Magazine article The Progressive

A Diplomatic Solution

Magazine article The Progressive

A Diplomatic Solution

Article excerpt

A friend wrote to ask my opinion on Kosovo. He said many people were turning to him for answers, and he didn't know what to say, so he was turning to me (knowing, I guess, that I always have something to say, right or wrong).

Several things seem clear to me, and they don't fit easily together in a way that points to a clean solution.

Milosevic and his Serb forces are committing atrocities.

But bombing won't help. It can only make things worse, and that is already evident. It is creating more victims, on both sides.

The Kosovo Liberation Army may not represent the wishes of the Kosovar people. It turned to armed struggle to gain independence, ruthlessly putting its countrymen at risk, when a protracted nonviolent campaign of resistance was already going on and should have continued.

I think of South Africa, where a decision to engage in out-and-out 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, and international pressure. It worked.

The United States does not have a humanitarian aim in this situation. U.S. foreign policy has never been guided by such concerns, but by political power, economic interest, and sometimes a motive more elusive--machismo. (We want to show the world we are Number One, as President after President has reiterated since the beginning of the Vietnam War.)

The hypocrisy of the Clinton Administration is evident after just a glance at recent history. When Chechnya rebelled, demanding independence from Russia just as Kosovo wants it from Yugoslavia now, the Russian army moved in and did terrible things to the people of Chechnya. Clinton did not oppose this. In fact, in fielding one reporter's question, he compared the situation to the American Civil War, when Lincoln would not permit the Confederacy to secede. …

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