April 20, 1999

On the Kosova Crisis page, written in September 1998, War Resisters' International called on the UN, the European Union and individual states to "withdraw recognition of the Serbian claim to territorial integrity in respect of Kosovo/a" if it doesn't end its attacks on towns and villages in the region.

Furthermore, War Resisters' International encourages Albanian and Kosovar nationalism, demonizes Milosevic, and criticizes bodies like the European Union and the United Nations for recognizing the integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Their criticism of the KLA is not that it is a gang of racist murderers, but that its violent strategy is ineffective against the Serbian Army. Well the KLA is doing pretty well now, isn't it? Albanian nationalists are the toast of Washington, Milosevic is regularly compared to Hitler, and NATO is trying to seize Kosovo and break up Yugoslavia. So what are they complaining about?

What they are complaining about is the violence. But in accepting the same framework as the official media, they lay the foundations for war. The warmongers and the peacemongers have the same premises - nationalism, ethnicity and democracy - but NATO draws logical conclusions. An independent Kosovo can only be achieved by a massive military attack on Yugoslavia.

Even in criticizing the attack, pacifists fail to question the propaganda:
"It is widely agreed that not only has bombing the Serbs not stopped human rights abuses in Kosovo, but it has also hardened the Serbs' resolve and accelerated the forced eviction of the ethnic Albanians from Kosovo. These evictions have caused the largest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II. Further, the bombing of the Serbs' civilian infrastructure has embittered the general population and enabled Milosevic to quash democratic opposition within Serbia."
- from - Peace Action/War Resisters League

This is another page which uncritically repeats NATO propaganda. The idea that the refugees might be fleeing the NATO bombs is not even mentioned - it's those Serbs again. The worst result of the bombing for these peaceniks is "embittering" people, strengthening Milosevic, and helping him quash democratic opposition. In other words, their main criticism of the mass murder currently being undertaken by NATO is that it doesn't work.

The use of the term "the Serbs" is racist. People in Yugoslavia didn't think of themselves in ethnic terms until recently. The pacifist media uncritically accepts, and therefore participates in spreading, the fictitious categories of ethnicity, and thus shares responsibility for the Kosovo catastrophe with the official media, NATO, and the Yugoslavian government.

At no point do the pacifists point out that the nationalist division of Yugoslavia was a reaction to the class struggle. In the eighties, Kosovo was shaken by strikes, like the rest of Yugoslavia. Nationalism of all kinds was a way of defeating these struggles by getting workers to identify with their bosses, and hate each other.

At the end of the day, our objection to pacifism per se is that it is illogical. The classic question asked of pacifists - would you use violence to stop worse violence? - has never been answered. You cannot avoid violence by boycotting it. Perhaps a real pacifist is someone who always acts to reduce the amount of violence. This would sometimes mean supporting physical force. The working class of Vukovar, Croatia, refused ethnic segregation and formed independent militias. Though this ended in tragedy in 1991 when the Croatian government encouraged and allowed the Serbian Army to massacre the workers, this kind of organization is the only thing that can prevent the descent into barbarism.