Date: Apr 9, 1999 [ 0: 0: 1]

Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 6 Apr 1999 to 8 Apr 1999

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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 6 Apr 1999 to 8 Apr 1999
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There is one message totalling 146 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. Edward Said on the NATO Bombings


Date: Thu, 8 Apr 1999 21:56:54 GMT
Subject: Edward Said on the NATO Bombings

Protecting the Kosovars

By Edward Said

ONCE again, and led by the United States as usual, a war is
being conducted -this time in Europe - against an
unprincipled and racist dictator who will almost certainly
survive the onslaught even though thousands of innocents
will pay the actual price. The pretext this time is of
course the persecution, ethnic cleansing and continued
oppression of Albanians in the province of Kosovo by the
Serbian forces of Slobodan Milosevic.

No one at all doubts that horrible things have been done to
the Albanians under Serbian domination, but the question is
whether US/NATO policy will alleviate things or whether
they will in fact be made worse by a bombing campaign whose
supposed goal is to make Milosevic give up his policies.

Since, as in most cases, the bombing campaign is not all
that it seems to be, a look behind the headlines is worth
the effort, especially given the new ferocity and
willingness to intervene militarily on the part of US
foreign policy decision makers (Clinton, Cohen, Albright,

One needs to remember that since the US is a world, and not
merely a regional, power one calculation that enters each
of its foreign policy decisions is how the deployment of
its military might will affect the US's image in the eyes
of other, especially other competitive countries. Henry
Kissinger made that point a central concern of his
Indochinese policy when he undertook the secret bombing of
Laos: your enemies will learn that there are no limits to
what you are prepared to do, even to the point of appearing
totally irrational. Thus the exercise of massive
destructiveness wholly disproportionate to the goal, say,
of stopping an enemy from advancing further, is a principal
aim of this policy, as it has been of Israel's policy in
southern Lebanon, where massive raids on civilian
encampments do absolutely nothing to affect Israel's main
enemies, the Hizballah guerillas. Punishment is its own
goal, bombing as a display of NATO authority its own
satisfaction, especially when there is little chance of
retaliation from the enemy.

That is one consideration behind the current bombing of
Yugoslavia. Another is the misguided and totally hopeless
goal of humbling, and perhaps even destroying Milosevic's
regime. This, as has been the case in Iraq, is illusory. No
nation, no matter how badly attacked from the air is going
to rally to the attackers.

If anything, Milosevic's regime is now strengthened. All
Serbs feel that their country is attacked unjustly, and
that the cowardly war from the air has made them feel
persecuted. Besides, not even the Kosovo Albanians believe
that the air campaign is about independence for Kosovo or
about saving Albanian lives: that is a total illusion.

What transpired before the bombing was that the US seems to
have persuaded the Kosovars that if they went along with
the "peace plan" Kosovo would get its independence; this
was never said, but only implied, leading the Kosovars to
expect NATO help. But, as usual, the US has never stated
unequivocally that it is for full self-determination for
all the peoples of former Yugoslavia. There should have
been a straight-out and clearly stated willingness to
accept self-determination for Kosovo as well as a
safeguarding of rights for the Serbian minority there. None
of this was done. And neither were the consequences thought
through, i.e., the certainty that the Serb forces would
respond to NATO bombardment by intensifying their attacks
against Albanian civilians, more ethnic cleansing, more
refugees, more trouble for the future. There is now talk of
200,000 ground troops (mostly American) to enter the battle
and expand the war, with the attendant problems of
prolonged occupation, guerilla warfare, greater
devastation, more refugees, and so on. A lot of this comes
from the delusion that the US is the world's policeman. In
the meantime, its genocidal policy against Iraq continues,
and its sanctions policy against other Islamic or Arab
countries also continues.

Nothing of what the US or NATO does now has anything really
to do with protecting the Kosovars or bringing them
independence: it is rather a display of military might
whose long-range effect is disastrous, just as is a similar
policy in the Middle East. In 1994 when a US intervention
might have averted genocide in Rwanda, there was no action.
The stakes were not high enough, and black people not worth
the effort.

Therefore it seems to me imperative that the NATO bombing
should stop, and a multi-party conference of all the
peoples of former Yugoslavia be called to settle
differences between them on the basis of self-determination
for all, not just for some, nor for some at the expense of
others. This is the same principle that has been violated
by US-sponsored peace processes elsewhere, notably in the
Middle East.

There is nothing about the current policy of bombing
Serbian forces that will either guarantee democracy for
Serbia or protect the Albanians who are still being treated
horribly by Milosevic's forces. In its arrogance and
ill-considered military deployment the US has forced NATO
to go along with it, whereas it is quite clear that there
is increasing disunity within the NATO ranks, not just
Greece and Italy and Turkey, but also France and Germany.

The greatest danger of all is that more people will be
displaced, more lives lost, and more fragmentation will
occur in places like Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. All
this for the US to assert its will and to show the world
who is boss. The humanitarian concerns expressed are the
merest hypocrisy since what really counts is the expression
of US power.

What I find most distressing is that destruction is being
wrought from the air along with a fastidiousness
articulated about the loss of American life that is
positively revolting. Clinton knows well that Americans
will not tolerate the loss of life for Americans. Yet he
can destroy Yugoslavian lives with impunity from the safety
of the ultimate in modern technology and airpower, with
American pilots and bombers sanitizing their horror with
the illusion of safety and distance.

When will the smaller, lesser, weaker peoples realize that
this America is to be resisted at all costs, not pandered
or given in to naively?

-Copyright Edward W. Said, 1999.



End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 6 Apr 1999 to 8 Apr 1999