The observations about Bosnia in the Nov. 12 editorial "After the War" stopped short of the heart of the matter.

The notion that Bosnia's people would come together in multi-ethnic harmony -- in a kind of Balkan Switzerland -- was a fantasy from the start, particularly after the violence that exacerbated long-standing hatreds. It is hardly surprising that "the victors in the recent elections were the same nationalist parties that tore the country apart a decade ago."

Far better if the Bosnian Serbs had been allowed to join Serbia and the Croats Croatia, with a Western protectorate, if necessary, for a Muslim state around Sarajevo. Partition would have required some population exchanges, but this could have been internationally supervised and much of the horror of ethnic cleansing might have been averted.

What we have instead is de facto partition, a make-believe "nation" whose tenuous peace depends on the presence of thousands of foreign troops -- and no end in sight.

ANDY ANDERSON

Bronxville, N.Y.

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"After the War" contrasted the postwar experience in Bosnia and Afghanistan. Its observation about the acute need for advance planning was correct. There is a third example to consider, though: Kosovo. In Kosovo, NATO provides the military security absent in Afghanistan.

The military does not, however, run civilian life in Kosovo. Rather the U.N. mission there, initially alone and now with an elected government, is providing the vital functions of a civilian government. This is being paid for by the United States, through the Agency for International Development, the European Union and others.

It's far from a perfect solution, but it is getting the task done. It is better to have a civilian administration build roads, reopen schools and courts, design tax systems and plan elections for a new government than to have the U.S. military undertake this task.

LENA ZEZULIN

Takoma Park

The writer has worked as a consultant writing laws for the U.N. administration in Kosovo.