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
Convenor, Gay and Lesbian Peace Concerns
I approach all wars conducted by anybody under any conditions in any country as unnecessary and an abomination. And I am horrified at the undeclared war that we’re carrying on in Yugoslavia and Kosovo. We don’t know what we’re doing. We have no rational plan. We have no end plan, no plan of what it is that we want. We want to stop the ethnic cleansing, and ethnic cleansing is a bad thing. This country did very badly with ethnic cleansing. We killed off the Native Americans, killed off the African-Americans who came here, and we picked up a pretty bad reputation for ethnic cleansing ourselves.
We created the United Nations in conference in San Francisco in 1945. Why the hell are we ignoring it? It’s meant to be a peacekeeping force. Instead, we’re using a military organization that we also created as a foil against the Soviet Union.Connie Rice
Civil rights attorney
There seems to be an inconsistency in the goal: If our military strategy unleashed a much higher level of havoc for — and increased the harm to — the Kosovars, then I have a question about the humanitarian goals. We should be in the business of stopping genocide. But where were we in Rwanda? Is there a consistent principle that we’re applying? I can’t figure out if the mission is genocide prevention, or whether we have a strategic and military and global-economic goal here. The mission must involve something else, and I’m not sure what it is . . .
How do you determine which genocide you stop? I’m glad that we’re focused on stopping genocide anywhere. That’s a principle that’s a legitimate interest of the entire world. But that said, why did we do nothing in Rwanda?Ramona Ripston
Executive director, ACLU of Southern California
I am not speaking for the ACLU, which has not taken a position at all, but my personal opinion is that to date the NATO action has been a failure.
I think that I oppose intervention. Obviously we don’t have all the information we needed to have to make a really informed decision, but it is my feeling that it was wrongheaded from the start. We’ve all read about the other places where the United States did not intervene — in Rwanda, Croatia. Why here? And then what’s happened since the bombing began really is ethnic cleansing and really has been disastrous for hundreds of thousands of people.
I don’t think we should send in ground troops, but we do have a dilemma now with so many thousands of people displaced. They are in camps where the conditions are abysmal. It seems to me that NATO and the United States owe them something.
I would oppose the sending in of ground troops, but I don’t know what we do at this point. It’s one thing to oppose an aggressive attack by one state against the other, but it seems we have decided we can use military force to alter another state’s internal political arrangements. This is a civil war. But, now that we’re there, now that we have uprooted all these people, now that we have destroyed people’s lives, what do we do? I don’t know the answer to that.
One of the things that upsets me also is that at least a third of our ground troops are young men of color, and these are the kids that we will be sending to war, kids that we didn’t give opportunities to in this country, and their way out was to join the armed services. It’s just a mess. It makes me angry.Stanley K. Sheinbaum
Publisher, New Perspectives Quarterly
There has been a remarkable development in the history of humankind in the last 50 years that we should not fluff off too readily. Only recently has it become accepted that human rights and humanitarian concerns should be a criterion of foreign policy.
As to the war, we should follow exactly what we’re doing now and force Milosevic to be responsive. While the bombing hasn’t accomplished that so far, there are signs that the Russians may be open to using their influence to make him more responsive. Exactly why some in Washington resist the involvement of the Russians is a mystery going back to the Cold War. That’s a tired mentality.
Some people ask, what are U.S. interests in this? — as if there were an economic interest. That’s not the question here. The question is, can the advanced countries of the world learn to function on humanitarian principles? This intervention suggests that they can — but not easily. But it took millennia for the human-rights issue even to come into the dialogue.
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