Phil Agre on Sat, 3 Apr 1999 18:08:56 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> [RRE]Kosovo truth-telling

     [orig to Red Rock Eater <>. at 
      this point, everyone on nettime has seen the announce-
      ment that B92 was shut down umpteen times; i leave it 
      here so as not to mangle agre's message. --cheers, tb]

[I'm mad at everyone today -- everyone, that is, except that vast
majority of decent people who feel bad and want to help the refugees.
I'm mad at the conservatives, who apparently dominate the American
media so completely that they rarely ever hear a liberal idea -- just
the liberal sock-puppets that conservative pundits wear on their left
hands so they'll have a supply of caricatures to argue with.  That's
the only way that they can sustain the weird idea that "all of the
same people who opposed the war in Vietnam are now hypocritically
supporting this war", when in fact (a) most actual liberals actually
oppose the bombing and (b) anyone who thinks for two seconds can come
up with reasons why reasonable people might differentiate between
the two cases.  Note how attacking liberals allows conservatives to
avoid taking a stance themselves.  I'm also mad at the liberals, both
in the US and worldwide, who are operating from a reflexive opposition
to US policy.  I had the misfortune this afternoon of sitting next
to a couple of really irritating liberals in a restaurant who were
trading stupid ideas about the US's real motives.  It has something
to do with oil, one says, and the other says that her husband told
her that there was no oppression in Kosovo until "this separatist
movement, oh what's it called, the KLF, came along".  Now I'm not
a reflexive supporter of US policy -- I think that most of what Noam
Chomsky says is true and that Henry Kissinger is a war criminal --
but some things are just plain evil without the US being responsible
for them.  People on all sides of the issue keep talking in a way
that presupposes that the Nato bombings caused the atrocities in
Kosovo, even though they couldn't possibly know that, and even though
considerable evidence exists to the contrary.  An RRE subscriber wrote
me from Russia to say that the bombings in Kosovo had consolidated a
combination in Russian political culture of nostalgia for communism
and nationalist anti-Americanism, all of which is fed by self-serving
on the part of Russian politicians.  But then I'm also mad at my own
country for having been on the wrong side so often that the situation
in Kosovo shows signs of crystallizing a formidable anti-American
coalition worldwide.  I'm mad at the KLA for not being all that much
nicer than the Serbs and for being drug traffickers.  (Why are we
always on the side with the drug traffickers?)  I'm mad as heck at
NBC -- I don't watch much television, and so last night's evening
news was the first time I had seen any TV coverage of Kosovo.  But
instead of news reporting, all I saw was a formless blob of emotional
manipulation, followed by an even worse "evening magazine" program
that served up lurid speculation about the different forms of torture
that the captured soldiers were probably undergoing.  I'm mad at
George Bush and Bill Clinton because they didn't bomb the Serbian
militias when bombing them would actually have worked.  I'm really
seriously mad at the European idea that "we" are civilized and "they"
are not -- the Serbs are frozen in a century when everyone in Europe
used such a distinction as an excuse for dehumanizing and killing
other people.  The only civilized people are the ones who know that
they're not civilized but are trying to be.  I'm mad at the people
of Serbia, who *know* that everything they see on state-controlled
television is a lie, but who nonetheless choose to believe certain
selected bits and pieces of propaganda that help them maintain
their denial about the atrocities, their alibis for tolerating
them, and their excuses for not overthrowing the tyrants.  And above
all I'm mad at Slobodan Milosevic and the Serb authorities.  The
Nato bombers aren't chasing those people into pestilential mudholes
at the Macedonian border; nor is the US; nor is the KLA; nor are
the Ottoman Turks; nor is any such abstraction as "the conflict".
Moral responsibility here lies with particular individual war
criminals in Belgrade, and I will not rest until they are in jail.
NPR has a directory of relief agencies helping displaced Kosovars:
<>.  The very
good French organization Doctors Without Borders has a Kosovo web
page at: <>.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees' page on Kosovo is at:
<>.  And the Federation of
American Scientists has a batch of military analysis resources at:

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Date: Fri, 02 Apr 1999 14:00:50 -0500
From: Declan McCullagh <>
Subject: FC: Internet B92 Serbian radio station shuts down

Pressrelease Radio B92
Amsterdam, April 2, 1999

Sound of B92 Banned

Government officials have shut down radio B92 - silencing the last
independent voice in Serbia. In the early hours of Friday morning,
April 2, police officers arrived to seal the station's offices, and
ordered all staff to cease work and leave the premises immediately.

A court official accompanied the police. He delivered a decision from
the government-controlled Council of Youth to the station's manager
of 6 years - Sasa Mirkovic - that he had been dismissed. The council
of youth replaced Sasa Mirkovic with Aleksandar Nikacevic, a member of
Milosevic's ruling Socialist Party of Serbia, thus bringing B92 under
government control.

B92 has been the only source of alternative information in and from
Serbia since the start of NATO airstrikes against Yugoslavia 10 days
ago. Although a ban on the station's transmitter in the morning of the
first day of airstrikes - Wednesday March 24 - took the station off
the air, B92 has continued to broadcast news and information via the
Internet and satellite. On the same day as Federal Telecommunications'
officials seized the station's transmitter police officers also
detained the station's chief editor - Veran Matic. He was released
unharmed and without explanation eight hours later. Since the
transmission ban on B92 the station has been heavily policed and has
been operating under severe restrictions.

The ban on B92 is the latest in a series of crackdowns on free
media in the past week. The wave of media repression has resulted in
the closure of a large number of members of the B92-led independent
broadcasting network - ANEM, and all independent press.

Since the launch of B92 news broadcasts on the web last Wednesday
its site has had some 15 million visitors. Support sites such as report 16,000 visitors per day. Local radio
stations across Europe have been re-broadcasting b92 audio signal from
the Internet.

B92 is the leading independent broadcaster in Yugoslavia, and
established the national re-broadcasting network of 35 radio and 18
television stations - ANEM - in 1996. The station was due to celebrate
its 10th anniversary this May.

POLITECH -- the moderated mailing list of politics and technology
To subscribe: send a message to with this text:
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More information is at

From: Karl Waldron <>


RADIO B92 CLOSED DOWN AND SEALED OFF At 09.00, inspectors followed by
policemen delivered to mr. Sasa Mirkovic, director of Radio B92 the
decision wich denounce mr. Mirkovic's capacity to represent Radio B92.
In other words, mr. Mirkovic has been ousted and is no longer Director
of Radio B92.

The new court decision appointed the new Director of Radio B92, mr.
Aleksandar Nikacevic. The premises of the Radio B92 have been sealed
off.  Soon after the new Director, with the presence of inspectors,
issued the order to all the employees to meet at their working place
no later than Monday, April 5. STRUGGLE CONTINUES. WE SHALL NEVER


Date: Fri, 02 Apr 1999 11:44:20 +0100hed desktop printer...]
From: Karl Waldron <>
Subject: Balkan report from IWPR
[ The Institute for War & Peace Reporting]


To turn back the Serbian onslaught, The KLA hopes to turn the wave
of refugees into an army of the dispossessed. And they want Western
military support to do it.

By Fron Nazi in Kukes

The Kosovars call it the "besa"--the sworn vow on which an Albanian
stakes his life. Kosovo Liberation Army soldier Shkem Dragobia says
NATO made such a pledge to his people. And broke it.

"When we signed the Rambouillet agreement, we were led to believe
that NATO and the US will help the Albanians. So we stopped arming
and mobilising ourselves," he says.

The KLA was strongly pressured to reduce its military activities. The
talk in France was of decommissioning, and plans to convert the KLA
into a force to peacefully police its own communities. At all costs,
they were told, the KLA was not to take advantage of any NATO action
to embark on an offensive of their own.

The Albanians say they kept their word--on the expectation that NATO
would do its part to prevent the kind of humanitarian catastrophe that
is now unfolding.

"NATO has failed to keep its part of the besa," he adds.

He is speaking in a tight room, packed with rifles, machine guns,
helmets and other basic military hardware, on the outskirts of the
town of Kukes, Albania. Outside, every hour around a hundred wagons
and carts pass the Albanian-Kosovo border, each one packed with ten,
15 desperate, despairing people, an entire extended family for each
miserable transport.

It is a devastating spectacle, and for Albanians the most bitter
illustration of the failure of the West's strategy. But while the
international refugee agencies and journalists count the numbers, at
Dragobia's base in a small warehouse, others are counting potential

According to Dragobia, a field commander reporting to the general
staff, all agreements are now off. If NATO refuses to enter Kosovo
with ground forces, the KLA is calling on the West to provide heavy
arms, artillery and other materiel so that it can take up the fight

"We call on all Albanians and our friends to join us now," he says.
"It's now or never." He asserts that if the West fails to find a way
to turn the tide in the ground war now, the conflict between the KLA
and Yugoslav forces could last for five years.

But since the onset of the NATO campaign, behind the massive
displacement of civilian refugees, despite the daily strikes at the
Yugoslav military, the Belgrade troops have been giving the KLA a

Like all KLA sources, Dragobia refuses to give details, but it is
clear that fighting has stretched far beyond the central Decani area
where the pre-strikes clashes were concentrated, and throughout the
western part of the province. The town of Pec, the province's second
city, has been emptied and reportedly largely destroyed, and Prizren
and Djakovica are said to have suffered similar fates.

Serbian TV continues to show coverage of the mass evacuation of
Pristina.  Refugees claim the Yugoslav forces are storing their
military hardware in Albanian homes and other civilian buildings,
especially throughout Pristina, to evade NATO air power.

The KLA is still active in the mountains, but have suffered from loss
of communications and limitations on movement. The roads and all the
towns are firmly under Yugoslav Army control.

Significantly, a strategy is emerging. Serb authorities are organising
buses for the displaced, but appear to be directing them not to
Macedonia--which for many would be the nearest refuge--but towards

It suggests a calculated plan by Belgrade to unsettle Albania, which
has directly supported the KLA, while easing the refugee burden
on Macedonia.  The West is particularly sensitive to the political
disruption that a massive ethnic Albanian migration could cause to
Macedonia's fragile multi-ethnic balance.

It's a kind of strategic ethnic cleansing.

"We are trying to stop Kosovars first from leaving Kosova by expanding
our control over the territory, and secondly we are trying to stop
them from leaving Albania," says Dragobia--a nom de guerre, taken from
a mountain peak in the province.

Like many other KLA members, Dragobia feels that if the West, in
particular Italy and Greece, take the refugees, without clear hope
of their return, they will be directly aiding Belgrade's campaign of
ethnic cleansing.

So the KLA is trying to reassemble a fresh army by recruiting among
the streams of dispossessed, presently as many as 160,000 people, that
are now entering Albania.

Men freshly expelled from their homes and villages are presented with
a quick choice: sign up for the KLA and join the counterattacks or
resign themselves to an uncertain life in a refugee camp.

Dragobia again declined to give numbers, but he said that Albanians
from Albania are also joining the KLA, though they are being kept in
reserve.  But the main recruits are from Kosovo itself. Angry and in
shock, many refugees sign on.

To meet Dragobia we pass around 100 KLA soldiers, armed to the teeth
with kalashnikovs and the mixed weaponry of a guerrilla force. Twenty
or so young men, no more than 21 years old, in civilian clothes and
possibly refugees, take the same route.

"We want NATO and the US to keep their original promises," Dragobia
stressed. That would mean the use of Western ground troops. "If not,
we want them to furnish us with arms and to give us time to reorganise
and equip ourselves," he said.

That implies an escalation of the air war against Yugoslav forces
and NATO supply routes and even military advisors within Kosovo.
"If this cannot be done, then our wish is that they leave us alone to
resolve our own problems. We're convinced we can handle the Serbs by
ourselves, if we have to," he said.

As we departed the warehouse, the 20 young Albanians, new recruits,
had been freshly attired in neatly creased camouflage uniforms, new
boots and bright red berets. They looked at each other awkwardly, like
students just signed up to a college sports squad, and getting used to
the new jerseys--yet about to play a very dangerous game.

Fron Nazi is an IWPR senior editor.


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