SADDAM Hussein is a rank amateur when it comes to developing biological weapons, invading a smaller neighbour, torture, showing disregard to his own people or state-sponsored terrorism. Consider the following.

- Unit 731: This was the secret Japanese biological warfare programme, based in China during the Second World War. Experiments with cholera and typhoid were carried out on Chinese prisoners of war. After the war, instead of bringing the Japanese scientists to justice, the US cut a deal for the data from the experiments in return for immunity from prosecution for the perpetrators.

- East Timor: In December 1975, although the US knew of the intended Indonesian invasion of East Timor, they did nothing to stop it. All the US asked of General Suharto, was to delay the invasion till Ford and Kissinger left Indonesia and to "succeed quickly". About 200,000 East Timorese died during the 25-year occupation of Indonesia.

- SAVAK: This was the dreaded secret police of the Shah of Iran. Their methods of torture of dissidents were comparable to those used by Saddam Hussein. The main difference, of course, was that the Shah was kept in power by US arms and support in return for "West-leaning" policies and a steady flow of oil.

If the US does go to war with Iraq, it will not be a war between good and evil as Bush portrays it. It will be one between the mightiest nation in the world and a pretty mediocre one, both with the blood of millions on their hands.

The US does not need our military help. It only requires us to provide a moral fig leaf. The dignified approach for Britain would be to maintain neutrality and advocate a diplomatic resolution.

Seggy T Segaran, Holgate Road, York.

...IN no way do I support the Iraqi regime, but I also cannot stand hypocrisy.

Of course Saddam Hussein has biochemical weapons - the US sold them to him in his war against the then enemy, Iran: anthrax, amongst others.

Bin Laden, so I believe, even offered to get rid of Saddam in the last Gulf war, a proposal rejected by Bush senior as a step too far, so I can't see any credible link there.

And anyway, when I was a kid, I remember being told that the IRA bombs killing people in London were bought by money collected in America. We have propped up some vile dictators in our time; isn't it our fault when they pop up and bite us?

Andrew Tessier, Rose Street, York.

...I WOULD be more likely to accept Tony Blair's view that I, as a peace campaigner, should be sympathetic to the repression and suffering of Iraqis, if he and his government stopped selling arms and equipment to dictators and governments of a dodgy nature.

He and successive governments of the UK put jobs in armament manufacture before the lives of people in other countries. Iraq is just one country we have sold weapons of death and repression to in the past.

At least I am consistent in my belief that we should be working for peace all the time and not just when it suits me and the Republicans currently governing the United States of America.

Come on Tony, get your policies joined up.

Bill Shaw, York Green Party, St Olaves Road, York.

...I HOPE we will not lose the impetus gained from the amazing numbers who demonstrated in London and throughout the world on February 15.

It should be a day to go down in history; a massive expression of public opinion supported by people of all ages.

On the same day Tony Blair was assuring his audience in Glasgow that to attack Iraq would be a humanitarian act. The immigrants might agree, but they will not be there to see the wreckage or die with their compatriots.

Now George Bush praises his "friend" Tony for so bravely standing with him against the force of public opinion. Sickening?

We need to keep up the pressure on the Government to give the inspectors time. Certainly keep up the pressure on Saddam but, above all, adhere to the decisions of the UN.

Jean Frost, Elmpark Way, York.

...I AM compelled to reply to Colin Henson (February 17).

No, Bush did not invade Canada in 1980, but the USA did have plans to attack Canada in the 1930s. Then again, 1812 was the last time before 2001 that Washington was attacked, when we marched from Canada and burned down the White House, and the USA last felt as vulnerable as the rest of the world has since.

Meanwhile, the USA supplied arms and intelligence to Iraq in their war against Iran because their CIA-installed Shah had been deposed.

No, Bush did not invade Kuwait, but the American ambassador to Iraq gave tacit support to Saddam Hussein when he indicated that he would invade Kuwait.

No, Bush has not fired missiles at Cuba, but the CIA backed the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba after the nationalist revolution of 1959 when Castro sent the mafia packing from Havana and introduced 100 per cent literacy.

Since then, the USA has maintained a vindictive economic blockade of Cuba which forced it to seek help from the Soviet Union.

The only time that Saddam Hussein has been conclusively linked with international terrorism is when he backed the Iranian Embassy hostage takers.

Bush Snr let down the people of Iraq after he called on them to topple Saddam Hussein as the last Gulf War ended prematurely and he did nothing to help them. There is still no sufficient pretext for Bush Jnr to finish what Bush Snr started.

Dr Duncan Campbell, Albemarle Road, York.

...FOR many of years we the people of Great Britain have been very proud of our armed forces.

I was proud to serve in the Second World War. We, the people of Great Britain, were willing to fight for our country. But I just do not know why a so-called Prime Minister is willing to send our armed forces to a disputed country like Iraq.

Has he no respect for our forces?

Long live our armed forces and thank you for keeping our country free and under our Royal family and government.

Tom Smith CMX 105615 RN, Heathfield Road, York.

Updated: 12:46 Friday, February 21, 2003