Strikes pound Kosovo: NATO bombs Yugoslav province

by Araceli Esparza
Managing Editor
and Jennifer Parsons
Special to the Times

NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) forces, led by the United States, attacked several military installations in the Yugoslav-province of Kosovo early Wednesday afternoon, leading to the largest military air strike in Europe since World War II.

The attack came after repeated incidents in which peace compromises between NATO officials and Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic failed. Attempts for peace were initiated by NATO diplomats near Kosovo in an effort to protect ethnic Albanians against genocide from Serbs.

For the past 13 months or so, Serbian officials have claimed their place in several areas of Kosovo, forcing ethnic Albanians in those territories to live according to their demands, speak the same language as other Serbs and practice the Orthodox faith.

University of La Verne freshman Sanela Hadzihasanovic, a broadcasting major, said part of the issue concerns a setting much like that of Nazi Germany, in which Adolf Hitler and his troops eventually slaughtered Jews because of their cultural background.

Recently, Milosevic enforced the killing of those ethnic Albanians who refused to be submissive to Serbian demands.

“The genocide that Serbs are doing [is] the same as they did in Bosnia and Croatia,” said Hadzihasanovic, a native of Bosnia. She also said she was in her homeland when Serbian forces attempted to overpower Bosnians in 1992.

Hadzihasanovic said that 80 percent of present-day Kosovo is comprised of Albanian refugees, who primarily practice religions other than Orthodox, the predominant religion of the Serbs.

These Kosovo Albanians, said Hadzihasanovic, were taken over by the Serbs. Eventually, the Serbs moved in to take over ethnic Albanians, and one of their primary freedoms-their language-was done away with.

Dorina Tila, an Albanian native currently studying math at the ULV Athens campus, said she disagrees with the manner in which the Serbs are treating ethnic Albanians.

“I think Kosovo having their own government is their right,” said Tila. “I think it’s their own right to have their independence, culture and language.

“It’s amazing how much these people love their country.”

Junior Justin Jones, a political science major who has been researching the situation for the debate team, also gave his own opinions on the matter.

“One of the strongest ways to oppress people is to take away their language,” he said.

“Serbians always dreamt about ‘Great Serbia’-since the 15th century,” said Hadzihasanovic. “They took over the Yugoslav national army and used it against civilians since 1990.”

Members of NATO recently claimed that Milosevic failed to follow through on his promise to cease Serbian military actions in Kosovo. Negotiations for the matter continued in Rambouillet, France, last month, but tensions erupted in Paris when Serbs refused to allow NATO officials to enter Kosovo for a peace negotiation.

As a result of such conflicts, the international forces warned officials Wednesday that they would begin air strikes against the Serbs. Thus far, they have fulfilled the promise, as satellite-guided Tomahawk missiles have been targeted at radar stations and ground-to-air missile batteries, as well as other air defenses, since that day.

NATO forces eventually plan to attack other guards, including ammunition and fuel dumps of Yugoslav security forces.

“I’m not sure that they are going to hit all the targets,” said Hadzihasanovic, “It will be ongoing.”

Information disclosed yesterday afternoon reported that Yugoslav officials said the Serbs have endured about 11 fatalities thus far, with at least 60 casualties against civilians as well. American ground troops have not been sent to territory.

U.S. President Bill Clinton addressed the nation late Wednesday afternoon to share his objectives on the matter. He said that, if Americans act wisely early enough, many more people could be saved.

“I have concluded that the dangers of acting now are clearly outweighed by the risks of failing to act,” the President said. “The risks that many more innocent people will die or be driven from their homes by the tens of thousands.

“The risks that the conflict will involve and destabilize neighboring nations.”

In regards to NATO acting against Serbia at the time that it did, junior Kim Madeira, also a student studying at the ULV Athens campus, said she supports NATO’s actions.

Madeira is a secondary education and history double major at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pa., who does not see the need for violence.

“Since there’s been no decisiveness or action, I support NATO going in and using military force, but I think, in the long run, bombing just kills more.

“It doesn’t solve the dispute; it just puts it on hold.”

Jones was somewhat skeptical about Clinton’s view and stance on the the situation in Kosovo. “It’s all genocide, and it’s a little harder for him to solve,” said Jones. “Something he hasn’t had to deal with.”

Regarding the actions taken by U.S. and NATO officials, Jones said he supports the United States, but hesitantly.

“I don’t think the diplomacy has been exhausted yet,” said Jones. “With the strength that we have, it is our obligation to uphold humanitarianism.”

Clinton also said that part of the reasoning behind sending troops against Serbia is to hinder Milosevic’s capabilities to further harm other ethnic Albanians. Other explanations, including “to deter Milosevic from continuing attacks on civilians and, if necessary, to damage Serbia’s capacity to wage war against Kosovo in the future,” were also given.

“We have a long history of intervening where ethnic conflict is involved,” said Jones, “and we have a long history of not succeeding.”

Jones said he believes that NATO became involved with the situation abroad at a reasonable time, and Hadzihasanovic agrees.

“I can say at least this time they didn’t wait three years as they did in Bosnia,” said Hadzihasanovic. “This has been happening for a while, but it wasn’t public until now; it was quiet torturing.

“But I can sympathize with them [ethnic Albanians] because I’ve been through the same thing.”


Campus Comment:

What is your opinion of the argument that we need to act now to prevent greater tragedy later?

"It's hard for me to say how can you solve this; we're going to war for peace. That's kind of an oxymoron statement. We'll have to see what happens." -- Candice Bryant, junior, political science and sociology major
"It's hard for me to say how can you solve this; we're going to war for peace. That's kind of an oxymoron statement. We'll have to see what happens."
-- Candice Bryant, junior, political science and sociology major
"What would happen if ethnic cleansing was happening in the U.S.? Would you let it happen? It's not just a U.S. action; it's a NATO action." -- Cres Gonzalez, assistant soccer coach
"What would happen if ethnic cleansing was happening in the U.S.? Would you let it happen? It's not just a U.S. action; it's a NATO action."
-- Cres Gonzalez, assistant soccer coach
"Somehow the world community must step in. I don't necessarily think that bombing is the best way, but something must be done." -- Dr. Alfred Clark, assistant vice president of academic affairs
"Somehow the world community must step in. I don't necessarily think that bombing is the best way, but something must be done."
-- Dr. Alfred Clark, assistant vice president of academic affairs
"I honestly don't know much about the atrocities, but there are conflicting stories. In theory I support it, but I don't really know enough to say whether that's really what's going on." -- Keith Lord, art studio manager
"I honestly don't know much about the atrocities, but there are conflicting stories. In theory I support it, but I don't really know enough to say whether that's really what's going on."
-- Keith Lord, art studio manager
"Once we bomb, we don't know where the bombs end up and they might kill innocent people, but on a political perspective it is possible to make war to have peace." -- Quyen Nguyen, senior math major
"Once we bomb, we don't know where the bombs end up and they might kill innocent people, but on a political perspective it is possible to make war to have peace."
-- Quyen Nguyen, senior math major
"Anytime we unload, unleash the kinds of weapons that we are doing in Kosovo, there's the question of whether the tragedy that the people of Kosovo are now suffering is significant." -- Phil Hofer, director of international student services
"Anytime we unload, unleash the kinds of weapons that we are doing in Kosovo, there's the question of whether the tragedy that the people of Kosovo are now suffering is significant."
-- Phil Hofer, director of international student services

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