cj#915> Counterpunch magazine on US/NATO bombing


Richard Moore

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Date: Sat, 3 Apr 1999 14:24:03 EST
Subject: Counterpunch magazine on US/NATO bombing
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How the US State Dept. Recruited
Human Rights Groups to Cheer
On the Bombing Raids:
Those Incubator Babies, Once

As the US stepped up its bombing raids against Yugoslavia,
Harold Koh, assistant secretary of state for democracy, human
rights and labor, called the leaders of several US human rights
groups to a hastily arranged meeting at his offices in Foggy
Bottom. Koh started the session by telling the groups' leaders,
who included Amnesty International-USA's head Dr. William
Schulz, that he was sorry that the administration could not support
the extradition of Pinochet. He stressed that while Madeleine
Albright cared deeply about human rights matters, the Defense
Department had quashed the idea. But, Koh said, there was good
news. Albright had convinced the Defense Department and
Clinton that human rights concerns should be the driving force
behind the bombing of the Serbs. Koh said he hoped the human
rights groups would enthusiastically support the mission and
promised that if they did, Albright might even meet with them in
person in the near future.

Amnesty International has obediently hopped to State's tune,
saying in a press release "violations of human rights lie at the heart
of the current conflict in Kosovo, and have done so ever since it
developed during the 1980s. It is therefore essential that the
effective protection and promotion of human rights should be the
centerpiece of any agreement to be reached on Kosovo." On
March 29, the group called for increases in military intelligence
operations on the ground in Kosovo. Human Rights Watch has
also pressed the cause of military intervention, using their Kosovo
Human Rights Flash to draw attention to Serbian abuses. After a
week of unrelenting missile attacks in Yugoslavia and Kosovo,
none of the Human Rights Watch reports included any tallies of
civilian casualties from the NATO bombings. Care Yugoslavia, an
Australian humanitarian aide group, said that over the first week,
NATO bombing raids had killed at least 15 ethnic Kosovars,
when its bombs hit a refugee camp.

A person who attended the meeting tells CounterPunch he was
shocked that many of the leaders endorsed Koh's rationale.
"Human rights is just another affinity cause to be used by Clinton
and Albright when it suits them, rather than consistently and
broadly". he said. "Indeed, human rights concerns could be used
as an excuse for extra-legal military actions that bypass the
security council and/or Congress."

Readers may recall that one particularly successful propaganda
campaign against Iraq saw US government operatives using
Amnesty International to advance the false and easily disprovable
story that Iraqis had murdered over 300 Kuwaiti babies in
August, 1990, by tossing them out of their incubators and letting
them die on the floor. It's not at issue here whether or not Iraqi or
Serb forces are brutal. It's a matter of how human rights
organizations willingly become instruments of state policy. Somalia
offers a particularly vivid example of this.

NATO, Sig Heil!

It's bracing to see the Germans taking part in NATO's bombing.
It lends moral tone to an operation to have the grandsons of the
Third Reich willing, able and eager, to drop high explosive again,
in this instance on the Serbs. To add symmetry to the affair, the
last time Serbs in Belgrade had high explosives dropped on them
was in 1941 by the sons of the Third Reich. To bring even deeper
symmetry, the German political party whose leader, Schroeder,
ordered German participation in the bombing is that of the Social
Democrats, whose great grand-fathers enthusiastically voted
credits to wage war in 1914, to the enormous disgust of Lenin,
who never felt quite the same way about social democrats ever
after. Whether in Germany or England or France all social
democratic parties in 1914 tossed aside previous pledges against
war, thus helping produce the first great bloodletting of our
century. Today, with social democrats leading governments
across Europe-Schroeder, Blair, Jospin, Prodi-all fall in behind
Clinton. This is, largely, a war most earnestly supported by
liberals and many so-called leftists.

There's been some patronizing talk here about the Serbs' deep
sense of "grievance" at the way history has treated them, with the
implication that the Serbs are irrational in this regard. But it's
scarcely irrational to remember that Nazi Germany bombed
Belgrade in the Second World War, or that Germany's prime ally
in the region, Croatia, ran a concentration camp at Jasenovac
where tens of thousands of Serbs - along with Jews and gypsies -
were liquidated. Nor is it irrational to recall that Germany in more
recent years has been an unrelenting assailant of the former
Yugoslav federation, encouraging Slovenia to secede and lending
determined support to Croatia, in gratitude for which Croatia
adopted, on independence in 1991, the German hymn, "Danke

So much for Serb feelings about Germany. Serbia has some
reason to feel similar resentment towards the United States. The
biggest single ethnic cleansing of the mid-1990s in the former
Yugoslavia was conducted by Croatia under the supervision of
the United States, whose military generals and CIA officers issued
targeting instructions to Croatian artillery for the ethnic clearing.
The targets were Serbs, living in Serbian territory, in the Krajina.
Heading the Croatian cleansers was president Franjo Tudjman,
who has rehabbed Nazi war criminals. Yet somehow it is Serbia's
Milosevic who is demonized here as Hitler.

In 1999 Bill Clinton more or less left the UN's secretary general,
Kofi Annan, to find out from CNN about NATO's decision to
bomb. The US game, abetted chiefly by Blair's UK, is to make
NATO the arbiter of Europe's borders and "security", and to
boycott the UN as a forum.

The twentieth-century illusion of air power is once again being
exposed. Now come demands for ground troops and a route
march into deeper madness, wider killing and misery. The only
chance is rising protest from Americans, from the world
community, from dissident countries in NATO with calls for a
cease-fire and a genuine, UN peace-keeping force in Kosovo
with no troops from the contending parties and their allies. Absent
that, why not a drive for impeachment of Bill Clinton, on serious
grounds at last, for abusing Congress's war-making powers and
also his sworn duty to uphold the international treaties to which
the US has set its name."

Pick the Warmonger

A quiz: Which US rep said: "At this point I support the NATO
sponsored air-strikes that are currently taking place." And which
US rep said: "This is not a proud moment for America...as bad as
the violence is towards the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, our ability
to police and stop all ethnic fighting around the world is quite
limited, and the efforts are quite simply not permitted under
constitutional law."Yes, the first is from the brass-lunged armchair
bomber of Vermont, Bernard Sanders and the second from Ron
Paul, libertarian from Texas. How long will the long-suffering
progressives of Vermont tolerate their hypocritical rep without



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