waz on Fri, 2 Apr 1999 01:16:05 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Preventing Genocide is More Important than the KLA

Dr B wrote:

> You are so concerned with the grand design of world
> geo-politics that you
> have lost sight of the only real issue: the
> deliberate and long-planned
> campaign of extermination and expulsion in Kosovo.

For you, perhaps that is the *only* real issue. For others, perhaps that
isn't. Serb civilians who oppose Milosevic, to pick an example at
random, any civilians of whatever nationality that are currently in a
war zone, to go for another, may feel differently. And we don't get to
see the naked contours of world geo-politics so clearly except when this
kind of thing happens. At any time there are always a hundred things
going on and you know it. There is no one 'real issue'. There are
priorities, and preventing this or any deliberate and long-planned
camnpaign of extermination and explusion is one of them.

To me the main issue is NATO's failure to do this. In complex
situations, everyone has a different main issue, and surely you can't be
suggesting that this situation is any more clear-cut than any other
Balkan conflict has been.

> Are you so stupid that
> you can't recognise the similarity between the
> Serbian assault on the
> Kosovan population and what happened when the Nazis
> invaded Russia?

Yeah. I'm that stupid. Please explain. Or rather justify. In fact I'll
go further. Surely *you* aren't so stupid that you can't tell the
difference between Slobodan Milosevic and Adolf Hitler. Much as he might
wish otherwise, Milosevic is small change by comparison.

In the most crass terms, he's had a go at creating havoc in the Balkans.
Like that's ever been hard, and like the *great* politicians of that
region haven't been those who did the difficult one - stopping the havoc
and creating the conditions for different nationalities, ethnicities and
cultures to co-exist. They used to call it Serbo-Croat for a *reason*

Hitler, on the other hand, got halfway round the world and back. Look at
the areas on the map marked with a swastika at the height of WWII. Then
look at Kosovo and Milosevic's territory in the region. No comparison.

I should explain my over-effusiveness here by saying that as a Jew,
as a student of 20th century history and
I have found the persistent attempts by people to compare the two to be
highly offensive, both on a personal and intellectual level.

As joerg koch put it so accurately:

>But when the
>Holocaust is no longer an unique atrocity in human history. It's just
>another war-related story. And that's exactly what neo-nazis and
>revisionists worldwide work for. As horrible as the war in Kosovo is & as
>horrible this must sound to fleeing Albanians in Kosovo or in the refugee
>camps, you do trivialize the Holocaust, a mass-industrialized genocide, by
>comparing it to a bloody civil war.

Doing so, of course, allows you to fall into the trap of the easy
answer. ('Victory to the KLA'), but also makes you miss the main point.
'Never again' is the main point. History has not been kind, and
continues not to be. If we are to have some kind of workable set of
parameters to deal with the obvious shits like Milosevic who will come
to power here and there from time to time, it's kind of useful either to
keep to the theme of peacekeeping, monitoring, and talks, or as an
absolute last resort to preserve life, to ensure that any military
action is quick, effective and decisive. This ain't that.

How long ago was it when there were still peacekeepers in Kosovo?

It's good, in general, not to weaken what international structures exist
for identifying the Milosevics in the world and prosecuting them. When
they grow up, Milosevics want to be Hitlers, and if you fuck up with
them - as has happened with NATO and Milosevic, if you get drawn
into the whole pure testosterone game of it all and end up locking
yourself into attacking - and then doing it ineffectively - you always
make them strong - it's easy to implement immediate precautionary
methods of repression when the people are scared shitless and suddenly
minded with you, or less against you - and are suddenly strengthened in
two ways. This is scary shit. 

Especially as it may be beginning to emerge that Milosevic has taken
this opportunity to further his aspirations to Hitlerdom, and to attempt
to exterminate the Albanian Kosovars in an organised way. How long *is*
it since the peacekeepers left and in what way, Mr Avneri, *is* the West
now fulfilling it's undoubted obligation to ensure that genocide never

Seriously scary shit. Those speaking for NATO are suddenly speaking in a
way that suggests that they've decided to permanently throw off
any impression they may have given of showing any respect whatsover for
the UN and for the supreme importance of prioritising the obligation to
ensure that genocide never happens again.

And who, now, can say who will be the next Milosevic? And bomb shit out
of *them* ineffectually. Making them stronger and meaner and making the
world less safe?

But Dr B. has a question:
> Have
> you already forgotten what happened in Croatia and
> Bosnia?

Forgotten what happened? I'm waiting to find out. Yeah, I've read a
whole bunch of propaganda written or reflected upon by various writers
of varying backgrounds and contexts. Didn't really believe any of it, in
terms of the analysis, while the obvious and awful facts remain that a
hell of a lot of people died and suffered horribly as a result of
organised attacks on an ethnic basis. Europe screwed up there too.

There were times when attempting to understand that conflict that I
really wanted the Israeli army to go in and shoot the crap out of anyone
walking around with a gun, while leaving everyone else alone, giving a
well-publicised 12-hour warning that they were going to do so and
suggesting that everyone drop arms and go home. Only the Israeli army
are tied up with situations of their own, and anyway it seems unlikely.
That's what I wanted. Did you want NATO to go in? Did they? Uhuh? 

Fine. I have no idea what *happened*.

> How can you be
> so callous to turn away from the suffering of  your
> fellow humans?
> You and all the other pacifist bullshitters are
> trying to deny the arms,
> air support and other aid which the Kosovars
> desperately need to defend
> themselves against Serbian fascism.

But Richard! How can you be so callous as to turn away from the
suffering of your fellow humans. That happen to be Serbs? Or just - in
Serbia. Why, precisely, do the Kosovars need arms? Surely they need
peacekeepers. Which they had. What you say is right, without question,
about the right of Kosovars to protection. If they want to get arms it's
right back to nasty hardball international Realpolitik. So maybe the KLA
will get a break and be in someone's interest, but they'd better
actually beat the Serbs. Only they're not. Are they?

Bad one this, body bags, wounded survivors, antiwar movement grows. But
- you get to actually do shit you can't do from the air. Be careful,
now. Stage 1 - create a situation where any fool can see that the only
sensible military strategy is to send in ground troops despite it all.
Say you're not going to send them in. Stage 2. Keep bombing. Wait. More
and more people say 'Hell, why don't they send in ground troops. It's
the only thing to do.' Say you have no plans to send anyone anywhere
without a plane or a boat. Stage 3. Hope too much shit doesn't hit the
fan in the wrong places. Hope that the political climate is such that
you get to send the ground troops in soon - oh - and that your aerial
attacks did actually make that reasonable. Stage 4. Exit stage left asap
with medal and headache.")

Sorry. Why *was* it right, then, to remove the peacekeepers? That's the
bit I still don't get.

> At this very
> moment, ill-equipped KLA
> partisans are trying to defend villages in central
> Kosovo. Are you going to
> tell them that they shouldn't call for help from
> American imperialism?

Of course not. Who wouldn't? Lunatics the world over are rising, in
unison, and begging to be allowed to suck Satan's cock, as what remains
of the left gapes in slack-jawed horror. This doesn't means you go
around killing other people for them under any circumstances. If you go
in, it is because you have to, in order to prevent genocide. It is a
momentous decision, and one that you have to get right, morally.

Israel conveniently provides two juxtaposed examples of the two
instances - in the Yom Kippur war they got it right, and in the Lebanon
disaster of the eighties they got it wrong and still haven't cleared the
mess up. In the Six Day war it was a mix of the two - sure it was right
to make sure that the country wasn't driven into the sea - but what
*about* occupying that much territory in the West Bank and Gaza. That
was a balls-up, and the same contradictory tension is still driving the
ongoing attempts to clear up and heal the mess and mutual injustices of
what happened in the West Bank and Gaza, as we all wait to see the back
of that idiot Netanyahu.

That's there. Here in Europe NATO have not only got it wrong, they've
made it worse.

As Uri Avneri wrote, "My lesson from the Holocaust is that we must never
close our eyes when a religious, ethnic or national minority is
oppressed in any "sovereign" state. I am glad, dear Europe, that you
have learned this lesson. My hat is off to you."

Aveneri repeats the right lesson but has missed the point completely. We
must never close our eyes, in Europe, to the repression of ethnic,
religious, national or whatever kind of minority, and more - we must act
to minimise that repression at *all* times. If we take time out to bomb
crap out of the oppressors without coherent military strategy to ensure
that this repression does not increase, the obligation is not being
fulfilled. My hat is very firmly on, and I am ashamed of the Blair
government yet again. That's without mentioning Turkey. Or anywhere else
for that matter.

Back to Richard:
> Would you have the courage to do what they [the KLA] are

Don't know. I'd probably get shot before deciding. Probably. Perhaps.
Many people would be prepared to take up arms to defend their homes,
families, friends and so on if there was active repression against them.
Only the organisation better be good, because it's a hell of a risk and
you've really got to ask yourself how much you really do want to die
there in order to live *there*.

But that has little to do with the strategic question of whether or not
NATO's actions were ill-conceived or indeed at all justifiable.
> A Kosovan representative said yesterday that: "To
> oppose the bombing is to
> support fascism in Europe, to support the new
> Holocaust." Do you dare to
> disagree with her analysis?

Yes. I dare to disagree with her analysis. To oppose the bombing is not
to support fascism in Europe, or to support the new Holocaust. Ta for
asking. It is to suggest that there may be other ways of opposing it, to
pick an example at random, and other kinds of strategy (like the
preservation of life) to prioritise, to pick another. Preventing
genocide is more important than Albanian nationalism, and it is by no
means clear that there was absolutely no possibility of ending
Milosevic's repression by other means. Now, of course, the war is a fait
accompli, and must be ended as soon as possible with minimum loss of
life. Which is probably a dreadfully large number.

> Or are you so smug and
> comfortable with your
> lazy leftie prejudices that you cannot listen to the
> victims of genocide?

I am so smug and comfortable with my lazy lefty prejudices that I can't
decide whether I'm more scared by the Slobodan 'Nicey Nicey' Milosevic,
or Bill 'United Nations Security What?' Clintons of this world.

Given that NATO has basically declared the UN null and void, on what
basis can anyone feel safe from the Milosevic's of this world any more?
He's evil, he's successful, and now the Blairs and the Clintons want a
bit of it too. And who now can define the next Milosevic?
> Victory to the KLA!!

Well of course. We'd all like to see the underdog win. It fits so well
with our smug, comfortable, lazy, lefty prejudices. Except that compared
to NATO, Milosevic is nearly as much of an underdog as the KLA are. And
shaking up what precarious international consensus does exist at the end
of this unbelievably bloody century, and precipitating even more shit,
even more fans, even more bombs and even more dead, displaced, maimed,
tortured, and so forth, as a result of supporting either the KLA or
Milosevic is patently untenable. Looking at the 20th century it's only,
I guess, to be expected, that people will do exactly that, left right
center, but it's scary.

Victory to whoeever stops the killing soonest, even if it's Milosevic
doing it by mistake. I don't think it will be.



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