Paradigm shift & prayer


Jan Slakov

From: "Janet M. Eaton" <•••@••.•••>
Date: Thu, 22 Apr 1999 07:29:56 +0000
Subject: ZNet: Responding to "Moral " Sentiment:  How to talk about the War

With appreciation to Michael Albert and ZNet !!! 

ZNet Commentaries
                                        April 21, 1999

                  Responding to the Sentiment: 
                   "We Have to do Something!"

                                  By Cynthia Peters

     There was a lengthy debate at my dinner table the other night
     about the situation in Yugoslavia. Most of my relatives defended
     the NATO bombings as the only moral action to take in the face of
     crimes being committed against ethnic Albanians. I argued the
     opposite: that there were very few historical examples of the
     United States intervening anywhere for moral reasons, and that in
     fact most U.S. interventions resulted in extreme injustice,
     increased killing, and less democracy. I made the case that NATO
     bombings were having the net effect of causing more death and
     displacement for the Kosovars, increased unity among Serbs for
     their brutal leader, and less and less possibility that
     grassroots opposition to Milosevic could play any sort of
     meaningful role in the resolution of the conflicts.

     Not only is this true in hindsight, but it was easily predictable
     from the beginning.

     People seemed to reluctantly agree that our bombings have made
     the situation worse for everyone involved. They even agreed that
     it was predictable it would turn out this way.

     Still, they continued, what choice did "we" have? The Serbs were
     murdering ethnic Albanians. We had to do something! 

     A long back-and-forth ensued during which I made the case that
     whenever we "do something," we usually make matters much worse.
     My dinner guests pleaded their case that even if the U.S.
     government has done horrendous things in the past, it doesn't
     matter, we had to do something for the Kosovars. Bombing Serbian
     targets was our only choice. We couldn't just let Milosevic's
     killings continue. 

     My sense was that people wanted desperately to believe that we
     were doing the right thing. That bombing was the only available
     choice and that our government's actions were guided by moral
     precepts. One of the people to make this case most vehemently was
     my sister-in-law.

     After dinner, the same sister-in-law approached me and said, "I
     just wanted you to know that whenever we have these debates about
     foreign policy, I usually agree with you. But it's hard for me to
     admit it. If I fully go with what you're saying, then that means
     our government is acting immorally. That they're not really
     concerned with right and wrong. That they are acting selfishly
     and because of militaristic and corporate greed. If that's really
     true, then what am I supposed to do? I just wouldn't know where
     to go with that information. It's too hard of a leap for me to

     Her revelation was important. Not just for personal reasons (I'm
     not as isolated during these debates as I think I am.?), but
     because it crystallizes certain key issues for progressives:

     Making the leap to understanding the underpinnings of U.S.
     foreign policy is not just an intellectual exercise but an
     emotional one as well. To truly follow where the information and
     evidence takes you feels dangerous to many. It is uncomfortable
     to live with the fact that our government is acting immorally in
     our name. At a minimum we should acknowledge that this is hard
     for people. More, we should build ways to support people in their
     effort to grapple with the evidence. Know and publicize the
     history of social change struggles. Be able to offer examples of
     how people have fought - whether they ultimately won or lost -
     for a more just world. Pass along information about people and
     organizations currently doing social change work so that others
     who are coming to political awareness know there are communities
     of people already out there acting on shared principles.
     Rejecting mainstream U.S. political agendas does not mean
     entering into a void or a necessarily fringe existence. Support
     alternative political, cultural and social organizations because
     they are doing the critical work of creating alternative
     institutions, messages, political frameworks, and forums for

     Besides hammering home the evidence that reveals the true
     motivations and results of U.S. foreign policy, we should have
     concrete trajectories that we support and examples to back up
     what we are saying. For example, we should call for (partly
     adapted from ZNET's talking points by Michael Albert and Stephen

          an immediate end to the bombing and demand that true
          diplomatic efforts be made. Madeline Albright never fully
          explored diplomatic options before the bombing began.
          Rather, a series of ultimatums were given and when they were
          predictably rejected, the United States claimed that
          diplomacy had failed and started the air war. We should not
          reject out of hand every diplomatic overture (such as the
          Russian call for talks or Milosevic's offer of a
          cease-fire). an international peace-keeping force overseen
          by the UN General Assembly to stand between the combatants,
          and to preside over a negotiated settlement between
          different ethnicities in the region. As Noam Chomsky
          reports, "A very important observation leaked through the NY
          Times on April 8, in one of the last paragraphs of a story
          on an inside page by Steven Erlanger, their Belgrade
          correspondent, who has a record of reliability. Possibly the
          most important bit of information about what has been
          happening. He writes that `just before the bombing, when
          [the Serbian Parliament] rejected NATO troops in Kosovo, it
          also supported the idea of a United Nations force to monitor
          a political settlement there.'" an international system,
          under the auspices of the General Assembly, to adjudicate
          and make decisions about the use of peace-keeping forces.
          And an insistence that other atrocities, often perpetrated
          or abetted or ignored by Washington because they serve U.S.
          interests, receive the same media visibility and
          humanitarian attention as the atrocities in Kosovo. 

     The other day I had the pleasure of hearing Noam Chomsky on
     Christopher Lydon's "Talk of the Nation." For a whole hour he
     answered questions and succinctly and intelligently helped make
     sense of what our government is doing (and could be doing
     differently) in Yugoslavia. At one point, he made an apt analogy
     that I wished I had had at my fingertips when arguing with my
     relatives. He said: Saying that the bombings are justified
     because we just needed to do something [about the massacre of
     Albanians] is like saying you chose to mow down a robber, his
     intended victim, and several bystanders couldn't
     just stand there and watch a crime being committed. You had to do

     The only trouble with this analogy is that we are asking people
     to accept that our government is the one responsible for the
     murderous overreaction. We have to see our government as having
     made immoral choices. There is no masking that fact or making it
     more palatable, but let's understand that grasping that reality
     is more than an exercise in logic. It's a paradigm shift that
     requires rallying a great many resources and supports. 

From: Mark Clement <•••@••.•••>
Subject: FW: Antiwar-List: Moment of Silence Monday, May 24
Date: Sat, 22 May 1999 07:57:30 -0400

> Subject:   Antiwar-List: Moment of Silence Monday, May 24
> Dear Antiwar Activist,
> In case you haven't already heard, there is going to be a worldwide
> moment of silence for peace in Balkans on May 24, 1999.
> Thousands of people from around the world will come together at _one
> moment_ in time -- exactly 4pm Greenwich Mean Time (that's 9am in Los
> Angeles, noon in New York, 6pm in Paris).
> We will stop whatever we are doing and observe two minutes of silence
> for the people in Yugoslavia. It isn't a statement against the United
> States, or against the Kosovars, or against the Serbians. It is not
> about national borders and governments at all. It is about the value of
> individual human life and liberty. It is a gesture of peace and good
> will for all men, women, and children.
> I hope you'll join us on May 24.
> Stop by to add your name to the growing
> list of people (from Australia to Argentina to Kansas to Kosovo) who
> will be observing the moment of silence together.
> Every name on that list is like a candle in the darkness, spreading the
> light of peace. Every name makes a difference for the people in
> Yugoslavia. Please add yours.
> And help us spread the word. Forward this message to your friends and
> family, even if you think they might have already heard about it. Part
> of what makes this an historic event is that it is being promoted
> without the help of any big media organization or advertising budget.
> Regular people are spreading this message around the world, by e-mail.
> Thank you for joining in the Moment of Silence.
> --------------------------------------------------------------
> To unsubscribe, use the Web form at
> or e-mail <•••@••.•••> with the following command
> in the body of your e-mail message:
>     unsubscribe antiwar-list •••@••.•••
> Substitute your own address for "•••@••.•••".