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…]

Teaching peace in post-war countries

By Jan Oberg

January 12, 1998 – TFF PressInfo 30

Our most recent publication “Learning Conflict and Teaching Peace in Former Yugoslavia tells you how TFF conducted the “Learning Conflict” Program in former Yugoslavia 1996 and 1997 – and what we learnt from working with 105 ethnically mixed participants during eight courses in Croatia, Bosnia (both entities), Yugoslavia and Macedonia.

This is a practical account of what we did and how we did it, rather than a treatise on the philosophy and methodology of teaching peace in war-torn societies.

Many organisations now offer various types of courses and training to NGOs. What we usually see and hear, if anything, is that these courses are a success and sometimes even contribute to promote the organisation that delivers them. So too with TFF, we are no different. The level of intensity, comments and the general atmosphere indicate that these courses were a success: our participants gave the experience as a whole 4,2 of 5 possible points.

However, few NGOs take the trouble to tell others what we tell you in this report: how we decided what to achieve and not to achieve, the difficulties in teaching under these special circumstances, how it was planned, how local partners and participants were selected, what we taught, how we taught it, what we learnt, what it cost etc. [Read more…]