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Albright View of Land Mines

UN member lauds landmine essay

The author of "A Sower of Land Mines Pleads to End Them," Oct. 2, eloquently describes the horrific impact of land mines around the world. Ending the devastation of what I have called "weapons of mass destruction in slow motion" is a high priority. As President Clinton told the United Nations General Assembly just a few days ago, "our children deserve to walk this earth in safety."

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This is why the United States is at the forefront of efforts to end the use of land mines and their stockpiling, production, and transfer. In the last few months, dozens of countries have joined a moratorium on these activities and in a few weeks, at the direction of President Clinton, I will introduce a resolution in the UN that will commit the world community to negotiating and concluding an international agreement designed to end the scourge of these dreadful weapons forever.

At the same time, as the author discusses, tens of millions of land mines are already in the ground and they go on killing and maiming long after the conflict has ended. Along with other countries, we have contributed more than $90 million to demining efforts, and we are working hard to develop new technology to lower the costs of clearance and to reduce the danger to those heroes involved in this perilous work.

Finally, we are helping prevent greater suffering by alerting and educating on the hazards those millions of civilians, particularly children, whose lives are not only under threat everyday but whose ability to rebuild their communities is circumscribed by the hidden danger under roads, beneath playgrounds, or in unsown fields.

Whether in Cambodia, Angola, Bosnia, or in many other places, I have seen first hand the heartbreaking devastation of land mines and the continuing tragedy that they inflict. At the UN and around the world, as well as at the just-concluded Ottawa Conference, we will continue doing all we can to end this horror and make our earth safe once again.

Madeleine Albright

New York

US Representative to the United Nations

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Foreign policy analysis lacks 'verve'

The opinion-page essay "On Foreign Policy, US Takes the 'Do It Alone' Approach," Oct. 3, is accurate, yet I found it somewhat lacking in verve. Since the fall of communism, Americans have congratulated themselves for "winning" the cold war. However, we failed miserably in the former Yugoslavia, for which the Bush administration, especially James Baker, is largely to blame. The Gulf war turned out to be a military exercise, with the liberation of Kuwait accomplished, but nothing else. Somalia, Rwanda, the former Soviet Union, China - the list of American foreign policy ineptness goes on and on.

The refrain that the US is "the last super power" has a tinny ring, and as it echoes through the ruins of Sarajevo, it offers cold comfort to those still alive and mourning the victims of genocide.

Thomas Marsh

Kansas City, Mo.

The real national security threat

In response to "A Businessman's Budget for the Pentagon," Sept. 26, we can never spend enough on traditional military hardware to bring the US real security. With today's nuclear, chemical, biological, conventional, and electronic means of mass destruction affordable and accessible by almost any nation, radical group, or resourceful individual, we find ourselves vulnerable from any corner. Our dependence on a highly technological infrastructure makes our transportation systems, food, and water supply - or financial institutions - vulnerable targets. In fact, the more powerful our military gets, the more likely a hostile force will move covertly against these kinds of soft targets.

Real security will come when we make the necessary investments in preventing the injustice, ignorance, and pain that motivate a desire for destruction. Having the most means we have the most to lose.

In the post-cold-war era, most of the global threats facing the US are not military in nature. Environmental decay and weak markets are far greater causes for concern than invading armies.

Chuck Woolery

Rockville, Md.

Address letters to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115; send by fax to 617-450-2317, or by e-mail (200 words maximum) to OPED@CSPS.COM.

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