Mary McGrory's June 10 column spoke of President Clinton's "triumph" in Yugoslavia. She appears to have forgotten that Mr. Clinton said from the outset that the primary objective of the bombing was to deter "ethnic cleansing" in Kosovo; instead, it accelerated it. We didn't see the hoards of refugees until we began bombing.

I understand why Slobodan Milosevic is claiming victory:

He ethnically cleansed Kosovo and got away with it (he will not be put on trial).

Serbia gets to keep Kosovo, although Serbs are a small minority there.

He stays in power.

Moreover, Belgrade is not "bombed out" as Mary McGrory wrote. It is largely intact. We didn't even bomb the city's bridges.

Clinton supporters may argue that we are about to reverse the ethnic cleansing. Unfortunately, ethnic Albanians slaughtered by the Serbs are not going home. Also, most of the homes of the refugees have been devastated by the Serbs, and, to a lesser extent, by NATO bombing.

The most serious long-term effect of all this is upon our relations with Russia and China. Most Russian politicians are bitter toward us and ready for a new cold war. And they still have nuclear missiles. Our unintended bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade also has greatly diminished our prospects of peace with China; we are now the enemy.

So much for Clinton's "triumph."

ANTHONY B. MAUGER

Kensington

NATO's victory does not contradict the notion that wars cannot be won from the air only. This war was ultimately won on the ground.

First, the Yugoslav Army fought successfully against the KLA. It then successfully hid from NATO planes. But it could not do both.

As the war continued, the KLA become stronger. The only way for the Serbs to defeat the KLA was to mass their troops and come out in the open. This subjected them to punishing bombardments by NATO's planes.

Ultimately, the Serbs had the choice of continuing the war and risk losing to the KLA (thanks to NATO air support) or to retreat and let NATO take over. The latter choice denied the KLA the victory they could have used to establish an independent Kosovo.

Capitulating to NATO was the smart choice. But it was not a capitulation to NATO's air power; it was a denial of a KLA victory. Now NATO has to deal with the KLA and the hopes and aspirations of the Albanians in Kosovo.

THOMAS HERR

Alexandria