A Comparison With Kosovo

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  • by Anup Shah
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The number of people that had been killed in Kosovo to raise alarm bells with the international (read West) community was about 2000 -- how many will it have to be in Africa where there are already millions of refugees and unimaginable number of deaths?

While in Kosovo, the result of NATO pressure was a military action, the same energy seen by the mainstream media could help get populations of those nations to pressure their governments to try and help resolve the problems in Africa. (As this link also points out, it would have cost very little for the US to provide a peace keeping force in the Democratic Republic of Congo, yet the Clinton administration didn't. That would have helped prevent a huge massacre, which didn't appear on the radar screens of the western mainstream media.)

If the Kosovo intervention by influential NATO members was meant to be humanitarian, then we would have long ago seen humanitarian intervention in some form, in Africa. Or, if not long ago, (in case only around March 1999 was there a revelation that world powers should now start to act with humanitarian concerns), then we should see activity from the world powers now.

Instead we do not, which does not lend credibility to the claims that the Kosovo war was purely on humanitarian grounds (as by definition, a humanitarian action cannot be selective). There were other political and national interests behind it causing it to become selective. While I do not necessarily think military intervention by USA/UK is needed in the conflicts within Africa -- as humanitarian intervention in the form of diplomatic negotiations, pressure, full political and financial support of the UN, etc could help -- it would put other conflicts, such as Kosovo in perspective in terms of humanitarian costs and the resulting problems.

Oxfam, as a small example criticizes the international community for still ignoring the DRC and when comparing with the response in Kosovo. They point out that "[i]n 1999, donor governments gave just $8 per person in the DRC, while providing $207 per person in response to the UN appeal for the former Yugoslavia. While it is clear that both regions have significant needs, there is little commitment to universal entitlement to humanitarian assistance." (Emphasis added)

As this following commentary from the Guardian suggests, race could also be a factor. And, as this commentary from the Center for Defense Information suggests, media coverage of visits to Africa by leading figures of influential nations may be lacking because national interests are not affected directly.

Of interest is also the publishing of sixteen declassified US government documents, by the National Security Archive in the United States, detailing how US policymakers chose to be "bystanders" during the genocide that decimated Rwanda in 1994.

(For more about the conflict in Kosovo, visit this web site's section on Kosovo.)

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  • by Anup Shah
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