Kosovo Conundrum 

The Collective Confusion of American Progressives


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MEYERSON: This may be a colonial war, with all the hatreds that involves, but outside powers have been known to intervene in colonial wars. If France hadn’t intervened in a colonial war between Britain and its colony, the United States would not be the United States.

MARLA STONE: I’d like to make a point in favor of the intervention. The United States is a signatory to the genocide convention. That is a strong argument for intervention.

WIENER: But I would challenge the idea that there’s genocide. What we have is a mass forced expulsion. I think it’s very important to distinguish that from genocide. The very fact that, when the trains arrive in Macedonia, there are people on them who are alive argues against mass genocide.

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STONE: Let’s talk about exactly what goes on in these villages. They have this down to an art form, where they go into a village, call the people in the village into the center of the town, divide the men and the women, and then shoot, in many cases, the military-aged men. They expel the women — you are correct, they don’t kill everyone; they put some women in rape camps. There are indicted war criminals from Bosnia who are now in Kosovo doing it again. So we now have itinerant perpetrators of what I call genocide. You disagree with me. But it is something extremely close to genocide whether or not some people get out alive. There is a plan to depopulate Kosovo, to destroy it culturally. We saw this in Bosnia. And now we are seeing it in Kosovo.

HASANI: This is not exactly what happened to Jews under Hitler. But it is definitely genocide. I have a list from the Internet of 50 people, two families, all massacred — from children to pregnant women — and these were intentionally massacred. That’s genocide.

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.

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