Macedonia and the Western press

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 121 – May 21, 2001

Originally published here.


PressInfo 118 offers an independent analysis of 11 reasons why Macedonia is at the brink of war. Number 119 deals with the way the United Nations was forced out of Macedonia and not employed in Kosovo at the time when it could have made a difference. In short, there was a hidden agenda. PressInfo 120 deals with how Macedonia is also responsible, and not only a victim, in the process towards its fatal crisis now.

This one deals with insufficient, or deceptive, media coverage, and with Western democracies.


Where is the free press?

We have explained that the 43,000 NATO/KFOR “peace”-keepers can not control or seal off the border around the territory it has occupied and is tasked with stabilising and controlling. Has it turned the blind eye to Albanian military activity all the time? This mission is much larger than the UN ever was in former Yugoslav territories and much more heavily armed.

Very few journalists have investigated the good story: how is it possible for KLA which was officially dissolved in September 1999 to keep on fighting (or be the root of fighting) inside both Serbia and Macedonia. Who helped them to do that?

If a UN mission had failed to the same extent, hundreds of journalists, experts and commentators would have renewed the anti-UN chorus of the 1990s: the UN is incompetent, bureaucratic, too expensive and inefficient, it’s too weak. There is no peace to keep! We need more muscle!

Now it is NATO, private American mercenaries, CIA in bed with more or less criminal, hardline elements in the Balkans and no similar (anti-NATO) chorus is heard. One may wonder: who controls the free press?

Will future historians – – like Chalmers Johnson today in “Blowback” – – reveal to us that journalists, NGOs, clergy and Peace Corps volunteers have functioned as cover for CIA and possibly other intelligence agencies and their cloak-and-dagger covert operations, that citizens around the world are targets of psychological warfare?

If you think this is to carry it too far, this is what a former CIA analyst, Melvin Goodman, says in a recent study from the Center for International Policy in Washington:

“The report of the (US) Council of Foreign Relations in 1996 took a step backward with its implicit endorsement of expanded use of CIA cover to include journalists, clergy, and Peace Corps volunteers. This suggested misuse of the Peace Corps would destroy its integrity as a “non political” humanitarian organization, and would greatly increase the danger to its volunteers. The House Intelligence Committee, in its 1996 report, also recommended that the clandestine services apply journalistic cover to their operators abroad.There is no justification for the use of spies posing as reporters or the employment of bona fide reporters for intelligence missions, practices that developed during the Cold War. Both practices should be banned. The press has constitutional protection because it is the chronicler of and check on the government, not its instrument. Unfortunately, recent CIA directors have insisted that the Agency have the option of using journalists in sensitive clandestine operations.”

Ed. Craig Eisendrath, National Insecurity. U.S. Intelligence After the Cold War, Temple University Press, Philadelphia 2000, p36.

Given their history and purposes, there is no reason to be surprised at the presence of CIA and similar agencies in a place like the Balkans. You may have wondered why your media does not cover their role or other darker aspects such as those you find in some TFF PressInfos (and the critical, dissident press). One reason may be that there is a politico-military-media-intelligence complex that does not see it fit to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Media manipulation and psychological warfare is nothing new as we know from the writings of intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky, Chalmers Johnson, William Blum, and John Pilger to mention a few. It does not prevent the United States and other Western nations from teaching the virtues of the free press wherever they can.


Peace-prevention is linked to debate-prevention

The same governments and leaders who now condemn the Albanian extremist activities have armed these forces and supported them, and do so today. One of the closest allies of UNMIK and KFOR in Kosovo is (former KLA) commander Agim Ceku. He had a leading position at the time in the Croatian Army when it drove out some 200.000 legitimate citizens from Croatia of Serb origin, in Operation Storm and Flash in 1995. Allegedly, he is under investigation by the War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague; but it would be an utter embarrassment to NATO/KFOR and the UN – – whose partner he is – – should he (and some of his colleagues) be brought to the Tribunal. That would shed light on Western-supported ethnic cleansing in Croatia and on the question as to why at least 200.000 non-Albanians have left Kosovo since NATO and the UN arrived.

If a major war breaks out in Macedonia, some of the weapons the parties will use to fight each other come from the same supplier; and the parties will be assisted by the same “advisers” and mercenaries (see PressInfo 118).

The same politicians who now rush to Skopje are those who were absolutely central in creating the havoc in the first place: then NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana who is now the “Foreign Minister” of the EU, Lord Robertson who was then British Secretary of Defence, now NATO Secretary-General. The new Head of Mission of UNMIK is former Danish defence minister Hans Haekkerup who was responsible for Danish F16 participation in the actual bombing of Yugoslavia.

Their moral capital and legitimacy in this situation and their competence in conflict-management in general should not be beyond scrutiny, debate and critical evaluation in a free press.

One highly relevant word for Western policies outlined here is peace-prevention. (See TFF report 62 in Publications or go to our online site). Either there is a hidden agenda for the destruction of Macedonia too or the official plan to provide stability and peace in Yugoslavia and Macedonia is yet another conflict-management failure of Himalayan proportions.

Those who want to look into the matter might find that the policies of EU and NATO countries, particularly as they relate to Kosovo and the policies of the missions there, make up the most important factor of instability in today’s Balkans.

Macedonia’s ability to survive the consequences of ten years of conflict-mismanagement in the Balkans has been impressive, but it is coming to an end. It should come as a surprise to no one. There has been no lack of early warnings from experts such as Misha Glenny, international government mission heads in the region and independent expert teams such as that of TFF.

Unfortunately, top politicians in the US and Europe lack every willingness to listen. They do not learn lessons, they teach them. They have too little humility and too much missionary zeal. They see others as standing on the lower rungs of the civilisational ladder, themselves (on its top) as chosen to civilise the savages. Or to make others their disciples. It’s the classical colonial mind-set: the noble white man’s shouldering his burden while regretting that now and then he needs to use the sword to make them understand his altruism and fundamental goodness.

The importance of independent research and media work grows by the day.



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