Two new websites of direct relevance to our course have recently been launched:
and, for the book for our course,
Two new websites of direct relevance to our course have recently been launched:
and, for the book for our course,
We have learnt by bitter experience not to appease dictators. We tried it 60 years ago. It didn’t work then and it shouldn’t be tried now. Milosevic’s actions in Kosovo have given rise to scenes of suffering and cruelty people thought were banished from Europe forever.
Europe and the United States must stand firm together. Milosevic’s policy of ethnic cleansing must be defeated and reversed. President Clinton has shown exactly the right resolve and determination. Once again, our thanks go to him and to the American people for their support in the cause of what is right.
Of course, we will be subject to the usual barrage of criticism, sometimes from people who, I think, find it hard to come to terms with the fact that there is a new generation of leaders in the United States and in Europe, who were born after World War II, who hail from the progressive side of politics, but who are prepared to be as firm as any of our predecessors right or left in seeing this thing through. See it through, we will.
Some argue we waited too long to act. To them I say it was right to give the negotiations every chance. Others argue we should not have acted at all. Of them I ask, what was the alternative? To do nothing would have been to acquiesce in Milosevic’s brutality. It was clear that unless he was stopped, Kosovo would share Bosnia’s fate.
The evidence is sobering. The Serbian offensive last year forced over 300,000 people from their homes. Villages were burned, people massacred. Despite all the efforts of the international community, including Russia, Milosevic rejected diplomacy in Paris this year. Within hours, he had let his forces off the leash in Kosovo. Within days, tens of thousands of people had fled their homes.
Milosevic was preparing for ethnic cleansing long before a single NATO bomb ever fell. What has happened was part of a plan to drive hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians out of their homes, execute many of their menfolk and torch their villages.
In Bosnia we waited four years before acting decisively. As a result of that conflict, over 200,000 people lost their lives, and 2 million people were made homeless. The duration of the conflict meant that a million of them were never able to return to their homes. NATO has not made the same mistake in Kosovo. Anyone who has seen the pictures of the hundreds of thousands of refugees leaving Kosovo, or who has heard the piteous stories of suffering imposed by the Serbian special police and the paramilitary thugs who work with them, knows why we had to act. Now they want to know that we are going to succeed.
Just as I believe there was no alternative to taking action, I am convinced there is no alternative to continuing until we succeed. On its 50th birthday NATO must prevail. We are fighting for a world where dictators are no longer able to visit horrific punishments on their own peoples in order to stay in power. It is important the people of Serbia know our quarrel is not with them. It is with the architects of Kosovo’s ethnic cleansing. Just as after World War II, a war-crimes tribunal will bring those responsible to justice.
Our policy in Kosovo is taking its toll on Milosevic’s killing machine. We should not be fooled by his state-controlled television. If he was so confident of his position, why did he suppress the independent media in Serbia? But we need to be patient. As I said, as President Clinton said, as other world leaders said at the outset of this action, he will not be defeated overnight.
We are also right to be cautious of the notion of a ground intervention force. Of course ground forces will be necessary in Kosovo to give the refugees the confidence to return to their homes in safety. But that is very different from fighting our way in. While we keep all options under review at all times, that is not our plan. A land invasion would be a massive undertaking and would take time to assemble. The casualties would potentially be large. And the civilian population would be at Milosevic’s mercy. That is why airstrikes remain the sensible option in the present crisis, intensifying them and adding to their impact.
Milosevic knows what he has to do to end NATO’s air campaign: a verifiable cessation of all combat activities and killings; the withdrawal of military, police and paramilitary forces from Kosovo; an international security force; the return of all refugees and unimpeded access for humanitarian aid, and a political framework for Kosovo based on Rambouillet.
We will not stop until he agrees to all of these conditions. The world knows too much of Milosevic to fall for any of his ploys. The succession of offers from Belgrade show that he is now looking for a way out. He wants to hang on to the results of his ethnic cleansing while protecting his killing machine. But anything short of what I’ve listed, and there’s nothing doing. The airstrikes go on.
We should start now planning for the longer term, building on the agreement that was reached at Rambouillet, accepted by the KLA, but rejected by Milosevic. After all their suffering, it is clear that the Kosovar Albanians will never trust Milosevic to rule Kosovo again. Any political solution must recognize that fact. Russia has a unique and leading role to play in these efforts.
We need to enter a new millennium where dictators know that they cannot get away with ethnic cleansing or repress their peoples with impunity. In this conflict we are fighting not for territory but for values. For a new internationalism where the brutal repression of whole ethnic groups will no longer be tolerated. For a world where those responsible for such crimes have nowhere to hide.
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This essay originally appeared in the May 23, 1999 edition of the New York Times.
By WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON
WASHINGTON — We are in Kosovo with our allies to stand for a Europe, within our reach for the first time, that is peaceful, undivided and free. And we are there to stand against the greatest remaining threat to that vision: instability in the Balkans, fueled by a vicious campaign of ethnic cleansing.
The problem is not simply ethnic hatred, or even ethnic conflict. The people of the former Yugoslavia have lived together for centuries with greater and lesser degrees of conflict, but not the constant “cleansing” of peoples from their land. Had they experienced nothing but that, their nations would be homogenous today, not endlessly diverse.
The intolerable conditions the region finds itself in today are the result of a decade-long campaign by Slobodan Milosevic to build a greater Serbia by singling out whole peoples for destruction because of their ethnicity and faith. The brutal methods are familiar now. Spreading hate in the media. Killing moderate leaders. Arming paramilitaries and ordering soldiers to conduct planned campaigns of murder and expulsion. Eradicating the culture, the heritage, the very record of the presence of his victims. Refugees are not a byproduct of the fighting he has initiated; the fighting is designed to create refugees. We are haunted by the images of people driven from their homes, pushing the elderly in wheelbarrows, telling stories of relatives murdered.
We saw this for the first time in Croatia and in Bosnia. The international community responded at first with a studied neutrality that equated victims with aggressors; it followed with diplomacy and the deployment of unarmed peacekeepers with the mandate, but not the means, to protect civilians. By the time NATO acted, 250,000 people were dead, more than two million displaced, and many have still not returned. People will look back on Kosovo and say that this time, because we acted soon and forcefully enough, more lives were saved and the refugees all came home. The Balkan conflict that began 10 years ago in Kosovo will have ended in Kosovo.
We cannot respond to such tragedies everywhere, but when ethnic conflict turns into ethnic cleansing where we can make a difference, we must try, and that is clearly the case in Kosovo. Had we faltered, the result would have been a moral and strategic disaster. The Kosovars would have become a people without a homeland, living in difficult conditions in some of the poorest countries in Europe, overwhelming new democracies. The Balkan conflict would have continued indefinitely, posing a risk of a wider war and of continuing tensions with Russia. NATO itself would have been discredited for failing to defend the very values that give it meaning. Those who say Kosovo is too small to be of great importance forget these simple facts.
When the violence in Kosovo began in early 1998, we exhausted every diplomatic avenue for a settlement. Last October, we convinced Mr. Milosevic that he should withdraw some forces from Kosovo and allow an unarmed international presence. That is the solution advocates of compromise propose today. But it failed last fall. Mr. Milosevic broke his promises, poured more troops into Kosovo, poised for an offensive he had been planning for months. When it began, we had to act.
Mr. Milosevic’s strategy has been to outlast us by dividing the alliance. He has failed. Instead of disunity in Brussels, there are growing signs of disaffection in Belgrade: Serbian soldiers abandoning their posts, Serbian civilians protesting the policies of their leader, young men avoiding conscription, prominent Serbs calling on Mr. Milosevic to accept NATO’s conditions. Meanwhile, our air campaign has destroyed or damaged one-third of Serbia’s armored vehicles in Kosovo, half its artillery, most of its ability to produce ammunition, all its capacity to refine fuel and done enormous damage to other sectors of its economy. Though he has driven hundreds of thousands of Kosovar Albanians from their homes, Mr. Milosevic has not eliminated the Kosovar Liberation Army. Indeed, its ranks are swelling, and it has begun to go on the offensive against Serb forces hunkered down to hide from air strikes.
Now Mr. Milosevic faces the certainty of continuing air strikes, the persistence of the K.L.A. and the prospect of having to answer to his people for starting an unwinnable conflict that is bringing military failure and economic ruin. The question now is not whether his ethnic cleansing will be reversed, but when, and how much of his military he is willing to see destroyed along the way.
While I do not rule out other military options, we are pursuing our present strategy for three reasons. First, and most important, it is working and will succeed in meeting NATO’s basic conditions of restoring the Kosovars to their homes, with Serb forces out of Kosovo and the deployment of an international security force. This force must have NATO at its core, which means it must have NATO command and control and NATO rules of engagement, with special arrangements for non-NATO countries, just like our force in Bosnia. Our military campaign will continue until these conditions are met, not because we are stubborn or arbitrary, but because these are the only conditions under which the refugees will go home in safety and under which the K.L.A. have any incentive to disarm — the basic requirements of a resolution that will work.
Second, this strategy has broad and deep support in the alliance, and allows us to meet our objectives. While there may be differences in domestic circumstances, cultural ties to the Balkans and ideas on tactics, there is no question about our unity on goals and our will to prevail. I have worked hard to shape our present consensus; 60 days into the air campaign, NATO is more unified on Kosovo than it was at the beginning.
Third, this strategy gives us the best opportunity to meet our goals in a way that strengthens, not weakens, our fundamental interest in a long-term, positive relationship with Russia. Russia is now helping to work out a way for Belgrade to meet our conditions. Russian troops should participate in the force that will keep the peace in Kosovo, turning a source of tension into an opportunity for cooperation, like our joint effort in Bosnia.
Finally, we must remember that the reversal of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo is not sufficient to end ethnic conflict in the Balkans and establish lasting stability. The European Union and the United States must do for southeastern Europe what we did for Western Europe after World War II and for Central Europe after the cold war. Freedom, respect for minority rights, and prosperity are powerful forces for progress. They give people goals to work for; they elevate hope over fear and tomorrow over yesterday.
We can do that by rebuilding struggling economies, encouraging trade and investment and helping the nations of the region join NATO and the European Union.
Already, the region’s democracies are responding to the pull of integration by sticking with their reforms, taking in refugees and supporting NATO’s campaign. A democratic Serbia that respects the rights of its people and its neighbors can and should join them.
If it does, we will help to restore it to its rightful place as a European state in the Balkans, not a balkanized state at the periphery of Europe.
The Balkans are not fated to be the heart of European darkness, a region of bombed mosques, men and boys shot in the back, young women raped, all traces of group and individual history rewritten or erased. Just as leaders took their people down that road, leaders must take them back to a better tomorrow. Ultimately, we and our allies can help make this happen, if we stick with NATO’s campaign and follow through with a strategy to insure that the forces pulling southeastern Europe together are stronger than the forces tearing it apart.
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Torturing Democracy (2008) is a comprehensive documentary, and a very robust web-based archival project concerning the role of torture in the U.S. “war on terror.” See the website. In particular, see:
The nation’s largest public interest law firm, the American Civil Liberties Union works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and U.S. laws. The ACLU filed a landmark FOIA lawsuit against the Department of Defense and other federal agencies that has resulted in the release of thousands of documents – which continues to this day – regarding detention and interrogation policies.
The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy is a non-partisan educational organization comprised of a network of lawyers, law students, scholars, judges and policymakers. ACS has addressed the legal implications of matters such as torture and restrictions on habeas corpus.
Amnesty International is a movement of people across more than 150 countries who campaign for internationally recognized human rights. AI’s human rights campaigns include Countering Terror with Justice and Detention and Imprisonment.
Cageprisoners is a human rights organization created to raise awareness of the plight of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere in the “war on terror.” The organization, launched in October 2003, has the backing of both Muslim and non-Muslim lawyers, activists, former detainees, families of prisoners and academics.
Founded in 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights is a legal advocacy group dedicated to advancing and protecting rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. CCR has coordinated more than 500 attorneys who have worked pro bono defending prisoners in custody at Guantanamo, in proceedings that have placed thousands of pages of documents on the public record.
The Torture of Mohammed Al Qahtani
Founded in 2003, the Center on Law and Security is an independent, non-partisan center designed to promote an informed understanding of major legal and security issues that have defined the post-9/11 environment. Policymakers, practitioners, scholars, journalists and other experts are brought together to address major issues and provide concrete policy recommendations.
The Center for Victims of Torture is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization which provides services directly to torture survivors; trains health, education, and human services professionals; conducts research; and advocates for public policy initiatives. It also operates healing centers in Sierra Leone, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Human Rights First seeks accountability for human rights violations while also working to protect people at risk: refugees who flee persecution, victims of crimes against humanity, victims of discrimination, those whose rights are eroded in the name of national security, and advocates who are targeted for defending the human rights of others.
Human Rights Watch, an independent nongovernmental organization, is dedicated to protecting the human rights of people around the world. HRW challenges governments and those who hold power to end abusive practices and respect international human rights law.
The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) is a growing membership organization committed to ending U.S.-sponsored cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Since its formation in January 2006, over 200 religious groups have become members.
Physicians for Human Rights mobilizes health professionals to advance health, dignity, and justice. Harnessing the specialized skills of doctors, nurses, public health specialists, and scientists, PHR investigates human rights abuses.
Reprieve, founded by Clive Stafford Smith, is a legal action charity that uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners from death row to Guantanamo, where 30 prisoners are currently represented by the organization’s attorneys. Reprieve is also investigating “extraordinary renditions” and secret prisons.
The Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International (TASSC) is the only organization founded by and for torture survivors, and works to end the practice of torture wherever it occurs and to empower survivors, their families and communities wherever they are.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE (2007) is a documentary by Alex Gibney, that won the 2007 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature (see the film website). It begins by uncovering the story of a man named Dilawar, an Afghan taxi driver who was murdered while in detention at Bagram Air Base, as a result of very sever torture at the hands of American soldiers. This story is used as an entry point for examining the U.S. policy on “harsh interrogations” — torture — and the CIA’s use of various torture techniques. We hear criticisms of the methods, as well as defenses, and the debate about the extent to which the U.S. has followed the Geneva Convention forbidding cruel and inhumane treatment of detainees. We hear from U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and Vice President Dick Cheney, President George W. Bush, and attorney John Yoo.