North Is an Honorable Statesman

I was disappointed to see such a clearly partisan political attack on Oliver North in the opinion-page essay ``Chocolate Cake Diplomacy and Colonel Oliver North,'' Oct. 18.

The author is right to point out Mr. North's controversial past. But he undercuts his arguments through ad hominem attacks on North, and gives an incomplete picture of North's career.

It is what the author doesn't say that leads a reader to question his judgements. North's efforts to stop Salvadoran death squads were a major step in that country's journey to democracy, and his aid to democratic forces in Nicaragua led to the downfall of a totalitarian regime.

North has never ``disgraced'' America, but instead served it honorably. In the White House, he tried changing a do-nothing mentality into a can-do program. He has made enemies and taken risks. And risks, while clearly an anathema to the author's perception of ``statesmanship,'' are at the heart of all great statesmanship. Thomas S. Dimitri, Charleston, S.C.

Your letters are welcome. For publication they must be signed and include your address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published, and none acknowledged. Letters should be addressed to ``Readers Write,'' and can be sent by Internet E-mail (200 word maximum) to OPED@RACHEL.CSPS.COM, by fax to 617-450-2317, or by mail to One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115

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