LIES, MURDER AND A BITTER FRAPPUCCINO
Your roundtable on Kosovo ["Kosovo Conundrum," May 713] continues the gross misrepresentation of the conflict by the U.S. media. Some salient facts that fly in the face of the comments of your participants:
1) The Kosovo Liberation Army -- the terrorist group that has been fighting the Yugoslav army as well as Serbian and Albanian citizens -- is funded by the heroin trade in Europe. Unimpeachable sources for this include Interpol and the police chiefs of Italy, France and Germany.
2) The Rambouillet "agreement," which the Serbs refused to sign, was a document worked out by the United States and the KLA. It virtually guaranteed the independence of Kosovo and the imposition of an occupation force composed of nations openly hostile to Yugoslavia. The Serbs were told to sign the dictat or be bombed.
3) The current Serb offensive began before the NATO bombing started. Prior to the bombing there were no refugees -- post-bombing, over 500,000 refugees. Paul Watson of the L.A. Times and the Toronto Globe, the only reporter in Kosovo throughout the crisis, says that the vast majority of the refugees are fleeing NATO bombing.
4) Serbs are accused of genocide, but prior to the bombing, the U.S. media reported 2,000 dead in two years of civil war, a substantial number of those Serbian. How is this genocide?
5) NATO bombing has now killed more people in five and a half weeks than died on both sides in two years of civil war.
6) Widespread atrocities are claimed and reports published without evidence. Meanwhile, Paul Watson, reporting from Kosovo, says that there is no evidence of widespread atrocities, and that it would be impossible to hide them.
7) In 1962, the Serbian population of Kosovo was over 40 percent, and is now 10 percent. Yet the Serbs are the ones accused of ethnic cleansing.
This war is clearly not about humanitarian empathy. Humanitarianism is the cover for a blatant power play by a nation that is accountable to no one, supported by a press that seems to have forgotten the most basic rules of journalism.
Bogdan Denitch's article on Yugoslav dissolution ["The Balkans' West Bank," May 713] pretends to present an explanation of the Kosovo crisis by blaming everyone equally. His premise is flawed, as is his claim that 200,000 Serbs were "ethnically cleansed" from the Krajina region of Croatia in 1995 in what he terms the largest act of ethnic cleansing in the whole war. The country fell apart due to virulent Serbian nationalism, which attempted to create a Greater Serbia by linking up Serb populations in Croatia and Bosnia with Serbia. Since the majority of the populations in Bosnia and Croatia were non-Serb, the only way to get a Greater Serbia was to kill or expel non-Serbs.
In occupied Croatia from 1991 to 1995, particularly in the central Croatian region where the local Serbs proclaimed their "Independent State of Krajina," all non-Serbs were expelled, most under the watchful eye of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR), better known to Croatians as UNPROSERB. The Serb general in charge was indicted war criminal Ratko Mladic.
When the Croatian military undertook "Operation Storm" in August 1995 to retake its sovereign territory, the Serbian population there numbered less than 70,000. They were ordered to evacuate by another indicted war criminal, Mile Mrksic, and left Croatia under the protection of UNPROFOR. The Serbs quantifiably rejected every attempt by Croatia and thenU.S. Ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith to negotiate their status. The U.S.-sponsored Z-4 plan, which gave the Serbs a virtual state-within-a-state, was rejected by the Krajina thugs.
The Serb evacuation order was published in the September 9, 1995, issue of Dnevni Telegraf, an opposition newspaper run by a recently assassinated Milosevic opponent, Slavko Curuvija. This Croatian offensive also broke the Serbian siege of the U.N. "safe area" of Bihac, preventing another Srebrenica, where 7,000 Muslims were slaughtered by Ratko Mladic's Serb military under the eyes of another U.N. protection force. If this mostly Muslim-populated area of Bihac would have fallen to the Serbs, Greater Serbia would not have been a dream, but a reality. Ironically, Milosevic, who started the road to war and the creation of Greater Serbia in Kosovo in 1989 by revoking its autonomy, may in the end have a Lesser Serbia with a flaming defeat in Kosovo -- just like his ancestors in 1389.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin ã
I am a 30-something, gay, African-American, U.S.-Army-veteran male, and once again I'm confused and without a political home. The right wing comes up with some mean-spirited, bigoted agenda, but no sooner do I accept that I'm a liberal than damned if the left's behavior doesn't become equally asinine. I read "Kosovo Conundrum" hoping to find a logical reason to oppose military action against Yugoslavia. Sadly and predictably, the anti-military part of the panel could only offer the same shopworn, doctrinaire platitudes, none more maddening than the Rev. James Lawson. I was embarrassed for the man's clear lack of knowledge of the topic. Adherence to principle is admirable so long as it does not fly in the face of life-and-death facts. When it does, it ceases to be a virtue and becomes empty, oppressive dogma.
Having been privileged to travel extensively abroad, I can assure the good reverend that tyranny, oppression and mindless hatred are by no means the sole property of America. As another panelist, Marla Stone, said so succinctly, "It's about a political regime in Belgrade that uses hypernationalism, xenophobia and war to hold power." At least one person in the discussion "gets it." While U.S. history is certainly replete with moral failures, to blame the series of catastrophes in the Balkans on maintaining "white privilege" is laughably illogical. Yes, the loss of civilian life is tragic. War is a terrible thing. I would, however, remind some members of your panel that if there had not been pain and suffering of women and children some 135 years ago, some of us would still be chopping cotton in Georgia.
Is the word "conundrum" an adequate headline for a cover photograph [May 713] of such heartbreaking, intimate suffering? In Enric Marti's AP/Wide World picture, a father with a broken nose is apparently about to break out in tears, while the face of that little girl, his daughter, is so contorted with pain, it's hard to look at her without crying myself. I do not know their names, or the direct cause of their tears. I want to know. I feel for this father and this girl every time I look at the cover. I feel pain -- and some guilt at having their tears laid bare to barely interested, Frappuccino-sipping passersby.
I'm not certain you do the right thing by presenting a very intimate picture of private pain for the sake of announcing a political roundtable. Ask the unnamed girl in your photo what she thinks of the "Collective Conundrum of American Progressives" about her homeland. Or else show the same respect for her personal torment that you show for your political discussion -- by referencing her plight.
An interesting roundtable on the ethical gymnastics performed by "progressives" about U.S. intervention in Kosovo. Too many contentions with which to take issue, but one stands out -- the Rev. James Lawson's (unchallenged) statement that "the number-one federal budget item is military spending." This is simply not the case: The Office of Management and Budget reports that fully half of 1999 federal outlays are transfer payments (Social Security, Medicare and such). National defense accounts are the smallest amount in relation to the GDP since World War II.
BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE
As the KXLU DJ who is right before Steve Castaldi and Chris Checkman, and as KXLU music director, I feel that it's necessary to respond to Adam Bregman's article about their show ["Big Boss Man," May 713], which made generalizations about KXLU and Chris that are simply untrue. First of all, there is no "typical KXLU DJ." With more than 25 DJs, it's hard to imagine that we all have the same tastes and talk the same. Second, it is obvious that the factor of obscurity is being lost in college radio. The bands that are now today's flavor of the month were once "nondescript." Chris says that "alternative" is sold to the May Co., yet, by playing bands that are heard on other L.A. stations, he does nothing to fix this problem. Those of us who are looked at as "indie snobs" are just trying to break the mold and keep things fresh. Last, by talking about how he stuck his neck out during our annual fund-raiser, Chris also puts his foot in his mouth, because not once have I seen either Chris or Steve answer phones, take pledges or help anyone during the fund-raiser.
I am disappointed that our station's troubles have to be discussed in public before they are discussed here, because it divides a force that should work together. That kind of positive thinking is not part of Chris' show, since cynicism and negativity are all that it revolves around. How "alternative."
--Elvin "DJ Nobody" Estela
A quick bit of clarification regarding Adam Bregman's piece on me and our shows on KXLU 88.9 FM (Blues Hotel, The Morris Beef Show). First, Ian MacKinnon's contribution to Blues Hotel cannot be overstated. Michael Simmons put it best in the 1997 "Best of L.A." issue when he referred to Ian being our "Zen-like sage." While Morris and I myself, I guess, have a great deal to do with our continued success, it is fair to say that without Ian the show would not even exist today.
Second, while the accounts of my having picked up the occasional listener/groupie off the request lines are true, it should be noted that those days ended years ago, when all the good drugs ran out. The last listener I hooked up with tore my insides out to the point where I am even today continuing to pick bits of entrails off the walls and sidewalks. Proof enough that, if there is a god, he/she/whatever practices vengeance on a grand scale.
Anyway, many thanks again to Adam for the article, and to the Weekly for its continued support of Blues Hotel, The Morris Beef Show and our radio station.
Send letters to the editor to: L.A. Weekly, P.O. Box 4315, L.A., CA 90078. Or fax us at (323) 465-3220. Or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters, which must be typewritten and include a daytime telephone number for verification, may be edited for purposes of space or clarity.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss LA Weekly's biggest stories.