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Six NATO war critiques by Carl Jacobsen
- Date: Fri, 11 Jun 1999 19:46:37 -0400 (EDT)
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 11 Jun 1999 09:22:35 -0400
From: carl g jacobsen <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "email@example.com" <firstname.lastname@example.org>,
johan <email@example.com>, kai <firstname.lastname@example.org>,
natowar <email@example.com>, Sasha Mitic <firstname.lastname@example.org>,
Transnational Foundation TFF <email@example.com>
Subject: [indict-nato] natowar
Six war critiques; they may be web-posted, circulated and/or
[re-]published, together (their themes are complementary, their overlap
mutually reinforcing rather than redundant) or singly/separately,
without further author referral... but please inform...
(my apologies if you have already received them). C.G.J.
NATO "victory" hollow--and degrading
Carl G. Jacobsen; 10 June 1999. [tel & fax: 1-613-234-7511; e-mail:
NATO apologists proclaim "victory". Yet the agreement signed is that
offered by Milosevic before the war (for documentation, see the Swedish
conflict resolution website www.transnational.org, or Le Monde
Diplomatique, May 1999). In contrast to NATO's initial "non-negotiable"
demands, it restricts the international force to Kosovo proper, mandates
no future Kosovo independence referendum, and, crucially, stipulates
that the force be UN sanctioned and legitimized, with significant
Russian and non-NATO participation--with the latter to be stationed in
Serb-dominated northern regions, effecting unspoken but de facto
This "victory", after 79 days of up to near 1000 sorties a day, a rain
of destruction and vengeance-unleashing that brought the flight of near
one million Kosovars, the destruction of Yugoslav infrastructure,
factories, schools and hospitals, a scale of destruction and death that
transformed a blip on the world horror scale into true calamity, is
Moral purpose? This was belied even as the assault was launched, in a
German Foreign Ministry document that denied Kosovars refugee status
because it found [pre-war] ethnic cleansing claims to be false. It was
belied by the incongruence of non-action against regimes causing a
thousand times more deaths (Rwanda, Sudan, Kurdistan, etc). It was
belied by US and German support for Croatia's cleansing of 650,000 Serbs
from Krajina and Slovenia--Serbs still destitute, who still receive less
than 5% of the aid provided to displaced Croats and Bosniaks. It is
belied by NATO's continuing refusal to champion their return (in stark
contrast to this author's and others' 1993 Professors' Appeal, which
demanded equal rights for Krajina Serbs and Kosovo Albanians alike--
indeed, for all).
NATO's war contravened UN and NATO charters and international legal
statutes. "Law" was further degraded by the blatant partisanship of
Milosevic indictment, absent parallel indictments of Croatia's Tudjman
and Bosnia's Izetbegovic, perpetrators of the Yugoslav wars' most
horrific cleansings--in Krajina and Bihac--, and absent indictments of
other world leaders who have perpetrated greater horrors, now including
NATO's horsemen of the apocalypse, Clinton, Blair, Cook and Albright
(the "War Crimes Tribunal" ignored the "unprecedented and barbaric
attack" judgement rendered by the 20 judges of Greece's supreme Council
of State, as it did Pope John Paul ll and Patriarch Teoctist's appeal
against "murderous bombing", and others' condemnation ).
NATO's war was degrading because it evinced, at best, ignorance of the
complexities and permutations of domestic Serb politics (on the issue of
Serbia's heritage pearls in Kosovo, Milosevic' opponents are as adamant
as he). At worst, it reflected stupidity, or blind adherence to personal
agenda (deriving from the anti-Serb pathologies first spawned by
Croatia's devastatingly effective early-war Ruder Finn and Hill &
Knowlton PR campaign--which outspent Coke and Pepsi combined--; from
Clinton's and Britain's Robin Cook's need to eviscerate Monica-type
syndromes and memories; and from Madeleine's need to prove her own Iron
Sought not for purposes of state, NATO's war was precipitated
deliberately, through a crescendo of ultimata that no Serb leader could
accept. Employing the arsenals of two thirds of the world's air power,
it crippled a nation and civilization. The accumulating images of
ever-more horrendous destruction may finally have been judged sufficient
to serve or satisfy underlying agendas.
Yet the fact, though unspoken, of the settlement's substantial deviance
from NATO's original position, bespeaks recognition of the Yugoslav
Army's continued potency (most of its assets remained, in caves and
tunnel systems) and the dangers of a prolonged ground war, in terrain
ideal for partisan warfare, against an enemy trained to perpetuate
It also bespoke shifting public opinion. Opposition to the war was
manifestly growing. Opinion polls in the US, Germany and France showed
war opposition and doubt on a steadily rising curve.
The "victors" may blether, and their personal agendas may have been
served. But there is a reckoning. NATO may survive, but it is now more
deeply split than ever, and unlikely ever again to find ‘consensus' for
an out-of-area (or any) war. Kosovo is destroyed; most Kosovars may be
compelled or persuaded to return through the relocation of aid centres
and health provisions, but their gutted houses and now-mined fields do
not entice. Yugoslavia is devastated. Serb-Kosovar alienation,
previously a fringe phenomenon alleviated by majority co-existence, is
now beyond foreseeable repair.
De jure or de facto partition, hiving off Serbia's heritage pearls,
while leaving the larger rest- Kosovo to the Kosovars, is--again, for
the foreseeable future--the least-worst prospect. But it is not
sufficient. If there is to be long-term stability, long-term hope and
security, there must be reconstruction and development on a massive
scale, and it must be provided as generously to Yugoslavia as to
Kosovar-controlled regions. Discriminatory aid and development
provision, as in Bosnia, can only embed and perpetuate alienation and
conflict dynamics; discriminatory provision will only ensure that
conflict returns once any "international force" departs, be it in three,
five, ten or twenty years. But voters, always eager to support war (at
least in its early glory-declared phases), have never been eager to open
their pocket-books for peace. Therein, the supreme task of statesmen.
Therein, scant cause for optimism--though, ultimately, we can afford no
The war: "humanism's" descent to barbarism.
[Prof.] Carl G. Jacobsen 26 May 1999 [tel&fax: 1-613-234-7511; e-mail:
The war against Yugoslavia, launched in the name of our highest ideals,
has degenerated into barbarism, wreaking death and destruction far, far
worse than that against which it was aimed.
It was launched precipitously, in utter disregard of the dictates and
possibilities of diplomacy; Milosovic had in fact accepted all the
principle ‘G8' demands, including the insertion of an armed
international peacekeeping force; the war was launched because Madeleine
Albright and others insisted on NATO rather than UN helmets, and because
they naively believed that "if you whack him, he'll cave". She/they
foresaw a two day ‘demonstration', with scant thought given to the
horrors and destruction that would ensue of they were wrong. The most
fundamental principle of strategy--a clear-thought-out end clearly
warranting the means (ie deaths and casualties) needed to attain it--was
The proclaimed moral agenda was always suspect. Why, otherwise, did we
not intervene in conflicts that had caused a thousand times more
victims, like Rwanda, the Sudan, Turkish Kurdestan or Tibet? Were the
answers, respectively: racism; racism; "Turkey is our ally"; "China has
nuclear weapons" (in which case, are we telling ‘sinners' to go
nuclear?)? Or why did we not intervene, but in fact provide arms and
training to Croatia when it ‘cleansed' 650,000 Serbs from Krajina less
than four years ago, Serbs still refugees, in squalor, unattended by
media or aid?
NATO's real agendas clearly lay elsewhere. One derived from hundreds of
billion dollars' worth of Mid-East investment and Gulf War
re-construction projects, oil and gas fortunes and arms sales prospects;
all dictated denial of Saddam's potent charge that the West would only
target Muslims. Another was the need to expunge the Monica legacy that
haunted Bill, and the similar legacy enveloping Britain's Robin Cook.
Finally, there was Madeleine's Thatcher-like macho need, her mindset's
"post-Munich" need to appear Churchillian, and "decisive"--consequences
We have transformed a small-scale insurgency/counter-insurgency struggle
(about like Chiapas) into an incalculably larger horror-zone. Our
"murderous bombing" (in the words of Pope John Paul and Patriarch
Teoctist) legitimized extremist, secessionist KLA horrors, thereby
legitimizing also Serb nationalist fanaticism and no-holds-barred
"forced deportation" (to once again quote John Paul and Teoctist) such
as had found no legitimacy before. "Forced deportation"--all too common
in history; we did it to millions of native Americans; we encouraged it
when done to millions of Polish and Czech Germans after World War 2, and
to 900,000 Palestinians--; tragic and outrageous, yes, but, morally, can
it really be said to justify or legitimize "murderous bombing"?
"Precision munitions" have already "accidentally" killed rising
thousands of innocents, Serbs and Kosovars, in factories, schools,
trains, buses, convoys, Embassies and maternity wards. Now, with
supplies run down, ever-less "precise" munitions promise ever-more
civilian horror. Deadly chemicals from bombed-out petrochemical and
pharmaceutical plants are seeping into ground water and rivers,
affecting neighbouring countries also. Depleted uranium munitions
(making this, in effect, a low-level nuclear war) leave a deadly legacy
for generations to come.
What would you rather be today: a Kosovar refugee given health, shelter,
food and security, or a Serb or Kosovar in Serbia/Kosovo, under constant
threat of death, with no electricity, often no water, with little or no
food, bombed-out neurological and maternity wards, no or inadequate
medicines, surgeries threatened by black-out...?
Oh, so Milosovic is the bogey-man? Never mind that demonization of the
antagonist, always a dumbing down of intellect, is an inevitable
conflict corollary. The fact is that he was under domestic political
siege before the bombs. The fact is that the bombs delegitimized his
opposition. He had stood as symbol of failures past; now he symbolizes
Serb defiance. His democratic (and other) rivals accept the need for
unity. When the bombs cease, domestic Serb opposition will again be
legitimate, and likely successful. Continuing bombing can only
perpetuate his power.
A vendetta to destroy a politician on the verge of losing power anyway
(in the last election Belgrade voted against him, as did other cities,
and Montenegro, Serbia's sister province), and for that we are willing
to lay a country in ruin--to utterly devastate a civilization? Indeed,
in the words of Canada's Ambassador and pre-eminent Yugoslav specialist
when the Yugoslav wars first broke out: "imbecilic"... and "barbaric"!
The NATO war: humanitarian or barbarous; the score-sheet.
Prof. Carl G. Jacobsen; tel & fax: [1-613] 234-7511; e-mail:
NATO's professed aims embrace our most treasured ideals. But what has it
done in the name of those ideals?
It has legitimized and hence unleashed a scale of ethnic cleansing that
fanatic Serbs might long have dreamt of, but for which legitimacy in
pre-bombed Serbia was inconceivable. Milosovic may have had a
contingency plan; but only the bombs could (and did) provide sanction.
It has delegitimized growing opposition to Milosovic (in the last
elections Belgrade voted against him, as did Montenegro, Serbia's sister
Republic), ensconcing him in power. With no bombs, he would be out in
six months. With bombs, we are recreating the Iraqi scenario; in ten
years, like Saddam, he is likely to remain secure, while a million or
more Yugoslav children lie dead (the UN estimates at least 900,000 Iraqi
children have died since 1991).
We have legitimized the Kosovo Liberation Army, the extremist
secessionists who took up arms in March 1998, notwithstanding their
Europol-documented drug and mafia ties, and delegitimized Rugova, the
clandestinely elected moderate Kosovar President, who sought
By legitimizing and unleashing the fanatics of one side we have
legitimized the fanatics of the other. We have unintentionally unleashed
horrors orders of magnitude beyond what existed before (NATO's own
maximum estimate was of 2000 dead since March 1998, a blip on the world
horror scale; Tibet and elsewhere has seen a thousand times worse; but
China has nuclear warheads; the lessons to other nasties: go nuclear!?).
The ideal proclaimed itself appears hypocritical, and its message
dangerously skewered (vizabove). In a perfect world, ethnic
cleansing--forcible deportation--would of course be banned. But the
United States was founded on the ethnic cleansing of millions. In more
recent years we accepted the ethnic cleansing of millions of Germans
from western Poland and Czechoslovakia, of 900,000 Palestinians from
Israel, and, even more recently, of 650,000 Serbs from
Krajina--who still live in squalor, with none of the media attention or
aid accorded others.
After six weeks of unremitting bombing, Pope John Paul and Orthodox
Patriarch Teoctist issued joint condemnation of "forced expulsions and
murderous bombing". "Forced expulsion and murderous bombing"; which is
the greater horror, the greater war crime? The "murderous bombing"
("humanitarian", no less), though "precision" targeted--never mind
"accidental" hospital, schools, buses and Chinese Embassy hits--has
already caused far more civilian dead than the 14 month
insurgency/counter-insurgency struggle that preceded it.
Anti-Serb pathology--the residual legacy of Croatia's early ‘90s Wall
Street campaign to set "moral" parameters (outspending Coca Cola and
Pepsi combined)? The need to eviscerate Clinton's (and Robin Cook's)
"Monica" reputations? Madeleine's machismo aspirations--why else ignore
diplomatic options in favor of diktats that no Serb could accept,
diktats that left no option but war? What cost Clinton's, Blair's,
Madelaine's and Robin's reputations? What cost NATO? Just how many more
innocent dead is the purpose--any purpose--worth? What hatreds?
Prof. Carl G. Jacobsen
[Tel & fax: 1-613-234-7511; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org]
Humanitarian bombing. At one level it's this century's most obscene
oxymoron (Nazi Germany proclaimed humanitarian purpose when invading
Czechoslovakia and Poland); can it nevertheless be defended?
Never-mind the hypocrisy of those praising it today who stood mute when
Croatia, backed by Germany and the United States, cleansed 650,000 Serbs
from Krajina in 1995--two and a half years after this author and others
signed The Professors' Appeal, demanding equal human and civil rights
for Krajina Serbs and Kosovars alike.
Never-mind the hypocrisy of intervening here, and not in the areas of
far larger human catastrophe, such as Rwanda, Sudan, Tibet, or our
Turkish ally (where 2 million Kurds have been "cleansed"). Never-mind
that the calamitous Kosovo cleansing only began after the first NATO
bombs, as noted by Western observers on the ground, and that is was the
bombs that provided pretext--and, crucially, wider Serb legitimacy--for
What about the argument that those points are past history? Whatever our
role in providing pretext, Milosovic did authorize ethnic cleansing,
never-mind that all too many others have, in the past. Milosovic is
"evil" or inhumane, never-mind that the same holds true of all too many
other leaders, in the region and out (it is now nearly a decade since I
first wrote of the need for an international law that would brand him a
war criminal--though pointing out that such law must be generic and
apply equally to all, or it would negate moral principle; it must also
indict Croatian President Tudjman, Bosnian President Izetbegovic and
others who have ordered or condoned horrors inflicted on innocents).
I accept and applaud NATO's moral stance--even as I deplore its
hypocrisy. So, yes, let's make this a crusade for new humanist
But how? Before the bombs Milosovic' power tottered, besieged by both
‘democrats' and neo- fascists: Belgrade voted 80% for his opponents;
Montenegro, Serbia's sister Republic, abandoned him. He was the symbol
of past failures. Yet, now, he stands as symbol of a nation attacked.
Ranks have closed.
In Iraq, more than eight years of bombing have left Saddam secure, while
900,000 children have died (the lowest UN estimate). In ten years, will
Milosovic be in power, while a million Serb children lie in graves? So
we need ground troops. But military analysts acknowledge it might take
200,000, and incalculable body bags, in terrain ideal for guerilla
warfare, against a people trained for "people's war", and might drag on
for a decade or more.
We might wish Milosovic would blow his brains out in a bunker, and that
the far more extreme Seselj (who would likely take over) would do the
same. Or that we might kill him, as we obviously tried when we sent
missiles against his Belgrade residence and home town. But current
policies and escalation are more likely to perpetuate his power.
Three days before the bombs Milosovic was compelled, by domestic
pressure and NATO threat, to accept an international force in Kosovo,
NATO dominated, but with Russian and Ukrainian components, sanctioned by
the UN Security Council--and hence international law--, as in Bosnia.
Russia signed on, and would again, as would China.
Clinton, Albright and Blair should have declared victory. Instead,
whether out of anti-Serb pathology (nurtured by Croat and Muslim-paid
Wall Street advertising), naivete or hubris, they insisted on NATO
helmets, all or nothing, in the belief that Milosovic would cave. He did
not. It led to human catastrophe. To retreat now, even an inch, would
But that inch, though it would leave Milosovic standing for now, would
also (especially if it allowed continued Serb possession of Kosovo
Polje, their "Alamo", and their cultural pearls in the north)
delegitimize cleansing, allow Kosovar return to most of Kosovo, and
probably ensure Milosovic' ouster within six months. The point is: with
a halt to "aggression" ouster through domestic Serb dynamics would be
legitimate to most Serbs; with on-going bombing and ground war, it will
be legitimate to no Serb.
So, what price Clinton's, Albright's and Blair's pride? NATO's current
posture protects their pride, but promises untold casualties, theirs and
ours, a Kosovo environment that will doom Kosovar return hopes for an
untold number of years, and likely legitimize Milosovic rule for all too
many years to come. What price "principle"?
Yes, in an ideal world: go for it! But in the real world: how many of
our dead--your sons, daughters, brother and sisters--is this principle,
in this context, worth...now...next year...in future years..? THAT is
the question. The example sought is laudable. But at what cost this or
any example; and when does the cost outweigh the example--indeed, when
does it set worse example?!
NATO's war against Yugoslavia: at the cross-roads.
Professor Carl G. Jacobsen; tel&fax: [1-613] 234-7511; e-mail:
NATO's war (or is it Bill Clinton's and Madeleine Albright's?) has
wrought damage disastrously out of proportion to its original mandate.
It epitomizes Clausewitz' warning that war not tailored to precise
purpose will inexorably escalate beyond purpose. Its very unleashing,
without legal or UN sanction, established ominous precedent. Its moral
sanction was belied by its partisanship, and anti-Serb pathology. How
else to explain action against a counter-insurgency campaign to which
NATO ascribed 2000 dead, rather than against those that have caused
hundreds, even thousand times more? Why else the lack of outrage four
years ago, when a US-armed Croatian blitzkrieg cleansed 650,000 Serbs
from Krajina? Now NATO's war has led to similar-scale cleansing and
human horror in Kosovo.
The innocent dead, in factories, schools, on the roads. The catastrophic
price for Albright's perverse insistence that Milosovic "only
understands force" (hence the refusal to pursue proffered diplomatic
options)--and its naive corollary, that "if you whack him, he'll cave"?
Now we are in war mode. We demonize Milosovic, to whom we ascribed
statesmanship at Dayton. We insist that the ethnic cleansing that we
wrought in fact precipitated the war, though neither NATO nor OSCE
observers nor the many Western NGOs on the ground saw signs of it
before the first bombs. And a new bottom line is proffered: NATO must
win, whatever the cost, or it will lose face, and legitimacy.
But how? And at what cost? One alternative obviously is continued,
expanded bombing. But "precision" munitions--themselves all-too-often
disastrously less than "precise"--will soon run out. New production can
be ordered. But, in the meantime, more bombs and missiles will be less
and less "precise", causing ever more carnage. No war has been won
through air attack alone. Washington and London still find cause to
bomb/strike Iraq nearly every day. Saddam remains in power; the UN
estimates that more than 900,000 Iraqi children have died since 1991
from bomb- inflicted damage and disease.
To "win", we must send in ground troops. But which? Some say to train
and arm the KLA secessionists. Never mind their Europol-documented mafia
and drug ties; the dynamic of recent events make them "liberation
fighters". Perhaps so, but it would take years of recruiting and
training before they could hope to prevail.
Imminent ground war means NATO troops--US, British, French, German,
Canadian and others. But how many? Germany needed 600,000 own and allied
troops in World War 2 in the much larger domain of old-Yugoslavia, and
still did not prevail. The smaller domain of Kosovo or part- Kosovo
would demand less, probably about 200,000.
For how long? Serbs/Yugoslavs were trained by Tito to perpetuate
guerilla war against feared Soviet invasion. The terrain in mountainous,
and heavily forested, ideal for prolonged "people's war". And KLA
propaganda notwithstanding, Serb morale appears high. Previous
anti-Milosovic contempt (spreading among democrats and neo-fascists
alike) was blown away by our bombs, like cob-webs before a broom. The
cause of their holiest shrines, in northern Kosovo, and of Kosovo Polje,
their "Alamo", outside Pristina, is powerful glue. To the argument that
Kosovo's now Albanian majority ordains separation, they respond as
Americans would to the argument that Alamo-surrounding counties' now
Mexican majority ordains their return to Mexico.
At what cost? Clinton asks for 6 billion dollars for the war effort,
with half a billion for humanitarian relief for Kosovars (nothing was
offered for conflict-averting civilian development before the war;
nothing for cleansed Serbs; nothing for future-conflict-averting
development). Worse, war's civilian casualty toll, among Kosovars, Serbs
and others, will rise inexorably. Worse still: through 75 years of
East-West confrontation, the Soviet population, though often fearful of
American policy, retained benign images of Americans. Now the momentum
of NATO bombs are generating never-before-seen, virulent
anti-Americanism, the sending of "observing" Naval vessels, reminders of
nuclear missiles' re-targetability, calls for Yugoslavia's inclusion in
the new Russian-Belarus union, and ever-closer strategic ties with
China. A new cold war?
Can this dire course be reversed? NATO's current posture contains a hint
of possibility. The deal- breaker at Rambouillet was the insistence on
NATO ground forces in Kosovo. Now talk is of an "international force"
(with only a "NATO core"), not insurmountably different from what
Belgrade was willing to accept--though now it may need the added proviso
that the "NATO core" be composed of Greeks and other non-bombers There
is also a hint of flexibility in deliberate obfuscation over whether the
force needs to control all of Kosovo--a hint of possible partition,
giving Serbia its heritage pearls, while the larger remainder becomes
This could probably have been achieved at Rambouillet, had diplomatic
options been pursued with more vigor, and had the carrot of
sanctions-lifting and developmental aid been added to the stick of
military threat. But never mind. The seeds of compromise minimally
acceptable to both Serbs and Kosovars are there. The formula, with its
implied on-the-ground participation by Russia and Ukraine, is eminently
negotiable by Russia. Genuine as opposed to pretend Russian (and
Ukrainian) diplomatic and resolution inclusion might well prove decisive
counter to the otherwise predominant trends and potentially dangerous
dynamics of exclusion and alienation.
But NATO remains hoisted on the petard of its escalating rhetoric and
deployment. Can it "declare victory" without the war and its horrors in
hindsight appearing obscenely un-necessary, without implicitly
condemning the "war party's" blinders and hubris, without eviscerating
Would NATO demise a decade after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact be a
disaster? Or might it rather be prelude to a better developed, more
inclusive (and therefore less alienating) pan- European OSCE security
structure--or, presuming US debt payment and obstruction ending, to a
reformed, less constrained, but still more truly collective UN security
But world leaders are not wont to admit mistakes, in policy or
calculation. The war mode, the escalatory logic of war and rhetoric,
prevails. Innocents die, in ever-larger numbers. Protests increase. And
in the end they may prevail. But, even if soon, the price, in blood and
precedent, bodes ill. If not soon, it bodes worse--much worse.
NATO's war against Yugoslavia; book-end to a Century.
Prof. Carl G. Jacobsen; [tel& fax: 1-613-234-7511: e-mail:
World War 1, the war no Great Power wanted, spread and escalated because
of the incompetence and myopia of politicians and planners. It stood as
the classic negation of diplomatic foresight and strategic thought: no
clear goal, no calculation of the sacrifices (casualties) the goal was
worth; no "exit strategy", no fall-back lesser-goal option should the
"fog of war" lead to reverses and cost-escalation. Now the century ends
with another negation of the most fundamental tenets of diplomacy and
Another war that could and should have been averted. There were
innumerable compromise permutations acceptable to the majority of Serbs
as well as the majority of Kosovars, offered by conflict specialists
intimately familiar with Kosovo/a historiographies, passions and
fears--by TFF, the Swedish peace & conflict centre in Lund, by conflict
transformation and peace worker networks like TRANSCEND and ICL, by this
author and others. They were ignored, as Madeleine Albright, supported
by President Clinton, and Tony Blair and Robin Cook of the UK,
disregarded diplomatic channels in favour of take-it-or leave-it
ultimata--always prescription for rejection (for it leaves humiliation
the only alternative).
The all-too-public bluster made it impossible to accept Belgrade's last
stance (confirming Kosovo/a autonomy guaranteed by outside troops, but
only if these were UN or OSCE sponsored). NATO terminology ruled out all
options but NATO helmets or war (the ultimata issuer's choices are also
restricted: securing "full" compliance, or be seen to "retreat"). The
lack of legal or UN sanction became irrelevant; unwittingly, NATO
spokesmen echoed the apologia offered by Japan and Italy when they
invaded Manchuria and Ethiopia in the early 1930s, eviscerating the
League of Nations.
Another war escalating beyond any cost-calculation warranted by its
perceived or stated purpose. Weekly killings by the Kosovo Liberation
Army (which took to arms in March 1998) and Serb paramilitaries had been
in single or low double-digit figures--orders of magnitude less than
killing fields like Sierra Leone, Liberia, Central Africa, the Sudan,
Kurdistan, and others (so much for our moral purpose!). Sparking the
very scale of humanitarian catastrophe it was supposed to avert, NATO
now embraced this disaster of its own making as justification for
further, blind escalation, still with no clear end goal to justify the
escalating no-end-in-sight death-toll.
Less than four years earlier NATO and Western media had effectively
ignored the human tragedy wrought by the US-armed and trained Croatian
blitz-krieg that ethnically cleansed 650,000 Serbs from Krajina. Now
precipitate action made no-response a non-option. All to the good--as
should have been the case in Krajina. But it left the question [Lawrence
Martin's]: was/is forced deportation a worse crime than dropping bombs
on innocent civilians in factories?
Another propaganda war. In World War 1 the Allies were inflamed by
doctored pictures of Belgian babies with bloody arm sockets (their arms
were said to have been torn off by evil Huns). Now Milosovic was "war
criminal" and "little Hitler". A more humanist and real International
Law (as opposed to our current charade, which remains a
selectively-applied reflection of Great Power interest) probably would
indict him, together with all-too-many other world "leaders".
But opponent demonization, a component of any war approach, is a dumbing
down of foreign policy and intellect. In this case it appeared
oblivious of the visceral Serb attachment to Kosovo Polje, their Alamo,
and oblivious of the fact that on the issue of its retention democrats
and neo- fascists alike closed ranks with Milosovic.
All wars occasion propaganda. One remembers the Kuwaiti Washington
Ambassador's daughter as a non-identified "nurse", giving false, yet
viscerally compelling testimony to Iraqi baby killings, fuelling
America's embrace of war in the Gulf. Ruder Finn and Hill & Knowlton,
the Wall Street firms orchestrating that campaign, later served Croat
and Bosniak separatists. Now they spread KLA "information". Indeed, our
media manipulators gloat, on the web, about their success in adding
"holocaust, genocide, ethnic cleansing and concentration camps" to
today's conflict lexicon, while KLA horrors, mafia and drug connections
(documented by Europol) are downplayed or ignored. Conversely, Belgrade
knows only KLA atrocities and the despair of Serb refugees, not the
vicious counter-punches of its own fanatics. NATO media embraced
varnished truth--as Belgrade presented its own. The media, vehicle for
other-demonization and war legitimation--'t was ever so.
Karl von Clausewitz, the "father" of modern strategy, feared nothing
more than war's inherent escalatory logic. That's why he insisted on
political control, and clear strategic reason. Today, the rising clamour
for ground troops graphically illustrates the former; the latter remains
wondrously absent. Clausewitz would turn in his grave. Delusion pursuing
illusion... as innocents die.
Having unintentionally, but short-sightedly and inevitably fueled and
legitimized fanaticism in Kosovo/a (on both sides), and precipitated
humanitarian catastrophe, where do we go from here? Do we just keep on
bombing? In Iraq, where Washington and London find cause to bomb nearly
every day, Saddam is still in power, while UN agencies estimate that as
many as 900,000 children have died since 1991, from bomb-inflicted
damage and disease. Do we invade with ground troops? It would take at
least 200,000, and still be uncertain; Serbs/Yugoslavs were trained by
Tito to maintain people's war guerilla attrition against Soviet
invasion; the mountains/forest terrain favor long-drawn-out insurgency.
Or do we search for compromises (which by definition must be at least
minimally acceptable to both sides!) that might limit the residue of
ever-glowing fanaticism--the historic legacy of Great Power-imposed
"peace" in the Balkans?
Director, Eurasian Security Studies ORU
Home tel & fax: [1-613] 234-7511; e-mail:
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