BBC SERIES 'THE FALL OF MILOSEVIC' - A MOCKERY OF HISTORY
Ian Johnson, January 2003.
On November 5th 1990, the U.S. House and Senate passed Foreign Operations Appropriation Law 101-513 calling for the cut-off of aid and credits to Yugoslavia, knowing full well the destabilising effect that this would have, since conducting trade without credits is virtually impossible in the modern world. At this time there was no civil war, no republic had seceded and the United States was not engaged in any public dispute with Yugoslavia.
In 1992 the United States sent a group of 100 Nato personnel to Bosnia where they established a military headquarters at Kiseljak, a short distance from Sarajevo. A Nato diplomat described this operation to 'Intelligence Digest' in the following terms: "This is a very cautious first step, and we are definitely not making much noise about it. But it could be the start of something bigger. You could argue that Nato now has a foot in the door. Whether we manage to open the door is not sure, but we have made a start." (Nato in the Balkans IAC 1998).
Alongside these developments, Germany, anxious to extend its sphere of influence in the region, encouraged Croatia to join Slovenia in declaring for independence, itself an unconstitutional move, and duly furnished the renegade republic with financial and military aid.
In Bosnia a negotiated agreement for a unified state was reached between the Bosnian Muslim, Croat and Serb leaders. This agreement of all three parties was sabotaged by Washington who advised the Bosnian Muslim regime of Izetbegovic that it would get U.S. backing in any drive it undertook to dominate the entire state.
The initial plans of both the United States and Germany were to forge a new Balkan order, one based on deepening and accelerating market organisation of economies. Thus, under the guise of 'fostering democracy', the way was being opened for the recolonisation of the Balkans.
The planned reorganisation was for Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina to be brought under the German sphere of influence, whereby Germany acquired access to the sea on the Adriatic and in the event that the Serbs could be overwhelmed, access to the new Rhine-Danube canal, a route which links the North Sea and the Black Sea. The southern part of Yugoslavia was to fall into the American sphere of influence. Macedonia was to be the centrepiece of this American region. This sphere would also include Albania, and, if the Sanjak and Kosovo could be stripped away from Serbia, those areas would also be included. These initial plans can be found in the National Security Directive. 'U.S. Policy Towards Yugoslavia', issued by the White House Washington D.C.
Consequently, in 1991-92, Yugoslavia, a federation of six republics and two autonomous regions, which had existed in peace since 1945 when partisan forces defeated the German Nazis and their Croatian Ustashe allies in World War ?I, disintegrated into civil war.
Any honest analysis of the history of the break-up of Yugoslavia and the rise and fall of its leading participants, that does not take into account the above developments, is not a representation of the history of the Balkans but is in fact a mockery of that history.
The recently screened BBC documentary, 'The Fall of Milosevic' falls into the latter category. Accepted as 'the final truth' by parts of the media, it is instead a not so subtle propaganda attempt to once again justify the unjustifiable, namely, the deliberate and premeditated destruction of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia by the major powers Germany and the USA.
For the United States, Yugoslavia was significant not just for its own position on the map, but also for the areas to which it allows access, the Black Sea - Caspian Sea and the territories of the former Soviet Union with its immense oil and gas resources and the potential of unlimited cheap labour.
WHEELS WITHIN WHEELS
The advisor on this particular BBC version of history, was James Rubin, US Special Envoy, advisor to Madeleine Albright, and now U.S. State Department Public Relations Head, and therefore an interested party whose objectivity should immediately come under suspicion.
It was James Rubin who in May 1999 greeted the indictment issued by the Hague Prosecutor Louise Arbour against Slobodan Milosevic for 'war crimes' as "justifying Nato's bombing policy."
During the 1990s Rubin married Christiane Amanpour, CNN's main reporter on the Kosovo war. CNN is owned by Time-Warner Corporation, who not only have exclusive rights to broadcast, or prevent the broadcasting of, the trial of Mr Milosevic, but who also contribute substantial funds to the Hague Tribunal.
In June 2001 upon the kidnapping of Slobodan Milosevic to The Hague, Amanpour met Richard Holbrooke, US representative and another major contributor to the BBC documentary. They congratulated each other on a joint success. (CNN Live at Daybreak June 29th 2001). Holbrooke was to be a crucial player in the Balkans conflict, as shall be demonstrated below.
Germany was the first country to recognise the newly seceded Croatia, its former WW?I ally, and oversaw the resurrection of the Ustashe movement. The Ustashe had operated the Jasenovac concentration camp and slaughtered thousands of Serbs, Jews and Gypsies. The president of this new Croatia, Franjo Tudjman, wrote, "Genocide is a natural phenomenon in keeping with human social mythological divine nature. It is not only allowed but even recommended."
This was the man the Serbs faced in the Krajina region of Croatia in 1995, where, alongside their Muslim allies, they refused to leave what had been their homeland for three hundred years, and fought against 'Operation Storm' the latest Croat plan to ethnically cleanse the region. Before launching this assault Tudjman sought the approval of the USA. It was Richard Holbrooke who visited Zagreb two days before Croatia launched 'Operation Storm' in August 1995, giving US approval to the imminent operation.
As Croatian troops launched their assault on the population of the Krajina, United States aircraft destroyed Serbian radar and anti-aircraft defences, thus allowing Croatian planes the freedom to carry out extensive attacks on unprotected towns and positions. Seventy-three percent of homes were destroyed and in a matter of days two hundred thousand Serbs were ethnically cleansed. Tudjman commented, "It's as if they have never lived here. They didn't even have time to take with them their filthy money or their filthy underwear."
Perhaps we can now begin to realise why this 'final truth' documentary, featuring as one of its major contributors the very same Richard Holbrooke, made no mention of this US approved act of ethnic cleansing.
However Holbrooke did use the opportunity given him by the BBC to reiterate the story of how he came to be photographed with armed KLA members prior to Nato's onslaught. "It was a fact finding mission. We wanted to find out about these people, we didn't know them." This is not true. Whatever Holbrooke's mission was, it was not to find out about the KLA, the US knew exactly who and what the KLA were. The American media had carried reports about them from the early eighties. Here is an example: "The Albanian nationalists have a two point platform,…´first to establish what they call an ethnically clean Albanian republic and then the merger with Albania to form a greater Albania`" New York Times July 12th 1982.
The 270-minute BBC documentary contained voice-overs, which claimed, in heartfelt tones of near sincerity, "The dictator Slobodan Milosevic is finally being brought to trial." and "Milosevic had driven whole communities from their homeland" and "The wars he provoked launched the term 'ethnic cleansing' and tore Yugoslavia apart."
Hence two things are immediately asserted. One, he is a dictator, and two, he has committed war crimes. Slobodan Milosevic is a dictator only if you ignore the facts that he has won three elections, all internationally recognised as legitimate at the time, and that Yugoslavia operated as a parliamentary democracy. For instance the decision to put Yugoslavia on a war footing in 1999 prior to Nato's bombing campaign was a parliamentary decision, as was the acceptance of the 'peace agreement.' on 10th June 1999. In contrast to this, the 'democrat' Tony Blair, took the UK into the war without any reference to parliament whatsoever.
In regard to any war crimes may I suggest that if the programme makers have any evidence at all, other than hearsay and propaganda, then they should hot-foot it over to The Hague Tribunal immediately and present this evidence to the trial prosecutors and save that Court from further embarrassment and the time consuming tasks of having to torture witnesses in order to force them to present false testimony against Mr Milosevic, as in the recent case of former head of Yugoslav State Security Mr Radomir Markovic.
Of course the documentary makers, as the Hague Tribunal itself, have no evidence. What they have and what was presented in this series is propaganda.
At the outset of the break-up of the sovereign state of Yugoslavia, the Washington based public relations firm, Ruder and Finn Global Public Affairs, was handed the task of demonising the Serbs and their leadership.
They did their job exceptionally well and managed to turn the truth onto its head. It was the Serbs who were now incredibly decreed as being guilty of systematic ethnic cleansing, a policy that no one more than the Serbs had suffered from. Indeed the aim of Serbia was the preservation of the Yugoslav federation, not its disintegration, thus opposing the very essence of ethnic cleansing.
James Harff, director of Ruder Finn, when boasting of his propaganda achievements to French TV2, stated, "Speed is vital, it is the first assertion that really counts. All future denials are entirely ineffective." Ruder Finn uses several hundred journalists, politicians, representatives of humanitarian associations and academics to create public opinion. When asked of his proudest public relation endeavours Harff responded, "To have managed to put Jewish opinion on our side. Tens of thousands of Jews perished in Croatian camps yet we succeeded masterfully."
Edward S. Herman in his article, 'Propaganda System Number One: From Diem and Arbenz to Milosevic', comments: "Once an enemy is demonised - from Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam and Jacob Guzman Arbenz in Guatemala in the early 1950s to Slobodan Milosevic in the1990s and up to today - the media display a form of hysteria that helps mobilise the public in support of whatever forms of violence the government wishes to carry out. They become a virtual propaganda arm of the government, joining with it in the common fight against 'another Hitler'. Under these conditions remarkable structures of disinformation can be built, institutionalised, and remain parts of historic memory even in the face of ex post confutations, which are kept out of sight."
The BBC is an integral part of disseminating such disinformation.
When recounting the events of 5th October 2000 and the coup that brought the Western backed forces to power in Yugoslavia, the BBC faced a dilemma. The opposition leaders contributing to the series wanted to boast about the finance they received from the United States, yet the series had hitherto made no mention of such blatant outside interference in the electoral affairs of a sovereign state.
They got around this problem by creating the impression that receiving funding from the U.S. was the most natural thing in the world to do, given the fact they were facing such a ruthless enemy.
Serbian politicians Messrs. Covic, Ilic, Zivkovic, Svilanovic, Korac and Djinjdic, have two things in common.
All appeared as contributors in the documentary and all were backed and funded by the United States of America in the struggle to impose the New World Order driven by IMF-dictated restructuring on Yugoslavia. Zoran Djinjdic, current prime minister and leader of the Democratic Party, is a man who fled Serbia during the Nato bombardment and continued during and after the bombing to meet with Madeleine Albright and US Special Balkans Envoy Richard Gelbard. Djinjdic is the 'money man' and when he opens his mouth it is Albright who is speaking. Not surprisingly it was Djinjdic who led the call for complete Yugoslav submission to the United States and initiated the moves to break up the Yugoslav Federation and remove the name Yugoslavia from the map.
Darling of many left-wing groups and portrayed as the man who led a section of mineworkers out on strike against the government is Velimir Ilic. However Ilic is an army deserter who refused to cooperate with the Yugoslav Army during the resistance to Nato's bombing. He boasted to the New York Times of his role in the coup and outlined the organisation behind it, thus giving the lie to the media presentation of the events of 5th October as 'spontaneous'.
The full extent of the US funding was, for obvious reasons, not disclosed in the BBC series. However let us rectify that 'oversight' by noting the following:
Most of the funding was channelled though the US government agency, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Founded in 1983, the NED took over functions that were once the responsibility of the CIA. Unlike the CIA however the NED receives open congressional appropriations, as opposed to the previously covert funding, and thus their activities are openly documented. For instance NED programme operator Paul McCarthy revealed in his testimony to the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe that the NED, in 1998, was responsible in Yugoslavia for the newspapers Nasa Borba, Vreme and Danas, the TV station Negotin, the news agency BETA and the Belgrade station Radio B-92.
Significantly, in August 1999, the NED increased their funding to the Serbian 'youth' organisation Otpor, essentially recruiting the most reactionary layers from the ranks of the unemployed. The fruits of this strategy are outlined in the NED's own literature. "Otpor's activists played a crucial role in the street demonstrations that followed the elections and led to Milosevic's ultimate downfall on October 5th." And further: "Otpor's first major campaign was a nation-wide effort to pressure the regime to arrest Slododan Milosevic." That Otpor were following a strategy laid down by Washington was emphasised when Richard Holbrooke admitted to the New York Times of 8th April 2001, "The arrest of Mr Milosevic resulted from American pressure."
It is worth noting that included among the directors on the board of the National Endowment for Democracy are Wesley Clark - former Supreme Commander of Nato, Richard Holbrooke - former Assistant Secretary of State and Francis Fukuyama - author of the anti-communist diatribe, 'The End of History.'
The BBC documentary deemed it fitting to repeat the lie that upon his arrest Mr Milosevic was suicidal. The documentary used Zarko Korac to give this story some credence. The suicide myth originated in the New York Times of 2nd April 2001 and the relevant part of the article reads: "Zarko Korac, a Serbian deputy prime minister, said this morning that Mr Milosevic had waved his own gun during the discussion and had threatened to kill himself and his wife, Mirjana Markovic, and his daughter, Marija. Mr Korac said Mr Milosevic 'was in bad shape' but had finally agreed to surrender to save lives."
Two things to note about Mr Korac and his version of events. First Zarko Korac has been appearing regularly on Western TV for the last ten years as an 'expert on Yugoslav psychology' and is very much the American's man. Second, Korac was not even present at the discussions he was describing. Banislav Ivkovic of the SPS, who was present, explains why this suicide story was put out: " In fact, Mr Milosevic was quite calm, which is amazing given the threat to himself, his family and his supporters. Why is Mr Korac, who was not present, telling these lies about Mr Milosevic's actions and mood? We fear this is an effort to create public opinion that views Mr Milosevic as suicidal. Then, in the likely eventuality that the DOS-controlled, or should we say the US controlled Serbian judiciary cannot break Mr Milosevic, thus making it impossible to stage a proper show trial, the regime will assassinate him in jail and say he committed suicide." (Emperors Clothes-www.tenc.net) Reporter Jared Israel who talked at length with Milosevic just days before the former president's arrest shares this view. Israel comments: "The US Establishment has continued to finance and train KLA terrorists while they committed the vilest crimes in Kosovo, southern Serbia and Macedonia. The US supported the KLA while it drove 90% of non-Albanians from Kosovo. The US Establishment intentionally bombed civilian trains, homes, and Serbian Television, during the 1999 aggression against Yugoslavia. For such people, morality is not an issue. Murder is a practical affair: will it help us or hurt us?" (www.tenc.net).
With the BBC's portrayed heroes now in power, what benefits have befallen the general population today? The documentary stopped short of addressing this, and with good reason: "Kosovo remains a lawless society, completely intolerant of ethnic minorities and one of the most dangerous places on earth." (James Bisset, former Canadian ambassador to Yugoslavia - Ottawa Citizen June 22nd 2002).
"The drug barons of Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia have become the new economic elite, often linked to important Western commercial interests. The income from trafficking in drugs and arms was then recycled into other illegal activities like networks of prostitution.
"With the new government, the prices of bread, meat and electricity have exploded. But the miners from Kolubura who helped turn out Milosevic are currently being accused of 'blackmail' by prime minister Djindjic - whose popularity has dropped to 8%. During this time Kosovo, used to justify the Nato bombardment of Yugoslavia, has lived under the terror of mafias and has seen all nationalities ethnically cleansed despite, or because of, the presence of 40,000 Nato troops." (Michel Collon Two years later-Where is Yugoslavia. November 2002).
"The highest unemployment rates in all of Europe are in Bosnia 60%, and Kosovo 57%" (Associated Press October 8th 2002).
"In Kosovo the United States have built the largest military installation outside of America, 'Camp Bondsteel'. It was built by Brown & Roots Services, a subsidiary of the US petroleum services firm Halliburton. The Head of Halliburton is Dick Cheney current vice-president of the U.S. Brown & Root is now the number one employer in Kosovo." (Balkans-infos June 2002).
"At least 800,000 Serbian workers-must be laid off." (Arvo Cudda World Bank representative. Tanjug. January 24th. 2002).
In addition to the above prime minister Djindjic has announced the closure of Serbia's four largest banks. They are to be handed over to foreign control. Djindjic is also following the demand made by the World Bank that all public services be privatised and state-run industries sold at auction, effectively handing control of the Serbian economy over to foreign interests.
In August 2002 Momir Gavrilovic of the Serbian Security Services visited president Kostunica and handed over information which tied the Western backed Djindjic to the mafia. The evidence was precise and damning. Momir Gavrilovic was found murdered before August had ended. No one has been charged.
The whole premise of the BBC series is that it is asking viewers to believe that both the United States and Britain would send their forces thousands of miles for the sole purpose of 'protecting' a particular ethnic group, with no other interests involved. Such an altruistic outlook would be touching if it was not so obscene.
"Slobodan Milosevic may not be a revolutionary in the mould of Fidel Castro or Che Guevara. But in Washington's eyes he committed the same sin as the protesters in Seattle and Prague. He said no to the 'new world order' and the International Monetary Fund. His government refused to accept IMF-dictated 'economic restructuring'. It refused to sell off all state owned industry and let Wall Street bankers run the country's economy. For that reason - and that alone- Yugoslavia was the target of eight years of war and economic sanctions by the US and Nato and a non-stop campaign of lies by the biggest propaganda machine in history, the US corporate news media." (Ramsey Clark. Former American Attorney General. October 12th 2000).
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