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 was in Rwanda shortly after the slaughter there. I was infuriated then — and am now — that the international community did not step in. Had it done so, hundreds of thousands of lives would have been saved. I’m in support of action through the United Nations. The realist in me says that action through the United Nations probably would not have been able to be generated given the capacity for the Russians and the Chinese to have a veto, but I think we ought to have an international strike force made up in the United Nations for just this kind of event, and it ought to be used at the behest of the secretary general when these kinds of humanitarian emergencies develop. I think the use of NATO in this instance was probably the expeditious thing to do, but the wrong thing to do because it further alienates the Russians.
From my association with Human Rights Watch, I know that the escalation of violence and violations of human rights in Kosovo have been going on for some time, and if there had been the political courage to name Milosevic as a war criminal early on, we probably would not be in the position we are in today. Having said that, I reluctantly find myself supporting the notion that something needed to be done and that it is appropriate for us to act, and if this is the only way, then so be it.Gail Ruderman Feuer
Senior attorney, Natural Resources Defense Council
I’m supportive of our country’s efforts to protect the people in Kosovo who are being cleansed, so to speak, by the government. Whether or not we should be conducting an air war or a ground war I don’t have an opinion on, but in my view this looks a lot like the Holocaust, where a lot of countries, including ours, sat on their hands while a government caused great harm. We should generally stay out of the business of other countries, but when the human-rights abuses get this great, it’s time for us to step in for humanitarian reasons and help the people of that country.
Clearly our government has a checkered history. There have been a lot of instances where we have not stepped in where we should have, or where we supported an oppressive government where similar abuses were happening. So I join those who criticize our government for not intervening in other instances, but in this one I think we should.
We’ve had the luxury of a war with few casualties from the United States. It gets tougher for our government as more American troops are at risk. But my view is that if there is a moral imperative to take action to prevent the killing of the people, then that same moral imperative justifies the use of our troops, and we need to accept our own casualties. To me, it cannot be the case that it’s only the morally right thing to do if we don’t face any risks ourselves.Laura Geller
Rabbi, Temple Emanuel
The one thing that seems clear about the situation is that we have to be doing everything we can for these refugees: taking care of them while they are in refugee camps, and resettling them wherever they want to be resettled. It’s clearly a humanitarian disaster that we have a responsibility to respond to. The images are just so evocative to anyone connected to Jewish history, there is not a question that this situation calls out for active involvement on the part of all of us.
I just saw in today’s paper that the U.N. said it’s not going to be able to take care of this newest wave of refugees, and that’s just completely unacceptable. Between public and private sources, it has to be done.
It’s not clear what our military response ought to be. I’ve heard arguments that are compelling on both sides, but there’s only one compelling side in terms of refugee resettlement. We must do it.Joe R. Hicks
Executive Director, Human Relations Commission, City of Los Angeles
I think the bombing is horrible, but that’s war. I do support some attempt to intervene in what has obviously been a form of ethnic cleansing, and I think something should have been done years ago to stop Milosevic. We’re probably a dollar short and several days too late.
I’m not a military expert, but I think that simply waging an air campaign is doomed to failure. It probably will require some kind of ground intervention to save the lives of ethnic Albanians still inside Kosovo. NATO’s strategy was a flawed one going in. There wasn’t a proper entrance strategy, nor is there any kind of adequate exit strategy. The promise that this is simply going to be an air campaign clearly fed into the hands of Milosevic, who was then able to work his will on the ground in terms of cleansing that province. Once that’s completed he’ll probably then say he’s ready to negotiate. That doesn’t help these poor hapless people who are being forced out of their homes and brutalized in the process.Morris Kight