* Your "sensible middle ground" option for the siege of Sarajevo is neither sensible nor effective (editorial, Feb. 8).
Committing U.S. forces, in the air and on the ground, in an attempt to lift the siege would unnecessarily risk American lives. The mortar shell that provided the latest atrocity in Sarajevo (Feb. 6) was fired by a highly portable weapon that is extremely difficult to spot from the air. Pinpointing mortar and small artillery positions in the rugged hills above the city would be nearly impossible, and extremely hazardous for the air crews. Our troops on the ground provide additional targets for these mobile mortar crews hidden in the mountains.
I question whether this once-gracious city can be saved, short of a massive military intervention by the U.S. and NATO. Such an intervention would insert the U.S. in the middle of a regional conflict stemming from racial and religious hatreds that are older than America itself.
We have had little success with the limited war concept--let's not try it in Bosnia.
J. AUSTIN GARRISON
* I often disagree with The Times' editorials, but on Feb. 8 you were right on! Serbian genocide and aggression must be halted at some point, i.e. Sarajevo. One caveat: Basic morality and international law clearly indicate that a people have a right of self-defense. The U.S. must lift the embargo and sanctions preventing defensive arms from reaching the legal government of Bosnia.
* Like President Bush, President Clinton drew a line in the sand. While Bush's leadership held the line firm in the Persian Gulf, Clinton's line keeps getting washed away by the blood of the Bosnians.
* The continuing lunatic fallacy that United Nations protection forces protect anyone in Bosnia was effectively exploded by the lethal Serb artillery attack on civilians in the Sarajevo central market. For over two years, the presence of U.N. forces has instead been a barrier to stopping the killing, as the Serbs use U.N. troops as hostages in their deadly genocide against Bosnian Muslims.
If the West is reluctant to act because U.N. soldiers might bear the brunt of a Serb reprisal, then either remove the U.N. troops entirely, reinforce the units to a level sufficient to repulse Serb reprisals, or redeploy U.N. soldiers to secure areas where they can effectively defend themselves. Then use air strikes and cruise missiles to strike Serb heavy artillery positions around Sarajevo and other endangered Bosnian cities and give the Bosnian government the weapons to stop the Serbs' murderous aggression.
You can be sure that Sarajevans and residents and refugees in other Bosnian cites would prefer the risk of possibly dying from a misplaced NATO missile than the certainty of eventually expiring at the hands of Serbian ethnic cleansing.
* The media are beating the drums of war again; their lies have no limit.
On one hand they say that the French and British are urging the U.S. to bomb Serbs, and in the next breath they say that countries that have troops on the ground in Bosnia (again French and British) are against air strikes, which might put their troops in danger.
The latest massacre in Sarajevo is blamed on Serbs, even though the United Nations cannot confirm who did it. The media will not speculate whether the Muslims could have done such a thing. The media know that the Muslims have done this kind of thing in what was called the "bread line massacre," which brought on sanctions on Serbia.
Who would have benefited from this latest incident? Not Serbs, for the outcry of intervention only helps the Muslims!
* Thank you for printing the news article about the prime ministers of Turkey and Pakistan, who visited Sarajevo on Feb. 2. By going to Sarajevo, these two courageous women, Tansu Ciller of Turkey and Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan, showed their concern for the tragic situation of the Bosnian people.
It is very interesting that female heads of government, including former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, show more compassion for the suffering people of Bosnia than their male colleagues. Mrs. Thatcher herself has been consistently criticizing the U.N., NATO, and the world governments for their lack of effective action to stop the killing and suffering in Bosnia.
The Turkish-American community in Southern California hopes that the U.S. uses urgent and effective diplomacy to cease the warfare and continue humanitarian aid before it is too late. HASAN A. CELIK, President
American-Turkish Assn. of Southern California, Newport Beach