10 REASONS TO OPPOSE THE WAR
"WE MUST DO MORE TO REACH OUT TO OUR CHILDREN AND TEACH THEM TO
EXPRESS THEIR ANGER AND TO RESOLVE THEIR CONFLICTS WITH WORDS, NOT WEAPONS."
Bill Clinton, Speaking after high school shooting in Littleton, Colorado on April 21, 1999
1. The Hypocrisy of the US bombing Yugoslavia while at the same time supporting NATO ally Turkey's suppression of the Kurdish independence movement, Indonesia's bloody occupation of East Timor, Israel's continued attacks on South Lebanon and so on, makes it impossible to believe that the US' concern is primarily humanitarian. Not long ago Clinton backed Russia's suppression of the uprising in Chechnya, where 10,000 people were killed, arguing that allowing Chechnya to secede from Russia would be like the U.S. allowing the South to secede during the American Civil War. So what are the real foreign policy goals in Yugoslavia?
2. The lies: From the beginning, the Clinton administration has justified the NATO actions through half-truths and blatant lies. For example, the Yugoslav government did not reject the stationing of peacekeeping troops in Kosovo, just NATO troops. Clinton claims to be concerned about "innocent lives", and yet pursues a bombing campaign that inherently results in widespread civilian casualties. The clash between the Yugoslavian government and the Kosovar Albanians is presented as an unprovoked act of state aggression, when in fact they were engaged in a civil war, with armed combatants on both sides. And the list goes on. Given the extent of the administration's campaign of
misinformation, and the uncritical nature of mainstream media reporting, it is impossible to present and rebut all the lies and inaccuracies in this short space. For more information, please refer to the resource box below.
3. It is wrong to kill the people of Yugoslavia to punish Milosevic. It is easy to forget, amidst all the rhetoric surrounding the war effort, that Yugoslavia is a nation made up of people. It is practically impossible to even say the word "Serb" in the US without conjuring up images of armed militiamen who will kill you for fun. Yet Serbians are a people, not a militia. Belgrade is a city populated by men, women and children, not a million Milosevics. And while atrocities are being committed by a handful of armed men, the bombs and bullets we send are killing people indiscriminately. Clinton says that this is simply the cost of war. That is easy to say when it is not your family that must die for the sins of your government.
4. The democracy movements within Yugoslavia have been destroyed by the bombing. The best hope for the future of Yugoslavia had been the movement within Yugoslavia that has been demanding the ouster of Milosevic since 1991 through general strikes and mass demonstrations, and the campaign for autonomy in Kosovo that prior to the U.S. arming the Kosovar Liberation Army in 1996 was largely nonviolent. In the winter of 1997, mass demonstrations against Milosevic shut down Belgrade for 50 days straight. The U.S. provided little if any support to either movement at the time, and now thanks to the bombing, the majority of Yugoslavians who would have opposed Milosevic's rule have been forced to take a stance against the U.S., and in defense of their lives.
5. NATO's expanded mission is unsanctioned. For all its flaws, the United Nations was built on principles of international cooperation and consensus. NATO on the other hand, is a military alliance with no democratic credentials and makes no pretense of answering to the world community. These actions, on the 50th anniversary of NATO, are clearly the culmination of years of US attempts to undermine the United Nations through non-payment of dues, vetoing the majority of Security Council resolutions, and finally by dropping all pretense of acquiring international support for military action. Although there might be cases where one would be prepared to suspend such principles in favor of
sort-term results, it is not a purely academic exercise to consider the long-term consequences of handing over world policing functions to an even less democratic institution than the UN.
6. Opposition to NATO's war does not equal support for Slobodan Milosevic. Just as opposition to the Gulf War does not equal support for Saddam Hussein, opposition to the U.S. invasion of Panama does not equal support for Manuel Noriega, and opposition to missile attacks on Sudan and Afghanistan does not equal support for Osama bin Laden, one can oppose the bombing of Yugoslavia and the actions of the Milosevic regime at the same time.
7. We did have other choices. Clinton would like us to believe that attacking Yugoslavia was a last resort choice we made in the face of genocide. But the record tells us otherwise. Both the Serbian side and the KLA have rejected peace settlements at different times. The US finally got the KLA to sign by threatening to cut off its access to arms, and then proceeded to pursue a strategy of "bombing the Serbs to the table". The argument that there are no other choices is fallacious. When you encounter two people fighting, you have a choice between doing nothing and doing something. But doing something does not mean doing anything. It could mean helping to stop the conflict and save lives, or it could mean exacerbating it. The U.S. wants us to believe that blowing away people on both sides and taking down a bunch of innocent bystanders in the process was the only option we had.
8. We do have other choices. The thirteen billion dollars Clinton has received from Congress could buy a lot more diplomacy, mediators and peacekeepers than bombs. The US spent more on the first day of bombing than on all our aid to victims of Hurricane Mitch. Instead of thirteen billion dollars for more bombs and bullets, just for vision's sake, imagine 300,000 Balkan peace activists getting paid $40,000 a year to develop grassroots solutions to the conflict.
9. We are harming, not helping, the people of Kosovo. Regardless of what you think we should have done to help Kosovo, the effective result of the bombing has been devastating. Atrocities against Kosovar Albanians have worsened (yes, Milosevic is directly responsible for the atrocities, but this was a predictable consequence of our actions: withdrawing peacekeeping forces and bombing from afar). The people whose freedom we were supposed to be concerned about have been almost completely displaced, the very outcome NATO claims its bombs were meant to avert. These same bombs have instead killed civilians and noncombatants on both sides of the conflict. They have destroyed the infrastructure of Yugoslavia and Kosovo, setting their economic development back for decades. And, the health and environmental impacts of bombed out chemical plants and scattered depleted uranium shells will plague the people of the region for generations to come.
10. Just as we must teach our children to resolve their conflicts using words, not weapons, we must insist that our governments do the same.
These are just a few of the reasons to oppose this war. There are many more reasons (an article in CounterPunch Magazine http://www.counterpunch.com/ lists 57), so please refer to our resource
list for more information. Many of us don't know much about Kosovo, and find much of this confusing to sort through. But when it comes down to it, those of us who believe in self-determination for all people just need to think of a liberation struggle that we do know something about, say Chiapas or East Timor or Kurdistan. The question is, would we want NATO to bomb Mexico City, Jakarta or Ankara . . .
Website for Serb Youth Against Milosevic and NATO.
Many articles and links on Kosovo from the folks at Z.
Pacifica Kosovo Archives
PacificaÆs radio coverage of the war.
Middle East ChildrenÆs Alliance
Fellowship of Reconciliation
(914) 358- 4601
International Action Center
*Organizations and websites listed as resources only, and does not indicate endorsement of this flyer.
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