Revealed: the amazing Nato plan, tabled at Rambouillet, to occupy Yugoslavia – John Pilger, May 1999

NEW STATESMAN – 17 MAY 1999 page 17


Revealed: the amazing Nato plan, tabled at Rambouillet, to occupy Yugoslavia

The justification for Nato’s attack on Serbia, now the outright terror bombing of civilians, was the Serbs’ rejection of the “peace accords” drafted at Rambouillet in France in February. The precise terms were never made public, with the British media generally accepting the word of the Foreign Office that the west’s aim was to bring peace and autonomy to Kosovo.

This is the big lie of Tony Blair’s “crusade for civilization”. Anyone scrutinising the Rambouillet document is left in little doubt that the excuses given for the subsequent bombing were fabricated. The peace negotiations were stage-managed, and the Serbs were told: surrender and be occupied, or don’t surrender and be destroyed. The impossible terms, published in full in LeMondeDiplomatique, but not in Britain, show that Nato’s aim was the occupation not only of Kosovo, but effectively all of Yugoslavia.

Nothing like this ultimatum has been put to a modern, sovereign European state. Of all the Hitler and Nazi analogies that have peppered the west’s propaganda, one is never mentioned – Hitler’s proposal in 1938 to the British prime minister, Neville Chamberlain, that Germany occupy Czechoslovakia because ethnic Germans there had been “tortured”, “forced to flee the country” and “prevented from realising the right of nations to self-determination”. As a cover for German expansion, Hitler was laying the basis for a “humanitarian intervention”, whose fraudulence was no greater than Nato’s cover for its own worldwide expansion.

Take chapter seven of the Rambouillet accords. Headed “Status of Multinational Military Implementation Force”, it says a Nato force occupying Kosovo must have complete and unaccountable political power, “immune from all legal process, whether civil, administrative or criminal, [and] under all circumstances and at all times, immune from [all laws] governing any criminal or disciplinary offences which may be committed by Nato personnel in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia . . . Nato personnel shall enjoy . . . with their vehicles, vessels, aircraft and equipment, free and unrestricted passage and unimpeded access throughout the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, including associated airspace and territorial waters.”

Propaganda is not overlooked. The government of Yugoslavia “shall, upon simple request, grant all telecommunications services, including broadcast services, needed for [the occupation], as determined by Nato. This shall be free of cost.” And the ideological basis for the occupation is left in no doubt. “Nato is granted the use of airports, roads, rail and ports without payment of fees, duties, tolls or charge. The economy shall function in accordance with free market principles.”

No government anywhere could accept this. It was a deliberate provocation. On 19 March the Kosovo Liberation Army, which Madeleine Albright and Robin Cook had earlier dismissed as terrorists, signed the “accords”. The Serbs, of course, refused. And it was not just Milosevic. The elected Yugoslav parliament, reported the New York Times correspondent in Belgrade, “rejected Nato troops in Kosovo [but] supported the idea of a United Nations force to monitor a political settlement there”. What amounted to a viable alternative to bombing was ignored in Washington and Brussels.

Five days later, Nato attacked. The Serbs had been nicely stitched up. There is plenty of evidence that the bombing was pre-ordained. On 12 August 1998, the US Senate Republican Policy Committee commented: “Planning for a US-led Nato intervention in Kosovo is now largely in place. The only missing element seems to be an event – with suitably vivid media coverage – that could make the intervention politically saleable . . . That Clinton is waiting for a ‘trigger’ in Kosovo is increasingly obvious.”

On 25 March, the day after the bombing began, the (UK) Defence Secretary, George Robertson, described Nato’s aim as “clear-cut”. It was, he said, “to avert an impending humanitarian catastrophe by disrupting the violent attacks currently being carried out by the Yugoslav security forces against the Kosovan Albanians”. A UN report contradicted this, putting the balance of violence between Serb and Albanian paramilitaries at roughly equal.

Moreover, Clinton was warned by the CIA that bombing was likely to spark mass ethnic cleansing.

On 30 April, sitting among top military brass on HMS Invincible, George Robertson said Nato had never expected to prevent a humanitarian disaster. This was the opposite of his “clear-cut” announcement five weeks earlier. Like Clinton, he and Blair must have been forewarned of the refugee catastrophe their actions would ignite.

General Satish Nambiar, an Indian, was the head of the United Nations Mission in Yugoslavia from 1992 to 1993. Recently he wrote: “I felt that Yugoslavia was a media-generated tragedy . . . The Yugoslav government had, after all, indicated its willingness to abide by nearly all provisions of the Rambouillet ‘agreement’ on aspects like a ceasefire and greater autonomy to the Albanians. But they would not agree to station Nato forces on the soil of Yugoslavia. This is precisely what India would have done under the same circumstances. It was the west that proceeded to escalate the situation under the current senseless bombing campaign that smacks of hurt egos, revenge and retaliation. Nato’s massive bombing appears no different from the morality of the actions of the Serb forces in Kosovo.”

With thanks to the Washington newsletter “Counter Punch “