Released June 6, 1999
The Wisdom Fund, P. O. Box 2723, Arlington, VA 22202
Website: -- Press Contact: Enver Masud

Winning and Losing in Yugoslavia

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- There was no doubt that if NATO chose to it would prevail militarily, and it did, but it surrendered its primary objective - preventing a humanitarian catastrophe.

The NATO war machine, with funding of about $270 billion annually in the United States, and about $180 billion annually in the other NATO countries, prevailed militarily over Yugoslavia's armed forces which receive less than $1 billion annually.

Before the war began it was estimated that after 7 1/2 years of international economic sanctions, it would take Yugoslavia 29 years to reach the level of economic prosperity it had in 1989. Now the estimate is 45 years - without international aid estimated at between $50 billion and $150 billion.

Fought for a good cause, the prevention of a humanitarian catastrophe, NATO's air-only campaign hastened the process of "ethnic cleansing" begun by President Milosevic. U.S. generals had forewarned President Clinton that this would be the result.

Using the war as an excuse Yugoslav forces destroyed more than 500 villages, and raped, tortured, and killed thousands of Kosovar Muslims.

Perhaps 35,000 people had fled Kosovo in the months befare the NATO bombing began.The UNHCR reported 4000 registered refugees outside of Kosovo on March 27. Now only about 10 per cent of Kosovo's 1.8 million Muslims remain in their homes in Kosovo.

NATO forces, with the exception of the vaunted Apache helicopters, performed brilliantly. They killed 5000 Serbian soldiers, wounded 10,000, while the NATO count of deaths due to combat, not accident, was zero.

NATO's primary cause was just, but it was not a just war. NATO waged a war that had no reasonable chance of success in preventing a humanitarian catastrophe - its professed goal. NATO waged a war for reasons of self-interest - to perpetuate NATO which has no place in a post Cold War world.

NATO did not wage war as a last resort having exhausted all nonviolent means of settling the dispute with Yugoslavia. Under the G-8 plan for peace accepted by Yugoslavia, NATO accepted terms it refused to accept before the NATO ultimatum that triggered the war - no NATO access to all of Yugoslavia, and no vote for Kosovo's independence. As in Bosnia, arms to Kosovo's Muslims were embargoed.

NATO's peace plan is unacceptable to the KLA which served as NATO's allies on the ground. The Kosovars have no homes or businesses to return to, few crops and livestock to feed them, and are mentally scarred by what they have witnessed in the last several weeks.

Even if the G-8 plan holds the war is far from over. Will NATO countries, specifically their taxpayers, provide the funding to rebuild Yugoslavia? For how long will the Kosovars accept limited autonomy under NATO occupation? How long will an imposed "peace" last?

And what of President Milosevic and others indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia? Will they be brought to trial? And what of the formal complaint laid before the tribunal, by a group of lawyers from several countries, charging individual leaders of NATO countries and officials of NATO itself? Will it be properly processed?

What of the precedent set by NATO in intervening in the internal affairs of a sovereign Yugoslavia? Will this lead to more self-serving interference in the affairs of other states? Will it accelerate the arms race of which the U.S. is the primary beneficiary?

Winning and losing depends upon how one measures it.

The war in Yugoslavia was won like the attack on the Mount Carmel Center in Waco, Texas on April 19, 1993 was won. The cult leader and 80 followers, including women and children, died when their compound burned after U.S. government agents tried to flush them out with tear gas.

The war on Yugoslavia was a demonstration to the world of NATO, and more specifically U.S., credibility, and to justify increases in defense spending to which the U.S. Congress has readily acquiesced. There may have been genuine concern for Milosevic"s "ethnic cleansing," but NATO was unwilling to risk lives to prevent it.

Beginning with the Gulf War, 500 years after the fall of Muslim Spain in 1492, the Europeans and their descendants are on their second wave of expansion.

The first wave of European expansion, launched with professed good intentions, devastated the Americas, Asia, Africa, Australia, and China. The second wave, with the U.S. led NATO in the vanguard, is heading toward the natural resources of Russia and Central Asia - a somber prelude to the New Millennium.

Kate Hudson, "A pattern of aggression: Iraq was not the first illegal US-led attack on a sovereign state in recent times," Guardian, August 14, 2003

[US goals in the use of the KLA as a proxy force, similar to the funding of the Contras against the leftwing Sandinista government in Nicaragua in the 1980s, were partly to remove Milosevic and break up Yugoslavia as one of the remaining Communist regimes. But related motives were to break Russia's monopoly over oil and gas transport routes and secure pro-western governments in the strategic Black Sea-Caspian Sea oil-rich basin. A crucial oil corridor, called the Trans-Balkan pipeline, designed to become the main route to the west for oil and gas extracted in central Asia, was to run from the Black Sea to the Adriatic via Bulgaria, Macedonia near the border with Kosovo, and Albania. Another was to run across Serbia to Adriatic ports in Croatia and Italy, fed by a pipeline running from a Black Sea port in Romania.--Michael Meacher, "The path to friendship goes via the oil and gas fields," The Guardian, March 27, 2004]

[What went mostly unreported was that the Rambouillet accord had a secret Annex B, which Madeleine Albright's delegation had inserted on the last day. This demanded the military occupation of the whole of Yugoslavia, a country with bitter memories of the Nazi occupation. As the Foreign Office minister Lord Gilbert later conceded to a Commons' defense select committee, Annex B was planted deliberately to provoke rejection by the government in Belgrade. As the first bombs fell, the elected parliament in Belgrade, which included some of Milosevic's fiercest opponents, voted overwhelmingly to reject it.

Equally revealing was a chapter dealing exclusively with the Kosovo economy. This called for a "free-market economy" and the privatization of all government assets.--John Pilger, "Calling the Kosovo Humanitarians to Account,", December 9, 2004]

Copyright © 1999 The Wisdom Fund - All Rights Reserved. Provided that it is not edited, and author name, organization, and URL are included, this article may be printed in newspapers and magazines, and e-mailed to others.
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