Hawks and Eagles: “Greater NATO” Flies to the Aid of “Greater Albania”
By Diana Johnstone
On March 24, NATO launched its first full-scale aggressive war against a sovereign state. It was certainly not meant to be the last. NATO, it was repeatedly stated, had to prove its “resolve.” The action was meant to be exemplary, a model for future NATO actions elsewhere and a warning to the world.
Yugoslavia had neither attacked nor threatened any other country. NATO acted illegally, without any mandate from the United Nations Security Council. By flouting the basic principles that underlie the fragile structure of international legality, the Clinton administration and NATO chose “might is right” as the law of the new millennium.
This appalling adventure, presented by servile media and ignorant politicians as a “humanitarian” necessity, set off precisely the “humanitarian catastrophe” its apologists claimed it was meant to prevent. Countless thousands of frightened ethnic Albanian civilians fled over rough terrain into neighboring countries.
They were fleeing from the NATO bombing and Serb reprisals, in proportions it was not possible to measure. Both NATO and its armed Albanian allies in the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK or KLA) needed to persuade the world that “Milosevic” (the semi-fictional personification of evil on the one hand, and Serbia on the other) was carrying out “genocide” in Kosovo. The “genocide” story was necessary to justify both the bombing and the next phase of the NATO-KLA scenario, the invasion of Serbia to “liberate” Kosovo.
After a week of bombing, this much could be said with certainty: NATO leaders had lied so blatantly about things that could be checked, that there was no reason to believe anything they say about things that could not.
Among the many lies in the current torrent, one lie played a key role inthe justifying of the NATO bombing, the “no alternative” lie: Since Milosevic refused peace negotiations, we had no choice but to bomb.(1)
The “no alternative” lie incorporated several falsehoods in one. Milosevic had not refused peace negotiations. For months, the Serbian government had been offering to negotiate, while the ethnic Albanian leaders refused. The Serb side had presented quite comprehensive and reasonable proposals for extensive self-government in Kosovo.
For years, but especially during recent months, both the Serbian government and non-governmental groups have made compromise proposals for Kosovo, all including autonomy, democracy and extensive cultural rights, while the nationalist leaders have insisted on only one demand: secession.
The “Rambouillet peace agreement” was in reality an ultimatum to Yugoslavia to accept a NATO protectorate on its soil. It was designed by State Department official Christopher Hill to satisfy KLA leaders, and was “agreed” upon only by those two parties and the European Union representative, not by the entire Contact Group (including Russia) which was theoretically sponsoring it. No sovereign state in the world could accept such an ultimatum.
Top U.S. officials openly coaxed reluctant Albanians into signing the agreement by telling them that their signatures were needed in order to justify NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia. The “peace agreement” was thus in reality a war agreement.
The War Agreement of Rambouillet
The conflict between ethnic Albanians and Serbs is a very old one, which can be traced back over three centuries. It is older than the Israeli-Palestinian or Northern Ireland conflicts, not to mention countless other ethnic conflicts in the world. The “peace process” in such cases is expected to be long and delicate. Only in Kosovo, governments and media suddenly decided that the conflict had to be settled in two weeks, at Rambouillet, on terms laid down by the United States.
Why the hurry? Because the United States was keen to lock in NATO’s new mission as global intervention machine with a show of force prior to the50th anniversary of NATO summit in April.(2) NATO had carefully planned the operations six months in advance. Peace negotiations “broke down” just when NATO was all set to go.
For many months, the Serbian government had offered to negotiate. High-level government teams went repeatedly to the provincial capital, Pristina, to hold talks with Ibrahim Rugova and other non-violent ethnic Albanian leaders. On one pretext or another, the Albanians refused to negotiate. It is probable that two factors weighed heavily in their refusal: fear of going against the rising armed rebel movement, the “Kosovo Liberation Army,” (UCK/KLA), hostile to any compromise and ready to assassinate “traitors” who dealt with the Serbs; and expectations that strong U.S. pressure on Yugoslavia would bring them more than negotiations with Belgrade.
At Rambouillet, the older generation of nationalist leaders such as Rugova never had the slightest opportunity to enter negotiations with the multi-ethnic official Serbian delegation, which included members of the various ethnic communities in Kosovo. They were flanked and overshadowed in the ethnic Albanian delegation by KLA outlaws, who by then were assured of United States support. Rambouillet was a charade staged by the United States in order to provide a pretext for a NATO demonstration of force on the eve of the Alliance’s fiftieth anniversary.
A genuine negotiation would have at least paid attention to the extensive 10-page proposal of the Serbian government side, calling for, notably:
* Equality of all citizens and guaranteed human rights.
* Facilitated return of all citizens to their homes.
* Safe unhindered access of all international and national or non-governmental humanitarian organizations to the population for purposesof aid.
* General amnesty for all political crimes related to conflict in Kosovo except for persons properly convicted of crimes against humanity and international law.
* Widest possible media freedoms.
* Preservation and promotion of the national, cultural, and linguistic identity of each national community.
* The commune (county) as basic unit of local self-government.
* An Assembly of 130 members, 95 elected directly by citizens through proportional representation and 35 elected by national communities of Albanians, Serbs, Turks, Romani (Gypsies), Egyptians, and Gorani (mountain Serbs of southwestern Kosovo, converted to Islam), five members each.
* Election by the Assembly of a President and 6 vice presidents, at least one from each national community, for a four-year term.
* Responsibility of the Assembly for: budget and taxes; educational arrangements, with respect for the authorities of national communities and communes; electing judges; establishing a framework for local self-government; protecting the environment where intercommunal issues are involved; adopting regulations governing medical institutions, urban planning, agriculture, elections, property ownership, as well as economic, scientific, technological and social development, among other things.
* The right of citizens to choose whether to be tried in a Kosovo court or in a court of the Republic of Serbia, and the right to request that members of the panel hearing their case be chosen from their own national community.
* Voluntary establishment of courts of national communities to settle disputes among members of a national community who accept separate national community rules.
This last point is clearly designed for the Albanian community which, particularly in rural areas of Kosovo as in neighboring northern Albania, has never fully accepted any governmental law and prefers to be guided by the archaic traditional “Qanun” based on family honor and clan loyalty.
Other measures, such as the provision for election to the Assembly, reflect fear of oppression by the Albanian majority of non-Albanians in Kosovo.
No doubt this proposal is inadequate. But in any normal negotiation, it would have at least been acknowledged as a basis for discussion. This did not occur. As for the Albanian side, it was interested in only one thing: secession from Serbia and total independence, if not today, then certainly in three years’ time.
The stubbornness of the Albanian delegation surprised Madeleine Albright. Perhaps the U.S. sponsors of the KLA hadn’t realized that the purpose of the armed rebellion was to seize power in any future “independent Kosovo,” and did not fully trust the United States to give it to them under the ambiguous terms of Rambouillet. For that purpose, war is a better method than any peace agreement, even one specially designed to detach Kosovo from Serbia. The KLA finally agreed to sign the Christopher Hill document once it was clear that Belgrade could not possibly agree to it, and that the KLA would thus get the war it wanted, complete with air cover.
It was evident that Belgrade could not accept the U.S.-drafted two-part Rambouillet ultimatum, not only because it was a thinly veiled plan to detach Kosovo from Serbia, but also because it contained provisions even worse than loss of that historic province, provisions no country in the world could possibly accept. This has been clearly analyzed by Jan Oberg, director of the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research in Lund, Sweden.(3) The Rambouillet ultimatum came in two parts, civilian and military. In the civilian part, three aspects stand out as obviously unacceptable.
* Kosovo would in effect be independent of Serbia, but Serbia would not be independent of Kosovo. Kosovo would be able to influence Yugoslavia as a whole by sending its representatives to both Yugoslav and Serbian parliaments, governments, and courts, whereas Yugoslavia would be barred from influencing Kosovo’s internal affairs. This is precisely the aspect of the 1974 version of the Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia that made major economic reforms impossible in Serbia in the 1980s and led to virtually unanimous Serbian demands for a return to pre-1974 terms of Kosovo’s autonomy.(4) The Albanian veto made Serbia ungovernable.
* “Self-governing” Kosovo would actually be run by a NATO imperial proconsul, with the title of Chief of the OSCE/EU Implementation Mission, or CIM. The CIM, who would effectively be chosen by the United States, would have the authority to issue binding directives on all important matters, hire and fire officials and security personnel, and overrule election results. During the three-week period between Rambouillet I and Rambouillet II, while the Clinton administration and ex-Senator Robert Dole were scrambling to cajole the Albanians into signing up for NATO bombing, the “High Representative” in Bosnia, model for the CIM, demonstrated his powers by dismissing the democratically elected President of the Serbian entity.(5)
* Economically, the Rambouillet ultimatum would continue to drain economic resources from Serbia to Kosovo. In Tito’s Yugoslavia, Kosovo was the main recipient of development aid from the Federation. Nevertheless, due in partto population growth (by far the highest birthrate in Europe,(6) as well as clandestine immigration from Albania), per capita income in Kosovo remained the lowest in Yugoslavia. The Rambouillet ultimatum demanded that Yugoslavia give Kosovo an “equitable” share of benefits from international transactions, without indicating what might be Serbia’s share of state or social property there. Since Kosovo would have its own “constitution,” overruling the Yugoslav and Serbian constitutions, making it a “free marketeconomy,” it is to be expected that formerly Serbian resources would flow rapidly into the hands of the rich Albanian mafia as well as any interested buyers from the NATO countries. The agreement did not even mention suspending economic sanctions against Serbia, much less any economic aid or help to the 650,000 refugees in Serbia. But substantial economic aid was promised to Kosovo.
The only operational remnant of the formal Yugoslav “sovereignty” supposedly retained by this proposal would be the obligation for Serbia to keep paying for Kosovo.
Dr. Oberg points out that the civilian side of the “agreement” lacked any reference to confidence building, reconciliation, peace or human rights education-measures vitally needed to enable the ethnic communities to live together. In short, there was nothing to suggest any serious effort to prevent “ethnic cleansing” of the Serb minority by the triumphant Albanian majority.
Still, the Serbian negotiating team at Rambouillet was ready to consider seriously this extremely unjust arrangement. The real sticking point was the military side of the ultimatum. This amounted to nothing less than unconditional surrender of Kosovo to NATO.
* Kosovo would be occupied by a NATO force called “KFOR” headed by a Commander, COMKFOR, who would “have the authority, without interference or permission of any Party, to do all he judges necessary and proper, including the use of military force, to protect KFOR” or to order cessation of any activity he judges to be a “potential threat.” Judging from experience in Bosnia, that could include forcibly shutting down media thatdiffer with NATO doctrine.
* No ceiling is set on COMKFOR forces.
* The government had to disarm, but disarmament of the armed rebels, considered dangerous terrorists by the Serbs, was left up in the air. Yugoslav defenses within Kosovo would be withdrawn except for 1,500 border guards supported by up to 1,000 logistics personnel placed in predetermined barracks. On the other hand, the “Other Forces,” apparently meaning the KLA (never mentioned by name), would be called on to “publicly commit themselves to demilitarize on terms to be determined by COMKFOR.” This meant that the Yugoslavs had no way of knowing to what extent or how the KLA might ever be disarmed.
* COMKFOR would have full control of airspace over Kosovo as well as 25 kilometers into Serbia and Montenegro along the borders with Kosovo.
* NATO would not be liable for any damages to local property, would be immune from all local jurisdiction or legal process, and would be ensured free and unrestricted access through all of Yugoslavia. This amounts to a license to invade other parts of Yugoslavia.
“The military provisions,” said Dr. Oberg, “have nothing to do with peacekeeping.” The more appropriate term, he suggested on March 18, the day the Albanians signed, would be “peace-prevention.”
Dr. Oberg observed that among all the leading media, commentators, scholars, and diplomats condemning the Yugoslav side for refusing to sign, none was examining what the accords contained. Having studied earlier versions of Christopher Hill’s text and the final February 23 version, Dr. Oberg came to the conclusion that “this document has been adapted to be acceptable to the Albanian delegates to such an extent that the Yugoslav side- ready to accept the political parts at an earlier stage-now find the changed document unacceptable both in terms of political and military aspects.”
Why this change? “Because the worst case for the international community would be Yugoslavia saying yes and the Albanians saying no,” concluded Oberg.
So the Serbs were given an offer they could not accept. Although KLA leaders were not enthusiastic about this agreement either, the United States apparently obtained their consent by promising a privileged role for the rebel gunmen as military partners of the United States.
Eliminating the Alternative
It is preposterous to suggest that there was no alternative to unconditional surrender of Yugoslavia to CIM and COMKFOR. It would have taken time to work them out, and bringing the intransigent KLA into the negotiations made matters vastly more difficult. But that intransigence was largely the result of their certitude that they ultimately commanded full United States and NATO support.
During the time needed for a peace process, the presence of truly neutral peacemakers could have played a constructive and indispensable role. Last October 12, Richard Holbrooke got Belgrade to allow 2,000 “verifiers” to enter Kosovo to monitor compliance of the Yugoslav side only with a cease-fire the KLA had never been obliged to keep. This was already an extreme oddity: a one-sided cease-fire, in which the legal police of a country agrees not to pursue armed groups which, whether called”liberation army” or “terrorists,” had been murdering citizens for well over a year and showed no inclination to stop.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) was chosen to organize this Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM). In Western Europe, since the demise of the 1980s peace movement, objections to the qualitative and geographical expansion of NATO have tended to take refuge in proposals to strengthen the OSCE which, unlike NATO, involves Russia and indeed all European countries except, since 1992, Yugoslavia.
Early suspicions in some pro-OSCE circles, confirmed by later events, suggested that this assignment was used largely to discredit the OSCE as a viable “alternative” to NATO. Although the champions of OSCE had seen it as less U.S.-dominated, the U.S. put one of its own “dirty war”specialists, William Walker, in charge of the KVM. The “verifier” force never approached 2,000, and it was widely assumed that many of the verifiers were agents of various NATO intelligence services, in particular U.S. military or civilian intelligence. Walker’s “diplomatic” experience in assisting the Contraguerrillas to mount a spoiling war against Sandinista Nicaragua was good background for cooperation with the KLA, the only “liberation” movement in the world (so far) which enthusiastically calls for NATO bombing of the territory it is out to conquer. In mid-January, Walker himself broke the fragile peace his force had been sent to solidify by endorsing the KLA version of the extremely controversial events in the village of Racak. Walker’s hasty and unquestioning condemnation of a “Serbian massacre” which many believe (and on the basis of solid evidence) was a propaganda set-up, arranging battlefield dead to give the appearance of an execution,discredited the KVM as a neutral observer.
Some of the resulting dissension within the OSCE has come into public view. In particular, the German vice-president of the OSCE, Christian Democratic Bundestag member Willy Wimmer, called the KVM a “fairly hopeless mission” because some people “apparently did not at all want it to succeed.” Who? “For instance the UCK. For instance those who are behind the UCK and pull the strings.” Wimmer said that the international OSCE observers had unambiguously agreed that the Yugoslav side had kept to the October cease-fire agreement, while the UCK had “systematically evaded it” and engaged in provocations.(7)
Asked by Deutschlandradio Berlin whether he considered the NATO military assault a mistake, Wimmer answered: “I personally consider it a very big mistake. And I am in agreement with the OSCE parliamentary assembly, which with a majority of nearly 90% has repeatedly stated that military engagements can be undertaken only with a mandate from the United Nations Security Council.” However, the interests of the United States and Britainwere “diametrically opposed to us.”
From “Greater Albania” to Greater NATO
The war against Yugoslavia has been sold to the public as a humanitarian necessity, when in reality it is a political project. For the Albanian leaders, the purpose was always clear: Albanian rule over Kosovo, not “human rights” and certainly not “peace.”
Veton Surroi, publisher of the leading Kosovo Albanian newspaper Koha Ditore, financially supported by the Soros Foundation and the National Endowment for Democracy, is often mentioned as the West’s dark horse to be President of “independent” ethnic Albanian Kosovo. He was a member of the Albanian delegation that signed the Rambouillet war agreement with the U.S. and the EU. He told the New York Times a week later that when he signed, he “also accepted that there would be consequences for the people of Kosovo, that if the Serbian side did not agree to the pact, it would have to be imposed by force-even at risk to the civilian population.” Hecontinued: “…these kinds of political arrangements require war, both as the driving force and as the action that seals them.”
Surroi also recognized the political interest of NATO: “The inhabitants of southeastern Europe will have to face the fact that NATO has created a security umbrella over them….”
In reality, the whole thrust of U.S. policy has been toward a violentconflict in Yugoslavia that would shatter Serbia, the last bastion of old-fashioned independence in the Balkans, and bring NATO in as occupier and arbiter. The United States did not want to bring Yugoslavia into NATO, but NATO into Yugoslavia.
To most people, it seems incredible that the apparently blundering Clinton administration could have hatched and carried out such a Machiavellian plot. And no doubt it didn’t. The monstrous policy seems, from what one can discern, to have grown more or less by chance out of a strange encounter between two very different interest groups: Balkan revanchist lobbies, both Croatian and Albanian, on the one hand, and a circle of strategic policy planners looking for the means to transform NATO from a West European defense alliance focused on containing the Soviet Union into the military arm of U.S. global hegemony, able to act anywhere in the world without regard to national sovereignty, the United Nations or internationallaw.
The Albanian Lobby
First came the lobbies. Already in the 1980s, when Albanians were actually running Kosovo, and the mainstream press was reporting that Albanians were harassing Serbs in order to establish “an ethnically clean Albanian republic” before merging with Albania to form “a greater Albania,”(8) the Albanian lobby in the United States was working to reverse the image.
The center of this lobby was New York Republican Congressman Joseph DioGuardi, of Italian-Albanian background.
On June 18, 1986, Representative DioGuardi and Senator Bob Dole introduced Concurrent Resolution 150, “Expressing Concern over the Condition of Ethnic Albanians Living in Yugoslavia.” This was an early significant victory for the Albanian lobby. Of course, neither Dole nor, probably, any other congressman had the slightest idea of conditions in Kosovo, if they could tell where it was, but it’s a rare politician who isn’t ready to “express concern” over the condition of an ethnic minority that has an active lobby operating in Washington. This sort of resolution can then be used as documentary proof of whatever it alleges.
The reward was not long in coming. In May 1987, Dole and DioGuardi attended an Albanian-American fund-raiser in New York City that raised $1.2 million for Dole’s campaign and $50,000 for DioGuardi’s. (9) Even so, DioGuardi lost his seat, whereupon he formed the Albanian-American Civic League to pursue lobbying for the Albanian cause.
Cuba has long been the most striking illustration of how a relatively small ethnic lobby-that of the counter-revolutionary Cuban exiles in Florida-could have a long-term negative influence on U.S. foreign policy. The Balkans provide a second, even more surprising, example. Ethnic lobbies offer mediocre politicians two precious assets. The most obvious is money in the form of campaign contributions. The other is the semblance of an idealistic cause: Championing some obscure “oppressed people” seeking American support for its “righteous cause” can provide a glow of international vision to mediocre provincial politicians with not a glimmer of understanding of the outside world.
The ethnic lobbies are not partisan. Republicans and Democrats are eligible to support their causes. For the 1996 elections, the Democrats “established nine steering committees to concentrate on Albanians, Arabs, Croatians, Greeks, Irish, Hungarians, Italians, Lithuanians andPoles…. An energetic 31-year-old Albanian American, Ilir Zherka, was put in charge of the drive, which was called Ethnic Outreach,” The European reported.(10)
Once upon a time ethnic lobbies were concerned with the social welfare and advancement of their constituents. To some extent, that may still be the case, but since America became top superpower, the focus has shifted to bringing that power in on the side of exile groups with an agenda. The Clinton administration, Zherka told The European, “has concentrated on trying to solve age-old problems in Ireland, Bosnia, and the Middle East. In addition, Clinton has worked on expanding NATO, and the Poles, Hungarian, and Baltic citizens appreciate his efforts. He has also supported Ukrainian independence.”
Here is where the agendas of exile groups and the post-Cold War problem of finding a new “mission” for NATO have dovetailed dangerously. With the collapse of the communist “enemy,” a small number of very special interests have rushed in to fill the foreign policy void.
“Minority groups have leverage because their support can mean the difference between a candidate winning or losing an entire state,” according to William Kimberling of the Federal Election Commission.(11) Smaller ethnic groups can be more effective than big ones because they are more compact. “One of the problems of American politics is that the two biggest groups, Blacks and Hispanics, are the least organized and don’t vote.” The lesson he drew is that “if you vote together, candidates will pay attention.”
The leading role of the Albanian lobby in the Clinton campaign’s “Ethnic Outreach” program is striking, as is the absence of any Serbian lobby. One can assume that this is not because there are no Americans of Serbian origin in the United States, but because Serbian-Americans have not, in recent decades, been united by an activist revanchist agenda. Serbs identified totally with the victorious Allied side in both world wars; many considered themselves Yugoslavs first and foremost, and if they opposed Tito, the changes they hoped to see in Yugoslavia were political and democratic, not a reshaping of the Balkans with help from the U.S. Superpower.
In contrast, right-wing Croatian exile groups in particular nursed dreams of restoring the fascist Ustashe “Independent Croatian State,” which had existed only during World War II thanks to the occupation and dismantling of Yugoslavia by Germany and Italy. In 1993, it was reported that “Croatia has built up the most effective lobbying and public relations network on Capitol Hill since the days when the Israeli and Greek lobbies were at their peak.” (12) Croatian lobbying efforts, congressional investigators were quoted as saying, “could well exceed $50 million.”
Culturally, there is little in common between Croats and Albanians. But extreme Croatian and Albanian exiles nursing the hope of restoring the Greater Croatia and the Greater Albania that had existed only thanks to the Axis Powers during World War II shared something very important: a common enemy. That common enemy was multi-national Yugoslavia, which deprived them of their ethnically defined independent states. Politically, it was more effective to define that enemy as the Serbs, the people who had played the leading historic role in creating multi-cultural Yugoslavia. Denouncing the Serbs as communist oppressors was the formula for winning support from American politicians. Serbian-Americans were without a well-funded revanchist agenda, and politically divided: no clout.
A key role in the joining of the anti-Serb forces was reportedly played by a young aide of Senator Dole, Mira Radievolic Baratta. Within the “smallcircle of those who monitor U.S. policy toward the Balkans,” The Weekly Standard reported in 1995, “her influence and her expertise are widely recognized.” Richard Perle, an informal Dole adviser who worked on behalf of the Bosnian Muslims at the Dayton peace talks, says that “other than Richard Holbrooke, Baratta has been the most influential individual in shaping U.S. policy.” (13) Baratta began working for Dole in June 1989 and in May 1995 received the “Award for Excellence in Politics” from the National Federation of Croatian Americans. In a bastion of ignorance, Baratta easily became the congressional expert on the Balkans. Baratta has “as good an understanding of the Balkans as anyone on Capitol Hill,” The Weekly Standard reported admiringly, adding that “she is probably the only congressional staffer monitoring ex-Yugoslavia who speaks and readsboth Croatian and Serbian”-a statement which itself indicates the prevailing ignorance, since Croatian and Serbian are the same language.
Baratta clearly understood the importance of concentrating on thevillain-the Serbs-as a better way to influence policy than to try to sell Congress on the Croats. She also advocated the Albanian cause and was publicly credited with getting the Senate to adopt a resolution calling for lifting the arms embargo against the Bosnian Muslims.
Even after leaving politics, Dole continues his support of the Albanian cause. “In articles and TV appearances, Dole has glorified the KLA and vilified the Serbs,” Investor’s Business Daily reported. (14)
Matthew Rees predicted that Baratta would succeed in “climbing the foreign-policy establishment’s greasy pole. Dole advisers such as Perle, Wolfowitz, and Jeane Kirkpatrick are among Baratta’s biggest boosters.”(15)
By a not so strange coincidence, Baratta’s fans include the most hawkishveterans of the Reagan administration. “Many former Reagan officials-U.N. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, Assistant Secretary of State Richard Perle, and Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger-have publicly endorsed sending NATO ground troops to Kosovo.” (16) Caspar Weinberger, whose name is synonymous with the big California-based transnational infrastructure-construction company, Bechtel, is described as “the most hawkish on the Balkans.” Bechtel, incidentally, has already been selected to build Croatia’s new coastal highway. The ravaged Balkans should supply plenty of infrastructure construction opportunities- not least the future oil pipeline to bring Caspian Sea oil from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, in line with the Clinton administration’s great concern to divert the oil away from Russiaor Iran.
The Eagles and the Hawks
Albania-in the Albanian language, Shqipëria, land of the eagles-is by far the poorest, least developed country in Europe. After the fall of its uniquely repressive communist regime, Albanians came into world view tryingdesperately to flee their poor country toward Italy. During Enver Hoxha’s dictatorship, that exit had been closed tight from within. The easiest exit route for Albanians in that period had been across the mountains of northern Albania into Kosovo, where local authorities-often ethnic Albanian kinfolk-let them settle. Compared to Albania, Kosovo was the land of milk and honey, even if it was the poorest part of Yugoslavia. With a Yugoslav passport, travel was easy. From Kosovo, enterprising Albanians went out to make their fortunes in Germany or Switzerland. Thanks in part to their very tight clan structure, Kosovo Albanians have notoriously taken control ofthe heroin smuggling routes through the Balkans from Turkey to Switzerland and Germany. After the fall of communism, rich Kosovo Albanians have tended to treat Albania itself as a colony for exploitation and a base for various illegal operations. Considering the potential dominance by Kosovo Albanians in a “Greater Albania,” the prospect does not delight all people in Albania itself, in particular in the south, where the Tosk dialect is spoken, in contrast to northern Albania and Kosovo where the Gheg dialect prevails.
If, as has been widely reported, the KLA is the armed branch of the ethnic Albanian mafia, it would not be the first time that the CIA has ended upworking hand in hand with drug dealers.
The alliance of the Hawks and the Eagles solidified around the dangerous project of “Greater Albania,” sold by lobbies and public relations campaigns to American politicians and public opinion as a “human rights” rather than a nationalist cause. This project filled a foreign policy vacuum. Veterans of the Cold War policy elite were groping around for new “threats” and a new mission for NATO and the U.S. military-industrial complex. As for the American left, or what remained of it after the end of the Cold War, it largely stopped thinking seriously about international problems of war and peace. The “single issue” approach made paradoxical connections invisible. Reduced to sentimental humanitarianism, the liberal left has become easily manipulated by public relations campaigns framed in terms of human rights and victims. A contemporary version of the old “white man’s burden” or mission civilisatrice has emerged to be exploited by the designers of NATO’s new global mission.
Thus by championing a supposedly “oppressed people,” NATO could prove in the Balkans its ability to act as a “humanitarian” police force anywhere in the world. Bombing Iraq and Serbia simultaneously, it could prove its “twowars at once” capacity (and use up its stock of cruise missiles before Y2K renders them obsolete). If it worked, NATO would have a formula that could be put into operation in other trouble spots, notably what Zbigniew Brzezinski calls the “Eurasian Balkans,” a vast area of mixed ethnic composition interestingly located around the Caspian Sea and all those oil reserves.(17) The idea is to find an “oppressed minority,” promise support to its fiercest warriors, preferably drug dealers who can afford to buy their own weapons, and when all hell breaks loose, one moves in to “avoidhumanitarian catastrophe.” Yugoslavia is a test case.
Supposing U.S. mastery of airspace and television time, this mixed propaganda-missile mechanism should meet the needs of those who perceive that eternal U.S. economic supremacy needs a military arm. “The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist-McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the F-15,” is how Thomas L. Friedman summed it up. (18) This is the imperative behind the rush to assert NATO’s “right to intervene” all over the world.
Thus, observed columnist Jim Hoagland, “the Kosovo war is about the globalfuture, not the European past.” (19) The American people not being considered mature enough for such Realpolitik, it has been necessary to feed them children’s fairy tales about the Big Bad Milosevic eating babies for breakfast, with Slick Willy and Slick Tony reincarnating FDR and Churchill to stop “the new Hitler.”
The future of the Albanians and the Serbs is only one of the stakes in the Kosovo war of 1999. Another is the capacity of the American people to tell reality from fiction.
1. Acceptance of this lie was prepared by previous lies relating to Bosnia-Herzegovina and to Kosovo itself, lies too numerous to refute in a single article, all leading to the fallacious conclusion that Milosevic was conducting “ethnic cleansing” of Albanians in Kosovo. In fact, the Serbian police and military were engaged in, at worst, a classic counterinsurgency operation.
2. See: Jim Hoagland, “Beyond the Rambouillet Effort Looms the NATO Anniversary,” Washington Post/International Herald Tribune, Feb. 15,1999:
“The talks at Rambouillet are negotiations within a negotiation. The diplomats work against a second deadline beyond the competing March offensives in Kosovo: In late April the leaders of 19 members of NATO will gather in Washington to celebrate the alliance’s 50th anniversary andunveil a new `strategic concept’ of its missions and responsibilities….
The road to a Washington summit that reflects glory on the good and great of the Atlantic community now passes through the police stations and city hall of the pitiable Kosovar capital of Pristina.” William Pfaff,
“Washington’s New Vision for NATO Could Be Divisive,” Los Angeles Times Syndicate/International Herald Tribune, Dec. 12, 1998: “The Holbrooke-Milosevic agreement on Kosovo in October was accurately described by Richard Holbrooke as an unprecedented event. NATO had intervened in an internal conflict inside a sovereign non-NATO state…. Washington sees this as a precedent for a new NATO that would deal with a variety of existing and future problems inside and outside Europe.” Roger Cohen,
“Europeans Contest U.S. NATO Vision,” New York Times Service/International Herald Tribune, Nov. 28, 1998: “At the root of the differences lies the American conviction that NATO should now be seen as an ‘alliance of interests’ as much as one dedicated to the defense of a specific territory, and that those interests may in some instances push NATO into far-flung activities….” Etc.
3. Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research, Vegagatan 25, S224 57 Lund, Sweden; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.transnational.org. Oberg has been on over thirty missions to Kosovo as head of TFPFR’s Conflict-Mitigation Team to the Balkans and Georgia.
4. The endlessly repeated statement that “the dictator Milosevic stripped Kosovo of its autonomy” is false. The Serbian Parliament voted to change the constitution to reduce Kosovo’s autonomy to more normal federal standards as had prevailed earlier, not to abolish it. While technically legal, the change was not managed with the necessary political consideration for Albanian sensibilities. It provoked a revolt that led the Albanian population to reject the very considerable democratic rights it still possessed as part of a general boycott of Serbian institutions.
5. On the same day, he announced that the town of Brcko, which provides the only link between the two parts of the Serb entity, had been taken from its present Serb government and established as a third separate unit within Bosnia-Herzegovina. This decision was rendered by “arbitration”: in reality a single U.S. official, Robert Owen. This decision reducing the Serbian entity is in violation of the basis of the Dayton Accords, which ensured the Bosnian Serbs 49% of the territory. These are only the latest in a series of one-man lessons in democracy by NATO dictators in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
6. In the 1970s, the average fertility rate for Yugoslavia was 2.3 as a whole, but 5.4 in Kosovo. About 2.1 renews a population. Catherine Samary, Le March? contre l’autogestion, La Br?che, 1988, p. 181.
7. Junge Welt, Mar. 26, 1999, interview with Willy Wimmer by Kirsten Lemke of Deutschlandradio Berlin, “War der NATO-Angriff ein Fehler?”
8. “Serbs…have…been harassed by Albanians and have packed up and left the region. The [Albanian] nationalists have a two-point platform,…first to establish what they call an ethnically clean Albanian republic and then to merge with Albania to form a greater Albania.” David Binder, “Exodus of Serbians Stirs Province in Yugoslavia,” New York Times, July 12, 1982.
9. From a Jan. 1, 1988 interview, cited by SIRIUS, Benjamin C. Works, Feb.28, 1999, archive.
10. Ian Mather, “Ethnic Europeans lend Clinton a hand,” The European, Nov.7, 1996.
12. Defense & Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy, Mar. 31, 1993.
13. Matthew Rees, “Bosnia’s Mira Image,” The Weekly Standard (Washington,D.C.), Dec. 25, 1995.
14. Brian Mitchell, “The GOP’s Tangled Foreign Policy,” Investor’s Business Daily, Mar. 4, 1999.
17. See Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard (New York: BasicBooks, 1997), especially the maps at pp. 124 and 146.
18. Thomas L. Friedman, “A Manifesto for the Fast World,” New York TimesMagazine, Mar. 28, 1999.
19. Washington Post/International Herald Tribune, Mar. 29, 1999.