NATO in Kosovo - Failed Peacekeeping

TFF PressInfo 72

June 18, 1999



"If a UN operation had gone this wrong from the beginning, if the mandate had been violated to this extent, politicians, diplomats and media worldwide would have cried 'Failure!' But since it is a US-lead NATO operation, independent-minded evaluations and criticism is conspicuously absent from mainstream media and the political discourse. The homogenisation of public opinion with NATO propaganda throughout the Western democracies is disheartening," says TFF director, Dr Jan Oberg.



While NATO troops have been in Macedonia the last 8 months, only on June 14 could the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan present a plan for a civil UN administration for Kosova. It puts the EU in charge of reconstruction and gives the OSCE primary responsibility for establishing democratic institutions, organising elections, and monitoring human rights. The UNHCR will take charge of the resettlement of refugees and displaced persons. The UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) will administer the police, justice, schools, public transport, telecommunications, and power plants. An international police unit of up to 2,000 will oversee the establishment of a Kosova police force. On 12 June, Annan appointed UN Undersecretary-General Sergio Vieira de Mello of Brazil as interim - interim! - special representative.

SC Resolution 1244 consistently mentions "the rapid early deployment of effective civil and security presences" and consistently mentions the two components simultaneously. Reality on the ground is already totally different. Evident for everyone who wants to see, the NATO dog will wag the UN tail as it pleases, in time and in space. And it will take months before the civilians are in place and co-functioning. Remember that it took 5-6 months to get the former OSCE KVM mission of 1200 deployed - only to be forced out due to NATO's bombing plan.

This is catastrophic. Precisely in this type of conflict, the need for social, village-based security provided by civil police and what the UN used to call 'Civil Affairs' staff is absolutely essential. While NATO is simply not trained for this or has any experience in it, the UN an OSCE and civilian NGOs everywhere have.

IMAGINE instead that world leaders had wanted to increase the capacity for civilian conflict-management, had wanted to finally realise the UN Charter's finest norm: peace by peaceful means. Imagine that the international 'community' and leading security organizations had spent energy, money and creativity since 1989 on adapting the global system to civilian conflict-management, that the UN had had a pool of thousands of civilians - social workers, psychologists, economists, police, lawyers, teachers etc. - on stand-by for rapid deployment in post-war regions. Imagine that the OSCE and the UN had been given just a fraction of the funds, NATO has at its disposal. Imagine, in short, that the civilian aspects and the human dimensions of security and conflict-resolution had been nurtured and new civilised tools had been given priority, including early warning to prevent wars and violence in the first place.



Resolution 1244 states in para 9 a) that the security presence shall prevent renewed hostilities and b) demilitarise KLA and other armed Kosovo-Albanian groups. They must comply with the requirements 'laid down by the head of the international security presence in consultation with the Special Representative of the S-G.' The latter however is not yet on the ground!

And indeed, why should KLA comply? As they see it, they have liberated 'our Kosova' (albeit with a little help from their NATO allies) and they are not signatories - as are no Albanian - to the deal made in Belgrade. A major player was simply ignored (or given secret promises as to the future?)

Literally speaking, of course, it is impossible to disarm or demilitarise a force like KLA in this culture. In contrast to the Yugoslav forces, it is not an ordinary army - many of their members are simply armed civilians. Kosovo-Albanian leaders always responded to the question 'Who is UCK?' that 'it is me, him and her over there, we are a people in arms." But! NATO - the organization that flexes its muscle and just issued demands and refused to negotiate with the legitimate government (at least not officially) in Belgrade - will now NEGOTIATE with UCK, a force that has never obtained a mandate from the constitutional authorities or parliament of the independent republic of Kosova.

Yes, this is true! This is what Radio Free Europe reported on June 16: "NATO Negotiates Disarmament with UCK. U.S. Army General John Craddock told dpa from Skopje on 16 June that NATO officials are negotiating with the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) about its demilitarisation. Craddock did not release details about the content or location of the talks. He added that the UCK's possible disarmament is up to the "discretion" of the respective peacekeeping troops. Craddock said that "we approach it in a fair and even-handed manner...Our soldiers are not instructed to routinely disarm [the guerrillas]. However, we have got to make sure we defuse explosive situations. We don't want armed [UCK] in proximity with withdrawing Serbs." Pentagon officials said in Washington that both the Serbs and the UCK have initiated confrontations resulting in as many as "two dozen" deaths. They added, however, that "we are generally satisfied with the amount of compliance" with NATO's ban on armed violence.

It is difficult to understand the American general's statement as anything but a violation of UN SC Resolution 1244. Virtually all important media around the world have told us that the West can not trust Milosevic or the Serbs. What prevents people from not even now asking the opposite question? Up till now the Yugoslav government has kept its side of the G8 Agreement and withdrawn its forces according to schedule. Not so NATO, the UN and KLA.

IMAGINE instead that the UCK/KLA had not been fed with weapons, ammunition, uniform and training by a number of Western countries, private arms dealers and, presumably, intelligence services. Imagine instead that the parties had been persuaded to sit down and talk at some point since 1992, that moderates on both sides had been supported by the West and that an economic development program had been promised for the Kosovo province - in exchange for democratization in Serbia and a lifting of sanctions and diplomatic isolation. Imagine that OSCE had not suspended Yugoslavia and that OSCE's mission in Yugoslavia had therefore not been abrogated in 1992. Imagine some of this - and you may begin to see a possible truth: this war, this humanitarian catastrophe, all this irreparable hate could have been avoided.



Resolution 1244 welcomes the EU and others 'to develop a comprehensive approach to the economic development and stabilisation of the region affected by the Kosovo crisis, including the implementation of a Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe..' There can be no doubt that this formulation covers not only the Kosovo province but also the rest of Yugoslavia and countries such as Macedonia and Albania as 'affected.' President Clinton, President Chirac and other government leaders, however, have already stated that no economic aid (presumably including reconstruction aid) will be given to Yugoslavia as long as President Milosevic is around.

This conditionality has no back-up in the UN Resolution. Furthermore, who would believe that there can be stability in this region if 11 million citizens of Yugoslavia shall be kept for decades in a poor, war-torn society?

"Remember," ends Jan Oberg - "old Yugoslavia began to break down when the effects of global capitalism's restructuring produced the economic crisis of the 1970s and 1980s hit Yugoslavia hard. Economic and social misery breads dissatisfaction, scape-goating, nationalism and ultimately violence.

The West first introduced sanctions, isolation and demonisation, then destroyed the country's civil society, economy and infrastructure. It also forgot to care for its 650.000 refugees. If the West now refuses to give reconstruction aid it is a sure indicator of a future plan: to bring about the further destruction of present Yugoslavia in, let's say, Sandzak, Voivodina and ultimately Belgrade. But don't worry, we will be told by the managers of the military-industrial-diplomatic-media complex that it's all the fault of one man and that the Serbs deserve it."


© TFF 1999

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