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<nettime> The War and its consequences
Ivo Skoric on Fri, 9 Apr 1999 21:49:10 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> The War and its consequences


THE WAR:

"If I watch television, I see that the Galenica Pharmaceutics factory
is in flames, but if I look out my window, I see the same factory
standing intact," said my friend in Belgrade. For the majority,
however, there is no difference between what is broadcast on state
television and the real world. People trust the television more than
their own eyes. Fearing the truth, they prefer to believe in lies. - 
that's stated in a report from Belgrade human rights activist to 
IWPR.

It is really strange that NATO in all its sorties left Milosevic 
with perhaps the most powerful weapon still undamaged: Television. 
NATO strikes defenders boast that although NATO might have failed in 
its short term objectives, it is going to prevail based on the long 
term damage it caused to Milosevic's military-industrial complex. 
That's arguable, too - and it depends primarily on the Western 
resolve to go "all the way."

When Clinton said that NATO was bombing to prevent ethnic cleansing 
in Kosovo, Milosevic ethnically cleansed Kosovo, creating over half 
a million refugees. Then Clinton said that NATO was bombing to create 
the conditions for the safe return of refugees, and Milosevic 
seconded with the unilateral cease-fire and a call to refugees that 
it was safe for them to return to their homes. While this cat and 
mouse game continues involving  various obscure diplomatic figures 
(like the acting Cypriot president...), there are more massacres by 
Serbian paramilitary units and there are more poorly chosen targets 
by NATO on the ground.

A civilian neighbourhood in Aleksinac was hit by three - not one - 
cruise missiles. That must have been more than a poor guidance 
system. And why exactly did the hot water plant and the cigarette 
factory in Belgrade have to be destroyed? And what is the strategic 
point in destroying bridges over Danube in Novi Sad? To block Danube? 
Why? Is NATO afraid that the Serbs may get fuel from Hungary on ships 
over Danube? But Hungary is a NATO member - they won't send fuel to 
Serbs. It would make more military sense to block Danube East from 
Belgrade - on its way to Romania, where Milosevic may eventually 
smuggle something in from his friends in Russia (and there was no 
action to that effect as of yet).

It is, however, correct that Milosevic has virtually no air force and 
no air defenses any more, that he is hurting for fuel, and that he is 
soon be hurting for ammo - i.e. that in a long-term NATO crippled his 
ability to fight. He is loosing tanks, he is loosing artillery 
pieces, but he is NOT loosing people. He keeps the grip on the army 
constantly changing top brass, to avoid an embarassment of potential 
coup d'etat. And ordinary people are rallying behind the flag. The 
power of electronic media is vastly underestimated. I believe that 
Nazis would never loose the WW II, had Goebels have the television 
at his disposal. The Serbs are determined to fight with their bare 
hands if necessary, making the ground forces option less and less 
palatable, not only for fear of allied casualties, but also for fear 
that they'd have to walk over too many dead bodies to get to 
Milosevic.

Ground forces, of course, are necessary if we want to finish this off 
properly. The alternative - to sign a half-assed deal in which 
Milosevic would get to keep like 20% of Kosovo province, while KLA 
would get to control the rest, completely dependent on NATO 
protection and EU support, like Bosnia is - will not only tie NATO 
forces for decades in the region, but it also will not solve the 
problem. 

KLA, not unlike the Bosnian government, is yet 
another ethnically exclusive regime, modeled upon Milosevic's 
government, "better" only to the extent that lacks the power and 
organizational sophistication to carry out crimes against humanity at 
the Milosevic's regime level. Milosevic's regime has to be destroyed 
- like Hitler's regime had to be destroyed - if we want to see peace 
and stability to return to the region. Otherwise, we are yet to 
see Sandzak burning, Macedonia burning, Montenegro burning, Vojvodina 
burning and finally Belgrade itself  burning.

Nevertheless, I didn't see much of what are we going to actually do 
with the Balkans besides just bombing the shit out of Serbia, so far. 
There is some serious political and economic effort needed to rebuild 
that entire region (Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Vojvodina, 
Macedonia), which was bankcrupt even before the wars of Yugoslav 
succession started, and now is beyond hope. Who is prepared to fork 
billions of dollars into the region? And remember - there won't be 
peace without that. Even bigger problem is how to re-build the civil 
society - an effort that requires much more commitment than just 
writing a check. It took many years for Germany to recover from 
Nazism, and it took the whole scale allied support to help them do 
it. It won't be any less challenging to do it with Serbia and its 
copy-cat neighbors.

THE CONSEQUENCES: THE DISPLACEMENT OF HUMAN RESOURCES

Kosovo Albanian emigrees are leaving New York to join KLA:

(from nettime) "Re your last message to Nettime, some news:
There's a gang of 7 Kosovar men (plus much bigger families) who 
work as janitors on my block (*address known to author*). Ten
days ago, they vanished en masse; I finaly saw one today
and asked about this - the others "went back." After about
an hour of chatting it turned out they had gone back to 
fight. The remaining one said that as far as he knew huge
numbers had returned or were planning to return for same."

Sandzak Muslims are leaving Sandzak to escape the new war tax levied 
upon them by Milosevic:

(from IWPR) "Since NATO launched its offensive, some 15,000 are 
believed to have left the Sandzak, a predominantly Muslim region 
which straddles Serbia and Montenegro and borders Bosnia on one side 
and Kosovo on the other. Most have headed for Sarajevo, though some 
have crossed into Montenegro and a handful are seeking refuge in 
Turkey. According to the 1991 census, 420,000 people lived in the 
Sandzak -278,000 in Serbia and 162,000 in Montenegro - of whom 54 per 
cent were Muslims. The current population is probably considerably 
lower because as many as 50,000 Muslims may have moved out during the 
Bosnian war. Though the Sandzak has to date been spared NATO bombing, 
tensions in the province are high. Air raid sirens go off every day 
and after dusk the streets are eerily deserted. The Yugoslav Army has 
been calling up reservists, mobilising local Serbs and comandeering 
vehicles belonging to Muslims.
The Serbian authorities have staged patriotic rallies protesting the
NATO bombing in the municipalities of Novi Pazar and Sjenica, both of
which have Muslim majorities. Attendance at these rallies is
compulsory for school children, irrespective of ethnic origin, and,
according to media reports, more than 20,000 demonstrators turned out
on each occasion.
The Yugoslav Army has also appealed to Muslim entrepreneurs to help
finance the additional military and police units deployed in the
province. Even though the factories and workshops are shut, more than
60,000 German marks was collected in just four days in Novi Pazar
alone.
The Muslim entrepreneurs are contributing financially to the Serbian
war effort in the hope that this will both protect them personally and
their business interests. They have grown wealthy in the past decade
by manufacturing bogus jeans, including Levi's, Versace and Bugle Boy,
as well as shoes which mimic famous Italian designs but sell for a
fraction of the price.
The Sandzak's garment and shoe industry has thrived in a kind of
symbiotic relationship with the Serbian authorities. The Sandzak has
paid Belgrade more tax than any other comparable region of Yugoslavia.
And the country's pariah status has protected the entrepreneurs from
law suits brought by the owners of the trademarks of the products they
copy.
All this has not stopped Serbian authorities from cracking down on
Muslim shop-keepers. Nine small businessmen from Novi Pazar have each
been sentenced to 30 days in prison for "unauthorised raising of the
prices of foodstuffs and other prohibited financial transaction".
Some 12,000 Kosovo Albanian refugees have themselves made their way 
to the Sandzak - 2,000 to the Serbian side and 10,000 to the 
Montenegrin. Most have been taken in by local Muslim families who are 
obliged to register the arrivals with the Red Cross and police. 
Failure to do so is punishable by one month in prison."

Serbs are slowly leaving Belgrade, 5 buses a day:

(from Belgrade) "Today in the tram in Belgrade i saw a woman with the 
button: Clintons face with Hitler's moustache,  behind the US flag 
and the Nazi star on the top: 'Bring Monica back to him'.  Are not 
radical feminists those who traced the begining of violence in the 
male sexual violence against women!  (For those who still dont get 
the button: ... if he did it to Monica he will not do it to Serbia!).
The new graffity down the road:  'Kosovo - National park'.
Schools and university and all the educational institutions are
closed down indefinitely.   People watch TV most of the time, and only
one discourse of hatred against agression.  Nothing in public can be
heard but the support to regime, serbia, military,  and hatred against
the enemy.  Of independed papers only two have remained, without
comentaries, without  signitures of journalists.  The human rights and
peace NGOs have freezed activites for now, in order to survive for
later.
People are leaving Belgrade slowly, 5 buses a day go to Budapest. 
Four of our friends have already gone.   One  wonders if democracy 
can be installed with bombs and fear?  Knowing that fear is the best 
emotion to control the mind.  If  citizens of serbian nationality are 
victims or hostages?
The fear goes through different phases among women.  Fear of
crossing bridges, fear of sirenas, fear of every sound, evening, fire
in the night sky....    In the first two weeks  the activists from the
C*  talked about fear  to women from 27  towns in 240 calls.   We
also received about 200 emails of support from different women and men
around the world.  And many of them are translated and are hanged on
the peace poster on the wall.
Most of our Albanian friends from Pristina by now were forced to
Macedonia.  Two of them have called us in the last two days  to tell
us that they are alive and that we should not worry for them.  Their
stories are horrible.  Their friendship and trust in us touching."

-------------
ivo

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