The Republican penchant for self-destruction knows no bounds. That the party's latest act of political irresponsibility threatens the security of the United States is obvious. But it is also personal. It directly affects my own life and that of my family and community.

I find it more than a little strange that the day after Pakistan is throttled with a military coup, right-wing extremists in the Senate give it a green light to flex its nuclear muscles as much as it wants.

Rejecting the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is not just stupid, it's crazy. It's the Republicans proving once again they are not fit to be the majority party in Congress.

DAVID LARSTEIN

Watsonville, Calif.

The rejection of the test ban treaty is a dangerous move back toward isolationism, the doctrine that led us into the Depression and eventually into World War II.

It is important that we learn from history and not make this mistake again. With renegade nuclear states, a global economy and international terrorism the stakes are higher than ever.

Without leadership on the part of the United States, chaos will fill the vacuum, and everyone will pay the price.

JOHN WACKES

Upper Marlboro

How dare the president and Senate Democrats blame Republicans for future nuclear threats to national security because the Senate voted down their reckless test ban treaty.

This junk treaty--which essentially called upon the United States to lay down our weapons first and trust our enemies to do likewise--was unverifiable, unilateral foolishness masquerading as foreign policy.

President Clinton and Madeleine Albright have done far more to compromise the integrity of America's nuclear deterrent than any administration since 1945: the Chinese spying scandal; high-technology transfers to China and other rogue nations; refusing to deploy a feasible ballistic missile defense; shifting oversight of nuclear technical matters from the Energy Department to the Commerce Department. They have forfeited the moral high ground.

In castigating Senate Republicans Mr. Clinton said, "I hope this [vote to defeat the treaty] will get the treatment from the American people it richly deserves."

I believe the vote will be remembered by Americans and students of history as a landmark of the president's unwillingness to protect and defend this country's strategic nuclear deterrent. Weakness invites aggression, and this treaty was the definition of that axiom.

PAUL WIELAND

Bowie