Kosovo: Could It Have Been Avoided?
Swomley, John M., The Humanist
The heart of the treaty is Article 5, which states that "an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all."
Still, a final question remains: was NATO justified on moral grounds? This requires extensive analysis.
The NATO air war against the repression of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority didn't happen because of one man--Slobodan Milosevic--any more than Fidel Castro caused the embargo against Cuba or the war against Iraq can be blamed on Saddam Hussein. These are simplistic claims, because in our rational moments we know that it takes more than one person or one nation to start a fight. And we know that creative means can be found to defuse one.
Since memories are short and the situation is complicated, an examination of recent history will help clarify what has happened in the southeastern portion of Europe called the Balkans. In 1991 and 1992, Bosnia and Herzegovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, and Slovenia declared their independence from Yugoslavia. In April 1992, Montenegro and Serbia joined together to form the new Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), of which former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic became president.
War continued in Bosnia among the Croatians, the Muslims, and the Serbs. The United States tried to stop the war with accords hammered out in Dayton, Ohio. Those accords provided for a truce in 1995 based on "military stabilization" premised on a military balance among the warring parties. The United States then committed itself to train a united army of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats in order to achieve balance with the more powerful Serbs.
The Dayton accords stopped the war--but without any peace strategy and before any of the warring parties had achieved their political goals. It also legitimized the ethnic principle of rule and the nationalist goals of all three Balkan parties. None of them considered the Dayton truce written in stone but agreed to cooperate as long as it served their national interests.
In November 1996, FRY President Milosevic refused to recognize that an opposition party had won the municipal election in Belgrade--the capital of the FRY and the base of Milosevic's Serb-led government. For three months in Belgrade, there were daily nonviolent protest marches against his government--20,000 demonstrators on many days, 100,000 on others. On January 13, 1997, for the Serbian New Year, the protests drew more than 300,000 to the city center, in the pouring rain and against massed police who tried to block streets. The New York Times quoted an opposition leader as saying:
"We will drive them out. Let them get used to a Serbia that is shut down. Our next move will be to refuse to pay our electric bills and our television bills. Let them cut off our electricity." Another leader urged supporters to block roads throughout the country. "All roads will be jammed for a few days until we liberate Serbia."
A European diplomat said, "This is a revolution. It is slow and laborious but the centers of power will not be the same when this is over." But as the Times also reported, "Most senior police officials and nearly all senior military officials have told the President that they will not use force to crush the street protests, Western diplomats said."
The nonviolent street protests against Milosevic were remarkably successful. On February 21, 1997, opposition leader Zoran Djindjic took control as mayor of Belgrade and an opposition coalition took control of the city council. Belgrade was the last of fourteen city governments won by the opposition.
Although this democratic revolt occurred after the Dayton accords, the United States did nothing to commend or support the opposition. Instead it preferred to deal with Milosevic.
The United States also chose to largely ignore the nonviolent opposition movement in Kosovo, a southern region of the FRY's province of Serbia that is regarded by the primarily Orthodox Christian Serbs as key to their struggle to preserve their faith since 1389. …