Concerning Stephen S. Rosenfeld's op-ed effort of June 18 ["Next in the Balkans"]: The history books tell us that President Woodrow Wilson and British Prime Minister David Lloyd George crawled on the floor over maps of Southern Europe to try to make geographic sense of the ethnic nations comprising what until about 1990 was Yugoslavia. Now Mr. Rosenfeld would join them on the carpet by doing a little territorial jostling himself: Swap Kosovo for Serbian Bosnia.
Never mind that the Bosnians voted for self-determination and received international recognition as an independent nation. Never mind that the Serbs, led by Slobodan Milosevic (directly at first, and then by proxy), violated this mandate and slaughtered hundreds of thousands of their Croat and Muslim neighbors.
Mr. Rosenfeld lauds our diplomacy in putting out the fire in Bosnia. If I understand correctly, at Dayton, we effectively cut the country in half by creating the Serbian Republic of Bosnia, thereby rewarding the Serbs for their deeds (and inviting the Kosovo debacle).
As far as diplomacy is concerned, Mr. Milosevic's hand was tipped in 1989 and laid flat on the table in the early '90s with his wars to prevent self-determination in Croatia and Bosnia. Given this advance notice and hard evidence of his intentions and methods for Kosovo, it is hard to see anything but a momentous failure on the part of our country and our NATO allies to prevent mammoth human suffering.
Mr. Rosenfeld's thesis is that we must move to a larger scale in finding the ultimate solution for the Yugoslav Balkans, and certainly he's right, but the facts he uses and the conclusions he makes in painting the background need a more critical review.
In his June 13 op-ed article, "A Defeat for the Conventional Wisdom," Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) declared that the critics of NATO's policy in Kosovo were wrong and that the United States and its allies "achieved victory." I thought victory meant achieving stated objectives as defined in Mr. Clinton's March 24 speech: "To deter an even bloodier offensive against innocent civilians in Kosovo; and, if necessary, to seriously damage the Serbian military's capacity to harm the people of Kosovo."
Any objective review of what transpired while NATO commenced incremental bombing would conclude that almost the entire Albanian Kosovar population was "ethnically cleansed" from its homeland and that the Serbian military certainly had sufficient capacity to murder thousands of Kosovars and burn their homes to the ground.
One of the lessons learned from the Vietnam War was that "gradual response," the policy of President Lyndon Johnson and Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara, didn't work. President Bush adopted the policy of Gen. Colin Powell, then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, of using overwhelming force to achieve military objectives during the Persian Gulf War, and it worked.
ELI D. GATEFF
The writer is a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel.
Wayne Merry [letters, June 13] claims that a key obstacle to peace in the Balkans is "the continuing ambitions of Romania's ruling elite to absorb neighboring Moldova." Mr. Merry is misinforming The Post's readers.
Consider the following two facts: In 1991 Romania was the first state to recognize the independence of Moldova. And today, eight years after independence, a Russian "peace-keeping" army still is in Moldova supporting a separatist war against the government by breakaway factions. The key factor of instability in the region is Russia, not its former satellite states.
The op-ed columns by Dan Morgan ["One Nation Under Tito," June 16] and Stephen S. Rosenfeld deserve careful reading.
It is clear from what they write that the Serbs were not the only ones responsible for Yugoslavia's tragedies and that future peace in the Balkans requires addressing the legitimate grievances of all ethnic groups, including the Serbs.
I take small comfort in having pointed out over the past several years that the lack of evenhandedness on the part of the Western powers was a major stumbling block in resolving the problems created by the breakup of Yugoslavia.
On Kosovo specifically, nearly three years ago I suggested that partition was "the only realistic alternative available if bloodshed is to be avoided" [op-ed, July 29, 1996]. And after all the bloodshed, it is still the only alternative. But, as Mr. Rosenfeld suggests, other redrawings of borders in the former Yugoslavia are likely to be needed in order to build peace in a still troubled region.
ALEX N. DRAGNICH