“The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist – McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the builder of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies is called the United States Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.”
The most significant and enduring testament to those who perished in the struggle to defeat fascism in WWII remains the UN Charter, the foundational document of the United Nations upon its birth in October 1945. The Charter arose from the ashes of that epic struggle as a tangible symbol of hope. Enshrined within its articles was a solemn promise that henceforth justice, international law and tolerance would reign in place of brute power, force and intolerance.
Consider for a moment the first section of the Charter’s preamble:
WE THE PEOPLES OF THE UNITED NATIONS DETERMINED
- to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and
- to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and
- to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and
- to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom
It is impossible to read those words and not lament the gaping disjuncture between the noble ideals they embrace and the grim reality that arrived in their wake. For rather than mankind being saved from the scourge of war, the scourge of war and conflict has grown to become a near-everyday reality across the globe.
The pressing question we are required to grapple with today is: Why? What lies at the root and what is the common denominator responsible for mankind’s abject failure to achieve the vision set out in the UN Charter?
Upon due consideration, we are left in no doubt that, fundamentally, the series of conflicts that have come to define our existence are a consequence of the drive by one ideological bloc to dominate and impose a particular political, economic and value system onto a world defined by its diversity of languages, cultures, histories and traditions.
The result is the normalization of war and the apotheosis of hard power, rather than war and hard power being regarded as grotesque perversions in a world cured of the moral sickness of might is right.
Seventy years ago, NATO, a military alliance whose entire existence and ethos is predicated on might is right, emerged from the womb of the Cold War objectives devised by a Truman administration of fanatical hawks, consumed with the goal of full-spectrum dominance at the close of WWII.
In his 1997 essay, ‘The Last Empire,’ Gore Vidal savages the official history proffered by Western ideologues when it comes to the sudden shift that took place from Moscow being viewed as an indispensable ally in the war against Nazi Germany in the eyes of the Roosevelt administration, to implacable foe when Truman entered the White House upon Roosevelt’s death in April 1945.
Gore Vidal: “The National Security State, the NATO alliance, the forty-year Cold War were all created without the consent, much less advice, of the American people… The impetus behind NATO was the United States… We were now hell bent on the permanent division of Germany between our western zone (plus the British and French zones) and the Soviet zone to the east. Serenely, we broke every agreement that we had made with our former ally, now horrendous Communist enemy.”
Moving things forward, it is by now no secret that US Secretary of State James Baker assured Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev in a meeting on February 9, 1990, that NATO would not expand “one inch eastward” upon the reunification of Germany. According to declassified documents, Baker’s pledge was made as part of a “cascade of assurances” over Soviet security given by Western leaders at that time and on into 1991, when the Soviet Union came to an end. It is the breaking of those assurances that lies at the heart of the deterioration in relations between East and West that has taken place from then to now.
Flush with triumphalism over the demise of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, NATO was loosed upon the world not in name of democracy but in the cause of imperialism. Neocon scribe Thomas Friedman, more than any of his ilk, has written openly of the driving ethos of Western foreign policy after the Soviet Union’s demise: “The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist – McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the builder of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies is called the United States Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.”
Friedman’s gleeful celebration of the economic opportunities lying open to the US in the post-Soviet world was shared by powerbrokers in Washington on both sides of the aisle. Intoxicated with a misplaced sense of exceptionalism and virtue, the world now lay before them like a vast banquet upon which they were invited to feast. And the first course in this feast was the former Yugoslavia with its abundant human and natural resources, not to mention strategic location in the Balkans, ripe for the taking.
Michael Parenti, in his definitive work on the destruction of Yugoslavia, ‘To Kill A Nation,’ reminds us that after the fall of communism in eastern Europe, “the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) remained the only nation in that region that would not voluntarily discard what remained of its socialism and install an unalloyed free market system. It also proudly had no interest in joining NATO.” Later, Parenti also reveals: “The ultimate goal has been the complete privatization and Third Worldization of Yugoslavia, Eastern Europe… It is to replace the social wage with a neoliberal global free market, a process that would deliver still greater wealth and power into the hands of those at the top.”
The role of NATO in achieving the West’s objectives in Yugoslavia need not detain us; they have been set out in powerfully in a series of articles commemorating the 20th anniversary of the start of the Western military alliance’s 78-day air war against FRY with them in mind. Here, specifically, I refer you to the work of RT columnist Neil Clark.
The point is that today – bearing in mind NATO’s role in destroying Yugoslavia, helping to turn Afghanistan into a failed state rather than democratic state, destroying Libya, and in threatening Russia – it is no longer feasible or possible to harbor any lingering belief that NATO is anything other than a snarling beast of US hard power, deployed not to protect and defend, but destroy and dominate.
The 70th anniversary of the birth of NATO is a cause for lamentation, not celebration. The only fitting way to mark it is with a minute’s silence in solemn remembrance of its countless victims.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
In the words of Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, whose country does not recognize the breakaway province:
“This is certainly an occasion to take a close look at the dire consequences of the policy of retroactively legitimizing NATO’s 1999 aggression and dismemberment of a European state – the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia… Unilateral secession that took place in 2008 in violation of the bedrock principles of international law failed to resolve the Kosovo issue and the prospects of its solution are still dim… Unilateral declaration of independence has failed to solve the region’s economic problems and attract investments. As a consequence, Kosovo remains the poorest part of the region from where people flee. This is compounded by rampant crime and corruption against the background of clashes of clan interests, security problems and vulnerability to the terrorist threat from the Middle East.”
Russian officials have been saying similar things for years – and not only they. Five EU states – Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Romania and Slovakia – still refuse to recognize the territory’s unilateral secession, as do China and India, major Muslim countries such as Iran and Indonesia, Israel, and the majority of Asian, African and Latin American countries.
But, somewhat surprisingly, on this round anniversary Russian assessments are being echoed by one of the main Western corporate media champions of the Kosovo Independence Project (not to mention of the current anti-Russian media hysteria gripping the U.S.) – the New York Times, in an article whose title speaks for itself: “Kosovo Finds Little to Celebrate After 10 Years of Independence”:
“Returning this winter, I was struck by how the relentless optimism of Kosovars had yielded to disillusionment. The people seemed weighed down by resignation, as well as widespread disgust at perceived government corruption…
“’I swear to God, if it wasn’t for all those who have laid down their lives for this, I would say let’s go back to the way it was before,’ one man told me. ‘We had a better life then; we had more opportunities…’”
Believe it or not, the disillusioned man is actually waxing nostalgic for the supposedly calamitous times of one of the most demonized figures of the Western unipolar, “end-of-history” victory lap – Slobodan Milosevic. The alleged “Butcher of the Balkans” himself. The man on whose frail shoulders the Western governing and media establishment has been tirelessly striving to heap the blame for its cynical joint criminal enterprise (JCE for short: an infamous device used by the Western-conceived ICTY ad hoc “tribunal” used to manufacture “war crimes” convictions without actual proof – mocked by some legal scholars to actually stand for “just convict everyone”) of facilitating the dismemberment of the former Yugoslavia and the ensuing mess that’s emerged as its byproduct.
The end of the world is surely nigh… After all, when was the last time the New York Times and the Russian Foreign Ministry agreed on anything?
Unfortunately, this congruence of views has come ex post facto. Had the sundry Western establishment centers heeded Russia’s pleas, warnings and counsel on this issue 10, 20, 27 years ago – the Balkans bloodshed of the 1990s, of which the Kosovo quagmire is a small, albeit important part, might well have been averted altogether, or at least mitigated. Imagine that, instead of favoring some parts and nations of multinational Yugoslavia (Croatia, the Bosnian Muslims, Kosovo Albanians) while, at the same time, demonizing others (Milosevic, the Bosnian Serbs and Serbia); that, instead of unilaterally recognizing various secessionist movements (especially those in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo), arming the secessionists and (only) then “calling for peace” while, at the same time, imposing sanctions and, ultimately, bombing those fighting against secession (Bosnian Serb-held territory and Serbia proper) – the then-triumphant West had been a truly honest broker…
Admittedly, that is an oxymoronic concept. But, had such a miracle come to pass, the face of Europe might have been different. And, if not for the NATO bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (i.e., Serbia) and its subsequent military occupation of its Kosovo province, it is quite possible that tensions between Russia and the West would not be running so high now. Russian President Putin has said as much on more than one occasion (e.g. even as late as 2016, in answering a journalist’s question on whether US-Russian relations had deteriorated due to the Syrian crisis, Putin did not invoke Crimea but, rather, Yugoslavia, specifically the 1999 NATO bombing of Serbia, as the true source of Russia’s alarm).
Faced with the past and present ugly reality of the Kosovo Independence Project, it is important not to lose sight of its true origins and motives. These were most convincingly and cogently presented in a May 2000 letter written by Willy Wimmer, then Vice President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE, to the German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, summing up the key points of a U.S. State Department/American Enterprise Institute-sponsored conference that had just taken place in Bratislava, Slovakia, less than a year after NATO’s aggression against Yugoslavia/Serbia. These are the most relevant passages, as pertaining to the Kosovo Project and its (much broader) geopolitical aspects:
“4. The war against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was waged in order to rectify General Eisenhower’s erroneous decision during World War II. Therefore, for strategic reasons, American troops must be stationed there, in order to compensate for the missed opportunity from 1945…
“7. It would be good, during NATO’s current enlargement, to restore the territorial situation in the area between the Baltic Sea and Anatolia such as existed during the Roman Empire, at the time of its greatest power and greatest territorial expansion…
“8. For this reason, Poland must be flanked to the north and to the south with democratic neighbor states, while Romania and Bulgaria are to secure a land connection with Turkey. Serbia (probably for the purposes of securing an unhindered US military presence) must be permanently excluded from European development.”
So, the Russians might not be so “paranoid” after all in their views of NATO’s behavior in Europe… But, lest anyone think that this sort of militaristic megalomania has since been tempered, one need look no further than last November’s report by the NATO-affiliated think-thank Atlantic Council, calling for a “permanent American military presence in the Balkans,” ostensibly to “stabilize southeastern Europe amid increased Russian efforts to exert political influence across the region.” The key staging area for American troops? None other than Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, “the largest and the most expensive foreign military base built by the US in Europe, since the Vietnam War,” set up after Yugoslav (i.e., Serbian) forces withdrew from the province after UNSC 1244 came into effect in June 1999.
So, the confused impartial observer still trying to figure out who’s to blame for the increasingly dangerous level of Western-Russia tensions need look no further than the poor, nasty, brutish and short history of the Kosovo Independence Project to realize that the NATO chicken has, by at least 18 years, preceded the Russian egg.
In this light, the following part of Maria Zakharova’s above-mentioned statement sounds more like a paragon of diplomatic understatement:
“The chaotic situation in Kosovo is being used to deploy NATO infrastructure, specifically the US Bondsteel base, to project the alliance’s influence in the Balkans and manipulate the processes in the region under the cover of UN Security Council Resolution 1244.”
To sum it up: as in Iraq, Syria, Libya – the results of US-led Western meddling in Yugoslavia/Serbia, and, specifically, Kosovo, have been unmitigatedly disastrous. Kosovo is, to quote Zakharova once more, truly a “black hole.” It is run by thugs, former (?) terrorists in Armani suits. Its “president,” Hashim Thaci, has been named as the “head of a ‘mafia-like’ Albanian group responsible for smuggling weapons, drugs and human organs through Eastern Europe, according to a Council of Europe inquiry report on organized crime.” Its “speaker of the parliament,” Kadri Veseli, has been listed by the Kosovo Albanian Bota Sot newspaper as a former director of the Kosovo Albanian SHIK secret service, a “death squad” responsible for numerous murders, violence, and war crimes committed in the province during 1998 and 1999. “Prime minister” Ramush Haradinaj is wanted by Serbia for war crimes, including murder, rape, the beheading of a baby, the burning of still-living police officers, etc. According to former ICTY prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, Haradinaj escaped conviction in The Hague chiefly through the intimidation and killing of numerous witnesses.
Of the more than 200,000 Serbs forced to flee the province after the withdrawal of Yugoslav Army forces, less than 2% have been allowed to return, and those that have returned are subject to intimidation and pressure to leave. Attacks on Serbian Orthodox Church property and intimidation of the clergy are frequent. Kosovo is a well known hub for the transit of drugs into Europe. It is a fertile ground for ISIS* and has, per capita, the highest number of fighters in its ranks in Europe.
Yet, the U.S. and most of the EU are still pressing Serbia to recognize Kosovo’s “independence.” Serbia’s pro-Western leadership is openly calling for compromise, but so far this is falling on deaf ears in the West, obviously intent on compounding its erroneous ways.
Not even the New York Times dare call today’s Kosovo mess a “success story.” Perhaps that is the only good news connected with this unhappy anniversary.
* Terrorist organization, banned in Russia by court order.
The Serbian Royal Academy of Scientists and Artists has put together a legal team in order to sue NATO in an international court for crimes against humanity.
The lawsuit relates to NATO using depleted uranium during its illegal war on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Serbia being the largest part of the now destroyed state.
The illegal war led to the death of 2,000 civilians, including 88 children. The real refugee crisis it caused still continues to this day as the illegal occupation of the Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohija has seen the ongoing displacement of thousands of Serbian families.
The war was not only illegal, but was deeply immoral. In the 1990s, Yugoslavia, one of the most successful multi-cultural states in modern history began struggling for its survival after foreign powers ranging from the US, UK, Germany, Saudi Arabia,Turkey and others began funding various insurgent movements including far-right Croatian militants nostalgic for Hitler’s State of Croatia as well as radicalised Bosniaks who adopted political Islamism to varying degrees after decades of secular government.
In 1999, NATO decided to finish Yugoslavia off by attacking Serbia and Montenegro in support of the terrorist organisation KLA whose predecessor groups had been committing atrocities against Serbian people since the 1980s, though matters got far worse in the 1990s when the group coalesced into the modern pro-Albanian terrorist group.
It is important to remember that while Serbian people, Serbian homes and Serbian Orthodox churches were major targets of the KLA and later NATO, the KLA also began to target Yugoslav Albanians who refused to cooperate in the killing of their neighbours. After all, Albanians living in Yugoslavia were living in a state with far higher living standards than Albania which in the 1990s transitioned from an isolated dictatorship to a chaotic civil-war torn mafia state.
Yugoslavia was one of the few states apart from the Soviet Union to mobilise against fascist aggression in the 1940s. In 1804, Serbia was also the first southern European state to declare its sovereignty from Ottoman Turkish colonialism, even before Greece.
NATO’s own charter was violated by the illegal act of aggression against Yugoslavia as NATO was supposed to be a defensive alliance and neither Yugoslavia nor Albania, the effective mother-state of the terrorist KLA, were members of NATO in 1999.
The propaganda from the west used to justify the NATO act of aggression still remains largely unchallenged in the west. They painted Yugoslavia which was fighting a terrorist insurgency as an aggressor and the terrorists as freedom fighters, in spite of the fact that for the vast majority of the 1990s, even the United States officially regarded the KLA as a terrorist group.
The after-effects of the war continue to linger. In the years since 1999, Albania has gone from a hyper-corrupt mafia state to a state where ISIS has taken control of much of the lucrative narcotics trade, a trade which represents half of Albania’s GDP.
While the west closes its eyes, Albania has become a perfect storm of local mafioso, the anti-Iranian terrorist group MEK and ISIS itself. Even the Washington Post now admits that many Albanians have joined the ISIS fight against Syria and Iraq.
The worst elements of the contemporary Albanian terrorist, human trafficking, drug trafficking and weapons trafficking problem are in the occupied Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohija which since the 1999 NATO war has acted as a kind of satellite province of Albania under the guise of NATO recognised unilateral independence.
NATO clearly has much to answer for, but international justice has not been particularly fair to Serbia and Serbian people. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia at The Hague has notoriously ignored the crimes of Albanians, Bosniaks and Croatians whilst throwing the book at many Serbs whose role in the wars was tangential and certainly not criminal.
Because of this, one shouldn’t adopt high hopes about the legal case, nevertheless, it is an important move that may help to highlight NATO’s crimes against humanity and moreover NATO’s role in once again helping to create a terrorist element, this time in Europe.
Was this some sort of sick payback for Yugoslavia’s heroic fight against Hitler? Many in southern Europe increasingly see it this way, as the only planes which bombed Yugoslavia prior to NATO were those of fascist Germany.