|An article by mr. Thomas Mertens, lecturer in philosophy of law, university
of Nijmegen, Holland, published in the NRC April 16 1999, translation by
Ten reasons to stop the war against Serbia
There are many good reasons for the Dutch Administration - of legal, moral
and utilitarian, even if called immoral, kind - to stop its contribution
to the military actions taken against the federal republic of Yugoslavia,
and to appeal to the allies to do the same.
Article 90 of the (Dutch) constitution requires that the government supports
the development of the international system of justice. By agreeing with
the unilateral NATO actions, the government undermines the legitimacy and
effectivity of the United Nations.
NATO's actions lack a base in international law as given by the framework
provided by the United Nations. Not only the Security Council has been
bypassed, but one hasn't even tried to bring a resolution to the general
There are no economic or strategic interests of the Western alliance with
respect to the internal conflicts between different sections of Yugoslavia's
Western interests are with a good relationship with Russia.
It has not been established beyond doubt that the diplomatic means to solve
the conflict had been exhausted. In addition, the currently used methods
apparently have not been adequate for the intended goal.
There is a 'tu quoque' argument. Nobody has a strong position, who blames
someone and punishes him for it, while he himself is showing the same behaviour.
The argument for a humanitarian intervention is not very convincing. The
most important justification for intervention is taken from the theory
of the just war (according to some a contradiction in terms). Part of this
tradition however is also the balancing of means and ends. The means, the
air strikes, have not yet contributed to the reduction of human suffering,
certainly not in the short term. Even those who know the fallacy 'post
hoc non est propter hoc', must conclude that the humanitarian disaster
has also been caused to a non-neglible degree by the bombardments. Only
after all observers and media had been withdrawn from Kosovo because of
the (threat of) bombardments, arose the possibility for a large scale ethnic
Again the argument for humanitarian intervention: Who had wanted to prevent
that ethnic cleansing, should have been prepared to use ground forces.
Everybody can know that criminal regimes will not be brought down by air
The effect of the bombardments has a contrary effect: The internal opposition
towards Milosevic is gone and the people support their leader. Even enlightened
Serbs now write lines as this: "Kosovo ist ein Teil des serbische Territoriums
und Urgebiet underes Volkes und unseres Geistes." In addition, the relative
stability of Montenegro and the surrounding nations is under threat, which
causes a serious probability that the conflict grows larger and unmanageable.
There is no way back now. Why, actually ? Why could there not be pause,
so that one could look vigourously for a diplomatic solution, in joint
cooperation with Russia ? Isn't there a saying: Better to turn around part
of the way, than being wrong all of the way ?