During a recent conversation with an old friend – once an anti-war activist, now a congressional staffer – I suggested that the decision to bomb the former Yugoslavia had more to do with NATO’s credibility and US influence in Europe than protecting Kosovo Albanians or defense of human rights. Be that as it may, he responded, "Milosevic is a brutal dictator and something had to be done to stop genocide. I’m not a pacifist."
Such arguments among progressives have been common since late March, with both sides marshaling "facts" to support their positions. Opponents of the war note that NATO and the US didn’t negotiate in good faith, or take steps to deal with the refugee flow that would inevitably follow military action – though they probably expected it. Supporters point to the mass removal of Albanians before the bombing, Milosevic’s past betrayals and crimes, and evidence of atrocities since March. To this extent, both sides are right. But equating opposition to bombing with pacifism, along with the argument that military action was justified by the charge of genocide, betrays the myopic thinking of those who support "diplomacy backed by force."