A decade after the ostensible end of the Cold War, we are witnessing the emergence of anti-Americanism in places where it had never existed before—notably, among the peoples of Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Bill Clinton’s misnamed “national security team” have succeeded where Stalin, Khrushchev, and Brezhnev failed.
“If we have to use force, it is because we are America,” says Mrs. Albright. “We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall. We see farther into the future.” “Now I count myself an American patriot,” Pat Buchanan responds, “but if this Beltway braggadocio has begun to grate on me, how must it grate upon the Europeans, Russians, and peoples subject to our sanctions?”
The answer is that it is beginning to grate even on America’s usually obedient clients, and the immediate cause is the proposed National Missile Defense system. Vladimir Yakovlev, commander of Russia’s strategic missile forces, says the U.S. plan would trigger a new Cold War aims race. Sha Zukang, director of arms control for China’s Foreign Ministry, warns that rewriting the ABM Treaty “will tip the global balance, trigger a new arms race and jeopardize world and regional stability.” America’s European partners are equally unhappy with the project: the French defense minister and the British foreign secretary have both warned Washington against such a unilateral move. Now even Canada is proving reluctant to join. Writing in the Toronto Globe and Mail, Rick Salutin suggested that, far from providing protection against “rogue nations,” America is the ultimate “rogue” (April 7):
The NMD itself is a kind of rogue action since, as even the United States admits, recent disarmament treaties will have to be suspended or canceled if it goes ahead.
Not only does the U.S. government act like a rogue state, says the Canadian commentator, it has adopted that mindset:
It’s touching to see Canadians [argue] against joining the NMD with sober reasons about undermining treaties or the futile science of anti-missile umbrellas or how the real danger lies in toting a nuclear bomb into the United States in a knapsack. It’s as if you have a psycho in your neighbourhood who bullies everybody because he’s paranoid and grandiose, then he starts placing cannons around his house and you earnestly argue about whether to help him or try to dissuade him, when all along you’re simply terrified of the guy. What we have here is a world in denial.
Only three days later, the Globe and Mail published an editorial sharply critical of NMD. It concluded on a note of exasperation:
Canada has a dilemma: It can deny support to a major ally, or embrace a project that will weaken or destroy the ABM Treaty and outrage the other nuclear powers while doing little if anything to counter a rogue threat. If pushed into a corner, Ottawa should deny support.
The reaction from Washington was just what one might expect. Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre has accused Canada of “a time-frozen perspective that goes back 15 years” (because it resists reopening the ABM Treaty) and hinted that the United States and Canada were “at an important pivot point” in their relationship, revolving “around the issue of national missile defense.” NMD is evidently not meant to be an offer America’s friends have the option to refuse.
ABM is not the only treaty that has been violated by the Clinton administration. In May 1996, the United States began a search for alternatives to antipersonnel land mines so that the U.S. military could completely eliminate their use, thus permitting America to join the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty (Ottawa Convention). Washington loudly demanded a total ban on land mines. But according to Human Rights Watch, a founder of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, and the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, the “new” mine about to be added to the American arsenal is no better than the old (www.hrw.org/press/2000/04/alternatives.htm):
The prototype replacement system for “dumb” (non-self-destructing) mines has a feature that allows the weapon to be victim-activated. The American soldier would no longer select the target or control the weapon; instead the weapon would detonate itself. This feature, called the battle—field-override-system, turns the weapon into precisely the type of weapon the U.S. has said for years must be banned worldwide.
There is nothing wrong with America deciding to build anti-missile defenses and to maintain mines in its arsenal—if doing so is in the interest of its security and if the decision is the result of a comprehensive debate, not of arms manufacturers’ lobbying. But we shouldn’t sign treaties promising that we are not going to do it, and then do it anyway. Such an attitude is not only immoral, it is dangerous: It undermines this country’s national security by promoting international lawlessness. It reflects the general erosion of the rule of law under the Clinton presidency.
The illegality and immorality of the war in Kosovo was a theme elaborated by numerous foreign editorialists as the anniversary of the war approached, including Michael Gove of the London Times (March 14):
NATO has never been weaker than in the aftermath of Kosovo. The alliance’s main strategic function has been the maintenance of a community of interest between Europe and America. But the Kosovo campaign has done more damage to that than it ever did to the Serb Army. . . . The KLA presides over a drug-smuggling operation responsible for 40 per cent of the heroin sold in Europe and the US.
The only surprising part is that it’s only 40 percent. But perhaps the KLA—recently converted into the U.N.-controlled “Kosovo Protection Corps”—is neglecting the business side of its operations because it is too busy “instituting the reign of terror,” as reported in the Observer (London) on March 12:
Murder, torture and extortion: these are the extraordinary charges made against the UN’s own Kosovo Protection Corps in a confidential United Nations report written for Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The KPC stands accused in the document, drawn up on 29 February, of “criminal activities—killings, ill-treatment / torture, illegal policing, abuse of authority, intimidation, breaches of political neutrality and hate-speech.” The UN’s own damning verdict on its newly created civil defence force is fresh evidence of the failure of Special Representative Bernard Kouchner to establish the rule of law in Kosovo. The KPC is led by Croatian Army General Agim Ceku, the veteran ethnic cleanser of the Krajina, who comes in for fierce criticism from the report.
Perhaps the United Nations protests too much. In view of his previous record, entrusting the KPC to Ceku was tantamount to making Bill Clinton the principal of a girl’s school.
Not to be outdone, the Observer‘s main rival, the Sunday Times of London, published a Kosovo scoop of it own on the same day. This article confirms that being paranoid about U.S. intentions in the Balkans doesn’t mean Albright is not out to get you. The British weekly now reveals that the OSCE Verification Mission in Kosovo was, from the outset, a covert operation unit that functioned as a liaison between Western (primarily American) agencies and the KLA, and that American intelligence agents had trained the KLA long before NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia:
Central Intelligence Agency officers were cease-fire monitors in Kosovo in 1998 and 1999, developing ties with the KLA and giving American military training manuals and field advice on fighting the Yugoslav army and Serbian police. When the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which co-ordinated the monitoring, left Kosovo a week before airstrikes began a year ago, many of its satellite telephones and global positioning systems were secretly handed to the KLA, ensuring that guerrilla commanders could stay in touch with NATO and Washington. Several KLA leaders had the mobile phone number of General Wesley Clark, the NATO commander.
On March 21, the eminent German daily Frankfurter Rundshau revealed that Bulgarian and German secret services had forged a “secret Serb plan” that was used as justification for NATO airstrikes. The plan, code-named “Horseshoe,” purported to prove that the Serbs had planned ethnic cleansing of Kosovo Albanians well before the NATO bombing campaign. The German paper quoted Heinz Loquai, a retired Bundeswehr brigadier general, who says that the “plan” was no more than an intelligence assessment written in Sofia and embellished in Bonn:
But during the NATO war “Horseshoe” was given top billing. It was first revealed by Joschka Fischer, the German foreign minister, on April 6 last year . . . it was mentioned again at a press conference by the Bundeswehr Inspector-General Hans-Peter von Kierbach. The general claimed that this document provided evidence that Belgrade wanted to liquidate the KLA “even if that would mean extermination of the Albanians in Kosovo.”
“Operation Horseshoe” provided ammunition to the interventionist chorus in the U.S. media. On April 15 of last year, it was invoked by William Pfaff in the International Herald Tribune in support of his claim that it would be “immoral” to stop the bombing:
Mr. Milosevic and his government are attempting to solve their Kosovo problem by producing a basic demographic change in the province through deporting its Albanian population . . . Horseshoe was designed to produce a permanent solution, and was launched even before the Rambouillet discussions in February, which the Serbian leadership did not take seriously.
On April 24, 1999, Bulgarian Prime Minister Kostov quoted “Horseshoe” to justify the pending Bulgarian collaboration with NATO. It was used most recently by the State Department’s James Rubin at the end of February.
The truth about “Horseshoe” remains unfit to print in America; but in Europe, it is now common knowledge that this was yet another Kosovo lie. On April 2, the Sunday Times of London printed a story of its own about General Loquai’s findings:
Loquai has accused Rudolf Scharping, the German defence minister, of obscuring the origins of Operation Horseshoe . . . “No such operation ever existed. The criticism of the war, which had grown into a fire that was almost out of control, was completely extinguished by Operation Horseshoe .”
Loquai says that the German defense ministry even coined the name “Horseshoe.” But this eagerness to embellish the forgery gave the game away: The Germans named the bogus operation “Potkova,” which is the Croatian word for horseshoe. The Serbian word for horseshoe is “Potkovica.” It is a bit like claiming that a secret IRA document was called “Operation Londonderry.”