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FATAL STRATEGY FLAWS
- Date: Mon, 19 Apr 1999 13:10:41 -0400 (EDT)
>>USI, New Delhi, April 6, 1999
>>THE FATAL FLAWS UNDERLYING NATO'S INTERVENTION IN YUGOSLAVIA
>>Lt Gen Satish Nambiar (Retd.)
>>(First Force Commander and Head of Mission of the United Nations Forces
>>deployed in the former Yugoslavia 03 Mar92 to 02 Mar 93. Former Deputy
>>Chief of Staff, Indian Army. Currently, Director of the United Services
>>Institution of India.)
>>My year long experience as the Force Commander and Head of Mission of the
>>United Nations Forces deployed in the former Yugoslavia has given me an
>>understanding of the fatal flaws of US/NATO policies in the troubled
>>It was obvious to most people following events in the Balkans since the
>>beginning of the decade, and particularly after the fighting that resulted
>>in the emergence of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and the former
>>Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, that Kosovo was a 'powder keg' waiting to
>>explode. The West appears to have learnt all the wrong lessons from the
>>previous wars and applied it to Kosovo.
>>(1) Portraying the Serbs as evil and everybody else as good was not only
>>counterproductive but also dishonest. According to my experience all sides
>>were guilty but only the Serbs would admit that they were no angels while
>>the others would insist that they were. With 28, 000 forces under me and
>>with constant contacts with UNHCR and the International Red Cross
>>we did not witness any genocide beyond killings and massacres on all sides
>>that are typical of such conflict conditions. I believe none of my
>>successors and their forces saw anything on the scale claimed by the
>>(2) It was obvious to me that if Slovenians, Croatians and Bosniaks had
>>right to secede from Yugoslavia, then the Serbs of Croatia and Bosnia had
>>equal right to secede. The experience of partitions in Ireland and India
>>has not be pleasant but in the Yugoslavia case, the state had already been
>>taken apart anyway. It made little sense to me that if multiethnic
>>Yugoslavia was not tenable that multiethnic Bosnia could be made tenable.
>>The former internal boundaries of Yugoslavia which had no validity under
>>international law should have been redrawn when it was taken apart by the
>>West, just as it was in the case of Ireland in 1921 and Punjab and Bengal
>>India in 1947. Failure to acknowledge this has led to the problem of
>>as an integral part of Serbia.
>>(3) It is ironic that the Dayton Agreement on Bosnia was not fundamentally
>>different from the Lisbon Plan drawn up by Portuguese Foreign Minister
>>Cuteliero and British representative Lord Carrington to which all three
>>sides had agreed before any killings had taken place, or even the
>>Plan which Karadzic was willing to sign. One of the main problems was
>>there was an unwillingness on the part of the American administration to
>>concede that Serbs had legitimate grievances and rights. I recall State
>>Department official George Kenny turning up like all other American
>>officials, spewing condemnations of the Serbs for aggression and genocide.
>>I offered to give him an escort and to go see for himself that none of
>>he proclaimed was true. He accepted my offer and thereafter he made a
>>radical turnaround.. Other Americans continued to see and hear what they
>>wanted to see and hear from one side, while ignoring the other side. Such
>>behaviour does not produce peace but more conflict.
>>(4) I felt that Yugoslavia was a media-generated tragedy. The Western
>>sees international crises in black and white, sensationalizing incidents
>>public consumption. From what I can see now, all Serbs have been driven
>>of Croatia and the Muslim-Croat Federation, I believe almost 850,000 of
>>them. And yet the focus is on 500,000 Albanians (at last count) who have
>>been driven out of Kosovo. Western policies have led to an ethnically
>>Greater Croatia, and an ethnically pure Muslim statelet in Bosnia.
>>Therefore, why not an ethnically pure Serbia? Failure to address these
>>double standards has led to the current one.
>>As I watched the ugly tragedy unfold in the case of Kosovo while visiting
>>the US in early to mid March 1999, I could see the same pattern emerging.
>>In my experience with similar situations in India in such places as
>>Punjab, Assam, Nagaland, and elsewhere, it is the essential strategy of
>>those ethnic groups who wish to secede to provoke the state authorities.
>>Killings of policemen is usually a standard operating procedure by
>>terrorists since that usually invites overwhelming state retaliation, just
>>as I am sure it does in the United States.
>>I do not believe the Belgrade government had prior intention of driving
>>all Albanians from Kosovo. It may have decided to implement Washington's
>>own "Krajina Plan" only if NATO bombed, or these expulsions could be
>>spontaneous acts of revenge and retaliation by Serb forces in the field
>>because of the bombing. The OSCE Monitors were not doing too badly, and
>>Yugoslav Government had, after all, indicated its willingness to abide by
>>nearly all the provisions of the Rambouillet "Agreement" on aspects like
>>cease-fire, greater autonomy to the Albanians, and so on. But they
>>that the status of Kosovo as part of Serbia was not negotiable, and they
>>would not agree to station NATO forces on the soil of Yugoslavia. This is
>>precisely what India would have done under the same circumstances. It was
>>the West that proceeded to escalate the situation into the current
>>bombing campaign that smacks more of hurt egos, and revenge and
>>NATO's massive bombing intended to terrorize Serbia into submission
>>no different from the morality of actions of Serb forces in Kosovo.
>>Ultimatums were issued to Yugoslavia that unless the terms of an agreement
>>drawn up at Rambouillet were signed, NATO would undertake bombing.
>>Ultimatums do not constitute diplomacy. They are acts of war. The
>>of Kosovo who want independence, were coaxed and cajoled into putting
>>signatures to a document motivated with the hope of NATO bombing of Serbs
>>and independence later. With this signature, NATO assumed all the legal
>>moral authority to undertake military operations against a country that
>>at worst, been harsh on its own people. On 24th March 1999, NATO launched
>>attacks with cruise missiles and bombs, on Yugoslavia, a sovereign state,
>>founding member of the United Nations and the Non Aligned Movement; and
>>against a people who were at the forefront of the fight against Nazi
>>and other fascist forces during World War Two. I consider these current
>>actions unbecoming of great powers.
>>It is appropriate to touch on the humanitarian dimension for it is the
>>innocent who are being subjected to displacement, pain and misery.
>>Unfortunately, this is the tragic and inevitable outcome of all such
>>situations of civil war, insurgencies, rebel movements, and terrorist
>>activity. History is replete with examples of such suffering; whether it
>>the American Civil War, Northern Ireland, the Basque movement in Spain,
>>Chechnya, Angola, Cambodia, and so many other cases; the indiscriminate
>>bombing of civilian centres during World War Two; Hiroshima and Nagasaki;
>>Vietnam. The list is endless. I feel that this tragedy could have been
>>prevented if NATO's ego and credibility had not been given the highest
>>priority instead of the genuine grievances of Serbs in addition to
>>Notwithstanding all that one hears and sees on CNN and BBC, and other
>>Western agencies, and in the daily briefings of the NATO authorities, the
>>blame for the humanitarian crisis that has arisen cannot be placed at the
>>door of the Yugoslav authorities alone. The responsibility rests mainly
>>NATO's doors. In fact, if I am to go by my own experience as the First
>>Force Commander and Head of Mission of the United Nations forces in the
>>former Yugoslavia, from March 1992 to March 1993, handling operations in
>>Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Macedonia, I would say that reports put
>>in the electronic media are largely responsible for provoking this
>>Where does all this leave the international community which for the record
>>does not comprise of the US, the West and its newfound Muslim allies ? The
>>portents for the future, at least in the short term, are bleak indeed.
>>United Nations has been made totally redundant, ineffective, and impotent.
>>The Western world, led by the USA, will lay down the moral values that the
>>rest of the world must adhere to; it does not matter that they themselves
>>not adhere to the same values when it does not suit them. National
>>sovereignty and territorial integrity have no sanctity. And finally,
>>secessionist movements, which often start with terrorist activity, will
>>greater encouragement. One can only hope that good sense will prevail,
>>hopefully sooner rather than later.
>>Lt. General Satish Nambiar
>>Director, USI, New Delhi
>>6 April 1999
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