Fri Dec 14th, 2007 at 05:21:16 AM EST
US policy in the Balkans: recipes for violence
There are theories circulating that US policy in the Balkans is benign and stability seeking. Those that promote these theories point to repeated US failures to facilitate peace in the region as blunders and errors for which they hold individual American diplomats accountable. The Vance-Owen plan, which was a real opportunity to reestablish the foundations of peace in the Balkans in January 1993, was scuttled by the US's James Baker. That led to a ruthless period of violence. The Rambouillet agreement was also scuttled, this time by the US's Madeleine Albright. That led to more violence. The current position expressed by Condoleeeza Rice will probably also lead to violence. What may help this final round of negotiations to succeed is the fact that today, contrary to 1993 and 1999, the American military is extremely overstretched and Russia is feeling significantly stronger. Nevertheless, it seems that whenever the US is involved in a peace plan in the Balkans, the result is not peace but war. The question of whether this is diplomatic blunder or orchestrated strategy is an important and controversial one that should have far reaching implications on EU-US relations.
The theory put forth often by international experts is that US administrations seem to unintentionally (albeit systematically) mismanage international diplomacy, which then leads to accidental chaos. Simply put, this is unfathomable. If the United States government, with its nuclear arsenal and awesome military armada which annually spends $600 billion, or the equivalent of 50%-60% of the world's total spending on arms, can "unintentionally mismanage" international relations to the point of causing war then we all have grave cause for concern. If this is true, given their dismal track record, American Diplomats should be denied a space around future tables reserved for negotiating sensitive conflicts that can degenerate into violence.
The other theory, which would seem more plausible, is that there is no smoke without a fire; US administrations are well oiled war machines with countless advisors, analysts and strategists receiving updated assessments from armies of informers throughout the world - including the Balkans. Baker and his colleague Warren Zimmerman must have known that by torpedoing the Vance-Owen plan Bosnia would slide into war. Madeleine Albright also knew that by including a clause demanding that Serbia allow NATO free reign within Serbia proper, the deal would become unpalatable to the Serbs and war would be inevitable. To make things worse, this clause was included following the Serb delegation's acceptance of an initial agreement tabled by the Americans, which would have granted Albanians in Kosovo self rule, guaranteed by an international military presence. Blunder or intent? In both instances, the evidence would support that war was the US regime's precise intent in the Balkans. And war was indeed the result.
What, one would ask, does the US have to gain from violence in the Balkans? One of the answers is that the wars allowed the US to divide local ethnic groups in order to establish two military bases on ex Yugoslav territory; a modern, fully equipped air base in Tuzla, and another major army base in Kosovo - Bondsteel. It is highly likely that these military base would not be there today had the Vance Owen plan been implemented. Yet these bases form an integral part of a broader network of new military logistics and readiness centers throughout central and Eastern Europe.
The justifications for intervention in the Balkans offered by the NATO protagonists are numerous, but certainly not linked to the humanitarian or philosophical considerations that are oh so often produced, such as ethnic cleansing, punishing aggression or rewarding democracy. These considerations have rarely and possibly never been drivers of American foreign policy anywhere in the world - whether in Saudi Arabia, Turkey or with South America's dictatorships. Likewise, Srebrenica, Gorazde and Racak are not the defining cornerstones of American policy in the Balkans, although they are atrocious realities of this war - as they could have been of any other war. The atrocities, real in many cases, serve the purpose of selling US foreign policy to the public and justifying the US regime's torpedoing of every viable peace plan which was or is on the table. This was the case with the Lisbon Agreement which was sunk because "the Serb aggressor should not be compensated". It was also the case in Rambouillet. Both resulted in a campaign of "bombing for peace" which should be understood in the context of a grander US plan in the region.
The geopolitical motivation behind the US regime's quest for war in the Balkans is a subject that deserves a long discussion, but the major reason which was certainly on top of the Pentagon's priorities when it was advising Baker-Albright-Clinton and today Rice, was avoiding a return of Russian economic, political and eventually military influence in South-East Europe. This is still a key component driving US policy in South-East Europe as it is with Greece, where deep concern with the current military and energy deals that Athens signed with Russia are proliferating among the American intelligence community.
The same geopolitical motivations were behind the Pentagon's efforts to separate Montenegro from Serbia. Here, the values of democracy and the rule of law were disregarded as the US administration provided financial and political support to Milo Djukanovic who is little more than a corrupt street thug wanted by Interpol. The geo-strategic objective was clear: by separating, then integrating Montenegro into Euro-Atlantic structures, the risk of resurgent Russia establishing naval bases in the Adriatic would all but disappear. The construction of NATO military infrastructure on ex Yugoslav soil to guarantee that Russians are kept at bay is truly impressive. The sheer size of the built bases speaks volumes of the US's geo-strategic intent to subdue the region and keep it by force for an undetermined period of time.
Another reckless policy that the Pentagon has been promoting in South-East Europe with its efforts to support Albanian separatists in Kosovo is to do away with the concept that national boundaries are inviolable. It seeks to set a new precedent which could plunge Europe - from Spain to the Caucuses into chaos, by opening the door to demands emanating from all ethnic, linguistic or cultural minorities to establish their own nation states. Whether this could spell the beginning of slow disintegration of the European Union, from the Basques, to the Catalans, to the Flemish, Scots, Welsh and who knows which other ethnic group tomorrow, remains to be seen. But it is clear that the temptation will be significant for minorities throughout Europe to seek greater self-rule.
To understand the motivations behind such Machiavellism, one need only look at the post WWII period during which the United States, relatively unscathed by the fighting, was left as the sole industrial and financial powerhouse on earth. Today, a destabilized, divided and bickering Europe would offer less attractive perspectives for investments and would serve to, inter alia, reinforce the US's positive net inflow of wealth. This would effectively reduce the threat of the Euro becoming the major international reserve currency at the expense of an already weakening dollar.
Those who say that the Clinton-Baker-Albright (and now Rice...) teams have benign, stability seeking policies in Europe are apologists of the US regime's military efforts to subdue and dominate the Balkans at whatever the human cost. By propagating these beliefs, they offer comfort to the hawks that, whether on left or right, have nothing worthy to offer the world but violence.
What is necessary is forceful condemnation of the US regime's multiple incursions to foment war in the Balkans, and its latest attempts to arm twist the international community into accepting Kosovo's independence without the UN Security Council's agreement. Not doing so is siding with the very same interest groups who are responsible for progressively eroding individual liberties within the United States. Human rights, freedom of expression or the freedom to live in peace shouldn't be the exclusive rights of American citizens. The deplorable demise of the US opposition is a result of the same forces which are at work in the Balkans. With the Democrats also trumpeting that "might is right" in the international arena, one can only question what their commitment will be to reversing the dramatic erosion of individual freedoms at home. Probably none. which leads us to the next question: where will the Pentagon stop?