbath, or we fail to rebuild it and stabilize the region afterward, we may face an anti-American coalition. Some opponents of military action have warned of this result (War threat ignites ralliers on all sides, March 18).
If our enemies smell blood, they and many of those sitting on the sideline will gladly spring for our collective throats. Initial signs of this are in the rhetoric of the so-called peace movement, which is silent about Saddam Hussein's brutal regime while engaging in inflammatory denunciations of President Bush and the United States' superpower status.
If we are seen as weakened, Iraq and radical Islamic groups will redouble their terrorist activities against us. North Korea will be emboldened in its proliferation of nuclear weapons. Nations such as China and Russia will become more active in their opposition to us.
If enough sustained pressure is brought to bear upon the United States in future years by various nations and groups, through terrorism, economics or outright war, our own decline and fall could be swift.
We are no more immortal than any other large nation or empire in history that has since crumbled. Like the Roman Empire in the ancient world, our various economic, social and cultural problems and trends are creating serious internal rot that may leave us vulnerable to our enemies.
This is why the American effort against the Iraqi regime must prevail Ñ not only militarily but in restructuring the dynamics of the Middle East so that radical Islam loses its power base.
If we do not, while able, vanquish those enemies seeking our destruction, the time will come when, having gained sufficient strength and allies to destroy us, they will do so without hesitation and without mercy Ñ as the graphic images of 9-11 showed.
Harley C. Jamieson
Mejia shooting doesn't
In a perfect world, the police would have foresight and hindsight Ñ plus the ability to see beyond the immediate drama facing them Ñ but, unfortunately, they are people like all of us, human, without those abilities (Mejia fallout continues to haunt police, March 11).
Along come the 'high-powered' lawyers, eager to get a big settlement for themselves and their clients. Because of human errors on every front in this situation, once again the Oregon taxpayer will get hammered.
Most of us in that situation, and not knowing Jose Santos Victor Mejia Poot's background, would have reacted exactly as these officers did, not knowing in advance all the circumstances of this case.
If the officers had stopped and checked with the family to see if Mejia had taken his medicine, if they had checked his medical background with the appropriate agencies, and if an innocent bystander had been killed by Mejia, then this story would be asking, 'Why did those officers take so long to respond to a definitely threatening situation?'
Wouldn't a more positive response than all these lawsuits be a class taught by English-speaking Mexicans to non-English-speaking Mexicans to learn enough English to respond to law enforcement? That hopefully would eliminate some of these tragic errors that everyone or no one is responsible for.
Drug laws strain
For more than a decade the American Antiprohibition League has been warning lawmakers that this day would come, the breakdown of civil authority accompanied by unchecked crime (Budget cuts cripple long arm of the law, March 4). However, it's not too late to save our criminal justice system from complete 'meltdown,' as Portland Police Chief Mark Kroeker put it. I think it's long overdue that our lawmakers drop this phony bravado of 'tough on drugs' and get smart on drug policy.
It's clear that drug prohibition, plus drug addiction, generate a lot of crime and cost a lot of money. We have learned that a very large share of our public safety resources is spent on a few hundred chronic offenders who cycle through the system ad infinitum.
It's no secret that most of this select group are junkies, crackheads and speed freaks, committing mostly nonviolent property crimes or trafficking in drugs to finance their often multiple addictions. It should be understood, relative to the total number of people who use any illegal substance, that this subgroup represents a small, albeit very expensive, minority.
So, what if there were a way to keep most of these troublemakers, the habitual offenders, out of the system? What if we could prevent much of their criminal activity, drug dealing?
Start from the basic, albeit obscured and oppressed, premise: The law notwithstanding, adults have a natural right Ñ respecting the rights of others, of course Ñ to smoke, snort, ingest or inject any drug they want.
Once you accept this basic reality, then it's merely a question of creating reasonable regulations to govern the manufacture and distribution of the particular substance.
After that, for better or for worse, it's up to the individual.
Granted, drug addiction is a tragic, sometimes fatal fate, and I am in full support of drug education, prevention and voluntary treatment. Nonetheless, I am unwilling to sacrifice my freedom or our scarce public resources because a few addicts are bent on self-destruction or because lawmakers remain stuck on stupid about drugs.
Floyd Ferris Landrath
American Antiprohibition League