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EUROPEAN-SOCIAL-POLICY  May 1999

EUROPEAN-SOCIAL-POLICY May 1999

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From:

Kathey Battrick <[log in to unmask]>

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Date:

Wed, 12 May 1999 14:32:19 +0100

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-----Original Message-----
From:	Shlomit Schuster [SMTP:[log in to unmask]]
Sent:	12 May 1999 11:50
To:	Sancin, Mirano; Slobodanka Nedovic
Cc:	[log in to unmask]; JONATHAN HOLLOWELL; Slobodanka Nedovic; Douglas 
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Subject:	Re: ANY CHANCE TO STOP THE WAR??? R: Conference on NATO's Future

Dear Prof. Slobodanka Nedovic,

First of all I want to express my deep sympathies to what you and others in
Belgrade and surroundings are going through. It was news to me that their 
is
opposition to the president of Yugoslavia. My question to you is what can
people in your own home town do to make an end to this war as soon as
possible. What would be a good strategy to make peace between your country
and those opposing the Yugoslav government?

I attach here below an article by Susan Sontag who seems quite pessimistic
about a soon ending of it. Nevertheless, I remain in the hope that this 
most
unfortunate war will last no longer. Best regards,
Shlomit Schuster

P.S. The text below can be optained through the New York Times (see Url
below) in a better formatted shape.

------------------------------------------

http://search.nytimes.com/search/daily/bin/fastweb?getdoc+site+site+7091  
6+4+wAAA+Susan%7ESontag

       Why Are We In Kosovo?

          It's complicated, but not that complicated. There is such a
          thing as a just war. By SUSAN SONTAG


              T he other day a friend from home, New York,
          called me in Bari -- where I am
          living for a couple of months --
          to ask whether I am all right
          and inquired in passing whether
          I can hear sounds of the
          bombing. I reassured her that
          not only could I not hear the
          bombs dropping on Belgrade
          and Novi Sad and Pristina from
          downtown Bari, but even the
          planes taking off from the
          nearby NATO base of Gioia
          del Colle are quite inaudible.
          Though it is easy to mock my geographyless American friend's
vision of   European countries being only slightly larger than postage
stamps, her  Tiny Europe seems a nice complement to the widely held vision
of  Helpless Europe being dragged into a bellicose folly by Big
Bad  America.

          Perhaps I exaggerate. I am writing this from Italy -- weakest
link in the  NATO chain. Italy (unlike France and Germany) continues to
maintain an embassy in Belgrade. Milosevic has received the Italian
Communists'  party leader, Armando Cossutta. The estimable mayor of Venice
has   sent an envoy to Belgrade with letters addressed to Milosevic
and to the  ethnic Albanian leader with whom he has met, Ibrahim Rugova,
          proposing Venice as a site for peace negotiations. (The
letters were  accepted, thank you very much, by the Orthodox primate
following the Easter Sunday service.) But then it is understandable that
Italy has  panicked: Italians see not just scenes of excruciating misery
on their TV news but images of masses on the move. In Italy, Albanians are
first of all    future immigrants.

                                 But opposition to the war is hardly
                                 confined to Italy, and to one strand of
the
                                 political spectrum. On the contrary:
                                 mobilized against this war are remnants
of
                                 the left and the likes of Le Pen and
Bossi
                                 and Heider on the right. The right is
against
          immigrants. The left is against America. (Against the idea of
America,
          that is. The hegemony of American popular culture in Europe
could
          hardly be more total.)

          On both the so-called left and the so-called right,
identity-talk is on the
          rise. The anti-Americanism that is fueling the protest against
the war has
          been growing in recent years in many of the nations of the New
Europe,
          and is perhaps best understood as a displacement of the
anxiety about
          this New Europe, which everyone has been told is a Good Thing
and few
          dare question. Nations are communities that are always being
imagined,
          reconceived, reasserted, against the pressure of a defining
Other. The
          specter of a nation without borders, an infinitely porous
nation, is bound
          to create anxiety. Europe needs its overbearing America.

          Weak Europe? Impotent Europe? The words are everywhere. The
truth
          is that the made-for-business Europe being brought into
existence with
          the enthusiastic assent of the "responsible" business and
professional
          elites is a Europe precisely designed to be incapable of
responding to the
          threat posed by a dictator like Milosevic. This is not a
question of
          "weakness," though that is how it is being experienced. It is
a question of
          ideology.

          It is not that Europe is weak. Far from it. It is
          that Europe, the Europe under construction
          since the Final Victory of Capitalism in 1989, is
          up to something else. Something which indeed
          renders obsolete most of the questions of justice
          -- indeed, all the moral questions. (What
          prevails, in their place, are questions of health, which may
be conjoined
          with ecological concerns; but that is another matter.)

          A Europe designed for spectacle, consumerism and hand wringing
... but
          haunted by the fear of national identities being swamped
either by
          faceless multinational commercialism or by tides of alien
immigrants from
          poor countries.

          In one part of the continent, former Communists play the
nationalist card
          and foment lethal nationalisms -- Milosevic being the most
egregious
          example. In the other part, nationalism, and with it war, are
presumed to
          be superseded, outmoded.

          How helpless "our" Europe feels in the face of all this
irrational slaughter
          and suffering taking place in the other Europe.

              A nd meanwhile the war goes on. A war that started in
1991. Not in
               1999. And not, as the Serbs would have it, six centuries
ago,
          either. Theirs is a country whose nationalist myth has as its
founding event
          a defeat -- the Battle of Kosovo, lost to the Turks in 1389.
We are
          fighting the Turks, Serb officers commanding the mortar
emplacements
          on the heights of Sarajevo would assure visiting journalists.

          Would we not think it odd if France still rallied around the
memory of the
          Battle of Agincourt -- 1415 -- in its eternal enmity with
Great Britain?
          But who could imagine such a thing? For France is Europe. And
"they"
          are not.

          Yes, this is Europe. The
          Europe that did not respond to
          the Serb shelling of Dubrovnik.
          Or the three-year siege of
          Sarajevo. The Europe that let
          Bosnia die.

          A new definition of Europe: the
          place where tragedies don't
          take place. Wars, genocides --
          that happened here once, but
          no longer. It's something that
          happens in Africa. (Or places
          in Europe that are not "really"
          Europe. That is, the Balkans.) Again, perhaps I exaggerate.
But having
          spent a good part of three years, from 1993 to 1996, in
Sarajevo, it does
          not seem to me like an exaggeration at all.

          Living on the edge of NATO Europe, only a few hundred
kilometers
          from the refugee camps in Durres and Kukes and Blace, from the
          greatest mass of suffering in Europe since the Second World
War, it is
          true that I can't hear the NATO planes leaving the base here
in Puglia.
          But I can walk to Bari's waterfront and watch Albanian and
Kosovar
          families pouring off the daily ferries from Durres -- legal
immigrants,
          presumably -- or drive south a hundred kilometers at night and
see the
          Italian coast guard searching for the rubber dinghies crammed
with
          refugees that leave Vlore nightly for the perilous Adriatic
crossing. But if I
          leave my apartment in Bari only to visit friends and have a
pizza and see a
          movie and hang out in a bar, I am no closer to the war than
the television
          news or the newspapers that arrive every morning at my
doorstep. I
          could as well be back in New York.

              Of course, it is easy to turn your eyes from what is
happening if it is
               not happening to you. Or if you have not put yourself
where it is
          happening. I remember in Sarajevo in the summer of 1993 a
Bosnian
          friend telling me ruefully that in 1991, when she saw on her
TV set the
          footage of Vukovar utterly leveled by the Serbs, she thought
to herself,
          How terrible, but that's in Croatia, that can never happen
here in Bosnia
          ... and switched the channel. The following year, when the war
started in
          Bosnia, she learned differently. Then she became part of a
story on
          television that other people saw and said, How terrible ...
and switched
          the channel.

                              How helpless "our" pacified, comfortable
                              Europe feels in the face of all this
irrational
                              slaughter and suffering taking place in
the other
                              Europe. But the images cannot be conjured
                              away -- of refugees, people who have been
                              pushed out of their homes, their torched
                              villages, by the hundreds of thousands and

                              who look like us.

                              Generations of Europeans fearful of any
                              idealism, incapable of indignation except
in the
                              old anti-imperialist cold-war grooves.
(Yet, of
                              course, the key point about this war is
that it is
                              the direct result of the end of the cold
war and
                              the breakup of old empires and imperial
                              rivalries.) Stop the War and Stop the
                              Genocide, read the banners being waved in
                              the demonstrations in Rome and here in
Bari.
                              For Peace. Against War. Who is not? But
                              how can you stop those bent on genocide
          without making war?

          We have been here before. The horrors, the horrors. Our
attempt to
          forge a "humanitarian" response. Our inability (yes, after
Auschwitz!) to
          comprehend how such horrors can take place. And as the horrors

          multiply, it becomes even more incomprehensible why we should
          respond to any one of them (since we have not responded to the
others).
          Why this horror and not another? Why Bosnia or Kosovo and not
          Kurdistan or Rwanda or Tibet?

          Are we not saying that European lives, European suffering are
more
          valuable, more worth acting on to protect, than the lives of
people in the
          Middle East, Africa and Asia?

          One answer to this commonly voiced objection to NATO's war is
to say
          boldly, Yes, to care about the fate of the people in Kosovo is

          Eurocentric, and what's wrong with that? But is not the
accusation of
          Eurocentrism itself just one more vestige of European
presumption, the
          presumption of Europe's universalist mission: that every part
of the globe
          has a claim on Europe's attention?

          If several African states had cared enough about the genocide
of the
          Tutsis in Rwanda (nearly a million people!) to intervene
militarily, say,
          under the leadership of Nelson Mandela, would we have
criticized this
          initiative as being Afrocentric? Would we have asked what
right these
          states have to intervene in Rwanda when they have done nothing
on
          behalf of the Kurds or the Tibetans?

          Another argument against intervening in Kosovo is that the war
is --
          wonderful word -- illegal," because NATO is violating the
borders of a
          sovereign state. Kosovo is, after all, part of the new Greater
Serbia
          called Yugoslavia. Tough luck for the Kosovars that Milosevic
revoked
          their autonomous status in 1989. Inconvenient that 90 percent
of
          Kosovars are Albanians -- ethnic Albanians" as they are
called, to
          distinguish them from the citizens of Albania. Empires
reconfigure. But
          are national borders, which have been altered so many times in
the last
          hundred years, really to be the ultimate criterion? You can
murder your
          wife in your own house, but not outdoors on the street.

          Imagine that Nazi Germany had had no expansionist ambitions
but had
          simply made it a policy in the late 1930's and early 1940's to
slaughter all
          the German Jews. Do we think a government has the right to do
          whatever it wants on its own territory? Maybe the governments
of
          Europe would have said that 60 years ago. But would we approve
now
          of their decision?

          Push the supposition into the present. What if the French
Government
          began slaughtering large numbers of Corsicans and driving the
rest out of
          Corsica ... or the Italian Government began emptying out
Sicily or
          Sardinia, creating a million refugees ... or Spain decided to
apply a final
          solution to its rebellious Basque population. Wouldn't we
agree that a
          consortium of powers on the continent had the right to use
military force
          to make the French (or Italian, or Spanish) Government reverse
its
          actions, which would probably mean overthrowing that
Government?

          But of course this couldn't happen, could it? Not in Europe.
My friends in
          Sarajevo used to say during the siege: How can "the West" be
letting this
          happen to us? This is Europe, too. We're Europeans. Surely
"they" won't
          allow it to go on.

          But they -- Europe -- did.

          For something truly terrible happened in Bosnia. From the Serb
death
          camps in the north of Bosnia in 1992, the first death camps on
European
          soil since the 1940's, to the mass executions of many
thousands of
          civilians at Srebrenica and elsewhere in the summer of 1995 --
Europe
          tolerated that.

          So, obviously, Bosnia wasn't Europe.

          Those of us who spent time in Sarajevo used to say that, as
the 20th
          century began at Sarajevo, so will the 21st century begin at
Sarajevo. If
          the options before NATO all seem either improbable or
unpalatable, it is
          because NATO's actions come eight years too late. Milosevic
should
          have been stopped when he was shelling Dubrovnik in 1991.

          Back in 1993 and 1994, American policy makers were saying that
even
          if there were no United States intervention in Bosnia, rest
assured, this
          would be the last thing that Milosevic would be allowed to get
away with.
          A line in the sand had been drawn: he would never be allowed
to make
          war on Kosovo. But who believed the Americans then? Not the
          Bosnians. Not Milosevic. Not the Europeans. Not even the
Americans
          themselves. After Dayton, after the destruction of independent
Bosnia, it
          was time to go back to sleep, as if the series of events set
in motion in
          1989 with the accession to power of Milosevic and the
revocation of
          autonomous status for the province of Kosovo, would not play
out to its
          obvious logical end.

            I f  Europe is having a hard time thinking that it matters
what happens in
             the southeastern corner of Europe, imagine how hard it is
for
          Americans to think it is in their interest. It is not in
America's interest to
          push this war on Europe. It is very much not in Europe's
interest to
          reward Milosevic for the destruction of Yugoslavia and the
creation of so
          much human suffering.

          Why not just let the brush fire burn out? is the argument of
some. And the
          expulsion of a million or more refugees into the neighboring
countries of
          Albania and Macedonia? This will certainly bring on the
destruction of
          the fragile new state of Macedonia and the redrawing of the
map of the
          Balkans -- certain to be disputed by, at the very least,
Serbia, Bulgaria
          and Greece. Do we imagine this will happen peacefully?

          Not surprisingly, the Serbs are presenting themselves as the
victims.
          (Clinton equals Hitler, etc.) But it is grotesque to equate
the casualties
          inflicted by the NATO bombing with the mayhem inflicted on
hundreds of
          thousands of people in the last eight years by the Serb
programs of ethnic
          cleansing.

          Not all violence is equally reprehensible; not all wars are
equally unjust.

          No forceful response to the violence of a state against
peoples who are
          nominally its own citizens? (Which is what most "wars" are
today. Not
          wars between states.) The principal instances of mass violence
in the
          world today are those committed by governments within their
own legally
          recognized borders. Can we really say there is no response to
this? Is it
          acceptable that such slaughters be dismissed as civil wars,
also known as
          "age-old ethnic hatreds." (After all, anti-Semitism was an old
tradition in
          Europe; indeed, a good deal older than ancient Balkan hatreds.
Would
          this have justified letting Hitler kill all the Jews on German
territory?) Is it
          true that war never solved anything? (Ask a black American if
he or she
          thinks our Civil War didn't solve anything.)

                War is not simply a mistake, a failure to communicate.
There is
                 radical evil in the world, which is why there are just
wars. And
          this is a just war. Even if it has been bungled.

          Stop the genocide. Return all refugees to their homes. Worthy
goals. But
          how is any of this conceivably going to happen unless the
Milosevic
          regime is overthrown? (And the truth is, it's not going to
happen.)

          Impossible to see how this war will play out. All the options
seem
          improbable, as well as undesirable. Unthinkable to keep
bombing
          indefinitely, if Milosevic is indeed willing to accept the
destruction of the
          Serbian economy; unthinkable for NATO to stop bombing, if
Milosevic
          remains intransigent.

          The Milosevic Government has finally brought on Serbia a small
portion
          of the suffering it has inflicted on neighboring peoples.

          War is a culture, bellicosity is addictive, defeat for a
community that
          imagines itself to be history's eternal victim can be as
intoxicating as
          victory. How long will it take for the Serbs to realize that
the Milosevic
          years have been an unmitigated disaster for Serbia, the net
result of
          Milosevic's policies being the economic and cultural ruin of
the entire
          region, including Serbia, for several generations? Alas, one
thing we can
          be sure of, that will not happen soon.


          Table of Contents
          May 02, 1999
         Copyright 1999 The New York Times Company

  ------------------------------------------------------------------------

Forwarded by:
hlomit C. Schuster. Philosophical Counselor in Private Practice.
Horkania 23, apt.2., Jerusalem 93305,  ISRAEL
E-mail: [log in to unmask]
The Philosophical Counseling Website:
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/5914
Philosophy Practice: An Alternative to Counseling and Psychotherapy:
http://info.greenwood.com/books/0275965/0275965414.html

  ------------------------------------------------------------------------







>




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