Facts which should have prevented the NATO bombing of Serbia

Facts which, if they had been known in March 1999, would have prevented the bombing of Yugoslavia

David Roberts, Chairman Campaign for Justice for the Peoples of Yugoslavia 

1.  It was never made clear to the British public that the main aggressor in Kosovo, before mid January 1999, was the Kosovo Liberation Army rather than the Serbs. The opposite impression was given.

(Did any newspaper report the following statement made in the British Parliament on 19 January 1999 by Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, “The Kosovo Liberation Army has committed more breaches of the ceasefire, and until this weekend was responsible for more deaths than the [Serb] security forces.”

2.  The war had been planned in the United states by the summer of 1998. I quote from a hearing of the U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee, August 12, 1998.

“Planning for a U.S.-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 would make the intervention politically saleable.”

3. The United States and the UK did not act as neutral mediators or genuine seekers of peace in the disputes between Kosovo Albanians and the Serb authorities. In order to bring about an excuse for bombing, the Americans had supported the terrorists in their violence, and, in the so-called Rambouillet negotiations, were backing unelected, unrepresentative Kosovo Albanian terrorists. They supported the violence that provoked the Serbian reprisals that “necessitated” the NATO bombing and the political, economic, and military occupation and control of Kosovo (which were the aims of the exercise).

4.  The Americans worked to make sure that the Serbs could not sign the Rambouillet document. This has been explicitly explained by James Rubin, Madeleine Albright’s right hand man and the US State Department spokesman who took part in the talks at Rambouillet. In a Financial Times article published on 7 October 2000 he said, “Albright had given the Serbs a take it or leave it proposal they could never accept.” The proposal was the non-negotiable demand that NATO forces be allowed to occupy the whole of Yugoslavia without restriction or time limit.

5. Secrecy. So that no-one had any idea why Mr Milosevic was so “intransigent” the contents of the Rambouillet document were kept secret even from Members of Parliament. Did any MPs know that the document Slobodan Milosevic was asked to sign could never have been signed by any Yugoslav leader?

6. The British public and Members of Parliament did not know that the Yugoslav government had agreed most of the Rambouillet document and had explicitly said that they were prepared to discuss the remaining elements. They were prepared to carry on negotiating. The decision to end the talking, and therefore start the bombing, was made by Robin Cook and Hubert Vedrine. The determination to bomb is clear.

7. There had been nothing in the government’s election manifesto to suggest that it had plans to turn the NATO treaty on its head, reversing a 50-year commitment to fight only in defence and then only with the express agreement of the UN. The government took to itself new, unauthorised executive powers. There was no debate in Parliament on this momentous change in foreign policy. This is a step towards dictatorship and its seriousness should not be underestimated.

8. Waging a war of aggression is the most serious of all war crimes. The bombing contravened the United Nations Charter and procedures for the settlement of disputes, the Geneva Convention, and the NATO treaty which allows war only in self-defence. A few MPs raised these issues in Parliament, but their complaints were dismissed.

9. The mode of “negotiating” at Rambouillet was illegal under international law. The threat of bombing if a party does not sign a document contravened the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, article 52. Logically an agreement signed under threat of violence is not an agreement. The United States sought submission, not agreement. Democracy by-passed

There was no democratic vote to sanction the declaration of war. The government may argue that it is under no obligation to obtain the consent of parliament in order to attack another country. If this is the case it cannot claim to be acting democratically, or supporting democracy.

Even if there had been a vote the information given to Members of Parliament was so incomplete and misleading that they would have been unable to make a proper assessment of the situation.

Democracy cannot function in the absence of honest information.

Not only Yugoslavia but also democracy and the rule of law were the victims of the NATO campaigns of information warfare and military aggression. The taking of powers by illegal and immoral means and indulgence in violence for illegal and immoral purposes puts us all in danger.

Something must be done.

Those who carried out the deception and planned and executed the war should be held accountable by Parliament and the British people. These are issues of the gravest importance.



US backing terrorists

a.  BBC correspondent Alan Little, in an interview in BBC’s Moral Combat – NATO at War, asked Madeleine Albright what the punishment of the KLA would be if they failed to behave in a reasonable way. Her reply, “The punishment would be that they would lose completely the backing of the United States and the contact group”.

b. “Kosovan Albanian extremists . . . were trained, equipped, and armed by Washington in order to counter the viciousness of Milosevic’s men.” John Simpson, Sunday Telegraph, 18 February 2001.

c. The Sunday Times on 12 March 2000 told how the CIA trained members of the KLA.

d. There are numerous other similar claims and the Germans are often mentioned in this respect. The British SAS, according to the Daily Telegraph, 22 February 2001, also trained the KLA.

KLA aims

A third aim is the unification of all Albanians in the region into a “Greater Albania.” Hence the current attacks by the KLA on Kosovo’s borders with Macedonia and Southern Central Serbia.

Purpose of KLA provocation

“If you want to draw international attention you have to fight for it. That is exactly it. You need to use violence to achieve your goals.” – Veton Surroi, KLA political leader, in Moral Combat – NATO at War.

“The more civilians were killed the chances of international intervention became bigger, and the KLA, of course, realised that. There was this foreign diplomat who once told me, ‘Look, unless you pass the count of 5,000 deaths you will never have anybody permanently present in Kosovo from the foreign diplomacy.’” – Dugi Gorani, KLA negotiator. – ibid.

“Any armed action we undertook would bring retaliation against civilians. We knew we were endangering a great number of civilian lives.” – Hashim Thaci, KLA political leader. – ibid.

The KLA mingled with civilians and many of their members were non-uniformed village militia. They themselves killed many civilians, including their own people when they believed them to be “collaborators”.

Serbian violence 

In 1999 the Serbian action against the KLA and Kosovo Albanians dramatically escalated from 19 March. The Serbs had been promised that the full might of the NATO alliance would now bomb them in support of the KLA which for much of 1998 had been trying to drive Serbs out of Kosovo. On 19 March the OSCE monitors moved out of Kosovo.

What did the Serbs fear? Less than four years earlier, in the Krajina region, 25,000 Serbs had been murdered by Croat ethnic cleansers and over 200,000 Serbs had been driven from their homes in a period of four days. The Croatian Army had been led by an Albanian, Agim Ceku, who was now the commander of the KLA in Kosovo. The Croatians, too, had been backed by NATO air power.

The 250,000 Serbs in Kosovo must have feared the same fate. Was passive resistance an option? We know for certain that if the Serb army had done nothing many Serbs would have been murdered and ethnically cleansed, as in fact they were when the bombing stopped. At this time Serb troops moved out, and 45,000 NATO peacekeepers moved in to protect all residents of Kosovo. Yet 1000 Serbs and other minorities were killed and 200,000 people were driven out of Kosovo (without western media attention) in the first six months of NATO occupation.

It is easy from a position of total safety to condemn the violence of others, and I do condemn the violence of the Serbs, the KLA and NATO, but only one of these groups in Kosovo in 1999 was fighting in self-defence.

The real answer to this problem lay in government which was just, tolerant, democratic and concerned for peace and the well-being of all the people in the region. In the absence of this there had to be negotiation uninfluenced by violence and threats of violence. This had been started years earlier and should have been carried through. Unfortunately, talks became impossible after the KLA had carried out repeated attacks on Serb police, soldiers, and civilians and the Serbs had retaliated. The encouragement of the KLA terrorists by the West was shameful and criminal. The west did not seek peace: it poured fuel on the fire.

Purpose of Rambouillet talks to create an excuse to bomb

Dr Henry Kissinger (former US Secretary of State and a Nobel Peace Prize Winner) said, “The Rambouillet text, which called on Serbia to admit NATO troops throughout Yugoslavia was a provocation, an excuse to start bombing.”

Contents of the Rambouillet text kept from public scrutiny

Details of the Rambouillet text did not appear in the press until June 1999. – Chomsky, The New Military Humanism, page 108.

The text of the Rambouillet Accord was not placed in the House of Commons library until 1 April 1999, long after the decision to bomb Yugoslavia.

Serbs wished to continue the talks

A letter on or about 22 February 1999, sent by Ratko Markovic, the Serbian negotiator, asked for a date on which to resume talks, and stated that the Yugoslav Government had agreed to discuss “the scope and character” of an “international presence” in Kosovo to “implement the agreement to be accepted in Rambouillet”. Another letter of 22 or 23 February stated that the Serbian delegation looked forward to “continue the work in line with the positive spirit of this meeting”.

Quoted in “Kosovo war and revenge” by Tim Judah, Yale, 2000.

On 23 March 1999 the Serbian National Assembly passed a resolution rejecting the NATO demand for military occupation and calling on the OSCE and United Nations to facilitate a peaceful diplomatic settlement. The National Assembly resolution called for negotiations leading to “the reaching of a political agreement on wide ranging autonomy for Kosovo, with the securing of a full equality of all citizens and ethnic communities and with respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the republic of Serbia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. . . . The Serbian Parliament does not accept the presence of foreign military troops in Kosovo. The Serbian Parliament is ready to review the size and character of the international presence in Kosmet [Kosovo] for carrying out the reached accord, immediately upon signing the political accord on the self-rule agreed and accepted by the representatives of all national communities living in Kosovo.”  Ibid

David Roberts