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…]

Your ideas for peace in Macedonia wanted

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 79

Originally published here.

 

“Read the farewell interview with Macedonian President Kirov Gligorov and the analysis by TFF’s Macedonian Associate, Dr. Biljana Vankovska on our site and you will understand how fragile Macedonia’s stability and peace is.

Why not try a citizens’ ‘early warning’? We invite you to send us your ideas on how we can help Macedonia avoid violence and move towards peace in spite of all the obstacles,” says director Jan Oberg.

“After the Kosovo war, all citizens of Macedonia go through very difficult times; presidential elections take place on October 31. If there is one lesson from Kosovo, it is this: the earlier we deal with the problems, the more options there are, and the easier it is to solve conflicts without resorting to violence.

It is a safe prediction that, unless various types of violence-preventive measures are taken and taken in time, Macedonia is likely to slide into chaos. If citizens around the world apply their experience from violence-prevention and peacebuilding and their creativity, we could produce a series of proposals for early action.

You can participate even if you do not have detailed knowledge about Macedonia. Lots of generally violence-preventive steps can be taken to prevent violence and solidify peace anywhere. Below we provide some ideas – just a beginning. Readers, their friends and colleagues, are invited to brainstorm and send us more and better proposals which we would be happy to publish in future PressInfo(s). And we would very much like to receive proposals from our readers and subscribers in Macedonia!

 

• Watch the Kosovo-Macedonia connection.
It is important that the international community does not make any final decision now about the future status of Kosovo. At this juncture, any final settlement will impact negatively on the fears, hopes and political strategies of both Macedonians and Albanians in Macedonia. [Read more…]

Misleading UN Report on Kosovo (B)

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 78 – October 3, 1999

Originally published here.

 

“The UN and NATO missions in Kosovo violate Security Council Resolution 1244 which clearly guarantees the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY). The Security Council has just reaffirmed that Kosovo is a part of FRY. 1244 also demands the full cooperation of FRY in implementing the missions tasks. All this is pure pretence, as any visitor to Kosovo will learn – and mission members will tell you privately.

The Report of the Secretary-General (S/1999/987 of September 16) does not even bother to mention whether KFOR/UNMIK cooperates with Belgrade! It seems pretty clear, rather, that the international community has fooled Belgrade and considers it so weak that it doesn’t even have to be polite or give the world the impression that it respects the country’s sovereignty. This coincides with credible press analyses that the U.S. decision makers think Kosovo must become independent.

The international presence of UNMIK and NATO in Kosovo base itself on the bombing campaign the legality of which remains highly disputable. In its day-to-day operations, this presence amounts to a de facto occupation force that co-operates with Albania military and civilian leaders who have perpetrated gross human rights violations,” says Jan Oberg upon his return from Pristina, Skopje and Belgrade, TFF’s 37 mission to the region.

Here follow some facts:

“The missions have set up border points to Serbia but until recently not to Macedonia and Albania. Public and state property is ‘taken over’ by the UN and KFOR, no legal regulations done or rent or compensation paid to the Yugoslav state. Visa is not needed to enter Kosovo. The German Mark is introduced and the Yugoslav dinar disappearing. Tax and customs are now collected to the benefit of Kosovo, with no proportion going to Serbia or Yugoslavia. A new army-like “Kosovo Protection/Defence Force” is established and has the old KLA commander at its head.

Should we be surprised if the mineral resources and the Trpca mining industry complex in Mitrovica is soon ‘taken over’ by foreign capital? Dr. Kouchner serves at the moment as a one-man legislature: he can overrule any federal law and he promulgates legally binding “regulations” by the day.

Resolution 1244 stipulates that ‘after the withdrawal an agreed number of Yugoslav and Serb military and police personnel will be permitted to return to Kosovo to perform functions’ such as liaising with the international civil and military missions, marking and clearing mine fields, maintaining a presence at Serb patrimonial sites and maintain a presence at key border crossings (specified in Annex 2). Reference to all this is conveniently omitted in the UN Report – that serves to evaluate the UN mission and is written, we must assume, by the UN staff in Pristina itself.

So much for the United Nations manifest, gross violation of FRY’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. One understands why all this goes unmentioned in the Report. I am not a lawyer, but it looks to me as a new sort of international lawlessness and might-makes-right,” says Jan Oberg. [Read more…]

Misleading UN report on Kosovo (A)

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 77 – October 3, 1999

Originally published here

 

“Those who wrote the Report of the UN Secretary-General on the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) must have had other aims than accurate reporting. The report is biased, embellished, slanted. It omits important aspects which point toward the fact that this mission ignores Security Council Resolution 1244 on which it is based and is a failure in-the-making on its own criteria,” says TFF director Jan Oberg upon his return from TFF’s 37th mission to the region and his visit to Pristina, Skopje and Belgrade.

“The report (S/1999/987 of September 16) covers the period in which at least 150.000 legitimate non-Albanian (Serbs, Roma,etc) citizens were driven out of the province. Normally this would be called ethnic cleansing. It has happened under the very eyes of 45.000 NATO soldiers, 1.100 UN civilian police and thousands of other internationals, including the OSCE and EU.

The report does not state that this is a fatal blow to both NATO and the UN. Res. 1244 states that the mission is to ‘ensure conditions for a peaceful and normal life for all inhabitants of Kosovo’ as well as, among many other things, maintain law and order, protect and promote human rights and ensure public safety. The report states that ‘KFOR deserves great credit for its efforts…’

I do not think it does,” says Oberg. “The international community condemned Yugoslavia for having, at the height of the war and bombing, about 40.000 soldiers and police in the province to maintain law and order and – as they saw it – to protect the Serb and other minorities. Now the total international presence is almost twice as big and it has not been able to fulfil the centre-piece of the UN mandate: to preserve a multiethnic Kosovo in safety for everybody.

For all practical purposes, Kosovo has been ethnically cleansed by the KLA and other Albanians after the international community arrived. This is neither regretted nor condemned in the report. Rather, the report states [Read more…]

Some ethical aspects on NATO’s intervention in Kosovo – Part B

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 74 – July 29, 1999

Originally published here.

Serbo-Croatian version here.

 

• Stereotyping and discrimination
Ask yourself whether NATO’s bombing and subsequent occupation could have been done against any other nation in today’s Europe. Whether any other country than Yugoslavia and any other people but Serbs is so despised? The plight of the Albanian refugees is in focus, but how well and how extensive did media cover that of the Serbs, Goranis, Montenegrin, Turks and Gypsies in Kosovo? The refugee camps in Macedonia and Albania entered our living rooms – but did the human suffering of people living in and fleeing to bombed-out Yugoslavia?

Recent Albanian extremist violence against Serbs is reported with ‘understanding,’ presented as (justifiable) revenge for what Serb police, military and paramilitary units did. But the media which told the story this way, never ‘explained’ that Serb ethnic cleansing after NATO started bombing could be ‘understood’ as (justifiable) anger at what THEY saw as the destruction of their entire country commissioned or demanded – as it was – by moderate as well as extremist Kosovo-Albanians.

Everybody knows that humanitarian aid should be based on needs only. But people living in Yugoslavia shall not receive any assistance ‘as long as Milosevic is at the helmet.’ One wonders whether the international human rights community is on collective holiday? Since the early 1990s, Serb human and minority rights were never cared for to the extent e.g. Croatian, Bosniak and Albanian rights were.

In social science, stereotyping can be defined as ‘a one-sided, exaggerated and normally prejudicial view of a group, tribe or class of people, and is usually associated with racism and sexism.’ Stereotypes are often resistant to change or correction from countervailing evidence, because they create a sense of social solidarity. Is it so unlikely that the United States and NATO did just a bit of stereotyping to maintain alliance credibility and solidarity?

• Authoritarian politics undermining international democracy.
NATO now has a near-monopoly on conflict-management. The UN, the EU, single governments in the region, OSCE and NGOs went out of the region when NATO went in. No NATO government declared war, no parliaments voted about participation in the campaign. (In contrast, the ‘dictatorship’s parliament in Belgrade debated both the Rambouillet and the G8 plan). None of the democracies in NATO dared challenge the near-total US military and political dominance in this operation or that of the “Quint” – the five biggest NATO leaders. [Read more…]

Some ethical aspects on NATO’s intervention in Kosovo – Part A

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 73 – July 14, 1999

Originally published here.

Serbo-Croatian version here.

 

“Now is the time to begin to reflect on what actually happened this spring in Kosovo and, thus, to the world. I believe that historians will agree that from March 24, 1999 international politics and relations as well as the global system has changed in a deep sense,” says TFF director Jan Oberg.

“Many consider NATO’s intervention a moral success, a just war, a victory for democratic values.

But I believe we need to look at it from a variety of angles to a) understand it more deeply and b) to work out ideas, concepts and policies so that anything similar will never happen again elsewhere. It is indeed peculiar that this war – conducted from a moral high ground and with the aim to promote the finest ideals of Western culture – has hardly been evaluated in just such terms. I am not a philosopher of ethics, but here are some points you may use in your own thinking about contemporary history and – if it exists – ‘moral foreign policy.’

• A high-ideals, low-risk war
The West has man and noble ideals. But when it comes to risking Western lives for them, they crumble. Both Albanians and Serbs have proved themselves willing to pay a price for what they believe in.

• David and Goliath
World history’s most powerful alliance attacks a small state, devastates it with 1100 planes during 79 days. NATO could do anything in Yugoslavia, but Yugoslavia had no capacity to hurt any NATO country. Whatever propensity to feel sympathy for David there may be in Christian values, it didn’t surface. Explanation? Ten years of demonization. In addition, cruise missiles are low-cost and promise destruction on the enemy’s territory without human or material costs on our side. Behind NATO’s boasting of success and determination hides a high-tech-based cowardice second to none. [Read more…]

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…]

G8 Kosovo Principles – Another peace plan fraud

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 67 – May 7, 1999

Originally published here.

Serbo-Croatian version here.

 

 

“The G8 foreign ministers’ declaration of principles to resolve the Kosovo “crisis” is a mishmash of face-saving elements for the West and addresses none of the root causes of the conflict or the failure of the West as a mediator,” says TFF director Jan Oberg. “This declaration may be used to justify continued bombing and, if implemented, promises a very sad future for the Balkans. But ‘conflict illiteracy’ abounds, so leading media call it a peace plan – repeating their treatment of Rambouillet.”

Here follows the full G8 text of principles as published by BBC on May 6:

– – – – –

“The following general principles must be adopted and implemented to resolve the Kosovo crisis:

* Immediate and verifiable end of violence and repression in Kosovo.

* Withdrawal from Kosovo of military, police and paramilitary forces.

* Deployment in Kosovo of effective international civil and security presences, endorsed and adopted by the United Nations, capable of guaranteeing the achievement of the common objectives.

* The establishment of an interim administration for Kosovo, to be decided by the Security Council of the United Nations to ensure conditions for a peaceful and normal life for all inhabitants for Kosovo.

* The safe and free return of all refugees and displaced persons and unimpeded access to Kosovo by humanitarian aid organisations.

* A political process towards the establishment of an interim political framework. An agreement providing for substantial self-government for Kosovo, taking full account of the Rambouillet accords and the principles and sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and other countries of the region and the demilitarisation of the UCK.

* Comprehensive approach to the economic development and stabilisation of the crisis region.”

– – – – –

“Here are 10 reasons why this declaration can be seen as another peace plan fraud: 

1. The ministers call this a “crisis” and not a “conflict” or a “war.” [Read more…]

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…]

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…]

Bombings – incompatible with humanitarian concerns

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 60 – March 24, 1999

Originally published here.

Serbo-Croatian version here.

 

“NATO’s unwise, counterproductive and non-legal bombing of sovereign Yugoslavia is justified by President Bill Clinton, EU and other Western leaders and media with reference to humanitarian concerns. Supposedly air strikes serve to stop ethnic cleansing, future massacres, refugee flows, and prevent innocent children and women from being killed. Diplomatically expressed, this comes from the marketing department. Bombings will produce what it purports to prevent,” says Dr. Jan Oberg, TFF’s director, right after the bombing campaign has started. According to Oberg, this argument lacks credibility for the following reasons:

 

NO VIOLENCE-PREVENTION

Why did the West do absolutely nothing before this crisis became violent? There were many opportunities for a negotiated solutions. TFF, for instance, has suggested a variety of options since 1992 that could have prevented violence and the killing we’ve seen the last year. In no other conflict has there been so many early warnings and so little preventive diplomacy. Kosovo’s catastrophe was among the most predictable of all. It is intellectual nonsense that ‘everything else has been tried and NATO bombings was the only option left.’

 

HUMANITARIAN WORK MADE IMPOSSIBLE BY NATO THREATS

The immediate consequence of the threats of NATO air strikes is that OSCE’s Verification mission had to be withdrawn and that almost all humanitarian organizations withdrew to protect their staff. More refugees are now running over the border to Macedonia. With fewer ears and eyes on the ground, its free for all sides – NATO included – to step up the killing.

 

THIS WILL MAKE SERBS AND ALBANIANS HATE EACH OTHER (MORE)

NATO bombings will be perceived as a punishment of Serbs and a clear support to Albanian hardliners. [Read more…]