The Guardian

The Guardian November 26, 2003


Culture and Life

by Rob Gowland

Quick quiz

For how long has former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic
been in prison, despite not having been convicted of any crime?
Answer: Since June 28, 2001.

On November 8, hundreds of people, who had come from all over 
Europe and North America, demonstrated outside Scheveningen 
Prison in The Hague. They were protesting the continued 
incarceration and persecution of Milosevic.

One of their banners encapsulated the issues: "Free Milosevic, 
jail Bush".

It was during the Presidency of Bush's father that the US had 
seriously set about the task of dismembering Yugoslavia. The 
country was still a major player in the non-aligned movement 
(encouraging countries to reject military ties to the US), it 
straddled a potential oil pipeline route to Europe from the 
Caucases, and it would make an excellent base from which to 
threaten Russia if that country refused to accept Third World 
status.

The US used two principal allies in dismembering Yugoslavia: 
German capitalists and Islamic fundamentalists. German 
imperialism had never given up the idea of a "greater Germany" 
(just because Hitler had failed to pull it off did not make the 
idea invalid).

Germany intrigued to sever the former Nazi puppet state of 
Croatia from Yugoslavia. Not surprisingly, Germany was the first 
state to recognise Croatia after the neo-Nazi Tudjman lead it to 
bloody independence with German funds and German-supplied US 
weapons  and began ethnically cleansing the country of its 
Serbian minority.

Meanwhile the US was using its Islamic connections (including 
"freedom fighters" from Afghanistan) to foment civil war in and 
ultimately detach Bosnia. Slobodan Milosevic, as leader of the 
Socialist Party of Serbia and later as President of what was left 
of Yugoslavia, worked tirelessly to keep war away from the 
remaining republics of Yugoslavia.

But he refused to bow down to the US and Germany (and later 
Britain). As readers of The Guardian will know, this led 
eventually to NATO's Air War on Yugoslavia and the occupation of 
Kosovo.

Islamic fundamentalism and the Albanian Mafia were allies of the 
US in the war to (defacto) detach Kosovo from Serbia (in order to 
establish the largest US base outside the US itself).

It was during the breaking up of Yugoslavia and especially the 
war over Kosovo that the techniques of disinformation and 
demonisation were perfected. The same techniques that have been 
used since then against governments from Venezuela to Haiti, 
Zimbabwe to Iraq, indeed against any government that refuses to 
be ordered around by Washington.

As the democratically elected President of a defiant Yugoslavia, 
Milosevic was a rallying point for those governments that wanted 
to pursue an independent line in the face of increasingly heavy 
US pressure.

But, in the eyes of Washington, as George W Bush put it "those 
who are not with us are against us".

Milosevic was kidnapped from Belgrade and brought before the 
International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. This 
is a "court" established exclusively and solely to try war crimes 
and crimes against humanity in the former Yugoslavia.

Although there are innumerable examples of war crimes by NATO 
troops against Yugoslav civilians, and by both Tudjman's fascists 
and assorted fundamentalist fanatics, the "court" has 
concentrated almost exclusively on Serbian military and civilian 
leaders.

Former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, an outspoken opponent 
these days of US war plans, says the tribunal is itself illegal 
and that the UN had no right to set it up. (That it did so under 
Anglo/US arm twisting goes without saying.)

Milosevic, with little in the way of resources, has defended 
himself with such vigour and skill that at one stage it looked 
like a rout reminiscent of the Nazis' failed trial against 
Dimitrov over the Reichstag fire. But the imperialists are not to 
be cheated of their prey.

While Milosevic is denied proper medical care (his blood pressure 
is now reported to be dangerously high), the prosecution is 
attempting to wheel in some hopefully big guns.

In a piece of damning irony, one of the real war criminals from 
NATO's war on Yugoslavia is going to appear as a witness against 
Milosevic. That is Retired US General Wesley Clark, who, as NATO 
commander, planned and led NATO's illegal war on Yugoslavia.

Clark told reporters the US Government had authorised his 
participation (I'll bet it has), and that lawyers from the State 
Department and the Pentagon would accompany him.

Clark was responsible for NATO's deliberate targeting and bombing 
of civilians and civilian infrastructure (a war crime, remember). 
His bombing campaign was responsible for the deaths of upwards of 
4000 Yugoslav civilians and the wounding and maiming of thousands 
more.

I visited Belgrade shortly after the bombing. I saw hospitals and 
other non-military buildings that had been carefully picked out 
for precision assault by missiles and bombs, in order to create 
maximum terror among the civilian population.

If the Hague Tribunal were about justice, Clark would be in the 
dock, not Milosevic. Instead, Clark is campaigning for the US 
Democratic presidential nomination  as an anti-war candidate!

Clark's anti-war posture appears to be not that he's against war 
as such, but simply that he's against the mess that Bush is 
making of the war in Iraq. Meanwhile, Milosevic, a true anti-war 
campaigner, has languished in prison for two and a half years, 
being punished for defying the superpower of capital.

Back to index page