Like all Americans, I am pleased to see our citizens return safely from Grenada. It now appears that the danger to our citizens warranted a military evacuation, and I support that action.

But like all Americans, I'm also very concerned whenever we find it necessary to commit military forces--particularly when young soldiers and Marines do not come home alive. There is an important distinction between protecting our vital interests--in this case, rescuing Americans in jeopardy--and an overreliance on force to settle our many differences with the Soviet Union and Cuba. Unfortunately, there are Cubans and Soviets all over the world. The administration should not construe support for this action in Grenada as an endorsement for an early resort to force whenever the interests of America and the Soviet Union or Cuba may conflict.

I do not rule out the use of force as a foreign policy tool when our vital interests are threatened. I spent many of my 23 years in the Marine Corps fighting to protect America's vital interests. But force should always be a last resort. I'm afraid that this administration too often chooses bellicose language or the military option as the first resort without adequately pursuing other alternatives.

Still, it is equally wrong to imply that this military action--which small nations in the region urged and joined, and which involved apparently real threats to the lives of hundreds of Americans--is comparable to the Soviet-sponsored suppression of freedom in Poland, or the continuing Soviet destruction of Afghanistan. In neither Poland nor Afghanistan, were Soviet citizens in imminent peril. Nor were large numbers of western troops masquerading as construction workers in either country.

In America's interests, and in the interests of international peace, before it is too late we must find the proper balance between the unwillingness of some to ever use force when our interests are at stake, and the "hair-trigger" overeagerness of others to "send a message" or prove how tough we can be. That is the most important and fundemental issue raised by recent events.