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The Guardian (London and Manchester)	 Wednesday May 26, 1999


	By Tariq Ali

	Outside Natoland, the situation about the war is extremely 
serious. The Ukraine was the only country in the world to renounce 
nuclear weapons and unilaterally disarm. A few weeks ago its 
parliament voted unanimously to revert to its former nuclear status. 
The deputies claimed that they had foolishly believed the United 
States when it had promised a new norm-based and inclusive 
security system. NATO's war on Yugoslavia had destroyed all their 
	If Kiev is angry, Moscow is incandescent. The military-
industrial complex is one of the best-preserved institutions in the 
country. Its leaders have been arguing with the politicians for nearly 
two years, pleading that they be allowed to upgrade Russia's 
nuclear armoury.
	Until March 24 this year they had not made too much headway. 
On April 30, a meeting of the National Security Council in Moscow 
approved the modernisation of all strategic and tactical nuclear 
warheads. It gave the green light to the development and 
manufacture of strategic low-yield nuclear missiles capable of pin-
point strikes anywhere in the world. Simultaneously the defence 
ministry authorised a change in nuclear doctrine. First use is no 
longer excluded.
	In the space of several weeks, Javier Solana and Robin Cook, 
former members of European Nuclear Disarmament, have re-
ignited the nuclear flame. In Beijing, too, the bombing of the 
Chinese embassy has resulted in a shift away from the no-first-strike 
principle. The Chinese refuse to accept that the bombing of their 
embassy was an accident. They believe that it was a Machiavellian 
ploy by the war-party in Washington to sabotage any peace plan by 
ensuring a hard-line Chinese veto at the UN. There are also 
indications that Moscow and Beijing are discussing new security 
arrangements. The bombs on Belgrade may well come to be seen as 
the first shots of a new cold war.
	As a result of all this, a great deal of diplomacy is taking place 
behind closed doors. Britain is not part of it because what it thinks 
does not really matter. Its leaders are used to accepting decisions 
made elsewhere.
	That is why there is something surreal about Cook's huffing and 
puffing and why Blair's promises to the refugees have a hollow ring. 
New Labour and its media-chorus, having unleashed mayhem on 
Kosovan and Serb alike, should, at the very least, have the decency 
and moral courage to admit their mistake and call for a halt to the 
bombing, which, in the words of the Pope's Easter message this 
year, has become a "diabolical act of retribution".
	The real tragedy is that the Kosovo for which NATO 
supposedly went to war in March no longer exists. Its cities and 
villages are being bombed to smithereens by NATO. Its population 
is being pushed out by Milosevic. Even if some of the refugees 
were to return, a significant proportion, the very people whose 
talents would be needed to rebuild the region, will probably never 
go back. Refugees rarely do. Only 10% returned to Bosnia.
	The scale of disaster is now clearly visible. Every day, as the 
bombs fall, the situation gets worse. With the exception of Britain, 
EU countries are pushing for a negotiated settlement, aware that it 
is the only viable solution.
	It could have been achieved some months ago if the US had not 
insisted on a NATO peacekeeping force. The New York Times, 
writing as recently as April 8, 1999 on the failed Rambouillet 
negotiations, said: "In a little-noted resolution of the Serbian 
parliament just before the bombing, when that hardly independent 
body rejected NATO troops in Kosovo, it also supported the idea 
of UN forces to monitor a political settlement there."
	In other words this war has been fought not so much for the 
safety of the Kosovans, but to assert NATO hegemony and it is 
now indisputable that it turned out to be a grave miscalculation. 
Natoland is seriously divided. The isolation of the war party led by 
Madeleine Albright and Sandy Berger in Washington (and 
supported by Blair and Cook in London) is almost complete. The 
German chancellor has ruled out his country's involvement in any 
escalation of the war. The Italian prime minister has excluded the 
use of Italian soldiers in any NATO operation on the ground unless 
expressly sanctioned by the UN and backed by Russia and China. 
The Greek foreign minister has made it clear in public that if NATO 
sent in troops it would be impossible to use Salonika as a point of 
landing. In private he has warned that a popular revolt could topple 
his government if it were to acquiesce in any such plan. The 
Hungarian, Czech and Polish governments, blushing new brides at 
NATO's altar, are now pale-faced and nervous, wondering whether 
they will survive the war. They had married NATO because of the 
generous dowries that might follow. The rude honeymoon has 
shocked them.
	The French, too, are slowly moving in the German direction and 
even General Sir Michael Jackson, the British commander in 
Macedonia has told eight different interviewers on radio and 
television that: "We will not go in unless there is an agreement."
	New Labour's hands are already stained with the blood of 
innocents. Time to call off the dogs of war and seek the help of 
non-NATO powers to resolve the conflict.

Collateral Damage, a one-act play on the Balkan war by Tariq Ali, 
Howard Brenton and Andy de la Tour is currently playing at the 
Tricycle Theatre, London.

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