Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Why Did Washington Insist on the Kosovo War?

By James George Jatras - April 09, 2024 at 08:47AM

The following remarks were delivered at a conference marking the 25th anniversary of the NATO bombing of Serbia: “The 1999 Red-Green Bombing Terror against Serbia,” held on March 20, 2024, at the Bundestag in Berlin hosted by MdB Dr. Rainer Rothfuß and his Alternative for Germany parliamentary group.

In 2004, I appeared as the second defense witness called by Slobodan Milošević at his so-called “trial” before the so-called “International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia” at The Hague My testimony was not as an expert witness but as a witness of fact concerning the formulation and implementation of US and western policy. I addressed one specific charge: that – beginning no later than October 1998 – Mr. Milošević was the initiator of a criminal conspiracy to drive the Albanians out of Kosovo and Metohija on the basis of their ethnicity.

There was one little problem with this accusation: there was absolutely zero direct evidence for it. No written order to this effect was ever produced. No person testified as to having received, transmitted, or even heard of such an instruction. Rather, the claim was based solely on circumstantial inferences of events starting from October 1998.

Thus, the heart of my testimony related to a paper I issued on August 12, 1998, as an analyst at the US Senate Republican Policy Committee, titled “Bosnia II: The Clinton Administration Sets Course for NATO Intervention in Kosovo.” In that paper, working solely from open sources, I detailed how, at that time – fully two months before the Milošević-led supposed “criminal conspiracy” came into effect —    

“ … planning for a U.S.-led NATO intervention in Kosovo is now largely in place, …. The only missing element appears to be an event—with suitably vivid media coverage—that would make intervention politically salable, even imperative, in the same way that [the] Administration finally decided on intervention in Bosnia in 1995 after a series of ‘Serb mortar attacks’ took the lives of dozens of civilians—attacks, which, upon closer examination, may in fact have been the work of the Muslim regime in Sarajevo, the main beneficiary of the intervention. . . That the Administration is waiting for a similar ‘trigger’ in Kosovo is increasingly obvious: [As reported in the Washington Post, August 4, 1998], ‘A senior U.S. Defense Department official who briefed reporters on July 15 noted that “we’re not anywhere near making a decision for any kind of armed intervention in Kosovo right now, … [but] I think if some levels of atrocities were reached that would be intolerable, that would probably be a trigger”.’ ”

Now, if I was aware of this as early as August 1998, so were a lot of other people in Washington. I submitted to the “Tribunal” that in light of my paper, all interpretations of events would have to be drastically reevaluated. The issue wasn’t any longer whether Belgrade was planning an expulsion but that Washington was looking for a pretext for aggression.

(My cross-examination by prosecutor Geoffrey Nice (later Sir, based on his work at The Hague), asked me barely a word about my testimony. Rather, he interrogated me about my ethnic origins (Greek, from four Spartan grandparents), my religion (Orthodox Christian), and my opinions about the Islamic challenge to European, Christian civilization (negative).)

As we know, in due course the suitable “trigger” was found, with the so-called “Račak massacre” of January 1999. The key figure in “selling” Račak was William Walker. As described by Mark Ames and Matt Taibbi (now of Rolling Stone) in their article “Meet Mr. Massacre,” published in the now-defunct The Exile of February 10, 2000:

Years from now, when the war in Serbia is over and the dust has settled, historians will point to January 15, 1999 as the day the American Death Star became fully operational.

That was the date on which an American diplomat named William Walker brought his OSCE war crimes verification team to a tiny Kosovar village called Račak to investigate an alleged Serb massacre of ethnic Albanian peasants. After a brief review of the town’s 40-odd bullet-ridden corpses, Walker searched out the nearest television camera and essentially fired the starting gun for the war.

From what I saw, I do not hesitate to describe the crime as a massacre, a crime against humanity,’ he said. ‘Nor do I hesitate to accuse the government security forces of responsibility.’

We all know how Washington responded to Walker’s verdict; it quickly set its military machine in motion, and started sending out menacing invitations to its NATO friends to join the upcoming war party.

Focus on that phrase: “the American Death Star became fully operational.” Kosovo became the template that we then took on the road in one form or another in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen. Ukraine.

But the question still lingers: Why? Why was Washington so insistent that we and our NATO satelli– oops – “allies” needed to launch that war? Why did then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright reveal in confidence, according to a reliable source, that at Rambouillet “We intentionally set the bar too high for the Serbs to comply. They need some bombing, and that’s what they are going to get”?

Some people will tell you it was about putting a NATO base, Camp Bondsteel, in a strategic location. Or that we wanted to clear the way for an East-West energy pipeline across the Balkans. Or that we coveted the mineral wealth of the Trepča mines. Or to secure the transit route for Afghan opium processed into heroin bound for Europe.

Certainly, all of our various interventions line a lot of a pockets, but in more than three decades of work in and around the Washington apparat, I never heard anyone point to such concrete and, frankly, normal if immoral imperial considerations.

Rather, answers must instead be sought within the larger perspective of American policy since the end of the first Cold War in 1991 and the development of the current one in the course of the 1990s: the American “unipolar moment,” as the bipartisan US policy nomenklatura sought to consolidate and perpetuate its hegemonic control over the entire planet, taking advantage of the vacuum left by the demise of the USSR. Perhaps the fullest expression of this was a 1996 Foreign Affairs article by neoconservative ideologists William Kristol and Robert Kagan (NOTE: Victoria Nuland’s husband), misleadingly titled “Toward a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy,” in which they called for the US to establish and maintain indefinitely “benevolent global hegemony” — in other words, perpetual American world domination.

Kristol and Kagan laid out virtually all of the elements that have guided US global policy during the ensuing years. It is no accident that Republican neoconservatives were enthusiastic supporters of Bill Clinton’s Balkan interventions of the 1990s, under the guidance of people like then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who once opined regarding the sanctions-related deaths of a half million Iraqi children that “the price is worth it.” In the US establishment, there is little dissent on either side of the partisan aisle with Albright’s view that a militant United States has a special wisdom: “If we have to use force, it is because we are America; we are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future …”

The result is a kind of neo-Bolshevik ideology, where, as the vanguard of all progressive humanity, the US leadership class sees itself as the midwife of history. America took the path (as characterized by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov) of the “replication of the experience of Bolshevism and Trotskyism”—morphing ourselves into a new Evil Empire in place of the old one. (Anyone familiar with the origins of America’s neoconservatives understands that the Trotskyite reference is not just rhetorical.)

Which brings us back to the “Why?” regarding Kosovo. When the dissolution of Yugoslavia kicked off in June 1991, largely at the initiative of Austria and Germany, official Washington was terrified that with the end of the Soviet bloc Europe might become “whole and free” – but without us. What then could be the future of Lord Hastings Lionel Ismay’s mission for NATO of keeping the Americans in Europe, the Russians out, and the Germans down? Europe, the crown jewel of the Global American Empire (the GAE) was slipping away.

Hence, as former Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Richard Lugar (R-Indiana) indicated, NATO needed to go “out of area or out of business.” Starting in spring 1992, Washington moved swiftly to expand the conflict from Slovenia and Croatia (where it had been relatively contained) to Bosnia and Herzegovina. There the US became the vociferous champion of the Muslim faction, illegally shipping in al-Qaeda fighters and Iranian weapons via covert C-130 flights into Tuzla. We then engaged in a little demonstrative bombing of the Bosnian Serbs to set the stage for the Dayton Agreement. The arsonist sets the fire, so then he can be the hero rushing to the rescue: “See, you silly ‘dispensable’ European children? You just can’t get along without us …”

Following Dayton, Kosovo was the other shoe that needed to drop – with appropriate violence – to ensure that Europe was totally, abjectly, humiliatingly subservient to the United States through NATO, with the passive complicity of NATO’s concubine, the European Union. The corollary was that, just as the Serbs had no legitimate voice in determining post-Yugoslav structures, the Russians understood they had no legitimate voice in European security arrangements. These would be decided without them.

Now, of course, with defeat looming in Ukraine and with the broader Middle East on the edge of a regional conflagration, with many in Washington beating the drums for war with Iran or even China, the GAE’s “unipolar” moment is coming to an end, one way or the other, either with a bang or with a whimper. Unfortunately, neither in Washington, nor in Berlin or other European capitals, with the exception of Budapest, are decisions made by people who can be regarded as mentally and morally healthy human beings, much less patriots.

The next few months and years promise to be a period of disorder and acute danger. The question is, can we – Americans and Europeans alike – find a path to governance that can secure a future for our peoples?

from Ron Paul Institute Featured Articles


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