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April 1999, Volume 6 Nr. 8, Issue 68

Kosovo

As I write this issue NATO air strikes are taking place in Yugoslavia. Tremendous amounts of multi-billion-dollar hardware are involved and poised for further action. CNN has an on-line military hardware databank. You too, can follow the action. With a little bit of ingenuity perhaps someone on the Internet can produce a score card, something similar to a baseball game statistical summary sheet where shorthand notation can be used for every event, batter, from pitches thrown to balls hit, at bats, runs, hits and errors.

A scorecard used in con-junction with CNN’s people’s war resources list can make anyone or everyone feel more like being there. The corporate media can make the stock-holders take even more interest in events by correlating the expenditure of military assets, both machine and human, with increases in portfolio profitability. It is, after all, Wall Street’s major products that are being tried, tested and consumed under "real" battlefield conditions. Everyone knows that increases in consumption of any kind is good for the economy.

Just what is this hardware that CNN’s site so craftily makes reference to? They are the big toys of the big boys and include: an aircraft carrier; ships in an amphibious ready group (consisting of 2 cruisers, 3 destroyers, 1 frigate); who knows how many A10 Thunderbolt, F-14, F-16 and F18 fighters; P3C Orion reconnaissance planes; 3 submarines; C130 Hercules, C135, EC130E, KC135, KB10 and MC130 cargo and in-flight refueling aircraft; B52, B2, F117 and B1B Lancer Bombers; AGM130, JDAM, JSOW, and GBU bombs; Tomahawk, ACLM, HARM, SLAM, Sparrow, Sidewinder, AMRAAM and Phoenix missiles. Gosh, if you owned and paid for all those toys, especially the new never- tested-in-combat B2 bomber, wouldn’t you be tempted to use them.

This alphabet soup of military paraphernalia is supposed to bring pressure to bear upon the newest "renegade" State of Bosnia who is accused of "Ethnic cleansing." The US populace is not informed nor sophisticated enough to know whether this watered-down version of genocide is actually taking place. Truthfully, how do we know? I am not suggesting that atrocities have or are not taking place. I am suggesting that all parties are involved in it.

In the US, we have our media to listen to and our sources of information that tell us that a human tragedy is in the making in Kosovo. Our corporate media is for the most part the source for all the information we get. Few of us go out of our way to access opinions and perspectives presented from the non-dominant or non-orchestrated point of view.

Tragedy Wanted?

Surely, no one wants human tragedy. No one wants war and suffering. Or do they? On March 24, I listened to KPFA Pacifica Radio (Los Angeles) on Internet streaming audio (you can too – see bibliography). A self-professed independent female reporter (whose name I did not take note of) who spent more than a decade reporting in the former Yugoslavia was going on about what a lie and farce the entire cover story of protecting ethnic Albanians in Kosovo is. She was quite passion-ate and good at describing how Albanians in the autonomous province of Kosovo instigated a rebellion for the purpose of achieving full independence and how they were successful in turning public opinion in the West to make the other side look like the only bad guy. Enter the US and NATO, seizing upon (if not helping create) the opportunity to use their new hardware and set their agenda.

Other Opinions

Diana Johnstone writing a Special Extra for the digital ZNet an article under the title, "NATO’s Humanitarian Trigger", thinks something is afoul in the Balkans. Johnstone suggests that NATO, due to the collapse of the Soviet Union, now requires a reason, an excuse she calls it, for funneling gigabucks into the military industrial complex.. Replenishing those gigabucks with more gigabucks requires military action…somewhere. A few cruise missiles launched at Sudan or Afghanistan is not enough. Johnstone writes,

"Thanks to Kosovo, NATO can celebrate its 50th anniversary next month by consecration of its new global mission: to intervene anywhere in the world on humanitarian grounds. The recipe is easy: arm a group of radical secessionists to shoot policemen, describe the inevitable police retaliation as "ethnic cleansing", promise the rebels that NATO will bomb their enemy if the fighting goes on, and then interpret the resulting mayhem as a challenge to NATO's "resolve" which must be met by military action."

Let us assume for a moment that NATO’s actions are indeed intent on protecting the sanctity of life no matter where it is threatened. Let us also assume that NATO wishes to protect innocent people around the world and, as President Clinton says, the killing of innocent people must stop. Why the Balkans? Why not Africa where the Tutsis have been accused of killing thousands of Hutu refugees? Why not in our own back door of Chiapas, Mexico where indigenous people have been massacred? There are many other areas. Could it be that these people are not white? Could it be that there is nothing of strategic interest in these countries and thus they do not deserve serious attention and consideration?

Rwanda has little or no oil. The Caspian Sea and basin on the other hand, well now, that’s a different story. On November 12, 1998, ABC news.com World reported,

Today’s long-awaited event was seen as an important landmark in the development of the huge Caspian Sea oil reserves, believed to be the richest in the world after the Middle East.

What role do Amoco, Exxon, Pennzoil and Unocal play in a region where will have to pass through Russia? What possible motivation might there be to find a route around that troubled land, a route perhaps with much more favorable attitudes toward the West?

The fact is that the Caspian Sea has the second largest oil reserves in the world. The Republic of Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs WebPage states that,

The development of Caspian Sea oil will provide an alternative supply of oil for the West, reducing dependence on Middle Eastern sources.

ABCnews.com World further reports, "The stakes are high, but the payoff will be in the trillions." The pretext of humanitarian grounds for NATO military intervention on sovereign foreign soil somehow resonates a bit hollow, especially when applied selectively in the Balkans and not in Rwanda, Indonesia, Tibet, Burma or anywhere else. Makes one suspicious at a time when NATO will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in another month.

Links

Some consider the NATO action in the former Yugoslavia an act of imperial aggression instigated at the beck and call of the United States. This is a heavy accusation. The Veterans Against the Vietnam War, a national organization whose many members have first hand experience about the "help" that the US brings to many people around the world raises the question,

How can the same people who justify their sanctions against Iraq as "worth " the deaths of 1 million children expect us to believe that they care about the people of Kosovo and want peace?

The crucial question being asked by many people around the world and in particular many American citizens is whether they can trust the US government? I have my doubts. Keep in mind that this latest military action is provocated and defended in large part by Secretary of State Madeline Albright, the same Madeline Albright, who in May 1996 when asked about the deaths of a half-million children in Iraq responded by saying, "We think the price is worth it." How does one add the cost of lives to the price of a barrel of oil?

The B2

The jubilation at NATO headquarters on March 24 was exhilarating according to the New York Times which reported,

For some diplomats and officials at NATO headquarters in Brussels, where [Supreme Commander US General Wesley] Clark has made no secret of his judgment that an air campaign against Milosevic was justified long ago, the mood this evening was almost jubilant…"It's accelerating and exhilarating," said one.

The B-2 bombers cost $2,200,000,000 apiece. That's two-billion-two-hundred-million dollars each. This is the plane whose skin coating falls off in the rain and whose radar system has had difficulty telling the difference between mountains and clouds. As a consequence of these shortcomings and other high-cost maintenance factors the planes are stationed in Missouri where they can be serviced at an appropriately equipped installation. Thus, in their first encounter with combat they took off from Missouri, flew over to the Balkans dumping their load of tons of bombs each and then came back home to Missouri. On the way over to Yugoslavia they refueled three times (and twice on the way back.)

While schools in my state of Vermont are cutting back and my hometown Wells Village School has inadequate supplies such as pencils and toilet paper, my federal government easily enough finds the money to build a squadron of twenty-one Northrup Grumman built B2 bombers costing forty-four-billion dollars! And, congress authorized twenty more.

While teachers and principals quit over inadequately funded education in America, Northrup Grumman, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and other military contractor’s stock-holders are rejoicing. The Yugoslav actions surely mean increased sales and revenues for the corporations, and profits for them.

The World Socialist Web Site which publishes on-line news and analysis for the International Committee for the Fourth International (ICFI) quotes a number of military-industrial-complex executives:

It really depends on how long this conflict goes. If this becomes a protracted war, and it is heavily dependent on cruise missiles, then that would help Raytheon's short-term bottom-line. (Robert Friedman, an analyst for S&P Equity Group, told Reuters).

Certainly, it portends for increased business, but it would be difficult to quantify at this point." Referring to the cruise missiles, smart bombs and other weapons made by the company, Shea added, "Assuming that the weapons work as advertised, we view that as the best advertising." (Raytheon spokesman Dave Shea)

A few months ago I wrote about the mumbling in the United States about reintroducing the military draft. On Friday, March 27, National Public Radio broadcast the Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera’s presentation at the National Press Club. Caldera spoke of the need for a new youth culture that involves giving of oneself to one’s country through military service. He went so far as to say that the unpopularity of military service among the nation’s youth is a consequence of parents who, because of the Vietnam war, do not speak highly of nor encourage participation in military service. What do these parents know that Mr. Caldera does not?

News reports and analysis surrounding the action in Kosovo suggest that ground troops will most likely be necessary to achieve the object of bringing peace through force to the region. Mr. Caldera’s "youth giving something back to the nation" admonition rings more true as a campaign for protecting the profitability of the military-industrial complex.

I wonder how many ruling-class elite parents with stock portfolios stuffed with military contractor’s stocks encourage their children to volunteer to sign up to become foot soldiers, i.e. killers and cannon fodder, in the present or next war? How many of them are already preparing to avoid military service in the same way as our commander-in-chief and most of the current crop of presidential aspirants have? It’s the poor who pay the price for the rich man’s folly. It is the poor who always kill and die in the rich man’s wars.

The massive bombing campaign in Yugoslavia has another objective. Part of its design is to condition the American public for high casualties. Such conditioning allows for the increased acceptability of US human losses losses which are an inevitable consequence of deploying troops who, as war mongering becomes more acceptable, will come from those inducted through the draft. Continual bombing campaigns and the occasional bomb strike all lead to conditioning folks now to the acceptance and normalization of bombing.

Invitation

In the middle of writing this issue I received and email with a FEDIX opportunity. FEDIX, the Federal Information Exchange, is the On-line Database Retrieval Service of Government Information for Colleges, Universities and Other Organizations. One of its services provides an automated email, periodically forwarded, listing and describing grant opportunities to subscribers as they become available. The "opportunity" that I received is entitled, "SUPPORT SERVICES FOR WARGAMING AND DOCTRINE EDUCATION–DOD" Abbreviated SSWADE, it:

…will consist of, but not limited to, the following areas: a) Public Relations educating leadership on how to project a positive corporate image to the general public through mass communications and public relations techniques during crisis and non-crisis; b) Wargaming, designing, developing, testing, and executing wargames for domestic and international customers.

Simply put, war is big business. Big business is inextricably intertwined within the US government. And, the people are assets, that is, the raw materials through and by which profit is made. It is highly unlikely that the wealthy and powerful nor their children will ever have to go to war and fight person-to-person on the battlefield. It is however, likely that they will reap the profits from war and the preparation for war somewhere on the planet most of the time.

Moral Imperative

The on-going terrorism of the Colombian Army and their paramilitary units, the deaths due to landmines in the Plain of Jars that the US refuses to clean up, the Kurds who with US help and handiwork were killed in Turkey, the deaths of East Timorese in Indonesia, the massacre in Chiapas, Mexico, and the Tibetans persecuted by China none of these have led to NATO military action. All of them have contributed at least as much to the suffering of innocent people as have the atrocities in Yugoslavia. Why is one qualified as worthy of action in accordance with a human imperative and not any of the others?

Whether we agree that Slobodan Milosovic has committed crimes against humanity is not the issue. That is for the World Court to decide. Under the guise of humanitarianism the US and NATO are part and parcel of similar crimes. Even worse, the US and NATO may be responsible for war crimes through the selective inattention to ethnic cleansing in places where our immediate interests are deemed trivial. Then there is that matter of a half-million dead children in Iraq and the consequences of an almost forty-year embargo (including food and medicine) against Cuba. It is far too easy to blame a "dictator" in power for the suffering of the people caused by our sanctions.
 

The moral high ground is not bombing. It is not setting ultimatums and then throwing a multibillion dollar hissy fit when the opposing side does not see things our way. Diplomacy like democracy takes time. The warring in the Balkans has been going on since the 11th century. To believe that B2 bomber attacks and Tomahawk missiles will convince one side or another to accept a peace that is stable and lasting is a delusion. One cannot bomb an adversary into peace. Plato said,

The creation of the world is the victory of persuasion over force... Civilization is the maintenance of social order, by its own inherent persuasiveness as embodying the nobler alternative. The recourse to force, however unavoidable, is a disclosure of the failure of civilization, either in the general society or in a remnant of individuals...

Martin Luther King, in a famous sermon said,
 

I have a vision of world peace, not because the military have been called in to maintain order, but because we have peace from within and friendship with every nation.

I can only dream of a world where such cooperation is possible. I can, however, attempt to create a small microcosm of such a place in my own family and community. I can also take some small action in trying to move the profane investment in making war and war machinery into developing and implementing institutions that teach conflict resolution and who are chartered to help eliminate poverty, lack of clean safe water, hunger, disease, overpopulation, disease, misery and dejection.

Perhaps, it is time to load up the B2 bomber for another run. We can fill the bomb bays with copies of the Sermon on the Mount (Beatitudes). This time, we can save much money by not having to refuel the planes in mid-flight by dropping them on Washington DC.
 

The Beatitudes say,

  • Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  • Blessed are the meek: for they shall posses the land.
  • Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted.
  • Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill.
  • Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
  • Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God.
  • Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
  • Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

In a nation obsessed with religious RIGHTtiousness perhaps, its is time, to act more Christ-like and less war-like.

Bibliography

ABCnews.com World [http://www.cai.ch/COT/ indoc_ EPR971112-2. htm]

Cnn Interactive.  "The Hardware." 
[http://www. cnn.com/ SPECIALS/1998/10/kosovo/jump/kosovo.munitions.html]

FEDIX. Support Services for Wargaming and Doctrine Education – DOD. "COMMERCE BUSINESS DAILY ISSUE OF MARCH 29,1999 PSA#2312"
[http://web.fie.com/htdoc/fed/dod/air/any/ proc/mti/03299916.htm
Accessed, 27-March-99.

KPFA Pacifica Radio Los Angeles 
[https://swww.igc.apc.org/kpfa/0_e_real.htm

Skousen, Mark. Advocates for Self-Government. "Persuasion versus Force." Internet. 
[http://www. self-gov.org/skousen.html
Accessed, 27-march-99.

Vietnam Veterans Against the War 
[http://www.onebm.com/golem/ kosovo.html]

World Socialist Web Site. "US military uses Yugoslavia as testing ground for high-tech weaponry". 
[http://www.wsws.org/articles/1999/mar1999/yugo-m2. shtml

1999 Jozef Hand-Boniakowski

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