Ivo Skoric on Fri, 9 Apr 1999 01:44:22 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> (Fwd) MADRE's Talking Points on Yugoslav Crisis

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------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
From:          Madre1998@aol.com
Date:          Wed, 7 Apr 1999 17:01:37 EDT
Subject:       MADRE's Talking Points on Yugoslav Crisis
To:            madre@igc.org
Reply-to:      Madre1998@aol.com

The following is the latest version of MADRE's Talking POints on the Yugoslav 
Crisis.  Please circulate as broadly as you can if you think it would be 
helpful to folks you know.  

We are also raising money for refugee aid and support for democratic 
opposition in Belgrade (Women In Black and independent media). Please help 
us in any way you can.  Please let us know what you think and if there is any 
information we should have, please forward it to us. Many thanks,   
Vivian Stromberg, Executive Director, MADRE.


 What is the root of the crisis?

The Balkan war of the early 1990's left a fragmented Yugoslavia consisting of 
two republics, Serbia and Montenegro, and the small province of Kosovo (whose 
population is 90% ethnically Albanian) inside the borders of Serbia. The 
break-up of Yugoslavia as a peaceful, multi-ethnic republic fueled extreme 
ethno-nationalism in many communities engulfed by the war.  In 1989, 
President Milosevic revoked the autonomous status granted to Kosovo in 1974. 
Since then his regime has brutally suppressed the cultural and political 
rights of the Albanian majority in Kosovo. In response, the Albanian Kosovars 
developed a mass, non-violent independence movement, which the West 
categorically ignored even as Serb repression escalated. As a consequence, 
more and more people were drawn to the KLA, an ultra-nationalist armed group 
that effectively derailed the non-violent movement. 

Why did the situation deteriorate this year?

In October 1998, the US State Department drew up the Rambouillet peace plan
that included the deployment of 28,000 NATO troops (4,000 of them US soldiers)
in Yugoslavia. It is difficult to imagine any sovereign leader allowing a
foreign army to replace his troops on their own territory. This was the Serb
regime's perception of the US demand.   Milosevic rejected the Rambouillet
plan. The US then issued an ultimatum: capitulate or submit to NATO bombing.
But an ultimatum is a double-edged sword. Like Milosevic, the US was left with
only two choices: bomb or be perceived as making empty threats. 

Is the bombing legal? 

Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter states clearly that only the UN 
Security Council can mandate the use of force. Without UN authorization, the 
NATO bombing is flatly illegal. 

Why didn't the US seek a UN mandate to bomb? 

Russia and China, which both oppose NATO's attack as a bid for Western 
hegemony, have veto power in the Security Council. Secretary of State 
Albright has acknowledged that the Security Council would not have endorsed 
the air strikes (ABC News, 3/23/99). 

Why does it matter if the bombing is illegal?

However flawed, the UN Charter represents the only agreed-upon global 
standard for governing states' conduct. Without it, people would have even 
fewer protections against the abuses of government and no basis upon which to 
claim human rights. 

The UN Charter provides legal barriers to states' use of force, which 
promote diplomatic negotiations over violence. When the US scorns these 
provisions, it sets a dangerous precedent of lawlessness and undermines the 
principle of countries working together to resolve disputes (i.e., 

The US is being aptly described as a "rogue superpower," accountable 
only to its own narrowly defined interests and quick to destroy anyone that 
stands in its way. This year alone the US has bombed Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan 
and now Yugoslavia, escalating violence, disease, poverty, and ecological 
destruction worldwide.

Why does the US care about Kosovo? 

Unlike other conflict areas where the US ignores communal violence 
(like Rwanda, Sierra Leone, East Timor, Algeria), Kosovo is situated at the 
crossroads of Europe, Asia and the Middle East: It holds a strategic interest 
for the US. 

The humanitarian crisis in Kosovo provides a smokescreen for military 
intervention that will secure long-term US control over the Balkans. Clinton 
has spoken about the "moral imperative" of defending Kosovo's population and 
its trampled autonomy. Human rights abuses in Kosovo are real and very 
serious. But we must ask why comparable abuses committed by Russia in 
Chechnya, the Turks in the Kurdish areas and the British in Northern Ireland 
do not warrant the same lofty rhetoric. 

For that matter, we could ask why the creation of 350,000 Serb 
refugees by Croatia in 1995 was not labeled a humanitarian crisis and why the 
US chose to ignore ethnic cleansing by a NATO ally and label the same 
atrocities in Kosovo "genocide."

What is the purpose of NATO? 

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, made up of 19 European 
countries, the US and Canada, was formed by the US in 1949 to "deter and 
defend against" Soviet military might. 

Most of the world viewed NATO as an offensive military coalition from 
the start, created to threaten, and if necessary, attack, Socialist bloc 

NATO also provided a much-needed vehicle for the reintegration and 
rearmament of post-Nazi Germany, a critical US ally throughout the Cold War 
and in the current bombing. 

NATO fuels the military industrial complex and the arms industry 
worldwide. The B-2 bombers used in the current attacks, for example, were 
built at a cost of over two billion each. NATO's recent expansion to Hungary, 
Poland and the Czech Republic is estimated to generate nearly $100 billion in 
weapons sales over the next 10 years. 
Why is NATO being used for this war? 

The US has become increasingly dissatisfied with the UN as a vehicle 
for asserting its foreign policy. The structure of the Security Council makes 
US will subject to veto by other nations, most notably Russia and China. 
NATO, on the other hand, is an exclusive military club with the newly 
declared prerogative to disregard the UN, making it, as Madeleine Albright 
has said, the US "institution of choice" (New York Times, 10/18/98). 

NATO lost its raison d'etre when the Cold War ended. But instead of 
dismantling the organization, the US broadened its mandate and membership. 
NATO has been transformed from an alliance that  functioned inside the 
territories of its member states to a force that can pursue the interests of 
those states outside their borders -- and even interfere in the internal 
affairs of non-member states. Now that the "threat of communism" has been 
eradicated, humanitarianism has become the new rallying cry of military 
intervention. Kosovo is the first real test of this new NATO mission.  

The bombing is being waged just in time for NATO's 50th Anniversary 
Summit in Washington on April 23. This is an ideal opportunity to demonstrate 
the need for ongoing funding for NATO, even as the US slashes budgets for 
social welfare programs at home and around the world.

What is the larger US strategy in the Balkans?
Using NATO to assert a US-led military presence in the Balkans is 
seen as a way to secure the twin elements of US policy in Eastern and Central 
Europe: a) to prevent any reversal of the "reforms" that dismantled the 
region's communist governments; b) to lock these countries into a third world 
economic role dictated by the US and
Western Europe: namely, to provide cheap labor, raw materials and markets to 
US and Western European corporations.

Transferring the resources of the former Soviet Union to Western interests is a
top priority of the US. Chevron has already signed a deal for rights to the
vast oil deposits of Kazakhstan. Such multi-billion dollar endeavors require
some assurance of regional stability: NATO is seen as the guarantor.

"Stability" on US terms requires that regional leaders be subservient 
to Western interests. Milosevic has repeatedly overstepped his bounds by 
refusing to allow a US army base in Yugoslavia and resisting the 
incorporation of Yugoslavia into a global neoliberal economic order.

US aims in the Balkans are facilitated by a fragmented, warring 
Yugoslavia.  Enforced economic restructuring (which has become a dominant 
means of US intervention worldwide) is more easily imposed on small, separate 
countries, as in the Caribbean, than on large countries, like China, or on 
federations, like the Former Yugoslavia (a key reason for the original 
dismantlement of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s).

Where should concerned people focus support?
Neither Milosevic nor the KLA deserve support.

Milosevic was a war criminal even before he instigated massacres and 
ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. But opposition to Milosevic need not translate 
into support for the NATO bombing. 

The KLA espouses an ultra-nationalist ideology and  a program of 
ethnic cleansing that differs from Milosevic mainly in that the KLA lacks the 
power to enforce its reactionary vision. But condemnation of the KLA does not 
mean accepting Milosevic's brutality in Kosovo. 

We must move beyond a yearning for "good guys" in the Yugoslav 
scenario and remember that behind the various political formations and armed 
groups are communities of people. In Kosovo, whole towns and villages are 
being burned out and butchered. In Serbia, people are being terrorized by a 
NATO bombing because of the intransigence of their government.

But in both Kosovo and Serbia there are still some people who insist 
on a democratic, non-nationalist and multi-ethnic solution to the crisis. 
These are the people who MADRE is supporting. 

We call on the US to halt the NATO bombing immediately.  
We call on the international community to:

MADRE has worked for 15 years with community-based women's organizations 
worldwide to provide emergency relief, health care & human rights advocacy to 
communities in crisis. MADRE has worked with multi-ethnic, democratic women's 
organizations in the Former Yugoslavia since 1993. 

Yes, I would like to send medicines and food to the refugees of the war in 

Enclosed is my contribution of $          .  (Make check payable to MADRE)

Please charge my:     Visa                     Mastercard           
  for the amount: $
     Account #:                                Exp. date: 

     Please send me more information about MADRE:
     Street Address: 

MADRE is a registered tax-exempt charitable organization. All contributions 
to MADRE are fully tax deductible.

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