Getting it right
After the Kosovo peace settlement
June 13 1999
The Prime Ministers still should step down
The reasons to ask our Prime Ministers to step down remain, even though,
thanks to the involvement of the UN and Russia, we now have a peace process.
1. The air campaign was unwarranted
The air campaign was a violation of the UN Charter and apparently
also of the Helsinki accords.
Curiously, the UN Security Council resolution on the Kosovo peace contains
a phrase that might be read as legalising the campaign after the fact.
That phrase was obviously negotiated into the settlement by the very PM's
that should resign. The powerful again rewrite history.
It would be best that the PM's resign, and that we analyse the situation
without their bias. And pass a resolution that condemns NATO. Our judges
should investigate whether our PM's have been war criminals themselves
What is at stake is the future: How credible are our laws and promises,
if they can be broken so easily ?
2. The air campaign was not a success
The PM's try to make us believe that the air campaign was a success.
"They made Milosevic sign while he refused to do so at Rambouillet". However:
When NATO claims victory, they again spin the truth and hold us for fools.
Rambouillet already was a fraud, so the point escapes me.
The new peace settlement differs from the Rambouillet proposal in key points:
(a) The troops are under UN auspices instead of NATO. (b) There is no violation
of Yugoslav souvereignty and territorial integrity.
A comparable deal could have been achieved with more imagination and
with less costs.
The air campaign was horribly costly - with the dead and wounded, a million
refugees, the billions of dollars of damage, the increased tensions between
the superpowers, and the more difficult peace process now.
Note, by the way, that the air campaign was neither successful from a military
angle. NATO leaders were on the verge of embarking on ground forces. It
seems that they accepted terms less than at those of Rambouillet only because
they could avoid such unpopular measures. While they should have opted
for ground forces from the beginning if there really had been a just cause.
Making real peace
The world should rethink its policies of making and keeping peace.
Wars and boycotts tend to affect the weak and innocent rather than the
powerful and responsible. Of course: If you want peace, prepare for war.
Of course: The war against Hitler Germany was a just war - even though
we all know about Keynes's "The economic consequences of the Peace" etcetera.
Precisely for those reasons we should be wiser now.
Another priority is to bolster the economy
of Russia and Eastern Europe.
Our PM's now say that Yugoslavia cannot get financial help unless Milosevic
is replaced. It would be better, on the contrary, to help develop Yugoslavia
anyhow. Remember that the bombing were unlegal to start with.
The emphasis in help should be on basic needs, information and education,
etcetera, and be mindful of the local power elite getting richer en more
The emphasis in the punishment for war crimes should be on those persons
who inflicted them, and not on the whole people.
Eventually Milosevic will be replaced anyhow, and convicted as a war criminal.
Why make things more complicated by demanding his replacement first ? Indeed,
our PM's seem to get the psychological upper hand by calling Milosevic
the bad guy, and draw attention away from their own errors. They treat
us as fools again.
Parliaments should fully investigate the affair
Admittedly, external observers have only limited information. Much
of the "information" also is biased and tainted by propaganda. In not too
long a time books and memoirs will be published that will help to better
understand the events. But a conscious effort of our governments and parliaments
will be needed to get the full story out.
Are parliaments willing to accept that the war was a disaster, not only
from a humanitarian point of view, but also from a political and diplomatic
point of view ? And are they willing to live up to the consequences ?
Existing records should be made available (and not destroyed).
Officials should be interviewed (and they should answer, since there is
no national security involved).
The computer should be used as a tool to verify statements and to check
on the logic.
Parliaments should investigate themselves and make funds available for