Zinn: A few points on the Kosovo situation

Knut Rognes (knrognes@online.no)
Mon, 05 Apr 1999 08:28:42 +0200


videresender dette i dag mandag 5. april

Knut Rognes

Here is today's ZNet Commentary Delivery from Howard Zinn. The attached file
is the same material in nicely formatted html so that you can read it in
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Here then is today's ZNet Commentary...


ZNet Commentary
April 5, 1999
A few points on the Kosovo situation
By Howard Zinn
1) Milosovic and his Serb forces are committing atrocities.
2) Bombing won't help, but will only make things worse -- and that is
already evident. Indeed, as the NY Times has it this morning (Thursday), the
Administration was told by CIA and Pentagon people that bombing would speed
up Milosovic's "ethnic cleansing", but it went ahead anyway. This means that
not only was Clinton deceiving the public when he said his aim in bombing
was to help the people of Kosovo, but that he embarked on the bombing
campaign with a reckless disregard for what would happen to the Kosovars as
a result. The bombing will only create more victims, on both sides. Innocent
Yugoslav civilians will die, so that both Kosovars and Serbians end up as
victims of our policy.
3) The Kosovo Liberation Army may not represent the wishes of the Kosovar
people, because it decided to turn to armed struggle to gain independence,
ruthlessly putting their countrymen at risk, when a more protracted
non-violent campaign of resistance was already going on and should have
continued. I think of South Africa, where a decision to engage in armed
struggle would have led to a bloody civil war with huge casualties, most of
them black. Instead, the African National Congress decided to put up with
apartheid longer, but wage a long-term campaign of attrition, with strikes,
sabotage, economic sanctions, international pressure. And it worked.
4) The United States does not have a humanitarian aim in this situation --
its foreign policy has never been guided by such concerns, but by political
power, economic interest, and sometimes a motive more elusive, like machismo
(we want to show the world we are #1!, as present after president has
reiterated during and after Vietnam).
5) The hypocrisy of the Clinton Administration is evident, with just a bit
of recent history. For instance. When Chechnya rebelled, desiring
independence from Russia just as Kosovo wants it now, and the Russian army
moved in, doing terrible things to the people there, Clinton did not oppose
this. Indeed, in fielding one reporter's question, he compared the situation
to the American Civil War, where Lincoln would not permit the Confederacy to
succeed. (Will a statue of Yeltsin be erected alongside Lincoln's in D.C.?)
6) There is no sensible military solution to the ethnic cleansing going on,
because it could only be stopped by putting in a large ground force, which
would mean a full scale war, in which the present violence would be
multiplied greatly.
7) What is happening to the Kosovo people is heartrending, and and now with
the bombing we are adding Serbian victims to the lists of casualties. I
think the only solution is a diplomatic one, forgetting the treaty the U.S.
tried to force on Serbia. It will take a new agreement, in which the
Kosovites will have to settle for some form of autonomy, but no guarantee of
independence. A compromise in order to have peace. The only way this
diplomatic solution can come about is through the intercession of Russia,
which is the only important power with influence over the Serbs.
8) As a minor point (since any reference to international law is futile --
it has been rather worthless for fifty years); the United States is
violating the U.N. Charter by what it is doing.It is also violating the U.S.
Constitution which requires a declaration of war, and we are certainly
waging war.
9) NATO should be abolished. It is a military alliance at a time when we
should be discarding military solutions, and its very existence encourages
military solutions.
10) To my surprise I was invited to be on an NBC Cable News program tonight
(Saturday), and I was able to make a few points: that violent solutions only
multiply whatever evil they are claimed to counter; that when the solution
to a problem is elusive, you must at least start with one principle, the one
told to medical students: "Do no harm." The U.S. and NATO (which is the
creation of the U.S.and does its bidding) are floundering, and in the course
of that doing enormous damage to human beings. It will require the citizens
of the NATO countries -- especially in the U.S. -- to shout their protest at
what is going on, and to demand a diplomatic solution. When a nation issues
ultimatums, it leaves no room for compromise, and insures that war will
continue. We learned from Vietnam: the ruthlessness of leaders, the
stupidity of "experts", must be countered by the courage, good sense, and
persistence of the citizenry.