David Broder challenged readers to name a dozen people they'd prefer to see involved in decision-making over the Persian Gulf crisis, rather than President Bush, his key Cabinet members and the senators and representatives now involved {op-ed, Nov. 18}. "It is almost impossible to imagine a more serious, calm, cautious, rational and prudent set of people than those this president has assembled," Broder said.

I could name 50 better choices, and so could anyone else who was remotely skeptical about the mind-set of the president and his associates regarding the place of the United States in the world and the track record they've displayed so far.

We have to thank the administration players Broder named -- George Bush, James Baker, Dick Cheney, Brent Scowcroft and Colin Powell -- for such policy triumphs as the invasion of Panama, one of the most egregious cases of big-stick diplomacy in modern times, which accomplished a short-term goal at the expense of our long-term national interest in Central America.

These are the national security wizards who had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the realization that the Cold War was really over and that the Soviet military threat that had buttered their ideological bread for so long had evaporated (Cheney still shows signs that he doesn't believe it).

Many of these men showed their wisdom in the Iran-contra affair, in the invasion of Grenada, in backing Saddam Hussein throughout the Iran-Iraq war and in prolonging the miseries of Nicaragua and El Salvador.

In short, Broder's list was saturated with men who see a military solution before a diplomatic one and share a global political view that claims an American right to dominate other countries and regions when they can get away with it.

These are tough, hairy-chested guys who prefer force to resolving conflict by peaceful means and scorn alliances they can't control. The result of their advice would be a foregone conclusion. If Bush wants war, he's consulting the right people.

My list, in contrast to Broder's, would include people with a broader perspective on America's place in the world, people like Jimmy Carter, whose efforts to achieve the Camp David Accords stand as a shining example of successful negotiation to bring about a peaceful resolution of a seemingly intractable confrontation; George Ball, who dared tell Lyndon Johnson he was on the wrong track in Vietnam; Paul Warnke, the gifted arms negotiator; Rep. Patricia Schroeder (D-Colo.), who combines an expertise on military matters with a compassionate heart; Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Robert Kerrey (D-Neb.), who have seen war up close and recognize it as a last-resort option; wise observers of the international arena like Harvard's Stanley Hoffman; experts on negotiation like Roger Fisher; a distinguished jurist like retired Supreme Court Justice William Brennan; and George Kennan, a wise elder statesman.

I would keep Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell (D-Maine) and House Speaker Thomas Foley (D-Wash.) on the team, for they are able to recognize and adapt to unpleasant realities.

Such a group would have the experience, balance, sense of humanity and humility that most of Broder's retread cold warriors lack. -- Thomas A. Halsted

The writer is a former director of public affairs for the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.