SIRIUS: The Strategic Issues Research Institute
Benjamin C. Works, Director
--Speak the Truth and Shame the Devil--
STRATEGIC ISSUES TODAY
SIT 4-18; April 18, 1999
In this Issue: Complications, Credibility and Incredible Nonsense
Iraq is back in the business of harassing US aircraft in both no fly zones.
In the middle of Operation "Allied Force" --"Allied Farce" as critics
increasingly call it-- NATO commander General Wesley Clark --"The Supreme
Being" as sarcastic NATO staffers now call him-- had to revive patrols over
northern Iraq, transferring combat planes back to Incirlik from Italy. He
had pulled those Incirlik aircraft to Italy on March 20.
But something must be up in the air and on the ground in northern Iraq. And
in the wake of the assassination of Lieutenant-General Ali Sayyad-Shirazi.
Sayyad- Shirazi, Iran's Deputy Chief of General Staff and advisor to Iran's
supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on April 10, there appear to be troops
massing along the common Iraq-Iran border on both sides.
NATO & Credibility: Many have taken up the position that "once your are in
it; you must win it." The credibility of NATO and the United States are at
stake, many argue, including Al Haig, Henry Kissinger, and of course, John
McCain. David Hackworth and I, along with other more sensible minds, reject
the argument as specious, given that it was misbegotten from the beginning.
"Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em," and never reinforce failure.
NATO is betting the ranch on a pair of deuces.
NATO cannot lose its credibility as a defensive treaty, and has no
credibility as an aggressor. If any credibility is at stake, it is the
intellectual credibility of the current members of NATO's committees of
ambassadors, Foreign ministers and Defense ministers.
As to the United States, its credibility would not be at stake if it accepted
a realistic way out of the bombing campaign, but its honor hangs in the
balance of history if we were to launch a punitive ground war against
Yugoslavia, based on a badly skewed view of the facts, as the SIRIUS archives
and other unbiased observers continue to demonstrate.
Albanian Society --No Centers of Gravity in Never-Never land
I received two reports on April 14 of banditry in Northern Albania. These
are now included in a new archive (Albania-KLA-Crime.html as #15 and #16).
In one from the BBC, three TV newspeople near Kukes were robbed of everything
but the news videotape they had shot of refugees coming over the border.
Thus, the KLA's refugee parade was allowed by patriotic bandits, to air in
Britain and throughout the world that night.
The other report, by the Boston Globe's Ann Kornblutt, confirmed refugees,
relief workers and OSCE observers were getting car-jacked and robbed. She
further confirms that local gun dealers are playing king --warlords is the
classic term. Of course, Sali Berisha is the high warlord and KLA godfather
in this Never-Never land -never go there, never expect much to come from
there (same new archive #,1 and in KLA-Ideology-Leaders.html archive).
Albanians have no real modern civic sense yet; they remain largely immersed
in their tribal-village culture, which includes the ritual violence of
vendetta murder under the 15th century "Kanun of Lek Dukagjin." A reporter
in the New York Post this week described Albania's capital, Tirana, as
"dysfunctional. There is no well-developed sense of "civitas," no abiding
centers of gravity for to support a larger society. The deeper that NATO digs
itself into the Kosovo question, the deeper it gets into an extended and
expensive effort at "nation-building" in Albania
Lies, Damned Lies and Photographs
Operation Allied Force has descended to silly face-saving while remaining
homicidal in its ability to kill innocent civilians much faster than it can
damage the Yugoslav army. Dissembling and disinformation continues to mix in
with propaganda and naked lying by KLA supporters among the refugees.
Friday morning at the NATO briefing, Jamie Shea again waxed eloquent, this
time regarding the KLA, which is rising from the ashes like the Phoenix, he
avowed. Mr. Shea's macho assertions are very entertaining.
But there is a new KLA, which is trying to train up thousands in a compressed
time. They are no real threat but I am informed that European jails are
being combed for Albanian criminals to deport home to flesh out the KLA's
ranks, while others volunteer, and some refugees are combed out of convoys
and dragooned into the ranks. Twice rumors have swirled that "Arkan" (Zelko
Raznjatovic) was emptying jail cells in Serbia for recruits for his "White
Eagles" paramilitary, but it seems that Europe's court systems are more than
ready to rid themselves of violent-minded refugees in the name of the KLA
cause and to the purpose of saving NATO's reputation.
The German CIA equivalent has been behind the KLA for some time now, and
other "black operations" groups may also be involved. We already know that
the British Special Air Service commandos are attempting to operate as
target-spotters inside Kosovo, from reports in last weekend's London
These men are getting two weeks' training, one hears. Grossly inadequate.
"Shake and bakes soldiers" will not be effective against the Yugoslav Army
even with Apaches and A-10s flying cover. Many may have prior reservist
training, and could improve their skills in a compressed course, but the
world's armed forces know it takes 6 months to properly prepare soldiers for
combat: this is a matter of law in the United States.
If NATO could get thousands of KLA guerrillas back inside Kosovo, they would
try to force Serb troops out in the open --a mini-set-piece battle
stratagem-- where the Yugoslav forces could be strafed, bombed and rocketed
by NATO air forces while the fairest flower of Serbian and Geg manhood is
butchered. This is beyond cruel.
Indeed, any encouragement of the KLA, which can no longer be entirely defined
by its original hodgepodge of bizarre authoritarian ideologies and its heroin
connections, is a mistake in that it perpetuates the warlord-dominated chaos
of Albania and its armed survivors would dominate Albania and Kosovo in the
aftermath of a hypothesized NATO success. Congress should think through the
consequences of creating a large guerrilla army out of this culture.
On the other hand, survivors of the battles this winter and spring, now have
some field-craft skills. Armed with cellular phones these teams are trying
to operate inside Kosovo, to provide target information for ground attack
aircraft. The BBC showed one such team inside Kosovo on Friday night.
"Mass Graves:" Mr. David Scheffer, US Ambassador-at-large for War Crimes
Issues is making the rounds with photos of a second new burial ground, this
time at Izbica. Indeed, it appears that there have been about 150 individual
graves dug and filled there since mid-March. As with the group burial at
Pusto Selo, shown in Monday's New York Times, there is no attempt by Yugoslav
authorities to hide the burials and one expects the circumstances are well
documented. Other such sites will be found, and deaths are certainly in the
hundreds in the near-four weeks of fighting underneath NATO airstrikes .
Again I note that the buildings around the burial appear to be intact, rather
than burned out, despite NATO allegations that 400 villages have been
torched. These group burials are not mass graves; Babi Yar and Auschwitz had
It appears that the new graves are oriented towards Mecca, as Muslim custom
is to bury the head toward that Holy city. This would indicate the presence
of Muslim clergy at the interments. The police established this practice last
March at Srbica.
Mr. Scheffer, in an interview with Tony Snow on Fox News Sunday, recycled a
lot of allegations that have never panned out; particularly about a hundred
thousand missing men; who are visibly in all the refugee camps, or reportedly
dragooned into the KLA if they have not been jailed as war prisoners. Strobe
Talbot continued the US government spin on NBC's Meet the Press in a
conversation with Tim Russert. In this case Talbot put an Orwellian
counter-spin on prior remarks made by Yugoslav UN-Ambassador Jovanovic.
Talbot characterized the Serb's inexpert defense as a combination of little
lies and a big lie, continuing the Clinton Administration's own big-lie
allegations that Yugoslavia is practicing genocide on a massive scale,
without presenting any graphic evidence that there is anything other than
retail death caused by a nasty little civil war. Though the graves will turn
out to have been dug by back-hoe, as with most graves in Kosovo and New York
City's cemeteries, NATO came up with some lurid tales of Muslim labor gangs
being forced to dig the graves. A novelist could not make this stuff up and
sell it, but Jamie Shea's flack shop can and does. And they have the temerity
to accuse Belgrade of Orwellian spin.
Friday night on The Crier Report, David Hackworth and I discussed the absence
of satellite images to document the allegations of large concentration camps
in soccer stadiums, of 400 burned-out villages, of a pattern of butchery of
tens of thousands. "Show me the pictures," we demanded.
As to Liddy Dole, she made a high-profile visit to the refugees on the
Macedonian border. Just before she went on air with a FoxNews reporter and
an innocent little victim girl --yep, another Berisha-- Fox had to shift the
camera angle so as not to show a group of young Albanian men playing
basketball just behind her left shoulder --those men have been sorted out to
an unknown destinations and fate after all, we are repeatedly told.
Attacking John Simpson: In this Orwellian swirl of NATO-US-British propaganda
"spin cycle," it is appropriate to note that the Blair Government has even
gone so far as to attack integrity and veracity of senior BBC world affairs
editor John Simpson, now reporting from Belgrade, of swallowing Serbian
propaganda and failing "to show skepticism." This is interesting as the BBC
was the model for the Ministry of Truth in Orwell's 1984, but somebody in the
BBC is being objective and is under attack by the government which is
propagating lies upon exaggeration, upon dissimulation.
It is interesting that one might call this "The Arnett Strategy," as when the
Bush Administration and loyal Americans attacked Peter Arnett for his 1991
Baghdad reports during "Desert Storm." Only this time, the BBC stands behind
The propaganda barrage is all too incredible; and disingenuous. It is
dispensed by most leaders in the major NATO nations. This goes beyond Mr.
Clinton's personal corruption, it stems from the contempt our governing
classes hold their peoples. Many Americans and others may wish, for
self-esteem reasons, to believe that "fruits of the poisonous tree" are
yummy, but I choose to believe that good policy does not come from a bad
subset of "facts" and that good leadership and policy does not come from
corrupted and self-deluding leaders.