May 31, 1999 

Protest the War 

It's time to move from dissent to action: to quickly and vigorously protest
the Kosovo war. Whether President
Clinton and NATO escalate this disastrous military engagement or initiate
sensible negotiation will depend in large
part on the domestic political dynamic over the next several weeks. The
White House knows public support ebbs
with every "accidental" strike on a hospital or marketplace, and the bombing
of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade
further depletes NATO's political currency worldwide. 

An administration that once thought the Kosovo conflict would be over in a
matter of days now finds its clock
running down under the 1973 War Powers Act, which allows the President sixty
days from starting hostilities to
secure Congressional approval or begin extricating US forces. Congress has
already refused to endorse the air
war by its 213-to-213 vote on April 28. If by May 24 we're still at war, the
President will have to return to
Congress in search of a new majority or risk having the war slapped down in
court. So it's crucial to solidify the
current antiwar base in Congress and persuade liberals like Paul Wellstone
and Bernie Sanders, who support the
war's early stages, to change their votes. The New York-based International
Action Center plans a June 5
demonstration in Washington, but local pressure on elected representatives
is just as critical. 

The antiwar campaign has so far been smaller than in the early days of the
Gulf War, owing to many
constituencies' revulsion at the Milosevic government's atrocities. But with
fifty days of NATO bombing
increasing Balkan suffering, it is clear that a cease-fire and international
peacekeeping efforts are the only realistic

Religious communities have shown significant leadership: The United
Methodist Council of Bishops passed a
resolution calling on NATO to halt the bombing, and the Rev. Joan Campbell,
general secretary of the National
Council of Churches, was a co-leader with Jesse Jackson of the delegation to
Belgrade. An April teach-in at The
New School in New York drew 1,000, and overflow crowds have been reported at
similar forums from Santa
Cruz to Syracuse. Rallies, town meetings and vigils have been held in at
least thirty-three states (see On May 23, KPFK radio in Los Angeles, Southern California
Americans for Democratic
Action and The Nation Institute will host a teach-in on the war, to be
broadcast nationally over the public radio
satellite system. Hillary Clinton was greeted by protesters in Ireland;
there have been demonstrations in Italy,
France and elsewhere; and the rank and file of the German Green party are
rebelling against their leaders'
endorsement of the NATO campaign. 

One beacon of clarity is UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary
Robinson, who has forcefully
denounced the Orwellian euphemism "collateral damage" and insisted that both
Serbia and NATO be subject to
investigation for war crimes. The first Washington resignation to protest
the war came from Jeremy Brecher, an
aide to Sanders. Brecher wrote that he had asked himself, "Is there a moral
limit to the military violence you are
willing to participate in or support? Where does that limit lie?" 

The Kosovo war exceeds defensible limits daily. This is the time to write,
to call, to march--to make our voices

Back to texts' page
Back to index page

This page has been visited times.