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NATO bombing is illegal

By Rachel Wilson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 15, 1999
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To the editor,

This letter is in reply to Chris Jackson's column in which he advocated an immediate invasion of Kosovo by NATO troops. For clarity's sake, I'd like to skip over the debate about who has behaved more atrociously, the Serbs or the Albanian Kosovars, and concentrate on two major points.

The first point is that the NATO bombing is illegal. International law requires the UN Security Council to approve attacks on sovereign nations. However, here NATO acted unilaterally without a Security Council resolution. The US has in the past bombed nations for their violations of international law (remember the 1991 Gulf War), thus it is deeply hypocritical that we ourselves are now in violation of the very law we trumpeted in the past. Clearly, an invasion of Yugoslavia would be an even grosser violation of the law.

The second point is that the bombing has done nothing but increase suffering in the Balkans. Ostensibly, NATO's reason for bombing Kosovo is to put a halt to the violence against the Kosovar Albanians. But let's examine the effect of the bombing campaign thus far: more people are being killed (both Serbs and Albanians), more people are being forced from their homes (this time by a combination of NATO bombs and Serb forces), and the Yugoslav infrastructure is now completely incapacitated. Additionally, the war has now spread to neighboring Albania, and Macedonia is crumbling from the onslaught of refugees.

Invading would horribly exacerbate this already dreadful situation by activating other outside influences. Eastern Europe is already on the defensive following NATO's recent expansion to include Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary, all formerly in Russia's sphere of influence. An illegal NATO invasion of Serbia is a foreseeable justification for other third parties to get involved. Thus, an invasion would only prolong and expand the current misery. NATO already threw a match into the Balkan powder keg by bombing; it's foolish to suggest that NATO should find some more powder kegs to light.

So what should we do? I don't know. We never should have bombed in the first place. This should have been addressed years ago at the Dayton peace talks. Clumsy, NATO-lead, ultimatum-ridden diplomacy should have been replaced by cautious, UN-brokered, lengthy, even-handed discussions. This entire debacle has been an appalling spectacle of incompetence and malice.

Rachel Wilson
Graduate student in the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in Second Language
Acquisition and Teaching