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Ivo Skoric: The elusive victory

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Date: Wed, 30 Jun 1999 09:05:49 +0200 (CEST)
From: Geert Lovink <>
Subject: The elusive victory 

Date: Wed, 30 Jun 1999 01:54:09 -0400
From: Ivo Skoric <>
Subject: The elusive victory

For me it is unimportant that NATO Operation Allied Force costed more than
it is the entire Russia's military budget for this year.  Could it be
proved that this money helped save human lives, I would say it was well
spent. But 220,000 $50,000 bombs and $750,000 missiles later it
increasingly and disappointingly seems that Milosevic's armed forces are
neither reduced nor substantially hurt. The news that the new barracks
were not hit and that only 13 tanks were destroyed are at least
disturbing. NATO's target criteria was apparently the un-movability of the
target, since Clinton refused to let his airplanes fly below 15,000 feet,
and from there only targets that do not move can be seen and hit with
accuracy.  So, there is a large number of dual-use objects like bridges,
railroads, oil refining plants, power plants and TV transmitters that are
destroyed, promising a humanitarian disaster in Serbia this winter. 

Milosevic, on the other hand, is not removed from the power.  Instead he
was given more favourable agreement to sign AFTER the bombing than he was
presented with before the bombing in Rambouillet: I think everybody
noticed by now that Kosovo Albanians lost the clause about the referendum
for independence in three years. Clinton now wows how he is not going to
give a "red cent" to Serbia while Milosevic is in power. Good. Milosevic
is going to make sure that pictures of freezing, starving people from
Serbia reach American viewer this winter, perhaps well timed with the
beginning of the primaries. Milosevic does not care if his subjects die,
as long as this picture provides a good proof of the consequences of the
NATO's humanitarian intervention. There are and there will be people
demonstrating against him, but, please, have no illusions: his people are
weakened by this war, he is not; if they could not get rid off him two
years ago, they stand less chances this winter. 

Switzerland announced that they are going to freeze Milosevic's assets if
they find them, at the time when they could not find them any more. Kosovo
Albanians are pouring back in Kosovo, only to find all their property
destroyed and looted. Serbs are leaving only to be turned back, since
neither Milosevic nor NATO victory would be sustainable if there are Serb
refugees from Kosovo. When they come back they find the same: their homes
burned and looted by Albanians in revenge. Yugoslav Army left, but there
are still armed Serbs sniping around. And there is KLA, that started as a
terrorist organization, then became a glorified liberation front that
relayed targeting information to NATO and now it is a bitter ex-ally that
NATO looks to disarm and dispose off a.s.a.p. There are stories of
killing, burning, looting, rape, internal purges and vandalism abound. 

NATO was promising Russia participation in Kosovo, while in the meantime
making that participation impossible on the ground.  Russia then moved
into the Kosovo on its own, as a rogue force.  Yeltsin and his
subordinates gave a series of conflicting statements in reference to that
move. The entire stand-off in Prishtina reminds me of the bygone cold war
era, very far from the level of cooperation between the U.S. and Russia
achieved in Bosnia. 

Position of Macedonia is weaker than ever: ostracized by Serbia for
offering NATO the stomping ground and ostracized by the Albanians who
might want the autonomy there too. The entire region is substantially
weakened by the destruction of the Danube trade and devastating influence
that the war right before the summer season has on turism. And the only
thing KFOR unearths in abundance in Kosovo are minefields and mass-graves,
testifying to the enormous level of killing Serb forces were able to
carry-out during (and in spite of) NATO bombing. 

All this makes me question the validity of names "just war" and
"humanitarian intervention." Maybe I fail to see the forest from the
trees? Bill Clinton, after Milosevic signed the agreement, said: "I can
report to the American people that we have achieved a victory for a safer
world, for our democratic values and for a stronger America." I challenge
him to prove me everything but the last part of this statement. 

As he said that, the State Department announced possibility of closing
down embassies in Africa due to the terrorist threat of Osama Bin Laden.
During NATO bombing of Yugoslavia both the war between two 'rogue' nuclear
powers - India and Pakistan - and the war between the two Koreas (South
Korea sunk several North Korea ships) escalated substantially. One of the
first orders of business of the new Israeli prime minister, who ascended
to power during the last stages of the NATO war against Yugoslavia, was to
bomb Lebanese power plants and bridges, mimicking NATO strategy -
punishing Lebanon for providing safe haven to the terrorist organization
Hezbolah (Hezbolah retaliated surrounding Israeli villages: Barak forgot
that Serbia has no land border with the U.S. while Lebanon has one with
Israel). Russia is openly discussing upgrading its tactical nuclear
capabilities. World to me looks about as safe as during the Cuban missile
crisis. Maybe Clinton lives in a different world, I don't know. 

We already forgot what's going on in Somalia or Afghanistan - but this
does not mean that it stopped. Colombia is on the brink of civil war, with
terrorist/liberation forces kidnapping churchfulls of people.  Sudan has
so widespread problem of child slave trade that even its government
started asking for help. Indonesian forces are in the process of ethnic
cleansing/genocide over East Timorese population. Russia had pulverized
Chechenya. China has denied Tibet. Turkey, which is a NATO member and
which continues to ethnically cleanse Turks, did not yet respond to the
Kurdish leader's (Ocalan) offer to cease fire for amnesty, renounce
violence and accept political fight under Turkish rule (similar deal that
Sinn Fein had won in Northern Ireland). Today, the U.S. Coast Guard
arrested and placed in the deportation proceedings several young Cubans
who risked their lifes to reach this country in a small raft in the
tunderstorm. We are very far from the victory for our democratic values.
The victory for the humanitarian intervention cannot be accomplished if
the rules of humanity do not apply to those, who desire to apply them to

On top of that, we live in the world where this story will be untold or at
least un-noticed. News that are not accompanied with an image live very
shortly. During the war, when Milosevic censored all the images leaving
Yugoslavia: we saw only civilian objects being bombed in Yugoslavia - we
haven't seen a single military target being hit. And the Yugoslav scores
against NATO were repeatedly shown ad nauseam. Since there was only one
airplane shot down (or crashed due to technological malfunction) we saw a
lot of it.  When NATO moved to Kosovo, CNN followed, so we saw a destroyed
Serbian museum piece T-55 tank, charcoaled. And we saw that tank over and
over, because apparently they couldn't find any other, since mighty
Warthogs destroyed mostly inflatable tanks. And we never saw the pilot of
the crashed F-117. And we, also, never saw the captured Yugoslav
lieutenant (who is now perhaps released and back in Serbia): I find lack
of interest among media for those two stories particularly interesting. 

There is a lot of unfinished business about this war and I think that it
is way premature to call it a victory yet.