Bulletin N 348



29 March 2008
Grenoble, France

Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
The moral blindness that many of us experience around us, we must constantly remind ourselves, is not natural. Our students, our colleagues, our friends were not born blind, and it is essential that we understand how their lives have become reduced and impoverished, to the point of remaining silent, thoughtless, and inactive amidst the current political and economic crises which we are now living. What are the dynamics that produce such cynicism, on the one hand, and a murderous naiveté, on the other? What is the colonization process that "retools" the human mind and produces hoards of willing collaborators and kamikaze tacticians, without which no empire could function for long?

Against this wallpaper, any sign of resistance to "normalcy" stands out and seems intolerably inappropriate in the universal scheme of things. How was this pattern of deep conformity produced, and what is it capable of?

The 6 items below provide information which might help us answer these questions. The neurologist, Dr. Antonio Damasio, in the new preface of his 1994 classic, Descartes' Error, has written :

I am pleased to report that some progress has been made.... some of us are actively
investigating the brain states associated with moral reasoning while others are trying
to discover what the brain does during esthetic experiences. The intent is not to reduce
ethics or esthetics to brain circuity but rather to explore the threads that interconnect
neurobiology to culture. I am even more hopeful today that such a seemingly utopian
bridge can become reality and optimistic that we will enjoy its benefits without having
to wait another century.

Dr. Damasio's metaphysics is an attempt to understand that colonization process which is closest to home, within our own minds. As we see and hear those around us who are colonized and who have grown to ignore the cries for justice and equality, we can be sure that they were not born that way. The "repressive tolerance" that is constantly on display here at home is as destructive as it is obscene. Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie has become increasingly shabby, as a newly counter-productive political economy comes into full swing, with all its ruinous effects.

Below CEIMSA readers will find noble attempts to set right this political economy, despite its fierce and brutalizing force. These authors, like ourselves, are in search of a strategy to replace the one that dominates our empty lives with deadly logic, and begs for the need of another cultural revolution.

Item A. is a message from Dr. Jim O'Brien, of "Historians Against War" announcing the start of a series of Iraqi War TEACH-INs by HAW, in which the history and present realities of the US military invasion of Iraq are discussed and analyzed. (Dr. O'Brien's message contains several important pedagogical links that facilitate the understanding of U.S. Grand Strategy today.)

Item B., from peace activist Frida Berrigan, is another informative announcement from the American Peace Movement, now mobilizing for that tried and proven strategy for social change:  "No taxation without representation."

Item C. is an article first published in Counter Punch, by George Szamuely on "The Absurdity of 'Independent' Kosovo".

Item D., by Diana Johnstone, is another careful look at "NATO's Colony" in Kosovo.

Item E., is Peter Oborne's gastly description of a recent visit to Baghdad by British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband.

Item F. is an article by Gideon Levy on how Israelis, now burnt by venal opportunists in Europe and America, have begun looking for true friendships.

And finally, we urge CEIMSA readers to view the March 25 news broadcast by Democracy Now!, featuring the release of Ellen Spiro's new documentary film on the life of an Iraqi War veteran, which is now playing in theaters across the United States: see Body of War.

As usual, we share with you the inimitable William Blum's latest Anti-Empire Report, March 29, 2008 : http://killinghope.org/aer56.htm

Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Director of Research
Université Stendhal Grenoble 3

From: "Jim O'Brien" <jimobrien48@gmail.com>
To: haw-info@stopthewars.org
Subject: [haw-info] HAW Notes

The PBS program Frontline is running a two-part special on the history of the so-called war on terror, entitled Bush's War, tonight (March 24) from 9 to 11:30 and tomorrow night (March 25) from 9 to 11, Eastern times (check local listings).  An annotated master chronology of the war will also be launched this evening on the program's web site, http://www.pbs.org/frontline/bushswar/.

Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) is trying to raise $4,500 to enable transcription of the testimony given at the March 13-16 Winter Soldier hearings in Washington (available online at ivaw.org and warcomeshome.org).  Tax-deductible contributions can be made at
https://secure.groundspring.org/dn/index.php?aid=11951 (be sure to indicate that this is for the "Historians Transcript Fund").

If anyone who will be at the OAH convention in New York later this week has time to help at a HAW table on Friday (the one day it will be up), please contact Jim O'Brien (jimobrien48@gmail.com).

As an update on an earlier item, torture advocate John Yoo is still scheduled to speak at a plenary session of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR) at its annual convention in June.  However, a prominent and well-informed critic, David B. Cole of Georgetown University Law Center, will be given equal time for a commentary.

from Frida Berrigan :
Date: March 19, 2008
Subject: "No taxation without representation".

War Resisters Block IRS HQ, 31 arrested
by Frida Berrigan

Thirty-one people were arrested this morning as they staged a nonviolent blockade at the national headquarters of the Internal Revenue Service in Washington, DC. The protestors had placed yellow police tape saying "WAR CRIME SCENE" across the entrance to the building.

The demonstration was part of a national day of protest marking the fifth anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.

More than 100 others joined the demonstration carrying signs, banners and props that illustrated the disparity between war spending and the needs of an economy crippled by five years of war.

"Just as military recruiters supply bodies for the war, the IRS supplies the funding," stated New York City War Resisters League organizer Ed Hedemann before he was arrested. "I'm doing my part to disrupt that relentless flow of money by standing in front of the IRS entrance and by refusing to send my taxes to the IRS."

More than 20 organizations are sponsored the event, including: the War Resisters League, United for Peace & Justice, National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC), Movement for a Democratic Society, Ground Zero for Peace, Granny Peace Brigade, Code Pink, and the Socialist Party USA. Members of the participating organizations feel the need to engage in civil disobedience in order to dramatize their vigorous opposition to United States government's wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and President George W. Bush's "global war on terror."

Ruth Benn, long-time WRL activist and coordinator of NWTRCC, argues "The bloodshed has already cost the lives of thousands of Americans, Iraqis, Afghanis, and others. The country is hemorrhaging vast sums of money vitally needed to improve lives here and abroad. At the same time half the people in the U.S. feel less safe while the government has ignored calls from experts and activists for a foreign policy that rejects war."

The blockade is part of a full day of creative, nonviolent actions and civil disobedience in Washington, DC, and across the country. The protests are being coordinated by United for Peace and Justice in an effort to disrupt the business of war as usual. These actions will focus on the "pillars of war" -- the military, war funding, war profiteering, the security state, and the mainstream media. Civil disobedience participants have undergone special trainings in nonviolence.

The War Resisters League is an 85-year-old secular pacifist organization, headquartered in New York City, and is affiliated with the War Resisters' International, which is based in London. WRL believes war to be a crime against humanity, and advocates Gandhian nonviolence as the method for creating a democratic society free of war, racism, sexism, and human exploitation.

Contact: Frida Berrigan, 347-683-4928
More details of this event can be found at http://www.warresisters.org/IRSinDC.htm
War Resisters League
339 Lafayette Street    New York, NY 10012
nycwrl@att.net    www.warresisters.org

IRS Blockade
WRL’s Web Other Actions

Blockade the IRS March 19 in DC

On March 19, 2008, we will set up a nonviolent blockade of the national Internal Revenue Service headquarters in Washington, DC, as part of the day of actions against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Just as military recruiters supply the bodies for the war, the IRS supplies the funding. Just as some soldiers have the courage to resist the war, we ­ as tax payers ­ should have the courage to resist paying the taxes that send soldiers to war. We call on all war opponents to help dramatize our opposition and to disrupt business as usual by joining this nonviolent blockade.

For at least this one day ­ March 19, 2008 ­ we need to create a disturbance in the smug complacency of the IRS/Pentagon money-axis.

Washington DC IRS area map The Scenario
We will gather in our affinity groups at 7 am on Wednesday morning, March 19, at McPherson Sq., 15th & K Sts. NW. From these areas we will march ­ with the Rude Mechanical Orchestra ­ to the IRS main entrance at 1111 Constitution Ave. (between 10th & 12th Streets), NW, and across from the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History. Once at the entrance, some of us will sit down to prevent the IRS from opening as usual, while others will hold signs and banners, pass out flyers, talk with passersby, and generally call attention to the cost of the war and our collective responsibility to stop funding it.

Legal Information
Click on this 5yearstoomany link to find a summary of legal information for Washington, DC, particular for those risking arrest.

Also, be sure to look at these other legal resources:
" Dealing with the Police” by the Midnight Special Law Collective
Demonstration Manual ­ Know Your Rights!” by the DC Justice & Solidarity Collective

call-to-action flyer Resources
blockade the IRS flyer
Click on an image to download a PDF of the call-to-action flyer. The flyer on the left is two-up on a page, so print then cut in half. The flyer on the right is a full sheet. Click here for a B&W version of the flyer to the right. The flyer below left is also 2-up on a page. Click here for a black and white version of that flyer.

2-up blockade flyer Where Your Income Tax Money Really Goes” ­ the War Resisters League tax pie chart analysis of the proposed 2009 federal budget.

IRS day-of flyer Click on the image to the right to download the flyer we are using on March 19, the day of the demonstration, at the IRS.

Nonviolence Guidelines
For the purpose of building trust and a common foundation for safety, and ensure that we act in the spirit of nonviolence, participants in the action agree to the following:
• Our attitude will be one of openness and respect toward people we encounter.
• We will not use physical violence or verbal abuse toward any person.
• We will not damage any property.
• We will not bring or use any alcohol or drugs other than for medical purposes.
• We will not carry weapons.

Affinity Groups & Nonviolence Training
March 16
(Sunday), Manhattan, Local 1199, 330 W. 42 St., 9th floor, 1 - 4 pm
March 17 (Monday), Washington, DC, Warehouse Theatre, 1017  7th St. NW, two sessions: 1- 4:30 pm, and 6 - 9 pm
March 18 (Tuesday), Washington, DC, Warehouse Theatre, 1017  7th St. NW, noon - 3 pm
FINAL AFFINITY GROUP MEETING: March 18 (Tuesday), Washington, DC, Warehouse Theatre, 1017  7th St. NW, 6 - 8 pm

Transportation and Housing
The United for Peace & Justice has set up a ride board and a housing board at its 5yearstoomany Web site.

Mass housing available Sunday night (Mar. 16) through Tuesday night (Mar. 18). If you need housing, please email Leslie Harris at jharris866@aol.com. Make sure to include your name, email, cell phone number, and which nights you will need housing. All housing available is floor space­ please bring a sleeping bag and anything else you need. UfPJ also has a list of affordable housing in DC.

Public Buses from NYC: For Greyhound, there is an E-ticket discount (the code is NYDCR). The two main Chinatown bus companies leave from 88 East Broadway (near "East Broadway" stop on the F train). Apex has buses at 7 AM, 8, 9:45, 10, 11, 1 PM, 1:30, 3, 4 pm, drop off at 610 I Street NW in Washington, DC. New Century leaves at 7, 8, 9, 10:50, 1:30 and 3 pm drop off at 513 H NW in DC. Both buses are $20 each way and drop off near the METRO (Gallery Place). Greyhound leaves from the Port Authority Bus Terminal at 7 am, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 1 pm, 2, 3, 4 and is $22 each way, if you use an E-ticket. The terminal in DC is at 1005 I St. NE, which is not close to a METRO station.

Sponsoring Organizations
War Resisters League, United for Peace and Justice, Code Pink, Socialist Party USA/NYC, Ground Zero for Peace, Jonah House, Brooklyn for Peace, Green Party of Brooklyn, Park Slope Greens, Witness Against Torture, National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee, Movement for a Democratic Society (MDS Staten Island, Jacksonville MDS, MDS Austin, Central Florida MDS, SF Bay Area chapters), Kairos, Raging Grannies/NYC, Granny Peace Brigade/NYC, Mouths Wide Open, ART, Artists Against the War, The Critical Voice, New York Collective of Radical Educators (list in formation)

March 19 pillars button Other March 13th - 19th Actions
March 13-16, Winter Soldier: UFPJ is committed to providing major support to Iraq Veterans Against the War and its Winter Soldier hearings in Washington, DC, on March 13-16. We will help local groups plan events that directly link to and amplify the Winter Soldier hearings, where those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Iraqis and Afghans, will tell the nation the real story of this war.

March 19, Mass Nonviolent Direct Action in Washington, DC: UFPJ has initiated the planning and organizing for what we hope will be the largest day of nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience yet against the war in Iraq. We encourage people to be in Washington, DC, on March 19th to be part of the civil disobedience, or to assist in support work. We are working to have all 50 states represented in this massive action.

March 19, Local Actions Throughout the Country: We encourage those who are not able to make it to Washington on March 19 to organize local actions. These actions may vary in location or character, but they will all be tied to the protest in Washington and all sending a message to the policy makers: It is time to end this war and occupation!

For more information, go to www.5yearstoomany.org.

How to Get Involved
For more information about this action, to become a sponsor, or to learn how to get involved, e-mail us or call 718-768-7306.

blocking the IRS building
cartoon by Rini Templeton

War Resisters League • 339 Lafayette St., New York, NY 10012 • (212) 228-0450 • wrl@warresisters.org

Believing war to be a crime against humanity,
the War Resisters League, founded in 1923,
advocates Gandhian nonviolence as the method
for creating a democratic society free of
war, racism, sexism, and human exploitation.

from Counter Punch :
Date: 15 February 2008
Subject: "The Absurdity of 'Independent' Kosovo".

A Saga of Injustice and Hypocrisy: The Absurdity of "Independent" Kosovo
by George Szamuely

With their unfailing passion for the inconsequential and their knack for doing the wrong thing at the wrong time, NATO leaders appear determined to carve the province of Kosovo out of Serbia and grant it "independence." That they lack the physical, legal and moral power to bestow independent statehood to a part of a state that is neither a member of the E.U. nor NATO appears only to have emboldened them to use this issue to demonstrate Western resolve. Just as in the 1990s, and just as erroneously, a self-righteous West has seized on the Balkans as an opportunity to parade before the world in the unfamiliar guise of champion of democracy and national self-determination, and protector of Muslims.

Much as it did before the invasion of Iraq, the United States has said it will do whatever it wants to do -- namely, recognize independent Kosovo -- with or without U.N. sanction. Unlike Iraq, this time the Europeans intend to take an active part in the Easter egg hunt and are as determined to ignore the United Nations as the Americans. Confident that the new state of Kosovo will prove to be a reliable NATO/E.U. satellite, key European countries, and especially the ever-compliant British, promise to recognize Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence on the very day it happens.

The line from Brussels and Washington is that the status quo in Kosovo is unsustainable and that the status of Kosovo needs to be settled once and for all. Final status means "independence" and only "independence." The Serbs have been told to forget about Kosovo and all the talk of historic patrimony and to focus instead on "Europe" (the grand name the European Union has arrogated to itself). Curiously, the Kosovo Albanians are not told forget about their national aspirations and focus on Europe. Yet their claim to statehood is particularly dubious since an Albanian state already exists in Europe. There doesn't seem to be any reason to have two Albanian states.

Kosovo's status is governed by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244, which envisages only self-government for Kosovo, and acknowledges the "sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia." Kosovo's status can't be changed without a new resolution.

To be sure, the status quo is unsustainable. But this status quo is one entirely of NATO's making. Eager to demonstrate that it had relevance even though the Cold War had long ended, NATO pulverized Yugoslavia with cluster bombs, depleted uranium and cruise missiles for 11 weeks, in the name of its newly proclaimed mission of humanitarian intervention. As the adoring media told and, in subsequent years, retold the story, the United States and its supposedly supine European allies were knights in shining armor, selflessly killing and destroying in order to rescue the oppressed Kosovo Albanians from the bloodthirsty Serbs. NATO forces marched into Kosovo, stood by passively as more than 250,000 Serbs fled or were driven out of the province and then cowered in the safety of their barracks in March 2004 as the Kosovo Albanians went on a bloody anti-Serb rampage.

Meanwhile, making use of the engineering skills of Halliburton subsidiary, Brown & Root Services Corp., the United States built a giant military base, Camp Bondsteel, covering some 955 acres or 360,000 square meters. The camp also includes a prison. According to Alvaro Gil Robles, Human Rights Commissioner for the Council of Europe, who visited the prison in 2005,

"What I saw there, the prisoners' situation, was one which you would absolutely recognize from the photographs of Guantanamo. The prisoners were housed in little wooden huts, some alone, others in pairs or threes. Each hut was surrounded with barbed wire, and guards were patrolling between them. Around all of this was a high wall with watchtowers. Because these people had been arrested directly by the army, they had not had any recourse to the judicial system. They had no lawyers. There was no appeals process. There weren't even exact orders about how long they were to be kept prisoner."

Shamelessly, but not at all surprisingly, the U.S. political establishment, particularly its Clintonian wing (the bunch that did so much to destroy Yugoslavia), seized on the March 2004 anti-Serb pogrom as evidence that the Kosovo Albanians deserved independent statehood immediately. On March 28, 2004, columnist Georgie Anne Geyer quoted Richard Holbrooke as saying " 'The recognition of an independent Kosovo and eventual membership in the European Union would be the best way to bring permanent peace and stability to the Balkans.' The leadership in Belgrade 'should finally come to terms with the new reality and choose either Kosovo or the E.U.but if Serbia chooses Kosovo over the E.U., it will end up with neither."

Holbrooke, permanent secretary of state in waiting, notoriously negotiated an agreement with President Slobodan Milosevic in October 1998. In return for the United States agreeing to put off the bombing of Yugoslavia for a few months, Milosevic agreed to withdraw Serbian security forces from Kosovo and permitted the arrival of an OSCE mission-the so-called Kosovo Verification Mission. The agreement wasn't binding on the terrorist Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), whose members armed themselves and committed terrorist attacks, the purpose of which was to provoke the Serbian forces to retaliate and thereby to provide a pretext for the bombing the Clinton administration was itching to launch. Milosevic, well aware of the trap that was being laid for him, went out of his way to avoid being provoked. The Kosovo Verification Mission did not remain passive in all of this. Led by William Walker, U.S. ambassador to El Salvador during the 1980s, the KVM actively colluded with the KLA, going so far as to fake the Racak incident in January 1999 that served to trigger the NATO onslaught. It isn't surprising, therefore, that Holbrooke, who played such a crucial role in that earlier charade, should play an equally crucial role in today's Kosovo charade.

Another establishment ticket-puncher, this time a member of its Republican branch, also weighed in early demanding independence for Kosovo. Frank Carlucci, a former secretary of defense and national security adviser in the Reagan administration and a former chairman of the Carlyle Group, global private equity firm for ex-government officials, wrote in the New York Times on Feb. 22, 2005,

The only solution that makes long-term sense is full independence for Kosovo, and the only question that remains is how to get there. The best approach would be for Washington and its five partners in the so-called Contact Group-Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Russia-to initiate a process for a final settlement, or Kosovo Accord. First the powers would have to establish a timeline and some ground rules. The goal would have to be independence for the entire province, and all other options -- partition, or union with Albania or slivers of other neighboring states where ethnic Albanians live -- would be off the table from the outset. Given the events of last March, the Kosovo Albanians would be informed that that the pace of their progress toward independence will be set by their treatment of Serbs and other minorities.

So progress toward independence should depend on how the Albanians treat Kosovo's minorities. Holbrooke had no time for this. He ridiculed the notion that independence should in any way be connected to the Albanians' treatment of the Serbs. "Standards before status," he sneered in the Washington Post on April 20, was merely a delaying policy that "disguised bureaucratic inaction inside diplomatic mumbo-jumbo. As a result, there have been no serious discussions on the future of Kosovo."

Standards before status or status before standards, it really didn't matter too much. The United States pushed U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to launch a fraudulent process that would -- so it was believed -- result in an independent Kosovo. In June 2005, Annan appointed Norway's ambassador to NATO, Kai Aide, to determine if Kosovo has made sufficient progress in meeting accepted standards on democracy and minority rights to merit a decision on its final status. In October 2005, Aide duly reported to Annan that, yes, Kosovo had made splendid progress and that any further delay on resolving its final status would lead to catastrophe. Actually, the report said that the "Kosovo Serbs fear that they will become a decoration to any central-level political institution with little ability to yield tangible results. The Kosovo Albanians have done little to dispel it." The report concluded that "with regard to the foundation for a multi-ethnic society, the situation is grim." Nonetheless, there wasn't a moment to be lost. "What's important," Annan said, "is that talks begin soon."

Talks did indeed begin. Annan appointed former Finnish President Marti Ahtisaari as his special envoy to lead the negotiations on Kosovo's final status. Talk about rewarding terrorism! The Kosovo Albanians rioted for several days in March 2004, and here they were, some 18 months later, about to be made a gift of independence. Ahtisaari was as likely to act the honest broker as Holbrooke. One of the posts he holds is chairman emeritus of the International Crisis Group (ICG), one of those George Soros-funded organizations staffed by out-of-office international worthies who invariably advocate for NATO expansion/intervention and unhindered U.S.-E.U. foreign investment. The ICG has for a long time been a fervent propagandist for an independent Kosovo. On its board sit such veteran bomb-the-Serbs alumni as Wesley Clark, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Joschka Fischer, Morton Abramowitz and Samantha Power.

The negotiations under Ahtisaari's aegis inevitably went nowhere, as they were meant to. Given that key NATO/E.U. officials had already declared that independence was inevitable, the Kosovo Albanians knew they only had to sit tight, reject any option other than independence and prepare to collect their reward within a few months.

In March 2007, Ahtisaari reported to the new U.N. secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, that "the negotiations' potential to produce any mutually agreeable outcome on Kosovo's status is exhausted. No amount of additional talks, whatever the format, will overcome this impasse." Therefore, he announced,

"I have come to the conclusion that the only viable option for Kosovo is independence, to be supervised for an initial period by the international community. My Comprehensive Proposal for the Kosovo Status Settlement, which sets forth these international supervisory structures, provides the foundations for a future independent Kosovo that is viable, sustainable and stable, and in which all communities and their members can live a peaceful and dignified existence."

Washington, London, Brussels and other capitals immediately embraced Ahtisaari's proposal and his noble, but entirely vacuous, sentiments. Since a massive NATO military presence had not sufficed to ensure that Kosovo's "communities and their members" lived an even minimally "peaceful and dignified existence" (as even Kofi Annan's envoy Kai Aide had admitted), the idea that in an independent Kosovo the province's minorities would be flourishing was laughable. Kosovo's Serbs -- the few that remain -- live behind barbed wire and need armed escort whenever they step outside their enclaves. According to a recent European Commission report, "only 1 per cent of judges belong to a minority group and less than 0.5 per cent belong to the Serbian minority. Only six of the 88 prosecutors belong to minority groups." Overall, the report concluded, "little progress has been made in the promotion and enforcement of human rights."

None of this really matters. The United States, the European Union and Ahtisaari himself are as serious about protecting Kosovo's minorities as they are about creating an independent state there. In fact, the last thing one would call the state that Ahtisaari envisages is "independent."

To be sure, land would be taken away from Serbia, and the Kosovo's Serbs, Turks, Roma and other minorities would be booted out, even as NATO/EU officials will doubtless go on avowing their commitment to a multicultural, multiethnic, multi-whatever Kosovo. To be sure, Brussels will probably succeed in bribing a few Serbs to come back to -- or even make a home in -- Kosovo. These "returnees" will then be touted as evidence that Kosovo is embracing "European values."

However, there is no plan to permit Kosovo's Albanians to run their own affairs. First of all, as in Bosnia, ultimate power will reside with an internationally-appointed bureaucrat. This position of colonial viceroy known as the International Civilian Representative (ICR), will be held by one of the West's innumerable, interchangeable has-been politicians moving from one sinecure to another. The ICR will, for example, have the authority to "[t]ake corrective measures to remedy, as necessary, any actions taken by the Kosovo authorities that the ICR deems to be a breach of this Settlement." Such corrective measures would include "annulment of laws or decisions adopted by Kosovo authorities," "sanction or remov[al] from office [of] any public official or take other measures, as necessary, to ensure full respect for this Settlement and its implementation," final say over the appointment of the "Director-General of the Customs Service, the Director of Tax Administration, the Director of the Treasury, and the Managing Director of the Central Banking Authority of Kosovo." There's democracy for you.

In addition, the European Union is to establish a European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP) Mission. This mission "shall assist Kosovo authorities in their progress towards sustainability and accountability and in further developing and strengthening an independent judiciary, police and customs service, ensuring that these institutions are free from political interferenceand shall provide mentoring, monitoring and advice in the area of the rule of law generally, while retaining certain powers, in particular, with respect to the judiciary, police, customs and correctional services."

The ESDP mission will have "[a]uthority to ensure that cases of war crimes, terrorism, organised crime, corruption, inter-ethnic crimes, financial/economic crimes, and other serious crimes are properly investigated according to the law, including, where appropriate, by international investigators acting with Kosovo authorities or independently." The mission will have the authority to ensure crimes are "properly prosecuted including, where appropriate, by international prosecutors acting jointly with Kosovo prosecutors or independently. Case selection for international prosecutors shall be based upon objective criteria and procedural safeguards, as determined by the Head of the ESDP Mission." The mission will have the "authority to reverse or annul operational decisions taken by the competent Kosovo authorities, as necessary, to ensure the maintenance and promotion of the rule of law, public order and security." The mission will have "[a]uthority to monitor, mentor and advise on all areas related to the rule of law. The Kosovo authorities shall facilitate such efforts and grant immediate and complete access to any site, person, activity, proceeding, document, or other item or event in Kosovo."

There is also to be an International Military Presence (IMP) established by NATO; it is to "operate under the authority, and be subject to the direction and political control of the North Atlantic Council through the NATO chain of command. NATO's military presence in Kosovo does not preclude a possible future follow-on military mission by another international security organization, subject to a revised mandate." Furthermore, the IMP is to "have overall responsibility for the development and training of the Kosovo Security Force, and NATO shall have overall responsibility for the development and establishment of a civilian-led organization of the Government to exercise civilian control over this Force, without prejudice to the responsibilities of the ICR." The IMP will be "responsible for: Assisting and advising with respect to the process of integration in Euro-Atlantic structures" and advising on "the involvement of elements from the security force in internationally mandated missions."

So, Kosovo will have no say on taxation, on foreign and security policy, on customs, on law enforcement. The only thing independent about "independent" Kosovo is that it will be independent of Serbia. In fact, there is not the slightest pretense that duly elected Kosovo authorities will have any say about anything other than perhaps refuse collection, though, doubtless even here, the authorities will have to follow E.U. guidelines or pay a penalty.

Not that this talk of "mentoring," "monitoring," "training," "assisting," "advising" and "investigating" should be taken too seriously. After all, the United Nations hasn't taken it too seriously during the past 8_ years; why should the European Union? Given the E.U.'s contempt for international law, its pride over its member-countries' participation in the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia, its dismissive attitude toward Serbia's concerns about the loss of its sovereign territory and its jurisdiction over its nationals, the idea that the E.U. is now ready to draw its sword and to come to the aid of Kosovo's minorities is laughable. The soaring rhetoric over Kosovo's supposed extraordinary progress, under U.N. auspices, contrasts starkly with the reality. According to Amnesty International's recent report on U.N.-style justice in Kosovo,

[H]undreds of cases of war crimes, enforced disappearances and interethnic crimes remain unresolved (often with little or no investigation having been carried out); hundreds of cases have been closed, for the want of evidence which was neither promptly nor effectively gathered. Relatives of missing and 'disappeared' persons report that they have been interviewed too many times by international police and prosecutors new to their case, yet no progress is ever made.In terms of recruitment, it appears that at no stage were serious efforts made to identify and recruit the most highly qualified, experienced and appropriate candidates in the world for the job.A significant concern regarding the fairness of the trials conducted by international judges and prosecutors is the lack of attention that has been given to the rights of the defense.Many of the trial proceedingsare conducted in a language not understood by the accused or their counsel. They are not simultaneously translated in full, but simply summarized. In some cases, translated transcripts of trial proceedings are not available until long after the time for an appeal has passed.It is disturbing that of the war crimes cases conducted only onehas involved a non-Albanian victim. In that case one of the 26 victims was Serb.

Some of the problems Amnesty mentioned: Trials are conducted "in absentia"; there's "use of anonymous witnesses"; "reconstructions of the crime" take place "without the accused and defense counsel being present"; "poor translation and interpretation and use of summaries by interpreters instead of verbatim interpretation"; "poorly reasoned, unclear and 'incomprehensible' decisions; "judgments based on eyewitness testimony contradicted by forensic evidence or the prior testimony of the witnesses"; "discrepancies between the evidence and the verdict or insufficient evidence to support the verdict"; and "significant differences between the oral judgment and the written judgment." Otherwise, the judiciary is in great shape, and likely to get even better under E.U. guidance.

No report about Kosovo's dismal human rights record or its economic and political failure as a ward of international busybodies, no invocation by Serbia and Russia of international law, the Helsinki Final Act or U.N. Resolution 1244 makes any difference: Washington says it will do what it before the invasion of Iraq -- ignore the United Nations and recognize independent Kosovo. Brussels says it will do likewise. Unlike 2003, however, the Russians this time have a card up their sleeves. If Kosovo is to be permitted to secede, the Russians have argued, then why not other nationalities or ethnic groups living as minorities within someone else's state? As examples, President Vladimir Putin pointed to South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Transnistria. But he could have mentioned innumerable others: the Hungarians in Slovakia and Rumania, the Basques and Catalans in Spain, Corsicans in France, the Flemish in Belgium, Russians in Estonia and Latvia, the Turkish Cypriots.

The West responded with fury to the Russians' argument. "Russia's position is cynical. It has no power to regain Kosovo for Serbia and the Kremlin plays its own secessionist games in Georgia and Moldova. President Vladimir Putin has simply been using Kosovo as a handy stick to beat the West and to remind the world that Russia still wields a Security Council veto," the New York Times thundered in an editorial on Dec. 6, 2007. Holbrooke accused Putin of seeking "to reassert Russia's role as a regional hegemon." The suggestion that Kosovo has any bearing on any other territorial dispute was "spurious," he declared. Kosovo "is a unique case and sets no precedent for separatist movements elsewhere." Why? "[B]ecause in 1999, with Russian support, the United Nations was given authority to decide the future of Kosovo." This is a typically shameless Holbrooke lie. The U.N. was authorized to set up an interim administration "under which the people of Kosovo can enjoy substantial autonomy within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia."

Moreover, given the utter failure of the U.N. administration to fulfill most of the provisions of 1244, invoking this resolution as authorizing the U.N. to do something is particularly egregious. According to 1244, among the responsibilities of the interim administration was "Demilitarizing the Kosovo Liberation Army," "Establishing a secure environment in which refugees and displaced persons can return home in safety" and ensuring that "an agreed number of Yugoslav and Serbian personnel will be permitted to return to perform the following functions: Liaison with the international civil mission and the international security presence.Maintaining a presence at Serb patrimonial sites; Maintaining a presence at key border crossings." Needless to say, none of this ever took place. In any case, even if the U.N. was given the authority to decide Kosovo's future, then that's precisely what Russia, as permanent veto-wielding member of the Security Council, is insisting on by rejecting unilateral secession.

That Kosovo was "unique" has been the Western officials' mantra for months. On Dec. 19, Zalmay Khalilzad, permanent U.S. representative to the U.N., told the U.N. Security Council that "Kosovo is a unique situation -- it is a land that used to be part of a country that no longer exists and that has been administered for eight years by the United Nations with the ultimate objective of definitely resolving Kosovo's status.The policies of ethnic cleansing that the Milosevic government pursued against the Kosovar people forever ensured that Kosovo would never again return to rule by Belgrade. This is an unavoidable fact and the direct consequence of those barbaric policies."

On Dec. 21, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Daniel Fried said "Kosovo is obviously a unique case because there's no other place in the world where the UN has been administering a territory pursuant to a Security Council resolution. So there's nothing else like it, so it clearly isn't a precedent. It is our view that Kosovo is not a precedent, not for any place. Not for south Ossetia, not for Abkhazia, not for Transnistria, not for Corsica, not for Texas. For nothing. Nothing." On Nov. 28, Under Secretary for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns declared "It's a unique situation. Milosevic tried to annihilate over one million Kosovar Albanian Muslims. He was denied that by NATO. We fought a war over it. And the United Nations and NATO and the EU have kept the peace there for eight-and-a-half years. And now, fully 94 or 95 per cent of the people that live there are Kosovar Albanian Muslims."

The sheer absurdity of Burns' hysterical statement illustrates the lengths to which Western officials will go to justify what obviously can't be justified. Milosevic tried to annihilate over one million Kosovar Albanian Muslims? The Foundation for Humanitarian Law led by Nata_a Kandi_, much beloved and much bankrolled by Western governments and non-governmental organizations, runs a project seeking to establish the number of dead and missing in Kosovo. According to an article in the Croatian magazine, Globus, "The project has documented 9,702 people dead or missing during the war in Kosovo from 1998 to 2000. Of this number, as things stand now, 4,903 killed and missing are Albanians and 2,322 are Serbs, with the rest either belonging to other nationalities or their ethnic identity remaining uncertain." One should add also that these numbers say nothing about how people were killed, whether in combat or otherwise, and by whom. And there's no clarification as to how many were killed by NATO bombs. What these numbers do reveal is that it was the Serbs, not the Albanians, who suffered disproportionately in Kosovo. If Burns is right and "fully 94 or 95 per cent of the people that live there are Kosovar Albanian Muslims," that means that there are 19 times as many Albanians as there are Serbs in Kosovo. Yet, according to these numbers, the Albanians' casualty numbers are only slightly more than twice the size of the Serb casualty numbers.

The war between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh resulted in far worse casualty numbers. The U.S. State Department itself admits, "More than 30,000 people were killed in the fighting from 1992 to 1994."According to the CIA, "over 800,000 mostly ethnic Azerbaijanis were driven from the occupied lands and Armenia; about 230,000 ethnic Armenians were driven from their homes in Azerbaijan into Armenia."

In any case, if bad treatment of the local population were to disqualify a state from exercising sovereignty over part of its territory, then an awful lot of countries would be eligible for enforced amputation: Turkey would have to be stripped of Turkish Kurdistan; Israel would long ago have been given the boot from the West Bank and other occupied territories; Indonesia would be denied Aceh and Papua; Pakistan would lose Waziristan.

Kosovo's claim to independent statehood is based on one fact only: The Albanians are the overwhelming majority in Kosovo. They are Muslims in a Christian state to which they don't want to belong. Yet this argument is convincing only to the willfully ignorant. First, the majority of Kosovo may be Muslim; but the Kosovo Albanians are only a small minority within Serbia as a whole. Kosovo would vote overwhelmingly for independence; Serbia would vote overwhelmingly against. Serbia is a legal entity; Kosovo is not. A Serbian vote trumps a Kosovo one. Second, there is nothing unusual about an overwhelmingly-Muslim inhabited province existing within a state that is overwhelmingly non-Muslim. There are the Muslim Moros who inhabit Mindanao in the Philippines. There is the Xinjiang province in China. There is Kashmir, overwhelmingly Muslim, many of whom live under Indian rule. Russia is replete with provinces in which the population is overwhelmingly Muslim -- Tatarstan, Bashkiristan, Dagestan, Chechnya. Northern Cyprus is overwhelmingly Muslim -- yet, except for Turkey, no country in the world recognizes it as an independent state. Muslim Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala provinces in Thailand are waging an insurgency to free themselves from Bangkok's Buddhist rule. And of course, there is the West Bank, yet another Muslim population, subjected to the rule of non-Muslims. In all of these cases, there has been an Islamic insurgency, a war seeking to liberate Muslims from the rule of non-Muslims, and considerable government repression. Yet, Western leaders do not splutter about unsustainable status quos, they do not demand immediate U.N. Security Council action, they do not insist that independence must be granted immediately and they do not threaten to ignore the United Nations and embrace a seceding state.

Moreover, Kosovo has hardly made an even remotely plausible case for its having earned independence. First, for all the talk of "Kosovars" and "Kosovans," the residents of Kosovo identify themselves as either Serb or as Albanian; the languages they speak is either Serbian or Albanian. Creating a second Albanian state in Europe makes no sense whatsoever. It doesn't govern itself. It is a ward of various international bodies. Economically, it is a basket case, and lives off vast handouts. Kosovo is an example of an ethnic minority grabbing a piece of territory, permitting unrestricted immigration by its co-nationals from a neighboring state, ethnically cleansing the territory of all other groups and thereby creating an artificial overwhelming ethnic majority, and then demanding that these actions be rewarded by the bestowal of independent statehood.

By comparison, the provinces whose demand for recognition the West rejects have been self-governing entities for years. A newly-independent Kosovo would have poor relations with Serbia and would be subjected to an economic blockade. Its electric grid is integrated within Serbia's electric grid. Its debt has been taken care of by Serbia.

Compare Kosovo with Transnistria. Transnistria declared itself independent of Moldova in 1990. Transnistria functions as a presidential republic, with its own government and parliament. Its authorities have adopted a constitution, flag, a national anthem and a coat of arms. It has its own currency and its own military and police force. Yet the U.S.-E.U. position is that Transnistria has no right to independence, and that Moldova's territorial integirty must be respected. In 2003, the U.S. and E.U. announced a visa boycott against the 17 members of the leadership of Transnistria, accusing them of "continued obstructionism." In 2006, Ukraine introduced new customs regulations on its border with Transnistria, declaring it would only import goods from Transnistria with documents processed by Moldovan customs offices. The U.S., E.U. and OSCE applauded Ukraine's action, even though it was effectively imposing a blockade. In 2006, Transnistria held a referendum in which 97.2 percent of voters voted for independence. The OSCE refused to send observers, and the E.U. immediately announced that it wouldn't recognize the referendum results. This is the same OSCE, E.U. and U.S. that, a few months earlier, had leapt to recognize the results of Montenegro's independence referendum, despite the fact that the vote in favor of independence was a bare majority, rather than the two-thirds normally required for a constitutional change, and that Montenegrins living in Serbia were denied the right to vote in the referendum.

Compare Kosovo with South Ossetia. Ossetians have their own language. South Ossetia had been an autonomous oblast within the Soviet Socialist Republic of Georgia. In 1990, the Georgian Supreme Soviet revoked its autonomy. The OSCE declared its "firm commitment to support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia." In November 2006, 99 percent of South Ossetians voted for independence from Georgia. The usual gaggle of international bodies howled with indignation. The European Union, OSCE, NATO and the USA condemned the referendum. The Council of Europe called the referendum "unnecessary, unhelpful and unfair.[T]he vote did nothing to bring forward the search for a peaceful political solution." The OSCE declared South Ossetia's "intention to hold a referendum counterproductive. It will not be recognized by the international community and it will not be recognized by the OSCE and it will impede the peace process." NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said "On behalf of NATO, I join other international leaders in rejecting the so-called 'referendum'.Such actions serve no purpose other than to exacerbate tensions in the South Caucasus region."

Nagorno-Karabakh can also make a vastly stronger case than Kosovo for independence. Since 1923, the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast had been part of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic, even though about 94 percent of its population was Armenian. In November 1991, the parliament of the Azerbaijan SSR abolished the autonomous status of the oblast. In response, in December 1991, Nagorno-Karabakh held a referendum, which overwhelmingly approved the creation of an independent state. Yet the E.U., the OSCE and the United States took the line that Nagorno-Karabakh must remain a part of Azerbaijan, irrespective of the fact that almost 100 per cent of the populace wants out. Interestingly, in declaring itself independent in 1991, Azerbaijan claimed to be the successor state to the Azerbaijan republic that existed from 1918 to 1920. The League of Nations, however, did not recognize Azerbaijan's inclusion of Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan's claimed territory. This makes Nagorno-Karabakh's inclusion within Azerbaijan even more questionable. If the states that seceded from the Soviet Union are to be regarded as independent states, it's hard to see on what basis parts of those states are to be denied the right to independence.

In 2002, Nagorno-Karabakh held a presidential election; in response, the European Union presidency declared "The European Union confirms its support for the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, and recalls that it does not recognise the independence of Nagorno Karabakh.The European Union cannot consider legitimate the 'presidential elections.'...The European Union does not believe that these elections should have an impact on the peace process."

In December 2006, Nagorno-Karabakh held another referendum on independence: Something like 98 per cent favored independence. The European Union immediately announced it wouldn't recognize the results of the referendum and said "that only a negotiated settlement between Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenians who control the region can bring a lasting solution.The E.U. recalls that it does not recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh. It recognizes neither the 'referendum' nor its outcome." The E.U. added that holding the referendum pre-empts the outcome of negotiations and that it "did not contribute to constructive efforts at peaceful conflict resolution." The E.U.'s attitude here is strikingly different from its attitude on Kosovo. On Kosovo, the E.U. holds Serbia's refusal to relinquish its sovereign territory as the reason for the failure of negotiations, which supposedly is the justification for Kosovo's declaration of independence.

The West's entire approach to Kosovo has been marked by sordid dishonesty and bad faith, supporting national self-determination and the right to secession in one place and territorial integrity in another, cheering on ethnic cleansing by one ethnic group and demanding war crimes trials for another, trumpeting the virtues of majority rule when it's convenient to do so and threatening to impose sanctions and penalties on majorities when that's convenient. For the Americans, Kosovo is nothing more than the hinterland of a giant military base, a key presence in the eastern Mediterranean should Greece or Turkey prove unreliable. As for the duly grateful Albanians, they are expected to repay their benefactors by agreeing to be cannon fodder in future imperial wars. For the Europeans, Kosovo is an opportunity to show the world that Europe counts for something and to conduct various pointless social experiments in multiculturalism and multiconfessionalism -- particularly pointless since Kosovo will be one of the most ethnically homogeneous places in Europe.

George Szamuely
lives in New York and can be reached at georgeszamuely@aol.com

from Diana Johnstome :
Date: 18 February 2008
Subject: "NATO's Kosovo Colony".

Independence in the Brave New World Order : NATO's Kosovo Colony
by Diana Johnstone

Map of Camp Bondsteel: http://kosova.org/kfor/bondsteel/index.asp

cross this last weekend, the Western propaganda machine was working overtime, celebrating the latest NATO miracle: the transformation of Serbian Kosovo into Albanian Kosova. A shameless land grab by the United States, which used the Kosovo problem to install an enormous military base (Camp Bondsteel) on other people's strategically located land, is transformed by the power of the media into an edifying legend of "national liberation".

For the unhappy few who know the complicated truth about Kosovo, the words of Aldous Huxley seem most appropriate: "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall drive you mad."

Concerning Kosovo, truth is like letters written in the sand as the tsunami of propaganda comes thundering in. The truth is available--for instance in George Szamuely's thoroughly informative piece last Friday here on CounterPunch. Fragments of the truth sometimes even show up in the mainstream media, mostly in letters from readers. But hopeless as it is to try to turn back the tide of officially endorsed legend, let me examine just one drop in this unstoppable sea of propaganda: a column by Roger Cohen entitled "Europe's new state", published in the Valentine's Day edition of the International Herald Tribune.

Cohen's op ed piece is fairly typical in the dismissive way it deals with Milosevic, Russia and the Serbs. Cohen writes: "Slobodan Milosevic, the late dictator, set Serbia's murderous nationalist tide in motion on April 24, 1987, when he went to Kosovo to declare that Serbian 'ancestors would be defiled' if ethnic Albanians had their way."

I don't know where Roger Cohen got that quotation, but it is not to be found in the speech Milosevic made that day in Kosovo. And certainly, Milosevic did not go to Kosovo to declare any such thing, but to consult with local Communist League officials in the town of Kosovo Polje about the province's serious economic and social problems. Aside from the province's chronic poverty, unemployment, and mismanagement of development funds contributed from the rest of Yugoslavia, the main social problem was the constant exodus of Serb and Montenegrin inhabitants under pressure from ethnic Albanians. At the time, this problem was reported in leading Western media.

For instance, as early as July 12, 1982, Marvine Howe reported to the New York Times that Serbs were leaving Kosovo by the tens of thousands because of discrimination and intimidation on the part of the ethnic Albanian majority:

"The [Albanian] nationalists have a two-point platform," according to Beci Hoti, an executive secretary of the Communist Party of Kosovo, "first to establish what they call an ethnically clean Albanian republic and then the merger with Albania to form a greater Albania.
Mr Hoti, an Albanian, expressed concern voer political pressures that were forcing Serbs to leave Kosovo. "What is important now," he said, "is to establish a climate of security and create confidence."

And seven months after Milosevic's visit to Kosovo, David Binder reported in the New York Times (November 1, 1987):

Ethnic Albanians in the Government [of Kosovo] have manipulated public funds and regulations to take over land belonging to Serbs. Slavic Orthodox churches have been attacked, and flags have been torn down. Wells have been poisoned and crops burned. Slavic boys have been knifed, and some young ethnic Albanians have been told by their elders to rape Serbian girls.
The goal of the radical nationals among them, one said in an interview, is an "ethnic Albania that includes western Macedonia, southern Montenegro, part of southern Serbia, Kosovo and Albania itself."
As Slavs flee the protracted violence, Kosovo is becoming what ethnic Albanian nationalists have been demanding for years, and especially strongly since the bloody rioting by ethnic Albanians in Pristina in 1981--an "ethnically pure" Albanian region

This was in fact the first instance of "ethnic cleansing" in post-World War II Yugoslavia, as reported in The New York Times and other Western media, and the victims were the Serbs. The cult of "memory" has become a contemporary religion, but some memories are more equal than others. In the 1990s, the New York Times evidently forgot completely what it had said about Kosovo in the 1980s. Why? Perhaps because meanwhile, the Soviet bloc had collapsed and the unity of independent, non-aligned Yugoslavia was no longer in the strategic interest of the United States.

Back to Milosevic in Kosovo Polje on April 24, 1987. An incident occurred when local police (under an Albanian-dominated Communist League government) attacked Serbs who had gathered to protest lack of legal protection. Milosevic famously told them, spontaneously: "No one should beat you any more!" If this is "extreme nationalism", perhaps there should be more of it.

But nowhere do I find a trace of the statement attributed to Milosevic by Cohen. In his speech to local party delegates that followed, which is on the public record, Milosevic referred to the "regrettable incident" and promised an investigation. He went on to stress that "we should not allow the misfortunes of people to be exploited by nationalists, whom every honest person must combat. We must not divide people between Serbs and Albanians, but rather we should separate, on the one hand, decent people who struggle for brotherhood, unity and ethnic equality, and, on the other hand, counter-revolutionaries and nationalists."

I turn again to Aldous Huxley for comfort: "Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored."

But Huxley also said: "Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth. By simply not mentioning certain subjects... totalitarian propagandists have influenced opinion much more effectively than they could have by the most eloquent denunciations."

Last Tuesday in Geneva, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov tried to convey to journalists his grave concern about the way the United States was handling the Kosovo problem.

"We are speaking here about the subversion of all the foundations and principles of international law, which have been won and established as a basis of Europe's existence at huge effort, and at the cost of pain, sacrifice and bloodletting," he said. []

"Nobody can offer a clear plan of action in the case of a chain reaction [of further declarations of unilateral independence]. It turns out that they [the United States and its NATO allies] are planning to act in a hit or miss fashion on an issue of paramount importance. This is simply inadmissible and irresponsible," the Russian diplomat said. "I sincerely fail to comprehend the principles guiding our American colleagues, and those Europeans who have taken up this position," he added.

Roger Cohen dismisses such considerations in five words: "the Russian bear will growl". Russia, he adds, "will scream. But it's backed the wrong horse." There are no issues here, no principles. Just growling and gambling. "Milosevic rolled the dice of genocidal nationalism and lost", says Cohen.

This is not only a false statement, it is a grotesquely meaningless metaphor. Milosevic tried to suppress an armed secessionist movement, secretly but effectively supported by neighboring Albania, the United States and Germany, which deliberately provoked repression by murdering both Serbs and Albanians loyal to the government. Like the Americans in similar circumstances, Milosevic relied too heavily on military superiority rather than on political skill. But even the NATO-sponsored International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia in The Hague had to abandon any charges of "genocide" against Milosevic in Kosovo. For the simple reason that there was never a shred of evidence for such a charge.

Milosevic is no longer alive, and Russia is far away. But what about the Serbs who still live in the historic part of Serbia called Kosovo? Cohen takes care of that problem in a few words: "Some of the 120,000 Serbs in Kosovo may hit the road."

As Aldous Huxley pointed out, "The propagandist's purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human."

Then you can tell them to "hit the road".

The "Unique" Case.

Russia has warned that Kosovo independence will set a dangerous precedent, encouraging other ethnic minorities to follow the example of the Albanians and demand secession and an independent State. The United States has dismissed such concerns by flatly asserting that Kosovo is "unique". Well yes, Kosovo is a unique case, and is the only one recognized by the United States until the next "unique case" comes along. When legal criteria have been thrown out, we just have one "unique case" after another.

The "uniqueness" claimed by the United States is a propaganda construction. It is based on the supposed "uniqueness" of Milosevic's repression of the armed secessionist movement, which was not unique at all. It was standard operating procedure throughout history and the world over, in such circumstances. Deplorable, no doubt, but not unique. It was minor indeed compared to the similar but endless and far bloodier anti-insurgency operations in Colombia, Sri Lanka, and Chechnya, not to mention Northern Ireland, Thailand, the Philippines And unlike the counter-insurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which kill incomparably more civilians, it was carried out by the legal, democratically elected government of the country, rather than by a foreign power.

The propaganda "uniqueness" is an abstraction. Like every place on earth, Kosovo is indeed unique. But in ways that have nothing to do with the U.S. pretext for taking it over and turning it into a military outpost of empire.

To know how a place is unique, you have to be interested in it.

I have not visited Kosovo since before the 1999 NATO war. On one occasion, in August 1997, I drove around the province in a failing Skoda, at my own expense, just looking. Driving in Kosovo was a bit risky, partly because of the number of dead dogs in the road, and mostly because of local drivers' habit of passing slower vehicles on hills and curves. In northern Kosovo, just outside the town of Zubin Potok, this habit produced one of its inevitable consequences: a head-on collision with serious casualties, which shut down the two-lane highway for hours while ambulances and police sorted things out.

Unable to proceed toward Pristina, I drove back to Zubin Potok to pass the time on the shaded terrace of a roadside restaurant. I was the only customer, and the lone waiter, a tall, handsome young man named Milomir, gladly accepted my invitation to sit down at my table and chat as I sipped glass after glass of delicious strawberry juice.

Milomir was happy to talk to someone familiar with the French city of Metz, which he had visited as a student and remembered fondly. He loved to read and travel, but in 1991 he got married and now had two small daughters to support. Job prospects were poor, even though he had been to university, so he had no choice but to stay in Zubin Potok. As for Europe, even if he could get a visa (impossible for Serbs anyway), he spoke no language more Western than his mother tongue, Serbo-Croatian. He had studied Russian (he loved the literature) and Albanian as his foreign languages. He learned Albanian in order to be able to communicate with the majority in Kosovo.

But such communication was difficult. Milomir was very much in favor of a bilingual society, and thought everyone in Kosovo should learn both Serbian and Albanian, but unfortunately this was not the case. The younger generation of Albanians refused to speak Serbian and learned English instead.

The town of Zubin Potok was located near the dam on the Ibar River built in the late 1970s to create hydraulic power. Coming from Novi Pazar, I had driven along the 35-kilometer-long artificial lake created by the dam, looking in vain for a nice place to stop. It seemed that there must have been villages along the Ibar River before the dam was built, and I asked Milomir about this. Yes, he said, the artificial lake had flooded a score of old villages, of ethnically mixed, but mostly Serb population. The Albanian Communist authorities in Pristina had resettled the Serbs outside of Kosovo, around the town of Kraljevo. There were about 10,000 of them.

This was a minor example of the administrative measures taken to decrease the Serb population during the period, before Milosevic, when Albanians were running the province through the local Communist League.

Milomir was not complaining, but simply answering my questions. He did not go too often (by bus--he had no car) to the nearest large city, Mitrovica, because he was afraid of being beaten by Albanians. This was just a fact of life, at a time when (according to Western media) Albanians in Kosovo were being terrorized by Serbian repression.

While we were chatting, a friend of his came along and the conversation turned to politics. There was a presidential campaign underway. The two young men wanted to know which candidate I thought would be best for Serbia in the eyes of the world. Milomir was tending toward Vuk Draskovic, and his friend was for Vojislav Kostunica. Neither would dream of voting for either Milosevic or Seselj, the nationalist leader of the Radical Party.

Zubin Potok Today.

I have no idea what has become of Milomir, his wife, his two daughters, or his friend. Zubin Potok is the western-most municipality in the heavily Serb-populated north of Kosovo. From the internet I learn that the population of Zubin Potok municipality (including surrounding villages) has nearly doubled since I passed through. It now comes to approximately 14,900, including about 3,000 internally displaced Serbs (from other areas of Kosovo where the Albanian majority has driven them out), 220 Serbian refugees from Croatia and 800 Albanians. The local assembly is overwhelmingly dominated by Kostunica's Democratic Party of Serbia, but includes two Kosovo Albanian representatives.

Up until now, schools, hospitals, and other public services, as well as the local economy, have continued to function thanks mainly to subsidies from Belgrade. The Albanian declaration of Kosovo independence will create a crisis by demanding an end to such vital subsidies--which, however, an "independent Kosovo" is unable to replace. Moreover, bands of Albanian nationalists are declaring that Zubin Potok "is Albanian" and must be "liberated from the Serbs". They can be seen on You Tube, using the Statue of Liberty as their symbol, and threatening Serbs in Albanian rap.

The European Union is moving in to provide law and order. But the "order" they claim to be protecting is the one defined by the Albanian nationalists. What does that mean to people like Milomir and his little family?

For Roger Cohen, the answer is easy: "hit the road!"

Serbia, by the way, already has the largest number of refugees in Europe, victims of "ethnic cleansing" in Croatia and Kosovo. And Serbs cannot get visas or refugee status in Western Europe. They have been labeled the "bad guys". Only their enemies can be "victims".

Before and After.

Kosovo before the NATO war and occupation was, nevertheless, a multiethnic society. The accusation of "apartheid" was simply Albanian propaganda, as the Albanian nationalist leaders chose to use that heavily-charged term to describe their own boycott of Serbs and Serb institutions. Every police action against an Albanian, for whatever reason, whether for suspicion of armed rebellion or for ordinary crime, was described as a "human rights violation" by the Albanian human rights network financed by the United States government.

It was an extraordinary situation that the Serbian and Yugoslav governments allowed an illegal separatist "government of Kosovo", headed by Ibrahim Rugova, to hold shop in the center of Pristina, regularly receiving foreign journalists and regaling them with tales of how oppressed they were by the horrid Serbs.

But the laws were the same for all citizens, there were Albanians in local government and in the police, and if there were cases of police brutality (in what country are there no cases of police brutality?), the Albanians at least had nothing to fear from their Serb neighbors.

Even then, it was the Serbs who were afraid of the Albanians. Only outside Kosovo could anyone seriously believe that it was the Albanians who were under threat of "ethnic cleansing" (much less "genocide"). Such a project was simply, obviously, out of the question. It was the Serbs who were afraid, who spoke of sending their children to safety if they had the means, or who spoke bravely of remaining "no matter what".

Later, in March 1999, when NATO began to bomb Kosovo, Albanians fled by the hundreds of thousands, and their temporary flight from the war theater was presented as the justification for the bombing that caused it. The press did not bother to report on the Serbs and others who also fled the bombing at that time.

In Kosovo, in 1987, in Pristina and Pec, I observed a peculiar sort of group behavior that reminds me only of school playgrounds in Maryland in my childhood. A gang of kids get together and by various signs, body language, and a minimum of words, convey to some outsiders that they are excluded and despised. I have seen Albanians act in this way toward stray Serbs, especially old women. This variety of "mobbing" was not violent in 1987, but turned so after NATO occupied the territory. It was encouraged by the official NATO stamp of approval of Albanian hatred for Serbs, delivered by bombs in the spring of 1999.

Of course, there must have been Serbs who hated Albanians. But in my limited, chance experience, what struck me was the absence of hatred for Albanians among Serbs I met. Fear, yes, but not hatred. A great deal of perplexity. Sister Fotina at the Gracanica monastery had a very Christian explanation. We tried to help the Albanians care for their many children, she said, and yet they turn against us. This must be God's way of punishing us for turning away from Christianity during the time of Communism, she concluded. She blamed her fellow Serbs more than the Albanians.

The divine punishment has not been confined to Christians, however. In the southernmost corner of Kosovo live an ancient population called Gorani (meaning mountain people), who converted to Islam under the Ottoman Empire, like most of the Albanians. But their language is Serbian, and this is unacceptable to the Albanians. Estimates vary, but it is agreed that at least two thirds of the Gorani have left since NATO "liberation". Pressure and intimidation have taken various forms. Albanians have moved into the temporarily vacant homes of Gorani who went to Austria and Germany to earn money for their retirement. The NATO-protected Albanian authorities have found ways to deprive Gorani children of schooling in the Serbian language. In the main Gorani town of Dragash, an Albanian mob attacked the health center and caused health workers to flee. Then, last January 5, a powerful explosion destroyed the bank in Dragash. It was the only Serbian bank still allowed to operate in the south of Kosovo, and served mainly to transfer the pensions that allowed local Gorani to survive.

As usual, the crime went unpunished.

David Binder, who used to report on Yugoslavia for the New York Times, before he was excluded for knowing too much, reported last November * on a long investigation of conditions in Kosovo commissioned by the German Bundeswehr. The existence of this report is proof that the Western governments, while publicly claiming that Kosovo is "ready for independence", know quite well that this is not true. Among other things, Binder reports:

The institute authors, Mathias Jopp and Sammi Sandawi, spent six months interviewing 70 experts and mining current literature on Kosovo in preparing the study. In their analysis the political unrest and guerrilla fighting of the 1990s led to basic changes which they call a "turnabout in Kosovo-Albanian social structures." The result is a "civil war society in which those inclined to violence, ill-educated and easily influenced people could make huge social leaps in a rapidly constructed soldateska."
"It is a Mafia society" based on "capture of the state" by criminal elements.
In the authors' definition, Kosovan organized crime "consists of multimillion-Euro organizations with guerrilla experience and espionage expertise." They quote a German intelligence service report of "closest ties between leading political decision makers and the dominant criminal class" and name Ramush Haradinaj, Hashim Thaci and Xhavit Haliti as compromised leaders who are "internally protected by parliamentary immunity and abroad by international law."
They scornfully quote the UNMIK chief from 2004-2006, Soeren Jessen Petersen, calling Haradinaj "a close and personal friend." The study sharply criticizes the United States for "abetting the escape of criminals" in Kosovo as well as "preventing European investigators from working."
It notes "secret CIA detention centers" at Camp Bondsteel and assails American military training for Kosovo (Albanian) police by Dyncorp, authorized by the Pentagon.
In an aside, it quotes one unidentified official as saying of the American who is deputy chief of UNMIK, "The main task of Steve Schook is to get drunk once a week with Ramush Haradinaj."

Who Goes and Who Stays.

Schook has been fired by UNMIK, but UNMIK, the nominally United Nations mission, is being taken over arbitrarily by the European Union. The EU "mission" is a sort of colonial government which, alongside NATO, plans to govern the ungovernable Albanian territory. However, already movements of armed Albanian patriots are planning their next "war of liberation" against the Europeans.

So, after the Serbs, the Roma, the Gorani, will the Europeans have to "hit the road"? Only the Americans seem sure of staying. Ensconced in their gigantic "Camp Bondsteel", they control the strategic routes from Serbia to Greece, and incidentally offer the mass of unemployed Kosovo Albanians their best-paying employment opportunities, notably by taking menial and dangerous jobs serving U.S. forces in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The reality of this shameless land-grab is available to all. I have written about it, Binder has written about it, Szamuely has written about it, many Germans have written about it. The Russians, the Greeks, the Rumanians, the Slovaks and many others know about it. But in the Brave New World Order, it does not exist. People don't know.

I leave the last word to Aldous Huxley:

"Most ignorance is vincible ignorance. We don't know because we don't want to know."

(* The Binder story can be found at http://www.balkanalysis.com/)

Diana Johnstone is the author of Fools' Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusion (Monthly Review Press.) She can be reached at diana.josto@yahoo.fr

from Information Clearing House:
Date: 17 March 2008
Subject: Iraq - The Betrayal.

Peter Oborne accompanies the UK Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, as he travels across Iraq, meeting the main players who will determine the future of the country; from the US Commanding General David Petraeus, to militiamen fighting to protect their homes, to parliamentarians holed up in Baghdad's Green Zone, Oborne discovers that Iraq seems to have reverted to a violent feudalism.
Meanwhile America has lost the trust and respect of the world and there are chilling consequences of the war for ordinary people back on the streets of Britain.


Dispatches: Iraq - The Betrayal:
Must Watch Video Report From UK: Channel 4


from Gideon Levy :
25 March 2008
Subject: U.S. and European collaboration with Israeli imperialism.
Source: Haaretz


With Friends Like These

The amount of support being shown for Israel these days is almost embarrassing. The parade of highly-placed foreign guests and the warm reception received by Israeli statesmen abroad have not been seen for quite some time. Who hasn't come to visit lately? From the German chancellor to the leading frontrunner for the American presidency. And the secretary-general of the United Nations is on his way. A visit to Israel has become de rigueur for foreign pols. If you haven't been here, you're nowhere.

The visitors are taken, of course, to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, the Western Wall and now to Sderot as well - the new national pilgrimage site. A few also pay a perfunctory visit to Ramallah; no one goes to the Gaza Strip, and they all have nothing but praise for Israel. Not a word of criticism on the occupation, on Israel's violent operations in the territories, on the siege and the starving - with the exception of a few vague remarks on the need for a solution. Israel squeezes the Sderot "informational" lemon for all it's worth.

The mix of Sderot and the Holocaust, international Islamophobia and Hamas rule in Gaza do the trick. Israel hasn't scored this kind of foreign-policy success since the days of the Oslo Accords. To judge by the declarations of our foreign guests and our hosts abroad, no other state in the world is more loved than we. A state that imposes a siege that is almost unprecedented in the world today in terms of its cruelty, that adopts an official policy of assassination, is embraced by the family of nations, if we are to judge by the words of the many statesmen who cross our doorstep.


It is, of course, pleasant to revel in this wave of support, but it is an illusion. Public opinion in most of the countries whose leaders are heaping all that praise upon us is not joining in. Israel remains a state without approval, sometimes even outcast and despised. The world sees images from Gaza on television - in comparison, Sderot looks like a resort - and it draws its own conclusions. The natural sense of justice that dictates support for the freedom struggles of oppressed people such as the Tibetan dictates natural support for the Palestinian struggle for liberation. The fact that it is a struggle between a Palestinian David and an Israeli Goliath only adds to the story. With the exception of the U.S., the world is indeed against us, apart from its statesmen. Therefore, we must not give in to the illusion: The current bout of official support for us is not genuine.

Also not genuine is the idea that blind, unconditional friendship is friendship. The support for Israel as a just enterprise that is extended by most of the West does not mean accepting all of its caprices. A true friend of Israel, one that is sincerely concerned for its fate, is only that friend who dares to express sharp criticism of its policy of occupation, which poses the most serious risk to its future, and who also takes practical steps to end it. Most of the "friendly" statesmen do not understand this.
The stance of the European leaders is particularly perplexing. We're not speaking about the U.S., with its Jewish and Christian lobbies, but rather opinionated Europe; it, too, has lost its ability to act as an honest broker, the type that wields its influence to bring an end to the conflict that endangers it, too. We need Europe, the peace needs Europe, but official Europe covers its eyes and automatically falls in line with the U.S. and its blind support for Israel and its boycott of Gaza. Angela Merkel, who received such a royal reception here last week, did not bring up any controversial issue in her speech at the Knesset. And so, her "historic" speech turned into a hollow one.
The same behavior was displayed by her colleague in the European leadership, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, during the visit to his country of President Shimon Peres. The Israeli flags waving along the Champs-Elysees and the much-talked-about Israeli booth at the Paris Book Fair could not hide the fact that many French citizens are pained by the occupation. By not speaking about the siege on Gaza, the starvation imposed on it and the killing of hundreds of its people, Europe's leaders are not meeting their political and moral obligations. Those who believe that only honest international intervention can bring an end to the occupation find themselves desperate and disappointed. Yes, Europe, precisely that continent that carries justifiable feelings of guilt about the Jewish Holocaust, should have found another way to come to Israel's aid. Saccharine visits and sweet speeches in fact express a deep disrespect for Israel - and for European public opinion.

  This blind friendship enables Israel to do whatever it wants. The days have passed in which every mobile home erected in the territories and every targeted assassination were carefully considered out of fear of international criticism. That time no longer exists. Israel has a carte blanche to kill, destroy and settle. The U.S. long ago gave up the role of honest broker, and Europe is now following in its footsteps. How depressing: With friends like these, Israel almost doesn't need enemies.