May 1999

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Calendar of Events

Sat., May 1 11:00 a.m.­5:00 p.m.

Our monthly meeting will be with Mem

bers of SF Progressives to celebrate May

Day. Details on facing page.

Thurs., May 6 1:00­3:00 p.m.

Board meeting at the office. All welcome.

Sun., May 9 Mothers DayCelebrate by preaching


Thurs., May 13 11:00 a.m.­3:00 p.m.

Senior Rally: Towards a Society for All

Ages. West steps of the State Capitol,

Sacramento. Pick-up point: St. Mary's

Cathedral, 8:30 a.m. $7.00 per person, call

Lisa, 415/863-2033 to make reservations.

Thurs., May 20 6:00­8:00 p.m.

SF NOW Violence Against Women Meet-

ing. NOW office, 3543 18 St. Info 415/


Sat., May 22 10:30 a.m.­12:30 p.m.

OWL , Medicare and Your Current Issues.

Info 415/989-4422.

Wed., May 26 2:00 p.m.

Senior Action Network and Center for

the Arts present Gray Cabaret: Talent

Through the Ages. In memory of Ted

Foster. Center for the Arts Theater, 700

Howard St. $8.00. Info 415/863-2033

Sun., May 30 Stand for Children Day, Yerba Buena

Gardens, Info Coleman Advocates for

Youth, 415/239-0161

Sun. & Mon., On these Memorial Days, mourn the loss

May 30 & 31 of life in this latest undeclared, illegal war!

Presenting the "People's Budget"

Gray Panthers were well represented outside the Moscone Center at the "Mayor's Women's Summit,"handing out literature and rallying for the "People's Budget" outlined in last month's newsletter.

Welcome New Members!

Isabel Auerbach Martin Badie

Pat Cremer Virginia Leishman

Huge May Day Celebration

Join with thousands of people on Saturday, May 1 to honor the rich tradition of May Day (International Workers' Day) to celebrate the vibrant political passions of today, and to envision a life worth living in our City. The schedule includes:

11:00 a.m. Opening speeches;

11:30 Maypole dancing;

12:00 noon Impromptu performances begin accompanied by a picnic (free food will be available, but bring some of your own if you find lines daunting); and a Graffiti Wall for those wishing to express themselves (paint supplied);

1:00 p.m. Maypole endsplanned, amplified performances begin on two or three stages.

3:00­3:15 Wrap up food, picnic, and performances and;

3:15­3:30 May Day Pageant begins;

4:00 Street procession begins; bus at 19th St. and Dolores and walkers gather near the bus;

4:45­5:00 Procession returns and celebration closes.

Bring your own chairs, blanketsVolunteers needed to help man the sales and food tables. Call Augusta, 415/452-1910, or Franklin, 415/665-2542 to offer some of your time!

Must Muni Be Privatized?

In June we will take up the two Muni ballot initiatives, their compar-ative pros and cons and where each will leave us, the Muni users. These initiatives would amend the City Charter to provide stable funding and restructure the whole organization. In general, the New Muni Task Force's recommendations have been criticized as too vague and Rescue Muni's as too detailed to include in the charter. And where does the new Muni "czar" fit in?

Farewell, Mary

We add our voices to the respectful and admiring farewell to Brownie Mary (Mary Rathbun) who died in April at Laguna Honda Hospital. All those whose pain and loneliness were eased by her marijuana cookies and her caring attentionher people-familymourn her passing and salute her life.

April Meeting

A lift for the spirits. That describes our April meeting with
Ann Fagan Ginger, director of the Meiklejohn Civil
LibertiesInstitute, lawyer, poet, raconteur, writer, teacher, Renaissance woman of the leftand a Gray Panther, of course.

Of particular interest were her comments on our war against Yugoslavia. "You cannot solve humanitarian problems by dropping bombs," she declared. She says our actions are illegal not only Constitutionally, but by international treaty, the UN Charter to which the US is a signatory. We should obey the law, stop the bombing, negotiate through the UN, not declare NATO the decision-maker for Europe.

This is the uplifting part. When asked how we could avoid being depressed by today's world, she offered a woman's look at recent history. Compare for yourself (she compared for herself) what your life and opportunities are now, and by inference your daughters and granddaughters, and what they were 125 years ago. Real progress!

What can we do now as individuals? Make your voices heard. Bombard your representatives, talk shows, the internet, letters to the editor with your viewpoints. As an example we offer her letter to the editor of The Chronicle, reprinted below.

From the San Francisco Chronicle, Wednesday, April 11:

Rule of Law

EditorI am writing this letter as a lawyer and the daughter of a newspaperman, about the US and NATO bombings in Yugoslavia and your coverage of the bombings.

We learned in World War II that you cannot solve any problem by air strikes alone. Since then we have learned over and over that there is no such thing as a "surgical strike" that doesn't touch civilians or their lives. I learned in US and world history that you cannot stop horrible violations of human rights by ordering soldiers to push neat buttons on powerful weapons.

And I learned the Constitution: Only Congress has the power to declare war in this country. This means both houses of Congress must have serious discussion about precisely who is the enemy, why should we go to war with

them, and what is our goal. Without that kind of debate, we have a government of men and not of laws.

I learned that a treaty is part of the supreme law of the land

them, and what is our goal. Without that kind of debate, we have a government of men and not of laws.

I learned that a treaty is part of the supreme law of the land

under our Constitution. The UN Charter is a treaty. When the Senate voted to ratifythe Charter in 1945, they committed the US not to use force or threat of force in the settlement of disputes and to settle disputes with other nations by regional negotiations with concerned countries and through organs of the UN.

I have not found any of these relevant facts reported in The Chronicle coverage of events in Yugoslavia. Nor have I read any analysis of the role of peacekeeping forces provided by the UN or conflict management efforts by governments in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

The anguish we all feel when we see or read about refugees and other horrible events in the former Yugoslavia requires us to think about what we should do, as US citizens, to affect the policy of our government. We must tell our government leaders not to try to answer the problems of Kosovo by ourselves or with NATO, but through discussions in the UN General Assembly, the UN Economic and Social Council, the Security Council, The World Court, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. [signed] Ann Fagan Ginger

This Gray Panthers newsletter receives messages, correspondence and e-mail from our members and from like-minded people all around the globe.The following is a group of messages first published by ZMag in England, a site produced by Bob Biderman.

ZNet Commentary Bonus

March 26th, 1999

Some Thoughts

about the Bombings and

Their Meaning for Activists

By Michael Albert

(1) Does it ring any bells for anyone else that bombing country A may not have anything to do with country A per se, at least in recent times? Once it begins, bombing almost never yields a sought outcome regarding the place bombed (save, of course, when one literally wants to devastate it).

  • It rarely curtails policies that the bombed country may be enacting.
  • It rarely if ever weakens bombed leaders one wants to remove.
  • It rarely reduces terrorism that the bombed country is undertaking (if there actually is any in the first place). It seems to cost more in risks and possible bedlam than it garners in immediate gains it may yield.
  • And most ridiculously and assuredly, bombing never preserves life and limb for anyone, instead blowing these things away with abandon and also creating conditions conducive to others doing so even more than before.

So what does bombing do that makes the bomber -- for our purposes the U.S. and whoever it drags along for the ride -- "enjoy" pulling the lever so much?

(a) Bombing sells weapons and tests them, of course, and it legitimates military expenditures as well, which is not inconsequential.

(b) But, it seems to me that actual bombing also paves the way for the real affectivity of bombing, and that is to stop behaviors before they get started. That is, bombing country A is really about telling country B through Z that they'd better not do anything to annoy us, because we are ready and willing to deliver bombs air express if they do. So as a means to validate the threat of bombing in order that the threat curtails opposition before it develops, actual bombing certainly has a clear if vile logic. It is only ironic and not irrational that once undertaken bombing's power to coerce policy actually often diminishes--or so it seems to me.

(c) Of course in this case there is a bonus to bombing. The current bombing has been unleashed without even a pretense of UN ratification. As such it argues/establishes that the UN is no longer necessary...that there simply is no interna

tional law but, instead, whatever NATO (read the U.S) thinks warrants bombs--actually does warrant bombs.

(2) But one of the strange aspects of the argument that the reason why the U.S. bombs with increasing frequency nowadays is to establish the RIGHT and even the DUTY to do so, as well as the expectation and thus the FEAR that we will do so -- an argument that I think is valid -- is,

well, WHY?

That is, what is the independent policy value of having established our right to bomb and having convinced others of our inclination to do so? What does the repeatedly invigorated threat to bomb curb? What are we afraid others might do were it not for this threat--repeatedly reinvigorated?

The answer is presumably any significant deviation from our will...but taking it a step further, one might wonder--unless one expects an unexpectedly high amount of deviation from our will in the near future--why have we over the past year or two seemingly increased our efforts to legitimate the idea that we are free to bomb at will and only too happy to do so? And why are we doing it even in a case where it runs the risk of costing a whole lot in increased turbulence in the region, as now in Yugoslavia?

(3) The obvious answer regarding Yugoslavia is that -- well -- it is in Europe. That is, it is one thing to have chaotic ethnic strife (or, of course, desired and more calculated imperial repression) in other parts of the world. Elsewhere if such conflicts kill 10,000, 50,000, or even 500,000, and even if they are a bit chaotic and they aren't actual manifestations of U.S. interests, so be it. But when the strife is in Europe, in the Balkans, there is the possibility it will ignite fires that threaten real U.S. geopolitical interests. That prospect, of course, has to be addressed. But how, The fact that on the order of 2,000 Kosovars have died, not tens or hundreds of thousands as is more typically the case, and that the totally predictable result of our intervention will be an escalation of their death and suffering as well as that of others in the region, is of little account. Rhetoric aside, human lives and humanitarian concern of course have nothing to do with U.S. policy. Yet if the U.S. is to intevevene--what tools does it have? The answer, of course, is flying in the sky.

(4) But I want to try to take the discussion another step and I hope you have read Hahnel's recent commentary in which he elaborates on his recent series in Z Magazine regarding the results of the global economic crisis. My reading is that he is saying that the current global economic crises are leading to a process of "re-colonialization" of countries like Thailand, Korea, Brazil, etc. The assets of various economies, in particular ones that have had some success in developing since WWII, are bought at fire sale prices. This is not junk being bought up, but real banks, real industries, real utilities, real mines, and so on. What had to be done with guns at the turn of the century and was then undone, at least to a degree, with huge independence movements and struggles, is now being redone--but this time with legal and "non-violent" market exchange.

If this is so, can't we predict some plausible national responses of dispossessed but politicized populations, and sometimes even of whole states--in six months, a year, or two years? That is, can't we see coming from this purchase of other countries' infrastructures not only newly subservient co-opted governments to serve our corporations and banks in a modern variant of the colonial model, but also popular national resistance on a large scale?

(5) Now suppose we take this argument still one more step. What if there is an understanding in our government that increased resistance to U.S. plans around the world is indeed not far off in a much bigger form than it has presented itself in recent years, and arising in countries that no one would easily see as enemies deserving a violent response from us, save for having been warmed up with a lot of "training" as to our bombing rights and proclivities?

I know it is stretching Hahnel's analysis, but it seems to me that if he is right, then what he is

saying has got to be at the center of government foreign policy making. And it seems to me it would lead to a view that there may soon be serious "dissident" fires to put out, or to quell, or to scare into remission, or best, to suffocate before they surface--fires where geo-politically important things, like the economic infrastructures that we have ripped off, are at stake. Fires where there would be no UN sanction...and so on.

(6) Moving to possible solutions, suppose one did want to have a means of constructively addressing violent situations like that in Kosovo or even worse situations elsewhere in the world: a department of Peace rather than of War. Could there be such a thing? Is the only legitimate external lever to try to reduce violence within nations economic, or could an international peace-keeping force be viably sent in to protect populations? Does it make sense for us to be proposing such a force as the only option in accord with the kind of exalted motivations that Clinton (hypocritically) offers for his bombing forays--motivations which, if serious and universally applied, would have great merit: that is, preventing massacres?

If it does make sense to offer such a positive vision, then presumably we would need to explain what such a peace force might look like and how it

could be fitted and trained to defend itself and populaces in the pursuit of peace, or at least the defense of civilians. Clearly such a force would have to be willing to take casualties or else aggressors would just threaten it, watch it run off, and then do their thing. It would of course have to be legitimately peace-oriented and not beholden to U.S. policy-making interests, or else its rhetoric about peace would only mask other motives entirely. It would be incapable of acting in the interests of peace. And how might it be funded and administered--by UN tithes in proportion to GNP, perhaps? Is describing such a peace force and how it would operate necessary if we are to effectively counter the opportunist use of rhetoric about massacres coupled to geopolitical domination policies -- that is, if we are to convince folks that bombing is not a proper response and that neither NATO nor the U.S. is a proper agent of peace-keeping, not only this time, but in general?

(7) Finally, I think many progressive people, (not Z readers, of course!) and even many folks who have in the past fought hard about things like the Iraq sanctions, say, or the Gulf War and related attacks, are now passive about or even worse supportive of these bombing raids. This is remarkable to me...but one has to ask, what is it about the whole discussion and the many articles and exchanges about foreign policy and international relations that have occurred over the past few years that has been lacking, leaving so many so quickly succumbing to nonsensical arguments?

The Current Bombings: Behind the Rhetoric

By Noam Chomsky

There have been many inquiries concerning NATO (meaning primarily US) bombing in connection with Kosovo. A great deal has been written about the topic, including Znet commentaries. I'd like to make a few general observations, keeping to facts that are not seriously contested.

There are two fundamental issues: (1) What are the accepted and applicable "rules of world order"? (2) How do these or other considerations apply in the case of Kosovo?

(1) What are the accepted and applicable "rules of world order"?

There is a regime of international law and international order, binding on all states, based on the UN Charter and subsequent resolutions and World Court decisions. In brief, the threat or use of force is banned unless explicitly authorized by the Security Council after it has determined that peaceful means have failed, or in self-defense against "armed attack" (a narrow concept) until the Security Council acts.

There is, of course, more to say. Thus there is at least a tension, if not an outright contradiction, between the rules of world order laid down in the UN Charter and the rights articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UD), a second pillar of the world order established under US initiative after World War II. The Charter bans force violating state sovereignty; the UD guarantees the rights of individuals against oppressive states. The issue of "humanitarian intervention" arises from this tension. It is the right of "humanitarian intervention" that is claimed by the US/NATO in Kosovo, and that is generally supported by editorial opinion and news reports (in the latter case, reflexively, even by the very choice of terminology).

The question is addressed in a news report in the NY Times (March 27), headlined "Legal Scholars Support Case for Using Force" in Kosovo (March 27). One example is offered: Allen Gerson, former counsel to the US mission to the UN. Two other legal scholars are cited. One, Ted Galen Carpenter, "scoffed at the Administration argument" and dismissed the alleged right of intervention. The third is Jack Goldsmith, a specialist on international law at Chicago Law school. He says that critics of the NATO bombing "have a pretty good legal argument," but "many people think [an exception for humanitarian intervention] does exist as a matter of custom and practice." That summarizes the evidence offered to justify the favored conclusion stated in the headline.

Goldsmith's observation is reasonable, at least if we agree that facts are relevant to the determination of "custom and practice." We may also bear in mind a truism: the right of humanitarian intervention, if it exists, is premised on the "good faith" of

those intervening, and that assumption is based not on their rhetoric but on their record, in particular their record of adherence to the principles of international law, World Court decisions, and so on. That is indeed a truism, at least with regard to others. Consider, for example, Iranian offers to intervene in Bosnia to prevent massacres at a time when the West would not do so. These were dismissed with ridicule (in fact, ignored); if there was a reason beyond subordination to power, it was because Iranian "good faith" could not be assumed. A rational person then asks obvious questions: is the Iranian record of intervention and terror worse than that of the US? And other questions, for example: How should we assess the "good faith" of the only country to have vetoed a
Security Council resolution calling on all states to obey international law? What about its historical record? Unless such questions are prominent on the agenda of discourse, an honest person will dismiss it as mere allegiance to doctrine. A useful exercise is to determine how much of the literature -- media or other -- survives such elementary conditions as these.

(2) How do these or other considerations apply in the case of Kosovo?

There has been a humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo in the past year, overwhelmingly attributable to Yugoslav military forces. The main victims have been ethnic Albanian Kosovars, some 90% of the population of this Yugoslav territory. The standard estimate is 2000 deaths and hundreds of thousands of refugees.

In such cases, outsiders have three choices:

(I) try to escalate the catastrophe

(II) do nothing

(III) try to mitigate the catastrophe

The choices are illustrated by other contemporary cases. Let's keep to a few of approximately the same scale, and ask where Kosovo fits into the pattern.

(A) Colombia. In Colombia, according to State Department estimates, the annual level of political killing by the government and its paramilitary associates is about at the level of Kosovo, and refugee flight primarily from their atrocities is well over a million. Colombia has been the leading Western hemisphere recipient of US arms and training as violence increased through the '90s, and that assistance is now increasing, under a "drug war" pretext dismissed by almost all serious observers. The Clinton administration was particularly enthusiastic in its praise for President Gaviria, whose tenure in office was responsible for "appalling levels of violence," according to human rights organizations, even surpassing his predecessors. Details are readily available.

In this case, the US reaction is (I): escalate the atrocities.

(B) Turkey. By very conservative estimate, Turkish repression of Kurds in the '90s falls in the category of Kosovo. It peaked in the early '90s; one index is the flight of over a million Kurds from the countryside to the unofficial Kurdish capital Diyarbakir from 1990 to 1994, as the Turkish army was devastating the countryside. 1994 marked two records: it was "the year of the worst repression in the Kurdish provinces" of Turkey, Jonathan Randal reported from the scene, and the year when Turkey became "the biggest single importer of American military hardware and thus the world's largest arms purchaser." When human rights

groups exposed Turkey's use of US jets to bomb villages, the Clinton Administration found ways to evade laws requiring suspension of arms deliveries, much as it was doing in Indonesia and elsewhere.

Colombia and Turkey explain their (US-supported) atrocities on grounds that they are defending their countries from the threat of terrorist guerrillas. As does the government of Yugoslavia.

Again, the example illustrates (I): try to escalate the atrocities.

(C) Laos. Every year thousands of people, mostly children and poor farmers, are killed in the Plain of Jars in Northern Laos, the scene of the heaviest bombing of civilian targets in history it appears, and arguably the most cruel: Washington's furious assault on a poor peasant society had little to do with its wars in the region. The worst period was from 1968, when Washington was compelled to undertake negotiations (under popular and business pressure), ending the regular bombardment of North Vietnam. Kissinger-Nixon then decided to shift the planes to bombardment of Laos and Cambodia.

The deaths are from "bombies," tiny anti-personnel weapons, far worse than land-mines: they are designed specifically to kill and maim, and have no effect on trucks, buildings, etc. The Plain was saturated with hundreds of millions of these criminal devices,

which have a failure-to-explode rate of 20%-30% according to the manufacturer, Honeywell. The numbers suggest either remarkably poor quality control or a rational policy of murdering civilians by delayed action. These were only a fraction of the technology deployed, including advanced missiles to penetrate caves where families sought shelter. Current annual casualties from "bombies" are estimated from hundreds a year to "an annual nationwide casualty rate of 20,000," more than half of them deaths, according to the veteran Asia reporter Barry Wain of the Wall Street Journal -- in its Asia edition. A conservative estimate, then, is that the crisis this year is approximately comparable to Kosovo, though deaths are far more highly concentrated among children -- over half, according to analyses reported by the Mennonite Central Committee, which has been working there since 1977 to alleviate the continuing atrocities.

There have been efforts to publicize and deal with the humanitarian catastrophe. A British-based Mine Advisory Group (MAG) is trying to remove the lethal objects, but the US is "conspicuously missing from the handful of Western organisations that have followed MAG," the British press reports, though it has finally agreed to train some Laotian civilians. The British press also reports, with some anger, the allegation of MAG specialists that the US refuses to provide them with "render harmless procedures" that would make their work "a lot quicker and a lot safer." These remain a state secret, as does the whole affair in the United States. The Bangkok press reports a very similar situation in Cambodia, particularly the Eastern region where US bombardment from early 1969 was most intense.

In this case, the US reaction is (II): do nothing. And the reaction of the media and commentators is to keep silent, following the norms under which the war against Laos was designated a "secret war" -- meaning well-known, but suppressed, as also in the case of Cambodia from March 1969. The level of self-censorship was extraordinary then, as is the current phase. The relevance of this shocking example

should be obvious without further comment.

I will skip other examples of (I) and (II), which abound, and also much more serious contemporary atrocities, such as the huge slaughter of Iraqi civilians by means of a particularly vicious form of biological warfare -- "a very hard choice," Madeleine Albright commented on national TV in 1996 when asked for her reaction to the killing of half a million Iraqi children in 5 years, but "we think the price is worth it." Current estimates remain about 5000 children killed a month, and the price is still "worth it." These and other examples might also be kept in mind when we read awed rhetoric about how the "moral compass" of the Clinton Administra

tion is at last functioning properly, as the Kosovo example illustrates.

Just what does the example illustrate? The threat of NATO bombing, predictably, led to a sharp escalation of atrocities by the Serbian Army and paramilitaries, and to the departure of international observers, which of course had the same effect. Commanding General Wesley Clark declared that it was "entirely predictable" that Serbian terror and violence would intensify after the NATO bombing, exactly as happened. The terror for the first time reached the capital city of Pristina, and there are credible reports of large-scale destruction of villages, assassinations, generation of an enormous refugee flow, perhaps an effort to expel a good part of the Albanian population -- all an "entirely predictable" consequence of the threat and then the use of force, as General Clark rightly observes.

Kosovo is therefore another illustration of (I): try to escalate the violence, with exactly that expectation.

To find examples illustrating (III) is all too easy, at least if we keep to official rhetoric. The major recent academic study of "humanitarian intervention," by Sean Murphy, reviews the record after the Kellogg-Briand pact of 1928 which outlawed war, and then since the UN Charter, which strengthened and articulated these provisions. In the first phase, he writes, the most prominent examples of "humanitarian intervention" were Japan's attack on Manchuria, Mussolini's invasion of Ethiopia, and Hitler's occupation of parts of Czechoslovakia. All were accompanied by highly uplifting humanitarian rhetoric, and factual justifications as well. Japan was going to establish an "earthly paradise" as it defended Manchurians from "Chinese bandits," with the support of a leading Chinese nationalist, a far more credible figure than anyone the US was able to conjure up during its attack on South Viet

nam. Mussolini was liberating thousands of slaves as he carried forth the Western "civilizing mission." Hitler announced Germany's intention to end ethnic tensions and violence, and "safeguard the national individuality of the German and Czech peoples," in an operation "filled with earnest desire to serve the true interests of the peoples dwelling in the area," in accordance with their will; the Slovakian President asked Hitler to declare Slovakia a protectorate.

Another useful intellectual exercise is to compare those obscene justifications with those offered for interventions, including "humanitarian interventions," in the post-UN Charter period.

In that period, perhaps the most compelling example of (III) is the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia in December 1978, terminating Pol Pot's atrocities, which were then peaking. Vietnam pleaded the right of self-defense against armed attack, one of the few post-Charter examples when the plea is plausible: the Khmer Rouge regime (Democratic Kampuchea, DK) was carrying out murderous attacks against

Vietnam in border areas. The US reaction is instructive. The press condemned the "Prussians" of Asia for their outrageous violation of international law. They were harshly punished for the crime of having terminated Pol Pot's slaughters, first by a (US-backed) Chinese invasion, then by US imposition of extremely harsh sanctions. The US recognized the expelled DK as the official government of Cambodia, because of its "continuity" with the Pol Pot regime, the State Department explained. Not too subtly, the US supported the Khmer Rouge in its continuing attacks in Cambodia.
The example tells us more about the "custom and practice" that underlies "the emerging legal norms of humanitarian intervention."

Despite the desperate efforts of ideologues to prove that circles are square, there is no serious doubt that the NATO bombings further undermine what remains of the fragile structure of international law. The US made that entirely clear in the discussions leading to the NATO decision. Apart from the UK (by now, about as much of an independent actor as the Ukraine was in the pre-Gorbachev years), NATO countries were skeptical of US policy, and were particularly annoyed by Secretary of State Albright's "saber-rattling" (Kevin Cullen, Boston Globe, Feb. 22). Today, the more closely one approaches the conflicted region, the greater the opposition to Washington's insistence on force, even within NATO (Greece and Italy). France had called for a UN Security Council resolution to authorize deployment of NATO peacekeepers. The US flatly refused, insisting on "its stand that NATO should be able to act independently of the United Nations," State Department officials explained. The US refused to permit the "neuralgic word `authorize'" to appear in the final NATO statement, unwilling to concede any authority to the UN Charter and international law; only the word "endorse" was permitted (Jane Perlez, NYT, Feb. 11). Similarly the bombing of Iraq was a brazen expression of contempt for the UN, even the specific timing, and was so understood. And of course the same is true of the destruction of half the pharmaceutical production of a small African country a

few months earlier, an event that also does not indicate that the "moral compass" is straying from righteousness -- not to speak of a record that would be prominently reviewed right now if facts were considered relevant to determining "custom and practice."

It could be argued, rather plausibly, that further demolition of the rules of world order is irrelevant, just as it had lost its meaning by the late 1930s. The contempt of the world's leading power for the framework of world order has become so extreme that there is nothing left to discuss. A review of the internal documentary record demonstrates that the stance traces back to the earliest days, even to the first memorandum of the newly-formed National Security Council in 1947. During the Kennedy years, the stance began to gain overt expression. The main innovation of the Reagan-Clinton years is that defiance of international law and the Charter has become entirely open. It has also been backed with interesting explanations, which would be on the front pages, and prominent in the school and university curriculum, if truth and honesty were considered significant values. The highest authorities explained with brutal clarity that the World Court, the UN, and other agencies had become irrelevant because they no longer follow US orders, as they did in the early postwar years.

One might then adopt the official position. That would be an honest stand, at least if it were accompanied by refusal to play the cynical game of self-righteous posturing and wielding of the despised principles of international law as a highly selective

against shifting enemies.

While the Reaganites broke new ground, under Clinton the defiance of world order has become so extreme as to be of concern even to hawkish policy analysts. In the current issue of the leading establishment journal, Foreign Affairs, Samuel Huntington warns that Washington is treading a dangerous course. In the eyes of much of the world -- probably most of the world, he suggests -- the US is "becoming the rogue superpower," considered "the single greatest external threat to their societies." Realist "international relations theory," he argues, predicts that coalitions may arise to counterbalance the rogue superpower. On pragmatic grounds, then, the stance should be reconsidered. Americans who prefer a different image of their society might call for a reconsideration on other than pragmatic grounds.

Where does that leave the question of what to do in Kosovo? It leaves it unanswered. The US has chosen a course of action which, as it explicitly recognizes, escalates atrocities and violence -- "predictably"; a course of action that also strikes yet another blow against the regime of international order, which does offer the weak at least some limited protection from predatory states. As for the longer term, consequences are unpredictable. One plausible observation is that "every bomb that falls on Serbia and every ethnic killing in Kosovo suggests that it will scarcely be possible for Serbs and Albanians to live beside each other in some sort of peace" (Financial Times, March 27). Some of the longer-term possible outcomes are extremely ugly, as has not gone without notice.

A standard argument is that we had to do something: we could not simply stand by as atrocities continue. That is never true. One choice, always, is to follow the Hippocratic principle: "First, do no harm." If you can think of no way to adhere to that elementary principle, then do nothing. There are always ways that can be considered. Diplomacy and negotiations are never at an end.

The right of "humanitarian intervention" is likely to be more frequently invoked in coming years -- maybe with justification, maybe not -- now that Cold War pretexts have lost their efficacy. In such an era, it may be worthwhile to pay attention to the views of highly respected commentators -- not to speak of the World Court, which explicitly ruled on this matter in a decision rejected by the United States, its essentials not even reported.

In the scholarly disciplines of international affairs and international law it would be hard to find more respected voices than Hedley Bull or Louis Henkin. Bull warned 15 years ago that "Particular states or groups of states that set themselves up as the authoritative judges of the world common good, in disregard of the views of others, are in fact a menace to international order, and thus to effective action in this field." Henkin, in a standard work on world order, writes that the "pressures eroding the prohibition on the use of force are deplorable, and the arguments to legitimize the use of force in those circumstances are unpersuasive and dangerous... Violations of human rights are indeed all too common, and if it were permissible to remedy them by external use of force, there would be no law to forbid the use of force by almost any state against almost any other. Human rights, I believe, will have to be vindicated, and other injustices remedied, by other, peaceful means, not by opening the door to aggression and destroying the principle advance in international law, the outlawing of war and the prohibition of force."

Recognized principles of international law and world order, solemn treaty obligations, decisions by the World Court, considered pronouncements by the most respected commentators -- these do not automatically solve particular problems. Each issue has to be considered on its merits. For those who do not adopt the standards of Saddam Hussein, there is a heavy burden of proof to meet in undertaking the threat or use of force in violation of the principles of international order. Perhaps the burden can be met, but that has to be shown, not merely proclaimed with passionate rhetoric. The consequences of such violations have to be assessed carefully -- in particular, what we understand to be "predictable." And for those who are minimally serious, the reasons for the actions also have to be assessed -- again, not simply by adulation of our leaders and their "moral compass."





by Andre Gunder Frank

[March 26, 1999]

NATO bombing of Serbia is in abject violation of international law by taking it into your own hands to destroy it. That makes this NATO action first dangerously criminal and then criminally dangerous. The American NATO Military Commander's claim that he is speaking and acting for the 'International Community' is a deliberate hoax, since the membership of NATO is only about 15 percent of the states and even less than that of the population of the United Nations, whose two largest countries with 2 billion people and many others oppose this action. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan put it mildly the day bombing started on March 24 that NATO member states should 'consult' the UN Security Council before attacking. They did no such thing in the knowledge that two permanent members would have exercised their veto. Therefore NATO action is criminal and dangerously so because it is yet another important step in the systematic violation of the UN Charter and the total abrogation of international law. NATO action and its expansion is also criminally dangerous for a whole series of political, legal, social, economic, and of course moral reasons to be detailed below.


NATO action is not only criminal, but dangerously so; because it extends not only the violation but the very elimination of the UN Charter, structure, and process and its replacement by NATO and its dominant power in the United States. It is difficult to decide where to start a quick review of this process. In 1950 the United States was able to fight Korean War under the UN flag, because in the Security Council China was represented by the regime in Taiwan, and the USSR was absent the day of the vote. Never mind that the UN Charter requires the affirmative vote of all permanent members. In 1961, the UN was used as a cover for

United States foreign policy in the Congo, which resulted in the installation by the CIA of Mobuto after the expulsion and killing of Lumumba and the death there of UN Secretary General Hammerskjold. In the 1980s, the United States alleged that it is not subject to the rulings of UN International Court in the Hague after the latter found that US mining of the Nicaragua harbour violated the UN CHarter.

But in 1990/91 the United States and its allies availed themselves of the UN and its Security Council to 'legitimate' the war against Iraq by pulling legalistic wool over the eyes of the world community to pretend that their action was carried out for the UN. Nonetheless, the then UN Secretary General Perez de Cuellar clearly said 'This is a US war, not a UN war." His resignation for that reason would have made it much more loud and clear. In fact, the US led war against Iraq clearly violated at least seven different clauses of the UN Charter. The first one is that Article 27, Clause 3 of the UN Charter requires the affirmative vote of all permanent members. That was not the case, since China abstained [ and the USSR only voted yes after being bribed to do so in its economic crisis. If it had at least abstained, China might have voted No, and probably France also]. This requirement is again relevant today: The United States and its NATO allies did not 'consult' the Security Council as the UN Secretary General

reminded us simply because it is obvious that this time Russia would have vetoed this operation, and maybe China too.

The American pretence that no new Security Council resolution was required to legalize this NATO action is a sheer lie in yet another attempt to pull wool over world eyes. Indeed, that was so already in the war against Iraq. For Article 42 of the UN Charter bars the resort to war until the Security Council determines that all peaceful means to resolve the dispute have been exhausted pursuant to Article 41. [We return to peaceful means below]. Of course, there was never any compliance with any none of these and other requirements of the UN Charter, and least of all the provision that the military action be under UN military command [which has never been really established], and not under that of the USA or NATO. On the contrary, the Iraq war initiated another dangerous precedent in this regard: although it was not a NATO operation, NATO offered its infrastructural facilities and some military equipment, which were used by its member allies in their illegal war against Iraq.

So the United States converted the United Nations into a de facto arm of its own foreign policy and its spokespersons and the media availed themselves the tried and true methods of Joseph Goebbles to lie so much as to persuade as also in Big Brother's 1984 WAR IS PEACE double speak about international law and morality.

Bosnia offered the opportunity to take another major dangerous step down this criminal road. In the beginning, The Helsinki Security Organization OSCE and the United Nations were active in trying to defuse and then resolve the conflict. Both failed because its principal members, principally the United States, Britain, France, and also Germany and Russia were unable to agree and unwilling to act. That scuttled not only the Owens plan, which provided for essentially the same things as the Dayton agreement but would have avoided three years of war and saved countless lives. But this impasse and paralysis, especially of and by the

United States which prior to an election demanded the use of European but no American troops, also paved the way to today in another way: The United Nations declared itself unable, and whats worse incompetent, to resolve the conflict in Bosnia -- and handed it over for 'resolution' lock, stock and barrel to NATO!

At the time, hardly anybody [except me on WSN?] noticed or noted this further qualitatively significant step in the de facto dismemberment of the United Nations and its alleged de jure replacement by NATO, and de facto by the United States, which then dictated its terms of 'settlement' at Dayton, Ohio, USA. Among them were the capture and trial of war criminals in the former Yugoslavia, which the same United States has resolutely opposed and prevented ever since then. Thus, not only international law, but even its own dictates are conveniently violated by the United States whenever they are inconvenient. That happened again when the US and UK governments unilaterally bombed Iraq again in January 1999 again in violation of the United Nations Charter and even resolutions and international law but even of their own dictates.

Ironically if not tragically, this attack on Serbia is also in direct violation of the NATO Charter itself, which allows defensive action only in response to an attack on a member state, which Serbia/Yugoslavia certainly has not done. Moreover NATO is itself subordinated to the United Nations also by its own NATO Charter, which reads:

"The North Atlantic Treaty Washington D.C., April 4, 1949 The Parties to this Treaty reaffirm their faith in the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and their desire to live in peace with all peoples and all governments....

Article 1 The Parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations."

So, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this agreement in Washington next week, the United States and [its?] NATO have step by step set themselves up as accuser, prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner of international 'law' however it suits them in total violation of the charters of both the United Nation and of NATO itself. And if it does not suit some member/s, like Greece which naturally objects to fanning flames on its borders, never mind, except that for celebratory purposes such internal NATO dis

agreement can be embarassing or even inconvenient, as is the denial of fly-over rights along the way to Serbia by neutral Austria. And if NATO action does not suit anybody else in the world, so much the better; since that will only demonstrate in practice to one and all who is really 'in charge' in this one world. Alas, that position and practice is criminally dangerous, particularly in a world in which economic power is shifting, and military - nuclear!- power is diversifying.


This war is also criminally dangerous for more reasons than it is possible even to summarize here. So I will concentrate only on two kinds of reasons, political and

moral. Far from safeguarding international security, the expansion of NATO membership, coverage and military action itself poses a very serious danger. There was absolutely no European security interest, and not even much political support, for the eastward expansion of NATO to include Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Indeed, the principal motor force for this move was domestic politics in the United States. In Russia however, NATO's eastward expansion was rightly perceived as aggressive and threatening. So is, of course, the recent proposal again to increase 'defense' spending and to revive the Star Wars program with anti-ballistic missiles in direct violation of the ABM treaty. All Russian political parties have been united in opposition to this American and NATO threat and now to its bombs, whatever their differences on other issues. These political and domestic policy differences themselves have been sharpened by the growing Russian economic crisis, which much of the Russian public sees rightly as the result of what it is, less a form of American Way modernization and ever more a modernized form of American carpetbagging. But the Russian public and its politics are likely to be even further aggravated by this American and NATO foreign policy, which threatens a country still armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons and whose army desperately needs renewed economic and popular support to rally around the flag.

Yet NATO not only threatens further eastward expansion of membership, but it helps move the boundaries and center of gravity of NATO's attention into the Balkans and Southeastern Europe, where they clash with Russia's interests. This threat and danger is confirmed by NATO military intervention in Bosnia, and now by its attack on Serbia. All these moves and NATO's use of Macedonia as a staging area also pose additional threats and dangers of NATO military penetration even further south-east perhaps including Southwest Asia [mis- called the Near or Mid East], the Caucasus, and the Caspian Sea where long term strategic disputes rage about oil and pipe-line routes. The US has already held joint military 'excercises' with and in Kazakstan in whose major oil deposits Russia and China also have vital interests.

This NATO intervention in Serbia, far from containing trouble, is likely to spread it further southeast through domino like knock on effects in Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey. All also harbour intra- and inter- state ethnic conflicts that can be fanned as they were in Yugoslavia -- and then invite more NATO 'peace' keeping. Indeed, that is why there already is Greek opposition within NATO to its attack on Serbia and its pledge to be a non-nuclear zone was just withdrawn by Ukraine, which along with other CIA states also feels threatened. These developments represent a weak underbelly for NATO, particularly given other regional Greco-Turkish conflicts within the NATO alliance.

The pretence by NATO, US President Clinton, UK Prime Minister Blair and their myriad official and other fellow travellers in the media and elsewhere is that they are engaged in a humanitarian mission to protect innocent civilians. Moreover they allege that they have no alternative but to do use military means to pursue their humanitarian mission, because the bad guy on the other side will not listen to reason. But none of these pretences reflect the reality whose most important factors are hidden by so much of a smoke screen that the public can no longer even distinguish smoke from mirror. The Western NATO powers have so far acted

exclusively in their - not always common -political interests and have never ever lifted a humanitarian finger to safeguard or help anybody in Yugoslavia itself, or elsewhere for that matter. Nor are the humanitarian NATO bombs designed or able to do so.
The United Nations Charter stipulates in its Article 41 that all peaceful means to resolve - indeed to forestall escalation - of conflict be exhausted before the United Nations, not NATO or any member state, resort to military force. Far from exhausting the use of such peaceful means in the former Yugoslavia, the principal NATO partners exhausted all the means of the Yugoslavs and their successor to forestall and de-escalate conflict among them. Any objective examination of recent history will demonstrate that not 400 years of ethnic conflict in Yugoslavia but 20, 10, and 2 years of criminally dangerous action and inaction by the Western powers is responsible for the past, present, and future disaster.

To begin with, it has been primarily US monetary/ economic and political/military policy that aggravated the world economic crisis and shifted its burden to those least able to bear it, including especially the Soviet Union/Russia and Yugoslavia. The latter was already so burdened by foreign debt that it was already clear [at least to me] in 1984 that without relief the result had to be military rule, civil war, or both. Then to add insult to injury and do even more injury, the IMF pushed the Yugoslav Federal state to de facto suicide by obliging it to eliminate from its budget the transfer payments to its constituent republics, which were the de facto cement that held the federation together. Therewith, the Federation of Yugoslavia lost its political economic raison d'etre at the same time that a renewed economic recession, IMF structural adjustment, and growing poverty and polarization hit the country and its people.

When Slovenia and Croatia sought to abandon the Yugoslav ship, the German foreign minister Genscher supported them [along with his Austrian colleague who also sought economic benefits there] and presented its European Union allies with the following ultimatum: EU recognition of secession or Germany will go it alone. The EU caved in with the full knowledge that the independence of Slovenia and Croatia had to lead to the same in Bosnia, which had to lead to civil war and further partition. And President Milosevic in Belgrade naturally used these opportunities handed to him to escalate and fortify Serbian nationalism, not the least by using the Serbian officered 'Yugoslav' army against all three new countries and to support the Bosnian Serbs, as well as to divest Albanians in Kosovo of more and more of their constitutional rights. The danger posed by Milosevic and his chauvinist politics was so obvious that even I was able to warn against them in publications in 1990/91, including one published by the United Nations. Yet it took a long time for anyone in the West, let alone the United Nations, to lift a finger to dissuade Milosevic. And then it was primarily to impose an ineffective embargo on Serbia, which has publicly sustained Milosevic politically and economically, it is said, for his and his inner circle's private purses.

So for years none of the Western powers did anything to stop or even discourage him, except that for its own purposes the United States first opposed partition, then changed its mind and accepted it, and then started to push for intervention so long as it would not cost American troops. Britain and France, who would have

had to supply the troops, and of course Germany dragged their feet as well. Russia also for its own reasons opposed intervention. Ethnic cleansing and every kind of horror and human tragedy was the result. But all of it could have been avoided by the implementation by the United Nations and/or the Western powers of economic, political and social policies with the least bit of humanitarian concern for the welfare of the people such as that ever professed as a cover for the naked political policy that the Western powers implement in their own interests. This self interest, now especially by the Clinton administration in the United States, also guided and permeated the Dayton 'Peace' Accords that belatedly ended the war in Bosnia -- with essentially the same provisions favorable to the Serbs proposed by the Owen Plan and rejected by the United States three years earlier. An Dayton provided much more for policing Bosnia than for democratizing, let alone developing or even reconstructing it economically. For that, only very few dollars were budgeted; and hardly a cent was ever made available. But the Dayton accords are themselves violated daily even regarding the policing, for again American domestic political interests have prevailed to prevent arresting the principal and most other war criminals and bringing them to justice at the UN Court in The Hague. The establishment by the UN of a permanent International Criminal Court to try violations of human rights was also opposed and is still hamstrung by the small minority vote of United States and its Chinese, Israeli,
Iraqi and Lybian 'traditional' allies. So much for humanitarian concern for the welfare and human rights of the people by the United States and its NATO allies.

Moreover, just as the Bosnian disaster was pre- programmed into the German and European support for independence in Slovenia and Croatia, so did Dayton set the stage or at least fail to prevent the escalation of Serbian oppression and the aggravation of the conflict in Kosovo. Nor was anything done or even attempted to prevent, let alone to reverse, this process until it was indeed too late. Again the claim that peaceful conflict resolution failed and now made military bombing necessary is more smoke and mirrors. Or is it a smokescreen for even more dangerously criminal and criminally dangerous measures? And why now?

There are no doubt many reasons and possible explanations why these military measures are being taken now. Whatever they are, a bit of global historical perspective can help clarify them. Examination of the record since World War II will show that the United Sates has rattled or used its military sabre and then increased 'defense' spending in every economic recession: 1949-50 Korea, 1953-54: Iran and Guatemala, 1958: Lebanon, 1967, 1969-70 and 1973-75: Vietnam, 1979: first the second cold war including a 3 percent yearly increase in all NATO spending and then arming the Afghans against Soviet occupation, and 1989-92: Iraq. In each case also, spending was increased by and for the military-industrial complex against which President Eisenhower warned in his 1958 fare well speech. Now the time has come for another recession, foreshadowed by the economic crisis in Asia, Russia, and Latin America and by a dip in the index of [future] economic indicators in the United States. Moreover, the end of the [second] cold war with the Evil Empire led to significant cuts in US military budgets, although three new customers were created ipso facto by NATO expansion to Prague,

Warsaw, and Budapest. So the same Pentagon, which was well still nourished in 1990 and opposed going to war in Iraq as Chief of Staff Colin Powell also did, now demanded and received the go-ahead for military action again in Iraq and now in Serbia. Moreover, military commanders want to try out the new military hardware and software that was supposed to be upgraded since its abject failure in Iraq in 1991. And the same Bill Clinton who once evaded the draft in the war against Vietnam now comes out in favour of new weapons for unconventional warfare, anti-ballistic missiles to be employed in - that is against - the Third World and argues that it is high time again to increase military spending 'only' to pay for it all. So this is an overall context in which to examine the various real and imagined reasons for beginning 1999 by bombing Iraq and Serbia.

One thing is certain. Bombing Serbs in Serbia and even in Kosovo is not designed to and cannot promote the welfare of the Albanian population in Kosovo and also not in neighbouring states. If it were, then with the same argument NATO could also bomb its NATO member Turkey to protect its even more abused Kurds, or the so far non-member Israel that has so institutionalized its ethnic cleansing of Palestinians as to make it all but 'invisible' though to help it do so is the only country in the world to have legalized torture and itself just wantonly bombed Lebanon again without the slighest reprimand, let alone reprisal.

Besides, all informed opinion insists that NATO bombing will politically strengthen Milosevic and Serbian nationalism rather than weakening either, as NATO pretends. Surely, if the Western powers really sought to achieve or even to serve any of their professed objectives, any Western aided economic and social development program for the entire population would have done so better. But then, instead of economic structural adjustment and then military intervention, so would it have been in Somalia, Rwanda and elsewhere. Moreover the NATO military attack on Serbia now again undermines the peace settlement in neighbouring Bosnia and risks putting its own military 'peace' keeping personnel there [including it is said a whole British armoured division] in Serbian harm's way. The offensive use of German military power for the first time since World War II and again against Serbs will also be politically used by Milosevic to strengthen his hand and his followers' resolve.

And what about the quiet NATO military build up in also neighbouring Macedonia? First the now 10,000 [or more?] troops - including another armoured division of 5,000 men and equipment already brought by the British months ago] were said to be there to permit the evacuation of the 2,000 unarmed OSCE observers in Kosovo, so they would and could not become Serbian

hostages. Then the bombing started without any notice that all observers have been evacuated to Macedonia, and we are told that the NATO troops are there ready to cross over into Serbian Kosovo just in case of Serbian reprisals against Albanians there. But according to official doublespeak of the United States, we are informed that its troops in Macedonia will never be used to make peace but only to keep it. Either way, we are not told how these NATO troops could possibly protect either the two thousand observers or the two million Albanians in Kosovo. Moreover, NATO bombing and the removal of OSCE observers will expose the remaining Albanian population to greater hatred, oppression and ethnic cleansing by the

Serbians and increase the fear and flight of the already three hundred thousand refugees from Kosovo - that is de facto the very ethnic cleansing the Serbians want. That also again fuels earlier proposals for a Greater Albania to bring Albanians from Albania, Macedonia, Greece and Kosovo under one flag and center that could as well be in the last as in the first of these.

So what are NATO troops and their ground force military equipment in Macedonia - and Bosnia - for? For what is euphomistically called more 'mission creep', however pre-programmed it may be. For the whole NATO operation is based or at least sold on the false official premise that it will protect Albanian interests by bringing President Milosevic to his knees and/or forcing him out of office by dividing his domestic support. For the foreseeable future, NATO can only achieve the opposite.

Less consideration has been given to how this NATO operation may become divisive among and within its member states, and with what consequences. At this writing, the Prime Minister and then the Parliament of Italy, which is just across the Adriatic so that the United States uses its air bases to bomb Yugoslavia from which Italy therefore also attracts new refugees, has already demanded renewed political negotiations. En Germany, the Green Party foreign minister [still?] supports this adventure but the Social Democratic finance minister was forced to resign in a conflict with the defense minister over additional finance for this contribution to NATO by Germany. Moreover, that is the country that already received the largest number of war refugees from Bosnia [like Italy from Albania] and is most sensitive to any such new refugee stream from Kosovo and neighboring regions.

Refugees are the least concern for the the most protected and hawkish members of NATO, Thatcher/Blairite Britain, maybe Canada and the United States. In the latter the use of American ground troops in the Balkans and thereabouts will not go down as well as Desert Storm did in Iraq -- unless the operation can be sold at home as a second [really third] cold war against the Russians. They for their part are talking [and planning?] to arm the Serbs and perhaps also to send military personell, albeigh be it as mercenary 'volunteers' from an army that today goes unpaid. But rekindling and firing up another cold war and heating it up to boot entails obvious criminal dangers of its own. Besides that, it may entail some less obvious global geo-political and military consequences, including the fortification of a Sino-Russian alliance, this time perhaps also including India -- each with nuclear weapons.

Thus, far from preserving the peace, NATO is threatening - indeed already undoing - it. Far from promoting and enforcing international law, NATO is violating and destroying it. Far from serving any humanitarian ends, NATO and its principal powers are negating them all. One of these ends should be to speak the truth instead of spreading lies about all of the above. So lets at least some of us, as the pacifist Society of Friends [Quakers] saying has it, SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER!

Special (extra) ZNet Commentary

March 24, 1999

NATO's Humanitarian Trigger

By Diana Johnstone

From James Rubin to Christiane Amanpour, the broad range of government and media opinion is totally united in demanding that NATO bomb Serbia. This is necessary, we are told, in order to "avert a humanitarian catastrophe", and because, "the only language Milosevic understands is force"... which happens to be the language the U.S. wants to speak.

Kosovo is presented as the problem, and NATO as the solution.

In reality, NATO is the problem, and Kosovo is the solution.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, NATO needed a new excuse for pumping resources into the military-industrial complex. Thanks to Kosovo, NATO can celebrate its 50th anniversary next month by consecration of its new global mission: to intervene anywhere in the world on humanitarian grounds. The recipe is easy: arm a group of radical secessionists to shoot policemen, describe the inevitable police retaliation as "ethnic cleansing", promise the rebels that NATO will bomb their enemy if the fighting goes on, and then interpret the resulting mayhem as a challenge to NATO's "resolve" which must be met by military action.

Thanks to Kosovo, national sovereignty will be a thing of the past -- not of course for Great Powers like the U.S. and China, but for weaker States that really need it. National boundaries will be no obstacle to NATO intervention.

Thanks to Kosovo, the U.S. can control eventual Caspian oil pipeline routes between the Black Sea and the Adriatic, and extend the European influence of favored ally Turkey.

Last February 23, James Hooper, executive director of the Balkan Action Council, one of the many think tanks that have sprung up to justify the ongoing transformation of former Yugoslavia into NATO protectorates, gave a speech at the Holocaust Museum in Washington at the invitation of its "Committee of Conscience". The first item on his list of "things to do next" was this: "Accept that the Balkans are a region of strategic interest for the United States, the new Berlin if you will, the testing ground for NATO's resolve and US leadership. [...] The administration should level with the American people and tell them that we are likely to be in the Balkans militarily indefinitely, at least until there is a democratic government in Belgrade."

In the Middle Ages, the Crusaders launched their conquests from the Church pulpits. Today, NATO does so in the Holocaust Museum. War must be sacred.

This sacralization has been largely facilitated by a post-communist left which has taken refuge in moralism and identity politics to the exclusion of any analysis of the economic and geopolitical factors that continue to determine the macropolicies shaping the world.

Jean-Christophe Rufin, former vice president of "Doctors Without Borders" recently pointed to the responsibility of humanitarian non-governmental organizations in justifying military intervention. "They were the first to deplore the passivity of the political response to dramatic events in the Balkans or Africa. Now they have got what they wanted, or so it seems. For in practice, rubbing elbows with NATO could turn out to be extremely dangerous."
Already the call for United Nations soldiers to intervene on humanitarian missions raised suspicions in the Third World that "the humanitarians could be the Trojan horse of a new armed imperialism", Rufin wrote in "Le Monde". But NATO is something else.

"With NATO, everything has changed. Here we are dealing with a purely military, operational alliance, designed to respond to a threat, that is to an enemy", wrote Rufin. "NATO defines an enemy, threatens it, then eventually strikes and destroys it.

"Setting such a machine in motion requires a detonator. Today it is no longer military. Nor is it political. The evidence is before us: NATO's trigger, today, is... humanitarian. It takes blood, a masssacre, something that will outrage public opinion so that it will welcome a violent reaction."

The consequence, he concluded, is that "the civilian populations have never been so potentially threatened as in Kosovo today. Why? Because those potential victims are the key to international reaction. Let's be clear: the West wants dead bodies. [...] We are waiting for them in Kosovo. We'll get them." Who will kill them is a mystery but previous incidents suggest that "the threat comes from all sides."

In the middle of conflict as in Kosovo, massacres can easily be perpetrated... or "arranged". There are always television crews looking precisely for that "top story".

Recently, Croatian officers have admitted that in 1993 they themselves staged a "Serbian bombing" of the Croatian coastal city of Sibenik for the benefit of Croatian television crews. The former Commander of the 113th Croatian brigade headquarters, Davo Skugor, reacted indignantly. "Why so much fuss?" he complained. "There is no city in Croatia in which such tactical tricks were not used. After all, they are an integral part of strategic planning. That's only one in a series of stratagems we've resorted to during the war."

The fact remains that there really is a very serious Kosovo problem. It has existed for well over a century, habitually exacerbated by outside powers (the Ottoman Empire, the Habsburg Empire, the Axis powers during World War II). The Serbs are essentially a modernized peasant people, who having liberated themselves from arbitrary Turkish Ottoman oppression in the 19th century, are attached to modern state institutions. In contrast, the Albanians in the northern mountains of Albania and Kosovo have never really accepted any law, political or religious, over their own unwritten "Kanun" based on patriarchal obedience to vows, family honor, elaborate obligations, all of which are enforced not by any government but by male family and clan chiefs protecting their honor, eventually in the practice of blood feuds and revenge.

The basic problem of Kosovo is the difficult coexistence on one territory of ethnic

communities radically separated by customs, language and historical self-identification. From a humanistic viewpoint, this problem is more fundamental than the problem of State boundaries.

Mutual hatred and fear is the fundamental human catastrophe in Kosovo. It has been going on for a long time. It has got much worse in recent years. Why?

Two factors stand out as paradoxically responsible for this worsening -- paradoxically, because presented to the world as factors which should have improved the situation.

1 - The first is the establishment in the autonomous Kosovo of the 1970s and 1980s of separate Albanian cultural institutions, notably the Albanian language faculties in Pristina University. This cultural autonomy, demanded by ethnic Albanian leaders, turned out to be a step not to reconciliation between communities but to their total separation. Drawing on a relatively modest store of past scholarship, largely originating in Austria, Germany or Enver Hoxha's Albania, studies in Albanian history and literature amounted above all to glorifications of Albanian identity. Rather than developing the critical spririt, they developed narrow ethnocentricy. Graduates in these fields were prepared above all for the career of nationalist political leader, and it is striking

the number of literati among Kosovo Albanian secessionist leaders. Extreme cultural autonomy has created two populations with no common language.

In retrospect, what should have been done was to combine Serbian and Albanian studies, requiring both languages, and developing original comparative studies of history and literature. This would have subjected both Serbian and Albanian national myths to the scrutiny of the other, and worked to correct the nationalist bias in both. Bilingual comparative studies could and should have been a way toward mutual understanding as well as an enrichment of universal culture. Instead, culture in the service of identity politics leads to mutual ignorance and contempt.

The lesson of this grave error should be a warning elsewhere, starting in Macedonia, where Albanian nationalists are clamoring to repeat the Pristina experience in Tetova. Other countries with mixed ethnic populations should take note.

2. The second factor has been the support from foreign powers, especially the United States, to the Albanian nationalist cause in Kosovo. By uncritically accepting the version of the tangled Kosovo situation presented by the Albanian lobby, American politicians have greatly exacerbated the conflict by encouraging the armed Albanian rebels and pushing the Serbian authorities into extreme efforts to wipe them out.

The "Kosovo Liberation Army" (UCK) has nothing to lose by provoking deadly clashes, once it is clear that the number of dead and the number of refugees will add to the balance of the "humanitarian catastrophe" that can bring NATO and U.S. air power into the conflict on the Albanian side.

The Serbs have nothing to gain by restraint, once it is clear that they will be blamed anyway for whatever happens.

By identifying the Albanians as "victims" per se, and the Serbs as the villains, the United States and its allies have made any fair and reasonable political situation virtually impossible. The Clinton

administration in particular builds its policy on the assumption that what the Kosovar Albanians -- including the UCK -- really want is "democracy," American style. In fact, what they want is power over a particular territory, and among the Albanian nationalists, there is a bitter power struggle going on over who will exercise that power.

Thus an American myth of "U.S.-style democracy and free market economy will solve everything" is added to the Serbian and Albanian myths to form a fictional screen making reality almost impossible to discern, much less improve. Underlying the American myth are Brzezinski-style geostrategic designs on potential pipeline routes to Caspian oil and methodology for expanding NATO as an instrument to ensure U.S. hegemony over the Eurasian land mass.

Supposing by some miracle the world suddenly turned upside down, and there were outside powers who really cared about the fate of Kosovo and its inhabitants, one could suggest the following:

1 - stop one-sided demonization of the Serbs, recognize the genuine qualities, faults, and fears on all sides, and work to promote understanding rather than hatred;

2 - stop arming and encouraging rebel groups;

3 - allow genuine mediation by parties with no geostrategic or political interests at stake in the region.

the number of literati among Kosovo Albanian secessionist leaders. Extreme cultural autonomy has created two populations with no common language.

In retrospect, what should have been done was to combine Serbian and Albanian studies, requiring both languages, and developing original comparative studies of history and literature. This would have subjected both Serbian and Albanian national myths to the scrutiny of the other, and worked to correct the nationalist bias in both. Bilingual comparative studies could and should have been a way toward mutual understanding as well as an enrichment of universal culture. Instead, culture in the service of identity politics leads to mutual ignorance and contempt.

The lesson of this grave error should be a warning elsewhere, starting in Macedonia, where Albanian nationalists are clamoring to repeat the Pristina experience in Tetova. Other countries with mixed ethnic populations should take note.

2. The second factor has been the support from foreign powers, especially the United States, to the Albanian nationalist cause in Kosovo. By uncritically accepting the version of the tangled Kosovo situation presented by the Albanian lobby, American politicians have greatly exacerbated the conflict by encouraging the armed Albanian rebels and pushing the Serbian authorities into extreme efforts to wipe them out.

The "Kosovo Liberation Army" (UCK) has nothing to lose by provoking deadly clashes, once it is clear that the number of dead and the number of refugees will add to the balance of the "humanitarian catastrophe" that can bring NATO and U.S. air power into the conflict on the Albanian side.

The Serbs have nothing to gain by restraint, once it is clear that they will be blamed anyway for whatever happens.

By identifying the Albanians as "victims" per se, and the Serbs as the villains, the United States and its allies have made any fair and reasonable political situation virtually impossible. The Clinton administration in particular builds its policy on the assumption that what the Kosovar Albanians -- including the UCK -- really want is "democracy," American style. In fact, what they want is power over a particular territory, and among the Albanian nationalists, there is a bitter power struggle

going on over who will exercise that power.

Thus an American myth of "U.S.-style democracy and free market economy will solve everything" is added to the Serbian and Albanian myths to form a fictional screen making reality almost impossible to discern, much less improve. Underlying the American myth are Brzezinski-style geostrategic designs on potential pipeline routes to Caspian oil and methodology for expanding NATO as an instrument to ensure U.S. hegemony over the Eurasian land mass.

Supposing by some miracle the world suddenly turned upside down, and there were outside powers who really cared about the fate of Kosovo and its inhabitants, one could suggest the following:

1 - stop one-sided demonization of the Serbs, recognize the genuine qualities, faults, and fears on all sides, and work to promote understanding rather than hatred;

2 - stop arming and encouraging rebel groups;

3 - allow genuine mediation by parties with no geostrategic or political interests at stake in the region.

Dave McReynolds on NATO/Kosovo

Now that NATO has given authorization for the bombing of Yugoslavia, the question is what response do socialists and pacifists have to this?

The first problem is that we are not dealing with "good guys". I know parts of the Left will try to explain away the NATO action as a steady effort to eliminate the last bastion of socialism in Europe. I know that parts of the peace movement will downplay what Milosevic has done. And I also know - perhaps most important at these times of crisis - that those of us ten thousand miles from where the bombs are going to fall really don't know all sides of the conflict. We deal with what the media gives us. Things always look different when you are standing on the ground, either in Serbia or in Kosovo. They are always more complex than they seem at this distance.

Milosevic is not a "good guy", anymore than Saddam Hussein is. Yet in both cases we should oppose any assumption that because Milosevic and Hussein are not nice, therefore NATO is. Or that because these men are not nice that we have some reason to bomb hell out of their countries, impose sanctions on their people, etc. After all, in the matter of "niceness" what kind of country are we, that supported Saddam during his long and bloody war against Iran in the 1980's? Or that supported the Shah in Iran when the secret police engaged in torture at least as bad as anything in Kosovo? How selective in the anger of our TV pundits and our President, how short their memories.

NATO is taking exactly the position regarding Kosovo that it opposes when it comes to Turkey, where the Turkish Kurds are asking for precisely the same thing as the Albanians in Kosovo - self- determination. In Turkey we oppose the Kurdish demand because Turkey is a NATO ally. In Kosovo we support the drive for self-determination because the U.S. wants to weaken Milosevic - and he isn't in NATO.

Terrible tragedies have occured in both situations - but because Turkey is a NATO ally we hear very little about Turkish atrocities against the Kurds. Only on the Iraqi side has the U.S. established a "no fly zone" to help the Kurds - because in Iraq, we want Saddam weakened.

The U.S. policy is terribly cynical, as, historically, all nations' policies are. Cynical or not, the Yugoslav army is engaged in actions which should be opposed by all reasonable means short of engaging in bombing, which has no sanction from the UN, and is applied to Yugoslavia only because it is weak in relationship to NATO - NOT BECAUSE THE CAUSE IS MORE URGENT. All during the Russian massacres in Cheneya there were no threats of Western bombing - but I'm afraid the situation is the same in Kosovo, it is a part of Yugoslavia, has been since close to the turn of this century, contains some of the monuments most critical to the Yugoslavs as part of their history.

Yugoslavia and Kosovo got themselves into this mess when (a) Milosevic engaged in ruthless nationalism that rejected any reasonable arrangements for moderate self-determination in Kosovo. And (b) when the powerful and nonviolent mass movement in Kosovo, which had won much Western support and created a virtual parallel government, was derailed by the violence of the Kosovo Liberation Army. The KLA attacked Serbian police and Serbian civilians. Yugoslavia counter-attacked brutally.

The KLA took any peaceful accomdation off the table. Do I support the right of the KLA to use violence? Sure, any people has that right, just as I supported the right of the Vietnamese to use violence. But between supporting the right and thinking that use of violence is reasonable there is a huge gap. I should add that while I do support the right of self-determination, I don't support

nationalism, not in the U.S., and not in Kosovo. In the case of the Vietnamese it was not simply self-determination, but also, as in India, an effort to remove a foreign occupying force. The case for that is less clear in Kosovo, where the present 90% Albanian population was not a "steady historic fact".

The NATO bombing may be painless (for NATO - not for the Serbs) but it may also prove costly. It is believed that Yugoslav air defenses are moderately efficient, which means there may be loss of U.S. jets. And then ground action to rescue the pilots. If the bombing proves ineffective, will NATO troops be sent in? If they are sent in (perhaps to arrest Milosevic) do we have any sense of how long they will have to stay, how fierce the fighting is likely to be?

Only in the past few days has the New York Times carried a story about war crimes committed by Croatia late in the Bosnian conflict. At that time the Croatian Army drove tens and tens of thousands of Serbs from their ancestral homes, killing many in the process. The Times noted that the role of the U.S. in training and supplying the Croatians had never been fully probed and that charges that two Croatian generals should be arrested for war crimes might embarrass the U.S. At that time the Croatian offensive was reported in the West, but with none of the anger and moral fury that had been felt when the Serbs had carried out similar ethnic cleansing. Had the war already so changed us that we had lost the ability to feel grief, sorrow, and anger when Serbian families were murdered and driven out? We were right to feel this about the Serbian attacks on Muslims and Croats -

what happened to us? Will that happen again if we find NATO forces in a door to door fight in Serbia?

Any democratic opposition in Serbia (and it does exist) will be largely destroyed by bombing. The same is true of any hope for nonviolent alternatives in Kosovo.

There are times when those of us who believe in peace cannot provide answers. We can be as truthful as possible, see as clearly as possible, but we may not have answers.

The irony is that because the US (and NATO) is so heavily armed there is a temptation to use the weapons to prove we need them and, more crucial, to fail to make any of the concessions and compromises we might make if we didn't have the weapons. One reason for disarmament is that it would make it more essential to pursue peaceful alternatives - which the US won't pursue as long as it is armed.

For the moment, beyond opposing the bombing, and opposing the Serbian attacks on Kosovo, I think we are without effective solutions. The serious problem is that I believe Clinton and NATO also are without effective solutions - but they have the ability to expand an already disturbing level of violence.

David McReynolds NYC / March 23, 1999 (I'd also recommend asking War Resisters League for a recent issue of the magazine, Nonviolent Action, which has a very good piece in it by Howard Clark. Send $l and mention that article to: WRL, 339 Lafayette St., NYC 10012.)

A call for a new peace front

By Jan Myrdal

Translated by Hans Isaksson

The United States, its allies and its subordinate states have thoroughly changed the international situation by their war of aggression against Yugoslavia. It is, however, not only up to the United States whether the United Nations will now become like the League of Nations after the Japanese aggression back in 1931. Nor is it entirely up to the United States how the future conflicts will develop it is up to us, the people. In order to act intelligently we shall have to realise this fact and discuss its implications.

Even if WW I was trigged by the shots in Sarajevo it started with the Balkan wars during the preceding years. It was foreboded by conflicts, possible to discern and to analyse already in the 1890-ies, between the big powers on the repartition of the world. The contemporary peace- and labour movement could foresee this big war in advent. The analysis made by the Basle conference of the Second International was perfectly clear. However, in the absence of a broadly based peace movement, organised by and among the people their leaders were able to desert the struggle for peace. Instead they begun to serve the imperialist masters and to drag the peoples into a sanguinary world war. On our side we have discussed how this could happen since the autumn of 1914.

Even if the Second World War, as far as Europe was concerned, was trigged when Hitlerite Germany attacked Poland in 1939 it was initiated when Japan occupied Manchuria in 1931 (and it was continued by the Italian assault on Abessinia and by the fascist coup, supported by Germany and Italy, against the legal government in Spain in 1936). In this imperialist power game the leaders of Great Britain, France and the United States thought that they might be able to turn Japan and Germany against the Soviet Union, thus being able keep their own empires for themselves. In spite of this the contemporary peace movement and the anti-fascist forces in the interval between the preludes of the war and its exacerbation made a great performance to unite the peoples on the broadest possible foundation against the fascists and the war. In doing this they contributed to the future defeat of the fascists. Even if they were not strong enough to prevent the war they had learnt from the events in 1914. It is granted that the third World war was initiated by the bomb over Hiroshima which was not necessary in order to defeat Japan but was needed in order to secure the world hegemony desired by the United States and later by the iron curtain speech by Winston Churchill, the Truman doctrine and NATO. However the war never broke out. We succeeded in the fifties where we failed back in 1914 and 1939. We were able to resist the forces of war. We were millions all around the world working for the Stockholm call for peace. Our slogans were simple and seemingly self-evident: Prohibition and destruction of nuclear arms under international control any state, deploying nuclear arms by this fact was to be considered a war criminal. The press and our official politicians were raging. Whoever remembers the witch-hunt won¥t forget it. The Daily News (the leading Swedish daily newspaper) slandered us as Russian agents. Our Prime Minister was very upset. On the initiative of the United States here in Sweden 20000 informers were organised to spy on all those among their fellow countrymen who worked in favour of the peace of Moscow and to annihilate them socially and politically. But we simply were too many millions all over the world organising to resist the US warmongers. They could not realise their dream exposed on the cover of Collier¥s Magazine in November 1951 with its atomic mushroom over Moscow. Their war machine was defeated in Korea. They were coerced into keeping peace. In Sweden powerful forces among Big Business , the military apparatus and their friends in the bourgeois parties as well as parts of the social democratic
leadership tried to make us join the NATO and its war. But the peace movement was on its guard and the public opinion was against NATO. The peace movement grew. Certain generals and politicians were in the service of the United States. They had to act illegaly and secretly. With the support of the public opinion we made Sweden officially stick to the very same political line that it had adhered to since 1834: Freedom of alliance in peacetime, aiming to neutrality in wartime. This fact constituted a severe defeat for the diplomacy of the United States and for the pro-NATO forces in our country.

Among the political/military leadership a program for the development of Swedish arms was prepared, however. Even Olof Palme was in favour of that program. Here, also, the military and the politicians had to yield to the pressure of the public opinion, organised by the peace movement. So Olof Palme switched his

opinion, being a shrewd politician. You may remember how our work against the US war of aggression in South East Asia was organised? Then official Sweden was on the side of the United States. We had good reasons to call, as we did, our Prime Minister and the head of the National TUC the flunkeys of Lyndon. There are several us remembering how they got beaten up when the government deployed their mounted police force on the 20th of December 1967. By sticking to the mass line, by reasoning, spreading information and by sticking to the simple principles which conformed to the interests of the Swedish people we made the government yield. At least in words, if not in its deeds it had to oppose the US war. Olof Palme himself ended up heading demonstrations. For this we ought to respect him and hail him. We should not be sectarian or self-righteous. As many of us know our work for peace and solidarity continued with the struggle for the rights of the Palestinian People, it went on to oppose the Brezhnev doctrine, used by Moscow in order to establish and expand its hegemony. In this moment for economical and power political motives the leadership of the United States and their followers are striving to enforce the world hegemony of Globalisation. This is done by deliberately by-passing the UN, by exploiting internal ethnical/religious conflicts. All means, political and military, are instrumental to this end. Thus, our struggle for peace must be continued. We shall work broadly, without condideration for old contradictions. In different ways we shall organise a public opinion. We shall raise simple political demands in the interest of the broad majority of the people. In Sweden, for instance: Return to our political guidelines in foreign policy valid since 1834: Freedom of alliance in peacetime, aiming to neutrality in wartime. Return to the line of foreign policy, enforced by the peace movement and the people in the sixties. In favour of the UN, against the self-imposed right of superpowers (the Truman doctrine, the Brezhnev doctrine or the current Clinton doctrine) to intervene by military force in the internal affairs of other states. Solidarity with the demands of the Third World (the South) for an egalitarian distribution of the wordly goods, against plundering and neo-colonialism, in favour of mutual respect and understanding as a foundation for the international intercourse. It is of paramount importance to counter the ever more uniform news media by spreading an objective information about world affairs. Another central task is to reveal the methods of propaganda deployed by imperialism and neo-colonialism. You¥ll notice that Washington is now talking about human rights in the same manner as the Victorian British talked of Christian Values, the Tsar of the freedom of small nations, the warring Japan of freedom from colonial masters and common welfare, Mussolini of liberating the Abessinians from slavery , Hitler of new, brotherly Europe. You can demonstrate this by quotations and examples! Further, you should fight the ideologies about the war between civilisations and obsoleteness of the national states that are now being produced by the think-tanks of the United States and by their parroters in our countries. You should fight them thoroughly, hard and by means of arguments. These are great tasks confronting us.

The worldwide protests against the bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia by NATO in the last seven days demonstrate that world public opinion finds it utterly unacceptable that a military alliance of some states assigns to itself the responsibilities which under the UN Charter belongs to the UN Security Council. There is growing alarm in all countries that the military conflicts will escalate, thus threatening peace and security of peoples in the whole region and the world. Moreover, the foreign military intervention, as was widely apprehended, has led to even greater lawlessness, insecurity and suppression of basic rights, thus intensifying the humanitarian crisis in Kosovo and accelerating the outflow of refugees. The worst victims of this brutal war are the working people and their families.

Member States of the UN representing the greater part of the world population have strongly denounced the NATO intervention as a violation of the UN Charter and accepted norms of international law. Stressing the need to resolve disputes by peaceful means and emphasising the primary responsibility of the UN Security Council in the maintenance of international peace and security, it has been categorically stated that the erosion of the United Nations Security Council cannot be tolerated by the international community.

The WFTU fully supports the demand made by many member States of the UN that all parties to the conflict should respect UN Security Council resolutions 1199 and 1203 and actively explore a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

Implementing these resolutions, the NATO countries which have launched military attacks against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia must immediately stop these unlawful acts and withdraw all their troops from the region.

The WFTU appeals to trade unions in all countries to act immediately to stop the war and support the efforts being made to find solutions through a resumption of negotiations leading to a settlement acceptable to all parties, protecting security of life and property and human rights of all citizens, assuring immediate help to the refugees through the specialised institutions of the UN and the return of refugees to their original homes as well as guaranteeing peace and security for all peoples in former Yugoslavia, in the Balkans and in the region.

Secretariat of the WFTU

Branicka 112,


FAX: (420 2) 4446 1378


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