NATO in Kosovo – Failed peacekeeping

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 72 – June 18, 1999

Originally published here.

Serbo-Croatian version here.

 

“If a UN operation had gone this wrong from the beginning, if the mandate had been violated to this extent, politicians, diplomats and media worldwide would have cried ‘Failure!’

But since it is a US-lead NATO operation, independent-minded evaluations and criticism is conspicuously absent from mainstream media and the political discourse. The homogenisation of public opinion with NATO propaganda throughout the Western democracies is disheartening,” says TFF director, Dr Jan Oberg.

 

1. THE NATO DOG WILL WAG THE UN TAIL

While NATO troops have been in Macedonia the last 8 months, only on June 14 could the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan present a plan for a civil UN administration for Kosova. It puts the EU in charge of reconstruction and gives the OSCE primary responsibility for establishing democratic institutions, organising elections, and monitoring human rights. The UNHCR will take charge of the resettlement of refugees and displaced persons.

The UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) will administer the police, justice, schools, public transport, telecommunications, and power plants. An international police unit of up to 2,000 will oversee the establishment of a Kosova police force. On 12 June, Annan appointed UN Undersecretary-General Sergio Vieira de Mello of Brazil as interim – interim! – special representative.

SC Resolution 1244 consistently mentions “the rapid early deployment of effective civil and security presences” and consistently mentions the two components simultaneously. Reality on the ground is already totally different. Evident for everyone who wants to see, the NATO dog will wag the UN tail as it pleases, in time and in space. And it will take months before the civilians are in place and co-functioning. Remember that it took 5-6 months to get the former OSCE KVM mission of 1200 deployed – only to be forced out due to NATO’s bombing plan.

This is catastrophic. Precisely in this type of conflict, the need for social, village-based security provided by civil police and what the UN used to call ‘Civil Affairs’ staff is absolutely essential. While NATO is simply not trained for this or has any experience in it, the UN an OSCE and civilian NGOs everywhere have.

[Read more…]

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Read UN Resolution 1244 and watch NATO in Kosovo

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 71 – June 18, 1999

Originally published here.

Serbo-Croatian version here.

 

“Did you read UN Security Council Resolution 1244 about peace in Kosovo? Well, it is not exactly coherent. If your computer manual was this much of a mishmash and contradictions and if dozens of pages were missing, you would probably have operative system failures and bombs – and I think this is what will happen with NATO in Kosovo.

But the resolution IS clear enough on essentials for us to ask after one week of NATO ‘peace’-keeping in Kosovo what on earth is going on,” says TFF director Jan Oberg. 

Here and in PressInfo 72 follow some of the already manifest problems.

 

1. RESOLUTION 1244 IS CONTRADICTORY AND INSUFFICIENT

It condemns all acts of violence by the local parties, but has not even a mild statement about the uniquely brutal NATO-caused killings and devastation of a country of 12 million people. It expresses a determination to resolve the humanitarian crisis – well and good – but does not address any underlying conflict and makes no mention of the civil war that raged in Kosovo between February 1998 and March 24 this year.

It does reaffirm the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia but fails to present the procedures and modalities as to how the endorsed civilian and security presences shall operate to respect that sovereignty and integrity.

Further to this point, it simultaneously decides (Para 11a) that the civilian presence is tasked with ‘promoting the establishment, pending a final settlement, of substantial autonomy and self-government in Kosovo, taking full account of annex 2 and of the Rambouillet accords.’ So, the US-manipulated Rambouillet dictate – perhaps the most shameful event in modern diplomatic history – was sneaked into the text in contravention of what had been agreed with Belgrade. To make things worse, the same Para 11f mentions ‘facilitating a political process designed to determine Kosovo’s future status, taking into account the Rambouillet accords.’ This formulation can – and will – be used to justify a process towards establishing an independent Kosova; indeed, it is difficult to envision NATO leave the province by just handing Kosovo back to Belgrade, given the tremendous investment and given the almost limitless distrust and hate between Serbs and Albanians after what has happened.

There is a minimum of operationalization, of stipulating who is doing what when. NATO is the only organization mentioned, not the OSCE, the UN, or NGOs. During the G8 process, the United States and NATO suddenly decided to increase the military presence from 28.000 (at the time of Rambouillet) to 48.000, no explanation offered, [Read more…]

NATO’s war and the ethnic cleansing – Is there a way out?

By Johan Galtung

TFF PressInfo 70 – June 10, 1999

Originally published here.

Serbo-Croatian version here.

 

“Where do I stand: very simply, I am against the NATO bombing, I am against ethnic cleansing, whether by Serbs or anybody else – for instance by the immigrants to North America who in the period 1600-1900 cleansed away about 10,000,000 American Indians. I find nothing original in my position. The only original position would be to be in favor of both, a view probably only entertained by arms dealers.

There are those who try to make us believe that you have to make a choice between NATO and Milosevic; if you are against one for sure you are in favor of the other. Nonsense. Early on in this horrible decade many of the same people tried to make us believe that you had to make a choice between the Gulf war and Saddam Hussein; again, perfectly possible to be against both.

Then, the second example of this terrible dualism, the terror of the false dichotomy as we academics say: there was no alternative, if you do not accept the NATO bombing it means that you are co-responsible for ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. Nonsense.

There was an alternative and even a very good one: step of the number of observers in the OSCE Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM) from 1,200 to, say, 6,000, 12,000. Handies and binoculars, living in the villages, bringing in volunteers. But at the same time there was a civil war going on from February 1998, and one US ambassador had done what the US did in connection with the Gulf war: He (Gelbard) told Belgrade that the USA was of the view that KLA were terrorists – certainly also the Belgrade position.

The alternative would have been to close the border by extending the UN mandate on the Macedonian-Kosovo border, step up OSCE, and then call a major conference on South East Europe.

Nothing like this happened; as we know the war was decided early last fall; only a question of preparing the public through the media, and presenting Milosevic with an ultimatum he could not accept. The Rambouillet charade was about this. People started getting suspicious when they discovered that the media did not bring the text; it had to be dug out from obscure sites on the Internet.

I asked some journalists to make an inquiry in one of these 19 democracies, my own, Norway: no parliamentarian had read the text. Democracy is about informed participation.

The Serbs knew: loss of sovereignty and territorial integrity, unlimited NATO access to Serbia. No state signs itself into occupation and dismemberment. The Kosovars also knew: this was not the independence they wanted; it looked more like a protectorate under NATO. So they voted no. [Read more…]

The horrendous price of G8 peace !

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 69 – June 9, 1999

Originally published here.

Serbo-Croatian version here.

 

“Here we go again: Media around the world tell us that there is a ‘peace’ process, ‘peace’ negotiations and a ‘peace’ agreement soon to be concluded. There will be NATO ‘peace-keepers’ in Kosovo. They tell that Yugoslavia and the Balkans are taking the first steps to long-term ‘peace’ and stability.

To a peace professional it’s all Orwellian Newspeak. This authoritarian NATO operation bodes ill for the future, for world order, normativity, lawful governance, democracy, moral politics and indeed peace,” says TFF director Jan Oberg. “The present and future costs of this type of peace policy are unacceptable and out of proportion with the Albanian-Serb problem it purported to solve in the first place. Today Serbs and Albanians are more polarised and hateful than ever. The very least would be to stop using the word ‘peace’ under circumstances like this.

There are those who say that there were no alternatives – but they suffer from either a) lack of knowledge about conflict-resolution, b) lack of political imagination, c) self-censorship or d) authoritarian NATO-fundamentalist attitudes – or perhaps all of it in some proportion. Here follow some facts:”

 

Human costs and war crimes
Since NATO started bombing on March 24, the number of refugees and displaced have increased from around 50.000 to 800.000; the number of dead and wounded increased from around 2.000 to an estimated 15.000. Atrocities have been committed by the Yugoslav/Serb side, by KLA and by NATO; the latter has used depleted uranium bombs and cluster bombs and otherwise violated internal law by deliberately destroying predominantly civilian objects and terrorising millions of civilians.

Cost of destruction, bombing and re-construction
The Kosovo – or independent republic of Kosova – we wanted to preserve is demolished; the rest of Yugoslavia partly in ruins. The immediate direct material costs range between US $ 50 and 150 bn, the indirect and long-term costs may be several times bigger. No one knows the costs of the bombing – 33.000 sorties by 1100 planes, aircraft carriers, bombs, missiles, ammunition, surveillance, international coordination, fuel, supplies, wages, insurance, social benefits, transport, etc – but if we estimate it at US $ 500 million per day, we come close to US $ 40 bn. The region now faces a huge environmental destruction, the Danube in particularly affected. The US has carried out most of the destruction, the EU will be footing the bill for reconstruction – a tremendous burden on the EU. [Read more…]

Belgrade under the bombs

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 68 – June 1, 1999 

Originally published here.

Serbo-Croatian version here.

 

“The lack of empathy and solidarity with the 11 million citizens of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia whose society is being destroyed is as amazing as it is deplorable. Remember when people of culture, science, politics, media and humanism flocked to Sarajevo when it was under siege? Where are they now?

Journalists flock to Macedonia and Albania – admittedly for very good reasons – and they flock to NATO’s well-staged press briefings. But seeing for oneself what it means to be the object of the worst military, economic and social destruction in Europe since 1945 seems, remarkably, not to be as good a reason,” says TFF director Jan Oberg who has just visited Serbia under the bombs.

Where are those who believe Yugoslavia is a dictatorship? Supporting fellow human beings suffering under dictatorship is a noble reason to go but those around the world who hold this view stay away. Where are the human rights activists when numerous human rights are being violated by NATO? Where is the sympathy with innocent citizens who endure the systematic destruction of a European society and capital in the name of Western civilization?

So much for humanism, intellectualism and civil courage at the end of the 20th century. In spite of the war, it is perfectly possible to go there and freely meet anyone you like. I did that,” says Dr. Oberg. “It is mind-boggling that even intellectuals seem to be able to hold only two categories in their head at a time: if you are anti-NATO’s bombings, you must automatically be pro-Milosevic or pro-Serb. Or, if you go there, you support the regime and is disloyal to the West. I am afraid that those who hide behind such banal dichotomies are responsible for a gross civilisational injustice done to every and all citizens in today’s Yugoslavia.

I believe it is possible to be against all the violence – Yugoslav/Serbia’s, that of the Albanians and NATO’s. None of them will help solve the original problem of mistrust between Serbs and Albanians. All of them have made the situation worse. And I believe it should be possible to recognise and respect the human suffering of all sides – that of the Albanians, the Serbs and that of every other group in all of Serbia and Montenegro. [Read more…]