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Politics and Facts - A Politcal Hatreds Comment

     I knew my memo on political hatreds would elicit a strong response, and I got one from Bill Ratliff. Let me stress that I tried to be even-handed, accusing Republicans and Democrats and others equally. One problem is that well-documented articles from all sides are selective in their data and their interpretation of them. They are usually accusatory rather than judicious. Bill writes:
     Yes, many Republicans hate Clinton and some clods in Congress and beyond undoubtedly call the war in Yugoslavia "Clinton's war" because they think it will smudge the president's record. But I take very strong objection to your comment and implication that those of us who seriously and totally oppose that war are "sick with political hatreds" and refusing to "consider issues" in preference to "individuals or parties." I for one have frequently written op-eds largely supporting Clinton's policies, in many respects toward China, for example, and many who bitterly condemn the war, like Alexander Cockburn and Tom Hayden and many, many others are NOT Republicans [of course not. RH]. In the Kosovo case, those who charge serious critics are "playing anti-Clinton poliltics" are themselves often guilty of ignoring issues and facts. "Anti-Clinton" has become the pro-war establishment smear of those who want precisely to look objectively at the facts and not blindly hide behind NATO's presumed right (and virtue) in standing up to the war criminal Milosevic."
     I am sure all of the war critics represented in WAIS agree entirely that Milosevic is a war criminal, but THAT IS NOT THE POINT. The question is whether this policy served US interests or even NATO's own original declared objective of protecting the Kosovar Albanians - at all, or at an acceptable cost. We argue NO, it did not protect them and it did not serve broader US interests, but totally the contrary. (I have summarized my broader argument in the forthcoming "Hoover Digest").
     Here I want to add a very topical detail which substantiates one important point we critics have made of this policy. NATO supporters NOW talk of RETURNING KosovarsAlbanians to their homes; originally the policy was to defend them because the vast majority were then IN their homes. Please look at the recent reports out of Kosovo - an estimated 10,000 Albanians in mass graves. YES,this is evidence of criminal activity by the Serbs, but I have not seen one report of a mass grave that PRECEDED the bombing. A Kosovar Albanian quoted by Steven Erlanger several days ago in the New York Times had it exactly right, "When NATO started bombing, the police and the paramilitaries started destroying everything that was Albanian," including people. Ten thousand - or how many will it be in the end? - were killed and a million and a half had to flee their homes AFTER the bombing began.
     To say that NATO's policy failed because it brought Milosevic's hatred down on Kosovar Albanians - among many other reasons - is not to exonerate the Serb thug. It is to say NATO IS RESPONSIBLE TOO for starting a war without seriously trying to avoid it and then utterly failing in its own stated objectives. How many who think NATO presented a serious offer at Rambouillet have actually READ that massive and indefensible document? It was an ultimatum that NO leader could accept, above all (but not only) because it gave NATO the right to go anywhere it wanted in SERBIA - SERBIA, not just Kosovo - at any time. And Rambouillet threatened Yugoslav control of Kosovo - that was a move in the right direction! - by promising to let Kosovars vote in three years whether they wanted independence. BOTH of these (for Milosevic) unacceptable conditions were dropped in the document that ended the war. The bombing should not have started because the negotiations were a fraud and when it came the bombing precipitated the destruction ten (or how many?) thousand Albanians in three months - far, far in excess of the 2,000 the brute Milosevic had killed before March. Our criticism is not "anti-Clinton" but anti-blindness and anti-needless brutality ON BOTH SIDES. This may have been intended as a war on moral grounds, but like the crusades before it - Tony Blair likes to call this war a "crusade," and rightly so - the collateral damage totally wiped out the justice of the effort. The costs throughout Yugoslavia were far too great - as they were across the world - that NATO's only victory was to not fly apart, and that is not enough to justify what was done. We critics maintain that OURS is the position based on facts - I suppose I must add as we honestly read them - and has NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with partisan political hatred.
     My comment: Well... I see that typographically, Bill believes in capital punishment.

Ronald Hilton - 06/19/99