China Asserts Its Place on World Stage

I disagree with most of the contentions in the editorial ``China's Rebuff,'' March 15. These views fail to address the real issue - persistent American high-handedness in trying to push its views on issues like human rights and nuclear nonproliferation, coupled with an ostrich-like attitude in failing to recognize the shifting patterns of power. The recent Chinese actions were designed to put forth one message - that the United States should desist from interfering in the internal affairs of other countries under the pretext of human rights.

Post-cold-war American foreign policy, especially under the Clinton administration, has blundered from one mistake to another. These mistakes stem out of a stubborn US refusal to recognize other countries as equal partners in ensuring security for the whole world. Force, rather than debate and negotiations, seems to be the action of choice for the foreign policy advocates. Such a strategy is doomed.

The recent Chinese actions affirm that they have arrived on the world stage and deserve the respect due to a great nation. Ramesh Pai, University Park, Ill.

Benefits to official Americans only

Thank you for the many excellent articles on immigration to the United States.

Tough laws should have been in place years ago, but better late than never. What we really need is a national identity card for all Americans so that illegal aliens cannot get jobs and benefits. Jim Bricker, Bethesda, Md.

NATO still has a role in Europe

The opinion-page article ``Should NATO Close Shop?'' March 10, seems to ignore two crucial factors: the growth of democracy and the unprecedented cooperation among leading democracies, which have developed over the past half-century. These make the international scene vastly different from any previous period. They give us solid foundations on which to build an even better international order and to contain conflict in the post-cold-war era.

For the first time in history, all the countries of Western Europe, including Germany, are democracies and understand their strong common interests. As democracies, their governments must be responsive to voters. To defend their common interest, Europeans and North Americans have created an unprecedented array of cooperative machinery.

NATO is the security keystone of this community, but it cannot be seen in isolation from the intercontinental Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the European Union, the Council of Europe, and other vital stones in the edifice.

NAFTA, APEC, and the growing network of cooperative ties among Pacific democracies - some mature, some aspiring - are other elements in an international structure that should be developed rather than dismantled. The United Nations, World Bank, IMF, and GATT are indispensable but will not work without the strong support of the major democracies.

The authors may be right that without active and long-term US engagement in Europe, that tortured continent is likely to fall back into dog-eat-dog patterns that characterized relations among its nations for centuries. These patterns changed dramatically after World War II, and the European Union is the current stage in this metamorphosis; but the Europeans still need American involvement and - sometimes - leadership.

``Atlanticists'' are not mistaken in assuming that the ``Long Peace ... can be made to be Europe's normal state of affairs.'' But the EU should be seen only as the forerunner of a wider, deeper intercontinental effort among the strong democracies to build a ``Long Peace'' not just in Europe but eventually everywhere.

Do Americans want to return to 1917 or 1941, when we were pushed into world wars because we had not exercised our great power and influence in building strong coalitions to deter the forces that threatened democracy?

Today is there any sensible choice but to turn our backs even more firmly on the old game of power politics and instead redouble our efforts to build a strong system of international governance ... itself based on democratic principles? James Huntley, Bainbridge Island, Wash.

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