The “Humanitarian War” In Yugoslavia Set the Stage for Subsequent “Humanitarian” Interventions In Libya, Syria and Other Nations
The first “humanitarian war” in the post-Cold War era was in the Kosovo, Bosnia and Serbia regions of Yugoslavia (Croatia and Slovenia were regions of Yugoslavia which also played into the war).
Humanitarian bombing is a phrase referring to the 1999 NATO bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (24 March – 10 June 1999) during the Kosovo War …. The closely related phrase humanitarian war appeared at the same time.
Indeed, the war in Yugoslavia set the pattern for all subsequent “humanitarian wars” … in Libya, Syira, Nigeria (think Boko Haram), and elsewhere.
Leading anti-war activist David Swanson gives an overview:
What your government told you about the bombing of Kosovo was false. And it matters.
NATO’s breakout war of aggression, its first post-Cold-War war to assert its power … this was put over on us as an act of philanthropy.
The killing hasn’t stopped. NATO keeps expanding its membership and its mission, notably into places like Afghanistan and Libya. It matters how this got started, because it’s going to be up to us to stop it.
The United States worked for the breakup of Yugoslavia, intentionally prevented negotiated agreements among the parties, and engaged in a massive bombing campaign … This was accomplished through lies, fabrications, and exaggerations about atrocities, and then justified anachronistically as a response to violence that it generated.
After the bombing, the U.S. allowed the Bosnian Muslims to agree to a peace plan very similar to the plan that the U.S. had been blocking prior to the bombing spree. Here’s U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali:
“In its first weeks in office, the Clinton administration has administered a death blow to the Vance-Owen plan that would have given the Serbs 43 percent of the territory of a unified state. In 1995 at Dayton, the administration took pride in an agreement that, after nearly three more years of horror and slaughter, gave the Serbs 49 percent in a state partitioned into two entities.”
These many years later it should matter to us that we were told about fake atrocities that researchers were unable to ever find, any more than anyone could ever find the weapons in Iraq, or the evidence of plans to slaughter civilians in Benghazi, or the evidence of Syrian chemical weapons use.
NATO had to bomb Kosovo 15 years ago to prevent a genocide? Really? Why sabotage negotiations? Why pull out all observers?
It is Yugoslavia, not Iraq or Afghanistan, that war proponents will continue pointing to for years to come as a model for future wars — unless we stop them. This was a war that broke new ground ….
John Pilger is a highly-regarded journalist (the BBC’s world affairs editor John Simpson remarked, “a country that does not have a John Pilger in its journalism is a very feeble place indeed”). Pilger writes this week:
The “humanitarian war” against Libya drew on a model close to western liberal hearts, especially in the media. In 1999, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair sent NATO to bomb Serbia, because, they lied, the Serbs were committing “genocide” against ethnic Albanians in the secessionist province of Kosovo.
David Scheffer, U.S. ambassador-at-large for war crimes [sic], claimed that as many as “225,000 ethnic Albanian men aged between 14 and 59″ might have been murdered. Both Clinton and Blair evoked the Holocaust and “the spirit of the Second World War.”
The West’s heroic allies were the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), whose criminal record was set aside. The British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, told them to call him any time on his mobile phone.
With the NATO bombing over, and much of Serbia’s infrastructure in ruins, along with schools, hospitals, monasteries and the national TV station, international forensic teams descended upon Kosovo to exhume evidence of the “holocaust.” The FBI failed to find a single mass grave and went home. The Spanish forensic team did the same, its leader angrily denouncing “a semantic pirouette by the war propaganda machines.”
A year later, a United Nations tribunal on Yugoslavia announced the final count of the dead in Kosovo: 2,788. This included combatants on both sides and Serbs and Roma murdered by the KLA. There was no genocide. The “holocaust” was a lie. The NATO attack had been fraudulent.
Behind the lie, there was serious purpose. Yugoslavia was a uniquely independent, multi-ethnic federation that had stood as a political and economic bridge in the Cold War. Most of its utilities and major manufacturing was publicly owned. This was not acceptable to the expanding European Community, especially newly united Germany, which had begun a drive east to capture its “natural market” in the Yugoslav provinces of Croatia and Slovenia.
By the time the Europeans met at Maastricht in 1991 to lay their plans for the disastrous eurozone, a secret deal had been struck; Germany would recognize Croatia. Yugoslavia was doomed.
In Washington, the U.S. saw that the struggling Yugoslav economy was denied World Bank loans. NATO, then an almost defunct Cold War relic, was reinvented as imperial enforcer. At a 1999 Kosovo “peace” conference in Rambouillet, in France, the Serbs were subjected to the enforcer’s duplicitous tactics.
The Rambouillet accord included a secret Annex B, which the U.S. delegation inserted on the last day. This demanded the military occupation of the whole of Yugoslavia — a country with bitter memories of the Nazi occupation — and the implementation of a “free-market economy” and the privatization of all government assets. No sovereign state could sign this. Punishment followed swiftly; NATO bombs fell on a defenseless country. It was the precursor to the catastrophes in Afghanistan and Iraq, Syria and Libya, and Ukraine.
And see this.
Jack Cashill writes:
The House’s Benghazi select committee may want to ask how the U.S. got involved in Libya in the first place. What they will discover is that Barack Obama borrowed a page from the Clinton playbook on Kosovo, a lethal exercise in mendacity unparalleled in recent American history.
In 1999, Serbian authorities were attempting to suppress an insurrection by ethnic Albanian Muslims in the Kosovo province of their fracturing nation. Like Obama, President Bill Clinton had not bothered getting congressional approval before unleashing America’s air power.
To bolster public support, Clinton and his people began a drumbeat about mass graves, ethnic cleansing, and genocide. As in Libya, there was no stated reason for this war other than to prevent genocide.
President Clinton compared the work of the Serbs in Kosovo to the German “genocide” of the Jews during the Holocaust and assured America that “tens of thousands of people” had been murdered.
In the war’s wake, however, international teams could find no signs of genocide. The ethnic Albanian dead numbered in the hundreds, not in the hundreds of thousands.
In 2001, a United Nations court ruled, “Serbian troops did not carry out genocide against ethnic Albanians.”
William Blum writes:
Kosovo, overwhelmingly Muslim, was a province of Serbia, the main republic of the former Yugoslavia. In 1998, Kosovo separatists – The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) – began an armed conflict with Belgrade to split Kosovo from Serbia. The KLA was considered a terrorist organization by the U.S., the UK and France for years, with numerous reports of the KLA having contact with al-Qaeda, getting arms from them, having its militants trained in al-Qaeda camps in Pakistan, and even having members of al-Qaeda in KLA ranks fighting against the Serbs. [RT TV (Moscow), May 4, 2012]
However, when U.S.-NATO forces began military action against the Serbs the KLA was taken off the U.S. terrorist list, it “received official US-NATO arms and training support” [Wall Street Journal, Nov. 1, 2001], and the 1999 U.S.-NATO bombing campaign eventually focused on driving Serbian forces from Kosovo.
In 2008 Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia, an independence so illegitimate and artificial that the majority of the world’s nations still have not recognized it. But the United States was the first to do so, the very next day, thus affirming the unilateral declaration of independence of a part of another country’s territory.
The KLA have been known for their trafficking in women, heroin, and human body parts (sic). The United States has naturally been pushing for Kosovo’s membership in NATO and the European Union.
Nota bene: In 1992 the Bosnian Muslims, Croats, and Serbs reached agreement in Lisbon for a unified state. The continuation of a peaceful multi-ethnic Bosnia seemed assured. But the United States sabotaged the agreement. [New York Times, June 17, 1993, buried at the very end of the article on an inside page]
The “Humanitarian War” In Libya
The same thing happened during the “humanitarian” war in Libya.
The public sodomizing of the Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi with a “rebel” bayonet was greeted by the then U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, with the words: “We came, we saw, he died.” His murder, like the destruction of his country, was justified with a familiar big lie; he was planning “genocide” against his own people.
“We knew … that if we waited one more day,” said President Barack Obama, “Benghazi, a city the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.”
This was the fabrication of Islamist militias facing defeat by Libyan government forces. They told Reuters there would be “a real bloodbath, a massacre like we saw in Rwanda.” Reported on March 14, 2011, the lie provided the first spark for NATO’s inferno, described by David Cameron as a “humanitarian intervention.”
For Obama, Cameron and Hollande, Gaddafi’s true crime was Libya’s economic independence and his declared intention to stop selling Africa’s greatest oil reserves in U.S. dollars. The petrodollar is a pillar of American imperial power.
Gaddafi audaciously planned to underwrite a common African currency backed by gold, establish an all-Africa bank and promote economic union among poor countries with prized resources. Whether or not this would happen, the very notion was intolerable to the U.S. as it prepared to “enter” Africa and bribe African governments with military “partnerships.”
Following NATO’s attack under cover of a Security Council resolution, Obama, wrote Garikai Chengu, “confiscated $30 billion from Libya’s Central Bank, which Gaddafi had earmarked for the establishment of an African Central Bank and the African gold backed dinar currency.”
The reality of what happened in Benghazi is not pretty:
According to a 2007 report by West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center’s center, the Libyan city of Benghazi was one of Al Qaeda’s main headquarters – and bases for sending Al Qaeda fighters into Iraq – prior to the overthrow of Gaddafi:
The Hindustan Times reported in 2011:
“There is no question that al Qaeda’s Libyan franchise, Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, is a part of the opposition,” Bruce Riedel, former CIA officer and a leading expert on terrorism, told Hindustan Times.
It has always been Qaddafi’s biggest enemy and its stronghold is Benghazi.
Gaddafi was on the verge of invading Benghazi in 2011, 4 years after the West Point report cited Benghazi as a hotbed of Al Qaeda terrorists. Gaddafi claimed – rightly it turns out – that Benghazi was an Al Qaeda stronghold and a main source of the Libyan rebellion. But NATO planes stopped him, and protected Benghazi.
In other words, the only real “bloodbath” which would have occurred if Gaddafi had been allowed to take Benghazi was among members of Al Qaeda.
For the Libyan conflict, Alan Kuperman, a Democrat and author of The Limits of Humanitarian Intervention, did the calculations that the media refused to do. Just two weeks after the president’s address on Libya, Kuperman made the simple point, “The best evidence that Khadafy did not plan genocide in Benghazi is that he did not perpetrate it in the other cities he had recaptured.” He cited the Human Rights Watch data from Misurata, a city of 400,000 that Qaddafi’s forces had recently seized. There, in nearly two months of war, only 257 people were killed, including combatants. In Rwanda by contrast, more than 800,000 Tutsis were killed in just ninety days.
What did happen in Libya, Kuperman explained, is that rebel forces, fearing imminent defeat, faked a humanitarian crisis. On March 14, a rebel spokesman told Reuters that if Khadafy attacked Benghazi, there would be “a real bloodbath, a massacre like we saw in Rwanda.’’ On March 21, The New York Times’ David Kirkpatrick reported, “The rebels feel no loyalty to the truth in shaping their propaganda, claiming nonexistent battlefield victories, asserting they were still fighting in a key city days after it fell to Qaddafi forces, and making vastly inflated claims of his barbaric behavior.”
No matter, the U.S. military had already started bombing. A month later, Obama co-signed a letter claiming, “The bloodbath that he had promised to inflict on the citizens of the besieged city of Benghazi has been prevented.” In the retelling, the “he” doing the promising was Qaddafi. In reality, the only people who promised bloodbaths were the rebel spokesmen and the Western leaders. By this time, Obama had to know that the pretext for war was false, but he would continue to pursue it for another six deadly months.
As the insurgency dragged on, the insurgents began spreading the myth that Qaddafi had been using African mercenaries. This falsehood, said the Times, “Rebels repeat as fact over and over.” Fired up by rumors of black mercenaries on Viagra-fueled rape sprees, the rebels did some ethnic cleansing on their own. Patrick Cockburn of the Independent saw the evidence up close. “Any Libyan with a black skin accused of fighting for the old regime may have a poor chance of survival,” he concluded. Obama chose not to notice. These young men may have looked like his son, but they were not being killed in a battleground state during an election year.
On October 20, 2011, militia members took Qaddafi prisoner, indelicately sodomized him with a knife, and captured it all on video. They then threw Qaddafi, still breathing, onto a pickup truck. When the truck pulled away, he promptly fell off. Said a giddy Obama in a Rose Garden speech about this Keystone Cops-meets-Mad Max muddle, “The dark shadow of tyranny has been lifted.” In claiming victory, Obama championed the victors and made Libya his personal success story. This would have consequences not too far down the road.
If the major media were willing to endorse Obama’s narrative, Alan Kuperman was not. Writing for the Harvard Kennedy School’s International Security journal in 2013, Kuperman unspun the web of deception that the Libyan rebels and their NATO enablers had woven. “The biggest misconception about NATO’s intervention,” wrote Kuperman, “is that it saved lives and benefited Libya and its neighbors.”
In fact, Qaddafi did not attack peaceful protesters. The rebels started the violence, and Qaddafi responded. Barely six weeks after the rebellion started, Qaddafi had all but suppressed it at the cost of about one thousand lives. Then Obama authorized NATO intervention. That intervention prolonged the war seven months and cost roughly seven thousand more lives. At war’s end, rebels killed scores of the former enemy in reprisal killings and exiled some 30,000 black Africans.
Humanitarian War Means … Backing Al Qaeda?
Amazingly, in both Yugoslavia and Libya, America and her allies supported Al Qaeda terrorists so that they would bring down the government.
And Cashill notes:
Secretly supplied and trained by Britain’s SAS, many of the “rebels” would become ISIS, whose latest video offering shows the beheading of 21 Coptic Christian workers seized in Sirte, the city destroyed on their behalf by NATO bombers.
During the insurrection, the Obama administration had been funneling money to Qatar to help arm Libyans rebels. As the Times reported more than a year after the fact, “The weapons and money from Qatar strengthened militant groups in Libya, allowing them to become a destabilizing force since the fall of the Qaddafi government.”
In Yugoslavia, Naval War College professor of strategy and former NSA intelligence analyst and counterintelligence officer John R. Schindler documents that the U.S. supported Bin Laden and other Al Qaeda terrorists in Bosnia.
On Nov. 1, 2001, less than two months after the 9/11 attacks, the Wall Street Journal declared:
“It is safe to say that the birth of al-Qaeda as a force on the world stage can be traced directly back to 1992, when the Bosnian Muslim government of Alija Izetbegovic issued a passport in their Vienna embassy to Osama bin Laden. … for the past 10 years, the most senior leaders of al-Qaeda have visited the Balkans, including bin Laden himself on three occasions between 1994 and 1996. The Egyptian surgeon turned terrorist leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri has operated terrorist training camps, weapons of mass destruction factories and money-laundering and drug-trading networks throughout Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey and Bosnia. This has gone on for a decade.”
A few months later, The Guardian reported on “the full story of the secret alliance between the Pentagon and radical Islamist groups from the Middle East designed to assist the Bosnian Muslims – some of the same groups that the Pentagon is now fighting in ‘the war against terrorism’.”
In 1994 and 1995 US/NATO forces carried out bombing campaigns over Bosnia aimed at damaging the military capability of the Serbs and enhancing that of the Bosnian Muslims. In the decade-long civil wars in the Balkans, the Serbs, regarded by Washington as the “the last communist government in Europe,” were always the main enemy.
Humanitarian War … An Old Ruse
The concept of “humanitarian war” has fooled a lot of people for a long time.
In announcing his invasion of Poland, Hitler said:
I ordered the German Air Force to conduct humanitarian warfare [in Poland] ….
Michael Mandel notes:
The notion of a “humanitarian war” would have rang in the ears of the drafters of the UN Charter as nothing short of Hitlerian, because it was precisely the justification used by Hitler himself for the invasion of Poland just six years earlier.”