Intellectually the Kosovo Commission Report is a turkey and it won’t fly

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 105 – November 23, 2000

Originally published here.

 

We expect soldiers we send to the front to have some military education and training. As patients we hope the doctor has studied medicine. And who would write a constitution for a new state if not professionally educated lawyers?

But not so when it comes to conflict-analysis, mediation or peace-making. In this field it seems that neither specific education, practical experience nor knowledge about the conflicting parties and their cultures is of any importance. The important thing is that you want to do good.

Last year, Prime Minister Goran Persson of Sweden took the initiative to establish an independent international commission tasked with analysing the equally enigmatic and tragic Kosovo conflict and NATO’s bombing as well as outline the lessons to be learnt. He appointed Richard Goldstone, the well-respected South African judge and former chief prosecutor of the Hague Tribunal to chair it together with former Swedish education minister, Carl Tham, as his deputy.

The Swedish government allocated about 1 million dollar for the one-year work of the commission, which also obtained support from the Carnegie Corporation, George Soros, Ford Foundation and the U.S. Institute of Peace. Among its members are Mary Kaldor, Michael Ignatieff, Richard Falk (TFF associate) who represent themselves and not their countries – of which anyhow six are NATO members.

No doubt, it was a noble initiative, with all wishing to do good – although even Sweden never expressed a critical word about the West’s handling of the crisis or of what, at the time, I called NATO’s Balkan bombing blunder. To identify what we must learn from this conflict and the international attempts to handle it is, beyond doubt, one of the most important intellectual, political and moral tasks – for Sweden itself, for the EU, for NATO and for the United States. The problems that caused the violence in the Balkans are far from solved – if at all addressed – and the place with most rapid and positive change today is Serbia whose people took matters in their own hand and put an end to the Milosevic era. Around the world, conflicts similar to that in Kosovo are queuing up, waiting to be diagnosed and treated well or turn into tragedies.

My TFF colleagues and I have, since 1991, worked in Kosovo and Belgrade, with the political leaders on all sides and with civil society organisations. After some 40 missions and 3000+ interviews, we know a bit about the place, the personalities and the problems as well as about the rest of former Yugoslavia with which the Kosovo issue was and remains fundamentally intertwined.

During a number of years I personally functioned as unpaid, goodwill adviser to Dr. Ibrahim Rugova. Under his wise leadership the Kosovo-Albanians was the only people in ex-Yugoslavia who had decided – in contrast to everybody else – to try to achieve their dream about an independent state by means of a) a non-violent struggle, b) the building of a parallel society and c) intensive international diplomatic and media activity. It was a dream, of course, as nationalistic or and exclusionist as any other and was greatly assisted by the bullish arrogance of Milosevic and the repressive forces in the region.

But a simple conflict is about the only thing it was not. So the Commission has ploughed through hundreds of human rights documents and other types of materials and consulted hundreds of experts, politicians and military people involved in the matter – although, however, surprisingly few among those who were close to issue, on the ground. Goldstone and Tham want to do good, for sure, but none of them are conflict analysts or Balkan experts. That could, with a different mandate and more creativity, actually have brought in new aspects or have lead to the creation of more innovative proposals. But it doesn’t. This turkey won’t fly.

One the positive side, [Read more…]

With Milosevic gone, what shall the West do?

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 102 – October 23, 2000

Originally published here.

 

The Milosevic-West symbiosis

In handling the Balkan crisis the last ten years, the United States and European countries could have chosen a pro-active policy based on conflict analysis and a fair, principled implementation. They could have avoided today’s intellectual, political and moral cul-de-sac and avoided the bombing last year. They would not be de facto protectors of Bosnia and occupiers of Kosovo/a.

Most Western actors grossly underestimated the complexities of the Balkans, they were occupied with the end of the Cold War, they chose to perceive it all in simplified black-and-white terms. They never acted to only help the parties solve their problems, but were guided by their own more or less nationalist, competing interests in the Balkans. And then, above all, there was the “Milosevic factor.”

The West is cosmologically burdened with a tendency to write simplifying, fail-safe recipes for the solution of extremely complex economic, constitutional, historical and structural conflicts: one issue, two parties, decide who is good and who is bad, elevate yourself to judge and solve the conflict by punishing the culprit rather than attack the root cause of the problems that stands between the opponents and the structure around them that made them quarrel.

The name of the game was Milosevic. More than any other single factor the love/hate relationship between him and the West has determined the course of Western conflict-(mis)management this last decade. He was the bad guy par excellence; he was also a man who could – and did – deliver when he had put his signature on a deal; he was the actor who could be blamed for anything that went wrong whether in Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo or Serbia itself.

When the West recognized that it had lost a decade of perfectly possible violence-prevention in the case of Kosovo and the man also continued to stand up against pressure – and not, in that situation, without support from the citizens of Yugoslavia – it began calling him, for the first time, “cruel dictator.” [Read more…]

Why Milosevic won’t get to the Hague

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 100 – October 11, 2000

Originally published here.

 

Western politicians insist that Slobodan Milosevic must be brought to the Hague Tribunal and stand trial as a war criminal. Media and commentators raise the issue time and again. But there are reasons to believe that this is make-believe.

The indictment of Milosevic leaves much to be explained – for instance, why he is indicted only for crimes committed in 1999 but not before – and certain Western countries would hardly want him to be on record in the Hague with a few things that he may know about them.

The West would, therefore, do wise to drop this issue now and let Yugoslavia deal with Milosevic.

It seems that few have bothered to read the text of the indictment of Milosevic and four other high-level government officials of Thursday May 27, 1999. Among other things it states:

“As pointed out by Justice Arbour in her application to Judge Hunt, “this indictment is the first in the history of this Tribunal to charge a Head of State during an on-going armed conflict with the commission of serious violations of international humanitarian law”.

The indictment alleges that, between 1 January and late May 1999, forces under the control of the five accused persecuted the Kosovo Albanian civilian population on political, racial or religious grounds. By the date of the indictment, approximately 740,000 Kosovo Albanians, about one-third of the entire Kosovo Albanian population, had been expelled from Kosovo. Thousands more are believed to be internally displaced. An unknown number of Kosovo Albanians have been killed in the operations by forces of the FRY and Serbia. Specifically, the five indictees are charged with the murder of over 340 persons identified by name in an annex to the indictment.

Each of the accused is charged with three counts of crimes against humanity and one count of violations of the laws or customs of war.”

 

Limited indictment and dubious facts

As will be seen, Milosevic is indicted for activities limited to the period January 1 and late May 1999, i.e. during the local war between Kosovo-Albanian forces (KLA/UCK) and various Serb/Yugoslav forces and for activities during NATO’s bombings which started on March 24 and went on for 78 days.

At the time the Tribunal could not know any precise facts or numbers. What we do know today from public, reliable sources is that a considerable part of the information about killings and ethnic cleansing was exaggerated or false.

At the time of the indictment, facts could not be verified by independent sources [Read more…]

The Yugoslav nonviolent revolution

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 99 – October 9, 2000

Originally published here.

 

Milosevic certainly did not even think the thought. The opposition had hoped for it but hardly foreseen it would happened just like that. Western leaders and commentators had predicted about everything else but this: that nonviolence by the many would sweep away the authoritarian power presided over and solidified by Slobodan Milosevic over 13 years.

It was a miracle unfolding, minute by minute, in front of our eyes. Unarmed citizens were stronger, finally, than Milosevic’ force.

They also achieved in about 24 hours what NATO violence could not achieve in 78 days. It’s yet another remarkable victory for non-violence. But do we see it like that?

 

  

The power of nonviolence

The Shah of Iran lost power mainly due to nonviolent struggle. The Marcos regime in the Philippines did too. Solidarnosc in Poland would not had won had it used violence. The Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia is yet another. The East-West bloc confrontation – the “hardest” conflict of modern times, imbued with nuclearism and militarism on both sides – dissolved, not in a nuclear war, as war statistics might have made us expect, but by the remarkable combination of nonviolent forces: the peace and women’s movements in the West and the dissident, human rights and church movements in the East and, of course, the towering figure of Michael Gorbachev who did what no other leader has dared, namely to work his way up to the top of a power system and then declare that it has to be thoroughly changed and that change has to begin here with ourselves, not with “the other.”

These fundamentally important events in contemporary history, like hundreds of smaller changes brought about by non-violence and civil disobedience around the world, have seldom been covered by the media or referred to in history books as victories of nonviolence the way military victories are seen as the result of violence. Nonviolent revolutions like that in Yugoslavia ought to be analyzed as a manifestation of alternative power, not just as a lucky chance.

On Sepember 25, 1999 I participated in the walking demonstrations against the government, arranged by the Alliance for Change in the streets of Belgrade. There were more than 10.000 people, one evening after the other. But it was not enough, it was not broad enough; at the time workers were not actively opposing the Milosevic regime. Opposition politicians were fighting each other while the people marched. But no one present could possibly miss the strength and the determination or the fearless, unrestrained hilarity. [Read more…]

Background on Kosovo – and the management of it*

By Jan Oberg

Manuscript about Kosovo for the World Bank 

26 June 2000

 

A word about diagnosing conflict

A conflict is a problem that arises out of two or more actors’ incompatible expectations, needs or values. The sine qua non of effective conflict-mitigation (or -transformation) is comprehensive quality analysis of the root causes (diagnosis) of that problem. Without it, interventions to ‘manage’ or help solve somebody else’s conflict and prevent/stop violence will invariable fail – as will surgery on a patient whose disease is unknown to the doctor. You may add that violence is usually not the root cause of a conflict but, rather, a consequence of maltreated, ignored or otherwise non-resolved conflicts.

There is a tendency in Western culture to locate conflict (and violence, but the two are not idenical) in certain actors only. Thus, conflict is often defined as a good guy being attacked or quarelling with an evil guy about one object such as land, rights, resources, etc. Many therefore believe that conflict-resolution is about punishing the designated bad guy, rewarding his counterpart and then things will be fine.

Making “evil” the root cause is much too imprecise to serve as a diagnosis (as it would be to say that a disease is caused by demons in the body). In addition, it begs the philosophical question: What drives humans to do inhuman – evil – things to each other?

This approach is indicative of ‘conflict illiteracy’ – a recipe for failure: Conflicts are not only rooted in individuals (although, of course acted out by and through them) but also in structures in time and space, in circumstances and trends – in the “Karma.” This approach also overlooks that there are never only two parties and that most actors behave as more or less grey, rather than black and white.

 

The case of Kosovo

So, what’s is the conflict – the problems that lead to the violence – in Kosovo all about?

Having worked there over the 9 years, I would say: it is not predominantly about human rights violations or ethnic cleansing, they are symptoms of deeper lying problems, but – most unfortunately – the only aspects the so-called international community has focussed on hitherto.

As in so many other conflicts there is a history going decades, if not centuries, back in time. There is constitutional matters, general political and specific Yugo-structural features. There is a series of regional dimensions involving neighbouring countries.

And there is economic mal-development. If the GNP of Kosovo is set at 100, Slovenia (1984) had 766, Serbia without Voivodina  and Kosovo 375, Macedonia 249 – and the income gap between the richer and poorer republics and peoples in Tito’s Yugoslavia began to increase rapidly in the 1980s. Structurally more advantaged republics such as Croatia and Slovenia paid considerable parts of their profits to the federal redistribution mechanism, but much of it ended up in corrupted pockets, showplace extravagant public buildings and in land purchases in Macedonia – little left for productive investments in Kosovo.

Depending on the definition, at least 55 per cent of those seeking work were unemployed; illiteracy passed 20 per cent and perhaps as many as 400,000 kids were out of the regular schools; over 40 per cent of the people had no access to tap water, only 28 per cent lived in areas with a sewage system.

Kosovo had the highest birth rate and the highest infant mortality rate in Europe; more than 50 per cent of the citizens were below 20, the average age being 24 years of age. Albanians made up 67 per cent of the population in the province in 1961 (they also lived elsewhere in former Yugoslavia, some sources say 100.000 in Belgrade alone), they appear to have risen to about 90 per cent in the 1990s.  [Read more…]

War for war’s sake? U.S. military interventions after the Cold War

By Håkan Wiberg

Written 2000????

In the debate on a war on Iraq, many interpretations are proposed as to what it is “really” about: Disarming Iraq of possible weapons of mass destruction to satisfy UN resolutions? Toppling the Iraqi government by invasion and/or subversion? Introducing democracy by occupation? Getting US control over the Iraqi oil by occupation? Getting US geopolitical control over the whole oil region with bases, etc.? Fighting terrorism? Deflecting domestic criticism of various scandals – or international criticism on, e.g. Palestine? Feeding the military-industrial complex? Testing new weapons, tactics and strategies on the ground?

Rather few of these really contradict each other, unless presented as the one and only motive – which is in our complex world a very unlikely situation. It will obviously take many years to get a balanced and well-documented picture of the true motives of the US administration and its various factions, so no attempt at such a premature assessment will be made here.

The point of the present article is merely to locate one apparent lacuna in the debate, which only seems to get visible when we collate several cases to see what they have in common. Few seem to have pointed at “war for war’s sake”. By this I do not refer to any grotesque pre-WWI (and later fascist) ideologies about war as being healthy in itself, but rather to the advantage the initiator expects to have from a war, whatever its outcome. The main thesis is that having a war now and then is a way for US administrations to try to counteract the global long term changes in the distribution of economic power (where it has gone down) and military power, where it is stronger than ever. More specifically, the thesis is that the relative weight of these kinds of power has been shifting in favour of economic power for a long time, which gives the USA an interest in greater relative weight being given to military power. [Read more…]

Prevent violence in Montenegro

By Jan Oberg and Soren Sommelius

TFF PressInfo 91 – April 7, 2000

Originally published here.

 

“A fifth war in the Balkans can still be prevented. But whereas the isolated leadership in Belgrade has plenty of time, Montenegro does not, and the international community is so bogged down in Bosnia and in Kosovo that it has little capacity to shape an effective violence-prevention strategy for this tiny republic of 635.000 inhabitants.

What we just heard during our fact-finding mission to Podgorica,” say Soren Sommelius and Jan Oberg of the TFF conflict-mitigation team, “was frighteningly similar to what people told us in Croatia in 1991 – in spite of all the differences between the two cases.”

Picture series from Montenegro

“It was a bit surprising to listen to the level of verbal aggression in Podgorica not only against Milosevic, but also against the Serb people and the opposition and even the federal constitution that the Republic signed as late as 1992 when a) it was fully aware of who Slobodan Milosevic was, and b) had participated in the wars elsewhere as part of the JNA, the Federal Yugoslav Army. It could hardly be argued that people in Montenegro did not know who or what they federalized with.

Violence-preventive diplomacy by everyone is dearly needed now. Patience and longterm policy for the Balkans as a whole, and implemented with utmost caution, will be essential. Unfortunately, the international community’s policy in the region up till now is not exactly helpful to Montenegro, whichever way it chooses,” state Sommelius and Oberg.

 

THE BACKGROUND AND THE GAME

In contrast to other Balkan conflicts, this one can not be acted out through ethnicity or religion. A ‘real’ Serb has Montenegrin roots and there are probably more people of Montenegrin origin in Serbia than Montenegrins in Montenegro where 62 % are Montenegrins, 9 % are Serbs, 14 % are Muslims and 7% are Albanians (1991 census). [Read more…]

Lift the sanctions and bring more aid to people in Yugoslavia

By Jan Oberg & Soren Sommelius

TFF PressInfo 90 – April 5, 2000

Originally published here.

 

 “Lift the sanctions and help people in Yugoslavia – or stop talking about humanitarian politics and intervention,” say TFF conflict-mitigation team members Soren Sommelius and Jan Oberg upon returning from a fact-finding mission to Serbia and Montenegro.

“If journalists would provide people all over Europe and the rest of the world an opportunity to see what we have seen, only the heartless would continue the present policies. The sanctions contribute to widespread social misery, they hit those who are already poor, and demolish the middle class.

In addition, the opposition which the West officially supports also wants the sanctions lifted, knowing that they undermine the socio-economic basis for any democratization process.

The international community’s commitment to protect, help and repatriate the Albanian refugees and displaced persons is as noble as it is shameful to not do the same when other – equally innocent – ethnic groups in the same conflict region are in obvious need of humanitarian aid. There is only one word for it: obscene. Sanctions are a mass-destructive weapon,” say Sommelius and Oberg who support the campaign, recently launched in Sweden, to get the sanctions lifted.

 

THE SITUATION

Here are some facts from UNHCR – and if you have not heard about them numerous times already, you may ask what free media and democratic policies are for:

Today’s Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) – Serbia and Montenegro – hosts more than 500.000 refugees from the wars in Croatia (250.000 from Krajina and some 50.000 from Eastern Slavonia) and Bosnia (some 200.000). In addition, there are 250.000 who have recently been forced to leave the Kosovo province. Some of those from Croatia have been refugees since 1991-92 when the war raged in ex-Yugoslavia. This total of 750.000 to 800.000 creates Europe’s largest refugee problem. Most are Serbs but there are also Muslims, Albanians, Romas and others among them. Only 40.000 of all these are in collective centres, the rest live with relatives or friends. About 50.000 of all the refugees and displaced persons presently live in Montenegro, the population of which is estimated at 650,000, while Serbia’s population is 9-10 million.

Since 1995 only about 40.000 have been able to return to Croatia. UNHCR believes that local integration is the lasting solution for the majority of refugees currently in FRY. [Read more…]

Misguided motives led to the chaos in Kosovo

By Jan Oberg

April 5, 2000 – on CNN Interactive

(CNN) — The conflicts that led to war and dissolution of the former Yugoslavia took shape in the 1970s and early 1980s, and their origins are much older. The paradox is that the international community’s self-appointed “conflict managers” have not treated the Balkan conflicts as conflicts.

Instead, they have wielded power and practiced Realpolitik disguised as peacemaking and humanitarianism.

The international community — a euphemism for a handful of top leaders – has historically been an integral party to the conflicts, not an impartial mediator. A policy of disinterested conflict analysis, mediation and conflict resolution would require different analyses, means and institutions (with just a minimum of training).

The leaders of the republics of the former Yugoslavia all did their best to destroy the federation from within. Today’s situation, however, is equally the result of the international community’s failed conflict management in four cases – Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia and Kosovo.

None of the peace agreements work as expected. The regions are more polarized and ethnically cleansed than before. Democracy is formal and imposed, not genuine. The countries are not armed simply for defense, they are militarized.

War criminals are still at large. Refugees have not returned in any significant numbers (except to Kosovo). The deeply human dimensions of tolerance, forgiveness, reconciliation and societal regeneration have hardly begun. No commissions on truth or history have been established.

Money – always plentiful for military purposes – is conspicuously lacking for the prevention of civilian violence and for postwar development. Integration into the EU may not take place for a long time yet.

Finally, and fatally, the U.N. missions to these countries have been thrown out, substituted with more expensive and heavy-handed missions, or discontinued prematurely.  [Read more…]

The UN broke in Kosovo – Not even Nordic governments seem to care

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 86 – February 7, 2000

Originally published here.

 

“Isn’t it amazing that the new moralists who profess to protect human rights, democracy and peace and who spent unlimited funds on warfare now don’t even bother to provide the UN with the minimum funds to bring peace to Kosovo?

The UN urgently needs US$ 102 million. That equals what Sweden spent on sending 860 soldiers to Kosovo. This is what the United Nations Foundation “UN Wire” reported on February 3, 2000 – about a year after the Rambouillet “peace” process began. It is yet another proof of the inter-cynical community’s mode of operation,” says Jan Oberg.

– – – – – –

“UNMIK Out Of Money, Kouchner Says.”

The United Nations has no money to pay its civil servants in Kosovo, UN administrator Bernard Kouchner said today. Speaking to reporters at the Japan Press Club in Tokyo, Kouchner said the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) is “facing an emergency, period. We have to pay the civil servants.” Some workers, Kouchner added, have not been paid for months, and “there is 0.00 deutsche mark in the budget 2000 of Kosovo”…Kouchner said the UN needs $102 million for its operation.

“It is the first time in the history of United Nations peacekeeping operations that we have to deal with a budget, with the payment of the civil servants and organise an administration,” Kouchner said. “It is why it is so important to get not only promises, but cash. For the infrastructure projects, we can wait a little bit longer but not for the payment of the civil servants. We must pay them.”

Last week, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright criticised the international community for failing to live up to its financial commitment to Kosovo. “Unfortunately, a serious crisis of funding has arisen,” she said. The United States, Albright added, would contribute an additional $10 million and 100 police officers for the operation.” And: [Read more…]

The West and conflicts in and around Yugoslavia: Some axioms

By Johan Galtung

Presumably written in 2000

[1]  Europe is divided since 1054 (forerunner 395) and 1095 into three parts: Roman-Germanic/Catholic-Protestant (+USA = the West); Slavic-Orthodox and Turko-Muslim.  Romania, Greece: ambiguous.

General archetype: Slavic/Orthodox, and Turko/Muslim, are evil.

[2]  Faultlines intersect in Sarajevo/BiH; cut Pristina/Skopje.

[3]  Parties are nations with claims on land with dualism of discourses as bondage versus independence.  Living together only under foreign rule (Habsburg/Ottoman; Nazi; Tito; NATO).  [Read more…]

TFF on CNN – 3rd time on Kosovo

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 84, 2000 – January 27, 2000

Originally published here.

 

[Unfortunately, 15 years on, the links can’t be found on CNN – Editor].

Yet another evidence of TFF’s rapidly increasing international prestige is its opinion piece on CNN’s new “In Depth Special on Kosovo” –

See http://europe.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2000/kosovo/stories/present/kfor/.

It’s the third time TFF’s expertise is called upon by CNN; first during NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia and then before New Year, a longer conversation about the international community’s peacebuilding failure in today’s Kosovo/a. And now with this website feature “Misguided motives led to the chaos in Kosovo” under CNN*s heading “Missed Opportunities.”

In the article TFF director Jan Oberg summarizes the Kosovo crisis through the 1990s and the foundation’s experience with conflict-mitigation there begnning 1991. In a few points, he outlines why NATO’s KFOR mission, the United Nations’ UNMIK mission and the OSCE are unlikely to succeed with building genuine peace in the Balkans.

Writes Oberg: “The international community — a euphemism for a handful of top leaders — has historically been an integral party to the conflicts, not an impartial mediator. A policy of disinterested conflict analysis, mediation and conflict resolution would require different analyses, means and institutions (with just a minimum of training).”

“It was a Western “civilizing” mission. Nations must accept free markets, NATO’s doctrine, EU militarization, selective human rights for the chosen people, and democracy in the form of “free” elections. We must accept NATO, not the U.N. or OSCE, as the only peacemaker under the only superpower.

We are supposed to believe there is no alternative to all this and to bombing. In the long run, this sort of intellectual poverty threatens to make us look like the “ugly West” in the eyes of all other cultures.”

Read this concise and critical piece to understand why “the absence of self-criticism in the West is ominous.”

CNN’s “Kosovo In-Depth Special. Prospects for Peace” which offers a wealth of interesting materials on the region, the past, the future, Balkan Notebook, chat, message board and links can be found on http://europe.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2000/kosovo.

Preventing Peace – New TFF report

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 82 – December 16, 1999

Originally published here.

 

“We are seeing it for the umteenth time in international conflict-management: when intellectual analysis and politics fall apart, cover it up with military potency and give it all a human face!

One would like to believe that the West’s moral, legal and political conflict ‘management’ disaster in the Balkans and in Kosovo 1989-1999 would be debated throughout the West – democracies with freedom of speech.

The silence about that failure, however, is roaring. It’s just the locals who won’t understand how well-meaning we were and are!

But something else is happening: the disaster is turning into a recipe! Read the statements from leading ministers, top generals, EU, and NATO during the last six months. They invariably state ‘that we have learnt in Kosovo’ that we need more military capacity, more force. NATO’s Secretary- General, Lord Robertson, tells the world that “the time for a peace dividend is over because there is no permanent peace – in Europe, or elsewhere. If NATO is to do its job of protecting future generations, we can no longer expect to have security on the cheap.” Well, Lord Robertson is of course constitutionally prevented from pondering what world leaders have done so miserably the last ten years since the century ends under such dark clouds. [Read more…]

Questions to Bill Clinton in Kosovo

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 81 – November 22, 1999

Originally published here.

 

“Given that democratic countries have free and independent media, President Clinton’s visit to Kosovo on November 23, would be a golden opportunity to take stock of the US-lead Western policies to bring peace to the region.

Here is a selection of questions with some media advisory. In other words, if I imagine I was a journalist and had been granted an interview this is what I would focus on,” says TFF director Jan Oberg.

 

(1) Mr. President, US warplanes bombed Yugoslavia and the Kosovo province with you as the Chief Commander of US forces. Does it worry you that the whole campaign was justified and conducted on the basis of what has turned out to be grossly mistaken or falsified information about a genocide planned by Belgrade?

[During the campaign, President Clinton, Secretary Cohen, and Secretary Albright are on record with figures of between 10.000 and 100.000 missing and probably killed in consequence of the alleged plan by Milosevic, Operation Horseshoe. However, the Hague Tribunal has recently revealed that, so far, 2.108 bodies have been identified – of more than one ethnicity and dead from different causes; in short, not all Albanians massacred by Serbs. From a human point, of course, this is a great relief. But it raises serious issues as to of the information and intelligence basis on which decisions with far-reaching consequences are made. And it begs the question: what is world public opinion informed about and what not, and who produces information for what purposes].

 

(2) What are your thoughts by the fact that NATO, with your country in the lead, killed at least 2.000 innocent civilians in Serbia due to stray missiles and bombs? You have apologised to the Chinese people for bombing their embassy. Did you consider the possibility personally to apologise to the relatives or, for instance, pay a compensation of some kind? And how do you feel about the indictment of you, your Secretaries and all other NATO leaders to the Hague War Crimes Tribunal?

[Click here for the  indictment of NATO leaders. Click here for the indictment of Slobodan Milosevic and four other leaders for, among other things, being responsible for the death of 340 people during the Kosovo war] .

 

(3) Mr. President, the American Camp Bondsteel here at which you celebrate Thanksgiving Day with your soldiers, [Read more…]

A bouquet of peace ideas to Macedonia … and Kosovo

By Jan Oberg and many others

TFF PressInfo 80 – November 22, 1999

Originally published here.

 

”With e-mail and Internet it has become so much more easy to generate and share ideas instantly. Below you find 53 different ideas about peace in Macedonia from people around the world who responded to our call in the preceding PressInfo. It’s a free gift to anyone who cares to listen and take inspiration – many could also be implemented in Kosovo,” says TFF director Jan Oberg.

“Our respondents are not a representative sample but, among other things, this exciting experiment shows that:

1) there are so many ideas out there and an amazing willingness to contribute constructively;

2) people who have not been to Macedonia can share ideas and initiatives that have worked in other conflicts, a general body of knowledge and experiences are developing;

3) they focus much more on the human dimensions of conflict-resolution than governments do;

4) they by and large reject military means in peacebuilding, and

5) they focus on local forces and bottom-up approaches rather than top-down, foreign imposed peace – indeed, quite a few tell us right away that the West in general and NATO in particular should stay away. This is a very moving appeal. People obviously must be given a chance to find their own solutions.

We have chosen not to list the ideas theme-wise. Enjoy them as a bouquet. We just edited and shortened what we got – in some cases actually whole articles.

TFF does not endorse every idea, but we convey them all for your inspiration,” says Oberg.

 

Develop a true image of the place

It’s a great problem that, regarding the Balkans, East Timor, Colombia, Haiti, Ecuador, Cuba, North Korea and many places in Africa, we may not have a broad enough image of what it is all about. Modern media should show us peacebuilding efforts, accompaniment, non-violent direct-action and cover it live. That would give people hope that something can be done. So, peace news and not only war news, please.

 

NATO is not for peace

It is disastrous for Macedonia and others to accept NATO as the “international community”; NATO is a military alliance of countries whose goals are the realisation of the policies and interests of the transnational corporations and the economic neo-liberal agenda of the wealthy countries. And each country with its specific problems should not expect NATO to solve them by means of its standard military package.

 

Go for the European Union, in spite of all

The far-from-perfect European Union points to the economic advantages of cooperation and the increased political clout of the whole region. It is a feasible model of a union of sovereign states, particularly if they pursue a course of people-oriented social and economic policies. [Read more…]