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On the surface, Charles Krauthammer's Essay "The Case for Fearmongering" [Oct. 18] provides a counter- intuitive yet compelling case for the strategic evocation of fear. The underlying assumptions are that being afraid is salutary and that awareness of the threat of terrorist attacks will motivate swift, effective action and ultimately result in a safer America. Unfortunately, the true motive for scaring the American people is to win the election. The U.S. is no safer than it was before 9/11, and the passionate rhetoric to do everything possible to defeat terrorism will largely fall by the wayside, along with the flotsam of other broken campaign promises. Superficial, symbolic bills may be passed and empty new bureaucracies may be formed, but neither will truly protect America.
RYAN SHEEHAN Chardon, Ohio
Krauthammer's argument in favor of fear hit a home run. While today's urgent issues are the economy, unemployment, health insurance and education, tomorrow's pressing issue will be nuclear warfare. We cannot uninvent nuclear fission and its terrifying consequences for the human race any more than we can uninvent gunpowder. Nuclear weapons in the hands of a responsible government can sit idle, serving only as a threat of retaliation against less responsible governments. Those same weapons in the hands of nations that care nothing for earthly survival can destroy the world.
FRANCES F. MULLON Ripley, Okla.
The case Krauthammer makes for fearmongering is implausible on its face. Fear as a political tactic does not help people identify the threats against them; it engenders paranoid feelings that anyone might be a danger. Fear does not help citizens in a democracy act more rationally. Perceiving everyone as a threat encourages random viciousness--eventually against even one's friends. A campaign of fear does not allow for the return to any status quo; it demands a permanent war of all against all.
EUGENE V. TORISKY JR. Greensburg, Pa.
Just how much more fear do we need to whip up the public? Krauthammer suggests that we're not fearful enough. Golly, should I start installing surveillance cameras around my property to make sure terrorists aren't lurking in the shrubs before I let my children out to play? Should I build my backyard bunker now? Should we be deeply concerned about terrorists obtaining nukes? Yes. Should we be continually afraid? Absolutely not. Too much constant fear leads to irrational thoughts and actions.
PATRICK O'BRIEN Sandusky, Ohio
Your article "What Saddam Was Really Thinking" described disclosures made in Charles Duelfer's CIA report on Iraq's alleged weapons arsenal [Oct. 18]. The greatest mystery is not why Saddam Hussein let the world assume he had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) but why, with the best intelligence our tax money could buy, the U.S. was totally fooled--and as a result has lost more than 1,100 precious American lives. I shudder to think what other surprises await us.
J. CONNOR BOGGS Kaneohe, Hawaii