Local News
World News
Campus News
Police Beat


news Sports Opinions arts variety interact Wildcat On-Line QuickNav

'Not an American war'

By Tate Williams
Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 8, 1999
Send comments to:


Nicholas Valenzuela
Arizona Daily Wildcat

UA professor Miklos Szilagyi, who was born in Hungary, feels that the current situation in Kosovo is too complicated for NATO. Szilagyi is an electrical and computer engineering professor who came to the United States in 1976.

UA professor Miklos Szilagyi left 40 years of Eastern European violence and internal strife behind to enjoy a peaceful life in the United States.

But watching NATO become an aggressor in the civil war in Kosovo taints his image of the country he considers a second home.

"I think the university, as a temple of knowledge, should take a stand on this," said Szilagyi, a Hungarian native. "The student body should say, 'Don't use our name, this is not an American war.'"

Szilagyi was born in 1939 in Hungary, just a few miles from the northern border of Yugoslavia. He spent much of his childhood in bomb shelters while Allied forces bombarded that portion of the continent during World War II.

In 1944, his father was a casualty of mass executions by Hungarian Fascist rulers.

Szilagyi, an electrical and computer engineering professor, attributed the devastation and misery in Eastern Europe that he witnessed to 1,000 years of hatred within the area.

"I know what it is to be bombed, and I know what it is to be persecuted," he said. "As somebody who was born in that region, I understand the underlying reasons behind what is going on."

Szilagyi, who came to the United States in 1976, compared the conflict between Serbs and Albanians to a centuries-old family vendetta, and said viewing Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic as the "enemy of mankind," is an oversimplification.

"(The conflicts) are based on centuries of hatred among these people," he said. "They mutually committed atrocities."

Szilagyi said he does not in any way defend Milosevic's actions of ethnic cleansing, but the situation is too complicated for NATO to take sides based on recent events.

"I believe it is absolutely wrong to take sides in a civil war you do not understand," he said. "There was a war before (President Clinton) was born."

Regardless of what happens in Yugoslavia, outside forces have no right to interfere in a war that does not affect them directly, Szilagyi said.

Comparing Milosevic to Hitler is an unfair attempt to gain support for NATO actions, he added.

"It's a personal insult to me and everyone who was killed by Hitler," Szilagyi said. "(Milosevic) is a petty dictator, but he is not a Hitler, for God's sake."

He is devastated by the recent military action, because he has such a high opinion of the United States, Szilagyi said.

"I thought I came to the land of freedom," he said. "I don't want this to be a country of murderers."

Szilagyi said universities and students have the power to voice their opinions and control what Clinton does in Yugoslavia, but fears the indifference that he sees among students.

"Who will protest if not the students?" he said.

Stacy Jennings, a nursing freshman, said she is opposed the NATO actions in Kosovo.

"We're going to cause more problems than good, to their country and ours," she said.

Students should be more active than they are, but Jennings said she has no intention to protest against United States involvement, she added.

"If you don't agree with it, do something," she said.

Deanna Goecke, an accounting senior, said the United States has no right to be involved in a civil war, but doesn't see students becoming active in the future.

"I think people, nowadays, are more concerned with themselves," she said.

Goecke added that she thinks the majority of UA students are against the military action, but are more concerned with what happens within the country.

Michael Hojjatie, a media arts junior, said he fully supports NATO's involvement because Milosevic's actions resemble the Nazi holocaust.

"We said 'never again,' but now it's happening again," he said. "They (U.S. armed forces) need to see some action anyway."