We open this, the final Signs of the Times to be devoted entirely to Clinton’s war in Kosovo, with an eloquent summary of the war by Canada’s answer to Pat Buchanan, David Orchard. In an op-ed in the National Post (June 23), the prominent Tory declared the idea that NATO attacked Yugoslavia to solve a humanitarian crisis about as credible as Germany’s claim in 1939 that it was invading Poland to prevent “Polish atrocities.” In the meantime,
In an all out effort to convince public opinion that Yugoslavia deserved the onslaught, Western politicians and media are churning out endless accusations of Serb atrocities, while the proven and infinitely greater atrocities of NATO-launching an aggressive war, using internationally outlawed cluster bombs and firing depleted uranium ammunition into Yugoslavia—are buried.
But why did NATO attack Yugoslavia, and why are the Serbs (“Canada’s staunch allies in both World Wars”) being demonized? Orchard offers his answer:
During the war. Bill Clinton elaborated: “If we’re going to have a strong economic relationship that includes our ability to sell around the world Europe has got to be the key; that’s what this Kosovo thing is all about. . . . It’s globalism versus tribalism.” “Tribalism” was the word used by 19th century free trade liberals to describe nationalism. And this war was all about threatening any nation which might have ideas of independence. . . . In a March 28 New York Times article, Thomas Friedman wrote: “For globalization to work, America can’t be afraid to act like the almighty superpower that it is . . . The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist—McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies is called the United States Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.”
Orchard, a leading opponent of NAFTA north of the border, concludes that globalization undermines both democracy and national sovereignty, the only guarantors of human rights: “Unfortunately for Messrs. Clinton, Chretien et al; that message was not lost on millions around the world watching NATO bombs pulverize Yugoslavia.”
Among the few satisfied with the outcome in Kosovo are the drug lords of the Kosovo Liberation Army, who may look forward to managing the global market in dope from their Serbenfrei fiefdom. Not so, according to the Clinton administration. As Reuters reported on June 23 (“U.S. has seen no evidence of KLA drug trafficking”). State Department spokesman James Rubin declared that “the U.S. government has never identified credible evidence of these drug-running charges.”
“We’ve seen reports in newspapers and elsewhere,” Rubin said. But although American intelligence agencies have looked into the issue, “we have never developed credible evidence of our own,” he said.
Pity they don’t read Chronicles inside the Beltway. As for the future, far from disarming the terrorist group, Rubin envisaged its metamorphosis into
“a national guard along the lines of the U.S. National Guard. That’s an aspiration. And if that aspiration is achieved, then obviously they would have weapons.”
Eat your heart out, Escobal!
By the time the KLA is converted into a “national guard,” there will be no Serbs left in Kosovo. Their ethnic cleansing was forecast by “Mr. Massacre,” William Walker, even before the war (Globe and Mail, February 17) and by Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon, who declared in the first week of June that Kosovo will not be a pleasant place for the Serbs under NATO and that nobody would try to stop them if they wanted to “return to Serbia.” With the KLA murdering the remaining Serbian civilians, Radio Free Europe (June 16) quoted U.S. Army Gen. John Craddock as stating that disarming the KLA is up to the “discretion” of the respective peacekeeping troops and that “our soldiers are not instructed to routinely disarm the KLA.” German army spokesman Lt. Col. Dietmar Jeserich was quoted in the same report as stating: “The KLA is walking the streets with its weapons, but the authority lies with KFOR.” NATO’s policy of allowing the KLA to terrorize defenseless Serbian civilians gave the lie to Gen. Sir Michael Jackson’s appeal for Serbs to stay.
Among the many things that went unreported in the American press were the reactions of those who actually pressed the triggers in NATO’s war. In Europe, however, the awful facts are coming out. Take, for instance, the sensational confessions of a Spanish air force officer, reported in the Spanish weekly Articulo 20 (June 14):
Captain Adolfo Luis Martin del a Hoz, who returned to Spain at the end of May after having participated in the bombings since the beginning, is . . . categoric: “The majority, even if not all, of my colleagues are against the war in general, and against this war of barbarity in particular.” . . . The suspicions that NATO’s repeated bombings of civilian victims and non-military targets are not the result of “errors” are confirmed by Captain Martin del a Hoz: “Several times our Colonel protested to NATO chiefs that they selected targets which are NOT military targets. They threw him out, with curses, threatening that the North Americans would lodge a complaint with the Spanish Army, once through Brussels and then to the Defence Minister. I want to tell it to the whole world: once there was a coded order from the Americans that we should drop anti-personnel bombs over the localities of Prishtina and Nish. The colonel refused it altogether and, a couple of days later, the transfer order came, removing him from our unit.”
Capt. Martin de la Hoz believes that there was no excuse for the wrong selection of targets:
“There is no journalist who has any slightest idea what is happening in Yugoslavia. They are destroying the country, bombing it with novel weapons, toxic nervous gases, surface mines dropped with parachute, bombs containing uranium, black napalm, sterilization chemicals, sprayings to poison the crops and weapons of which even we still do not know anything. The North Americans are committing there one of the biggest barbarities that can be committed against humanity. . . . [J]udging by what we talked about with the British and German officers, it was designed in order to divide the Europeans and keep us subjected for many decades.”
Capt. Martin de la Hoz concludes:
“Be sure that what I say is not to exculpate myself and to intone “mea culpa’ for having participated in it, because I will never be able to forget that what was being committed there was one the biggest savageries of history.”
Don’t hold your breath waiting for the perpetrators of those savageries to be prosecuted. While the mainstream media in America take both the authority and the supposed impartiality of the war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia for granted, healthy skepticism is occasionally allowed into the establishment press in Europe. Writing in the Times of London (June 18), John Laughland rightly predicted that the allegations of war crimes—”eagerly funnelled out of Kosovo by the thousands of journalists in the province”—would provoke a demand for retribution, but he also warned that the Hague is “a rogue court with rigged rules,” established to override the key principle of the international order—the sovereignty of states within their borders—in the name of protecting people from despots. Laughland calls this a “seductive argument” that may allow the “international community” to wield unfettered power instead:
The International Criminal Tribunal shows little sign of caring that Nato has itself broken nearly every rule of war, or that the peace deal concluded with Belgrade is null and void in international law, since Yugoslavia’s signature was obtained by force. Instead, it displays considerable contempt for the very thing which distinguishes the rule of law from retributive justice, namely due process.
Laughland points out that the old principle that a defendant may not be tried twice for the same crime “is calmly brushed aside by Article 25 of the tribunal’s statute, which gives the Prosecutor the right to appeal against an acquittal and obtain a conviction instead.” Three such appeals have already been launched. Another deeply rooted principle, that no party may be the judge in its own cause, does not apply to the tribunal:
Although it is a key requirement for due process that a defendant be tried by a body “established by law”, the Security Council is not a lawmaking body. Faced with the allegation that it had no legitimacy, the tribunal did not refer the matter to another body, such as the International Court of Justice, but instead decided to deal with the charge itself. Not surprisingly, it found in its own favour.
Other anomalies are legion: The tribunal does not accord the right to bail or to a speedy trial; it does not have a definition of the burden of proof required for a conviction; it does not have juries; there is no independent appeals body; rules against hearsay, enshrined in common law, are not observed; and the prosecutor’s office prefers the tribunal’s own “war crimes investigators” to witnesses, flouting the rule that a defendant must be able to confront his accusers and to prepare a cross-examination of them.
The tribunal gives itself powers as i t goes along. Louise Arbour, the recently departed Chief Prosecutor, has said: “The law, to me, should be creative and used to make things right,” and the tribunal dips into a potpourri of different legal systems from around the world. . . . As if this were not enough, the tribunal is not funded by disinterested parties, but by those who waged or supported the attacks on Yugoslavia. These include the leading Nato governments (especially the United States) and various non-governmental organisations like George Soros’s Open Society Institute, whose head of office in Kosovo is a militant supporter of the Kosovo Liberation Army.
Might, it seems, is always right, and Laughland reminds us that, on May 17, the NATO spokesman, the inimitable “Jamie” Shea, explicitly rejected any possibility that NATO leaders could ever be indicted by the tribunal. As Laughland concludes: “This is not victors’ justice—it is no justice at all.”