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nettime's_indigestive_system on Thu, 15 Apr 1999 01:47:58 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> geertogram 041499 [4]


Geert Lovink <geert {AT} xs4all.nl>
         NATO kills Kosovo Albanians 
         JT's collumn: "e-mail uit belgrado" 
         LINK: motherated discussion 
         NO WAR BUT THE CLASS WAR ! 

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Date: Wed, 14 Apr 1999 21:34:45 +0200 (CEST)
From: Geert Lovink <geert {AT} xs4all.nl>
Subject: NATO kills Kosovo Albanians 

   MEHA, Yugoslavia, April 14 - At least 20 people from an
   Albanian-populated village in western Kosovo were killed Wednesday in
   a bombing attributed by witnesses to NATO planes, an AFP reporter
   said.
   The victims were in a convoy of vehicles and tractors near the village
   of Meha, some five kilometres (three miles) from the border with
   Albania, when it was hit shortly after 1:30 p.m. (1130 GMT).
   Bomb fragments could be seen scattered at the scene, a dusty village
   road.
   Witnesses told an AFP reporter, who arrived on the spot two hours
   after the bombing, that NATO planes had bombed the area.
   Antigona Hasanaj, who lost two relatives in the bombing, said she
   "heard humming of planes and five or six explosions."
   Ruse Gjokaj, from the nearby village of Junik, said she and members of
   her family had fled their home village earlier in the day. Two of her
   relatives were killed in the raid.
   A 14-year-old boy, Muharem Alija from a nearby village Pace, who
   survived the bombing, said that "grenades were falling from the
   planes."
   A local legal offical, Milovan Momcilovic, said at least 20 people
   were killed and four wounded.
   Several bodies, including those of a woman and a girl, were lying at
   the roadside, alongside tractors packed with personal belongings. One
   male victim appeared to have been burned to death.
   Six victims were pulled out of the ruins of a house.

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Date: Wed, 14 Apr 1999 21:31:42 +0200 (CEST)
From: Geert Lovink <geert {AT} xs4all.nl>
Subject: JT's collumn: "e-mail uit belgrado" 

http://magazine.examedia.nl/column/kosovo.html

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Date: Wed, 14 Apr 1999 21:55:54 +0200 (CEST)
From: Geert Lovink <geert {AT} xs4all.nl>
Subject: LINK: motherated discussion 

Van: Phyllis Bennis <PBENNIS {AT} compuserve.com>
Datum: dinsdag 13 april 1999 17:37
Onderwerp: kosovo - question one

>Dear friends,
Mother Jones magazine put together an internal "forum" on Kosovo, in which
a group of five answered a series of questions and interacted with each
other's answers -- Howard Zinn, Barbara Ehrenreich, George Kenney, Diana
Johnstone and me.  It's now up on their website --
http://www.motherjones.com/total_coverage/kosovo/forum/kosovo.html
but I'm including the bulk of the answers here (in separate e-mails) to the
first two or three questions. Hope it's useful in these awful times.
Phyllis


QUESTION ONE---
1. Tactics aside, was it right for NATO to intervene in the Kosovo
conflict?  In other words, is this mission a moral imperative?  Did NATO
have any options left aside from the use of force?


PHYLLIS BENNIS --

The question begs the answer. I think there may well have been (and still
is) a moral imperative to intervene -- but NOT for NATO!  The U.S.
sidelining of the UN in international affairs -- replacing UN primacy
either with unapologetic unilateralism as we saw during the last several
years in Iraq, or with NATO as the bestower of international legitimacy as
we are seeing in Kosovo -- represents a major catastrophe for U.S. foreign
policy.

So while there may BE a moral imperative, that doesn't make this U.S./NATO
mission a moral response.  Certainly one must be skeptical about morality
having anything to do with U.S. policy. The continuing humanitarian crisis
in Iraq -- where far more people are still dying, today, as a DIRECT result
of U.S. policy, than are dying even now in Kosovo -- should provide enough
evidence to anyone for whom the delayed and disastrously handled attention
to Somalia, the deliberate decision to allow genocide in Rwanda to go
forward, the disasters of Bonia, Sierra Leone, etc. still leave questions.

But we cannot challenge Washington's double standards by claiming that
because they refused to move in the past, they should not move now.  While
we must continue to identify, analyze and condemn  past failures to prevent
or halt genocide, we must continue to demand appropriate action to prevent
or stop such humanitarian crises now.

The question for us should be whether there were other options beside THIS
use of force by THIS agency -- and the answer to that I think is yes. The
UN Charter is unequivocal that the use of force is justified only in the
context of two scenarios: either a Security Council authorization (despite
all of the problems inherent in that because of U.S. domination of the
Council), or immediate self-defense response to armed aggression, and then
only until the first opportunity for the Council to meet. What took place
here was neither -- it was a clear refusal by the U.S. (with the Brits
trotting along behind) to allow the Council to debate the issue, as France
had proposed. Even under the terms of the Genocide Covention, the
obligation to act to prevent genocide does not supercede the primacy of the
UN in responding to an international crisis. And whether or not one accepts
the applicability of that term (based on the part of the definition of
genocide that speaks of creating conditions that render the group's
survival impossible -- something that may well be approaching if the ethnic
cleansing efforts result in a near-complete expulsion and forced dispersion
of  Albanian Kosovars from Kosovo ) it is sigificant that the U.S. has NOT
claimed it as a justification of its actions. And of course,  U.S.
awareness of the possibility (not probability, given Russia's continued
dependence on Western aid) of a Russian veto does not provide a legal 'out'
for avoiding a Council decision.

What might the Council have decided on, even if a full-scale UN Blue Helmet
deployment was not a likely outcome?  One very reasonable possibility as
early as months ago could have involved UN authorization for an OSCE --
certainly NOT NATO -- protection force, not the limited unarmed OSCE
monitoring force that were pulled out at the moment they were most vitally
needed. The UN Charter speaks of looking first to regional solutions to
regional problems -- but certainly OSCE, including eastern Europe and
Russia as well as the western European powers, is a far better exemple of
regional diplomatic actors than a U.S.-dominated NATO military alliance.

What could the UN look towards now?  One possibility would be to rely
(however ironically) on the precedent set by the Korean War-era Uniting for
Peace resolution. Under its terms, the General Assembly can, when the
Council is judged to be deadlocked or otherwise unable to work, meet in
special session to make decisions regarding war and peace, issues generally
left to the providence of the Council. The Russians have recently proposed
such an Assembly meeting.  Its first task would be to call a halt to NATO's
bombing and Serb expulsions, release of all detainees, and massive refugee
assistance. While bringing NATO to heel, let alone the Milosevic-led
military, would by no means be guaranteed by such a UN resolution, a
specific Assembly demand for an end to the bombing would go far towards
delegitimizing NATO's role, challenging the U.S. and reasserting the
centrality of the UN in dealing with the ethnic cleansing, thus providing a
much better chance of a policy that would, in the Hippocratic sense,
"first, do no harm.".

Further, the Assembly should  not only call for a resumption of serious
diplomacy, but delegate representatives to act in the name of the most
democratic part of the UN, the General Assembly, to carry out such
diplomacy on behalf of the international community. Such a diplomatic
effort, I would propose, might best be carried out by Nelson Mandela and
Kofi Annan -- two African statesmen without personal vested interests in
the region or conflict, but most importantly combining the international
legitimacy of the UN with the internationally recogized personal
credibility of the South African leader.

What might such a diplomatic 'dream team' be able to accomplish that NATO
bombing could not?



BARBARA EHRENREICH:

In answer to your first question, Mat: Yes, I think there was a moral
imperative for someone to intervene, somehow, to stop the Serb brutalities in
Kosovo. Some of my friends point out that the US and international bodies
calmly sat out genocide in Rwanda and against the Kurds in Turkey, as if this
were a reason for not doing anything this time around. I don't follow that
logic. I'm sorry no one intervened in Rwanda and would like to see more
international readiness to stop anti-civilian warfare wherever it crops up.

That said, is NATO the body to do it in this case? The worrisome thing about
NATO is that it is now constituted to maximally irritate Russia, as the NATO
bombing campaign seems to be in general. Why risk deepening and widening
tensions in this way? Seems to me, the more appropriate body to intervene in
this and future cases would have been the UN, but by completely bypassing the
Security Council, NATO and the US have contributed to further undermining it.

As for "use of force," this is not easy to separate from "tactics."
Naturally, you are not going to send unarmed peacekeepers into a place like

Kosovo. But there could have been, and probably still should be, a DEFENSIVE,
on-the-ground, peacekeeping mission to protect Kosovar Albanians and their
cities and villages and to establish a safe haven for refugees within Kosovo.
But the air strikes have not done a thing to help the Kosovars:

1. In the first phase, NATO/US completely neglected to bomb Yugoslav troops
in Kosovo because this would have meant flying dangerously low. No help for
Kosovars from that.

2. In bombing Serbia, the emphasis has been on striking anti-aircraft sites
- to make things safer for the bombers, not for the Kosovars.

3. In the current phase, NATO is supposedly targeting command-and-control
centers and supply routes within Serbia. But it is not clear to me that the FRY
troops in Kosovo would be stopped in their tracks by being cut off from Serbia.
Looting can be an effective substitute for supply lines; and, to the extent
that the ethnic-cleansers in Kosovo are paramilitary units, they may not be
entirely dependent on orders from any central command post.

So what has been accomplished so far?

1. Toward stopping the expulsion of ethnic Albanians from Kosovar: exactly
zero. Maybe less than zero - if in fact the Serbs stepped up their ethnic
cleansing campaign in response to the onset of bombing.

2. Toward undermining Milosevic: definitely less than zero. The effect of the
bombings so far has been to eliminate his considerable opposition within Serbia
and produce an extraordinary burst of unity and solidarity within the Serb
population. This could have been predicted.

In short, the effect of the NATO/US bombing campaign has been to do nothing
for the suffering Kosovar Albanians and to consolidate  Milosevic's power
domestically. Clever, no?


GEORGE KENNEY

Negotiation was always an option. Remember, in Bosnia it was
the U.S., more than the Bosnian Serbs, who resisted a
negotiated settlement that fell short of the desires of the Sarajevo
regime. Not until 1995, when the Europeans threatened to pull
out their UN peacekeepers and thereby forced the U.S. to
reassess its position, was a deal possible. The eventual
settlement in Bosnia was very much like what had been offered
before the war began (the Cutilheiro plan) and during the war
(Vance-Owen). Very likely it could have been achieved much
earlier had the U.S. been more amenable instead of encouraging
the Sarajevo regime to fight. Anyway, in Kosovo there was a lot
to be negotiated that should have been, but wasn't. Specifically,
whether Kosovo or some part of it should become independent,
and then what compensation the Serbs could expect. The whole
issue of the Balkan crisis from the beginning, as I've argued for a
long time, boils down to changes in borders—the problem of
why should I be a minority in your country when you can be a
minority in mine. The borders of the region have changed, are
changing, and will continue to change. So, the sensible thing is to
help negotiate those changes rather than exacerbate the fighting
over them. The U.S. government, however, has taken the
opposite view since 1992: Balkan borders must not change and
the U.S. will defend their inviolability with force. With such an
entrenched attitude, though in theory negotiation was possible, in
practice the U.S. left itself with nothing to negotiate, with no
choice except forcing an outcome on the Serbs that was
unacceptable. War was inevitable.

That said, it is important to take issue with the rhetoric of
Genocide. What was going on in Kosovo was not even junior
Genocide or Genocide-light. From the beginning of this year up
to NATO’s attack probably a couple hundred were killed,
about a quarter of them Serbs—this was a mild form of ugly civil
insurrection, the likes of which with far worse examples is to be
found all over the place. It involved a lot of complicated nuances
in the shade of gray. While as usual the Serbian regime acted
brutally, so did the Kosovo Liberation army, an entity described
within the past year by the CIA and the U.S. State Department
as a terrorist organization. One should note that, according to
numerous reports, including in the London Times, its funding
comes in large measure from heroin trafficking in Europe. And
that, according to other reputable sources, it maintains active ties
with terrorist organizations in the Middle East. Presumably the
U.S. would react better than the Serbs did if faced with such an
insurrection in, say, Texas, but on the other hand, within their
own frame of reference, the Serbs probably felt they were
showing restraint.

Moral imperatives cannot, by definition, apply only to specific
circumstances. To date I have not seen, nor can I imagine, an
argument for a moral imperative in Kosovo that would not apply
even more aptly to at least half a dozen other conflicts around
the world.

We seem to be talking not about the reality but about the
perception of a moral imperative. And—I have a lot of trouble
articulating this because I don’t want merely to say everybody is
nuts—why a very large, influential community of journalists,
intellectuals, and policy-makers would whip themselves into a
frenzy screaming for bloody vengeance over Genocide in
Kosovo. Having watched this intervention movement evolve
from the middle of the scrum it seems to me that many of those
most directly involved have found that Genocide crusades make
a meal ticket. We are witnessing a sort of mega-meshing of
selfish interests under the mantle of altruism. To put it bluntly, I
know many (most) of the prominent interventionists. I think they
are phonies. I just wish I could explain better, from a
sociological point of view, how they happened to rally together.


HOWARD ZINN --

Where people are suffering, there is a moral imperative to act. But how one
acts is crucial, because there are interventions which make things worse.  What
we have here is such an instance. In the past, we have often had to wait a long
time before it became clear that bombing did not help the people we claimed to
care about. We have rarely been able to come to a clear conclusion as quickly
as in this case. The bombing, as became evident almost immediately, multiplied
many-fold the suffering of the Kosovars, and simultaneously inflicted suffering
to innocent people in Serbia. The admonition "we must do something" or the
question "what else could we have done?" become moot in such a situation.  No
matter how complex the situation, how elusive the alternatives, we need to
start with: "The bombing is wrong", and go on from there.

The rhetoric of Clinton and other government officials reveals an utter lack of
intelligence as well as an indifference to human suffering.  Clinton, speaking
to a miitary audience,  again and again talked about making Milosovic "pay a
price".  The assumption that we will bomb him into submission makes no sense.
The "price" is not being paid by Milosovic but by the Kosovars and Serbs alike
as both are victims ofour bombing campaign.  This is comparable to the notion
that we are making Saddam Hussein "pay a price" by the  economic sanctions that
have killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children. They have paid the price.
The terrible consequences of  the sanctions constitutes  powerful evidence that
U.S. foreign policy is indifferent to large-scale suffering, and suggests its
declared concern for the Kosovars is sheer hypocrisy.

If the bombing if morally indefensible, the difficulty of finding other
"options" cannot change that fact.  Bombing is always an easy option.
Diplomacy, compromise are more complex, more difficult, require coming down
from macho heights of superiority. Again and again in recent decades we have
seen that military conflicts had to be resolved by diplomatic means, and that
the final agreement could have been arrived at earlier without massive loss of
life. I recall the Christmas bombing of Hanoi in 1973, and after it took place,
and all those people died, the peace agreement was substantially what it had
been in October, before the bombing.

NATO, was created to meet a Soviet threat which was never real. It built a huge
military machine to guard against a threat to Western Europe which was never
real, and which was useless in dealing with the Soviet control of Eastern
Europe, which was real. Now, with no Soviet threat, it is being artifiically
kept alive by again creating unreal threats. Its massive armaments cannot deal
with the complex conflicts we have today -- and Kosovo reveals this. NATO
should be discarded, and the sooner people start talking about this the better.
We don't need stronger military alliances; we need stronger instruments of
international peacekeeping.


DIANA JOHNSTONE --

        The question is strangely put.  Of course NATO had no option but
force.  It is a military organization. The only language it knows or
understands is force.  The assumption underlying the question is that
Kosovo was NATO's problem, that NATO had to do SOMETHING about Kosovo. This
assumption is totally false and far-fetched.
        NATO's moral imperative was to stay the hell out.  Bringing in NATO
has escalated the Kosovo conflict into a full-scale human, moral and world
political catastrophe.
        As for various foreign political leaders, notably the Clinton
administration, they indeed had plenty of options left.  They could have
tried negotiations.  Yes, negotiations. Because that option was not tried.

        The "Rambouillet talks" were a charade built on months and years of
lies. For years, various Serbs in and out of government have suggested
compromise solutions for the very difficult Kosovo problem. Nobody in the
U.S. or the E.U. has shown any interest. For months, Belgrade was ready to
negotiate but ethnic Albanian leaders refused on one pretext or another.
        The main reason for ethnic Albanian intransigence was the
assurances they had, or at least THOUGHT they had (and with good reason),
that the United States and NATO would get them what they wanted:
independent Kosovo. All they had to do was mount armed attacks on Serbian
police and Kosovo civilians (including ethnic Albanians) as provocations.
When the Serbian police reacted, or overreacted, presto, the U.S. would
send NATO to be their air force. Victory and huge Western investments would
follow.
        So there were no negotiations. At Rambouillet, Serbian president
Milan Milutinovic and his (multi-ethnic) delegation were presented with an
ultimatum: accept Chris Hill's "peace agreement" allowing NATO to take over
Kosovo on terms that could only be totally unacceptable to any sovereign
government OR ELSE. Kosovo's "self-government" was to be run by a NATO
imperial proconsul, with the title of CHief of theh OSCE/EU Implementation
Mission, or CIM. The CIM would have authority over virtually everything and
everybody. Kosovo would be occupied by a NATO force called "KFOR" headed by
a Commander, COMKFOR, who could do whatever he wanted to counter any
"potential threat", whose forces could be augmented indefinitelly (no
ceiling), who would have full control of airspace over Kosovo and beyond,
who would be above local law, and would have free access to the rest of
Yugoslavia -- a license to invade the rest of the country.
        Serbia, a small country that has braved mighty empires more than
once, that rejected a rather milder Habsburg ultimatum in 1914, that defied
Hitler in 1941, could not possibly be expected to turn itself over to the
likes of CIM and COMKFOR.
        The ethnic Albanians did much like the Hill document either. They
probably wanted NATO to get Kosovo for ethnic Albanians, not for itself.
They had to be openly coaxed into signing by the promise that only if they
signed, NATO would be able to start bombing Serbia.
        And this is called a "peace agreement"?  It was a war agreement
between NATO and the armed Albanians in the KLA.
        Incidentally, according to Article 52 of the Vienna Treaties
Convention, treaties are not binding if obtained by threat or use of force.
The whole Clinton administration "sign or we'll bomb you" performance has
been in violation of international law.
        The Yugoslavs were ready to make huge political sacrifices, but not
to welcome NATO. NATO was the sticking point. A United Nations peacekeeping
force might well have been acceptable. However, the Clinton administration
insisted on NATO or nothing.
        In short, the interests of Kosovo, the interests of world peace,
were sacrificed to U.S. ambitions for NATO.
        Yugoslavs, and not only Yugoslavs but probably a majority of people
east of NATO, were convinced that the Clinton administration was exploiting
the very old and complex conflict between Serbs and Albanians on behalf of
NATO.
        For NATO had its own problem: to display its capacity for a "new
mission" after the collapse of the "Soviet threat". It needed a raison
d'etre.  The new NATO is to be a global intervention force, to be used to
defend the interests of its rich member states anywhere in the world.  Of
course, these interests will not be explained to the public, oh no. For
public consumption, NATO intervention will always be motivated by
compelling "humanitarian" reasons. NATO will rush in with cruise missiles
and stealth bombers to avert "humanitarian crisis".  Meanwhile, Kosovo
provides a proving ground, supposed to produce marvelous results just in
time for NATO's 50th anniversary celebrations.  The results so far don't
look so marvelous, but that's NATO's new problem.
        I am ready to expand considerably on any of the statements made
above.
        Next question?
                                -Diana Johnstone, Paris, April 3, 1999

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Date: Wed, 14 Apr 1999 23:04:51 +0200 (CEST)
From: Geert Lovink <geert {AT} xs4all.nl>
Subject: NO WAR BUT THE CLASS WAR ! 

From: radfest {AT} yahoo.com

>               NO  WAR  BUT  THE  CLASS  WAR !
>
>Nationalism out of the Balkans! Don't support the bombing!
>
>We say   NO WAR BUT THE CLASS WAR   because :
>
>* Ethnic nationalism brings misery for the ordinary
>   downtrodden people ;
>
>* The interests of the Rulers of any country, multinational
>   company, etc., are not our interests, as workers and as
>   "pawns" in their machiavellian games ;
>
>* While non-violent direct action is a valid tactic in day-to-day
>   resistance the world over, there comes a time when workers
>   have to resist by any means necessary, united on a class
>   understanding throughout the world, these rulers and their
>   destructive impact on the planet to serve profit and power.
>
>If they, the NATO rulers now bombing Yugoslavia, had examined
>their own history, they would have known that it does not weaken
>their enemy.
>   All the bombs that fell on Clydebank, Hanoi, or Iraq alienated
>those bombed from the agressors. The fact that so-called smart bombs
>are targeting destruction on military and strategic sites has made
>little difference.
>   What generals, air-force commanders and their media spokesmen
>called "collateral" damage has meant civilian deaths in Pristina and
>south of Belgrade. Any opposition to the ruling Socialist Party led by
>Milosevic has been driven underground.
>   Before the Bosnia conflict, Serb workers besieged their
>parliament during protests. During the Croatia and Bosnia
>conflicts,  anti-militarists including "Women in Black" made
>brave protests against Serb nationalist warmongering.
>Mistaken youth in Belgrade and elsewhere, seduced by
>the appeal of western consumerism, thought the West
>was their ally.
>   The  K.L.A. , set up with Western security help, welcome
>the bombing and consider NATO as _their_ airforce.
>Such is their disdain for the suffering of their fellow
>Albanians in Kosovo, they have played into the hands
>of the Serb nationalist forces who have now "ethnically
>cleansed" over half of the population through forced
>migration or male genocide. NATO has been out-thought
>by the rulers in Belgrade with the Serb forces dispersed;
>opponents of the regime neutralised, as in Montenegro;
>and largely unable to predict or destroy the paramilitary
>"ethnic cleansers".
>   Now a threat of  wider conflict arises, with Russia
>threatening a pan-Slav anti-NATO alliance, China
>and other powers alarmed at the United States riding
>roughshod over international conventions in the Gulf
>and now Serbia, while at the same time overlooking
>atrocities carried out in Burma, East Timor, Kurdistan,
>Sierra Leone, Rwanda, when it doesn't suit them.
>With Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic signed
>up as new members of NATO, if "ground" conflict
>did break out it could happen on a second front
>in Vojvodina, in northern Yugoslavia, and spread
>the war throughout the Balkans.
>
>The  ANARCHIST CIRCLE  in Glasgow support the efforts
>of the committee to stop the bombing in the Balkans,
>but we go further than calls like "Welfare Not Warfare".
>
>The only solution to the world we live in is a social revolution
>of the people against their rulers, politicians, business
>leaders, and all of the apologists for capitalism
>and its military diversions.
>______________________________________
>
>Write to us at Counter Information ( Autonomy)
>c/o  28 King Street, Glasgow G1 5QP.
>Or  e-mail  <radfest {AT} yahoo.com>.
>We are linked to anarchists in Edinburgh
>and elsewhere in Scotland.

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