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…]

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…]