This is a document in Serbian
where you can find various information concerning
the NATO military action against Serbia.
By Gregory R. Copley, Editor
"No nation is fit to sit in judgment on any other nation."
Woodrow Wilson, 1915
"I do not know the method of drawing up an indictment against a whole people."
Edmund Burke, 1775
Conflict 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 role 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.
The 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?
In other words, belief in the correctness of the decision is based on factual reporting and analysis, weighed in the matrix of national interest.
But 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?
In 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".
Robert 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.
We 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, Vespasian.
The reality was, ultimately,
that Rome could ill-afford the luxury of
ill-conceived and gratuitous misuse 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 years ago.
Religious 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.
The 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).
Even 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 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.
As 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.
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.
That 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.
Once 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
It 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.
[Similarly, 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.]
Despite 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".
There 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.
The 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.
Given the previous use
by Pres. Clinton of force abroad to distract from the
legal processes at home, it would be na‹ve 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.
It 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.
The 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.
Equally, 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.
No, 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
In 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
To seek historical precedents
we need only look at Imperial Rome and Britain
during its imperial phase.
Some of the Origins of the Kosovo Conflict
In 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."
That was 6.5 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:
"Other areas, perhaps
with even greater potential for ethnic conflict [than
northern Serbia], are Kosovo and the Sandzak 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."
"Tito's 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 Serbian population."
"He 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 [February-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?"
"In 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 of it?"
"Just like the Muslims
in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Albanian Muslims draw
encouragement from Western statements and threats against Yugoslavia over
Carr 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."
Significantly, 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 Serb 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
Before 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.
This 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.
In 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].
After 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.
There 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.
There 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
As 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".
These 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.
And 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.
There was considerable
under-estimation by the KLA and by the White House,
however, of the determination of the Yugoslavs to resist such pressure.
Who and What is the KLA?
The Ushtria 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
It 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
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.
In 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:
"By 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- Tiran‰
line. And not only by expanding and escalating subversive and
Islamist-political presence can this objective be attained."
"In 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."
"... By 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."
The 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
The 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.
Dr 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 people themselves.
The 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.
As 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 Alija
Izetbegovi‘. 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 "pronounced 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."
The implications for the KLA are apparent in this closeness.
Ironically, the KLA's
head of ‚lite 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.
Little 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.
There 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. ... The [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."
Noted 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
The 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.
And 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.
Agim 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.
Grigg's article continued:
The 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
"That 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.'
The "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 RaŠak. 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."
However, 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.
"The 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.
The 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".
"What 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.
"Isn't the Racak 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?"
"The Big Lie" at Work
Most 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
Once 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
In 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 used.
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.
But 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
Most 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.
What 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.
To 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.
What about the millions of Afghan refugees forced into Pakistan?
What 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
We 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 resist aggression."]
The 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.
But 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".
One 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.
This writer has, however,
heard the voice traffic between the initial strike
aircraft and his EC-130 Hercules AWACS. This is what happened:
The 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.
A USAF F-16 fighter was
deployed to the area of the convoy in question. The
following is the transcript of the mission radio traffic:
Pilot: "Good day, I am
in position 80. No movement underneath. Please
information on red MiGs [jargon for Yugoslav combat aircraft]."
AWACS: "Hello Charlie
Bravo. Mother here. Patrol northwest direction
Prizren-Dakovica. There are no red MiGs in the air."
Pilot: "OK, I am going to 3,000ft."
AWACS: "Mother to Charlie
Bravo. You get reinforcements in about 10 minutes.
There will be something interesting south of Dakovica."
Pilot: "Charlie Bravo
to Mother. I am coming out of the clouds, still nothing
AWACS: "Mother to Charlie Bravo. Continue to the north, course 280."
Pilot: "Charlie Bravo
to Mother. I am keeping 3,000 feet. Under me columns of
cars, some kind of tractors. What is it? Requesting instructions."
AWACS: "Mother to Charlie
Bravo. Do you see tanks? Repeat, where are the
Pilot: "Charlie Bravo
to Mother. I see tractors. I suppose the Reds did not
camouflage tanks as tractors."
AWACS: "Mother to Charlie
Bravo. What kind of strange convoy is this? What,
civilians? Damn, this is all the Serb's doing. Destroy the target."
Pilot: "Charlie Bravo
to Mother. What should I destroy? Tractors? Ordinary
cars? Repeat, I do not see any tanks. Request additional instructions."
AWACS: "Mother to Charlie
Bravo. This is a military target, a completely
legitimate military target. Destroy the target. Repeat, destroy the target."
Pilot: "Charlie Bravo to Mother. OK, copy. Launching."
NATO 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.
It 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 with "nazis".
Clearly, 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
The 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.
And 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 them.
Such a belief is not unreasonable given the
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.
For 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
The 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
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.
State 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
The "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]."
"I 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."
He added: "I see a pretty
clear pattern of refugees leaving an area after
there were severe air strikes."
Not 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 war.
Watson 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."
NATO 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 Koha
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
Neither 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.
Perhaps 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.
The 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?
The 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".
However, 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.
But the "compelling evidence"
of "mass graves" will have done its job for
The Need for "Victory"
Conflict 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.
So 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.
So "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.
Given 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 of 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".
The 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.
On 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.
Underlying 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 in office.
Basically, 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".
World War III would be a significant legacy!
Columnist 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."
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.
So 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 in
That 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.
There 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.
What, 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
Just 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.
The 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.
"Given 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
This is the scandal which
eclipses the Monica Lewinsky matter which led to
Clinton's impeachment by Congress.
So, 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 been
It 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 na‹ve, with no understanding of
military history. No major strategic campaign has been won by air power alone.
There 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 na‹ve: 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.
Similarly, 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
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.
What 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.
So 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.
The 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.
At 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.
But despite this, the
chance to grasp at peace attracted many, and the option
- begun by the Saxton initiative - was opened. Debate emerged into the open.
Realities on the Ground
It 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.
US 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.
This 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.
Civilian 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.
The 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.
By 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.
At Pancevo 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.
The 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.
The 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.
The 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
This 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.
But 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.
Luckily, at the last
minute, the facility was largely emptied of chlorine when
the strikes occurred.
On 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.
Not all of the toxins came from the oil refinery or the petrochemical plant.
A major 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.
The 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.
City 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?
Pancevo 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
This 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.
The 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 the city.
By 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.
Some 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.
A pipeline 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.
NATO 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.
The 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
Defense & Foreign Affairs.
By April 20, 1999, NATO losses stood at approximately the following:
38 fixed-wing combat
Seven unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs);
"Many" Cruise Missiles (lost to AAA or SAM fire).
Several 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.
At 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.
At least one German pilot
(some sources say two men, implying perhaps a
Luftwaffe crew from a Tornado) has been captured.
There is also a report that at least one US female pilot has been killed.
In 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.
Losses of US and other
NATO ground force personnel, inside Serbia, have also
A Yugoslav 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.
It 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.
At 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.
Certainly, 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.
The 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.
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."
The 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
The 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
And 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.
The 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.
Yugoslavia has received
no substantial international aid to support, re-settle
or accommodate these refugees. Many have been absorbed into the society.
With 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.
Bombing 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".
That 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
The 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 in Albania.
For 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.
So 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."
So 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".
Clearly, from the Clinton
viewpoint, no action taken by the Yugoslavs could be
allowed to be seen as normal or reasonable.
Inevitably, 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
It 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.
It 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?
The 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.
We 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 na‹vet‚. But this was not so.
The 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 this
It 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 job.
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
Disruptions 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 of hostilities.
The 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.
The 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.
For 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.
"Dog Bites Man" is not
news; "Man Bites Dog" is news. So it is important that
news stress the negative, or the sensational.
Few 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.
The 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.
It 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
Much 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.
But 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.
It 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.
Military, Strategic and Military-Political Lessons
It 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.
From 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.
Some of the military lessons clearly available at present include:
1. 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 target selection.
But the coordination
of aircraft, and particularly the use of airborne sensors
and command and control, was effective.
The 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
2. 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
Is 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?
And 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.
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
Today, 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
So 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 Korea.
The 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.
Significantly, 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.
But 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.
Iran 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.
And within NATO itself
(as discussed below), a Greek-Turkish confrontation
would be very probable, with Greece finally moving to oust the Turks from
Almost certainly, there
would be hitherto unconsidered eventualities. The
entire world could boil, with no, or few, US or NATO assets available to
project Western power.
4. 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.
The 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.
The 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 years ago.
5. The cost to NATO's
survivability: Behind the fa‡ade 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 role in the military wing of NATO, is clearly
(but quietly) horrified at the cavalier use of the Alliance in Yugoslavia.
The 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.
Greece, 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.
Italy, 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.
The 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.
Considerably 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.
The 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".
So 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.
Clinton, 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 it.
6. 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.
This "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.
Clearly, 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.
This 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.
This is still the case.
The 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.
What 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 war?
7. 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?
These 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.
What 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.
In 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.
8. 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.
Polls 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.
Russians, 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
The 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.
In 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.
So 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.
But 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.
The restoration of prestige
- reputation - is difficult after mistakes have
been made of this magnitude and morals compromised.
Would You Sign This Treaty?
The 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 Accords noted:
"Kosovo will have a President,
Prime Minister and Government, an Assembly, its
own Supreme Court, Constitutional Court and other Courts and Prosecutors."
"Kosovo 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."
"Yugoslav Army forces
will withdraw completely from Kosovo, except for a
limited border guard force (active only within a five kilometer border zone)."
"Serb security forces
[police] will withdraw completely from Kosovo except for
a limited number of border police (active only within a five kilometer border
"The parties invite NATO
to deploy a military force (KFOR), which will be
authorized to use necessary force to ensure compliance with the Accords."
"The international community
will play a r“le in ensuring that these
provisions are carried out through a Civilian Implementation Mission (CIM)
(appointed by NATO)."
"The 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."
"Three 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."
The 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?
An Accord Agreed by All
Effective 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 the
On 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 Markovic (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 Goranes); Refik Senadovic (national community of Muslims); Ljuann Koka
(national community of Romanies); and Cerin Abazi (national community of
Strategic 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".
The 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 a 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.
It 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.
With this already agreed,
was there justification for a military attack?
The Washington Post
Editor: In his April 26th commentary "Lessons of the Last Balkan Ground War," Russell A. Hart refers to the "military incompetence of the Italians" as the reason for the Nazi invasion of Yugoslavia. History disagrees with this Ohio State University lecturer.
On October 28, 1940,
Benito Mussolini presented Greece with a Rambouillet type
of ultimatum. Greece's one word rejection "OHI" and subsequent defeat of the
elite Alpine Divisions resulted in the first Allied victory in World War II.
For the brave citizens
of the British Isles who were just barely surviving the
German blitzkrieg, Greece's victory over Mussolini's best troops infused them
with a new hope.
The threat of the destruction
of the Italian Army by the Greek Army and the
willingness of the Serbs to defend Yugoslavia forced Hitler to change his
The time table for the
Russian invasion was delayed by six critical weeks. The
leading expert on Germany's defeat, Adolph Hitler, regretted his Balkan
Campaign to the day of his death. He knew that the Serbs and Greeks by defying
his awesome power and willingness to sacrifice over two million soldiers and
civilians during the invasion and subsequent resistance movements took away
Germany's element of surprise against Russia. Hitler regretted having to
deploy his elite-the Panzers and Luftwaffe to the Balkans. The oil fields in
Romania, communications with the troops in North Africa and the prestige of
the Axis powers served to justify this move.
History tells us that
the courage of the Serbs and the humiliation of
Mussolini by Greece were vital factors in the ultimate victory by the Allies.
Hart describes the Yugoslavian army as "outdated and riven by the same ethnic
animosities at the root of today's Kosovo crisis." He again distorts the
facts. The Croatians, Bosnians and Albanians had the same choices as the
Serbs. The former chose to be Nazis and form divisions and fight with Adolph
Hitler. The Serbs had to fight not only the Axis Armies but a ruthless traitor
force. The current victims portrayed by our media, the Albanians, formed the
brutal Skenderbeg Divisions which did such a systematic job of ethnically
cleansing the Serbs and Kosovo's Jewish population that Hitler gave them
Kosovo, some of Macedonia and Northern Greece as a reward. The Allies did
correct this after the war ended and gave Kosovo back to Serbia.
James P. Crassas,
Former History Teacher
1031 Cresthaven Dr.
Silver Spring, MD 20903