P r e s s I n f o # 55 February 16, 1999
Rambouillet - Imperalism In Disguise
"What happens now in Rambouillet has little to do with creating peace for
the suffering citizens in the Yugoslav province of Kosovo/a. Disguised as
"negotiations" about a "peace" plan, the international so-called community
promotes less noble values and long-term goals in the region and use the
Serbs and Albanians as supernumeraries in its drama. It's time we ask what
the self-proclaimed "conflict managers" are actually up to. If peace in
Kosovo or the wider Balkans had been the real aim, we would have witnessed
a completely different approach leading up to Rambouillet. We come closer
to the truth about Rambouillet if we use words such as globalisation,
strategic expansion, Caspian oil, Greater NATO, containment policy and
imperialism disguised as conflict-management and peace-making," says Dr.
Jan Oberg upon returning from the 34th TFF mission to the region since
1992, this time to Skopje, Belgrade and Kosovo.
"If PEACE was their profession, the governments of the international
community would - around 1992 - have put enough diplomatic and other
civilian pressure on the parties to begin a dialogue, not negotiations. It
would have provided 5-10 different secluded meeting places for Albanians,
Serbs and other peoples - NGOs, teachers, intellectuals, journalists,
doctors etc. - to explore their problems and possible solutions. In short,
an international brainstorm to produce creative ideas for later elaboration
at a complex negotiation process that would take at least a year.
Today, instead, we are left with only one - legalistic and formal - plan
developed by U.S. ambassador Christopher Hill. It is not the result of
neutral mediation, contains no creative ideas and is so unattractive to the
parties that it has to be imposed as a fait accompli by bombing threats and
by arrogant talking down to the delegations ("they must be brought to
understand their own best..")
Six years ago, the international community would have announced that it was
well aware that extreme Albanian factions had begun to develop an army and,
when Albania fell apart, it would have prevented the spill-over into the
Kosovo province by sealing the border.
When trouble started becoming manifest it would have negotiated with
Belgrade to allow an expansion of the excellent UN mission in Macedonia,
UNPREDEP, and the equally excellent OSCE mission in Skopje to cover also
the Kosovo province. The success of preventive diplomacy in Macedonia could
have been boosted by taking on Kosovo. In terms of substance, this would be
well-founded as the two problems and regions are intimately related,
strategically connected and it would permit a wider Balkan policy to take
shape. It would have signalled respect for Serbia/Yugoslavia and all its
citizens. For a fraction of what NATO deployment will cost for 10 years
ahead or so, it could have prevented the war from breaking out. Trust- and
peacebuilding could have been vibrant throughout Kosovo today.
Furthermore, ANY peace-related activity would have looked at the BASIC
PROBLEMS in Kosovo which are: deep poverty, overall economic crisis,
corruption, lack of human trust, manifest human alienation, miserable
schools, miserable transport, miserable health facilities, miserable media,
miserable politics - everywhere. The international community would have
sided with the citizens living there, promised them a better future through
aid and co-operation and offered Belgrade and the Kosovo Serbs and
Albanians an alternative future, an alternative perspective - and thus
cultivated and empowered alternative leaders. Of course, the economic
sanctions against Yugoslavia would have been lifted as their psychological
effects boosted authoritarian Serb and hardline Albanian leaders alike.
As social misery and deteriorating life opportunities as well as
psychological despair creates a fertile ground for ethnic hatred and
extremism, the vicious circle we have seen since 1989 would have been
stopped. People would stop believing in the propaganda about "the world
being against us Serbs and we must protect our sovereignty at all costs" on
the one hand and the equally propagandistic argument on the Albanian side
that "independent Kosova will solve all our problems."
In short, the whole situation would have moved away from deadlocked
POSITIONS and ATTACK on human beings - leading to war - toward a common
exploration of PROBLEMS and possible SOLUTIONS leading to hope. It would
have promoted democracy too, because it would be building PEACE from the
ground up, with citizens' participation.
The international community ignored dialogues or negotiations before,
during and after Dayton. Early warnings fell on deaf ears. It failed
miserably to support Dr. Rugova's nonviolent line on the one hand and the
changes in Belgrade during the period when Milan Panic was a prime minister
and Dobrica Cosic president. It did nothing to help dissidents or support
the millions who marched the streets in Belgrade for democratisation,
economic development and a civil society in peace. (But it did sell arms
and turn a blind eye to years of militarization, smuggling and black market
profiteering in the wake of its sanctions).
Governments of the international community - some of which conduct what is
euphemistically called a 'moral foreign policy' and Green non-violent
values - DID NOTHING until the conflict became violent. They thus rewarded
political hardliners on all sides and the Serbian police, paramilitaries
and army units as well as the Kosovo Liberation Army. And they proved to
have learnt NOTHING from the Dayton process.
So, what is really going on in Rambouillet?
Rambouillet is a magnificent cover-up for the tremendous lack of advance
analysis, early warning, early action and preventive diplomacy. But there
1. The international community wants us to believe that its true mission is
peace - that it is a civilising force in regions where primitive people
fight atavistic conflicts. But Rambouillet is, however, nothing but gunboat
diplomacy and interventionism with other means.
2. It wants to present NATO as the new world peacekeeper and marginalizes
the United Nations - which, by the way, is the only organization with an
accumulated experience in peace-keeping, peace-making and peace-building
and which could do it much better than NATO if given the necessary
resources and political legitimacy. Even small countries like Denmark and
Norway no longer seem to care.
3. Through Rambouillet, NATO will expand. NATO country troops are already
positioned in Bosnia, Hungary, Italy, the Adriatic and Macedonia, the
latter having virtually no choice and a new inexperienced government. If
Macedonia cannot formally get into NATO as it wants, it can lie down and
let NATO into Macedonia. Besides direct, formal NATO expansion, we see an
indirect one - making the alliance 'the indispensable protector' in war
zones and grow its roots over the years: bases, infrastructure, equipment
sales, training, intelligence, influence.
4. By stationing up to 30.000 NATO ground troops in Kosovo, NATO will not
only expand. With US/NATO influence in Turkey, Greece, Georgia (and
Azerbaijan?) and in Croatia, Bosnia, Albania, Hungary, Macedonia and
Serbia, the goal of connecting NATO West and NATO East becomes more
reachable, leading in the longer perspective to more control with the
"devilish triangle" of the Balkans, Middle East and the Caucasus - the end
stations of which are a) permanent containment of Russia and b) access to
the oil in the Caspian Sea region. Kosovo is nothing but a pawn in that
game. Control over it and over Serbia proper is much more important than
peace in it.
5. And where did the figure 30.000 ground troops come from? 5.000-10.000
robust peacekeepers would be enough to keep Serbian police and Albanian
armed peasants separated and monitor a ceasefire. The KLA is not exactly a
formidable force for NATO. A reasonable hypothesis is that 30.000 is what
it may take to de facto terminate Yugoslavia's status as a sovereign state.
Incrementalism being a Western politico-military specialty, some of these
troops may later be available for deployment as "peacekeepers" in e.g.
Voivodina, Sandzak or elsewhere to control Serbia, i.e. when the
self-destructive policies of the Markovic/Milosevic' leadership hits those
areas - which is exactly what the West needs.
6. Kosovo's quagmire can be exploited also to "permit" the international
community to disregard international law with (false) reference to high
human values and norms. Unfortunately for that argument, the following must
be remembered: a) if the term 'ethnic cleansing' is to be used, it has been
committed by both Albanians and Serbs over the last 20 years when no
international intervention took place, b) a genocide has not taken place
and the killings is so far much smaller than other conflicts such as
Algeria or Eritrea-Ethiopia; c) Yugoslavia is a legitimate, sovereign state
recognised by the international community with Kosovo inside it, d) it has
not committed aggression against any neighbouring state, rather e) it is
being threatened by neighbouring Albania as a KLA base and by Macedonia as
a NATO base. Irrespective of what one may think of President Milosevic or
other Yugoslav leaders, these are indisputable facts conveniently forgotten
by interventionists on the right as well as on the left.
7. So, the Rambouillet "peace talks" is a paradoxical replica of the norm
that "might makes right" and "some of us are more equal before the law than
others." To the new 'conflict-managers,' wars are no disasters, they are
opportunities to expand their power even when violating universal norms and
the UN Charter. Their best allies are extremists and 'war lords' whose
policies deliver the legitimation for this new contemporary 'peace
imperialism.' This emergent "jungle law" in international affairs bodes
ill for world order and human security in the millennium to come.
Rambouillet is all for the cameras. It's imperialism in disguise. With this
type of "peace" and "negotiations" the people living in Kosovo and the rest
of Yugoslavia are doomed to suffer for years ahead," Jan Oberg concludes.
_ TFF 1999
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