Is Peace Action Ready for Peace?

By Justin Raimondo

In late November the organization Peace Action (formerly SANE/FREEZE) announced that it was officially "neutral" on the issue of American intervention in the Balkans. They reported that their members were split on the issue of sending in troops. They also reported that they were conducting further study of the issue

The Committee Against U.S. Intervention in the Balkans (CAUSIB) offered to provide information for Peace Action to "study." They agreed to have a representative from CAUSIB address their staff.

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The following is the text of a talk delivered by a CAUSIB representative to the staff of Peace Action on December 6, 1995.

In the Bosnian intervention, we are faced with an act of war that comes packaged as a "peace accord." In terms that would have brought a smile to the face of George Orwell, the American and NATO troops being sent over to Bosnia are called "peacekeepers" -- for exactly the same reason that we had the so-called "peacekeeper" nuclear missile in the 1980s. It is absolutely essential to the integrity and survival of the peace movement that we not allow ourselves to be fooled by this kind of propaganda.

The case against intervention in the Balkans can be made from several different angles, and there are many specifics that I will get in to in a moment. But first I want to state the general principle underlying the anti-interventionist position, and that is opposition to the idea that America, as the "only superpower," has the right and the responsibility to police the world: that is, to right every wrong, to defend all existing borders, and generally promote the American concept of "democracy" to the four corners of the earth. This is the principle that animated the Gulf war -- and, indeed, every war in which the United States has been dragged into since 1917. If what calls itself the peace movement joins with the interventionists in endorsing this

It is interesting that, today, we are told that the U.S. must "enforce peace" in the Balkans: this was exactly the phrase used by the very first interventionist group in the United States, the "League to Enforce Peace," which played an instrumental war in building public support for U.S. entry into War War I.

The Great War to "make the world safe for democracy" enlisted the intellectual and political support of liberal idealists, who thought that they were building a world dedicated to peace: instead, they planted the seeds that sprouted into Hitlerism and the terrible calamity of the Second World World.

A similar pattern is being repeated today.

A U.S. military presence in Bosnia and surrounding areas will reignite the Cold War, fan the flames of Russian nationalism, divide Europe into armed camps, and unleash forces that will make short work of Clinton's so-called "peace accord." The U.S. intervention in the Balkans, instead of bringing peace to the area, is creating new conditions for instability that could persist for decades. It is the product, not of a regional consensus, but of NATO's coercive "diplomacy" -- and I put the word diplomacy in quotes because the peace agreement was founded in coercion and terror, the series of punishing air strikes against Bosnian Serb military targets in September.

If the overarching principle of U.S. intervention is America's imperial responsibility as the Lone Superpower, then the underlying diplomatic premise is the territorial integrity of the Bosnia-Herzegovinia. Now, cynics are of the view that the Clinton administration is not going to insist on this principle, and point to the fact that the peace accord is in effect a de facto partition of Bosnia, and that the United States is merely engaged in policing the new borders. But in fact the Muslims take this fiction of the unitary state of Bosnia-Herzegovinia very seriously: the Republic of Srpska is bound to develop trade, cultural, and economic ties to Serbia that will amount, in effect, to a federation or a de facto merger. And so we can see that the seeds of war are planted in this so-called peace agreement: it is the Treaty of Versailles writ small, a formula for future conflict on a scale that could engulf the whole of Southern Europe.

Civil war as a virtual certainty is embedded in the very structure of the Bosnian state. To begin with, the state will have a collective presidency, just as the former Yugoslavia adopted after the death of Tito. The architects of the Bosnian state have in fact attempted to recreate post-Communist Yugoslavia on a small scale -- and we have every reason to believe that their scheme will have the same explosive results. Indeed the Serbs are already contesting the concession of territories around Sarajevo, and it is difficult to see how NATO forces will act against nonviolent political resistance.

The State Department is not releasing copies of the Dayton agreement, and in any case there could be and probably are any number of secret annexes and side agreements, although a summary is available. As to who or what will administer the terms of the agreement, But in spite of Administration denials, it is clear that Bosnia will become in effect a U.S./NATO protectorate, forced to mediate between the contending parties such issues as the restoration of property rights, tens of thousands of refugees, and any political disputes that might arise among the many ethnic subdivisions of the Bosnian Republic. Here is another formula for disaster, a political landmine waiting to explode.

A week before the President announced that he is sending 25,000 U.S. troops to intervene in the Bosnian civil war, I contacted the office of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. I wanted to know Pelosi's position on a resolution introduced by Rep. Mark Neumann, a freshman Republican from Wisconsin, that would have prevented funds from being spent to send U.S. troops to Bosnia if the President proceeded without a vote of Congress.

I was alarmed and surprised that the President was proposing to put American soldiers in the midst of the blood feuds of the Balkans. After all, we have a word in English, to balkanize, which means "to break up (as a region) into smaller and often hostile units," according to Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, and it is not for nothing that the area has long been known as "the powder keg of Europe."

Even more surprising was a discussion with Pelosi's foreign policy advisor, Carolyn Bartholemew, who expressed her fulsome support for military intervention. After all, she said, what about the atrocities? Don't you care about atrocities?

Of course, atrocities have been committed by all three sides; not only the Serbs, but also the Croats and the Muslims have engaged in "ethnic cleansing." When the Croats moved into the Krajina region, with covert U.S. military assistance, 130,000 Serbs were driven out and many were summarily executed, mostly elderly Serbs who refused to leave their homes.

The peace movement must face squarely up to the following hard questions: is the state of Bosnia-Herzegovinia worth dying for? Is American leadership of NATO worth dying for? Is an attempt to salvage Bill Clinton's political career worth dying for? Do we have to see the actual bodybags coming home before we answer with a resounding NO?

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