Geert Lovink on Sat, 10 Apr 1999 18:29:02 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> John Pilger on NATO bombings

Weekly Mail and Guardian
Johannesburg 25 March 1999
@ Imperial godfather blasts Belgrade

The bombing of Belgrade is yet another warning that the USwill stop at
nothing to secure world domination, writes John Pilger

When the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima after Japan
had all but surrendered, the front page of the London Daily Express said:
"This is a warning to the world."

When American missiles and bombs attacked a sovereign European state on
Wednesday night, it was another clear warning to the world, with the
message fundamentally unchanged.

The most powerful and rapacious imperial power in history will stop at
nothing to secure its domination over human affairs.  This is a truth that
we who have survived the most violent period of the American imperium
ought to comprehend above all others, if we are to understand how our
world is threatened, over and again.

The basic details of the assault on Serbia illuminate this truth vividly.
The bombing has nothing to do with a humanitarian concern for the
suffering people of Kosovo.

On the contrary, "the West" (as the Anglo- American imperial forces are
known) has consistently used humanitarian rhetoric to justify intervening
in the Balkans, mostly on the side of regional power, often the Milosevic

Last October, the US drafted an entirely pro- Serbian plan for the
Kosovars, giving them a fake autonomy with far less freedom than they had
under the old Yugoslav Constitution.

Similarly, in the early 1990s, Anglo- American propaganda during Bosnia's
life-and- death struggle masked Washington's true aims.  It was an
American plan, devised by former US secretary of state Cyrus Vance in
1992, that handed the Milosevic regime and the fascist Bosnian Serbs the
entire arsenal of former Yugoslavia. Thereafter, the people of Bosnia
hardly stood a chance. At the same time, Nato navies in the Adriatic Sea
and United Nations (mostly British) troops at Bosnian airports enforced an
arms embargo against the Sarajevo government.

To the Americans, what mattered, above all, was that Serbia was not
fragmented and did not slip beyond Western - that is American - control.
The ensuing American-arranged "Dayton peace plan" legitimised the ethnic
cleansing; the wishes of the people of Bosnia were ignored and American
power was asserted.

Today Nato, which of course is Washington, is bombing Serbia because the
Milosevic regime - like Saddam Hussein in 1990 - has become uppity. The
man is not following orders. He is not subduing the Kosovars as the
American plan dictated. He has become all too flagrant, allowing his
troops to slaughter people and leave their bodies to be filmed by Western
television. More seriously, he is challenging the "stability of the
region";  the kind of false stability essential for an imperial power to
go about its God-given tasks.

US special envoy to the Balkans Richard Holbrooke has admitted, in effect,
that the real reason for the bombing is "the credibility of Nato" - in
other words, the credibility of American power. Since the end of the Cold
War, the US has sought new reasons for maintaining Nato, which ensures US
control over European military forces and Nato's usefulness for imperial
action outside Europe.

Since 1990, Washington has pushed for Nato to be used "out of area" and to
act without UN approval: in other words, to usurp the role of the UNas the
world's "peacekeeper".  After all, even the UN Security Council, which
Washington dominates, requires resolutions before UNforces can take
military action.

This has not proved an insurmountable problem in the past. The slaughter
in the Gulf "war"  in 1991 was legitimised by the UN after then
USsecretary of state James Baker travelled the world, offering the biggest
bribes in history to potential military allies.

In Cairo, Baker bribed the Egyptians with $14-billion, which wiped out a
third of the country's foreign debt. Turkey received $8- billion in
military gifts and a low-cost International Monetary Fund loan of $1,5-
billion. In return for China's support, the USarranged for China's return
to diplomatic legitimacy following the massacre in Tiananmen Square.
Within a week, $114-million of "freed-up" World Bank money was deposited
in Beijing.

However, these days, having attacked Iraq on and off for eight years, the
UScan no longer rely on the open support of conservative Muslim states.  
The imperial godfather is impatient to complete its main project following
the collapse of its former rival, the Soviet Union - to secure an oil
"protectorate" all the way from the Gulf to the Caspian Sea, thus
controlling most of the world's principal energy reserves. With this aim,
the UShas imposed crushing economic sanctions on the uppity Saddam, a
former American favourite, thus preventing him from selling Iraq's oil on
the open market and further undermining the economies of the current US
favourites in the region, notably Saudi Arabia.

Nato is to be the policeman of the new American oil protectorate, and we
can expect to see more Nato (mainly Anglo-American)  violence in support
of the newly charted imperial hegemony. It is a bitter irony for the Serb
regime that, while the US regards Slobodan Milosevic as useful and is
opposed to an independent Kosovo, the attack on his country is too good an
opportunity to pass up.

It demonstrates to the world what Nato is really for, in the same way that
the 1991 Gulf "war" was as much a demonstration of American power when US
dominance appeared under serious challenge from both the Japanese and
Europeans, as it was an act of punishment to one of the US's client
tyrants for stepping across a line that the West had drawn in the sand of
the region.

The Nato attacks will kill civilian Serbs, who have nothing to do with
Kosovo. They are "collateral damage" and "unfortunately expendable", as an
American general once famously said in Vietnam.

The Americans are not guarded about their aims. Last year US Secretary of
State Madeleine Albright was asked on TV: "We have heard half-a-million
children have died [as a result of sanctions against Iraq]. That is more
children than died at Hiroshima ... Is the price worth it?"

Albright replied: "We think the price is worth it."

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