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Jimmy Carter Calls Tormenting Civilians in the Balkans Senseless, Brutal

Atlanta, GA... Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has called for an end to the destruction of civilian life in the Balkans caused by the bombing of nonmilitary targets and the use of cluster bombs.

"Introducing ground forces," said President Carter, "is a better option than continuing to kill and displace innocent civilians throughout Yugoslavia."

Calling NATO's campaign in Kosovo well-intentioned, but seriously flawed, President Carter said, "At this point, sending a number of ground troops--at least enough to demonstrate our ability and our will and let the Kosovars start going back home--is preferable to the sustained bombing that is only hurting the civilian population, not Milosevic."

Citing the U.S.'s unique role as global peacemaker, President Carter said, "We have become increasingly inclined to sidestep the time-tested premises of negotiation, which, in most cases, prevent deterioration of a bad situation and at least offer the prospect of a bloodless solution."

The bombing campaign shows little indication of success after more than 25,000 sorties and 14,000 missiles and bombs, according to President Carter. "The expected few days of aerial attacks have now lengthened into months, while more than a million Kosovars have been forced from their homes. As the U.S.-led force has expanded targets to inhabited areas and resorted to the use of anti-personnel cluster bombs, the result has been damage to hospitals, offices and residences of a half-dozen ambassadors, and the killing of hundreds of innocent civilians and an untold number of conscripted troops. And still there is no end in sight.

"If we don't figure out a way to re-start negotiations by relying on Russia or through other indirect means, sending in ground troops seems the only option left. Unless, of course, we choose to continue bombing Yugoslavia (including Montenegro and Kosovo) until it is totally destroyed, which I believe is the worst possible course of action."

According to President Carter, the United States and its allies have forgotten some fundamental principles that should be applied to global peacekeeping. These include recognizing that:

  • Short-circuiting the long-established principles of patient negotiation leads to war, not peace;
  • Bypassing the Security Council weakens the United Nations and often alienates permanent members who may be helpful in influencing warring parties;
  • The exclusion of nongovernmental organizations from peacemaking precludes vital "second-track" opportunities for resolving disputes;
  • Ignoring serious conflicts in Africa and other underdeveloped regions deprives these people of justice and equal rights;
  • Even the most severe military or economic punishment of oppressed citizens is unlikely to force their oppressors to yield to American demands; and
  • The United States' insistence on the use of cluster bombs, designed to kill or maim humans, is condemned almost universally and brings discredit on our nation (as does our refusal to support a ban on land mines).
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