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<nettime> ivogram 050299: democracy, action, either/or, appeasement/aggression

Ivo Skoric <>
          Democracy by force-feeding
          (Fwd) Action Alert on Ground Troops
          Either or...
          Between Appeasement and Aggression: Responding to Events in Kosovo

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From: "Ivo Skoric" <>
Date: Sun, 2 May 1999 14:22:06 +0000
Subject: Democracy by force-feeding

Democracy by force-feeding:


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From: "Ivo Skoric" <>
Date: Sun, 2 May 1999 14:22:17 +0000
Subject: (Fwd) Action Alert on Ground Troops

------- Forwarded Message Follows -------

Dear Friends:

The following message is from the Coalition for International Justice in
Washington. Friends of Bosnia urges our supporters to contact their
Senators in support of this resolution authorizing "all necessary force"  in
Kosovo. This is a resolution for using ground troops, even though it
doesn't specifically mention it. If your Senator already supports the
measure, call anyway to thank them.

All members of Congress can be reached at: 202-224-3121

Massachusetts Senators:

For Senator Kennedy
Phone 202-224-4543
Fax 202-224-2417

For Senator Kerry
Phone 202-224-2742
Fax 202-224-8525
(Kerry supports the measure. Call to thank him.)


Good news for once. Senator McCain has persuaded Senator Lott to allow his
"all necessary force" resolution go to the Senate floor on Monday, May 3,
1998 for debate. I believe the text is the same as introduced (below). The
most significant news is that Senator Daschle, the Democratic Minority
Leader, will support the resolution. The Administration takes the position
that they don't need it. (No comment.)

Now is the time to call Senate offices. Please urge support for the McCain
resolution (Senate Joint Resolution 20 or the McCain Kosovo resolution) If
we learn the text has changed, we will send out a revised  announcement

Nina  (202) 662-1684
Coalition for International Justice

106th CONGRESS, 1st Session. S. J. RES. 20

Concerning the deployment of United States Armed Forces to the Kosovo region
in Yugoslavia.


Mr. MCCAIN (for himself, Mr. BIDEN, Mr. HAGEL, Mr. LIEBERMAN, Mr. COCHRAN,
Mr. DODD, Mr. LUGAR, Mr. ROBB, and Mr. KERRY (Mass)) introduced  the
following joint resolution; which was read twice and referred to the
Committee on Foreign Relations


Concerning the deployment of United States Armed Forces to the Kosovo region
in Yugoslavia.

Whereas the United States and its allies in the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization are conducting large-scale military operations against the
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro); and Whereas the
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) has refused to comply
with NATO demands that it withdraw its military, paramilitary and security
forces from the province of Kosovo, allow the return of ethnic Albanian
refugees to their homes, and permit the establishment of a NATO-led
peacekeeping force in Kosovo: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of
America in Congress assembled, That the President is authorized to use all
necessary force and other means, in concert with United States allies, to
accomplish United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organization objectives
in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro).


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From: "Ivo Skoric" <>
Date: Sun, 2 May 1999 18:35:18 +0000
Subject: Either or...

Either or....

So, what's up with that bridge - was it...


 By Colin McIntyre
     BELGRADE, May 2 (Reuters)
NATO also admitted its planes had hit a bus crossing a bridge in
Kosovo on Saturday. A police officer at the scene, 20 km (12 miles)
north of the Kosovo provincial capital Pristina, said at least 34
people were killed, including 15 children. Serb state television put
the death toll at 60. 
A NATO statement said the bridge was "a key
north-south supply route for Yugoslav military and special police."


    By Colin McIntyre
     BELGRADE, May 1 (Reuters) 

Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic made the pledge to let the
captives go despite what Belgrade said was a NATO warplane's attack
on a bus in which authorities said between 34 and 60 people were
 In Brussels, a NATO military source said the bridge was
not on the alliance list of targets, but added: "This doesn't mean
it didn't happen." NATO is investigating Belgrade's charge. 


Who's to ask? Bacon? Solana? It is interesting indeed how the bridge 
climbed from the "not on the list" status to the "key supply route" 
in the single day of a civilian body count....


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From: "Ivo Skoric" <>
Date: Sun, 2 May 1999 18:50:13 +0000
Subject: Between Appeasement and Aggression: Responding to Events in Kosovo

Date sent:        Sat, 01 May 1999 01:58:56 +0200


Jonathan Ginzburg
Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Shalom Lappin
King's College London

Jelena Meznaric
Uni. of Edinburgh

The current NATO air campaign against Serbia has divided public
opinion, particularly on the left. Prominent figures like Tony Benn
(in a recent interview on the BBC public affairs program Newsnight),
Noam Chomsky ("The Current Bombings: Behind the Rhetoric", posted on
the web at, Harold Pinter
(letter to The Guardian, April 8, 1999), and Edward Said ("It is Time
the World Stood Up to The American Bully", The Observer, April 11,
1999, p. 19) have expressed strong opposition to the military action,
claiming that it is an unjustified act of aggression against a
sovereign state. In considering the arguments that have been given in
support of this view we think that it is important to distinguish two
questions which are frequently run together in the current debate. (i)
Is there justification for the use of force against the Serbian
military in order to protect the Albanian Kosovars from Milosevic's
reign of ethnic terror? (ii) Is the current NATO bombing campaign an
appropriate or effective way of dealing with this campaign? It is
possible to give an affirmative answer to (i) but not (ii). It is
important to recognize that Benn, Chomsky, Pinter, and Said (among
others) insist that (i) as well as (ii) requires a negative reply. By
contrast, we endorse a positive answer to (i) but tend to a negative
response to (ii) (or at least one highly skeptical of the efficacy and
value of the bombing). The basic arguments advanced against the NATO
action can be summarized as follows. 1. The NATO action has not
received UN Security Council approval, and so it violates
international law. 2. The NATO action has escalated, and perhaps even
caused the humanitarian crisis for the Kosovars. 3. The NATO action is
the expression of a selective policy of intervention. Although tragic,
the Kosovo crisis is no worse than many other crises where
international intervention has not been forthcoming. 4. The Serbs, as
well as the Albanians and the Bosnian Muslims have been the victims of
ethnic cleansing. In 1995 the Croats expelled 200,000 Serbs from the
Krajina province of Croatia, and the West acquiesced in this. 5. The
NATO action is essentially an operation initiated and directed by the
US, whose own record of past aggressive interventions and support for
oppressive regimes disqualifies it from participation in a
humanitarian military exercise. Let us consider these arguments in
turn, starting with the issue of international law and national
sovereignty. We share a general distrust of foreign military
interventions that are ostensibly motivated by concern for the
citizens of the country against which the intervention is launched.
However, when a regime undertakes a systematic campaign of mass murder
and expulsion against a large segment of its population, it ceases to
be simply one of many repressive regimes and enters an exceptional
category. Previous experiences of genocide in which helpless
populations were slaughtered while an indifferent international
community looked on should be sufficient to establish this sort of
event as a limit to the sanctity of national sovereignty. In fact,
many of the most vocal opponents of the operation against Milosevic
have, themselves, supported other sorts of actions which clearly
overide the principle of national sovereignty. We assume, for example,
that these people would join with us in supporting the British
judiciary in its decision to extradite the former Chilean dictator
Augusto Pinochet to Spain for prosecution on charges of torture and
political murder. The British government did not seek backing from the
UN or the International Court of Justice in the Hague when it decided
to hold Pinochet against the request of the (democratically elected)
government of Chile for his return. Similarly, we assume that most
supporters of the British decision concerning Pinochet would not have
serious difficulty with the action of the Israeli government in
kidnaping Eichmann in Argentina and bringing him to trial in Jerusalem
for his role in the Holocaust. Milosevic's actions in Kosovo (and,
previously, in Croatia and Bosnia) establish him as an agent of mass
murder and large scale ethnic violence (for the legal case against
Milosevic see for example
The veteran Israeli peace and human rights activist Uri Avnery
expresses the matter well in a recent open email letter on the
situation in Kosovo. "What puzzles me is the condemnations for this
action from many good people -- among them some leftists.
International law? Interference in internal matters? An unjustified
use of power? My goodness, we are talking here about the lives of
hundreds of thousands of people, about the genocide of the people of
Kosovo, about the destruction of towns and villages, about the
expulsion of hundreds of thousands, whose sole crime consists of
belonging to a different ethnic group." Finally, it is important to
see that Milosevic's rampage through the former Yugoslavia is not
simply an internal matter affecting only the citizens of his own
country. His actions have destabilized the entire Balkan area by
generating ethnic tension through the export of refugees into
neighbouring countries. This is a general pattern with genocidal
regimes, as can be observed from the legacy of regional conflict that
accompanied the Cambodian and Rwanda genocides. It is unfortunate to
rediscover that the UN is an ineffectual body in dealing with an
international crisis, where some of the permanent members of the
Security Council are far from disinterested. We note that the US has
often played a similarly obstructionist role in using its veto in the
Security Council to protect Israeli intransigence. A significant fact
in this context, apparently forgotten in the wake of recent events, is
that less than two months ago China vetoed the extension of the
mandate for the UN observer force in Macedonia as a cynical act of
revenge for Macedonia's recognition of Taiwan. The survival of a small
ethnic group under violent attack should not be left to the whims of
world powers whose approach to ethnic minorities is clearly
exemplified in their behaviour in Chechniya and Tibet. Concerning the
second argument, it is indeed the case that NATO bombing has escalated
the Serbian campaign against the Kosovar Albanians. But it is
essential to recognize that this campaign was well underway prior to
the NATO operation. Given the evidence of Milosevic's actions in
Bosnia, there is every reason to believe that his attacks on the
Albanians would have intensified into a full scale assault, even if at
a more leisurely pace than has been the case since the bombing began.
To suggest that the NATO action was the catalyst that provoked the
Serbian attack is simply to ignore Milosevic's record throughout the
former Yugoslavia. The massacres in Vukovar (Croatia), Srebrenica
(Bosnia), and in Recak (Kosovo) took place before a single Cruise
missile had been fired at Serbia. We have grave misgivings about the
wisdom and effectiveness of NATO's reliance on intensive bombing. It
seems designed to provide an inexpensive way of confronting Milosevic
while incurring minimal risk to its troops. Unfortunately, the attempt
to force Serbia into submission by destroying its civilian, as well as
its military infrastructure has not stopped the pogrom against the
Albanians, and it seems to be taking a significant toll in Serbian
civilian casualties. There are two points worth making here. First, it
seems to us that the present disaster is a direct result of the fact
that the West, particularly Europe, has pursued a policy of
appeasement and virtual collusion towards Milosevic since he initiated
his ethnic campaign in 1989. He was allowed a more or less free hand
in Bosnia until 1995, where UN troops were placed on the ground with
no mandate to stop the violence of paramilitaries against civilians.
The most graphic illustration of this policy was provided by th! ! e
massacre at Srebrenica, where Dutch UN troops stood by powerless to
stop Serb forces from leading away several thousand Bosnian Muslim men
to slaughter. Had there been a willingness to confront Milosevic with
the threat of effective military force earlier in the conflict, the
catastrophe of Kosovo might have been avoided. It was widely predicted
that Milosevic would turn his attention to Kosovo after the war in
Bosnia ended. He did, after all, begin his notorious career as an
extreme Serb nationalist through agitation in Kosovo in 1987. This
makes it all the more remarkable that the US did not insist on
including viable arrangements for the protection of the Kosovars in
the Dayton accords. Second, if a credible ground force had been
available prior to the start of the air attacks, the threat of its use
might have forced Milosevic into accepting the Rambouillet agreement.
If he had not responded to such a threat, the force could have been
employed to establish a safe haven for Albanians in Kosovo. This is,
of course, counterfactual reasoning, but it seems to us that such a
strategy might well have evaded at least some of the bloodshed and
suffering which have befallen the Kosovars, as well as the Serbs. Let
us take up the third argument, which focuses on the selectivity of the
NATO intervention. We agree that the international community should
act to prevent mass murder wherever this is feasible. The failure of
the UN and the major powers to prevent the catastrophe in Rwanda is
inexcusable. Similarly, it is appalling that Western governments
supplied weapons and political support to Indonesia while it was
slaughtering civilians in East Timor. But the fact that previous
atrocities have been tolerated is not a reason for permitting yet
another one to take place. There are (many) cases in which it is
simply not possible to take effective action against mass murder for a
variety of reasons (the cost of the intervention would be
significantly greater than any benefit it might generate, the means
for stopping the killing are simply not available, etc.). However, to
abandon an entire people to an unrelenting campaign of violence and
collective expulsion when it may be possible to prevent it is, in our
view, to effectively collaborate with the agents of the violence. The
question of selectivity and consistency also applies to the critics of
the NATO operation. We do not recall Benn, Chomsky, Pinter, or Said
taking strong public positions on the massacres of Bosnian or Kosovar
civilians prior to the bombing campaign. It seems that they are only
moved to protest those actions in which the US is involved. On this
approach, only victims of American policies are politically
significant. We suggest that like charity, consistency and integrity
begin at home. Chomsky's record is particularly problematic on this
point. Given that his article on Kosovo presents one of the more
detailed statements of the case against the NATO bombing published to
date and it is now being widely cited by opponents of the action, it
is worth considering this record in some detail. In his Kosovo piece
Chomsky contrasts the NATO operation with Vietnam's invasion of
Cambodia in 1978, which halted Pol Pot's genocide against his own
population. He identifies the Vietnamese invasion as a "one of the
most compelling examples of (III)" in the period following the
adoption of the UN Charter, where '(III)' denotes an attempt to
mitigate a catastrophe. Chomsky goes on to accuse the American press
of condemning the invasion and the US government of supporting the
Khmer Rouge. We entirely agree that, whatever else may be said about
Vietnam's occupation, it did have the commendable consequence of
stopping the Khmer Rouge's reign of terror. Interestingly, shortly
after the invasion Chomsky presented an entirely different view of
these events. In  After the Cataclysm: Postwar Indochina and the
Reconstruction of Imperial Ideology  (Spokesman Press, London, 1979,
co-authored with Edward Herman) Chomsky argued that the Western press
had demonized the Khmer Rouge and failed to produce convincing
evidence of a systematic government campaign of mass murder directed
at the Cambodian population. While conceding that atrocities had been
committed, he claimed that there was credible evidence of positive
economic and social achievements under the Pol Pot regime that the
Western press had suppressed. "...Cambodia was a particular target of
abuse. In fact, it became virtually a matter of dogma in the West that
the regime was the very incarnate of evil with no redeeming qualities,
and that the handful of demonic creatures who had somehow taken over
the country were systematically massacring and starving the
population. How the ! ! "nine men at the center" were able to achieve
this feat or why they chose to pursue this strange course of
"autogenocide" were questions that were rarely pursued. Evidence
suggesting popular support for the regime among certain strata-
particularly the poorer peasants- was ignored or dismissed with
revulsion and contempt... Ordinary critical examination of sources,
indeed, any effort to discover the truth, was regarded as a serious
moral lapse. Furthermore, there was a substantial fabrication of
evidence." (Preface, p. xi). Of the Vietnamese occupation Chomsky and
Herman say "The Vietnamese invasion can be explained, but it cannot be
justified." (Preface, p. xix). They observe that the invasion prompted
little criticism from the western press, because of the negative image
attached to the Khmer Rouge. They state that "As the London Economist
observed: "If Vietnam believed that, because the Cambodia regime was
almost universally condemned, criticism of the invasion would be muted
its belief was correct." The Economist then indicated that it shared
this attitude. Whether the peasants of Cambodia share it as well is
another question, but one which is naturally of little concern to the
West." (Preface, p. xii). Chomsky and Herman conclude their discussion
of Cambodia with the following observations. "We speculated in the
preface that the Vietnamese invasion would prove disastrous for
Cambodia. Any assessment of the resulting conditions should be
carefully compared with what visitors observed just prior to the
invasion- specifically, with their general assessment that food
supplies appeared adequate and that there were certain constructive
developments, whatever one may think of the regime. If there is a
deterioration in the conditions of Cambodia, this is very likely a
consequence of the invasion itself; and here again the Western
contribution cannot be ignored, including the special role played by
the propaganda hysteria and climate of opinion of 1975-78, discussed
at length above." (p. 294). It is, of course, entirely honourable for
someone to change their opinions in light of new facts or a
re-consideration of the evidence. However, to the best of our
knowledge, Chomsky has never publically repudiated these comments on
the Pol Pot regime, the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia, or the role
of the Western press in this situation. It seems, then, that in his
recent piece on Kosovo he has simply substituted one evaluation of the
events for its antithesis in order to argue for the same conclusion:
that the US and the Western press bear much of the responsibility for
whatever negative developments occurred. On the first (1979) pass
these developments were taken to be the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge
regime by the Vietnamese invasion. On the second (1999) pass they are
(more reasonably) identified with Pol Pot's mass murder of his own
people. A performance of such intellectual flexibility raises serious
doubts concerning Chomsky's reliability as a political analyst. In pa!
! rticular, it is not at all obvious how much weight should be given
to his comments on the nature of the catastrophe in Kosovo in light of
his earlier apparent difficulty in discerning the authenticity of
reports of the genocide in Cambodia. What about the fourth argument
concerning the expulsion of Serbs from Krajina? There are indeed some
parallels between the Krajina Serbs and the Kosovo Albanians: in both
cases a recognized minority with acknowledged constitutional rights
was expelled from its homeland in a campaign that involved terrible
atrocities. Clearly a just settlement of the Balkan conflict must
redress Serbian grievances as well as those of the other groups. There
are, however, at least three points to keep in mind here. First, in
1991 the Croatian Serbs, with significant help from the Yugoslav army,
successfully "cleansed" of Croats a part of Slavonija and the Krajina
region, totaling a third of the Croatian territory. This campaign
involved such notorious atrocities as Vukovar and Skabrnja, and
savageries like the continuous shelling of Dubrovnik, Sibenik and
Zadar on the Dalmatian coast. It cut off a significant geographical
part of Croatia from the remainder of the country, and it isolated
Dalmatia and the capital and regions, thus seriously impeding
communications, transport, and the movement of people. This situation
lasted for four years, until 1995, when the Croatian Army recaptured
parts of Slavonija and the Krajina from Serbian paramilitaries. This
was initially a military operation that later degenerated into a
barbaric assault on the Serbian population. Second, unlike the Serbs
and Croats, the Kosovo Albanians do not have an army and were not
involved in armed conflict with the Serbs until quite recently. For
almost a decade they pursued a non-violent campaign for the
restoration of their autonomous status, a campaign that Milosevic
brutally suppressed and the West ignored. The Kosovo Albanians have
not "cleansed" a third of Serbian territory of its Serb population.
They have never isolated central geographic parts of Serbia from each
other, and they have not blocked communications, transport, and
movement of people within Serbia. Third, while conflict in Croatia and
Bosnia has, at least for the present, ended, Milosevic continues his
ethnic assault in Kosovo unabated. Given the evidence of his past
performance, it is not out of the question that if he is allowed to
get away with the expulsion of the Kosovar Albanians, he will carry
his of program of de-stabilization into Montenegro and perhaps even

Finally, we come to the fourth argument based upon the record of other
American interventions. It is certainly the case that the US has been
responsible for a succession of unjustified interventions of one form
or another from Indochina in the sixties and seventies to Chile, the
Caribbean, and Central America in the seventies and eighties. It would
have been far preferable to have a regional European response to
Milosevic rather than an American-led campaign. The obvious question
here is what prevented the Europeans from mounting such a response? As
we have already observed, most major European countries chose a policy
of appeasement and collusion through the first six years of
Milosevic's activities, and even in the face of the emerging Kosovo
disaster they preferred to rely primarily on the US and NATO to
provide a military solution. In these circumstances to oppose NATO
action against Milosevic solely on the grounds that the US has a
history of shameful foreign involvements! !
 is not entirely dissimilar to taking the position adopted by those
 advocates of the Hitler-Stalin pact who refused to support Britain
 for the first two years that it fought alone against Nazi Germany on
 the grounds that Britain was an imperialist power which was not
 really all that different from the country that it was opposing.
In conclusion, responding to Milosevic's attack on the Kosovar
Albanians poses a set of difficult choices none of which are
attractive or straightforward. However, we are convinced that by
arguing that one should not invoke force to stop his attack on an
entire population, even after he has shown himself virtually
inaccessible to diplomatic solutions unsupported by military pressure,
one is, in effect, proposing to accept the consequences of Milosevic's
campaign and its likely continuation. In our view, this is not a
viable position. We have a responsibility to resist mass murder and
ethnic expulsion whenever it is within our power to do so.

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