Kosovo and Ukraine: Compare and contrast



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There have been at least two countries in Europe in recent history that undertook ‘anti-terrorist’ military operations against ‘separatists’, but got two very different reactions from the Western elite.

Photo: BBC Radio 4 Today ‏@BBCr4today / Twitter

Photo: BBC Radio 4 Today ‏@BBCr4today / Twitter

The government of European country A launches what it calls an ‘anti-terrorist’ military operation against ‘separatists’ in one part of the country. We see pictures on Western television of people’s homes being shelled and lots of people fleeing. The US and UK and other NATO powers fiercely condemn the actions of the government of country A and accuse it of carrying out ‘genocide’ and ’ethnic cleansing’ and say that there is an urgent ‘humanitarian crisis.’ Western politicians and establishment journalists tell us that ‘something must be done.’ And something is done: NATO launches a ‘humanitarian’ military intervention to stop the government of country A. Country A is bombed for 78 days and nights. The country’s leader (who is labeled ‘The New Hitler’) is indicted for war crimes – and is later arrested and sent in an RAF plane to stand trial for war crimes at The Hague, where he dies, un-convicted, in his prison cell.

The government of European country B launches what it calls an ‘anti-terrorist’ military operation against ‘separatists’ in one part of the country. Western television doesn’t show pictures or at least not many) of people’s homes being shelled and people fleeing, although other television stations do. But here the US, UK and other NATO powers do not condemn the government, or accuse it of committing ‘genocide’ or ‘ethnic cleansing.’ Western politicians and establishment journalists do not tell us that ‘something must be done’ to stop the government of country B killing people. On the contrary, the same powers who supported action against country A, support the military offensive of the government in country B. The leader of country B is not indicted for war crimes, nor is he labeled ‘The New Hitler’ despite the support the government has got from far-right, extreme nationalist groups, but in fact, receives generous amounts of aid.

Anyone defending the policies of the government in country A, or in any way challenging the dominant narrative in the West is labeled a “genocide denier” or an “apologist for mass murder.” But no such opprobrium awaits those defending the military offensive of the government in country B. It’s those who oppose its policies who are smeared.

What makes the double standards even worse, is that by any objective assessment, the behavior of the government in country B, has been far worse than that of country A and that more human suffering has been caused by their aggressive actions.

In case you haven’t guessed it yet – country A is Yugoslavia, country B is Ukraine.

Yugoslavia, a different case

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In 1998/9 Yugoslavian authorities were faced with a campaign of violence against Yugoslav state officials by the pro-separatist and Western-backed Kosovan Liberation Army (KLA). The Yugoslav government responded by trying to defeat the KLA militarily, but their claims to be fighting against ’terrorism’ were haughtily dismissed by Western leaders. As the British Defence Secretary George Robertson and Foreign Secretary Robin Cook acknowledged in the period from 1998 to January 1999, the KLA had been responsible for more deaths in Kosovo than the Yugoslav authorities had been.

In the lead-up to the NATO action and during it, lurid claims were made about the numbers of people who had been killed or ‘disappeared’ by the Yugoslav forces. “Hysterical NATO and KLA estimates of the missing and presumably slaughtered Kosovan Albanians at times ran upwards of one hundred thousand, reaching 500, 000 in one State Department release. German officials leaked ‘intelligence’ about an alleged Serb plan called Operation Horseshoe to depopulate the province of its ethnic Albanians, and to resettle it with Serbs, which turned out to be an intelligence fabrication,” Edward Herman and David Peterson noted in their book The Politics of Genocide.

“We must act to save thousands of innocent men, women and children from humanitarian catastrophe – from death, barbarism and ethnic cleansing from a brutal dictatorship,” a solemn-faced Prime Minister Tony Blair told the British Parliament – just four years before an equally sombre Tony Blair told the British Parliament that we must act over the ‘threat’ posed by Saddam Hussein’s WMDs.

Taking their cue from Tony Blair and Co., the media played their part in hyping up what was going on in Kosovo. Herman and Peterson found that newspapers used the word ‘genocide’ to describe Yugoslav actions in Kosovo 323 times compared to just 13 times for the invasion/occupation of Iraq despite the death toll in the latter surpassing that of Kosovo by 250 times.

In the same way we were expected to forget about the claims from Western politicians and their media marionettes about Iraq possessing WMDs in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion, we are now expected to forget about the outlandish claims made about Kosovo in 1999.

But as the award winning investigative journalist and broadcaster John Pilger wrote in his article Reminders of Kosovo in 2004, “Lies as great as those told by Bush and Blair were deployed by Clinton and Blair in grooming of public opinion for an illegal, unprovoked attack on a European country.”

The overall death toll of the Kosovo conflict is thought to be between 3,000 and 4,000, but that figure includes Yugoslav army casualties, and Serbs and Roma and Kosovan Albanians killed by the KLA. In 2013, the International Committee of the Red Cross listed the names of 1,754 people from all communities in Kosovo who were reported missing by their families.

The number of people killed by Yugoslav military at the time NATO launched its ‘humanitarian’ bombing campaign, which itself killed between 400-600 people, is thought to be around 500, a tragic death toll but hardly “genocide.”

“Like Iraq’s fabled weapons of mass destruction, the figures used by the US and British governments and echoed by journalists were inventions- along with Serbian ‘rape camps’ and Clinton and Blair’s claims that NATO never deliberately bombed civilians,” says Pilger.

No matter what happens in Ukraine…

Illustration - Krematorsk Airfield explosion - Screenshot from YouTube videoIllustration – Krematorsk Airfield explosion – Screenshot from YouTube video

In Ukraine by contrast, the number of people killed by government forces and those supporting them has been deliberately played down, despite UN figures highlighting the terrible human cost of the Ukrainian government’s ‘anti-terrorist’ operation.

Last week, the UN’s Human Rights Office said that the death toll in the conflict in eastern Ukraine had doubled in the previous fortnight. Saying that they were “very conservative estimates,” the UN stated that 2,086 people (from all sides) had been killed and 5,000 injured. Regarding refugees, the UN says that around 1,000 people have been leaving the combat zone every day and that over 100,000 people have fled the region. Yet despite these very high figures, there have been no calls from leading Western politicians for ‘urgent action’ to stop the Ukrainian government’s military offensive. Articles from faux-left ‘humanitarian interventionists’ saying that ‘something must be done’ to end what is a clearly a genuine humanitarian crisis, have been noticeable by their absence.

There is, it seems, no “responsibility to protect” civilians being killed by government forces in the east of Ukraine, as there was in Kosovo, even though the situation in Ukraine, from a humanitarian angle, is worse than that in Kosovo in March 1999.

To add insult to injury, efforts have been made to prevent a Russian humanitarian aid convoy from entering Ukraine.

The convoy we are told is ‘controversial’ and could be part of a sinister plot by Russia to invade. This from the same people who supported a NATO bombing campaign on a sovereign state for “humanitarian” reasons fifteen years ago!

For these Western ‘humanitarians’ who cheer on the actions of the Ukrainian government, the citizens of eastern Ukraine are “non-people”: not only are they unworthy of our support or compassion, or indeed aid convoys, they are also blamed for their own predicament.

There are, of course, other conflicts which also highlight Western double standards towards ‘humanitarian intervention’. Israeli forces have killed over 2,000 Palestinians in their latest ruthless ‘anti-terrorist’ operation in Gaza, which is far more people than Yugoslav forces had killed in Kosovo by the time of the 1999 NATO ‘intervention’. But there are no calls at this time for a NATO bombing campaign against Israel.

In fact, neocons and faux-left Zionists who have defended and supported Israel’s “anti-terrorist” Operation Protective Edge, and Operation Cast Lead before it, were among the most enthusiastic supporters of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. Israel it seems is allowed to kill large numbers of people, including women and children, in its “anti-terrorist” campaigns, but Yugoslavia had no such “right” to fight an “anti-terrorist” campaign on its own soil.

In 2011, NATO went to war against Libya to prevent a “hypothetical” massacre in Benghazi, and to stop Gaddafi ‘killing his own people’; in 2014 Ukrainian government forces are killing their own people in large numbers, and there have been actual massacres like the appalling Odessa arson attack carried out by pro-government ‘radicals’, but the West hasn’t launched bombing raids on Kiev in response.

The very different approaches from the Western elite to ‘anti-terrorist’ operations in Kosovo and Ukraine (and indeed elsewhere) shows us that what matters most is not the numbers killed, or the amount of human suffering involved, but whether or not the government in question helps or hinders Western economic and military hegemonic aspirations.

In the eyes of the rapacious Western elites, the great ‘crime’ of the Yugoslav government in 1999 was that it was still operating, ten years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, an unreconstructed socialist economy, with very high levels of social ownership – as I highlighted here.

Yugoslavia under Milosevic was a country which maintained its financial and military independence. It had no wishes to join the EU or NATO, or surrender its sovereignty to anyone. For that refusal to play by the rules of the globalists and to show deference to the powerful Western financial elites, the country (and its leader) had to be destroyed. In the words of George Kenney, former Yugoslavia desk officer at the US State Department: “In post-cold war Europe no place remained for a large, independent-minded socialist state that resisted globalization.”

By contrast, the government of Ukraine, has been put in power by the West precisely in order to further its economic and military hegemonic aspirations. Poroshenko, unlike the much- demonized Milosevic, is an oligarch acting in the interests of Wall Street, the big banks and the Western military-industrial complex. He’s there to tie up Ukraine to IMF austerity programs, to hand over his country to Western capital and to lock Ukraine into ‘Euro-Atlantic’ structures- in other words to transform it into an EU/IMF/NATO colony- right on Russia’s doorstep.

This explains why an ‘anti-terrorist’ campaign waged by the Yugoslav government against ‘separatists’ in 1999 is ‘rewarded’ with fierce condemnation, a 78-day bombing campaign, and the indictment of its leader for war crimes, while a government waging an ‘anti-terrorist’ campaign against ‘separatists’ in Ukraine in 2014, is given carte blanche to carry on killing. In the end, it’s not about how many innocent people you kill, or how reprehensible your actions are, but about whose interests you serve.


By Neil Clark

Article is originally published on RT.com (http://on.rt.com/2azwwq)

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On target: Ukraine could learn from Kosovo’s troubles



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There was an interesting announcement recently that went almost entirely unnoticed in the Canadian media.

On June 17, Peter Szijjarto, foreign minister of Hungary’s centre-right government, made the startling declaration that his national security forces will erect a four-metre wall along the entire 175 kilometres of shared border with Serbia.

Szijjarto’s rationale for resorting to such a drastic measure results from a months-long flood of asylum seekers pouring into southern Hungary. While tens of thousands of these desperate illegal immigrants have been caught, detained and returned into Serbia, the vast majority have used the processing time for their asylum applications to simply disappear into other western European countries.

This, of course, explains why there is no public outcry from other members of the European Union over Hungary’s decision to fence out this wave of desperate humanity.

For impoverished Serbia, staunching the flow of these refugees at its northern border has generated the opposite reaction.

“I thought the Berlin Wall had fallen, but now new walls are being constructed,” stated Serbia’s foreign minister, Ivica Dacic, referring to the Cold War barrier that stood from 1961 until 1991.

“We are absolutely and fiercely against (Hungary’s) decision to build a fence.”

While the nationalities of those fleeing through Serbia into Hungary and beyond include Syrians, Somalis and even Afghans, the irony is that the vast majority of asylum seekers are ethnic Albanians from Kosovo.

The most recent exodus began in earnest in the fall of 2014, when the Serbian government relaxed travel restrictions on Albanians entering from the declared independent state of Kosovo. Serbia has never recognized Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence and still legally considers the region to be sovereign Serbian territory.

In 1999, Kosovo was ravaged by a brutal civil war between ethnic Albanian separatists and Serbian security forces. The root cause of the public discontent was a severely depressed economy, overpopulation and unemployment. The Albanian underworld was able use that unrest to ignite and impassion a wave of nationalist sentiment that soon boiled over into a full-scale armed insurgency.

That year was the 50th anniversary of NATO and, given the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, there was a strong desire for NATO leaders to prove that the alliance was still relevant. Thus, NATO threw its full weight behind the Albanian Kosovo rebels.

In the spring of 1999, NATO warplanes, including Canadian CF-18s, launched a 78-day bombing campaign — not just against Serbian military targets in the disputed territory of Kosovo but against civilian infrastructure and utilities throughout all of Serbia. With NATO combat forces, including Canadians, massed in Macedonia for a possible ground war, the Serbian government negotiated a ceasefire on June 10, 1999.

Under the negotiated terms of UN Resolution 1244, Kosovo was to remain the sovereign territory of Serbia after a brief military occupation by NATO troops. Serbian security forces were to resume control of Kosovo’s border crossings and provide protection for the numerous sacred Serbian religious sites and monasteries within the disputed territory.

Of course, that was never actually in the cards. NATO negotiators had never wanted to have ground troops fight their way through Kosovo’s forebodingly steep mountain passes. Therefore, they agreed to all Serbian demands, knowing full well that they would never honour the deal.

In February 2008, that duplicity was formalized when the United States hastily recognized Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence and strong-armed allies such as Canada into following suit.

However, the precedent of such declarations of territorial independence based upon ethnic regional majority has prevented many countries from recognizing Kosovo. For instance, Spain, with its Basque separatist movement, and Azerbaijan, with its claim over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, cannot recognize a unilaterally declared independence.

With Russia using its veto to deny Kosovo membership in the UN and Spain, Slovakia, Greece and Cyprus doing likewise to keep it out of the European Union, Kosovo has remained in a strange quasi-limbo status on the international stage.

What matters most, however, is that at the end of the day, you cannot subsist on flags. Despite its declared independence, unemployment, poverty, corruption and widespread crime are driving a new flood of Albanian Kosovars to seek a better life — anywhere but in Kosovo.

The people of Ukraine who see their salvation in the form of a NATO intervention should take a good look at NATO’s “success” in Kosovo. Short-term military solutions do not solve long-term economic problems.


By Scott Taylor

2015-06-28

Source: http://thechronicleherald.ca/opinion/1295935-on-target-ukraine-could-learn-from-kosovo%E2%80%99s-troubles?utm_source=website&utm_medium=mobi&utm_campaign=full-site

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“Responsibility to protect” was not valid in Kosovo and isn’t valid in Ukraine



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The same arguments used to justify a western ‘humanitarian intervention’ in Kosovo in 1999 could be used to support a Russian intervention in Ukraine.

This article originally appeared at Irrussianality


Yesterday, I gave a talk on ‘The Folly of Military Intervention’ at McGill University. Afterwards, one of the students asked me a question about parallels between the wars in Kosovo in 1999 and Ukraine in 2014/15. As I answered, I found myself thinking about the scale of the humanitarian crises in both cases and what this means for supporters of so-called ‘humanitarian intervention’.

In 1999, NATO aircraft bombed Yugoslavia for three months. The aim, according to NATO leaders, was to coerce the Yugoslav government to stop human rights abuses in Kosovo. We were told that NATO’s campaign was a humanitarian intervention. The case of Kosovo was subsequently used to justify the concept of the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ (R2P), under which state sovereignty is limited and states have an obligation to protect the citizens of other countries if their rights are being attacked.

It is believed that prior to NATO’s war against Yugoslavia, about 2,000 people had been killed in Kosovo. Roughly half of these were Serbs, dead at the hands of the Kosovo Liberation Army, and half were Albanian Kosovars, killed by Yugoslav military and paramilitary forces. While eventually several hundred thousand Kosovars fled their homes to avoid the fighting, the vast majority of these did so only after NATO began its bombing.

According to the United Nations, over 5,000 people have been killed in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Lugansk provinces in the past year. It is not clear what percentage is military and what percentage civilian casualties, but it is obvious that the number of civilian deaths in the conflict has been very high. And the situation is getting worse. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights assesses that 262 people died in Eastern Ukraine between 13 and 21 January alone. Meanwhile, the High Commission for Refugees reports that there are now about half a million displaced persons from Donetsk and Lugansk within Ukraine, and that another 200,000 have fled to Russia. The towns and cities of Eastern Ukraine are subjected to daily bombardment from artillery and multiple launch rocket systems. Many of the people who remain there are without electricity and running water.

In short, the humanitarian situation in Eastern Ukraine today is far worse than that in Kosovo prior to NATO’s 1999 intervention. Should the Russian Army invade Ukraine in force, drive the Ukrainian Army out of Donetsk and Lugansk, and bring the war to a rapid end? This, in principle, it is entirely capable of doing. R2P suggests that it should. In 1999, NATO killed about 1,500 Yugoslav civilians in the course of its bombing; it is unlikely that the civilian death toll from a Russian invasion would be much higher, and it might even be lower.

If R2P is valid, then its proponents should surely welcome such an intervention. In practice, I am sure that they wouldn’t. The point here is not to say that we should demand Russian humanitarian intervention in Ukraine; there are many reasons why that would be an extremely bad thing. Rather, the point is to show the absurdity of the humanitarian warriors’ position. Perhaps they can come up with a good explanation for why humanitarian intervention by NATO is justifiable but similar intervention by Russia in a far worse humanitarian situation would not be. I would be interested to hear it.

UPDATE: Brad Cabana (a fellow Canadian & former army captain) has just posted an argument on his blog that Russia should invade Ukraine. He makes his case well. As someone who has opposed the principle of humanitarian intervention ever since Kosovo, I cannot support it, if only in order to be consistent, but it seems to me to be entirely in line with R2P and thus to pose some real problems for the R2P crowd, who despite their alleged principles will no doubt be thoroughly against it.


By Paul Robinson

02-02-2015

Source: http://russia-insider.com/en/2015/02/02/3036

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