Progressive Politics Research and Commentary by Janette Rainwater
 

The US-NATO War on Yugoslavia

It’s Illegal, Inhumane and Must Be Stopped (this is the print friendly version)

by Janette Rainwater

I was around for the Vietnam War and this feels like deja vu all over again.

The Clinton administration and its media lackeys tell us that we must continue bombing Serbia and Kosovo because:

1. There is ethnic cleansing going on in Kosovo and the only way to stop it is to bomb the Serbs into submission. This is a humanitarian enterprise to save the Kosovar Albanians.

2. Milosevic refused to sign the Rambouillet “peace agreement”.

3. Milosevic is the newest Hitler and we must get rid of him.

Let’s take these one by one.

1. The United States has not suddenly become a nation horrified by outrages to ethnic minorities— otherwise we would have intervened in:

a. Rwanda, where 800,000 Tutsis were massacred by the Hutu majority (plus tens of thousands of Hutus who protested) --- and the UN authorities received a fax warning of this three months in advance

b. Turkey, where our ally (and third largest recipient of US military aid) has killed over 40,000 of its Kurdish citizens over the last 15 years and razed 4000 villages

c. Indonesia, Tibet, and so on.

Compared to these countries, the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo was mild before March 24th when the bombing started---- since 1997, 2000 deaths (about half of which were Serbs) and about 250,000 internal refugees, and those were mostly created by the confrontations between the Kosovo Liberation Army and the Serb forces. (There has been little media coverage of the harassment by the KLA that caused Serbs to leave Kosovo in the ‘70s and ‘80s although a 1982 article in the New York Times mentions that 57,000 Serbs had recently left Kosovo for “political and economic reasons.”)

The massive exodus of Albanians from Kosovo began three days after the bombing started when Milosevic unloosed the paramilitaries— the Seseljites, the Arkanites, the criminal element who put on a mask and work for whatever they can loot. The US media, however, now implies that this war is being promulgated to punish and prevent the ethnic cleansing that happened because of the bombing!

NATO generals now say that they predicted this ethnic cleansing; however, they made no prior provisions for housing, feeding, or clothing these poor people who are now being so cynically exploited for the purpose of prolonging the war.

Our media were also remiss in not telling us in detail about the rapid and professional ethnic cleansing of the Serbs from the krajina --- a part of southern Croatia where Serbs had lived for several centuries-- that was carried out by the Croats in August, 1995. In just a few days more than two hundred thousand Serbs were expelled from their homes at gunpoint and 14,000 Serbs were killed.

Instead the media showed us satellite photographs of the mass graves of Muslims killed by the Serbs at Srebrenica taken weeks before and cynically released at this time by then-US Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright to divert the world’s attention.

Not publicly revealed at the time:

a. The Croatian military had been trained by retired American generals (hired by the Pentagon-affiliated MPRI (Military Professional Resources, Inc. of Arlington VA) and equipped with German and American armaments.

b. The CIA and DIA had made a prior assessment of the area.

c. Before the invasion of the krajina began, US NATO aircraft destroyed the Serbian radar and anti-aircraft defenses.

d. Croatian aircraft strafed columns of fleeing refugees.

e. There was a definite “green light” for this operation from the US government, in particular Secretary of State Warren Christopher and US Ambassador to Croatia, Peter Galbraith.

(This was the reward to President Franjo Tudjman for agreeing to the Croat-Muslim federation in Bosnia.) Galbraith would later deny that Croatia had engaged in any “ethnic cleansing” as that is something that the Serbs do!

f. Croatia, since Tudjman’s ascent to the presidency in 1990, has become more and more a clone of the Ustaša, the fascist puppet state of the Nazis. The country has adopted a similar flag and currency to the old regime, destroyed over three thousand anti-fascist monuments, and renamed streets and buildings for Mile Budak, the man who signed the anti-Semitic laws. Tudjman, who declared that the Serbs grossly exaggerated the number of Serbs, Jews and gypsies murdered at the World War II concentration camp in Croatia (and that the accounts of the Holocaust were similarly “exaggerated”--- “only” nine hundred thousand Jews died, not six million), refused to allow “nonwhite” UN troops to serve in the 1990's Croatia. [Elich, Gregory, “The Invasion of Serbian Krajina” in NATO in the Balkans, New York: International Action Center, 1998.]

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2. The war has been justified by Miloševic’s refusal to sign the Rambouillet “peace agreement”, a most cynical document whose exact terms were not known to the public until several weeks after the bombing began.

Its Appendix B would have allowed NATO freedom of movement throughout Yugoslavia— not just Kosovo. NATO personnel would enjoy complete immunity from any civil or criminal charges. And they would be allowed to use all Yugoslav airports, ports and streets cost-free. This is the kind of extra-territoriality that colonial powers enjoyed in the old days. No sovereign state would voluntarily agree to these conditions which are more like those that might be imposed on a country defeated in war.

The Serbs had come to Rambouillet to discuss the question of autonomy for Kosovo. Instead they were presented with the ultimatum--- sign on to this document or be bombed.

The secrecy about Appendix B plus its unreasonableness lead to a presumption that NATO, meaning the US, was looking for an excuse to start a war against Serbia rather than find a peaceful solution to the Kosovo problem. (Several of the politicians in the Contact Group which convened the conference were ignorant of the conditions imposed in Appendix B.).

Conveniently forgotten now by the media is the fact that the KLA was initially unwilling to sign the Rambouillet ultimatum either, since the document only discussed autonomy for Kosovo, not independence, for which the KLA had been fighting. They signed only after the threat that the Albanian border would be closed to the future delivery of weapons. (And with the implicit promise— sign and we’ll bomb Serbia for you.)

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3. So now Milosevic has become the new Hitler, succeeding Saddam Hussein, Manuel Noriega, and Muammar Gadaffi, all of whom this country has demonized in order to justify bombing their countries.

I am not here to defend this opportunist whose career I have been following since I first heard of him in 1987 in which time he has progressed from a two-bit apparachnik in the Serbian League of Communists to exploit the latent nationalism around Kosovo and become the repressive president of rump Yugoslavia. I remember warning Serbian friends back then that this guy sounded like a fascist to me

However, I suspect that until March 24 there was more real freedom and democracy in Serbia than in Croatia. Have we forgotten the Zajedno movement and the 90 days of demonstrations in the very cold winter of 1996-1997 which forced Milosevic to reinstate the victors of the municipal elections he had declared void? Those demonstrators are now almost solidly in Milosevic’s camp as the result of our bombing.

What in heaven’s name gives us the right to subject the Serbian people to the loss of their lives and property and the destruction of their livelihood and the country’s infrastructure in an attempt to unseat this “new Hitler”?

As of today (May 6, 1999) the “military only” targets have expanded to include auto, cigarette and textile plants, electricity power generating stations, and water treatment plants. All of the bridges across the Danube, one of Europe’s main waterways, are down. When Serbian television disclosed the large number of “smart bombs” that had hit residential areas, civilian buses, and refugee convoys, NATO bombed the television station, killing a large number of civilian employees.

Germany’s General Klaus Naumann has estimated that the bombing so far has set Yugoslavia back economically about 10 years and predicted that continued bombing “could end up reversing the country’s development level by the equivalent of 50 years.” An April 14th raid on Krusevac destroyed the country’s major tractor factory, thus crippling Yugoslavia’s ability to rebuild its roads, railroads, and bridges should the war ever end. The property damage is already over $100 billion; schools and universities have closed; the majority of the population is unemployed thanks to the destruction of half the country’s industrial capacity. Most public and private transportation has ceased due to a shortage of petrol.

Major health hazards are on the horizon with the damage to the water supply, sewage system and electricity system such as we have seen in Iraq. But, as Madeleine Albright said when Leslie Stahl confronted her about the horrendous malnutrition and infant mortality in Iraq, “It’s a hard choice, but we believe it's worth the price.” Is it really?

And, as a conservative member of the House of Lords, Lord Robert Skidelsky, recently warned, NATO’s war on Serbia presents a new doctrine of “ethical imperialism” which has some disturbing implications:

“The new principle seems to be that states can be sanctioned or punished whenever they mistreat some of their subjects. How acceptable is this likely to be in a world where many states do, in fact, mistreat their subjects?

Where does this lead in international relations? Any attempt by the US and its allies to impose their values on the rest of the world will probably lead to the break-up of the world polity and with it the break-up of the world economy.

There are actual or potential conflicts going on all over the world. How many wars will NATO need to fight to secure minority rights? What does not walking away after the bombing has done its worst really mean? Do you create a desert by bombing and then occupy the ruins?

To continue without rules is to risk the destruction of the free market over much of the world and a 21st century which will resemble the worst of our own rather than the best of the 19th.”

This indictment of the NATO war from a Conservative Party spokesman and the author of a major study on John Maynard Keynes! [Nick Brown, “A Conservative Lord Warns of Global Turmoil”, 7 May 1999, http://www.wsws.org ]

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Why are US and NATO pursuing this vendetta against Serbia?

One reason could be that the country was one of the holdouts against the “economic reforms” mandated by the IMF for the other countries of Eastern Europe.

Another is that the Balkans, always a strategic area as the meeting-place between Europe and the Middle East, has become increasingly important with the discovery of huge oil reserves in the Caspian Sea basin.

Sincethe death of Tito in 1980, both Germany and the US have been working to destabilize Yugoslavia economically (with IMF and other “economic reforms”) and then dissolve the country into smaller fragments which would then be more vulnerable and easier to control.

It is clear that the US bypassed the United Nations to go with NATO on this war against Serbia. First of all, either Russia or China would have vetoed the bombing in the Security Council. More importantly, NATO is the instrument by which the US can maintain its domination in European and world affairs.

NATO began fifty years ago as an alliance of eleven democratic nations of the west for the military containment of the Soviet Union. So one would have thought it would gracefully sunset itself upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. But no.

NATO instead has been expanded to include three of the former Warsaw Pact nations with the others clamoring for admission (which they see as their ticket to eventual inclusion in the European Union.)

In 1992 the New York Times printed excerpts from a forty-six page Pentagon document entitled “The Defense Planning Guide” which baldly stated that the US should pursue complete world domination, militarily and politically.

“Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival. . . . First, the U.S. must show the leadership necessary to establish and protect a new order that holds the promise of convincing potential competitors that they need not aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests.

"We must account sufficiently for the interests of advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership or seeking to overturn the established political and economic order. Finally, we must maintain the mechanism for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.

"It is of fundamental importance to preserve NATO as the primary instrument of Western defense and security as well as a channel for U.S. influence and participation in European security affairs. . . . We must seek to prevent the emergence of European-only security arrangements which would undermine NATO.

"The U.S. should be postured to act independently when collective action cannot be orchestrated.” [New York Times, March 8, 1992, A1.]

This happened on George H. W. Bush’s watch, but by his actions it seems that Bill Clinton has signed onto the program with complete conviction.

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.This site was created on March 20, 1997.

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