There were bad actors on all sides in the Yugoslav civil wars of the 1990s, but Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic was by no means the worst of them. Some of these ‘players’ were even covertly assisted by western countries, including active participation in anti-Serb ‘ethnic cleansing’ by the CIA behind the scenes.
So why did the West go to such lengths to selectively demonise Serbia above the other nations involved in the conflicts?
The core justification for the 78 day NATO bombardment of Serbia in 1999 was the accusation of Serbian conducted ‘genocide’ against Albanians in the Serbian province of Kosovo. Yet those ‘casus belli’ allegations were not subsequently pursued at the war crimes tribunal at the Hague due to lack of evidence. Indeed, in September 2001 a UN court in Kosovo ultimately ruled that the allegations were untrue.
Those claims were in fact no more real than the later claims, used to justify a further illegal attack on another nation in 2003, that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Today most of the public now understand the fraud of the Iraq war, even it it seems they are powerless to hold anyone to account for it (the British Chilcot inquiry into the war has no powers of sanction, for example).
However, most people still remain unaware of the earlier fraud conducted against Serbia by NATO , thanks in large part to Milosevic’s untimely death at the Hague, a sudden development which prevented his trial reaching a conclusion. Yet, the whole Kosovo episode faced the prospect of being reborn as a new major media story once the judgement had been issued, had Milosevic lived to the end of the trial.
The re-ignition of the story would have been an eventuality loaded with embarrassment for the western powers. For at that point of ‘denouement’ it would have been impossible to prevent the broader general public from realising that the original claims of genocide used to justify the war against Serbia had been dropped.
Previously the abandonment of those charges was something only scantily reported on by the international media community, most of which had subscribed to, and relayed, the original bogus narrative which the actual trial process of Milosevic had failed to verify. In this awkward situation media reporting from the trial itself became largely notable by virtue of its general absence.
The falsely genocide-justified bombardment of Serbia by NATO in 1999 was illegal. No NATO member country had been attacked by Serbia (nor could Serbia have conceivably been regarded as a threat to any NATO member state), and there was no United Nations approval for the bombardment.
Seven years later, with the prospect of a less than ‘helpful’ outcome to his trial, the death of Milosevic at the Hague was greeted by a hypocritical mixture of crocodile tears (over the trial being prevented from reaching a conclusion), and muffled sighs of relief (for the same reason) in western corridors of power.
Milosevic’s death in custody meant that much residual shame and embarrassment could now finally be buried.
Dr David Kelly was the leading expert adviser to the British government on chemical weapons and the related situation in Iraq after 9/11. After the ensuing invasion of that country the steadily ‘leaking’ Dr Kelly died in controversial circumstances on 17 July 2003.
The day before his death he had appeared before a parliamentary committee which met in closed session. He disclosed that although he had been sure before the invasion that Iraq had a development programme, he thought it was only 30% likely that Saddam Hussein actually had chemical weapons. He said, “The 30% probability is what I have been saying all the way through … I said that to many people … it was a statement I would have probably made for the last six months.”
This expert opinion stood in strong contrast to the chemical and biological weapons threat asserted to be ‘serious and current’, ‘beyond doubt’, and deployable ‘within 45 minutes of a decision to do so’, in the pre-war official position of the British government that Dr Kelly himself had been advising. Had he lived long enough, we may well have learned more about this, particularly if he had appeared in public at the subsequent Chilcot inquiry.
Just days before his death at the Hague Milosevic himself had asserted in a letter to the Russian government (the text of which was released by Associated Press) his concern that he was being wilfully poisoned through the administration to him of an inappropriate drug for his health problems. Whether true or not, one thing is clear. Milosevic’s premature demise before the conclusion of his trial was a great piece of luck for British Prime Minister Tony Blair, or those who had steered him, on a scale rivalling the death of Dr Kelly (who was laterreported to have been writing a book on the Iraq affair at the time of his demise).
For unlike Clinton or Bush, whose terms did not span the full period, Blair had the unique distinction of being a leading advocate for both conflicts, Kosovo and Iraq, during his time as leader of the United Kingdom.
- “…. everyone knows that those claims of genocide bore as much relation to reality as did the claim made in 2002-2003 that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Indeed, the charge of genocide turned out to be so unsustainable that it was never even included in the indictment against Miloševic.” Kosovo’s Independence Will Stir Up Trouble. Who Will Benefit?
The Brussels Journal, 12 December 2007.
- “The question of legality arises both in respect of Kosovo and Iraq. Like Lord Goldsmith, Mr Blair regards the lawfulness of the Iraq action as turning on the absence of a second UN resolution, and the reliance on Resolution 1441. Broad questions of international law are also involved. They concern the monopoly of the use of force given to the United Nations in the UN Charter. Since 1945, the conventions on torture and genocide have opened a wider right to use force; there is a general right to arrest those responsible for torture or to intervene to prevent genocide. That was the justification for the Nato intervention in Kosovo.”
London Times, 1 Feburay 2010.
- ‚‚….a growing weight of evidence indicates that the 1999 war had little to do with Milosevic, and everything to do with the US’s economic and military hegemonic ambitions in the Balkans….. Lord Gilbert, the UK’s defence minister in 1999, has admitted that ‘the terms put to Milosevic at Rambouillet [the international conference preceding the war] were absolutely intolerable . . . it was quite deliberate’. In an affidavit to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Colonel John Crosland, the UK’s military attaché in Belgrade from 1996-99, stated that the US had decided on regime change in Serbia and had decided to use the terrorist Kosovo Liberation Army to achieve that end.”