Saturday, August 30, 2008
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
For the past eight years, I've been in a lonely place politically. I don't mean the kind of lonely that conservatives generally find themselves in. I'm talking about utter desolation, for there are just as few conservatives as liberals where I've been. One of the only non-Serbian Americans to do so, I watched with steady interest for the better part of a decade the clockwork predictability of the fallout from our forgotten Kosovo intervention, a bombing campaign against an emerging post-Communist democracy rooted in Judeo-Christian values--on behalf of tribalistic, blood-code-following nominal Muslims claiming oppression and no less than genocide and ethnic cleansing.
KEEP READING this remarkable article.
Picture from http://nikushtak.tripod.com
Thursday, March 22, 2007
The West: "la-la-la, we're not listening."
March 22, 2007
Empire, Russia Disagree on Kosovo by Nebojsa Malic
Eight years ago this week, NATO launched an aerial attack against then-Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, on the pretext of halting the "conflict" raging in the Serbian province of Kosovo between the Albanian separatists and the Yugoslav military and police. The attack followed an ultimatum presented to Belgrade at Rambouillet, in the form of a peace proposal that would have put Kosovo under NATO occupation and given the Albanian separatists the right to secede within three years.
For 78 days, NATO bombers rained destruction on Serbia and Montenegro, hitting Kosovo the hardest. Parallel to the bombing, NATO unleashed a propaganda campaign of unprecedented proportions, feeding the Western public outrageous fabrications on a daily basis. Psychological warfare walked hand in hand with physical destruction of Serbia's infrastructure, consciously calculated to terrorize the people into submitting to NATO demands.
Authors of the war in the Clinton administration had predicted the government of Slobodan Milosevic would fold after a couple of days. Instead, Serbia resisted for over two months, as bombing grew in intensity and the desperate Alliance started issuing empty threats of ground assault. In the end, it was Moscow's promise to Belgrade that Russian troops would join NATO in Kosovo as part of a UN mission that persuaded Milosevic to sign an armistice in June 1999.
Most of the UN Security Council resolution 1244, which legitimized NATO presence in the province as part of a UN peacekeeping mission, was never implemented; instead, the Alliance treated it as the ex post facto legitimization of the invasion, which by itself represented a criminal act.
'Finishing the Job'
Although much has happened over the past eight years – the September 11, 2001 attacks supposedly "changed everything," but not really – the policy of Western powers in Kosovo has remained constant. The shocking display of hatred and violence in March of 2004, when Albanians engaged in a three-day, Kristallnacht-style pogrom against Serbs, was twisted by Albanian supporters into an argument for accelerated appeasement. Although the Bush administration had been content to leave the Clinton policy on Kosovo in place during its first mandate, in May 2005 it adopted the Balkans program championed by the recently defeated Democrats. One of its main points was independence for Kosovo.
As things became more grim in Iraq and Afghanistan, the determination and zeal of American diplomats to "win" in Kosovo became greater. In late 2005, the UN (under influence of Washington and London) launched "status talks" under the leadership of Martti Ahtisaari. The former president of Finland had been NATO's errand-boy in 1999, and had worked with the rabidly pro-Albanian International Crisis Group since; his choice as the head negotiator should have been a clear indicator the process was a farce.
On February 2 this year, Ahtisaari presented his proposal for the status of Kosovo, which amounted to an independent Albanian state under semi-colonial EU patronage. As with Rambouillet, it was designed to be grudgingly accepted by the Albanians, and rejected out of hand by Serbia; this is precisely what happened. On March 11, Ahtisaari declared the "talks" over, claiming they were pointless.
Moscow and Belgrade
While the American and British policy in Kosovo has remained constant, changes have taken place in both Moscow and Belgrade since 1999. In Russia, the pro-American regime of Boris Yeltsin has been replaced by an assertive government led by Vladimir Putin. While Yeltsin had ruled Russia primarily with American assistance, Putin enjoys genuine popular support and has chosen to confront American belligerence.
Meanwhile, copious amounts of money, CIA training, propaganda and threats had resulted in the overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic's government in October 2000, and the successor governments had for several years fulfilled every demand from Washington and Brussels, and then some. Over the years, however, incessant abuse by the Empire had produced an opposite reaction in Serbia, and in 2006 the leading Imperial daily furiously assailed the leaders they once called "democratic" and "reformers" as "intransigent" nationalists – all because Belgrade would not accept to treat the 1999 rape as consensual.
As Empire's frustrations mounted, the veneer of lies and obfuscations that had been wrapped around the Kosovo policy fell off, exposing a dangerously belligerent idea that had very little to do with the Albanians of Kosovo, or even the Serbs, but everything to do with the Cold War rivalry between the West and Russia.
A 'New Battle'
Richard Holbrooke, Clinton's hatchet-man in Bosnia who tried to do the same thing in Kosovo (and failed), resurfaced from political obscurity last year and became one of the most vocal advocates of independent Kosovo. His eyes are reportedly set on becoming the next Secretary of State, if the Democrats win the 2008 presidential election.
On March 12, Holbrooke published his regular monthly column in the Washington Post, claiming that if Kosovo were not given independence, there could be a new war in the Balkans. But rather than the Albanians who would start it, the responsibility would be on Moscow, which "sent the wrong signals" to Belgrade and obstructed Washington and London's "peace" efforts.
Tim Judah, a pro-Albanian British commentator, described Holbrooke's op-ed as "the first shot" in the new "battle of Kosovo," pitting the U.S. and (most of) the EU against Russia. According to Judah, the remaining dissidents within the EU – Spain, Slovakia, and Romania are mentioned – are being "brought into line" and their opposition to the proposed solution will be irrelevant. However, Imperial policymakers still cannot decide "whether the Russians mean what they say, or whether they are ratcheting up the tension as part of an eventual bargaining process by which they will extract concessions from the U.S. elsewhere."
Confrontation on the East River
It appears, however, that Moscow is actually serious. AFP reported that Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin stormed out of a Security Council session on Monday, accusing the current Kosovo viceroy Joachim Rucker of "giving a sermon" and "preaching independence" instead of a report on implementing his UN mandate. Meanwhile, an influential Russian lawmaker told Itar-Tass on Monday that "Russia has enough reasons for using… its right of veto" in the Security Council.
Nor is Moscow unaware of Holbrooke's attack. On Sunday, Belgrade's Vecernje Novosti daily quoted the Russian ambassador, Alexander Alexeev:
"Holbrooke's words were in fact an incitement of violence and a malicious dig at Russia. Moscow doesn't control anything in Kosovo, and is absolutely not responsible for the wrong way things have gone there since 1999. It has never promised anything to anyone, or given guarantees, or sent 'personal messages.' Nor does it have anything to do with half a million guns the Albanians have kept under the very noses of UNMIK and NATO's military mission…"
On the other hand, AKI reports that the US envoy in the Security Council, Alejandro Wolf, "praised Rucker's report as 'objective and balanced' and reiterated their support for Ahtisaari's plan." And Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement on March 16 that virtually echoes one of the independence advocates' talking points: "After almost eight years of United Nations interim administration, Kosovo and its people need clarity on their future."
If it weren't so dangerous, the situation would be almost comical. Moscow is protesting the farcical "talks" and blatantly one-sided "compromises" that clearly violate the UN charter and the current UN resolution in place, while the UN – dominated by the Washington/Brussels axis – is alternating between "that's just not true, everything is wonderful" and "la-la-la, we're not listening."
The 2003 invasion of Iraq, as illegal and illegitimate as the assault on Yugoslavia four years prior, may have caused the unraveling of the American imperial project. It seems, however, that it will be Kosovo – the "success" so beloved by liberal interventionists - where the Empire's power will truly be tested.
NATO itself claims the bombing campaign was fought for "the establishment of a political agreement for Kosovo in conformity with international law and the Charter of the United Nations." Yet the invasion itself violated both, and the proposed "solution" does the same. For pointing this out, Russia is accused of "fomenting violence" – while its actual perpetrators, the separatist Albanians, are given a free pass.
Looked at from whichever angle, the policy of Washington, London and Brussels in Kosovo just doesn't make any sense. Once one discards the official rhetoric about Albanian suffering, Serb repression, Milosevic's legacy, self-determination and other such propagandistic drivel, it appears the only thing that remains is a thirst for power, and some unrequited aggression left over from the Cold War.
Perhaps the self-proclaimed "analysts" that parrot the official proclamations of the State Department, Foreign Office and whichever pompous bureaucracy in Brussels is their equivalent, should instead pay attention to the words of Nelson Strobridge Talbott III, former Deputy Secretary of State, who wrote the following in the introduction to the book by his former communications director, John Norris:
"It was Yugoslavia's resistance to the broader trends of political and economic reform – not the plight of Kosovo Albanians – that best explains NATO's war." (pp. xxii-xxiii)
The end of the Cold War offered the American policymakers the temptation of asserting the U.S. as the ultimate power in the world, and expanding its influence all over the former Soviet bloc. It is the temptation they have been both unwilling and unable to resist. Yugoslavia – or, rather, what ended up being Serbia – was one of the few countries reluctant to submit to, let alone enthusiastically accept, this turn of events. The other one is Putin's Russia.
The newly created Empire has thus set itself on a collision course with Russia over a patch of land in the southeast of Europe where many empires have clashed before. The arrogance, intransigence and belligerence of the American Empire have now produced a realistic threat that Bismarck's prediction of a European war caused by "some damned foolish thing in the Balkans" could be fulfilled once again.
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Today is my father’s 80th birthday. This is a milestone birthday that no one else in our family has reached, so far as we know (because in the early part of the 20th century there were no written records kept where they lived). He was born into a hard working peasant family in the village of Čaglavica in Kosovo, and he learned at an early age that you are valued for what you contribute to this world and not for what you take from it. He acquired, both through his genes and his environment, the skill of relying on nothing more than your wits and Serbian tenacity, or inat, to survive brutalities imposed on you by others, because, more often than not, everything else would be taken away from you anyway.
Recently my dad has suffered from a very serious and debilitating illness, but his inat keeps him going. He still looks ahead, he still makes plans for the future like a 30 year old. The fact that he’s made it to this birthday indicates that he might yet have a few more. The same qualities that his people possessed, which enabled them to survive one invader after another, now get him through each day. The Serbs didn’t give themselves over to their Turkish conquerors and even after 500 years of being dominated by them, and, despite being severely pressured by the Turks to do so, they never entirely assimilated into Turkish life and culture. At last the Serbs found themselves able to overthrow the Turks and they took their country back. But not long after that, during World War II, they had new self-imposed "masters" -- German/Italian-aligned Albanians -- lording it over them in Kosovo. When these fascists had finally been sent packing, it was Tito’s communists who stepped into the conquerors' vacuum and mercilessly subjugated peasants all around
During World War II, my dad was a young adolescent whose regular job, when he wasn't away at school in Priština, was to get the sheep to a grazing field several kilometers from the village. This was something he enjoyed – he would take in the scenery and think for hours about this and that as he watched the sheep and the reliable family dog, Karaman. This suited him as he was an introspective kid and was happy with his own company and time to dream. Every day his mother, my dear nana, packed him a lunch of traditional foods made by her and various daughters and daughters-in-law in their extended family village compound: bread and kajmak, maybe some pršut, possibly some šljive or jabuke picked in their orchards. He spent all day in the field, giving the sheep plenty of time to graze, seeing hardly a soul, except an occasional person walking in the distance. With Karaman’s help he would herd the sheep home toward the end of the day, and always before darkness approached.
One particular day, after the war had started, the boy was a little down in the mouth because all the schools had been closed, the reason given was that if they were closed they wouldn't be full of children and teachers if they were bombed. Sitting on the grass with Karaman nearby and watching the sheep scattered all around as they lazily chomped the greenery, the boy's thoughts were on the war and an uncertain future. This child, perhaps not yet 14 years old, sensed someone coming toward him. Sure enough, a man was walking in his direction, someone who looked to be in his early twenties. Although he was a stranger to him, the boy recognized the man as an Albanian. The boy’s family had many Albanian friends and business acquaintances in this part of
Soon the man came very near the boy, who waved slightly and said, “Hello.”
“I’m hungry – you got anything to eat?”, responded the man.
“Oh, sure. It’s almost noon -- you’re welcome to share my lunch with me.” And the boy gave the man half his food.
From his sitting position on his rug on the grass, the boy turned to check on the sheep when suddenly he keeled over. Standing over him, the man had taken the boy’s shepherd staff in both hands and cracked it against his head with enough force to kill him, enough force to break the staff. He must have been satisfied that he had killed him because he left him as he lay, there on the ground, and finished the business that had brought him there. Later, people who had been walking on the nearby road said that on that day, at about that time, they had seen a young Albanian man walking with a lamb over his shoulders; however, because Albanian fascists ruled Kosovo at that time, there was no investigation, and while his child victim lay in a coma, near death, this potential murderer was left undisturbed to lick his fingers as he ate his lamb kebabs, without so much as a slap on the wrist.
When the boy came to, he saw only darkness. It took him a few moments to realize that his head was covered in blood, and for an instant it occurred to him that he must have been blinded, but, no -- it was dusk. He tried to feel his way around with his hands, to crawl away from there, but soon he fell into unconsciousness again. When he next awoke it was very dark, but he heard voices in the distance calling his name. When he didn’t show up at home, his family and a number of other villagers came looking for him. He vaguely felt them lift his limp body into the bed of a horse-drawn wagon and he spent the ride home drifting in and out of consciousness, catching an occasional word as one person or another wondered, astonished, who could have done this.
In Kosovo during the war years Serbs were not allowed to be treated by Serbian doctors. Only Albanian doctors could be called. Not only that, but Albanian “officials” felt free to impose themselves on Serbian homes at will and to demand whatever they wanted – under pain of death. One such Albanian especially liked my grandfather's farm and would show up every so often from his office in Priština to enjoy long weekends of eating their tasty food while he languished about the place however and wherever he liked.
It was important that it be seen that an Albanian doctor had examined his son, so one was called, or their situation would have been even more dangerous, but my grandfather often sneaked the family’s Serbian doctor into their house during the night. The trauma to his brain put the boy into a coma for a month. Of course, in those days there were no MRIs, and certainly no fancy equipment or techniques for saving someone from such a severe brain trauma, even less the possibility of finding out exactly what damage had been done. And, yet, the family was satisfied -- although the Albanian doctor had immediately given the boy up as a terminal case, the Serbian doctor pulled him through. He lived, which was more than the family had dared to hope. He came out of his coma with deficits, unable to walk, speak, or read and write, but his inat hadn’t left him, and the boy relearned those things over time, so well that no one could tell he had once been unable to do those ordinary things.
It was only very late in his life that my father got medical confirmation of why he had been so over-sensitive, so obsessive-compulsive and often overly focused, why he has found it difficult, almost impossible, to trust others, and why life has generally been such a struggle for him. It was not due only to the traumatic effects of growing up in wartime, living in constant fear for yourself and your family, and subsequently, during Tito’s regime, enduring his family’s persecution and the pain of losing a dear older brother who was murdered by the communists. As though that wasn't enough, that thief had permanently damaged his brain – at the back, toward the left of the head, a very important area for normal functioning. Effectively, my dad has had to function like a sprinter who has a broken leg, but continues to run; therefore, very imperfectly. And all his life, after that brutal attack by someone who had no qualms about taking a boy’s life so he could steal one of his sheep, all his life after that, my dad’s inat helped him to overcome, however he could, the disability imposed on him by this Albanian “neighbor.” My dad's ways didn’t always endear him to others, but he survived the only way he knew how, by hyperfocusing, and all along the way, amazingly, he maintained his integrity.
The great irony in this story is that, had the man told the boy that he had no food at home, had he simply asked for a lamb, the boy would more than likely have invited him to help himself, because that was how my grandfather had brought him up – to share what you have with those who have less; that to give is much nobler than to receive.
Many people have tried to exterminate the Serbs, but, as
Many enemies have threatened to annihilate Serbs, including my father's ancestors and his immediate family members, and have tried to do it. Many expected my father to die – that Albanian thief left him lying in the pasture, convinced that he was dead. More recently, my father’s doctors thought he would be gone by now and are amazed at how well he has been doing despite all their dire predictions. During that time he has celebrated 2 more birthdays, and this, his 80th is very noteworthy.
There is a lot to be said for inat – when it’s part of your makeup there isn’t much that can keep you down. I am exceedingly proud to possess my own inat.
Happy birthday to my father!
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Photo: Gen. Clark being chummy with his terrorist pal -- KLA leader, Thaci
Surprised that Wesley Clark is against bombing a terrorist regime in Iran and is blaming the Jews for a military response being a real possibility? Too bad no one paid attention when Clark’s ethnic target was the Serbs. Clark has been in the employ of terrorists for almost a decade, in his case the bin Laden-trained Kosovo Liberation Army, whom he and the Clinton administration made us allies to.
This pimp has lined his pockets with dubiously motivated Albanian money drenched in half a century of Christian blood, and he continues to shill for the Albanian lobby today, to ensure that the Serbs’ Jerusalem (Kosovo) goes to his narco-jihadi-terrorist mafia masters who pay him to make it so.
(And it’ll happen in a couple months because NO ONE IS PAYING ATTENTION, and not one single newspaper in this country is on the case. Not one.)
Clark’s associate, Brooklyn-based KLA fundraiser and weapons smuggler Florin Krasniqi — who admits in a Dutch documentary (aired on PBS) that he worked with al Qaeda to “liberate” Kosovo — is seen in the same documentary introducing fellow fighters to Clark with the words, “This is your group, your KLA.”
So now this guy has gone anti-Jew. That’s because if the Jews are the canary in the mine, the Serbs have been the canary’s canary.
The Wall St. Journal’s Opinion Journal took great exception last week to Clark’s recent comments about the “New York money people.” But in February 2005, the Journal published with a straight face one of several op-eds by this butcher of the Balkans, who works to ensure a mono-ethnic Kosovo. In it, Clark warned that “a violent collision may occur by year-end” if we don’t give the Albanians what they want (independence without standards ala Palestine). And this four-star general advocated doing just that.
Wesley Clark and Bill Clinton actively dismantled a democracy called Yugoslavia, and created yet another mono-ethnic state (now well on its way to becoming an Islamic one) in Europe’s underbelly. As every new “democracy” we’ve touched in the Balkans marches toward ethnic purity, only one has preserved the mutli-national, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious flavor of Yugoslavia: Serbia. (That’s the one we bombed.)
Clark has been the Wall St. Journal’s darling for some time. Perhaps the newspaper will now rethink its relationship with this terror pimp. One hopes that the “influential Jews” will have more pull than the Serbs did.
Oh, and to Fox News, which hired this whore as a contributor: Enjoy the contribution.Read more by Julia Gorin here.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
2004-04-01 | The truth about the invasion of Iraq was perhaps best summed up by Ray McGovern, one of the CIA's most senior analysts:
“It was 95 per cent charade. And they all knew it: Bush, Blair, Howard.” (Quoted John Pilger, 'Universal justice is not a dream', ZNet, March 23, 2004)
One might think that exposés of this kind would lead the media to take a fresh look at some of the US-UK governments' earlier claims justifying war. Consider, for example, the 78-day NATO assault on Serbia from March 24 until June 10, 1999, said to have been launched to protect the Albanian population of Kosovo.
Blair's Battle Between Good and Evil
What is so striking about the US-UK government case for war against Serbia is the familiarity of much of the propaganda. In a key pre-war speech on March 18 last year, Blair said of Iraq:
“Looking back over 12 years, we have been victims of our own desire to placate the implacable... to hope that there was some genuine intent to do good in a regime whose mind is in fact evil. ” ('Tony Blair's speech', The Guardian, March 18, 2003)
In similar vein, Blair described the war with Serbia as “a battle between good and evil; between civilisation and barbarity; between democracy and dictatorship”. (Quoted, Degraded Capability, The Media and the Kosovo Crisis, edited by Philip Hammond and Edward S. Herman, Pluto Press, 2000, p.123)
Blair also referred last year to the lessons of “history”:
“We can look back and say: there's the time; that was the moment; for example, when Czechoslovakia was swallowed up by the Nazis - that's when we should have acted.
“But it wasn't clear at the time. In fact at the time, many people thought such a fear fanciful. Worse, put forward in bad faith by warmongers. ” (Ibid)
Four years earlier, in March 1999, British defence Secretary, George Robertson, insisted that intervention in Kosovo was vital to stop “a regime which is bent on genocide.” A year later, Robertson also conjured up the ghost of Nazism to justify NATO's action:
“We were faced with a situation where there was this killing going on, this cleansing going on - the kind of ethnic cleansing we thought had disappeared after the second world war. You were seeing people there coming in trains, the cattle trains, with refugees once again. ” (ITV, Jonathan Dimbleby programme, June 11, 2000)
President Clinton referred to “deliberate, systematic efforts at... genocide” in Kosovo. (Quoted, John Pilger, introduction, Phillip Knightley, First Casualty, Prion Books, 2000, p.xii)
In a speech in Illinois in April 1999, Blair alluded to Kosovo:
"The principle of non-interference must be qualified in important respects - war crimes and acts of genocide can never be an internal matter." (Blair, The Guardian, March 15, 2000)
This rhetoric depicting "genocide", even a kind of Holocaust, in Kosovo certainly merits comparison with the claim that British bases in Cyprus were under threat from Iraqi WMD that could be launched within 45 minutes of an order being given.
So how did the keen and critical intellects of the 'free press' - backed up by vast research and investigative resources - respond? Did they scrutinise and challenge these extraordinary claims as they so patently failed to do with regard to the Iraqi WMD 'threat'?
We Can Do 1389 - The Media Get in Line
Reviewing UK media performance, British historian Mark Curtis writes of the Kosovo war:
"The liberal press - notably the Guardian and Independent - backed the war to the hilt (while questioning the tactics used to wage it) and lent critical weight to the government's arguments." In so doing, the media "revealed how willingly deceived it is by government rhetoric on its moral motives." (Curtis, Web of Deceit, Vintage, 2003, pp.134-5)
Thus, Jonathan Freedland wrote in the Guardian: "the prize is not turf or treasure but the frustration of a plan to empty a land of its people". It was "a noble goal". (Freedland, 'No way to spin a war', The Guardian, April 21, 1999)
A Guardian editorial described the war as nothing less than "a test for our generation". (March 26, 1999)
The attack was intended to stop "something approaching genocide", Timothy Garton Ash insisted. (Garton Ash, 'Imagine no America', The Guardian, September 19, 2002)
The Mirror referred to "Echoes of the Holocaust." (Quoted, Pilger, op., cit, p.144)
The Sun urged us to "Clobba Slobba".
The New Statesman's John Lloyd wrote that the war showed "the most powerful states are willing to fight for human rights". (July 5, 1999)
As British bombs rained on Serbia, a breathless Andrew Marr wrote articles in the Observer entitled:
'Brave, bold, visionary. Whatever became of Blair the ultra-cautious cynic?' (April 4, 1999)
'Hail to the chief. Sorry, Bill, but this time we're talking about Tony.' (May 16, 1999)
Marr declared himself in awe of Blair's "moral courage", adding: "I am constantly impressed, but also mildly alarmed, by his utter lack of cynicism."
A subsequent BBC documentary on the alleged Serbian genocide, 'Exposed' (BBC2, January 27, 2002), was billed as a programme marking Holocaust Memorial Day, no less.
Thomas Friedman wrote in the New York Times:
"Like it or not, we are at war with the Serbian nation (the Serbs certainly think so), and the stakes have to be very clear: Every week you ravage Kosovo is another decade we will set your country back by pulverising you. You want 1950? We can do 1950. You want 1389? We can do 1389 too." (Friedman, The New York Times, April 23, 1999)
A Nexis database search showed that in the two years 1998-1999 the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Washington Post, Newsweek and Time used the term "genocide" 220 times to describe the actions of Serbia in Kosovo. In the ten years 1990-1999 the same media used the same word just 33 times to describe the actions of Indonesia in East Timor. Following Indonesia's invasion in December 1975, some 200,000 East Timorese, or one-third of the population, are estimated to have been killed in one of history's premier bloodbaths. The contrast is even more astonishing when we consider the number of people actually killed in Kosovo.
Pure Invention - The Kosovo "Genocide"
So how real was the Serbian genocide in Kosovo compared, say, to the threat of Iraqi WMD? And did this alleged mass abuse of human rights justify the 78 days of NATO bombing that claimed 500 Yugoslav civilian lives, causing an estimated $100 billion in damage, striking hospitals, schools, major industrial plants, hotels, libraries, housing estates, theatres, museums, farms, mosques, trains, tractors, bridges and power stations?
In February 1999, one month before the start of NATO bombing, a report released by the German Foreign Office noted that "the often feared humanitarian catastrophe threatening the Albanian population has been averted". In the larger cities "public life has since returned to relative normality." (Quoted, Mark Curtis, op., cit, p.136)
Another German report, exactly one month before the bombing, refers to the CIA-backed Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) seeking independence for Kosovo from Serbia:
"Events since February and March 1998 do not evidence a persecution program based on Albanian ethnicity. The measures taken by the [Serbian] armed forces are in the first instance directed towards combating the KLA and its supposed adherents and supporters." (Ibid, p.136)
Following the war, NATO sources reported that 2,000 people had been killed in Kosovo on all sides in the year prior to bombing. George Robertson testified before the House of Commons that until mid-January 1999, "the Kosovo Liberation Army was responsible for more deaths in Kosovo than the Serbian authorities had been". (Quoted, Noam Chomsky, Hegemony or Survival, Routledge, 2003, p.56)
This is supported by Nicholas Wheeler of the University of Wales who estimates that Serbs killed 500 Albanians before the NATO bombing, implying that 1,500 had been killed by the KLA. The KLA had openly declared that their strategy was to provoke Serbian forces into retaliatory action that would generate Western public support for NATO intervention.
Far from averting a humanitarian crisis, it is clear that NATO bombing caused a massive escalation of killings and expulsions. The flood of refugees from Kosovo, for example, began immediately after NATO launched its attack. Prior to the bombing, and for the following two days, the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported no data on refugees. On March 27, three days into the bombing, UNHCR reported that 4,000 had fled Kosovo to the neighbouring countries of Albania and Macedonia. By April 5, the New York Times reported "more than 350,000 have left Kosovo since March 24".
A study by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) records "a pattern of expulsions and the vast increase in lootings, killings, rape, kidnappings and pillage once the NATO air war began on March 24" and that "the most visible change in the events was after
A House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee investigating the war concluded:
"It is likely that the NATO bombing did cause a change in the character of the assault upon the Kosovo Albanians. What had been an anti-insurgency campaign - albeit a brutal and counter-productive one - became a mass, organised campaign to kill Kosovo Albanians or drive them from the country." (Ibid, pp.137-8)
The media response was to exactly reverse cause and effect suggesting that bombing was justified as a way of halting the flood of refugees it had in fact created. Philip Hammond of South Bank University comments: "the refugee crisis became NATO's strongest propaganda weapon, though logically it should have been viewed as a damning indictment of the bombing. The hundreds of thousands of Serbs who fled the bombing were therefore determinedly ignored by British journalists". (Hammond and Herman, op., cit, p.127)
Robert Hayden of the University of Pittsburgh reported that the casualties among Serb civilians in the first three weeks of the war were higher than all of the casualties on both sides in Kosovo in the three months that led up to the war. And yet, Hayden points out, "those three months were supposed to be a humanitarian catastrophe". (Quoted, Noam Chomsky, The New Military Humanism, Pluto Press, 1999, p.20)
Hammond indicates the awesome scale of the truth buried by the media:
"We may never know the true number of people killed. But it seems reasonable to conclude that while people died in clashes between the KLA and Yugoslav forces... the picture painted by Nato - of a systematic campaign of Nazi-style genocide carried out by Serbs - was pure invention." (Hammond and Herman, op., cit, p.129)
In other words, the US-UK assault on Serbia, like the assault on Iraq, was made possible by audacious government manipulation of a public denied access to the truth by an incompetent and structurally corrupt media. Journalists, indeed, were so utterly fooled by government propaganda that they proudly proclaimed their role in supporting the "humanitarian intervention".
Responding to Alastair Campbell's accusation of press cynicism over the Kosovo intervention (another familiar theme from the 2003 Iraq war), Channel Four correspondent Alex Thomson wrote:
"If you want to know why the public supported the war, thank a journalist, not the present government's propagandist-in-chief." (Quoted, Charles Glass, 'Hacks versus flacks', Z Magazine, August 1, 1999)
The Guardian's Maggie O'Kane wrote:
"But Campbell should acknowledge that it was the press reporting of the Bosnian war and the Kosovar refugee crisis that gave his boss the public support and sympathy he needed to fight the good fight against Milosevic." (Ibid)
John Simpson of the BBC joined the fray:
"Why did British, American, German, and French public opinion stay rock-solid for the bombing, in spite of Nato's mistakes? Because they knew the war was right. Who gave them the information? The media." (Ibid)
So much for 'neutral and 'objective' reporting. As a result, Blair is now able to use the lie of Kosovo to justify more recent killing. In a speech earlier this month, Blair said of the Iraq war:
"The real point is that those who disagree with the war, disagree fundamentally with the judgement that led to war. What is more, their alternative judgement is both entirely rational and arguable. Kosovo, with ethnic cleansing of ethnic Albanians, was not a hard decision for most people; nor was Afghanistan after the shock of September 11; nor was Sierra Leone." ('Tony Blair's speech', The Guardian, March 5, 2004)
Kosovo was "not a hard decision for most people" because awkward facts pointing to something other than a "battle between good and evil" were kept well out of sight.
Postscript - A Silver Lining
We are eager to avoid the impression that the alliance of state violence and media servility always results in tragedy, death and disaster - sometimes there are happy endings.
While covering the Kosovo crisis, CNN's leading foreign correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, married James Rubin, chief public relations official of the US State Department. Amanpour had announced that her future husband's war was for "the first time... a war fought for human rights". And, after all, "only a fraction of 1 percent of the bombs went astray". (Quoted, Hammond and Herman, op., cit, p.113)
The BBC's defence correspondent, Mark Laity, may not have found love during his coverage of NATO's slaughter, but he did subsequently accept the post of press secretary to the NATO Secretary General, George Robertson, who had also moved on from his position as British Defence Secretary.
The goal of Media Lens is to promote rationality, compassion and respect for others. In writing letters to journalists, we strongly urge readers to maintain a polite, non-aggressive and non-abusive tone.
Write to the editors of the Guardian and the Independent. Ask them why, in light of the many exposés of Bush-Blair mendacity over the Iraq war, they have not taken a fresh look at the government's case for war against Serbia in 1999.
Blair and Clinton, after all, claimed that Serbia was literally responsible for "genocide" in Kosovo - even subsequent NATO reports revealed that no more than 2,000 people were killed on all sides in Kosovo in the year prior to NATO bombing. Is it not clear that Blair in fact perpetrated an Iraq-style deception on the British public in 1999? NATO launched its first air strikes". (Curtis, op., cit, p.137, our emphasis)
Write to Alan Rusbridger, Guardian editor:
Write to Simon Kelner, editor of the Independent:
Write to Roger Alton, editor of the Observer:
Write to Richard Sambrook, BBC director of news:
Write to George Entwistle, editor of BBC's Newsnight programme:
Write to Jonathan Munro, head of ITN newsgathering:
Please also send all emails to us at Media Lens:
Visit the Media Lens website: http://www.medialens.org
Please consider donating to Media Lens: http://www.medialens.org/donate.html
This media alert will shortly be archived at:
MEDIA LENS: Correcting for the distorted vision of the corporate media http://www.medialens.org
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
| November 14, 2006 |
| The Black Hole of Europe |
Kosovo interventionists cover up their crimes
|by Christopher Deliso|
In a recent article in Canada's Globe & Mail, former Canadian Ambassador to Yugoslavia James Bissett invokes the famous words of Otto von Bismarck, who once said, "If there is ever another war in Europe, it will come out of some damned silly thing in the Balkans."
As it turned out, the "Iron Chancellor" was right. He was specifically vindicated by the onset of World War I, sparked by the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand by a Bosnian Serb in 1914. Of course, then as now tensions had been brewing and the spark itself was only the necessary formality; Serbia's successes in the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913 deeply concerned imperial Austria, eager to shore up its own pretensions of Balkan dominance. Now, the tensions building up are different: on the "traditional" front, the U.S.-Russian competition for power; on the front of asymmetrical war, the pan-Islamist movement's quest for dominance in the Balkans versus local and Western interests. But essentially, Bismarck's Balkan admonition has continued to echo down the ages, even though war itself has changed and will no doubt manifest differently this time around.
Indeed, in the current "war on terror" and great-power rivalry over control of multinational energy and telecommunications networks, the war is being expressed in decentralized, often territorially distant ways. For example, when Russia defended Serbia's right to sovereignty over Kosovo in the Balkans, U.S. client state Georgia audaciously arrested Russian diplomats, declaring them spies, a move that enraged the Kremlin and raised the political temperature considerably. Matching the West's increased agitation for Kosovo status resolution, a Russian-backed independence referendum in Georgia's breakaway province of South Ossetia passed on Sunday with 99 percent in favor. On the other side of things, Balkan organized-crime syndicates with ties to al-Qaeda are popping up in relation to planned terrorist attacks as far afield as Norway.
For former ambassador Bissett, the "damned silly thing" going on now in the Balkans is "the seeming determination of Western policy makers to grant the Serbian province of Kosovo its independence." Mr. Bissett would not object, I believe, if we expanded the remit of said "damned and silly things" to cover Western intervention in general in the Balkans since 1990, too. For that whole process has done much more harm than good, enabling and propelling violent ethnic rivalries and building up dangerous mafia groups, appointing war criminals to high political office, and, of course, indulging in various forms of financial corruption and neglect that has helped to leave whole swathes of rural Muslim populations in the UN protectorates of Kosovo and Bosnia funded only by Saudi Arabia and its virulently anti-Western Wahhabi movement.
Interventionist Agitators Demand: Free Kosovo!
However, with the likes of the ICG leading the chorus in calling for Kosovo independence, these more sordid realities are being suppressed. They are simply not convenient for the powers-that-be. Confirming its historic role as nothing more than an Albanian lobbying front, the ICG recently bemoaned the delaying of Kosovo's final status until after Serbian parliamentary elections in January thus: "[I]nstead of finally closing the question of western Balkan borders with an orderly Kosovo settlement, delay would open a new destabilizing chapter." The adjective here gives away the patronizing, quasi-fascistic mindset of the interventionists: the process of ripping apart a country and creating one anew is deemed "orderly" if carried out by the empire. Balkan peons should simply fall into line and behave like good children, while the adults from the West tell them how to make their beds. The phrase "orderly settlement," implying an independent Kosovo supposedly securing a rosy future for the Balkans, is reminiscent of that other old ICG descriptor of the former Serbia-Montenegro union as chronically "dysfunctional." Yet this was hardly more dysfunctional than, say, the UN's disastrous administration in Kosovo.
The dubious wordplay continues: "[T]he longer the Kosovo Albanians are forced to wait," cries the ICG, "the greater the chance they will discredit themselves with unilateral independence moves or riots." Note that "discredited" is rather genteel, compared to the alternatives. After all, they could have said "commit atrocities," "resume ethnic cleansing of Serbs," etc. Most often, the word is used in the context of describing something like, say, a mad scientist's obscure invention or a nonsensical historical claim. In other words, the worst consequence of being "discredited" is to wind up ignored or forgotten, which is exactly what the ICG hopes the world media will do with any future "unilateral independence moves or riots" from "discredited" Albanians.
The Word on the Street: Criminal Neglect
Aside from all the politicized arguments for why Kosovo should be independent, and whose bread would be buttered in so doing, let me just take a moment to relay a message from American and other international soldiers and police who are actually employed in the province. The story they have to tell is somewhat different from the one the lobbyists would have you believe. Indeed, you don't need a National Intelligence Estimate to prove that the Kosovo intervention has made the Balkans demonstrably less safe. It just takes common sense and some looking around.
On my most recent excursion to Kosovo, I spent some time, as always, recording the testimony of various international police and military officials associated with the UN's Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and NATO's Kosovo Force (KFOR), both of which are tasked with keeping the peace in Kosovo. Despite the formidable range of weaponry, surveillance equipment, money, and other resources available to them, these officials say, the UN has essentially given up the fight against terrorism. "It's just like it was in Bosnia," said one American soldier who had previously served in that other wonderful example of Western peacekeeping. "We got tired of it, gradually withdraw our forces, and the 'bad guys' didn't have to do anything but outlast us."
According to the soldier, the U.S. Army at Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo has now even "farmed out" its intelligence-gathering operations to a Romanian KFOR unit serving under it. Another international police source seconded this, decrying that "the Americans are not even collecting their own intelligence! No wonder they don't know what is going on!" Neither source meant anything personal about the Romanians, but in general it must be said that if you are that world power trying to oversee the security and final status of a province you are occupying, usually it is better to collect your own information than to leave it up to your minions.
Blending bitterness and acquired Balkan black humor, my interlocutors all pointed out that the UN, the U.S., the Europeans, and everyone else were busily trying to wash their hands of the mess in Kosovo, get on with the final status (independence for the Albanians), and get out. None of this was a surprise, of course; it has been the same old story ever since the UN set up shop in 1999. But hearing about the efforts that the UNMIK regime has taken to avoid the glaring truth – that Kosovo is little more than a playground for powerful mafiosi, infested with unemployed paramilitaries and disgruntled, "born-again" Islamists – was especially revealing.
Indeed, as one disenchanted UNMIK official put it, "These high UN staffers don't want to endanger their next international posting by taking on the criminals and terrorists, and above all they can't admit that the mission has been a huge failure and created a new base for Islamic terrorists. The outside world is not told of what they are bringing on here."
Indeed, as we speak, Saudi mosques continue to go up, funded by a bottomless pit of oil riches, while the Kosovo Albanian civil administration is being selectively stocked with officials whose allegiances to the Islamic world may outweigh their allegiances to Kosovo. The present reality reflects the words of Albanian scholar Isa Blumi, who warned four years ago that the influx of Saudi charities and schools was creating a new "generation of young men and women whose loyalties are not with Kosovo and [who] sustain a volatile intolerance to anyone who contradicts their training." While such people are still well in the minority, the West's "donor fatigue" and increasing desire to disengage is practically guaranteeing that the poor and needy province will come more and more under the economic control of radical Islamic interests. And one should not forget that on several occasions representatives of Islamic states have affirmed their support in terms of lobbying internationally for Kosovo independence for the Albanians. In return, we may ask, for… what?
Turbulent Events of October 2006: Not Exactly an Encouraging Sign
While the signs of future trouble are all there, let's take a minute to examine the things going on right now in Kosovo – that is, the things that the busy interventionists don't want you to hear about. Of course, if you ask any top official in or involved with Kosovo to speak on the record about security issues, the answers are inevitably the same. They can be boiled down to the following: despite some isolated incidents, the security situation in Kosovo is stable, and it is heading toward a happy future as a thriving, multi-ethnic country.
However, the official UNMIK police log of October's security incidents leaked to me recently attests otherwise. To summarize, the police report chronicles over 70 incidents that occurred during the month throughout Kosovo, ranging from public demonstrations and intimidation to beatings, bombings, and murders. Very few of these events made it into media reports. They indicate not only continuing attacks on Serbs and their Christian heritage in Kosovo, but also more internecine violence between Albanians.
For example, on Oct. 6 at 11:45 p.m. in Prizren, "a K-Albanian male killed a fellow K-Albanian male with a pistol shot for unknown reasons. During the investigation, the perpetrator was arrested but no weapon was found." A day later, at 3:40 p.m. in Lipljan, "a K-Albanian youngster shot with an AK-47 rifle at a fellow K-Albanian youngster for unknown reasons. The victim was hospitalized with head injury and remained in stable condition. During the investigation, a bullet hole on the wall and the weapon were found at the spot. The culprit was questioned in presence of his parents and the rifle with 49 rounds of ammunition was confiscated." At 2 a.m. on Oct. 1 near Suva Reka, "an explosion of unknown origin occurred in a K-Albanian house under construction. No injuries but considerable damages were reported. Two K-Albanian males were later arrested as suspects … the explosion was caused by an equivalent of 5-6 kilos of explosives [similar to an anti-tank mine]." Six days later, the same man found another "8 kilos of explosives with a fuse" in his house, the report added.
Along with a great many ethnic provocations against Serbs, threats, break-ins of apartments rented to internationals, and the ominous testimony to the apparently renewed "Albanian National Army" terrorist group spray-painted everywhere, the month of October saw explosions recorded on four occasions, confiscations of weapons seven times, 13 armed attacks, and three murders. Some were carried out against "outsiders," such as the hapless Chinese shop owner in Pristina, robbed at 1 a.m. on Oct. 9 of "€500 in cash and 3 cell phones. The victim resisted the perpetrators [4 armed and masked males] and was stabbed." A day earlier, an Albanian businessman was shot at 8:30 p.m., some 4 km east-northeast of Klina, after surviving three previous assassination attempts. According to the police report, "the incident has created a strong feeling of insecurity amongst both K-Albanians and the K-Serbian returnee community."
October also saw continued attacks on Serbian Orthodox Church facilities as well, a clear extension of the "religious cleansing" that has gone on since 1999, as Albanians have vandalized, damaged, or destroyed over 150 churches, some dating back to the 14th century. On Oct. 7 in Pristina, "children found a hand grenade in the premises of an Orthodox church." Luckily authorities were able to dispose of it safely. In three separate attacks on churches on Oct. 30 in Stimlje, Kacanik, and Djakovica, "unknown persons" tried to set one church on fire, broke into another, and stole the protective fence from the third.
The question of whether Albanian militants, whose acronym and political demands were prolifically sprayed around Kosovo in October, could mount a serious threat to stability was revealed on Oct. 1 when police discovered, in the central Kosovo mountains of Malisevo, "68 anti-tank and 97 anti-personnel mines, as well as 20 hand grenades and 1,500 rounds of small arms ammunition … 400 kg of explosives were found in the same area." This is hardly the only contraband arms depot in Kosovo. According to one of my police sources, whole warehouses of rockets can be found in southwestern Kosovo, for example.
On Oct. 6 in Pristina at 9:15 p.m., the police logs attest, "a K-Albanian male public prosecutor reported that 2 unknown allegedly armed males introduced themselves as members of the 'National Liberation Army for Presevo, Medvede & Bujanovac' [UCPMB, active in the Southern Serbian Municipalities in 1999-2001] and threatened to kill him if he wouldn't release a K-Albanian male from the Detention center."
When confronted with this record, UN officials said, as expected… nothing. This was not surprising, as past experience has revealed. On May 12, 2006, the UN's Head of Civil Administration, Patricia Waring, sent out an internal e-mail ordering the destruction of a list of recent violent attacks compiled from official sources – some 32 in only 11 days. "Please make sure that the table you presented this morning is destroyed," wrote Waring to the unnamed recipient. "I do not want it circulated at all. Its lack of integrity in assumptions, not backed up by fact, is potentially damaging."
What was more damaging, perhaps, was Waring's reply to my requests for clarifications: "I requested staff to destroy material which was not based on appropriate police reports – merely assumptions and gossip, most gathered at third hand," she wrote on June 22. (I see nothing particularly villainous about reprinting this reply here, as Waring after all proudly copied the e-mail to UNMIK bigwigs at the time, such as Police Commissar Kai Vittrup and then-head honcho Soren Jessen-Petersen.) Yet after this bout of bluster, the civil administrator apparently did not have the self-confidence to answer my further request for elucidation regarding precisely which of these 32 incidents based on official sources were "merely assumptions and gossip." It's because there weren't any. They were all clearly marked by source. No surprise that Waring failed to reply to my recent questions on the security situation in Kosovo today.
Nobody except local journalists ever tries to hold these UN officials accountable for their failures, ignorance, and corruption. To their credit, local Kosovo Albanian reporters produce some good work, but who on the outside ever listens to them?
It is ironic that a Western world allegedly so anxious to listen to the opinions of the people it came to liberate only listens to what it wants to hear. If one wants to speak about Serb oppression or the perceived wonders of spontaneous self-determination, there is an audience in the international press – less so when you want to expose UN corruption and crimes, or what the catastrophic UN rule has meant for safety, security, and the war on terror in Kosovo. These are things that local journalists, Serbs, Albanians, and others, have written extensively about. However, no one on the outside ever hears about them. This is because the UN is taking great pains to cover up the fact that it is, and has always been, a part of the problem – not the solution. Instead, the whole story of Kosovo is boiled down to a simplistic and bogus tale of Serbs vs. Albanians, eternally divided by sheer ethnic hatred. Outside forces, such as the UN or Islamic states, are never part of this pithy narrative.
What the outside world does not realize is that the rule of these favored UN bureaucrats is creating a Kosovo in which not even they, let alone the rest of us, will be allowed free passage in a future of corrupt police, xenophobic nationalist villages, and Islamist-dominated "no-go areas." A great part of the UN's declared success in making Kosovo a more peaceful place is that, for over a year, they have simply stopped patrolling in the dangerous places. Fewer patrols also means fewer reports to burn later.
And don't imagine that when the UN is gone and Kosovo is independent that anything will remain in terms of paperwork. Fortunately, there are literally thousands of good UN human sources, who are only going to get riper with time as fear of crackdown from their former employer recedes. Yet their stories are verbal; future historians are going to have a hell of a time getting anything good on paper. Ironically, today's powers-that-be are directly prolonging the same Balkan impulses toward the anecdotal, the apocryphal, and rule of insinuation and rumor that they lament as being to blame for the historical misunderstandings by Balkan nationalists of the most recent to the most remote past. The foreigners have become more Balkan than us. Perhaps there is a shred of truth to the legends of a curse on all who enter these lands?
In any case, what is clear is that the powers-that-be will continue to destroy or suppress everything that paints their occupation in a negative light. This is why it is so important, whether you are a journalist or not, to get your questions in now. Challenge these people while they still at least hypothetically are supposed to be accountable for something. They have gotten away with a free ride for far too long; unlike in a real country, none of them were ever elected to the positions they have held and profited from. Nevertheless, they are the ones scolding Kosovo about its need to be democratic and obey the rule of law.
Unless more people try to call them on it, the Kosovo that is already physically the black hole of Europe will become historically a black hole as well – a perfect crime perpetrated by a phantom administration of individuals coming and going on temporary contracts, parasitically taking what they need from the system and moving on, and doing away with all the records afterwards. Such could not happen in a real country, though Kosovo is apparently about to become one.