In the Balkans, all parties need to admit guilt and air grief

Your March 13 editorial "After Milosevic, a universal task remains" was condescending, simplistic, and unbalanced. Like most news coverage of the Balkans, it singled out only one element of the problem and ignored the other tyrants and factions - past and present - whose injustices helped pave the road to war in Yugoslavia. Virtually every ethnic and religious group in this region has inflicted its share of cruelty, discrimination, and domination.

Your editorial suggests the Milosevic trial would have impeded future dictators, and yet the Nuremberg trials did little to deter tyrants after World War II (including Marshal Tito). Despots rise in power by feeding off people's pain and fear. If we want to stop the cycle of violence and retribution in the Balkans, all parties must own up to the roles they've played in this ancient and ongoing tragedy.

Lasting peace would require a different tribunal, one that would allow the people to air their grief. A cleansing of wounds - not ethnic or religious groups - might usher in peace and reconciliation more effectively. If it worked for South Africa, then perhaps it can work in the Balkans.
Militsa Samardzija
St. Charles, Ill.

After a fire, hope rather than hate

I just wanted to let you know I truly enjoyed the March 13 article, "Seeking a miracle from the ashes." What a unique angle on the slate of church burnings in Alabama last month - a story line set apart from the tales of arson and hate. The writer captured the emotions of the people whose lives were turned upside down, and she did it with a deft touch, painting a picture of hope instead of decimation.
Alec Long
Phoenixville, Pa.

Green solutions require bipartisan effort

In his March 14 Opinion column, "To avoid a red-blue divide, politicians should think green," Dante Chinni gets it absolutely right that the environment is not a partisan issue. Yet we remain largely stalemated in implementing solutions, even though most Americans care deeply about the conservation of natural resources.

There are several theories on the cause of the gridlock: corporate shortsightedness, the influence of money over the legislative process, Democrats' alleged interest in having the environment as a campaign issue, and the perceived antipathy of Republicans.

While the opposition of many on the far right to environmental legislation is an obstacle to progress, the polarizing tactics of some environmentalists are a problem, too.

All of the major environmental acts of Congress that we now rely on were imperfect bipartisan compromises. By choosing to let "the perfect be the enemy of the good," we choose to get nothing. When we stop compromising in a bipartisan fashion, environmental progress stops as well.

The case for environmental protection is full of compelling examples of smart solutions that are good for both the environment and the economy. Americans deserve a better commitment to finding those solutions from Congress, the administration, business groups, and the environmental community.
Paul Hansen
Gaithersburg, Md.
Executive Director, Izaak Walton League of America

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