HOW can we believe Tony Blair when he says that it is for humanitarian reasons that he is prepared to launch an aggressive war against Iraq?

The only certainty of war is that it will result in people being killed.

Taking life is the complete opposite of being humanitarian. As to what happens after the killing, that can never be known with certainty. Only someone determined to deceive himself or others would pretend otherwise.

Saddam Hussein has been notorious as a murderous dictator for 23 years. Tony Blair knew this when he took power in 1997 and was in a position to do something to alleviate the suffering of Iraqis. If removing suffering is the real motive behind the Prime Minister's decision to act, then he has wasted five years.

The reality is that he has done the opposite of relieving suffering. He has continued bombing Iraq and has maintained sanctions. Yet he now claims our intelligence services have known for years that the sanctions have had no effect in achieving their aims of disarming Saddam Hussein.

Why did he continue with them?

What the sanctions have actually done, according to the World Health Organisation, is to cause the death and suffering of 500,000 Iraqi children.

No one doubts Saddam Hussein is a thug. But where is the evidence that the number of Iraqis he has killed and tortured during the same period is even a fraction of the number killed and maimed by Anglo-American weapons and the sanctions?

If the figures supported their argument you can be sure Bush and Blair would have announced them.

The certain way to relieve suffering is to do just that, not to launch wars.

Maurice Vassie, Deighton, York.

...IT was very generous of you to give a half page to the "Save Saddam Campaign" and its founder member of the York branch, Chris Fuller - generous and biased (February 20).

The rantings of this young man get sillier every day.

In his article Mr Fuller tells us we should ignore any resolution that may be passed by the UN. What a giant leap on the road to anarchy that would be.

The UN does not have an armed force, it relies upon its members to act in unison, or individually, to carry out its resolutions.

If the USA is humiliated in the present situation and does not attack Iraq, it may withdraw from the UN and there will be no force left strong enough to tackle Saddam or any of the other tyrants in the world today.

One of your other contributors, Mr Westmoreland, called the USA terrorists because they dropped the atomic bomb on Japan. How little he knows.

After Japan surrendered there was dancing in the streets, millions of people rejoiced because they knew their loved ones would be coming home.

Well, at least some of them - others would have died building the Burma railway or in Changi jail No one thought the Americans were terrorists then, we just wished that they had had the bomb years earlier.

On the "Save Saddam March", your columnist Stephen Lewis would have noticed the banners saying that sanctions against Iraq had cost the lives of over 500,000 children.

So what does Mr Lewis put forward as a solution to the present crises?

More sanctions.

Chris Fuller says we have the chance to change history. Let's do it by getting rid of Saddam.

D M Martin, Fulford Road, York.

...I THANK Stephen Lewis for his article about Tony Blair and Iraq (February 20). We agreed with every word of it and look forward to many more articles in similar vein, especially about peaceful alternatives and building international and inter-faith co-operation to promote justice and democracy wherever they are needed - in Iraq, Tibet and Zimbabwe.

Rowena Field and Adrian Lovett, Huntington Road, York.

Updated: 10:40 Friday, February 28, 2003