Tuesday, March 13, 2007


The Stage is Set for the Bulldozer Revolution
Adam Larson / Guerillas Without Guns
Posted 3/13/07

As pressure grew over the situation in Kosovo, Yeltsin’s Russia pursued diplomacy, trying to make a name in the international community as a peace-maker while protecting the interests of its client state. The US played along with the Rambouillet conference of early 1999, though Milosevic was accused of leveraging such periods of calm to push his campaign deeper into Kosovo. With talks thus deemed counterproductive, Washington led the formation of an offensive coalition to solve the crisis. President Bush, confronted with Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, had used the UN Security Council, the mark of the New World Order. But this time the plan was different. In 1995, Clinton pursued NATO as the venue of action instead, circumventing Russian and Chinese involvement in the decisions. [1] When the peace process broke down over Kosovo, it was again decided to pursue the Euro-Atlantic route and NATO again decided on war.

NATO, it seemed, had found its new mission and reaffirmed it on March 24, a bare twelve days after announcing its expanded power with the addition of Poland, Hungary, and the Czezh Republic. The campaign opened with bombs on Serb forces in Kosovo, eventually moving to Serbia itself. Operation Allied Force was waged entirely from the air, though there were threats of ground invasion late in the campaign. Civilian installations such as power plants, petrochemical plants, water processing plants and the state-owned broadcaster were intentionally targeted, and the Chinese Embassy was also hit, allegedly a simple accident.

CNN reported May 18 that “NATO launched its 55th day of air strikes against Yugoslavia on Monday,” with a “decided downturn […] from around 600 sorties daily to just 343. NATO said bad weather forced the cancellation of most flights.” [2] Such a massive bombardment was sure to kill civilians, as was made clear by well-publicized events like the apparently purposeful attack directly on an Albanian refugee convoy that killed 87. [3] Yugoslav reports of total civilian deaths ranged as high as 6,000, while Western estimates range from 500-1500. Even this number was artificially inflated, NATO said, by Milosevic’s use of “human shields” bussed in to potential targets and confined there to die. Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon estimated that up to half of all civilians killed in the NATO air campaign may have been deliberately placed around bombing targets. He said such incidents stand as evidence of the “depravity of Milosevic,” thus demonstrating the justness of the war that was having over 600 bombing runs a day pounding those targets anyway. [4]

Under siege, Milosevic hung on stubbornly with solid support from Russia under President Yeltsin. On April 7, Milosevic met with a Russian envoy who stated that Russia condemned NATO's “criminal aggression on Yugoslavia,” insisted it should stop immediately, and passed on the Russian people's “support for and solidarity with the people of Yugoslavia.” [5] The air war evidenced the growing rift between the US and Russia as NATO took up its offensive military role. They had signed a “Founding Act” for cooperation in 1997 – that is between Yugoslav wars. When this failed to have Moscow consulted or even informed before the second campaign, they quit the partnership program and again adopted an adversarial stance with NATO. [6]

On June 10 Milosevic agreed to withdraw from Kosovo and the bombardment ended, though Milosevic’s power survived the conflict. The bombs had failed to force him to surrender, and in many ways nationalism had increased under foreign aggression. And he was reportedly ready for a bold new venture. According to a December 1999 article from the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), the Yugoslav leader entertained dreams of “an axis stretching eastward,” allied with Lybia, Iraq, and North Korea – and possibly China and/or Russia - as a sort of Pariah’s club who felt abused by the West for having chosen a different path. Belgrade state media described this proposal as “a coalition of free states ranged against the New World Order.” [7]

In late 1999, IWPR noted, delegations from the governments of Iraq and North Korea visited Belgrade as China delivered $300 million of ‘humanitarian’ aid. As Serbian Foreign Minister Zivadin Jovanovic pointed out, “Yugoslavia has many friends in the world.” [8] Serbian Information Minister Aleksandar Vucic and Vojislav Seselj, Deputy PM in the Federal Government, jointly emphasized the need for these friends to move closer together in the “struggle against American imperialism and hegemony.” [9] Baghdad and Belgrade were working towards a deal whereby outstanding Yugoslav loans to Saddam’s government could be repaid in oil, as well as early talk on a “medicines for oil” deal. [10] So not only was Milosevic still in power, the butchers of Baghdad and Belgrade were moving closer together, both despite American-led wars and continued sanctions, hoping to scrape together enough of their own resources to trade and create a small outcast economy. The West’s policy of starving nations out by excluding them from the global economy was set to backfire by pushing aside one too many and creating a viable fringe bloc, with the colossal, if faint, possibility of Chinese and Russian inclusion.

Milosevic looked forward to presidential elections in Moscow and Washington to set the tone for his next plans. In Russia, Milosevic was distrustful of “Washington’s man” Yeltsin, reportedly banking on Communist Gennady Zyuganov as next Russian president. IWPR reported that Milosevic felt Zyuganov could forge “a military-political alliance between Russia and China, which would of course include Yugoslavia.” And on the American front he was looking for the Clinton team that had so harassed him to simply go away. IWPR predicted that “a victory by the Republican and isolationist candidate George Bush Jr. in the US would likely lessen Washington's will to get involved overseas.” [11] As 2000 dawned, the US direction was yet to be seen but it was clear Putin was in power in Russia, and while not a communist he was keen on reviving Soviet policies and as time would show he had his own geopolitical ambitions, some indeed involving Milosevic’s hoped for alliance with China (a point to which we’ll return in later chapters). Washington clearly felt that the time to take out Milosevic was short – preferably before the US elections.

As Gene Sharp would later tell an interviewer, “when violence fails, people don't say violence doesn't work. They keep the belief that violence is the most powerful thing they can do even though it has proved to be a disaster.” [12] This was the perfect time and place to prove that attitude wrong. Serbia in 2000 provided the fertile soil of political discontent by the tractor-load. Political analyst Dejan Anastasejevic explained the source of this sullen mood:

“The people turned against [Milosevic] because he lost four wars in a row. He initially had a very large support but once he lost four wars, people started to look at you and thought may be you are not a very competent man. Also living standard in Serbia went sharply down during his rule because of the sanctions by the United Nations. People wanted these sanctions lifted so that they could live like normal people. And only way they saw that could happen was to remove Milosevic from power.” [13]

So even the discontent can be engineered from without as in this case - bombs and sanctions were direct decisions of the nations targeting Milosevic for removal. But either way the idea was planted in peoples’ minds – there is only one way out of this situation and Milosevic is blocking the exit. As Metta Spencer explained in Peace magazine, “Sharp has shown that dictators require the assistance of the people they rule - their skills and knowledge, their material resources, and especially their submission.” Once these were broken in Serbia, Spencer claims with only some hyperbole “Sharp's strategy brought down Milosevic.” [14]

Next: otpor! "Biting the system."

[1] Justin Logan and Ted Galen Carpenter. “NATO Insists on Poking Russian Bear.” Cato Institute. January 27 2006. Accessed via MosNews. http://www.mosnews.com/commentary/2006/01/27/russianbear.shtml
[2], [4] “NATO says 'human shields' account for bombing deaths Albanian troops clash with Serbs.” CNN. May 18 1999. http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/europe/9905/17/kosovo.03/
[3] “Who NATO Killed.” Edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair. Counterpunch. 1999. Accessed at: http://www.counterpunch.org/dead.html
[5] “Yugoslavia's Milosevic meets with Russia's Seleznyov.” April 7 1999. Accessed May 4, 2006 at:
[6] De Haas, Marcel. ''N.A.T.O.-Russia Cooperation: Political Problems Versus Military Opportunities.'' Power and Interest News Report. May 29 2006. http://www.pinr.com/report.php?ac=view_report&report_id=498&language_id=1
[7], [8], [9], [10], [11] Sunter, Daniel. “Milosevic Dreams Of Military Axis To The East.” Institute for War and Peace Reporting. Dec 17 1999.
[12] Spencer, metta. “Transcript: An Interview with Gene Sharp.” Peace Magazine. July 9, 2003. http://www.why-war.com/news/2003/07/09/aninterv1.html
[13] Htet, U Min. “Serbia: Demise of a Dictator.” BBC News. September 16 2005. http://www.bbc.co.uk/burmese/learning/story/2005/09/050912_transition_prog12.shtml
[14] Spencer, Metta. “Gene Sharp and Serbia: Introduction: Nonviolence versus a Dictatorship.” Peace Magazine Oct-Dec 2001, p.14. http://www.peacemagazine.org/archive/v17n4p14.htm

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