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‘NATO roulette’: Norwegian port to host nuclear-powered US subs despite local objections

RT | May 28, 2020

A municipal port in Norway is set to receive nuclear-powered submarines from NATO after the only naval base in the area was sold and decommissioned – but local politicians and environmental activists aren’t on board with the plan.

When the Olavsvern base in Tromso was sold to private investors in 2009, pressure mounted from NATO to find an alternative point of arrival for reactor-driven vessels, other than Haakonsvern in Bergen, which is currently the only approved port in the country.

Now it appears a “temporary solution” to the problem has been found at Grotsund in Tromso, where the country’s Armed Forces have been told to prepare for the arrival of US submarines, Klassekampen reported.

Military spokesman Brynjar Stordal told the newspaper that the forces had been given “political instructions” to prepare for the reception and that they are working in collaboration with the municipality. “We don’t meddle with the politics,” Stordal told the newspaper.

Local politician and chairman of the board of Tromso Harbor company Jarle Heitmann said having the submarines dock there is “not a good solution” and that people would “rather not see the port used for this purpose.”

Tromso has been strong-armed into accepting the nuclear subs, believes Frode Pleym, leader of Greenpeace Norway.

“Allowing nuclear-powered submarines in Norwegian ports and waters is playing Russian roulette with people and nature. Or more appropriately in this case, NATO roulette,” he told the NRK channel.

“This is about the fact that the government and parliament do not dare to say no to the US,” he added. Pleym stressed that Tromso has appealed for Norway to sign onto the UN nuclear ban and is against hosting both nuclear-armed and nuclear-powered vessels.

Moscow was also less than enthused by the decision to allow NATO submarines to stop at Grotsund when the plan was first announced last year, with Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova saying that the move was “contrary to the historical traditions of neighborly relations and cooperation in the Arctic” and accusing Oslo of continuing to “escalate tension and increase the risk of military action.”

Unfortunately for locals who are against the plan, the Tromso municipality is bound by the Port Act, which means it has a duty to receive all types of war vessels.

May 28, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment

NATO rejects Russia’s offer to MUTUALLY freeze military drills amid Covid-19 pandemic

RT | May 26, 2020

NATO has ignored Moscow’s proposal to jointly put military exercises on hold while the world is dealing with the deadly Covid-19 pandemic. Russia said it can’t afford “unilateral concessions” to the Western bloc.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had addressed NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, proposing to mutually halt military drills as a “constructive and positive step” towards restraint amid the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak, Russian business newspaper Kommersant reported. NATO promptly rejected this idea.

The US-led military bloc’s spokesperson, Oana Lungescu, told the paper that NATO’s exercises are purely defensive and proportionate, while the enhanced posturing near Russia’s western borders is a response to Moscow ramping up its military potential in the Baltic Sea region.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Rybakov called NATO’s response “disappointing.” The Western bloc has “withdrawn to their close-minded positions, which they have been traditionally holding, and are adhering to regardless to the pandemic or Russia’s [new] proposals,” he noted.

The raging pandemic forced many countries to drastically alter their war games schedule, reducing the scope of many planned drills or cancelling them.

Last week, Lavrov announced that the nation’s military is “scaling down their exercises, and does not plan any exercises near the NATO’s borders.”

NATO, meanwhile, has significantly scaled down – but not stopped – its US-led Defender-Europe 20 war games, which were designed to be the alliance’s biggest joint exercise on the European continent since World War II, originally involving more than 37,000 troops.

Moscow has long been saying that the foreign military buildup along its borders is a threat to its security and undermines stability in Europe. NATO, in turn, has been calling on Moscow to revise the Vienna Document 2011 – an agreement that outlines the confidence-building measures, transparency, and third-party monitoring of military drills. Russia insists that minor changes will not resolve the current tensions but rather “legitimize” them.

Ryabkov stressed that if the Western bloc wants to improve the security situation in Europe, it should not only issue demands but also offer something “interesting to Russia in terms of maintaining its own national security.”

May 26, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , | 1 Comment

‘Don’t complain, toe the line’: US envoy snaps at Germany for criticizing Open Skies Treaty pullout

RT | May 24, 2020

Berlin should pile pressure on Moscow instead of criticizing America’s withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty, a US envoy told the German foreign minister, as the two NATO allies clashed over Washington’s move to ditch the accord.

The US announced its intention to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty (OST) earlier this week, unnerving its NATO allies in Europe.

Among those calling for the preservation of the 2002 multilateral deal, which allows for surveillance flights over the territories of its signatories, was German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

Germany’s top diplomat sounded the alarm that the looming US withdrawal would “significantly reduce” the scope of the treaty, adding that Berlin would “work intensively” with “like-minded partners” to talk the US out of leaving the treaty in the following six months.

The rhetoric from the European powerhouse did not sit well with the US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, who has courted controversy in the past over his repeated attempts to lecture Berlin on a range of domestic issues, from its military spending to the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

“Instead of complaining about the US reaction, Heiko Maas should have ramped up pressure on Russia in recent years so that it meets its obligations [under the Open Skies Treaty],” Grenell said in an interview with Rheinische Post on Saturday.

The ambassador reiterated Washington’s mantra that “Russia has not adhered to the Open Skies agreement for a long time,” lamenting that Germany still plans to abide by the OST despite the US concerns.

Germany is not the only country to have voiced its objections to the US move. In a joint statement, the foreign ministers of 10 EU countries, including Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands, called the pact “a crucial element of the confidence-building framework.”

Maas’ call was echoed by Brussels, with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell pointing out that the treaty, which has allowed for more than 1,500 observation flights over various countries since 2002, “provides transparency and predictability.”

“Withdrawing from a treaty is not the solution to address difficulties in its implementation and compliance by another party,” Borrell said in a statement.

Russia has repeatedly denied the US accusations of not fulfilling its obligations under the OST, insisting that it has restricted flights over its territory only as a tit-for-tat response to similar moves by the US and its allies.

Despite being dissatisfied with the United States’ own compliance, Moscow expressed readiness to negotiate with Washington and to “do everything possible to keep the treaty intact.”

May 24, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

US nukes in Poland would not be a deterrent, but a MASSIVE provocation for Russia

By Scott Ritter | RT | May 19, 2020

The US has promoted the deployment of US nuclear weapons on Polish soil as part of NATO’s ‘nuclear sharing’ arrangement. Such a move would only increase the chances of the very war such a deployment seeks to deter.

For the second time in little more than a year, the US ambassadors to Germany and Poland have commented on matters of NATO security in a manner which undermines the unity of the alliance while threatening European security by seeking to alter the balance of power in a way that is unduly provocative to Russia.

Richard Grenell, the US ambassador to Germany and the acting director of national intelligence, put matters into motion by writing an OpEd for the German newspaper Die Welt, criticizing politicians from within Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition who were openly calling for the US to withdraw its nuclear weapons from German soil.

Adding fuel to the fire, the US ambassador to Poland, Georgette Mosbacher, tweeted out two days later that “If Germany wants to diminish nuclear capability and weaken NATO, perhaps Poland – which pays its fair share, understands the risks, and is on NATO’s eastern flank – could house the capabilities here.”

The action that provoked the Grenell-Mosbacher media blitz were comments made by Rolf Mützenich, the chairman of the Social Democratic Party in Germany’s parliament, calling for Germany to withdraw from its decades-old nuclear-sharing arrangement with NATO, noting that the deal had outlived its utility.

The US currently maintains a force of some 20 B-61 nuclear bombs on German soil, where they are earmarked for delivery by German aircraft during war. Since 1979, Germany has maintained a force of Tornado fighter-bombers dedicated to the nuclear-sharing mission. The decision by Germany to buy 30 US-manufactured F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft to replace the Tornado in its nuclear delivery mission prompted Mützenich’s outburst.

Grenell and Mosbacher last teamed up to shake the foundations of NATO-based European security in September 2019, when Grenell’s comments made during the course of an interview with a German newspaper sparked controversy among German politicians sensitive to US criticism of German defense spending levels. “It is actually offensive to assume that the US taxpayer must continue to pay to have 50,000-plus Americans in Germany,” Grenell said, “but the Germans get to spend their surplus on domestic programs.”

Grenell’s comments were in the context of President Donald Trump’s ongoing insistence that America’s NATO allies pay their fair share of the cost of NATO by increasing their respective defense spending to levels matching two percent of their GDP. Germany’s defense budget in 2019 was approximately €43 billion, representing 1.2 percent of GDP. German lawmakers were quick to criticize Grenell’s comments, noting that while Germany’s defense expenditures were far short of what had been promised, it would not allow itself to be “blackmailed” by the US over matters relating to its national security.

Mosbacher then jumped into the controversy, tweeting“Poland meets its 2% of GDP spending obligation towards NATO. Germany does not. We would welcome American troops in Germany to come to Poland.”

Some left-wing German politicians proposed that Germany take Grenell up on his offer and begin to negotiate the withdrawal of US troops from German soil (there are some 52,000 Americans – 35,000 soldiers and 17,000 civilians – stationed in Germany today).

But these same politicians made a comment that has proved prescient. “If the Americans pull out their troops,” they noted, “then they should take their nuclear weapons with them. Take them home, of course, and not to Poland, which would be a dramatic escalation in relations to Russia.”

This, of course, is precisely what the Grenell-Mosbacher tag team has proposed today.

“NATO’s nuclear sharing,” the current NATO secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, wrote in an OpEd published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, “is a multilateral arrangement that ensures the benefits, responsibilities and risks of nuclear deterrence are shared among allies.”

“Politically,” Stoltenberg said, “this is significant. It means that participating allies, like Germany, make joint decisions on nuclear policy and planning, and maintain appropriate equipment.”

For its part, Russia has declared the US-NATO nuclear-sharing arrangement as operating in violation of relevant provisions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which prohibits the transfer by a nuclear weapons state of nuclear weapons to a non-nuclear weapons state. While the US challenges this Russian interpretation, the point is that the issue of NATO’s nuclear arsenal is an extremely sensitive one to Russia, made even more so when viewed in the context of the expansion of NATO that brought Poland and other eastern European countries into its fold.

Poland, along with the Czech Republic and Hungary, joined NATO in March of 1999, making a mockery of every assurance that had been given to the former Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev, that NATO would never expand eastwards if Germany were allowed to unify.

Russian President Vladimir Putin pointedly referred to these guarantees during his speech to the Munich Security Conference in February of 2007, in the context of NATO’s continued expansion. “[W]e have the right to ask: against whom is this expansion intended? And what happened to the assurances our western partners made after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact? Where are those declarations today? No one even remembers them.”

Russia remembers. For example, on February 6, 1990, when the former West German foreign minister, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, met with then-British Foreign Minister Douglas Hurd, Genscher told Hurd that “The Russians must have some assurance that if, for example, the Polish Government left the Warsaw Pact one day, they would not join NATO the next.”

These assurances were made by the former US secretary of state, James Baker, to the former Soviet foreign minister, Eduard Shevardnadze, in February 1990, when Baker noted that before Germany could reunify, “There would, of course, have to be iron-clad guarantees that NATO’s jurisdiction or forces would not move eastward.”

These assurances were given, only to be violated during the administration of President Bill Clinton. Today, over 4,500 US troops are stationed on Polish soil, including a reinforced battalion-sized ‘battlegroup’ stationed along the so-called Suwalki Gap separating Poland from the Baltic nations.

“If Russian forces ever established control over the Suwalki region, or even threatened the free movement of NATO personnel and equipment through it, they would effectively cut the Baltic States off from the rest of the Alliance,” a NATO report written in 2018 noted. “Deterring any potential action – or even the threat of action – against Suwalki is therefore essential for NATO’s credibility and Western cohesion.”

For its part, Russia has repeatedly declared that it has no desire to enter a conflict with NATO. However, NATO’s expansion in Poland and other eastern European countries has increasingly placed Russian security interests at risk. The deployment of Aegis Ashore launchers onto Polish soil in an ostensible anti-missile role, while declared by NATO to be exclusively oriented toward protecting Europe from Iranian missiles, is viewed by Russia as a threat to its own strategic missile capability. In response, Russia has deployed nuclear-capable short-range missiles in its Kaliningrad exclave between Poland and Lithuania.

If NATO were to deploy nuclear weapons on Polish soil as part of any upgraded nuclear-sharing agreement, the threat to Russia would be intolerable – every launch of a Polish fighter-bomber would be seen as a potential existential threat, forcing Russia to increase its alert status along its western frontier, as well as its capability to rapidly neutralize such a threat should an actual war break out.

This does not mean that Russia would choose a preemptive nuclear attack – far from it. Instead, Russia would rely on the abilities of the front-line formations of its 1st Guards Tank Army and 20th Combined Arms Army to conduct deep penetration offensive operations designed to capture and/or destroy any forward-deployed nuclear weapons before they could be used. Far from deterring a war with Russia, any deployment of nuclear weapons by the US on Polish soil only increases the likelihood of the very conflict NATO purports to seek to avoid.

Scott Ritter is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer. He served in the Soviet Union as an inspector implementing the INF Treaty, in General Schwarzkopf’s staff during the Gulf War, and from 1991-1998 as a UN weapons inspector. Follow him on Twitter @RealScottRitter

May 19, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

The NATO Conquest of Eastern Europe

Tales of the American Empire | May 14, 2020

General Dwight Eisenhower was the first NATO supreme allied commander. After assuming that post in 1951, General Eisenhower wrote about NATO’s goal: “If in 10 years, all American troops stationed in Europe for national defense purposes have not been returned to the United States, then this whole project will have failed.” It did fail because seven decades later, long after the Soviet Union dissolved, NATO still exists with thousands of American troops deployed throughout Europe. The Warsaw Pact was disbanded in 1991 as Soviet troops withdrew from Eastern Europe. The American empire exploited this peace to expand NATO and absorb former Warsaw Pact nations and even former Soviet republics while deploying NATO forces to Russia’s borders.

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“NATO Expansion Would Be an Epic Fateful Error”; Admiral Eugene Carroll; Los Angeles Times; July 7, 1997; https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-x…

Halt Plans for New European Bases”; G2mil; 2011; https://www.g2mil.com/deveselu.htm

“The SM-3 Missile Defense Fraud”; G2mil; 2017; https://www.g2mil.com/NMD_Fraud.htm

“NATO Expansion; What Gorbachev Heard”; National Security Archive; Dec. 12, 2017; https://nsarchive.gwu.edu/briefing-bo…

“Founding Act”; an official NATO-Russian agreement; May 27, 1997; https://www.nato.int/cps/cn/natohq/of…

“Army tanks, personnel set for move to northwestern Germany”; Stars and Stripes; July 15, 2016; https://www.stripes.com/news/army-tan…

“In a small Polish village near a Russian enclave, US-led NATO battle group is ready in case anything happens”; Stars and Stripes; Feb. 15, 2020; https://www.stripes.com/news/europe/i…

“The New Cold War With Russia is All America’s Fault”; Scott Horton; March 3, 2020; Antiwar.com; https://original.antiwar.com/scott/20…

May 15, 2020 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | 1 Comment

Does NATO have a Future?

By Vladimir Platov – New Eastern Outlook – 05.05.2020

In light of recent developments worldwide, including lack of NATO involvement in efforts to protect citizens of the alliance as the Coronavirus continues its spread, a fundamental question arises of “whether NATO today enhances global security or in fact diminishes it.”

It is common knowledge that NATO was established in April 1949 in order to serve as a counterweight to the growing political and military might of the Soviet Union. From 1949 until the collapse of the USSR, “NATO’s primary purpose was to unify and strengthen the Western Allies’ military response to a possible invasion of western Europe by the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies.” After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in October 1991, “the rationale behind NATO rendered the organization moot.” Seventy years on, the world has drastically changed, the USSR and the Warsaw Treaty Organization no longer exist, the Berlin Wall has fallen, but many large bureaucratic organizations, such as NATO, continue to thrive and “feed” military and political elites of the United States and Europe. Moreover, NATO has been expanding despite promises to the contrary. The West chose not to reciprocate the trust shown to it by the Soviet Union almost thirty years ago.

As reported earlier, while COVID-19 continues its rapid spread in various countries, including those that are part of NATO, more and more people throughout the world are becoming increasingly critical of the alliance’s unwillingness to truly help the citizens of its member states in their fight against the Coronavirus pandemic. Instead, the organization is following Washington’s lead by increasing military spending so that the US military industrial complex and other beneficiaries can earn more. All of this is happening to the detriment of citizens’ safety, especially because of cuts to spending on important needs of society including healthcare. Requests for help published by Spanish and Italian media outlets addressed to the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC, NATO’s principal civil emergency response mechanism in this part of the world) remained unanswered. And the Alliance was even unable to provide assistance by supplying medicine and personal protection equipment (PPE), which the EADRCC should have access to in the event of a large-scale armed conflict. Given the current state of affairs, many European media outlets have asked a reasonable question: “So what have EADRCC officials been doing aside from spreading anti-Russian propaganda and pushing its member-states to give money to it?”

The views expressed by European news sources were confirmed in the recent speech given by Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg, who admitted that due to the Coronavirus pandemic, undoubtedly, military budgets of Alliance member states would be cut. Still, in order to stop this from happening, he again began to promote his favorite viewpoint that the threat from Russia had supposedly not diminished during the press conference at the end of the Meeting of NATO Ministers of Defense in Brussels. It thus seemed as if the Secretary General was hoping to attract additional funding for the Alliance. He also deliberately failed to mention that it was not NATO but instead its so-called rival power, Russia, which during the difficult times for many nations, including NATO member states, responded not with threats but by providing humanitarian aid to a number of European nations being ravaged by the Coronavirus pandemic in the form of military doctors and medical equipment.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, NATO has tried to justify its existence by any possible means. The terrorist attacks in the United States on 11 September 2001, gave the organization a new lease on life. But given that the USA has come to an agreement with the Taliban, this particular reason for NATO’s existence will disappear once again. And, according to some observers, now that the United States is “becoming increasingly preoccupied with China, there is a growing feeling in the Trump administration that NATO is no longer a burden the United States should have to bear.” The alliance, which has existed since 1949, has come to the end of its road.

An article in The National Interest implies that, at present, NATO does not enhance global security but instead diminishes it. It also suggests that in light of the Coronavirus pandemic, “world leaders need to reassess expenditures of resources based on real and present threats to national security” and to reconsider their continuing commitment to NATO, “whose global ambitions are largely driven and funded by the United States.” The report in the National Interest provides 10 main reasons why “NATO is no longer needed.”

First of all, the three main reasons for creating the alliance “are no longer valid.” Instead of still focusing on an open confrontation with Russia, formerly the Soviet Union, that began in 1949, the West ought to reconsider the proposal made by Moscow (which it initially rejected out of hand) to create “a new continental security arrangement ‘from Dublin to Vladivostok’.” After all, if the concept had been accepted, Russia would have been a part of “a cooperative security architecture that would have been safer for the global community.”

As for the idea, being artificially spread by some in current political elite circles in the West, that Russia poses a threat, it is important to remember that, according to estimates by experts, the size of the Russian economy is one tenth of that of Europe. Hence, the EU can afford to defend itself against Russia, and neither the presence of US military in Europe nor the existence of NATO can be justified at present.

The alliance’s Article 5 (the “attack on one is attack on all” clause) is also not immune to criticism and cannot be used to explain why NATO continues to exist. After all, the only time this organization invoked it was in response to terrorism, i.e. the attack of September 11, 2001. And indeed Russia ended up providing “invaluable logistical intelligence and base support for the post–9/11 Afghan engagement.”

It is equally important to remember that not only does the United States “continue to spend close to 70 percent of its discretionary budget on the military,” such expenditures in other countries are also unjustifiably high. Americans as well as Europeans, therefore, “have the right to ask why such exorbitant “spending” is necessary and whom does it really benefit.” After all, in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, it has become painfully clear that “the health-care systems in the West are woefully underfinanced and disorganized.” Hence, “diminishing the cost and needless expense of NATO will make room for other national priorities of greater good.”

Today, we all see just how much the world has suddenly changed in the space of just a few months. Yes, the world has really changed and so has the entire population of the Earth and not only a few nations. And hopefully, in the future, we will be able to strive towards our goals and our dreams confidently rather than gradually. In addition, the global community ought to make resolving important issues plaguing societies its priority instead of focusing on strengthening military alliances, such as NATO, which has obviously become an anachronism. It is thus reasonable to state that the NATO era has finally come to an end.

May 5, 2020 Posted by | Militarism, Russophobia | | 2 Comments

Russia: US use of low-yield nukes would still be nuclear attack, draw retaliation

Press TV – April 30, 2020

Russia has warned that any attack by the United States involving its low-yield submarine-launched ballistic missiles would still be construed as nuclear aggression and would draw all-out nuclear retaliation.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday that any attack with the use of the submarine-launched ballistic missiles, regardless of their characteristics, would be viewed by the Kremlin as nuclear aggression and, therefore, a basis for a retaliatory strike.

Zakharova made the comments following the United States’ deployment of its low-yield nuclear warheads, saying the move was a dangerous step that would lead to destabilization.

“We noted the article, published by the US Department of State’s official website on April 24 and devoted to the issue of creating W76-2 low-yield nuclear warheads and deploy it on some of its Trident submarines,” she said. “As we have already said many times, we view this as a dangerous step. We believe that it carries a certain element of destabilization.”

The US State Department argued in a paper released last week that the new warhead “reduces the risk of nuclear war by reinforcing extended deterrence and assurance.”

But Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the US’s production of W76-2 missiles lowered the nuclear threshold and increased the risk of a nuclear conflict.

Back in February, the United States announced the deployment of a new long-range nuclear missile aboard its stealth submarines to deter what it called Washington’s potential adversaries.

The US Department of Defense claimed in a statement at the time that the low-yield warheads were deployed on the USS Tennessee submarine patrolling in the Atlantic Ocean to deter “potential adversaries, like Russia,” and in response to Russian tests of similar weapons.

Low-yield nuclear weapons have less than 20 kilotons of destructive power but still have devastating effect. The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, in August 1945, had about the same explosive power.

Washington has been deploying missiles in Eastern Europe and near Russia’s western borders, a provocative move denounced by the Kremlin.

Moscow has repeatedly warned Washington not to deploy weapons systems in the vicinity of Russia.

April 30, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Deception – Submarines against Olof Palme

thersites | April 22, 2020

Background:

In the early 1980s, Sweden was haunted by several hundred sightings of mysterious submarines, causing much panic in public opinion and greatly embarrassing the non-aligned Social Democrat government led by Olof Palme and its efforts to create detente in Europe.

In 1981, a Soviet submarine had run aground in Swedish territorial waters, and the Soviets consequently got blamed for every subsequent sighting over the nest half decade,

10 years later, high ranking US and British officials causally revealed in interviews that NATO had sent submarines into Swedish waters – with the Swedish Navy High Command being informed of the matter, but with neither the Swedish militar brass nor US/UK/NATO informing the elected Swedish government.

After the assassination of Olof Palme in 1986 and the end of the Cold War in the late 1980s, the sightings disappeared – only for the submarines turn up again in 2014, during the New Cold War.

(Director; Dirk Pohlmann)

April 25, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , | Leave a comment

How It All Began: The Belgrade Embassy Bombing

By Peter Lee | China Matters | May 24, 2015

When I was in Beijing during the protests in 1989, a middle-aged man came up to me and asked, “Couldn’t America send some B-52s here and…” and he made a swooping motion with his hand.

Ten years later, on May 7, 1999, the American bombers did show up.

Instead of showering freedom ordnance on China’s dictators, however, they dropped five bombs on the Chinese embassy in Belgrade.

As to why this happened, the United States has always declared it was an accident.

A lot of people in China believe otherwise and there is a good amount of evidence to support their view.

The bombing of the embassy was a wake-up call for the PRC leadership, which decided it urgently needed a doctrine and capabilities beyond its strategic nuclear deterrent to handle disagreements with the United States that might acquire a military dimension.

It was also a propaganda godsend for the regime.

Chinese demonstrators were back on the streets, but protesting against the United States instead of against the PRC regime’s deficiencies in Western democratic values.

Americans and the U.S. media had a hard time getting used to this unfavorable turn in some popular Chinese attitudes away from 1989 democracy-love, blaming the ill-feeling on the suppression of news of President Clinton’s apology.

In the July 2001 China Journal, Peter Hays Gries of Ohio State University analyzed letters and submissions to China’s Guangming Daily and characterized the protests as “genuine and understandable” and largely unrelated to unawareness of the presidential apology.

On the ten-year anniversary of the bombing, China Digital Times linked to an interview with a student who identified the bombing as the trigger for a sea-change in the worldview of at least some Chinese:

What do you believe has changed now in the attitude of young Chinese (like those who protested 10 years ago against the USA) towards America?

Over the past decade, I think the young Chinese have gradually dropped their illusion of the U.S. and begun to view it more objectively.

After reform and opening-up, to be more specific in the 1980s and 1990s, the Chinese people began to know more about the outside world. The prosperity of the west attracted the young people so much that all of a sudden everybody wanted to go abroad. At that time, we had a popular saying, “Moon of the west is even more beautiful than that of China.” Experiencing the sharp contrast between China and the west, many Chinese people became critical of China, perhaps in a cynical way.

However, when the Chinese embassy was bombed, many people began to think: is this the kind of democracy and human rights that we want to pursue?

Post Iraq-war, it is difficult to remember the years when the United States effortlessly claimed the moral high ground. But in 1999, I remember that I also discounted Chinese whinging about the Belgrade embassy accident.

Writing in 2001, Gries provides a reminder:

The demonstrations shocked the US media, which quickly pointed blame at the Chinese government for inflaming the protests. A brief review of major US newspaper editorials of 11 May reveals a consensus view: the Chinese people were not genuinely angry with (innocent) America; they were, rather, manipulated by Communist propaganda that the bombing was intentional… The Washington Post declared: “The Big Lie is alive and well in Beijing”… Such “state-supervised anger”, the Boston Globe declared, was neither genuine nor popular. The “brutes in Beijing” were responsible for the Chinese people’s mistaken belief that the bombing was intentional.

A contentious interview conducted by Jim Lehrer with the Chinese ambassador to the US, Li Zhaoxing, immediately subsequent to the attack, is enlightening for the cognitive dissonance provoked by Li’s refusal to share Lehrer’s confidence that the US would publicly and honestly sort out what was obviously just a regrettable goof. Looking back at the interview through the perspective provided by the shameless mendacity of the Bush administration over the Iraq War, it is Lehrer and not Li who looks delusional and out of touch.

LI ZHAOXING: I’m saying that the Chinese people and the Chinese government are requesting a thorough investigation of the NATO missile attack on our embassy in Yugoslavia.

JIM LEHRER: Yes, sir. But my question is: why would you think that it would not be an accident or a mistake? In other words, why would you think– to repeat my question, why would you think that the United States would intentionally kill Chinese citizens in downtown Belgrade?

LI ZHAOXING: Ask your own people. Ask your own officials. Ask your own experts. If they ask themselves, seriously, honestly, do they really believe that this is simply a kind of mistake?

JIM LEHRER: Are you suggesting that that is not the intention of the United States, to do exactly what you– in other words, to conduct a full investigation and hold the people responsible for this?

LI ZHAOXING: We attach more to facts, rather than words. No matter how eloquent one could be.

In addition to his encounter with Jim Lehrer, Li Zhaoxing received further instruction on American attitudes from another, less courtly source.

Gries passes on a report in the Washington Post in which Tom DeLay, the Republican whip in the House of Representatives, revealed to Li his own formula for managing US-PRC relations, one that did not depend on apologies:

I was on Meet the Press… right after the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Kosovo [he meant Belgrade], and the [Chinese] ambassador was on before me. And if you remember, he’s kind of an obnoxious fellow and he’s screaming and yelling about how bad the Americans were, and I had had it up to about here. So he’s coming off the stage and I’m going onto the stage and I intentionally walked up to him and blocked his way… I grabbed [his] hand and squeezed it as hard as I could and pulled him a kind of little jerk like this and I said: “Don’t take the weakness of this president as the weakness of the American people.” And he looked at me kind of funny, so I pulled him real close, nose to nose, and I repeated it very slowly, and said, “Do-not-take-the-weakness-of this president as the weakness of the American people.”

I expect Li Zhaoxing recalled Mr. DeLay’s solicitude as well as Jim Lehrer’s amazed disbelief when he returned to Beijing to become China’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.

A tentative answer to Jim Lehrer’s query as to why the United States might take the dastardly step of bombing the Chinese embassy can be found in my articles from early 2007 on the Belgrade incident: the persistent rumor that attack was conducted to destroy wreckage of a US stealth fighter shot down over Serbia, which the Milosevic government had delivered to the PRC in gratitude for services rendered (or perhaps traded to the PRC in return for presumably safe and secure radio retransmission facilities from inside the Belgrade embassy for the Serbian military, whose communications network was a focus of NATO strikes).

The story that China might have acquired key Stealth technology from the crash in Yugoslavia acquired a lot of legs after China test-flew its first stealth fighter, the J20, in January 2011, as I wrote in Asia Times.

During the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) campaign against Serbia in 1999, an American F-117A stealth fighter was shot down. Some wreckage undoubtedly made it into Chinese hands. Slobodan Lekic and Dusan Stojanovic of the Associated Press (AP) reported on January 23:

“At the time, our intelligence reports told of Chinese agents crisscrossing the region where the F-117 disintegrated, buying up parts of the plane from local farmers,” says Admiral Davor Domazet-Loso, Croatia’s military chief of staff during the Kosovo war.

“We believe the Chinese used those materials to gain an insight into secret stealth technologies … and to reverse-engineer them,” Domazet-Loso said in a telephone interview.

A senior Serbian military official confirmed that pieces of the wreckage were removed by souvenir collectors, and that some ended up “in the hands of foreign military attaches”. [2]

The idea that the United States had not taken adequate steps to secure the F-117A wreckage and useful technology may have thereby found its way into enemy hands is apparently rather irksome to the Pentagon.

Elizabeth Bumiller transmitted the US official pushback in the January 26 New York Times article titled “US Doubts ’99 Jet Debris Gave China Stealth Edge”:

[I]t’s hard to imagine that a great deal of applicable and useful information could have been culled from the site,” said an Air Force official, who asked for anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about military intelligence. [3]

Interestingly and perhaps not surprisingly, even as this narrative of PRC military espionage cum trashpicking was advanced, I didn’t see anybody pursue the logical corollary: that acknowledgment that China had possessed Stealth wreckage buttressed the allegation that the US government might have bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in order to destroy the sensitive technology.

In reading my dissection of the Belgrade bombing, its myths and legends, the reader can draw his own conclusions about the context it provides for subsequent US-PRC confrontations and strategies and the attendant media hoopla.

A final prefatory note:

One element that contemporary readers might find hard to swallow is my assertion that the mission that destroyed the Chinese embassy was the only target selected by the CIA.

Well, that’s what George Tenet, Director of the CIA, said. It is a mystery to me why he considered this revelation in any way exculpatory.

From the July 23, 1999 New York Times :

“It was the only target we nominated,” the director, George Tenet, said at a rare public hearing of the House Intelligence Committee.

After the strike on May 7, which killed three Chinese and wounded at least 20 others, the CIA decided it better go back to its usual business of spying, a U.S. official said Thursday. Reeling from its error, the agency almost immediately suspended other preparations it was making to forward additional targets to help NATO.

The Bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade in 1999

China’s first direct experience with satellite-guided munitions occurred on the night of May 7, 1999, when at least five GPS-guided JDAM bombs slammed into the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, killing three Chinese nationals and wounding 20.


The JDAM used in the attack is a very successful and relatively inexpensive concept in ordnance by which dumb bombs are, as it were, sent to college, and equipped with a GPS-corrected guidance system that generates corrective adjustments to movable vanes after the bomb is dropped from a plane, enabling reported accuracy of within 13 meters.

The conventional, though implausible, narrative at the time of the embassy bombing was The Bomb was Smart… But We Goofed!

In testimony before Congress in July 1999, George Tenet explained how they meant to bomb some logistics office of the Yugoslavian army, they used an outdated map, somebody did catch the error but the message didn’t get through, the system broke down, sooooooo sorry.

On October 17, 1999, the Sunday Observer, in cooperation with a Danish paper, Politiken, came out with what would seem to be a blockbuster report: that the United States had deliberately targeted the embassy in order to remove a key rebroadcast station directing the military activities of Slobodan Milosevic’s forces in their struggle to resist NATO forces.

I am embarrassed to admit that my Googling skills haven’t turned up a direct link to the article, but the Observer’s sister publication, the Guardian, ran a story summarizing the article’s conclusions.

As to why the Chinese government dared to take the provocative step of hosting a Yugoslavian military radio facility, the article speculates that Beijing cooperated with Belgrade in order to acquire data on U.S. military capabilities:

Why the Chinese were prepared to help Milosevic is a more murky question. One possible explanation is that the Chinese lack Stealth technology, and the Yugoslavs, having shot down a Stealth fighter in the early days of the air campaign, were in a good position to trade. The Chinese may have calculated that Nato would not dare strike its embassy, but the five-storey building was emptied every night of personnel. Only three people died in the attack, two of whom were, reportedly, not journalists – the official Chinese version – but intelligence officers.

The Chinese military attache, Ven Bo Koy, who was seriously wounded in the attack and is now in hospital in China, told Dusan Janjic, the respected president of Forum for Ethnic Relations in Belgrade, only hours before the attack, that the embassy was monitoring incoming cruise missiles in order to develop counter-measures.

According to the Observer, the behind the scenes U.S. attitude to the embassy bombing was: Mission Accomplished.

British, Canadian and French air targeteers rounded on an American colonel on the morning of May 8. Angrily they denounced the “cock-up”. The US colonel was relaxed. “Bullshit,” he replied to the complaints. “That was great targeting … we put three JDAMs down into the (military] attache’s office and took out the exact room we wanted …

This story died the death in the U.S. media (I only saw references to it in the English papers at the time) and, to its everlasting credit, FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting) took the matter up.

In an October 22, 1999 article, FAIR wrote:

So far, the reaction in the mainstream U.S. media has been a deafening silence. To date, none of America’s three major network evening news programs has mentioned the Observer’s findings. Neither has the New York Times or USA Today, even though the story was covered by AP, Reuters and other major wires. The Washington Post relegated the story to a 90-word news brief in its “World Briefing” (10/18/99), under the headline “NATO Denies Story on Embassy Bombing.”By contrast, the story appeared in England not only in the Observer and its sister paper, the Guardian (10/17/99), but also in their leading rival, the Times of London, which ran a follow-up article on the official reaction the next day (10/18/99). The Globe and Mail, Canada’s most prestigious paper, ran the full Reuters account prominently in its international section (10/18/99). So did the Times of India, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Irish Times (all 10/18/99). The prominent Danish daily Politiken, which collaborated with the Observer on the investigation, was on strike, but ran the story on its website.

FAIR and its supporters rattled a few media cages, and got dismissive replies from the New York Times and USA Today.

The Times’ Andrew Rosenthal characterized the Observer article as “not terribly well sourced”.

In its rebuttal, FAIR stated:

FAIR contacted journalists at both the Observer and Politiken. According to the Observer’s U.S. correspondent, Ed Vulliamy, its foreign editor, Peter Beaumont, and Politiken reporter Jens Holsoe, their sources included the following:

–A European NATO military officer serving in an operational capacity at the four-star level – a source at the highest possible level within NATO–confirmed three things: (1) That NATO targeted the Chinese embassy deliberately; (2) That the embassy was emitting Yugoslav military radio signals; and (3) That the target was not approved through the normal NATO channels but through a second, “American-only” track.

–A European NATO staff officer at the two-star level in the Defense Intelligence office confirmed the same story.–

Two U.S. sources: A very high-ranking former senior American intelligence official connected to the Balkans – “about as high as you can get,” according to one reporter — confirmed that the embassy was deliberately targeted. A mid-ranking current U.S. military official, also connected to the Balkans, confirmed elements of the story and pointedly refused to deny that the embassy had been bombed deliberately.

–A NATO flight controller based in Naples and a NATO intelligence officer monitoring Yugoslav radio broadcasts from Macedonia each confirmed that NATO’s signals intelligence located Yugoslav military radio signals coming from the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. When they informed their superiors, they were told that the matter would be handled further up in the chain of command. Two weeks later, the embassy was bombed.

–An official at the U.S. National Imagery and Mapping Agency told the reporters that NATO’s official explanation, which involves a faulty map of Belgrade, is a “damned lie.”

Finally, the Times, still coasting on its Pentagon Papers reputation in those halcyon, pre-Judy Miller days, replied to one correspondent:

“There is nothing in the distinguished history of the Times — where reporters have risked their lives, been threatened with jail and indeed gone to jail to protect the public’s right to know things the government does not want to get out — to suggest that we would withhold such a story.”

Hmmm.


When weighing the credibility of the Observer report, it is also worth recalling that, by CIA Director Tenet’s own admission, of the 900 targets struck during the Kosovo war, the CIA was responsible for only one targeting package—the bombing that was ostensibly meant to take out an insignificant Yugoslavian paper-shuffling operation and ended up destroying the Chinese embassy’s intelligence directorate instead.

Another investigative report confirmed that, not only was the target selected by the CIA, the entire mission was flown by the United States outside of standard NATO channels (NATO, of course, was the vehicle for European and American intervention in the Kosovo conflict; it was not a U.S.-directed war).

This is not my day for coming up with direct links to original reporting, but I found a posting on Venik’s Aviation of what looks like an accurate transcription of a May 2000 article from Air Forces Monthly, a European publication, detailing the mission.

It delivers the goods on what actually struck the Chinese embassy (not “guided missiles” or “laser guided munitions” as other outlets reported):

In the early hours of May 7, 1999, a USAF B-2 Spirit bomber, escorted by EA-6B defence suppression aircraft and F-15C fighters, dropped three GPS-guided Joint Defence Air Munition (JDAM) bombs on the Chinese Embassy in the Novi Beograd district of Belgrade.

As to how the targeting “error” slipped by NATO:

It should be noted that, in an interview with the author, NATO spokesman Lee McClenny confirmed that the targeting information did not go through JTF NOBLE ANVIL, or any other NATO structure, in contrast to Tennet’s [sic] official public statements. Instead, the co-ordinates were passed directly from the CIA to Whiteman Air Force Base, the home of the 509th Bomb Wing, where it was programmed into the JDAMs. Mr McClenny asserted that the entire process had remained ‘Stateside’, hence the failure of NATO staff to ‘scrub’ the target to check its accuracy, authenticity and location.

When asked, the CIA again asserted that the story given by Tennet [sic] to the House Committee was true, but claimed that the targeting information went from the CIA to the Pentagon to be processed. The Pentagon was only prepared to say that “some of the F-117 and B-2 missions were used as ‘national assets’ and therefore did not pass through NATO command structures”, despite the requirement under the NATO charter to clear all missions carried out under NATO auspices with the NATO general council…

We can now bring some more recent, first-hand information to the mix.

China’s Ambassador to Yugoslavia at the time, Pan Zhanlin, has written a Chinese-language memoir entitled My Encounter with War .…

Living in Belgrade during the NATO bombing campaign, Ambassador Pan became something of an expert on precision-bombing tactics, and he reports on the effect of the five bombs in detail:

The first bomb entered the side of the building at an angle near the roof and tore through to the first floor and detonated at a bottom corner at the dormitory, tearing a pit several meters deep. One of the fatalities and many of the injuries occurred here. The second bomb hit the middle of the roof and went through to the first floor auditorium, causing no fatalities but giving Ambassador Zhan food for thought by incinerating his office and melting the frame of his day bed. The third bomb hit the northwest corner and blasted through several floors, killing two people. The fourth bomb came in a window of the half basement, exploded, destroyed the embassy clubhouse and shattered the building’s structural members. The fifth bomb crashed through the roof of the ambassador’s villa. Fortunately for Ambassador Zhan, who was there at the time, it didn’t explode. Since B2s drop their bombs in even numbers to keep the plane balanced, there was speculation that perhaps a sixth bomb had also entered the basement; but it was never found.


I leave it to structural engineers and ordnance enthusiasts to assess whether this damage is consistent with an assault of five JDAMs meant to destroy the entire embassy; a surgical strike to take out the military attache’s office; or the aftermath of a dud-studded fiasco.


Ambassador Pan is anxious to characterize the American attack as intentional and motivated by pure cussedness: to break the back of the Milosevic regime by demonstrating to its allies that diplomatic support was not only useless but positively dangerous.

He carefully if awkwardly debunks the scenarios that the embassy was bombed because Milosevic was sheltering or visiting there, or that it was rebroadcasting Yugoslav military communications.

No reference is made to any electronic intelligence activities by China that might have provoked the strike.

Concerning the shootdown of the F117, Pan reports that the scuttlebutt in diplomatic circles was that the plane was located using the Czech Tamara anti-stealth system. His informants told him it couldn’t detect the Stealth aircraft, but that the passage of the plane through sensor coverage left a distinctive “hole” in the CRT display. The Yugoslavs noticed this anomaly and used it to unleash a barrage of 30 SAM missiles at the place where they guessed that the fighter would be, bringing it down.


There is a third possibility, in addition to the rebroadcast and Elint scenarios: the F-117 wreckage story.

And it has a radically different outcome.

The Chinese Internet is rife with urban legends concerning the Belgrade strike. Nobody regards it as accidental, and many Chinese seem willing to ascribe all sorts of shenanigans to the Chinese embassy that provoked the attack.

The most interesting scenario is one that the poster attributes to “a private encounter with a Chinese naval officer who was slightly tipsy”.

According to this informant, the Yugoslavian government had recovered the wreckage of the shot-down F-117 and sold key pieces of it to China. The navigation system, fuselage fragments with the Stealth coating, and high temperature nozzle components of the engine were spirited into the basement of the Chinese embassy. Unfortunately, there was a locator beacon inside the INU powered by a battery and, before the Chinese could discover and disable it, the U.S. military was alerted to the location of the F-117 fragments.

In this version of the story, at least, there is a happy ending for the Chinese. The U.S. attacked the embassy with a laser-guided bomb meant to penetrate to the basement and destroy the embassy and the F-117 prize, but it didn’t explode!

The wreckage made it to China (in the special plane Beijing dispatched to carry home the survivors and the bodies of the victims of the attack, according to other accounts).

In the reported words of the officer (“who spoke with tears in his eyes”):

“Although some of our people sacrificed their lives, we gained no less than ten years in the development of our Stealth materials. We purchased this progress with our blood and international mortification.”

“虽然我们有人牺牲了,但是我们隐型材料的研制进度一下提高了十年都不止,这种进步,是以血和国际上的屈辱换来的”–他流泪

This is an interesting story.

In certain respects—the laser-guided part and the basement stash—it conflicts with more credible reports.

The embassy’s sub-basement, which served as an all purpose cafeteria, recreation center, and bomb shelter—an unlikely hidey hole for F-117 parts–was hit once, possibly twice, and it seems unlikely that anything could have been recovered from there.

But conspiracy theorists can draw solace from Ambassador Pan’s description of the four cases of “important state materials” that two brave embassy workers ran up to the fifth floor of the burning embassy to extract. Pan stated:

他们知道,这东西比生命更重要

“They knew these materials were more important than life.”

Standard-issue cypher equipment and secret files?

Special Elint monitoring equipment?

Or the crown jewels of America’s Stealth program?

I lean toward the third explanation, because glomming onto some secret airplane parts and then sneaking them out of a burning building is the kind of low tech triumph that fits in with my sense of China’s capabilities and interests inside Yugoslavia at the time.

The United States may have felt that by purchasing the wreckage, China had crossed the line from diplomatic support for Milosevic and conventional military-attache espionage to a more overt intelligence alliance with Yugoslavia in a deeply sensitive area of U.S. military technology, and needed to be taught a lesson.

I also wish to explore a pyschological element, which perhaps affects China’s outlook to this day.

You can see hints of it in the F 117 in the basement story. It has a touching, almost child-like wish-fulfillment element: the evil empire destroyed our embassy but we escaped with the plans to the Death Star!

The embassy bombing was quite traumatic to China.

However, when the attack occurred, triggering official and popular anger within China, the West was disbelieving, dismissive—and defensive.

It was considered rather churlish of the Chinese to intrude their crude and manufactured nationalistic outrage into our “good war” narrative of the Kosovo conflict by trying to make political capital out of our honest mistake.

Today, with further information on the attack and the benefit of perspective, it is difficult to dismiss the shock the Belgrade bombing inflicted on the Chinese.

Post 9/11, Ambassador Pan’s description of the attack is depressing familiar, and more difficult to disregard.

Pan’s plodding prose reawakens dark memories of our own as he conveys the shock and fear as the embassy explodes into flames, “the loudest sound I ever heard”. Survivors found the stairwells blocked by rubble and fire and desperately improvised escapes down the exterior of the building using knotted drapes. Pan saw his friends and colleagues stagger from the ruins of the embassy dazed and bloody, crying out for help.

Amid the chaos everybody ducked in fear of a follow-up attack as NATO bombers thundered overhead (May 7 was one of the busiest nights for aerial bombing). Then came the frantic ad hoc attempts to rally the survivors, account for the living, and search for the missing.

First responders were at first unable to enter the compound because the electric gate was disabled when the bombing cut the power; ambulances race up to the shattered structure with sirens howling to rush away the injured willy-nilly; embassy staffers mounted a frantic search through the local hospitals for the injured.

Finally, there was the extraction of the dead, consoling of the wounded; the grieving; and the defiant patriotic oration.

Again viewed through a post-9/11 lens, Pan’s account also paints a picture of a privileged elite that has been stripped of the illusion that it is immune to attack, and realizing with anger, shame, and disgust that at that moment it is helpless, vulnerable, and unable to retaliate.

Regardless of U.S. motives for bombing the Belgrade embassy or what treasures of military intelligence the Chinese were able to save from the wreckage, if anything was needed to focus Chinese attention on its vulnerability to US attack, getting its embassy, intelligence directorate, and military attache blown up in Belgrade probably did it.

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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Belgrade Bombing, the F-117 Cake, and the Tears of Premier Zhu Rongji

In a previous post I explored the possibility that the U.S. bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in 1999 was intentional, with at least the partial objective of destroying wreckage of an F-117A Night Hawk Stealth fighter that Yugoslavia had shot down a few weeks previously.

I am indebted to Dr. Jeffrey Lewis for forwarding some news reports in which the fate of the wreck is discussed.

In 2001 (Fulghum & Wall, Russia Admits Testing F-117 Lost in Yugoslavia, Aviation Week & Space Technology, October 8, 2001), the Russian government acknowledged they had obtained access to F 117A wreckage and stated they used it primarily to improve the anti-Stealth performance of their anti-aircraft missiles.

In the hearsay department, an article in the September 27, 1999 issue of Aviation Week and Space Technology (ed. Bruce D. Nordwall, Earthly Remains) reported, “a Russian official said that some parts had made their way to Moscow, but that the bulk of the airframe was shipped to China.”, a claim that “Pentagon analysts” dismissed “because “China… doesn’t have the industrial capability to benefit from either the design or the systems.”

Contra the Pentagon analysts, simply because China’s Stealth programs were in their infancy at the time doesn’t mean that in 1999 China would not yearn for such a cool and potentially useful trophy as fragments of an American Stealth fighter.

As is now known, Yugoslavians did not turn the entire wreck over to the Russians.

Portions are on display in the Yugoslav Museum of Aviation today and I came across an unconfirmed traveler’s tale that tourists can even purchase souvenir fragments at the museum.

As to what could have been divvied up with the Chinese, the advanced targeting, sensor, and communications systems that the Russians were purportedly interested in neatly dovetail with the reported Chinese take of INU, engine nozzle, and fuselage chunks.

It certainly is plausible that the Yugoslavian government would seek to extract as much propaganda, financial, military, and geopolitical advantage as possible from the F-117A carcass, selling the biggest piece to the Russian Federation but also sharing a few juicy scraps with the PRC, the junior partner in the de facto anti-NATO alliance.

As to whether or not the United States would deem it necessary or desirable to bomb the Chinese embassy to flinders in order to destroy the F-117A wreckage, the Clinton administration suffered a certain amount of criticism for not bombing the wreckage in the wheat field where the plane had fallen in order to deny it to other unfriendly parties.

Analyzing the experiences of the Kosovo conflict, RAND opined:

Heated arguments arose in Washington and elsewhere in the immediate aftermath of the shootdown over whether USEUCOM had erred in not aggressively having sought to destroy the wreckage of the downed F 117 in order to keep its valuable stealth technology out of unfriendly hands and eliminate its propaganda value…Said a former commander of Tactical Air Command…”I’m surprised we didn’t bomb it because the standard operating procedure has always been that when you lose something of real or perceived value—in this case, real technology, stealth—you destroy it.”…Reports indicated that military officials had at first considered destroying the wreckage but opted in the end not to follow through with the attempt because they could not have located it quickly enough to attack it before it was surrounded by civilians and the media.

It’s also interesting to note that the stated reason for not ordering an attack on the crash site was that it was overrun not only with Yugoslavian military types but also local rubberneckers and international journalists.

Instead of obliterating a white, Western audience the Clinton administration might have turned to a measure it had employed in the past, after the USS Cole bombing, when it faced criticism for being insufficiently martial and excessively dilatory: knocking down a Third World asset, in this case the Chinese embassy instead of a Sudanese pharmaceutical plant.

Maybe the U.S. honestly believed that there was some top secret stuff in the Chinese embassy, or maybe the Clinton administration was eager to forestall G.O.P. criticism of its handling of the F-117A shootdown and decided to respond with a showy if meaningless foray against an adversary that was proving somewhat nettlesome, but was chosen because it was vulnerable and unlikely to retaliate.

As an object lesson in the perils of military and geopolitical weakness, the Chinese probably paid some attention to the fact that somehow it was their embassy, and not that of Serbian ally Numero Uno and Most Plausible and Afterwards Officially Certified F-117 Wreckage Holder, a.k.a. the Russian Federation, that got bombed.

For whatever reason—scientific countermeasures, espionage, or design flaws–it transpired that the F-117 was not as stealthy as the United States had consistently professed. In the aftermath of the Kosovo conflict, the Yugoslavians contended that its radar signature was only reduced by 50%. Chinese scuttlebutt claimed that the United States withdrew F-117s from South Korea because it was believed they could not effectively evade Chinese detection measures.

In any case, the Air Force is doing its best to consign the F-117 to the boneyard before the service life it originally promised to the U.S. Congress for this aircraft has expired, and replace it with the F22A Raptor.

My intention is not to evangelize the idea that there was F-117 wreckage in the basement of the Chinese embassy. Somebody in China knows what was really in the embassy, and I suppose one of these days they’ll go public and we’ll find out.

As the F-117 and its secrets fade into oblivion, what is worthy of further mulling over is the role that the Belgrade bombing seems to play as the creation myth of the birth of the 21st Chinese strategic military doctrine, founded on the assumption that the U.S. will unscrupulously use its military, diplomatic, and propaganda advantages not only to contain China but even to attack it when need, desire, and circumstances permit.

In this context, the Belgrade embassy is holy ground, and there are as many versions of the Truth as there are books in the Bible.

The recollections of China’s ambassador Pan Zhanlin, imbue a certain incident after the bombing with a heroic and close to mythic character.

The two comrades in charge of the embassy’s important assets were Little Wang and Little Zheng. One slept in the duty office on the fifth floor, one slept in the dormitory on the fourth floor. Little Wang pierced through the dust and smoke and by the light of the flames descended from the fifth floor to the fourth floor. At this time, Little Zheng emerged from the bedroom. Little Wang grabbed hold of Little Zheng and ran back upstairs. Little Zheng had already been injured and his face was flecked with blood. People who ran into them urgently asked: “Why are you going back up?” Little Wang replied: “There is something that needs doing. This is our job.” They picked up four cases of national important assets and battled through smoke and pierced through flames to get downstairs. The stairwell was cut off, they stumbled down to the third floor. Ahead of time, the embassy had made various preparations for an emergency, so these four cases of important things had already been prepared. If any untoward event had occurred, they could be picked up and moved immediately. They knew, these things were more important than life.

负责使馆重要资财的两位同志,小王和小郑,一个睡在五层的值班室,一个睡在四层的宿舍。小王透过烟尘,借助火光,从 五楼下到四楼。这时,小郑正从寝室出来。小王一把拉住小郑往楼上跑。小郑已经受伤,脸上淌着血。有人这时遇到他们,急忙问:“你们为什么还往上跑?”小王 回答说:“有事,咱们是干这一行的。”他们从五层拿起四箱国家重要资财,冒烟突火往下走。楼梯被阻断,他们跌跌撞撞地来到三楼。使馆事先做了各种应急准 备,这四箱重要的东西事先已准备好。一旦发生意外情况,可以拿起来立即转移。他们知道,这东西比生命更重要。


The active imagination of the reader is left to fill in the blanks.

On the Chinese Internet, there has been considerable speculation as to the nature of the intelligence coup that could have provoked the U.S. bombing.

In addition to F-117A parts, there are assertions that the Chinese embassy also had a Tomahawk cruise missile in the basement.

Some posters claim that the only piece of U.S. hardware that China was able to extract and ship back to Beijing was a dud JDAM dropped during the attack—a scenario that Pan contemptuously dismisses, and which seems completely unlikely given the wartime chaos surrounding the attack.

There was a dud JDAM, but it took a lengthy, delicate, and expensive excavation process in 2004 to extract it from where it had buried itself deep beneath the Chinese embassy.

There are darker versions, which imply the only harvest China reaped from the Yugoslavian war was a planeful of corpses.

The story is that at the onset of the Kosovo conflict, a thirty or so Chinese radar and materials specialists boarded an unmarked 737 plane to assist the Yugoslavian government in using multi-location radar to detect Stealth aircraft. After the F-117A was shot down, the U.S. government learned that China was supposed to receive F-117A wreckage for study and ordered the attack. After the embassy bombing a similar, unmarked plane returned to China and discharged its cargo of coffins. Depending on the poster, the airport at which this melancholy scene was acted out was either at Lanzhou or at Beijing’s Nanyuan military airport.
….

Global Views, a Chinese magazine, posted an interesting article (Global Views website hopeless; article posted on a Chinese bulletin board; written in 2006 according to internal evidence) containing interviews with several of the Yugoslavian officers involved in the shootdown, which confirms and amplifies the story that NATO Commander Wesley Clark was told.

1960s tube amplifier enthusiasts will be thrilled to learn that the Yugoslavian air force attributes the shootdown of the F117A to P-12 type vacuum tube-technology Russian radars so old the U.S. considered them obsolete.

According to their account, the F117A Stealth fighter was detectable by antique radar operating at wavelengths of 2 meters—a detail that had supposedly escaped the Stealth designers, who operated on the assumption that the plane would only have to be invisible to modern centimeter and millimeter wavelength radars.

On the evening of March 27, Yugoslavia’s anti-aircraft defenses detected an aircraft entering Yugoslavian airspace at a distance of 80 km. The radar was immediately shut off, since U.S. planes were armed with radar seeking missiles that would fire automatically within 20 seconds and track the signal to its source and destroy it. The Yugoslavian anti-aircraft crews had been rigorously trained to either acquire and fire on a target or turn off their radio within this 20-second window. The radar was switched on when the target was about 15 km away and a barrage of SA-2 SAM missiles were fired manually. The F117A fell to earth. Witnesses said, “It looked like a sparrow shot from the sky.”

The shootdown raised an important tactical and strategic issue for NATO. Bad weather had limited helicopter operations and the U.S. was relying on high-altitude bombing to advance its war objectives. Therefore, a great deal of attention was paid to identifying and disabling Yugoslavia’s anti-aircraft facilities.

The Global Vision article reports that the headquarters of the 126 Mid-Air Detection and Anti-Aircraft Battalion—which had detected the plane—was attacked 11 times, each time with 5 JDAM bombs. The 250th Battalion—which fired the offending SAMs–was attacked 22 times.

The Yugoslav asserts that the 3rd Brigade of the 250th Battalion, whose missiles actually brought down the plane, suffered no fatalities or casualties during the war, leading them to brag: “We’re the real Stealth”.

The F-117A shootdown provided a psychological boost to the Yugoslavs which lives on to this day.

Every year on March 27 the 250th Battalion, now part of the Serbian Air Force, holds a raucous party. The main event occurs when a large cake bedecked with candles is rolled out. On the top is a rendering of an F-117A Nighthawk in chocolate. At precisely 8:42 pm, the exact time of the shootdown, the first slice is cut—through the port wing, which is the one severed by the SAM barrage.


On the other hand, the U.S. was dismayed by the loss of its aircraft.

The RAND report states:

[The downing] meant not merely the loss of a key U.S. combat aircraft but the dimming of the F-117’s former aura of invincibility, which for years had been of incalculable psychological value to the United States.

For psychologists, anthropologists, and sociologists as well as political scientists, I think a fruitful field would be the study of compensatory psychological mechanisms of weaker countries that have endured American military attack.

As I’ve noted above, we don’t know if the Chinese were able to extract any intelligence treasures from the embassy, or even if the embassy was actually attacked on purpose, for that matter.

What we do know is that the embassy attack excited fears of anger and impotence within the Chinese elite, because they could not prevent or deter the attack, defend against the attack, or retaliate after the attack.

On the psychological level, the Chinese coped with the bombing both by venting their outrage and by fixating on theories that China was able to claim a victory by extracting something of enormous value—F 117-A parts, a Tomahawk missile, a JDAM—that mitigated the blow and “saved China ten years” in its military development.

The Shenyang poster writes:

Upon learning the this genuine picture, I believe that the U.S. attack on our embassy came from the fact that China’s accurate reporting of the Yugoslavia war provoked America to anger and retribution. At the very least we can say that China’s strength really was incapable of hindering America’s risky move. Now we know, and it causes us to appreciate even more profoundly that a nation, when it is poor and weak, is without recourse and pitiful (How helpless and evoking bitterness in people’s hearts were the tears of Premier Zhu Rongji as he wept at the airfield when the remains of the martyrs were transported back to China).

在 知道这个真相之前我只是认为美国轰炸我们使馆是处于中国对南战的真实报道激怒了美国而招致其报复,那至少说明了我们中国实力真的没到可以阻击美国冒险的地 步,现在知道了,然而使我更深刻的领会到一个国家在批贫弱时的命运是多么的无奈与悲哀(株容基总理在烈士遗体运回国内的机场上的眼泪是多么的无奈与令人心 酸)!

I might add that Zhu Rongji, while not a hard-case sociopath like some members of the CCP leadership, is no cupcake. As Premier he projected a tough git’er done persona that would make an emotional expression like crying at the airport a memorable and significant image.

On a more practical level… well, I’ll let the Shenyang poster describe the consequences for military planners—and military contractors—both in China and the United States.

Detailing a litany of high-tech armaments from fighters to cruisers to nuclear submarines funded with a RMB 50 billion allocation, he concludes:

Afterwards we learned that after the bombing China engaged in deep reflection and understood reality more clearly… all of these [developments] transmit this single message to the world—China yearns to be strong and great!

后来我知道了在那次事件之后中国从心底进行了反思,对现实的认识更清楚了……,都象世界传达了这样一个消息--中国渴望强大!

http://chinamatters.blogspot.com/2007/01/belgrade-bombing-f-117-cake-and-tears.html

April 23, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

COVID-19: What the Virus Might Do to the American Empire

By Tony Kevin | Consortium News | April 1, 2020

Canberra, Australia – Under current CV19 lockdowns, there is much quiet time at home in which to reflect on how dramatically the virus is even now changing our familiar New Cold War world, and how such changes will gather force as the weeks of crisis unfold.

Australia is a good place from which to reflect: an excessively obsequious minor member of the U.S.-led anti-Chinese and anti-Russian Western strategic alliance, Australians are also conflicted by our need to earn a living and our obvious economic dependence on our major trading partner and Asia-Pacific strategic neighbor China. Two contradictory imperatives are gnawing at the minds of thinking Australians.

Meanwhile, the 120-year old Australian federal system is under strain: a symptom of world politics also under strain. The federal Prime Minister Scott Morrison, with the task of protecting as much as he can of the shrinking national economy, failed like President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Boris Johnson to take the hard lockdown decisions early enough. It has been a case of too little too late, with the state premiers finally this week seizing the baton from him, locking down and isolating their states to preserve their populations’ lives – with the federal government following belatedly behind.

Only today, a leading Australian mining-industry oligarch, Andrew Forrest, announced that the public interest, charity arm of his company, Fortescue Minerals, had negotiated with the Chinese government to secure ample supplies for his home state Western Australia of desperately sought Chinese-made personal protective equipment (PPE) which will be essential to combat the virus as it expands into WA.

Minutes earlier, WA Premier Mark McGowan had warned the federal Australian government in tough public language to rapidly move the Covid-19 quarantined German cruise ship Artania away from Perth, and away from Western Australian coastal waters. He asserted that his primary duty was to protect West Australians from CV19, and he would not let Perth become known as a safe haven for homeless, stricken cruise ships. The matter remains unresolved.

Changing How We Think

Around the world, borders are closing down to all but essential travel. Online, we still seem to be one world. I can, thank goodness, easily plug in to what people in Beijing and Moscow, as well as in Washington and London, are saying. But globalization is rapidly becoming anachronistic (in its original literal Greek meaning– “in the wrong time”) in terms of mass global flows of people and, increasingly even, of goods and services themselves.

For instance, it is hard to see the (largely American-created) massive cruise ships industry, or mass airborne global holiday tourism, recovering quickly — or even, ever — from CV19. For a long time, people are going to want to stay closer to home and avoid such risky disruptions in their and other people’s lives. The globalization model is broken.

The pandemic’s brutal, erratic course around the world – from China to Korea and Italy, thence to Spain, the U.K. and worst of all to the USA, is rapidly changing the way we will think about the world and about our respective countries’ and elites’ participation in it. CV19 is a disease with our rich elites’ fingerprints all over it: their privileged globetrotting lifestyle, serviced by armies of Third World serf labor, is in an ugly spotlight now.

Old Ideologies Dissolve

One cannot predict what the world will look like after this pandemic runs its course. One certainty: it will be very different from the world before CV19, with the knowledge of other such viruses potentially to come.

Let’s look at the de-coupling of supply lines: a concept first touted by U.S. strategic thinkers before CV19 struck, as part of warfighting Cold War Redux. Western governments wanted to reduce dependence on superstar firms like Huawei, to “de-couple” strategic Western industries from the risk of Chinese sabotage. The plan was to reduce markets for Chinese suppliers of key information technology, despite Chinese mastery of the lowest-cost capitalist production mode.

Now the boot is on the other foot. Goaded by sanctions and other Western interference, China and Russia are well on the road to research, industrial and agricultural self-sufficiency for the Eurasia-centered heartland. Meanwhile the U.S., caught at the end of global supply chains that all seem to start in China, is begging for much-needed ventilators and PPE: in competition with people like Andrew Forrest, who know how to deal with China.

Two groups of people in our Western societies are finding it particularly hard to get their heads around the rapid dissolving of old ideological certainties.

First, the brave and bold radical movements in the West. Used to exposing a constant diet of disinformation from Western Deep State sources, they find it hard to believe that CV19 can be more than another propaganda trick by the Deep State to strengthen its control over society. They refuse to see the real threat CVI9 poses to decent human societies, by the fact of its extreme virulence, delayed visible symptoms, and generation-sensitive lethality. They cling to their familiar worlds of friends and enemies, and lose sight of medical and epidemiological realities. They try to rationalize CV19 away.

More significant here is the Western strategic community, caught now in a similar, increasingly anachronistic world of familiar friends and enemies. Cold War Redux, which by one measure began around 2013 with Western-instigated anti-Russian violent regime change in Ukraine, Russia’s vulnerable underbelly, is now so deeply embedded in Western strategic thinking that even the most thoughtful Western strategists find it hard to see beyond its familiar boundaries of thought and policy.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continues to fulminate thoughtlessly and vindictively, threatening ever-crueler sanctions against Iran and Venezuela. The White Helmets continue to foment false chemical warfare allegations, in the war against the legitimate Syrian government, which their side are losing. NATO continues automaton-like to arm and exercise against the imagined Russian threat.

Coronavirus patients at the Imam Khomeini Hospital in Tehran, Iran. (Fars News Agency, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

A ‘Pitiful, Helpless Giant’

CV19 is collapsing this dangerously illusory world. Let’s look first at military logistics. Spectacular news broke on Tuesday that the captain of the U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, on station near Guam, has requested the immediate evacuation of 90 percent of his crew of 4,000 into individual quarantine after the carrier reported an outbreak of CV19 on board. Over 70 crew members have tested positive for CV19 and in cramped ship conditions the disease is spreading fast. The captain recommends a skeleton crew of 400 be left on board, to safeguard the ship’s weapons and reactors while it is quarantined and sanitized.

More contradictions: The U.S. has been forced to suspend a planned attack on pro-Iranian Shia militia in Iraq, because of spreading CV19 in U.S. bases in Iraq. Planned massive NATO maneuvers this summer on the Russian border have had to be scaled back severely due to CV19 risks. Faced by horrendous mortality facts and projections in New York, Trump is forced to send the U.S. Navy’s largest hospital ship there to bolster local overstretched medical resources. China and Russia – the putative enemies – are flying much-needed medical relief supplies in to the U.S.

The U.S. may be sliding towards becoming the “pitiful, helpless giant” which Richard Nixon warned against in 1970.

The familiar diplomatic fabric of our former world is also under intense pressure now. The UN and the UN Security Council, for long theaters for ritualistic Cold War games, is being energized by the CV19 world crisis. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has denounced the anachronism and cruelty of wars and sanctions by powerful countries in the new CV19 world. He has called for a “ceasefire.” His call was supported by the Pope, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and so far 53 UN member nations. More and more, the U.S. and its NATO allies look like a resentful and recalcitrant rump of ill-wishers. The U.S. blocks a motherhood UN Security Council resolution calling for unified world action against CV19, because China and Russia reject draft resolution language claiming that the virus originated in China.

The Dark Web

Let’s look at that troubling question. In what country did the CV19 virus first break out? In wet wild animal markets in Wuhan, or in germ warfare laboratories? Did it break out accidentally or was it deliberately released? The Dark Web is full of disturbing allegations and counter-allegations. So far, none of the major powers have dignified any such allegations at the level of official government statements. The ships of states sail on, but there is angry gossip just below decks.

Trump, Putin and Xi would undoubtedly know of these ugly stories. It is no coincidence that in recent days the three leaders are again talking cordially. Trump’s Cold War hawks in Washington have been silenced for now. Trump knows he has to maintain civility towards his partner leaders who are now helping his stricken country. He needs them. And they are too professionally gracious to humiliate or reprimand him in America’s hour of need. All three will observe the courtesies, whatever the Dark Web is alleging.

Let me draw this together: the pre-CV19 economic, strategic and diplomatic world is starting to unravel in myriad ways which are not yet clear. In its death throes, the dying Cold War world will take casualties: NATO, conceived as a Euro-American aggressive military alliance against Russia; the war-mongering Pompeo and the U.S. fondness for economic sanctions against its enemies.

What Might We Expect?

In the new diplomatic landscape, which can as yet only be dimly seen, old verities going back to 1945 will be rediscovered. The UN Security Council will again find its proper role as a collective instrument of world solidarity against aggression by any – any – powerful nation that goes rogue. The U.S. will learn again how to practice real diplomacy based on nations’ sovereignty and mutual respect, instead of crude great power bullying. Russia and China will generously put their past hurts behind them, secure in their new strength after Putin’s establishment of an invulnerable, nuclear MAD deterrent and the nightmare experience of CV19.

In this model future – I will admit, an optimistic model, but not grossly so – the world will begin to recover its sanity. We will gradually step back from the precipice of nuclear devastation on which we have teetered for at least the past seven years. We will work together to build less environmentally destructive systems of global trade and travel, armed with the new knowledge that having survived CV19 lockdowns will bring. We will concentrate on rethinking societies, and on rebuilding public order and confidence and respect for all classes in Western societies after the terrible wounds CV19 is inflicting on the weak and poor as I write. We will work together to put in place more resilient, less fragile systems of global trade and cooperation.

I argue here, in sum, that the U.S. and its obedient allies cannot go on fighting an anachronistic Cold War Redux against China and Russia, while the world struggles to defeat CV19, this stealthy new common enemy.

And that when this war is won — as it will be won: to then go back to Cold War Redux will seem increasingly distracting and pointless. I think Trump, for all his faults, dimly gets this already. As Xi and Putin certainly do.

Tony Kevin is a former Australian senior diplomat and the author of six published books on public policy and international relations.

April 2, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment

EU Tries to Save Face amidst Coronavirus Debacle

By Paul Antonopoulos | March 26, 2020

The European Union’s decision to open negotiations with Northern Macedonia and Albania is a propaganda act from Brussels that attempts to reassure members of the Union that countries, even in the midst of the epidemic, want to become members of the organization. This is a cheap propaganda trick that attempts to restore confidence in the European Union at a time when it has completely failed to deal with the coronavirus pandemic that has shown weakness in the alliance.

Maurizio Massari, Italy’s ambassador to the EU, said earlier this month that “the coronavirus crisis is a test of the EU’s cohesiveness and credibility — one that can only be passed through genuine, concrete solidarity. Europe must act according to the principle of mutual defense and help those members whose security is under threat.” With nearly 60,000 people confirmed infected and over 7,500 deaths, the European Union has failed in this test as no member states came to the aid of Italy and instead looked inwardly towards their own borders.  The European Union’s cohesiveness was exposed as a fantasy when days ago member state Poland closed its airspace to a Russian plane delivering aid to fellow European Union member Italy, forcing the aircraft to take an alternate route that is 1,000 kilometers longer.

Essentially the European Union that is currently the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic has exposed why the Union is dysfunctional and without any solidarity. It has shown a huge gap between words and action. The European Union as an example of the liberal world order endlessly spoke of humanity but have proven they are inhumane. They promoted the idea of efficiency but proven they are actually ineffective. In short, the announcement to progress the European Union membership of Albania and North Macedonia is a cheap propaganda gimmick for Brussels at a time when it is under heavy scrutiny for showing a lack of solidarity and assistance to Italy, raising questions regarding the credibility of the organization. It is negotiating in a way that has never existed, utterly undefined, with a big question mark as to what will be.

According to a draft decision signed by the bloc’s 27 members, which Reuters had access to, the hope of membership for the two Western Balkans countries has often been shattered in recent years due to the scepticism expressed, primarily by the Netherlands and France, as they correctly highlight that both countries are highly corrupt. However, the start date of the negotiations is not specified and will be subsequently determined when the European Commission prepares the framework for the negotiations.

Michael Roth, Germany’s state secretary for European affairs, wrote on Twitter on March 24, “Congrats to Tirana+Skopje, it’s well deserved,” after the agreement was reached during a videoconference. This was followed by European Union Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi also going to Twitter, saying that he is “very pleased that EU member states today reached political agreement on opening of accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia. I wholeheartedly congratulate both countries. This also sends a loud and clear message to Western Balkans: your future is in EU.”

North Macedonia is unlikely to face resistance in joining the European Union, and is already being rapidly ascended into NATO after it resolved its name issue with Greece. However, the accession is not yet guaranteed for Albania as Greece raises concerns on the rights and treatment of the Greek minority in occupied Northern Epirus in southern Albania. Approximately 200,000 Greeks of Northern Epirus face daily discrimination with Albanian authorities removing bilingual road signs that display Greek, the confiscation of property belonging to Greeks, and Albanian police even murdering a Greek in a shootout as they removed a Greek flag from a cemetery, among many other forms of discrimination. On these grounds, Greece may veto Albania’s accession, but this is likely to be a temporary measure as the Greek political establishment always eventually capitulate to the demands of Brussels and Germany. Once this issue is resolved, it is likely that Albania with North Macedonia will be accelerated into the European Union, and this will prove necessary as the bloc wants to maintain the illusion that it is not in disarray in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

This begs the questions though as to why Albania and North Macedonia would want to ascend into the European Union after seeing the alliance’s treatment of its own long-time member states like Italy. Albania has always been a pro-Western state, owing to the Western world its existence, its occupation of Northern Epirus, and its indirect occupation of Kosovo. It is therefore unsurprising that it wants to be further integrated into the Western world. North Macedonia since the very beginning of its foundation with the dissolution of Yugoslavia in the early 1990’s wanted to join the European Union and NATO, but was prevented from doing so because of the name dispute with Greece. With this issue resolved, it now has a clear path towards the bloc. None-the-less, both states are not even remotely close in an economic or so-called democratic sense to being candidates, but will be fast-tracked to help save face after the European Union’s debacle with the coronavirus pandemic.

Paul Antonopoulos is a Research Fellow at the Center for Syncretic Studies.

March 26, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

On This Day 21 Years Ago: NATO Bombing of Yugoslavia in Numbers

Sputnik – March 24, 2020

21 years ago today, on March 24, 1999, NATO began a massive bombing campaign of Yugoslavia, bombarding the country with thousands of cruise missiles and bombs in what would become the largest military assault in Europe since the Second World War.

  • NATO’s campaign of air and missile strikes against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which consisted of Serbia and Montenegro, lasted 78 days, ending on June 10, 1999.
  • During the campaign, dubbed ‘Operation Noble Anvil’ by NATO, alliance warplanes carried out some 2,300 sorties against 995 facilities, firing nearly 420,000 missiles, bombs and other projectiles with a total mass of about 22,000 metric tonnes.
  • The campaign included multiple violations of the laws of war, including the use of cluster bombs (37,000 of them), and depleted uranium projectiles, which led to major spike in oncological diseases, including juvenile cancer rates, after the war. According to Serbian doctors, the most widespread consequences of the use of such weapons have been thyroid disorders, cancers and foetus mutations. In 2017, Serbian scientist Ljubisa Rakic calculated that the amount of DU dropped on Yugoslavia was equivalent to about 170 Hiroshima bombs.
  • According to Serbian estimates, the strikes on Yugoslavia left as many as 5,700 people dead, with 12,500 injured.
  • NATO casualties included a US AH-64 Apache, an F-16C fighter, an AV-8B Harrier and an F-117A Nighthawk stealth bomber (the first and so far only case of a stealth fighter jet being destroyed in combat). On the Yugoslav side, military and police casualties included 631 troops and 325 policemen dead, with more than 50 missing. Due to the effective use of maskirovka or ‘military deception’ doctrine, The Yugoslav army was able to limit losses of military hardware (93 tanks lost out of an estimated 600), and other armoured vehicles, artillery and anti-aircraft systems.
  • The bombing is estimated to have caused as much as $100 billion in damage, destroying or damaging some 25,000 residential buildings, 470 km of roads, and 595 km of railway infrastructure. 14 airports, 19 hospitals, 20 health centers, 69 schools, 18 kindergartens, 176 cultural monuments and 38 bridges were destroyed. The bombing included a targeted raid on Radio Television of Serbia, which claimed 16 lives, and the accidental bombing of the Chinese Embassy, which killed 3 Chinese nationals. All told, Serbian officials estimate that over a third of NATO’s targets were civilian.
  • NATO’s official justification for the strikes was its desire to protect Kosovar Albanians from ethnic cleansing and “a humanitarian catastrophe.” Before the war began, Albanian separatists allied to radical Islamist forces clashed with Serbian army and police forces in Kosovo, attacking authorities and attempting to drive ethnic Serbs out of the region. After the bombing campaign was completed and NATO troops entered the breakaway Serbian region in June of 1999, the separatists continued their campaign of violence against Serbs, in spite of NATO commitments to disarm the Kosovar militants.
  • In 2008, the province unilaterally declared independence from Serbia. This forced over 200,000 ethnic Serbs to leave their homes. Belgrade, Russia, and many other countries have refused to recognize the breakaway republic. NATO troops, meanwhile, have remained in the province since 1999, establishing Camp Bondsteel, the second-largest US military base in Europe.

Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo

© Photo : public domain Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo
  • In 2015, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg expressed his “sincere regret” over the deaths and suffering of Serbian civilians. However, three years later at an event in Belgrade, the NATO chief emphasized that the bombing was not aimed against ordinary Serbs, but actually meant “to protect civilians and stop the Milosevic regime.” According to Stoltenberg, Serbs should “look to the future” and continue to shore up the “excellent relationship” between Belgrade and the bloc.

March 24, 2020 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | 2 Comments