From the Public Side of the 'Fault Line'

The article "How Fault Lines Split on Clinton" (Sept. 23) presented a few interesting opinions on why elite and popular opinions diverge on the Clinton scandal.

Another reason more elites are in favor of impeachment or resignation has to do with economic status. Members of the media and political elite would not suffer much financially if a resignation or impeachment were to cause economic turmoil. Most would not lose their jobs. And turmoil could help increase media ratings and sales.

On the other hand, members of the general public are more vulnerable. This would explain why fewer "average" Americans are willing to rock the economic boat by removing Clinton from office.

N. J. Grillo

Bowie, Md.

I think it's very interesting that the press is apparently upset because the American public on the whole is not following its lead in vilifying President Clinton. Your article indicates that the "elite" members of the press are surprised the public is not being guided by them.

Could it not be that many Americans have the fair-mindedness to step back from the frenzy engendered by the material gathered by Starr? Perhaps many Americans are grateful for the progress our country has made under Clinton's administration. Apparently, as evidenced by the standing ovations given the president at the United Nations Assembly, other countries feel Clinton still has qualities and leadership skills of value in the international arena.

I could understand all of this had Clinton committed treason or crimes against national security, but he did not.

As wrong as his sexual liaison was, and as wrong as his lying about it was, I - and many others - do not think these rise to the critical criteria for impeachment, [and that this] would be in the best interests of the country.

Martha B. Foote

Locust Grove, Va.

A vote for missile defense research

In response to your editorial "N. Korea's Challenge" (Sept. 23): On August 31, North Korea launched a multistage missile over Japan and into the ocean. A newspaper in Japan said this missile achieved a velocity of 7 kilometers/second and a range of 7,000 kilometers [4,347 miles]. If that's true, North Korea has shown us that it may already have a limited capability to produce an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

This is a chilling development. In 1995, a national intelligence estimate (NIE) said North Korea would not be able to indigenously produce such a missile for 15 years. Either North Korea is getting a lot of help, or the NIE was wrong, or perhaps a little of both.

North Korea isn't the only nation pursuing longer range ballistic missiles. Iran tested an 800-mile-range missile earlier this year. Iran is a known missile customer of North Korea. Both Pakistan and India have tested nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles recently.

During the cold war, the United States spent hundreds of billions of dollars building the strategic arsenal known as the "triad." Today, we are spending less than 4 billion annually on missile defense research and engineering. We are [seeking] ways to defeat short range "theater" ballistic missiles, and are making progress. A Navy missile destroyed a theater ballistic missile target last year. One day we will be able to defeat longer range ballistic missiles - even ICBMs.

Nonproliferation isn't working. Our cold war policy of deterrence may not work against less predictable adversaries in the future. We owe it to our children to continue ballistic missile defense development.

John E. Carey

Arlington, Va.

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