jtravis on Wed, 2 Jun 1999 16:44:56 GMT

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Syndicate: re: syndicate re: benson etc.

First of all, an unreserved condemnation of Serb aggression in Kosovo.

Someone wrote in answer to my response to Michael Benson the following:

'When all is said and done the question to be answered is < Do the Kosovar
oppose Nato's response to continued Serbian aggression against all peoples
of the former Yugoslavia? Therefore all protests against Nato must be
accompanied by a condemnation of Serb aggression and support for
self-determination. To take sides in this conflict is to be immoral -- to
complain about a few hundred Serb casualties in the face of hundreds of
thousand Kosovar victims is to be immoral -- to argue for national
sovereignty for a criminal state is to be immoral. All other questions are
academic and legalistic.'

I agree with most of  the above statement.  I think it is important to reply because
I am desperate to know what makes many (not in my personal acquaintance most but
a significant minority) of humanitarian minded people support or at least not oppose
the NATO bombardment.
So, I agree and repeat that Milosevic's viscious ethnic cleansing should be unreservedly
condemned and that we should not take sides between NATO and Milosevic as both are
evil and indeed it is questionable whether Milosevic is being attacked as his political
situation in Serbia is now much improved but even if NATO did or could take on Milosevic
I would agree with the point about not taking sides between two oppressors.  The
argument about sovereignty was certainly not raised by me- unless you are interpreting
my point about NATO war crimes under the Geneva convention in which case I'll clarify
that the crime I am referring to is sustained and deliberate bombardment of a civilian
population (sovereignty here is irrelevant).  I would agree that any anti-war position
should be accompanied by a condemnation of Serbian army and paramilitary aggression
(without demonising most Serb people who like others- race is after all an artificial
and nationalistic category- are exploited and powerless).  Almost everyone in the
anti-war movement agrees with this.  self determination I would also agree with and
many but not all in the anti-war movement also agree with this.  I would be very
careful though about sweeping statements about a 'few hundred Serb casualties' as
this argument seems to actually be posing a between ordinary Serbs and Kosovars.
It seems to suggest that if we kill a few hundred Serbs to liberate and save a few
hundred thousands Kosovars this is obscene and regrettable but a price worth paying.
 If this was the case and could be shown to be the only possible route we could debate
this but no one as far as I can determine can actually argue this.  If NATO would
negotiate and allow the Kosovans democratic representatives to do so we might get
a speedy solution. If we don't we might then be able to give critical support to
a defensive war of Kosovan self determination but the current war is palpably not
this as even NATO itself admits in the Rambouillet Peace Accords where a Kosovo Assembly
would have no jurisdiction over NATO troops or the Kosovan economy.  In addition,
'a few hundred' is playing a dangerous game in underestimation.  NATO has admitted
to several hundred civilian casualties but we all know actual deaths are far higher
in any conflict than the day to day admitted number. In addition, NATO is using depleted
uranium and cluster bombs which are weapons of mass destruction.  The deaths over
future years are bound to be far greater- thousands perhaps even hundreds of thousands
and not only Serbs but Albanians, too.

In summary I believe the above quoted e-mail to be genuine in its sentiments though
unclear in whether it condemns NATO aggression.  I would like to ask if the person
supports the struggle of East Timor for self determination? If she does, as I hope
she does, then would she join in condemning NATO countries (primarily, Britain) selling
arms to Indonesia and campaigning against this?  Would she also condemn Turkish repression
of the Kurds and demand that Turkey (itself a NATO country) is not sold arms? I sincerely
hope so.  Finally, on the question of being academic or legalistic I call on all
to join the anti-war movement, to campaign for internationalism and democracy, cut
the arms race, cut the debt, for democratic self determination on a local and global
scale.  This is a massive struggle but nothing less will do.  If we are truly liberal
and democratic we will dedicate our lives, all our creativity and every moment of
consciousness and conscience to this.

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