YDS position on Kosovo
Source Dave Anderson
Date 99/05/01/22:52

/* Written 12:32 PM Apr 19, 1999 by in igc:labr.all */
/* ---------- "dsa-doc: YDS position on Kosovo" ---------- */
Date: Mon, 19 Apr 1999 09:24:56 -0600 (MDT)

(Note: for those as may have missed it, the DSA Youth Section changed
it's name to Young Democratic Socialists last fall.)

Young Democratic Socialists of America
Statement on NATO Intervention in the former Yugoslavia

US foreign policy has long been hypocritical, dangerously unilateral and
guided by narrow interests. It has resulted in the deaths of civilians,
the destabilization of entire regions, and the undermining of democratic
forces in many parts of the world. For this reason, we do not doubt that
NATO's intervention in Kosovo was motivated by an agenda broader than
mere humanitarian intervention. In this case, we suspect that the need to
justify our huge and expanding military and to demonstrate a continuing
need for NATO's existence and extension were factors in choosing to bomb
the Serbian forces in Kosovo.

The question we face as democrats and socialists is whether the abysmal
record of our own military interventions elsewhere can justify non-
intervention now. We feel it can not. We feel that the US and the rest
of NATO have an obligation to intervene to stop Milosevic's brutal and
racist campaign for power. Having failed to intervene to prevent the war
in Yugoslavia in the first place; having stood by while 10,000 Muslim
soldiers were executed in Srebrenica; and then having failed to broker a
tenable position for Kosovo within the new Yugoslavia at the Dayton
accords, it is the responsibility of the US and its allies in NATO to
intervene now in an effort to finally contain Milosevic's aggression in
the region.

Our support for military intervention does not extend to the poorly
planned and painfully executed bombing of Kosovo, Serbia, and Montenegro.
NATO's bombing has made the horrible conditions suffered by Kosovo's
Albanian majority even worse, without laying the groundwork for a durable
settlement to the conflict. The refusal to utilize an international
ground-based force, as proposed by some European NATO members, has simply
bolstered the resolve of the Yugoslavian regime in their efforts to
oppress the people of Kosovo. There are no signs that the campaign has
significantly weakened Belgrade's ability to prosecute a bloody and
indefensible campaign against the civilian population of Kosovo. In
short, the bombing campaign has not brought Kosovo closer to autonomy or

Refusal to commit ground troops is hypocritical, and typical of the US
desire to wage war without domestic political consequences. Loss of life
is an unavoidable consequence of war. Waging an air-only offensive serves
to protect US and NATO forces to the direct detriment of the lives of
civilians throughout the targeted area. To really protect citizens and
refugees, realistically and regrettably we will have to put soldiers in
harm's way. The faith of the US military in "strategic bombing", a
tactic with a miserable record in Panama and Iraq, has once again proved
unjustified, as witnessed by the growing list of civilian casualties.
The effect of strategic bombing is to prioritize the safety of a
professional US soldier over the lives of innocent civilians who are
inevitably attacked on the ground.

In particular, the choice to bomb targets deep within Serbia and
Montenegro has endangered the lives of civilians, alienated important
partners such as Russia, Greece and Italy, and has had questionable
impact on NATO's aims within Kosovo. Such an intervention demands careful
and strict adherence to both international and US law. Those conditions
were not met in this campaign. The relatively unilateral and Executive-
driven nature of the bombing campaign weakens efforts to bring
transparency and responsibility to US foreign policy.

We believe that a stronger UN should be prepared to authorize or
themselves intervene in destructive military conflicts in the future.
The inability of either the UN or the European Union to intervene in this
conflict clearly demonstrates the need for stronger, more democratic and
more political international institutions. The ability to intervene
decisively in order to protect innocent lives should never again rest in
the hands of the United States alone or even NATO.

The Young Democratic Socialists support a return to diplomatic efforts as
soon as possible. To this end we oppose the arming of the Kosovo
Liberation Army, believing their calls for the unification of greater
Albania to be untenable and undesirable. We applaud the German
government's call for a twenty-four hour cease-fire as well as the
European Union's offer to administer Kosovo's transition to peace. We
hope to see similar good faith attempts at a return to diplomacy from the
United States and the rest of NATO, as soon as is feasible.

We must recall throughout this conflict with Slobodan Milosevic and the
military forces he controls that the Serbian people are not our enemy.
Only two years ago the now bomb-scarred streets of Belgrade were filled
with students, workers and human rights activists demanding democracy and
the resignation of autocratic President Slobodan Milosovic. Today, the
democratic opposition in Yugoslavia has dwindled significantly and
currently they face levels of nationalist fervor and state repression
unseen since the war in Bosnia. The only long-term solution to the
larger crisis in former Yugoslavia, of which the battle over Kosovo is
but one part, is the institutionalization of democracy and respect for
human rights. The international community must make support for the
democratic opposition in the Balkans a priority.

YDS extends its solidarity and support to its comrades in the region, the
democratic socialist parties of the former Yugoslavia, as well as all
those who fight for democracy and peace. Only when the international
community begins to take seriously the voices of reason, compassion and
justice; only when the preservation and extension of democracy is placed
at the forefront of our policy will steps be taken towards a sustainable,
lasting peace.

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