The Kosovo War: No failure, all had an interest in it

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 42 – August 17, 1998

Originally published here

“Look at what happens in Kosovo and you would like to believe that all good powers worked for PREVENTION of this tragedy but that, unfortunately, tragedies happen. Governments, inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations are already overloaded with ongoing conflicts and catastrophes; budgets are tight etc. Admittedly these are very complex problems; and just as all diseases cannot be prevented, we can’t expect all wars to be prevented.

According to this theory, if things go wrong it is the parties’ fault and if they go well it is thanks to the international community and a few shuttling envoys or diplomats. World media naively corroborate this theory: We watch how diplomats, envoys, and delegations fly around, hold press conferences, meet their kin in palaces or make solemn declarations if they don’t issue threats. In short, do all they can to stop wars and force people to negotiation tables, don’t they?

Well, no outbreak of violence on earth was more predictable than the one in Kosovo. There have been more early warnings about this conflict than about any other, but there was no early listening and no early action. There was neither the required conflict-management competence nor political will to prevent it.

We live in an increasingly interdependent world; we are told that hardly anything belongs to the internal affairs of states. The other side of that coin is that Kosovo was and is our problem. If we believe in this theory we must ask: when will honest people, including politicians, begin to openly and self-critically discuss why they fail again and again to avert even the most predictable wars? Is it human folly, institutional immaturity, are diplomats just not appropriately trained in violence prevention and conflict-resolution, or what?

I am afraid there is another more accurate but less pleasant explanation,” says TFF director Jan Oberg after his recent mission to Belgrade, Prishtina and Skopje where he had more than 50 conversations with heads of states, party leaders, intellectuals, media people and NGOs.

“This other explanation is less apologetic, more cynical. It simply assumes that things like Kosovo happen because it is in the interest of powerful actors that it happens. [Read more…]

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From mistakes toward an end of the war in Bosnia?

By Johan Galtung

February 1995

Of the many mistakes made by the EU, the U.S. and the UN (Security Council) a major mistake was the recognition of BH as a country member of the UN within the administrative borders of the Bosnia-Hercegovina (BiH) of former Yugoslavia.  As Kissinger said, this was a “country” in which 52%  (the percentage can be discussed) of the inhabitants did not want to live.

But since this mistake was committed by the Holy Trinity of EU/US/SC to admit a mistake is almost impossible.  The doctrine became sacred, like Vatican doctrines.

So when the Contact Group, adding Russia to three EU members and the U.S., came up with its peace plan last July, the only question discussed was the internal division, and in highly unrealistic terms as if there were only two parties in BH, with a 51-49% formula.

In addition there was also the old idea that all problems derive from Serb, meaning Beograd, aggression, seeing the conflict as Beograd against the rest. Serbs were Serbs, socialist or tchetnik, Beograd or Pale; and the same for the Croats. They never understood the old and new tensions between Beograd and Zagreb, and Serbs and Croats in BH.

However, the conflict, and indeed the war in BiH, is over self-determination for the Bosnian Serbs (and, possibly, for the Croats). [Read more…]