Re: "In the Skies and in the Streets" [May 1422]. Certainly reasonable men and women of good will can differ on the merits of the U.S.-NATO war against Yugoslavia, and certainly there are some identified in the past as members of the "peace-and-justice movement" who support the current bombing campaign. But the overwhelming majority of groups and individuals comprising the traditional peace-and-justice movement condemn the war and, in Los Angeles, have joined in coalition to demand that the bombing stop, that the U.S.-NATO forces leave Yugoslavia, and that the billions being spent on this war be spent instead on pressing human needs.
For Harold Meyerson, who happens to be quite hawkish on the war, to consign our coalition to the "fringe" of the movement (suggesting, of course, that he now represents the "mainstream" of that movement) is really an appalling bit of Orwellian logic. And to suggest that he is more concerned than we are with the plight of the refugees and with the human-rights violations occurring on all sides in this war is grossly inaccurate. We simply believe that what the U.S. government and NATO are doing, they do for decidedly non-humanitarian reasons, and that what they are doing is only making a bad situation worse. We don't believe that you can "save" a country, or a people, by bombing it, or them, into oblivion. Perhaps brother Meyerson forgets that the first obligation of a U.S. anti-war movement is to critique our own nation's conduct in the war.
Frankly, for Meyerson to sit on the sidelines and quibble over the incompleteness of the demands of what is, after all, a new and developing anti-war movement, as ever-growing numbers of innocent civilians are being blown to bits and while Yugoslavia is being reduced to rubble, is hardly taking the moral high ground.
For the L.A. Peace Center Coalition Against the U.S.-NATO War in Yugoslavia,
International Action Center
National Lawyers Guild
Southern California Americans
for Democratic Action
Office of the Americas
Don White, CISPES
As president of Southern California Americans for Democratic Action, I must respond to Harold Meyerson's mystifying article in which he described the Peace Coalition as uncritical of Milosevic. SCADA is part of that coalition, and Mr. Meyerson knows our organization long and well enough to recognize that not only do we regard Milosevic as a two-bit butcher, we have traditionally opposed the numerous other two-bit butchers supported by our consistently inconsistent State Department. Suharto, Saddam Hussein, Somoza . . . the list is endless. We were there in opposition long before the State Department admitted what bastards these dictators were.
If you're looking for support for Milosevic, consider NATO. Milosevic has never had it so good. The bombing has gotten rid of the Albanians a lot faster than he ever dreamed possible. It has converted the Serbian dissenters into his ardent supporters, something he has to be thrilled about. And while it has exacerbated his violence, destabilized the country, polluted it for a millennium, blanketed it with anti-personnel cluster bombs and depleted uranium, and killed and maimed thousands of Albanians, Serbs and everybody else who was unlucky enough to be in bomb's way, Milosevic himself remains safe and secure.
But Milosevic is not the only winner. There's Clinton. By initiating the bombing, he has managed to keep the China fund-raising scandal from really taking off. And the Republican Congress is happy. They managed to extract an extra $14 billion for their military buddies instead of the $6 billion requested by Clinton.
Above all, the war has managed to get liberals, like you and us, at each other's throats. Our war-hawking leaders counted on the fact that many would equate the situation in Yugoslavia with the Holocaust. But in Hitler's Germany, Jews, Gypsies, gays -- all the minority victims -- wanted to remain Germans. Nobody wanted sovereignty. In Yugoslavia, everybody wants sovereignty. This thing in Yugoslavia, while grotesque and tragic, is a classic civil war.
We at SCADA are revolted and horrified by this heartbreaking war. We will continue to have teach-ins, rallies, marches, whatever it takes to oppose it. And we will continue to work with the Peace Coalition. We do not have to agree on everything; what coalition does? It is enough that we all want to stop the bombing, negotiate out of this war and redirect those funds out of destroying another country and into saving our own. We invite Mr. Meyerson to join us.