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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Pete M Is anyone else as scared as I am? (104* d) RE: Is anyone else as scared as I am? 07 Apr 99

The short answer Seed is yes. The long answer may take a little time, if only to avoid repetition. I think that amongst all the points raised in this discussion the following stand out. I don't pretend to have any answers, and I'm not at all sure that in reality Blair or Clinton could have done things differently.

Yes we should have done more to prevent this happening, and I believe we could have done so. The opportunity was lost for a variety of reasons most of which have been touched on above, but include the desire to see a communist state collapse, the exploitation of Yugoslavia's economy by international corporations and good old self interest by other nations. There is no real parallel between post Tito Yugoslavia and post Versailles Germany in the causes of the situation, but the effect is the same, a discontented population looking for strong leadership, and a scapegoat. Of course if we had provided support to Yugoslavia and helped them to continue the path of federation set out by Tito there is no guarantee that this would not have happened, and there would always be someone to shout "appeasement" afterwards.

So, having got ourselves into this mess Stanley, how do we extricate ourselves?

I think the two things which worry me most about previous posts is the continued demonisation of individuals, in particular Hitler and President Milosovic, and the concern about, to use that ridiculous phrase dreamed up by Reagan "putting our boys 'in harms way.'".

The first worries me because anyone who has had any dealings at any level with people who commit atrocities will know that they are not monsters, they are the bloke or girl next door. The only difference between them and us is that they believe implicitly that what they are doing is right, and that they have a duty to ensure that the Serb/Irish/German/whoever's way of life is preserved. Also that this duty gives them the moral right to whatever action they consider necessary.

Now the second. If we assume we have a moral obligation to stop these two sides killing each other, the only way is to stand in the middle. That includes being hated, shot at and killed by both sides. I am not advocating the use of force, but if we (the West) decide that this is our only option, we should at least do our best, not take the line of least political risk. If I were Milosovic, I would make sure the army and armed police had clear and explicit orders to evict ethnic Albanians (to save them being hit in cross fire), destroy the villages (which were being used as strong points by the KLA) and drive them out of the area (to protect them) but not repeat not to harm anyone not clearly bearing arms. I could then say to the West that this was so and allow observers to travel with the troops to see it was so. Of course if in the night groups of irregular vigilantes with no connection to the armed forces killed, raped and massacred that is nothing to do with my government. Now, you're going to stop a killing squad of 4 or 5 armed with assault rifles with air power? Give me a break.

No, American, nor British, nor Dutch lives are not worth more than Serb lives, but if dozens must die to save thousands then so be it. I do not want my sons to have to die in any war, and I am not at all sure this is a war that can be justified on moral grounds, but equally I do not want politicians killing innocent people in my name rather than risk loosing an election by taking effective military action once that path is chosen.

I hope this does not read as if I am advocating military action as a solution, I believe it can only make things worse in the long run, but people who want the "baddie" punished but not at risk to "our boys" really annoy me.

So I've rambled on as usual, there are no answers here, but hopefully a new perspective or two. As to the future, yes I think a marginalised Russia is far more dangerous than the old USSR ever was, and that Europe as a whole and the UK in particular should be far more questioning about the US's motives in starting these conflicts. Will this Balkans war spread? I don't know, I don't think so, but that doesn't mean I'm not worried.

Pete M

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