By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
I believe that if we stop Milosevic, we will stop a lot of potential Hitlers. If this guy prevails, in any way, you will see a future Hitler, from a much stronger country, utilizing the same tactics that Milosevic has.WIENER: I’m happy to stipulate that Milosevic is bad. But I would point out that none of this forced expulsion began until the NATO bombing. STONE: That’s wrong. Pristina was cleaned out in four days after the NATO bombing began. You do not remove 300,000 people from their homes unless you have a plan, unless you have the security forces, and the police stationed there with lists of "In this apartment building are this many Albanians and they’re going to be forced to go." So it’s absurd to blame ourselves for this. The perpetrators are on the ground.
It’s been hotly debated: Is this a genocide? Is this not a genocide? It certainly is a provocation that people of moral standing should respond to, because the idea of Greater Serbia, the idea that has motivated all of the wars of the former Yugoslavia, is the idea of ethnic purity. The idea that the body politic will not be healthy until it’s purified of ethnic minorities. And as Americans who believe in multiethnicity and who believe in diversity, we have to take a stand against this.
And also the fact that we all use the term "ethnic cleansing": I think we should be ashamed of it. There’s nothing clean about this. I mean, if you look at the pictures of the people fleeing Kosovo, they are traumatized — those who are left alive. This is about burning villages, about expelling people. We should call it "depopulation," something like that.HASANI: I would just like to add that ever since 1986 or 1987, there has been consistent expulsion of Albanians from Kosovo. A lot of young people left because there was no life left for Albanians, no schools, no opportunity. Close to 200,000 people left. MIJOJLIC: For me, even 50,000 Albanians separated from their families — even if they are not killed, for me, it’s a tragedy to have parents separated from their children, women separated from their husbands, that’s tragedy enough. So let’s not make comparisons with this situation or that. LAWSON: The American interest in the Balkans will not prove to be altruistic and will not prove to settle the war or create a different and better future for the people there. STEEL: Just one historical reference, if I may, that the expulsion of ethnic minorities is the pattern of European politics in the 20th century; and, indeed, it was taken in 1945, when Poland expelled 6 million Germans, when Czechoslovakia expelled 3 million Germans, all with the approval and support of the victorious Western allies. It’s taken place all throughout Europe — and as recently as 1995 in Croatia when the Croatian army, reportedly with U.S. approval, expelled at least 200,000 ethnic Serbs from their ancestral homes in the Krajina region without a peep of protest from Washington or NATO. So expulsion is nothing new. MEYERSON: To you, as a historian, that may seem relatively recent. But to many of us in 1999, 1945 doesn’t seem all that recent. In many ways, Milosevic seems a throwback to the dark middle of the century. I think a lot of people in Europe have a sense that this was the old way. But it wasn’t the way in Tito’s Yugoslavia for about 30 years there. Tito, whose stock is rising steadily every day, managed to take what we continually hear about as millennium-old hostilities and blood hatreds, and suppress them. Not as a model democrat, to be sure, and not perfectly. But it shows it is possible. WEEKLY: Given that Tito is dead, what are the prospects for resolution? ANTONIJEVIC: I think we can’t dwell too much in the past. Because when you say that Albanians have been expelled by the Serbs, you can also point to a time when Serbs were being expelled by Albanians. You can just keep going back further and further to try to answer who came to the region first. There are no perfect and logical borders which will meet all needs.
What happened in the past, happened, but we’ve all become sort of enslaved by that past and our histories.
I think in the end we will need to come to some division of Kosovo, some re-drawing of borders. No one will be entirely happy, as the Serbs believe that Kosovo contains many of their most sacred sites, and the Albanians definitely want more than just autonomy. In the end, NATO troops may have to sit in the land that will go to the Albanians, and Russian troops in the portion that goes to Serbia.
I also believe that discussions of genocide are counterproductive. I would say that, yes, there is mass murder taking place. But it’s more like civil war than genocide.WIENER: I hope we can all agree that the bombing has been counterproductive. It has not helped all the things we think are problems. The only person the bombing has helped is Milosevic, by rallying the Serb opposition to his side. Therefore, the bombing should stop.