[sixties-l] Hayden/Gitlin/Scheer

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: Tue Aug 15 2000 - 23:19:59 CUT

  • Next message: radman: "[sixties-l] NY Post on Tom Hayden"

    radman says:
    the only reference to Hayden's stance on the Iraq war I can find is his
    name listed on this page:
    <http://iraqwar.org/list-conservatives.htm>, as one of many who opposed the
    the writings by Hayden, Gitlin and Scheer below are sent as additional
    material to Jeff
    Blankfort's recent postings...
    > >LOS ANGELES TIMES -- Wednesday, May 5, 1999
    > >As the Innocent Die, Where Are All the Voices of Protest?
    > >Balkans: The liberals' silence on the NATO bombing and its 'collateral
    > >damage' is keeping us from talking about alternatives.
    > >By TOM HAYDEN
    > >Where are the voices of protest against the suffering inflicted on
    > >and children by our bombardment of Serbia?
    > >The moral rationale provided by the Clinton administration at the outset of
    > >the bombing was that the brutal ethnic cleansing of Kosovo could be stopped
    > >in a short military campaign. That promise was either a deception or a
    > >delusion. The war has turned into a horrific quagmire, and yet even liberal
    > >Democrats remain strangely tongue-tied about the suffering, which our
    > >government lamely calls "collateral damage."
    > >Every day seems to bring news of civilians being killed and the White House
    > >apologizing. Worse, according to the Wall Street Journal, President Clinton
    > >and British Prime Minister Tony Blair pushed in mid-April for a wider
    > >definition of targets that would increase the danger to civilians. The
    > >is the death of cleaning ladies and bus drivers, evacuation of 85,000
    > >from Belgrade neighborhoods poisoned by toxic chemicals, the
    unemployment of
    > >100,000 Serbs and laying waste of Serbia's civilian infrastructure with
    > >the New York Times calls "greater effects on the gross domestic product
    > >the Nazi and, then, the Allied bombing of Yugoslavia" during World War II.
    > >And the silence continues. Perhaps the silent ones think these are all
    > >regrettable accidents, or that war is hell, or that bombing Serb civilians
    > >who have opposed Milosovic in the past will help them to overthrow him now.
    > >What then of the intentional indiscriminate infliction of shrapnel
    wounds on
    > >children? Unexploded cluster bomb units are turning whole areas of
    > >into a "no man's land," wounding large numbers of children in the process.
    > >According to the Los Angeles Times, the director of Pristina's hospital
    > >he has never done so many amputations as he has since victims of the weapon
    > >started coming in.
    > >I keep an early model of the cluster bombs used in Vietnam on my shelf as a
    > >reminder of the evil done in the name of good intentions. The bombs are
    > >dropped over a broad landscape, where they explode via timers or the simple
    > >vibration of a passerby. The blast causes up to 300 pieces of deadly
    > >to scatter in all directions. The shrapnel is very difficult to remove
    > >because of its deliberately jagged design.
    > >Liberal silence on these issues allows Pentagon and NATO spokesmen to
    > >systematically and routinely utilize doublespeak and refuse to discuss the
    > >kinds of weapons they are using.
    > >There seem to be two reasons for the Democratic war fever.
    > >First, invocation of the Holocaust analogy has led many to accept Ted
    > >Koppel's admonition to "get used to the idea of civilian casualties."
    But is
    > >this the Holocaust or is it intervention in a long-standing Balkan
    > >and ethnic war? Whatever the answer, is there no level of civilian
    > >that makes the bombing unjustifiable? And most important, isn't the
    U.S. and
    > >NATO military commitment to stop ethnic cleansing in the Balkans even
    > >slightly suspicious given the ethnic cleansing that they tolerate in Tibet,
    > >Turkey, Guatemala, Rwanda and Angola? Is this war really about human rights
    > >or about consolidating the U.S. and NATO as an alternative to the United
    > >Nations?
    > >Second, the fact that President Clinton and his European social democratic
    > >allies started the bombing leads a majority of Democrats to rally behind
    > >their party leader. This was acceptable when the issue was belittling the
    > >president's sexual indiscretions to avoid impeachment, but it is quite
    > >something else to become apologists for the killing of children with
    > >anti-personnel bombs to shore up Western "credibility."
    > >The Democratic Party's domestic agenda will be unraveled by the new liberal
    > >militarism. Already the Republican Congress has forced Clinton to
    accept $13
    > >billion in military funds, twice what the president requested. By contrast,
    > >the president will ask for just $1 billion this year for new teachers
    and $5
    > >billion over five years for school overcrowding.
    > >I want to continue deepening and expanding the president's domestic
    agenda of
    > >investing in schools and jobs in the inner city, providing health care and
    > >restoring the natural environment.
    > >Three decades ago, I was pursuing the same agenda when the Democratic Party
    > >started the Vietnam War and abandoned its commitment to a great
    society. That
    > >experience should not be repeated.
    > >Before this becomes a Vietnam in the Balkans, it is time for liberals to
    > >start breaking their silence. The Jesse Jackson mission, opposed by the
    > >House, plainly proves that diplomatic alternatives, like a partitioned
    > >under the U.N., have not been exhausted.
    > >Instead, the much-touted Apache gunships with American crews are
    preparing to
    > >escalate the conflict. The real Apaches, the Native Americans, were victims
    > >of a brutal, even genocidal, ethnic cleansing by the U.S. armed forces
    in the
    > >last century. That our government can self-righteously go to war to save
    > >Kosovo with helicopters named after the victims of our own ethnic cleansing
    > >measures the state of denial we are in.
    > >- - -
    > >
    > >Tom Hayden Is a Democrat Representing Parts of West Los Angeles and the San
    > >Fernando Valley in the State Senate [article published in Los Angeles
    War, for Peace?
    by Todd Gitlin, of Mother Jones


    Serbia began, I kept walking into the same conversation. I'd be catching
    up with one or another old friend from the '60s, comrades with whom I
    shared obsessions and convictions for the better part of a decade, and no
    conviction more passionate than our common hatred for the Vietnam War.
    In subsequent years we had kept opposing American military involvement
    hither and yon, whether in Nicaragua, Chile, Guatemala, Grenada, El
    Salvador, or Panama. Most of us had deplored the Persian Gulf War,
    too. Now, in 1999, we would gingerly feel each other out: So, what do you
    think about this war?
    With relief, pleasure, some awkwardness, even surprise, we discovered that
    we still agreed. Some felt unequivocal, others agonized and bewildered,
    but most of us supported the NATO war over Kosovo. We supported it in fear
    and trembling because what NATO was doing was, after all, war. But still
    we supported the war, if not its every tactic.
    We were certain it started not too soon but much too late, and then was
    botched. We were worried about consequences in Russia and China. A few
    of my old friends even opposed this particular war, the air war, because
    they wanted a ground war instead.
    And a few wanted no war at all. Like veterans of the Vietnam War, they
    flashed back to old terrors. But what one thought 30 years ago has lost
    its predictive value. Like it or not, the American left's near-automatic
    No to military force, a staple of conviction, even "identity," for three
    decades, is finished.

    Until recently, most of the New Left tended to think of Washington's
    foreign policy as all of a piece, the product of original imperialist
    sin. These were the fundamentals: The future was preordained by a history
    of gunboat diplomacy, coups, alliances with dictatorships all signs of
    arrogant Manifest Destiny on a global scale.
    The Vietnam War was but one in a long line of aggressions back to the
    Spanish-American and Mexican wars, which in turn were continuous with
    slavery and the genocide of the Indians, the whole (yes) shooting
    match. Cold War belligerency, unwarranted by any Soviet threat, threatened
    to blow up the planet. Throwing its military and corporate weight around
    the world, America made the impoverished more impoverished, the desperate
    more desperate. America was lusty for power, as ingenious with its deceits
    as it was untrustworthy. Democracy, self-determination, human rights such
    rationales of the hour were ruses, all. This complex of half-truths seemed
    to make sense of many events that otherwise appeared wholly mysterious.
    For a few years after the breakdown of communism in 1989, the left stumbled
    around trying to find traction. Still, for all the muddle,
    anti-interventionism remained in place, a kind of Cheshire politics a
    unifying No in the absence of a compelling Yes. Some division emerged
    over the Gulf War, but most of us on the American left looked at Desert
    Storm and saw bluster and oil, the corpses of Iraqi civilians and visions
    of American body bags to come. Others, especially in Europe, were more
    impressed by the risk of appeasing a military conqueror, even though they,
    too, were not enamored of fighting a war for oil.
    Myself, I marched and spoke against the war, despite the U.N. approval;
    despite the fact that Saddam Hussein was the nearest thing to a fascist in
    the contemporary world; despite the unlikelihood that sanctions, the form
    of coercion that most on the left preferred to war, would succeed in
    dislodging Saddam from Kuwait. On balance, however justified the end it
    was supposed to serve, the war seemed unwise, a disproportionately brutal
    Still, it was already clear that positions were becoming matters of degree,
    not absolutes. One friend and I, after a long back-and-forth, decided that
    we were six inches apart, I coming out against the war and he in favor of
    it perhaps a matter of temperament, in the end. Had I known then what I
    learned five years later, knowledge would have in my case trumped
    temperament cleanly. For in 1995, I heard the unimpeachable U.N. Special
    Commission chief Rolf Ekeus report that during his missions in Iraq he had
    confirmed some of the U.N.'s most fearful projections: When the Gulf War
    began, Saddam had 25 missile warheads loaded with anthrax, intended for a
    surprise attack, and was a few months short of having a usable nuclear
    missile. His compunctions about using such weapons were nil, of
    course. Sanctions, in hindsight, wouldn't have worked, Ekeus thought, and
    so the war had been a just war after all. Another blow against my
    automatic No.
    By that time, I had already relinquished it on another issue: the fate of
    ex-Yugoslavia. In fact, the anti-interventionist consensus on the left
    visibly and irrevocably cracked over the Serb assault on multi-ethnic
    Bosnia in the early 1990s. At a birthday party in early 1993, I sat with a
    half-dozen friends with whom I had shared a hundred positions for what
    already seemed like a hundred years, and encountered views ranging from
    "Bomb Now!" to "none of Our Business!" Apart from the intensity of our
    interest, we who had once been fiercely opposed to the mainstream were
    probably not so different from a table full of Americans picked at random.
    What followed were years more of Europe, America, and the United Nations
    all standing by, making threats and then reneging on them, while Milosevic
    savaged Bosnia until, finally, American bombing helped drive him to a
    partitioned peace. Whereupon, as predicted, Milosevic went to work on the
    Albanians in Kosovo. In the meantime, Hutus slaughtered Tutsis in Rwanda
    while no one lifted a finger, even as Clinton's intervention in Haiti
    plainly saved lives. The price of nonintervention was rising steeply in
    the eyes of many: It was beginning to seem that a careful Yes could do
    good, while a reflexive No was being discredited by events.
    If all armies gird to fight the last war, all anti-war movements are
    tempted to fight the previous peace campaign. For strict pacifists, it's
    no wonder: All wars are the same, equally indefensible. But in 1999, even
    some on the non-pacifist left thought they had been jolted back to
    Vietnam. These Rejectionists, as I shall call them, looked at the NATO war
    and saw "evil" and a "new imperialism," Milosevic as America's "latest
    demon," the United States acting as "policeman of the world"these phrases
    from Tom Hayden, with like words emanating from Noam Chomsky, Barbara
    Ehrenreich, Howard Zinn, and the editors of, and most contributors to, The
    I read the Rejectionists, trying to make out what they proposed instead of
    war. Diplomacy, I heard. Yet diplomacy with Milosevic had proceeded for
    eight years, as tens of thousands of Bosnians and thousands of Kosovars
    died at his hands, and he reneged on deal after deal with aplomb. Some
    proposed supporting the opposition to Milosevic. Yes, surely the West
    should have tendered more help to anti-Milosevic forces during the weak
    opposition campaign of 1997, and perhaps, if all else failed, the Kosovo
    Liberation Army should have been armed. But had the United States done
    more of this sort of thing, and Milosevic still pursued his barbarous
    designs, what then?
    Rejectionists charged inconsistency, asking rhetorically, "Why Kosovo but
    not Rwanda or East Timor?" As if, having failed to stop one gang of
    killers, we should have tried to stop none. Worse, having failed to do
    what needed to be done to stop the awful atrocities in Rwanda, were we
    bound to stand by as the Kosovars were massacred, dispossessed, and
    deported? Because they were European, was it a sort of global affirmative
    action to look the other way?
    Those who condemned the NATO war categorically never posed a serious answer
    to the key questions: What else was to be done for the human rights of a
    systematically persecuted population? If not by NATO, then by whom? The
    United Nations, which stood by and did nothing as Milosevic violated
    Security Council resolutions with impunity dozens of times? "I hate this
    war," a friend said to me. "I hate it, too," I replied, "but what would
    you rather do about the Kosovars?" I don't know," she said. Long
    pause. I asked her again after peace broke out. She still had no
    answer. "i'm glad I don't have to think about that," another said.
    Such, I had come to think, was a luxury of life in parochial America. Only
    the heartless could pretend away the Kosovo predicaments, the product of
    many crimes and missed chances over the years. Even a victory in this war
    was going to usher in ugly results as did America's withdrawal from
    Vietnam, for that matter.
    Kosovar earth was scorched; the Kosovar Serbs would be dispossessed in
    turn. But winning pretty was not an option. The absolute No was an
    outsider's luxury, an excuse not to reason. "I'm glad I don't have to
    think about that" means "I insist on guarantees in a world without
    guarantees. I want my choices and consequences simple. I'll hold on to my
    absolutes, and if the world doesn't go as it ought, too bad for it and its
    lousy choices. I check out."
    That the use of force was legitimate did not ease my mind, nor should it
    have. I did not want to disregard the Serbian dead, and reports of bomb
    damage shook me. The means were hideous, the just end not in sight, even
    as the bombing intensified. All the more people died because they were
    targeted and mistargeted from three miles up, the better to protect NATO
    A month into the war, I looked at my own hands and was not pleased. At
    times I was tempted to backslide. Most of my old crowd felt such twinges
    and qualms agonies, even. But not for long. Backing down, it felt to me,
    would be succumbing to yet another purity fetish. So never mind that, over
    our shoulders, we could hear I could hear Rejectionists shrieking that we
    had become the warmongers our younger selves had despised.
    Once we accepted the principle that the use of force was legitimate to
    protect human rights, there was plenty to debate about strategy and
    tactics. But the Rejectionists were no seriously entering into that
    debate. They seemed to start from the presumption that the United States
    and its allies have no business intervening anywhere for any purpose, that
    the U.S. is condemned by history to do no good abroad except, perhaps, when
    pressing Israel. Their absolute No seemed less a practical argument about
    likely consequences than a prejudice.
    On the other hand, start from a different presumption and the predicament
    changes. Start from the presumption that human rights trump national
    boundaries; that when a minority is systematically persecuted, someone who
    is able to do so should intervene; that when ideal institutions do not
    exist for that purpose, the non-ideal institutions that do exist are
    obliged to do their best then, in the case of Kosovo, it was NATO or
    nobody. Only a just use of force stood a fighting chance of accomplishing
    a just end: the Kosovar's safe resettlement.
    The fact that, in this case, the results were less bad than they might have
    been does not flash a green light to intervene, everywhere, casually, or
    often. The postwar world being nasty and brutish, long on local slaughter
    and weapons of mass destruction, we people of good will, not only the left,
    not only Americans will face such dreadful choices again.
    What then? To specify necessary conditions for just intervention in the
    abstract is not difficult:
    The consequences of inaction need to be unbearable, the aims achievable,
    the means proportional, the costs sustainable. It will not be easy to
    convert principles to rules, let alone establish reliable institutions for
    averting catastrophes. Machines cannot be programmed to decide about
    intervention; human beings will have to decide, each time freshly. But one
    thing is certain: In the quandaries to come, the absolute No will be useless.
    In War, Ignorance Can Be Bliss -- April 6, 1999


    The guy next to me in the coffee shop was typical: "I'm not even sure where
    Kosovo is, or what's caused all this, but it's terrible, look at the
    pictures, we must do something." Yeah, blow up another bridge, it can't hurt.

    That dreary paean to self-righteous ignorance has inspired much of the
    Western public to go along with the bombing of Yugoslavia in an effort that
    clearly has made matters worse. It's a vote of confidence President Clinton
    knew he could count on as long as the war tested our weapons but not our

    The horrors of war are politically acceptable when viewed from a safe
    distance but never as reluctant participants in a bloody fratricidal
    conflict that involves a family far removed from one's own. Once on the
    ground, or "in country," the eerie accuracy of satellite-guided missiles,
    so satisfying as a special effect on television, will give way to the
    bumbling of mere mortals as they vainly seek to separate friend from foe.

    Am I influenced by what some dismiss as "the Vietnam syndrome?" You bet. I
    was reporting in Vietnam on the eve of the American buildup, and nothing I
    saw then or later convinced me that we did anything but exacerbate the
    problems of ordinary folk. And the ethnic and religious divisions of
    Indochina were simple compared to those of the Balkans.

    Once again, those who favor bombing insist it will enhance human rights.
    Clearly, that is not the case with Kosovo. The previous plight of the
    province's Albanian population pales in comparison to the Serbian onslaught
    rationalized by the NATO invasion. Before, there was serious opposition
    within Serbian ranks to Milosovic; now there is none.

    Where lies victory in this military equation? Is it in placing NATO troops
    on the ground in alliance with the Kosovo Liberation Army, a band of
    fanatics that spans the ideological divide from its Marxist-Leninist
    founders to the Islamic holy warriors freshly arrived from training in

    After a drawn-out battle in which many more innocents will die, including
    those drafted into the Serb military, what will Kosovo look like? Will the
    population be better off in the future than it was a month ago? Not likely,
    if one judges by the "liberation" of Afghanistan, where we trained and
    armed the current Taliban rulers and left a population to be terrorized by
    brutes of their own.

    But bombs have fallen, and it's too late to recall a policy that has
    resulted in so much death and flight. What's to be done now? To begin,
    there is a desperate need for some humility on the part of policymakers and
    those who cheer them on.

    The patterns of ethnic nationalism in the Balkans are too intractable for a
    dozen foreign nations acting in concert under the umbrella of NATO to sort
    out easily. Nor are they well-positioned as white knights; some NATO member
    nations have a sordid history of their own ethnic cleansing, and others are
    currently at war with insurgent ethnic nationalities of their own. At this
    moment, Great Britain is threatening to shut down the world's only Kurdish
    language radio station to appease Turkey, which is threatened by 30 million
    Kurds who also want their own nation.

    Yes, the refugees fleeing Kosovo need international protection. If we're
    truly concerned about their fate, why has the Clinton administration agreed
    to accept only 20,000 refugees with the proviso that they be relocated to
    Guam or Guantanamo and not the U.S.

    If the goal is the return of the refugees in peace to a multiethnic
    homeland, that cannot be accomplished by the demonization of the Serbs or
    by inflaming their national passions through NATO bombing. The Serbs have
    their own issues or these formerly pro-Western people would not now be
    captive to nationalist fervor. They, too, need a friend in court, and the
    biggest mistake in all this was the imperious Western exclusion of the

    It's inexcusable that Clinton ordered the invasion of Yugoslavia while
    Russia's highly knowledgeable prime minister, Yevgeny Primakov, was in
    flight to Washington, and that Clinton rejected Russia President Boris N.
    Yeltsin's request for a meeting of the G8 nations. And why bypass the
    United Nations?

    If this is truly an international effort, it must involve the Russians as
    well as the Germans, and we must heed the caution of the Orthodox Greeks as
    well as the concerns of the Muslim Turks. Experience is not the enemy here;
    naivete is. The urge to "do something" whenever the flag of human rights is
    waved, noble as it may sound, is one of the more pernicious guideposts to
    foreign policy.

    Copyright 1999 Robert Scheer

    At 06:18 PM 8/14/00 -0700, Jeff Blankfort wrote:

    >I don't recall off-hand the positions of Scheer and Hayden on the
    >bombing of Iraq but I have a hunch, both of them supported it.

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Tue Aug 15 2000 - 23:30:30 CUT