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
Instead, there are two references to "refugees" who seem to have been the victim of some lamentable process that happened without identifiable human agency other than NATO. "While as outraged and distressed by the plight of the refugees as anyone . . . " begins one sentence. The other reference is a bit longer: "It is clearly the U.S./ NATO bombing that has turned the refugee situation brought about by Yugoslavia’s civil war into the horrific humanitarian crisis it is today." Reading this, you would never think the Milosevic regime even had a role in what has befallen the Albanians.
Indeed, the only one of Yugoslavia’s ethnic groups singled out as a victim in this document is the Serbs. "We do not for a moment believe that ‘humanitarian concern’ is what drives the Clinton administration or its NATO allies," the statement continues. "Only a few years ago, the same forces that are now prepared to bomb Yugoslavia into ashes stood by silently while 500,000 Serbs were ‘ethnically cleansed’ from Croatia . . . " This is certainly true, though the number is inflated — but why is it the only cited example of NATO inaction? We also stood by while the Serbs shelled Dubrovnik and Sarajevo. Why are the Serbs the P.C. victim-of-the-month, to the exclusion of all others? And why don’t the policies of the Milosevic regime merit so much as a passing mention in the coalition’s assessment of the war? Is it only possible to condemn the NATO bombing by deliberately ignoring the most brutal campaign waged against a European people since the end of World War II?
Plainly, a lot of other organizations that have condemned the bombing think otherwise. California Peace Action begins its statement against the bombing by proclaiming, "While any sane person would find Slobodan Milosevic’s brutal campaign against ethnic Albanians unconscionable and support efforts to end it, most now see what President Clinton should have foreseen: that the NATO bombing campaign has only made the situation worse." The socialist organization Solidarity, in its journal Against the Current, is vehemently anti-NATO and vehemently anti-Milosevic.
But the stalwarts at the coalition are too busy reasoning backward to entertain such cavils: Since they oppose the NATO bombing, the target of that bombing — the regime as well as the people — must perforce be, if not quite commendable, then at least immune to censure. This is not, alas, the first time that local progressives have careened down this slippery slope. In her autobiography, longtime L.A. Communist leader Dorothy Healey recalls with rue how the party managed to estrange almost all its allies during the years of the Nazi-Soviet Pact (1939–41) by another such example of backward reasoning: "Just because the Soviet Union was forced by circumstances to sign a pact with Germany did not mean that we should have in any way downplayed our own opposition to the Nazi regime." Healey and her comrades at least had Stalinist discipline as their excuse. What’s the coalition’s?
Coalition spokesperson Jim Lafferty told me that the idea of condemning Milosevic came up in internal discussions, but proved to be a point of division. A more Pyrrhic display of unity is hard to conceive. Last Saturday — the day after our bombing of the Chinese Embassy — the 20-or-so organizations within the coalition staged an anti-war rally in Westwood. By my count, each organization turned out about a dozen protesters.
So a well-intentioned but miserably fought war in Kosovo is countered by a well-intentioned but miserably conceived anti-war movement in L.A. Fearful symmetry, indeed.