Regarding "Slippery solutions for a Kosovo peace" (April 14): As a physician who worked with Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, a Muslim, and one who is married to a Palestinian Catholic whose own family in 1948 endured the same plight as the Kosovars but at the hand of Israel, I'm deeply disturbed by NATO's reluctance to use ground forces.

For all the hype about NATO's worth in defending Europe for 50 years, this crisis has finally exposed NATO's politically fragile existence. We're told that the 19 NATO nations are united in purpose and will prevail. Yet with all its might, it has no fortitude to commit ground forces to prevent genocide in Europe. But we are led to believe that this is the same alliance that stood up to the mighty Soviet empire's expansionism.

NATO may be winning the battle but it's losing the war. As more East European nations join NATO, the alliance will be more paralyzed to face ethnic strife and two-bit dictators. The only thing that can save NATO is if Slobodan Milosevic completes his genocide or decides he's bored with the "smart bombs and dumb politicians" of the West.

Mohamed Khodr Winchester, Va.

Media to blame for Gingrich's bad rap Regarding Godfrey Sperling's opinion column "That fateful Gingrich breakfast" (April 13): The liberal media not making any mention of Newt Gingrich is further evidence of its complete and unendng prejudice against him.

I have never doubted that the low-esteem the country has for him is totally the media's doing. I have followed his political career, read his book "To Renew America," and listened to and taped every speech he has made since 1992. I have yet to have anyone explain why he was given such bad press before he even became Speaker of the House.

Doris Urquhart Fishkill, N.Y.

Olazabal: a true master Doug Looney is correct in "A Norman conquest fizzles" (April, 13) when he says that Jos Olazabal is Master's champion for 1999, and Greg Norman finished third. He may even be right in his characterization of Greg Norman's personality.

Are ground troops the answer in Kosovo? (I tend to believe it, given an unpleasant experience with him during the tournament held in Pinehurst several years ago.) But I do not believe Mr. Looney's characterization of this year's Masters "was not so much about Olazabal's winning as Norman losing" is supported by the performance of the contestants over the closing holes.

You will recall that six players were tied for the lead entering the back side. Olazabal, with flawless scoring, played the last nine holes with no bogies (the only player in the field to accomplish this). His back nine score of 33 was only bested by one player, B. Jobe, who shot one less, a 32. Olazabal's play was ever so courageous, gritty, and at times brilliant. He never stumbled - marks of a winner, not of someone who backed into the championship by reason of others' failure.

Henry Holt, III Winston-Salem, N.C.

Gun safety starts at home Regarding "States act to protect gunmakers" (April 9): If you smash your thumb with a hammer, you don't sue the hammer manufacturer. Yet Hammers can kill. The same can be said of guns.

In my family, we all learn safe gun handling at an early age. When we are 12 we hunt if we choose to - and know which end to put against our shoulders. We have had no criminals and no accidental gun related deaths.

Howard E. Dicken, Jr. Oberlin, Ohio

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