[PEN-L:5345] The Nation on Kosovo - Pro-intervention

J. Barkley Rosser, Jr. rosserjb at jmu.edu
Thu Apr 15 14:54:30 PDT 1999

Good heavens, where to start with this? I guess just a few big ones.

1) Denitch and Williams do at least admit near the end that bombing will not do the trick and that ground troops must be introduced. They say that "some may have to die." And, just how many are acceptable? Hitler never was able to suppress the Yugoslav guerrillas, despite quickly "taking Belgrade" and having massive and brutal forces in place.

2) Related to the above, D and W refer to the Serbian police and military as "being far from home" and without air cover. No, they are not "far from home." We have here an essential idiocy and pollyannaish view of the situation. Those who thought that bombing would cause His Excellency (indeed, a war criminal as far as I am concerned, but hardly the only one) to cave I think are equally misguided as to how quickly and easily NATO ground troops will be able to suppress the Yugoslav military, a group fighting for what it perceives to be its home turf and which deterred Stalin and defeated Hitler. It may be weakened, but this is a very serious force. Despite incessant pounding the air defenses are still in place. That the Yugoslav military has failed to displace totally the UCK/KLA suggests that it would be even harder for NATO to displace it, which is much better armed. They have trained for a mountain defense against invaders. Not to mention how long it would take to get the ground troops in there, especially with Hungary not supporting an invasion. Heck, they can't even get those Apache helicopters in there in anything under two weeks.

Really, Nathan, can't you give us something more substantive than this fantasyland drivel? You can do better than this. Barkley Rosser -----Original Message----- From: Nathan Newman <nathan.newman at yale.edu> To: lbo-talk at lists.panix.com <lbo-talk at lists.panix.com>; pen-l at galaxy.csuchico.edu <pen-l at galaxy.csuchico.edu> Date: Thursday, April 15, 1999 4:58 PM Subject: [PEN-L:5345] The Nation on Kosovo - Pro-intervention

>an opinion by Bogdan Denitch and Ian Williams
>The Nation, April 26, 1999
> The Case Against Inaction
> Sadly, some on the left are angrier about NATO's bombing
> than they are about the Serbian forces' atrocities, even though
> Milosevic's men have killed more in one Kosovan village than
> have all the airstrikes. Those who want an immediate NATO
> cease-fire owe the world an explanation of how they propose
> to stop and reverse the massive ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, in
> light of Milosevic's history as a serial ethnic cleanser and
> promise-breaker. Arguments that the NATO action diminishes
> the stature of the United Nations are, to say the least, highly
> questionable. What could diminish the UN's stature more than
> Milosevic's successful defiance of more than fifty Security
> Council resolutions? Only last September, Resolution 1199,
> invoking Chapter VII of the UN Charter, ordered Belgrade to
> "cease all action by the security forces affecting the civilian
> population and order the withdrawal of security units used for
> civilian repression" in Kosovo. Only last October, Milosevic
> promised to reduce troop numbers in Kosovo, and his pledge
> was endorsed and given the force of international law by
> Security Council Resolution 1203. By the time the
> Rambouillet negotiations had started, he had more troops in
> Kosovo than ever before, and they had already begun their
> well-prepared campaign of ethnic cleansing.
> Real internationalists can hardly use the dubious rights of
> "national sovereignty" to oppose action to stop massacres.
> Opposition to US military intervention is an understandable
> rule of thumb, but it shouldn't become obsessive dogma. After
> all, most Europeans were happy with US intervention in
> World War II. The British court decisions on Gen. Augusto
> Pinochet show that, at last, politicians who murder cannot
> expect amnesty afterwards. Why should Slobodan Milosevic
> expect impunity as he carries out crimes against humanity?
> Ideally, there should have been a UN Security Council vote
> endorsing military action, but China and Russia had made it
> plain that no matter what barbarities Milosevic committed
> they would veto any such resolution. Happily, most of the
> Council agreed that ethnic cleansing was not something that
> could be shielded behind a dubious claim of national
> sovereignty and soundly defeated, 12 votes to 3, a Russian
> draft resolution condemning the bombing. Only Namibia
> joined Beijing and Moscow. NATO, most of whose
> governments are members of the Socialist International,
> agreed on a military response.
> In short, the court of international public opinion has
> implicitly, resoundingly, endorsed military action. Milosevic
> is clearly counting on past experience that the international
> community will compromise, accept the results of ethnic
> cleansing and leave him in power. We hope that this time he
> has miscalculated. Three of the major European
> players--Britain, France and Germany--under like-minded
> left-of-center governments have united in their determination
> to stop him, and they have popular majorities for doing so.
> Soon NATO will be faced with two alternatives: stop the
> bombing and "negotiate," or commit ground troops. The
> bombing should stop only when Belgrade agrees to pull out or
> is pushed out of Kosovo, if necessary by ground troops. For
> most of this decade Milosevic has used negotiations as a cover
> to consolidate the gains of ethnic cleansing.
> The precondition for a cease-fire must be the withdrawal of
> Serbian troops and police from Kosovo and their replacement
> by an international force, mostly NATO but including
> Russians if they want to become involved--and can afford to.
> (No one who saw the UN in inaction in Bosnia could wish UN
> forces on the long-suffering Kosovars.) Of course, the present
> campaign carries risks. To exorcise its frustration and put off
> the inevitable involvement on the ground, the White House
> will be increasingly tempted to escalate attacks on civilian and
> economic targets. The sooner ground troops are committed to
> clear Kosovo of Serbian forces and allow the refugees to
> return, the less temptation there will be, and the more likely
> that Milosevic will withdraw. Successful military action
> would also strengthen the prospects for democracy in Serbia.
> Much of the Serbian opposition argues that airstrikes weaken
> their position. In fact, it would be impossible to weaken their
> position on Kosovo: Even fewer of them explicitly oppose the
> repression there than resisted the war in Bosnia. In reality,
> Serbia cannot have democracy and Kosovo.
> There will be casualties, but the Serbian army and police,
> although fearsome against unarmed civilians, will be far from
> home, in hostile territory without air cover. The alternative is
> a terminal weakening of all the precarious advances in
> international humanitarian law that have been achieved over
> the past decade--not to mention the deaths and exile of
> hundreds of thousands of Kosovars.
> Bogdan Denitch and Ian Williams
> Bogdan Denitch, director of the Institute for Transitions to
> Democracy, which operates in Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia, is
> the author of Ethnic Nationalism: The Tragic Death of
> Yugoslavia (Minnesota). Ian Williams is The Nation's
> United Nations correspondent.

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