In the "Specter of Soviet Civil War" {op-ed page, Oct. 25}, Dimitri Simes, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, tried to cash in on Americans' well-known dread of civil war by making an analogy between the U.S. Civil War and the possibility of a civil war in the U.S.S.R. His logic was simple: union=good, civil war=bad, disunion=civil war=bad. He skipped over the fact, of course, that the Soviet Union is in no way analogous to the United States.

Simes wrote that "Americans traditionally do not like to think about the possibility of a friendly foreign leader like Mikhail Gorbachev being ousted by his disgruntled people," but that the Soviet people were tired of "economic deprivation, lawlessness and ethnic unrest." He then went on, however, to say that leaders of the independence movements in the various republics were pursuing "parochial" interests, not the "common good."

But let's look a little closer at the economic deprivation, lawlessness and ethnic unrest that Simes skimmed over.

Economic Deprivation: The Communist system, to whose outlines Gorbachev still clings, brought on this deprivation. The republics have been robbed of their resources and their production; farmers from Ukraine, for example, must travel to Moscow to get food. Isn't it time to let people have a chance to till their own gardens and keep the harvest of their own toil?

Lawlessness: What "Gorbachev's people" are tired of is not lawlessness but lack of justice. People in the U.S.S.R. are tired of more than 70 years of Communist Party policies and brutalities in place of real laws. The U.S.S.R. has so many criminal laws and rules that it is easy to break one and be put in jail.

Ethnic Unrest: Although Simes did not mention it, unrest has been created, exploited and heightened by forced displacement of local populations by the Russians. The greatest fear for Simes and other Russians (or Great Russians, as they love to be known) is that Ukraine and Byelorussia might become economically stable on their own and might trade more with the West than with Russia.

Simes said only Russia and the little republics, not Ukraine and Byelorussia, could break away from the union without dire consequences. The Soviet Union cannot afford to let Ukraine and Byelorussia have their freedom, he wrote.

But are freedom and justice for only a chosen few? Dimitri Simes and Mikhail Gorbachev should realize that freedom is not a commodity that they may withhold or dole out at their discretion.

Natalie Gawdiak The writer is a Ukrainian human rights worker.