David Orchard led the anti-war campaign across Canada relentlessly mobilizing support against NATO’s war on Yugoslavia.
March 24, 2018 commemorates the 19th anniversary of NATO’s war on Yugoslavia.
This article was originally published by Toronto’s National Post on June 23, 1999.
David Orchard (image left)
In March , the most powerful military force in history attacked tiny Yugoslavia (one fifth the size of Saskatchewan) and after seventy-nine days of flagrantly illegal bombing forced an occupation of Kosovo. Admitting its intention was to break Yugoslavia’s spirit, NATO targeted civilian structures, dropping over 23,000 bombs (500 Canadian) and cruise missiles in a campaign of terror bombing, described recently by Alexander Solzhenitsyn as follows: “I don’t see any difference in the behaviour of NATO and of Hitler. NATO wants to erect its own order in the world and it needs Yugoslavia simply as an example: We’ll punish Yugoslavia and the whole rest of the planet will tremble.”
The idea that NATO attacked Yugoslavia to solve a humanitarian crisis is about as credible as Germany’s claim in 1939 that it was invading Poland to prevent “Polish atrocities.” The United Nations Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported the first registered refugees out of Kosovo on March 27th — three days after the bombing began. Civilian casualties after twenty-one days of bombing exceeded all casualties on both sides in Kosovo in the three months before the war.
In an all out effort to convince public opinion that Yugoslavia deserved the onslaught, Western politicians and media are churning out endless accusations of Serb atrocities, while the proven and infinitely greater atrocities of NATO — launching an aggressive war, using internationally outlawed cluster bombs and firing depleted uranium ammunition into Yugoslavia — are buried.
Why did NATO attack Yugoslavia and why are Serbs — Canada’s staunch allies in both World Wars, with 1.5 million dead resisting Hitler’s Nazis and Italian Fascism — being demonized?
Most 19th century wars were over trade. When the U.S. invaded Canada in 1812, Andrew Jackson declared, “We are going to… vindicate our right to a free trade, and open markets… and to carry the Republican standard to the Heights of Abraham.” In 1839, Britain demanded China accept its opium and attacked when China said no. When Thailand refused British trading demands in 1849, Britain “found its presumption unbounded” and decided “a better disposed King [be] placed on the throne… and through him, we might, beyond doubt, gain all we desire.”
In 1999, NATO said it was attacking Yugoslavia to force it to sign the Rambouillet “peace agreement” (even though the Vienna Convention states that any treaty obtained by force or the threat of force is void).
Significantly, Rambouillet stipulated:
“The economy of Kosovo shall function in accordance with free market principles” and “There shall be no impediments to the free movement of persons, goods, services and capital to and from Kosovo.”
During the war, Bill Clinton elaborated:
“If we’re going to have a strong economic relationship that includes our ability to sell around the world Europe has got to be the key; that’s what this Kosovo thing is all about… It’s globalism versus tribalism.”
“Tribalism” was the word used by 19th century free trade liberals to describe nationalism. And this war was all about threatening any nation which might have ideas of independence.
Yugoslavia had a domestically controlled economy, a strong publicly owned sector, a good (and free) health care system and its own defence industry. It had many employee owned factories — its population was resisting wholesale privatization. It produced its own pharmaceuticals, aircraft and Yugo automobile. It refused to allow U.S. military bases on its soil. According to the speaker of the Russian Duma:
“Yugoslavia annoys NATO because it conducts an independent policy, does not want to join NATO and has an attractive geographic position.”
Ottawa, cutting medicare, agricultural research, social housing and shelters for battered women, spent tens of millions to bomb Yugoslavia and is spending millions more occupying Kosovo, while abandoning its own sovereignty to U.S. demands, from magazines to fish, wheat and lumber. It is expropriating part of British Columbia for the U.S. military and considering the U.S. dollar as North America’s currency. Now, the Liberals have thrown our reputation as a peace keeper into the trash can, along with the rule of international law, by smashing a small country to pieces at the behest of Washington.
In a March 28 New York Times article, Thomas Friedman wrote:
“For globalization to work, America can’t be afraid to act like the almighty superpower that it is… The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist. McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies is called the United States Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.”
As NATO troops entered Kosovo, the same newspaper announced Kosovo’s new currency will be the U.S. dollar or German mark, currencies of the two countries most responsible for Yugoslavia’s break-up. And after months of being told that Slobodan Milosevic was the problem, we heard Washington Balkans expert, Daniel Serwer, explain:
“It’s not a single person that’s at issue, there’s a regime in place in Belgrade that is incompatible with the kind of economy that the World Bank… has to insist on…”
The Canadian government professes great interest in human rights. Globalization undermines both democracy and national sovereignty, the only guarantors of human rights. Unfortunately for Messrs. Clinton, Chretien et al, that message was not lost on millions around the world watching NATO bombs pulverize Yugoslavia.
This article was originally published on National Post on June 23, 1999.
David Orchard is the author of The Fight for Canada – Four Centuries of Resistance to American Expansionism. He ran twice for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. He was convenor in 1999 of the Ad Hoc Committee to Stop Canada’s Participation in the War on Yugoslavia. He farms in Borden, SK and can be reached at [email protected].