The Kosovo intervention has not only divided the left in general, but the left-wing editors at the Weekly in particular (a phrase — left-wing editors at the Weekly — that many readers will doubtless consider redundant). I want to make it clear that in both the above analysis and the following prescriptions, I speak for myself only.
Europe, I believe, has not merely a right but a fundamental humanitarian and strategic obligation to stop an outbreak of ethnic cleansing in its midst; and any plan to stop Milosevic absent a use of force is pure chimera. For historic reasons that cannot be wished away, the sole vehicle available in 1999 for European military intervention is NATO: If Europe goes in, we must go in, too (and disproportionately, since in the international division of labor of the past 50 years, Europe rebuilt itself, and a strong civilian economy, while we built an arms machine). The only plausible policy goal, at this dismal point in the conflict, is to create some cordon sanitaire, some designated protected zone within Kosovo to which Kosovar Albanians can return and live in peace. The only way to create such a zone, I’m afraid, is with NATO ground troops (and surely not with the Kosovo Liberation Army, which is every bit as brutal and fascistic as the Serbs). Territory is not retaken from the air alone.
Kosovo is not Vietnam; neither is it the Holocaust. If you want an American analogy, it is more like the Trail of Tears, the forcible and bloody expulsion of Native American tribes from the Southeast to the distant, arid West. Murder is not the primary goal of Serbian policy, as it was for the Nazis; it is merely an important part of a campaign of mass terror designed to drive Muslims out of a land the Serbs now covet. That is evil enough to merit our intervention.