Uphold Standards Even When Inconvenient

I was initially pleased by the June 7 opinion-page article ```We are the United States' is Call to Moral Leadership.'' If our government were to base foreign policy decisions on a moral basis, the world would become a better place; furthermore, the ensuing debate about what our national moral basis should be, and how best to proceed if a consensus cannot be reached, would have great benefits for our domestic policy as well.

However, with the statement, ``When our vital interests are at stake, we should not hesitate to use our status as the world's one remaining superpower to defend them, whatever the world's opinion might be,'' the author has undone everything he proposed.

We will never be viewed as moral leaders as long as we follow that approach, and it is too much to expect our government officials to be able to switch back and forth between moral leadership and cynical manipulation at will. Certainly our government should try to protect our interests, but that effort needs to be bound by international law and the standards we want to uphold when our interests are not at stake. Otherwise, we are nothing more than an enlightened bully. Bruce Kendall, Tucson, Ariz.

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Hidden costs raise price of EVs

The current forced rush in California to develop electric cars ignores not only practicality, but also facts (``Tomorrow's Adults Have Mixed Views on Electric Cars,'' May 24). Chief among them is the enormous draw on power plants (many of which still burn coal) that these vehicles would require for recharging. The environmentalists who derisively term electric cars ``elsewhere emissions vehicles'' underscore the problem: While no emissions come out of an electric car's tailpipe, they do come out of a utility plant's smokestack in someone else's neighborhood. Also, not many drivers want to be saddled with a vehicle that can only travel a maximum of 100 miles per eight-hour charge. That is, if you can afford the vehicle's projected price range of $30,000 to $125,000.

American consumers don't need to grapple with costs like that. Drivers can enjoy the long-range mobility and cleaner air brought about by the auto and oil industries' high-tech vehicles and fuels. With cleaner-burning, reformulated gasolines coming into the marketplace next year, new-car tailpipe emissions are projected to be, by the end of this decade, 99 percent lower than those of the 1970s. Beyond the year 2000, electric cars will be able to travel more than 300 miles on a fill-up, so drivers won't have to worry about finding a recharging station in the middle of the night on the open range. Arthur Weise, Washington

US should halt run for the border

Regarding the opinion-page article ``A Borderline Proposal,'' May 25: California's 1994 ballot initiative to cut off nonemergency benefits to illegal aliens is a right step.

The 14th Amendment was never intended to grant ``equal protection'' to foreign nationals who enter the United States unlawfully. Those quick to cite the amendment's equal-protection clause should also review Article IV, Section IV, of our Constitution, which requires the American government to protect each of the states against invasion. Illegal immigration is an invasion, and the US Border Patrol should have military backup, when necessary, to halt it.

Regarding possible harassment of lawful US residents having ``a particular complexion or hair color'': Tough enforcement of the employer-sanctions law and a secure work-authorization system to keep illegals out would reduce the problem. Not surprisingly, most Latinos favor these laws. In the job market, these people are the ones most likely to face competition from undocumented workers. In fact, most complaints to federal authorities are from Latinos and Asian-Americans edged out by illegal aliens.

Immigration is a privilege, not a right. The immigrant heritage we value is based on lawful entry, not border-crashing. Allowing illegal entrants to cut in line ahead of lawful newcomers who wait their turn is grossly unfair and makes a mockery of our laws.

Unless we deal squarely with this issue now, a moratorium on immigration may be the only remedy left. America was built on the ideals of freedom, personal responsibility, hard work, and fair play - not handouts. Jim Hastings, Boston

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