The trouble with sanctions is that they are often applied too late and with too broad a sweep. I do not oppose certain kinds of sanctions and embargoes: we are long overdue for a worldwide embargo of weapons. But we are doing what we did in Iraq again in the Balkans: to make up for our failure to address the militarism of Slobodin Milosevic through our refusal to provide him with any arms, we threaten the entire Serbian people with starvation and bombing.
I am not going to suggest that there is an evil plot here, but I do clearly perceive a failure to be tough-minded about arms. Leaders who buy lots of arms plan to use them against their neighbors or against their own people. We had plenty of notice that Sadam Hussein, for example, was stockpiling weapons, but until he invaded Kuwait, it seems that nobody considered the possibility that he might have other purposes in mind for what he bought! Our leaders (with all their connections to war profiteers) were not the only dupes: the peace movement has, for many years, allowed the actions of the Reagan and Bush administrations to set our agenda. What did we worry about? A possible war in Central America, Irangate, the CIA, and nuclear weapons.
Nobody said much about arms sales and nobody said much about conventional weapons.
The thing that should have awakened us about Iraq is that it was conventional weapons which did all that damage. While we spent important hours at the Nevada Test Site, we failed to cross Death Valley and address ourselves to the weapons being developed in California's Mojave Desert! It is true that one conventional bomb will not create the environment wrecking disaster of a single nuclear weapon. We must remember that the no warring nation ever drops a single conventional bomb. Iraq's next generation was felled by multitudes of the garden variety explosive device.
Clearly Baker and Bush intend to punish Serbia with ordinary bombs.
The Gulf War called us to reevaluate our peacemaking in this way: we have been the captives of glamour. Nuclear weapons and wars close to home were exciting. We must query ourselves whether we were moved to work in the anti-Nuclear movement simply because there was something more exciting about saving the whole world than about saving the life of some child felled by a bullet or a bomb.
A few years ago, I expressed my concerns for peace to group of Friends on retreat. One Friend replied that he felt that there were more important things (like save the rainforest) to do because all the bullets and bombs being made weren't being used. The truth, unfortunately, required the use of these stockpiles to give it force. I fear, though, that neither the peace movement nor Friends realize have heard the sound of the thunder. As I prepare for my departure to Croatia, I suspect that this war will take us as unawares as the one in Grenada or Panama.
The furies of awesome conventional War wait for the word. Are we Friends ready to take our part in the Lamb's War? The battle starts anew.