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What is America's Role in Kosovo?

Regarding the article "Serbia's Peace Faction Ignored as Hotter War in Kosovo Looms" (July 17), about one and a half years ago, I was invited to the US State Department, along with other Serbian-American leaders, to discuss issues related to Yugoslavia. The need was impressed upon us to politically resolve the Kosovo problem before any sanctions that have crippled Yugoslavia's economy would be lifted.

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However, because of the poor and stagnant economies throughout the Balkans, despotic leaders have achieved immense success by tapping into the economic unhappiness of their respective peoples and playing the nationalist card. Therefore, in my opinion, US policies and intervention in the Balkans have merely strengthened Slobodan Milosevic and other leaders of his mentality by provoking the Serbs and allowing no economic future for all Yugoslavs.

If the Kosovo Albanians were encouraged by US leaders to participate more in the Yugoslav electoral process, they could help effect democratic change in Yugoslavia. However, when Richard Holbrooke meets with representatives of the terrorist Kosovo Liberation Army and the US State Department fails to condemn the terrorism perpetrated by the KLA, some Kosovo Albanians see little reason to compromise with the legal Yugoslav government and accept it's authority because they believe that the US will eventually support Kosovo's independence.

This would be be a tragic acceptance, and resignation, that people of different faiths and cultures cannot coexist peacefully in the Balkans. It would also be a dangerous harbinger of America's own multi-ethnic future.

Michael Pravica, PhD

Cambridge, Mass.

Vice President, The Serbian-American Alliance of New England

Responding to hate groups

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Thank you very much for the timely article "When the Klan Comes to Town" (July 17). Please know how much I have valued the work of the Monitor over several decades now.

I strongly urge you to continue to report on race-relations issues and print useful solutions, ideas, and exchanges of viewpoints. Race unity is perhaps America's most challenging issue. If we can find the beauty in our diversity and strengthen our part of the human family, the whole world will take note and respond.

Our local interfaith groups have been consulting on this very issue of how to respond when hate groups are active. (Pennsylvania evidently has the largest number of such groups right now.) The idea of the Lemonade Campaign is marvelous! I'll share that with others.

David Walline

Lake Winola, Pa.

Vouchers and the poor

I am writing in regard to the opinion piece "School Choice: Getting 'Left' Abroad" (July 15). The author views Milwaukee's voucher system as a way of providing school choice for the poor.

However, I wonder how much choice the poor will really have. The article did not raise the subject of how much money the vouchers will provide versus the cost of private school education. As I understand it, the average private school in America charges about $10,000 per year in tuition. Are Milwaukee's vouchers going to cover all of that?

If the vouchers can't cover the entire cost of a private school's tuition, they are not helping the poor at all. They merely subsidize private education for the middle and upper classes. This would allow even more middle class students to flee the public school system, leaving the poorest students stuck in depopulated schools, with even less money than there was before.

K. Christine Scarpinatto

Pittsburgh, Pa.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Only a selection can be published, and we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number.

Mail letters to "Readers Write," and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to

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