By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Serbs feel cornered now because of the Rambouillet ultimatum, which offered no leeway to the Serbs. It did not offer any kind of a carrot, only a stick — you sign this or we bomb you. And, of course, that’s the ideal situation for totalitarian rulers like Milosevic. People stick behind them because the alternative is impossible. ãWEEKLY: What would the carrot be? ANTONIJEVIC: You have to hold out to the Serbs the possibility that Kosovo will not leave Serbia, or, at least, that they will retain a portion of Kosovo. At least the throne of the Orthodox Church would have to stay on the Serbian side. WEEKLY: How much of Kosovo would that be? ANTONIJEVIC: Well, this is an amateurish estimate, but say you gave the Serbs a quarter of Kosovo in the northwest that included a couple of those holy sites. There would also need to be the promise of money to rebuild the country. And they should cut the deal with someone who is not Milosevic. HASANI: We keep talking of the bombing of Serb civilians. NATO and the U.S. did not go in to bomb civilians. We don’t have these perfect bombs; sometimes they go astray, they hit civilians. Everyone hates that. ANTONIJEVIC: May I ask a question, just a very practical question? What happens, in your opinion, to those 800,000 Albanians who are still in Kosovo if there is a ground assault by NATO? If we are talking about how to stop human suffering, what’s going to happen to these people? HASANI: They will be on the side of NATO, very simple. ANTONIJEVIC: Some of them are, let’s say, men of fighting age. Most of them are elderly women and children. Are they going to be better off or will they be worse? HASANI:Eventually, they will be better off. STONE: Right now, the Albanians are hiding in the ravines, in the ditches, in the forest. They don’t have any food. They’re already in critical condition. ANTONIJEVIC: I know, but that’s why I’m saying, stop the war. Then you can start doing some good things for these people. WIENER: I think the point is that the bombing is making everything worse, not better. HASANI: I don’t think it’s making it worse. STONE: I think that progressive people on the left are in a very bizarre and difficult spot. Here is the U.S. military and NATO, which has consistently had very problematic interventions in the last 30 years, and now it seems to be a case where intervention could possibly be for good. Certainly the Clinton administration has strategic and NATO credibility interests, but I take seriously the moral and humanitarian impetus driving Bill Clinton. I think Clinton does not want to go down as the president who oversaw three genocides. Bosnia was on his watch, Rwanda was on his watch, and now we have Kosovo. I think that he is driven by this idea of "never again."
There are a lot of historical analogies being tossed about. Everybody in this conflict sees it as somehow rehashing World War II. Milosevic sees NATO as the Nazis. The Serbs talk about themselves as the "Jews of the Balkans." Our side talks about Milosevic as "a new Hitler," as this being a new Nazi regime. And the Vietnam analogy gets bounced around. I think we’re sort of awash in analogies. There’s only one that I would say is applicable, and that’s the appeasement analogy. I think it’s very obvious that appeasing Milosevic has led to increasing violence and increasing war, and this will not end until we use force against the Milosevic regime.WEEKLY: Reverend Lawson, as a pacifist, how do you deal with a situation like this in which there is clearly a great moral wrong being inflicted on a group of people? How do you solve the problem without using force? ã LAWSON: Well, I want to say that I’ve heard here a great deal of implied confidence in the combined motives of America’s National Security Agency, Pentagon, CIA and State Department, agencies with horrible past records with regard to acting altruistically. Those who’ve decided to trust in these power structures for the moment are, I think, quite mistaken. American intervention forces have been rooted deeply in elitism, domination and white privilege. They are not trustworthy, they have never been.
So how, as a person of nonviolence, do I see the scene? I think that when you have great moral evil going on, you try, first of all, simply to stop the main thrust of the evil. And the main thrust of the evil is that women and children largely do the suffering of the Balkans for the policy decisions of the United States and NATO. So I’d say the first step is to stop it.
War is kind of a macho, manly affair, but we make the women and children pay for it — this was true in Vietnam, this was true in Southern Africa, it was true in El Salvador, in Guatemala, right straight across the thing. I mean, we have these high-sounding concerns, but our decisions make ordinary people bear the brunt of the pain and the hurt. Meanwhile, the Henry Kissingers just get wealthier and wealthier out of the whole business.WEEKLY: Leaving the moral questions aside for a moment, what about pragmatically? Can a war bring the prospect of long-term peace to this area of the Balkans? LAWSON: No. MEYERSON: The kind of war we’re fighting will not solve this. The war we’re fighting is an oddly misconceived war. It seems that NATO has concluded that Albanians are worth killing for but they are not worth dying for. I think that that is a morally and strategically deficient position. There is something obscene about conducting a war which has as its tacit strategy that none of "our boys" will be put in harm’s way. That is obscene. It also doesn’t work. WEEKLY: Does it bother you at all that the people who would be going in on the ground — the people who would be dying for this war — would be disproportionately our country’s poorest people? LAWSON: And people of color. MEYERSON: Sure, but at this point in time any intervention, even one that we would all support, would still be fought by such an army. That’s who is in our Army. WEEKLY: And what about solutions?WIENER: A couple of propositions. We have not really tried to get the Russians involved. In fact, we’ve kind of blown off and insulted the Russian attempts, and we’ve not tried to get the U.N. in. It seems to me both of those are possibilities that the Serbs would be more open to accepting than they would NATO.
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