Brett Knowlton brettk at
Thu Apr 8 10:23:55 PDT 1999


>I've said more than once that non-violence vis-a-vis Serb civilian targets
>is my preference. Non-violence towards Serb military, especially inside
>Kosovo, is acquiesence to their crimes. I believe the Serbs' crimes grossly
>outweigh the harm to civilians wrought by Nato, so I will not condemn
>bombing in general. I condemn in particular Clinton/NATO's dithering, which
>is partly reflected in the bankrupt, immoral reliance on air power against
>civilians, in supplying effective aid to the Kosovars.

I don't have a problem with this argument in general, but I don't think it applies well to the facts of the Kosovo situation.

First, we *are* bombing civilian targets, not by accident but by design. This is an integral part of the bombing campaign, and is taking on a larger role every day. While it would have been impossible to predict exactly what would happen before the bombing started, the escalation of bombing to include civilian targets should have been considered as a likely, if not the most probable outcome given the track record of the US in the past (Vietnam, Iraq, etc.) and given the public opinions of the folks in charge (i.e., as both Gen. Wesley Clark and the CIA admitted, we expected the bombing to accelerate Serb repression). Therefore the current situation - a committed NATO facing the fact that the Albanians have been almost entirely removed from Kosovo - and its likely consequenses should have been considered before the bombing even started. What would be NATO's likely response? I claim that what we're seeing now, making the Serbs "pay the price" via bombing of civilian targets, should have been regarded as highly likely.

Second, it isn't easy to bomb Serb military targets without simultaneously bombing the Albanian Kosovars we're trying to protect. Some of the refugees apparently have fled the NATO bombs (although I admit most of them have probably been driven out by the Serbs - I don't want to be seen as minimizing the Serb repression). The only situation in which you can cleanly target Serb military forces is one in which the Albanians have been removed, in which case the battle is lost and again you are causing gratuitous loss of life with no hope of meeting your stated goal, defense of the Albanians.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the fact that Serb crimes grossly outweigh the harm NATO has done (a point I'm willing to concede, at least for now) does not absolve NATO. If NATO is conducting a criminal bombing campaign, then we should oppose it or accept our share of responsibility for the death we helped cause. You may believe the Serb atrocities justify the bombing (this is not the argument you make above, but perhaps its what you meant), but if so then we disagree.

>How would a cease-fire inside Kosovo be enforced, things being what they are
>now? If there was a way of doing it that protected Kosovars inside Kosovo
>I'd be interested.

I don't know. But the idea is that a negotiated settlement would come up with a means of doing so which both parties could agree to. Perhaps Russian peacekeepers would be OK. Perhaps there are Serbs who could be trusted to observe the situation, folks in the democratic opposition to Milosevic. I don't have the silver bullet, but that's not the point. The point is to open up the discussion to a wider range of options in the hope that a solution can be found. Perhaps such a solution really is impossible. Perhaps this is already clear, but in any case there has not been public scrutiny of the negotiating positions of each side, as there should be. In any case, dismissing the chances for a settlement out of hand are not very constructive and guarantee failure.

>Maybe we could agree on this: immediate insertion of ground forces to
>enforce a UN protectorate for Kosovo. Who? You tell me who could do it. A
>Russo-Swede force. Find. I don't give a shit who it is, as long as it
>works. Then there is no justification or need for bombing Serbia, and no
>need for the use of force if there are no Serbians running amuck inside
>Presumably many anti-bombers would support the idea of peace-keepers inside
>Kosovo. But the implication of this is to negate Serb sovreignty and
>supercede Serb force by some higher rule of law and order. It entails
>imagining the outcome of an invasion and glossing over how such an outcome
>would come about. I fear the only way the outcome of an invasion can be
>achieved is by exactly that means.

I don't necessarily support ground forces. Especially if the Serbs don't accept them. I will not support an invasion. If the Serbs agree to a UN protectorate in Kosovo, fine, I'll support that. I'd be willing to support similar arrangements.

If this position means that a) we stop the bombing of Serbia, b) the Serbs do not withdraw from Kosovo, and c) the ethnic Albanians do not return to their homes and are forced to permanently relocate, I'm willing to accept it. Of course I would support aid to the refugees to minimize their suffering. And this would be a horrible outcome, a true humanitarian tragedy. But I don't see a better alternative - it is quite possible that this is the least of all evils.


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