NATO’s war – Boomerang against the West (Part B)

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 66 – April 30, 1999

Originally published here.

Serbo-Croatian version here.

 

12. An increasingly authoritarian West
Look at the ‘Letters to the Editor’ section of various influential Western dailies, watch debates on television, listen to new questions being asked by journalists. Surf Internet, read list servers, websites and discussion groups and one thing is abundantly clear: ordinary citizens throughout the West are increasingly skeptical. They see the ever widening gap between NATO and State Department news and other news. Many feel that bombing innocent civilians is just not right; common sense also tells that this is not the way to create trust between Albanians and Serbs – or for that matter between any conflicting parties. It all militates against all we know about human psychology.

The longer it takes, the more likely the momentum of that public protest. NATO country citizens will begin to ask: if a mistake like this could be made in this important field, are other mistakes also lurking in, say, globalization, in the more or less forced democratization, in the zeal with which Western human rights are used as a political tool? If we can’t trust NATO, can we trust the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, can we trust our own governments after this? Can we believe in security a la NATO and in further NATO expansion if this is what NATO does?

Government decision-makers meet these challenges either with silence or with counterattacks: we are at war, this is not the time to question and split our own ranks, fifth column activity cannot be tolerated. We must achieve our goals, no matter the cost. Too much is at stake. In short, democracy, the freedom of expression and the open society, the public discourse itself could well be curtailed in the West as this situation becomes more and more desperate. Quite a few media people already seem to practise self-censorship.

Also, let’s not forget that those who say that Milosevic is a new Hitler are leaders of countries which actively seek a kind of world dominance (economically, militarily, politically and culturally), which violate international law, which demonize a nation (Serbs, not Jews), and which possess mass destructive weapons. [Read more…]

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NATO’s war – Boomerang against the West (Part A)

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 65 – April 30, 1999

Originally published here.

Serbo-Croatian version here.

 

“NATO’s war against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) is not comparable with the Vietnam war, with bombing Iraq or throwing cruise missiles on Sudan or Afghanistan. In a more fundamental way, it threatens major Western institutions, economies and Western leadership. With that much at stake, Western governments have long forgotten what the original problem was. Perhaps this is the reason why NATO now defines itself as a player that does not negotiate and thus has only the hammer left in its toolbox. That’s the opposite of statesmanship,” says TFF director Jan Oberg.

“Whether or not we support NATO’s bombing, we must be aware of the risks and potential costs to the West itself. Our politicians seem not to be aware of how big they could be. Therefore, I believe it’s time to show some civil courage and engage in solid damage-limitation both for the Balkans and for ourselves, otherwise this could go madly wrong,” Oberg warns. “The critical ‘boomerang’ effects I mention in this PressInfo and PressInfo # 66 do not have to happen, but they are probable enough to merit serious consideration – and more so with a ground war approaching.”

1. NATO’s credibility seriously impaired
After March 24, there must be serious doubts about NATO’s identity as a defensive alliance, as an organization for peace and stability. – Instead of seeing military targets, the Western audience sees bridges, schools, villages, media stations, factories, government houses etc. being destroyed. – NATO has handled its information dissemination in a way that makes even convinced pro-NATO people and media skeptical. – The successive calling in of more planes, helicopters and forces indicates a lack of advance planning, and there is no unity in the alliance about what to do after bombing. – The alliance created the humanitarian catastrophe it aimed to prevent, it ignored warnings that NATO bombs would make Serbs expel every Albanian they could find. – Europe, if not the entire international system, is indisputably less stable after March 24 than before.  [Read more…]

The West is in moral trouble if there is an ethnic cleansing plan – and if there isn’t

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 64 – April 25, 1999

Originally published here.

 

“We are told there the West knew already last autumn that President Milosevic had a plan to ethnically cleanse all Albanians from the Kosovo province. However, while it is true that Yugoslav forces have exploited NATO’s bombing campaign to drive out Albanians in a way and to an extent that must be morally condemned, the unproved allegation that there existed a plan tells more about NATO than about President Milosevic – and what it tells is not to the advantage of the former,” says TFF director Jan Oberg. 

“The disgusting expulsion of Albanians from Kosovo can’t be defended. The Yugoslav authorities who carries it out or lets individuals do it, can not defend such human rights violations with reference to NATO’ bombing. Sure, Serbs will see NATO’s destruction of Yugoslavia as work commissioned by Kosovo-Albanians/UCK, but it is anyhow up to Yugoslavia to fight NATO, not to take revenge against those who are innocent civilians.

Having said that, NATO and the West can not be trusted when it seeks to legitimise its Balkan bombing blunder by insisting that it has “evidence” of an ethnic cleansing plan but has still not provided the slightest evidence. Here are some reasons why this is utterly irresponsible and, thus, undermines NATO credibility – and the credibility of a free press that does not ask more critical questions:

First of all, we never heard anybody talk about such a plan before NATO’s bombs started falling. Second, the argument for bombing was related to whether or not Yugoslavia would sign the Rambouillet Dictate. We never heard anybody saying that NATO would bomb Yugoslavia should they carry out an ethnic cleansing plan.

Third, if such a plan was known already during autumn, how could the West invite representatives of a killer regime to Paris? How could the US send ambassador Richard Holbrooke to Belgrade to try to make a last-minute deal with such ‘a serial cleanser’ President?

Fourth – and worst, perhaps of all – if the West knew of such a plan why did it do absolutely NOTHING to plan for the humanitarian emergency it would cause? Why did the West/NATO not actively threaten to prevent it OR initiate bombings much earlier? Isn’t it simply too immoral to know about such a plan and do nothing?

Fifth, if Milosevic, Serbia or Yugoslavia wanted to get rid of all Albanians, why did they choose this particularly awkward moment [Read more…]

NATO mistakes take more lives than the Serb-Albanian war did

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 63 – April 16, 1999

Originally published here.

Serbo-Croatian version here.

 

According to the Yugoslav Ministry of Foreign Affairs, around 300 civilians have been killed between March 24 when NATO’s bombing campaign started and April 13. These civilian casualties are related to places such as Aleksinac, Pristina, Kursumlija and Grdelica Gorge.

Two days ago a refugee convoy was hit, killing some 60 Albanians. Thus, due to NATO’s mistakes about 350 civilians have been killed in 24 days. That is an average of 15 per day.

The war between various Yugoslav/Serb forces on the one hand and the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK or KLA) broke out in February 1998. Thus there were 13 months of warfare in Kosovo, or 395 days. The international community estimates that 2.000 – soldiers and civilians – were killed. That is an average of 5 per day. 

About 250.000 people were estimated to have fled their homes during the 13 months of war, but remained predominantly within Kosovo and Montenegro. That is an average of 632 per day.

Since NATO began bombing, the figure has risen to perhaps as many as 750.000 outside and an unknown number inside Kosovo. Thus if 500.000 refugees have been added in 24 days, that makes an average of 20.833 per day.

These refugees run away because of a) Serb ethnic cleansing of Albanians (as a reprisal of NATO’s bombing in support of Albanian interests) b) because of NATO’s bombs and c) because of the regular warfare between Yugoslav military and paramilitary units and UCK.  [Read more…]

The information war about Kosovo

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 62 – April 15, 1999

Originally published here.

Serbo-Croatian version here.

 

“Most people around the world probably think that war and media are separate. When there is a war, the media tell us about it as objectively as they can under the often difficult circumstances. But in today’s information society, every war is two wars: that on the ground and that in the media. Weapons communicate and communication is a weapon. We must ask what interests determine what we are told and what we are not told?

The history of warfare makes one thing abundantly clear,” says TFF director Jan Oberg, “namely that we can safely assume that we are not told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. In NATO’s war with Yugoslavia, there is reason to paraphrase Hamlet – ‘there is something rotten in the state of the media.’

This is what you can read about the use by the United States of information in times of war:

“Psychological operations (PSYOP) are operations planned to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behaviour of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals. PSYOP are a vital part of the broad range of US political, military, economic, and informational activities. When properly employed, PSYOP can lower the morale and reduce the efficiency of enemy forces and could create dissidence and disaffection within their ranks. There are four categories of military PSYOP; strategic, operational, tactical, and consolidation. PSYOP, which are used to establish and reinforce foreign perceptions of US military, political, and economic power and resolve.”

Other countries work with PSYOP, too. Let’s remember that when we watch television. And let’s ask some questions when we do:

 

• IS THERE A LARGER STORY BEHIND WHAT WE SEE ON THE SCREEN?

Balkan conflicts not only have a Balkan but also a world order dimension. For instance, did you ever hear about the National Security Decision Directive (NSDD) 133 entitled “United States Policy towards Yugoslavia” labelled “SECRET SENSITIVE”? A censored version was declassified in 1990 and largely confirmed NSDD 54 from 1982 the objective of which included “expanded efforts to promote ‘quiet revolution’ to overthrow Communist governments and parties” while integrating the countries of Eastern Europe into a market economy.

 

• WAR REPORTING – BUT NO CONFLICT JOURNALISM

Media tend to focus on today’s ‘story.’ But there is a larger frame [Read more…]

Covering up NATO’s Balkan Bombing Blunder

Av Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 61 – April 14, 1999

Originally published here.

Serbo-Croatian version here.

 

“Western leaders are busy re-writing history to justify their Balkan bombing blunder. The change in information, rhetoric and explanations since the bombings started on March 24 is literally mind-boggling. Most likely they fear they have opened a very dark chapter in history and may be losing the plot.

One way to make failure look like success is to construct a powerful media reality and de-construct real reality. That’s the essence of media warfare and that’s what happens now,” says TFF director Jan Oberg.

“For instance, you must have noticed that the The Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA or UCK, which existed some weeks ago and allegedly participated in Rambouillet now suddenly never existed. The 13-months war in Kosovo/a also conveniently has been expurgated.

The last few days President Clinton, prime minister Blair, NATO General Wesley Clark, foreign secretary Cook, foreign minister Fischer, secretary Albright, defence minister Robertson and other Western leaders have explained to the world why NATO bombs Yugoslavia. They made no mention of KLA or the war. Their speeches are surprisingly uniform. Their main points are:

• We have evidence that Yugoslavia, i.e.President Milosevic had a plan to ethnically cleanse Kosovo/a of all Albanians.

• One proof of this plan is that some 700.000 have been driven over the borders; it would have been many more, if not all 2 million Albanians, had NATO not taken action. [Read more…]