The Breakfast Table

Crook and Kaldor

Dear Clive,

I heard George Robertson, the British secretary of defense, say on the radio this morning that opposition to Milosevic is mounting in Serbia and that the strikes are beginning to hurt, according to his intelligence reports. The military commanders, he said, are telling Milosevic that they are engaged in a “suicide mission.”

I hope it is true. But my impression is just the opposite. The bombing seems to be crushing the democratic opposition. Did you see that Slavko Curuvija, the editor of Dnevni Telegraf, an independent newspaper that was banned last month, was shot yesterday? Last week, I received an appeal from Serbian NGOs calling for an end to the bombing and to ethnic cleansing. It is these courageous people–students, some trade unions, human-rights groups–who did offer some constraint on what Milosevic felt able to do. Now they are living in fear and much of their public support has evaporated. They see themselves as the main victims of the bombing. NATO’s assurances that the strikes are meant for Milosevic and not for them are not convincing on the ground.

I have the feeling there are two wars going on and there is not much connection between them. One is the “spectacle” war of the air. The other is the war against the Kosovar Albanians. Maybe, some “degrading” of Milosevic’s capacity to wage war against the Kosovars is happening. But also there is some “upgrading” of his political capacity to act without restraint. I am afraid that by the time George Robertson feels enough has been destroyed to create a “permissive environment” for ground troops, there will be no Albanians left in Kosovo.

What do you think about this German attempt to introduce a new peace plan that’s on the front page of the Guardian. It doesn’t seem very different from the Rambouillet agreement to me. The main difference is that the force is under non-NATO auspices–OSCE or the UN–something I always favored. But it will be the same forces–NATO plus Russia. Why should Milosevic accept? Only if George Robertson is right.

Looking forward to your reply,