|VOICES OF DISSENT|
May 24, 1999
From Rev. Jesse Jackson to conservative commentator Oliver North, opposition to NATO's air campaign in Yugoslavia spans the ideological spectrum. Following a report on opposition to the war, Margaret Warner and guests discuss the issue.
JEFFREY KAYE: From California to New York, small, but growing, numbers of protesters are calling for an end to the bombing of Yugoslavia.
PROTESTORS: Stop the bombing! Stop the war!
JEFFREY KAYE: The rallies are reminiscent of anti-Vietnam War demonstrations, though they are nowhere near the size. And, there's another major difference. This war's opponents include conservatives and the right -- traditional supporters of U.S. military ventures -- as well as peace activists and progressives on the left.
REV. JESSE JACKSON: We must not give up on diplomacy. We must not give up on using minds and not just missiles to solve the situation.
JEFFREY KAYE: The Reverend Jesse Jackson was among the speakers at an anti-war teach-in yesterday at a Los Angeles synagogue. Co-sponsored by the leftist Nation Magazine and broadcast on public radio, it drew one thousand people.
STATE SENATOR TOM HAYDEN: This war already is a strategic defeat for our government and for NATO. The strategy of crushing Milosevic has failed. The strategy of policy the new world order with high-tech big stick cruise missiles has failed.
JEFFREY KAYE: In addition to California State Senator Tom Hayden, a leader of what 30 years ago was called the "new left," the event also featured conservative commentator Arianna Huffington.
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: It is truly amazing that we are willing to countenance thousands upon thousands of Serbian and Kosovar casualties as long as no American dies.
JEFFREY KAYE: The emerging anti-war alliances are being closely tracked by Eric Garris of Northern California. He resisted the draft in the seventies. Now, a Republican activist, he maintains an Internet site - Antiwar.com -- with a page listing some 300 war critics who span the ideological spectrum.
ERIC GARRIS: We have, you know, the American Legion sitting right next to the American Friends Service Committee. I mean, when was the last time you saw them on an endorsement list together? But what we found is that there's a new antiwar movement shaping up that consists of the isolationist or non-interventionist right and the pacifist left and the middle, who are just concerned that this is not something that we should be involved in.
JEFFREY KAYE: Critics from the left and right share the view that the bombing raids have helped to compound the refugee crisis.
OLIVER NORTH: This is common sense radio. I'm Oliver North
JEFFREY KAYE: Conservative commentator Oliver North uses his nationally syndicated radio program to call for a bombing halt.
OLIVER NORTH: The humanitarian disaster that now confronts us, with hundreds of thousands of refugees driven from their homes, actually began in earnest when the bombing began fifty-six days ago.
|From the left.|
JEFFREY KAYE: From the left, Columbia University Professor Edward Said, takes a similar view. He says the U.S. is waging what he calls "a terror campaign from the air."
EDWARD SAID: There's growing evidence that the bombing has made matters worse in almost every respect; certainly the number of refugees has increased as a result of the bombing. The ethnic cleansing hasn't stopped.
JEFFREY KAYE: Said and others on the left advocate an end to the bombing, negotiations, and United Nations intervention. Dissenters from the right say the U.S. should stay out of a European conflict.
OLIVER NORTH: There are two point six million Europeans under arms in what we call NATO. And every damned one of them ought to be committed first before the first American has to go to war.
CROWD SHOUTING: Go Pat Go!
JEFFREY KAYE: Many on the right argue that the U.S. has no vital interests in the Balkans. Republican Pat Buchanan is campaigning for president on what is in part an anti-war platform.
PAT BUCHANAN: I supported every military action and strong diplomatic initiative of every President, Republican and Democratic during the Cold War. That was America's war. But I don't believe this Balkan civil war is America's war. I never did.
IMANI HENRY: We condemn the bombing of Yugoslavia!
JEFFREY KAYE: At a New York demonstration, peace activist Imani Henry also said the U.S. should refocus priorities and put domestic needs first.
IMANI HENRY: A B2 bomber costs what, two billion dollars? And meanwhile there are no job training programs, they're shutting down schools and hospitals in the black community? I mean, it doesn't add up. It doesn't make any sense.
JEFFREY KAYE: Henry and other protesters have adopted a target as their symbol. It is the same emblem that Yugoslavs have used in their anti-NATO demonstrations. Brian Becker is with the International Action Center, a group organizing protests nationally.
BRIAN BECKER: We also came across this bridge as the people in Belgrade go across their bridges every night, acting as human shields, as a symbolic gesture of friendship with them.
JEFFREY KAYE: The public protests reflect some declining public support for the war. Pollster surveys by the Pew Research Center and other pollsters show that while most Americans approve of the U.S. air strikes, the support has slipped. Eric Garris, whose Web site offers a wide range of information about the war from the international media, as well as from Yugoslavia, says instant access to news is helping sway public opinion.
ERIC GARRIS: If you look historically, at the beginning of any battle you always have strong public support. But as it goes along, people learn more about it, and they may start turning against it.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: There are those who say Europe and its North American allies have no business intervening in the ethnic conflicts of the Balkans.
JEFFREY KAYE: Responding to critics, President Clinton recently justified U.S. intervention.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: If the European community and its American and Canadian allies were to turn away from and therefore reward ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, we would be creating a world of trouble for Europe and for the United States in the years ahead.
JEFFREY KAYE: This speech to an audience of U.S. military veterans, did not convince members of the American Legion who were in attendance. The legion, which is the nation's largest Vets organization, is opposed to the war. Official Michael Schlee says the Legion believes U.S. forces should pull out unless conditions are met:
MICHAEL SCHLEE: Namely that we verify it's in the vital national interest; Number two that there be a clear statement of mission that includes an exit strategy.
JEFFREY KAYE: Last week, Schlee together with John Jefferson lobbied members of Congress. Liberal Democrat Cynthia McKinney agreed with their anti-war position
REP. CYNTHIA McKINNEY, (D) Georgia: Whoever convinced the president to embark upon this particular road ought to be fired.
JEFFREY KAYE: As did conservative Republican Steve Buyer. But Democrat Bob Filner was not so receptive.
REP. BOB FILNER, (D) California: Everyone has the exact opposite position of Vietnam. It's very confusing politically.
JEFFREY KAYE: Filner opposed the Vietnam War. The American Legion supported it. Now, he and the legion have switched positions on military intervention.
REP. BOB FILNER: Are you surprised that the American Legion is not supporting an effort a military effort by the U.S. Government, forget who's the President, this is not what the American Legion does, in my experience.
MICHAEL SHLEE: Traditionally we have supported you know my president right or wrong, this certainly is a break in policy.
|Comparisons to World War II.|
JEFFREY KAYE: The debate over this conflict often relies on analogies to other wars. President Clinton cites World War II, comparing Slobodan Milosevic to Adolf Hitler.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Though his ethnic cleansing is not the same as the ethnic extermination of the Holocaust, the two are related; both vicious, premeditated, systematic oppression fueled by religious and ethnic hatred.
JEFFREY KAYE: But Becker of the International Action Center doesn't buy the President's Holocaust position.
BRIAN BECKER: If it was really Hitlerism and if it was really genocide, why aren't they sending ground troops? Why only bomb from the air?
JEFFREY KAYE: A favored analogy of critics both on the right and left is Vietnam.
STATE SENATOR TOM HAYDEN: You have a president who has gotten into a war where he thought we were policeman of the world and as the costs rise he chooses for reasons of national prestige and perhaps personal prestige to escalate.
JEFFREY KAYE: The scattered protests have failed to develop into what during the Vietnam War was called a movement. But they are gaining increasing visibility. On June 5, peace groups are hoping for major demonstrations in Washington and in San Francisco.