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New Rome & The New Religious Wars
Gregory R. Copley, Editor
here to view the Adobe Acrobat version of this article.
link to download Acrobat is listed below.
New Rome and the New Religious Wars
of the Origins of the Kosovo Conflict
and What is the KLA?
Big Lie” at Work
Need for “Victory”
on the Ground
Losses and the Military Costs
Refugee Burden Inside Serbia
the Refugees into Compliance
Strategic and Military-Political Lessons
The lessons of coalition warfare
The cost of the loss of technology
The strategic cost of loss of mobility in other theaters
The cost of warfighting assets
The cost to NATO’s survivability
Managing Unexpected Human and Asset Losses
The cost of burdening military leaders with political objectives
The loss of prestige
nation is fit to sit in judgment on any other nation.”
Accord Agreed by All
Woodrow Wilson, 1915
do not know the method of drawing up an indictment against a whole people.”
Edmund Burke, 1775
New Rome and the New Religious Wars
is normally initiated as a response to the demands of national interests.
National interests are usually defined as those things necessary for the
survival, stability or prosperity of the state. The evolution of civilization
has meant that, before a decision is taken to launch a conflict, there
is today, in most cases, the availability of a greater foundation of factual
intelligence, and more pragmatic — or at least more broadly-based — analysis
of national requirements, conducted by professionals working within evolved
frameworks to ensure dispassionate objectivity. The ramifications of the
use of certain weapons technologies have always played a rôle in
the decisionmaking process. Today, given the unparalleled destructive scope
of weapons, it is rational to assume that considerations of the environmental,
political, economic and social damage of a conflict would be weighed heavily
before conflict was engaged.
entire process of the consideration of conflict as a means to resolve differences
between civilized societies, then, should have a weight of logic, an understanding
of history, and a grasp of the ramifications for future generations. Once
the process concludes, and the decision to engage in conflict is taken,
that decision and the rationale for it are believed to be sound, or else
why would the decision have been taken?
other words, belief in the correctness of the decision is based on factual
reporting and analysis, weighed in the matrix of national interest.
what if the belief came first, and the supposed basis for this belief
was never subjected to the rigorous analytical and logical process which
is today regarded as fundamental before the destructive power of modern
weapons is employed?
such a case, we would have a war prosecuted as a war of belief,
which, if not based on empirical analysis derived from sound intelligence
and historical understanding, coupled with political experience, becomes,
literally, just another “religious war”.
Eisenman, the famous scholar of the Dead Sea Scrolls, wrote in his recent
book, James, The Brother of Jesus: “One must be able to divorce
one’s faith, on the one hand, from one’s critical faculties and historical
judgment on the other ... Otherwise, one will be unable to make any real
progress on the road to discovering the historical reality behind the period
before us.” His words, in discussing the events around the period of the
origins of Christianity, are equally apt today.
are today at a strange confluence of history, when some 2,000 years after
the Jewish War (66-73 CE) against Rome, we see the emergence of a new power
acting in a similar fashion to the Rome of that period. Then, and earlier,
the Jews rebelled against Rome and against other overlords, to protect
their religious beliefs, in a process which ultimately led to the Christianization
of the Roman Empire. But the Romans also fought out of belief in themselves
and against any who dared to challenge. The suppression and the responses
were very much based upon belief systems rather than merely on the matter
of national or imperial interests. On many occasions, it is true, Rome
fought to protect its interests and to project its power. But when Rome
was globally unchallenged, as it was during its occupation of Jerusalem
and the old Jewish kingdoms, it used power for vengeance, and often on
the personal whims of emperors such as Nero (54-68 CE) or his successor,
reality was, ultimately, that Rome could ill-afford the luxury of ill-con-
ceived and gratuitous mis-use of its might. There were consequences for
all its actions. Indeed, in the wars today between the factions of Christianity
— and in many ways the current Balkan war is (separate from the involvement
of extreme radical Islamists) a fight between Orthodox Christianity and
Catholicism, a fact totally missed in nominally secular Western Europe
and the US — linger as a direct result of the political warfare which characterized
the Roman attempts to dominate and seduce the various Jewish sects of 2,000
wars were once again the norm in medieval Europe, and, for that matter,
much of the rest of the world during the Middle Ages. Today, it is easy
to look back on such conflicts as being cruel and wasteful, based as much
on superstition, ignorance and jingoism as on a productive pursuit of national
objectives. As history progressed through the creation of the modern nation-state
with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 and then the Industrial Revolution,
wars became more a matter of national interests. These national interests
— and indeed the framework of state-to-state alliances — were often built
around geographical or social-ideological parameters.
ideological wars of the 20th Century, while they may appear as “belief
system wars”, were nonetheless wars of competing national interests. The
ideologies may superficially be compared with religions, but where they
differed from religious belief is that the ideologies were grounded in
human methods of societal management, not divine ones. As such, the ideological
wars represented, to a greater degree than the religious wars, conflicts
between lifestyles and economic systems. [This is also true to a degree
of the religious wars, but ideological wars fought over which system had
the best claim on the future management of societies; religious wars tended
to focus on which form of status quo was better.] Of course, all
societies have retained the need to value their ideologies as being “morally
superior” in the prosecution of war (ie: religiously correct in some sense,
whether formal religions were used or not).
so, society evolved — or is supposedly evolving — beyond the age of the
purely ideological war, into a global framework in which national interests
are defined by a more lassaiz faire approach, under which sovereign
identities were supposedly respected, and under which a variety of approaches
to lifestyles, economic systems and the like were tolerated. The theme
in the late 20th Century, when it became clear that the Western version
of civilization had “won” the Cold War, was supposedly one of tolerance
for the systems, views, religions and customs of others. Indeed, it appeared
as though civilization had indeed progressed well beyond the need to even
think in terms of religion as a basis for conflict. Those who still considered
religious belief as the basis for waging war — such as the radical Islamists
(not to be confused with the mainstream Muslim states) — came to be regarded
as backward and barbaric.
yet we are now witnessing a return to what might be called “the religious
war” era. The West, which ostensibly pioneered the progress to more “rational”
behavior, now appears to be spearheading an approach to war and strategic
affairs which is based solely around unsubstantiated beliefs, and around
the voodoo of pseudospeciation. Pseudospeciation is that phenomenon by
which individuals and groups protect their sense of identity by viewing
other groups as “less than human”, and therefore less worthy of consideration,
more able to be disregarded and destroyed.
Nobel Prize-winning author Elias Canetti pointed out, society as a whole
feels the need to witness, and therefore participate in, the execution
of outcasts (such as murderers). By reinforcing who are the outcasts, the
circle of society feels superior, comforted.
pseudospeciation is not a basis of rational, civilized management of society,
nor today a valid system for the prosecution of wars. It is a form of rabid
exclusionism which is identical to racism, not founded on any rational
evidence. It is a blood lust, fueled by jingoism and war dances. Today,
the war dances are the arcade-game visions of laser-guided destruction
shown on television and the ritualized posturing of leaders to create the
televised images of power.
is the basis on which the President of the United States, William Clinton,
using the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as his vehicle, began
a major military and political assault on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
in late March 1999. However — and this cannot be stressed too strongly
— the evidence shows that this began very much as the action of President
Clinton (rather than the US Government or NATO), and was taken against
the advice of professional intelligence and defense analysts.
such a decision is taken — to commit the country to war — there is generally,
in the US, a closing of ranks as politicians and generals, intelligence
analysts and the media, all fall in behind the Commander-in-Chief.
is virtual political suicide for any US politician to appear to oppose
the basis for the deployment of troops into combat lest the country appear
divided and the forces seem to be unsupported at home. President Clinton
knows this, and has repeatedly used the gambit of the deployment of US
forces “into harm’s way” in order to quell opposition at home, particularly
if the “opposition” appears to have a major problem to present to him.
the US media, for a variety of complex reasons, generally moves in the
same fashion, in a bloc, which would lead outsiders to believe that
a uniform censorship had been imposed.]
this, at the time of writing (April 9-25, 1999), domestic US opposition
to the Clinton decision was mounting. What was significant was that at
the same time, the Clinton Administration spearheaded the resumption of
military strikes against Iraq’s President Saddam Hussein. This had all
the hallmarks of a situation whereby, if Clinton was forced to scale back
operations against Yugoslavia — and certain negative information started
to return to the front pages of US newspapers — there would be another
military campaign to re-capture the media attention and continue to offer
some kind of protection for the President from criticism while “our boys
are at risk”.
were several major threats to Clinton domestically during this period.
One, which came to a head on April 12, 1999, was connected with the civil
law suit brought against the President by Paula Jones, who alleged that
the President had sexually accosted her. A ruling on April 12 by Judge
Susan Webber Wright stated that Pres. Clinton had deliberately lied in
his legal responses on the case, and damages were awarded against him.
The matter was also referred to the Arkansas Bar to rule on whether Clinton,
a lawyer by profession, would be disbarred from the legal profession.
other, and far more serious matter, concerned the impending revelation
of the details of dealings between the intelligence services of the People’s
Republic of China and the Clinton-Gore White House. The 700-page Cox Report
was, as President Clinton ordered the ramping up of military actions against
Yugoslavia, awaiting declassification and release. The results of this
would have been devastating to Mr Clinton and to the hopes of election
(to the Presidency) of the current Vice-President, Al Gore.
the previous use by Pres. Clinton of force abroad to distract from the
legal processes at home, it would be naïve in the extreme to believe
that this, his most serious problem yet (involving, as it does, matters
which could be construed as treasonable), would not have been sufficient
cause for him to begin a war abroad.
is equally logical that the US defense establishment would not wish to
face this fact. There is little it can do to resist the orders of the Commander-in-Chief,
even when the C-in-C’s judgment is open to question. Better to buy the
lie and head off to battle.
Clinton Administration has, as this journal has noted in the past, always
had “enemies” ready to be raised at a moment’s notice, to be used to distract
attention. In the matter of Kosovo, given the personal animosity to the
Serbs held by Secretary of State Madeline Albright and US Ambassador to
Croatia Peter Galbraith, it was not difficult to keep a case against Yugoslavia
ready for elevation to the spotlight. It is equally interesting that the
far more strategically-important conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea,
still underway, has failed to receive the same attention from Mr Clinton.
the horrific and very easily-documented slaughter of innocents by the present
Rwandan Government of Vice-President Paul Kagame goes unnoticed in the
Clinton White House. The sporadic separatist conflict in southern Mexico
receives no attention at all. The Sudanese civil war is referred to in
passing; the Sierra Leone civil war — a human tragedy of enormous scale
— goes without comment. And there are others.
the Kosovo situation was the easy target; the one already primed in the
media to offer the most opportunity for Mr Clinton’s purposes. It was a
a meeting with this writer on April 19, 1999, in Belgrade, Yugoslav Foreign
Minister Zivadin Jovanovic
posed the rhetorical question: “Can it be possible for a country, such
as the United States, to be a democracy at home, and to be anti-democratic
seek historical precedents we need only look at Imperial Rome and Britain
during its imperial phase.
of the Origins of the Kosovo Conflict
the 11-12 1992 edition of this journal, I wrote: “Incoming President Clinton
will be tempted to take fast, populist decisions on the Balkans crisis,
and these could be fatal for any chances for peace there.” The same article
noted: “Bill Clinton campaigned for the US Presidency without touching
on strategic issues. Now he must learn to lead the US through the most
dangerous global morass for perhaps 70 years.”
was 6½ years ago, and few outside Yugoslavia were aware even where
Kosovo was. In the February-March 1994 edition of this journal, some five
years ago, staff writer T. W. (Bill) Carr wrote:
areas, perhaps with even greater potential for ethnic conflict [than northern
Serbia], are Kosovo and the Sanjak region of Yugoslavia. Here the problem
is an explosive mixture of religion and nationalism with roots reaching
back in remote history and the Tito era. Adjacent to Kosovo is Muslim Albania
from whence came 95 percent of the present day population of Kosovo.”
parents were from Croatia and Slovenia, and during his Administration,
Tito maintained power in Yugoslavia, not just by holding back economic
development within Serbia, but by taking positive action to counter the
strength of the ethnic Serbs; a strength which is derived from the size
and geographical spread of the Serbrian population.”
moved Serbs out of their religious heartland, Kosovo, the place where they
had fought their most historic battle against the Ottoman Turks. At the
same time, Tito encouraged Albanian Muslims to move into the area vacated
as a means of soliciting favor from Middle East Muslim countries. When
subsequent discriminatory action and violence drove Serb families out of
Kosovo he did nothing to prevent the exodus. Today [Feb- ruary-March 1994],
a situation prevails where US officials say that if Serbia ‘invades’ Kosovo
then the West must attack Yugoslavia using the full might of NATO. It seems
that these [US] officials do not realize that Kosovo is an integral part
of Serbia. How can a country attack itself?”
effect, what they really mean is that self-determination is paramount;
Principle Eight overrules Principle Three of the Helsinki Accords. This
is the direct opposite of the situation in the Krajina, where the same
[US] officials say Croatia’s Hitler/Tito-generated borders are paramount;
Principle Three overrules Principle Eight. Is it any wonder that the Serbs
feel aggrieved and are bewildered by Western logic, or rather the lack
like the Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Albanian Muslims draw encouragement
from Western statements and threats against Yugoslavia over Kosovo.”
went on to say: “Trouble will only erupt [in Kosovo] as a result of provocative
action by the Muslim population within Kosovo, or from outside interference.
In such circumstances, Yugoslavia has a choice of action. It can withdraw
from its own territory, or it can take forceful action to suppress civil
unrest, knowing full well that the latter will result in heightened media
attention on a massive scale, followed by political demands for the UN
Security Council to take military action against Yugoslavia.”
in 1995, a year after this report by Bill Carr, US officials, including
US Ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith, and retired senior US military
officers (acting in contravention to rules forbidding their work as mercenaries
for a foreign power), worked directly with the Croatian Government to support
the Croatian “ethnic cleansing” of the Krajina region — which had been
occupied for some 500 years — forcing some 250,000 ethnic Serbs from their
homes and lands. The media was not present. The dead — and there were many
of them — were not counted. The quarter-million-plus refugees were forgotten,
and remain forgotten although they still have not been given international
the partition of Yugoslavia, ethnic Serbs owned more than 60 percent of
the land of what is now Bosnia-Herzegovina. Under the ultimate settlement,
in which they were unwilling participants, their landholding shrank dramatically.
They were, in large part, thrown from their lands, and many remain as refugees.
There has been no outcry for them.
writer covered parts of the war during the early 1990s, and saw only one
side of the conflict covered by the general media. The damage to the Serbs;
the reduction of their lands, and the flow of their people into homelessness
was never covered.
1929, Serbs constituted 61 percent of the Kosovo population. They remained
a majority until World War II, during which many were killed or driven
from their homes by the German occupiers and/or their neo-nazi allies among
the Kosovo and Bosnian Muslims [who provided enough volunteers for an SS
division to fight, also, on the Soviet front].
1945, the Tito (communist) Government made it illegal for Serb refugees
to return to their homes in Kosovo. Over the next five decades, hundreds
of thousands of illegal immigrants poured across the badly-policed border
with Albania. These were economic refugees, fleeing the poor management
of the Stalinist Albanian Government into a more liberal economic system
which, although bad by Western European standards, was — and still is —
vastly better than in Albania.
is a general impression internationally that the region of Kosovo and Metohija
— usually referred to internationally just as Kosovo — is populated solely
(or predominantly) by people of Albanian origin. This is misleading. There
are 20 separate ethnic communities living in the area: or were until the
NATO bombings began on March 24, 1999. There are, in fact, 26 separate
national communities living in Yugoslavia, making it the most multi-national,
multi-religious state in the Balkans.
are some 2,500 Serbian Orthodox monasteries and churches in Kosovo and
Metohija, of which about 1,200 were built between the Eighth and 19th Centuries
and which are classified as international treasures. Kosovo is the home
of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the official residence of the Orthodox
well, it is worth noting that literally every place name, river name, and
so on in Kosovo and Metohija is of Serbian linguistic origin; there are
no “Albanian” names there, given the history of the region. Kosovo itself
means “a field of black birds” [Kos is a black bird]. The name Metohija
means “the land of the monastery”.
facts give some idea of the spiritual identity of the region with Serbian
beliefs, as well as the most important fact that Kosovo was the birthplace
of the Serbian nation, the site of its defeat at the hands of the Ottoman
Turks and its eventual freedom from Turkish domination.
while Serbs within the Yugoslav Federation have no problem with granting
a high degree — even “an unparalleled degree”, as one senior Yugoslav leader
told this writer — of autonomy to the Albanian-origin community in Kosovo,
it is inconceivable that any Yugoslav leader would contemplate the kind
of independence for Kosovo which was planned by the Rambouillet “agreement”
which was unilaterally thrust on the Yugoslavs in 1999. It was absolutely
known by the Clinton Administration that the wording of this ultimatum,
which had been published two days before it was delivered to the Yugoslav
delegation in Rambouillet in a KLA journal, was expressly designed to be
rejected by Belgrade, thus providing the political excuse for the commencement
of US-led NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. The fact that all of the real parties
to the Kosovo dispute had already, on March 15, 1999, signed an accord
which would have given the requested autonomy was disregarded because the
US supported only the KLA solution, knowing that it had “its” air force
— that is, the air forces of NATO — to help enforce its will.
was considerable under-estimation by the KLA and by the White House, however,
of the determination of the Yugoslavs to resist such pressure.
and What is the KLA?
Clirimtare e Kosove (UCK) or Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) has several
“parents” — including the Iranian and Bosnia-Herzegovina governments —
and several important “midwives-cum-doting aunts”, including the
United States, Croatian and Turkish governments and a wide range of individuals.
The KLA would not be the significant factor it is today in the Kosovo crisis,
however, had it not been for the blessing of the United States Clinton
Administration, and for the direct and indirect support given to it by
the Clinton Administration.
now seems clear that the US Clinton Administration and the German Government
have been actively supporting the KLA since 1992 with weapons, training,
intelligence and, most importantly, significant political encouragement.
The final turning point in KLA fortunes came when US special envoys Richard
Holbrooke and Peter Galbraith posed in 1998 for pictures with the KLA leadership,
thereby cementing the endorsement. Ironically, the KLA has its origins
in the stalinist/leninist/maoist Albanian Party of Labor of the late Albanian
leader Enver Hoxha. Today, although clearly of a maoist bent — its leader,
Adem Demaci, uses the maoist clenched fist salute constantly — it also
uses the appeals of nationalism and religion to win converts among the
following the end of the stalinist era in Albania in 1992, the KLA, by
now mainly operating out of Germany and among the expatriate Albanian Kosovars,
as well as inside Albania, began drifting more toward becoming a purely
criminal organization, almost totally preoccupied with narcotics trafficking
and extortion to sustain itself. Not much has changed since then, apart
from the addition to the KLA’s persona of political-military support from
the Iranian Government and then from the US and German governments.
a landmark report — Italy Becomes Iran’s New Base for Terrorist Operations
— written for Defense & Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy
in late 1997, and published in the April-May 1998 edition, Senior Editor
Yossef Bodansky noted: “[B]y late 1997, the Tehran-sponsored training and
preparations for the Liberation Army of Kosovo (UCK — Ushtria Clirimtare
e Kosoves — in Albanian; OVK in Serbian), as well as the transfer of
weapons and experts via Albania, were being increased. Significantly, Tehran’s
primary objective in Kosovo has evolved from merely assisting a Muslim
minority in distress to furthering the consideration of the Islamic strategic
access along the Sarejevo-to- Tiranë line. And not only by expanding
and escalating subversive and Islamist-political presence can this objective
the Fall of 1997, the uppermost leadership in Tehran ordered the IRGC [Iranian
Revolutionary Guard Corps; the Pasdaran] High Command to launch
a major program for shipping large quantities of weapons and other military
supplies to the Albanian clandestine organizations in Kosovo.”
[B]y early December 1997, Iranian intelligence had already delivered the
first shipments of hand grenades, machine- guns, assault rifles, night
vision equipment, and communications gear from stockpiles in Albania to
Kosovo. ... the Iranians began sending promising Albanian and UCK commanders
for advanced training in [Iranian-controlled] al-Quds forces and
IRGC camps in Iran. Meanwhile, weapons shipments continue. Thus Tehran
is well on its way to establishing a bridgehead in Kosovo.”
report detailed the KLA’s requirements for men and equipment, and outlined
the KLA’s proposed theaters of operations. [The full text of the report
is available on the Defense & Foreign Affairs website at www.StrategicStudies.org.]
report further went on to say that the KLA’s radical wing was considering
the assassination of the leader of the moderate Democratic League of Kosovo
(DLK), Dr Ibrahim Rugova, and Fehmi Agani, the DLK deputy chairman, and
blaming Belgrade for the killings. Dr Rugova, however, escaped assassination
and remained in Yugoslavia to help negotiate a peaceful solution to the
Kosovo crisis. Even after the NATO bombings began on March 24, 1999, he
remained in Yugoslavia to help negotiate an end to the crisis, a move which
has led KLA sources to “leak” to the media the fact that Dr Rugova was,
in fact, “a virtual prisoner” of the Yugoslav Government, something which
Dr Rugova’s visibility in the Yugoslav media should have dispelled.
Rugova’s position, however, is not one which the US Clinton Administration
wishes to hear. The US committed itself to the KLA, and therefore to trying
to break off Kosovo — with its 20 ethnic groups, not just the Kosovar Albanians
— into a separate state. So the thought that Dr Rugova was “a virtual prisoner”
remained in the media interpretation, blessed by the Clinton White House.
Either because of political commitment, or to simplify the public’s perceptions,
the Clinton Administration has promoted the view that the KLA represents
those Kosovo residents of Albanian origin. Clearly, the KLA does not. The
KLA has for some years based its revenue collection on extorting money
from expatriate Kosovars under the threat of assassination of their relatives
at home, and on drug trafficking and violence aimed largely at the Kosovo
KLA is the principal proponent of the “greater Albania” philosophy, under
which the organization first hopes to achieve an independent Kosovo under
its control and then to use that base to take over Albania itself, given
that Albania is currently in a virtual state of anarchy. Before that stage
is reached, however, the swelling Albanian minority in the Former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia (FYRM) would be targeted for either complete takeover
or for the “Albanian part” to be targeted for “independence”. These are
objectives which the KLA does not bother to hide. However, the German and
US administrations have chosen to ignore these objectives, and the ongoing
criminal activities of the organization.
noted, the KLA, supported since 1992 by the US and Iran — who are, in fact,
strategic opponents, given the Iranian clerical administration’s structural
incompatibility with the West — received much support and training from
the radical Muslim leadership of Bosnia-Herze- govina, under President
It may be a matter of some significance that during 1992, before William
Clinton became US President, he signed, as Governor of the US State of
Arkansas, an “initiative” with the “Socialist Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina”.
In response, the Bosnians “pronounce[d] the month of April 1992 as ‘The
Month of Bosnia-Berzegovina and Arkansas’”. The Official Gazette of the
Bosnians, in February 1992, published the following item, dated February
15, 1992: “On acceptance of the initiative of the governor of the state
of Arkansas, on establishment of close cooperation with the Socialist Republic
of Bosnia-Herzegovina: The initiative of the governor of the state
of Arkansas on establishment of close cooperation between the Socialist
Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina in the field of culture, education, economy,
science and other forms of cooperation is hereby accepted.”
implications for the KLA are apparent in this closeness.
the KLA’s head of élite forces, Muhammed al-Zawahiri, is the brother
of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the military commander for Saudi-born terrorist leader,
Osama bin Laden. The US Clinton Administration has, of course, declared
bin Laden “public enemy number one” for his alleged involvement in the
bombing of the two US embassies in East Africa in 1998. And Ayman al-Zawahiri
has been implicated in the assassination attempt in 1995 against Egyptian
President Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
wonder that numerous US policy analysts, even those who are hostile to
Yugoslavia as a basic stance, are extremely uncomfortable with the Clinton
Administration’s close ties with the KLA.
is no doubt that the involvement of the two brothers al-Zawahiri in the
two movements is not coincidental. Ben Works, director of the Strategic
Research Institute of the US, noted: “There’s no doubt that bin Laden’s
people have been in Kosovo helping to arm, equip and train the KLA. ...
[T]he [US] Administration’s policy in Kosovo is to help bin Laden. It almost
seems as if the Clinton Administration’s policy is to guarantee more terrorism.”
strategic analyst and columnist, former US Army Colonel Harry Summers,
said on August 12, 1998, that in Kosovo, the US found itself “championing
the very Islamic fundamentalist terrorist groups who are our mortal enemies
KLA’s criminal activities are well-known in Europe, but in nearby Italy,
they are of greatest concern, because increased war will make its first
impact on the European Union’s prosperity by affecting Italy. In the first
two weeks of January 1999, alone, there were nine murders carried out in
Milan by KLA assets. The line between the KLA and the other purely criminal
Albanian mafia elements is now indistinguishable.
yet this is the group favored by the Clinton Administration (and as a result
by the Blair Administration in the UK) over the moderate Kosovo Albanian
leaders who have always sought to create a situation in which Yugoslavs
of Albanian origin could live, pray and work in harmony alongside the other
25 Yugoslav nationalities. Indeed, Clinton and Blair deliberately overturned
a workable agreement signed by all Yugoslav parties in Kosovo so that the
KLA-written “Rambouillet Accords” could be served up as an ultimatum to
the Yugoslav Government.
Gashi, 35, an ethnic Albanian from the Kosovo capital, Pristina, was, until
his recent arrest, the major drug dealer in Milan. In a March 15, 1999,
article (ie: before the bombing began) by writer William Norman Grigg,
an Italian police telephone intercept was cited in which Gashi urged his
Turkish heroin suppliers to continue shipments during the holy Muslim period
of Ramadan. Gashi said that the continuation of the shipments was for the
sake of an important cause: “To submerge Christian infidels in drugs.”
But at least part of the billions which Gashi made from the narcotics trade
went to buy a variety of weapons for the KLA. Most of the weapons were
from pirated Russian stocks, ironically. Today, Russia is trying to reinforce
Yugoslavia in the fight against the KLA and NATO.
developments leading up to the Administration’s announcement of a US mission
to Kosovo were projected with uncanny prescience in an August 12, 1998
analysis by the US Senate Republican Policy Committee (RPC). The report
noted that ‘planning for a US-led NATO intervention in Kosovo is now largely
in place ... The only missing element seems to be an event “with suitably
vivid media coverage” that would make the intervention politically salable,
in the same way that a dithering Administration finally decided on intervention
in Bosnia in 1995 after a series of “Serb mortar attacks” took the lives
of dozens of civilians: attacks which, upon closer examination, may in
fact have been the work of the Muslim regime in Sarajevo, the main beneficiary
of the intervention.’
the Administration is waiting for a similar trigger in Kosovo is increasingly
obvious,” observed the RPC report. Last July , the Administration
had already described the “trigger” event it was seeking as a pretext for
intervention. The August 4  Washington Post quoted “a senior
US Defense Department official” who told reporters on July 15 that “we’re
not anywhere near making a decision for any kind of armed intervention
in Kosovo right now”. The Post observed that the official “listed
only one thing that might trigger a policy change: ‘I think if some levels
of atrocities were reached that would be intolerable, that would probably
be a trigger.’
“trigger” was pulled on January 16, 1999, when William Walker, the [US]
Administration official assigned to Kosovo with a team of observers from
the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), announced
that a “massacre” of more than 40 ethnic Albanian peasants by Serbian security
personnel had taken place in the village of Raèak.
The January 20 New York Times observed that the Racak
“massacre” followed “a well-established pattern: Albanian guerillas in
the Kosovo Liberation Army kill a Serb policeman or two. Serb forces retaliate
by flattening a village. This time they took the lives of more than 40
ethnic Albanians, including many elderly and one child.”
as the French newspaper Le Figaro reported on the same day, there
was ample reason to believe that Walker’s assessment of the situation was
made in “undue haste”. Walker, the US official who headed a 700-man OSCE
“verification” team monitoring a ceasefire in Kosovo, accused Serbian police
of conducting a massacre “in cold blood”. According to Le Figaro’s
account, Serb policemen, after notifying both the media and OSCE officials,
conducted a raid on a KLA stronghold. After several hours of combat, Serbian
police announced that they had killed 10 KLA personnel and seized a large
cache of weapons. Journalists observed several OSCE officials talking with
ethnic Albanian villagers in an attempt to determine the casualty count.
scene of Albanian corpses in civilian clothes lined up in a ditch which
would shock the whole world was not discovered until the next morning,
around 9am,” reported the French newspaper. “At that time, the village
was once again taken over by armed [KLA] soldiers who led the foreign visitors,
as soon as they arrived, toward the supposed massacre site. Around noon,
William Walker in person arrived and expressed his indignation.” All of
the Albanian witnesses interviewed by the media and OSCE observers on January
16 related the same version of events: namely, that Serbian police had
forced their way into homes, separated the women from the men, and dragged
the men to the hilltops to be unceremoniously executed.
chief difficulty with this account, according to Le Figaro, is that
television footage taken during the January 15 battle in Racak
“radically contradict[s] that version. It was in fact an empty village
that the police entered in the morning ... The shooting was intense, as
they were fired on from [KLA] trenches dug into the hillside. The fighting
intensified sharply on the hilltops above the village.” Rather than a pitiless
attack on helpless villagers, the unedited film depicts a firefight between
police and encircled KLA guerillas, with the latter group getting by far
the worst of the engagement. Further complicating things for the “official”
account is the fact that “journalists found only very few cartridges around
the ditch where the massacre supposedly took place”.
really happened?” asks Le Figaro. “During the night, could the [KLA]
have gathered the bodies, in fact killed by Serb bullets, to set up a scene
of cold-blooded massacre?” Similar skepticism was expressed by Le Monde,
a publication whose editorial slant is decidedly antagonistic to the Serbian
side in any Balkan conflict.
massacre just too perfect?” wondered Le Monde correspondent Christophe
Chatelot in a January 21 dispatch from Kosovo. Eyewitness accounts collected
by Chatelot contradicted the now official version of the “massacre”, describing
instead a pitched battle between police and well-entrenched KLA fighters
in a nearly abandoned village. “How could the Serb police have gathered
a group of men and led them calmly toward the execution site while they
were constantly under fire from [KLA] fighters?” wrote Chatelot. “How could
the ditch located on the edge of Racak
[where the massacre victims were later found] have escaped notice by local
inhabitants familiar with the surroundings who were present before nightfall?
Or by the observers who were present for over two hours in this tiny village?
Why so few cartridges around the corpses, so little blood in the hollow
road where 23 people are supposed to have been shot at close range with
several bullets in the head? Rather, weren’t the bodies of the Albanians
killed in combat by the Serb police gathered into the ditch to create a
horror scene which was sure to have an appalling effect on public opinion?”
Big Lie” at Work
people cling to their belief in fiction — that is to say things which may
be suppositions or direct lies, or myths, or things for which realistic
substantiation has not been provided — far more passionately than they
cling to their belief in “truth”; that is, fact-based or evidentially-based
realities. Partly this is because belief in things which have been accepted
as “fact” can be modified by the production of newer facts, without affecting
the ego, or sense of self-worth of the individual. Beliefs which are based
on faith alone, and which accord with some sense of correctness within
the individual’s own logic system (but which are not necessarily rooted
in facts or evidence), are cleaved close to the breast. That is because,
in order to have faith and to believe based merely on a command to believe
a given thing involves committing one’s sense of identity. To doubt one’s
beliefs casts doubt on one’s sense of identity, and identity is the key
to self-esteem and survival.
a target audience believes in something, based, say, on the statement of
a credible leader or leaders, backed by trusted institutions, it is difficult
to dislodge that belief even though massive and overwhelming evidence is
produced. And when a leader, supported by various institutions, creates
belief based on a direct lie in a confused situation, where refutative
evidence is difficult to produce (or cannot be heard in the clutter of
blood-lust and zeal), then it can reasonably be expected that the truth
may never prevail. Or it may emerge so late as to be of little value. In
some instances, it takes the passage of considerable time, perhaps generations,
before societies can accept that certain historically-held beliefs were
false, and based solely on lies.
order to move societies in the direction leaders wish them to go, it is
necessary to appeal to belief systems. In normal times, the entreaties
of leaders are subject to a process of debate and logical evaluation by
target audiences and by key opinion-shapers. In times of urgency, disaster,
chaos or national emergency, the normal pattern of critical evaluation
is lost as the need to confront a perceived common threat dominates the
entire society. Clearly, under such circumstances, leaders (and situations)
often cannot tolerate the delay, division and hesitancy caused by a process
of debate. It is easier to coalesce the minds of the leader’s target audiences
by crystallizing the argument in such a way that debate is not even considered.
If a lie moves the audience in the desired fashion, then a lie is often
it is true that “the bigger the lie, the more easier to sway the audience”;
a lie so overwhelming in its audacity that it is inconceivable to believe
that it could be undertaken. This is often justified by the claim that
the end justifies the means.
what if the leader’s desired ends are themselves open to question? Or what
if, by using lies to achieve ends, injustices are committed or societies
irrevocably changed for the worse? And if the leader is from a democratically-based
system of government, is he ethically able to use such “big lie” tactics
and still claim to be the legitimate leader of an electorally-based state?
experienced policy professionals would say that it is sometimes necessary
to be “economical with the truth” in order to preserve security, morale
or the process of speedy decisionmaking. But that is very different from
basing an entire strategic posture on a bedrock of lies, promoted in such
a way as to create a destructive set of beliefs in the minds of one’s own
citizens or foreign target audiences.
we are seeing now in the so-called Kosovo Crisis is the use of “the big
lie” technique on such a massive and repeated scale, primarily by the Clinton
White House, that it has laid the foundation for the destruction of a stable
global environment. That is in the medium-term. In the short-term, it is
leading rapidly into a war with no meaningful goals, no prospect for an
easy resolution, and with costs which will severely damage the economies
not only of Yugoslavia, but also Western Europe (indeed all NATO countries)
and Eastern Europe for some time to come.
protect the ethnic Albanian population which had taken over Kosovo? That
is, for humanitarian reasons? If humanity cries, do not the refugees of
Sierra Leone (who have been more harshly hit and in greater numbers in
the currently ongoing war) have a claim to this humanitarian relief? Or
the people suffering in the Sudanese civil war? Or the tens of thousands
of dead and wounded and displaced in an equally senseless war between Ethiopia
and Eritrea, still underway? Or the Serbs, Croats and Bosnian Muslims forced
out of their homes since 1991? As many as a million of them were forced
to flee into the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, where they have been accommodated
without assistance (in any real sense compared with the support for the
Albanians) from the international community for up to eight years already.
about the millions of Afghan refugees forced into Pakistan?
is it about the Kosovar Albanians — who fled for economic reasons from
Albania to the protection and prosperity of Yugoslavia in increasing numbers
since 1929, but who do not call themselves “Yugoslavs” — which demands
greater charity and humanity than the millions of dead, displaced and brutalized
must assume that there is more to this selectivity than merely the horror
of “that brutal dictator” (as Milosevicwas called by US Secretary of State
Madeline Albright). [Ms Albright conveniently forgot that Mr Milosevic,
although in many ways unpopular before the bombing, was voted into office
in elections which would have passed muster in the US, and he received
a higher percentage of this democratic vote than President William Clinton
received in the United States. He was helped at that time by the fact that
the opposition was not sufficiently united; today, however, as members
of the former opposition say: “There is no opposition; we are united to
biggest lie has been the one unspoken: the reality that the entire effort
of invading Yugoslavia had nothing directly to do with Yugoslavia or the
Kosovo problem. The truth is that any credible and sustainable (ie: medium-duration)
catastrophe which would divert the media and political attention away from
the serious charges facing the Clinton White House would have been acceptable.
Of course, only a military conflict would fit the bill: only under
circumstances of “war” can the President credibly expect that divisive
domestic issues be put aside.
if this conflict has been sparked by several big lies, as well as playing
on the massive ignorance of Western societies as to the history of the
region, it has been sustained by an ongoing litany of lies on the part
of the Clinton and Blair administrations and by NATO. This is not a comment
made idly; this writer has been covering international security affairs
for almost four decades and has never seen such a scale and audacity
of lying as is now the case. Even the Soviets, the masters of disinformation,
rarely seemed to match this current atmosphere of “say anything to get
through the day”.
case in point was the bombing by NATO aircraft of four Kosovo refugee convoys
in one day during the week of April 11-17, 1999. The attention focused
around one of the convoys — the one which Yugoslav authorities first reached,
and filmed, and to which they brought journalists later — which at first
NATO denied attacking. NATO authorities at first said that it could have
been attacked by Yugoslav Super Galeb fighters, flying low. Gradually,
however, the NATO spokesmen had to retreat, a step at a time, from that
position, although always maintaining that “some Yugoslav aircraft” could
have been in the area and added to the carnage. NATO released video and
audio tapes which they later admitted were, in fact, not connected with
the incident at all. Then they released stories about how difficult it
was to identify targets from 15,000 feet. Another minor piece of deception,
as we shall see.
writer has, however, heard the voice traffic between the initial strike
aircraft and his EC-130 Hercules AWACS. This is what happened:
four convoys were made of Kosovars who were returning to their homes
in the Dakovica area of Western Kosovo-Metohija, not far from the Albanian
border. They were moving away from the Albanian border, not attempting
to “flee” from the “ethnic cleansing”. Given that the Clinton Administration
has made it clear that Kosovars cannot be allowed to re-settle their lands
without NATO supervision, this phase of the bombing war was not going as
planned. The continuation of the NATO strategy depended upon the continuing
horror and tragedy of the refugees fleeing into Albania and Macedonia.
F-16 fighter was deployed to the area of the convoy in question. The following
is the transcript of the mission radio traffic:
day, I am in position 80. No movement underneath. Please information on
red MiGs [jargon for Yugoslav combat aircraft].”
“Hello Charlie Bravo. Mother here. Patrol northwest direction Prizren-Dakovica.
There are no red MiGs in the air.”
I am going to 3,000ft.”
“Mother to Charlie Bravo. You get reinforcements in about 10 minutes. There
will be something interesting south of Dakovica.”
Bravo to Mother. I am coming out of the clouds, still nothing in sight.”
“Mother to Charlie Bravo. Continue to the north, course 280.”
Bravo to Mother. I am keeping 3,000 feet. Under me columns of cars, some
kind of tractors. What is it? Requesting instructions.”
“Mother to Charlie Bravo. Do you see tanks? Repeat, where are the tanks?”
Bravo to Mother. I see tractors. I suppose the Reds did not camouflage
tanks as tractors.”
“Mother to Charlie Bravo. What kind of strange convoy is this? What, civilians?
Damn, this is all the Serb’s doing. Destroy the target.”
Bravo to Mother. What should I destroy? Tractors? Ordinary cars? Repeat,
I do not see any tanks. Request additional instructions.”
“Mother to Charlie Bravo. This is a military target, a completely legitimate
military target. Destroy the target. Repeat, destroy the target.”
“Charlie Bravo to Mother. OK, copy. Launching.”
spokesmen, including the politically ambitious NATO Supreme Allied Commander
Gen. Wesley Clark, said: “We may never know what really happened.” Clearly,
that is not true.
is usual and necessary, in a combat situation, for military personnel to
believe in their mission; that they are “the good guys” and the others
are “the bad guys”. During the Vietnam War, US service personnel had a
variety of slang names for their North Vietnamese and Viet Cong opponents,
other than just NVA (North Vietnamese Army) and VC. It was part of the
“them and us” syndrome. Note the slang used in the air war: “red MiGs”.
The implication is that the opponents, or defenders, are “communists” —
the dreaded bogey of the Cold War — flying MiGs, the ubiquitous Soviet-era
fighter synonymous with “the enemy”, just as Messerschmitts were synonymous
the Yugoslav Air Force does have some MiGs, but it also has locally-made
aircraft. And since 1948, Yugoslavia certainly was not a communist state
of the type of, say, East Germany, Hungary, Poland or Czechoslovakia, all
now members of NATO (with their own MiGs still in service).
jargon is symptomatic of pseudospeciation, the mind-set of racism which
groups automatically adopt to sustain their belief systems. Even a former
US Ambassador to NATO, speaking on BBC TV in the UK on April 22, 1999,
said that NATO must dispose of the last pocket of communism in Europe before
European progress could continue. If that is so, then Albania — the new
ally of NATO — should worry: it still sustains, where it has any government
at all, a communist structure by any other name. So, too, does Croatia,
which prides itself on being philosophically in the camp of Western Europe.
Croatia, despite the fact that it has had less external constraint than
Yugoslavia, has achieved far less in the way of privatization of commerce
and industry. Croatia is a State-dominated economy, with dramatically less
freedom of speech, movement and religion, than is Yugoslavia.
yet the impression of Yugoslavia as a “communist bastion” is being perpetuated
in the West. The Yugoslav populace is baffled by the West’s view of it,
and as reluctant as it is to embrace the friendship of Russia, it feels
that it has little option: the Orthodox peoples must stay together in the
face of anti-Orthodox hatred. This complements the belief among many in
Yugoslavia that the Vatican is heavily-involved in the attempt to isolate
a belief is not unreasonable given the
fact that Clinton insisted on keeping up the bombing campaign through Orthodox
Easter inevitably made Serbs draw parallels with the nazis in World War
II. It was on April 6, 1941, Palm Sunday, that the Luftwaffe bombed
Belgrade when the Yugoslavs hesitated to surrender. Some 5,000 people died,
virtually all civilians.
a comprehensive understanding of this era it is necessary to read, among
other things, The Web of Disinformation: Churchill’s Yugoslav Blunder,
by the late Dav Martin [Published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich in 1991].
Read it, and weep.
endless trail of disinformation, or just plain lies, continues at all levels
during the current conflict. In 1992, when this writer was visiting Yugoslavia
on one of the many assignments into the conflict zone, he was told repeatedly
by Serbs: “We know that the truth will come out and that people will remember
that we have always been the allies of the West, and that we would never
do the things the media is saying about us.” History is written by the
winners, however; and victory is as much the product of the pen as of the
US, hoping to obtain a bargaining tool to win the release of the three
US soldiers held captive as Prisoners of War by the Yugoslavs, sent a mission
inside Yugoslavia in April 1999 to capture a Yugoslav officer. This they
did, snatching a 20-year-old lieutenant. But the US Government, unwilling
to admit to having ground forces inside Yugoslavia, said that the KLA had
captured the officer and turned him over to the US. A small lie, but one
which points to the fact that the Clinton Administration is reluctant to
admit the forward posture of its ground forces.
Department spokesman James Rubin, who is married to CNN television news
reporter Christiane Amanpour, constantly talks of “compelling evidence”
of “Serb atrocities”, but in fact never actually details the “compelling
evidence”. In some case, circumstantial evidence is shown, and then later
the “conclusions” from this evidence are portrayed as coming from incontrovertible
“compelling evidence” of vast atrocities is not evident on the ground,
other than the tragedy of the scattering of refugees which began when the
bombing of their places of work and their homes began. Paul Watson, a Pulitzer
Prize-winning Canadian journalist with The Los Angeles Times, is
one of the few reporters actively covering events on the ground on Kosovo,
where he was already in place when the bombing began on March 24. In an
interview with Canadian Broadcasting radio on April 13, 1999, he said:
“It is very hard to hide an anarchic wholesale slaughter of people. There
is no evidence that such a thing happened in Pristina [the Kosovo capital].”
have spoken personally to people who have been ordered to leave their homes
by police in black. I’ve also spoken to people who are simply terrified.”
added: “I see a pretty clear pattern of refugees leaving an area after
there were severe air strikes.”
just in Kosovo, but all over Yugoslavia. This writer has also seen refugees
on the move, their red tractors pulling carts with families aboard, leaving
places such as Pancevo
after the bombings; trying to find a place in the country away from the
noted: “I do not think that NATO member countries can, with a straight
face, sit back and say they don’t share some of the blame for the wholesale
depopulation of the country. If NATO had not bombed, I would be surprised
if this sort of forced exodus on this enormous scale would be taking place.”
spokesman and US State Department spokesman James Rubin picked up, on March
29, on reports that three key Kosovo Albanian leaders, one of whom was
involved in the negotiations over Kosovo at Rambouillet had been “executed”
by Serb forces. Rubin said that the US would “avenge” their deaths. However,
the three — Fehmi Agani, who was at Rambouillet; Baton Haxhiu, editor of
Ditore, a Kosovo Albanian newspaper; and Dr Ibrahim Rugova, the only
elected leader of the Kosovo Albanians — were all very much alive. Dr Rugova,
in particular, was seen on television on many occasions following the allegation,
and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees reported on the safety of the
Rubin nor NATO amended their story; Rubin, even after the news of the three
mens’ continued wellbeing, still insisted on “avenging their deaths”. Given
the earlier (1997) plan by the KLA to kill the moderate Rugova, it would
seem that the lives of these three Kosovo Albanian leaders is in danger
again, from the KLA. Certainly, the US has backed KLA-leaked reports that
Dr Rugova is “a virtual prisoner” of the Yugoslav Government, something
he effectively seems (as at this writing in late April 1999) to disavow
every time he is seen in public in Belgrade.
one of the biggest “tactical lies” being perpetuated as the bombing campaign
continues was the failure by the US and NATO to announce their own battlefield
casualties. If the US is to be believed, it has lost only one aircraft
in the war (to April 25, 1999). The reality is that far more aircraft had
already been lost by NATO to that point. Aircrews and ground troops had
been killed and captured, according to reliable intelligence reaching this
journal. The specific details are discussed below, but, if verified, this
means that the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff lied under oath
in his testimony in April before the US Congress.
US argued, at Nuremberg after World War II, that “just following orders”
was insufficient defense against a charge of war crimes. But are the victors
subject to the same laws?
disingenuous manipulation of evidence by NATO spokesmen was evident in
the release of totally unrelated air traffic tapes in the matter of the
attacks on Kosovar civilian convoys (cited above). It has also been evident
on other occasions, such as when, on April 18, 1999, Clinton Administration
and NATO officials released reconnaissance photographs which they cited
as “evidence” of “mass graves”, which, as The New York Times of
April 19 said, were “raising fears of atrocities” by the Serbs. This “evidence”
showed an area near Izbica, in Kosovo. The earlier photograph showed no
markings on a field; the second showed rows of marks: “the mass graves”.
even to someone not skilled in photo-interpretation there were flaws in
the comparison. The earlier photograph, which the releasers implied was
taken just before the second, was clearly taken quite some time before
the second. Indeed, there are differences in buildings which could not
have occurred overnight. As well, the symmetrical rows of “graves” in the
later photograph clearly would not be graves, given that “mass graves”
imply large holes with many bodies, not neat, cemetary-like plots. But
when it is discovered that the marks are something else, the story is likely
to be an item of only passing interest, submerged in the mounting complexity
of a war already taken to a new level.
the “compelling evidence” of “mass graves” will have done its job for Clinton.
Need for “Victory”
resolution usually comes only in one of two forms: a victory in which “peace”
is imposed upon a beaten enemy; and a mutual victory in which each side
feels that honor and national objectives have been satisfied. The Serbs
were overrun in Kosovo, their most holy territory, by the Turks at the
Battle of Kosovo in 1389; they did not, however, submit to the Turkish
overlords, eventually fighting for, and gaining, their independence again
in the early 19th Century in one of the first major wars against feudalism.
today’s Serbs are unlikely to accept the alienation of their lands; certainly
any forced division of Serbian territory would result in years — even centuries
— of conflict in one form or another.
“victory” for the two contestants in the current Balkan war is seen as,
on the one hand, the perpetuation of national sovereignty, and on the other
hand as a final end to communism in Europe. The NATO states also see “justice”
for the Kosovar Albanians as part of the equation, even though the NATO
1999 military approach has been largely responsible for the destruction
of Kosovo’s economic and social viability.
that a cessation of military activity and embargoes by NATO against Yugoslavia
would restore that country’s sense of sovereignty, and that some kind of
symbolism that Yugoslavia embraces Western market economics could be found,
there is very little distance to travel from the present impasse to a sense
victory on both sides. It is true, however, that Western leaders (particularly
Clinton and Blair) have indicated that only the departure from office of
President Milosevicwould mark the transformation from the ancien regime
to the “new world order”.
problem with that requirement for NATO’s “victory” is that the Yugoslav
people, previously in varying degrees hostile to their President, have
now (because of NATO) rallied around him, and would reject the imposition
of a NATO edict demanding the President’s removal from office.
April 22, 1999, a Russian Government delegation led by former Prime Minister
Viktor S. Chernomyrdin held meetings with the Yugoslav President. The
New York Times the next day reported that the Yugoslav Government “appeared
to give very little ground”, but in fact he agreed to “an international
presence [in Kosovo] under United Nations auspices”, a significant point,
if the US was not fundamentally suspicious of the UN.
the entire conflict resolution process is the fact that the US Clinton
Administration does not really have any idea what should constitute victory.
On the one hand, it has said that victory means re-settlement of the Kosovo
Albanians under an autonomous, if not independent, state. On the other,
it has said that victory could not be achieved if Yugoslav President Milosevicremained
however, Clinton has consistently moved the goalposts, so that any response
given by the MilosevicGovernment would be unacceptable. Clinton needs the
war to continue for his own reasons, and certainly he needed to get through
the NATO 50th anniversary Summit in Washington DC on April 23 looking “statesmanlike”.
He certainly did not wish the Chinese intelligence/funding scandal, discussed
in the Cox Report, to diminish his stature at a time when he is trying
to create an historic “legacy”.
War III would be a significant legacy!
Charles Krauthammer, writing in The Washington Post on March 26,
1999, confirmed that the Clinton objectives going into the bombing lacked
coherence. Discussing Clinton’s speech on March 24, Krauthammer said: “For
incoherence and simple-mindedness, for disorganization and sheer intellectual
laziness, it is unmatched in recent American history.” He added: “It is
not forgivable to send American men and women into battle in the name of
a cause one can barely elucidate.” The columnist sharply criticized Clinton’s
attempts to equate Milosevicwith Hitler. “But if Serbia's Milosevic is
Hitler, how come this Hitler has been our peace partner in the Dayton Accords
these past three years now? Never mind. When in doubt, play the Hitler
card. No matter how ridiculous the analogy. After all, Serbia has no ambitions
to rule a continent, nor the power to do so.”
Clinton has always chosen small, relatively weak opponents when he has
needed “bad guys” to take the media attention away from his problems. As
we noted in this journal earlier, he has no intention of allowing anyone
on the enemies list to make peace. He has always needed to be able to resurrect
a villain on command. Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, Libya’s Mu’ammar al-Qadhafi
and Yugoslavia’s Milosevichave been his targets of choice.
it is probably fair to say that Clinton has no wish to end this conflict
as long as he has need of distraction from the intelligence/funding scandal
as outlined in the Cox Report, now awaiting release. So the Yugoslavs can
do little to appease Clinton (and therefore NATO). The answer is that Clinton
is seeking a prolonging of the war at as little cost — and as much noise
— as possible. If he is forced out of the Kosovo crisis, he must immediately
resurrect another crisis. The US has already resumed bombing of Iraq, “just
is the Clinton rationale. Not all of his Administration, nor his allies,
have the same rationale. There is a geopolitical perspective in Washington
which says that US dominance in the Balkans, via Albania, is essential
if the US is to retain any strategic influence in a Europe which could
soon be dominated by a homogeneous political entity — and economic rival
— in the form of the European Union.
are other, more human considerations, too. People close to Clinton say
that he has made it clear that his “legacy”, or the memory of his presidency,
will not be one in which his impeachment over the ramifications of a tawdry
sex scandal dominate history. Some of his associates (their own sense of
history also involved) say that Clinton would rather be remembered as the
US president who took the US and NATO into a major war — with all that
this entails — than be either a forgotten president, or one discredited
by tawdriness and illegality.
then, constitutes “victory” for Clinton? It is unlikely that the US Congress
would suppress (or be able to suppress) the Cox Report with its apparently
damning evidence of White House culpability in the campaign-funds-for-strategic-favors
how damning is the evidence against Clinton with regard to the passing
of ballistic missile and nuclear weapons technologies to the People’s Republic
of China? Enough for the Clinton Administration to use every lever of authority
at its disposal to stop the declassification of the Cox Report and other
inter-agency reports on the matter. The White House has called in every
agency it can think of, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
and Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (FIAB) to put roadblocks in the
way of declassification of the 700-page Cox Report.
Washington Times of April 26, 1999, in an editorial entitled And
the spying goes on, confirmed this. “For months now, the Administration
has been battling the Rep. Cox and his committee to keep these details
secret.” The Cox Report was due to be released by the end of March 1999
(the subject of the report had become publicly known in April 1996), but
because of the Administration’s pressures this was postponed until the
end of April 1999, with the later understanding that the ongoing conflict
would enable the Clinton White House to further obfuscate and delay release.
the national security consequences of the revelations as well as the president’s
propensity to avoid any responsibility, it is now more imperative than
ever that the Cox Report be promptly declassified,” The Washington Times
is the scandal which eclipses the Monica Lewinsky matter which led to Clinton’s
impeachment by Congress.
if a “legacy other than scandal” is the goal of President Clinton, then
he must attempt to continue the distractions, which means the fighting.
There is the prospect of switching the combat to a less-difficult “threat”,
such as Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, and there is evidence that this option has
may well be, failing all else, that the US Congress will be required to
determine what constitutes “victory”. All agree, at least nominally, that
NATO cannot survive as a viable strategic instrument if it fails to achieve
its “objectives” in the war against Yugoslavia. There were still a few
in government in NATO states who, in late April 1999, clung to the belief
that air power alone could force compliance by the MilosevicGovernment
to the NATO terms. But these were only, literally, the naïve, with
no understanding of military history. No major strategic campaign has been
won by air power alone.
are others who believe that the insertion of ground forces into Yugoslavia,
or even just the Kosovo-Metohija region, is an unfortunate necessity to
achieve compliance. But they, too, are naïve: a Yugoslav abandonment
of the most sacred heartland of the Serb people will not happen. Germany
inserted 700,000 troops into Yugoslavia in 1941-45, and failed to successfully
control the country. NATO is not prepared to do even that much.
because the Serbian people see that they have been so maligned by the peoples
(US, UK and France) whom they once suffered to defend in two World Wars,
and accused of so many atrocities that they know have been committed against
them as a people in the past, they will not surrender up even President
Milosevic, as much as some of them may have disliked him in the past.
Yugoslavia’s military capabilities have hardly been touched, despite the
bombing campaign (or perhaps because the bombing has been directed largely
at civilian economic targets). So a military “victory” would not be possible
without a massive, and unrealistically large, cost to NATO in economic,
manpower and time terms.
will be necessary is for NATO (or rather Clinton, because NATO will follow)
to “re-define victory”, if victory is to be achieved. The concern in even
the anti-Clinton circles of NATO is that without a victory, NATO’s future
credibility and viability will be lost. This is in great part true, and
it is an additional reason why many senior members of the US and NATO military
forces are quietly extremely angry at Clinton.
a US Congressional re-definition of “victory” must consider the long-term
ramifications for NATO. It seems likely that the Yugoslavs, themselves
extremely anxious for a cessation of hostilities and a resolution to the
Kosovo crisis, will be only too happy to assist in this.
visit to Belgrade on April 18-21, 1999, by US Congressman Jim Saxton (Republican,
New Jersey), under the auspices of the International Strategic Studies
Association (ISSA), the publisher of this journal, was therefore an important
breakthrough in attempting to wrest control of the strategic agenda from
the Clinton march toward Armageddon. Not surprisingly, Congr. Saxton returned
to Washington to face outright hostility from the Clinton Administration
and skepticism from the media and some other members of Congress, all well-steeped
in the propaganda version of the conflict.
first, a curious media besieged Rep. Saxton, requesting that he speak on
CNN’s Larry King Live, and other prime time network television news
shows. But, following a 45-minute telephone harangue of the Congressman
by Secretary of State Albright, State Department pressure ensured that
the networks withdrew their invitations for the Congressman to speak. Few
in the Washington media want to jeopardize their access to the White House
or State Department.
despite this, the chance to grasp at peace attracted many, and the option
— begun by the Saxton initiative — was opened. Debate emerged into the
on the Ground
goes without saying that if the international reporting on the Kosovo conflict
was correct then certain “facts on the ground” would be very different
from what they have really proven to be. It had been stated that NATO forces
had, by mid-April 1999, destroyed the Yugoslav Armed Forces’ capability
to wage war. The problem began with the original premise of the US Clinton
Administration that the Yugoslav Government of Slobodan Milosevicwould
fall into disarray and compliance once the White House committed US and
NATO military forces into combat against Yugoslavia.
analysts are known to have told the White House that once air strikes began
against Yugoslavia, as they did on March 24, 1999, then refugees in massive
numbers would begin to flee from Kosovo into neighboring countries. There
were, before the air strikes began, no refugees in the Former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia, and only a few (those connected with the UCK) in
the anarchic northern areas of Albania. There is no question but that the
White House had been told unequivocally by its own intelligence services
that a massive refugee flight from Kosovo would begin with the bombing.
The White House chose to ignore this advice.
writer returned to Yugoslavia to compare the media coverage with the facts
on the ground. This particular passage was written, on April 19, 1999,
at 22.35hrs, as air raid sirens were wailing throughout Belgrade. What
was discovered “on the ground” was a very different reality to that being
promoted by the US and UK administrations.
Targets:Despite claiming victory for the
destruction of Yugoslavia’s oil refining capability, the US and NATO failed
to disclose the reality of their air strikes. This writer saw the results
of some of the strikes. In the city of Pancevo,
virtually a suburb of Belgrade, air strikes had repeatedly hit the oil
refinery, the fertilizer factory and the petrochemical plant — all among
the largest installations of their type in South-Eastern Europe — and an
aircraft manufacturing facility.
damage was indeed enormous, but, despite repeated claims that only military-related
targets were being hit, it was clear that at Pancevo, and at many other
locations in Yugoslavia, strictly and unequivocally civil targets were
being struck. This, given the precision of the targeting, indicated that
the conduct of the war and its objectives were very different than those
being cited by the White House.
April 19, 1999, a conservative estimate concluded that 400,000 to 500,000
Yugoslavs (not counting the Kosovo refugees) out of the appr. 11-million
population had directly lost their employment because of the destruction
of their factories. This meant that some two-million people were without
income. But indirectly, the impact on employment was far greater. When
the 300,000 car-a-year automobile factory — the one which made the Yugo
car — was destroyed, for example, all of the component makers were themselves
“hit”: they lost their customer, forcing their own closure or cutbacks.
alone, some 10,000 people were thrown out of work, and the city began to
empty as children were sent to stay with relatives in the country, and
those rendered jobless took their families in search of safety.
air strikes against the oil refinery may have been understandable, given
that a legitimate military or strategic target is indeed the fuel supply
which services the Armed Forces. But it was struck, on one of the attacks,
on the first day of the Orthodox Easter, a pointed reminder that the Clinton
White House — which had hesitated to launch strikes against Iraq during
the Muslim Ramadan holy period of fasting — cared little for the sentiments
of the Orthodox communities worldwide. This did not pass unnoticed among
the 300-million Orthodox Christians around the world.
total value of the damage in Pancevo was about $1.3-billion, some $650-million
of this at the oil refinery, which was hit a total of three times (by April
19, 1999). [Total cost of the war to the Yugoslav infrastructure during
the first 30 days of bombing is estimated at $100-billion.] The flames
at the Pancevo oil refinery, soaring 20 meters into the air, and billowing
black smoke continued unabated two days after the last of the strikes.
nearby HIP Petrochemija petrochemical plant was also severely hit, and
the careful strikes were not an accidental spillover from the hits on the
oil refinery. Several facts are important with this. There was clearly
no strategic or military value to the HIP plant; it was purely a strike
to deliberately create hardship and unemployment. This target, and scores
(perhaps hundreds) of other air strikes at civilian targets throughout
Yugoslavia, demonstrates clearly that the strategic objective presumably
dictated by the Clinton White House is the punishment of the Yugoslav population,
not (as is stated repeatedly) the “destruction of Milosevic’s military
directly contradicts US Secretary of State Madeline Albright’s statements
to the Yugoslav people, in Serbo-Croat, that she “loves” the Serbian people
and does not wish to punish them for the alleged misdeeds of their Federal
President. Regardless of President Clinton’s motives, Secretary Albright
clearly harbors enormous animus toward the Serbian people, although those
who knew her in Belgrade before and after World War II can recall no incident
which might have colored her judgment of Yugoslavia.
specifically the strike against HIP Petrochemija highlighted the gratuitous
campaign against the civil population, rather than military targets. HIP
manufactures chlorine for use in PVC. Had chlorine stockpiles been hit,
then Pan- cevo
would have lost its entire population to the toxic outflow into the atmosphere.
HIP executives, working with town officials, feared air strike damage when
the attacks began and worked feverishly to process and move the chlorine.
Moving it untreated would have been difficult and would have merely led
to further problems.
at the last minute, the facility was largely emptied of chlorine when the
March 24, 1999, however, a Romanian train was at Pancevo
railway yard when air strikes began hitting targets less than a kilometer
away. About 800 tonnes of chlorine was aboard the train. Had it been hit,
most of Belgrade’s population would have been killed by the toxic outflow.
As it was, the levels of toxicity in the atmosphere after the waves of
strikes in Pancevo were many times higher than the safe level.
all of the toxins came from the oil refinery or the petrochemical plant.
fertilizer plant, not far from the refinery and the HIP plant, was also
hit: another clear civil target. Here, had the plant’s liquid ammonia stockpiles
been hit, the environmental damage would have been enormous, as in the
case of the chlorine. As it was, there was sufficient chlorine and liquid
ammonia, coupled with the petroleum which was hit, to create the high toxicity
levels in the city and to produce an enormous, lingering cloud which was
moving toward Belgrade. The wind shifted and much of the cloud dissipated
into the upper atmosphere to flow over other parts of Europe.
fertilizer plant was hit on Western Easter, April 4, killing several workers
and injuring dozens more. Ironically, this day was as sacred to the city
as Orthodox Easter: a large Slovak and Hungarian population lived near
the facility and worked in it. The Reformist and Evangelical Christians
from these two communities spent their Easter in mourning.
officials and civilians we spoke with in Pancevo said that they believed
that the US targeting of their town’s highly-volatile products was evidence
of a US policy of genocide toward the Serbs. Why else would they risk such
“collateral damage” which could have cost literally millions of lives in
the greater Belgrade metro area?
was not left alone with the destruction of these three facilities. An aircraft
manufacturing facility, Utva Lola Corporation (a joint State/worker owned
company like the petrochemical and fertilizer plants) on the edge of the
city was completely destroyed by repeated Cruise Missile attacks, starting
early in the air war. The facility produced only agricultural aircraft
at this stage, although during the previous era — under the now-defunct
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) — it produced the Arao
indigenous fighter aircraft, an example of which still sits as a monument
at the factory gates.
facility, at a stretch, could be considered at least a potential military
target. Certainly it could have serviced military aircraft. The factory
was hit four times, with damage estimated at $450-million [the capital
investment in the plant, high for a facility to make agricultural aircraft,
reflected its military aircraft origins]. In the process, some 100 homes
were hit, many destroyed. We saw the damaged houses, and the tractor-towed
carts of families moving out of the town and into the hoped-for safety
of the countryside.
general impression is that this is an area populated solely by Serbs. But
Serbia is home to some 26 ethnic groups, only one of which — the Kosovo
Albanians — has some members which refuse to call themselves “Yugoslav”.
The Pancevo area is no different: it is home to some 20 ethnic groups.
The spires of the churches of a half-dozen different Christian sects dot
April 19, 1999, it was estimated by Yugoslav authorities that some 1,000
of their citizens had been killed by the bombing and some 6,000 more wounded.
Given the extent of the damage seen by this writer, the claims are not
difficult to believe.
200 schools had been hit to at least some degree, and schools with about
800,000 students were closed because of the war, and had been since March
24. No-one wants to risk a full strike on a school filled with children.
on one of the five destroyed Danube bridges carried water to some 600,000
people. The heating plant in Novi (New) Belgrade was destroyed, cutting
off steam heating to about half of Belgrade. A few months earlier, such
an attack would have led to widespread death and suffering in the bitter
Balkan winter. These things we saw.
Losses and the Military Costs: It
is clear from the amount and quality of intelligence received by this journal
from a variety of highly-reputable sources that NATO forces have already
suffered significant losses of men, women and materiel. Neither NATO, nor
the US, UK or other member governments, have admitted to these losses,
other than the single USAF F-117A Stealth fighter which was shown, crashed
and burning inside Serbia.
Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff had denied, about a month into
the bombing, that the US had suffered the additional losses reported to
& Foreign Affairs.
April 20, 1999, NATO losses stood at approximately the following:
other NATO aircraft were reported down after that date, including at least
one of which there was Serbian television coverage. The aircraft reportedly
include three F-117A Stealth strike aircraft, including the one already
known. One of the remaining two was shot down in an air-to-air engagement
with a Yugoslav Air Force MiG-29 fighter; the other was lost to AAA (anti-aircraft
artillery) or SAM (surface-to-air missile) fire. Given the recovery by
the Yugoslavs of F-117A technology, and the fact that the type has proven
less than invincible, the mystique of the aircraft — a valuable deterrent
tool until now for the US — has been lost.
unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs);
Cruise Missiles (lost to AAA or SAM fire).
least one USAF F-15 Eagle fighter has been lost, with the pilot,
reportedly an African-American major, alive and in custody as a POW.
least one German pilot (some sources say two men, implying perhaps a Luftwaffe
crew from a Tornado) has been captured.
is also a report that at least one US female pilot has been killed.
one instance in the first week of the fighting, an aircraft was downed
near Podgorica. A NATO helicopter then picked up the downed pilot, but
the helicopter itself was then shot down, according to a number of reports.
of US and other NATO ground force personnel, inside Serbia, have also been
Army unit ambushed a squad climbing a ravine south of Pristina, killing
20 men. When the black tape was taken from their dog-tags it was found
that 12 were US Green Berets; eight were British special forces (presumably
Special Air Service/SAS). This incident apparently occurred within a week
or so of the bombing campaign launch.
is known that other US and other NATO casualties have, on some occasions,
been retrieved by NATO forces after being hit inside Yugoslavia. At least
30 bodies of US servicemen have been processed through Athens, after being
transported from the combat zone.
least two of the helicopters downed by the Yugoslavs were carrying troops,
and in these two a total of 50 men were believed to have been killed, most
of them (but not all) of US origin.
the US has lost to ground fire and malfunction a number of Tomahawk
Cruise Missiles. At least some of these have been retrieved more or less
intact, and the technology has been immediately reviewed by Yugoslav engineers.
More than one told this writer that the technology was now readily able
to be replicated in Yugoslavia.
war has cost Alliance members in other ways, too. There is enormous disaffection
with the US Armed Forces. For a start, to prosecute even the smallest expansion
of the war requires the call-up of Reserve and National Guard units. The
personnel from these units have civilian jobs, and, as with the US involvement
in S-FOR in Bosnia-Herzegovina, being called up for active duty in the
Balkans seems to be an open-ended thing. This is not the type of national
emergency for which most of them signed-on.
top of that, there are questions about the wisdom of the orders they are
receiving, and a total lack of clear strategic (let alone military) objectives.
One serving career mid-level military officer in the US told this writer:
“I am incredibly appalled at this war, or whatever it is, and the lack
of strategic thought; the bungling, stumbling blind policies which have
led to this [situation], and the murderous impact on not just the Serbs
and Kosovars, but on the concepts of conflict resolution and sovereignty.”
officer continued: “I am very upset, and while I have been vocal in my
small world, and many agree with me, I am part of a system that is stumbling
as best it can to implement the failed brainwork of the NCA [National Command
Authority; the President] and SecState [Secretary of State], and General
[Wes- ley] Clark [Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, for NATO], too. Why
haven’t the military leadership stepped up and put their job on the line
for common sense.”
problem is not confined to the US forces. In Britain, a near mutiny was
reported aboard the carrier HMS Invincible. And as news of very
real NATO casualties emerge, morale will decline. Meanwhile, those who
have any knowledge of the facts know that since 1948, Yugoslavia, particularly
under Tito, has been preparing to fight, literally, World War III. NATO
heavy armor may indeed roll easily across the Albanian border, or down
across the fertile plains of Vojvodina from Hungary, right into Belgrade.
But most of Yugoslavia is mountainous, and the mountains filled with underground
fuel supplies, ammunition factories, probably oil refineries, buried hangars
and roads which become airstrips.
those in the US Armed Forces believe that the Clinton White House, from
the President — an anti-Vietnam War protester and conscription dodger —
and First Lady down to the young Clintonite staffers, hate the US Armed
Forces with a passion. It is clear that the determination of the Yugoslavs
to defend their country has strengthened; after all, they have nowhere
else to go. But already the morale of the NATO forces is declining.
Refugee Burden Inside Serbia: What has
not been discussed in the international media is the fact that Yugoslavia
has already been bearing what is one of the biggest refugee burdens, per
capita, of any country in the world. Almost 1-million refugees from
the earlier cycles of war — since 1991-92 — have fled into Yugoslavia,
mostly Serbia. These include not only Bosnian Serbs and Croatian Serbs,
but also Croatian Catholics and Muslims who feared for their safety in
Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia.
has received no substantial international aid to support, re-settle or
accommodate these refugees. Many have been absorbed into the society.
the start of the Kosovo bombings by NATO, about one-third of the total
refugee flow did not move toward the Albanian or Macedonian borders,
but rather moved further up into Serbia. Some, of course, went into the
Yugoslav Republic of Montenegro. Those moving into Serbia did so largely
to escape the KLA, and by late April 1999 it was clear from interviews
with some Kosovar Albanian men of fighting age who had fled the bombing
into Albania proper that they wished to return to their Kosovo homes rather
than be forced to stay in the camps and face coercion by the KLA.
the Refugees into Compliance: There is
very little doubt but that the bulk of the refugee problem relating to
the Kosovo dispute is the result of the NATO bombing exercise. There are
those who claim that the Yugoslav Government initiated a campaign of “ethnic
cleansing” under the cover of the bombing, but there is little real evidence
to support this. Indeed, every time the US Administration, the UK Government
or NATO have talked of “compelling evidence” they never actually showed
it. The television coverage of understandably distraught refugees coming
across the borders into Albania and Macedonia told the tale, requiring
only a few words of “interpretation”, often from genuinely concerned humanitarian
workers who had already bought the argument about “ethnic cleansing”.
is not to say that atrocities, other than those very real atrocities committed
by air power, did not occur. There may well be evidence that violations
of human rights occurred on all sides. But it is known through hard intelligence
that the KLA intended to use “the KLA Air Force” — NATO — as the cover
for its ground operations. These operations were mostly based around intimidation
of the people in whose name the KLA was ostensibly fighting: the Kosovo
view, propagated by outside observers (who had never been into the area
or studied it), that “the Serbs” wanted to “cleanse” Kosovo of “ethnic
Albanians” is ludicrous. There were 20 national groups living in Kosovo,
all in relative harmony most of the time. That the residents of Albanian
origin caused most of the problems for the Yugoslav authorities is well-known,
but the problems mostly stemmed from the fact that many were illegal immigrants
from Albania, in Yugoslavia for economic reasons. By the 1990s, however,
there was a new generation of Albanian Kosovars, born in Yugoslavia, not
the most part, the Yugoslav Government was (and claims still to be) happy
to have them in the country; after all, one third of all Yugoslavs are
not Serbs, in any event. As noted earlier, Serbia is the most multinational,
multi-religious state in the Balkans.
when it appeared that a massive exodus was occurring as a result of the
bombing (aided by the actions of the KLA and, presumably, some by-now angered
Serbian paramilitary groups), it was clear to the Yugoslav Government that
the problem was enormous. “We do not want Kosovo emptied of people,” many
Yugoslavs have told me in different ways, “even though there is now much
anger between the Serbs and the Albanians, who each blame the other for
the bombing and the terror.”
Yugoslavia attempted during the first 30 days of the bombing to close the
Albanian and Macedonian borders, in order to persuade Kosovars to return
to their homes. When the exodus was in full swing, US and NATO authorities
— supported by the sanctimonious voices of such politicians as British
Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, a man embroiled in personal ethical scandals
— claimed that it was as a result of Serbian “ethnic cleansing”. When the
refugee flow slowed, the same officials claimed that it must be because
“the Serbs” were holding the refugees as “human shields”.
from the Clinton viewpoint, no action taken by the Yugoslavs could be allowed
to be seen as normal or reasonable.
when the flow of rhetoric had numbed the Western audiences, the predictable
cry of “rape camps” went up from left-wing sources, who felt that such
a crime must be taking place, given the fact that “the Serbs” were “less
than human”. It is worth noting that the original claims of “rape camps”
in the Bosnia-Herzegovina conflict were proven false, and the journalists
who originally propagated the stories did so on speculation, not on fact.
But the mud stuck.
is probably true that rapes have occurred during the current conflict.
Certainly, the KLA, having worked with the Bosnians and Iranians during
the earlier psychological war, knew that they had to have rapes in order
to get attention. But in such an instance, the natural, or logical suspicion,
for such activities would fall on the KLA rather than the Serbs, who are
so keenly attuned to the horror of an accusation they have faced before.
is also relevant to note that the statistics for Yugoslavia for the crime
of rape are on a par with the rape statistics for most Western countries.
Is the implication of the propaganda that something special triggers “mass
rapes” and “rape camps” among people not normally so disposed?
NATO (mainly US) bombings of the Kosovar tractor and car convoys noted
earlier in this report began at a time when the refugees were starting
to move back toward their homes. Many had realized the futility of crossing
the border. So the four convoys hit that day were all comprised of Kosovars
returning home, not “fleeing the Serbs”. It could be argued that for the
Kosovars of all nationalities to arrive at a settlement and to stop running
from the bombs would represent a disaster for the Clinton policy.
are aware that the US Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Department
each warned the Clinton Administration that the bombing would trigger a
mass flight of the population of Kosovo. It was initially believed by professional
intelligence analysts and defense officers in the US that the Clinton team
had ignored the warning because of naïveté. But this was not
Clinton team wanted to create a steady stream of refugees in order
to justify prolonging the bombing. And they relied on the KLA to help in
could equally be argued that the Clinton team (speaking here of Clinton,
National Security Advisor Sandy Berger and Secretary of State Madeline
Albright, not the professionals) wanted a state of ongoing bombing to continue
without significant ground force involvement. This would be a low-cost
(in human terms), low-risk way to achieve their aims. But clearly it was
a policy which could not be sustained. The Armed Forces of the US, and
NATO, inevitably would insist on either withdrawal or “completion” of the
Pollution: The environmental damage caused
by the bombing of Yugoslav oil refineries, petrochemical plants and fertilizer
facilities alone is obvious. As well, of course, the dropping of 10,000
tonnes of ordnance by the NATO aircraft in the first 30 days of the assault
also leaves a legacy to be dealt with over many years, as the ordnance
problem in post-war Cambodia demonstrated. But in addition to this, even
by Day 30 of the bombing, oil was seeping into the Danube from destroyed
Yugoslav facilities. An oil slick some 15km long and some 20 meters wide
was already damaging the ecology of the river.
to Trade: Apart, of course, from the disruptions
to Yugoslav trade, the destruction by NATO of at least five major bridges
across the Danube meant that this important river no longer was open for
international traffic. Clearance could take six months after the conclusion
closure of the Danube shuts off one of the most important trade links across
Europe, literally cutting off cargo movement from Western Europe to Eastern
Europe. This is in many ways a slightly less-significant parallel to the
closure by Israel of Egypt’s Suez Canal during the 1967 Six Day War. Then,
commercial sea traffic was forced to go around the Southern Africa’s Cape
of Good Hope instead of through the Canal. This meant the construction
of new types of ships, longer transit times and therefore significantly
higher costs for goods forced to make the longer voyage.
same will be true of the East-West trade which relied on the Danube artery.
The cost to Germany, Austria, Romania, Croatia, Bulgaria and, of course,
Yugoslavia, will be significant. And other countries which relied on the
Danube as part of an East-West freight link will also be affected.
all that journalists deny that it influences their judgment, wars sell
newspapers and increase broadcast news ratings. Journalists and editors
will note that they have nothing to do with the business aspect of their
news mediums. And, for the most part, this is true. However, while the
profit motive may be disregarded by the journalists and editors, the competitive
desire to take the lead in a news environment means that there is an urge
to report the most sensational news possible.
Bites Man” is not news; “Man Bites Dog” is news. So it is important that
news stress the negative, or the sensational.
Western media editors are prepared to “go against the flow” of popular
belief on any subject. And once the Balkan wars began again with the break-up
of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1991-92, the
propaganda wars initially hammered the Serbs, who were totally ill-equipped
to deal with the Western media phenomenon.
poor impression of the Serbs — their pseudospeciation — although ignoring
the reality of history, has remained over the past eight years. It was
all too easy to revive the shibboleths of the anti-Serb. When Clinton wanted
a villain, the Serbs were ready-made.
is for that reason that Clinton, and NATO, have been able to propose demands
which are totally outside the realm of civilized state behavior. This includes
the demand that the sovereignty of a state be compromised: the UN Charter
specifically discusses the inviolability of borders, for example. As well,
when Clinton ordered the attack on Presiden’ Milosevic’s home on April
22, 1999, he blatantly violated US law which prohibits targeting a foreign
head-of-state. This was immediately dismissed with the glib statement that
the attack was not on the Yugoslav leader but on his “command and control
of the histrionic and unsubstantiated propaganda has been accepted by a
news-gathering community which, despite minor grumblings, accepts the legitimacy
and credibility of governments. It often takes much for journalists to
believe that the most powerful are not always the most truthful.
when Clinton ordered the air strike on the headquarters of Serbian television
on April 23, 1999, it proved too much for most foreign correspondents who
were in Belgrade to cover the war. Indeed, despite being in Belgrade, most
had been anti-Serb and reflected the attitudes of the news organs in their
own countries. A large gathering of foreign journalists was held at the
Belgrade Hyatt Regency Hotel to protest the TV station bombing and the
targeting of journalists. The journalists recognized that when they are
targeted then the attackers are usually unwilling to hear free debate.
Even those journalists hostile to the Serbs felt that the strike could
just as easily been directed at the transmitters, not at the newsrooms.
may well be that the strike on Serbian TV, which cost 10 lives and many
wounded, will be one of the worst moves of the Clinton team, even though
other strikes caused more civilian damage. As it transpired, Serbian TV
was back on the air again within six hours: the only real impact of the
strike, apart from ending 10 lives and damaging many more, was the fact
that Clinton may have finally made the enemies who count: those in the
media. Indeed, the foreign press in Belgrade had not anticipated that NATO
SACEUR General Wesley Clark would go against his NATO colleagues and order
the strike on Serbian TV. Those who know Clark’s “fine sense of political
reality” knew that he would obey the White House, however. And, significantly,
Serbian authorities expected it, which is why they were ready to go on
the air again so quickly.
Strategic and Military-Political Lessons
is not too early to learn some military, strategic and military-political
lessons from the current “NATO war” against Yugoslavia. Indeed, if we wait
until the conflict has ended, there is a good chance, as with all wars,
that the “lessons” will be learned only partly, or that the key problems
will be overlooked by the world community because the “lessons” will be
derived from the writings of the most powerful state(s) which survive the
war. I do not say “victors”, because should the war progress through to
a major ground war then there will be no victors. That, indeed, is one
of the “lessons”: avoid wars without clearly achievable and finite
military and political objectives.
the defender’s viewpoint, the objectives are easier to define: survival
as a nation, survival with viability, survival with a sense of national
honor, minimization of casualties, retention of sovereign credibility,
and so on.
of the military lessons clearly available at present include:
The lessons of coalition warfare: The
air operations against Yugoslavia, at least for the first month, went well
for NATO, despite the fact that it was an ad hoc conflict, with
no goals and no real military objectives. It produced neither the military
nor political goals which the politicians said they sought, but that was
not the fault of the military, who clearly had little say on much of the
the coordination of aircraft, and particularly the use of airborne sensors
and command and control, was effective.
NATO administrative machinery, involved in its first war in 50 years, worked
well. Secrecy of operations, and particularly on operational problems,
was good. There seemed to be good airspace management, with little confusion,
despite the fact that a wide range of forces were being thrown into the
mix without any real planning. So
The cost of the loss of technology: There
must be some concern over the loss of advanced technology. It is easy for
US military leaders to dismiss the loss of an F-117 Stealth fighter as
being “20 year-old technology”, and a Tomahawk Cruise Missile as
“12 year-old technology”, but the fact remains that it is the most current
US operational technology. There is no doubt, given the components recovered
by the Yugoslavs from downed US weapons, that both Yugoslavia and Russia
could within months field weapons of equal complexity to the Tomahawk.
NATO yet ready to deal with such weapons if the conflict lingers, or resurfaces
in a year or two from, say, a coalition led by Russia?
if a rival to the F-117 cannot be easily produced, then defenses against
it are now clearly becoming easier to devise. Similarly, the helicopter-borne
forces, which fared so well in the Gulf War, are now clearly very vulnerable,
despite the fact that Yugoslavia has not been using very advanced weapons.
The old 23mm and 57mm anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) systems have done well,
as have older missiles, such as the SA-3.
The strategic cost of loss of mobility in other theaters: Today,
the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has some 200 medium-range ballistic
missiles (MRBM) each capable of taking a nuclear, chemical or biological
load, in the area immediately facing the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan.
When the PRC last threatened to invade Taiwan, three years ago, it had
only 50 such MRBMs in the region. And then the US — even with the Clinton
Administration fairly kindly-disposed toward Beijing and diffident toward
Taipei — had two major assets in the region: Defense Secretary Bill Perry
and a couple of carrier battle groups.
Perry (who put the carriers into the Strait of Taiwan to deter the PRC)
has retired, reportedly disgusted with the Clinton White House failure
to support its treaty commitments (such as those to Taiwan). And there
are no US carrier battle groups off the North-East Asian littoral. At the
same time, the DPRK (North Korea) is strengthening its military command
and is provocatively testing long-range ballistic missiles over Japan.
The DPRK has abandoned any real pretense over the matter of its deployment
of operational nuclear weapons.
there is little which the US could do to meet its treaty obligations to
defend Taiwan and South Korea if, even now, the PRC and DPRK decided to
take what they have long said they would, one day, take: Taiwan and South
constraints on US force flexibility will be total if the US is forced to
commit to a major ground campaign in Yugoslavia. Even now, the US has thrown
away most of its remaining stand-off strike weapons, the Tomahawk
Cruise Missiles, in the current campaign against Yugoslavia. The result
is that the US, if it is forced to fight in Asia (and its forces in South
Korea are automatically committed if the North comes across the DMZ), then
it must fight nose-to-nose, or it must decide early-on to go nuclear.
if a major war is undertaken against Yugoslavia, then it must be assumed
that there would be as much as a 90 percent chance that war would break
out in Asia, in either Korea, or between the PRC and ROC. And North Korea
and the PRC believe that they could now win a quick victory in their respective
campaigns. That is, in fact, more likely than the prospect that NATO could
win quickly in Yugoslavia.
that is not all. The lack of US mobility means that other wars are likely
to emerge. Some form of confrontation would almost certainly re-emerge
in the Middle East. Perhaps several. Iraq could easily go into Kuwait again,
and possibly also end the Western embargo on its military operations in
the north and south of the country.
could easily move to either topple the Saudi Government, or coerce it into
a compliant state which would augur very badly for Egypt and Jordan, in
particular. It would be expected that such a scenario would also entail
a re-escalation of radical activities within Egypt, and among the Palestinians.
Israel would almost certainly react rapidly and decisively.
within NATO itself (as discussed below), a Greek-Turkish confrontation
would be very probable, with Greece finally moving to oust the Turks from
certainly, there would be hitherto unconsidered eventualities. The entire
world could boil, with no, or few, US or NATO assets available to project
The cost of warfighting assets:Most NATO
countries, but particularly the US under the Clinton presidency, have dramatically
reduced real defense spending since 1991. The US subsequently expended
much of its Reagan and Bush era ordnance in the Gulf War and then in subsequent
“police actions”. More Cruise Missiles were launched against Iraq in the
years following the Gulf War than in the war itself, showing in hindsight
just how prudent the campaign in 1991 had been in the actual expenditure
of high-cost weapons.
service life of most key NATO weapons and support systems has been reduced
because of the increased wear-and-tear caused by the existing air operations
against Yugoslavia, and, in the case of the US, by its deployments against
Iraq in recent years.
most modern and capable coalition of armed forces in the world — NATO —
now has fairly mature weapons systems in service, many in need of replacement.
On the other hand, the military capabilities of the PRC, DPRK and even
Russia are once again improving. The relative balance between NATO and
its potential adversaries is now very different than it was, say, five
The cost to NATO’s survivability: Behind
the façade of unanimity at NATO’s 50th Anniversary summit in Washington
DC on April 23-24, 1999, there was enormous concern and considerable mutual
hostility among some members. France, finally back into a leadership rôle
in the military wing of NATO, is clearly (but quietly) horrified at the
cavalier use of the Alliance in Yugoslavia.
new members of the Alliance — Hungary, Czech Republic and Poland — had
viewed NATO as a club which would both protect them from a revival of Russian
imperialism and at the same time admit them to the Western economic circle.
Thus far, the cost to each of them in economic and political terms has
been considerable. Far from being members of a safe club, they are now
expected to engage in NATO’s war against their near-neighbor.
an Orthodox Christian country (like much of Yugoslavia and Cyprus), has
felt itself isolated by the Yugoslav conflict and has refused to align
itself against Serbia.
which has had a strong domestic civil reaction against deployment in the
Yugoslav conflict, knows it would suffer enormously (perhaps more than
any other NATO country except Greece) if the fighting escalated. Italy
has already suffered enormously from the overflow of Albanian and Kosovar
refugees, and from the large upsurge in criminal activities caused by Albanians
and their Iranian (and other) sponsors.
negative economic impact on Greece and Italy alone may be enough to tax
the overall economic harmony of the European Union (EU). But the strains
may finally pit Greece and Turkey against each other, given that some Turks
feel that Turkey has an historical interest in re-projecting Islam into
the Balkans. The attempted break-up of Yugoslavia and the FYR of Macedonia
to create Albanian enclaves directly affects Greece, which would be forced
to seriously consider attempting to appropriate the non-Alban- ian part
of the FYR of Macedonia, if only to protect the inhabitants from being
totally swallowed into “Greater Albania”. The degradation of the situation
from that point is not entirely predictable.
more research needs to be undertaken into the ramifications of conflict
expansion for NATO. The Washington summit speeches talked about “creating
a new mission for NATO”, and about “projecting and protecting shared ideals”.
But that was not the purpose of NATO, which was optimized as a defensive
alliance, not an offensive one.
reality is that NATO still does not have a true strategic mission. The
use of NATO for the Yugoslav exercise at the insistence of Clinton, and
with the seemingly mindless support from the UK’s Blair, only reinforces
that reality. It is apparent to all that the protection of Kosovar refugees,
if that is the present rationale for taking the world to war, is a fairly
flimsy platform for “projecting and protecting common ideals”.
it must be assumed that the Yugoslav adventure will hurt NATO more than
help it, quite apart from the prospect of all the other costs and the possible
overflow of conflict to other regions. It is feasible that, even if escalation
to a ground war is abandoned and the air war ends by, say, July 1, NATO
may still not survive the damage done to it.
Blair and NATO Secretary-General Javier Solano spent most of their careers
blindly opposing NATO. Now that they have it within their grasp, they are
mis-using it and thus may achieve their original objective: to destroy
Managing Unexpected Human and Asset Losses: One
of the things which NATO did successfully in the first 30 days of the air
campaign was to maintain very effective secrecy on the loss of the human
and material assets in the war, discussed earlier in this report.
“success”, however, is almost certain to backfire. Certainly, the Yugoslavs
are aware of the NATO losses, so the secrecy cannot be sustained on the
grounds that “enemy” knowledge of the facts would hamper NATO’s ability
to prosecute the war. Rather, the secrecy was deemed essential to stem
opposition to the war from within NATO societies.
most US planners went into the campaign against Yugoslavia with the feeling
that the enemy would be easier to defeat even than Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.
This is the price of victory over Iraq: excessive confidence.
journal has been covering the Balkans conflict closely since 1992 and we
have had a great many contacts since that time with US intelligence and
military officers who were baffled by our analysis. There was an almost
fatalistic willingness to believe the West’s own propaganda about the situation
in the Balkans, rather than to read history, or to attempt to understand
the peoples of the region.
is still the case.
constant NATO, US Defense Department, US State Department and White House
briefings about how “Yugoslavia’s military capability has been severely
degraded” and about how “we have hit Milosevicwhere he lives” have been
exercises in self-delusion and have been viewed with amazement in Belgrade.
will happen now, when the truth of NATO casualties begins to emerge? Will
this cause the US and European publics to say “enough is enough”? Or will
it cause outrage and the demand that the matter must now be settled by
The cost of burdening military leaders with political objectives: NATO
is a military alliance, designed and tasked to fulfill military functions
as directed by the Alliance political leadership. Why, then, are people
such as NATO SACEUR Gen. Wesley Clark, and the US and UK chiefs of staff,
and even the NATO public affairs officer, Jamie Shea, making statements
of a political nature against Yugoslav leaders?
officials have left themselves open to complicity in the political mistakes
of their elected leaders. A decade ago, no NATO official would have dared
engage in the kind of self-justifying political statements of the type
which Clark and Shea, in particular, have engaged.
this has done is to make it more difficult for NATO military leaders to
plan a strategic “exit strategy” from the conflict. Early in the war, when
blood-lust was up, it may have seemed a fairly acceptable posture. Today,
it has all the hallmarks of General Custer’s comments about Chief Sitting
Bull, just before the battle of Little Big Horn.
a sense, by abandoning professional neutrality, the defense leadership,
including the civilian defense ministers/secretaries, have made it more
difficult for them to advocate coherent and rational policies for the conduct
of the war. They are now bound up in their political masters’ path, something
which does not help them to guide those same political masters to the best
possible courses of action.
The loss of prestige: The late strategic
philosopher Dr Stefan Possony, who co-founded this journal with me in 1972,
said that prestige was the credit rating of nations. He meant that in many
ways. Deterrence, for example, is totally dependent on the prestige of
a defensive system. That prestige derives from perceptions about professionalism
of operational capability, about strategic conduct, and, very often, about
being on “the right side”. It is significant that during the Cold War,
the US was often admired and respected by the average Soviet citizen, and
certainly by the citizens of the Warsaw Treaty Organization states, A number
of those Warsaw Pact states moved rapidly at the Cold War’s end to join
the US-led Western economic structure and NATO.
in Russia in mid-April 1999 showed 98 percent of Russians opposed to NATO’s
action against Yugoslavia. And former Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Anatoliy
Chubalas told the BBC on April 22, 1999, that a unified Russia — unified
by the current conflict — saw NATO as a predatory organization.
he said, feared the West as never before; nuclear war was never closer
than now. There was a general perception, he said, that after Iraq and
Yugoslavia, Russia was the next to be vilified by the West and targeted
as an enemy.
loss of Western prestige over the past seven years goes well beyond Russia,
however. Clearly, India and Pakistan feel that they can no longer rely
on Western arbitration and have opted to finally make public their commitment
to strategic defense systems of their own. Terrorist groups, such as that
of Osama bin Laden, appear to hit the US at will.
the Eritrea-Ethiopia dispute, now underway, Eritrea virtually threw out
senior US envoys even when those envoys were trying to help Eritrea. Ethiopia
treated the envoys little better.
in a sense, NATO leaders are correct when they insist on a victory for
the Alliance in the conflict with Yugoslavia. A military defeat would signal
even more chaos. But a victory with some compassion is what is needed,
and quickly, if NATO is to retain credibility and the moral high ground.
Perhaps it is already too late for that.
there can be no question: NATO and the US-led West will have no future,
no real power (and will face decline, opposition and loss of markets) if
the war is not ended quickly and if the West does not take an even-handed
approach to major issues for the foreseeable future.
restoration of prestige — reputation — is difficult after mistakes have
been made of this magnitude and morals compromised.
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You Sign This Treaty?
Houston Chronicle on March 28, 1999, published an insightful article
on the Kosovo situation. The article, by Dr Ronald L. Hatchett, Director
of the Center for International Studies at the University of St. Thomas,
was entitled Would You Sign This Agreement?, and dealt with the
peace accord on Kosovo put forward by the US and its allies at Rambouillet,
France. The treaty which was put forward at the last minute was not what
the Yugoslav Government had been told it would be. As a result, the Belgrade
delegation had no option but to refuse to sign it, as was presumably the
intention of US Secretary of State Madeline Albright. The uncompleted Rambouillet
will have a President, Prime Minister and Government, an Assembly, its
own Supreme Court, Constitutional Court and other Courts and Prosecutors.”
will have the authority to make laws not subject to revision by Serbia
or the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, including levying taxes, instituting
programs of economic, scientific, technological, regional and social development,
conducting foreign relations within its area of responsibility in the same
manner as a Republic.”
Army forces will withdraw completely from Kosovo, except for a limited
border guard force (active only within a five kilometer border zone).”
security forces [police] will withdraw completely from Kosovo except for
a limited number of border police (active only within a five kilometer
parties invite NATO to deploy a military force (KFOR), which will be authorized
to use necessary force to ensure compliance with the Accords.”
international community will play a rôle in ensuring that these provisions
are carried out through a Civilian Implementation Mission (CIM) (appointed
Chief of the CIM has the authority to issue binding directives to the Parties
on all important matters as he sees fit, including appointing and removing
officials and curtailing institutions.”
years after the implementation of the Accords, an international meeting
will be convened to determine a mechanism for a final settlement for Kosovo
on the basis of the will of the people.”
Accords, had they been signed by the Yugoslav Government, would have meant
an immediate effective removal of Kosovo from Yugoslavia. The Yugoslav
delegation had been prepared to hand over autonomy to Kosovars in day-to-day
matters, including religious, education and health care matters and local
government operations. The Yugoslav delegation, however, was told: sign
the “surprise” version of the Rambouillet Accords or face immediate NATO
bombing. Could any Yugoslav have signed such an agreement?
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Accord Agreed by All
control of the media by the Clinton White House ensured that the prevailing
opinion before the start of the NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia
was that the Yugoslav Government had rejected all attempts to negotiate
an agreement on the future of Kosovo. The so-called Rambouillet Accords
had been offered to the Yugoslavs and rejected, leaving NATO no option
but to start aerial bombardment on March 24, 1999. But that was far from
March 15, 1999, meeting in Paris, the key parties to the problem had already
reached and signed an “Agreement for Self-Government in Kosmet [Kosovo
and Metohija]”. The agreement was signed in the Albanian, English, Romany,
Serbian and Turkish languages. For the Yugoslav side it was signed by Prof.
Dr Ratko Mlarkovic (Vice-President of the Government of the Republic of
Serbia and head of the Republic of Serbia delegation); and Prof. Dr Vladan
Kutlesic (Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia). For the
Kosovo and Metohija side it was signed by Sokolj Cuse
(Democratic Reform Party of Albanians); Faik Jashari (Kosovo Democratic
Initiative); Vojislav Zivkovic (national community of Serbs and Montenegrins);
Zaynelabidin Kureys and Guljbehar Sabovic (national community of Turks);
Ibro Vail (national community of Goranles); Refik Senadovic (national community
of Muslims); Ljuann Koka (national community of Romanies); and Cerin Abazi
(national community of Egyptians).
Policy has obtained a copy of the Agreement which was conducted under
the auspices of the members of the Contact Group (and in light of the Contact
Group ministerial meeting in London on January 29, 1999) and the European
Union. It recognizes “the need for democratic self-government in Kosmet,
including full participation of the members of all national communities
in political decisionmaking”.
Agreement offers literally everything demanded by the Kosovo community
except the demand by the KLA, which drafted the so-called Rambouillet Accords
which were never discussed at all with the Yugoslav Government before being
presented to it as à fait accompli two days after the ultimatum
had been published as “the final agreement” in a KLA newspaper in Albania.
The Paris Agreement had been the work of moderates and would have effectively
blocked the KLA terrorist organization from achieving its goal: total secession
of Kosovo and Metohija.
gave full internal autonomy to the Kosovars; a free press; unfettered access
to international organizations; an independent assembly; an independent
judiciary; full control over local (and locally-appointed) police; and
much more. What was important was that this was an agreement which satisfied
all main communities in Kosovo.
this already agreed, was there justification for a military attack?
to top of page.
Copyright © 1999 The International Strategic
Studies Association. All rights reserved.
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