By David Peterson at Feb 24, 2005
The world reacted in horror six years ago when the Serbian regime of Slobodan Milosevic embarked on an ethnic cleansing operation against Kosovo's Albanians, forcing 700,000 people, nearly half the population, to flee the province. Reports of massacres and images of miles-long lines of refugees fleeing into neighboring Albania and Macedonia compelled the world to act. The NATO air campaign against Serbia that followed convinced Belgrade to give up its brutal assault, and Kosovo was put under United Nations administration.Thus the narrative employed by the aggressor states to justify their war at the time---that NATO's bombing campaign was a response to the humanitarian crisis depicted by Carlucci, rather than touched-it-off---remains the narrative employed today, nearly six years later. Not even the Office of the Prosecutor's serial indictments of Milosevic et al. over Kosovo have been willing to reverse the chain of cause and effect this baldly (here citing the Second Amended Indictment for Kosovo, Counts 3-4, Murder, Par. 66 (a), (b), and (c)) :
On or about 15 January 1999, in the early morning hours, the village of Racak.... On or about 25 March 1999, forces of the FRY and Serbia surrounded and attacked the village of Bela Crkva/Bellacërkë.... On or about 25 March 1999, forces of the FRY and Serbia attacked the villages of Mala Krusa/Krusë e Vogël and Velika Krusa/Krushë e Mahde....Recall that the NATO bloc launched its war over Kosovo on March 24, 1999---compelled to act by “Reports of massacres and images of miles-long lines of refugees fleeing into neighboring Albania and Macedonia” that even the chronology provided by the Prosecutor's indictment of Milosevic et al. suggests could not have become a factor until some time after NATO initiated the war. Thank you, American Power. Last, I should add a few words about a MotherJones.com interview with the former Lieutenant-General in the Canadian Army, and former head of the UN Assistance Mission to Rwanda, Roméo Dallaire. (More recently, Dallaire has assumed a fellowship at Harvard's Carr Center for Human Rights Policy---a near-kiss-of-death for his credibility, as far as I'm concerned.) My reason for including the Dallaire interview is a sense of masochism, I suppose. Neither Dallaire nor his interviewer, MoJo's Jeff Fleischer, show that they are anything other than clueless about the nature of the threats to international peace and security in our day. Let alone what the gravest of them might be. Or what the world---the so-called "international community"---can do to counter them. Instead, MoJo's interviewer asks questions such as:
MJ.com: You also argue that peacekeeping needs to be redefined in the post-Cold War era. What do you see as the main changes needed to respond to today's world? MJ.com: You said earlier that major powers won't act if they don't see a gain for their self-interest. How can public opinion within those nations be mobilized so governments might intervene?The last question especially was a real beauty. Don't you think? So was the retired-General-become-Carr-Centerite's response:
The instrument for that, which is still an imperfect and somewhat immature instrument, is the NGO community. The non-government organizations. I think that we must be far more supportive and more serious in the efforts of the NGO communities because I think they will ultimately be the supra-capabilities that will influence public opinion and governments to moving away from self-interest or creating at least a balance between self-interest and the humanitarian side.Nowhere does Dallaire hint that he recognizes that the U.S.-led NATO bloc is anything other than a peacemaking force in the world, even when it acts aggressively, as a bloc, as it did over Kosovo in 1999, or when the American and British sector of it act aggressively, as they did over Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003. Nor does the MoJo interviewer notice the oversight. Thank you, MoJo.
Kosovo: Toward Final Status, Europe Report No. 161, International Crisis Group, January 24, 2005 (And the accompanying Executive Summary) “The War We Haven't Finished,” Frank C. Carlucci, New York Times, February 22, 2005 "Action is needed to keep Kosovo on track," Christopher Patten, Financial Times, February 23, 2005 The Prosecutor of the Tribunal Against Slobodan Milosevic et al., Second Amended Indictment for Kosovo (Case No. IT-99-37-PT), Carla del Ponte, October 16, 2001 “Shake Hands With the Devil: An Interview With Roméo Dallaire,” Jeff Fleischer, MotherJones.com, January 25, 2005Postscript (Feb. 24). Apologies for not having included this one yesterday, along with the other material (more or less) about Kosovo and the inner-workings of the "international community" (so called):
"Court of First Resort," New York Times, February 10, 2005Now. A question arises.---Why do you suppose this commentary's fearless author, the noted Carr Center moralist and Jeanne d'Arc of the Human Rights Brigades, Samantha Power, always finds it so easy to name the names of the genocidists, the crimes-against-humanity killers, and the assorted war criminals in places such as the Sudan, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Cambodia, just to mention a few---but never, absolutely positively never, the United States of America? Is it just that some killers make better show-and-tell exhibits than others? My brave hero.
"Samantha Power And The Genocide Gambit," Edward S. Herman, ZNet, May 17, 2004Postscript (November 1):
"Security Council Presidential Statement Offers Full Support for Start of Political Process to Determine Kosovo's Future Status" (SC/8533), October 24, 2005 "Council endorses start of status talks on Kosovo, top UN envoy calls this 'historic'," UN News Center, October 24, 2005 "Kosovo: Annan to name veteran trouble-shooter Ahtisaari to lead status talks," UN News Center, November 1, 2005Any glosses by me would be superfluous. We all know where this is headed. Postscript (November 26): For a very interesting news report, the title of which speaks for itself, see:
"U.S. ran Guantanamo-style prison in Kosovo, says rights envoy," Agence France Presse, November 25, 2005Don't miss AFP's follow-up, either, also reproduced below: "U.S. military does not run secret detention centre in Kosovo: US official" (Nov. 26). And of course this gem, reporting on the 11-count indictment on terrorism-conspiracy charges of the 35-year-old Brooklyn-born Jose Padilla issued by a Federal court in Miami on November 17 ("'Dirty bomb' suspect indicted for alleged overseas plot," Shannon Mccaffrey, Knight Ridder, Nov. 23):
Padilla was one of four people charged in an 11-count indictment handed up by a federal grand jury in Miami on Nov. 17. The others charged are Adham Hassoun, Mohammed Youssef and Kifah Jayyousi. All three had been charged previously with terrorism-related crimes. Youssef is being held in Egypt. Jayyousi and Hassoun are in custody in Florida. The indictment also charges, for the first time, Kassem Daher, a Canadian national who's believed to be in Lebanon. The indictment alleges that the men comprised a North American terrorist support cell that began in 1993 to raise money and recruit support to fight for radical Islamic causes in Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya and elsewhere. The indictment doesn't mention a specific attack, nor does it link the men directly to al-Qaida.For more on the foreign military and paramilitary forces that seized the wars over the breakup of Yugoslavia to prosecute their own violent agendas---the Serbian province of Kosovo having been but one of these pirated battlefields during the breakup of Yugoslavia---see "Not-So-Strange Bedfellows," ZNet, July 3, 2005.
"Kosovo: Annan recommends starting future status talks now," UN News Center, October 21, 2005 "Council endorses start of status talks on Kosovo, top UN envoy calls this 'historic'," UN News Center, October 24, 2005 "Kosovo: Annan's envoy on final status for UN-run province meets with Serbs," UN News Center, November 23, 2005 "Kosovo: Annan's envoy on final status talks meets with Serbia's leaders," UN News Center, November 25, 2005 Agence France Presse -- English November 25, 2005 Friday 3:46 PM GMT HEADLINE: US ran Guantanamo-style prison in Kosovo, says rights envoy DATELINE: PARIS Nov 25 The US military ran a Guantanamo Bay-type detention centre in Kosovo, a top Council of Europe official charged Friday, as an investigation by the organisation into alleged CIA-run secret prisons gathered pace. Human rights commissioner Alvaro Gil-Robles said he had been "shocked" by conditions at the barbed wire-rimmed centre inside a US military base, which he witnessed in 2002. The camp resembled "a smaller version of Guantanamo", he told France's Le Monde newspaper, referring to the US centre at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where hundreds of terrorism suspects remain detained without trial. Gil-Robles told the daily he had inspected the centre, located within the US military's Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, in 2002, to investigate reports of extrajudicial arrests by NATO-led peacekeepers. He described seeing "small wooden huts ringed by tall barbed wire", each housing "between 15 and 20 prisoners ... wearing orange boiler-suits like the ones worn by Guantanamo inmates". Some prisoners were bearded and reading the Koran, he added. Washington has faced severe criticism from human rights groups for keeping suspects in the US "war on terror" that was launched after the September 11, 2001 attacks locked up at Guantanamo Bay without access to lawyers, some for years. More recently, it has also been accused of maintaining a network of so-called "black sites" -- covert CIA detention centres in foreign countries, notably in Asia and in eastern Europe -- where suspects are subjected to vigorous interrogation techniques some critics say amount to torture. Gil-Robles said he had no evidence that Camp Bondsteel was linked to the alleged CIA operations. "But I do believe that an explanation should be given for this base in Kosovo, as for other potentially suspect sites" in Europe, he told the paper. Earlier this week the Council of Europe, which guarantees human rights in its 46 member states, launched an investigation into the alleged prisons. The official leading the probe said Friday that Romania, which rights groups have labelled a likely site for one of the secret centres, was not hosting a large, Guantanamo-style jail. Dick Marty told a press conference in Bucharest that he was "convinced that there are no Guantanamos in Romania". "I don't think it would be possible to set up a centre like Guantanamo in Europe," said Marty. "If Romanian officials tell me they are not hosting a Guantanamo, I trust them." However, he did not exclude the possibility of Romania having "small centres with one or two detainees being kept temporarily for interrogation". "It's also possible that CIA planes stay 10, 20 or 30 days on Romanian soil. That's very hard to find out," he added. Claims about the alleged prisons, as well as reports of covert CIA flights carrying prisoners from country to country, have prompted rights groups and a number of politicians around Europe to demand their governments press the United States for answers. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, whose country holds the rotating European Union presidency, said Tuesday that he would be asking Washington for an explanation of the affair. UPI November 25, 2005 Friday 5:44 PM EST HEADLINE: Guantanamo-like prison in Kosovo? Report DATELINE: PARIS, Nov. 25 A senior European official has suggested in an interview the United States ran a detention center in Kosovo similar to a mini Guantanamo. In an interview published in France's Le Monde newspaper Friday, the Council of Europe's human rights commissioner Albaro Gil Robles recalls seeing Guatanamo-like conditions at Camp Bondsteel, a U.S. military camp in Kosovo, in 2002. "I saw between 15 and 20 prisoners locked into these tiny houses, clad in orange outfits like those detained in Guantanamo," Gil Robles told the newspaper. He said the prisoners, apparently locked into four small houses, did not appear to be bound by chains. He said a number of the prisoners were bearded, and some read the Koran. One female U.S. soldier who was apparently part of the prison personnel told the European commissioner that she had recently served in Guantanamo. Gil Robles said he was "shocked" by what he had seen. He said he had obtained assurances from the Americans that the camp would be dismantled the following year. Gil Robles remarks feed into recent allegations that the U.S. has been maintaining a network of CIA detention centers in Asia and Eastern Europe. Critics charge the alleged prisoners are subjected to interrogation techniques that amount to torture. According to Le Monde, Gil Robles fears the Kosovo camp could fit into the "rotation" of prisoners among these alleged centers. The newspaper reported that prisoners at Camp Bondsteel had no access to a lawyer or legal recourse, similar to the ones at Guantanamo. The camp is used as a detention center for NATO peacekeeping forces who have been in Kosovo for the last six years. Agence France Presse -- English November 26, 2005 Saturday 2:15 PM GMT HEADLINE: US military does not run secrete detention centre in Kosovo: US official DATELINE: PRISTINA, Serbia-Montenegro Nov 26 The US military does not have a secrete detention facility at its military base in Kosovo, but maintains a joint detention center within the NATO-led peacekeeping mission (KFOR), the US military in Kosovo said Saturday. "There are no secret detention facilities located on Camp Bondsteel (East Kosovo). It is common knowledge that we do have a Kosovo Force (KFOR) detention facility located here," Major Michael Wunn, US military contingent in Kosovo spokesman, told AFP. "The facility is operated by US Military Police Soldiers fully trained in Detention Center Operations. Currently, no one is detained in this facility," Major Wuun said, adding that "the Bondsteel detention facility is under the command and control of US BG John Harrel, KFOR Multinational Brigade East commanding general." "The US Army maintains this facility as part of its KFOR responsibilities pursuant to UNSC Resolution 1244. The facility is subject to inspection by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and is regularly inspected by the United States Army, Europe." Council of Europe human rights commissioner Alvaro Gil-Robles said Friday the US military ran a Guantanamo-type detention centre in Kosovo, as an investigation by the organisation into alleged CIA-run secret prisons gathered pace. He said he had been "shocked" by conditions at the barbed wire-rimmed centre inside a US military base, which he witnessed in 2002. The camp resembled "a smaller version of Guantanamo", Gil-Robles told France's Le Monde newspaper, referring to the US centre at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where hundreds of terror suspects are detained without trial. Over 17,000 NATO-led peacekeepers from 35 nations, including about 2,000 US troops, are responsible for peace and security in the UN-administered Serbian province. Ethnic Albanian-dominated Kosovo came under UN and NATO control in June 1999 after NATO's 11-week bombing campaign ended a brutal crackdown by Serb forces of Albanian rebels.Postscript (December 9):
"Human Rights Commissioner Says Fight Against Terrorism Can Only Be Won If International Human Rights Norms Are Fully Respected," Press Release, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, December 7, 2005 "UN Commissioner for Human Rights Says Total Ban on Torture Under Attack in 'War on Terror'," Press Release, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, December 7, 2005 Human Rights Day: Independent Experts Reaffirm Prohibition of Torture Is Absolute, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, December 9, 2005