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Valuing Service at Home and Abroad

The opinion-page article ``Political Leadership Without Military Service,'' Dec. 30, describes the sense of shared sacrifice that exists among veterans and calls for reflection on the decreasing percentage of national leaders with such experience. My experience as an Army lieutenant, particularly in the Gulf war, brought me in close touch with many Americans that I never knew growing up in suburbia. Returning to the civilian world, I was struck by a lack of commitment to the local community and a feeling of insulation from the problems of other sectors of society.

I hope national service programs such as the Clinton administration's effort can replace World War II and the draft as sources of social interaction and respect for sacrifice for the public good. Opportunities for young Americans to explore new surroundings at home and abroad are needed. Working in one's own community is even better if it follows service to a community that offers a different perspective. Darrell Stanaford, Monterey, Calif.

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Yeltsin and `emergency' power

The opinion-page article ``Is Yeltsin Becoming a Dictator?'' Dec. 31, addresses the comparison of Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Hitler. It rightly emphasizes the sweeping presidential powers stipulated in the Russian Constitution, but neglects the parallel of Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution, which granted broad ``emergency'' powers to the executive branch of government, including the right to disband the Reichstag. Chancellor Heinrich Bruning provided a convenient precedent for Hitler's dictatorship by exercising these powers often. We can only hope that Yeltsin will respect Russian parliamentarism in the 1990s more than Mr. Bruning did in the '30s, especially if there is any chance at all of Zhirinovsky becoming president in 1994. Philip K. Robinson, Gaithersburg, Md.

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