Protecting the Kosovars & Cheer On the Bombing Raids

Knut Rognes (
Sun, 04 Apr 1999 12:13:37 +0200


jeg vidersender 2 ting fra Z-Net.

Knut Rognes

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Protecting the Kosovars
By Edward Said          
ONCE again, and led by the United States as usual, a war is being conducted
-this time in Europe - against an unprincipled and racist dictator who will
almost certainly survive the onslaught even though thousands of innocents
will pay the actual price. The pretext this time is of course the
persecution, ethnic cleansing and continued oppression of Albanians in the
province of Kosovo by the Serbian forces of Slobodan Milosevic.
No one at all doubts that horrible things have been done to the Albanians
under Serbian domination, but the question is whether US/NATO policy will
alleviate things or whether they will in fact be made worse by a bombing
campaign whose supposed goal is to make Milosevic give up his policies.
Since, as in most cases, the bombing campaign is not all that it seems to
be, a look behind the headlines is worth the effort, especially given the
new ferocity and willingness to intervene militarily on the part of US
foreign policy decision makers (Clinton, Cohen, Albright, Berger).
One needs to remember that since the US is a world, and not merely a
regional, power one calculation that enters each of its foreign policy
decisions is how the deployment of its military might will affect the US's
image in the eyes of other, especially other competitive countries. Henry
Kissinger made that point a central concern of his Indochinese policy when
he undertook the secret bombing of Laos: your enemies will learn that there
are no limits to what you are prepared to do, even to the point of
appearing totally irrational. Thus the exercise of massive destructiveness
wholly disproportionate to the goal, say, of stopping an enemy from
advancing further, is a principal aim of this policy, as it has been of
Israel's policy in southern Lebanon, where massive raids on civilian
encampments do absolutely nothing to affect Israel's main enemies, the
Hizballah guerillas. Punishment is its own goal, bombing as a display of
NATO authority its own satisfaction, especially when there is little chance
of retaliation from the enemy.
That is one consideration behind the current bombing of Yugoslavia. Another
is the misguided and totally hopeless goal of humbling, and perhaps even
destroying Milosevic's regime. This, as has been the case in Iraq, is
illusory. No nation, no matter how badly attacked from the air is going to
rally to the attackers.
If anything, Milosevic's regime is now strengthened. All Serbs feel that
their country is attacked unjustly, and that the cowardly war from the air
has made them feel persecuted. Besides, not even the Kosovo Albanians
believe that the air campaign is about independence for Kosovo or about
saving Albanian lives: that is a total illusion.
What transpired before the bombing was that the US seems to have persuaded
the Kosovars that if they went along with the "peace plan" Kosovo would get
its independence; this was never said, but only implied, leading the
Kosovars to expect NATO help. But, as usual, the US has never stated
unequivocally that it is for full self-determination for all the peoples of
former Yugoslavia. There should have been a straight-out and clearly stated
willingness to accept self-determination for Kosovo as well as a
safeguarding of rights for the Serbian minority there. None of this was
done. And neither were the consequences thought through, i.e., the
certainty that the Serb forces would respond to NATO bombardment by
intensifying their attacks against Albanian civilians, more ethnic
cleansing, more refugees, more trouble for the future. There is now talk of
200,000 ground troops (mostly American) to enter the battle and expand the
war, with the attendant problems of prolonged occupation, guerilla warfare,
greater devastation, more refugees, and so on. A lot of this comes from the
delusion that the US is the world's policeman. In the meantime, its
genocidal policy against Iraq continues, and its sanctions policy against
other Islamic or Arab countries also continues.
Nothing of what the US or NATO does now has anything really to do with
protecting the Kosovars or bringing them independence: it is rather a
display of military might whose long-range effect is disastrous, just as is
a similar policy in the Middle East. In 1994 when a US intervention might
have averted genocide in Rwanda, there was no action. The stakes were not
high enough, and black people not worth the effort.
Therefore it seems to me imperative that the NATO bombing should stop, and
a multi-party conference of all the peoples of former Yugoslavia be called
to settle differences between them on the basis of self-determination for
all, not just for some, nor for some at the expense of others. This is the
same principle that has been violated by US-sponsored peace processes
elsewhere, notably in the Middle East.
There is nothing about the current policy of bombing Serbian forces that
will either guarantee democracy for Serbia or protect the Albanians who are
still being treated horribly by Milosevic's forces. In its arrogance and
ill-considered military deployment the US has forced NATO to go along with
it, whereas it is quite clear that there is increasing disunity within the
NATO ranks, not just Greece and Italy and Turkey, but also France and Germany.
The greatest danger of all is that more people will be displaced, more
lives lost, and more fragmentation will occur in places like Macedonia and
Bosnia-Herzegovina. All this for the US to assert its will and to show the
world who is boss. The humanitarian concerns expressed are the merest
hypocrisy since what really counts is the expression of US power.
What I find most distressing is that destruction is being wrought from the
air along with a fastidiousness articulated about the loss of American life
that is positively revolting. Clinton knows well that Americans will not
tolerate the loss of life for Americans. Yet he can destroy Yugoslavian
lives with impunity from the safety of the ultimate in modern technology
and airpower, with American pilots and bombers sanitizing their horror with
the illusion of safety and distance.
When will the smaller, lesser, weaker peoples realize that this America is
to be resisted at all costs, not pandered or given in to naively?
-Copyright Edward W. Said, 1999.
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3220 N Street, NW,
Suite 346 Washington, DC 20007
How the US State Dept. Recruited Human Rights Groups to Cheer On the
Bombing Raids: Those Incubator Babies, Once More?
As the US stepped up its bombing raids against Yugoslavia, Harold Koh,
assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, called
the leaders of several US human rights groups to a hastily arranged meeting
at his offices in Foggy Bottom. Koh started the session by telling the
groups' leaders, who included Amnesty International-USA's head Dr. William
Schulz, that he was sorry that the administration could not support the
extradition of Pinochet. He stressed that while Madeleine Albright cared
deeply about human rights matters, the Defense Department had quashed the
idea. But, Koh said, there was good news. Albright had convinced the
Defense Department and Clinton that human rights concerns should be the
driving force behind the bombing of the Serbs. Koh said he hoped the human
rights groups would enthusiastically support the mission and promised that
if they did, Albright might even meet with them in person in the near future.
Amnesty International has obediently hopped to State's tune, saying in a
press release "violations of human rights lie at the heart of the current
conflict in Kosovo, and have done so ever since it developed during the
1980s. It is therefore essential that the effective protection and
promotion of human rights should be the centerpiece of any agreement to be
reached on Kosovo." On March 29, the group called for increases in military
intelligence operations on the ground in Kosovo. Human Rights Watch has
also pressed the cause of military intervention, using their Kosovo Human
Rights Flash to draw attention to Serbian abuses. After a week of
unrelenting missile attacks in Yugoslavia and Kosovo, none of the Human
Rights Watch reports included any tallies of civilian casualties from the
NATO bombings. Care Yugoslavia, an Australian humanitarian aide group, said
that over the first week, NATO bombing raids had killed at least 15 ethnic
Kosovars, when its bombs hit a refugee camp.
A person who attended the meeting tells CounterPunch he was shocked that
many of the leaders endorsed Koh's rationale. "Human rights is just another
affinity cause to be used by Clinton and Albright when it suits them,
rather than consistently and broadly". he said. "Indeed, human rights
concerns could be used as an excuse for extra-legal military actions that
bypass the security council and/or Congress."
Readers may recall that one particularly successful propaganda campaign
against Iraq saw US government operatives using Amnesty International to
advance the false and easily disprovable story that Iraqis had murdered
over 300 Kuwaiti babies in August, 1990, by tossing them out of their
incubators and letting them die on the floor. It's not at issue here
whether or not Iraqi or Serb forces are brutal. It's a matter of how human
rights organizations willingly become instruments of state policy. Somalia
offers a particularly vivid example of this.
NATO, Sig Heil!
It's bracing to see the Germans taking part in NATO's bombing. It lends
moral tone to an operation to have the grandsons of the Third Reich
willing, able and eager, to drop high explosive again, in this instance on
the Serbs. To add symmetry to the affair, the last time Serbs in Belgrade
had high explosives dropped on them was in 1941 by the sons of the Third
Reich. To bring even deeper symmetry, the German political party whose
leader, Schroeder, ordered German participation in the bombing is that of
the Social Democrats, whose great grand-fathers enthusiastically voted
credits to wage war in 1914, to the enormous disgust of Lenin, who never
felt quite the same way about social democrats ever after. Whether in
Germany or England or France all social democratic parties in 1914 tossed
aside previous pledges against war, thus helping produce the first great
bloodletting of our century. Today, with social democrats leading
governments across Europe-Schroeder, Blair, Jospin, Prodi-all fall in
behind Clinton. This is, largely, a war most earnestly supported by
liberals and many so-called leftists.
There's been some patronizing talk here about the Serbs' deep sense of
"grievance" at the way history has treated them, with the implication that
the Serbs are irrational in this regard. But it's scarcely irrational to
remember that Nazi Germany bombed Belgrade in the Second World War, or that
Germany's prime ally in the region, Croatia, ran a concentration camp at
Jasenovac where tens of thousands of Serbs - along with Jews and gypsies -
were liquidated. Nor is it irrational to recall that Germany in more recent
years has been an unrelenting assailant of the former Yugoslav federation,
encouraging Slovenia to secede and lending determined support to Croatia,
in gratitude for which Croatia adopted, on independence in 1991, the German
hymn, "Danke Deutschland".
So much for Serb feelings about Germany. Serbia has some reason to feel
similar resentment towards the United States. The biggest single ethnic
cleansing of the mid-1990s in the former Yugoslavia was conducted by
Croatia under the supervision of the United States, whose military generals
and CIA officers issued targeting instructions to Croatian artillery for
the ethnic clearing. The targets were Serbs, living in Serbian territory,
in the Krajina. Heading the Croatian cleansers was president Franjo
Tudjman, who has rehabbed Nazi war criminals. Yet somehow it is Serbia's
Milosevic who is demonized here as Hitler.
In 1999 Bill Clinton more or less left the UN's secretary general, Kofi
Annan, to find out from CNN about NATO's decision to bomb. The US game,
abetted chiefly by Blair's UK, is to make NATO the arbiter of Europe's
borders and "security", and to boycott the UN as a forum.
The twentieth-century illusion of air power is once again being exposed.
Now come demands for ground troops and a route march into deeper madness,
wider killing and misery. The only chance is rising protest from Americans,
from the world community, from dissident countries in NATO with calls for a
cease-fire and a genuine, UN peace-keeping force in Kosovo with no troops
from the contending parties and their allies. Absent that, why not a drive
for impeachment of Bill Clinton, on serious grounds at last, for abusing
Congress's war-making powers and also his sworn duty to uphold the
international treaties to which the US has set its name."
Pick the Warmonger
A quiz: Which US rep said: "At this point I support the NATO sponsored
air-strikes that are currently taking place." And which US rep said: "This
is not a proud moment for bad as the violence is towards the
ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, our ability to police and stop all ethnic
fighting around the world is quite limited, and the efforts are quite
simply not permitted under constitutional law."Yes, the first is from the
brass-lunged armchair bomber of Vermont, Bernard Sanders and the second
from Ron Paul, libertarian from Texas. How long will the long-suffering
progressives of Vermont tolerate their hypocritical rep without rebuke? CP
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