By Arthur Joseph Lika Special To The Hoya

As the most powerful nation in the world, the United States influences the lives of people in every foreign country. If U.S. policies do not generate positive results, the outcome can be devastating.

Case in point: the recent atrocities and violent massacre of more than 2,000 ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. Under the command of President Slobodan Milosevic, Serbian troops have committed extra-judicial executions, destroyed civilian property and attacked humanitarian aid workers – all of which are violations of the principles of warfare. How can we as a nation, with all good conscience, stand by and watch civilians, many of them women and children, get massacred like this?

Although Kosovo’s population is primarily ethnic Albanian, it has been stripped of its autonomy by the Serbian government. According to a Jan. 20 New York Times article (“Crisis in Kosovo”), the Serbian authorities have closed schools that teach in the Albanian language, dismissed massive amounts of Albanians from state-owned enterprises and continued to systematically destroy towns, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to flee from their homes. This horrific ethnic cleansing resembles the brutality of Nazi Germany.

One attack killed 17 civilians who were hiding in the woods and another killed three humanitarian aid workers who were trying to deliver food, according to a Jan. 20 article in Illryia, an Albanian-American newspaper (“The Shame of Our Times”). The police have been seen looting homes, destroying already abandoned villages, burning crops and killing animals. The majority of those killed and injured were civilians, and over 200,000 Albanians remain homeless, facing dire weather conditions, too afraid to return to their homes or simply having no home to which they can return (Illryia, Jan. 20). Is there any rational reason that justifies such stark terror and punishment of these Albanian civilians?

The U.S. government, United Nations and NATO have issued strong warnings, but threats have come and gone and the abuses still mount. Even though an informal cease-fire agreement with NATO remains in place, Mr. Milosevic and his forces continue to launch attacks blatantly violating the agreement. Almost daily we witness graphic images in the media of the mutilated bodies of innocent people. On Jan. 15, 45 more ethnic Albanians, including many elderly and one child, were found shot and mutilated, heaped together in a muddy gully (New York Times, Jan. 20). Shouldn’t the world’s most influential power, in the spirit of civility, do something to stop such a horrific injustice from taking place?

Although such issues of independence and oppression may be situations the world must endure, we must not allow the unthinkable to take place. We must send a clear message that war crimes, crimes against humanity and acts of genocide will not be tolerated. This is not an ethnic or nationalistic concern, but rather a concern for all humanity. As the hunt for a political solution facing ethnic Albanians in Kosovo goes on, the mass killings continue. It is not clear what the western position should be regarding all of this, and there are probably several avenues that should be explored. In the meantime, however, I feel we must push our political motivations aside and put an end to the death and destruction of innocent people.

I would like to think that the U.S. government and citizens of our great country could use their heads and hearts to place the human race ahead of politics. It is our historic obligation to respond to such hateful acts and ethnic cleansing. In the spirit of civility, I hope the United States and its allies will at least collaborate and agree to first devise a method to stop the killings in Kosovo and then, once the violence has ceased, they will be able to work towards rebuilding other areas of the country to bring a lasting peace to a suffering people.

Arthur Joseph Lika is a freshman in the McDonough School of Business.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.