In the Dayton agreement, the U.S. gave Milosevic a free hand in Kosovo in exchange for
a settlement in Bosnia.
The U.S. has consistently opposed sending ground forces into Kosovo, even as the
destruction of the Kosovar people escalated. (While I do not personally support such an
action, it would, in sharp contrast to current U.S. policy, provide at least some
likelihood of halting the attacks on the Kosovo Albanians.)
According to The New York Times (4/18/99), the U.S. began bombing Yugoslavia with no
consideration for the possible impact on the Albanian people of Kosovo. This was not for
want of warning. On March 5, 1999, Italian Prime Minister Massimo D’Alema met with
President Clinton in the Oval Office and warned him that an air attack which failed to
subdue Milosevic would result in 300,000 to 400,000 refugees passing into Albania and then
to Italy. Nonetheless, "No one planned for the tactic of population expulsion that
has been the currency of Balkan wars for more than a century." (The New York Times,
4/18/99). If the goal of U.S. policy was humanitarian, surely planning for the welfare of
these refugees would have been at least a modest concern.
Even now the attention paid to humanitarian aid to the Kosovo refugees is totally
inadequate, and is trivial compared to the billions being spent to bomb Yugoslavia.
According to the Washington Post (4/30/99), the spokeswoman for the U.N. refugee agency in
Macedonia says, "We are on the brink of catastrophe." Surely a genuine
humanitarian concern for the Kosovars would be evidenced in massive emergency airlifts and
a few billion dollars right now devoted to aiding the refugees.
While it has refused to send ground forces into Kosovo, the U.S. has also opposed and
continues to oppose all alternatives that would provide immediate protection for the
people of Kosovo by putting non- or partially-NATO forces into Kosovo. Such proposals have
been made by Russia, by Milosevic himself, and by the delegations of the U.S. Congress and
the Russian Duma who met recently with yourself as a participant. The refusal of the U.S.
to endorse such proposals strongly supports the hypothesis that the goal of U.S. policy is
not to save the Kosovars from ongoing destruction.
Less violent alternatives: On 4/27/99 I presented you with a memo laying out an
alternative approach to current Administration policy. It stated, "The overriding
objective of U.S. policy in Kosovo — and of people of good will — must be to halt the
destruction of the Albanian people of Kosovo. . . The immediate goal of U.S. policy should
be a ceasefire which halts Serb attacks on Kosovo Albanians in exchange for a halt in NATO
bombing." It stated that to achieve this objective, the United States should
"propose an immediate ceasefire, to continue as long as Serb attacks on Kosovo
Albanians cease. . . Initiate an immediate bombing pause. . . Convene the U.N. Security
Council to propose action under U.N. auspices to extend and maintain the ceasefire. . .
Assemble a peacekeeping force under U.N. authority to protect safe havens for those
threatened with ethnic cleansing." On 5/3/99 you endorsed a very similar peace plan
proposed by delegations from the US Congress and the Russian Duma. You stated that
"The goal now is to move as quickly as possible toward a ceasefire and toward
negotiations." In short, there is a less violent alternative to the present U.S. air
war against Yugoslavia.
High probability of halting the evil: Current U.S. policy has virtually no probability
of halting the displacement and killing of the Kosovo Albanians. As William Safire put it,
"The war to make Kosovo safe for Kosovars is a war without an entrance strategy. By
its unwillingness to enter Serbian territory to stop the killing at the start, NATO
conceded defeat. The bombing is simply intended to coerce the Serbian leader to give up at
the negotiating table all he has won on the killing field. He won’t." (The New York
Times, 5/3/99) The massive bombing of Yugoslavia is not a means of protecting the Kosovars
but an alternative to doing so.
Minimizing the consequences of violence. "Collateral damage" is inevitable in
bombing attacks on military targets. It must be weighed in any moral evaluation of
bombing. But in this case we are seeing not just collateral damage but the deliberate
selection of civilian targets, including residential neighborhoods, auto factories,
broadcasting stations, and hydro-electric power plants. The New York Times characterized
the latter as "The attack on what clearly appeared to be a civilian target."
(5/3/99) If these are acceptable targets, are there any targets that are unacceptable?
The House Resolution (S Con Res 21) of 4/29/99 which "authorizes the president of
the United States to conduct military air operations and missile strikes in cooperation
with the United States’ NATO allies against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia"
supports not only the current air war but also its unlimited escalation. It thereby
authorizes the commission of war crimes, even of genocide. Indeed, the very day after that
vote, the Pentagon announced that it would begin "area bombing," which the
Washington Post (4/30/99) characterized as "dropping unguided weapons from B-52
bombers in an imprecise technique that resulted in large-scale civilian casualties in
World War II and the Vietnam War."
It was your vote in support of this resolution that precipitated my decision that my
conscience required me to resign from your staff.
I have tried to ask myself questions that I believe each of us must ask ourselves: Is
there a moral limit to the military violence you are willing to participate in or support?
Where does that limit lie? And when that limit has been reached, what action will you
take? My answers led to my resignation.