Francine Prose ["The Folly Fixation," Outlook, Aug. 1] bemoans George W. Bush's "chilling suggestion that our foreign policy should be based on the criterion of what is `good for America.' " Lest there be any doubt about her position, she continues by saying that the "immature" American electorate has "almost lost interest, as a nation . . . in our responsibilities as a global peacekeeper."

Whoa! It's "chilling" that America's self-interest should drive our foreign policy? Instead, our "responsibilities as a global peacekeeper" should come first?

I'm all for the concept of enlightened self-interest, and certainly peace and prosperity around the world are preferable to war and poverty -- i.e., in our best interest -- but the central founding principle of our government is to secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity. To squander our national treasure on "peacekeeping" and "nation building" missions without examining each case within the context of our national interest is an idea that I find truly chilling.

Other possible principles on which to base our foreign policy include: what's "good," what's "good for the world" and what makes us feel "good" about ourselves. Each of these alternatives, especially in the hands of people of the ilk now in charge of our foreign policy, seems to me orders of magnitude more chilling than the simple principle of what's "good for America."

STEVEN LENT

Arlington