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No false choice for Serbia

It is inaccurate to portray the recent election in Serbia as a choice between “fervent nationalist and anti-Western” hostility to the European Union, supposedly represented by former Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica and Radical Party leader Tomislav Nikolic, and a “progressive,” pro-Western course in the person of President Boris Tadic (“Serbia’s mighty challenge,” Editorial, May 16).

Not a single party participating in the election opposes the European Union. As Mr. Nikolic wrote in a recent Op-Ed in The Washington Times (“Serbia goes to the polls,” May 9), the real choice before Serbian voters was whether the “rule of law, European integration and economic liberalization [must] go hand-in-hand with Serbia’s legitimate national interests,” versus choosing “an illusion of faster integration promised by other parties” — such as Mr. Tadic’s — “that would undermine Serbia’s territorial integrity.” Mr. Nikolic and Mr. Kostunica simply insist that European integration must be consistent with international standards affirming the inviolability of Serbia’s entire sovereign territory, including the province of Kosovo. This is hardly “ultranationalism.”

Claims of ethnic cleansing against Albanians in the 1990s do not justify separating Kosovo from today’s democratic Serbia. The terror campaign directed at Kosovo’s Christian Serbs both before and after the 1999 war is only the culmination of decades, even centuries, of violence perpetrated by Muslim Albanians under the sponsorship of Ottoman Turks, the Axis powers during World War II, the postwar communist regime of Josip Broz Tito and now NATO. Theresulting preponderance of Albanians in Kosovo resulting from terrorism is neither a legal nor moral justification for secession.

The Times is correct that the status of Kosovo was not resolved by recognition of its supposed independence by the United States and a few of our allies. Rather than futilely trying to force an illegal solution to a complex problem, the Bush administration — or its successor — should heed the recent call by Russia, China and India for resumed negotiations for a settlement consistent with accepted principles of international law.

A coalition among Serbian parties committed to that outcome would not be extremist, just patriotic and principled. If someday our country faces a similar challenge, I hope Americans would feel the same way.

JAMES GEORGE JATRAS

Director

American Council for Kosovo

Washington

Real Middle East peace

The prospect of an Israeli-Syrian peace agreement will dissipate if the present myopic policies of Jerusalem and Washington continue. The precondition demands of the Olmert government and the lack of support of Bush’s administration insures failure before real progress can take place.

The litmus test demanded Syria immediately cut tiesto Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran would be equivalent to a stipulation that Israel first remove its settlements from the occupied territories or America”s complete military evacuation from Iraq.

An Israeli-Syrian treaty should first aim for diplomatic relations, for cultural exchange, and economic ties. These measures will build the necessary bonds that will result in changes in the behavior and actions of both parties.

President George H.W. Bush once said to the Israelis, “we have learned in the modern age, geography cannot guarantee security [which] does not come from military power alone.” A peace with Syria will provide Israel far more security than the width of the Golan Heights.

JOSEPH ELIAS

Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

‘Moral’ energy

Robert Zubrin’s Op-Ed would more properly be titled “U.S. is strangling American economy” (“OPEC strangling American economy,” Friday). Forget all of the alternative-energy substitutes, which have been and are continually studied. It is an easily demonstrated fact that government policy has been to buy energy from foreign sources rather than producing it at home.

This policy was not a necessity. The money that bought foreign oil could have just as easily bought American oil from an American company extracting it from Alaska, the East Coast, the West Coast or — as the Chinese will make good on with the help of the Cubans — off the coast of Florida.

The situation is so pathetic it has degenerated into the comedy of Congress passing a law to sue the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

Barack Obama has come forth with the usual liberal refrain of pointing out the ethics of consuming 25 percent of the world’s energy and accounting for 5 percent of the world’s population. The implication is a moral one, but it amounts to morality turned on its head — not to mention the last 200 years of technological history.

What is truly remarkable about the American experience is that we created 50 percent of the world”s capital with 25 percent of its energy. Would the world be better off without that capital creation?

If you think so, then regress your standard of living back 100 years. Also, you can forget about reducing world hunger and poverty. You would not have the ability to do so. Warren Buffett and Bill Gates would not exist.

The moral path is to continue to produce, and accept the fact that we have to do it with our own energy sources, whatever they may be.

SAMUEL BURKEEN

Reston

Energy, transportation sense

All of the plans that House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, proposes to alleviate the impact of high energy costs make good sense (“Republicans unveil energy agenda,” Op-Ed, Thursday). I would add one additional suggestion, however, and that is that we immediately invest more money in safe, convenient, affordable mass transportation.

If we could get a sufficient number of commuter buses up and running on all of our major national highways as soon as possible and dedicate our HOV lanes to them during peak rush hours, it would cut down on automobile use and fuel consumption, and it would reduce traffic volume considerably.

This would provide an immediate, short-term solution to the problem of rush-hour traffic jams and accidents that clog our highways nationwide. In the long term, we should invest in other means of mass transportation, such as elevated trains and extended metro lines.

This problem should have been addressed decades ago. We need to do everything possible now to conserve the energy we have available, increase our domestic supply and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Our energy problem demands an immediate, bipartisan solution. If all of us work together, we can implement a sound energy policy and alleviate the burden on all of our citizens.

KATHLEEN ERMINI

Gainesville, Va.

“Renewable fuels” is not a plan. Where is the energy plan? When there is more land under cultivation for fuel than food production with a growing population, the system is going to collapse.

We need a viable source of fuel that has the same potential energy and storage utility as a tank of gasoline. If they can create an environment to send an astronaut through the vacuum of space, land on the moon and then return, then they can also create an energy source for the future.

It is not biofuels — not unless it is waste products. Where are solar cells and lightweight batteries that can take a car 500 miles on a charge?

LARRY STONE

Peyton, Co.

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