A Feb. 25 front-page article reported that a State Department official says the Security Council's unity is at stake in the vote for U.N. approval of an Iraqi war. But in the same story, another U.S. official said that the war decision "is ours, and we have made it. It is already final. The only question now is whether the council will go along with it or not."

When President Bush was running for office, he said that he wanted a humbler U.S. foreign policy and that he was a uniter, not a divider. But his policy seems to be anything but humble.

Since Mr. Bush has been president, he has divided the United Nations, the European Union and NATO. It will take years and much effort to repair the damage done by his go-it-alone decisions, including those made regarding the Kyoto treaty and the International Criminal Court.

BRIAN McNAMARA

Alexandria

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Saddam Hussein is a potentially dangerous dictator prepared to defy international law. But George W. Bush has access to weapons of mass destruction, has a tendency to disregard global consensus (made clear by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's threats to do so) and is no more democratically elected by the world than Saddam Hussein is by Iraqis.

Mr. Bush may not be seen as a benign dictator, but I hope that Americans will appreciate that even their friends abroad (Germany, for example) might feel threatened by the lack of accountability of the unstoppably powerful United States.

DANIEL STEWART

Ipswich, England

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The United States, acting as the world's super-bully, is spreading the word -- most hypocritically, to say the least -- that the United Nations' legitimacy depends on following the U.S. lead.

If these statements represent our position, what is the purpose of the United Nations? I thought its purpose was to help avert war. The bullies in the U.S. State Department apparently believe its role is to ratify our every demand.

BILL MONTROSS

Bethesda