Time to be serious about the war in the BalkansWar is a...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 12, 1999

Time to be serious about the war in the Balkans

War is a terrible thing and should never be undertaken unless all reasonable alternatives are exhausted.

Once a decision is made, however, to use force against a tyrant who is destroying innocent civilians and attempting to eradicate a culture, we must destroy and defeat the enemy.

Yet in standing up to Slobodan Milosevic, we've been doing bizarre things: trying to win a war without fighting a war; to inflict casualties without accepting casualties; and to conduct a "politically correct" campaign, even if it undermines prospects for victory.

The unintended consequences of this unserious approach to a deadly serious undertaking include prolonging the suffering and encouraging the enemy.

This conflict is not a debate between reasonable people. We are at war with an enemy guilty of calculated "ethnic cleansing," mass murder and other crimes against humanity.

We should not underestimate the danger of negotiating with a thug like Milosevic.

NATO can now neither appease Milosevic nor compromise without causing bigger problems in the long-term.

Roger C. Kostmayer, Baltimore

No moral high ground for U.S. in Yugoslavia

The Clinton administration assumes it possesses the moral high ground in the war in Yugoslavia because it strives against "ethnic cleansing."

I would suggest that no moral imperative is served by dropping bombs on people who happen to live near administration targets.

NATO's bombing campaign has made Europe less stable. It has further inflamed the Serbs and made matters worse for all parties.

Choosing sides and attacking the one less favored is neither humanitarian nor moral.

Dennis Berlin, Phoenix

Breaking up Serbia serves no moral purpose

I am one American who strongly rejects the moral and strategic premises offered by our government to justify NATO's aggression in Yugoslavia.

Kosovo has been an integral -- indeed sacred -- part of Serbia for more than six centuries.

It was in Kosovo that thousands of Serbs died in 1389 trying to stop the invasion of Europe by Islamic Turks.

Today hundreds of Serbian Orthodox monasteries are in Kosovo. As late as 1941, the population of Kosovo was predominately Serb.

Only in the past half-century, largely as a result of population transfers engineered by Marshall Tito, have Albanians come to outnumber Serbs in that province.

Therefore I do not accept the Clinton administration's premise that the "moral" solution in Kosovo is for the Serbs to allow it autonomy. This would lead, I believe, to Kosovo's ultimate absorption into Albania.

That solution is no more moral than would be the return of Texas to Mexico a few decades from now when Mexican-Americans may outnumber other Texans.

Glen Allen, Baltimore

Our atrocities must stop in the Balkan war

Allied bombs are missing their targets. How many times can the United States get away with saying, "We're sorry."

Destruction of neighborhoods and buses; devastation of the Chinese Embassy; killing civilians by mistake. Aren't these proof enough that the atrocities we are causing must stop?

Emily Tompkins Taliaferro, Baltimore

Billions spent on CIA: Where did they go?

Why is it that United States spent $26.7 billion last year on intelligence and still doesn't know where the Chinese embassy is in Belgrade?

Could it be that most of this money is not spent on information gathering, but on illegal covert actions?

I wonder how much of the intelligence budget goes to overthrowing governments, waging unofficial wars and influencing elections around the world? We don't know because the intelligence budget's specifics are kept secret.

Is this protecting national security or just protecting the CIA from public oversight?

Richard Ochs, Baltimore

Marine Corps training isn't right for children

I read with some trepidation the article "The few, the proud, the kids" (May 5). I wondered how a psychologist would assess the impact such intense training might have on these children.

Marine Corps training aims to alter the minds of young adults to meet the needs of the corps. One must wonder why they need to indoctrinate children.

I have a problem with men in camouflage uniforms hollering at children, demanding that they adhere to military discipline. It reminds me of the Nazis.

Garland L. Crosby, Baltimore

I feel sorry for the children sent to participate in the Young Marines ("The few, the proud, the kids," May 5.) They are learning a discipline imposed by yelling and insult.

Let's teach our children to be emotionally and physically strong, without the accoutrements and training for war.

Margie Roswell, Baltimore

It was unfair to suggest Scalia avoids challenges

DeWayne Wickham's April 30 Opinion Commentary article, "Scalia is wrong on guns," captured some of the intellectual ferment of Justice Scalia's visit to the Park School.

However, his suggestions that Mr. Scalia speaks only in the safety of conservative groups and comes to schools to "mine recruits" were mistaken.

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