There are a number of points in Jim Hoagland's article "Gorbachev Alone: Now He Must Turn to His Foes" {op-ed, Dec. 23} that need clarification.

An additional element that welded together the Soviet Union was brute force. The Soviet Marxist military had to execute, rape and deport more than 60,000 innocent children, women and men in order to persuade Estonia to join the "multinational state" that the United States is now eager to protect. Today it takes 150,000 Soviet soldiers to forcibly keep Estonians in the Soviet Union.

To say that perestroika has "fanned the flames of nationalism through the republics" is insulting to thousands of years of Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian history. Just as Americans would never tolerate being defined by some occupying military power as something other than Americans, so too peoples forced into the Soviet Union do not consider themselves Soviets.

Mikhail Gorbachev has not "lost the initiative in the democratization process" as far as the Baltics are concerned. Every Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian in the Baltics will tell you that perestroika was not meant to democratize the Baltics. The process moved way beyond what President Gorbachev intended and at a much more rapid pace. The Soviets want to continue taking cheap electricity, food and wood products out of the Baltics. They have plundered these countries for 50 years, much as Iraq is plundering Kuwait today.

If President Gorbachev is smart, he will indeed form a "government of national salvation" that is based on free union, not gunpoint union. He will allow Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to reestablish sovereignty and freedom. This would give the Soviets three strong, Western-oriented trading partners to help bail them out and establish a successful model of turning the Soviet economy into a free market economy.

Marju Lauristan, deputy speaker of the Estonian Supreme Council, got it right when she said the Treaty of the Union "is a new package for the same old structures." Why is the U.S. government supporting the last colonial empire? MARIA PEDAK-KARI Washington