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Тони Ротман

Date: Sun, 18 Apr 1999 11:07:00 -0500 From: Tony Rothman

To: "Lipunov V.M."

Subject: Re: [Fwd: FW: To 4 Nobel Laureates and 100 Friends: Only 40 Lines - PLEASE, READ!

Tony Rothman Dept. of Physics Illinois Wesleyan University Bloomington, IL 61702

Dear Volodya:

Thanks for your recent messages, which I have been following with interest. I have been planning to reply, but we are in the final days of the semester and are all extremely busy.

All of us witness the unfolding tragedy in Kosovo with horror, and all of us are extremely frustrated that there appears to be no good solution to this crisis, but unfortunately I must agree with Kip. I believe, as I am sure you do, that there are just wars. No one has ever accused the Russians of unethical behavior for defending their homeland against Hitler during World War II. The Vietnam war was not a just war on the part of the United States and I oppposed it, along with many other American citizens. In the present case, though, the Serbs are the aggressors and appear unwilling to stop short of clearing out Kosovo of 90 percent of its population.

If anything, I am impressed that for once the U.S. has agreed to act in a situation in which it has little national interest. I wish the West had acted a few years ago in Rwanda, which was a similar tragedy. Yet because it was in Africa no one cared.

I do not believe that Kip implied the Albanians are good and the Serbs are evil. It may be in other circumstances the Albanians would be in the wrong, but in this case I think it is fairly clear that the Serbs are committing the great majority of the atrocities. You should not assume we have no information other than CNN at our disposal. I regularly follow the BBC. I have also been monitoring the websites of Human Rights Watch and even various Serbian news sources. I must say, though, that the Serbian sources are very reminiscent of old Soviet propaganda: They are very good at calling NATO fascist aggressors and comparing Clinton with Hitler, but they are very weak on facts. Indeed, over the past week, the number of Serbs that these sources claimed were evicted from Croatia during the last war went from 150,000 to 450,000 to 600,000, (and all this was to have occurred in the period of two days!)

None of this is to say that the situation has been handled well. I personally did not understand the tactics of NATO during the Romboulliet negotiations. During a negotiation each side must give up something. Yet, NATO was basically presenting to Milosevic an ultimatum: "either you sign, or we take military action."

This is not negotiation. I think at this stage, ground forces are the only solution. Afterwards, it may be that some partition of Kosovo is necessary, but it is also clear that the Albanians must be allowed to return to Kosovo, or else the entire region will be destabilized.

If you'd like I can rewrite this letter in Russian, though the Russian keyboard I downloaded is hard for me to use. Of course feel free to reply in Russian. I will be spending the summer at SISSA in Trieste. I'll try to visit Moscow in August. If so, I'll certainly call you. Is your phone number the same?

Best,

Tony


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