In what turned out to be the largest Gaudino forum ever, about 200 students gathered in the Great Room of Goodrich Hall to discuss the situation in Kosovo. In conjunction with the forum, $200 was raised by the group for the American Friends Service Committee Kosovo Relief Fund in order to provide relief to ethnic Albanian refugees.
The idea to collect money for relief was brought up by Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow in Middle Eastern History Keith Watenpaugh. Watenpaugh and Assistant Professors of political science Marc Lynch and James McAllister were the main presenters, but they were accompanied on stage by Professor of history William Wagner. Jackson Professor of religion William Darrow led the discussion.
The conversation began with brief comments from the faculty presenters. Lynch spoke first focusing his speech on the need for the Clinton administration to define it’s agenda.
“We are engaged in a war with undefined objectives,” he said. Lynch then made some suggestions for what he thought good policy directions would be.
Lynch spoke about the need for an independent and autonomous Kosovo, claiming that NATO should continue to work towards overthrowing Yugoslavian president Slobodan Milosevic for his crimes against the Kosovars. Lynch also wanted to point out that sovereignty is the key to international order and there are many complicated issues that should be worked and explained in depth out before a country decides to involve itself in a war.
McAllister spoke next and focused his remarks on the strategic side of the conflict. McAllister thought the situation is a perfect example of failed coercive diplomacy saying, “the Clinton administration never thought Milosevic wouldn’t back down.”
McAllister continued saying, “now that we started the job we have to finish it,” and suggested that the U.S. should look to Russia to help make a deal with Milosevich.
McAllister also thought that since this is a European conflict, European nations have to stand up for themselves. “We should get away from the idea that the U.S. should do everything in Europe,” he said.
Watenpaugh who offered a historic look at the conflict made the final presentation.
Watenpaugh began his talk by quoting a newspaper article written by Ernest Hemingway in 1922 about conflict in the Balkans indicating just how turbulent the area has been over the course of history.
Looking at Kosovo in particular, Watenpaugh said, “the refugee crisis in the Balkans is not new.” He offered the figure that 500,000 Albanian refugees are currently at-large in Europe and this was before the current campaign even began.
Watenpaugh then moved the discussion towards what students can do about the disastrous refugee situation.
At this point Watenpaugh held up a paper bag that he had brought and passed it around so that members of the forum could each make their own donation. Watenpaugh was pleased that the community was able to raise $200 in one night and assured the audience that the money would go towards much needed relief aid.
However, Watenpaugh felt this was just a start and commented that “Williams has a long history of providing aid to foreign countries beginning with the Haystack missionary movement.” Watenpaugh encouraged all students to keep informed on the situation and do all they can to help out in the relief efforts.