Supporters of NATO’s war on Yugoslavia are not allowed to talk about law, sovereignty or borders
Virtually everyone who has spent the last month moralizing about the sanctity of borders, the sovereignty of countries, and how unacceptable it is for big powers to “bully” smaller neighbors – thinking of Russia and Ukraine – stopped by on Thursday to sing the praises of a woman who stood up for all these things in 1999. Except it was NATO doing them in Yugoslavia, Madeleine Albright was a hero and an icon, of course.
On March 24, 1999, NATO launched an air war against Serbia and Montenegro, then known as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The publicly stated objective of Operation Allied Force was to force Belgrade to accept the ultimatum issued at the French castle of Rambouillet the previous month: hand over the province of Kosovo to NATO. “peacekeepers” and allow ethnic Albanian separatists to declare independence.
When the bombers failed to achieve this goal within weeks, the narrative changed to NATO acting to stop a “genocide” of Albanians, according to his cheerleading press, was taking place. This account also credited America’s first-ever female secretary of state for the “humanitarian” bombardment, the caller “The Magdalen War.”
In the end, it took 78 days and a negotiated armistice for NATO troops to enter Kosovo wearing the fig leaf of a UN peacekeeping mission. They quickly handed over the province to the terrorists of the “Kosovo Liberation Army”, who proceeded to burn, loot, murder and deport over 200,000 non-Albanians. A veritable campaign of terror, intimidation, ethnic cleansing and pogroms has begun – and the same media that covered NATO by fabricating atrocities during the bombings have now turned a blind eye, for the same reason.
Whatever its outcome, however, it was a diabolical little war, started because the United States thought it could. Because Washington wanted to get rid of the constraints posed by the UN to its new world hegemony, articulated a few years earlier by Bill Kristol and Victoria Nuland’s husband, Robert Kagan. Because the fledgling American Empire wanted to send a message to Eastern Europe that no dissent would be tolerated, and to Russia that she was no longer a great power worthy of respect.
A legalistic mind might point out that the attack violated Articles 2, 53 and 103 of the United Nations Charter, NATO’s own charter – the 1949 North Atlantic Treaty (Articles 1 and 7) – as well that the 1975 Helsinki Final Act (violation of the territorial integrity of a signatory state) and the 1980 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, for using coercion to compel a state to sign a treaty .
Ah, but to be a world empire is to make your own “rules-based order” to supplant inconvenient laws. So a “independent committee” cheerleaders gathered to declare the operation “illegal but legitimate” claiming it was justified because it “released” Kosovo Albanians of Serbs “oppression.”
The real oppression of non-Albanians while NATO troops stood idly by – including during the vicious March 2004 pogrom – obviously doesn’t count. The important thing is that Bill and Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have named monuments, streets and even children after them.
the “independent” Kosovo – proclaimed in 2008, in a move about as legal as the 1999 war – can’t actually do anything without permission from the US ambassador. A great triumph for human rights, public order and democracy, everyone!
NATO never cared about saving Albanian lives. Had he done so, he would not have associated with the KLA, which was keen on murdering ethnic Albanians who wanted peace with the Serbs. He would not have repeatedly bombed columns of refugees and then said that it was really the fault of the Serbs somehow and that the pilots had dropped their bombs “in good faith” – literally something NATO spokesman Jamie Shea once said.
Twenty years later, nothing has changed. After wiping out a family in Kabul in a drone strike last August, the United States offered blood money but refused to reprimand those involved. Being an empire means never having to say you’re sorry. This mindset propelled the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Meanwhile, the failure to overthrow the government in Belgrade by war led to a “color revolution” rather in Serbia. It was then exported to other places – including Ukraine, twice. This 2014 coup in kyiv literally triggered the conflict in eastern Ukraine, of which the current events are only the latest phase.
In March 1999, I was a college student in the American Midwest and had (almost) been brainwashed into believing platitudes about freedom, democracy, tolerance, objectivity, rules and laws, and about the fact that the United States was a “force for good” in the world. Then, overnight, people I thought were my friends called me a freak and believed every bit of propaganda that came out of TV screens and newspaper pages.
Since then, I have made justice and memory a mission of my life, seeking to explain that rather than a good, noble and humanitarian war, Kosovo represented all that is wrong with the modern world: “A monument to the power of lies, the successful murder of law, and the triumph of might over justice”, as I wrote in 2005, and repeated every year since.
The twist this year is that the folks yelling about human rights, international law, and the sanctity of borders — as far as their client regime in Ukraine, that is — were all applauding the NATO in 1999. Even now they won’t. apologize for it, much less disavow it. So it seems it’s not really about what gets done, just who does it to whom. While I understand their anger as the world their lies prop up crumbles, they have little standing to complain.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.