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“Good” Bombing: NATO Op Against Yugoslavia Was a War Crime – Lawyer

By Ekaterina Blinova – Sputnik – 10.10.2018

Jens Stoltenberg’s claim that NATO “protected” Yugoslavia from the government of Slobodan Milosevic is nothing but propaganda, Christopher C. Black, a Toronto-based international criminal lawyer told Sputnik, stressing that NATO had no legal reason to attack Yugoslavia and de facto committed a war crime against the sovereign nation.

“The NATO attack on Yugoslavia has nothing whatsoever to do with protecting anyone since the claims made by NATO against the government of Yugoslavia were false and were just a pretext for their aggression,” says Christopher C. Black, a Toronto-based international criminal lawyer with 20 years of experience in war crimes and international relations.

Black’s comment comes in response to a statement made by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg who told Serbia’s RTS: “We are aware in NATO that many people in Serbia still have bad memories about the bombing, the airstrikes in 1999. I stress that we did this to protect civilians and stop the Milosevic regime,” the NATO chief said.

“NATO countries had no legal right to bomb anyone for any reason as that is a violation of international law, the UN Charter, Nuremberg Principles etc.,” the scholar underscored. “Their attack was aggression and therefore a war crime and they committed war crimes during the attack.”

The NATO military campaign against sovereign Yugoslavia codenamed Operation Allied Force kicked off amid the Kosovo war (February, 1998 — June, 1999) between the country’s government forces and Albanian separatists. The alliance’s 78-day air raids resulted in 5,700 civilian deaths, infrastructural damages and contamination of the part of the region with depleted uranium.

Rambouillet Diktat: The Trigger for War

“The real reason NATO attacked is set out in the Rambouillet diktat presented by [then Secretary of State] Madeleine Albright to [then President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Slobodan] Milosevic in early 1999 that Yugoslavia must surrender its sovereignty and allow its total occupation by NATO forces and give up its socialist system for a free enterprise one,” Black said. “If Yugoslavia refused NATO promised to attack. The Yugoslav government had to refuse such a diktat and so NATO attacked.”

Rambouillet Accords envisaged the creation of a de facto independent entity in Kosovo which violated Yugoslavia’s independence and sovereignty.While the refusal to accept the unacceptable accord was used by the alliance as a trigger for the attack, there were several reasons behind NATO’s invasion, the lawyer explained.

“NATO wanted to establish a base in the Balkans against Russia, to take over mineral resources at the Trepca Mine complex in Kosovo and to destroy the last socialist state in Europe,” the legal practitioner said. “To justify their aggression they concocted the same types of lies against the government as they are now doing against Russia.”

Almost two decades after the NATO bombing, the Trepca mining and metallurgical complex in Kosovo still remains a bone of contention between Pristina and Belgrade. The complex is split between ethnic lines, however, in October 2016 the parliament of the self-proclaimed state of Kosovo voted to take control over the complex despite Serbia’s protests.

When commemorating the enterprise’s 90th anniversary in December 2017 — Europe’s largest lead-zinc and silver ore mine — Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic stressed that Belgrade would continue to fight for it, dubbing the complex “a part of family and national heritage, a part of tradition,” as quoted by Serbian news outlet RTV B92.

NATO’s Expansion in the Balkans

Besides claiming that NATO bombed Yugoslavia to “protect it,” Stoltenberg drew attention to the “close partnership” between NATO and Serbia. Although he noted that the alliance respected Belgrade’s neutrality, the question arises whether that the North Atlantic military bloc is seeking to absorb Serbia in the long run, after admitting Montenegro and signaling readiness to let Macedonia join.

Commenting on the issue, the lawyer recalled that “the Yugoslav and Serbian government was overthrown in 2000 in a putsch organized by NATO forces and their fascist agents in the group called OTPOR and the DOS organizations which were NATO assets.”

He said that “the president [was] arrested on false charges and the government [was] taken over by the Quislings of the DOS group.” According to Black, these groups are still powerful in Serbia. They do not represent aspirations of the Serbian people, he stressed.

Manipulating the Judgments

Black, who has long criticized the imprisonment of Slobodan Milosevic at the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, stressed that the tribunal “manipulated the judgments to put out different stories as it suits them.”

“As I said above the NATO claims were pure propaganda. It was NATO that used force and massive force to destroy a nation that resisted its diktats,” the lawyer highlighted, calling the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) “a NATO tribunal under UN guise.”

“The point is that the charges against Milosevic were bogus, he proved it in his trial,” Black said.

The former Yugoslav president died in his prison cell on March 11, 2006 while on trial for war crimes at the ICTY. Although it was officially stated that Milosevic died from a heart attack the lawyer does not rule out that the ex-Yugoslav leader could have been killed, since “they did not want to release him and could not convict him.”

October 10, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

Bombing to protect? RT documentary looks at reality of NATO’s attack on Yugoslavia

RT | October 8, 2018

NATO’s Secretary General has boldly defended the alliance’s 1999 bombing of former Yugoslavia as an act of humanitarianism, despite the dubious motives and devastating aftermath. RT took a more thorough look at the conflict.

Jens Stoltenberg told a group of students from Belgrade University that NATO bombed their country to “protect civilians and to stop the Milosevic regime,” adding that many Serbs have an incomplete picture of the bombing campaign.

But the truth may be a bit more complicated – and less flattering.

To mark the 15th anniversary of the bombing campaign, in 2014 two RT journalists – Anissa Naouai and Jelena Milincic – travelled across the former Yugoslavia and met with people who survived the 3-month bombing. In the process, they revealed the very different ways in which the war was portrayed – and perceived – in Serbia and abroad.

In contrast to Stoltenberg’s rosy description of the bombing campaign, Naouai and Milincic’s resulting documentary about their journey, ЗАШТО? (Why?), presents the unsettling truths about a 78-day bombardment that left hundreds of civilians dead.

October 8, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | , , , , | 2 Comments

Three countries, three continents: One imperial Western project

By Neil Clark | RT | July 8, 2017

A resource-rich, socialist-led, multi-ethnic secular state, with an economic system characterized by a high level of public/social ownership and generous provision of welfare, education and social services.

An independent foreign policy with friendship and good commercial ties with Russia, support for Palestine and African and Arab unity – and historical backing for anti-imperialist movements.

Social progress in a number of areas, including women’s emancipation.

The above accurately describes the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and the Syrian Arab Republic. Three countries in three different continents, which had so much in common.

All three had governments which described themselves as socialist. All three pursued a foreign policy independent of Washington and NATO. And all three were targeted for regime change/destruction by the US and its allies using remarkably similar methods.

The first step of the imperial predators was the imposition of draconian economic sanctions used to cripple their economies, weaken their governments (always referred to as ‘a/the regime’) and create political unrest. From 1992-95, and again in 1998, Yugoslavia was hit by the harshest sanctions ever imposed on a European state. The sanctions even involved an EU ban on the state-owned passenger airliner JAT

Libya was under US sanctions from the 1980s until 2004, and then again in 2011, the year the country with the highest Human Development Index in Africa was bombed back to the Stone Age.

Syria has been sanctioned by the US since 2004 with a significant increase in the severity of the measures in 2011 when the regime change op moved into top gear.

The second step was the backing of armed militias/terrorist proxies to destabilise the countries and help overthrow these “regimes”. The strategy was relatively simple. Terrorist attacks and the killing of state officials and soldiers would provoke a military response from ‘the regime, whose leader would then be condemned for ‘killing his own people’ (or in the case of Milosevic, other ethnic groups), and used to ramp up the case for a ‘humanitarian intervention’ by the US and its allies.

In Yugoslavia, the US-proxy force was the Kosovan Liberation Army, who were given training and logistical support by the West.

In Libya, groups linked to al-Qaeda, like the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, were provided assistance, with NATO effectively acting as al-Qaeda’s air force

In Syria, there was massive support for anti-government Islamist fighters, euphemistically labelled ‘moderate rebels.’ It didn’t matter to the ‘regime changers’ that weapons supplied to ‘moderate rebels’ ended up in the hands of groups like ISIS. On the contrary, a declassified secret US intelligence report from 2012 showed that the Western powers welcomed the possible establishment of a Salafist principality in eastern Syria, seeing it as a means of isolating ‘the Syrian regime’.

The third step carried out at the same time as one and two involved the relentless demonisation of the leadership of the target states. This involved the leaders being regularly compared to Hitler, and accused of carrying out or planning genocide and multiple war crimes.

Milosevic – President of Yugoslavia – was labelled a ‘dictator’ even though he was the democratically-elected leader of a country in which over 20 political parties freely operated.

Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi was portrayed as an unstable foaming at the mouth lunatic, about to launch a massacre in Benghazi, even though he had governed his country since the end of the Swinging Sixties.

Syria’s Assad did take over in an authoritarian one-party system, but was given zero credit for introducing a new constitution which ended the Ba’ath Party’s monopoly of political power. Instead all the deaths in the Syrian conflict were blamed on him, even those of the thousands of Syrian soldiers killed by Western/GCC-armed and funded ‘rebels’.

The fourth step in the imperial strategy was the deployment of gatekeepers – or ‘Imperial Truth Enforcers’ – to smear or defame anyone who dared to come to the defence of the target states, or who said that they should be left alone.

The pro-war, finance-capital-friendly, faux-left was at the forefront of the media campaigns against the countries concerned. This was to give the regime change/destruction project a ‘progressive’ veneer, and to persuade or intimidate genuine ’old school’ leftists not to challenge the dominant narrative.

To place them beyond the pale, Yugoslavia, Libya and Syria were all labelled ’fascist,’ even though their leadership was socialist and their economies were run on socialistic lines. Meanwhile, genuine fascists, like anti-government factions in Ukraine (2013-14), received enthusiastic support from NATO.

The fifth step was direct US/NATO-led military intervention against ‘the regime’ triggered by alleged atrocities/planned atrocities of the target state. At this stage, the US works particularly hard to sabotage any peaceful solution to the conflicts they and their regional allies have ignited. At the Rambouillet conference in March 1999, for example, the Yugoslav authorities, who had agreed to an international peace-keeping force in Kosovo, were presented with an ultimatum that they could not possibly accept. Lord Gilbert, a UK defence minister at the time, later admitted “the terms put to Milosevic (which included NATO forces having freedom of movement throughout his country) were absolutely intolerable … it was quite deliberate.”

In 2011, the casus belli was that ‘the mad dog’ Gaddafi was about to massacre civilians in Benghazi. We needed a ‘humanitarian intervention’ to stop this, we were repeatedly told. Five years later, a House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee report held that “the proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence.”

In 2013, the reason given for direct military intervention in Syria was an alleged chemical weapons attack by ‘Assad’s forces’ in Ghouta. But this time, the UK Parliament voted against military action and the planned ‘intervention’ was thwarted, much to the great frustration of the war-hungry neocons. They still keep trying though.

The recent claims of The White House, that they had evidence that the Syrian government was planning a chemical weapons attack, and that if such an attack took place it would be blamed on Assad, shows that the Empire hasn’t given up on Stage Five for Syria just yet.

Stage Six of the project involves the US continuing to sabotage moves towards a negotiated peace once the bombing started. This happened during the bombing of Yugoslavia and the NATO assault on Libya. A favoured tactic used to prevent a peaceful resolution is to get the leader of the target state indicted for war crimes. Milosevic was indicted at the height of the bombing in 1999, Gaddafi in 2011.

Stage Seven is ‘Mission Accomplished’. It’s when the target country has been ‘regime-changed’ and either broken up or transformed into a failed state with strategically important areas/resources under US/Western control. Yugoslavia was dismantled and its socially-owned economy privatised. Montenegro, the great prize on the Adriatic, recently joined NATO.

Libya, hailed in the Daily Telegraph as a top cruise ship destination in 2010, is now a lawless playground for jihadists and a place where cruise ships dare not dock. This country, which provided free education and health care for all its citizens under Gaddafi, has recently seen the return of slave markets.

Syria, though thankfully not at Stage Seven, has still been knocked back almost forty years. The UNDP reported: “Despite having achieved or being well under way to achieving major Millennium Development Goals targets (poverty reduction, primary education, and gender parity in secondary education, decrease in infant mortality rates and increasing access to improved sanitation) as of 2011, it is estimated that after the first four years of crisis Syria has dropped from 113th to 174th out of 187 countries ranked in the Human Development Index.”

Of course, it’s not just three countries which have been wrecked by the Empire of Chaos. There are similarities too with what’s happened to Afghanistan and Iraq. In the late 1970s, the US started to back Islamist rebels to destabilise and topple the left-wing, pro-Moscow government in Kabul.

Afghanistan has been in turmoil ever since, with the US and its allies launching an invasion of the country in 2001 to topple a Taliban ‘regime’ which grew out of the ’rebel’ movement which the US had backed.

Iraq was hit with devastating, genocidal sanctions, which were maintained under US/UK pressure even after it had disarmed. Then it was invaded on the deceitful pretext that its leader, Saddam Hussein, still possessed WMDs.

The truth of what has been happening is too shocking and too terrible ever to be admitted in the Western mainstream media. Namely, that since the demise of the Soviet Union, the US and its allies have been picking off independent, resource-rich, strategically important countries one by one.

The point is not that these countries were perfect and that there wasn’t political repression taking place in some of them at various times, but that they were earmarked for destruction solely for standing in the way of the imperialists. The propagandists for the US-led wars of recent years want us to regard the conflicts as ‘stand alones’ and to regard the ‘problem’ as being the ‘mad dog’ leadership of the countries which were attacked.

But in fact, the aggressions against Yugoslavia, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, and the threatening of Iran, North Korea, Russia and Venezuela are all parts of the same war. Anyone who hasn’t been locked in a wardrobe these past twenty years, or whose salary is not paid directly, or indirectly, by the Empire of Chaos, can surely see now where the ‘problem’ really lies.

The ‘New Hitlers’ – Milosevic, Hussein and Gaddafi – who we were told were the ‘biggest threats’ to world peace, are dead and buried. But guess what? The killing goes on.

July 8, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

US Impunity Erodes World Justice

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By Nicolas J S Davies | Consortium news | October 25, 2016

In the past week, Burundi and South Africa have joined Namibia in declaring their intention to withdraw from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC). They are likely to be followed by a parade of other African countries, jeopardizing the future of an international court that has prosecuted 39 officials from eight African countries but has failed to indict a single person who is not African.

Ironically, African countries were among the first to embrace the ICC, so it is a striking turnaround that they are now the first to give up on it.

But it is the United States that has played the leading role in preventing the ICC from fulfilling the universal mandate for which it was formed, to hold officials of all countries accountable for the worst crimes in the world: genocide; crimes against humanity; and war crimes – not least the crime of international aggression, which the judges at Nuremberg defined as “the supreme international crime” from which all other war crimes follow.

As the ICC’s founding father, former Nuremberg prosecutor Benjamin Ferencz, lamented in 2011, “You don’t have to be a criminologist to realize that if you want to deter a crime, you must persuade potential criminals that, if they commit crimes, they will be hauled into court and be held accountable. It is the policy of the United States to do just the opposite as far as the crime of aggression is concerned. Our government has gone to great pains to be sure that no American will be tried by any international criminal court for the supreme crime of illegal war-making.”

The U.S. has not only refused to accept the jurisdiction of the ICC over its own citizens. It has gone further, pressuring other countries to sign Bilateral Immunity Agreements (BIA), in which they renounce the right to refer U.S. citizens to the ICC for war crimes committed on their territory.

The U.S. has also threatened to cut off U.S. aid to countries that refuse to sign them. The BIAs violate those countries’ own commitments under the ICC statute, and the U.S. pressure to sign them has been rightly condemned as an outrageous effort to ensure impunity for U.S. war crimes.

Resistance to U.S. Impunity

To the credit of our international neighbors, this U.S. strategy has met with substantial resistance. The European Parliament overwhelmingly passed a resolution stating that BIAs are incompatible with E.U. membership, and urged E.U.- member states and countries seeking E.U. membership not to sign them.

Fifty-four countries have publicly refused to sign BIAs, and 24 have accepted cut-offs of U.S. aid as a consequence of their refusal. Of 102 countries that have signed a BIA, only 48 are members of the ICC in any case, and only 15 of those countries are on record as having ratified the BIAs in their own parliaments.

Thirty-two other ICC members have apparently allowed BIAs to take effect without parliamentary ratification, but this has been challenged by their own country’s legal experts in many cases.

The U.S. campaign to undermine the ICC is part of a much broader effort by the U.S. government to evade all forms of accountability under the laws that are supposed to govern international behavior in the modern world, even as it continues to masquerade as a global champion of the rule of law.

The treaties that U.S. policy systematically violates today were crafted by American statesmen and diplomats, working with their foreign colleagues, to build a world where all people would enjoy some basic protections from the worst atrocities, instead of being subject only to the law of the jungle or “might makes right.”

So current U.S. policy is a cynical betrayal of the work and wisdom of past generations of Americans, as well as of countless victims all over the world to whom we are effectively denying the protections of the U.N. Charter, the Geneva Conventions, the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child and other multilateral treaties that our country ignores, violates or refuses to ratify.

Avoiding the jurisdiction of international courts is only one of the ways that the U.S. evades international accountability for its criminal behavior. Another involves an elaborate and well-disguised public relations campaign that exploit the powerful position of U.S. corporations in the world of commercial media.

Major Propaganda Funding

The U.S. government spends a billion dollars per year on public relations or, more bluntly, propaganda, including $600 million from the Pentagon budget. The work of its P.R. teams and contractors is laundered by U.S. newspapers and repeated and analyzed ad nauseam by monolithic, flag-waving TV networks.

These profitable corporate operations monopolize the public airwaves in the U.S., and also use their financial clout, slick marketing and the support of the U.S. State Department to maintain a powerful presence in foreign and international media markets.

Foreign media in allied countries provide further legitimacy and credibility to U.S. talking-points and narratives as they echo around the world. Meanwhile, Hollywood fills cinema and TV screens across the world with an idealized, glamorized, inspirational version of America that still mesmerizes many people.

This whole elaborate “information warfare” machine presents the United States as a global leader for democracy, human rights and the rule of law, even as it systematically and catastrophically undermines those same principles. It enables our leaders to loudly and persuasively demonize other countries and their leaders as dangerous violators of international law, even as the U.S. and its allies commit far worse crimes.

Double Standards in Syria/Iraq

Today, for instance, the U.S. and its allies are accusing Syria and Russia of war crimes in east Aleppo, even as America’s own and allied forces launch a similar assault on Mosul. Both attacks are killing civilians and reducing much of a city to rubble; the rationale is the same, counterterrorism; and there are many more people in the line of fire in Mosul than in east Aleppo.

But the U.S. propaganda machine ensures that most Americans see one, in Mosul, as a legitimate counterterrorism operation (with Islamic State accused of using the civilians as “human shields”) and the other, in east Aleppo, as a massacre (with the presence of Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, the former Nusra Front, virtually whited out of the West’s coverage, which focuses almost entirely on the children and makes no mention of “human shields”).

The phrase “aggressive war” is also a no-no in the Western media when the U.S. government launches attacks across international borders. In the past 20 years, the U.S. has violated the U.N. Charter to attack at least eight countries (Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Syria), and the resulting wars have killed about two million people.

A complex whirlwind of conflict and chaos rages on in all the countries where the U.S. and its allies have lit the flames of war since 2001, but U.S. leaders still debate new interventions and escalations as if we are the fire brigade not the arsonists. (By contrast, the U.S. government and the Western media are quick to accuse Russia or other countries of “aggression” even in legally murky situations, such as after the U.S.-backed coup in 2014 that ousted the elected president of Ukraine.)

Systematic violations of the Geneva Conventions are an integral part of U.S. war-making. Most are shrouded in secrecy, and the propaganda machine spins the atrocities that slip through into the public record as a disconnected series of aberrations, accidents and “bad apples,” instead of as the result of illegal rules of engagement and unlawful orders from higher-ups.

The senior officers and civilian officials who are criminally responsible for these crimes under U.S. and international law systematically abuse their powerful positions to subvert investigations, cover up their crimes and avoid any accountability whatsoever.

Pinter’s Complaint

When British playwright Harold Pinter was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, he bravely and brilliantly used his Nobel lecture to speak about the real role that the U.S. plays in the world and how it whitewashes its crimes. Pinter recounted a meeting at the U.S. Embassy in London in the 1980s in which a senior embassy official, Raymond Seitz, flatly denied U.S. war crimes against Nicaragua for which the U.S. was in fact convicted of aggression by the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Seitz went on to serve as Assistant Secretary of State, U.S. Ambassador to the U.K., and then Vice-Chairman of Lehman Brothers.

As Pinter explained: “this ‘policy’ was by no means restricted to Central America. It was conducted throughout the world. It was never-ending. And it is as if it never happened.

“The United States supported and in many cases engendered every right wing military dictatorship in the world after the end of the Second World War. I refer to Indonesia, Greece, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Haiti, Turkey, the Philippines, Guatemala, El Salvador, and, of course, Chile. The horror the United States inflicted upon Chile in 1973 can never be purged and can never be forgiven.

“Hundreds of thousands of deaths took place throughout these countries. Did they take place? And are they in all cases attributable to US foreign policy? The answer is yes they did take place and they are attributable to American foreign policy. But you wouldn’t know it.

“It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.”

If in 2016 the world seems to be more violent and chaotic than ever, it is not because the United States lacks the will to use force or project power, as both major party candidates for President and their military advisers appear to believe, but because our leaders have placed too much stock in the illegal threat and use of force and have lost faith in the rule of law, international cooperation and diplomacy.

After a century of commercial dominance, and 75 years of investing disproportionately in weapons, military forces and geopolitical schemes, perhaps it is understandable that U.S. leaders have forgotten how to deal fairly and respectfully with our international neighbors. But it is no longer an option to muddle along, leaving a trail of death, ruin and chaos in our wake, counting on an elaborate propaganda machine to minimize the blowback on our country and our lives.

Sooner rather than later, Americans and our leaders must knuckle down and master the very different attitudes and skills we will need to become law-abiding global citizens in a peaceful, sustainable, multipolar world.


Nicolas J S Davies is the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.  He also wrote the chapters on “Obama at War” in Grading the 44th President: a Report Card on Barack Obama’s First Term as a Progressive Leader.

October 25, 2016 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Milosevic exonerated, as the NATO war machine moves on

By Neil Clark | RT | August 2, 2016

The ICTY’s exoneration of the late Slobodan Milosevic, the former President of Yugoslavia, for war crimes committed in the Bosnia war, proves again we should take NATO claims regarding its ‘official enemies’ not with a pinch of salt, but a huge lorry load.

For the past twenty odd years, neocon commentators and ‘liberal interventionist’ pundits have been telling us at every possible opportunity, that Milosevic (a democratically elected leader in a country where over 20 political parties freely operated)  was an evil genocidal dictator who was to blame for ALL the deaths in the Balkans in the 1990s. Repeat after me in a robotic voice (while making robotic arm movements): ‘Milosevic’s genocidal aggression’ ‘Milosevic’s genocidal aggression’.

But the official narrative, just like the one that told us that in 2003, Iraq had WMDs which could be launched within 45 minutes, was a deceitful one, designed to justify a regime change-op which the Western elites had long desired.

The ICTY’s conclusion, that one of the most demonized figures of the modern era was innocent of the most heinous crimes he was accused of, really should have made headlines across the world. But it hasn‘t. Even the ICTY buried it, deep in its 2,590 page verdict in the trial of Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic who was convicted in March of genocide (at Srebrenica), war crimes and crimes against humanity.

There was no official announcement or press conference regarding Milosevic‘s exoneration. We’ve got journalist and researcher Andy Wilcoxson to thank for flagging it up for us.

How very different it all was when the trial of the so-called ‘Butcher of the Balkans’, began in February 2002! Then, you‘d have to have been locked in a wardrobe not to be aware of what was going on.

CNN provided blanket coverage of what was described as “the most important trial since Nuremberg.” Of course, Milosevic’s guilt was taken as a given. “When the sentence comes and he disappears into that cell, no one is going to hear from him again,” declared US lawyer Judith Armatta from the Coalition for International Justice, an organization which had the former US Ambassador to Yugoslavia, Warren Zimmerman, as an advisory board member.

Anyone who dared to challenge the NATO line was labeled a “Milosevic apologist”, or worse still, a “genocide denier”, by ‘Imperial Truth Enforcers’.

But amid all the blather and the hype surrounding the ’trial of the century’ it soon became apparent the prosecution was in deep, deep trouble. The Sunday Times quoted a legal expert who claimed that “Eighty percent of the prosecution’s opening statements would have been dismissed by a British court as hearsay.” That, I believe, was a generous assessment.

The problem was that this was a show trial, one in which geopolitics came before hard evidence. It’s important to remember that the original indictment against Milosevic in relation to alleged Kosovo war crimes/genocide was issued in May 1999, at the height of the NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia and at a time when war was not going to plan for the US and its allies.

The indictment was clearly designed to exert pressure on Milosevic to cave into NATO’s demands.

The trouble for NATO was that by the time Milosevic’s trial was due to start, the Kosovo narrative had already unraveled. The lurid claims made by the US and its allies about genocide and hundreds of thousands being killed, catalogued by the great John Pilger here, had been shown to be false. In September 2001, a UN court officially held that there had been no genocide in Kosovo.

So in an attempt to beef up their weakening case against Milosevic the prosecutors at The Hague had to bring in new charges relating to the war in  Bosnia, accusing ‘Slobo’ of being part of a ‘joint criminal conspiracy’ to kill/ethnically cleanse Bosnian Croats and Bosnian Muslims in pursuance of a ’Greater Serbia’ project.

In normal criminal prosecutions evidence is collected and then, if it’s deemed sufficient, charges are brought. But the opposite happened in the case of Milosevic: he was charged for political reasons and the hunt for evidence then followed.

The irony is that the former Yugoslav President had already been praised by President Clinton for his role in brokering a peace deal in Bosnia in 1995, which was signed in Dayton, Ohio.

The truth is that Milosevic was no hardcore Serb nationalist but a lifelong socialist, whose commitment was always to a multi-racial, multi-ethnic Yugoslavia.

His aim throughout his time in power was not to build a ’Greater Serbia‘, but to try and keep Federal Yugoslavia together, as the ICTY now belatedly acknowledges.

Not only was Milosevic not responsible for ethnic cleansing which took place in Bosnia, he actually spoke out against it. The ICTY noted Milosevic’s “repeated criticism and disapproval of the policies made by the Accused (Karadzic) and the Bosnian Serb leadership.” Milosevic, a man for whom all forms of racism were anathema, insisted that all ethnicities must be protected.

But in order to punish Milosevic and to warn others of the consequences if they dared to oppose US power, history had to be re-written. The pro-Yugoslavia socialist who had opposed the policies of the Bosnian Serb leadership had to be turned, retrospectively, into the villain of the Bosnian War and indeed blamed for all the bloodshed which took place in the Balkans. Meanwhile, the aforementioned US Ambassador Warren Zimmerman, whose malign intervention to scupper a diplomatic solution helped trigger the Bosnian conflict got off scot-free.

The ‘Blame it All on Slobo’ campaign saw facts simply thrown out of the window. One article, written, I kid ye not, by an Oxford University Professor of European Studies even had Milosevic as leader of Yugoslavia in 1991 (the year that Slovenia broke away). In fact the Bosnian Croat, Ante Markovic, was the leader of the country at the time.

Inevitably, Milosevic was likened to Hitler. “It was just like watching the evil strutting Adolf Hitler in action,” wrote the News of the World’s political editor, when Milosevic had the temerity to defend himself in court. “There were chilling flashes of the World War Two Nazi monster as the deposed Serb tyrant harangued the court.”

To make sure readers did get the Milosevic=Hitler point, the News of the World illustrated their diatribe with a picture of Hitler ‘The Butcher of Berlin’, in front of a concentration camp, with a picture of Milosevic ‘The Butcher of Belgrade’ superimposed on a picture of a Bosnian concentration camp. Which in fact, he had nothing to do with.

Very conveniently for the prosecution, Milosevic died suddenly in his cell in March 2006.

Going by what we had seen at the trial up to that point, it’s inconceivable that a guilty sentence could have been passed. A whole succession of ’smoking gun’ witnesses had turned out to be dampest of damp squibs.

As I noted in an earlier piece:

Star witness Ratomir Tanic was exposed as being in the pay of Western security forces, whilst ex-Yugoslav secret police chief Rade Markovic, the man who was finally going to spill the beans on Milosevic and reveal how his former master had ordered the expulsion of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo, in fact did the opposite and testified that he had been tortured to tell lies and that his written statement had been falsified by the prosecution.

In addition, as I noted here, the former head of security in the Yugoslav army, General Geza Farkas (an ethnic Hungarian), testified that all Yugoslav soldiers in Kosovo had been handed a document explaining international humanitarian law, and that they were ordered to disobey any orders which violated it. Farkas also said that Milosevic ordered no paramilitary groups should be permitted to operate anywhere in Kosovo.

When Milosevic died, his accusers claimed he had “cheated justice”. But in fact, as the ICTY has now confirmed, the injustice was done to Milosevic.

While he had to defend himself against politically-motivated charges at The Hague, the US and its allies launched their brutal, illegal assault on Iraq, a war which has led to the death of up to one million people. Last year a report from Body Count revealed that at least 1.3 million people had lost their lives as a result of the US-led ‘war on terror’ in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Those sorts of figures help us get Kosovo into some kind of perspective. Even if we do hold Milosevic and the Yugoslav government responsible for some of the deaths there in 1999, (in a war which the West had clearly desired and provoked) far, far, greater death and destruction has been caused by the countries who were the keenest to see the President of Yugoslavia in the dock. As John Pilger noted in 2008, the bombing of Yugoslavia was the “perfect precursor to the bloodbaths in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Since then we’ve also had the NATO destruction of Libya, the country which had the highest living standards in the whole of Africa and the backing of violent ‘rebels’ to try and achieve ‘regime change’ in Syria.

You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to see a pattern here.

Before a US-led war or ‘humanitarian intervention’ against a targeted state, a number of lurid claims are made about the country‘s leader and its government. These claims receive maximum media coverage and are repeated ad nauseam on the basis that people will bound to think they’re true.

Later it transpires that the claims were either entirely false (like the Iraq WMD ones), unproven, or greatly exaggerated. But the news cycle has moved on focusing not on the exposure of the fraudulent claims made earlier but on the next aggressive/genocidal ‘New Hitler’ who needs to be dealt with. In 1999 it was Milosevic; now it’s Assad and Putin.

And guess what, dear reader? It’s the same people who defend the Iraq war and other blood-stained Western military interventions based on lies, unproven claims or great exaggerations, who are the ones doing the accusing.

As that very wise old saying goes: When you point one finger, there are three fingers pointing back to you.


Follow Neil Clark on Twitter @NeilClark66

Read more:

Murder at The Hague? The strange case of sick & suicidal Serbs

Causing genocide to protect us from terror

August 2, 2016 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

The Cowards’ Wars

By Luciana Bohne | CounterPunch | April 1, 2016

As flies to wanton boys are we to th’ gods.

They kill us for their sport

— Edgar in William Shakespeare’s “King Lear”

[The condemnation of Radovan Karadzic to forty years of imprisonment by the International Crime Tribunal-Yugoslavia occasions these reflections.]

They come; they see; people die. They laugh. Or say it was worth it. Their maps are not a territory inhabited by living beings; they are military targets. They bomb from safe altitudes, no lower than 15,000 feet (Yugoslavia, 1999, for example) to protect their own volunteer warriors. In 38,000 sorties and 22,000 tons of bombs in three months (Yugoslavia, 1999), they never lost a plane. They promise the people their bombs will not harm a hair on their heads; then, they bomb markets and bridges at noon, when people are at their thickest; the say they are as careful at noon as they are at midnight. They claim they have nothing against the people—only against their leaders; then they bomb water supplies, electrical grids, schools, hospitals, churches, libraries, museums. They hold civilians in their power, hostages to their air force, their cluster and phosphorus bombs. They poison the land with depleted uranium and raise whole crops of human cancers for generations. They send drones. They fund, train, and arm cutthroat armies. They terrorize civilians for their political ends. They are the humanitarians of the “international community,” and they have nothing to envy the conquistadores, the exterminators of native people, the enslavers, the imperialists of times gone by. They are the agents of collateral genocide.

They are the terror they claim to fight, and they dress it in noble words.

“Operation Iraqi Freedom” (9 March to 9 April 2003) claimed from 40,000 to 100,000 Iraqi military deaths. “Insurgent” deaths (April 2003 to January 2009) amounted to between 26, 320 and 27, 000. Iraqi civilian deaths are estimated from between 190,000 and one million. The death toll for “Operation Enduring Freedom-Afghanistan” (2001-2014) adds up to 220,000 in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan. By contrast, the NATO British contingent in Afghanistan, a total of 134,780 troops, lost 447. At a conservative estimate the total deaths caused by the “war on terror” in these three war zones alone are 1.3 million (estimates from Iraqi Body Count, The Lancet, Physicians for Social Responsibility). But these estimates include only deaths resulting from violent conflict. They do not include deaths resulting from the aftermath of war—destroyed infrastructure and support institutions. From sanctions: the regime of sanction in Iraq, August 6th (Hiroshima Day) 1991 to 2003, claimed 1.7 million Iraqi lives, according to UN data.

How do they get away with it? By thwarting, strong-arming, co-opting, bribing, rewriting, and abusing international law: the 1949 Geneva Conventions, the 1976 amended Geneva Conventions (on the laws and customs of war, which the US did not sign), the Charter of the United Nations, and their own constitutions. They wage wars of aggression in the name of abstractions or noble causes—“the war on terror,” R2P, “human rights,” and the prize, “genocide,” debasing the term, if convenient, to a street rumble between two ethnic groups.

What if the United Nations issued a resolution banning wars on abstractions? The “wars on terror” would become illegal (and, no, they didn’t end with Obama; they just became the “humanitarian wars”). The Security Council could order a “global police action” to sweep up and “neutralize” the army of cutthroats. So far, only Russia has shown, with actions in Syria, that it is willing to act to remove the terrorist scourge, whose atrocities proliferate and extend from the Middle East, through the heart of Africa, to European capitals. As I write, the Syrian Army, backed by Russian airstrikes, has retaken Palmyra, a significant strategic victory, opening the way to liberation of Raqqa, the IS stronghold, in the east of Syria.

But, in fact, there is no need for such a resolution. The UN Charter forbids wars of aggression. It specifies that breaking the peace to wage a “war of choice” is the “supreme international crime.” The provisions of the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court (ICC) include jurisdiction over crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes but exclude the “supreme international crime,” the crime of aggression. This exclusion resulted at the instigation of the US in 1998-99, just as it prepared to attack Serbia in the Kosovo War. The US signed (Clinton) and then unsigned (Bush) the statute, without ever intending to ratify it, but it meddled, bullied and coerced so as to make it clear who was in charge of writing and unwriting the laws, who had the right to impunity ad infinitum, based on its assumed altruistic morality of intervening to adjust the affairs of the world.

The US exercised every political muscle to subordinate the ICC to the authority of the Security Council, where it could exercise its veto power to deep-six any prosecution of crimes it opposed. It favored ad-hoc tribunals such as the International Tribunal for Crimes in Yugoslavia (ICTY), instituted by the Security Council in 1993, at the request of the US. A virtual kangaroo court, it abducted and tried Slobodan Milosevic at the Hague in a show trial for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes—without any substantial evidence, limiting time for cross-examination by the defense, using pseudo-legal pretexts to harass and obstruct it, treating the defense contemptuously, and in every way demonstrating that the tribunal was politically motivated, a feature contrary to the spirit and purpose of criminal law. The tribunal refused to investigate credible evidence charging NATO with war crimes, though it was charged with investigating crimes committed by all parties in the tragic secession wars of Yugoslavia. An example will suffice to demonstrate the political bias of the tribunal: Milosevic was indicted, among other spurious charges, for murdering 374 people; NATO killed 500 civilians. Only one of the two was investigated.

Failing to secure impunity for aggression by placing the ICC under the authority of the Security Council, the US insisted on an amendment, preventing the court from exercising that jurisdiction, until seven eights of ratifying states agreed on a definition of aggression and the means by which it could be prosecuted. Until the angels stop dancing on the pin of that prevarication, the US and its junior partners in the “international community” can freely exercise their right to crimes of aggression. This is how the ICC lists the crimes of aggression it is prevented from prosecuting:

*Invasion or attack by armed forces against territory

*Military occupation of territory

*Annexation of territory

*Bombardment against territory

*Use of any weapons against territory

*Blockade of ports or coasts

*Attack on the land, sea. Or air forces or marine and air fleets

*The use of armed forces which are within the territory of another state by agreement, but in contravention of the conditions of the agreement

*Allowing territory to be used by another state to perpetrate an act of aggression against a third state

*Sending armed bands, groups, irregulars, or mercenaries to carry out acts of armed force

Tell me one crime of aggression the “international community,” the dogs of war, has not committed with impunity since the unfortunate downfall of the Soviet Union in their unopposed quest for recolonizing the world? Do you wonder that Putin is garnering so much global popularity for insisting on acting within the law? How many Security Council resolutions have authorized actions by the “international community” in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen—not to mention actions in martyred Africa or the underhanded counter-reform chicaneries in Latin America? None. This is a period of American absolutism, which is wiping clean the rule of law off the face of the earth. The result is creeping barbarism. No one is safe from Timbuktu to Brussels. Anarchy is indeed loosed upon the world.

Take Libya: now that it is not even a functional state, does any law there even apply? Why do the cowards who destroyed it bother to twist themselves into knots, like serpents in a pit, to justify a second intervention? Why don’t they maraud right in—like ISIS does? Because cowards cannot admit to cowardice, much less submit to judgment–and because the tatters they made of the law are the last cover for these scoundrels’ moral nakedness. They drag others into their bolgia of deepening Hell. Right now, for NATO member Italy, it’s a question of complying with US request, already approved in late February, to use the military base at Sigonella, Sicily, to send drones to Libya to protect American Special Forces while they clear out ISIS. Since when have Special Forces required the assistance of a mechanical Mary Poppins? They’re supposed to be in dangerous situation, by definition. It’s not conscience that “makes cowards of [them] all.” It’s criminality. If Qaddafi had not been sadistically and illegally removed (check list of crimes of aggression above) there would be no ISIS in Libya.

Never mind: Sigonella will be used for American drone raids in Libya. Opposition in the Italian Parliament and public opinion are vocally against this use, so the Italian government is presenting the project as “defensive,” just as in 1999 the formula of “integrated defense” was deployed to justify the use of Italian Tornadoes bombing Yugoslavia. Drones in this case will not be “defensive.” Contrary to the idea of protecting Special Forces, drones depend on precisely those forces on the ground to furnish the exact coordinates of the target the drone must hit and destroy. Precision attacks will be launched from Sigonella not “integrated defense.”

And then what? Retaliation— Paris, Istanbul, Beirut, Brussels in Rome or Milan? State of siege in Italy? Suspension of civil liberties? Hecatombs of dead civilians? Well may the Italian government resent the publicity the United States has bestowed on the accord over the use of Sigonella. They would have preferred to keep the accord secret, hoping that ISIS wouldn’t notice Italy’s collaboration with US forces in Libya. Fat chance, but cowards and gangsters think like that—make it look like an accident or construct “plausible deniability.”

“Your wars; our dead” is a popular poster in protests against wars in Italy. It expresses the consciousness of the ultimate cowardice of these wars, and, indeed, of all aggressive wars.

Luciana Bohne is co-founder of Film Criticism, a journal of cinema studies, and teaches at Edinboro University in Pennsylvania. She can be reached at: lbohne@edinboro.edu

April 1, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Deindustrialization, NATO-Style

Sixteenth Anniversary of the War Against Yugoslavia: Zastava

By GREGORY ELICH | CounterPunch | April 15, 2015

One of the main features of NATO’s bombing campaign against Yugoslavia in 1999 was the deliberate targeting of factories and manufacturing plants. As a member of a delegation travelling throughout Yugoslavia shortly after the end of the war, I could readily see that such targeting had been methodical and thorough. Wherever we went, there was no military value in the facilities that NATO chose to destroy. Indeed, the common criterion was that state-owned and worker cooperative factories and plants that supported many people were singled out. The apparent intent was to drive much of the population into destitution and make people more amenable to demands to install government eager to do the West’s bidding.

The largest and most significant factory complex in the Balkans was Zastava, producing over 95 percent of the automobiles operating in Yugoslavia. Centrally located in the city of Kragujevac, this diverse factory complex also manufactured tools and machinery.

Workers at Zastava recognized that it was far too tempting a target for NATO planners to ignore. Determined to save their factory, they decided to form a human shield by occupying the factory complex around the clock. Three days after NATO began its war, workers and management issued an open letter which was sent to trade unions abroad and U.S. President Clinton, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and other Western leaders. “We, the employees of Zastava and freedom-loving Kragujevac, made a live shield,” the statement proclaimed. “Even at the shift end, even at the alarm sound, the Zastava workers did not leave their workshops, but remained to protect with their bodies what provides for their families’ living, that in which they have built in years-long honest work in order to provide for their better future.” The letter warned NATO leaders, “We want you to know that the attack on our factory shall mean a direct death to thousands of men and women and an enormous spiritual and material loss to their families.”

Letters of support poured in from trade unions in Third World countries, while those in the West remained silent. As the days passed, it became increasingly evident that NATO was systematically destroying factories and work sites. NATO had also wasted little time in demonstrating its contempt for human life. Wisely, the workers at Zastava chose to modify their human shield by moving outdoors and forming a ring around the factory plants, rather than occupying them. Work inside the plants, however, continued.

Shortly after 1:00 AM on April 9, NATO responded to the workers’ letter by sending a volley of cruise missile flying into Kragujevac. Dragan Stankovich, export director for Zastava, was in his apartment when he felt the first detonations, which he likened to a strong earthquake. The sky turned red, and his first thought was to hope that the factory had not been hit. His apartment was close to Zastava, so he walked hurriedly over there. Ten minutes after the first attack, the next wave of missiles struck. “I was very close,” Stankovich told us, “but I couldn’t see the bombs. Only a series of mushroom clouds. You could see the explosion and big fires only. You couldn’t hear anything. Strong light and fire. Like an atomic bomb. Like mushrooms.” The power, assembly, and paint and forging plants were all demolished in the assault. In all, 124 workers were wounded, but miraculously, no one was killed. Ambulances and fire trucks arrived quickly at the scene and retrieved the injured. At the local hospital, a woman, her head bandaged, defiantly told a reporter, “I can only tell Clinton – we will build a new factory. He cannot destroy everything.”

Three nights later, another wave of missiles struck Zastava at 2:45 AM and then yet again ten minutes later. The factories were lightly staffed by this time, and only 16 workers were wounded. As a result of the two attacks, the six largest plants at Zastava lay in ruins. Interestingly, the one plant that manufactured assault rifles was untouched, underlining the fact that NATO’s motivation was the deindustrialization of Yugoslavia. One woman was quoted as saying: “When we saw it burning, we all wept. It was the same feeling as if someone had burned down your home.”

Stankovich told us that the factory complex in Kragujevac employed 28,000 workers, and another 8,000 in associated Zastava factories throughout Yugoslavia, most of which were also bombed. “Of all the catastrophes that befell us,” he said, “we consider the humanitarian catastrophe to be the biggest.” One of the salient aspects of the disaster, he felt, was that workers in many other factories depended on Zastava. There were many plants throughout the nation that supplied components to Zastava. With Zastava in ruins, workers and at these plants and their families, some 200,000 people in all, were left without a means of livelihood.

Zastava’s director, Milosav Djordjevich, ruefully observed, “For the workers, the factory is life. On the nights of the 9th and 12th of April, all our dreams were destroyed in a mere fifteen minutes of bombing.” He told us that he found it difficult to believe that there were people who could inflict death and destruction on others. After months of listening to the gloating of Western leaders over the slaughter they were carrying out, I had no such difficulty.

The power plant supplied electricity, compressed air, hot water and steam for production at Zastava. But its destruction had a wider impact as well, for the plant also provided heat and energy to a large sector of the city. “About 15,000 flats, schools, hospitals, and other institutions depended on the Zastava power plant for their heat,” Stankovich explained. One of the missiles exploded about 20 to 30 meters above the plant, ripping the roof from the building and destroying transformers, turbo-compressors, and the control room. “Smashed,” a worker told us. “Everything was smashed. We have removed everything to be repaired.” Resumption of production at the power plant was an urgent task. Workers had already removed the rubble in this plant by the time of our visit, and two of the eight turbo-compressors had already been repaired. But the destruction of the plant’s transformers sent two tons of highly toxic PCB pyralene pouring onto the ground and into a nearby river.

zasforge

Offices at Zastava forging plant.  Photo: Gregory Elich.

The forging plant was a ruin after being hit four times. When the plant was in operation, components were formed for automobiles, agricultural machinery, and railways. The roof was gone. Mounds of rubble, damaged machinery, and twisted girders confronted us. Scraps of metal debris hung in clumps from isolated and deformed steel bars. The three-story office section of the forging plant had taken a direct hit, and a large section of its façade was blown away. What remained of the upper floors sagged alarmingly. Adjacent to it, the older forging plant presented a stark appearance. The plant’s heavy concrete walls bore the scars from explosions, and its roof was mostly missing. When a missile exploded on the building, concrete columns fell on the heat treatment area, and large chunks of concrete were hurled about, injuring several workers. NATO “had drawings, coordinates, everything,” Djordjevich remarked, “as if they played us with joysticks.”

Djordjevich regarded the paint plant as the pride of Zastava, housing as it did modern robotic production lines. Here, the devastation was even more terrible than in the other plants. It was shocking. Four missiles had left the plant roofless and buried in a carpet of debris. Mountains of twisted and jumbled wreckage rose above the rubble, resembling in some sections abstract sculptures. Djordjevich lovingly described the advanced technology utilized by the plant. “They hit this directly, as you would hit a man in the heart.”

Damage to the automobile assembly line plant was also severe. Merely to clear away the rubble would be a daunting task. Fifty-four workers in this plant were injured when a blast caused the roof to collapse on them. The plant “was very beautiful to see when it was functioning,” Djordjevich told us. “Now look at it. It’s a sorrow to see.”

Zastavaauto

Zastava automotive paint plant.  Photo: Gregory Elich.

It was nearing 9:00 PM, and it had become too dark to view the truck plant and tools factory, both of which had been completely demolished. We were instead taken to the computer center, where the headlights of our vehicles were projected onto the building. It was a ruin. The explosive force of two missiles was so strong that the building was lifted from its foundation before collapsing. Two IBM computers, costing a total of $10 million, were lost. Because the computer center was not operating on the night of the attack, only two people were inside, both hiding in the shelter after the air raid siren had sounded.

In all, destruction at Zastava was estimated to amount to $1 billion, straining the Yugoslav government’s ability to finance its reconstruction. But that did not deter efforts. By January 2000, eighty percent of the rubble had been cleared at Zastava, a monumental endeavor in itself. Before long, small-scale production resumed, which could only have been accomplished through efforts on a heroic scale.

Reconstruction continued, but after CIA-backed regime change in October 2000, the direction of Zastava’s future followed a different path. Hell-bent on privatizing the entire economy, the new government issued an ultimatum to workers at Zastava plants: accept a plan in which two-thirds of the workforce would be laid off, or Zastava would be closed down altogether. “We tried to sharpen our teeth on this one,” privatization minister Aleksandar Vlahovich explained.

zavplant

Zastava power plant.  Photo: Gregory Elich.

In a society where the loss of economic facilities, sanctions, and a privatization program had rendered much of the working population redundant, employees at Zastava worried about the prospects of ever finding employment again. Serbian finance minister Pavle Petrovich contemptuously dismissed their concerns: “It is high time that people learn there won’t be any life support systems anymore.” Workers were left with little choice and acceded to the government’s demands, and those who lost their jobs received a pittance for sustenance.

Zastava was privatized in 2008, and soon after became a subsidiary of Fiat. It eventually was fully owned by Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles. Once ownership passed to Fiat, the Italian firm ignored its pledge not to dismiss workers, and immediately cut the remaining workforce in half. Protesting workers occupied City Hall, to no avail. They were quickly defeated.

With workers mocked as lazy parasites, neoliberal propaganda was in full swing. The government, which had long derided state-owned Zastava for relying on state subsidies, saw no contradiction in offering Fiat monopoly status, subsidies of ten thousand Euros per worker, and subsidies to support sales over for the first year. Fiat was also granted an exemption from paying any taxes whatsoever for a period of ten years, and land was given gratis to Fiat’s foreign component partners. A duty-free industrial zone was created for Fiat, with the government providing cost-free infrastructure. In all, these gifts to Fiat dwarfed any subsidies that state-owned Zastava ever received.

Back in 2001, privatization minister Vlahovich observed, “Zastava became an example, I hope, of tomorrow’s successful restructuring of the whole country.” And so it did, as foreign corporations now dominate the economy, the nation’s workforce subsists on abysmally low wages, and unemployment is at depression levels. For those who once proudly worked at Zastava, their economic rape is complete.

April 15, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Kosovo and Ukraine: Compare and contrast

By Neil Clark | RT | August 20, 2014

There have been at least two countries in Europe in recent history that undertook ‘anti-terrorist’ military operations against ‘separatists’, but got two very different reactions from the Western elite.

The government of European country A launches what it calls an ‘anti-terrorist’ military operation against ‘separatists’ in one part of the country. We see pictures on Western television of people’s homes being shelled and lots of people fleeing. The US and UK and other NATO powers fiercely condemn the actions of the government of country A and accuse it of carrying out ‘genocide’ and ’ethnic cleansing’ and say that there is an urgent ‘humanitarian crisis.’ Western politicians and establishment journalists tell us that ‘something must be done.’ And something is done: NATO launches a ‘humanitarian’ military intervention to stop the government of country A. Country A is bombed for 78 days and nights. The country’s leader (who is labeled ‘The New Hitler’) is indicted for war crimes – and is later arrested and sent in an RAF plane to stand trial for war crimes at The Hague, where he dies, un-convicted, in his prison cell.

The government of European country B launches what it calls an ‘anti-terrorist’ military operation against ‘separatists’ in one part of the country. Western television doesn’t show pictures or at least not many) of people’s homes being shelled and people fleeing, although other television stations do. But here the US, UK and other NATO powers do not condemn the government, or accuse it of committing ‘genocide’ or ‘ethnic cleansing.’ Western politicians and establishment journalists do not tell us that ‘something must be done’ to stop the government of country B killing people. On the contrary, the same powers who supported action against country A, support the military offensive of the government in country B. The leader of country B is not indicted for war crimes, nor is he labeled ‘The New Hitler’ despite the support the government has got from far-right, extreme nationalist groups, but in fact, receives generous amounts of aid.

Anyone defending the policies of the government in country A, or in any way challenging the dominant narrative in the West is labeled a “genocide denier” or an “apologist for mass murder.” But no such opprobrium awaits those defending the military offensive of the government in country B. It’s those who oppose its policies who are smeared.

What makes the double standards even worse, is that by any objective assessment, the behavior of the government in country B, has been far worse than that of country A and that more human suffering has been caused by their aggressive actions.

In case you haven’t guessed it yet – country A is Yugoslavia, country B is Ukraine.

Yugoslavia, a different case

In 1998/9 Yugoslavian authorities were faced with a campaign of violence against Yugoslav state officials by the pro-separatist and Western-backed Kosovan Liberation Army (KLA). The Yugoslav government responded by trying to defeat the KLA militarily, but their claims to be fighting against ’terrorism’ were haughtily dismissed by Western leaders. As the British Defence Secretary George Robertson and Foreign Secretary Robin Cook acknowledged in the period from 1998 to January 1999, the KLA had been responsible for more deaths in Kosovo than the Yugoslav authorities had been.

In the lead-up to the NATO action and during it, lurid claims were made about the numbers of people who had been killed or ‘disappeared’ by the Yugoslav forces. “Hysterical NATO and KLA estimates of the missing and presumably slaughtered Kosovan Albanians at times ran upwards of one hundred thousand, reaching 500, 000 in one State Department release. German officials leaked ‘intelligence’ about an alleged Serb plan called Operation Horseshoe to depopulate the province of its ethnic Albanians, and to resettle it with Serbs, which turned out to be an intelligence fabrication,” Edward Herman and David Peterson noted in their book The Politics of Genocide.

“We must act to save thousands of innocent men, women and children from humanitarian catastrophe – from death, barbarism and ethnic cleansing from a brutal dictatorship,” a solemn-faced Prime Minister Tony Blair told the British Parliament – just four years before an equally sombre Tony Blair told the British Parliament that we must act over the ‘threat’ posed by Saddam Hussein’s WMDs.

Taking their cue from Tony Blair and Co., the media played their part in hyping up what was going on in Kosovo. Herman and Peterson found that newspapers used the word ‘genocide’ to describe Yugoslav actions in Kosovo 323 times compared to just 13 times for the invasion/occupation of Iraq despite the death toll in the latter surpassing that of Kosovo by 250 times.

In the same way we were expected to forget about the claims from Western politicians and their media marionettes about Iraq possessing WMDs in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion, we are now expected to forget about the outlandish claims made about Kosovo in 1999.

But as the award winning investigative journalist and broadcaster John Pilger wrote in his article Reminders of Kosovo in 2004, “Lies as great as those told by Bush and Blair were deployed by Clinton and Blair in grooming of public opinion for an illegal, unprovoked attack on a European country.”

The overall death toll of the Kosovo conflict is thought to be between 3,000 and 4,000, but that figure includes Yugoslav army casualties, and Serbs and Roma and Kosovan Albanians killed by the KLA. In 2013, the International Committee of the Red Cross listed the names of 1,754 people from all communities in Kosovo who were reported missing by their families.

The number of people killed by Yugoslav military at the time NATO launched its ‘humanitarian’ bombing campaign, which itself killed between 400-600 people, is thought to be around 500, a tragic death toll but hardly “genocide.”

“Like Iraq’s fabled weapons of mass destruction, the figures used by the US and British governments and echoed by journalists were inventions- along with Serbian ‘rape camps’ and Clinton and Blair’s claims that NATO never deliberately bombed civilians,” says Pilger.

No matter what happens in Ukraine…

In Ukraine by contrast, the number of people killed by government forces and those supporting them has been deliberately played down, despite UN figures highlighting the terrible human cost of the Ukrainian government’s ‘anti-terrorist’ operation.

Last week, the UN’s Human Rights Office said that the death toll in the conflict in eastern Ukraine had doubled in the previous fortnight. Saying that they were “very conservative estimates,” the UN stated that 2,086 people (from all sides) had been killed and 5,000 injured. Regarding refugees, the UN says that around 1,000 people have been leaving the combat zone every day and that over 100,000 people have fled the region. Yet despite these very high figures, there have been no calls from leading Western politicians for ‘urgent action’ to stop the Ukrainian government’s military offensive. Articles from faux-left ‘humanitarian interventionists’ saying that ‘something must be done’ to end what is a clearly a genuine humanitarian crisis, have been noticeable by their absence.

There is, it seems, no “responsibility to protect” civilians being killed by government forces in the east of Ukraine, as there was in Kosovo, even though the situation in Ukraine, from a humanitarian angle, is worse than that in Kosovo in March 1999.

To add insult to injury, efforts have been made to prevent a Russian humanitarian aid convoy from entering Ukraine.

The convoy we are told is ‘controversial’ and could be part of a sinister plot by Russia to invade. This from the same people who supported a NATO bombing campaign on a sovereign state for “humanitarian” reasons fifteen years ago!

For these Western ‘humanitarians’ who cheer on the actions of the Ukrainian government, the citizens of eastern Ukraine are “non-people”: not only are they unworthy of our support or compassion, or indeed aid convoys, they are also blamed for their own predicament.

There are, of course, other conflicts which also highlight Western double standards towards ‘humanitarian intervention’. Israeli forces have killed over 2,000 Palestinians in their latest ruthless ‘anti-terrorist’ operation in Gaza, which is far more people than Yugoslav forces had killed in Kosovo by the time of the 1999 NATO ‘intervention’. But there are no calls at this time for a NATO bombing campaign against Israel.

In fact, neocons and faux-left Zionists who have defended and supported Israel’s “anti-terrorist” Operation Protective Edge, and Operation Cast Lead before it, were among the most enthusiastic supporters of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. Israel it seems is allowed to kill large numbers of people, including women and children, in its “anti-terrorist” campaigns, but Yugoslavia had no such “right” to fight an “anti-terrorist” campaign on its own soil.

In 2011, NATO went to war against Libya to prevent a “hypothetical” massacre in Benghazi, and to stop Gaddafi ‘killing his own people’; in 2014 Ukrainian government forces are killing their own people in large numbers, and there have been actual massacres like the appalling Odessa arson attack carried out by pro-government ‘radicals’, but the West hasn’t launched bombing raids on Kiev in response.

The very different approaches from the Western elite to ‘anti-terrorist’ operations in Kosovo and Ukraine (and indeed elsewhere) shows us that what matters most is not the numbers killed, or the amount of human suffering involved, but whether or not the government in question helps or hinders Western economic and military hegemonic aspirations.

In the eyes of the rapacious Western elites, the great ‘crime’ of the Yugoslav government in 1999 was that it was still operating, ten years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, an unreconstructed socialist economy, with very high levels of social ownership – as I highlighted here.

Yugoslavia under Milosevic was a country which maintained its financial and military independence. It had no wishes to join the EU or NATO, or surrender its sovereignty to anyone. For that refusal to play by the rules of the globalists and to show deference to the powerful Western financial elites, the country (and its leader) had to be destroyed. In the words of George Kenney, former Yugoslavia desk officer at the US State Department: “In post-cold war Europe no place remained for a large, independent-minded socialist state that resisted globalization.”

By contrast, the government of Ukraine, has been put in power by the West precisely in order to further its economic and military hegemonic aspirations. Poroshenko, unlike the much- demonized Milosevic, is an oligarch acting in the interests of Wall Street, the big banks and the Western military-industrial complex. He’s there to tie up Ukraine to IMF austerity programs, to hand over his country to Western capital and to lock Ukraine into ‘Euro-Atlantic’ structures- in other words to transform it into an EU/IMF/NATO colony- right on Russia’s doorstep.

This explains why an ‘anti-terrorist’ campaign waged by the Yugoslav government against ‘separatists’ in 1999 is ‘rewarded’ with fierce condemnation, a 78-day bombing campaign, and the indictment of its leader for war crimes, while a government waging an ‘anti-terrorist’ campaign against ‘separatists’ in Ukraine in 2014, is given carte blanche to carry on killing. In the end, it’s not about how many innocent people you kill, or how reprehensible your actions are, but about whose interests you serve.

August 21, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

A 15-Year Murder Spree

By David Swanson | War is a Crime | April 3, 2014

“The notion of a ‘humanitarian war’ would have rang in the ears of the drafters of the UN Charter as nothing short of Hitlerian, because it was precisely the justification used by Hitler himself for the invasion of Poland just six years earlier.” —Michael Mandel

Fifteen years ago, NATO was bombing Yugoslavia.  This may be difficult for people to grasp who believe the Noah movie is historical fiction, but: What your government told you about the bombing of Kosovo was false. And it matters.

While Rwanda is the war that many misinformed people wish they could have had (or rather, wish others could have had for them), Yugoslavia is the war they’re glad happened — at least whenever World War II really fails as a model for the new war they’re after — in Syria for instance, or in Ukraine — the latter being, like Yugoslavia, another borderland between east and west that is being taken to pieces.

The peace movement is gathering in Sarajevo this summer. The moment seems fitting to recall how NATO’s breakout war of aggression, its first post-Cold-War war to assert its power, threaten Russia, impose a corporate economy, and demonstrate that a major war can keep all the casualties on one side (apart from self-inflicted helicopter crashes) — how this was put over on us as an act of philanthropy.

The killing hasn’t stopped. NATO keeps expanding its membership and its mission, notably into places like Afghanistan and Libya.  It matters how this got started, because it’s going to be up to us to stop it.

Some of us had not yet been born or were too young or too busy or too Democratic partisan or too caught up still in the notion that mainstream opinion isn’t radically insane.  We didn’t pay attention or we fell for the lies.  Or we didn’t fall for the lies, but we haven’t yet figured out a way to get most people to look at them.

Here’s my recommendation.  There are two books that everyone should read.  They are about the lies we were told about Yugoslavia in the 1990s but are also two of the best books about war, period, regardless of the subtopic.  They are: How America Gets Away With Murder: Illegal Wars, Collateral Damage, and Crimes Against Humanity by Michael Mandel, and Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions by Diana Johnstone.

Johnstone’s book provides the historical background, the context, and analysis of the role of the United States, of Germany, of the mass media, and of various players in Yugoslavia.  Mandel’s book provides the immediate events and a lawyer’s analysis of the crimes committed.  While many ordinary people in the United States and Europe supported or tolerated the war out of good intentions — that is, because they believed the propaganda — the motivations and actions of the U.S. government and NATO turn out to have been as cynical and immoral as usual.

The United States worked for the breakup of Yugoslavia, intentionally prevented negotiated agreements among the parties, and engaged in a massive bombing campaign that killed large numbers of people, injured many more, destroyed civilian infrastructure and hospitals and media outlets, and created a refugee crisis that did not exist until after the bombing had begun.  This was accomplished through lies, fabrications, and exaggerations about atrocities, and then justified anachronistically as a response to violence that it generated.

After the bombing, the U.S. allowed the Bosnian Muslims to agree to a peace plan very similar to the plan that the U.S. had been blocking prior to the bombing spree.  Here’s U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali:

“In its first weeks in office, the Clinton administration has administered a death blow to the Vance-Owen plan that would have given the Serbs 43 percent of the territory of a unified state. In 1995 at Dayton, the administration took pride in an agreement that, after nearly three more years of horror and slaughter, gave the Serbs 49 percent in a state partitioned into two entities.”

These many years later it should matter to us that we were told about fake atrocities that researchers were unable to ever find, any more than anyone could ever find the weapons in Iraq, or the evidence of plans to slaughter civilians in Benghazi, or the evidence of Syrian chemical weapons use.  We’re being told that Russian troops are massing on the border of Ukraine with genocidal intentions. But when people look for those troops they can’t find them. We should be prepared to consider what that might mean.

NATO had to bomb Kosovo 15 years ago to prevent a genocide? Really? Why sabotage negotiations? Why pull out all observers?  Why give five days’ warning? Why then bomb away from the area of the supposed genocide?  Wouldn’t a real rescue operation have sent in ground forces without any warning, while continuing diplomatic efforts?  Wouldn’t a humanitarian effort have avoided killing so many men, women, and children with bombs, while threatening to starve whole populations through sanctions?

Mandel looks very carefully at the legality of this war, considering every defense ever offered for it, and concludes that it violated the U.N. Charter and consisted of murder on a large scale.  Mandel, or perhaps his publisher, chose to begin his book with an analysis of the illegality of the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, and to leave Yugoslavia out of the book’s title.  But it is Yugoslavia, not Iraq or Afghanistan, that war proponents will continue pointing to for years to come as a model for future wars — unless we stop them.  This was a war that broke new ground, but did it with far more effective PR than the Bush administration ever bothered with.  This war violated the UN Charter, but also — though Mandel doesn’t mention it — Article I of the U.S. Constitution requiring Congressional approval.

Every war also violates the Kellogg-Briand Pact.  Mandel, all too typically, erases the Pact from consideration even while noting its existence and significance.  “The first count against the Nazis at Nuremberg,” he writes, “was the ‘crime against peace . . . violation of international treaties’ — international treaties just like the Charter of the United Nations.”  That can’t be right.  The U.N. Charter did not yet exist.  Other treaties were not just like it.  Much later in the book, Mandel cites the Kellogg-Briand Pact as the basis for the prosecutions, but he treats the Pact as if it existed then and exists no longer.  He also treats it as if it banned aggressive war, rather than all war.  I hate to quibble, as Mandel’s book is so excellent, including his criticism of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch for refusing to recognize the U.N. Charter.  But what they’re doing to make the U.N. Charter a treaty of the past, Mandel himself (and virtually everyone else) does to the Kellogg-Briand Pact, awareness of which would devastate all arguments for “humanitarian wars.”

Of course, proving that every war thus far marketed as humanitarian has actually harmed humanity doesn’t eliminate the theoretical possibility of a humanitarian war.  What erases that is the damage that keeping the institution of war around does to human society and the natural environment.  Even if, in theory, 1 war in 1,000 could be a good one (which I don’t believe for a minute), preparing for wars is going to bring those other 999 along with it.  That is why the time has come to abolish the institution.

April 3, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 3 Comments

WHY? Stories of bombed Yugoslavia

Exactly 15 years ago, on March 24, NATO began its 78-day bombing of Yugoslavia. The alliance bypassed the UN under a “humanitarian” pretext, launching aggression that claimed hundreds of civilian lives and caused a much larger catastrophe than it averted.

Years on, Serbia still bears deep scars of the NATO bombings which, as the alliance put it, were aimed at “preventing instability spreading” in Kosovo.

Codenamed ‘Operation Allied Force,’ it was the largest attack ever undertaken by the alliance. It was also the first time that NATO used military force without the approval of the UN Security Council and against a sovereign nation that did not pose a real threat to any member of the alliance.

NATO demonstrated in 1999 that it can do whatever it wants under the guise of “humanitarian intervention,” “war on terror,” or “preventive war” — something that everyone has witnessed in subsequent years in different parts of the globe.

Nineteen NATO member states participated to some degree in the military campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro), which lasted for 11 weeks until June 10, 1999.

In the course of the campaign, NATO launched 2,300 missiles at 990 targets and dropped 14,000 bombs, including depleted uranium bombs and cluster munitions (unexploded cluster bombs continued to pose a threat to people long after the campaign was over.) Over 2,000 civilians were killed, including 88 children, and thousands more were injured. Over 200,000 ethnic Serbs were forced to leave their homeland in Kosovo.

In what the alliance described as “collateral damage,” its airstrikes destroyed more than 300 schools, libraries, and over 20 hospitals. At least 40,000 homes were either completely eliminated or damaged and about 90 historic and architectural monuments were ruined. That is not to mention the long-term harm caused to the region’s ecology and, therefore, people’s health.

News correspondents Anissa Naouai and Jelena Milincic, the authors of RT’s documentary ‘Zashto?’ — which means “Why?” in English –traveled through former Yugoslavia to Belgrade, Kosovo, and Montenegro and spoke to people who endured the atrocities and horrors of the war and lost their friends and relatives. … http://rt.com/news/yugoslavia-kosovo-…

March 24, 2014 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crimea: The Referendum, the Mote and the Beam

By Jan Oberg | Transnational Foundation for Peace & Future Research | March 17, 2014

Of course, it is illegal and, of course, it will be rigged, that referendum in Crimea today. And, of course, it is a ploy and comes only in the wake of Russia’s (read Putin’s) unprovoked aggression, used as a pretext to build a new Greater Russia.

That is, if you browse the mainstream Western media the last week and on this Sunday morning.

Referendum means referring an issue back to the people. It is – or should be – an important instrument in democracies. And it’s a much better instrument than war and other violence to settle complex conflicts.

Generally, citizens-decided conflict-resolution is likely to last longer and help healing wounds of the past than any type of solution imposed by outside actors.

In Switzerland citizens go and vote on all kinds of issues on many a Sunday throughout the year. Sweden has used it to decide about nuclear energy, Denmark about EU membership and – in 1920 – to solve the conflicts in Schleswig-Holstein and define the future border between Germany and Denmark. Referendums, binding as well as non-binding, are an accepted instrument in many countries.

Why did the West not use referendums?

The West likes to pride itself of its type of democracy whenever and wherever it can. But it doesn’t use the referendum instrument that often.

About 25 years ago it decided that it was good conflict-resolution to divide Yugoslavia into six republics; foolishly it used the old administrative borders and elevated them to international borders (the purpose behind that: you could then define the Yugoslav People’s Army’s presence in Croatia and Slovenia as ”international aggression by Serbia”) instead of asking people to which republic they preferred to belong.

In a few days it is 15 years ago NATO bombed Kosovo and Serbia to ”liberate” Kosovo and make it an independent – predictably failed – state. Fifteen years later, one wonders what better situation a negotiated solution ending with a referendum could have produced. No referendum there either.

Or take the Dayton Accords from 1995 for Bosnia-Hercegovina. No one in the democratic West bothered to ask the 4.3 million people living there (around 33% Serbs, 45% Muslims/Bosniaks and 17% Croats) whether they would like to live under those Accords.

Further, Dayton was signed in the US, the Bosnian constitution written by US lawyers and the agreement signed by three presidents none of whom were representing anybody in Bosnia at the time of signing. Not exactly a democratic peace. And it should be clear today that it is not going to work in the future either.

Or take the issue of nuclear weapons. No nuclear weapon state has ever asked its citizens whether they want their country to possess nuclear weapons which, logically, also make them potential targets of somebody else’s nukes. All opinion surveys in the nuclear powers tell us that there is no majority anywhere for the nuclear weapon status.

And how few of the new Eastern members of NATO and the EU have had a referendum on membership?

So, even in democracies the belief that ”we know what is best for you” often stands in the way of more intelligent, democratic conflict-resolution; i.e. better and more sustainable solutions to complex conflicts.

This is dangerous: How did it come to this?

Crimea is an extremely sensitive conflict spot and has been for centuries. In my view, there is more than a 50% risk that the situation we see today in Ukraine may lead to something like Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

Conflicts and violence – even the threat of it – as well as sanctions have their own dynamics and there is always a risk that they spin out of control – if people don’t stop and think but continue tit-for-tat escalation.

Why has it come to this? There are many reasons but let me mention these:

► The US and the EU have meddled in Ukraine’s internal affairs in a way that they would never accept Russian neo-cons, finance institutions and NGOs would in their own countries and are, thus, significantly co-responsible for the mess.

► The US and the EU lack politicians and they lack advisers who understand the larger scheme of things. They invest in spin doctors and PR companies instead of in knowledge-based expertise. It should have been obvious to a historically minded Western security and foreign policy elite that Ukraine is not a place to fish in extremely troubled waters and not expect a harsh reaction.

► Putin sees a golden opportunity to play tough in the light of the history of the end of the Cold War, the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact saying in effect: This far and no longer! To be or act surprised at that speaks volumes of ignorance, propaganda, or both.

The triumphalist US/NATO/EU expansion policies since 1989 would boomerang at some point – and that point is Ukraine, Ukraine meaning ”border” (like Krijina in Croatia).

Wiser politicians of the past: Common security

Whether we like it or not, the US and the EU have handed Russia and Putin a point or two on a silver plate.

Wiser politicians like Willy Brandt, Olof Palme, Urho Kekkonen, or Nelson Mandela knew that we need peace first and then a policy to secure it (not the other way around) and that that again means moderation, prudence and search for common interests rather than provocatively promoting yourself.

The reduction in intellectualism and moderation of foreign and security policy elites worries me at least as much as Russia’s response to US/NATO/EU the-winner-takes-it-all policies.

Hopefully the referendum may defuse tension

And, so, let’s rather hope that the referendum in Crimea could be a means to diffuse the tension. The rest of Ukraine has its own deeply worrying conflict — and violence-prone factors looming.

But they don’t have to blow up like Pakrac, Western Slavonia in Yugoslavia where the first shot was fired in what became a terrible war. And remember that war was preceded by a similar fishing in troubled waters as we have seen in Ukraine.

Are political decision-makers and media able to learn from contemporary history this time or will Yugoslavia be repeated?

Perhaps a Christian West should remind itself – and take serious – of the Gospel of Matthew 1-5:

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

The mutual blaming in Moscow, Brussels and Washington of ”the other” should be seen as little but psychological projections of their own dark sides (beams) of which they must be subconsciously aware.

We will get nowhere but to hell with tit-for-tat, judgmentalism and self-righteousness. Both Russia and the West should, instead, take steps in the direction of democratic peace-making: refer issues back to people themselves but – and that is important beyond words – stop influencing or buying them on the way to the ballot box.

Jan Oberg is a peace researcher, art photographer, and Director of Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research (TFF).

March 18, 2014 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US Uses Past Crimes to Legalize Future Ones

By Diana Johnstone | Ron Paul Institute | August 26, 2013

The liberal warhawks are groping around for a pretext they can call “legal” for waging war against Syria, and have come up with the 1999 “Kosovo war”.

This is not surprising insofar as a primary purpose of that US/NATO 78-day bombing spree was always to set a precedent for more such wars. The pretext of “saving the Kosovars” from an imaginary “genocide” was as false as the “weapons of mass destruction” pretext for war against Iraq, but the fakery has been much more successful with the general public. Therefore Kosovo retains its usefulness in the propaganda arsenal.

On August 24, the New York Times reported that President Obama’s national security aides are “studying the NATO air war in Kosovo as a possible blueprint for acting without a mandate from the United Nations.” (By the way, the “air war” was not “in Kosovo”, but struck the whole of what was then Yugoslavia, mostly destroying Serbia’s civilian infrastructure and also spreading destruction in Montenegro.)

On Friday, Obama admitted that going in and attacking another country “without a U.N. mandate and without clear evidence” raised questions in terms of international law.

According to the New York Times, “Kosovo is an obvious precedent for Mr. Obama because, as in Syria, civilians were killed and Russia had longstanding ties to the government authorities accused of the abuses. In 1999, President Bill Clinton used the endorsement of NATO and the rationale of protecting a vulnerable population to justify 78 days of airstrikes.”

“It’s a step too far to say we’re drawing up legal justifications for an action, given that the president hasn’t made a decision,” said a senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the deliberations. “But Kosovo, of course, is a precedent of something that is perhaps similar.”

Ivo H. Daalder, a former United States ambassador to NATO, suggests that the administration could argue that the use of chemical weapons in Syria amounts to a grave humanitarian emergency, just as the Clinton administration argued in 1999 that “a grave humanitarian emergency” presented the “international community” with “the responsibility to act”.

This amounts to creative legality worthy of the planet’s number one Rogue State.

An Illegal War as Precedent for More War

The US/NATO war against Yugoslavia, which used unilateral force to break up a sovereign state, detaching the historic Serbian province of Kosovo and transforming it into a US satellite, was clearly in violation of international law.

In May 2000, the distinguished British authority on international law, Sir Ian Brownlie (1936-2010), presented a 16,000-word Memorandum, evaluating the war’s legal status for the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs of the British Parliament.

Brownlie recalled that key provisions of the United Nations Charter state quite clearly that “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”

Brownlie added that the alleged right to use force for humanitarian purposes was not compatible with the UN Charter.

During the past decade, the Western powers have invented and promoted a theoretical “right to protect” (R2P) in an effort to get around the UN Charter in order to clear the way for wars whose final purpose is regime change. The use of R2P to overthrow Gaddafi in Libya gave the game away, ensuring Russian and Chinese opposition for any further such manoeuvre in the UN Security Council.

Concerning the Kosovo war, in his Memorandum Professor Brownlie reached the following major conclusions:

– The primary justification for the bombing of Yugoslavia was always the imposition of the NATO plans for the future of Kosovo. It was in this context that the bombing campaign was planned in August 1998.

–  The threats of massive air strikes were made in the same context and were first made public in October 1998. Neither the purpose of the planned air strikes nor their implementation related to events on the ground in Kosovo in March 1999.

–  The cause of the air strikes was quite simple: given that Yugoslavia had not given in to threats, the threats had to be carried out.

–  The legal basis of the action, as presented by the United Kingdom and other NATO States, was at no stage adequately articulated.

–  Humanitarian intervention, the justification belatedly advanced by the NATO States, has no place either in the United Nations Charter or in customary international law.

– If the view had been held that the Permanent Members of the Security Council would recognise the need for humanitarian action, then no doubt a resolution would have been sought.

– The intentions of the United States and the United Kingdom included the removal of the Government of Yugoslavia. It is impossible to reconcile such purposes with humanitarian intervention.

– The claim to be acting on humanitarian grounds appears difficult to reconcile with the disproportionate amount of violence involved in the use of heavy ordnance and missiles. The weapons had extensive blast effects and the missiles had an incendiary element. A high proportion of targets were in towns and cities. Many of the victims were women and children. After seven weeks of the bombing at least 1,200 civilians had been killed and 4,500 injured.

–  In spite of the references to the need for a peaceful solution to be found in Security Council Resolutions, the public statements of Mrs Albright, Mr Cook, Mr Holbrooke, and others, and the reiterated threats of massive air strikes, make it very clear that no ordinary diplomacy was envisaged.

The “Kosovo treatment”

As a final synopsis, Brownlie wrote a prophetic note on future use of “the Kosovo treatment”:

“The writer has contacts with a great number of diplomats and lawyers of different nationalities. The reaction to the NATO bombing campaign outside Europe and North America has been generally hostile. Most States have problems of separatism and could, on a selective basis, be the objects of Western ‘crisis management’. The selection of crises for the ‘Kosovo’ treatment will depend upon the geopolitical and collateral agenda. It is on this basis, and not a humanitarian agenda, that Yugoslavia is marked out for fragmentation on a racial basis, whilst Russia and Indonesia are not.”

He added: “Forcible intervention to serve humanitarian objectives is a claim which is only open to powerful States to make against the less powerful. The fate of Yugoslavia will have caused considerable damage to the cause of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”

The Brownlie Memorandum to the British Parliament is the most thorough assessment of the legal status of the Kosovo War. It is quite remarkable that the liberal warhawks around Obama talk of using that war as a “legal precedent” for a new war against Syria.

This amounts to saying that a crime committed once becomes a “precedent” to justify the crime being committed the next time.

How Many Times Can You Fool Most of the People?

If understood correctly, the Kosovo war was indeed a precedent that should act as a warning signal.

How many times can the United States use a false alarm to start an aggressive war? Non-existent “genocide” in Kosovo and Libya, non-existent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and now what looks to much of the world like a “false flag” chemical weapons attack in Syria.

The United States habitually announces the presence of a desired casus belli, dismissing demands for concrete evidence.

In Kosovo, the United States obtained withdrawal of international observers who could have testified whether or not there was evidence of “genocide” of Kosovars. The accusations escalated during the war, and when, afterwards, no evidence of such mass murder was found, the matter was forgotten.

In Iraq, there was never any proof of WMD, but the US went ahead and invaded.

In Libya, the pretext for war was a misquoted statement of Gaddafi threatening a “massacre of civilians” in Benghazi. This was exposed as a fake, but again, NATO bombed, the regime was toppled, and the pretext falls into oblivion.

Sunday, just as the Syrian government announced readiness to allow international inspectors to investigate allegations of chemical weapons use, the White House responded, “too late!”

A senior Obama administration official demanding anonymity (one can reasonably guess the official was Obama’s hawkish National Security Advisor Susan Rice) issued a statement claiming that there was “very little doubt” that President Bashar al-Assad’s military forces had used chemical weapons against civilians and that a promise to allow United Nations inspectors access to the site was “too late to be credible.”

In the world beyond the beltway, there is a great deal of doubt – especially about the credibility of the United States government when it comes to finding pretexts to go to war. Moreover, setting “chemical weapons” as a “red line” obliging the US to go to war is totally arbitrary. There are many ways of killing people in a civil war. Selecting one as a trigger for US intervention serves primarily to give rebels an excellent reason to carry out a “false flag” operation that will bring NATO into the war they are losing.

Who really wants or needs US intervention? The American people? What good will it do them to get involved in yet another endless Middle East war?

But who has influence on Obama?  The American people?  Or is it rather “our staunchest ally”, who is most concerned about rearranging the Middle East neighborhood?

“This situation must not be allowed to continue,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, expressing remarkable concern for Syrian civilians “who were so brutally attacked by weapons of mass destruction.”

“The most dangerous regimes in the world must not be allowed to possess the most dangerous weapons in the world,” Netanyahu added.

Incidentally, polls have been taken showing that for much of the world, the most dangerous regime in the world is Israel, which is allowed to possess the most dangerous weapons – nuclear weapons.  But there is no chance that Israel will ever get “the Kosovo treatment”.

DIANA JOHNSTONE is the author of Fools Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions. She can be reached at  diana.josto@yahoo.fr

August 26, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 2 Comments