Re: Use It Or Lose It

Marty Jezer (
Sun, 30 May 1999 18:59:59 -0400

It's wrong to assume anything about middle-age and how 60's activists have
responded to the Balkan bombing. I, a founding editor of a pacifist
magazine WIN durinmg the Vietnam War era, supported the initial effort to
stop the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. I felt we should have intervened
earlier in Bosnia -- and in Rwanda too, for that matter. Economically,
capitalism can propser no matter who's in charge in the Balkans, a greater
Serbia rising over the bodies of cleansed Albanians does not threaten
economic markets -- and we've traded with worse leaders than Milosevic. As
for oil, Kosovo has no seaport, has no relation to the Caspian Sea
exploitation. And NATO looking for a mission? Then why didn't NATO start
bombing when Milosevic was cleansing the Bosnian Muslims. I see little
self-interest in this intervention; they kind of bom,bumed into it because
they thought it would be easy and they were afraid of what would happen if
they did nothing. As for Clinton's ambitions, his polls were great, he
needed this war like he needed Monica Lewinsky.

That said, I'm also helping to organize a demonstration next week around
four demands, stop the bombing, begin negotiations, bring in the UN, and
give financial support to the refugees. We screwed up in our intervention
and now it's time to end it. Our screwing up was probably inevitable, given
who we are, but I think the motive was, if not pure, good enough to warrant
supporting it. Reading progressive journalists who have long been reporting
from the Balkans, I call what was happening there "fascism." Kosovo is full
of moral ambiguities and I (like many) have spent the past month arguing
with myself over my various positions.

My ad hoc group of friends and neighbors are all over the map politically
on this issue. I'm on the hawkish side; others believe that the U.S./NATO
effort is imperialism. Most of us are middle-aged veterans of the civil
rights, Vietnam, anti-nuke, and previous anti-intervention actions (in
other words, "the usual gang of suspects") who've learned something from
the sixties. We agreed to disagree on the issues we disagree on and find
unity (and act on) on our agreements. (The four points above).

If NATO continues the bombing, despite the current peace initiatives and
the heartening reports of anti-war activity in Serbia, we will have the
potential for a mass anti-war movement. (Continued bombing will lead to
liberals abandoning the war effort).

So get on your marching shoes, Maggie. But let's not make the same mistakes
of the sixties, when we destroyed our movement with ideological
sectarianism and analytical absolutism. There is no consensus about the
motives of this war, but there is a growing consensus to end it.

And let's recognize that things have changed (thanks to the various
movements many of us old farts helped organize). Clinton, for example,
apologized for U.S. imperialism in Central America and even helped fund the
report that exposed the U.S. backed atrocities in Guatemala. Hey, it's not
that cats pajamas -- he did it in his usualy chicken-hearted half-baked
manner) but it is a difference. Let's build on victories, however minor,
and not continually act like victims and try and see everything as hopless.

Don't know if this answers your post, Maggie, but, for the record, I too
voted for Ralph Nader.


Marty Jezer

Marty Jezer
22 Prospect St.
Brattleboro, VT 05301
[802] 257-5644

Stuttering: A Life Bound Up in Words (Basic Books)
Abbie Hoffman: American Rebel (Rutgers University Press)
The Dark Ages: Life in the USA, 1945-1960 (South End Press)
Rachel Carson [American Women of Achievement Series] (Chelsea House)

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