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Statement by Psychologists for Social Responsibility

Peace Movement Aotearoa

PO Box 9314, Wellington. Tel (04) 382 8129, fax (04) 382 8173,

April 5, 1999

President William Jefferson Clinton
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

Psychologists for Social Responsibility is a US-based international non-profit network of psychologists dedicated to using their skills and knowledge to build a peaceful world. Well-respected psychologists with a wide range of expertise serve on the Steering Committee and provide psychological perspectives on issues of peace and war.

Psychologists for Social Responsibility wishes to express its urgent concern over the growing crisis in Kosovo and Serbia. It is clear that although NATO has more than enough military strength to decimate the Serbian military resources, Milosovic has been consolidating his political strength as a result of the NATO bombing. As psychologists we recognize the familiar psychological dynamics of nationalism and the political manipulation of public opinion that have occurred in response to direct attack on the nation of Serbia. Bombing enables him to portray himself and Serbs as victims, awakens all the historic, collective memories of victimization, and rallies people around the cause of resisting the U. S. aggressor. It gives him a card to play in strengthening his own regime.

Now that NATO has substantially weakened the Serb military forces with the bombing raids, and may find it difficult to stop the continuing assaults against people in Kosovo without employing ground troops, it is time to call a halt to the bombing and bring in the good offices of others such as the United Nations who may be able to work multilaterally for the long-term resolution of what to do about Kosovo.

While we abhor the brutal campaign being waged against the Kosovar Albanians, and the extreme xenophobia and nationalism being used by Milosovic to justify his actions, Serbia's real interests must be taken into account in any constructive process to resolve this conflict by mutual agreement. Our experts in conflict resolution stress the importance of having all stakeholders part of the peacemaking process, no matter how frustrating. Northern Ireland's experience is a case in point. "Agreements" made under coercion rarely bring about a durable peace.

NATO can now take on the critical task of protecting and supporting the thousands of refugees awaiting entrance into neighboring countries. Serbia's neighbors must be supported in their attempts to care for the refugees and protected against future conflicts with Milosovic, should their acceptance of refugees be interpreted as taking sides. This support and protection, which only NATO could provide at this time, may make it more possible for them to offer the asylum the refugees need.

The United States of America has enormous power and must, therefore, use it with care and empathy for the perspectives of others in order to avoid being misinterpreted. Because the United States can wield deadly military power anywhere in the world is even greater reason to attend to the rule of international law, providing a model of rational and principled restraint for others to follow as we build a safer world together.


Stephen Fabick, Ed.D.

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