Nonviolence in Time of War

The war in the Balkans has created a moral dilemma for those committed to peacemaking. The atrocities of "ethnic cleansing" must be opposed. But so too must the massive bombing of Serbia by NATO forces, which has brought widespread destruction but done little to alleviate the suffering in Kosovo.

There are no easy answers to these questions. While the media have blanketed the airwaves and the front pages with coverage of the Balkan crisis, other voices fly beneath the radar: advocates of nonviolence grappling with the grays of real-world peacemaking; people of faith—Serb and Albanian, Christian and Muslim—on the war’s front lines; humanitarian workers seeking to bring a balm to ravished victims of war.

As we listen to these voices in the pages that follow, it becomes clear that the principles of faith and courage that undergird their lives may be under fire, but they have not diminished in strength or significance. We would do well to heed their lessons. —The Editors

this spring, Fuller Seminary students organized a forum on the NATO bombing of Serbia and Kosovo. The pro-NATO speaker asked those who supported NATO’s action to raise their hands. Not one person did. But everyone deplores the Serbian "ethnic cleansing."

Wherever I have gone, people have been asking, "How might the international community have prevented war in Serbia if ‘just peacemaking’ practices had been applied?" "What is the role of nonviolence in the time of war?" "How do peacemakers respond to people who ask, ‘What should we do now?’" "How can just peacemaking practices help recovery from war and contribute to long-term peace in the Balkans?"

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Sojourners Magazine July-August 1999
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