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I agree that as a nurse I share with society the responsibility to initiate and support actions that meet the health and social needs of the public ("What If Nurses Said No to the War?"Viewpoint, January). My question is for Geraldine Gorman: what would you suggest as the alternative to the war against Iraq and terrorism?


Think back to September 11, 2001. Are we only to tend the dead, heal the wounded, and try to understand why terrorists committed this terrible act of violence against the United States and hope that they won't do it again? I can't accept that. There will always be people who want to dominate others. If we don't help the people of Iraq and other Muslim nations improve their lives by removing their dictators, then we are at odds with your statement that we're supposed to support actions that meet the health and social needs of the public. Kindness and good works will not sway terrorists to our way of thinking. But kindness and good works might sway the people they have ruled and bring about positive changes in the world. Sometimes those good works will entail the death of innocent people, but how many innocent people have been killed by rulers such as Saddam Hussein while we have done nothing?


No one wants to see the devastation of war, but if we don't remain strong as a country and do the right thing to help those who can't help themselves, eventually their oppressors will become our oppressors.


Lisa L. Cassmann, RN


Algona, IA


I feel the same longing for an ideal world as January Viewpoint author Geraldine Gorman. But her idealism exists because of the freedom she is so fortunate to experience-a freedom born of the sacrifices our soldiers have made for more than two centuries. Our freedom and soft, comfortable lives rest on successfully making over the Middle East as a center of democracy, a place that no longer breeds fanaticism.


Saddam Hussein killed people not because the world turned its back on the young and the sick in Iraq, but because a cruel dictator appropriated the world's relief funds for his own palaces and weapons. As soon as the world no longer has cruel tyrants like Saddam, I will say no to war.


Laura J. Hartman, BSN, RN


Granite Bay, CA


Are nurses to oppose war or be proponents for peace? That is a rhetorical question, but the underlying concept is at play in our careers daily. What if nurses said no to treatment of any illness caused by something that they personally oppose (such as cirrhosis caused by alcoholism or emphysema caused by tobacco use)?


I was a peace proponent in the late '60s. Later, I was drafted into the U.S. Army and became an army nurse. I still opposed the war, but my perspective changed when caring for those injured in war. I found I could still oppose the war and deliver relief for the sick and afflicted.


I do believe nurses have tremendous power as advocates for good. But I feel that the question of whether we support or oppose a war is personal. I wouldn't be comfortable recruiting other nurses to oppose the war, or to "just say no."


To me, using the collective power of nurses against war is the wrong approach. It's not one that will promote peace or wellness, but will instead stir up contention and ill feelings, as it did during the Vietnam War.


Robert Larson, RN


Perkasie, PA


I would like to congratulate AJN for publishing authors who take a strong stand for health and for people. I was very glad indeed to see "What If Nurses Said No to the War?" Be prepared for the wailing masses to condemn Gorman as a "pansy" or "unpatriotic" or just too naive. It's high time that those of us who may have something to lose start speaking truth to power. AJN is doing its part, and I may say, leading the way.


Ann Storms, RN


Santa Rosa, CA


Author Geraldine Gorman, PhD, RN, replies: There is no validity to a "war on terrorism." Terrorism is a nebulous term, shadowy, insubstantial, and used to incite fear. Terrorism has neither country nor ideology but constitutes a response to desperation.


The alternative to the devastation of Iraq would have been a principled refusal to engage in preemptive strikes based on discredited information. The flawed intelligence purporting Iraqi possession of weapons of mass destruction has been thoroughly and widely denounced. We can no longer claim in any good faith that Iraq constituted a threat.


I also believe that "no one wants to see the devastation of war. . . ." Unfortunately, our brothers and sisters in Iraq have no choice; unlike ours, their gaze cannot be averted.