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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Pete M Is anyone as scared? Part 2 (KOSOVO) (31) RE: Is anyone as scared? Part 2 (KOSOVO) 20 Apr 99

Cara, I found your contribution very clear and easy to read and understand.

On the question of propaganda, we all believe what we want to believe. The US public want to believe they are the good guys just the same as the Albanians, the Serbs, Catholics , Protestants etc. etc. When you say "... I, too, have a hard time believing that any people let this happen in their country, to their fellow countrymen." You are looking at the situation from an external perspective. (also a caring and rational viewpoint - but that's not the point). To both the Serbs the Albanians, it's not a question of letting atrocities happen, they are being attacked in their homes and their way of life is being threatened so naturally they react to protect themselves, and in the case of the Serbs look to their Government to protect them just as Americans would.

You ask how you can develop a balanced viewpoint when you have only one viewpoint as a guide and suggest that " be easier to hide your head and not look too hard at the ugliness around you?" Unfortunately this is just what the majority want to do, not least in the USA. You only have to consider the number of people who see taxes as an imposition rather than a responsibility and who think anyone unemployed is idle shiftless and have only themselves to blame.

However the one thing which I think is the most dangerous facet of propaganda is the demonisation of other people and their leaders. Civil wars are for some reason; perhaps because they are fought in the main by civilians rather than the professional military; always vicious and bloody with atrocities on both sides, but the portrayal by the Western media, of Milosevic and the Serbs as monsters risks making the conflict essentially intra special which is exactly the cause of the problem in the first place and which we are ostensibly trying to stop. Of course it is easier for western sensibilities to rationalise military action if we are attacking a "monster". Further, the demonisation of leaders has two nugatory effects. It makes dealing with them, as we inevitably have to if we wish to avoid or minimise violence, almost impossible; and perhaps more importantly, it hides from us the fact that our leaders, our neighbours and even ourselves are no different. Like you, I like to think that I have a reasonable record of standing up and being counted, and being abused for doing so, for justice and humanity; but at the end of the day, would I act any differently? I like to think so, but maybe not.

In the first of this years Reith lectures Prof. Giddens postulated that the spread of factionalism, nationalism and the resurgence of interest in ethnic groupings is a reaction to the globalisation of the worlds social, political and-economic systems. If he is correct, then this kind of conflict may become more frequent, and it is not inconceivable that it could occur within the USA. What ever happens, there is no easy answer, and I believe that all NATO members can do as a community is to take a morally sound position, and to me that is to stop the conflict in Kosovo. It also seems to me that the only feasible way of achieving this is to stand in the middle. It will not make us popular, it will of itself solve nothing in the long term, but one thing is sure, there is more chance of the sides talking to each other when they are throwing insults than when they are throwing bullets.

Pete M

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