THE NEW AMERICAN, May 1999
by William Norman Grigg
It was a spectacle at once pathetic and horrifying: Hundreds of
thousands - perhaps a half-million or more - terrified civilians driven
from a land their people had lived in for centuries. Those not fortunate
enough to flee fell prey to the depredations of merciless paramilitary
death squads, who committed hideous acts of plunder, rape, and mass
murder. Thousands of civilians perished, and the human tidal wave
generated by this triumph of "ethnic cleansing" was described by some
observers as the largest human population displacement Europe had seen
since World War II.
Are these snapshots of Kosovo, April 1999? No - these are scenes from
Krajina, August 1995. The victims were not ethnic Albanians driven from
Kosovo by the security forces of Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic,
but rather ethnic Serbs driven from Croatia by troops under the command
of Croatian dictator Franjo Tudjman. Although no decent person can help
but be moved by the plight of Kosovo's Albanians, their suffering is not
unique. As will be illustrated below, that suffering is a product -
perhaps a premeditated one - of decisions taken by the same foreign
policy elite that now describes the forced exodus from Kosovo as a
humanitarian disaster of global proportions. That same elite was behind
the slaughter and forced exodus of the Krajina Serbs.
Reward for "Peace"
No threats of military retaliation were issued by the Clinton
Administration and NATO following Croatia's rout of the Krajina Serbs.
In fact, the massacre could not have occurred without timely and
generous assistance from the Clinton Administration. According to
Croatian diplomat Stipe Mesic, the Croatian assault on Krajina was
Tudjman's reward "for having accepted, under Washington's pressure, the
federation between Croats and Muslims in Bosnia" that was written into
the Dayton "peace" accords. Croatian assembly deputy Mate Mestrovic
explained that the Clinton Administration "gave us the green light to do
whatever had to be done." The invasion plan, code-named "Operation
Storm," received specific prior approval from Peter Galbraith, the U.S.
ambassador to Croatia.
Additionally, the Croatian military campaign received tactical support
from NATO. As Croat forces began their attack, U.S. aircraft under NATO
command destroyed Serbian radar and anti-aircraft defenses in the
region. American EA-6B electronic warfare aircraft patrolled the skies
in support of the unfolding offensive, jamming communications between
Serb units. But there was also a covert American presence on the ground
in support of the Croats. Military Professional Resources Incorporated
(MPRI), a private military and intelligence consulting firm based in
Virginia, had been hired by Tudjman in early 1995 to upgrade his
Soviet-created Ministry of Defense into a modern fighting force.
According to MPRI information officer Joseph Allred, the firm exists so
that "the U.S. can have influence as part of its national strategy on
other nations without employing its own army."
Thanks in large measure to training it received from MPRI, the
"ex"-Communist Croatian military, which had previously been dismissed as
bumbling and inept, performed its grisly mission in Krajina with
unexpected efficiency and professionalism. By focusing primarily on
civilian targets, the Croats minimized their casualties: Croatia
admitted to suffering only 118 dead or wounded, as compared to an
estimated 14,000 civilian casualties among the Serbs. An AP dispatch
filed during the offensive reported that Croat forces shelled and
strafed columns of Serb refugees.
Canadian General Alain Forand, who was assigned to UN "peacekeeping"
duty in Krajina during Operation Storm, has testified, "There is no
doubt in my mind that the Croats knew they were shelling civilian
targets" in the city of Knin, which was where the Krajina Serb
parliament was located. Colonel Andrew Leslie, another Canadian
"peacekeeper," estimated that of the more than 3,000 shells fired at the
city, no more than 250 hit military targets; accordingly, he concluded,
"the fire was deliberately directed against civilian buildings." Leslie
has also described seeing bodies of the dead at Knin Hospital "stacked
in the corridors in piles."
Milwaukee attorney Nikola Kostich, who has served as counsel for Bosnian
Serbs at the UN's war crimes tribunal for Yugoslavia, told The New
American in late 1997 about his visit to a mass grave in Mrkonjic Grad,
a small town in southwestern Bosnia near Krajina where Croats and
Bosnian Muslims liquidated Serb civilians during the period of Operation
Storm. "I was present when the site was exhumed," Kostich recalled. "The
bodies were not those of military personnel. They were civilians,
including people as much as 80 years old."
"Highway of Hell"
As is the case with Kosovo's ethnic Albanians, the Krajina Serbs were
secessionists seeking to create an independent polity in what they
considered an ancestral ethnic homeland. However, just prior to the
beginning of the Croat offensive on August 4, 1995, the leaders of the
Krajina Serbs, fearing the consequences to continued resistance, were
willing "to discuss terms for reintegrating territory they hold into
Croatia 's domain," reported the AP. This contrasts sharply with the
position of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), the Maoist
insurrectionary group that seeks to wrest Kosovo from Serbia and
integrate it into a "Greater Albania" which would include parts of
Montenegro, Macedonia, and Greece.
In the months leading up to the beginning of the Kosovo War on March
24th, the KLA escalated its guerilla campaign, while urging NATO to bomb
the Serbs - even if this meant that hundreds of thousands of ethnic
Albanians would perish or be driven from their homes once the war began
in earnest. According to a diplomatic insider quoted by the April 1st
Chicago Tribune, when KLA officials were warned that NATO air strikes
against Yugoslavia would trigger retaliatory violence by Serb forces in
Kosovo, one KLA leader replied: "We don't care. 400,000 Kosovars can be
sacrificed for our independence."
Addressing an audience of NATO combat pilots at the air base in Aviano,
Italy on April 8th, Secretary of Defense William Cohen descended into
rank melodrama: "Mr. Milosevic, as you have all seen, has carried us
into the heart of darkness. It's a place where power grinds its heel and
boot over the rule of law, and where justice amounts to nothing more
than a bullet in the back of the head." Milosevic and his minions, Cohen
continued, "are engaging in rape, pillage, and mass murder on a scale
that we have not seen since the end of World War II.... They have pushed
over a million people onto a highway of hell that is littered with
depravation and suffering that is almost unimaginable."
Milosevic is an "ex"-Communist thug who commands a Soviet-style military
and security apparatus, and there is ample evidence that his treatment
of the Kosovo Albanians has been appallingly brutal. However, he can't
claim all the credit for the humanitarian disaster described (in grossly
exaggerated terms) by Cohen. The "highway of hell" is a joint production
of Milosevic, the KLA, and NATO.
"We act to protect thousands of innocent people in Kosovo from a
mounting military offensive," declared Bill Clinton a few hours after
U.S. military personnel had been ordered into battle by Javier Solana,
the Spanish Marxist who serves as NATO's secretary-general. As is the
case with many of Mr. Clinton's public pronouncements, this was a
demonstrable lie, given that he had been offered ample prior warning
that air strikes against Yugoslavia would provoke bloody reprisals
against Kosovo's Albanian residents.
"The warnings were there for President Clinton," reported the April 1st
Washington Post. "For weeks before the NATO air campaign against
Yugoslavia . CIA Director George J. Tenet had been forecasting that
Serb-led Yugoslav forces might respond by accelerating their campaign of
ethnic cleansing in the province of Kosovo - precisely the outcome that
has unfolded over the past week." Top-ranking military officials
corroborated Tenet's assessment, warning Mr. Clinton that if Serb
security and military forces carried out such an assault, "air power
alone would not be sufficient to stop it...." Indeed, on March 30th,
NATO supreme military commander Wesley Clark admitted that from the very
beginning, "we never thought that through air power we could stop these
killings on the ground."
Despite receiving such detailed advice from top military advisers,
"Clinton and his senior White House advisers pressed on with their
planning for an air campaign," continued the Post account. An earlier
report in the Post described a meeting between Mr. Clinton and Italian
Prime Minister Massimo D 'Alema shortly before the war began, in which
D'Alema asked the President what would be done if Milosevic responded to
an air strike by escalating his own military campaign in Kosovo. Not
knowing how to respond, Mr. Clinton looked helplessly at his National
Security Adviser, Samuel Berger, who blithely replied, "We will continue
In other words, if the air strikes exacerbated the suffering, the
Clinton Administration's chosen strategy was to reinforce failure - at
whatever cost to both the Serbs and the ethnic Albanians in Yugoslavia.
Incredibly, when White House spokesman Joe Lockhart was asked about Serb
retaliation against Albanians in Kosovo, he replied: "We knew he was
going to do this." This admission prompted liberal columnist Michael
Kelly to conclude, "the President and his advisers are guilty of
criminal irresponsibility. For the United States made no serious efforts
to prepare for what Lockhart says we knew was coming, a wave of killing
and 'cleansing' U.S. officials now compare to genocide."
An even more shocking fact was reported by Detroit News columnist Tony
Snow on March 29th. Relaying an account of a confidential national
security briefing provided by a senator who was in attendance, Snow
wrote: "After the foreign-policy wise men asserted that the United
states has a moral imperative to stop the murderous Serbian president,
Slobodan Milosevic, one senator asked: How many Albanians have
Milosevic's troops massacred this year? The President's emissaries
turned ashen. They glanced at each other. They rifled through their
papers. One hazarded a guess: 'Two thousand?' No, the senator replied,
that was the number for all of last year."
"The senator pressed on," continued Snow. "How often have slaughters
occurred [in Kosovo]? Nobody knew. As it turns out, Kosovo has been
about as bloody this year as, say, Atlanta." Before the war began,
deaths in Kosovo could be measured "not in the hundreds, but dozens....
More people died last week in Borneo than expired this year in Kosovar
bloodshed - more died in a single Russian bomb blast; in a single
outburst of violence in East Timor; in a single day in Rwanda. China has
been bloodier this year."
In other words, it was not until NATO began its war that Kosovo
graduated to the status of an epic "humanitarian crisis" - just as it is
true that the tragedy of Kosovo was contained until multinational
intervention turned it into a conflict of potentially global scope.
It is also important to recognize that the dimensions of the
"humanitarian crisis" are not known, and will not be known until
normalcy - or what passes for it in the Balkans - is restored to the
region. The most lurid accounts of slaughter and mayhem on the part of
Serb paramilitary forces originate with the KLA, which, as a Marxist
terrorist group, is not hampered by a fastidious regard for the truth.
On March 31st, Agence France-Presse (AFP) commented that without
independent sources on the ground in Kosovo, U.S. and NATO officials are
providing "little more than regurgitation of unconfirmed information
from the Kosovo Liberation Army."
State Department spokesman James Rubin acknowledged that the atrocity
accounts he provided to reporters were relayed from KLA commander Hashim
Thaci and were "not necessarily facts."
One spurious atrocity story retailed by Rubin described the detention of
100,000 ethnic Albanians in a sports stadium in Pristina, Kosovo's
provincial capitol. But when an AFP reporter visited the site to confirm
the story, he "found the stadium to be deserted and showing no signs of
Scoring for Milosevic
Once it became clear that the NATO air strikes would not prevent
Milosevic from attacking Kosovo's Albanians, NATO and Administration
spokesman modulated their rhetoric by insisting that the air campaign
was "degrading" or "grinding down" the Serb dictator's ability to carry
out his attacks. But such statements were strangers to the truth. "With
every NATO missile that hits Yugoslav targets, Slobodan Milosevic stands
to gain more power at home," wrote Associated Press reporter Dusan
Stojanovic in a March 27th news analysis. "The opposition can't support
the West in its air strikes, the independent media have been silenced
and foreign journalists expelled." Furthermore, "the ragtag Yugoslav
Army - the main target of NATO strikes - has always been sidelined under
Milosevic, with far fewer resources than his real power base: the
Serbian police." It is the "police" - that is, the Interior Ministry and
its affiliated paramilitaries - that conducted the atrocities in Kosovo,
beyond the range of NATO's air campaign.
In much the same way that UN-supervised military campaigns against Iraq
have eliminated Saddam Hussein's domestic opposition while leaving the
dictator's power base intact, NATO's Kosovo War has actually fortified
Milosevic's position. Obrad Kesic, a senior adviser to former Yugoslav
Prime Minister Milan Panic, is an outspoken opponent of Milosevic. Kesic
told The New American that in late 1998 "Milosevic was purging the upper
echelons of the Yugoslav Army" in order to forestall a coup. "The Army
has always been a big problem for Milosevic, both as an obstacle to his
designs and as a potential rival for power."
Since 1991, Milosevic has built a 40,000-60,000-man paramilitary force
independent of the Army, and that paramilitary force serves as
Milosevic's personal Praetorian Guard. He has also, in time-honored
Communist fashion, seeded the ranks of the Army with paramilitary gangs
skimmed from the scum of Serbian jails. These are the forces that have
been tasked to conduct most of the dirty work, and NATO's military
campaign has left them relatively unmolested. A NATO missile attack on
Belgrade did destroy the Interior Ministry headquarters - long after it
had been evacuated. New York Times pundit William Safire, a supporter of
the war, pointed out that the Interior Ministry attack served a
propaganda purpose: It produced dramatic pictures that looked good on
But the bombing of Belgrade also served Milosevic's propaganda purposes
as well. "Milosevic is a product of the Communist Party who has posed as
a Serb nationalist, and the war has given him a chance to recite all of
the nationalist propaganda themes," Kesic informed The New American.
"The truth of the matter is that he cares for nothing but preserving his
own power, and he's willing to play 'Tito' over whatever part of
Yugoslavia he manages to keep. Time after time he has been willing to
cut a deal that has sold out Serbs, whether it's those living in Bosnia
or the Krajina Serbs who were driven out of Croatia in 1995." For this
reason, Milosevic's relationship with the military "was deteriorating
rapidly" as negotiations over Kosovo proceeded earlier this year.
However, noted Kesic, "things have changed dramatically since the war
began. The Army feels that it's giving as good as it's getting, the Serb
population is united behind Milosevic in a war with a foreign aggressor,
and the regime is benefiting from a wave of patriotism that is
suffocating all internal dissent against Milosevic's rule."
The Real Reason
NATO's war, Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon admitted on March 30th,
hasn't prevented as much as "one act of brutality"; in fact, as we have
seen, quite the contrary is the case. It has not dislodged Milosevic; to
the contrary, it has enhanced his position. Thus the question remains
unanswered: Why did we go to war?
The most likely answer is suggested by the cover of the April 12th
edition of Time magazine, which displays a column of forlorn Albanian
refugees. In the foreground is a young Albanian mother struggling to
breast-feed her infant as she wearily plods toward an uncertain destiny.
Beside this heart-rending photo, a headline poses a question intended to
answer itself: "Are Ground Troops the Answer?"
The public has been inundated with similar photos and footage: Kosovo
Albanians driven from their homes, packed into boxcars, and consigned to
wretched refugee camps; throngs of desperately hungry refugees reaching
plaintively for bread; elderly women and young children racked with
sobs. This barrage has been the most effective weapon of the war, since
it has been calibrated to break down the American public's resistance to
a protracted involvement in a ground war in the Balkans on behalf of
NATO, the United Nations, and the cause of global government.
Why was the public spared similar footage of the August 1995 exodus of
the Krajina Serbs? The short and cynical answer is that an event
qualifies as a "humanitarian catastrophe" only when it is recognized as
such by the foreign policy elite. As the following article will show
(see page 13), that elite has now decided, on the basis of Kosovo's
"humanitarian catastrophe," that a "consensus" exists in favor of
American involvement in a ground war in Kosovo. The purpose of that war,
as is explained in the article beginning on page 17, is to advance the
cause of world government, particularly the creation of a UN-run
International Criminal Court.
This is why Serbs and Albanians are dying in Yugoslavia, and why
American ground troops may soon be fighting and dying in the Balkans.
There is a certain sinister symmetry in the fact that the modern drive
for world government began with America's involvement in World War I.
The same criminal elite responsible for that debacle has decided to
reprise the Balkan bloodshed as a coda to the 20th century.
THE NEW AMERICAN - Copyright 1999, American Opinion Publishing,