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

More articles by:

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

January 18, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
The Destabilizer: Trump’s Escalating Threats Against Iran
John W. Whitehead
Silence Is Betrayal: Get Up, Stand Up, Speak Up for Your Rights
Andrew Day
Of “Shitholes” and Liberals
Dave Lindorff
Rep. Gabbard Speaks Truth to Power About the Real Reason Korea Has Nukes
Barbara G. Ellis
The Workplace War: Hatpins Might Be in Style Again for Women
Binoy Kampmark
Corporate Sickness in May’s Britain
Ralph Nader
Twitter Rock Star Obama’s Silence Must Delight Trump
John G. Russell
#Loose Lips (Should) Sink … Presidencies … But Even If They Could, What Comes Next?
David Macaray
The “Mongrelization” of the White Race
Ramzy Baroud
In Words and Deeds: The Genesis of Israeli Violence
January 17, 2018
Seiji Yamada
Prevention is the Only Solution: a Hiroshima Native’s View of Nuclear Weapons
Chris Welzenbach
Force of Evil: Abraham Polonsky and Anti-Capitalist Noir
Thomas Klikauer
The Business of Bullshit
Howard Lisnoff
The Atomized and Siloed U.S. Left
Martha Rosenberg
How Big Pharma Infiltrated the Boston Museum of Science
George Wuerthner
The Collaboration Trap
David Swanson
Removing Trump Will Require New Activists
Michael McKinley
Australia and the Wars of the Alliance: United States Strategy
Binoy Kampmark
Macron in China
Cesar Chelala
The Distractor-in-Chief
Ted Rall
Why Trump is Right About Newspaper Libel Laws
Mary Serumaga
Corruption in Uganda: Minister Sam Kutesa and Company May Yet Survive Their Latest Scandal
January 16, 2018
Mark Schuller
What is a “Shithole Country” and Why is Trump So Obsessed With Haiti?
Paul Street
Notes From a “Shithole” Superpower
Louisa Willcox
Keeper of the Flame for Wilderness: Stewart “Brandy” Brandborg
Mike Whitney
Trump’s Sinister Plan to Kill the Iranian “Nukes” Deal
Franklin Lamb
Kafkaesque Impediments to Challenging Iran’s Theocracy
Norman Solomon
Why Senator Cardin is a Fitting Opponent for Chelsea Manning
Fred Gardner
GI Coffeehouses Recalled: a Compliment From General Westmoreland
Brian Terrell
Solidarity from Central Cellblock to Guantanamo
Don Fitz
Bondage Scandal: Looking Beneath the Surface
Rob Seimetz
#Resist Co-opting “Shithole”
Ted Rall
Trump Isn’t Unique
January 15, 2018
Rob Urie
Democrats and the End(s) of Politics
Paul Tritschler
Killing Floor: the Business of Animal Slaughter
Mike Garrity
In Targeting the Lynx, the Trump Administration Defies Facts, Law, and Science Once Again
Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Hong Kong Politics: a Never-Ending Farce
Uri Avnery
Bibi’s Son (Or Three Men in a Car)
Dave Lindorff
Yesterday’s ‘Shithole Countries’ Can Become Classy Places Donald, and Vice Versa
Jeff Mackler
Lesser Evil Politics in Alabama
Jonah Raskin
Typewriters Still Smoking? An Interview with Underground Press Maven John McMillan
Jose-Antonio Orosco
Trump’s Comments Recall a Racist Past in Immigration Policy
David Macaray
Everything Seems to Be Going South
Kathy Kelly
41 Hearts Beating in Guantanamo
Weekend Edition
January 12, 2018
Friday - Sunday
George Burchett
Wormwood and a Shocking Secret of War: How Errol Morris Vindicated My Father, Wilfred Burchett
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail