FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Fall-Out in Europe

by Tariq Ali

With the exception of Britain, the European Union countries are now pushing for a negotiated settlement, aware that it remains the only viable solution. The attempt to indict Milosevic as a ‘war-criminal’ while Kissinger and Suharto, to name but two, go free is a sick joke. Though it is interesting that the so-called indictment accuses Milosevic of the murder of 314 people. Awful though this was it hardly amounts to ‘genocide’, a word which has been loosely used by Clinton and his English factotums. A settlement could have been achieved some months ago if the United States had not insisted on a NATO peacekeeping force.

The New York Times writing on 8 April, 1999 on the failed Rambouillet negotiations said: “In a little-noted resolution of the Serbian Parliament just before the bombing, when that hardly independent body rejected NATO troops in Kosovo, it also supported the idea of U.N. forces to monitor a political settlement there.” In other words this war has been fought not so much for the safety of the Kosovars, but to assert NATO hegemony and it is now indisputable that it turned out to be a grave miscalculation.

The New York Times of 20 May, headlined “Allies Seriously Divided” and so they are, despite the spin being put on the latest Albright-Cook love-fest in Washington. This had a triple function. It was designed to conceal the serious split inside NATO, to put extra pressure on Milosevic by threatening the use of ground troops and to gently chide the New Labour leaders for temporarily putting their own future above the needs of the “special relationship’ with Washington.

No amount of British spin, however, can conceal the fact that the unity of NATOland has been rent asunder by the war. The isolation of the war party led by Madeline Albright and Sandy Berger in Washington (and supported by Blair and Cook in London) is almost complete. The German Chancellor has ruled out his country’s involvement in any escalation of the war, publicly challenged Washington’s explanation for the bombing of the Chinese Embassy and demanded a proper NATO enquiry. The Italian Prime Minister has excluded the use of Italian soldiers in any NATO operation on the ground unless expressly sanctioned by the United Nations and backed by Russia and China. Any attempt to do so without UN approval could lead to the fall of the government. The Greek foreign minister has made it clear in public that if NATO sent in troops it would be impossible to use Salonika as a point of landing. In private he has warned that a popular revolt could topple his government if it were to acquiesce in any such plan. The Hungarian, Czech and Polish government, blushing new brides at NATO’s altar, are now pale-faced and nervous, wondering whether they will survive the war. They had married NATO because of the generous dowries that might follow. The rude honeymoon has shocked them. The French, too, are slowly moving in the German direction and even General Sir Michael Jackson, the British Commander in Macedonia us told eight different interviewers on radio and television last Tuesday that: “We will not go in unless there is an agreement.”

Outside NATOland the situation is extremely serious. The Ukraine was the only country in the world to renounce nuclear weapons and unilaterally disarm. A few weeks ago its Parliament voted unanimously to revert to its former nuclear status. The deputies claimed that they had foolishly believed the United States when it had promised a new norm-based and inclusive security system. . NATO’s war on Yugoslavia had destroyed all their illusions and belated attempts to woo them back into the fold by promising EU membership ‘in the future’ may not work.

If Kiev is angry, Moscow is incandescent. The military-industrial complex is one of the best-preserved institution in the country. Its leaders have been arguing with the politicians for nearly two years, pleading that they be allowed to upgrade Russia’s nuclear armoury. Till 24th March this year they had not made much headway. On 30 April, a meeting of the National Security Council in Moscow approved the modernisation of all strategic and tactical nuclear warheads. It gave the green light to the development and manufacture of strategic low-yield nuclear missiles capable of pin-point strikes anywhere in the world. Simultaneously the Defence ministry authorised a change in nuclear doctrine. First use is no longer excluded. In the space of several weeks, Javier Solana and Robin Cook, former members of European Nuclear Disarmament, have re-ignited the nuclear flame.

In Beijing, too, the bombing of the Chinese Embassy has resulted in a shift away from the no-first-strike principle. The Chinese refuse to accept that the bombing of their embassy was an accident. Rightly or wrongly, they believe that it was a Machiavellian ploy by the war-party in Washington to sabotage any peace plan by ensuring a hard-line Chinese veto at the UN. When Beijing insisted that “We want those responsible to be severely punished” they were not referring to the pilots who simply obeyed orders. The Chinese have long memories. They were hoping that Clinton would sack either Albright or Berger just as President Truman had sacked MacArthur for suggesting a land invasion of China during the Korean War of the Fifties. There are also indications that Moscow and Beijing are discussing new security arrangements to counter NATO. The bombs on Belgrade may well come to be seen as the first shots of a new Cold War.

As a result of all this, a great deal of real diplomacy is taking place behind closed doors. Britain is not part of it because what it thinks doesn’t really matter. Its leaders are used to accepting decisions made elsewhere and the whole world is aware of this fact. That is why there is something surreal about Cook’s huffing and puffing and why Blair’s promises to the refugees have a hollow ring. New Labour and its media-chorus, having unleashed mayhem on Kosovan and Serb alike, should, at the very least, have the decency and moral courage to admit their mistake and call for a halt to the bombing, which, in the words of the Pope’s Easter message this year, has become a ‘diabolical act of retribution’.

The real tragedy is that the Kosovo for which NATO supposedly went to war on 24th March no longer exists. Its cities and villages are being bombed to smithereens by NATO. .Its population is being pushed out by Milosevic. Even if some of the refugees were to return, a significant proportion, the very people whose talents would be needed to rebuild the region will probably never go back. Refugees rarely do. Only 10 percent returned to Bosnia. The ‘accidental’ bombing of the KLA this weekend may have been just as accidental as that of the Chinese Embassy. It is public knowledge that most of the NATO countries are nervous of the KLA and the establishment of a ‘safe haven’ or a de facto NATO protectorate as part of a deal might not be enough to stop the divisions within the Kosovan Albanian camp.

The scale of disaster is now clearly visible. Every day, as the bombs fall, the situation gets worse. New Labour’s hands are already stained with the blood of innocents. Time to call off the dogs of war and seek the help of non-NATO powers to resolve the conflict. CP

Tariq Ali is the author of The Obama Syndrome (Verso).

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 22, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Good as Goldman: Hillary and Wall Street
Joseph E. Lowndes
From Silent Majority to White-Hot Rage: Observations from Cleveland
Paul Street
Political Correctness: Handle with Care
Richard Moser
Actions Express Priorities: 40 Years of Failed Lesser Evil Voting
Eric Draitser
Hillary and Tim Kaine: a Match Made on Wall Street
Conn Hallinan
The Big Boom: Nukes And NATO
Ron Jacobs
Exacerbate the Split in the Ruling Class
Jill Stein
After US Airstrikes Kill 73 in Syria, It’s Time to End Military Assaults that Breed Terrorism
Jack Rasmus
Trump, Trade and Working Class Discontent
John Feffer
Could a Military Coup Happen Here?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Late Night, Wine-Soaked Thoughts on Trump’s Jeremiad
Andrew Levine
Vice Presidents: What Are They Good For?
Michael Lukas
Law, Order, and the Disciplining of Black Bodies at the Republican National Convention
Victor Grossman
Horror News, This Time From Munich
Margaret Kimberley
Gavin Long’s Last Words
Mark Weisbrot
Confidence and the Degradation of Brazil
Brian Cloughley
Boris Johnson: Britain’s Lying Buffoon
Lawrence Reichard
A Global Crossroad
Kevin Schwartz
Beyond 28 Pages: Saudi Arabia and the West
Charles Pierson
The Courage of Kalyn Chapman James
Michael Brenner
Terrorism Redux
Bruce Lerro
Being Inconvenienced While Minding My Own Business: Liberals and the Social Contract Theory of Violence
Mark Dunbar
The Politics of Jeremy Corbyn
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Why It’s Just Fine for U.S. to Blow Up Children
Binoy Kampmark
Laura Ingraham and Trumpism
Uri Avnery
The Great Rift
Nicholas Buccola
What’s the Matter with What Ted Said?
Aidan O'Brien
Thank Allah for Western Democracy, Despondency and Defeat
Joseph Natoli
The Politics of Crazy and Stupid
Sher Ali Khan
Empirocracy
Nauman Sadiq
A House Divided: Turkey’s Failed Coup Plot
Franklin Lamb
A Roadmap for Lebanon to Grant Civil Rights for Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon
Colin Todhunter
Power and the Bomb: Conducting International Relations with the Threat of Mass Murder
Michael Barker
UK Labour’s Rightwing Select Corporate Lobbyist to Oppose Jeremy Corbyn
Graham Peebles
Brexit, Trump and Lots of Anger
Anhvinh Doanvo
Civilian Deaths, Iraq, Syria, ISIS and Drones
Christopher Brauchli
Kansas and the Phantom Voters
Peter Lee
Gavin Long’s Manifesto and the Politics of “Terrorism”
Missy Comley Beattie
An Alarmingly Ignorant Fuck
Robert Koehler
Volatile America
Adam Vogal
Why Black Lives Matter To Me
Raouf Halaby
It Is Not Plagiarism, Y’all
Rev. Jeff Hood
Deliver Us From Babel
Frances Madeson
Juvenile Life Without Parole, Captured in ‘Natural Life’
Charles R. Larson
Review: Han Kang’s “The Vegetarian”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail