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Dear FRONTLINE,

After watching your 2 hour special on the war in Kosovo, I still have the same question that I had during the war: Is my brother's life worth this?

My brother was stationed in Aviano during the campaign and I worried about his life every day. No one in the Clinton administration ever made a convincing argument for US involvement in this conflict and the possible loss of American life. Even though the violence has subsided for the time being, what will happen when the US leaves Kosovo? The situation will return to the same state that existed before out intervention and we will have accomplished nothing.

Christopher Harbert
Canton, Ohio

Dear FRONTLINE,

The exercise of "virtuous power!" Where did that expression come from, and where is the list of virtues so that we may know what it means? Look at Serbia and Kosovo, ecological and political disasters,much of it the result of the use of virtuous power. And where is Boyer's authority for sayng Kosovo is sacred to both Albanian and Serb?

A solution? We would have been better off having supported the democratic movement in Serbia when the support was requested, despite its questionable leadership. Having failed that we should have gone into Serbia and cleaned up sufficiently to provide a basis for democracy.

Having failed to do that we are stuck in Kosovo, trying to justify an ill conceived, now contradictory policy,logically. In this war, we violated international law, sided with the KLA, allowed them to drive 200,000 Serbs out of their own country, while still talking about virtue, justice, and our passion for human rights. I suspect the Serbs and the Kosovar Albanians, in the long run, could have solved this situation better if left to themselves. They were in the midst of a civil war after all.

What we do NOW is not difficult to determine: NATO either has to stay for a very long time to make sure Kosovo becomes a multi-ethnic society, or find a way to get out, like officially declaring things are secure, like we declared we won the war, leave, and let Milosovic gain control again. There is no excuse for stupidity, and it has no limits.

As far as FRONTLINE'S presentation: where were the voices of the French, Greeks, and Italians. I bet we would have gotten a different picture had some of those NATO members been interviewed.

Alexander Greig
Berrien Springs, MI

Dear FRONTLINE,

...the involvement of NATO in the internal affairs of Yugoslavia. Was it right? Was it wrong? What was the decision making process in choosing the bombing option? Were there other options available? The search is on for answers...

Based on my appointments as a delegate to both the pre-NATO Summit, in London in March of 1999, and the SACLANT
Exercise ýOPEN ROAD 99,ţ in Norfolk, Virginia, in November of 1999, it is my considered opinion that the answers to the above questions lay within a very simple decision making process, balanced on three almost separate, but similar, pillars of need to take aggressive action against Yugoslavia.

Firstly, In London, then in Virginia, I shared the view, with many of my fellow delegates that NATO, while celebrating its 50th Birthday, was not going through a metamorphosis, but rather a mid-life identity crisis; with organizational survival as its primary mission. NATO was coming under ever increasing pressure to either complete a 21st. Century ýMission Metamorphosis,ţ or lay up its colors and stand down.

The growing fear within NATO was basically how to keep the pay checks coming? How would defence budgets from member countries continued to be justified? Even the reduction, if not full closure of NATO, would mean even further cuts in military spending, an increase in unemployed personnel, and a failure of the European NATO countries to assume more of their defence costs. NATO needed a cause with which to demonstrate, and justify, a need for its continued existence. Yugoslavia was ripe to fill that need, and bombing was considered to offer the safest, simplest, expenditure of manpower & resources.

Secondly, and possibly most importantly, the US Department of Defense needed to fight off huge defense cuts, and maintain a spending budget, in the face of a ýPeace Dividendţ that had never been paid. It, as the sole remaining ýSuper Power,ţ needed to justify its need to maintain what military infrastructure it had in place, in order to maintain its leadership role in a very changing world, and to insure that the Armed Forces of the United States could perform its proper mission: Provide a well-trained, well-equipped, well-led, motivated fighting force to defend US vital interests. The US wants to decrease its costs within NATO, but if NATO crumbles the U.S. will pay more, if thatÝs possible, rather than less, in European defense costs.

Thirdly, the decision to take military action against Yugoslavia boiled down to be purely personal, and punitive, on the part of General Wesley Clark and Secretary of State Madeline Albright. During the Dayton Accords both Clark & Albright took great pains to paint themselves as the ones who tamed the tiger Milosevic; that he was their ýboy,ţ and that they had him under control.
When Milosevic returned home and demonstrated that they didnÝt control him, it was very embarrassing for both Clark & Albright. Ms. Albright in particular wanted to take the most severe action possible against Milosevic, in order to save face, and again bombing was considered to offer the safest, simplest, expenditure of manpower & resources.

At the point when the decision to bomb came down to personalities, then the remaining options on the table were ignored; just as other options were ignored during the Dayton Peace Accords, throwing Kosovo Albanians and Serbs alike to the wolves, in order for her to save yet another face that the people of Yugoslavia, Serb and non-Serb, would pay the price for. The decision to bomb was to serve to cover up the fact that the United States has no effective foreign policy, nor effective Secretary of State.

So, was military intervention against Yugoslavia the only option open? No!
Was the bombing campaign absolutely necessary? No!

...My concern is that our refusal to learn from the past mistakes made in the Balkans might haunt us all for a very long time. As a consistent line of mistakes in that area has been haunting the world for almost six centuries.

Effective diplomacy should not be based on the tip of a missile, or on the sole, un-becoming, principles of the economics of saving face. Might has proven not to make right; especially in the hands of amateurs.

Stephen Henthorne
Williamsburg, Virginia

Dear FRONTLINE,

If I and thousands of other Texans of Mexican descent decide that we want to break away from the United States and form an independent state closely aligned with Mexico, are we justified in attacking U.S. government facilities and killing non-Hispanic Texans in order to gain our autonomy? And if the federal government decided to come after us, killing many members of the Tejano Liberation Army, the TLA, breaking into our homes and rounding up our families, could then we rebels appeal to a powerful group of nations to bomb U.S. military and law enforcement agents so as to force them out of Texas? How would the United States react to even the hint of such a threat.

The fact of the matter is that might makes right, as it does in much of international relations. NATO attacked -- against the principles of its own charter -- an independent and sovereign nation. NATO was formed to protect member nations from the Russian bear, not act as a police force and meddle in what are essentially domestic disputes.

What the Kosovars and Serbs have done to each other is despicable, but does that justify our entry into Yugoslav internal affairs? NATO nations have their own problems -- Spain with the Basque separatists, etc. -- and a case could be made against the Russians and their actions in Chechnya. So why don't we do something there?

Kosovo was convenient and the U.S. felt it could flex its muscle there without too many problems. Yugoslavia, a small nation, could not possibly resist for long the onslaught of the mightiest nations on earth, and the mightiest of the them all, the United States. And of course, lest we forget, Bill Clinton needed a diversion from his own domestic problems.

Gil Dominguez
San Antonio, Texas

Dear FRONTLINE,

The Serbs are not a threat to the US or NATO.

The war on the Serbs was not approved by our Senate or Congress. If we are to continue to see this sort of activity by NATO in the future, the United States should not continue to remain a NATO member. Our membership in these aliances undermines our constitution and the survival and success of our allies are worth the demise our constitution.

The leadership of the US military is pressing to conduct more of these operations. The US Generals and Admirals would have us sending our people all over the world. They are worried about their relevance after the cold war.
Relevance means more money and more rank to be had. They have abandoned their oath to the constitution and are mercenaries not patriots. This is the corrupting influence of being a world power and we should rethink our membership in NATO and the UN.

Bombing is a cowards way of waging war. If the war was honorable, the honorable means of waging it is with ground troops. If the NATO powers are unwilling to fight it out face to face with their enemies, the war should not have been prosecuted. This is another example of how our membership with international alliances has corrupted the thoughts of americans. When the Germans bombed Gernica, Spain in the thirties, bombing was considered evil, now we do it all of the time. Our membership in NATO and the UN has made us evil.

The KLA are notorious european narco terrorists. Why has this fact not been publicized in the American press? There is a publicity campaign to rally Americans against the Serbs. The President and American media and press are trying to sell this war.

The facts show us that we had no business being involved. The Serbs were prosecuting a war against guerillas in their own country. The Kosovar Albanians should not be trusted and the wise course of action is to withdraw American forces from the Balkans and from NATO.

John Jett
Sandusky, Ohio

Dear FRONTLINE,

Instead of producing a "meaningful" program on the Balkan conflict esp.the U.S. role, you stumbled down the same well-trodden path as CNN, The New York Times and a host of other contextually-challenged, would-be historical narrators.

I put the word "meaningful" in quotes, because, to your credit, you probably helped some viewers answer long-standing questions regarding who-said-what-to-whom-and-when, you know, the soap opera angle.

What Blair said at 10 Downing Street does have some meaning, some merit. Real meaning, however, usually comes from asking tough questions, and that's something PBS has done little of throughout the Balkan conflict. Except for a few changes in font style, theme music, and narrative tenor, I found the difference between Frontline's coverage and that of say, CNN's, to be trivial.

If, however, you still have any producers and journalists left who are as concerned with content as with packaging, why don't you try producing a Frontline show that examines, for example, the innumerable national and international laws that the U.S. and its allies violated in their air campaign. All of these laws are in the public domain, so they're not difficult to research. And while it's not as sexy as warplane target videos, it's obviously more meaningful, especially to people who care about law and democracy.

To get you started, research DU contamination, cluster bombs, the deliberate targeting of civilian infrastructure, violations of sovereignty laws, the forcing a country to sign documents under threat, waging war without congressional consent, etc.

Once upon a time, PBS did ask the tough questions, did report from the real "frontline." Now, however, it seems you live at 11 Downing Street, where journalistic content is just a spoon feed away.


Trevor McConnell
Eastern Oregon, OR

Dear FRONTLINE,

I am appalled by the techniques you use in framing the debate on this discussion list and on the program:

Your question assumes that NATO's purpose was to stop ethnic cleansing and that NATO intervened for human rights, which many people dispute. You should ask a neutral question such as what do you think of NATO's actions?

The picture of the cute Albanian girl is inappropriate to a rational discussion of the issues. You could as well show the dead body of a Serbian girl of similar age, as several little girls were killed by U.S. bombs. That too would be biased, no?

In the program, the narrator repeatedly talks about bombing Milosovic, not Serbian people. We bombed people and their living environment and economic infrastructure. At least five hundred civilians died, untold thousands more were injured, and many more will suffer physically and economically for years to come. Vilification of a leader is a common and vile technique of inflaming hatred and deemphasizing the real victims.

I believe that you are purposefully using sophisticated propoganda techniques, and it disgusts me. Or perhaps you are just biased. Either is inexcusable. You obviously have contempt for the American people.

Dwight Van Winkle
Seattle, Washington

Dear FRONTLINE,

Given the extreme delicacy of the diplomatic situation confronting NATO in the action against Serbia, it has never been clear to me why NATO apparently had not made absolutely certain of the exact locations of targets which NATO surely knew they could not afford to strike.

Such a determination would have helped avoid the bombing of the Chinese Embassy.

David Stiller
Costa MesA, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,


America, truly, a great country and a nation that has such a "rich" history and so many valuable lessons that should have learned from its past for instance: The story of its` native people, the slavery, the atomic bombs on Japan, Vietnam etc... and now SerbiaKosovo. What will be next?

The unwise American politics have accomplished the hatred of many nations that will never forgive and now Serbia, its` ally from the past, is just added on the list. America a nation that should have served as a role model is now preaching that force is the only way just like in the good old cowboy days.

Bane Cvetkovic
London, Ontario, Canada

Dear FRONTLINE,

NATO's intervention was ill conceived and ill planned. From the beginning NATO USA has been trying to cover its mistakes with selective propaganda. Now that the situation in Kosovo has reached a very dangerous level of violence, and NATO is realizing it cannot control it, they are looking for someone to blame it on. Obviously, in their view, it is Milosovic. While Milosovic is a tyrant and capable of terrible things, he deserves no more blame for the violence in Kosovo than the KLA. The poor planning for the invasion and occupation has resulted in the KLA becoming the de facto ruling body in Kosovo. If pragmatic NATO finds it necessary to save face by declaring that it has stabilized Kosovo and can now leave, it will be the ethnic Albanians and the KLA who are the sole beneficiaries of NATO's war on the Serbs. Kiss the idea of a muli-ethnic community good-bye. The KLA will no doubt cleanse Kosovo of Serbs, illustrating the facts 1 that most of what NATO has done has made the situation worse, especially the bombing campaign; and 2the human rights argument for NATO's initial involvement will appear to be not only based on false information and a predisposition to believe it, but now hypocritical as NATO prepares to abandon the Kosovo Serbs to their fate at the hands of the ethnic Albanians. Enter Milosovic and Russia?

Alexander Greig
Berrien Springs, MI

Dear FRONTLINE,

Very disappointing. Was the intention of this program to be simply a recapitulation of the Nato/Albanian official position? We practically only heard the views of people from Nato such as Albright, Cohen, Holbrooke, Clark, Short and of several Albanian reps. Only one or two short sentences from the Serbian general. How about giving us the position of one of the numerous experts who thought Nato's war was a foolish enterprise, or, heaven forbid, the Serb side of the issue?

Alex Satara
Stratford, CT

Dear FRONTLINE,

For those who say the Serbs were simply reacting to Albanian "terrorists," who ignore that the Serbian establishment in Kosova had abused Albanians for decades and driven them from schools and professional positions, who ignore the obvious steps Milosevic took to dehumanize and drive Albanians from resource-rich Kosova as recent as this week, who ignore the Milosevic propaganda machine that continues to keep blinders on the Serb population which is also terrorized, and who ignore how all this is a continuance of the Serb sense of entitlement to the whole region... take time to look through the photos and evidence of thousands of murdered and mutilated men, women, and children of Kosova and Bosnia. There is evidence enough there to require reconsideration of Serb sainthood.

For those who question NATO's bombing, just listen to Kosovar Albanian refugees who, to a man, express deep gratitude for NATO's ending, however violent, the murder and persecution they received from their Serb neighbors and Milosevic.

Imagine your local police and government officials hounding and harassing you and your family, your neighbors, year after year, the fear of "crazy" American vigilante groups. Then one day they plow through your town, shooting, bombing, burning, driving survivors out to walk to Canada for safety. Americans can't imagine this. But it happened in Kosova.

Yes, we and the developed world have in our turn done terrible things and even now turn our attention from other people in trouble. Kosova may never be peaceful. No one in Kosova can trust their old neighbors. There is so much hate. But the world has to make a stand sometimes for peace and sanity.

Megan Peterson
Princeton, New Jersey

Dear FRONTLINE,

Having spent considerable time in the former Yugoslavia [including Pec, Kosova]through the 1980's, I heard first hand the incredible racism that Serbs had towards the Albanians as well as their self-rightious attitute toward their stripping Kosova of autonomy. From 1988-1990 when I spent time there, nationalism was poisonous.
It became increasingly clear to me that Milosovic had become popular because of his stand on Kosova. Ridding Kosova of Albanians seemed a very likely policy from my read of popular attitudes as well as Milosovic's opportunism. For this reason, I was/am a strong advocate of U.S./NATO bombing. The serious mistake was that this stand was not taken earlier in Bosnia with the Bosnian Serbs. Bombing in Kosova was too little, too late, but still better than not at all. Srebrenica was avoidable, but only with strong US, and/or NATO intervention in the mountains of Bosnia.

Arlene Geiger

Dear FRONTLINE,


I have been to the ex-Yugoslavia 8 times since April, 1995 and will be making my ninth trip on 25 February.

The media has generally and wrongfully demonized the Serbs for all the troubles in the ex-Yugoslavia and PBS has been no exception, although the first part of the first episode seemed to make it clear that the latest fiasco was Madeline's war.

The negotiations - sign or we'll bomb you; the attack and the conduct of the war against FRY violate every established principal of international law.

The UCK-KLA were a recognized terrorist band according to the Federation of American Scientists and the US State Department.

I suppose it therefore made sense for NATO to side with it, because the NATO war was a terrorist act against a sovereign state.



Andrew Spiegel
wheaton, Illinois

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you for your program on Kosovo. Like other news that is "old" its coverage is minimal on other networks. Yet there is much the US needs to learn about foreign intervention.

Where, when, why should we intervene? Your program confirms my belief that we may proclaim ourselves the superpower but we are undergraduates which much to learn about the other places in this global village. Why aren't we learning? Maybe because we can't identify with other countries in size and history. Their land being much smaller in size, they value it more. Their cultures aren't as mobile. Their history longer, they respect their pasts and ancestry and traditions.
Finally, while Americans have subdued two of their own cultures, the native Americans and blacks, neither group has ever provoked its white co-habitants in any kind of bloody persecution. How can we therefore presume to know what to do to resolve such conflicts? We have been blessed by these two remarkable groups who never sought restitution by violent means. Perhaps our greatest American leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, is the only model we can study to learn how to resolve conflicts here and elsewhere through non-violent means. Of note, Nelson Mandella also is one to whom our government can turn to for guidance.

Thank for such fine programming and and opportunity to exchange thoughts.

P.S. Can we expect foreign nations to welcome our defense when one of our own soldiers has molested and murdered an ll year old girl, one of the people we are suppose to be protecting? Would we welcome soldiers from a group if one of theirs had done the same to one of our children?

Carol Lewis
Biddeford, Maine

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