Beware the pitfalls in the Balkans

Regarding your April 24 article, "Montenegro loosens ties to Serbia": The West should be very cautious in believing the results of this election. Fraud is rampant in the region, and widely used by those in power as a means of keeping it. After all, no one in the West believed Slobodan Milosevic's "victories" through his decade of authority. Milo Djukanovic is widely viewed as a tax-evading smuggler, bent on creating his own mafia-style fiefdom in the image of Albania. As one who has met this immature leader, I agree.

Mr. Djukanovic had better be careful in his quest for more power, as a move toward independence will likely provoke a fierce backlash in the region that will make the Kosovo conflict look like a walk in the park. It could only contribute to further destablization of the Balkans, as the West sinks ever further into the Balkan quagmire. Just study the history of the region to understand why.

Michael Pravica Las Vegas, N.M.

Helena Cobban's April 12 opinion column, "Help Yugoslavia heal," was especially welcome. If anything, I thought it was understated. When the subject of war crimes comes up, I cringe, because, like NATO, the tribunal is funded mostly by the United States. After the negotiations at Rambouillet, it is very difficult to credit the US with acting in good faith. It is plain that the Balkan land mass is a "must control" area for our policy-makers. Shouldn't Americans know why?

Merritt L. Ball Groton, Conn.

Regarding your April 27 article "NATO's new will in Bosnia": The true architect of "four Balkan wars" and the author of countless atrocities, lies, and fabrications for propaganda purposes was Bill Clinton - or, rather, the US and international power and economic structures of which he was an obedient instrument.

Vladimir J. Konecni La Jolla, Calif.

Regarding Richard Hottelet's April 24 opinion piece, "The Kosovo quandary": Mr. Hottelet is rewriting the recent history of this unfortunate region, much like the revisionists who try to justify US-led foreign incursions into sovereign states under the banner of the new fascism: humanitarian intervention.

He is right that there are not many Serbs left in Kosovo now. After the UN and NATO took control in June 1999, the Albanian separatists, once seen as terrorists by the US State Department, carried out a vicious campaign of murder and ethnic cleansing to drive out the Serbs and other minorities, as well as Albanians who did not support them. This was done and continues to be done under the "watchful" eyes of US and other troops supposedly "guarding" the borders. Their performance has been an embarrassment to all in the military.

Norman F. Ness Newark, Del.

No coincidence?

It was interesting to see the juxtaposition of two articles in your April 19 issue. On page 2, "States wonder where all the money went" suggests that lawmakers are looking at fresh revenue sources, such as a state lottery. On the facing page, "Growth of retiree gambling raises stakes" suggests that the increased legalization of gambling may be a contributing factor to higher rates of problem gambling among senior citizens.

What's wrong with this picture?

Amanda Bergson-Shilcock Philadelphia

Correction: A letter from National Public Radio about low-power radio that was published April 25 contained an editing error. The letter should have read that NPR "requested" realistic FCC field tests.

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