Hope for Bosnia Beyond the Power Struggles

Regarding the opinion-page article "Look Below Top Leadership to Find Hope in Bosnia," (Aug. 19): I'm glad to see the international community's efforts to bypass Bosnia's top leaders by encouraging dialogue between their subjects.

Despite attempts by some members of the ethnically related groups that comprises Bosnia to rid each other of one another's presence, it should be obvious that they are still neighbors. Whether they like it or not, the sooner they relearn how to live with one another, the better.

By provoking ethnic hatred in their selfish interests to retain power, the leaders of the former Yugoslavia are mostly to blame for the destruction of that multiethnic country. As long as the West is content to have these "leaders" remain in their positions (in some cases illegally), don't expect them to help put Bosnia (let alone the former Yugoslavia) back together. Division maintains their medieval strength.

Michael Pravica

Cambridge, Mass.

Acting president, The Serbian-American Alliance of New England (SANE), Inc.

Presaging war won't promote peace

In the opinion-page article "NATO Needs an Overhaul, Expansion or Not," (Aug. 19), the author, like a pre-Copernican astronomer, comes to dangerous conclusions by beginning with the wrong assumptions.

He assumes that "common Western interests could be threatened," necessitating military response; military forces are "hollow" if not deployable in Southwest Asia and Africa; that NATO will need huge amounts of military equipment "necessary to operate large forces far from home;" and, finally, that more wars are inevitable, necessitating the deaths of somebody's sons and daughters. That's the saddest assumption of all.

Such assumptions surely do not lead to an intelligent discussion of NATO's new role or to the steps all nations must take to dismantle tensions and build world peace. The final statement, "It is time for Europe to focus on actual military capability," insults us all. Europe has been at war - focusing on "actual military capability" - for more than 20 centuries. The author quibbles over which weapons could knock out people quickest. This view is neither unusual nor helpful.

Bear Jack Gebhardt

Fort Collins, Colo.

Rationalizing Mideast violence

Thank you for your insightful article, "When Bombs Rips, Where Is Islam?," (Aug. 11). It cleared up a lot of questions I had about the Muslim religion and how the Koran could condone the violence that is occurring in Israel. I have taught several Muslim children in school. Their parents have come into the classroom during the Muslim holy week to explain to the other children a little about Islam.

But I could never quite put the violence into context until I read the article. It is amazing to me that Christians, Jews, and Muslims all believe in one omnipotent God, and yet the human bombs can be sanctioned or rationalized by simple semantics or interpretation of the Koran words, "halal " or "haram" - permissible or forbidden.

Cynthia Fulkerson Livesey

Camarillo, Calif.

Freedom for Tibet

Regarding Yu Shuning's letter, "Tibet Under Chinese Jurisdiction" (Aug. 12), in response to the article "After Decades, Tibet Won't Bend to Chinese Ways" (July 29): From what I've read, the "liberation" was hardly "peaceful," and the "agreement" between governments was the inevitable conclusion of overwhelming force against a nonviolent nation.

Does "freedom of religious belief" include destruction of monasteries and eviction of monks? If Tibet has been part of China for 700 years, why did China wait until 1951 to march its army in? Tibet wants to be free, wants the Dalai Lama back in Llasa, wants to grow barley again, and freely breathe the rarified air of that nation. We should assist Tibet, even if it doesn't have oil.

Afke K. Doran

Silverton, Ore.

Letters should be mailed to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, faxed to 617-450-2317, or e-mailed (200 words maximum) to oped@csps.com

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