|The Independent (London), May 13, 1999
'An Atlantic alliance that has brought us to this catastrophe
should be wound up'
How much longer do we have to endure the folly of Nato's war in
the Balkans? In just 50 days, the Atlantic alliance has failed in
everything it set out to do. It has failed to protect the Kosovo
Albanians from Serbian war crimes. It has failed to cow Slobodan
Milosevic. It has failed to force the withdrawal of Serb troops
from Kosovo. It has broken international law in attacking a
sovereign state without seeking a UN mandate. It has killed
hundreds of innocent Serb civilians - in our name, of course -
while being too cowardly to risk a single Nato life in defence of
the poor and the weak for whom it meretriciously claimed to be
fighting. Nato's war cannot even be regarded as a mistake - it is
a criminal act.
It is, of course, now part of the mantra of all criticism of Nato
that we must mention Serb wickedness in Kosovo. So here we go.
Yes, dreadful, wicked deeds - atrocities would not be a strong
enough word for it - have gone on in Kosovo: mass executions,
rape, dispossession, "ethnic cleansing", the murder of
intellectuals. Some of Nato's propaganda programme has done more
to cover up such villainy than disclose it.
And, as we all know, the dozens of Kosovo Albanians massacred on
the road to Prizren were slaughtered by Nato - not by the Serbs as
Nato originally claimed. But I have seen with my own eyes -
travelling under the Nato bombardment - the house-burning in
Kosovo and the hundreds of Albanians awaiting dispossession in
But back to the subject - and perhaps my first question should be
put a little more boldly. Not: "How much longer do we have to
endure this stupid, hopeless, cowardly war?" but: "How much longer
do we have to endure Nato? How soon can this vicious American-run
organisation be deconstructed and politically 'degraded', its
pontificating generals put back in their boxes with their mortuary
language of 'in-theatre assets' and 'collateral damage'"?
And how soon will our own compassionate, socialist liberal leaders
realise that they are not fighting a replay of the Second World
War nor striking a blow for a new value-rich millennium? In Middle
East wars, I've always known when a side was losing - it came when
its leaders started to complain that journalists were not being
fair to their titanic struggle for freedom/ democracy/human
rights/sovereignty/soul. And on Monday, Tony Blair started the
whining. After 50 days of television coverage soaked in Nato
propaganda, after weeks of Nato officials being questioned by
sheep-like journalists, our Prime Minister announces the press is
ignoring the plight of the Kosovo Albanians.
The fact that this is a lie is not important. It is the nature of
the lie. Anyone, it seems, who doesn't subscribe to Europe's
denunciations of Fascism or who raises an eyebrow when - in an act
of utter folly - the Prime Minister makes unguaranteed promises
that the Kosovo Albanians will all go home, is now off-side,
biased - or worthy of one of Downing Street's preposterous "health
warnings" because they allegedly spend more time weeping for dead
Serbs than the numerically greater number of dead Albanians (the
assumption also being, of course, that it is less physically
painful to be torn apart by a Nato cluster bomb than by a Serb
President Clinton - who will in due course pull the rug from under
Mr Blair - tells the Kosovo Albanians that they have the "right to
return." Not the Palestinian refugees of Lebanon, of course. They
do not have such a right. Nor the Kurds dispossessed by our Nato
ally, Turkey. Nor the Armenians driven from their land by the
Turks in the world's first holocaust (there being only one
holocaust which Messers Clinton and Blair are interested in
invoking just now).
Mr Blair's childish response to this argument is important. Just
because wrongs have been done in the past doesn't mean we have to
stand idly by now. But the terrible corollary of this dangerous
argument is this: that the Palestinians, the Armenians, the
Rwandans or anyone else cannot expect our compassion. They are
"the past." They are finished.
But what is all this nonsense about Nato standing for democracy?
It happily allowed Greece to remain a member when its ruthless
colonels staged a coup d'etat which imprisoned and murdered
intellectuals. Nato had no objection to the oppression of Salazar
and Caetano - who were at the same time busy annihilating
"liberation" movements almost identical to the Kosovo Liberation
Army. Indeed, the only time when Nato proposed to suspend
Portugal's membership - I was there at the time and remember this
vividly - was when the country staged a revolution and declared
itself a democracy.
Is it therefore so surprising that Nato now turns out to be so
brutal? It attacks television stations and kills Serb journalists
- part of Milosevic's propaganda machine, a "legitimate target",
shrieks Clare Short. And what about the Chinese embassy? Did the
CIA really use an old map? Or did the CIA believe that - because
Mira Markovic (the wife of the Yugoslav President) had such close
relations with the Chinese government that both she and President
Slobodan Milosevic might be sleeping in the Chinese embassy. NATO,
remember, had already targeted the Milosevic residence in an
attempt to assassinate him. It had already - according to one
disturbing report - tried to lure the Serb minister of information
to the Serb television headquarters just before it was destroyed.
So why not the Chinese embassy? Would NATO do anything so
desperate? Well, NATO is desperate. It is losing the war, it is
As for General Wesley Clark, the man who thought he could change
history by winning a war without ground troops, we have only to
recall his infantile statement of last month about President
Milosevic. "We are winning and he is losing - and he knows it,"
General Clark told us. He did not explain why Mr Milosevic would
need to be told such a thing if he knew it. Nor did he recall that
he had once accepted from General Ratko Mladic - the Bosnian Serb
military leader whose men were destroying the Muslims of Sarajevo
- a gift of an engraved pistol. Nor, of course, did General Clark
remind us that General Mladic and his colleague Radovan Karadjic
remain free in Bosnia - which is under the firm control of NATO
Nor are we going to be given the good news which this war portends
for General Clark's most loyal allies, the arms manufacturers of
our proud democracies. Boeing hit a 52-week high last week with
stock trading at just under $44 (27) British Aerospace share
prices have gained a 43 per cent increase since Nato's bombardment
commenced. The British government said on Tuesday that "military
operations" were costing 37m "excluding munitions."
Now why, I wonder, did this figure exclude munitions?
All of which makes me wonder, too, if this disastrous war isn't
going to be the end of NATO. I hope so. As a citizen of a new,
modern Europe, I don't want my continent led by the third-rate
generals and two-bit under-secretaries who have been ranting on
our television screens for the past 50 days. I don't want Europe
to be "protected" any longer by the US. If that means the end of
the Atlantic alliance, so be it.
Because an Atlantic alliance that has brought us to this
catastrophe should be wound up. Until it is, Europe will never -
ever - take responsibility for itself or for the dictators who
threaten our society.
Until then, Europe will never lay its own lives on the line for
its own people - which is what the Kosovo Albanians need. Until
Nato is dead, there will never be a real European defence force.
And until Nato is dead, there will be no need to seek the
international mandate from the United Nations which "humanitarian
And the UN, ultimately, is the only institution the poor and the
sick and the raped and the dispossessed can rely on. Nato troops
are not going to die for Kosovo. So what is the point of NATO?