Thursday, March 25, 2010

From Belgrade to Baghdad and beyond


It’s exactly eleven years ago this week since NATO launched its illegal attack on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and seven years since the equally unlawful aggression against Iraq.

To mark the anniversaries, here’s my 2006 Morning Star article on how the road to Baghdad began in Belgrade - and why it won't end there until liberal left supporters of US sponsored ‘humanitarian’ interventions start to see the bigger picture.

FROM BELGRADE TO BAGHDAD AND BEYOND

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 the 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.

11 comments:

jock mctrousers said...

Yea verily!

Gregor said...

Great article Neil. A lot of leftists who demonise Milosevic probably wouldn’t have a clue who Izetbegovic was, far less that he thought a theocracy was a good thing or that he refused a deal for peacefully separating Bosnia.

As for the broader picture of the liberal-left, I think it is entirely possible to be a right winger who just doesn’t realise it. Like everything else politics has become a consumable commodity and people often identify with the stance that makes them feel good rather than which is the most ethical or intelligent. Just look at David Mamet’s ridiculous article about how he ‘became’ right-wing. Essentially he disliked the fact that liberals were asking him to care about an oppressed people he didn’t care about. That was it, pretty much.

I’ve written a bit about why the liberal-left is often unreliable on my own blog, I’ll quote if anyone is interested:

Another problem with modern liberalism is that it has become a branch of the self-help industry. Many liberals don’t raise awareness of issues due to genuine scepticism and concern, but because they want to see themselves in a positive light.

Subsequently they will simultaneously beat their chests in agony at the fate of the third world and join in condemning anyone who stands up to the corporations and sweatshops. Just look at The Guardian’s coverage of Venezuela and Russia and The Independent’s coverage of Russia. Avaaz's blog wrote a disgraceful apologetic response to Saakashvilli's bombing his own people: some countries are too big and white to get much support from the human rights community.

But modern liberal third-worldism can roughly be defined thus: ‘We want the third world to break free of Western exploitation, but don’t want ‘burgeoning dictators’ like Hugo Chavez to save them because some rich well-dressed cool people like us don’t like him so it wouldn’t give us such a great narcissistic hit. We’re waiting for the good fairy to come along and stop third-world exploitation. Until then we'll attack poor people for not wearing tailored clothes but garments made in sweatshops, using the phrase ‘high street fashion’ to imply they buy clothes in Primark because they think it’s so much cooler than M&S.’

Subsequently whilst many people regard themselves as liberals, they are considerably less liberal in practice than they are in theory. It seems whenever the USA supports ‘humanitarian intervention’ a chunk of the left will always break off like ice from a melting glacier to praise the bombing of a foreign nation. Not because they have had some conversion experience, but precisely because supporting a military campaign provides an easy source of flattery that will satisfy their pre-existing narcissistic desire to be seen as 'muscular' defenders of liberty, bursting with 'moral courage'.

Anonymous said...

A typical article written in a safe house by someone who has never been there nor talked to anyone from there.

You should be ashamed of yourself.

jack said...

I’m surprised no one has made the issue that Izetbegovic was a straight out Islamist who established a base for Islamic militants in Europe operating international jihadist camps and personally meet Bin Ladin in 95 in his office in Sarajevo. That his government gave citizenship to Atta and KSM in 95 during the Bosnian war and member of his SDA party in Vienna, Austria transferred funds to Atta in the US and the financial records did not trace back to Osama in a cave in Afghanistan but his brothers Benevolence fund NGO in Sarajevo. Abdullah is a major shareholder in the Carlyle group along with Bush Sr, George Soros and John Major.

@Gregor

I don’t think they think Russia as really white certainly not European.

I noticed that about so called "human rights" organisations and liberals is that there is not one word of criticism of the Oligarchs who looted Russia to the core during the 90’s and shipped there ill gotten loot overseas into off shore accounts which they acquired through theft, fraud and murder like mob boss Boris Berezovsky who runs a Russian civil rights organisation or how Babar Ahkmed who ran Azzam publications the largest recruiter and distribute of Jihadist propaganda material and internet terrorist financing website like Martyrs of Bosnia and Jordanian Warlord Khattabs actions in Chechnya showing the most graphic scenes of mutilation and torture and he was running as an MP for the Respect party.
Perhaps that was his undoing and why he was extradited to the US on charges of trying to set up a terrorist training camp in the US and financing the Nord Ost attack.

Actually BBC did a very good documentary on him but I forgot the name of it. Wonder if it is on YouTube?

Neil Clark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Neil Clark said...

Hi Jock/Gregor, many thanks.
Gregor: great post. you're dead right about the narcissism which underpins much of western 'liberalism'.
our 'liberal' capitalistic societies have the highest level of social breakdown in the world, and probably the highest levels of unhappy, alientated people, yet we feel we have a moral right to lecture others how to organise their affairs. And to bomb them if they still refuse to get into line.

anonymous: 'ashamed' of what? of unequivocally opposing illegal imperialistic wars of aggression which led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands people? Yeh, right.

jack- Serbophobia and Russophobia are two forms of racism that some western 'liberals' take great pleasure in indulging in and its a form of racism that is completely acceptable in the west. We saw an appalling wave of Russophobia in the summer of 2008, when the neocon Georgian govt launched its aggression against South Ossetia and the Russians were blamed as the aggressors. Why? because according to the Russophobes- invading other countries is what the Russians do.

Anonymous said...

Excellent article and some excellent posts.

Liberals have invested sole authority in the market and its attendant social maintenance system that we rather amusingly call law and politics. Thus a sort of fluid, atmosed, quasi-meritocratic oligarchy sustains itself free of collective opposition.

What terrifies liberalism is the sight of any form of functioning collective cultural or political power existing anywhere in the world. If it does it must be ideologically and/or militarily crushed.

- questionnaire

jack said...

@Neil Clark

I forgot to mention that the former leader of the Liberal Democrats Paddy Ashdown worked with Izetbegovic and promoted him as a multi-culturist omitting the fact that as long as they are Muslims and running active international training camps and organisations while he was UN high representative for B & H. He also helped fake the revised Srebrenica massacre report and force it through.

US Official Implicated With Bosnian High Representative Ashdown in Attempting to Force Fabricated Report on Srebrenica

http://www.slobodan-milosevic.org/news/ssi09082003.htm

jack said...

@Neil Clark

It would be good if you did an article highlighting the fact that during the 90’s and the present that the US, EU, Turkey and there allied countries in the Mid East Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, etc the US worked with Osama Bin Ladin, Hezbollah, Hamas and Iranian VAVEK in the Balkans and this is what the Serbs were fighting against. The US through Bosnian official through front terrorist NGO’s in Vienna, Austria (TWRA) and Bosnian and the US (The Benevolence Fund) even set up terrorist training camps in the US.

http://de-construct.net/?p=2751

Also mention that both these organisations financed and worked with Atta and the 9/11 hijackers in the US through these organisations with reports that Atta investigative reporter Dennis Hopsicker has done some good investigative work in Florida including a video interview with Atta’s girlfriend (portions of which are on YouTube) on Attas contacts with the CIA including Ruddy Deckard who ran the light aircraft company where Atta and two of the other hijackers trained at while in Florida.

http://www.madcowprod.com/06122007.html

And even the official 9/11 report admits that all the 9/11 were original intended to go to a specific theatre of combat.
Do you think that this has anything to do with the unanswered questions regarding 9/11?

Anonymous said...

Thank you Neil for publishing yet another great article 11 years since the shameful, unprovoked, illegal and naked aggression on an independent state of Yugoslavia. Serbia lost more than 10% of its territory and Montenegro turned into a privately owned statelet and a refuge for criminals, drug barrons and failed statesmen. The province of Serbia, Kosovo and Metohija proclaimed independence and the remaining Serbs were and are in the process of being driven out - not preciselly the idea of a multiethnic society as advertised by NATO's so called "Angel of mercy" 77 day long bombing in 99'. Serbs who stayed behind are living in enclaves without basic human rights - and all of this under the noses of EU and non-EU force which is shrinking from day to day. In this unlawful environment the corruption, sex and human trafficking and criminal are ripe and the overwhelming feeling of an artificial and a failed state is ever-present. The international recognition for this Balkan cul-de-sac has been spearheaded by the Americans and their European allies who have to complete the project, justify and legalise their illegal moves from 11 years ago.

Serbia's state owned companies and factories have since been sold out and privatised. The IMF and World Bank have been busy dishing out the loans under the "very attractive conditions of repayment". We should not forget easy return on investment businesses as the telecommunications, water, power and natural resources factories that have mostly been bought by Western companies now enjoying the healthy profits and once again siphoning the little money left over in Serbia (Kosovo) and Montenegro. The two states' economies have been prematurely turned from semi agricultural/industrial into a service orientated "industries" (Serbia) and a playground for nouve-riches and criminals (Montenegro). In this rampant capitalist environment the remaining wealth distribution is shared amongst less than 0.003% of the population where the rest is living on the verge of poverty, bombarded by the mobile phone deals, the latest flavored drinks from Coca-Cola corporation and plastic and more worthless plastic from China.

Compared to today's governments in Serbia and Montenegro Mr Milosevic was in an infantile state of capitalist development, naive but a man of integrity - a politician who stood no chance of surviving as earmarked for failure by the Americans. He was used by the West to stop and also to start the wars against him. A socialist in the heart of south east Europe, Europe at that stage cleansed of any libertarian and righteous thoughts.

But we should not lose the hope, Serbia and Montenegro have withstood many challenges in their long and turbulent past and have always come on top of things. Serbia is still the ONLY multiethnic state from all other former Yugoslav states - a proof that it is not not the fascist monster led by the "butcher of the Balkans" as portrayed by its enemies during the 90'. This is the true legacy of its friendly people and Mr Milosevic's "dictatorship" himself.

For Iraq we should wait and see and hope Iraqi people rediscover the strength in their culture and traditions.
For Iran we have to shout so that the same genocidal policy of the Western neocons does not repeat for nothing more but the fistful of dollars.

olching said...

Great article, Neil.

What infuriates me is that a lot of those who protested against the war in Iraq in 2003 did so on the premise that it was a stand-alone issue.

Who doesn't remember hearing then (and since) people remarking on the difference in bombing Serbia (and indeed Afghanistan) as opposed to Iraq.

Well, these issues were always inextricably linked.

A good article in the journal Contemporary British History from Sept 2008, I believe, reassess the meaning of Iraq. It also smashes the idea of Blair as a poodle to Bush, but rather sees Iraq as a longer-term development in which Britain articulated its own aggressive foreign policy, which of course would make sense if we see the link you rightly identify (from Belgrade to Iraq).