NATO aggression in the Balkans

Most people have come to the conclusion that the wars and atrocities of the 1990’s in the Balkans are solely the fault of evil Serbian nationalists whose ideology was based on ethnic cleansing and creating a greater Serbia.

Most people have come to the conclusion that the wars and atrocities of the 1990’s in the Balkans are solely the fault of evil Serbian nationalists whose ideology was based on ethnic cleansing and creating a greater Serbia. While the Serbs did commit some atrocities against Bosnian and Albanian Muslims this could not be farther from the truth as the amount of atrocities they are blamed for are not only exaggerated but the escalation of the conflicts are also not their fault. The real culprits of the tragedies that happened to Bosnian Muslims, Albanians and yes even Serbs do not reside in Belgrade but in NATO, the western media and the United States White House. NATO’s violation of Article II Section 4 of the United Nations charter, which states that “All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purpose of the United Nations.”, escalated the conflicts to greater proportions and led to a unnecessary loss of life violation of human rights and created a launch pad for Islamic terrorist cells across Europe.

The origin of the 1990’s war in Bosnia can be traced all the way back to World War I. After the war under pressure from the western allies the kingdoms of Serbia and Montenegro agreed to give up their sovereign nation status and accept three provinces from the former Austro-Hungarian Empire to form a south Slavic kingdom called Yugoslavia. The establishment of this new state that was incorporating three different religions and five different ethnic groups (Serbs, Croats, Bosnians, Slovenes, and Macedonians) would help steer the course of the regions fate towards a bloodbath. When Germany and Italy invaded Yugoslavia in 1941 the Croats and the Bosnian Muslims to a lesser extent seized the opportunity and became allies with the Axis powers. Between 1941 and 1945 the Croatian Ustache (SS paramilitary) slaughtered over 750,000 Serbs. Not learning from the mistake of forcing different ethnic regions to live under one centralized government against their will, the Communist dictator Josef Broz Tito returned Yugoslavia to its pre-World War II borders in 1945 and kept the state together through brute force.

According to the 1991 census Bosnia was 44 percent Muslim Slavs, 31 percent Serbs, and 17 percent Croats, with smaller groups making up the remainder. With the end of the Cold War in 1991 the state known as Yugoslavia began to break up. Catholic Slovenia left without a fight in 1991, fellow Catholic nation Croatia soon followed but since there were many Serbs living in the Krajina region of Croatia, the majority of inhabitants there refused to become a part of this new nation and a small civil war began. This was followed by Bosnia & Herzegovina leaving the federation in early 1992. Compared to Croatia, Bosnia had a much larger amount of Serbs proportionally who did not want to break from their fellow Serb kinsmen. But with urging from the U.S. state department (who wanted to repair U.S. relations with the Muslim world after interventions in the Middle East during the Cold War) along with NATO command encouraged Bosnian president Alija Izetbegovic to maintain the position that there must be a single centralized Bosnian state.

The Bosnian-Serbs pleaded to the international community to let them break off from this newly created state of Bosnia and rejoin Yugoslavia or at the very least let them become an independent sovereign Bosnian-Serb republic. The fighting was certainly not inevitable, the Lisbon peace agreement of early 1992, worked out by Portuguese foreign minister Jose Cutileiro, would have provided for an independent Bosnia organized into ethnic cantons. The Bosnian-Serbs agreed to the settlements of the agreement but the Bosnian president Alija Izetbegovic refused to allow them to secede and civil war soon followed. Fearing to live under a potential Islamic state the Bosnian-Serbs rebelled and horrendous atrocities were committed on both sides.

The precursor of the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo began in the 1970s. The 1974 constitution imposed by communist dictator Josef Broz Tito elevated Kosovo’s status to effective equality with the federal republic. Kosovo’s Albanians exercised virtually complete control over the provincial administration. Tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of Serbs left during the 1970’s and 1980’s in the face of pervasive discrimination and the refusal of the authorities to protect them from ethnic violence. Interventionist’s claim of oppression of the Albanians beginning in 1989 when its autonomy was supposedly revoked is simply not true. What really happened is that Kosovo’s autonomy was reversed to its pre-1974 level as being a part of the Serbian republic over it being another republic within Yugoslavia that had a predominance of Albanian rule over Kosovo. As a result of this reversal an organization known as the Kosovo Liberation Army began to emerge in the mid 1990’s. This organization was committed to establishing a completely independent state of Kosovo by any means necessary which included terrorist bombings of police and military installations. As well as violent harassment of the general public regardless if they were Serb or Albanian if they refused to give into their demands.

Looking back to the events that transpired in Bosnia in the mid 1990’s due to NATO’s reluctance in being one sided in its vilification of the Serbs; one must ask was this intervention really necessary and what were the consequences? If the Serbs had been peacefully allowed for their proportion of Bosnia to secede from the newly created Bosnian state the war would never have happened. If the western media hadn’t been one sided the Serbs would not be vilified as the bad guys and international law and human rights would have been more honored. Anyone with knowledge of past events in history would see that the consequences of a forced multi-ethnic state were very foreseeable. During the Dayton Peace Accords in 1995, columnist A.M. Rosenthal observed “If the west and the Muslims had agreed four years ago to what the U.S. may do now let Bosnian Serbs out of the newly created Bosnia or give them their own part of it- the war would never have taken place.

Another negative aspect of the violation of Article II Section 4 by NATO concerning the Bosnian conflict was the flow of Islamic radical volunteers into Bosnia which transpired into an entry to Europe for terrorist networks. After the Dayton Accord ended the conflict, the Bosnian president issued Bosnians passports to any Islamic fighter who fought to preserve Bosnia’s centralized state. Since then the rise of Islamic extremist cells within Bosnia has grown steadily. In December 2003 Clifford Bond, the U.S. ambassador in Sarajevo (the Bosnian capital), spoke of the terrorist threat that existed in the Balkans because foreign fighters have flocked to the area during the war and never left. Yet the ambassador was only repeating what the State Department had been privately warning about since at least the year 2000- namely, that the Muslim government in Sarajevo was sheltering Islamic terrorists who could be found throughout the Muslim-controlled areas of Bosnia.

Before NATO began its war of aggressive bombing against Yugoslavia, there was a meeting in the French town of Rambouillet, France in the fall of 1998 between the Yugoslavian government, KLA Albanian separatists, NATO and the U.S. state department being represented by Madeline Albright. The Yugoslavian government was more than willing to negotiate themselves out of the crisis the Kosovo Liberation Army created. The Yugoslavs had put forth a number of proposals, all of which went pretty much unreported in the Western media. These included an agreement to stop all hostilities and pursue a peaceful solution through dialogues, guaranteed human rights for all citizens, and a legislative assembly elected by proportional representation. This was not enough for the U.S. state department as they issued the Yugoslavian government an ultimatum. This would come to be known as the Rambouillet Agreement which demanded complete autonomy for Kosovo, the withdrawal of Yugoslav troops from the province, and occupation by NATO forces. Faced with this violation of sovereignty the Yugoslavian government steadfastly refused and the bombing of Yugoslavia was soon to follow. Of course this could not successfully pacify the Western World without one sided media coverage. The Clinton administration, together with the American and British press, condemned the Serbs almost exclusively, when in fact the Kosovo Liberation Army conducted repeated assaults on Serbians and Albanians in the course of a bloody civil war.

After months of the media vilifying the Serbs and the U.S. government exaggerating statistics on Serbian paramilitaries ethnically cleansing Albanians NATO began unrestricted aerial attacks upon Yugoslavia in violation of international law. These bombings killed not only Serbs but also thousands of Albanians fleeing their homes as refugees. This NATO intervention in Kosovo immeasurably worsened the humanitarian situation. The alliance turned a minor tragedy into a widespread disaster, as Belgrade responded to Western aggression by killing several thousand Kosovars. The Yugoslavian government’s excuse for the beginning of forced expulsion of Albanians was perpetrated on the grounds that NATO was providing air cover for the terrorist KLA.

After the NATO bombing of Yugoslavian cities became unbearable in late spring of 1999 the Yugoslavian government caved in and agreed to NATO’s Rambouillet Agreement terms. This was not the end of any type of ethnic cleansing as the Kosovo Albanians began to take revenge and ethnically cleansed Serbs and their culture from Kosovo. The KLA began a massive ethnic cleansing campaign of its own against all non-Albanians after the NATO bombing ended in June 1999. Before long even with a U.N. presence, more Serbs had been killed than Albanians before the bombing. Serbs were forced from their homes in huge numbers, with more than 200,000 fleeing Kosovo altogether. Nearly 97% of the Serbs who had lived in Albania prior to Kosovo being given autonomy by NATO aggression have fled the province as over 80 parish churches, monasteries, and cathedrals were immediately ransacked or destroyed.

The bias on the part of the western media, U.S. state department and NATO against Serbia in the name of preserving human rights is hypocritical not only because of the damage their actions have caused but because they allowed allied states such as Turkey to participate in the bombings even though Turkey has far more many human rights violations of their own. In recent times Turkish leaders have raised or forcibly evacuated three thousand Kurdish villages; forty thousand Kurds have died in the process, with two million rendered homeless. But no one dares bring that discussion up for fear of alienating an important ally in the Middle East.

The important point to be made here is that the violation of international law by NATO under Article II Section of the United Nations proves that interventionism in the name of humanitarianism doesn’t work. Especially if the parties intervening are biased towards one party in the conflict. Both sides had their faults and no party in either the Bosnian or Kosovo conflict is innocent. But when large nations gang up on small nations and particularly make one ethnicity to be the scapegoat for their interventionist actions bad things can happen. When the media inflates death statistics and fails to report the other side of conflict only further human rights violations come as a result. This topic is very important because the Serbian people need for the world to know that they are not the culprits of the tragedies that took place in the Balkans in the 1990’s. Their case needs to be heard if international law and justice is to prevail in today’s world. Regardless of President Milosevic’s nationalistic leanings he should not be painted as the villain in a world of villains.

Common sense should be the determining factor in seeing the foreseeable consequences of forcing a people to do nothing against their will by the international community. If international law and human rights are to be respected in the world they should be respected equally with indifference to either side. The NATO intervention in both Bosnia and Kosovo has made things worse not only for the Serbians that lived there but have accelerated the unnecessary conflicts that came about.

Stefan Lukasewicz

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