The Rice Thresher (Houston, Tex.), Vol. 86, No. 1, Ed. 1 Friday, August 28, 1998 Page: 3 of 16
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THE RICE THRESHER OPINION FRIDAY, AUGUST 28,
Face-down in a dried up puddle of newsprint
The slaughter in Kosovo continues
as rest of the world stands idly by
In 1987, Yugoslavian Presi-
dent Slobodan Milosevic marked his
rise to power with a series of power-
ful speeches. He advocated that the
minority Serbian popula-
tion of Kosovo, a south-
ern province of Yugosla-
via, should claim Kosovo
as its own and wrest con-
trol of the area from the
Albanians who make up
90 percent of its
Of course, in Yugosla-
via such battles are not
simply political, and
Milosevic's speeches, as
he must have expected,
have led to brutal violence in Kosovo.
Battles between the artillery-sup-
ported Serbian army and the lightly-
armed Kosovo Liberation Army are
little more than slaughter. But what
should concern the world is not so
much the brutality of the fighting
itself, but the terror that has been
visited upon Kosovo's civilians.
Since the KLA, though by no
means universally supported, draws
aid from nearly every village in the
province, Milosevic targets even the
smallest Kosovar communities as
rebel strongholds. He has devas-
tated the civilian populace. By some
estimates, nearly 200,000 people
(about 10 percent of Kosovo's popu-
lation, a number equal to the total
population of Kosovar Serbs) are
refugees. This displacement hits es-
pecially hard in a region that was so
recently filled with refugees from
the Bosnian war.
Because of the Milosevic-encour-
aged Serbian practice of razing civil-
ian homes, many small towns are
left with no buildings standing.
Among those left homeless, the eld-
erly and the very young suffer the
most, and they face the elements
with little hope for rescue. Humani-
tarian groups in the area have been
so overwhelmed that they must turn
away many hungry refu-
gees. Where will they go?
More refugees flooding
into sympathetic Albania
will only increase tension
between Yugoslavia and
Albania, and this tension
could lead to greater vio-
lence. This is not a fight in
its final stages, but rather
the potential beginning of
a long period of war.
have drawn parallels be-
tween the current situation in
Kosovo and the war in Bosnia. The
Kosovo dilemma, however, defies
such a comparison. The thorniest
problem is that, while Bosnia was a
sovereign country, Kosovo is still
recognized as part of Serbia, so there
is little the United Nations or other
international bodies can do without
While politicians make wobbly
stands against Milosevic's butchery,
Western nations cannot bring them-
selves to support the Kosovar move-
ment for independence, in part be-
cause of a desire to ignore the fight-
ing altogether. Thus the KLA is of-
ten called "rebel" or "separatist,"
rather than something more^fficial,
Viable solutions have yet to
present themselves. Diplomatic
talks are a seemingly attractive op-
tion, except that neither side wants
to sit at a table and talk about peace.
Even a temporary "ceasefire is prob-
lematic, since Milosevic is unlikely
to accept any agreement which rec-
ognizes a division between Kosovo
and the rest of the country. Because
of these difficulties, Richard
Holbrooke, the American diplomat
who brokered the fragile peace in
Bosnia, called Kosovo the most dan-
gerous place in Europe.
The hesitation of the
rest of the world,
America included, has
neither stopped nor
slowed the slaughter
Another option is for outside pow-
ers to intervene with military force,
and it was nearly tried in June. The
utter destruction of the Kosovar town
Decane prodded NATO to threaten
to use air power to discourage fur-
ther slaughter. The threat was never
carried out, even though recent vio-
lence has far surpassed the horror
at Decane. Of course, no country
wants to see its native sons sent off
to end the squabbling of a faraway
But the hesitation of the rest of
the world, America included, has
neither stopped nor slowed the
slaughter in Kosovo. There is no
reason to believe that continued
hesitation or finger-wagging will,
either. Milosevic is unlikely to re-
spond to diplomacy or reprimand,
and there are no signs to indicate
that he will end his onslaught until
the KLA has been wiped out, at what-
ever cost to Kosovo and its people.
Joseph Blocher is opinion editor and
a Hanszen College sophomore.
We were young once, and
the world was wide open
Five years ago, on a hu-
mid Houston afternoon, I left my
room at Harvey Suites and walked
to my new university. Campus
was empty but filled
with promise. The
world was full of possi-
bilities. Tomorrow, I
would be in college.
I had a fairly boring
high school experience.
I was friends with the
"in" crowd but not a part
of it; they saw me mainly
as "that guy who always
got good grades." 1 had
fun but not enough of it.
Rice offered a new start.
,fi 1 found a building full of people
not unlike me; people I could re-
late to in a way I could never
relate to my high school friends.
Everybody had something to of-
fer, and I reveled in it. We stayed
up late, talking about the nature
of colors or visiting a bookstore
at midnight. I opened up like 1
never had before.
I found some friends: a loose
group centered on the su ite above
mine, the guys across the hall,
some girls on the sixth floor. We
didn't have all that much in com-
mon, but 1 learned a lot from
Then my suitemate, a quiet t
but remarkable guy, jumped off a
Sid Richardson College balcony
to his death. It hit us all hard. One
of my best friends was so affected
that she cloistered herself away,
then left Rice on a lonely morn-
ing, never to return. For a while,
it brought everyone closer.
I found a building full
of people not unlike
I opened up like
I never had before.
came a Thresher person.
By sophomore year, I was
passing some of my best fresh-
man friends in the hall without so
much as a greeting.
Somehow, we were
each choosing our own
niche. It was comfort-
able, to be sure, but a
That's the big col-
lege dilemma: special-
ize or explore? The
world wants us to pick
one little thing and get
good at it; college
tempts us to do a bit of
Like most people in my class,
i've specialized. Nowadays, I have
fewer, but better friends. I don't
have as many projects on my
plate, but I'm doing them better.
And, as in high school, many
people may be tempted to sum
me up in one phrase.
But then things started to re-
align. What had been a loose and
open group started closing up,
and I found myself on the out-
side. At first, those of us who had
been left out stuck together. But
then we, too, went our own way.
My birdwatching friend across
the hall immersed himself in Rally
Club.'His friend, who used to
hang out on my couch, ended up
vandalizing his own college. The
girls upstairs went politico. I be-
I don't understand
why we were all in
such a big hurry to
By and large, I'm happy to be
where I am, thankful for my
friends and proud AT what I've
But I don't understand why
we were all in such a hurry to get
here. Most of the best things in
my life — my closest friends, my
m o s t re ward i ng ac t i vi t ies, m ay be
even my future career — have
come from unexpected direc-
tions. I'm an engineer who hangs
out with investment bankers and
playwrights and who works with
Archis. 1 do publicity for theater.
Even this column is a bit random
— on the Thresher, I became
known as the graphics person —
but it's probably the most reward-
ing thing I've done on this paper.
I was right that day five years
ago. The world was full of possi-
bilities, and, in spite of everything,
that fall was one of the best sea-
sons of my life. Here's to broad
Christof Spieler (Sid '97/ is design
consultant and a graduate student
in civil engineering He can be
reached at email@example.com
WARNING For Dynamic Writers,
Closet Visionaries, World Observers,
Budding Scientists and Humanists
A constructive idea withheld is the
possession of an impotent mind. Do you
agree? Or disagree? Then write about it.
This is an open solicitation for coherent
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the Rice Thresher
Editor in Chief
Joel Hardi, Editor
Usman Baber, Asst. Editor
Susan Egeland, /tss<. Editor
Amy Krivohlavek, /lss(. Editor
Joseph Blocher, Editor
Michael Sew Hoy, Asst. Editor
Amy Krivohlavek, Editor
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Stoler, Brian. The Rice Thresher (Houston, Tex.), Vol. 86, No. 1, Ed. 1 Friday, August 28, 1998, newspaper, August 28, 1998; Houston, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth246624/m1/3/: accessed April 24, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Rice University Woodson Research Center.