Date: Thu, 21 Sep 1995 03:31:59 GMT
Sender: Activists Mailing List <>
From: Rich Winkel <>
Organization: PACH
Subject: Critique of NATO bombing
To: Multiple recipients of list ACTIV-L <>

/** headlines: 112.0 **/
** Topic: Critique of NATO bombing **
** Written 9:15 AM Sep 18, 1995 by newsdesk in cdp:headlines **
From: IGC News Desk <>

/* Written 8:36 AM Sep 14, 1995 by gn:peacemedia in */ /* ————— “Critique of NATO bombing” ————— */

Critique of NATO bombing

By David McReynolds, War Resisters League, 14 September 1995

Opponents of violence have, from the time the war in Bosnia began, sought to support any peaceful solution, and has been aware of the profound complexity of a situation which has its roots in events occuring hundreds of years ago, as well as very recently. With others, we have learned more about former Yugsoslavia, and have found that each party to this conflict feels itself deeply aggrieved, that each party has committed terrible crimes in the course of defending its interests, and has sought to resolve issues on the battlefield rather than around the conference table.

We do not ignore the special horror of the ethnic cleansing by the Bosnian Serbs, nor the painful tearing apart of the fabric of those parts of Bosnia that had been truly multi-cultural. We have been particularly shocked at the deliberate and systematic targeting of civilians in the Serbian seige of Sarajevo and in the shelling of Tuzla, as well as mass killings reported to have occured elsewhere.

We have opposed lifting the arms embargo because this would open the flood gates to the arms merchants of the world and would insure that the conflict would be fought to the very final end possible, leaving a situation such as in Lebanon. There has been no chance that an arms embargo could be lifted on the Bosnian Muslims without the Russians feeling compelled to supply arms to the Bosnian Serbs. We are aware of French and British charges that the United States is engaging in covert arming of the Bosnian Muslims. At the least, as observers on the scene have reported, the arms embargo is incomplete. Croatia has been able to obtain new jet aircraft and there is no shortage of small arms on the Muslim side.

It has been clear that the course of the war has been so brutal that the hope of a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-confessional Bosnia has been lost. However unjust and unfair, some divison of the country among the three main warring parties, Croatian, Muslim, and Serbian, has become inevitable. The United States has been slow to recognize this and only now is willing to accept a solution which it had rejected over a year ago - the effective partitioning of Bosnia.

Just as serious negotiations began, the United States pressed very hard, with the support of France, for a massive air response to any further Serb attacks on the so-called “safe areas”. (We say “so-called” because they have proven anything but safe, and because they were never effectively demilitarized—the Bosnian Muslims have used the “safe havens” as launching points for military attacks on surrounding Serb-held areas).

Following a recent shelling of Sarajevo—we assume by the Serbian Bosnians, though they have denied this—NATO, led by the U.S., launched heavy air strikes tied to the demand that the Serbs withdraw all heavy artillery from the area near Sarajevo.

The Serbs responded that their own civilians faced attack by the Muslims and asked fora cease as a condition for withdrawing their heavy weapons. There was no agreement on a cease fire. Instead we have been two weeks of heavy air attacks through all parts of Serbian-held Bosnia. Many in this country have argued that the Serbs would understand force if it was used, and would meet UN/NATO demands almost at once if there was such a truly serious show of force.

There can no longer be any question that a massive show of force has been tried. Instead of securing the cooperation of the Bosnian Serbs, it has led to their defiance, their refusal to withdraw the heavy weapons. More dangerous, it has inflamed public opinion in Russia, the traditional ally of the Serbs, to the point that the Russian government now charges that NATO is engaged in a policy of genocide in Serbia. That charge is certainly wide of the mark but U.S. denials of civilian casualties are utter nonsense. This is Orwellian double talk which should embarrass any U.S. official asked to speak it. It is impossible to launch two weeks of heavy air attacks on a small area and not kill civilians. And even if the only persons torn to bits by the bombs were military, this still has put NATO at war with the Serbian Bosnians.

We are no longer talking about peace keeping or even peace making, but about war making. It is particularly disgusting to see each branch of the U.S. armed services vie for a chance to test its own latest weapons, in hope of seeing how well they work in battle, and in order to bolster later demands on the U.S. treasury for new funding.

The problems of Bosnia are problems which will be solved by the parties involved or they cannot be solved. The United States is not one of those parties, yet we have effectively been doing most of the bombing—bringing the U.S. into the war on one of the sides.

We demand the immediate, unconditional end of the NATO bombing of any part of former Yugoslavia. We call for continued and tighter embargoes on the shipment of military goods of any kind to Croatia, to Serbia, or to the Croatian, Muslim, or Serbian groupings within Bosnia. We extend our special support to all those in former Yugoslavia who are refusing military service. We urge they be treated as the political refugees they are and admitted to this country. We know that in every part of former Yugoslavia there are men and women who refuse to see their sisters and brothers as enemies, who remain determined to create a civic and responsible society. Our hopes are with such people, as efforts to restore a civil society in former Yugoslavia continue at great risk to those involved. In this context, U.S. actions have gravely damaged prospects for a peace and we believe may also constitute steps toward drawing the United States into the conflict directly, without having gone to Congress.

David McReynolds e-mail: