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Statement by the International Action Centre, New York
Peace Movement Aotearoa
PO Box 9314, Wellington. Tel (04) 382 8129, fax (04) 382 8173, firstname.lastname@example.org
Issued 27 March, 1999
The US/NATO War in Yugoslavia: Five Myths
- Myth #1. U.S./NATO had to attack "the Serbs" because the Yugoslav government and President Slobodan Milosevic refused to negotiate on Kosovo, a region of Yugoslavia where ethnic Albanians are the majority.
Reality: U.S./NATO bombs are falling on all Yugoslavs: Serbians, Montenegrins, Albanians, Hungarians, Romanis and other peoples who make up the multiethnic Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
There were no "negotiations." U.S. officials like Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, went out of their way to make this point when "peace talks" were held in France in February. Instead, there was an ultimatum presented by the U.S. government to the Yugoslav government that had three points: 1) Kosovo must be granted autonomy; 2) NATO must be allowed to station 30,000 ground troops in Yugoslavia to ensure this autonomy; and 3) A NATO-conducted referendum for Kosovo's independence from Yugoslavia would take place within three years. The Yugoslav government agreed to the first condition, and rejected the second and third, saying they were a gross violation of their sovereignty and the independence of their country.
- Myth #2. Yugoslavia is the aggressor in this conflict and Milosevic is a "new Hitler."
Reality: No Yugoslav soldiers, planes or ships are attacking another country. The conflict in Kosovo is an internal issue. A developing country of 10 million people, Yugoslavia is being attacked by 19 countries, including the biggest military powers in the world, which have a combined population of more than half a billion people. Milosevic has been demonized much like Saddam Hussein is. As a State Department official said, "the demonization of Milosevic is necessary to maintain the air attacks." (S.F.
Chronicle, Mar. 30, 1999)
- Myth #3. Clinton, Albright and the Pentagon generals were moved to action by their concerns about "ethnic cleansing" and human suffering.
Reality: The U.S., Germany and other NATO powers played a key role in breaking up Yugoslavia in 1991-92, arming and supporting secessionist movements. For 45 years after World War II, the many nationalities that made up Yugoslavia lived together in peace. In the civil wars, which followed the break-up of Yugoslavia, there was much bloodshed and human rights violations on all sides. The biggest single act of "ethnic cleansing" was the forced removal of 600,000 Serbs from the Krajina region of Croatia (a former Yugoslav republic) by the U.S.-trained and armed Croatian military in 1995. More than 55,000 of these Serbs, who were resettled in Kosovo, are among the hundreds of thousands of people made refugees by NATO bombing and the conflict in Kosovo.
(Julia Taft, Asst. Secretary of State on C-SPAN, 3-29-99) The U.S.
"concern" about removal of people from their homeland is very selective. This is not surprising: U.S. policy has supported, with arms and money, the removal of Kurdish people in Turkey, Palestinians, East Timorese, Guatemalan indigenous people -- and the list goes on.
- Myth #4. The U.S./NATO goal is to protect the rights of the predominantly Muslim Albanians in Kosovo.
Reality: U.S. officials pretend to care about the rights of Muslim people in Yugoslavia, while their policy of sanctions and war kills 300 Iraqis every day -- half children under 5 years old. Most Iraqis are Muslims.
The Pentagon is not a humanitarian relief agency and the corporate-owned politicians don't really care about any people -- Albanians, Serbs, Kurds, Iraqis, or the poor and working people of this country.
This war is killing people of all nationalities in Yugoslavia, and poisoning their land with radioactive depleted uranium (DU) weapons.
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, U.S. veterans and their families are suffering from Gulf War Syndrome as a result of depleted uranium poisoning. The Clinton administration and the Pentagon talk about "supporting our troops" before they go into battle, but then deny medical benefits to veterans who suffer from the after-effects of Agent Orange from Vietnam or DU from Iraq.
This war will cost many billions of dollars, money stolen from housing, health care, education and other social programs. Each cruise missile costs $1 million. The only ones who will benefit from this war will be the military-industrial complex and big business.
The real U.S./NATO goal is to break Yugoslavia into ever-smaller pieces and bomb its people into submission. The Balkans is a strategic region, a crossroads between Western Europe and the oil-rich Middle East and Caspian Basin. The U.S. has established, in only 5 years, military domination of the former Yugoslav republics of Croatia, Bosnia and Macedonia, as well as Hungary and Albania. The only hold-out has been what is today the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. This is the real reason why Yugoslavia has become the target in the Balkans, just as it is the real reason that Iraq has become the target in the Persian/Arabian Gulf region.
- Myth #5. U.S. news reports are balanced and impartial, giving us the true story.
Reality: What we see today is a gross distortion of the facts. The media is dominated by big business interests, and functions as a Pentagon propaganda machine. For political purposes, the suffering of only one group, the refugees leaving Kosovo, is shown, while the other Yugoslav victims of the NATO bombing are virtually ignored. The New York Times, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, The Chronicle Examiner, and others have given a very slanted view of events in Yugoslavia, to justify the massive bombing. General Electric, one of the country's largest military contractors which supplies engines for NATO jet fighters, owns NBC and co-owns MS/NBC.