A selection of post-Kosovo war press cuttings
Serbian ethnic cleansing scare was a joke
Sunday Times, 2 April 2000
A report purporting to show that Belgrade planned the systematic ethnic cleansing of Kosovo’s entire Albanian population was “faked” a German general has claimed. The plan, known as Operation Horseshoe, was revealed by Joschka Fischer, the German foreign minister, on April 6 last year, almost two weeks after Nato started bombing Serbia. German public opinion about the Luftwaffe’s participation in the airstrikes was divided at the time. Horseshoe – or ‘Potkova’, as the Germans said it was known in Belgrade – became a staple of Nato briefings. It was presented as proof that President Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia had long planned the expulsion of Albanians. James Rubin, the American state department spokesman, cited it only last week to justify Nato’s bombardment.
Heinz Loquai, a retired brigadier general, has claimed in a new book on the war that the plan was fabricated from run-of-the-mill Bulgarian intelligence reports. Loquai, who now works for the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), has accused Rudolf Scharping, the German defence minister, of obscuring the origins of Operation Horseshoe…. Loquai has claimed that the German defence ministry turned a vague report from Sofia into a ‘plan’, and even coined the name Horseshoe. Die Woche has reported that maps broadcast around the world as proof of Nato’s information were drawn up at the German defence headquarters in Hardthöhe…. The Bulgarian report concluded that the goal of the Serbian military was to destroy the Kosovo Liberation Army, and not to expel the entire Albanian population, as was later argued by Scharping and the Nato leadership.
We bombed the wrong side? – General Lewis MacKenzie
National Post (Canada), 7 April 2004
Five years ago our television screens were dominated by pictures of Kosovo- Albanian refugees escaping across Kosovo’s borders to the sanctuaries of Macedonia and Albania. Shrill reports indicated that Slobodan Milosevic’s security forces were conducting a campaign of genocide and that at least 100,000 Kosovo-Albanians had been exterminated and buried in mass graves throughout the Serbian province. NATO sprung into action and, in spite of the fact no member nation of the alliance was threatened, commenced bombing not only Kosovo, but the infrastructure and population of Serbia itself — without the authorizing United Nations resolution so revered by Canadian leadership, past and present. Those of us who warned that the West was being sucked in on the side of an extremist, militant, Kosovo-Albanian independence movement were dismissed as appeasers. The fact that the lead organization spearheading the fight for independence, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), was universally designated a terrorist organization and known to be receiving support from Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda was conveniently ignored.
The recent dearth of news in the North American media regarding the increase in violence in Kosovo compared to the comprehensive coverage in the European press strongly suggests that we Canadians don’t like to admit it when we are wrong. On the contrary, selected news clips on this side of the ocean continue to reinforce the popular spin that those dastardly Serbs are at it again. A case in point was the latest crisis that exploded on March 15. The media reported that four Albanian boys had been chased into the river Ibar in Mitrovica by at least two Serbs and a dog (the dog’s ethnic affiliation was not reported). Three of the boys drowned and one escaped to the other side. Immediately, thousands of Albanians mobilized and concentrated in the area of the divided city. Attacks on Serbs took place throughout the province resulting in an estimated 30 killed and 600 wounded. Thirty Serbian Christian Orthodox churches and monasteries were destroyed, more than 300 homes were burnt to the ground and six Serbian villages cleansed of their occupants. One hundred and fifty international peacekeepers were injured.
Totally ignored in North America were the numerous statements from impartial sources that said there was no incident between the Serbs, the dog and the Albanian boys. NATO Police spokesman Derek Chappell stated on March 16 that it was ‘definitely not true’ that the boys had been chased into the river by Serbs. Chappell went on to say that the surviving boy had told his parents that they had entered the river alone and that three of his friends had been swept away by the current. Admiral Gregory Johnson, the overall NATO commander, further stated that the ensuing clashes were ‘orchestrated and well-planned ethnic cleansing’ by the Kosovo-Albanians.
Those Serbs forced to leave joined the 200,000 who had been cleansed from the province since NATO’s ‘humanitarian’ bombing in 1999. The ‘cleansees’ have become very effective ‘cleansers.’ In the same week a number of individuals posing as Serbs ambushed and killed a UN policeman and his local police partner. During the firefight one of them was wounded which caused an immediate switch from Serbian to Albanian as he screamed, ‘I’ve been hit’! The UN pursued the attackers and tracked them to an Albanian-run farm where they discovered weapons and the wounded Albanian who had died from his wounds. Four Albanians were arrested.
Once again, the ambush had been reported in the United States but not the follow-up which clearly indicated yet another orchestrated provocation by the Albanian terrorists.
….Since the NATO/UN intervention in 1999, Kosovo has become the crime capital of Europe. The sex slave trade is flourishing. The province has become an invaluable transit point for drugs en route to Europe and North America. Ironically, the majority of the drugs come from another state ‘liberated’ by the West, Afghanistan. Members of the demobilized, but not eliminated, KLA are intimately involved in organized crime and the government. The UN police arrest a small percentage of those involved in criminal activities and turn them over to a judiciary with a revolving door that responds to bribes and coercion.
The objective of the Albanians is to purge all non-Albanians, including the international community’s representatives, from Kosovo and ultimately link up with mother Albania thereby achieving the goal of ‘Greater Albania.’ The campaign started with their attacks on Serbian security forces in the early 1990s and they were successful in turning Milosevic’s heavy-handed response into worldwide sympathy for their cause. There was no genocide as claimed by the West — the 100,000 allegedly buried in mass graves turned out to be around 2,000, of all ethnic origins, including those killed in combat during the war itself.
The Kosovo-Albanians have played us like a Stradivarius. We have subsidized and indirectly supported their violent campaign for an ethnically pure and independent Kosovo. We have never blamed them for being the perpetrators of the violence in the early ’90s and we continue to portray them as the designated victim today in spite of evidence to the contrary. When they achieve independence with the help of our tax dollars combined with those of bin Laden and al-Qaeda, just consider the message of encouragement this sends to other terrorist-supported independence movements around the world.
(Maj-Gen. Lewis MacKenzie, retired, commanded UN troops during the Bosnian civil war of 1992)
NBC News, 19 September 2003 [Congressman Curt Weldon (R) Pennsylvania on ‘Hardball with Chris Matthews’]
“If Senator Kennedy wants to talk about fraud in relation to the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq, he ought to talk….. about what he and President Clinton told us in 1999 when they told us to bomb innocent Serbs, we’d find 100 thousand mass graves. Those mass graves were never found. They lied to the America people to justify the aerial bombardment campaign.”
Globe and Mail (Canada), 2 September 2004
“Where are the bodies? Was the other big war of the last decade, Kosovo in 1999, triggered by bogus allegations as well? Another case of mass deception? In Iraq, it’s the missing mass weapons of destruction. In Kosovo, it’s the missing mass graves. In alleged ethnic cleansing exercises by Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, as many as 100,000 to 200,000 civilians were said to have gone missing or been killed in Kosovo, many of them buried in mass graves. Members of a Canadian forensic team to the Serbian province have come forward to label the numbers nonsense. No mass graves, they say, and, on both the Albanian and Serb sides, only a few thousand dead. A mockery of the numbers used to justify the war.
….. The Kosovo story has etchings of Iraq all over it. The United States (the Democrats this time) and Britain (Tony Blair again) demonize an enemy with fraudulent accusations. They play the gullible media, Canada’s included, like a violin.
The latest person to debunk the genocide numbers is retired Vancouver homicide detective Brian Honeybourn, a member of the forensic team. He told The Ottawa Citizen this week that his nine-member group found mainly single graves, with a couple of exceptions being one of 20 bodies and another 11. He wonders how genocide charges against Mr. Milosevic can stand up. ‘It seems as though The Hague is beginning to panic.’ But having everybody in the wagon doesn’t excuse what happened. If the forensic teams’ stories are correct, the missing dead in Kosovo is indeed a scandal comparable to the absence of WMD in Iraq. In a five-year period, political leaders twice duped their populations into going to war.
The War on Yugoslavia, 10 Years Later
By Prof Stephen Zunes
Foreign Policy In Focus
April 6, 2009
Far more Yugoslav civilians died from NATO bombing than did Kosovar Albanian civilians from Serb forces prior to the onset of the bombing. A number of human rights groups that condemned Serbian actions in Kosovo also criticized NATO attacks that, in addition to the more immediate civilian casualties, endangered the health and safety of millions of people by disrupting water supplies, sewage treatment, and medical services…. There are serious questions regarding what actually prompted the United States and NATO to make war on Yugoslavia.
While the Serbian nationalism espoused by Milosevic had fascistic elements, and his government and allied militias certainly engaged in serious war crimes throughout the Balkans that decade, comparisons to Hitler were hyperbolic, certainly in terms of the ability to threaten any nation beyond the borders of the old Yugoslavia. As today, there was civil strife in a number of African countries during this period, resulting in far more deaths and refugees than Serbia’s repression in Kosovo. As a result, some have questioned U.S. double standards towards intervention such as why the United States didn’t intervene in far more serious humanitarian crises, particularly in Rwanda in 1994, where there clearly was an actual genocide in progress.
But a more salient question is why the United States has never been held accountable for when it has intervened in support of the oppressors. In recent decades, the U.S. government provided military, economic, and diplomatic support of Indonesia’s slaughter of hundreds of thousands of East Timorese, and of Guatemala’s slaughter of many tens of thousands of its indigenous people. While Clinton tried to justify the war by declaring that repression and ethnic cleansing must not be allowed to happen ‘on NATO’s doorstep,’ he was not only quite willing to allow for comparable repression to take place within NATO itself, but actively supported it: during the 1990s, Turkey’s denial of the Kurds’ linguistic and cultural rights, rejection of their demands of autonomy, destruction of thousands of villages, killing of thousands of civilians and forced removal of hundreds of thousands bore striking resemblance to Serbia’s repression in Kosovo.
Yet the Clinton administration, with bipartisan congressional support, continued to arm the Turkish military and defended its repression….the U.S.-led NATO war on Yugoslavia helped undermine the United Nations Charter and thereby paved the way for the U.S. invasion of Iraq, perhaps the most flagrant violation of the international legal order by a major power since World War II.
The occupation by NATO troops of Serbia’s autonomous Kosovo region, and the subsequent recognition of Kosovar independence by the United States and a number of Western Europe0n powers, helped provide Russia with an excuse to maintain its large military presence in Georgia’s autonomous South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions, and to recognize their unilateral declarations of independence. This, in turn, led to last summer’s war between Russia and Georgia. Indeed, much of the tense relations between the United States and Russia over the past decade can be traced to the 1999 war on Yugoslavia.
Russia was quite critical of Serbian actions in Kosovo and supported the non-military aspects of the Rambouillet proposals, yet was deeply disturbed by this first military action waged by NATO. Indeed, the war resulted in unprecedented Russian anger towards the United States, less out of some vague sense of pan-Slavic solidarity, but more because it was seen as an act of aggression against a sovereign nation.
The Russians had assumed NATO would dissolve at the end of the Cold War. Instead, not only has NATO expanded, it went to war over an internal dispute in a Slavic Eastern European country….This tragic conflict should further prove that, moral and legal arguments aside, military force is a very blunt and not very effective instrument to promote human rights, and that bloated military budgets and archaic military alliances aren’t the way to bring peace and security.”
Interview with Lord Carrington, Former British Foreign Secretary
Saga Magazine, September 1999
“Nato’s intervention over Kosovo in 1999 represented a collective failure of both diplomatic will and conception. The terms of the Rambouillet Accords demonstrated a reluctance to achieve a negotiated peace settlement acceptable to all sides. As ex-secretary of state Henry Kissinger insisted, ‘the Rambouillet text, which called on Serbia to admit Nato troops throughout Yugoslavia, was a provocation, an excuse to start bombing’. Serbia’s anniversary is a timely reminder.
“….it was impossible for Milosevic to accept the Rambouillet agreement because what it asked him to do was allow Nato to use Serbia as part of the Nato organisation. Sovereignty would have been lost over it. He couldnʼt accept that. I think what Nato did by bombing Serbia actually precipitated the exodus of the Kosovo Albanians into Macedonia and Montenegro. I think the bombing did cause the ethnic cleansing. Iʼm not sticking up for the Serbs because I think they behaved badly and extremely stupidly by removing the autonomy of Kosovo, given them by Tito, in the first place. But I think what we did made things very much worse and what we are now faced with is a sort of ethnic cleansing in reverse. The Serbs are now being cleared out. I think itʼs a great mistake to intervene in a civil war. I donʼt think [Milosevic] is any more of a war criminal than President Tudjman of Croatia who ethnically cleansed 200,000 Serbs out of Kyrenia [Krajina]. Nobody kicked up a fuss about that. I think we are a little bit selective about our condemnation of ethnic cleansing, in Africa as well as in Europe”
How the battle lies were drawn
Spectator, 14 June 2003
Amid the present furore over the no-show of Iraqi WMDs, let us remember that in Kosovo our humanitarian Prime Minister dragged this country into an illegal, US-sponsored war on grounds which later proved to be fraudulent. In 2003 Tony’s Big Whopper was that Saddam’s WMDs ‘could be activated within 45 minutes’. In 1999 it was that Slobodan Milosevic’s Yugoslavia was ‘set on a Hitler-style genocide equivalent to the extermination of the Jews during World War Two’….. In fact, the Yugoslavs had by February 1999 already agreed to most of the autonomy proposals and had assented to a UN (but not Nato) peacekeeping team entering Kosovo….. It was the unwelcome prospect of Milosevic signing up to a peace deal and thereby depriving the US of its casus belli that caused Secretary of State Albright, with the connivance of Cook, to insert new terms into the Rambouillet accord purposely designed to be rejected by Belgrade. Appendix B to chapter seven of the document provided not only for the Nato occupation of Kosovo, but also for ‘unrestricted access’ for Nato aircraft, tanks and troops throughout Yugoslavia.
The full text of the Rambouillet document was kept secret from the public and came to light only when published in Le Monde Diplomatique on 17 April. By this time, the war was almost a month old…The Kosovan war was, we were repeatedly told, fought ‘to stop a humanitarian catastrophe’. ‘It is no exaggeration to say that what is happening is racial genocide’ – claimed the British Prime Minister – ‘something we had hoped we would never again experience in Europe. Thousands have been murdered, 100,000 men are missing and hundreds forced to flee their homes and the country.’ The Serbs were, according to the US State Department, ‘conducting a campaign of forced population movement not seen in Europe since WW2’
….With public support for war faltering, and a Downing Street spokesman talking of a ‘public- relations meltdown’, it was time for the Lie Machine to go into overdrive…. To date, the total body count of civilians killed in Kosovo in the period 1997-99 is still fewer than 3,000, a figure that includes not only those killed in open fighting and during Nato air strikes, but also an unidentified number of Serbs. Clearly it was an exaggeration – of Munchausenian proportions – for the Prime Minister to describe what happened in Kosovo as ‘racial genocide’. In both Kosovo and Iraq, the government’s war strategy seems to have been threefold:
1. In order to whip up public support for war, tell lies so outrageous that most people will believe that no one would have dared to make them up.
2. When the conflict is over, dismiss questions about the continued lack of evidence as ‘irrelevant’ and stress “aternative ‘benefits’ from the military action, e.g., ‘liberation’ of the people.
3. Much later on, when the truth is finally revealed, rely on the fact that most people have lost interest and are now concentrating on the threat posed by the next new Hitler.
An admission of the government’s culpability for the Kosovan war only slipped out in July 2000, when Lord Gilbert, the ex-defence minister, told the House of Commons that the Rambouillet terms offered to the Yugoslav delegation had been ‘absolutely intolerable’ and expressly designed to provoke war. Gilbert’s bombshell warranted scarcely a line in the mainstream British media, which had been so keen to label the Yugoslavs the guilty party a year before.”
The Spoils of Another War
Guardian, 21 September 2004
“The trigger for the US-led bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 was, according to the standard western version of history, the failure of the Serbian delegation to sign up to the Rambouillet peace agreement. But that holds little more water than the tale that has Iraq responsible for last year’s invasion by not cooperating with weapons inspectors. The secret annexe B of the Rambouillet accord – which provided for the military occupation of the whole of Yugoslavia – was, as the Foreign Office minister Lord Gilbert later conceded to the defence select committee, deliberately inserted to provoke rejection by Belgrade.
But equally revealing about the west’s wider motives is chapter four, which dealt exclusively with the Kosovan economy. Article I (1) called for a ‘free-market economy’, and article II (1) for privatisation of all government-owned assets. At the time, the rump Yugoslavia – then not a member of the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO or European Bank for Reconstruction and Development – was the last economy in central-southern Europe to be uncolonised by western capital. ‘Socially owned enterprises’, the form of worker self-management pioneered under Tito, still predominated. Yugoslavia had publicly owned petroleum, mining, car and tobacco industries, and 75% of industry was state or socially owned.
In 1997, a privatisation law had stipulated that in sell-offs, at least 60% of shares had to be allocated to a company’s workers. The high priests of neo-liberalism were not happy. At the Davos summit early in 1999, Tony Blair berated Belgrade, not for its handling of Kosovo, but for its failure to embark on a programme of ‘economic reform’ – new-world-order speak for selling state assets and running the economy in the interests of multinationals.
In the 1999 Nato bombing campaign, it was state-owned companies – rather than military sites – that were specifically targeted by the world’s richest nations. Nato only destroyed 14 tanks, but 372 industrial facilities were hit – including the Zastava car plant at Kragujevac, leaving hundreds of thousands jobless. Not one foreign or privately owned factory was bombed.
After the removal of Slobodan Milosevic, the west got the ‘fast-track’ reforming government in Belgrade it had long desired. One of the first steps of the new administration was to repeal the 1997 privatisation law and allow 70% of a company to be sold to foreign investors – with just 15% reserved for workers. The government then signed up to the World Bank’s programmes – effectively ending the country’s financial independence.”
Just as we try to escape from Blair’s last and bloodiest war, so his first one is coming back to haunt us
Daily Mail, 11 December 2007
Just as we are escaping the last and bloodiest of Tony Blair’s wars, so the consequences of the first of his wars may be coming back to haunt us. I mean Kosovo.
On March 24, 1999, Nato started dropping bombs on Serbia, which it blamed for a series of atrocities in Kosovo in which thousands of Albanians had supposedly died…. After 11 weeks and 23,614 bombs and the deaths of about 500 of its civilians, Serbia withdrew. Tony Blair was triumphant. Much more than Iraq three years later, this had been his war, not the Americans’. He had made the running, and now he received the plaudits
….For nine years Nato forces in Kosovo have managed to keep the lid on the ethnic cleansing of Serbs by Kosovar Albanians, though there have been nasty periodic outbreaks.
Much worse is likely to follow as a result of the emergence in last month’s elections of Hashim Thaci as the leader of Kosovo’s largest political party. Thaci, a former Kosovar Albanian guerrilla leader who is lucky not to be on trial for war crimes, has declared that Kosovo will unilaterally declare independence from Serbia. America backs him; the EU and Britain are in a flap; Russia and, of course, Serbia, are adamantly opposed. Diplomatic efforts to persuade him to stay his hand failed last week. We are on the verge of an independent Kosovo. Nearly nine years later, Mr Blair’s victory is looking distinctly tarnished.
In fact, things began to go wrong in Kosovo immediately after the end of the war….This was a war that could have probably been avoided. In February 1999, western diplomats nearly agreed a settlement with Slobodan Milosevic’s Serbia at Rambouillet near Paris that would have led to a semi-autonomous Kosovo. Only an unreasonable insistence by the West that Nato troops should be allowed to roam about Serbia at will, and that there should be a referendum on independence for Kosovo within three years, scuppered a deal.
It was almost as though Nato, and Britain and America in particular, were spoiling for a fight. Tony Blair was building up a head of righteous anger. In an article written for an American magazine shortly after the beginning of the bombing, he called for a ‘new internationalism’ which would not tolerate dictators who ‘visit horrific punishments on their own people to stay in power’. He was thinking of Slobodan Milosevic, whom he implicitly – and ridiculously – compared to Hitler.
Three years later it would be Saddam Hussein’s turn. Milosevic was undoubtedly a nasty dictator but largely of the tinpot variety and far less lethal than Saddam. Nor did he present any conceivable threat to the West. Mr Blair claimed Milosevic was guilty of killing at least 10,000 Kosovar Albanians before the war, but human rights groups have never been able to justify a number anywhere close to this…. If Mr Blair’s division of Kosovar Albanians and Serbs into goodies and baddies was simplistic before the war, it has turned out to be wildly wrong since hostilities ended, with the Serb minority often being the victims of ethnic cleansing by the Kosovar Albanians….. the outcome of the war seems certain to lead to the Greater Albania which western policy makers always said they did not want. Even now they insist that an independent Kosovo must not join forces with their ethnic brothers in Albania to create one large state that might destabilise the Balkans.
How on earth can it be stopped? It does not seem very intelligent statecraft to end up with the very thing – a Greater Albania – which the West has opposed. For Tony Blair Kosovo was a dry run for Iraq. There was the same messianic conviction, and the same slipperiness with facts, so that the Serbs were portrayed as being more heinous then they were, and the Kosovar Albanians as being more virtuous. There was also the same disregard for practicalities.
As Mr Blair gave very little thought to the consequences of invading Iraq in terms of social disorder, so he evidently did not foresee that the Serbs would become victims of ethnic cleansing, nor that western victory in the war would inevitably lead to an independent Kosovo that would in turn probably form a Muslim Greater Albania at odds with Christian Serbia. The apparent success of the war against Serbia redoubled his absurdly inflated belief that he was a visionary leader of world stature who could, and should, intervene with America at his side, to right every wrong, regardless of the niceties of international law.
And yet whereas he was opposed at every stage over Iraq and was ultimately driven out of office because of it, the outcry over Kosovo was always much less. Mr Blair was still in his halcyon days when he bombed Serbia, and many on the Left and Right were inclined to trust him…..Kosovo is a mess, Iraq is a bigger mess, and, I fear, Afghanistan will become a mess. Surely Gordon Brown and the Government have learned the lesson that it is a dangerous business going around invading other people’s countries.
Kosovo Leaders May Have Returned From the ‘Dead’
TIME, 1 April 1999
What may turn out to be good news for the Kosovar Albanians would be bad news for NATO’s p.r. credibility: On Monday NATO reported that two leading moderate ethnic Albanian politicians, Fehmi Agani and Baton Hadziu, had been executed the previous day by Serb forces; but the BBC reported Thursday that U.S. diplomats and Kosovar Albanian sources believe both men are still alive. If the report proves true, it would open NATO to criticism that it relies too heavily on partisan information from the Kosovo Liberation Army, which appears to have been the source of the execution clims. ‘Plainly, your credibility is dented if people you said were dead show up alive three days later,’ says TIME Pentagon correspondent Mark Thompson.
‘Clearly there have been a lot of false reports in the confusion of the first week’s bombing.’ For example, KLA sources told German TV on Tuesday that Pristina’s football stadium had been turned into a concentration camp holding 100,000 people. ‘Then a group of journalists went there and found that the stadium was not full of people, either dead or alive,’ says Thompson. But this is war, and the truth seldom makes it through without at least a few flesh wounds.’
Which do we believe: Nato facts or Serb lies?
New Statesman, 19 April 1999
“Consider some of the other ‘news’ to come from the beleaguered province in recent weeks: that a sports stadium in Pristina had been transformed into a makeshift concentration camp and 100,000 ethnic Albanians herded inside; that Arkan, the Serb paramilitary leader and suspected war criminal, was at large in Kosovo; that Fehmi Agani, the head of the ethnic Albanian delegation at Rambouillet, had been executed; that Ibrahim Rugova, the moderate Albanian leader, had gone into hiding after Serbs torched his house.
In all these cases, too, the only source was the second- and third-hand testimony of refugees, mostly relayed through the Kosovo Liberation Army. But, repeated and given credibility by Nato, all were faithfully reported in the western media, including by our own state-run (as others see it, at least) broadcaster, the BBC. Only later were these stories exposed as untrue: the Pristina sports stadium had been empty; Arkan had been in Belgrade all along (giving press interviews, no less); reports of Agani’s death were false; and Rugova, far from being on the run, was giving interviews from outside his undamaged home in Pristina and calling for an end to Nato air strikes.
Selective news judgement has been a notable feature of the coverage of the war. Where Belgrade makes ‘claims’, statements by the political and military leadership of the Nato bloc are treated as reliable facts. When George Robertson, the Defence Secretary, proclaimed that while ‘they tell lies about us, we will go on telling the truth about them’ there were no murmurs of dissent.
…. Whatever the constraints, much of the coverage of the war has been complacent. When last week, for example, the BBC produced a video of the ‘first evidence of alleged atrocities’, no one questioned what evidence Nato had had to justify the previous ten days of bombing. For the most part, the press has taken its lead from the politicians who, in the absence of any clear political objectives, have focused their energies on creating a climate of moral outrage to justify the bombings.
The media have proved themselves willing and able allies, blurring the complex political, cultural and historical intricacies of the Balkan conflict and recasting it as a simplistic fight of ‘good against evil’. Prior to the onset of the bombing campaign, for example, the British press had been scrupulous in its references to the ‘ethnic Albanians in Kosovo’. It was a clumsy turn of phrase but one that accurately alluded to the province’s ethnic and cultural diversity. Within two days of the launch of the air campaign, however, they had become simply ‘the Kosovars’, a misleading shorthand which cast them as the sole indigenous people and, by implication, the Serbs as an occupying, colonial power
…. The Serb civilians, meanwhile, have become ‘unpeople’, as John Pilger points out on page 13. Amid all the concern for the refugees, no mention has been made of the 200,000 Serbs who lived in Kosovo before the air strikes started. They may well be a minority and many may have been complicit in the killing of their Albanian neighbours, but how many innocent civilians have been forced to flee their homes by Nato’s ‘humanitarian’ bombing? Such awkward questions about how and why we are fighting are quietly ignored, as they were at the beginning of the first world war.”
Lies and mysteries revealed
WorldNetDaily, 10 March 2001
Last month, the German ARD television network broadcast a report entitled, ‘It All Began With a Lie.’ The main thesis of the program, which was first aired on February 8 and then rebroadcast on February 19, was that high officials of the German ruling SPD-Green coalition used fabrications and manipulation of facts in order to counter the growing public opposition of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999.
The report was damning enough to be the subject of a German Bundestag debate on February 16, and current Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping and Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer were especially taken to task for having misled the German public into believing that Yugoslav forces were committing ‘genocide’ against the Kosovo Albanians and that the only reason that NATO was intervening was out of ‘humanitarian’ grounds.
Perhaps even more fascinating than the said ministersʼ exposed falsehoods was a statement made by a German political figure during a live debate following the reportʼs second airing. Willy Wimmer, a defense policy official with the opposition Christian Democratic Union recalled a defense policy conference he had attended in Bratislava after the bombing and the strikingly direct explanation for NATOʼs intervention given by an American defense spokesman at the conference. The spokesman said: ‘We waged that war because we have to undo the strategic mistake Eisenhower made in 1943-44.’
What was that mistake? During this critical period, the Allies made the fatal-for-the-Balkans decision to withdraw their support from the only truly Western-oriented military resistance movement on the territory of German-occupied Yugoslavia, the overwhelmingly Serb Yugoslav Army in the Homeland, led by General Draza Mihailovic, who had made the cover of Time magazine in 1941 as ‘Europeʼs First Guerilla.’ Instead, the Allies threw their support (and arms and propaganda aid) to the communist Partisan movement, led by subsequent Yugoslav dictator, Josip Broz, better known as Tito.
Years later, it turned out that the Allies had been misled by Soviet intelligence moles within their own ranks (specifically, within British Intelligence), including the infamous Kim Philby, into thinking that the Partisans were doing the fighting against the Germans, while Mihailovicʼs forces were ‘collaborating.’ Actually, it had been the other way around, but the disinformation accomplished its task.
The well-armed communist forces combined with the oncoming Red Army and Yugoslavia was lost for the West. Mihailovic was hunted down by Titoʼs forces and, after a show-trial proving his ‘treason,’ executed in July 1946, despite strong objections from many Western governments. The fact that President Truman awarded him a posthumous medal was little consolation both for Mihailovic and the Serb nation that, despite being the first to rise in the name of freedom, had fallen under communist slavery.
All this is very important for understanding the dynamic of U.S. actions in the Balkans in the 1990s and the implications of those actions today. During the post-World War II period, while Yugoslavia was lost to the West as a democratic country, it did come to serve a useful purpose as a buffer between the Iron Curtain and Western Europe, thanks to Titoʼs subsequent rupture with Stalin. This was all very useful until the arrival of Gorbachev and the crumbling of the Berlin Wall that soon followed. Yugoslavia had lost its purpose and could be done away with, at least as a communist entity.
Thus, then-U.S. Ambassador to Yugoslavia, Warren Zimmerman, could openly state in a January 1992 interview given to the Croatian newspaper Danas: ‘We are aiming for a dissolution of Yugoslavia into independent states peacefully.’ Nine years of bloody war later, we have seen just how ‘peaceful’ this dissolution has been.
And, of course, it is to be wondered just how such a statement has escaped the attention of all the newfangled globalist international law ‘experts’ who are currently howling for the arrest of ‘war crimes’ suspects and their extradition to the Hague Tribunal. For the Ambassadorʼs statement was a call for a direct violation of the 1975 Helsinki Accords, which guaranteed the integrity of international borders.
…. Now, it is fair to say that the U.S. did not lead the process of Yugoslaviaʼs dissolution. The main actor in this process was the newly reunified Germany — which practically blackmailed the rest of Western Europe into recognizing the breakaway republics of Slovenia and Croatia — in return for accepting the Maastricht Treaty that has led the looser European Community into becoming the ever-more tightly knit European Union. Still, Germany was hoping to extend its influence by forming new client states. However, the EU was unable to extinguish the fire the Germans had started and the wars of succession dragged on and took more and more lives.
The U.S. stepped fully into the picture, bombed the Bosnian Serbs in 1994 and 1995 in order to strike some sort of a balance in Bosnia, and forged the Dayton Accords of December 1995, which were supposed to end the Yugoslavia conflict. The U.S. has been in the driverʼs seat in the Balkans ever since, but peace has not arrived. Five-and-a-half years after the Dayton ‘peace,’ under the noses of a 40,000+ NATO force in Kosovo, a new war is threatening to break out. As for Bosnia, it is a clinically dead state held together only by the almost-dictatorial powers of its High Commissioner and the NATO forces on the ground.
Lost in the Kosovo numbers game
Sunday Times, 31 October 1999
“…the estimate of a Spanish forensic surgeon, Emilio Perez Pujol, who has just returned home, disillusioned after investigating war crimes in Kosovo, is that as few as 2,500 civilians were killed. In an outspoken interview, Pujol complained he had been sent to head a large investigation team attached to the ICTY, consisting of pathologists and police specialists, to work in the north of the country. But he found that what was publicised as a search for mass graves was ‘a semantic pirouette by the war propaganda machines, because we did not find one — not one — mass grave’….
The gap between the hyperbole of the western propaganda machine and the realities of Kosovo were wide throughout the air campaign and led to the publication of wild, misleading and just plain untrue stories. Above all, there was a tendency to claim there was a systematic campaign of genocide in Kosovo.
… The war in Kosovo was Nato’s first intervention in a sovereign country, so building a case to sway public opinion was crucial for it and member governments…. War reporting is now experiencing extraordinary changes. In the case of Kosovo, western military officers, officials and ministers all conspired to push out the party line. There was spin-doctoring on an unprecedented scale, which has damaged Nato’s reputation for fairness and truth.
…. All this has left a dedicated forensic scientist such as Pujol, who had come to Kosovo to help establish the truth, deeply irritated. In an interview with El Pais, he says: ‘We had been working with two parallel problems. One was the propaganda war. This allowed them to lie, to fake photographs for the press, to publish pictures of mass graves, or whatever they had to influence world opinion in favour or against Milosevic or in favour of the Nato bombings.
….There never was a genocide in Kosovo. It was dishonest and wrong for western leaders to adopt the term in the beginning to give moral authority to the operation.’