Permit me to congratulate you on the front-page article "Old Animosities Exploited Today Underlie Complex Balkans Puzzle," May 17. However, I have yet to see any newspaper adequately deal with the issue. As a superpower, we must question whether by our inaction we have not contributed to the horrors and atrocitites. It would have been simpler and quicker to have dealt with the problem a year ago, but now it will not go away. We have to provide leadership or lose our role and the world's trust. American i solationism has always been a European fear, and our wavering can only raise the question: What, again? Guy C. Hill, San Diego, Calif. Looking at History to Face Balkan Future
The front-page analysis of the Balkans, May 17, could help our decisionmakers in Washington see this conflict as the enigma it is. Nationalistic, ethnic, and religious pride remains the means for aspiring tyrants to goad these people into killing each other.
Until the region's enslaving cultural bonds are replaced by the collective ability of its inhabitants to subjugate pride to benefit the whole, we are left with no course but an attempt to contain the conflict. James L. Taylor, Phoenix Looking at History to Face Balkan Future
In the May 17 article, the author confuses the system of Ottoman rule itself with the symptoms of Ottoman decline. When the Ottomans occupied the Balkans, they subjected the peasantry to lower taxes and work requirements than they had had under Christian landlords.
Later Ottoman exploitation of the peasantry stemmed from the pressures of inflation and from loss of commerce, which was caused by the influx of gold and silver from the New World and the establishment of new trade routes. Christopher Adamo, Pocasset, Mass. Discuss abortion further
Regarding the article "Conservative Republicans Call for `Culture War'," May 17: Surely it is naive for Sen. Alan Simpson (R) of Wyoming to propound that abortion is so personal that "it does not belong in the public domain." Every congressional action in favor of abortion implemented by means of tax dollars places the issue squarely in the public forum.
It is moralistic for Senator Simpson to say fiat to abortion, and then to veto any discussion of its propriety. Is not debate the hallmark of a free society? Lawrence G. Lavery, Milton, Mass. Not quantity but quality
The editorial "Keeping EPA on Course," May 27, implies that Congress does not appropriate sufficient funds to the Environmental Protection Agency. Overall size of the appropriation may not be the problem. The same Center for Resource Economics report mentioned in the editorial points to poor spending priorities, determined largely by Congress. Pork-barrel projects focusing on environmental conditions with relatively low risks are consuming EPA resources that could be used better if the agency had more fl exibility. Before appropriating more money, Congress ought to review carefully the effectiveness of the mandates they have handed down. Karen D. Brady, Larkspur, Calif. Responsibility and guns
Regarding the editorial, " `Culture' Is No Excuse," May 25: While I do believe in the right to defend one's property, as a gun owner I recognize that using a gun carries certain reponsibilities.
Rodney Peairs should not have fired his pistol that day, either at the Japanese student or near him as a warning shot. He should have closed and locked his door, and then called the police. Barry L. Simpson, Huntsville, Ala. Gas-guzzling days of yore
Regarding the article, "Fill 'Er Up: Prices at the Pump Are Good," May 28: Apparently your headline writer is still living in 1950s fossil-fuel bliss.
You've got a big responsibility. Mindlessly reenacting old myths doesn't help. Stephen Rose, Cold Spring, N.Y.