The security versus the peace approach

By Johan Galtung

Written presumably 2006

Yugoslavia caught international attention through acts of violence late June 1990 when Slovenian border guards close to Gorizia shot at their Serbian counterparts.  And Yugoslavia retained its grip on international attention ever since, according to the rule of bad journalism: violence up, attention up; violence down, attention down.  The “Balkans”, that southeastern corner of Europe on which the West, the “international community”, projects its own somber shadow of centuries of ethnic cleansing and other cruelties, meets the bill.  Everybody sufficiently violent, from the smallest fringe to that very “international community”, can get their instant prime time/front page media fame. Years of patient NGO and UN work for peace will certainly not rival them.

For in the beginning was not the word, but two ways of thinking, competing for our attention: the security discourse and the peace discourse.  [Read more…]

Advertisements

Kosovo: Many options but independence

By Jan Oberg & Aleksandar Mitic

TFF PressInfo 228 – October 27, 2005

Originally published here.

 

The Serbian province of Kosovo, largely populated by the Albanian separatist-minded majority, has failed to meet basic human rights and political standards set as prerequisites by the international community, but it should nevertheless enter in the months to come talks on its future status.

This basic conclusion of the long-awaited report by UN special envoy Kai Eide was approved by the UN secretary general Kofi Annan and fully supported by the EU and the US, but it fails to demystify the paradox.

Only two a half years ago, the international community had charged that talks on status could not start before a set of basic human rights standards was achieved.

Since then, however, as it became clearer that the Kosovo Albanian majority was unwilling to meet the criteria and the UN unable to enforce them, there was a permanent watering down of prerequisites, until the proclaimed policy of “standards before status” was finally buried with Mr. Eide’s report.

Why has it failed? Is it because of the fear of the Kosovo Albanian threat of inciting violence if talks on status did not start soon, or was this policy a bluff from the start?

What kind of signal does it offer for the fairness of the upcoming talks? Will threats of ethnic violence in case “the only option for Kosovo Albanians – independence” – is not achieved again play a role? Or will the international community overcome its fear and offer both Pristina and Belgrade reasons to believe that the solution would negotiated and long-lasting rather than imposed, one-sided and conflict-prone?

Advocates of Kosovo’s independence such as the International Crisis Group, Wesley Clark, Richard Holbrooke and various US members of Congress argue “independence is the only solution.” The U.S. has more urgent problems elsewhere. But full independence cannot be negotiated, it can only be imposed. “Independent Kosova” implies that the Kosovo-Albanians achieve their maximalist goal with military means while Belgrade and the Kosovo Serbs and Roma would not even get their minimum — a recipe for future troubles. [Read more…]

Kosovo: Conflict-mismanagement in-the-making

By Jan Oberg

August 10, 2005

By spring 2004 it became obvious that slowly, surely and sadly the efforts of the international community to create peace in Kosovo/a would come to an end rather soon. The reasons are simple: mediation and conflict-resolution in complex conflicts cannot be done the way it was between 1989 and 1999. And you won’t succeed with peace-making the way it was done by the bombings in 1999 and the efforts since then.

Had anyone in the EU and the U.S. had the intellectual will and the political courage to draw conflict-management lessons from the Balkans, we would hardly have experienced the succeeding quagmires called Afghanistan and Iraq where the opportunities for peace and reconciliation are also decaying by the day.

The community’s self-appointed conflict-managers and mediators probably hope that their “condemnations” of the most recent bout of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo in March 2004 will do the trick, prevent Albanian extremists from further attacks and keep the Kosovo calamity away from the headlines. If so, there is a high probability that they are in for nasty surprises 2005-2006.

The international community doesn’t seem to have any solid and realistic idea about what to do with Kosovo. There are no solutions anymore that will be fair in the eyes of the parties, the Albanians, the Serbs, the Romas and other, smaller group. Any imaginable future status will create serious problems in the region and possibly for the international community. To put it crudely – if the international conflict-managers are doctors, their patient is dying because of a bad diagnosis and a seriously failed surgery.

Embarrassing as they are, the reasons are quite simple but remain virtually untold:  they would require an ounce of self-criticism in a series of European ministries of foreign affairs, in Washington and Brussels. For the decade 1989-1999 the international community operated on a standardised, one-truth, black-and-white explanation of what this conflict was about. They blamed the Serbs in general and Slobodan Milosevic in particular for the Kosovo conflict. They conveniently ignored the complex framework in space and time of which Kosovo was a part: the dissolution mechanisms of former Yugoslavia, the wider context of the Balkans and the restructuring of the world order as well as the  transition from the Cold War paradigm to something  different.

Like we see in today’s Iraq, there were no limits to the political hubris-cum-ignorance. Both Albanian and Serb citizens were treated as pawns in much larger games and they are realising it now.

Below follows a list of some of the conflict mismanagement and long-term root causes that explain the unfolding dissolution of the peace-making efforts in Kosovo that we are now witnessing. (Numbers do not indicate priority or relative importance.) [Read more…]

What lessons to learn? Particularly about the UN and its members?

By Jan Oberg
August 2, 2005

The international community’s conflict-management:
Short status by 2005

This blog explains why, by and large, the security approach – as described in the Prologue – has been a failure. The reasons for judging it a failure are many and pointed out through both the blog and book. They have to do with the paradigm/discourse itself but also with concrete, fatefully counterproductive decisions made throughout the crisis, one tying the hands of decision-makers when approaching the next situation.

Some of the – rather simple – methods and principles we suggest in our writings could have been used irrespective of whether the security or the peace approach had been followed. [Read more…]

Srebrenica Muslims remembered – the rest silenced

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 222 – July 11, 2005

Originally published here.

 

There is every reason to commemorate the massacre by Serb soldiers on innocent Muslim civilians in Srebrenica ten years ago today. But unless it is considered acceptable to quantify crimes and politically misuse human suffering, there is no plausible reason to forget or silence other cases of massacres, ethnic cleansing and terror bombings in which other innocent people lost their lives.

 

Other crimes silenced

In September 2003, mainstream media around the world forgot to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the Croatian Army’s killing of civilian Serbs in the Medak Pocket in Croatia.

In May 2005, they forgot to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of Operation Flash in Croatia and in August this year they are likely to remain silent about Operation Storm in Croatia. Here is what Amnesty International has to say about the fate of civilian Serbs in Croatia in the years 1991-95 during which 300.000 Croatian Serbs were forced to leave and/or actively driven out with violence from their country. Today’s Croatian leaders are proud of this – and of course present at the Srebrenica ceremony together with diplomats from the United States that, at the time, assisted the Croatian Army in its crimes.

On March 24 this year the international community passed over the 6th Anniversary of NATO’s bombings of Serbia and Kosovo in silence. These bombs killed more people propotionately than the terror attacks on the U.S. on September 11, 2001. There has been no coverage of the innocents who suffered there, no silent minutes and no speeches of solidarity – neither has there for the suffering in Afghanistan and Iraq. [Read more…]

The Kosovo Solution series

Broad framework, many roads

By Jan Oberg & Aleksandar Mitic

Published March 2005

 

Table of content

# 1   Why the solution in Kosovo matters to the world

Executive summary

# 2   The media – strategic considerations

# 3   The main preconditions for a sustainable solution of the Kosovo conflicts

# 4   The situation as seen from Serbia

# 5   The arguments for quick and total independence  are not credible

# 6   What must be Belgrade’s minimum conditions and its media strategy

# 7   Nations and states, sovereignty and self-determination

# 8   Positive scenarios: Turn to the future, look at the broader perspectives

# 9   Many models for Kosovo

# 10  Summary: From “Only one solution” towards democracy and peace

About the authors

[Read more…]

The UN in Kosovo praises potential war criminal – why?

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 208 – March 10, 2005

Originally published here.

Danish diplomat, Søren Jessen-Petersen is the highest authority in Kosovo and SRSG, Special Representative of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, there. In spite of that, his unconditional embrace of Mr. Ramush Haradinaj, a former leader of the illegal Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and former prime minister in the non-independent Kosovo and now indicted for war crimes by the Hague Tribunal seems to raise no eyebrows in any capital, media or at the UN in New York.

All relevant links here. See also the TFF Kosovo Solution Series beginning here.

 

Mr. Søren Jessen-Petersen’s embrace of Haradinaj

In a statement on Haradinaj’s resignation Jessen-Petersen praises him for his “dynamic leadership, strong commitment and vision” and says that thanks to that “Kosovo is today closer than ever before to achieving its aspirations in settling its future status.” He calls him his “close partner and friend.” In spite of the fact that the Prime Minister had no choice but to voluntarily go to the Hague, Kofi Annan’s representative praises him for the “dignity and maturity” he has shown in deciding to do so. He also expresses his understanding of the “shock and anger” the people of Kosovo must feel at this development, “people” meaning of course only the Albanians and hardly the Serbs, Romas and other minorities living there.

Søren Jessen-Petersen continues [Read more…]

Peace-prevention: Western conflict management as the continuation of power politics by other means

The Violent Dissolution and Its Underlying Conflicts

By Jan Oberg
June 2004

The breakdown of former Yugoslavia has been explained in dozens of books the last five years with reference to ethnic war, aggression, traumas, nationalism, the dissolution of Communist ideology and the Soviet Union, the impossibility of non-alignment when the blocs disappeared, by expansionist national myths (Greater Serbia) etc. In short, black and white images, reduction to two parties — one good and one bad — in conflict and a need for ”third” parties to intervene to judge and set things right.

My first observation is that there may well be an element of truth in each but that they are surface appearances or instrumental features of the war through which deeper lying, essentially political-economic root causes of the conflict were played out.

My second, perhaps to some provocative, argument is that the international so-called community (1) is fundamentally incapable of perceiving and diagnosing conflicts as conflicts but see events such as Croatia, Bosnia, Iraq, Rwanda, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq in the perspective of foreign policy, security, alliance-building, world domination, national interests, or in the light of the division of labour among international organisations. [Read more…]

Former Yugoslavia in 1990: Why it had a bad prognosis

By Håkan Wiberg

Originally published here

Former Yugoslavia entered a process of dissolution many years ago, which may be far from completed yet. It took violent forms from 1991; events in 2004 in Macedonia and Kosovo indicate that we did hardly see the end here either. Was the dissolution unavoidable? Was war an inescapable consequence?

I shall attempt to translate these issues into manageable research questions, trying to make various postdictions concerning FY around 1990. There are no natural laws in social science, so the questions will deal with probabilities, asking what were the prognoses with highest likelihood at that time point. No empirical facts are drawn on that were not available at that time; confirmed general propositions are used even if they have only found empirical support later than 1990.

 

WAS A DISSOLUTION INESCAPABLE?

The first question is then: how probable was a dissolution, given the characteristics of FY and the circumstances prevailing some fifteen years ago. There is little quantitative research on when and how states dissolve. One relevant classical finding is Richardson’s (1960: 190f.) that the longer two groups lived under common government, the less likely is a civil war. This does not say anything about peaceful dissolutions; but these are historically quite rare, so this finding actually covers the great majority of cases.

The first problem concerning FY is to define its age: from 1918 or from 1945? In the first case, YU of 1990 was older than two thirds of all states; in the second case, it still belonged to the older half. Its prognosis on the basis of this indicator only was therefore about average, meaning that it was definitely less likely to dissolve than to remain. If we use qualitative analyses instead, the first problem is disagreement: some conclude that it was doomed for a number of reasons, others that it was fully viable. How convincing the pro and con arguments are is a subjective matter, or at least contains large subjective elements.

There had indeed been attempts at dissolving it, temporarily successful in 1941-45. Small armed Croatian groups from abroad failed to get much support in 1968 and were quickly suppressed. The Croatian Spring in 1971 had much more support, initially also in the party leadership, which, however, withdrew when public demands rapidly escalated from cultural autonomy to economic autonomy and from there to secession (eventually claiming large parts of Bosnia-Herzegovina); as a bid for dissolution it failed. [Read more…]

Peacemaking in Kosovo coming to an end – for predictable reasons

With a critique of the International Crisis Group

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 197 – April 29, 2004

Originally published here.

See PressInfo 195 as a background to this PressInfo

This PressInfo in Swedish
This PressInfo in Danish

There is a long-term background and some root causes behind the emerging peace-keeping failure in Kosovo. Media and politicians tend to forget them because they were ignored during the 1990s and do not fit the standardised image of the conflict. In this analysis, TFF’s director who has been engaged in Kosovo since 1991 discusses some of the most important among those causes.

In passing, he also points out how an allegedly “prestigious” NGO such as the International Crisis Group serves as a biased NEGO, a NEar-Governmental Organisation, and continues to offer perspectives and proposals that will make things worse in the Balkans.

It’s the beginning of the end

Slowly but surely – and sadly – the efforts of the international community to create peace in Kosovo/a are coming to an end in spring 2004. The reasons are simple: mediation and conflict-resolution in complex conflicts can not be done the way it was between 1989 and 1999. And you won’t succeed with peace-making the way it was done by the bombings in 1999 and the efforts since then.

Had anyone in the EU and the U.S. had the intellectual will and the political courage to draw conflict-management lessons from the Balkans, we would hardly have experienced the succeeding quagmires called Afghanistan and Iraq where the opportunities for peace and reconciliation are also decaying by the day.

The community’s self-appointed conflict-managers and mediators probably now hope that their “condemnations” of the most recent bout of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo in March 2004 will do the trick, prevent Albanian extremists from further attacks and keep the Kosovo calamity away from the headlines. If so, there is a high probability that they are in for nasty surprises.

The truth is simple and wants to get out: the international community hasn’t got the faintest idea about what to do with Kosovo. There are no solutions anymore that will be fair in the eyes of the parties. Any future status will create serious problems in the region and possibly for the international community. To put it crudely – if the international conflict-managers are doctors, their patient is dying because of a bad diagnosis and a seriously failed surgery.

Embarrassing as they are, the reasons are quite simple but remain virtually untold: they would require an ounce of self-criticism in a series of European ministries of foreign affairs, in Washington and Brussels. For the decade 1989-1999 the international community operated on a standardised, one-truth, black-and-white explanation of what the conflict was about. They blamed the Serbs in general and Slobodan Milosevic in particular for the Kosovo conflict. They ignored the complex framework in space and time of which Kosovo was a part: the dissolution mechanisms of former Yugoslavia, the wider context of the Balkans and the restructuring of the world order as well as the transition from the Cold War paradigm to something different.

Like we see in today’s Iraq, there were no limits to the political hubris-cum-ignorance. Both Albanian and Serb citizens were treated as pawns in much larger games and they are realising it now.

Below follows a list of some of the conflict mismanagement and long-term root causes that explain the unfolding dissolution of the peace-making efforts in Kosovo that we are now witnessing. (Numbers do not indicate priority or relative importance.)

Some root causes of the failed peace-making effort in Kosovo

1. Not understanding that the former Yugoslavia fell apart – also – because of a series of structural changes such as the oil crisis of the 1970s, European immigration policies and the end of the Cold War with lost neutrality between two blocks. Furthermore, multinational corporations’ exploitation of low-wage labour in South-East Asia which destroyed Yugoslavia’s industrial base and brought huge unemployment – followed by IMF structural adjustment programmes that further devastated the economy and welfare. The international community itself was a co-producer of the Yugoslav crisis and provided the outer conditions that made ethnic scapegoating possible.

2. Not understanding that the autonomy of Kosovo and Voivodina presupposed the existence of Yugoslavia; Serbia proper could be overruled by the two provinces in its own parliament if and when the other Yugoslav republics had left the balancing act. Thus, the Western policy of advocating and promoting the partition of Yugoslavia could not but create terrible problems, in Kosovo and elsewhere.

3. Turning a blind eye to the strong Kosovo-Albanian nationalism and exclusivity; they profited politically from having an arrogant strongman in Belgrade who repressed their basic human rights – for which reason they never supported the opposition in Serbia. When the international community talked about human rights, Kosovo-Albanian leaders meant independence. Ask yourself why what happened in Kosovo did not happen in Voivodina, the other autonomous province.

4.The short-sightedness of teasing Milosevic by supporting an independent Kosovo – like supporting the independence of Montenegro – and dropping that policy as soon as Milosevic left the stage. Go to Podgorica today and you will be overwhelmed by the disappointment with the EU and the Americans; the Montenegrin too have realised how they were treated as pawns.
 
5. The policy of treating equally repressed minorities differently depending on their nationality; the Serb minority in Croatia never got any serious attention from the West; politically the EU and militarily the U.S. helped Tudjman drive a quarter of a million Croatian Serbs out in 1995. With few exceptions, they are still refugees in Serbia.

6. Instead of providing real support to the pragmatic non-violent policies of Dr. Rugova – the only one of its kind in former Yugoslavia – Western countries, Germany and the US in particular, armed Kosovo-Albanian extremists from 1993 and created the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, of about 20,000 well-equipped soldiers. This was what, in 1998, turned the Kosovo situation into a real war. For a short while the US had formally defined KLA as a terror organisation but later used it as NATO’s ally on the ground during the bombing. Thus a conflict that could have been mediated years before with diplomatic means, became militarised.5. The policy of treating equally repressed minorities differently depending on their nationality; the Serb minority in Croatia never got any serious attention from the West; politically the EU and militarily the U.S. helped Tudjman drive a quarter of a million Croatian Serbs out in 1995. With few exceptions, they are still refugees in Serbia.

7. In spite of all warnings in the 1990s, the international community never even suggested a serious, comprehensive negotiation process for Kosovo. The Rambouillet “negotiations” were a fraud; the Serbs and Albanians never met face-to-face there. The introduction of the military appendix that would have allowed NATO free access to every corner of Serbia was a Maffia-like “offer” any responsible European statesman would have to refuse.

8. The international community got various missions into Kosovo. The latest, negotiated between Milosevic and Richard Holbrooke, was the OSCE ‘Verification’ Mission of 2000 people. Unfortunately, Western governments were neither able nor willing to get enough qualified people on the ground in time, so 70% of them mysteriously had military backgrounds and about 100 were allegedly CIA – not so surprising given that the head of mission was William Walker. Since OSCE failed in that mission, the usual fallback argument had to be used: it was all Milosevic’ fault. Truth is that he let them into the province (at the same time as he was accused of intending to drive out every Albanian) and kept his side of the agreement.

9. By the bombing and the diplomacy surrounding it, the Albanians could not but get the impression that the international community, Washington in particular, were granting them their independent state (without consulting Belgrade the loser). Today five years later, they have very good reasons to feel cheated. This of course does not explain Albanian ethnic cleansing or make it acceptable – as argued by the “prestigious” International Crisis Group which functions as an NEGO, NEar-Governmental Organisation*. The author met Americans and others in Kosovo right after the de facto occupation who did not know (or no longer perceived) Kosovo was a part of Serbia and repeatedly called it “this county” with a wry smile.

10. Completely ignoring the human dimension of conflicts. Billions of dollars have poured into Kosovo since 1999; hundreds of government and non-governmental organisations have promoted courses in media, human rights, empowerment and other civil society measures. The only things nobody dared touch were history, hatred, cultural differences, reconciliation, forgiveness, truth commissions and that sort of thing. The naive belief was that if the international community simply put up history’s largest international peace-making mission in a tiny province, the locals will greet them with flowers and those who didn’t would soon be convinced about the inherent goodness of the international mission. They made the same mistake four years later in Iraq.

11. After the bombing the international community monitored – but did nothing to prevent – the reverse ethnic cleansing of non-Albanians, some 200,000 who are still in Serbia and Macedonia, including the always ignored Romas. They were not helped to get back as were the Albanians fleeing the 13-months of war in Kosovo and the NATO’s bombs (the war and the bombings were much more important as causes for fleeing than was the manufactured nonsense about Milosevic already implementing an so-called “Horseshoe Plan” aiming to get rid of no less than all 1,5 million Albanians living in Kosovo).

This happened under the very eyes of 43,000 NATO soldiers and thousands of OSCE, UN and EU staff as well as Western NGOs in Kosovo. The world was told – also by the International Crisis Group – that it should be seen as a psychological reaction to the earlier repression of their side. So, Western endorsed ethnic cleansing continued over the years; the latest but hardly last round we saw in March 2004. This time it was “explained” by two arguments; a story that went through the world’s media about Serbs chasing Albanian kids into a river so they drowned; no retraction were printed when the story turned out to be untrue. The other argument was that the Albanian “criminals” and “mobs” (it wasn’t political!) were “frustrated” over the status issue and the socio-economic situation in the province.

12. The Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, was officially disarmed and closed down, being replaced by the Kosovo Protection Corps that would, we were told, have only civilian tasks. It leader was Agim Ceku, an Albanian general central in developing the KLA from 1993 while also serving under Croatian president Tudjman and being instrumental in driving out Serbs from Croatia in Operations Storm and Flash. This was yet another fraud by factors in the international community. The Serb forces did leave, but the Kosovo-Albanian army was, for all practical purposes, preserved. Only the naive could believe that the Americans, who are able to bomb Afghanistan to rubble and occupy Iraq, together with other NATO-KFOR forces were unable to prevent KLA from ravaging the region?

Some should wonder today how it was possible for KLA to destabilise and conduct war outside Kosovo, first in Southern Serbia and then in Macedonia? Isn’t it strange also how a disarmed people had weapons to kill Serbs and internationals as well as moderate Albanians and cause very serious destruction of homes and quite solid Orthodox churches throughout Kosovo in March 2004?

13. Like in Iraq, the occupying powers dismissed virtually every competent person who knew how to operate and repair the infrastructure, water, electricity, the health sector, schools, even if they had not taken part in Milosevic’ repressive policies. In consequence, nothing worked at a time when the Kosovo-Albanians had good reasons to believe that things would finally begin to work properly in their republic that had been liberated with a little help from their friends.

14. For about a decade everybody thought that sanctions was a great tool to put pressure on Milosevic but it only impoverished the people and trading partners such as Macedonia and, worse, created or boosted a Mafia economy everywhere. That Mafia is very influential in today’s Serbia and no less in today’s Kosovo. Sanctions and the black economy, combined with imposed privatization policies, created a class society with enormous poverty among ordinary citizens. The International Crisis Group, of course, does not see the absurdity of its own argument that we must – again – understand that the Kosovo Albanians do bad things because their economic situation is so poor. It never justifies Serb politics in those terms and conveniently leaves unmentioned the Albanian trafficking and prostitution, the cigarette smuggling, Kosovo’s several hundred money-laundering petrol stations, the drug trade from Afghanistan (where Western policies have brought back opium production) and Kosovo’s relation to the European underworld. Lack of money would be about the last thing that could explain why Albanian extremists commit ethnic cleansing!

15. The handover problem. The international missions in Kosovo are in the same dilemma as the US-led occupation in Baghdad. They want to hand over everything as quickly as possible to the locals – but also secure that they do what we want them to. The buzz word in Iraq is “sovereignty,” in Kosovo “independence” before which we heard all the other hollow marketing words: liberation, democracy, human rights – hollow because the occupiers do not show even the simplest respect for the locals or for their own Western “standards.” It is not far fetched, therefore, to predict that there will soon be a resistance movement in Kosovo too.

16. Oil, gas and military bases. Realpolitik is more about material matters and strategic positioning. This is where the huge American bases in Kosovo, Bulgaria and Romania as well as the 14 bases in Iraq enter the picture. See details in PressInfo 195. This is where the larger strategic game emerges: the triangle between the Balkans, the Middle East and Central Asia with its resources, transport corridors, gas and oil pipelines – and long-term strategic battle between the over-militarised, but crumbling West and the rest of the world. The Albanians are waking up to the reality that the West, the US in particular, did not come to Kosovo for the sake of their human rights or their independence unless, that is, it suits larger strategic plans.

17. The counterproductive treatment of Serbia. After Milosevic’s delivery to the Hague, the West never got its act together; conveniently, therefore, it blames Serbia for not getting its act together. If you put yourself into the situation in Serbia, it’s been one long political harassment ever since. The list is indeed long if you want to see it: totally inadequate assistance for reconstruction after the devastating bombing and psycho-political humiliation; extreme conditionality on aid and loans; broken promises of aid if delivering Milosevic; only negative views on one of the few political leaders with clean hands, Mr. Kostunica; no willingness to help set up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission proposed by him; continuously harping on the co-operation with ICTY in the Hague in ways not required of politicians in Sarajevo, Zagreb or Pristina; ignoring the fact that Serbia has Europe’s largest refugee problem of about 500,000 to 600,000 Serbs from Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo; blatant interference in the country’s internal affairs; no understanding that Serbia feels deprived of Kosovo and collectively punished because of one leader’s brutality and stupidity.

In addition, the country has all the problems of the East European societies in transition and is required to fulfil extremely demanding requirements on the way to a EU membership that may become true a decade or more into the future.

And then there are those who act surprised that right-wing, populist parties such as Seselj’s Radical Party gains are gaining increased support! The International Crisis Group of course proposes more of this type of misguided policy in its March 2004 report on Serbia. Thus, the West is missing a great opportunity to achieve reconciliation and co-operation with one of the most important countries in that part of the world that wants to orient itself towards the West but is constantly rebuffed and humiliated.

Truth is that Serbia is losing Kosovo and knows it. If the West misses the opportunity to offer Serbia an attractive political and economic deal concerning Kosovo and the future of Serbia proper, it stands to lose both Serbia and Kosovo – and the people in both places will lose even more. In the worst of cases it could lead to renewed fighting and breakdown, also in Bosnia.

18. The naive belief that Kosovo-Albanians are seriously interested in EU integration and in joining the globalising market economy. They are not. They are interested in an independent Kosova and in the fate of Albanians in Montenegro, Macedonia and perhaps in developing not a greater Albania but a greater Kosova. And why not? Kosovo-Albanian leaders tend to see themselves as the historical, philosophical and intellectual centre of the Albanian nation. Anything less than an independent Kosova is unacceptable; and let’s not forget that their leaders have told the young generation the last fifteen years that Kosova was already independent. The importance of the difference between de jure and de facto was lost upon themselves in the heat of the struggle and certainly among those between, say, 5 and 20 years of age.

Time is running out for the old political elites, the new ones are impatient, and fifteen years of self-deceptive policies by EU countries and the US are, predictably, finally catching up. There are limits to how many games you can play simultaneously, how often you can change policies, how much unprincipled politics you can amass in one place and how much you can fool the locals in the world’s conflicts, be it in Iraq or Kosovo. There will be a boomerang effect one day.

It may be painful to recognise the conflict mismanagement and the peace-making failure given all the prestige and resources devoted to Kosovo. But it will be more painful to more people if it all breaks down. Early warning does not apply to upcoming conflicts only; it should also apply to failed peace-making. But early warning and violence prevention remains a dream in this world. What we see in Kosovo now could have been avoided if dealt with in civil, political terms some 10-15 years ago by honest brokers. That, it seems to me, is the ultimate tragedy of the Balkans in general and Kosovo in particular.

* Throught this PressInfo we are criticising ICG, the International Crisis Group.

It’s simply time that the media look into the background of organisations that, sailing under the flag of convenience of prestigious independent NGO, actually play a semi-governmental, Western/US-biased role. Go to ICG’s website and you will see who is behind it. Among the ICG board members we find:

Morton Abramowitz
Abramowitz helped Zbigniew Brzezinski open intelligence co-operation with China, helped deliver Stinger missiles to the Afghan mujahedin, became president of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace and helped formulate the new world order with the US as its only superpower and was the eminence grise for Madeleine Albright and acted as adviser to the Kosovo Albanians in Rambouillet.
Various about him here:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A6539-2004Mar18.html
http://www.tcf.org/4L/4LMain.asp?SubjectID=1&TopicID=0&ArticleID=469
http://www.roadtosurfdom.com/surfdomarchives/002125.php
http://nsarchive.chadwyck.com/ch_essay.htm

Kenneth Adelman
Well-known security policy hawk, affiliated with the Project for a New American Century, PNAC, and believed that huge stores of WMD would be found in Iraq. More about him here:
http://rightweb.irc-online.org/ind/adelman_k/adelman_k.php

Richard Allen
Formerly associated with Nixon and Reagan; a Hoover fellow since 1983, he is currently a member of the U.S. Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee. More:
http://www-hoover.stanford.edu/bios/allen.html

Louise Arbour
Former chief prosecutor of ICTY, she indicted Milosevic, by no political coincidence, while the bombing of Yugoslavia happened; newly appointed head of the UNHCHR.
http://www.un.org/icty/pressreal/p404-e.htm
http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/arbour/

Wesley Clark
Here is how he explains on his website that he saved 1,5 million Kosovo-Albanians: “From 1997 through May of 2000, General Clark was NATO Supreme Allied Commander and Commander in Chief of the United States European Command. In this position, General Clark commanded Operation Allied Force, NATO’s first major combat action, which saved 1,5 million Albanians from ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.” Tried to become the next president of the United States
http://www.draftwesleyclark.com/Biography.htm

William Shawcross
Writer and broadcaster, wrote “In all, some 200,000 people died in the Balkans on Europe’s watch. It was America that stopped that. In 2001, it was only America that could have liberated Afghanistan from the Taliban. The results in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan are not perfect. But all those areas are better off than they were, and only the U.S. could have made those changes. Tony Blair understands that; many other European leaders do not.” More here:
http://www.williamshawcross.com/first_page.html

Stephen Solarz
Former U.S. congressman, hard-line views on how to solve the Balkan problems and isolate Serbia further; like Adelman affiliated with PNAC. More about him here:
http://www.refugeesinternational.org/cgi-bin/ri/article?arc=00033
http://www.newamericancentury.org/kosovomilosevicsep98.htm
http://www.apcoworldwide.com/content/bios/solarz.cfm

Among other security hard-liners on the ICG board could be mentioned Zbigniew Brzezinski and George Soros.

And in all fairness there are also non-hawks such as Oscar Arias Sanchez, Emma Bonino, Marika Fahlen, Mohamed Sahnoun, Salim A. Salim, Thorvald Stoltenberg, Shirley Williams as well as Martti Ahtisaari (chairman) and Gareth Evans, (President and CEO).
But they don’t seem to have any balancing influence on the reports of the ICG.

Finally, go here and see how ICG is funded – and draw your own conclusions about its independence given that 19 Western governments and their allies and some ten major US foundations plus mainly US citizens fund its work.

The continued reverse ethnic cleansing in Kosovo

Too embarrassing for the international community

 

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 195 – March 29, 2004

Originally published here.

 

Time to give Reality Show politics a reality check

Back to Square One. A few days before the 5th Anniversary of the war against what was then called Yugoslavia, ethnic cleansing again reared its ugly head in the Balkans. Carl Bildt, most knowledgeable and clear-sighted former diplomat in the region, said that we saw five years of international policy go up in flames. Bildt is right in substance but his time perspective is too short; it is 15 years of Western conflict (mis)management policies that has gone up in flames.

And indeed, some have reasons to try to play down this catastrophe and its consequences: the international so-called community and its allies, the Albanian leadership in Kosovo.

When Milosevic and extremists on the Serb side committed crimes there in the 1990s, they were pointed out as the perpetrators, often before anyone had checked the events and circumstances. Whenever extremists on the Albanian side have committed crimes since 1999, it goes virtually unnoticed and unpunished and is described as “inter-ethnic” or “ethnically-motivated” violence that must – for the sake of appearances – be condemned.

The UN’s chief of mission, Harri Holkeri, called it mob violence and criminal activity in an misguided attempt to de-politicise the events. Then follows the mantras and the “shoulds” – the local parties should work for a multi-ethnic Kosovo, work closely with KFOR and UNMIK, respect Resolution 1244, work to realise (European) Standards before Status and should see to it that such bad things don’t happen again.

This is the remarkably inept and evasive political response of the UN Security Council President of March 18, the EU’s European Council of March 26, the US and of the governments in Europe. There are reasons to believe that the situation is much worse and ominous than we are told, both inside Kosovo and for the international community that has taken responsibility for the province.

In fairness, NATO commander Admiral Gregory Johnson called the spade a spade. He stated that the bloody clashes was “ethnic cleansing,” that it was “orchestrated” and added, most appropriately, that he knew that “Kosovars are better than this.”

 

From honeymoon to divorce

It seems that the international community is now facing a situation quite similar to the one Milosevic was facing: being seen by hardline Kosovo-Albanians (i.e. not by everyone) as an occupier that must be forced out to permit the emergence of the independent state of Kosova. The international community has no better solution when violence flares up but to send more troops, as did Milosevic. [Read more…]

A decade too late – Kosovo talks begin

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 192 – October 14, 2003

Originally published here.

 

On October 14, 2003, in Vienna, high-level Kosovo-Albanians and Serbs from Belgrade met face-to-face. It was a historical meeting in more than one sense. It provides an opportunity for anyone concerned about conflict-management and peace-building to reflect on its philosophy, methods and politics. Did the international so-called community do the right thing? Is there adequate institutional learning? Are there parallels between Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq that we should discuss self-critically rather than simply blame the parties?

 

Dialogue is fine but the 1999 bombing hardened everybody

It is the first time since NATO’s war on Yugoslavia in 1999 that Serbs and Albanians meet this way. Indeed, with a few exceptions, it’s the first attempt at real negotiations since it all began in the late 1980s. Like in Iraq, the main parties were prevented from meeting. As time has passed hard-liners have taken over the scene and now they won’t really talk.

Being the clear victims of Milosevic’ repressive policies, the Albanians rightly felt that they had the support of the West and would be rewarded by sticking to a maximalist position; thus no compromise about the goal of complete independence.

Being the largest people whose minorities in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo never really felt any solidarity from the Western conflict-managers, the Serbs felt misunderstood, treated without fairness and they were humiliated by the bombings. Why should they not fight adamantly for the Kosovo province that they consider their cradle? In addition, the Serbs as a people – and the Kosovo Serbs in particular – have lost more than any other due to the policies of their own leadership. [Read more…]

Statement at press conference, Tanjug, Belgrade 2002

By Johan Galtung
June 21, 2002

Wilfried Graf from the Austrian Center for Peace Studies and I, both from the TRANSCEND network for conflict mediation, have just completed dialogues with the President and Vice-President of the Slovenian Parliament, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Croatia, the President and Vice-President of Republika Srpska, the President and Foreign Minister of Yugoslavia, distinguished representatives of the civil society; with a visit to Jasenovac and a consultation with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I will not quote anyone, only present our reflections. [Read more…]

The 10 deadly Western sins: The acts of omission – and U.S. military culture

By Johan Galtung

Written 2002

[1]  The failure to take seriously the European macro-divides, Catholic-Orthodox and Christian-Muslim, playing with fire inside Croatia, Serbia and B-i-H, playing with fire in the near context and in the remote context; EU, Russia, Ottoman/Muslim countries; and the USA that ultimately came down on the side of the latter. To get an “anchor” in Eurasia? An oil corridor? An Osman empire?

[2]  The failure to take seriously Yugoslav divides: the Croat spring 1971, Serbian action 1987-89, minority autonomy demands in Kraina/Slavonia, B-i-H and Kosovo/a; the fascism of Ustasha and Chetnik para-military forces. Atrocities were predictable.

[3]  The failure to take seriously outside party histories, like Austria and Germany wanting revenge for the First and Second world wars and their loss of empire, possibly also Italy. [Read more…]

The politics of strength: Humanitarian intervention, pretexts and the alternatives

By Johan Galtung

Written January 2002

1.  The issue: humanitarian intervention in Yugoslavia
We cannot stand by, watching a government committing serious crimes against humanity, even genocide, on its own population.

Certainly not! The doctrine of national sovereignty “within recognized borders”, like the doctrine of patria potesta giving the pater familias a carte blanche for terrorism within the walls of a recognized home, are cultural crimes against humanity, drawing artificial borders for human solidarity, delivering the subjects to the dominio of whoever are the tyrants.  The Roman law construct relating owners to whatever can be owned paved the way for such institutionalized crimes against humanity as slavery and colonialism. The problem arises when “whatever can be owned” includes human beings, for almost any definition of “ownership”.  The individual ownership takes precedence over the communal.

Humanitarian intervention, in all such cases, coming to the assistance of human beings in distress, is a human duty, flowing from norms of solidarity with human beings anywhere, regardless of artificial borders.  Of course, if action under that heading is done for such selfish goals as access to raw materials or to establish military bases, it should be better known as conquest.  But abuse is no excuse for doing nothing. Two wrongs do not make one right. [Read more…]