Wednesday, April 7, 1999

NATO bombing failed
to prevent atrocities

Bullet The issue: How to protect Kosovar Albanians from attacks by their Serb enemies
Bullet Our view: NATO's diplomatic efforts and bombing have failed to prevent the atrocities.

THE original goal of the NATO allies in Kosovo was to prevent the "ethnic cleansing" of the Kosovar Albanians by the Serbs. The concept was to get the Yugoslav government and the Albanians to accept a compromise status of autonomy for the province, with NATO forces introduced as peacekeepers.

That scheme collapsed when Slobodan Milosevic refused to accept the peacekeepers and NATO responded with air strikes. The Serbs didn't back off, as Washington evidently expected them to. Instead they intensified their assaults on the Albanians, killing some and driving hundreds of thousands from their homes.

President Clinton and his aides maintain that this would have happened anyway, but it appears that the bombing only made matters worse. If Clinton anticipated this outcome, his decision to proceed with the air strikes is inexplicable.

The result is the tragedy that the West had feared and tried to prevent, with whole communities turned into refugees, pathetically seeking aid across the borders in Albania, Montenegro and Macedonia. A massive campaign of assistance is beginning to take shape.

The West, including the United States, has a responsibility to care for the refugees -- not only on humanitarian grounds, but also because if they are not cared for they could become a threat to destabilize the weak, impoverished countries they are streaming into.

Meanwhile the diplomatic solution sought in the negotiations at Rambouillet has collapsed. It is difficult to image the pieces of that solution being put back together. How could the Kosovar Albanian refugees possibly agree to live under Serbian rule, even with a measure of autonomy, after this?

Clinton vows that the bombing will continue until Yugoslavia agrees to allow the refugees to return. How long and how many casualties that will take is anybody's guess, but at this point there are no better alternatives. Yugoslavia is putting out feelers for a cease-fire, an encouraging sign.

After that, what? Undoubtedly a NATO military presence -- in effect, an occupation -- will be required. It may be necessary to partition Kosovo to provide a haven for the Kosovar Albanians, perhaps to make it fully independent of Serbia. The overthrow of Milosevic might improve prospects for a settlement.

The scars of this conflict will not heal quickly. The outlook is for U.S. involvement in this region for years to come. The president withdrew American forces hastily from Somalia when they sustained casualties. He can't do that in this situation.


Public health school
should be salvaged

Bullet The issue: The UH School of Public Health is in danger of losing its accreditation.
Bullet Our view: The school meets a real need and deserves support.

AFTER helping to build a national reputation for Hawaii as "the health state," the School of Public Health at the University of Hawaii is itself ailing, the victim of budget cuts that have weakened its programs. It is in danger of losing its accreditation by the Council on Education for Public Health, which could lead to its demise.

The school has not had a permanent dean since the retirement of Jerrold Michael seven years ago. The university administration has talked about dismantling the school and moving programs into the medical school and elsewhere.

The administration's tactics have been described as a process of "death by a thousand small cuts" -- deferring a formal decision while letting the school wither away.

The problem stems from years of budget cuts for the university as a whole and the need to establish priorities among programs deemed worth salvaging.

The school hasn't ranked high on the priority list for administrators and faculty in other disciplines on the Manoa campus -- all of whom have their own axes to grind.

Admittedly, something has to be sacrificed to meet budgetary demands, but public health education is important.

Although the school's decline has been going on for six years, the imminent prospect of losing accreditation recently galvanized the school's supporters, principally its alumni, into action. They have flooded this newspaper with dozens of letters describing the school's importance to Hawaii and to the entire Pacific Basin. Because of space limitations, we have printed only a few of the letters.

The UH administration has put off a decision on the school's fate, but a withdrawal of accreditation could be the fatal blow. The campaign by the school's supporters is aimed at securing additional resources to rebuild its programs -- and thereby forestall the end of accreditation.

One possibility under discussion is collaboration with the state Department of Health, but nothing is firm about that.

The school has been an asset to the university and the state that has not been sufficiently appreciated. The lack of a permanent dean has meant the absence of an effective advocate at a time when one was sorely needed.

But if Governor Cayetano is serious about his aspirations of making Hawaii a center of health care for the Pacific region, he should come to the defense of the School of Public Health at this critical time. Its demise would be difficult to explain when he tries to lure nationally prominent medical centers to Hawaii.

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John M. Flanagan, Editor & Publisher

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