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April 13, 1999
#15-99 Morality or Western Interests: NATO in Yugoslavia
Phillip Babich: Welcome to Making Contact, an international radio program
seeking to create connections between people, vital ideas and important
information. This week on Making Contact:
Michel Chossudovsky: The NATO charter says, it clearly stipulates, that
they only intervene in defensive actions, they don't intervene in a
military offensive of this nature.
Nadja Tesich: NATO is a policeman. It's not some sort of sweet, wonderful,
peaceful force, the way Americans think. They're just cops. They're
policemen. And their aim is conquest and colonization.
Phillip Babich: On this program we take a look at some of the less-reported
factors behind the U.S.-led attacks on Yugoslavia: NATO expansion and
forced economic reforms in that region. I'm Phillip Babich, your host this
week on Making Contact.
When the bombs started falling on Yugoslavia in late March, President
Clinton claimed that it was a moral thing to do. Spokespeople were trotted
out to talk shows to promote this point of view, including a religious
organization called "The God Squad." A rabbi and a priest told an MSNBC
audience, for example, that it is rare for U.S. foreign policy to be
carried out strictly for moral reasons, but here was such an occasion
Americans could be proud of.
In the piles of corporate-media coverage of the conflicts in Yugoslavia,
it's difficult to sift out what's really going on. We're encouraged to
believe that while the Serbs, led by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic,
are the bad guys, the Kosovo Liberation Army, fighters for independence,
are the good guys. But, independent reports reveal that atrocities have
been committed by both the KLA and the Serbian army. One perspective comes
from Sara Flounders Flounders, co-editor of "NATO in the Balkans: Voices of
Opposition," and with the International Action Center in New York. She
talks about how Yugoslavia looked ten years ago, just before we began to
hear reports of rising ethnic tensions that were leading to fragmentation
of the region.
Sara Flounders: It's very important to see that it's not...it's always
described as ancient ethnic hatred suddenly reaching a wild and
unpredictable level. Yugoslavia, ten years, ago was a prosperous,
multinational, multicultural, multiethnic society with health care and
education on a level with Western Europe. And with a rapidly developing
industry. It wasn't quite at the level of Western Europe, but it was
certainly an extremely prosperous society. Sarajevo was where the Olympics
were held. Western European people had historically vacationed on the
Adriatic throughout the '70s and '80s. And so on.
Phillip Babich: According to Michel Chossudovsky, professor of economics at
the University of Ottawa in Canada, the Yugoslav Republic began to fracture
at a time when U.S. policy was calling for major shifts in that region's
economy. This policy was implemented through the World Bank and
International Monetary Fund, says Chossudovsky, and resulted in economic
hardship for working people.
Michel Chossudovsky: This was also preceded in the early '80s by a
statement a strategic and geopolitical statement by the United States,
which was contained in a national security decision directive - which has
recently been declassified. And it identifies the direction of change in
Yugoslavia. In other words, to encourage the transition toward a so-called
free market economy, but ultimately, in practice; what that meant was the
dismantling of the system of self-managed enterprises. And, in fact, that
was implemented alongside changes in the legal codes and so on. So, this is
the background. In other words, it's a country that had been literally
impoverished as the result of macroeconomic reforms. At the same time, that
has created conditions that fueled ethnic conflicts. Yugoslavia has been
subjected to very major macroeconomic reforms going back to the 1980s, but
the climax was reached in 1990, under the pro-US government of Prime
Minister Ante Markovic, where the IMF-sponsored reform was implemented. And
it virtually contributed to fracturing the Yugoslav Federation, because it
froze all transfer payments to the Republics and redirected state revenues
to meet the demands of creditors. At the same time, a very deadly
bankruptcy program was implemented under World Bank jurisdiction. It
literally ordered the closing down of half the industrial sector in a
matter of months. If you look at the levels of unemployment, the lay-offs
which took place during that period, we 're talking about something like
two million people only in industry who lost their jobs.
Phillip Babich: A little-known clause in the November 1990 foreign
appropriations bill, says Flounders, added to the economic downward spiral
Sara Flounders: At the time of the Gulf War, there was a very important
piece of legislation - November, 1990, in a foreign appropriations bill -
that explicitly stated that within six months of the passage of the
legislation, all loans, all trade, all credits, and all aid to the Yugoslav
Federation would end. Now, there was peace at this time in Yugoslavia,
there was no civil war, it was before any of the cessations or breakup. All
of this would end within six months and funding would not resume to the
region until and unless each of the Republics held separate, independent
elections, the results of which the State Department approved. Now, of
course, State Department approval of dictatorships around the world is
really based on U.S. interests and what approval they have of the
government as a whole, not how democratic the election is. Literally within
six months to the day of the passage of this legislation, both Croatia and
Slovenia withdrew from the Yugoslav Federation. Two months later, Bosnia.
And this was the beginning of the civil war.
Phillip Babich: Chossudovsky adds that valuable natural resources are at
stake in the region.
Michel Chossudovsky: There's a lot of mineral wealth in the Balkans.
There's oil in Yugoslavia, definitely, There's also oil in Albania. There's
chrome - absolutely very large fields of chrome in Albania, which is now
being - there are negotiations with a U.S. company. These are important
considerations, the control of strategic energy and minerals; I think it's
certainly part of this war.
Phillip Babich: Central to the disputes in Yugoslavia and Kosovo are two
major peace agreements: The Dayton Accords, signed in November 1995, and
the Rambouillet Agreement, which was signed by a delegation of ethnic
Albanians from Kosovo, in March of this year. Chossudovsky says that the
two agreements are similar and essentially call for a Western-controlled
Kosovo, an unacceptable arrangement for Yugoslav President Milosevic.
Michel Chossudovsky: One thing that is not always understood is that the
Constitution of Bosnia-Herzegovina was an appendix of the Dayton Agreement
which had been drafted by Western lawyers and consultants. And one of the
articles of this Constitution specifically stipulated the governor of the
Central Bank of Bosnia-Herzegovna will be appointed by the IMF and the
governor of the Central Banks of Bosnia-Herzegovna shall not be a citizen
of Bosnia-Herzegovnia or a neighboring country. Now that's in the
Constitution, which essentially means that what the Western, essentially
the Europeans and Americans have imposed is a colonial administration in
Bosnia, with an occupation force which initially, as we know, was over
70,000 troops. And what they have under the proposed Rambouillet Agreement
is virtually the same thing. It's to transform Kosovo into a territory
under the mandate and administration of the West.
Phillip Babich: Another pivotal moment in modern Yugoslav history came in
1990, after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Then-Soviet President
Mikhail Gorbachev no longer claimed the right to defend Eastern Bloc
countries, according to Barry Lituchy, teacher of modern European history
at Kingsborough Community College and author of numerous articles on the
crisis in Yugoslavia. In a conversation, moderated by Ellen Andors, Lituchy
spoke with Nadja Tesich, a filmmaker and novelist from Yugoslavia, who now
lives in New York, about some of the factors that led to the break up of
Barry Lituchy: The turning point came with the rise of Gorbachev to power
in the Soviet Union, and the beginning of the decline, the beginning of the
end of the Eastern Bloc. And once Gorbachev essentially signed away the
right to defend the Eastern Bloc countries or the Communist countries in
Eastern Europe, that altered U.S. and Western policy toward Yugoslavia. At
that point, Yugoslavia was no longer necessary and it became necessary from
an American point of view, from British and German point of view, to
destroy Yugoslavia. And that destruction began almost immediately in 1989;
as the Berlin wall was coming down, George Bush called the leaders of, at
that time, the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia, Ante Markovic, to Washington.
He threatened Ante Markovic in Washington. He told Markovic that Yugoslavia
had to call for so-called 'free and democratic elections' in the Republics
of Yugoslavia. The purpose of which, from the American point of view, was
to complete the process of dismembering Yugoslavia and restoring a
capitalist economy in Yugoslavia. The United States said, "If you do not do
that, we will undermine you and destroy you anyway."
Nadja Tesich: Then he said you will have all these little countries. All
these countries cannot support themselves. They will have to be dependent
on someone else, instead of what Yugoslavia was able to do. The economy
functioned in such a way that something produced in Slovenia went to other
republics, something like in Serbia like fruits and vegetables, went to
Slovenia, etc, they were complementing each other. And of course, now, in
Slovenia, they have to buy things from Austria, at five times more-
Barry Lituchy: De-industrializing the peoples of Yugoslavia and essentially
adding these peoples to other empires for economic exploitation.
Sara Flounders: Well, they said they'd be getting a force which will be
cheap, but in addition they will be more educated, they say, than they
could find in some underdeveloped countries. So, they are going to get two
things: cheap labor and trained workers who will do their work for nothing.
Barry Lituchy: Elections were held in 1990 in Serbia and Montenegro. The
Socialist, formerly the Communists, retained power. They were still
committed to essentially a Socialist political program, whereas the new
Croatian leadership, the Slovenian leadership, the Macedonian leadership,
and the Bosnian leadership (the Bosnia-Muslim leadership, anyway) was
committed to capitalist restoration, neo-colonialism.
That really established the basis for the civil wars in Yugoslavia that
began towards the end of 1990 and have continued ever since. And ever since
then, we have seen the United States and the NATO powers essentially use
various international organizations to undermine the sovereignty of the
peoples of Yugoslavia. If I recall correctly, Yugoslavia had a 23 billion
dollar debt at the time at which the effort to destabilize and destroy
Yugoslavia began, in 1990. And that 23 billion dollar debt represented the
leverage, the leverage that the NATO or Western neocolonial powers had over
Yugoslavia and the peoples of Yugoslavia. If foreign loans were not a
sufficient tool, there was always the possibility of moving on towards
Nadja Tesich: In order to prepare U.S. children for what they're going to
be doing to my people, to prepare them and brainwash them, there was a
special issue done by the New York Times, that nobody can buy. You cannot
buy it, nor can I. It was simply given to schools, and there is something
just unbelievable. Sharp, sinister, montage of pictures, articles, where
there's only one enemy and that enemy is a Serb. And who are the good guys?
NATO are the good guys. NATO as the liberator appears. As the only
liberator that will bring peace.
Where, in fact, it's obvious that NATO is a policeman. It's not some sort
of sweet, wonderful, peaceful force; the way Americans think. They're just
cops. They're policemen. And their aim is conquest and colonization. And
what are they doing?: they're bombing civilians, they're bombing hospitals,
they're bombing schools, they're bombing small towns, they're bombing towns
where there's nothing else. They're bombing to kill us, and the media
prepared the way, each step.
Barry Lituchy: What this conflict is really about is about colonial
expansion, it's about NATO expansion, it's about setting new precedents for
violating national rights. And the KLA, even towards its own people, kills
everyone or has intimidated or murdered Albanians who disagree with its
political authority. In other words, they're fundamentally antidemocratic
were talking about a fundamentally anti-democratic - if you don't want to
use the word facist, then highly authoritarian, racist, nationalist
movement. And so it's the worst thing in the world for the Albanians
Phillip Babich: Barry Lituchy and Nadja Tesich speaking with Ellen Andors
of the People's Video Network.
Laura Livoti: You're listening to Making Contact, a production of the
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Phillip Babich: Critics of the U.S.-led bombings of Yugoslavia say that one
of the factors that led to these attacks is to exert Western interests in
dominating that region through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization,
NATO. Michel Chossudovsky says that NATO's air strikes violate the
organization's own charter which limits the alliance to defensive military
Michel Chossudovsky: The NATO charter says, clearly stipulates, that they
only intervene in defensive actions, they don't intervene in military a
offensive of this nature. But, of course, what the statements made by,
particularly by Clinton to this effect, say that "this is not war, this is
a humanitarian operation." We are waging a war against a people, using the
pretext of an internal problem within the province of Kosovo, where there
is a civil war ongoing, to intervene. I don't buy that. The KLA is linked
to organized crime and to the drug trade, but nonetheless they consider
them freedom fighters and [the KLA are] receiving support from Washington.
What is the legitimacy of this organization?
Phillip Babich: Sara Flounders adds that the bombings in Yugoslavia
represent the first time that NATO has launched an offensive strike. She
spoke with Making Contact from her office in New York.
Sara Flounders: As a matter of fact, there was a New York Times article
back in November, November 28th, entitled, "The Policy Struggles: Stories
Within NATO," talking about this precedent and the debate within Europe
about defining NATO into a global police force to be used for intervention
not only within Europe or in dispute between countries in Europe or what
its role was during the Cold War which was supposedly as an alliance...a
defensive alliance but now, as a police force that could be used in the
Middle East, in Africa, and in Asia. The same discussion was taken up in an
article in the Los Angeles Times and the International Herald Tribune on
December 5th: William Path described, just to take a quote, "Washington
sees this as a precedent for a new NATO. It goes beyond the Balkans," and
he talks about actions against Iraq, Iran, and in South Africa, South Asia,
and other trouble-making "rogue states."
Phillip Babich: Citing from an article from the Multinational Monitor (this
is March, 1998): The largest U.S. military contractors have been
aggressively promoting a scheme that could cost U.S. taxpayers up to $250
billion between now and the year 2010, and that's for NATO expansion. Is
there really this enormous push for NATO expansion?
Sara Flounders: There certainly is. Within Russia and in all of the former
Soviet states. In Azerbaijan, in Uzbekistan, and so on, there is only a
small corrupt grouping at the top. There's no support for the governments
and yet there's billions of dollars of resources at stake. For example, the
oil in the Caspian Sea. How will these vast resources and industries that
have now been privatized, be secure? This is a real problem facing the big
corporations, facing U.S. policy makers, facing Pentagon planners in the
decade to come. And their solution is NATO. As a police force for the
region, NATO is really a U.S.-commanded military alliance. Also involving
and including the other major West European powers, but it really has
always pursued, primarily, the agenda of the United States and U.S.
corporate interests. So, it's become a vital player, and it's important to
set the precedent for interventions within the coming decade.
Phillip Babich: Let's talk about this NATO connection to the bombing in
Yugoslavia and Kosovo.
Sara Flounders: The real dispute of NATO against Yugoslavia is on the
question of sending troops. Yugoslavia has said that it would accept any
political agreement on the question of Kosovo. The only thing that it would
not allow is foreign bases and foreign troops within their country. This
was the one issue, the one breaking point, the one dividing point. And
really Yugoslavia is the only country in Europe that has refused to allow
U.S. bases or U.S. troops. The KLA, the Kosovo Liberation Army, is very
much a contra-army, such as we've seen built, financed, and trained in
other parts of the world. We can see this most clearly both from
Christopher Hedge's articles in the New York Times at the beginning of last
year, when the KLA was an army of 50 people growing very rapidly into an
army with very sophisticated weapons that are not even available on the
world arms market. Up to the recent article in Soldier of Fortune Magazine,
the April issue - which also describes the KLA - how NATO had helped by
ordering a pullback by the Yugoslavia army, and during that time helping
the KLA refinance, rearm, train and refit itself. Soldier of Fortune
magazine, of course, is a mercenary magazine. This is really not at all a
liberation struggle. It is a creation, a tool of the Pentagon and its
Phillip Babich: Well, lastly, I'm wondering if you can let a listener know
what are the important points to remember about this situation. Clearly
it's very complicated, many factions involved, many interests involved,
although you are describing unifying themes within it. But, what's
important for someone to understand?
Sara Flounders: I think the most important thing for someone to understand
is all of this is taking place without the knowledge of the American
people. It's a secret agenda that is in the interest of major corporations
- military corporations, large oil corporations, and how they refashion
Europe and Russia and the Middle East; whole regions are at stake. And yet,
it's all stolen, from social programs, right here at home. This is a time
of enormous cutbacks in health care and social programs and education.
We're told again and again there isn't money for any of these things and
yet, there is enormous money to carry out wars that are destructive of
whole peoples. It will create a firestorm of resistance. It's important for
people of the United States to weigh in on this issue; to actively impose,
in the same way that if there was opposition to the wars in Central
America. The American people can play a role, can oppose these wars, and
really make it very difficult for the Pentagon to carry out their plans.
Phillip Babich: Sara Flounders, co-editor of the book, "NATO in the
Balkans: Voices of Opposition."
Michel Chossudovsky says that the international movement against the
bombings includes people from other NATO countries.
Michel Chossudovsky: There have been demonstrations all over Europe. There
have been demonstrations in the United States and Canada. In Australia,
there was a large demonstration. And the question is, will the American
people believe in the Hollywood style reports that they are getting over
CNN and ABC news, which literally presents a distorted view of what is
actually happening? Will they believe it when they see civilian casualties,
destruction of cities, schools, hospitals, when women and children are
being killed as a result of the bombings?
Phillip Babich: Michel Chossudovsky, Professor of Economics at the
University of Ottawa, in Canada.
That's it for this edition of Making Contact, a look at U.S. economic and
strategic interests in Yugoslavia. Thanks for listening. And special thanks
this week to Sue Harris and Ellen Andors of the People's Video Network for
providing recorded portions. We had production assistance from Stephanie
Welch and Courtney Malone. Laura Livoti is our Managing Director. Peggy Law
is Executive Director. Our Production Assistant is Shereen Meraji. Norman
Solomon is Senior Advisor. Our National Producer is David Barsamian. And
I'm your host and Managing Producer Phillip Babich.
If you want more information about the subject of this week's program, call
the National Radio Project at 800-529-5736. Call that same phone number for
tapes and transcripts. That's 800-529-5736. Making Contact is an
independent production. We're committed to providing a forum for voices and
opinions not often heard in the mass media. If you have suggestions for
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Charlie Hunter Trio. 'Bye for now.
For More Information
Michel Chossudovsky, University of Ottawa
21 First Ave.
Terrace-Vaudreuil, Quebec CANADA J7V3T5
e-mail: choso at uottawa.ca
Sara Flounders, International Action Center
39 West 14th St.
New York, NY 10011
Kingsborough Community College, New York
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