Congratulations to Prime Minister David Lange and his New Zealand government for their courageous decision not to allow US nuclear warships into New Zealand ports. He has stuck to this decision in the face of threats of trade sanctions, withdrawal of military intelligence, and cancellation of military exercises with the US Navy. But let it be understood that the decision is worth paying the price even if it does hurt our pockets. It is not a left-wing or pro-Soviet decision -- it is a democratic decision supported by the people -- and of all the world's people, Americans surely understand the meaning of democracy. It is up to the democracies of the world to put an end to the arms race. Let us hope that New Zealand's stand proves to be a milestone in the scaling down of nuclear stockpiles and superpower tension. Bruce Kitchigman Tauranga, New Zealand You are wrong to criticize New Zealand's courageous prime minister, David Lange, for refusing to allow nuclear armed or powered warships into New Zealand's harbors, [``Turbulence in the South Pacific,'' Feb. 6]. Turbulence is exactly what his move should help prevent, at least turbulence that might be caused by use, accidental or intended, of nuclear materials.
I admire Mr. Lange's ability to learn from past mistakes of others. The United States allowed the development of nuclear technology on its soil and now leaves to posterity a perpetual risk of worldwide catastrophe. Your suggestion that Mr. Lange should wait until ``the big powers'' negotiate a nuclear accord is quite chauvinistic because it is easy, but false, to think that the big powers hold all the cards. If more allies insisted that the US reach an arms agreement, the US would strike a bargain with Russia and would stick to that bargain. John P. Baumann St. Paul, Minn.
I was delighted to read the article by Muhammad Hallaj entitled, ``A Monroe Doctrine for the Mideast?'' [March 26]. The author makes some cogent points and lucidly challenges the US government's position in the Middle East. It seems as though there is one huge obstacle to peace in the Middle East -- the US government. C. M. LaFia San Francisco
The Muhammad Hallaj analysis is a brilliant statement of the defenseless American role in the waning Israeli-Palestinian affair as time and Israeli-created facts seal the fate of the Palestinians and their country.
The enormity of Israel's inexorable divestiture of Palestine from its Arabs is, in the US, a non-event. But viewed in an age of instant worldwide communications, Israel's pitiless accomplishment borders on the miraculous, paid for without a whimper by Americans. Lee F. Dinsmore Elcho, Wis.
In the Feb. 2 Weekly International Edition, ``Better superpower relations depend on firm leadership in the Kremlin,'' Joseph C. Harsch refers to the Yalta Agreement of 1945. He writes of the Soviet armies: ``They emptied East Prussia of Germans and made it Russian. They moved the frontiers of Poland westward, at German expense, and settled down on Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and what is now East Germany.'' Another effect of the agreement was to confirm the illegal Soviet occupation of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania and the division of Poland, as agreed between Stalin and Hitler at Brest-Litovsk in 1939. Why do we go along with the communist game and quietly forget the enslavement of people that took place almost 46 years ago? Harry Scutts Hannover, West Germany
The article [``US is beefing up its covert activities''], March 19, contains useful information but it provides no adequate definition of covert activity and then fails to note that ``successful'' covert operations are ones that Americans know nothing about. While providing a historical sketch of covert activities, the article fails to mention activities carried out against the elected government of Allende in Chile.
Lastly, the failure to ask the central question about covert activities: ``Should the US governent hide from the American people and the world its attempts to `influence' and meddle in the internal affairs of another country?'' The correct response is, ``Absolutely not. Covert activity (not intelligence gathering) is undemocratic in nature; if the action is so crucial, then it should be an issue of national concern and debate.''
The fact that once the true nature of US activities in Nicaragua came to light, the majority of Americans opposed to the actions illustrates my point. Thom Thacker Sudbury, Mass.
Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none individually acknowledged. All are subject to condensation. Please address letters to ``readers write.''