Andreas Broeckmann on Wed, 28 Apr 1999 16:08:37 +0100

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Syndicate: academics against the war

Date: Mon, 26 Apr 1999 23:43:17 -0700
Subject: academics against the war

I'm emailing you to ask if you would be willing to sign an open letter from
academics/intellectuals against the war in Yugoslavia. We have adopted the
text of a letter sent by Pierre Bourdieu and other French intellectuals to
Le Monde in late March and hope to use it as the basis for an open letter
in Britain, the US and elsewhere. We hope to publish the letter at some
point in the near future. The translation of the French letter is attached
below for you to read. I'd also be grateful if you would forward this to
anyone you think might be interested.
To add your name to the open letter, email
With best wishes
Kirsty Reid
Dr Kirsty Reid
Department of Historical Studies
University of Bristol
Tel: 0117 928 8117
Fax: 0117 928 8276


We reject these false dilemmas:
- Support NATO intervention or support the reactionary policy of the
Serbian regime in Kosovo? The NATO air-strikes, forcing the withdrawal of
the OSCE forces from Kosovo, have facilitated and not prevented a ground
offensive by Serb paramilitary forces; they encourage retaliation against
the Kosovar population by the worst Serb ultra-nationalists; they
consolidate the dictatorial power of Slobodan Milosevic, who has crushed
the independent media and rallied around him a national consensus which it
is necessary on the contrary to break in order to open the way to peaceful
political negotiations over Kosovo.

- Accept as the only possible basis of negotiation the `peace plan'
elaborated by the governments of the United States or the European Union -
or bomb Serbia? No durable solution to a major political conflict internal
to a state can be imposed from the outside, by force. It is not true that
`everything has been tried' to find a solution and an acceptable framework
for negotiations. The Kosovar negotiators were forced to sign a plan which
they had initially rejected after being led to believe that NATO would
involve itself on the ground to defend their cause. This was a lie which
maintained a total illusion: none of the governments which support the NATO
strikes wants to make war on the Serbian regime to impose the independence
of Kosovo. The air-strikes will perhaps weaken a part of the Serbian
military apparatus but they will not weaken the mortar fire which, on the
ground, is destroying Albanian homes, or the paramilitary forces who are
killing the fighters of the Kosovo Liberation Army.
NATO is not the only or above all the best fulcrum for an agreement. One
could find the elements of a multi-national police force (embracing notably
Serbs and Albanians) in the ranks of the OSCE to enforce a transitional
agreement. One could extend the negotiations to include the Balkan states
destabilized by the conflict: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Albania. One
could at the same time support the right of the Kosovars to self-government
and the protection of the Serb minority in Kosovo; one could try to respond
to the aspirations and fears of the different peoples concerned by links of
co-operation and agreements among neighbouring states, with Serbia,
Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Albania.
None of this has been tried.

We reject the arguments which seek to justify the NATO intervention:

- It is not true that the NATO air-strikes are going to prevent a regional
flare-up, in Macedonia or in Bosnia-Herzegovina: they are going on the
contrary to feed the flames. They are going to destabilize Bosnia-Herzegovina
and without doubt menace the multi-national forces responsible for applying
the fragile Dayton accords. They are already setting Macedonia alight.

- It is not true that NATO is protecting the Kosovan population and its

- It is not true that their bombing of Serbia opens the way to a democratic
regime in Serbia.
The governments of the European Union, like that of United States, perhaps
hoped that this demonstration of force would compel Slobodan Milosevic to
sign their plan. Haven't they thereby displayed naivete or hypocrisy? In
any case this policy is leading not only to a political impasse, but to the
legitimation of a role for NATO outside any international framework of

This is why we demand:

- an immediate halt to the bombing;

- the organization of a Balkan conference in which the representatives of
the states and of all the national communities within these states take part;

- defence of the right of peoples to self-determination, on the sole
condition that this right is not fulfilled on the back of another people
and by the ethnic cleansing of territory.


This is the very slightly edited translation of a letter signed by Pierre
Bourdieu, Daniel Bensaid, Pierre Vidal-Naquet, and other leading French
intellectuals and published in Le Monde, 31 March 1999.

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