Monday, August 16, 1999

NATO has to get tough
with Kosovo violence

Bullet The issue: Violence has been rampant in Kosovo since the forced withdrawal of Yugoslav troops.

Bullet Our view: NATO and the United Nations are justified in using tough tactics to maintain order.

NO more Mr. Nice Guy. United Nations officials have decided they have to get tough to deal with near-daily attacks on international peacekeepers in Kosovo. They announced new regulations allowing them to detain or remove anyone considered a threat to the peace.

And it's not just attacks on the peacekeepers. Since NATO air attacks forced the withdrawal of Yugoslav forces from the province, crime has been rampant and there have been many incidents of violence between ethnic Albanians and Serbs.

Most of the 200,000 Serb population has fled in the face of retaliation for the brutal treatment previously accorded the ethnic Albanians by Yugoslav forces.

The new regulations authorize the international peacekeepers and U.N. police to detain or remove anyone at any time, if such a move is deemed in the interest of maintaining order.The regulations also would allow peacekeepers to expel people from the province.

Gen. Wesley Clark, the NATO supreme allied commander in Europe, condemned the violence, particularly attacks on Serbs. "The violence has to stop," he said.

"We know there are a lot of hard feelings among the people living here," Clark said. "We've got to take the heat out of this."

The ethnic Albanians are by no means mollified by the steps taken thus far by the occupying forces. More than 10,000 people marched peacefully through Pristina, the capital, to urge the international community to step up pressure on Serbia to release thousands of ethnic Albanians held there for alleged terrorist offenses.

More than 35,000 NATO troops are providing security in Kosovo, but it doesn't seem to be enough, given the depth of the enmity between the Albanians and Serbs and the degree of lawlessness that prevails.

A 3,100-member U.N. police force is being set up, along with a training school to establish a local police force. But they, too, are certain to have their hands full.

It's one of those situations of unintended, unforeseen consequences.

NATO began its bombing campaign to force Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to withdraw his forces from Kosovo and end the killings, rapes and forcible expulsions of the Albanians. Having succeeded, they are left with the task of maintaining order in Kosovo because no one else can do it.

It's impossible to say how long this situation will continue. If the experience in Bosnia is any indication, it could go on for years. It's difficult to imagine a time when the hatred will subside and Serbs and Albanians will accept each other.

For now, Kosovo is under NATO and U.N. occupation, and the task of maintaining the peace is a formidable one. But it has to be done.

Theory of evolution is
still under attack

Bullet The issue: The Kansas Board of Ecuation voted to delete the theory of evolution from the state's science curriculum.

Bullet Our view: Attempts to block the teaching of evolution do a disservice to students.

IT'S been 74 years since John T. Scopes, a Dayton, Tenn., high school teacher, was tried for violating state law by teaching the theory of evolution. He was convicted and fined $100 but was acquitted on appeal on a technicality. The law was repealed in 1967.

How far have we come since then? Last week the Kansas Board of Education voted to delete virtually every mention of evolution from the state's science curriculum.

It was described as one of the most far-reaching efforts by creationists in recent years to challenge the teaching of evolution in the public schools. Creationists believe that a divine being created humans and other species, contrary to the theory that species evolved from earlier forms of life, ultimately a common ancestor.

The action by the Kansas board does not prevent the teaching of evolution, but it means that the subject will not be included in state tests. This may discourage local school districts from spending class time on evolution, and embolden local school boards trying to remove the subject from their curriculum.

It's a stunning commentary on attitudes in this country on the verge of the new millennium. In recent years Alabama, New Mexico and Nebraska have also made changes that challenge the place of evolution in the scientific curriculum, generally labeling it a theory that is only one possible explanation for the existence of different species.

Biologists warn that the new Kansas standards could mean students would be unprepared for college admission tests and college science courses. A dissenting member of the Kansas Board of Education said, "The effort to emphasis the rock of ages more than the age of rocks" could make Kansas science students "the laughing stock of the world."

Evolution is of course a theory, but one that is widely accepted by scientists. Creationism is also a theory, but it is based on religious faith, not scientific research. It belongs in Sunday school or courses on religion.

People are free to believe whatever they choose to, but at the end of the 20th century anyone who does not understand the theory of evolution cannot be considered an educated person. Yet some teachers choose not to teach evolution because the controversy has become so heated.

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John M. Flanagan, Editor & Publisher

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