It's Just A Pretext Away
(Lessons From Yugoslavia)
By Mickey Z.
12 February, 2007
Anyone viewing international
events with even a shred of objectivity knows that the U.S. government
is just a pretext away from bombing Iran. American history, after all,
is teeming with convenient provocations that created an opening for
military intervention. Here's one instructive example:
"We should remember what happened in the village of Racak back
in January," President Bill Clinton told the press on March 19,
1999. "Innocent men, women, and children taken from their homes
to a gully, forced to kneel in the dirt, sprayed with gunfire-not because
of anything they had done, but because of who they were."
U.S. diplomat William Walker concurred during his mission to verify
Serbian (Yugoslav) war crimes. "From what I saw," Walker said,
"I do not hesitate to describe the crime as a massacre, a crime
against humanity. Nor do I hesitate to accuse the government security
forces of responsibility."
Clinton and Walker were talking about an alleged massacre of 45 Kosovo
Albanians on January 15, 1999. As the Washington Post explained: "Racak
transformed the West's Balkan policy as singular events seldom do."
With tales of ethnic cleansing having swirled around the Balkans for
nearly a decade, the region was ripe for U.S. exploitation. The "bad
guys" were given one chance to avoid attack: The Rambouillet Accord,
which appeared to be nothing more than a provocation.
"The document stipulated that NATO troops would have unimpeded
access throughout all of Yugoslavia, not just Kosovo," says journalist
Seth Ackerman. "NATO would administer Kosovo's new political system,
take control of all local broadcast media and prepare for a referendum
on Kosovo's independence after three years. This provision contradicted
the U.S. negotiators' earlier promise that Kosovo would remain part
"We deliberately set the bar higher than the Serbs could accept,"
explained U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
Greg Elich is the author of Strange Liberators: Militarism, Mayhem,
and the Pursuit of Profit. "Interestingly," he says, "the
accord also specified that 'the economy of Kosovo shall function in
accordance with free market principles,' a provision that hinted at
the real motivations for
Western intervention. U.S. diplomats introduced these harsh proposals
on the final day of talks at Rambouillet, aiming to reverse the course
of events. Up until then, throughout more than two weeks of talks, the
Yugoslav delegation had agreed to the entire peace package, suggesting
only that UN troops enforce the agreement rather than NATO. It was war
the U.S. wanted, not peace."
Demonized Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic predictably (and understandably)
balked and a 78-day, U.S.-led NATO air assault was initiated in the
name of humanitarianism. "The humanitarian justifications are ludicrous,"
says Robert Hayden, director of the Center for Russian and East European
Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. "The casualties among
civilians in the first three weeks of this war (were) higher than all
of the casualties on both sides in Kosovo in the three months that led
up to this war, and yet those three months were supposed to be a humanitarian
"Up until the NATO bombings began in March 1999, the conflict in
Kosovo had taken 2000 lives altogether from both sides, according to
Kosovo Albanian sources," reports author Michael Parenti. "Yugoslavian
sources put the figure at 800. Such casualties reveal a civil war, not
In the midst of the illegal bombardment, America's leaders never missed
an opportunity to spin. "We severely crippled the (Yugoslav) military
forces in Kosovo by destroying more than 50 percent of the artillery
and one-third of the armored vehicles," Declared Defense (sic)
Secretary William Cohen. One year later, a U.S. Air Force report revealed
a different story:
Original Claim: 120 tanks destroyed
Actual Number: 14
Original Claim: 220 armored personnel carriers destroyed
Actual Number: 20
Original Claim: 450 artillery pieces destroyed
Actual Number: 20
Original Claim: 744 confirmed strikes by NATO pilots
Actual Number: 58
The report also found that the Yugoslav military fooled U.S. technology
with simple tactics like constructing fake artillery pieces out of black
logs and old truck wheels. One vital bridge avoided destruction from
above when, 300 yards upriver, a phony bridge was erected out of polyethylene
sheeting. NATO pilots bombed the fake bridge several times.
Confronted with this evidence, Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon went
deeper into spin mode: "We obviously hit enough tanks and other
targets to win."
Postscript: One year after a bombing campaign that the <i>New
York Times called "a victory for the principles of democracy and
human rights," a team of Finnish pathologists was sent to Kosovo
to investigate the Racak massacre. As Stephen Gowans writes, the pathologists
found "none of the bodies were mutilated, there was no evidence
of torture, and only one was shot at close range. Thirty-seven of the
corpses had gunpowder residue on their hands, suggesting that they had
been using firearms, and only one of the corpses was a woman, and only
one was under 15 years of age."
Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net.
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