Why We Are Against Milocevic, and The Parallel of Vietnam
    by Phill Coleman

    America supports NATO in Operation Allied Force for one reason: to stop racial genocide and ethnic cleansing. We are doing the right thing.

    Most wars in human history began as race wars, one group of people determined to extinguish another group for no other reason than being different in appearance, belief or culture. In this Century we have witnessed more racial "cleansing" than during any period in human history. Yet, despite every effort to end racial genocide another war erupts led by those determined to extinguish entire groups of people.

    Perhaps the most recognizable holocaust were those committed by Hitler and Stalin during World War II. Millions perished before the United States, Great Britain and our allies stopped the murders. Yet, while our two super powers gave of themselves and their lives to save others our Nations were deeply committed to practicing racial identification, segregation and brutal repression against our own racial minorities. America's battleforce that ended Hitler's racial cleansing was itself divided by skin color. Most, not all, white GI's refused to serve on the same battlefield with black soldiers. Their leading argument: blacks were inferior fighters... and humans. Many white soldiers feared receiving blood transfusions from blacks, even if it meant saving their own lives. Indeed, during World War II not a single black nurse was permitted to serve in the European theater because nurses are often blood donors. At home, negotiations to establish a GI Bill of Rights was bitterly opposed by some white Congressmen on the grounds that black soldiers returning from the war should not receive the same benefits as white soldiers.

    Given our own democratic ideals it took the United States almost two hundred years to provide constitutional equality to black Americans. Yet, still today, full equality has not been reached, with terrible crimes being committed based on skin color committed as recently as this month.

    Racial cleansing is born in racial animosity and hatred but never ends there. Racial cleansing begets ideological cleansing which begets wholesale murder on a massive scale. The Nazis began with racial hatred. They ended with killing their own. Sadly, even with that horrific example still fresh in the memory of many living today there remain those who believe strongly that racial cleansing is necessary and can be achieved if performed "correctly"... that is, killing only those originally designated as removable then stopping before the murderers redefine new categories of victims. But, in reality, we know this never happens. Once wholesale killing begins it doesn't stop.

    It didn't stop Nazi Germany. During the beginning of the Nazi era only a select group of racially "pure" Aryans were permitted certain privileges. Near the end of that twelve year era anyone who fulfilled a desired or needed service became eligible for privileges. Likewise, during the beginning deprivation and death were assigned to certain groups based on their race. Near the end ideology, to a greater extent than race, determined one's survival or execution.

    Nor did it stop in Vietnam, even though extermination was not the Allied protectors' intended goal. During the early years of America's involvement in Vietnam many Americans gave selflessly to assist the Vietnamese people. Some soldiers donated their monthly pay to build hospitals, schools and shelters. However, as the war wore on fewer Americans gave of themselves. The disparagement "gook" earlier used to refer only to the enemy soon became the obscenity used to describe anyone Vietnamese.

    Nearing the end of the war the "body count" became the measure for mission success or failure. Incidents like My Lai revealed the killing had gotten out of hand. Photographs of GI's pridefully wearing necklaces of human ears or other body parts made their way into the international press. Some soldiers found targets in anything that moved... resulting in thousands of Americans injured or killed by 'friendly fire'. Unrestrained racism leads to unrestrained killing.

    Just as America is doing the right thing today to make it difficult, and hopefully, eventually impossible for hate groups here at home to grow in number and committed atrocities, we are doing the right thing in supporting NATO to stop ethnic genocide in Yugoslavia. Our world, the human race, simply cannot survive if even one group is permitted to wage genocidal war on another group. If permitted, the killing would never end. The stronger would succeed in destroying the weak, then eventually, consuming themselves.

    Phill Coleman
    Vietnam Veteran, 1969-70
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