A Carefully Considered NATO Expansion

Contrary to the opinion-page column "Nobody's Paying Much Attention to NATO" (March 5), few issues of national security have been as extensively examined as NATO enlargement. That examination has yielded unambiguous conclusions: The extension of NATO membership to Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary will make the alliance stronger. It will eliminate immoral and destabilizing dividing lines - divisions imposed by Stalin and perpetuated by the cold war. It will expand an inclusive zone of peace, democracy, and stability in Europe to the benefit of the US and all of Europe, including Russia.

The topic of countless editorials and opinion pieces in national and local papers, there has also been thorough public discussion on NATO enlargement. Over the last two years some 15 states, including the first state, Delaware, have passed resolutions endorsing NATO enlargement. This policy has been endorsed by countless civic, public policy, political, business, labor, and veterans organizations.

Congress, in particular, has led the charge for NATO enlargement. Its committees have examined in detail the military, intelligence, foreign policy, and budgetary implications of this long-overdue initiative. Since last July alone, 12 hearings have been conducted on NATO enlargement by the Senate committees on Foreign Relations, Armed Services, Appropriations, and the Budget. The Senate NATO Observer Group, which I chair with Sen. Joseph Biden (D) of Delaware, has convened 17 times, with, among others, the president, the secretaries of state and defense, NATO's secretary-general, and the leaders of the three invitee countries.

For me, it is no surprise - indeed it is a matter of pride - that Congress has legislatively promoted NATO enlargement every year since 1994. Perhaps a better question is, how can we ensure that all dimensions of US national-security policy receive this much public attention and endorsement?

William V. Roth Jr.


US Senator (R) of Delaware

Sportsmanship and narrow victories

The Olympic hockey team from the Czech Republic richly deserves the praise and honor that their gold-medal performance earned them. But to describe their victories, especially over Canada and Russia, as "routs" seriously demeans the quality of the competition ("Czech Mates Celebrate Golden Win," Feb. 24). Each of those two games was decided by one goal, the victory over Canada coming after three regulation periods, an overtime, and finally a "shootout."

The majority of Olympic athletes deserve credit for high-quality performances, especially when competitions are decided by the slimmest of margins: a single goal or 1/100 of a second.

Rather than stressing who wins and who loses, perhaps there should be more emphasis on the model Olympic spirit exemplified by Norwegian cross-country skiing medalist Bjorn Dahlie. He waited at the finish line to welcome the last-place finisher from Kenya, a winner showing respect for those who accept the challenge and compete to the very best of their abilities.

Seward B. Brewster

Manchester, Maine

All or none on ideological labels

The article "A Break for Stay-Home Parents?" (Feb. 27) labeled the Independent Women's Forum as "moderately conservative" and referred to Sen. John Chafee of Rhode Island as a "moderate Republican."

No ideological label was attached to President Clinton, the Child Care Action Campaign, or Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, other than to say that he is a Democrat. Why were they not labeled as liberals? The implication is that we only need to be warned about conservatives and their ideas. If it is necessary to attach ideological labels to those who are quoted, then in fairness all should be so labeled. Better yet, just give us the facts, as you do so well, and let us form our own opinions without the clutter of divisive labels.

Scott Walden

Quincy, Ill.

Your letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none acknowledged. Mail to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to oped@csps.com

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