Geert Lovink on Sat, 10 Apr 1999 18:28:54 +0200 (CEST)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> Kosovo (fwd)

From: Pierre Beaudet <>

We should not fight this war !
by Pierre Beaudet

The war against Yugoslavia lead by NATO represents a great step backwards
for those concerned for peace and democracy in the region, and in the
world at large. Instead of consolidating the mechanisms for political
mediation and democratic transformation, the war imposes the right of
might. NATOs argument, that all other avenues have been exhausted, is
totally false. One could reinforce the presence of foreign observers,
increase pressure (including economic pressure) against Belgrade, and give
more support to the elements of civil society in Yugoslavia and Kosovo
which are struggling for peace and democracy. With war, everyone loses,
except for the arms merchants.

The martyrdom of Kosovo

The thousands of Kosovar refugees who are amassing along the borders are
obviously the first victims of the war.  All the sweet words dont change
the fact that entire populations have been uprooted, homes have been
destroyed, and many of these people are about to be spread to the four
corners of the world, including Canada.  The worst imaginable ethnic
cleansing by President Milosevic would never have gotten this far without
the cover of NATO aerial bombardments over the last two weeks. Worse
still, the eventual return will be under atrocious conditions, with the
possibility of endless confrontations with neighbouring countries and the
Serbian minority in Kosovo itself.  Besides that, the wartime destruction
will cause destabilisation not only in Kosovo and Yugoslavia, but also in
Macedonia and Montenegro, even in Albania, Romania and Greece, countries
in which the relations between different ethnic groups remain fragile and

Farewell, Yugoslavia

In the so-called second phase of the war, NATO aims at transforming
Yugoslavia into a giant Iraq: essential infrastructure (power stations,
roads, bridges, oil refineries) are being destroyed, flinging the country
back to the stone age.  By all accounts, NATO has no intention of stopping
half-way, nor does it intend to risk the lives of its soldiers.  If a
ground attack is launched, the European and U.S. armies will only find
themselves up against rag-tag bands of survivors. The result: Yugoslavia
is being forced into an endless crisis, somewhat like Iraq.  But besides
the destruction of the country, it is Yugoslavian society that will be
largely destroyed, notably forces for democracy and pacifists who abound
in the country and who had built up a popular movement against Milosevic
over the last few years.  Worse even, it may be that NATO will accept a
compromise with Milosevic, leaving him in power against his own people,
for he is -- like Saddam Hussein -- a perfect enemy, easy to demonise
and isolate.

The marginalised international community

The UN, another victim of the war, is now discredited as a mediator of
international law.  For the NATO action constitutes an absolute precedent
in the history of international diplomacy over the last 50 years.  
According to the United Nations Charter, only the security council can
authorise the use of force against a country.  In spite of the efforts at
negotiation, NATO -- under the control of the United States -- is brushing
all the other countries aside.  Today it is Kosovo, but tomorrow....  
Where will military action end?  Might the United States invoke the
imperative of humanitarian protection to intervene in Chechnya? in Tibet?
in Kurdistan? The presence of a global police force brandishing the right
to intervene militarily will only lead to new catastrophes.  Whoever
invokes the right of humanitarian interference should think twice.  For
the US and its allies may find themselves having to settle the demands
of their own people and minorities.  After all, what is the value of a
Palestinian, a Kurd in Turkey, or a native person in Chiapas in the eyes
of the Pentagon?

The wars to come

The destruction of Yugoslavia (which began well before the current crisis
in Kosovo) risks transforming a new region of the world (like the Middle
East) into an unstable, militarised zone under permanent occupation by
NATO.  Already, military experts and American political advisors are
beginning to elaborate strategies which suggest the following:  After the
Balkans, it will be the Caucuses, gripped by numerous conflicts provoked
by the breakup of the Soviet Union. According to the Pentagon, US military
might has to deal with Russia itself, certainly terribly weakened over the
last decade, but which still has at its disposal the military potential to
one day challenge the hegemony of the sole exisiting superpower.  The US
military budget, which has already exceeded $250 million this year (the
equivalent of its entire military spending throughout the Vietnam War!) is
an aforethought of the coming wars, of which Yugoslavia is serving as a
living laboratory.

What next ?

There is a formidable media barrage accompanying this preparation.
Military aggression and the destruction of countries is being presented
as humanitarian intervention.  The forces in Yugoslavia working
against the Milosevic dictatorship are being ignored, as well as those,
in Kosovo itself, who envision the coexistence of Albanians and Serbs
and who want autonomy for their region.  Aside from that there are the
legitimate concerns of people who are seeing the dismantling and
destruction of their country by the war.  However, a few isolated voices
are being heard.  There heve been huge demonstrations in European
countries, where many people refuse to believe that war will lead to
peace!  In Canada, though, little serious debate has taken place.
However, the government of Canada needs to reflect on what it has been
doing.  Our image as peacemakers has been dealt a severe blow.  Our
blue berets have been replaced by the F-18s which participate in
destructive action.  Without doubt, US pressure is influencing decisions
made in Ottawa.  But the consequences could be very grave for a country
which, in the past, has been best known for its role in defending
international law, .., and for its role as mediator.  Yet is still not
too late to think of switching hats.  The first steps in this direction
would be:

- an immediate end to the bombardments;
- the call for negotiations to force a compromise on Kosovo which
respects the rights of all Kosovars to live in peace.
- aid to the Kosovar refugees to enable them to return to their country,
and not to be spread out around the world;
- the deployment of UN peacekeepers (excluding NATO and the US) to
protect civilian populations;
- political and material support for NGOs, human rights groups and other
organisations of civil society in Yugoslavia and Kosovo which struggle
for peace, democracy, tolerance and inter-ethnic coexistence.

Alternatives in the ex-Yugoslavia

On April 9, Alternatives will launch a public appeal for solidarity
against the war in the Balkans to support the democratic forces in that
part of the world.  Alternatives invites its members and the public at
large to make a donation in solidarity and support of those who wish to
relaunch an initiative for popular dialogue and peace which will bring
together groups and individuals from all camps.

In the next few days a team will be on location, with Robert David, the
manager of an Alternatives project for the region.  Initially, this
mission was planned to put in place a support programme for pacifists in
Bosnia, Serbia and Kosovo.  With the present turn of events, all our
plans risk being sidetracked.  One thing is certain; there is work to be
done to aid the victims of the war, but also to support those who, when
the bombs finally stop falling, will begin to rebuild their country and
their society.

#  distributed via nettime-l : no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a closed moderated mailinglist for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  URL:  contact: