the war - another view

Doug Henwood dhenwood at
Mon Apr 12 22:24:32 PDT 1999

[From the mass Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot via Michael Eisenscher.]



"US reasons for joining Germany and Nato on

looting the territories of the Russian allies

extend beyond the obvious military and economic

control this provides over Europe. The condition

was from the start that NATO gives the US a free

hand in the Middle East."

- Prof. Tanya Reinhart


By Professor Tanya Reinhart

The public debate about Kosovo in Israel is influenced by the analogy between Kosovo and Jerusalem. Both are areas which two nations view as their historical land. Therefore, paradoxically, Sharon and the right wing are against the US-Nato attack (fearing a similar intervention against Israeli occupation of Jerusalem), while, the 'enlightened' camp supports it enthusiastically. This however is a fake debate, since both sides share the same presupposition that the war is about the rights of the Albanians in Kosovo.

In fact, there is nothing further from the US and NATO than humanitarian motives. Long before the attack it could be obvious that Milosevic will respond with a massive ethnic cleansing, just as Israel would have done, had the US and NATO decided to bomb Jerusalem following, say, a request by the Islamic Jihad. (Official warnings about this scenario were issued by the head of the CIA, and others in Europe.) If concern about the hundreds of thousands of Albanian refugees was the motive for this war, one could expect US-NATO to accept with cheers Yugoslavia's proposal for a cease fire. Though distorted in the reports of the following days, the proposal as broadcasted on April 6, was to withdraw Yugoslav forces from Kosovo, to allow the refugees to return and to resume negotiations with the Albanian Leader Ibrahim Rugova. It was at least possible to give Milosevic a week or two, to check his intentions, while the US-NATO forces around him stay to make sure he is not playing tricks.

But US-NATO only needed a few hours to reject this proposal. They announced, first, that they are unwilling to stop bombing until Milosevic accept also the condition of letting NATO forces in and, next, that they no longer recognize Rugova as the representative of the Kosovar Albanians, and they are willing to negotiate only with the "Kosovo Liberation Army" (KLA). Increased bombing, with civilian casualties and huge destruction in Kosovo followed directly.

Some background: In 1989 Milosevic cancelled the autonomy the Albanians had in Kosovo since 1974, and brutally suppressed their political and cultural infra-structure. In opposition, a mass independence movement has grown, which declared Kosovo a republic, and elected Rugova, in 1992, as its president. The movement, which adhered to non-violent struggle was fiercely repressed by the tyrant Milosevic, without the West even blinking an eye. In 1996, the KLA was founded. It is a foreign-funded brutal organization with no recognized leadership or program. It terrorized not only the Serb residents of Kosovo, but also the political movement, which continued to call for non-violent struggle, and which elected Rugova again as its president, in 1998. Under the pressure of US- NATO, the KLA was made partner to the Rambouillet negotiations which preceded the bombing.

While the KLA supports the US-NATO bombing, and the demand to let NATO forces into Yugoslavia, Rugova issued on April 1st a joint declaration with Milosevic stating their readiness to search a peaceful solution, without NATO. US-NATO interpreters reacted to the televised declaration with rumors of all kinds: that he looked tired, that he is wounded or under house arrest, and that the declaration took place, in fact, two years ago. Now they announce that only the murderers from the KLA are their partners for negotiations.

This is not how one behaves when one is worried about the Albanian tragedy, or peace in Europe. What is this war about, then?

Until 1989, the Soviet block was a giant body dominating more than half of Europe. In 1949, US, Canada and West-Europe countries have founded NATO, whose declared role was to defend the west from the soviet military threat. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, a new struggle has started over the division of its subordinate states. NATO's current mission is to appropriate as many of them as possible for the benefit of its dominant members. (Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic were already joined to NATO.)

Germany set her eyes on Croatia and Bosnia, which were part of the Austro-Hungarian empire in the past. It hastened to recognize and support the separation of Croatia in 1990, but it could not get full control over these areas alone, and had to share the loot with the US and NATO. NATO's bombing of the Serbian areas of Bosnia in 1995 (then still under the umbrella of the UN) enabled the local ground-forces of Croatia and Bosnia to evacuate around 200,000 Serbs, and take over their land. With this established, new "independent states", could be formed which are, in fact, territories occupied by NATO forces.

The agreement signed in the Dayton air-force base in November 1995 establishes a straight-forward colonial administration of the new "states". As reported in Chossudovsky's book (1), the Dayton "peace accord" contains, for Bosnia, an "agreement on High Representative" (HR) which specifies that this HR head of the administration is a non- Bosnian citizen (article I) who appoints a "joint Civilian Commission", including the commander of the international forces (article II), with the right to overrule the government's decisions. The High Representative is also "the final authority regarding interpretation of this agreement" (article V). Similar restrictions apply economically: The Dayton agreement specified that the first president of the central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina is to be appointed by the IMF and "shall not be a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina or a neighboring State" (Article VII).

Bosnia and Croatia host now the largest NATO bases on the Adriatic sea, which provides access to the Mediterranean. The problem remained Yugoslavia (Serbia), a strong country, and an ally of Russia, which also disables control of the full adriatic coast. Like many rulers which the US supports all over the world, Milosevic is a tyrant and a war criminal. But unlike others, he refuses to let his country become a protectorate of Nato, and follow the fate of Bosnia. The only way left was to break him by force.

US reasons for joining Germany and Nato on looting the territories of the Russian allies extend beyond the obvious military and economic control this provides over Europe. The condition was from the start that NATO gives the US a free hand in the Middle East. In February 1998, when the US planned one of its attacks on Iraq, Germany tried to stay neutral. Defence secretary William Cohen, and a delegation of US senators hastened to Germany to clarify that if Europe does not support Washington on Iraq, the US will reconsider its support of the "enforcement of peace" in the Balkans. A day later (February 8), Kohl announced that Germany will allow US planes to use its air bases for the attack.

In March 24, 1998, the big day has come. Some German sources stressed the significance of the moment: For the first time since the second world war, German planes are allowed again to throw bombs over Europe: The shadow of that war is cleared. (How symbolic that this should happen with the same Serbs that the Nazis massacred in these old past days, with the same Austro-Hungarian ambition in mind.) At the end of the twentieth century, the border agreements of the two world wars are being reopened, and the same historical powers of Europe (Germany, England, France) are going to war over its redivision.

The war, then, is only about power interests. But the only way to sell it to public opinion is to present it as a humanitarian war to save the Albanians. In his first speech on March 24, Clinton was still pretty honest about the goals of the war. He mentioned the importance of maintaining "the credibility of NATO", and the "security of Europe". Public opinion in the US remained skeptical. A wave of criticism of his selling tactics has flooded the media, along with some CNN advice for improvements. Two days later, the war settled on its current line: Saving The Kosovar Albanians from the new Hitler.

The role of the Kosovar Albanians in this horrible show is to be the victims. Only if people have a victim they can identify with, it is possible to sell them this corrupt war as a war of salvation.


(1) Michel Chossudovsky, THE GLOBALIZATION OF POVERTY,

Zed books Ltd: London and New Jersey and Third World Network

Penang: Malaysia, 1997.

*This article was originally published in the Israeli Hebrew daily "Yediot Aharanot" on 8 April and an expanded version was published by Z/net commentaries. Tanya Reinhart is Professor of Linguistics and Cultural Studies at Tel Aviv University.

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