Needed: Foreign-Legion Style Peacemakers

The theme in the front-page news analysis ``Why Only US Can Win Peace,'' Dec. 2 - that only the United States can win peace in Bosnia by virtue of its superpower leadership status - ignited a bold concept I'd like to share.

We should take the French Foreign Legion concept and broaden it into a world peacemaker and peackeeper. How? By having the US administer it. The personnel would be recruited from nonaggressive nations. They would be trained, equipped, and logistically supported by the US. In other words, they would be professionals, well paid to undertake the most important job in the world - checking aggression and preserving the peace. And they would all be willing volunteers, albeit well screened, fully aware of the risks.

How would this world force be financed? By assessing a fee on each country applying for assistance. Such funds would be freed up by allowing countries to downsize or eliminate standing armed forces.

Most important, this world peace force would need political independence; it would have to be accountable only to a charter, adopted by at least two-thirds of eligible countries, mandating the organization's purpose and limits of power and action. Fred D. McCutchen, Caledonia, N.Y. Space mission less than stellar

In the cover story ``Hubble's Stellar Images,'' Dec. 12, an astronomer is quoted as saying that the December 1993 mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope was ``100 percent successful.'' It was a wonderful achievement, but to categorize it as a 100 percent success mistakes the full impact of the mission.

While the Wide Field and Planetary Cameras now see much better, substantial compromises had to be made to the system to make that improvement possible. In order to introduce the corrective optics, the astronauts had to remove the only instrument (high-speed photometer) that was working perfectly at the time. The attempt to repair the high-resolution spectrograph failed completely.

Finally, the fields of view of the main cameras was reduced substantially. David A. Cornell, Elsah, Ill. Mettle vs. metal

I was confused by the headline on Page 3, Dec. 23: ``Firebombing in N.Y. Tests the Metal of a Tough Breed.''

Are New Yorkers, resilient to begin with, as we all know, in reality some sort of alloy, such as aluminum, perhaps? Or were the people on the subway who escaped the worst of the blast wearing full metal flak jackets? I searched the article for a play on words, to which we in the nation's capital are often subjected by the Washington Post, but no.

Beware the complacency that comes with a spell-check program. What you meant was mettle. Jo Uncapher, Washington Dancing to a cultural beat

Thank you for your excellent coverage of the crisis in former Yugoslavia over the last few years. I support very strongly the Monitor's editorial stand against the atavistic barbarism and ethnic aggression of some of the major groups and their leaders. The cover story ``Balkan Refugees Flood Croatia,'' Dec. 19, is yet another moving story of the tragedies caused by these conflicts.

A man from former Yugoslavia who teaches at Oregon State University in Corvallis talked to a church gathering a couple of years ago. He made one very striking claim. He said that the second largest ``ethnic'' group in former Yugoslavia is what would be called ``Yugoslavians,'' that is, persons whose parents or grandparents were from more than one of the traditional ethnic groups in the country. One of the tragedies of these recent conflicts is the disenfranchising of this large group of people as the new republics have sought ethnic purity in politics and social affairs. My concern has come from an awareness developed through my recreational hobby of international folk dancing. We learn dances from many countries, but the Balkan countries have an especially rich heritage of this traditional art form. As we learn more of the dancing tradition, we also learn about the cultures of this area. Denis White, Corvallis, Ore.

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