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A War of Words

By Julie Burchill

Saturday April 10, 1999

Forty reasons why the Serbs are not the new Nazis and the
Kosovars are not the new Jews:

1) Because the Nazis did not put Jews on the train to Israel, as
the Serbs are now putting ethnic Albanian Kosovars on the train
to Albania.

2) Because we're the ones fighting alongside the Luftwaffe and
the Serbs are the ones whom the Luftwaffe is bombing.

3) Because the Serbs tend to be really good-looking, especially
the women.

4) Because pop stars don't, and never will, dress up as Serbs.

5) Because Serbs don't feature in pornography.

6) Because Dirk Bogarde never played a Serb.

7) Because my father taught me never to kiss a Nazi, whereas I've
certainly snogged a few Serbs in my time.

8) Because Robin Cook says they are.

9) Because Clinton is a liar.

10) Because Milosevic doesn't have a moustache.

11) Because the Kosovan Liberation Army is a terrorist
organisation that has been killing innocent Serbs for years,
whereas the Jews were model citizens.

12) Because, if the Serbs were really Nazis, the Times, Daily
Mail and their like would be right behind them, judging from
their track record during the Thirties.

13) Because it wasn't the Serbs who fought with the Nazis in
Yugoslavia during the second world war - it was the Croats and
the Muslims. (Nazi Muslims! What an absolutely mind-blowingly
terrifying concept!).

14) Because, if they were Nazis, the US wouldn't be fighting them
but funding them, like all those old pigs it props up in Latin

15) Tony Benn doesn't back no Nazis! Come outside and say that!

16) Because anyone who knows anything about European history
before 1945 backs the Serbs.

17) Because Volkswagen recently broadcast a commercial on German
television that compared the thrill of driving its latest model
to being a Nazi invading Czechoslovakia. Serbia has never, does
not and never will make car commercials about the thrill of going
into Kosovo. (Just a guess!).

18) Because, if you make a film saying that it was a real hoot
being in a Nazi concentration camp, you get lots of Oscars,
whereas if you decided to make a film saying that it was a real
hoot being in an Albanian refugee camp, Tony Blair would have you
shot under some arcane wartime law which Cherie has just
discovered on the statute books.

19) Because those ultra-Lefties who want the Serbs bombed are
always the ones who are on the side that's against the Jews.

20) Because the Serbs have a bittersweet sense of humour, whereas
the Nazis, being Germans, were utterly humourless. After all, can
you really imagine the Krauts during the time of the Allied
bombardment going around with a bullseye and the word "TARGET"
painted on their faces?

21) "I had an uncle who played for Red Star Belgrade" Billy
Bragg. Billy Bragg would never have boasted about having a
footballing Nazi for an uncle! Come outside and say that!

22) Because Tariq Ali, Louis de Bernieres, Alan Clark and I
haven't been interned yet. (Give it time, though.)

23) Because the Serbs were the only people in Yugoslavia who
never persecuted the Jews.

24) "Bill and Tony sitting up a tree/K.I.S.S.I.N.G!" Because
Blair can't be trusted when he gazes into Billy Bob's big blue
eyes and the hormones kick in.

25) Because, if Milosevic was a Nazi, Baroness Thatcher would be
having tea with him in Surrey.

26) Because no one ever went on holiday to Nazi Germany (except
for Unity Mitford.)

27) Because the IRA won't send an honour guard to Milosevic's

28) Because the Jews didn't indulge in personal vendettas as they
went into the countries that welcomed them as refugees, let alone
get to the point of shooting each other at point blank range, as
two Kosovar men did in Calais last week while they were waiting
to be put on the boat to Britain.

29) Because the Jews didn't growl at women on the streets of
their host countries, as Albanian men seem wont to.

30) Because the Serbs have a really cool salute and the Nazis had
a silly one.

31) Because, unlike Nazis - "And Goebbels has no balls at all" -
"Milosevic" does not rhyme with anything rude.

32) Because the British tabloids are the first people since the
Nazis to use the word "Slav" as a term of abuse.

33) Because the KLA is funded by drug-trafficking, while the
nearest the German Jews ever got to drugs was chicken soup.

34) Because the German Jews didn't want to annex part of Germany
and call it Israel-On-The-Rhine.

35) Because last year the British Immigration Office decreed that
the Kosovars were not a distinct racial group. (And it's been a
damned long time since anyone said that about the Jews.)

36) Because clean-limbed, dirty-minded little WASP girls don't
grow up dreaming of marrying a big, handsome, sexy, intellectual

37) Because Germany has agreed to take 40,000 Kosovar Albanian
refugees - that's "take", not "kill".

38) Because the Greeks sympathise with the Serbs - and the Greeks
always back the right side.

39) Because Israel sympathises with the Kosovars, and Israel
always backs the wrong side. (Lovely shot of that Israeli jet
flying cheek-to-cheek with the Luftwaffe, lads!)

40) Because Nazis don't win wars - and Serbs don't lose them.

Guardian Unlimited - Guardian Newspapers Limited 1999.

As the Crisis Spirals out of Control, Everybody Scrambles for a
Quick Solution. Everybody but Milosevic.

By Jeff Stein

"We can't help every country in every situation," Defense
Secretary William Cohen said the other day. No kidding, says a
growing chorus of critics, who are watching NATO airstrikes
worsen the Kosovo crisis they were intended to solve. Among those
critics is George Friedman, co-author (with his wife, Meredith,)
of such books as "The Intelligence Edge," "The Future of War" and
"The Coming War with Japan." The former director of Louisiana
State University's Center for Geopolitical Studies, Friedman in
1996 founded Strafor Inc., one of the fastest-moving sources of
information on global events, including the Kosovo crisis.

NATO's bombing campaign has been "ridiculous," Friedman scoffs,
pathetically under-strength for the mission of fending off
Serbian ground units in Kosovo, not to mention bending Yugoslav
strongman Slobodan Milosovic to its will. Friedman flatly rules
out a ground invasion of Kosovo to rescue what's left of the
hapless ethnic Albanians there, for the simple reason that NATO
doesn't have the tools to pull it off, he says.

Salon interviewed Friedman from his company offices in Austin,
Texas, as the crisis deepened, with tens of thousands of refugees
fleeing Kosovo, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov calling for
genocide trials-against NATO leaders, not Milosevic-and India
threatening to form a tripartite alliance with China and Russia.

With all our-high tech gadgetry and air superiority, many people
are asking why we can't destroy Serbian forces in Kosovo.

We haven't got enough firepower. NATO's only got about 166 ground
attack aircraft in the operation-totally inadequate for the type
of mission that's been defined. For example, we have between 12
and 16 A-10 antitank planes in theater. If we assume 70 percent
availability, and two sorties a day each, that's a pretty big
country to cover. Remember in Desert Storm, it took us six months
to build up our air power, and then a six-week campaign with
about five times as many aircraft.

Are you saying no amount of bombing-all of NATO's might-can wring
victory from this situation?

No, I'm saying there is an amount of bombing, but we don't have
the aircraft anyway near there to do it, and it would take us two
to three months to get there. It's not that the United States
lacks sufficient force to carry out the mission. The problem is
that they have not taken the time to deploy those forces, and for
the first time since the Second World War, the United States is
simultaneously involved in a second air campaign, over Iraq. We
just don't have the resources to do it.

On your Web site, you've pointed out that the Serbs can bring
withering anti-aircraft fire against low-flying NATO ground
support planes in Kosovo. Have they been using it at all?

This is a very interesting point. They are holding back almost
all of their fire, and, I think, waiting to go out with a
crescendo, perhaps opening up suddenly with all their forces on
the ground. Their main concern has always been the security of
their forces operating in Kosovo. From their point of view,
however, the number of NATO aircraft operating in Kosovo is so
low they're hardly worth noticing -- 12 A-10s is a joke, that's
not a mission.

And you don't think NATO will-or should - send in ground troops?

Not unless they want to die. You've got 20,000 crack Yugoslav
troops guarding the two mountain-pass roads into Kosovo. Any
attempt to dislodge those troops would cause thousands of
casualties on our side and the mission would probably fail.

What would NATO troops face if they cross into Kosovo from

We're talking 20,000 to 30,000 Serb troops operating internally
in Kosovo, and another 20,000 on the Macedonia frontier. I mean,
this is ludicrous from a military point of view: We were not
ready for this air campaign, in truth, and certainly not an

NATO wasn't prepared for this operation?

No. The Clinton administration believed that Milosevic would
permit Serbia to be dismembered because of the threat of air
power. We once more have done what we do in every war: We totally
underestimate the intelligence of our opponent. We did it with
the Japanese, the Viet Cong, with Saddam and now with Milosevic.
He wouldn't dare challenge the United States, we thought. Well,
why not?

During the war in Bosnia, airstrikes made Milosevic back off
quickly. Why didn't he back off this time?

As with the Vietnamese, we didn't understand that he was dealing
with the fundamental survival of the nation. When we hit them in
Bosnia, that was a peripheral issue. Now we are dealing with
dismemberment of the country. What I'm getting from people in
Yugoslavia is, "When the majority of Serbs wanted to secede from
Bosnia and join Yugoslavia, you bombed us to prevent that. When
the majority of Albanians want to withdraw from Kosovo, you bomb
us to permit that. The only common theme is that you want to
destroy Serbia." They say, "Look, first you're going to take
Kosovo, then you're going to take Vodjovino," which is primarily
Hungarian. "You are dismembering Serbia." Now, that's not the
American intention, that's not the American plan, but it's now
the Serbian thinking.

Some critics say we should be outright backing the KLA.

We're doing it already.

To what degree?

Well, there are reports, for example, that British SAS (Special
Air Service) Forces have entered Kosovo. There also are reports
that U.S. Special Forces are operating there. The doctrine of
both is never to enter these areas except in conjunction with
indigenous forces, which in this case is the KLA.

How much credibility do you give those reports?

I have no doubt we have special forces operating in Kosovo. Past
behavior would indicate that we would be in there to conduct
on-the-ground intelligence, battle damage assessment and
targeting capabilities with lasers. So I would be stunned if we
went into this without those capabilities.

There have also been reports that the mission led by U.S.
Ambassador William Walker in January to investigate mass murders
secretly left behind electronic ground locator devices on
potential air targets.

I am sure-I hope-that we have worked for the past several months
to put both an intelligence infrastructure and personnel on the
ground. And that would mean that we are cooperating with the KLA,
because to move around the country would require their help. I
don't have any secret information to that effect, but I'd bet the
house on it.

In the present situation, can our Green Berets or similar units
be effective against the Serbs?

They can certainly harass the Serbs.

There's no realistic way the KLA can defeat the Serbian army?

There's no way, even with American air power. If somebody wanted
Kosovo to be independent, they should've started a year ago,
smuggling in weapons to the KLA. Now people want a three-day
solution, and it's not possible.

When the U.S. military was first resisting involvement in the
Balkans back in 1993, there was a joke about the Pentagon hanging
a big banner around the building saying, "We do deserts, not
mountains." Is that the problem?

We do Arabs, we don't do Serbs. I really have to say that. One of
the reason the Israelis are so successful is that they get to
fight the Syrians and the Egyptians. I don't know how well they'd
do against the Serbs. The Serbs fought the Waffen SS to a
standstill in World War II. The Russians invaded Hungary, but
they wouldn't touch Yugoslavia. And don't forget, most of the
Yugoslav officers were trained by us, in the 1970s and '80s. I
saw them at Fort Leavenworth and other places.

It seems the White House went off half-cocked on this one.

What happened was, the administration was convinced Milosevic was
bluffing, that as soon as the bombs started to fall, he would
buckle. No matter what anybody told them-including us, that it
was crazy-they believed he would not accept an air campaign. So
they launched into an air campaign that they were unable to carry

There seems to be a parallel here with Somalia, where the White
House stormed in with its heart, instead of its head.

The variable to focus on here is the illusion of air power. In
Vietnam we believed that the North Vietnamese would give up the
dream of a united Vietnam in order to avoid a bombing campaign.
Instead, they stepped up the tempo and increased our losses,
which we found unacceptable. The precise message Milosevic got
from that is that the only thing we're willing to do against him
is an air campaign, and we're not serious. Once again a
Democratic administration has set a strategic goal, and when the
military people told them the cost, instead of backing off from
the goal, they decided to do it on the cheap. They can't afford
the price now, so they're pretending the price they can afford to
pay will do the job.

What's the endgame?

A face-saving cease-fire.

Which will come when? After the Serbs have killed or run all the
Albanians out of Kosovo?

Which will come when the Russians and the French decide to make
Belgrade accept the cease-fire. Right now, Belgrade thinks it has
time on its side-they're the belligerent ones now. When the
Russians came to Belgrade last night they called them "scum."
Washington doesn't have time. Washington has gone to Primakov and
said, "What will it take to get you to help us end this?" And
Primakov said, the [International Monetary Fund].

We paid in advance?

There will be a lot more money involved, believe me. This is far
from the last tranche.

So what's next in this stalemate?

The Serbs are running against the clock. There's going to be a
cease-fire somewhere in the next 72 hours. The Russians got their
IMF loan, and they're sending Primakov. Chirac is sending his
delegation. The Serbs are now at the endgame where they've got to
close this thing down. What the Serbs are attempting to do is to
clear out as much of Kosovo as they can to create a situation on
the ground, after the cease-fire, that gives them what they want
... which is to retain Kosovo. Their reading of it is that the
basic problem is demographic, and they're busy readjusting the
demographics. As we move toward a cease-fire, the tempo speeds
up. The Serbs will increase their brutality.

Do you expect the Russians or the French to help NATO out of this

Neither the Russians nor the French are particular eager to save
the American hash. This administration is looking very stupid
right now, and the Russians and the French are delighted to let
us dangle slowly, slowly in the wind. Both the Russians and the
French want this to end, but with as much embarrassment to the
Americans as possible. The Germans want this over, too. Any
American call to attack into Kosovo would involve German troops
fighting in Serbia again. For God's sake, this is a Social
Democratic government backed by the Greens. So the Germans want
this over soon, and so do the Italians.

What will a cease-fire look like?

There will be a peace-keeping force. The United States will not
be included in it, Germany will not be included in it, Great
Britain will not be included in it. The NATO members in it will
be the French, I suspect, and the Ukrainians and the Greeks.

You sound pretty optimistic that it will be over soon, because
it's in everybody's interest.

The United States has been militarily stalemated, which in this
case is the same thing as saying it's been militarily defeated.
The United States does not have an escalation option, therefore
it has to end it.

What do you make of India saying it might enter into a tripartite
alliance with China and Russia because of the bombing?

It's extremely important. What you're seeing here is the whole
world basically saying the United States has lost its mind, that
it's randomly going around entering into crises, and God knows
what's next. The Indians are taking a look at the way the balance
of power is shaping up in the rest of the world, and they're
seeing two great alliances: the U.S. and England, and everybody
else. They'd rather be with everybody else.

What's the obit on this operation going to read?

The Albanians will be mostly displaced to Albania. They will be
slowly let in, and the Russians and the French will preside over
the entire operation. And three weeks later Bill Clinton will
have another moral cause.

SALON, March 30, 1999.

Jeff Stein writes about national security issues from Washington.

Posted: 10.04.1999.