Once more on Yugoslavia – Once more on NATO’s lies
Once more on NATO’s lies
“For globalisation to work, America can’t be afraid to act like the almighty super power that it is. The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist. McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonald-Douglas, the designer of the F-15, and the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technology is called the United States’ Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps”
Bourgeois journalist, Thomas Friedman, New York Times, 28/3/99
In the months and weeks leading up to NATO’s barbaric war of aggression against the tiny Yugoslav Republic, layers of the proletariat, let alone the petty bourgeoisie, in the principal imperialist countries were overwhelmed by the deluge of propaganda gushing forth round the clock from the powerful print and electronic media at the command of the bourgeoisie. All the speed and sophistication of modern telecommunication technology, the latest marvels of science, were pressed into service to propagate the big lie that the bloodthirsty, warmongering, imperialist NATO alliance had embarked upon the course of war against Yugoslavia out of considerations of pure humanitarianism – aimed at averting a humanitarian catastrophe and ethnic cleansing. This skilful propaganda, in comparison with which the Nazi lie machine run by Goebbels must look like an amateurish sideshow, temporarily succeeded in duping large numbers of people as to the real war aims of NATO in the latter’s war against Yugoslavia.
This is not surprising, for, in the words of Lenin, “
People always were and always will be foolish victims of deceit and self-deceit in politics until they learn to discover the interests of some class or other behind the moral, religious, political and social phrases, declarations and promises.”
We were one of the few who were able to see through the hypocritical cant of the imperialist bourgeoisie and discover the real – material – class interests behind its political and social phrases. We did our best to reveal these imperialist class interests to the masses of people by peeling away the layers of cynical lies and hypocritical declarations behind which lay hidden these interests. We were successful to some extent as the march of events during the 74 days’ fascistic bombardment of Yugoslavia daily gave lie to NATO’s assertions and proclamations, while serving at the same time to confirm the correctness of our stance, namely, that, far from being motivated by humanitarian concerns, NATO was waging this war to establish an oil monopoly stretching from the Middle East to the shores of the Black and the Caspian Seas. In addition, we showed that NATO’s war was aimed at further isolating Russia and forcing Yugoslavia to surrender all claim to an independent and sovereign existence. Now, eight months after the end of the war, when even bourgeois journalists have begun to realise that NATO’s Yugoslav venture was based on a gigantic campaign of lies, it is an opportune moment to return to NATO’s bloody war, not merely to expose NATO’s assertions for that they were, namely, a pack of deliberate and premeditated lies, but also to bring to public attention the far-from-humanitarian consequences – devastating in their effect on human life and on the environment alike – of this allegedly humanitarian war.
It was NATO’s chief lying assertion that the Yugoslav regime was involved in ethnically cleansing the Yugoslav province of Kosovo of the majority of its population, i.e., the Kosovars. It was further claimed that NATO was morally obliged to intervene militarily so as to put an end to this alleged ethnic cleansing and thus avert a humanitarian catastrophe. In previous issues (see Lalkar of May-June and July-August 1999), we have torn this lie to shreds. Curiously, while the Labour government was participating in the brutal assault (with the so-called left of the Labour Party and many Trotskyist groups cheerily applauding NATO’s genocidal war in Yugoslavia), it was left to the late Alan Clarke, a Conservative MP and former Defence Minister with impeccable right-wing credentials, to see through the ‘humanitarian’ proclamations of the US-led war alliance and arrive at conclusions exactly the same as those arrived at by Marxist science concerning the real reasons for this war. Just three days after the commencement of the attack on Yugoslavia, taunting the ‘left’, whom he correctly accused of getting a “
vicarious thrill from seeing B52s taking off from Fairford,”
he addressed them in the following scathing terms:
How have you swallowed the CIA-funded propaganda that demonises the Serbs? Are you not familiar with the duplicity and intimidation of United States foreign policy
[and that of other imperialist countries, he omitted to add]
? That Ambassador Walker, in charge of monitoring forces in Bosnia, was financing the Contras? Have you no recall of that ‘Free World’ crap that embraced Batista, Noriega, Syngman Rhee, Bao Dai, Lee Van Thieu and Sukarno?”
To the shame of this stinking ‘left’, cutting through the ‘humanitarian’ twaddle with amazing clarity – and a candour rare in a bourgeois politician – he pointed to the “
considerations of oil brokerage, the ‘Seven Sisters’ and projected pipeline routes
” as the real causes underpinning NATO’s war of aggression.
Ethnic cleansing on a grand scale
The results of this war have fully corroborated the position adopted by us. NATO forces entered Kosovo on 8 June 1999. Within just three weeks of that entry, 70,000 Serbs had been forced to flee through murder, beatings, house burnings and the torching of entire villages – in other words, ethnic cleansing on a grand scale, allegedly to stop which NATO had launched and prosecuted its war of aggression against Yugoslavia for 74 days. And this ethnic cleansing took place right under the noses of the NATO soldiery (35,000 strong), who did nothing to stop it.
NATO’s army of occupation, far from bringing peace, law and order, has brought in its train, says the leading article of
The Sunday Times
of 8 August 1999, “
violence lawlessness and disorder … Two months after British troops entered Pristina, anarchy is taking hold… Unless the situation improves quickly, NATO’s military success may turn into a political catastrophe, with General Sir Mike Jackson and his 7,000 British soldiers in the middle of it.”
Far from disarming the KLA, as required under the UN Resolution of 10 June 1999 which ended the war, NATO has indulged the KLA which has shown scant regard for the rights of the minorities, rejected reconciliation with the few remaining Serbs in Kosovo, seized property from its lawful owners, intimidated everyone who resists, held on to its heavy weapons and claimed the right to govern by force of arms. The Americans, who have called the shots throughout this war, have, in complete violation of the June 10 Security Council resolution, “
clearly decided that Kosovo will be a KLA statelet, armed to the teeth and drenched in money. It was the Americans who insisted … that the KLA be allowed to become a ‘territorial army’ in September
” On your way, morality, Simon Jenkins,
, 23 June 1991).
Continues Mr Jenkins:
most of Kosovo outside Pristina is politically and militarily in the hands of the KLA. The Albanian flag flies over every public building … NATO must soon decide. Will it renege on the United Nations resolution of June 10, recognise de facto Kosovo independence and defend the KLA against a furious Yugoslav response? If so, NATO is there forever in a Balkan Palestine. Or will NATO stick to the deal, properly disarm the KLA and readmit Serb troops, as agreed a fortnight ago? If so, that too would be a Balkan Palestine. … NATO is trapped. It is on the ground, reaping the whirlwind that it sowed in March. There is no more sheltering behind a ‘moral bomb’.”
That NATO is truly reaping the whirlwind it sowed is clear from the latest reports from Kosovo. According to The Times of 21 February 2000, “
US troops hunting for arms were forced to withdraw from north Mitrovica after coming under attack from Serb civilians enraged by the intrusion into their territory
.” The Americans withdrew under a hail of missiles as the Serbs shouted: “
Go back to where you came from
.” Later, German Kfor troops received the same treatment.
As early as 21 June 1999, Tom Walker of
reported from Devic Monastery that the KLA had attacked and possibly raped nuns in an isolated monastery and begun a vicious series of killings of gypsies in the southern Prizzren area: “
A British Army officer who visited the 14th-century Devic monastery in the central Drenica region described the three-day ordeal of the nine nuns there as ‘sickening’.”
The KLA beat and robbed the nuns and vandalised the monastery, whose crypt contains the bones of St Joanikios. ” ‘
I know they fired guns right next to the sisters’ heads and I believe very possibly the youngest sister was raped’, the British officer said. ‘She looked completely spaced out when we got there and she may well need psychological help’
Mr Walker continued by reporting Sister Anastasia as having said: “
I don’t know what this is apart from a war crime
“. She showed British officers “
where the KLA had smashed open the tomb of St Joanikios and thrown the bones of another saint over the floor. ‘After three days they forced us at gunpoint to clear everything up,’ she added. ‘There are terrible things happening to this nation, things that we suffered 50 years ago and I thought would never happen again
The KLA fighers had also scrawled their acronym UCK across one of Devic’s icons, a portrait of St Paraskeva, and stolen DM50,000 (about £17,200) from the sisters’ living quarters, along with all their vehicles, food, wine and honey
Devic was sacked and burnt by local Albanians loyal to the Germans and Italians in the Second World War, but in the recent conflict local KLA commanders had always vowed they would not attack Orthodox sites
.” (‘Vengeful KLA turns on nuns and gypsies’,
, 21 June 1999).
The Times of 16 August, quoting authoritative local sources, reported that more than 200 villages and 41 Serb churches had been destroyed in Kosovo since Kfor ‘peacekeepers’ entered the province in June. Serb villages and places of worship have been subjected to systematic destruction. Within hours after Tony Blair’s tour of the city, the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral in Pristina was bombed. In the wake of this explosion, NATO was obliged to admit that “…
the murder rate in Kosovo was runing at about 30 people a day, most of the victims being Serb
” (see the
of 2 August 1999). The response given to these dreadful events by Jamie Shea, the cynically consummate liar who fittingly acts as NATO’s spokesman in Brussels, was that the situation was “
grave but not catastrophic
.” Why could the 35,000-strong NATO army of occupation not prevent such heinous crimes? “
We’ve got soldiers, but soldiers don’t make the best policemen
“, was the answer of the utterly shameless and totally immoral Mr Shea. Since NATO’s declared aim was to stop ethnic cleansing, and since, according to Shea, this cannot be accomplished by soldiers, would it not have been better if Kosovo had never been subjected to NATO occupation in the first place?
The fact of the matter is that NATO has done everything within its power to facilitate the expulsion of 200,000 Serbs, not to speak of several thousands of gypsies and Jews who have been forced out, and thus helped to establish an ethnically-cleansed Kosovo, just as it helped the ethnic cleansing of 200,000 Serbs from the Krajina region of Croatia in 1995.
Since 1991, thanks to imperialist humanitarianism, a quarter of a million people have been butchered in Yugoslavia. Emboldened by the collapse of the former USSR and the eastern bloc countries, imperialism has everywhere stepped up its aggression and murderous activity, heaping misery on scores of millions of people. Thus, if in 1988, just prior to the Berlin Wall coming down, there were 13 million refugees, today there are more than 22 million, thanks to imperialist aggression and imperialist-inspired wars, civil strife and ethnic cleansing pure and simple.
If imperialist governments were truly moved to act out of considerations of humanitarianism, there would be no shortage of places of opportunities for them to practise their charity and bring relief from suffering to the vast masses of humanity. That this is not the case can be illustrated, as has been done by one honest, if bourgeois, journalist, Mr Simon Jenkins, with reference to just one example, namely, the recent natural disaster that struck the Indian state of Orissa. On the night of 29 October 1999, a storm of rare force hit Orissa’s long, low coastal belt, laying waste vast areas, rendering 12 million people instantly homeless, killing several tens of thousands of others, sweeping away roads, railways, power lines and telecommunications with the resultant damage estimated at $2.3 billion. Writing in
of 26 November 1999, Mr Jenkins says:
Technology can offer a hotline to hell, yet not transmit so much as a woollen blanket. The cyclone ranks as one of the catastrophes of the century
“, he goes on to ask, “
why do we
[i.e., imperialist governments]
stand idly by?”
He answers the question thus: “
I can tell you why … The whole ritual of Western
[imperialist would be a more appropriate expression]
humanitarianism boasted so bravely in Yugoslavia, is a sham… ‘Humanitarian intervention’ is code for political and military meddling in the internal affairs of sovereign states – and damn the consequences
Further down, with specific reference to Kosovo, Mr Jenkins adds:
We cannot stand idly by’ is a meaningless guide to foreign policy, as it is to international law or morality. It is the new, cliched slogan of the military-industrial complex and of the panjandrums of international charity. In Kosovo today, NATO military missions are building themselves handsome fortresses, while the Kosovans go unhoused for the winter. Meanwhile, gleaming NGO vehicles jam the Skopje road, coated in logos, as they jostle for attention and funds before the world’s media. NATO will soon have supervised the ethnic cleansing of every Serb in the province … NATO will then have to guard a racially pure enclave from eventual Serb vengeance, guard it for ever. What was deceitfully presented as an act of humanitarian charity has become a classic of neo-imperialism
.” (‘Weep for poor Orissa’,
, 26 November 1999).
With withering sarcasm, Mr Jenkins states:
I am not aware of any White House summits or late-night NATO phone calls about Orissa. No fleets were diverted or rapid deployment forces dispatched. The awesomely corrupt local government was given no ‘final ultimatum’ to care for its poor and not steal its food. There were no shuttle relief flights, no ringing denunciations from Robin Cook, no charity rock concert. A modest allocation of aid was announced by the United Nations, and £3 million by Britain, and water was left lapping round the decomposing bodies
…” Ridiculing the obscenity of the new world order, Mr Jenkins adds that in 1999 “
the much-vaunted new world order proposes to have spent $50,000 on every Kosovan and 30 cents on every Orissan. That is the true measure of our humanity. It is obscene
Since the war ended, publications with solid imperialist credentials have thoroughly exposed the pack of lies which imperialist spokesmen – Messrs Clinton, Blair Schroder, Chirac, Robertson, Solana, Cook, Fischer and co – used as the underpinning for their brutal assault on Yugoslavia. At the beginning of December 1999, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) published a report entitled Human Rights in Kosovo, in which it exposed the lies spun by NATO’s war machine. This report emphasises that NATO’s military intervention CAUSED the humanitarian catastrophe (as we have always maintained) that it was ostensibly designed to avert. Writing in the Financial Times of 14 December 1999, and commenting on the OSCE report mentioned above, Robert Skidelsky, who was dismissed as Conservative Treasury spokesman in the House of Lords for opposing NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia, says that the “
report provides no evidence to back NATO’s claim that genocide and mass expulsion of Kosovo Albanians was the deliberate aim of Slobodan Milosevic … and that it was only NATO’s intervention that averted this ‘humantiarian catastrophe’
“. He goes on to add: “
On the contrary, it [the report] makes it clear that the human rights situation in Kosovo had improved after the installation of the monitors in November 1998, and that the flight or expulsion of 863,000 Kosovo Albanians took place after the
air raids began
.” Of course, what was needed for a diplomatic solution was an expanded force of monitors (not their complete withdrawal), but this was “
inconsistent with NATO’s determination to use threat of force to bring Milosevic to heel
.” (‘NATO’s deadly legacy’,
, 14 December 1999).
Skidelsky goes on to say that “
NATO’s actions have made the world a much more dangerous place
“, for, implicit in NATO’s new strategic doctrine is a limitless enlargement of NATO’s membership, with its remit extending to a vaguely-defined Euro-Atlantic area and ultimately the entire globe.
On April 19, at the height of the bombing of Yugoslavia, the US State Department put out the lie that half a million Albanians were “
missing and feared dead
.” Four weeks later, US Defence Secretary William Cohen, on CBS’s Face the Nation programme, stated that “
100,000 military-aged men were missing” in Kosovo, concluding that “they may have been murdered
.” These assertions about alleged genocide have now conclusively been proven to be utter and baseless lies deliberately spread by the foremost representatives of US imperialism, with the willing and enthusiastic co-operation of the monopoly capitalist media, in order to hoodwink the masses of people as to the real purpose of the war and the real class interests lurking behind it.
A five-month investigation, led by Carla Del Ponte of the UN, found no evidence to substantiate the allegations of massacre and genocide alleged to have been committed by the Yugoslav security forces prior to NATO’s entry into Kosovo. The investigating team found no evidence of mass graves. Even the investigations by so biased a body as the so-called War Crimes Tribunal (of which more anon) found absolutely nothing.
NATO’s claims about ethnic cleansing and genocide by the Serbs, rape and concentration camps allegedly instituted by them, have proved to be pure fiction and a figment of the imagination of imperialist spokespersons. The likes of Clinton, Blair, Albright, Cook, Robertson, Wesley Clarke, have been exposed as the inveterate liars that they have always been and always will be. Even the bourgeois reactionary press, among them the
, have been outraged by the scale of lies and deliberate misinformation, to such an extent that they have demanded an apology from the British government for misleading them. We reproduce here random quotations from several sources nailing NATO’s lies and laying bare the entire fraud of its pretended concern for humanitarianism, ever accompanied by its ruthless aggression and complicity in ethnic cleansing – all in the service of the pursuit of maximum profits for monopoly capitalism.
The murder of Kosovars by the Serbians was put by the US defence Secretary, William Cohen, at ‘up to 100,000’
The United Nations suggested, with the relative precision which always helps make a claim authoritative, that the figure was likely to prove to be 44,000.
The head of the Spanish team sent out ready to provide 2,000 post-mortems, left last month having found only 187 corpses, some of which may have been bombing casualties
!” (Andrew Alexander,
, 5 November 1999).
I called my people together and said ‘We’re finished here’. I informed my government and told them the real situation. We have become part of a semantic pirouette by the war propaganda machine, because we did not find one – not one – mass grave
.” (Emilio Perez Pujol, Head of the Spanish Forensic Team attached to the International Criminal Tribunal, 12 October 1999).
Other atrocities of particular media interest, such as the ‘Rape Camps’ that so horrified Cherie Blair, are turning out to be fiction
, 15 November 1999)
The majority of media people I talked to came here and looked for a story which they had written already
The entire time we were here, we had no cases of rape
.” (Dr Richard Munz, based at Stenkoval Refugee Camp).
“The scale on which the public was misled about the atrocities … and not just NATO’s bombing ‘successes’ … threatens to be mind boggling” (Andrew Alexander,
, 5 November 1999).
“The whole war seems to have been a big lie. Despite 34,000 sorties flown by NATO, only 13 tanks appeared to have been destroyed” (Daily Mail, 5 November 1999).
Sanctions – continuation of war by other means
Thus, while the alleged genocide and ethnic cleansing by the Serbs, which were the pretext for the criminal war against Yugoslavia, have been shown to be complete lies, the war against Yugoslavia is continuing by other means – through economic sanctions and the continuing occupation of Kosovo by the NATO army of occupation.
At the end of the war, on 30 June 1999, the US Senate passed the S1234 Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programmes Appropriations Act by a majority of 97-2.
Among other things, this Act, passed by one of the most terroristic states ever known in world history, and which had just been waging a terrorist war against Yugoslavia, during which the forces it led launched 23000 missiles and dropped 13,000 tons of bombs on the Yugoslav people in one of the greatest massacres in the history of Europe since the end of the Second World War, has the temerity to name Yugoslavia a ‘terrorist state’, which means that there will be no travel in or out of Yugoslavia, mail will be stopped and US citizens will be subject to government restrictions on communications with Serbia.
In addition there will be draconian sanctions against Yugoslavia, whose economy lies devastated by NATO’s illegal war and where unemployment has reached nearly 90% of the workforce.
The result will be the killing of tens of thousands of innocent civilian Serbs, just as in Iraq.
Recently in an interview on 60 Minutes, Leslie Stahl asked Madeleine Albright: “
I understand that 500,000 Iraqi children have died due to our sanctions … Was it worth it?”
Albright replied: “
It was worth it
With the same fascistic cruelty, this is imperialism’s response to its Yugoslav victims.
Self-determination for Kosovo
In the weeks leading up to, and during, NATO’s war against Yugoslavia, many ‘left’ Labourites and Trotskyist groups supported this filthy imperialist war on the grounds that such support was necessary in the interests of the right of self-determination of the people of Kosovo who, it was further alleged, were the target of ethnic cleansing by the Serb-dominated Belgrade regime. This nefarious gentry ‘forgot’ the simple truth that imperialism does not give a rap for the democratic rights of the people; that it is characterised by minimum fondness for democracy and maximum fondness for violence; that it hews for itself a most reactionary path all along the line both in its home and in its external policy.
Kosovo – a NATO protectorate
Now that the shooting war is over, at least for the time being, even these dull-witted simpletons and reactionary fools with a ‘Marxist’ veneer must, one can but hope, be able to see through the fraud of NATO’s claim to be fighting for the national and democratic rights of the people of Kosovo. While Kosovo has, in complete defiance of the UN Resolution of 10 June 1999, been practically severed from the Yugoslav Republic, far from being controlled and run by the Kosovars, it has become “
in effect a NATO protectorate
…”, as the leading article in
of 4 September, entitled ‘A Gentler Tide’, aptly puts it. As from 4 September 1999, the Yugoslav dinar was dropped by the so-called administrator and all official dealing from then on were to be in German marks. The UN (which effectively means NATO) has set up a customs service at the border with the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia. A Royal Artillery major sits on the board of the Grand Hotel, Pristina. The administration gap at street level is filled by the KLA, which acts as the local armed wing of NATO, and which, while being subject to NATO diktat and overlordship, lords it over the Albanian population through racketeering and the extraction of protection money.
A much better clue to the motives underlying imperialist intervention in the internal affairs of the Yugoslav Republic – Kosovo included – can be gleaned from an article written by Robert Barry, head of the OSCE, concerning Bosnia – another victim of imperialist ‘humanitarianism’. Writing in the
of 20 October 1999, Mr Barry says that though much progress has been made on the political front, “
much less progress has been made towards creating a functioning and viable market economy in Bosnia
“, that the “
[a euphemism for a handful of imperialist bloodsuckers]
made a fundamental mistake at the Dayton implementation process
,” for it put too much emphasis on physical reconstruction and “
not enough on fundamental economic reform
.” As a result, says Mr Barry, instead of “
preparing itself for free-market capitalism, Bosnia has become dangerously donor-dependent
.” Accusing the Bosnian leadership of an unwillingness to commit itself seriously to the task of building a market economy, he demands that privatisation must proceed quickly, and that the Bosnian leadership and ordinary citizens “
must embrace the goal of a market-oriented transformation
.” Only along this route, according to him, lies the “
” exit strategy for Bosnia, for, “
if successful, such a strategy would see the international withdrawal from Bosnia in tandem with Bosnia’s integration into the Euro-Atlantic community
.” (‘The economics of peace in Bosnia’).
In plain language, the withdrawal of the US-led army of occupation from Bosnia is dependent on a condition precedent, namely, the adoption and implementation by it of “
“. This, then, is what all the hypocritical and verbose homilies about democracy and human rights amount to. There is only one supreme human right in imperialism’s book on morality – the right of one human being to exploit another human being and one nation to exploit another nation.
Parting gifts of imperialist humanitarianism
Although the barbaric aerial bombardment of Yugoslavia stopped in early June last year, the Yugoslav people continue to suffer horribly in the aftermath of the war. By way of a parting gift, NATO has left behind 14,000 unexploded cluster bombs, which have claimed the lives of several hundreds of innocent people. Children are especially vulnerable to such bombs as these bombs look like toys. The humanitarian Kfor is refusing to help in clearing away these lethal bombs.
As to the ecological and environmental aspect of the issue, NATO’s war had a devastating impact on biological diversity and human health in the region. The bombing of oil refineries, petrochemical plants and other industrial facilities has caused serious environmental damage. Many of the compounds released could cause “
cancer, miscarriages and birth defects
“, while “
others are associated with fatal nerve and liver diseases
.” Air and soil in the region has been polluted by industrial chemicals and heavy metals. Radioactive air pollution has been detected in some areas. NATO has confirmed that during the conflict US aircraft fired shells containing depleted uranium – a radioactive and chemically toxic material which, upon impact, turns into a “
“, and is the “
” of the “
carcinogenic and toxic substances
” that were released during the bombing of industrial targets in Yugoslavia (see
, 27 July 1999).
Not content with the devastation wreaked through the bombing of Yugoslavia and the resultant loss of life, environmental catastrophe, £100 billion’s worth of damage caused, the imperialist countries have clamped draconian economic sanctions on that tiny country which, according to the IMF, has lost 45% of its output as a result of the war. NATO countries, responsible for the ravaging of the Yugoslav economy and its infrastructure, are now attempting to achieve her complete economic strangulation and political destabilisation through economic sanctions. Maintaining that there will be no aid for the reconstruction of Yugoslavia till the removal of Milosevic (so much for democracy when a handful of imperialist countries claim the right to appoint the governments and leaders of other countries!), they have let loose the KLA in Kosovo to terrorise the Serbs with the aim of driving its non-Albanian population into Serbia and thus exacerbate economic and social tensions, which they hope will end up by toppling the present regime in Yugoslavia.
War crimes –
two world outlooks and two tribunals
The war criminals who have waged an unlawful barbaric war against Yugoslavia have had the nerve to indict President Milosevic and other leaders of the Yugoslav government and military for no other crime than that of resisting NATO’s attempts to break and gobble up Yugoslavia. Frustrated at their inability to degrade the Yugoslav military, at the height of the war, NATO instigated the so-called International War Crimes Tribunal to indict the Yugoslav leadership for war crimes. Duly complying, and with humble servitude, this mockery of a tribunal announced the indictment of Milosevic and four other Yugoslav leaders in the third week of May 1999. Even before the war, on 18 July 1998, the US Senate had in a unanimous vote resolved to bring Milosevic before what the capitalist media call the International War Crimes Tribunal, which is officially known as the International Tribunal for Crimes in Former Yugoslavia since 1991. Set up in 1993 by the US-dominated UN Security Council, it is presently an instrument of precisely the same NATO which has with such loving tender care showered death and destruction on Yugoslavia. Although located in The Hague, this tribunal is not part of the International Court of Justice. The tribunal venue wadeliberately chosen to cause confusion and to give it the appearance of being a prestigious international judicial body. In fact, this kangaroo court, completely controlled and paid for by the NATO countries, in which the latter act as prosecutor, judge, jury and jailers, is a legal fabrication – there being no provision for such a tribunal either in the UN Charter or anywhere else.
Not without reason has the Yugoslav government denounced it as “a private court” set up by the robber barons of the leading imperialist countries. The US is not in the least interested in setting up a genuine international war crimes tribunal, before which real war criminals, including US government and military leaders, could be indicted. In fact, in 1998 the US government scuppered an international attempt in Rome to set up an independent war crimes tribunal, explaining with cynical frankness that the US would block any effort to set up tribunals where it (the US) too could be charged with war crimes.
It may in passing be recalled that in 1984 the World Court ordered the Pentagon to stop mining Nicaraguan harbours. The US flatly refused to comply and rejected the competence of the court.
The question arises: at the height of a criminal genocidal war by the neo-Nazi NATO alliance, how was it possible for this tribunal to charge as war criminals the very victims of war crimes? The answer lies in the fact that in a world dominated by imperialism, the rich and powerful judge the poor and the powerless on an international scale, just as they do the poor of their own countries in their domestic courts.
The wealth of the imperialist countries has been accumulated by, in addition to the exploitation of the working class at home, piracy, slave trade, colonial occupation and imperialist plunder and rapine.
NATO’s war against Yugoslavia, and Iraq be it said in passing, is the latest in a long line of such bloody imperialist crimes in the world – from Korea to Vietnam, the Congo, Algeria, Mozambique, Angola, Indonesia, Palestine, Guatemala, Grenada, not to mention the two world wars. The victims of these imperialist wars run into tens of millions. Confining ourselves for the moment to Yugoslavia, the German Nazis subjected Belgrade to carpet bombing in 1941. They killed more than 1.3 million before being driven out. In our time, US imperialism and NATO have taken over where Hitler left off: they are the modern-day Hitlerites.
The war crimes tribunal is an attack on the sovereignty of nations, an instrument for deciding who runs for office, who can be removed from office, who can be arrested and taken to another country for trial in a kangaroo court set up by the present-day chief brigands.
The war against Yugoslavia, the continuing aerial bombardment of Iraq, and the Kangaroo Court set up by the imperialist brigands, bring to mind the following penetrating description of capitalist barbarity, with its systematisation of lawlessness and immorality:
“The general leaning towards barbarity acquires a certain method, immorality becomes a system, lawlessness gets its law givers and club law its law books.”(K.Marx).
Even if imperialism controls all the levers of power and has at its command powerful material and propaganda resources, it is important for the international proletariat and the oppressed nations of the world not to surrender the legal arena of struggle, for it can, and must, be utilised for mobilising the vast masses of people and demonstrating to them the identity of the real war criminals – the leading lights of the criminal NATO alliance. A diligent and meticulous indictment for war crimes levelled by progressive people and organisations against imperialist warmongers – the Clintons, Blairs, Schröders, Jospins, Albrights, Cooks, Fischers, and Wesley Clarkes – cannot fail to expose the blatant disregard by the imperialists for the very laws that they have themselves written and in the name of which they seek to justify their acts. It is in this context that we must see and judge the attempts made by decent people such as the former US Attorney General, Ramsey Clark, and others in the US and elsewhere, to set up a war crimes tribunal and initiate war crimes hearings to indict, try, and expose the real war criminals.
On 5 April 1999, Ramsey Clark wrote that “
the US and NATO attacks on Yugoslavia are acts of war which violate the UN Charter and the most basic international and humanitarian law
.” He correctly characterised NATO as “
virtually all the colonial powers, past and present, which have systematically repressed and exploited poor and underdeveloped countries
Walter Rockler, who was a prosecutor at the Nuremberg war crimes tribunal from 1945-1946, writing in the 23 May 1999 Chicago Tribune, denounced NATO’s barbaric bombing of Yugoslavia as a violation of the UN Charter, of several General Assembly resolutions, the US Constitution and NATO’s own Charter. The accusation of war crimes hurled at Milosevic, he said, was “
a mere pretext for our arrogant assertion of dominance and power in defiance of international law
In quoting the following wording of the Nuremberg judgment against the Nazi criminals, Rockler hits the US and other NATO war criminals on the head and exposes their most serious crime:
To initiate a war of aggression is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole
James Bisset, Canadian ambassador in Belgrade from 1990 to 1992, on 19 April 1998 dubbed the NATO attack as “
clearly in violation of international law, in violation of the UN Charter
Douglas Cassel, director of the Center for International Human Rights at North-Western University’s School of Law, writing on 22 April 1999, had this to say:
At Nuremberg, leading Nazis were sentenced to death for crimes against peace, defined to mean waging a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties. Because NATO’s war violates the UN Charter – an international treaty – it is a crime against peace
Under international law, unrestricted bombing is outlawed, as is bombing of the infrastructure of a country. Under the Geneva Convention, it is nothing short of a war crime to “
attack civilian targets or to destroy or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population
.” – the crimes that NATO has been guilty of in blatant disregard of all international conventions regulating the conduct of warfare. NATO leaders are guilty on all counts – from initiating a war of aggression to the manner of its conduct, in total violation of international law from the beginning to the end.
A number of prominent lawyers from several countries have filed a formal complaint with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia against all the individual leaders (67 in all) of the countries comprising NATO as well as against NATO officials. Led by professors from the Osgoode Hall Law School of Toronto’s York University, they have charged the NATO leaders with war crimes. These crimes include unlawful and wanton destruction, employment of poisonous weapons, destruction of educational, scientific, cultural and religious institutions, and damage to historic monuments and works of art – all in “
” of the UN Charter, the Geneva Convention and the principles of international law recognised by the Nuremberg Tribunal, which make “
planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances
” a crime, for which the individuals responsible shall not escape responsibility or penalty, no mater what their official position, “
whether as head of state or government
.” The complain alludes to the ample evidence in the public statements of NATO leaders that the attacks on civilian targets were part of a “
deliberate attempt to terrorise the population to turn it against its leadership.”
Copies of the charges have been sent to the accused. Taking part in this action are 15 lawyers and law professors, as well as the American Association of Jurists, a pan-American organisation of lawyers, law professors and students, with membership in all countries of the American continent, an NGO with consultative status before the Social and Economic Council of the UN.
Professor Michael Mandel, spokesman for the group of complainants, said in Toronto on May 7: “
The bombing of civilians is not only immoral, it is criminal and punishable under the laws governing the tribunal. You cannot kill a woman and child in Belgrade on the theoretical possibility that it might save a woman and child in Pristina. Even in a legal war you cannot kill civilians and destroy an entire country as a military strategy. But this is an illegal war and the NATO leaders are acting like outlaws. So far they have risked nothing by sending others to do their killing and destroying. We believe that if they are held individually responsible, as the law requires, they won’t feel so free to spill other people’s blood
Anti-war activists in the US and Europe have held large meetings at which the war crimes of the NATO leaders and their flagrant lies have been brought into open daylight. Cities such as New York, Berlin Paris, Rome, Novi Sad, Amsterdam, Oslo and Vienna have played host to such rallies, at which jurists, experts, peace campaigners and anti-imperialist activists have come forward not only to expose NATO’s war crimes, but also to condemn the economic sanctions imposed on Yugoslavia, demand the payment of reparations by the NATO imperialists to make good the damage they wantonly caused by their bombardment of Yugoslavia, and to expose NATO as a warmongering bloodthirsty imperialist alliance. The former US Attorney General, Ramsey Clark, addressed several of these rallies and drew the loudest applause each time he called for the abolition of NATO. The above rallies and hearings have been along the lines and tradition of the tribunal initiated in 1967 by Bertrand Russell, which charged the US with war crimes against the people of Vietnam. Proletarians and socialists everywhere have a duty to associate with, and support, these campaigns aimed at exposing and prosecuting as war criminals the leaders of the criminal NATO alliance.
At the height of NATO’s carnage in Yugoslavia, when the US president branded opponents of the war as ‘tribalists’ battling against ‘globalists’, he drew this appropriate riposte from Mr Bill Kauffman, which appeared in the
Independent on Sunday
of 25 April 1999:
The ‘great battle’ of our day, as President Clinton said earlier this month, pits ‘the forces of globalisation versus tribalism’. It is easy to caricature where this is headed, as the devil dogs of NATO descent upon any odd clan of bushmen who refuse to rent Disney videos or install the latest Windows program in the computers that US foreign aid will soon be sending them. But the ground war being designed by the globalists pits one set of tribalists (one rural, working class and inner-city kids) against another (the Serbs). Thus will the world be rid of xenophobia – one proletarian corpse at a time.”
(Bill Kauffman is the author of
America First! Its History, Culture, and Politics
The above observation of Mr Kauffman neatly and succinctly captures the essence of imperialist globalism. While talking glibly about globalism, democracy and human rights, all the imperialist nations, particularly the United States, are frantically arming themselves to the teeth with the latest killing machines for a never-ending series of wars. While cutting social security benefits, they have plenty of money for armaments and war. The monthly cost of the Yugoslav war was in excess of the Yugoslav economy. The US has allocated an extra $100 billion over the next five years to its already gargantuan military budget of $270 billion a year. Other imperialist powers are sure to follow this example. On 2 December 1999, Agence France Presse (AFP) carried this report:
Declaring the post Cold War ‘peace dividend’ over, NATO’s new Secretary General, George Robertson, bluntly told allied defence ministers they will have to spend more to ready NATO for future conflicts. ‘The time for a peace dividend is over because there is no permanent peace in Europe or elsewhere’, said Lord Robertson
This, then, is the future that capitalism offers humanity – intensified exploitation and ceaseless warfare to retard artificially the collapse of this filthy and blood-drenched system of capitalist imperialism. At the moment the imperialist powers are busy in the joint suppression of the oppressed nations. It is, however, only a question of time before they come to blows with each other and fight it out in a bare-knuckle contest with no holds barred for repartition of the whole world in order to decide, to use Lenin’s words, “
which of the insignficant groups
” of imperialist states is to “
secure the opportunity to rob, strangle and exploit the whole world
econd Congress of the Communist International
, 19 July 1920). Unless stopped by the revolutionary activity of the masses, imperialist governments, be they conservative, liberal or social-democratic, will plunge the working class into a slaughter, unprecedented even by the standards of the butchery which has characterised the 20th century, with its 120 million victims devoured by imperialist wars. The proletariat must fight for peace and against war, “
not forgetting, however, for a minute, that the elimination of wars is possible only alongside the complete elimination of the division of society into classes …”
European Capital and the Autocracy
, 5 April, 1905).
The fight for peace is indissolubly and inextricably linked with the struggle for socialism and the overthrow of imperialist capitalism.
Let the proletariat and the oppressed peoples rise to the occasion and rid our planet and humanity of the scourge of imperialist wars, misery and starvation. Let them grasp the prize of everlasting peace and prosperity under socialism, of life without capitalist bloodsuckers.
In its propaganda blitzkrieg, NATO had spread the lie that the Belgrade regime had planned the systematic ethnic cleansing of Kosovo’s entire Albanian population. By way of an attempted substantiation of this assertion, NATO claimed that it had got hold of the secret plan, known as
; this alleged plan played a big role in extinguishing the criticisms of NATO’s war. Now, however, a retired German general, Brigadier General Heinz Loquai, claims in a new book on the war that the plan was a total fabrication and that even the name,
, was coined by the German defence ministry; and that maps broadcast around the world as proof of NATO’s information were drawn up at the German defence headquarters in Hardthöhe (see
The information on war crimes tribunals is drawn from various issues of the
weekly organ of the Workers World Party in the US. However, the details of the complaint filed by, among others, the American Association of Jurists with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia are taken from the July issue of the Canadian magazine, People’s Voice.