Introduction to the Dialogue

— The Editors

IN OUR EDITORIAL "NATO’s Road to War/Ruin" (Against the Current 80, May-June 1999), we acknowledged that we expected sharp differences among our readers and friends regarding what we called "the truly agonizing dilemma that faces the peace movement."

In the following pages we present several responses provoked by our editorial. We expect that this discussion will continue in future issues of the magazine.

As this brief update is written during the second week in June, the end of the bombing phase of the U.S./NATO war is imminent. Its success has exceeded the conventional expectations of most analysts: The Serbian military indeed suffered sufficiently heavy losses to force an effective surrender, meaning there was no need in the end to proceed to the ground war that we and many others had anticipated.

Yet NATO’s victorious bombing campaign by no means saved its purported beneficiaries, the Kosovar Albanian population, from catastrophe. The most despicable elements in Serbian society, the ethnic cleansers and aspiring genocidists in or allied to the apparatus of the Milosevic regime, also have their victory in the enormous destruction they inflicted on Kosova. (A note on language: The editors of ATC from now on will adopt the name and spelling used by the Kosovar Albanian majority for their homeland. Individual authors may use "Kosovo" at their own discretion.)

NATO’s ground occupation will now proceed, only without the need for actual combat and with some Russian participation. But note: Political freedom for the Kosovars in the form the great majority of them want—independence—is no part of the Clinton/NATO program. And with the Kosova Liberation Army (KLA/UCK) to be "demilitarized," the Kosovars’ physical security depends indefinitely on NATO.

Kosova is to remain juridically part of Serbia. The refugees are presumably expected to be grateful for food, clothing and shelter and the immediate physical security to be provided by the occupiers, and to abandon their aspirations for self-determination. Satisfying those aspirations might have partially defused the enormous anger that is now more likely to be spent in reprisals against Kosovar Serbs or members of other minorities, guilty or innocent.

In brief: What was presented to western populations as a humanitarian war of rescue became, in fact, a Punic War against Serbia which has devastated the economy, infrastructure and environment of that nation, and a war to occupy the smoking ruins of Kosova.

Why was the Serbian heartland extensively bombed before any air action at all was launched against Serb forces in Kosova? Intentionally or not—only subsequent serious investigation will tell—NATO’s war didn’t save Kosova, but the destruction of Kosova gave legitimacy to NATO’s war.

Now the refugees and the internally displaced are expected to return home, as dependents of NATO, while an immiserated Serbian people confront a future with little hope under the same regime which has brought a decade of catastrophe to Serbia in the name of creating a Greater Serbia. An open-ended occupation, the desolate prospect of ethnic reprisals and counter-reprisals on the ground, no political solution for either Serbia or Kosova—and in the lack of such solutions are planted the seeds of the next war.

ATC 81, July-August 1999