katarina on Wed, 31 Mar 1999 01:22:57 +0200 (CEST)

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Syndicate: Bombing the Baby with the Bathwater

> Bombing the Baby with the Bathwater

> by Veran Matic

> Belgrade, March 30, 1999

> The air strikes against Yugoslavia were supposed to stop the Milosevic war
> machine.  The ultimate goal is ostensibly to support the people of Kosovo,
> as well as those of Serbia, who are equally victims of the Milosevic
> regime.

> In fact the bombing has jeopardised the lives of 10.5 million people and
> unleashed an attack on the fledgling forces of democracy in Kosovo and
> Serbia.  It has undermined the work of reformists in Montenegro and the
> Serbian entity of Bosnia-Herzegovina and their efforts to promote peace.

> The bombing of Yugoslavia demonstrates the political impotence of US
> President Bill Clinton and the Western alliance in averting a human
> catastrophe in Kosovo.  The protection of a population under threat is a
> noble duty, but it requires a clear strategy and a coherent end game.  As
> the situation unfolds on the ground and in the air day by day, it is
> becoming more apparent that there is no such strategy.  Instead, NATO is
> fulfilling the prophecy of its own doomsaying:  each missile that hits the
> ground exacerbates the humanitarian disaster that NATO is supposed to be
> preventing.  

> It's not easy to stop the war machine once its power has been unleashed.
> But I urge the members of NATO to pause for a moment and consider the
> consequences of what they are doing.  Analysts are already asking whether
> the air strikes are still really about saving Kosovo Albanians.  Just how
> far are NATO members prepared to go?  What comes next after the "military"
> targets?  What happens if the war spreads?  All of these terrifying
> questions must be answered, although I suspect that few will want to live
> with the historical burden of having answered them.

> The same questions crowded my mind as I sat in a Belgrade prison on the
> first day of the NATO attack on my country.  Whiling away the hours in the
> cell I shared with a murder suspect, I asked myself what the West's aim was
> for "the morning after".  The image of NATO taking its finger off the
> trigger kept coming to mind.  I've seen no indication so far that there is
> a clear plan to follow up the Western military resolve.

> My friends in the West keep asking me why there is no rebellion.  Where are
> the people who poured onto the streets every day for three months in 1996
> to demand democracy and human rights?  Zoran Zivkovic, the opposition mayor
> of the city of Nis answered that last week:  "Twenty minutes ago my city
> was bombed.  The people who live here are the same people who voted for
> democracy in 1996, the same people who protested for a hundred days after
> the authorities tried to deny them their victory in the elections.  They
> voted for the same democracy that exists in Europe and the US.  Today my
> city was bombed by the democratic states of the USA, Britain, France,
> Germany and Canada! Is there any sense in this?"

> Most of these people feel betrayed by the countries which were their
> models.  Only today a missile landed in the yard of our correspondent in
> Sombor.  It didn't explode, fortunately, but many others have in many other
> people's yards.  These people are now compelled to take up arms and join
> their sons who are already serving in the army. With the bombs falling all
> around them nobody can persuade them - though some have tried - that this
> is only an attack on their government and not their country.

> It may seem cynical that I am writing this from the security of my office
> in Belgrade - secure, that is, compared to Pristina, Djakovica, Podujevo
> and other places in Kosovo.  But I can't help asking one question: How can
> F16s stop people in the street killing one another?  Only days before the
> NATO aggression began, Secretary-General Solana suggested establishing a
> "Partnership for Democracy" in Serbia and the other countries of the former
> Yugoslavia to promote stability throughout the region.  Then, in a rapid
> U-turn, he gave the order to attack Yugoslavia.

> With these attacks, it seems to me, the West has washed its hands of the
> people, Albanians, Serbs and others, living in the region.  Thus the sins
> of the government have been visited on the people.  Is this just? There are
> many more factors in the choice of a nation's government than merely the
> will of the voters on election day.  If a stable, democratic rule is to be
> established, and the rise of populists, demagogues and other impostors
> avoided, the public must first of all be enlightened.  In other words there
> must be free media. NATO's bombs have blasted the germinating seeds of
> democracy out of the soil of Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro and ensured that
> they will not sprout again for a very long time.  The pro-democratic forces
> in Republika Srpska, the Bosnian Serb entity, have been jeopardised and
> with them the Dayton Peace Accords.  NATO's intervention has also given the
> green light for a local war against Montenegro's pro-democracy president,
> Milo Djukanovic.

> The free media in Serbia has for years opposed nationalism, hatred and war.
> As a representative of those media, and as a man who has more than once
> faced the consequences of my political beliefs, I call on President Bill
> Clinton to put a stop to NATO's attack on my country.  I call on him to
> begin negotiations which aim at securing the right to a peaceful life and
> democracy for all the people in Yugoslavia, regardless of their ethnic
> background.

> As a representative of the free media I know too well the need for people
> on all sides of the conflict to have information.  Those inside the country
> need to be aware of international debate as well as what is happening
> throughout this country. The international public needs the truth about
> what is happening here. But in place of an unfettered flow of accurate
> information, all of us hear only war propaganda - Western rhetoric
> included. Of course truth is always the first casualty in wartime.  Here
> and now, journalists are also being murdered.

> BOX [entrfile]

> Radio B92 is continuing its work as much as the circumstances of war
> permit.  It is continuing to broadcast news on the Internet at
> http://www.b92.net, via satellite and through a large number of radio
> stations around the world which continue to carry its programs out of
> solidarity.

> VERAN MATIC is editor-in-chief of Belgrade's banned Radio B92 and a leading
> peace activist.  He has won many international awards for media and
> democracy, the latest being last year's MTV Europe "Free Your Mind" award.
> Early this year he was named one of this year's hundred Global Leaders for
> Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum.

> --
> Veran Matic, Editor in Chief                  tel: +381-11-322-9109
> Radio B92, Belgrade, Yugoslavia          fax: +381-11-322-4378

>          Radio B92 Official Web Site --- http://www.b92.net/