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 Serb Bully

Commentary

Milosevic, The Schoolyard Bully

On a walk the other day my good friend George asked what I thought about the US-led NATO air strikes on Belgrade, if I thought the US should be poking its greasy fingers in Milosevic's eyes in the Kosovo crisis.

After a second of silence, "What if we were walking past a schoolyard," I considered out loud, "and two guys were fighting? Punching, kicking, and screaming. And the smaller guy was bleeding from the nose and mouth?"

George blinked into the summery day as a truck whizzed by. "I don't know," he finally replied. "I don't think I'd do anything. It'd be dangerous. Might get hurt."

"What if one of the smaller guy was hurt really bad? Like getting kicked in the head with a steel-tipped cowboy boot?"

George grimaced, but remained quiet.

"You wouldn't jump in?" I prodded.

He said he might – it depends.

"How about if we were walking past a different schoolyard," I pushed further, "and in this one, two first-graders were slugging it out? And one was losing badly, blood everywhere.

"You'd let them fight? You wouldn't intervene, or break them up?"

George agreed he'd step in to break the boys apart.

In the Balkan crisis, Yugoslav Armies and the Kosovo Albanians are the two boys fighting on the playground; and George and I, walking by the schoolyard, are the US. The onlookers (US) didn't want to get involved so they threw out a friendly suggestion: "Hey, you two, knock it off!"

The big bully, jerking his head toward the voice, thumbed his nose. He refused to listen.

Meanwhile, the US watched with despair, bully Milosevic beat the pulp out of the other boy, the Kosovo Albanians. It left them little choice but to step between the two, as you and I would the two schoolboys.

But when the US tried to separate them, the bigger schoolboy, who had obviously already won, refused to settle down. The US tried to reason, to rationally discuss the problem in hopes of resolution. But the bully wanted none of it. He wanted to fight until death – no negotiations, no compromise, no nothing!

The US, watching blood drip from the smaller boy's mouth, nose, and ear, knew the smaller boy was near death and didn't have adequate strength or munitions. What were they to do? Stand by and watch the atrocities continue? Sit still until the smaller boy gasps a last breath?

No! The US, as it rightly did, stepped up to ward off the bully. But even then, the bully wouldn't stop or back down; he kept punching and kicking.

Then the US tried to constrain the bully, wrapping its arms around him, hoping to sit down peacefully at the bargaining table, listen to both sides, and work out an agreement.

Still, the bully wouldn't back down. In fact, he continued beating the smaller boy with "ethnic cleansing."

It was time for someone – anyone – to step up, to use force, to end this bloody massacre.

Milosevic was sent to the corner for the remainder of recess, to face the corner and remain quiet. But he disobeyed and ran off kicking and screaming, searching for the smaller twerp whose face he wanted to rearrange.

Milosevic has demonstrated, like Iraq's Sadaam Hussein, he doesn't play fair. He has proved he will not go to the bargaining table.

But he must be stopped before hundreds of thousands more Kosovo Albanians are killed or forced from their homes. He must be constrained like a schoolyard bully. He must not be able to seek revenge or retribution. He must be expelled from school; his recess time banished forever, unless he proves otherwise. Even then, he has left his blood-stained signature on history.

–Thor Kirleis April 3, 1999

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