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  May 16, 1999 




To justify their assault on Serbia, the United States and its
obedient NATO allies claimed they had no choice. As the
official story goes, Slobodan Milosevic (suddenly the
reincarnation of Hitler who has the power tomake all other
citizens of Yugoslavia invisible to the Clinton
administration) refused to negotiate and rejected the
Rambouillet peace agreement. Therefore, therewas nothing
else to do but bomb Yugoslavia.

This preposterous lie is only
                          one among countless others.
                          In reality, Belgrade never
                          refused to negotiate.
                          Rambouillet was never about
                          negotiations. It was about
                          presenting the Serbs with an
                          ultimatum precisely designed
                          to provide the pretext for
                          NATO bombing. Rambouillet
                          was a tragic farce, a low point
                          in the history of diplomacy, in which the United
States had  to coax and cajole a band of well-armed
criminals into signing the death warrant of their adversary,
the legitimate  government of Yugoslavia.

    The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) is scarcely the sort of
       outfit one might expect to see invited to a famous French
   chateau to decide on the future of war and peace in
                Europe. The connection between KLA gunmen and the
           ethnic Albanians who dominate the heroin traffic through
  the Balkans from Turkey to Switzerland and Germany has
  been widely reported. As for ideology, violent ethnic
    Albanian irredentism has switched opportunistically from
   fascism during World War II, to "Marxism-Leninism" in the
    days of Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha, to today's
     enthusiasm for NATO. The constant factor is hatred of
         Serbs in particular and Slavs in general.

                          The rise of the KLA was a challenge to the
leadership of
                          the ethnic Albanian nationalists' nonviolent
                          headed by Ibrahim Rugova. The killing of Serbs
in Kosovo
                          began in April 1996, thanks to the arms glut
caused by the
                          total collapse of law and order in Albania. Not
                          Yugoslav police but also ethnic Albanians
branded as
                          "traitors" were targeted. Last summer, by posing
for news
                          photographers with a KLA officer, Richard
                          publicly signaled that the United States was
                          Rugova in favor of the KLA. The process was
                          at Rambouillet with the Feb. 6 arrival of the
official ethnic
                          Albanian delegation of 16 members, five of them
from the
                          KLA. Rugova and the older generation of leaders
                          suddenly shoved onto the sidelines, as an
                          29-year-old KLA chieftain named Hashim "The
                          Thaqi was introduced to the world as the leader
of the

                          The KLA's irresistible rise was nurtured notably
by Morton
                          Abramowitz, a prominent member of the U.S.
                          policy elite. Abramowitz served as ambassador to
                          when the CIA's Bangkok bureau was perpetrating
                          "yellow rain" hoax that accused Vietnamese
victims of U.S.
                          chemical warfare of using chemical agents in
Laos. In
                          1986, as assistant secretary of state in charge
of intelligence
                          and research in the Reagan administration,
Abramowitz and
                          top CIA officials accompanied Sen. Orrin Hatch
to Beijing
                          to work out a deal with China and Pakistan for
                          Stinger missiles to Islamic Afghan rebels. 

                          He then passed, quite naturally, to the
presidency of the
                          Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Under the
                          Clinton administration, he has participated in a
                          panel on CIA reform--selected by the Council on
                          Relations--which recommended easing restrictions
                          covert actions. More recently, Abramowitz has
been a
                          leading figure in the high-level International
Crisis Group, a
                          leading designer of policy toward Kosovo. There,
                          became an advocate of arming the KLA. At
                          Abramowitz and another U.S. official, Paul
Williams, led a
                          team coaching the KLA delegation.

                          Even so, at Rambouillet, 'The Snake" bit the
hand that fed
                          him and refused to sign the document. To the
fury and
                          dismay of Secretary of State Madeleine Albright,
it was not
                          the Serbs but the Albanian KLA that balked,
depriving the
                          United States of its pretext to launch a NATO
war against
                          the Serbs. Rambouillet was adjourned. Former
Sen. Bob
                          Dole, recipient of generous campaign
contributions from
                          the Albanian-American lobby during his political
                          was dispatched to the Balkans to urge the
Albanians to sign
                          the treaty--not to make peace, but to "maintain
                          on the Serbs. KLA leaders were bribed with a
promise of a
                          "visit to Washington to discuss matters of
interest," notably
                          the future of the KLA--veiled language meaning
that the
                          United States would not insist on disarming the
KLA, but
                          would find some formula for transforming what
U.S. envoy
                          Robert Gelbard had described as a "terrorist"
group into
                          "liberated" Kosovo's police force. 

                          So it was that the Serbs and the Kosovar
Albanians were
                          summoned back to Paris to sign, as is, an
agreement that in
                          effect would detach Kosovo from Serbia and put
it under
                          the joint control of NATO and whichever ethnic
                          NATO chose--apparently, the KLA. There were no
                          negotiations. Instead, Serbia's Milan
Milutinovic and his
                          (multi-ethnic) delegation were presented with an
                          Either accept the "peace agreement" concocted by
                          Christopher Hill (Holbrooke's second at Dayton
who is
                          now posted as U.S. ambassador to Macedonia)
                          NATO to take over Kosovo, or else be bombed.
                          ultimatum in itself was a violation of
international law,
                          which invalidates agreements obtained by the
threat or use
                          of force, according to the Vienna Convention on
the Law
                          of Treaties.

                          And the terms were totally unacceptable.
                          "self-government" was to be run by a NATO
official, with
                          the title of Chief of the Implementation
Mission, or CIM.
                          The CIM would have the final say over virtually
                          and everybody. Kosovo would be occupied by a
                          force called KFOR. No ceiling was placed on the
size of
                          KFOR forces, which would have full control of
                          over Kosovo, be immune to prosecution or
liability under
                          local law, and have free access to the rest of
                          license to invade the rest of the country on one
pretext or
                          another. The agreement called for withdrawal of
                          police and armed forces, but the fate of "other
forces" (no
                          mention of the KLA, which thus escaped any
                          or obligations) would be decided later by the

                          Not only Milosevic, but any Serbian opposition
party, was
                          bound to reject such terms. And yet compromise
was not
                          impossible. The Yugoslavs were ready to make
                          concessions, but not to welcome NATO. NATO was
                          sticking point. A U.N. peacekeeping force might
well have
                          been acceptable. However, the Clinton
                          insisted on NATO or nothing. 

                          The rise of the KLA, backed by the United States
                          Germany (German intelligence reportedly played
                          important role in equipping the rebels), made it
                          dangerous for any more moderate ethnic Albanian
                          to negotiate with the Serbs. The KLA repeatedly
                          announced what would happen to such "traitors."
                          backing the KLA, the United States weakened the
                          moderate forces on both sides.

                          On December 21, 1998, the State Department
                          information from the Kosovo Diplomatic Observer
                          that "the KLA harass or kidnap anyone who comes
to the
                          police," and that "representatives threatened to
kill villagers
                          and burn their homes if they did not join the
KLA." It
                          added that KLA harassment has reached such
intensity that
                          residents of six villages in the Stimlje region
are "ready to

                          Kosovo's ethnic Albanian civilians have been
                          between devastating NATO bombing raids, KLA
thugs and
                          Serbian police. That refugees would flee from
Kosovo in all
                          directions (including northward into central
Serbia, a fact
                          ignored by Western media) is scarcely
surprising. Yet
                          NATO exploited the resulting misery and
confusion on the
                          borders to justify the very bombing that
triggered the
                          exodus. The suffering of the refugees is genuine
                          poignant. The interpretations by Western
officials and
                          media are not to be trusted. (After Japan bombed
                          Harbor, the United States "ethnically cleansed"
the West
                          Coast of Japanese Americans, although Japan did
                          announce that it was bombing the U.S. on behalf
of armed
                          Japanese-American secessionists.) 

                          Various compromise proposals have been made from
                          Serb side over the years. They have been totally
ignored by
                          Western governments and media, which have
claimed to be
                          in favor of "restoring Kosovo's autonomy" and
opposed to
                          secession. This double language has been
interpreted by
                          both sides as veiled support for the Albanian
                          Confident of Western backing, Albanian
nationalist leaders
                          have held out for independence rather than any
form of
                          living together with the Serbs in Serbia.
Partition has been
                          dogmatically ruled out by the United States on
                          "domino-theory" grounds that it would
                          Macedonia. NATO bombing has done that already.
                          and NATO meddling so far have produced all of
                          disasters they promised to prevent, and a few
more. NATO
                          is not waging peace. It is waging war and must
be stopped.

                          Diana Johnstone is a contributing editor of In
These Times.

                          For more Kosovo coverage from Diana Johnstone,
                          out MoJo wire's Kosovo forum at


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