Sir, - I am embarrassed when I consider that my country chose neutrality during the second "World War. That we could deliberately isolate ourselves from a planet engulfed in war, horror and depravity is obscene. The war was an attempt by a coalition of evil to conquer the world. That same evil is evident globally today, from the lush hills of Rwanda to the plains of Afghanistan, Tiananmen Square to El Salvador. We can be thankful that a new strong coalition hasn't yet developed.

Collective defence is the best insurance against war. Only co-operation among nations (including Ireland, tacitly but not in truth) defeated the German-Japanese axis, saving countless millions from extermination and protecting democracy. Our so-called democracy was also spared, of course. Plenty of Irish blood was spilled in the war, and every war since, yet we fail even to respect the brave Irishmen who fought to protect us from Hitler's crazed ambitions because they had no choice but to fight under another flag.

This is a very dangerous world. I believe we should join NATO'S Partnership for Peace and be ready to help fight for freedom. The EU was shown to be impotent during the vicious war in former Yugoslavia and only firm action by NATO saved a population from extinction. The war is currently simmering at a low temperature, but what if it explodes again? Will we stand by, wringing (our hands, if Srebrenica is cleansed again? If, at its extreme the PfP included every nation on the planet, wouldn't international war then be technically impossible?

It might sound like a cliche, but everyone on the planet is one. We have to help each other out and hope that the help is returned if we need it ourselves. Sometimes you have to hit back. This might be a sad indictment of human nature, but otherwise we choose to become an isolationist banana republic. - Yours, etc.,

Mountain View Cottages, Ranelagh, Dublin 6.