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…]

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The information war about Kosovo

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 62 – April 15, 1999

Originally published here.

Serbo-Croatian version here.

 

“Most people around the world probably think that war and media are separate. When there is a war, the media tell us about it as objectively as they can under the often difficult circumstances. But in today’s information society, every war is two wars: that on the ground and that in the media. Weapons communicate and communication is a weapon. We must ask what interests determine what we are told and what we are not told?

The history of warfare makes one thing abundantly clear,” says TFF director Jan Oberg, “namely that we can safely assume that we are not told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. In NATO’s war with Yugoslavia, there is reason to paraphrase Hamlet – ‘there is something rotten in the state of the media.’

This is what you can read about the use by the United States of information in times of war:

“Psychological operations (PSYOP) are operations planned to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behaviour of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals. PSYOP are a vital part of the broad range of US political, military, economic, and informational activities. When properly employed, PSYOP can lower the morale and reduce the efficiency of enemy forces and could create dissidence and disaffection within their ranks. There are four categories of military PSYOP; strategic, operational, tactical, and consolidation. PSYOP, which are used to establish and reinforce foreign perceptions of US military, political, and economic power and resolve.”

Other countries work with PSYOP, too. Let’s remember that when we watch television. And let’s ask some questions when we do:

 

• IS THERE A LARGER STORY BEHIND WHAT WE SEE ON THE SCREEN?

Balkan conflicts not only have a Balkan but also a world order dimension. For instance, did you ever hear about the National Security Decision Directive (NSDD) 133 entitled “United States Policy towards Yugoslavia” labelled “SECRET SENSITIVE”? A censored version was declassified in 1990 and largely confirmed NSDD 54 from 1982 the objective of which included “expanded efforts to promote ‘quiet revolution’ to overthrow Communist governments and parties” while integrating the countries of Eastern Europe into a market economy.

 

• WAR REPORTING – BUT NO CONFLICT JOURNALISM

Media tend to focus on today’s ‘story.’ But there is a larger frame [Read more…]