SECRETARY of Defense Les Aspin found in Brussels last week that Europe is not entirely secure, NATO's role is in limbo, and Russia is still a problem. Mr. Aspin met with NATO partners to propose a gradual enlargement of NATO to be ratified at a Jan. 10 summit.

The ``partnership for peace'' proposal does not offer Poland, Hungary, and the Czech republic quick NATO member status, as Aspin first hoped. Boris Yeltsin argued strongly that such a step would isolate Russia and provoke its extremist right.

Old Warsaw Pact states feel vulnerable and must be brought into a security alignment. This is crucial, particularly for Ukraine. The values and commitment that underlie NATO membership cannot be watered down. Russia has been invited into the process. But does NATO really have a decade to initiate members?

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