Watch NATO in Kosovo
TFF PressInfo 71
June 18, 1999
"Did you read UN Security Council Resolution 1244 about peace in Kosovo? Well, it is not exactly coherent. If your computer manual was this much of a mishmash and contradictions and if dozens of pages were missing, you would probably have operative system failures and bombs - and I think this is what will happen with NATO in Kosovo. But the resolution IS clear enough on essentials for us to ask after one week of NATO 'peace'-keeping in Kosovo what on earth is going on," says TFF director Jan Oberg. Here and in PressInfo 72 follow some of the already manifest problems.
1. RESOLUTION 1244 IS CONTRADICTORY AND INSUFFICIENT
It condemns all acts of violence by the local parties, but has not even a mild statement about the uniquely brutal NATO-caused killings and devastation of a country of 12 million people. It expresses a determination to resolve the humanitarian crisis - well and good - but does not address any underlying conflict and makes no mention of the civil war that raged in Kosovo between February 1998 and March 24 this year.
It does reaffirm the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia but fails to present the procedures and modalities as to how the endorsed civilian and security presences shall operate to respect that sovereignty and integrity.
Further to this point, it simultaneously decides (Para 11a) that the civilian presence is tasked with 'promoting the establishment, pending a final settlement, of substantial autonomy and self-government in Kosovo, taking full account of annex 2 and of the Rambouillet accords.' So, the US-manipulated Rambouillet dictate - perhaps the most shameful event in modern diplomatic history - was sneaked into the text in contravention of what had been agreed with Belgrade. To make things worse, the same Para 11f mentions 'facilitating a political process designed to determine Kosovo's future status, taking into account the Rambouillet accords.' This formulation can - and will - be used to justify a process towards establishing an independent Kosova; indeed, it is difficult to envision NATO leave the province by just handing Kosovo back to Belgrade, given the tremendous investment and given the almost limitless distrust and hate between Serbs and Albanians after what has happened.
There is a minimum of operationalization, of stipulating who is doing what when. NATO is the only organization mentioned, not the OSCE, the UN, or NGOs. During the G8 process, the United States and NATO suddenly decided to increase the military presence from 28.000 (at the time of Rambouillet) to 48.000, no explanation offered, and the figure is not mentioned in the resolution. Neither is the civilian presence, its size, level or lead agencies specified. All this opens up for eternal disputes among various organizations about roles, authority, 'command' and division of labour - while the resolution emphasises the importance of a 'rapid early deployment of effective presences.' As a matter of fact, the whole civilian aspect of this mission is put at a disadvantage by the very text.
2. THE RESOLUTION HAS NO PEACE STRATEGY
Only one short sentence mentions human rights. There is not one word pointing in the direction of civil society, peace, tolerance, forgiveness, co-existence, empowerment, psychological help, no mention of e.g. a truth commission, of how media must be helped to disseminate tolerance rather than hate speech. One therefore gets the impression that those who drafted this text haven't got a clue about human psychology, traumas, peace and human rights education and the like - that it is, indeed, outside their worldview that conflict, violence and PEACE, to put it in simple terms, is about PEOPLE.
So, again - decision-makers in power can do almost anything militarily. Technology gives them a sense of omnipotence. When it comes to addressing conflicts as problems to be solved among human beings and peace as a vision about a better future together, conflict and peace 'illiteracy' abounds.
With all this omitted, ask yourself: Isn't this resolution implicitly revealing that nobody believes anymore in a future of peaceful co-existence between Albanians and Serbs? And isn't that what genuine peacekeeping should facilitate?
3. SEQUENCING, SYNCHRONISATION
According to the US/NATO/G8 dictate, first Yugoslav forces should withdraw, then bombing should stop and then international forces should enter. Unless NATO moved in at the heels of Yugoslav troops moving out, this was bound - predicatably - to create a vacuum that a) permitted KLA to move in and b) persuaded non-Albanians to begin to leave immediately. This is exactly what has happened. Are we to believe that this was not foreseen by NATO? Why was it done this way? Presumably to reduce the risk that NATO troops should be shot at while entering. Or put crudely: better let tens of thousands of Kosovo-Serbs leave their homes for good than risk a single NATO life.
Annex 2 point 4 of SC Res. 1244 states that the 'security presence' shall 'establish a safe environment for all people in Kosovo. But at least 30.000 civilian Serbs have already left under NATO's peacekeeping and protection and the mission HAS therefore already failed in achieving its main task.
In addition, when the G8 agreement and the UN resolution stipulate that ALL police and military must withdraw it is obviously forgotten that Serb/Yugoslav police in the region, to a large extent, is made up of people born and raised with their families there. So, demanding that ALL leave means forcing out at least 50.000 legitimate citizens of that province.
IMAGINE instead that the sequence had been: first agreement to a plan according to which the bombing would stop first, then a stepwise entering of international forces seeing the Yugoslav troops off, village by village from the south to the north of the province. NATO would then have filled every vacuum and prevented KLA from taking over. When the UN entered zones in Croatia and the UNTAES mission in Eastern Slavonia had been set up, troops either moved out immediately or were disarmed. Why not something like that in Kosovo? It looks now like light-armed UN peacekeepers have traditionally been much more courageous than heavy-armed NATO soldiers.
4. FORCE COMPOSITION - 3 PROBLEMS
The leading NATO countries just moved in the troops which they had amassed month before in the neighbouring countries. Resolution 1244, however, "authorises Member States and relevant international organizations to establish the international security presence." This of course was another humiliation the UN had to suffer: that it does not gather - or is consulted about - the so-called peacekeepers which operate on the basis of a UN resolution. But this does not mean that the US/NATO group should monopolise the process. In principle, all member states can contribute.
Which brings us to the major diplomatic crisis the US has created vis-a-vis Russia. It is not the least due to Russian mediation that an agreement could at all be concluded with Belgrade. However, the US consistently refuses to accept a Russian zone while NATO partitioned and occupied the whole province without asking them or anybody else. The official argument is that if there is a Russian zone, Serbs would run to that and Albanians would not feel safe. (Indeed, KLA is stating that it will not disarm unless the Russians leave).
The is utterly cynic: the very same countries that use this argument have, systematically during 78 days, devastated the Serbian/Yugoslav society, the Serb home country and Kosovo which Serbs consider their cradle. They take for granted that Serbs ought to feel safe under them in their role as bombers-cum-peacekeepers. As in Croatia and Bosnia we see how the US and the international 'community' apply different principles from case to case and preferential treatment to non-Serb civilians and citizens.
Zoning and command is the third problem: Annex 2.4 states "the international security presence with substantial North Atlantic Treaty Organization participation must be deployed under unified command and control." It does not say "NATO command." Indeed, if all interested states had been consulted democratically, a neutral command could have been set up consisting of generals from NATO as well as non-NATO countries, in short a cooperative effort paying respect to all contributing countries. Again, the US/NATO omnipotently decided to take it all for themselves. Behind the podium in the newly established Pristina press briefing room, there is only "NATO" and its emblem - not a word indicating that other countries such as Sweden may be involved or about this being formally a mission 'under the auspices of the UN.'
Unbiased media would ask questions about such flawed arguments and all-dominating policies at NATO and State Department briefings, so would anybody who does not take NATO propaganda for truth or suffer from self-censorship. Commentators, editors, experts and politicians would discuss this openly in a democratic democracy. But not in an increasingly authoritarian democracy.
IMAGINE instead that these three problems had been solved through consultation and not by fait accompli and marginalization of major non-NATO countries. Imagine that they had found a solution before the Russians moved in from the north and NATO from the south. In short, imagine that NATO was a democratic organization in its inner and outer relations.
"Wouldn't it be in line with what those self-proclaimed leaders say - that they speak on behalf of the world, of the whole international community? If they did," says Jan Oberg, "they would consult with others instead of chopping up countries and occupy territories in the name of that very world community. Truth is, of course, that if they they did speak on behalf of the international community - and if there was unity around the world as to how to handle this crisis - we would have a UN decision, a UN mission, a UN presence and a UN approach to conflict-resolution. That is exactly what these leaders - of about 10 per cent of the world's population - want so intensely to avoid."
© TFF 1999
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