500,000 Kosovans now refugees

Nathan Newman nathan.newman at yale.edu
Sun Mar 28 15:28:50 PST 1999

-----Original Message----- From: Brett Knowlton <brettk at unica-usa.com> To: lbo-talk at lists.panix.com <lbo-talk at lists.panix.com>

>The only type of intervention that seems to have any chance of stopping the
>atrocities is occupation of the region by ground troops. And I'd be more
>inclined to support this option than limiting intervention to a bombing
>campaign because that might actually stop the atrocities, at least in the
>short term.

On this we agree. NATO is moving towards deploying ground troops, even if the US may not participate. The whole sanitized bombing approach is not a good approach (although the best that could be politically pushed in this initial stage); a more forthright commitment to troop deployment would be better - as I noted in earlier posts.

>The burden of proof in on you to show that diplomatic channels have been
>exhausted. It IS credible that Milosevic would be amenable to a negotiated
>cease fire. Do you think he WANTS Belgrade to be bombed? Sure, he'd
>rather be bombed than have NATO troops occupying Kosovo, that much is
>clear, but perhaps there are other terms he might agree to.

There are no other terms that would protect the Kosovo population. Without troops, as has been proven, the population of Kosovo was only a week away from mass murder and expulsion. There is no assurance that Milosevic can give now that he has proven himself (again) a butcher.

>Incidentally, similar things have been said of Saddam Hussein during the
>Gulf War. Even he was willing to negotiate, but we gave him an ultimatim
>instead - WE (meaning the US) were the ones who ruled out a significant
>number of diplomatic options which may have prevented the Gulf War, and its
>my understanding that we've done the same in the Kosovo situation.

Saddam was never willing to negotiate leaving Kuwait. Which was fine with me and we should have left it in his hands. The Kuwaiti emir and the Kuwaiti elite were hardly legitimate in their rule of a country where most of the residents could not vote, and after the war, many like the Palestinians were expelled in a nearly criminal manner.

The problem with the Gulf War was not process but that Kuwait was not a cause worth fighting for. Saddam was and is a bastard dictator, but we were not fighting for the rights of those like the Kurds seeking legitimate self-determination but only for an economic elite which served US interests in oil.

NO BLOOD FOR OIL and BOMBS AWAY FOR KOSOVO are perfectly compatible political positions for me. The Gulf War was an immoral war fought for immoral purposes conducted in a savage manner and followed by inhuman sanctions. Kosovo is being fought against an inhuman butcher on behalf of the overwhelming majority of the population of Kosovo with the goal of restoring democratic autonomy to the region.

It is not negotiations that sanctify justice but the ends being fought for. A negotiated settlement that left the Kosovans to be terrorized would be as immoral as the Gulf War.

>Finally, I seriously doubt your characterization that the motives of NATO
>are humanitarian.

I didn't say the motives were humanitarian. I said I didn't care what the motives were, only that the ends are humanitarian.

>this is important because it gets to the question of what
>kind of a settlement NATO will work towards in the region once the fighting
>has stopped. Its quite possible that NATO will set up the KLA in Kosovo,
>and the KLA will promptly begin its own wave of repression and terror, with
>full NATO support (or not - I can see this as a possible, not a guaranteed,

What is important is not intentions but how the peace movement mobilizes. We can have a united agreement to mobilize progressives to support a just peace, but that will only come through defeat of Serbia's forces in Kosovo. It's not that KLA terror should not be considered as a possibility, but I won't debate a worry about a potential problem against actually occuring cultural genocide.

You may legitimately worry that tactically military intervention won't work; I have always said that tactical evaluation is a reasonable position, just one I disagree with. The Kosovans who asked for the intervention thought otherwise and begged for NATO to start the bombing (and I agree we should agree to their request for troops as well). I trust their judgement of the costs & benefits of intervention more than many in the anti-bombing side who mostly seemed to downplay the extent of atrocities in the region that led the Kosovans to ask for the intervention.


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