"Peace is not only better than war," George Bernard Shaw once wrote, "but infinitely more arduous." With the agreement last night to cease hostilities in Kosovo, we are rediscovering the wisdom of Shaw's aphorism.
Yes, peace is better than war. Assuming that President Milosevic, an indicted war criminal, complies, this peace may allow the Kosovar Albanians to return to their homes, offices, fields, and factories, to reunite their scattered families, to reweave the tattered fabric of their communities, to bury and mourn their dead. This peace also offers a measure of hope: the cruelties being visited upon a helpless people will stop; NATO will be strengthened; international standards of civilized behavior will be reinforced. This peace, finally, allows the healing to begin.
And, yes, this peace will be arduous. The logistical difficulties and financial demands of relocating more than a million displaced people can hardly be overestimated. The random terror of landmines will again haunt innocent civilians. Keeping the peace between such deeply antagonistic ethnic groups will draw deeply upon our reserves of patience. "Arduous" is indeed an apt characterization of the coming decade in Kosovo.
The past 10 weeks have demonstrated that war is clearly a crude and obsolete instrument for resolving differences. We simply must continue the search for better alternatives.
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