Why There is
No Balkan Anti-War Movement
I've been repeatedly asked why there is no anti-war movement at
this time. I think that there are a few reasons:
- Most "pacifists" are what might be called "just-war" advocates,
meaning that they believe that when there is evidence of atrocity,
intervention is justified. (Bill Clinton is such a thinker. It explains
why he opposed the Vietnam War but supports this one.) This is
is the hardest thing we are fighting at the moment. One talking
point to pose is to note that bombing and military intervention is a
kind of death penalty. If you object to its use for criminal matters,
why not international matters, especially when more innocent
people die in bombing than in miscarriages of justice?!
- The Serbs have been able to inflict tremendous losses against
the other nationalities of former Yugoslavia simply because they
have the larger stockpile of weapons. This does not exculpate
the other nationalities for any atrocities they committed, but
it does mean that the Serbs have received more attention.
- The other nationalities of former Yugoslavia have been
propagandizing the media for years. They have successfully
shouted down many Serbian counter-assertions which, I feel,
must be addressed if true conflict-resolution is going to take
- Some members of the anti-Milosevic movement in Serbia
have endorsed the bombing!
- What there is of a "peace movement" (as opposed to an
anti-war movement) has its primary headquarters in Zagreb.
The hatred of Croats for Serbs and Serbs for Croats is
downright pathological. It has meant that the anti-war movement
has focused almost entirely on Serbian atrocities. It also
means that the available forum for dialogue between the sides
is distrusted by the Serbs.
- The aims of the various peace movements in former Yugoslavia
are in conflict. The Serbian peace movement's goal has been to
stop all the killing. The other peace movements have focused
on stopping Serbian atrocities by whatever means they can. Individuals
within these movements have their own opinions, of course, but
this is the general drift that I have observed.
- This is a white vs. white war, so many groups which
might have intervened claiming that this war is racist
are now silent.
- The extreme right wing, which has suffered major credibility
losses, opposes the war. I don't consider them my allies,
to tell the truth, because their objection is not even based on just
war but on hatred for Bill Clinton and an anti-Slav racism.
- The Croatian and Bosnian governments have successfully
repressed any criticism of their regimes by indigenous media. Milosevic is
only now getting around to this.
- Antiwar movements have typically relied on information given
to them by the governments under attack. No one seems to
trust the Milosevic regime (and I don't either). In this case, despite
our past experience, we have chosen to believe the governments
on the offensive.