WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As NATO enters a fifth day of bombing raids on Serbia, with the declared aim of halting the slaughter of Kosovar Muslims, one has to ask what are NATO's real objectives? Is there a hidden agenda?
Wasn't the slaughter anticipated? Would a reasonable person attack while potential victims are held hostage? The U.S. did not attack Iraq's forces in Kuwait while Americans were held hostage during the Bush administration. The U.S. did not attack Iran while Americans were held hostage during the Carter administration.
Mr Clinton, speaking from the White House four days ago, told reporters "Our purpose here is to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe. Our objective is to make it clear to Mr Milosevic he must choose peace, or we will limit his plans to make war." Whether this meant forcing the Yugoslav President to accept the peace accord negotiated at Rambouillet, and already accepted by representatives of Kosovo's Muslims, was not made clear.
Did U.S. and NATO planners not anticipate that if the Serbs were attacked more Muslims would be slaughtered? We have greater respect for U.S. and NATO military planners to believe that they would launch air attacks, and not make provisions for minimizing the slaughter if that were really their mission. Notice how quickly the pilot of the $45 million, F-117, stealth fighter was rescued.
The Sunday Times reports (NATO Attacks, March 28) that well before the NATO air strikes were launched President Clinton knew that "air strikes might provoke Serb soldiers into greater acts of butchery."
On March 15, "Clinton and his cabinet members, including William Cohen, the defence secretary, and Sandy Berger, the national security adviser, sat in silence as Shelton [General Hugh Shelton, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff] outlined the thrust of the analysis. There was a danger, he told them, that far from helping to contain the savagery of the Serbs in Kosovo - a moral imperative cited by the president - air strikes might provoke Serb soldiers into greater acts of butchery. Air strikes alone, Shelton stated, could not stop Serb forces from executing Kosovars."
Perhaps, preventing a humanitarian catastrophe is not the mission.
Perhaps, the Kosovar Muslims are the sacrificial lambs; a cruel irony coinciding with Eid-al Adha. Perhaps, the NATO attack on a sovereign nation, the first in its 50-year history, is intended to justify NATO's continued existence, repeatedly questioned, since the disintegration of the USSR which NATO was setup to defend against.
It is useful to recall what happened in Bosnia.
The Clinton plan for Bosnia, forged after the killing of 200,000 Muslims, in effect, legitimized Serb aggression. It set aside the Bosnian constitution, and forced the multi-party, secular, parliamentary democracy of Bosnia to accept a secession of 49 percent of its territory to the rebel Serbs. None of this would have been necessary were it not for the fact that the U.S. led Western governments denied the Bosnian government that most basic of human rights; the right to self defence.
Today, as part of a 20,000 peace-keeping force, 6000 U.S. troops are stationed in Bosnia, while thousands of Bosnian Muslims have been unable to return to their homes, and no senior Serb official has been tried for widely acknowledged war crimes. Serb warlords, General Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadjic, continue to reside in Bosnia, in a district controlled by the very NATO troops now going to war with Serbia.
With 61 armed conflicts in progress around the world, why did NATO intervene in Serbia? The Russian slaughter of 80,000 Muslim civilians in Chechnya, in just two years, went on while NATO and the U.S. looked the other way. In fact while this was happening the U.S. loaned hundreds of millions to Russia.
It is also useful to recall the legal status of Kosovo, and Serbia.
According to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Factbook: "Serbia and Montenegro have asserted the formation of a joint independent state, but this entity has not been formally recognized as a state by the US; the US view is that the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY), has dissolved and that none of the successor republics represents its continuation."
Professor of International Law, Francis A. Boyle, says "the former Yugoslavia disintegrated as a state as the Badinter Commission found. As a result of this disintegration, the Kosovar People exercised their right of self-determination to establish the Kosova Republic in accordance with standard international law and practice. Prof. Boyle concedes "that world political circumstances do not yet seem ripe to obtain further international recognition of the Kosova Republic."
If American casualties were the concern, why weren't Muslim fighters asked to help save the Kosovar Muslims? Unconfirmed reports tell us many Muslims are ready and willing to help. Perhaps, rather than preventing a humanitarian catastrophe, the U.S. led NATO bombing is a clever ruse to diminish dissent against U.S. pro-Israel policies, and to strengthen U.S. puppet regimes in the Muslim world?
Good intentions, bad strategy, or bad intentions, good strategy. Time will tell.
Adam LeBor, "Nato and UN 'fund prostitution in Kosovo'," The
Times, May 7, 2004
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