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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Never Forget: 1999-2009 Nato's aggression against Yugoslavia

Sorry for the lack of posts over the past few days but I have been busy taking part in and attending the various events in Serbia to mark the 10th anniversary of the illegal NATO aggression against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Over the next month or so I’ll be posting plenty on this brutal war and its significance.

To kick off our series of posts on 1999- here’s my 2006 article from The Morning Star on how the road to Baghdad began in Belgrade - and how it won’t end there until supporters of US sponsored ‘humanitarian interventions’ start to see the bigger picture.

In the words of E.M. Forster: 'Only connect'.


Divide and conquer has been the classic Imperial strategy since Roman times.

Today’s Empire builders are no different. The particular genius of the modern neo-conservative project has been the use of the theory of ‘humanitarian intervention’, to co-opt liberal-left support for a centuries old project of conquest.

In 1990s it was the Serbs- and their “extreme nationalist” leader Slobodan Milosevic who posed the threat to peace and civilised values. In 2001 it was Mullah Omar and the Islamic hardliners of the Taliban. In 2003 it was the turn of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, with its deadly arsenal of WMD. Now its Iran’s President Ahmadenijad’s alleged attempts to develop nuclear weapons which need to be countered.

Each time a sizeable section of the liberal-left has supported, not those attacked or threatened, but the aggressors. You might have thought that by now, the pattern would be clear to all. But the enduring success of the New World Order’s propaganda machine can be seen by the reaction of many on the left to Milosevic’s death.

Milosevic, a life-long socialist, was a man all true progressives should have mourned. A man steeped in partisan culture, (both his parents fought the Nazis in World War Two), he never once made a racist speech: the famous Kosovo Polje address of 1989 which his critics claimed whipped up ancient ethnic hatreds, was in fact a statement of support for multi-ethnic, socialist Yugoslavia. Far from being a rabid warmonger, the late Yugoslav leader was, in the words of Lord Owen ‘the only leader who consistently supported peace’ and ‘a man to whom any form of racism is anathema’.

The dismemberment of Yugoslavia was initiated not by Milosevic, but by the German decision to prematurely recognise the breakaway republics of Slovenia and Croatia, against all the norms of international law. And war in Bosnia would have been avoided too had US Ambassador Warren Zimmerman not personally intervened at the eleventh hour to sabotage the 1992 Lisbon Agreement which provided for the peaceful division of the republic. ‘If you don’t like it, why sign it’ Zimmerman told the hard-line Bosnian separatist leader Alija Izetbegovic, thereby lighting the touch paper to a conflict which would claim over 90,000 lives. Even after the 1995 Dayton agreement which ended the war in Bosnia, the Imperial appetite was not satiated.

Milosevic’s rump Yugoslavia had to be destroyed too, by providing weapons and training for a separatist terror group, the Kosovan Liberation Army. When the inevitable security clampdown from Belgrade came, the West was at hand to issue the ultimatum, producing a document at the Rambouillet Peace Conference, which as Defence Minister Lord Gilbert has conceded, was deliberately designed to be rejected by the Yugoslav delegation.

Why was it all done? Milosevic’s Yugoslavia was targeted not for ‘humanitarian’ reasons as many still believe, but simply because it got in the way. ‘In post Cold War Europe, no place remained for a large, independent minded socialist state that resisted globalisation', the words not of a left-wing conspiracy theorist, but George Kenney, an official at the Yugoslav office of the US State Department.

There's no doubting who has benefited from the wars which the West is happy to pin on Milosevic. One militarily and economically strong independent nation, has been replaced by a series of weak and divided World Bank/IMF/NATO protectorates. Western capital has unhindered access to raw materials and markets throughout the region, while in Kosovo, Camp Bondsteel, the U.S.'s biggest from scratch military base since the Vietnam war, jealously guards the route of the $1.3bn Trans Balkan AMBO pipeline, guaranteeing Western control of Caspian oil supplies.

It’s worth remembering that the very same people who clamoured most loudly for action against Milosevic in the 1990s, were those who were at the forefront of the propaganda war against Iraq a few years later. And today, the very same hawks are trying to convince us of the necessity of ‘strong action’ against Iran.

Among the members of the executive of the Balkan Action Committee, who lobbied for US involvement on the side of Izetbegovic in Bosnia, and then for full scale war against Milosevic’s Yugoslavia in 1999, are three names that will need no introduction: Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle. ‘It‘s either take action now, or lose the option of taking action’ was Perle’s recent comment on Iran: in addition to signing (along with Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz) a notorious letter to President Clinton in 1998 calling for a ‘comprehensive political and military strategy for bringing down Saddam and his regime’, he also acted as adviser to Izetbegovic’s delegation at Dayton.

It’s time those who supported the military actions against Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and the current 'strong' line on Iran, realised that the biggest danger to peace did not come from Slobodan Milosevic, Mullah Omar, Saddam Hussein, or, now, from President Ahmadinejad, but from the serial warmongers who threatened them. The road to Baghdad began in the Balkans. But it won’t end there, unless the liberal-left supporters of U.S. sponsored “humanitarian” interventions start to see the bigger picture.


Anonymous said...

Never has there been a more timely article, neil. This should be published in the so called left media, instead they print crap about 'the lefts argument for a neo conservative foreign policy.'


neil craig said...

My only disagreement is the comparison with Afghanistan, Iraq & Iran. The first clearly was involved in 9/11, the 2nd was run by an aggreesive thug & the 3rd is a country we can reasonably think a bit to unstable to want them to have nukes.

None of these even remotely applies to Yugoslavia, a country whose territorial integrity we are under the Helsinki Treaty, even now, committed to respecting.

That, by putting Yugoslavia in such company, you will be somewhat vindicating them shows how very much the "left" allowed itself to be corrupted. It supported wars & genocide against Yugoslavia by people, many of whom had actually served in Hitler's forces, & all of whom, up to & including the leaders of NATO & the EU were clearly & unambiguously Nazis, engaged in genocide.

olching said...

Good article, Neil, thanks for this. Can I recommend this book, it's quite useful on the media's role in pushing the case for war.

DBC Reed said...

@neil craig
Not too sure about Afhganistan.Surely it would have been more sensible for the West not to get involved in deposing( and lynching) Najibullah.And bankrolling the mujahadeen which probably led to Bin Laden going out there.Leftie plans of public works (particularly irrigation) would surely have done more good than providing a base for religious fanatics who subsequently popped up everywhere including Kosovo.

Anonymous said...

Most of the worldhas forgotten..and unless the TV staions start inundating us with 'holocaust' style programes, as we have in australian SBS tv,were not likely to see a raising of the public consciousness.

Neil, afghanistan was NEVER involved in 9-11... Afghanistan govty (Taliban at that time!) said if US could provide evidence of Bin Laden involvement , they would deport him...the Bush govt never did.
Bin Laden also publically denied he was behind the attacks.


Neil Clark said...

Tina: many thanks.
neil: you seem to be arguing that the priniciple of national sovereignty and respect for the UN Charter should be respected in the case of Yugoslavia but not in the case of other countries. Even if Iraq was ruled by an 'aggressive thug'- does that give the US and Britain the right to illegally invade it?
olching: thanks v.much for the recommendation.
DBC Reed: very good point.
brian: good point re Afghanistan.

Neca said...

After 2001 new "democratic" govt in Serbia tried to brain wash us. Intellectuals who talked about Kosovo were ignored by mass media. Younger generations could not find any information about Kosovo. They think that is all about some battle 700 years ago.

After 10 years this govt finally admits, shows on TV, what really happened there and who is guilty. Finally we are united, finally all pieces of puzzle come together. But it is too late, Kosovo for now is lost.

But there is hope.

No mater what propaganda they use, USA and EU always neglect fact, that Kosovo is our Jerusalem or better Armageddon.

Should I remind that Kosovo was lost three time before, again with the help of or by most powerful forces of that time: Ottoman Empire, Austro-Hungarian Empire, Nazi Germany.

For 500 years we didn't leave Serbia under the terror of Muslims because of Kosovo, during WWI third of Serbian male population were killed in Kosovo and Albania, during WWII 50 000 civilians(Serbs and Jews) were brutally killed by Scenderbeg's (Albanian) Nazi divisions, half of population were forced to run.

All of this countries doesn't exist anymore, and Kosovo was reunited with Serbia every time.

And now, we are going to allow that pervert Clinton and idiot Bush finally took it form us? Yeah, right.

On my first day in school, war started in Croatia. Next few years when in some other country kids were playing, we had to wait in line for bread, because in other line for milk were our mothers. I remember cold winter without electricity. I remember saying goodbye to my father for 6 months four times, wondering if this time he is going to get a bullet in the head. When finally my parents had enough money to take us on vacation, we watched how thousands and thousands Serbs on a highway are running from Croatia. Finally, I had my sweet 16 under the bombs. And why? I know why in Serbian, but my English is not so good.I did find article below that explain really well what happened there 1998 and 1999. Sorry, dont know the name of author.

"There was the ethnic cleansing. The atrocities. The refugees chased out of Kosovo by the Serb army. The mass graves. The heaps of bodies tossed into vats of sulphuric acid at the Trepca mines.
NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said there were 100,000 Kosovo Albanian Muslims unaccounted for.

Problem is, none of it happened.

NATO's original estimate of 100,000 ethnic Albanians slaughtered, later revised downward to 10,000, turns out to be considerably exaggerated.

Dr. Peter Markesteyn, a Winnipeg forensic pathologist, was among the first war crimes investigators to arrive in Kosovo after NATO ended its bombing campaign.

"We were told there were 100,000 bodies everywhere," said Dr. Markesteyn. "We performed 1,800 autopsies -- that's it."

Fewer than 2,000 corpses. None found in the Trepca mines. No remains in the vats of sulphuric acid. Most found in isolated graves -- not in the mass graves NATO warned about. And no clue as to whether the bodies were those of KLA terrorists, civilians, even whether they were Serbs or ethnic Albanians.

No wonder then that of all the incidents on which Slobodan Milosevic has been indicted for war crimes, the total body count is not 100,000, not 10,000, not even 1,800 -- but 391!

It was Walker, at the time head of the Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM) who, on the morning of January 16, 1999, led the press to the Kosovo village of Racak, a KLA stronghold. There some 20 bodies were found in a shallow trench, and 20 more were found scattered throughout the village. The KLA terrorists, and Walker, alleged that masked Serb policemen had entered the village the previous day, and killed men, women and children at close range, after torturing and mutilating them. Chillingly, the Serb police were said to have whistled merrily as they went about their work of slaughtering the villagers.

Clinton's Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, as eager to scratch her ever itchy trigger finger as her boss was to scratch his illimitable sexual itches, demanded that Yugoslavia be bombed immediately. Albright, like a kid agonizingly counting down the hours to Christmas, would have to wait until after Milosevic's rejection of NATO's ultimata at Rambouillet to get her wish.

But not everyone was so sure that Walker's story was to be believed. The French newspaper La Monde had some trouble swallowing the story. It reported on Jan. 21, 1999, a few days after the incident, that an Associated Press TV crew had filmed a gun battle at Racak between Serb police and KLA terrorists. Indeed, the crew was present because the Serbs had tipped them off that they were going to enter the village to arrest a man accused of shooting a police officer. Also present were two teams of KVM monitors.

It seems unlikely that if you're about to carry out a massacre that you would invite the press -- and international observers -- to watch. "

neil craig said...

Neil Clark I was opposed to the Iraq war as well - however my position is that it is not so clearly & unambiguously criminal as the Yugoslav wars. Saddam Hussein had shown that he did not respect other nation's sovereignty & that he did, at least at one time, present a genuine threat to his neighbour's peace. Yugoslavia & Milosevic were wholly innocent of such aggression or indeed of anything else.

The invasion of Iraq is therefore much closer, though not quite close enough, to being justified by international law & the UN Charter than any action against Yugoslavia was & those who claimed to oppose that war on such grounds but supported bombing Yugoslavia show their corruption.

Anon - As to Afghanistan I am convinced that al Quaeda, based in Afghanistan, was involved in 9/11 - certainly somebody was. I am not convinced that the Taliban's offer to put them on trial was intended honestly. I doubt if either of us could come up with evidence that would convince the other.