A Global Research Video Production
Copyright: Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montreal, 2009.
The following text was prepared by Diana Johnstone and presented in Montreal on 24 March 2009
as part of the “Humanitarian Intervention Challenged” Conference held at Vanier College. The Conference was organised by Vanier College and the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).
Dear Friends in Canada,
I hope this commemoration can be used not only to deplore the past, but also take a look at what the 1999 NATO war against Yugoslavia implies for the future.
That war opened a new phase of history.
Yugoslavia was used to release the United States from the restraints of the post-World War II system of international law. Complicated conflicts, with multiple causes, both internal and external, were presented as a simple contest between good and evil. The conflict in Kosovo between the Yugoslav state and Albanian secessionists was exploited in order to stage a little war “out of area”, beyond the defense perimeter of the Atlantic Alliance. It was a war NATO was sure to win. This initiated a new era in which the United States could proceed freely to pursue world conquest, dragging its NATO allies behind.
Of course, it is never called “world conquest”. Sometimes it is called “humanitarian intervention”, sometimes it is called “the war on terror”, sometimes it is merely “ensuring stability” or “promoting democracy” through “regime change”. But if you examine it carefully, what is going on is a project for world conquest. It probably will not succeed – such projects rarely succeed – but that is what it is.
How and why is the United States pursuing world conquest? This is too vast a subject to explore here, but I want to suggest that this project of world conquest is very largely a matter of institutional inertia.
In January 1961, in his farewell speech as he left the Presidency, General Dwight D. Eisenhower warned of the “military-industrial complex”. Eisenhower did not suggest dismantling the military-industrial complex. He only called on “an alert and knowledgeable citizenry” to keep it from getting out of hand. Well, an “alert and knowledgeable citizenry” has been asleep at the switch for about half a century.
The original expression was “the military-industrial-congressional complex”, but Eisenhower decided to let congress off the hook. Nevertheless, Congress is an essential part of the whole complex, because congressmen vote regularly for military appropriations to benefit their constituencies. Congress votes for weapons systems the Pentagon hasn’t even asked for and doesn’t know what to do with. That is the pork barrel system that has kept military spending soaring and more and more weapons being researched, developed and built.
This military-industrial-congressional complex requires that the expensive weapon systems be used from time to time. Weapons need to be tested in real life situations, used up – to make way for more – and demonstrated for sale to client states. But more noble pretexts are required. Thus the Complex creates the need for enemies, for threats, for ideological justification of war. For over forty years, the “communist threat” did the trick. The Complex was briefly in a state of shock when Gorbachev spoiled everything by abruptly ending the Cold War. What to do without it?
The system needs enemies, it needs war, to keep functioning. In the early 1990s, the United States was short of enemies and threats. It turned instead to “humanitarian intervention” as a way to revive NATO and rehabilitate war as the way to solve problems.
The choice of the Serbs as enemies seems very strange – especially to the Serbs themselves. The Serbs were allies of the West in two world wars, they were pro-French, pro-American, pro-Western. But ironically, the very fact that the Serbs were so friendly to the West has made them the perfect target for a no-casualty NATO war. They never thought they were at war with the West, and never really fought back. This made them the perfect enemy for a low-risk NATO experiment.
The Serbs have been used for over fifteen years as guinea pigs.
First of all, the Serbs have been the guinea pigs in an experiment in propaganda demonization.
They have been guinea pigs in the use of weapons using depleted uranium.
They have been guinea pigs in bringing a defenseless country to its knees by use of aerial bombing. Since the overwhelming majority of countries in the world are defenseless against US bombing, this could happen to almost anyone.
They have been guinea pigs in a scandalous judicial experiment in The Hague, staffed and financed by NATO governments to justify NATO bombing.
They have been guinea pigs in an experiment in political subversion, spearheaded by the notorious “Otpor”, financed and trained by the US government to interfere with the electoral process in Yugoslavia so as to stage a phony “revolution” to overthrow Slobodan Milosevic. Otpor has gone on to serve its US paymasters in propagating similar phony “revolutions” to put US puppets in power in Georgia and Ukraine.
The Serbs are still guinea pigs in a disgraceful exercise of blackmail and enticement – the carrot and the stick – pursued by the European Union, which for the past decade has held out the mirage of membership in the European Union to bully Serbian leaders into more and more concessions, for which they get a few crumbs now and then, but never anything resembling recognition of Serbia’s right to justice, or even to existence.
I might add that the Albanians were also used as guinea pigs. But in laboratory experiments, some rats are starved and others are fattened. The Albanian laboratory rats were fattened. This was certainly not for their own good.
The Albanians of Kosovo were used as pawns, to achieve three aims:
1 – To further weaken and break up Yugoslavia, which had been the only independent socialist country in Europe which had close ties with the Third World, notably Arab countries, through the Non-Aligned Movement. Both Yugoslav socialism and non-alignment were weak and fading. But the United States preferred to wipe out all traces of such independent tendencies, just in case, as well as to weaken Serbia, considered a potential ally of Russia.
2 – To provide a new “humanitarian” mission for NATO, as a pretext to change the nature of the alliance from defense of its members to “out of area” operations anywhere in the world where the United States chooses to intervene.
3 – To build Camp Bondsteel, as a part of extension of US bases eastward toward both Russia and the Middle East.
In May, 2000, conservative German Bundestag member Willy Wimmer, vice president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE, attended a high-level conference in Bratislava organized by the US State Department and the American Enterprise Institute on NATO expansion and the Balkans. In a letter to Gerhard Schröder, the German Chanceller at the time, Wimmer enumerated the conclusions of the conference, including these crucial points:
— The war against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was waged in order to rectify General Eisenhower’s erroneous decision, during World War II, not to station US troops in Yugoslavia. For strategic reasons, American troops must be stationed there, to make up for the missed opportunity from 1945. In short, the war was waged to build Camp Bondsteel.
— The Kosovo war represented a precedent, to be followed in the future.
— Serbia (probably for the purposes of securing an unhindered US military presence) must be permanently excluded from European development.
— NATO must gain total control over St. Petersburg’s access to the Baltic Sea.
I repeat: “Serbia must be permanently excluded from European development.” This can explain why the European Union keeps demanding more and more concessions before moving ahead on Serbia’s desire to join.
There is no reason to believe that NATO’s war against the Serbs is over.
I mentioned that Yugoslavia served as an experimental laboratory for interventions elsewhere. It is important to realize that the main place where the lessons from this laboratory could be applied is Russia. This was no doubt in the minds of some of the strategists who steered the US military juggernaut in the direction of Yugoslavia. For some, Yugoslavia was a miniature Soviet Union.
One of these was apparently the influential strategic thinker Zbigniew Brzezinski, the son of a former Polish ambassador to Canada. Brzezinski gives every sign of being a Polish patriot, still fighting with Russia over which country will dominate the lands between Poland and Russia, in particular the Ukraine, which has alternately been part of the Russian and Polish empires. Thus Brzezinski speaks repeatedly of “the Russian threat” to the Ukraine, while the United States builds military bases and holds joint military exercises with countries all around Russia and demands that Ukraine join NATO.
Now I want to call attention to a most significant parallel. Where did the wars of Yugoslav disintegration break out most violently? In a region called the Krajina. Krajina means borderland. So does Ukraine – it is a variant of the same Slavic root. Both Krajina and Ukraine are borderlands between Catholic Christians in the West and Orthodox Christians in the East. The population is divided between those in the East who want to remain tied to Russia, and those in the West who are drawn toward Catholic lands. But in Ukraine as a whole, polls show that some seventy percent of the population is against joining NATO. Yet the US and its satellites keep speaking of Ukraine’s “right” to join NATO. The right not to join NATO is not mentioned.
The condition for Ukraine to join NATO is expelling foreign military bases from Ukrainian territory. That means expelling Russia from its historic naval base at Sebastopol, essential for Russia’s Black Sea fleet. Sebastopol is on the Crimean peninsula, which was transferred from Russian to Ukrainian administration only in 1954, although the population is more than two thirds Russian and never intended to leave Russia.
As the same causes may have the same effects, the US insistence on “liberating” Ukraine from Russian influence may have the same effect as the West’s insistence on “liberating” the Catholic Croats from the Orthodox Serbs. That effect is war. But instead of a small war, against the Serbs, who had neither the means nor the will to fight the West, meaning a war NATO could win with one hand tied behind its back, a war in Ukraine might lead to a NATO war with Russia. A nuclear superpower.
Recently, with the election of Barack Obama, the style of the US government has changed. Where the George W. Bush administration acted unilaterally, the Obama administration wants to act multilaterally. With allies. But the war in Afghanistan goes on, the support to Israel is a sacred dogma, the encirclement of Russia continues.
Presidents come and Presidents go, every four to eight years. There are some differences in domestic policy. But the military-industrial-congressional complex follows its own momentum. Until, perhaps, all the money runs out.
Meanwhile, NATO countries are being enrolled in a new crusade, in the name of vague “Western values”, to Americanize the planet. At a time when the American economic system is crashing down, when old and new civilizations are asserting themselves after several centuries of Western domination, for Europeans and Canadians to follow this doomed crusade is to follow a path of self-destruction.
Exposing the truth about the NATO agression against Yugoslavia is one small but important contribution to awakening the people of Canada and Europe to the deceitful nature of NATO’s “civilizing mission” in the world. I wish you success in this endeavor.