Letter to the Nonviolent Activist, the magazine of the War Resisters League September - October, 1999
The letters on Kosovo in the July-August issue are very disturbing to this WRL member of over half a century. I do not see how we can claim legitimacy if we do not face the facts of the world, hard as that may be.
One letter asks, "What right do we have to drop bombs on people and kill innocent civilians?" Another asserts that it's all none of our business because Kosovo is still part of Serbia. Even Brad Lyttle, far less simplistic, asserts that the war is unpardonable because it could lead to nuclear disaster.
I could accept any of these arguments if the writers accepted the fact that the Serbs were unarguably raping, massacring, and expelling tens of thousands of Kosovars. O.K., our air war was not a nice answer. Then what is? Is turning our backs on the Kosovars morally acceptable?
I certainly don't know of any nice answer, any more than I knew how to stop Hitler when I was an objector to World War II. But neither I nor the other CO's I knew ever whined that the Nazi aggressions were none of our business.
Brad Lyttle concludes his letter with one sensible point: "The United States and every other society should devote their energies to developing nonviolent solutions to conflicts." And so should we pacifists.
Meanwhile, we should not pretend that those who are attempting to halt atrocities, by whatever method, are engaged in an irrelevant exercise. By ignoring the Serbian atrocities, we pacifists become complicit in them.