B1-B US Bomber on a night mission

Is Iraq The Only War Tony Blair Should Be On Trial For?

Kosovo was not a question of defending people from ethnic cleansing and genocide. Tony Blair’s support for intervention led to more deaths than likely would have occurred without the bombing campaign.

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B1-B US Bomber on a night mission

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Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has been back in the headlines recently (though not quite as he would like), with Archbishop Desmond Tutu calling for him to be put on trial, a call supported by, among others, Guardian columnist George Monbiot, who has been promoting citizens’ arrests of Blair. Their argument is that Blair prosecuted an illegal war without UN authorisation, an act of aggression justified on spurious grounds, which led to countless unnecessary deaths.

The facts are certainly on their side, but perhaps more than they themselves realise. For whereas they point only to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, I would suggest that these arguments also hold true for the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia (now Serbia), of which Blair’s UK was, as in 2003, a main instigator.

A Moral War?

Like the attack on Iraq, the bombing of Serbia lacked UN authorisation, and so was illegal under international law. The bombing also carried a terrible direct toll (at least 500 civilian deaths and billions of dollars of damage, as NATO targeted Serbia’s civilian infrastructure), including war crimes such as the deliberate targeting of Serbia’s media.

Despite this, the Kosovo intervention is usually seen as justifiable on humanitarian grounds, as it defended the Kosovars (Kosovo Albanians) from genocide and ethnic cleansing, and liberated them from the oppressive rule of the ‘Serbian Saddam’, Slobodan Milosevic.

It is this justification – the moral case, as Blair would call it – that this article will focus on. As we shall see, the situation was no-where near as black-and-white as presented, and, far from preventing violence or promoting compromise, the NATO bombing actually caused a huge escalation of the conflict and eliminated all possibility of compromise: it caused the very disaster it claimed to be preventing. So if Tony Blair ever does face trial for his wars, there is a strong case for including this one in the Prosecutor’s brief.

Kosovo: The Story Before the Bombing

Kosovo is a case – of which there are many in the world – of a territory contested by two national groups, Serbs and Albanians. Serbs, who by the twentieth century formed about a quarter of the population, considered it an integral part of Serbia, and were never too happy about the presence of an Albanian majority there since the nineteenth century. Albanians, two-thirds of the population, wanted the province to be part of Albania rather than Serbia, and were never too happy with the Serbs being there. Whenever one group had control of the region, they oppressed, abused or persecuted the other, in a fairly predictable cycle.

The most recent part of this cycle began in the late 1960s, when communist Yugoslavia transformed itself into a loose federation of which Kosovo, run mainly by its Albanian majority, was de facto an equal part. Despite this unprecedented degree of autonomy, in 1981 Kosovo was shaken by Albanian riots demanding the severing of the symbolic links with Serbia that remained. Soon, abuses of Serbs by Albanian nationalists, acknowledged and described by the province’s Albanian leaders themselves, and the persistence of separatist feeling in the province, became major issues throughout Yugoslavia.

It was this situation itself which helped lead to Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic revoking Kosovo’s autonomy in 1990, now bringing Albanians under a discriminatory and repressive Serb regime. Faced with Serb military strength, the Kosovo Albanians adopted a largely pacifist resistance. Their openly declared goal, however, was not merely civil rights or autonomy, but secession from Serbia and, ideally, unification with Albania.

In the second half of the 1990s, meanwhile, a group of radicals called the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) – described as ‘a terrorist group’ even by US negotiator Robert Gelbard, among others – began a violent campaign against Serb rule, targeting not just Serbian police and military, but Serb and Roma civilians too, and any ethnic Albanians they deemed ‘collaborators’, or simply rivals. (Former KLA leaders are on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for some of these crimes). Their goal was to provoke Serb response and thereby greater Albanian support for the KLA, and eventually international intervention. As one of their officials later admitted: ‘every single Albanian realized that the more civilians die, intervention comes nearer… The more civilians were killed, the chances of international intervention became bigger, and the KLA of course realized that’.

The KLA managed to take control of much of the province, and, predictably, the Serbs responded with a brutal counter-insurgency campaign, until the threat of NATO bombing in October 1998 forced an uneasy truce and de-escalation. Over the following months the KLA used the ‘truce’ to re-take lost territory – British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook himself noted the KLA was the truce’s chief violator – but the presence of large numbers of OSCE and EU monitors kept the conflict at a relatively low level.

Thus, the conflict in Kosovo before the NATO bombing was one between two rival nationalist forces, a repressive state apparatus on the one hand and a rebel group on the other, with each guilty of crimes. The Serbian counter-insurgency campaign was brutal and often indiscriminate (like many in the world), but the available evidence does not suggest that it had the goal of ethnic cleansing – no Albanians were being forced out of Kosovo. The number of casualties – although high considering the size of Kosovo’s population of two million – was also hardly exceptional: according to the pro-Western Humanitarian Law Centre (HLC) in Belgrade, which has painstakingly documented the killed and ‘disappeared’ of the Kosovo conflict, there were about 1,500 dead in 1998, 300 of them non-Albanians.

The Negotiations That Never Were

Though harshly critical of the Serbian side, Western states at the time did not endorse Albanian nationalist goals. Rather, they advocated a compromise between Serb and Albanian national projects: extensive autonomy for Kosovo within Serbia, as had existed in the 1970s and 80s. In February 1999 negotiations were held in Rambouillet, France, with the supposed aim of reaching this outcome. Serbia’s negotiating platform was for autonomy, but at a lower level than had existed previously, and with built-in protections for non-Albanians (not just Serbs, but also the Roma, Muslims, and other groups in Kosovo). The Albanians, on the other hand, would reluctantly accept expansive autonomy only temporarily, under the condition of a future referendum on independence.

Whether Milosevic was really prepared to compromise is debatable – he was undoubtedly exploiting the crisis to strengthen his own authoritarian rule – but it is notable that his stances were actually closer to the envisaged compromise than the Albanians’. Moreover, just three years earlier he had indeed shown himself willing to claim victory in peace, forcing the Croatian and Bosnian Serbs into abandoning most of their goals.

Negotiations, however, were not given a chance, as Western negotiators instead sabotaged them to create a pretext for bombing, proposing a draft agreement that included a referendum after three years. In a signed promise given behind the back of the Russian negotiator, US Secretary of State Madeline Albright promised the Albanians that this meant a referendum on independence, whose results the USA would respect. This was not a compromise, but the victory of one side, and an agreement that no Serbian government would ever have been able to accept.

When the Serbs rejected the draft in March 1999, NATO then ordered the withdrawal of all OSCE and EU monitors from Kosovo, and began bombing.

Escalation

Predictably, NATO’s bombing caused a massive escalation of the conflict. Serbian forces now not only cracked down on the KLA but also launched a campaign of ethnic cleansing, executing thousands of Albanians and ordering hundreds of thousands out. When Serbian forces withdrew as part of the June 1999 peace deal (which did not include a referendum on independence), these Albanians were able to return alongside NATO/UN peacekeepers. But so did the KLA, which in turn orchestrated a wave of ethnic cleansing against Serbs, Roma and other non-Albanians, kidnapping and executing many, and forcing the majority to flee the province. As has been revealed and extensively documented by former ICTY chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte and the Council of Europe’s investigator Dick Marty, there is convincing evidence that several hundred of the ‘disappeared’ non-Albanians had their organs removed by the KLA and sold on the international market. Former KLA leaders, such as current Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, remain dominant in Kosovo today, sitting – according to leaked NATO intelligence documents – atop an apex of organised crime, including the heroine trade.

The HLC has reached a figure of about 10,500 Albanians and 2,500 Serbs and others killed or ‘disappeared’ during the whole Kosovo conflict. (10) These numbers testify to the disastrous role played by NATO intervention, as the overwhelming majority of Albanian deaths took place after NATO began bombing, while a further 1,500 Serb civilians were killed or ‘disappeared’ after Yugoslav withdrawal on 10 June 1999. Moreover, although large considering the population size, the total number of Albanian victims was nowhere near the genocidal levels alleged by NATO (US Defence Secretary William Cohen had talked, during the bombing, of ‘about 100,000 military aged men missing… [who] may have been murdered’). Proportionately, in fact, the Kosovo Serbs suffered a similar number of victims, and – shockingly – as many Kosovo Serbs were killed in post-war peace as Albanians during the fighting in 1998.

Before the NATO bombing, meanwhile, there were no refugees outside Kosovo. During the bombing, however, about 800,000 Albanians were forced out, and afterwards about 200,000 non-Albanians, with very few of the latter ever returning.

Kosovo Today

Unsurprisingly, the result of this escalation was not a compromise between Serbs and Albanians. With the province now outside of Serbian control, the Albanians no longer had any incentive to compromise, and Western states eventually abandoned their support for autonomy. Thus, with Western backing, sensible Serbian offers of a Hong Kong-type arrangement for Kosovo were ignored, and in 2008 Kosovo declared independence.

The end result of the whole intervention is thus one great mess: Kosovo is ruled by organised crime, recognised by only a quarter of the world, and still has no control over a Serb-majority region in its north, which functionally remains a part of Serbia. Albanian-Serb relations within Kosovo remain poor and Serbia refuses to recognise the province’s secession, indefinitely hindering its EU prospects. The Kosovo precedent, meanwhile, has been cleverly used by Russia to justify its 2008 war with Georgia and subsequent recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. More devastatingly, the NATO intervention, which took place without UN authorisation, provided an important precedent for the attack on Iraq four years later.

Conclusions

There can be a ‘moral case’ for the NATO bombing only if all the deaths that it caused were inevitable; intervention somehow managed to prevent a far worse sequence of events; and the current situation is the best possible outcome. This seems highly unlikely. Before the bombing the Serbs were conducting counter-insurgency campaigns, not ethnic cleansing, and Western pressure and monitoring was keeping the fighting to a low level. Milosevic had previously shown himself to be susceptible to Western pressure and willing to compromise when necessary, and, even if an agreement proved elusive, it is doubtful that, under the pressure and watchful eye of the West, the conflict would ever have escalated so drastically.

To put it simply, Kosovo was not a question of defending people from ethnic cleansing and genocide, or liberating people from their oppressor. It was a matter of resolving a nationalist dispute between two peoples – and even if that is difficult, bombing one side is usually not the best way to find a solution. NATO’s bombing campaign was illegal, included clear war crimes, and caused the very catastrophe it claimed to be preventing. So if Tony Blair is ever put on trial, there is a strong case for adding it to the list of charges.

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25 thoughts on “Is Iraq The Only War Tony Blair Should Be On Trial For?”

  1. Firstly: The bombing was not the orchestration of Blair, it was that of Clinton. Blair had been championing an intervention by ground forces in order to prevent further killing, but the US refused to dedicate their forces having still been in the post-Mogadishu and pre-9/11 era of interventions. Blair can hardly be faulted for a response which did not nearly go far enough.Secondly: Yes, the initial treaty was a victory for one side. So what? Since when has backing one side of a conflict been a crime? Especially when that side represents the democratic position in that region. If a region wishes independence, give it to them. Any regime which does not is an oppressive one. Your argument that taking a side is not liberation is a false dichotomy.Thirdly: You made the case that the moral case for the bombing must be maintained by the inevitability of the deaths. However your conclusion that this was not the case or that the conflict could not have resulted in as many deaths even without an escalation (in the long term) was completely inadequate to make this argument. As you admit with using the term ‘doubtful’, this argument is purely guesswork.In conclusion: The arguments, though seemingly fairly fair, are biased by arguments based on guesswork rather than facts and the bizarre belief that negotiations must be neutral to be just. Your attack on Blair in particular is isolated from the rest by a complete lack of argument as to his culpability and role and seems to be more of a personal attack or drive for a sensationalist argument to give attention to a separate argument. 

  2. Peter Kelly Hi Peter, thanks for your comments/critique. I’ll respond to each in turn.1.a) Tony Blair and Bill Clinton were close allies in this action, as Blair and Bush later were, and at times Blair was actually taking a more militant stance than Clinton (as you yourself note). Blair continually takes credit for this intervention, which was supposedly an example of New Labour’s ethical foreign policy, and he is rarely challenged on it. My goal with this article is to point out that, like Iraq, this is in fact a very negative part of Blair’s legacy. And for the same reasons as Iraq (international aggression, war crimes, and the fact that it did considerable harm), Blair should, in fact, be on trial for this war.Regarding your Conclusion: apart from your post, I have never seen anyone dispute the pivotal role that Blair played in the Kosovo intervention, so I do not feel that I need to spend words detailing it, when the focus of my article is showing that, in Kosovo itself, the intervention had negative consequences.1.b) I am not sure what you think ground forces would have solved. We had 30,000 UN troops in Kosovo from June 1999, but they did not prevent the ethnic cleansing of Serbs and Roma, for example.2.a) Western states claimed to be neutral arbiters in the conflict, seeking a negotiated solution based on autonomy for Kosovo. They blamed Milosevic for the break-down in negotiations. But actually they – behind the backs of the Russian negotiator – suggested a plan that was victory for one side in the conflict, and which no Serbian leader would ever have been able to accept. This is the point I was making: Serbia was not at fault (or, at least, not exclusively at fault) for the break-down in negotiations, and, contrary to what was claimed by Blair and others, negotiations really were not given a chance.2.b) ‘If a region wishes independence, give it to them’. Then Republika Srpska, western Hercegovina, Sandzak, western Macedonia, the Presevo Valley, parts of Vojvodina and perhaps Eastern Slavonia should all be allowed to secede? These areas, incidentally, are all within the former Yugoslavia – there are hundreds of such cases globally, perhaps thousands Such a policy would cause a lot more wars (both inter-state and civil), ethnic cleansing, distracting people into focusing on nationalism rather than socio-economic issues, and so on. This is why there is a principle of territorial integrity of states, which the global powers generally claim to respect. This principle is, incidentally, a part of international law.2.c) ‘Since when has backing one side of a conflict been a crime?’ Attacking another state for no reason is, under international law, a war crime. And was the Kosovo Albanian cause somehow particularly just, that required such intervention in their favour? I don’t think so. As I explained in the background section, both sides in this conflict have had blood on their hands. As far as I can tell, a far more just cause is that of the Kurds in Turkey, but Turkey, as a NATO member, took part in the attack on Serbia.3. It is impossible to prove a negative, and counter-factual arguments can always be debated. Let’s say we decide to bomb Turkey in favour of Kurdish freedom, and Turkey responds by executing tens of thousands of Kurds and expelling millions, before eventually withdrawing from Kurd-populated territories. There is no way to prove that those deaths and expulsions would not have taken place anyway, even if we hadn’t bombed. All we can do is discuss and form our judgements based on the facts. This is what history is about, and this is what I did, presenting a great deal of evidence supporting the idea that the Kosovo conflict could have been contained, and without NATO intervention, such a bloody outcome could have been avoided:- the conflict was of a low level (less than 20% of total deaths took place before the bombing), and was indeed being contained by Western pressure and OSCE monitoring.- Serbia showed both responsiveness to Western pressure and some willingness to compromiseAnd, most importantly:- no Albanians had been forced from Kosovo, and the Serbs had been conducting (brutal) counter-insurgency, not ethnic cleansing.On what basis do you believe that the NATO bombing avoided a worse fate than what occurred? And what evidence do you have for that belief?And finally, I will present one additional argument: if we had sided with the Serbs instead of the Albanians, the conflict could actually have been ‘solved’ with a much lower human cost:Instead of supporting the KLA, NATO could have pressured Albania and other states to cut off its funds, supplies, training bases, and so on. NATO could have made clear to the Kosovo Albanians that they had to accept autonomy within Serbia, at the level Serbia was offering. If they did not agree, Serbia would be given a free hand to crush the rebellion in another counter-insurgency campaign. In 1998, when Serbia largely defeated the KLA before NATO forced a truce, only about 1,500 people died, much less than the 10-11,000 that followed NATO bombing. And without the chaos of war, the KLA would not have become dominant, and the intellectuals around Ibrahim Rugova would have remained in charge – thus, Kosovo would not be a mafia state, and nor would the ethnic cleansing of non-Albanians have taken place.Thus, it seems that the victory of the Serbian side could have been achieved at a far lower human cost than the victory of the Albanian side. And the Albanians of Kosovo would now be like Republika Srpska in Bosnia: they want to secede, but the world will not let them.Personally, I do not think that this would have been at all fair or just. I think both sides should have been pressured to agree to a fair compromise. But can you refute the argument that siding with Serbia, in fact, would have ‘solved’ the conflict in a far less bloody manner than the NATO bombing? And, therefore, NATO bombing was not, by a long way, the best way to ‘solve’ the conflict?

    1.  This is actually a far more effective post than your first one, possibility of adding some of these arguments to the original post?1.a) Blair and Clinton were in no way of the same mind as Blair and Bush would be later on. Blair actually out-manoeuvred Clinton diplomatically to force an intervention. However the actions taken were predominantly US ones. That’s the problem, the tactics used were typical US shock-and-awe tactics which would be used again in 2003, not effective to the situation.1.b) NATO ground forces would not have been restrained to the same extent as UN forces, and let’s be honest, 30,000 is not very much. 2.a) Again you make the mistake of thinking negotiations mean a neutral stance. They don’t. NATO was pushing for giving the Kosovans the choice and rightly so. That was their negotiation stance, and it was the oppressive regime of Serbia which decided to fight on regardless.2.b) And it’s a principle which should not exist. If a people want independence (and I mean a people, not a single political group without majority support which decide to turn to violence) they should have it. Anything else is justifying authoritarianism and the oppression of democratic rights.3.a) I agree, it’s impossible to prove a counter-factual, and that’s why those kind of arguments don’t work, including yours. I back my position with every genocide of the last 100 years which was not stopped by outside intervention. You back yours by an escalation you cannot prove would not have happened otherwise nor wouldn’t have had the same effect in the long-term. Neither argument is conclusive and certainly would not last a single rebuttal in a court.3.b) Where exactly do your draw the line between a brutal courter-insurgency and war crimes? 3.c) What is the people didn’t want to be in Yugoslavia, at all? Isn’t that their right to choose? And yes, I support all such movements. Any opposition is based on ancient codes set up simply to prop up old monarchies and elites from the days of landowner power.3.d) Your entire argument is based on casualty figures. I could make the same argument of the American revolution, American civil war or English civil war. All caused huge numbers of casualties in the name of a cause. Are they all war crimes as well? No, because sometimes a cause is worth it.

      1. Peter Kelly 1.a) I am glad that we now agree that Blair played a key role in the conflict, contrary to your original post.1.b) There was no suggestion of using ground forces immediately, rather than bombing. As the bombing went on and failed to subdue Milosevic, Blair began to advocate the use of ground forces. It was in the days and weeks immediately after bombing began that the vast majority of Serbian atrocities were committed, ie before Blair was seriously advocating it. Implementing such a decision would also have taken some time. It would not, therefore, have prevented Serbia’s atrocities – but could well have caused an even bloodier, more protracted conflict.The reason NATO forces did not prevent the cleansing of Serbs and Roma is not because they were not able to, it is because they had no desire to. The situation was always worse where US troops were based, rather than the French or Russians. They saw the KLA as an ally and the Serbs as the enemy, and were not interested in investigating or preventing what was now happening. NATO officials even said they were not surprised Serbs would want to leave Kosovo, given their alleged role supporting the regime, committing atrocities, etc (i.e. they fled because they knew they were guilty, not to save their lives from KLA persecution).2.a.) NATO was not officially in favour of Kosovo’s independence or right to secession, even after the bombing. That is nowhere contained in the June 1999 agreement and UN resolution that ended the war. Their official and public stance was always in favour of broad autonomy for Kosovo within Serbia, and this was the stance of other countries also.2.b.) and 3.c) Territorial integrity of states is a principle which should exist, because if it did not, there would be a free-for-all and countless more inter-state and civil wars, ethnic cleansings, and so forth. Minorities can seek and achieve rights within their state: equality as citizens, cultural autonomy, territorial autonomy, and so on. When a minority enjoys such rights, in no way can it be considered oppressed.3.a.) Are you saying that we cannot make any judgements about past actions? If today we nuke Syria in the name of peace, then tomorrow we cannot discuss whether that action was worth it, because that would be ‘counter-factual’? It seems that rather than engaging with the evidence and arguments I have presented, you are rejecting the entire notion of evidence-based discussion and debate.I have presented clear arguments and evidence that NATO bombing caused an escalation of the conflict that was completely unnecessary and avoidable, and far better outcomes were available – even siding with the Serbs instead of the Albanians would have ‘solved’ Kosovo with far, far less human cost. But you are not responding to this.3.b.) I never distinguished between brutal counter-insurgency and war crimes, which can be included in the former. I distinguished between counter-insurgency and ethnic cleansing. The goal of the former is to crush a rebellion and assert state control over a territory/people; the goal of the latter is to remove a people from a territory because of their ethnicity. That was not happening in Kosovo before the bombing.3.d) Again, on what grounds was the Kosovo Albanian cause ‘worth it’? Did the Serbs and Roma deserve to be liberated of their organs? Why did we bomb Serbia, not Turkey?Numbers of casualties are a very good way to judge whether wars were worth it. For you, how many would have had to die in Serbia and Kosovo, for this war not to be worth it? 100,000? More? Perhaps a million? After all, there is no way to prove that two million would not have died had we not bombed…

        1. 1.a) I never said he didn’t1.b) Publicly. Blair could not have campaigned for ground forces publicly until the US was already involved on their terms. After that your criticism of the US is not really relevant to a discussion about Blair.2.a) Their position was an acceptance of what the people of Kosovo chose, and good riddance for that.2.b) Why can’t citizens have a state for themselves when they have such a state? Civil wars would not occur unless states were encouraged to place territorial integrity first and the rights of their citizens second.3.a) I’m saying you can’t make an argument based on what hasn’t happened, which is what you’re doing. You have no idea what would have happened without NATO intervention and neither do I, at best we can guess. That will never, ever stand up in court should a trial occur and thank God for that.3.b) So your’re saying that a brutal counter-insurgency can never overlap with ethnic cleansing with similar goals?3.d) Check when the Armenian genocide happened then ask that question again. If it had happened at a time we were able to do anything about it then we should have done.You also managed to avoid my point on other conflicts when I criticised you on casualty figure use.

        2. 1.a) Perhaps I interpreted your first post incorrectly. You said that it was not Blair who orchestrated the bombing, but Clinton. I have never heard anyone make the argument that although Blair was, as you later put it, the key one behind the intervention, it was Clinton who insisted on bombing, and Blair actually advocated beginning with ground invasion. You seemed to me to be saying that I had exaggerated Blair’s role in the conflict in order to tenuously link him to it: ‘Your attack on Blair in particular is isolated from the rest by a complete lack of argument as to his culpability and role and seems to be more of a personal attack or drive for a sensationalist argument to give attention to a separate argument’.1.b) Do you have any evidence at all that Blair was, from before the bombing, advocating that instead of beginning with bombing, NATO should launch a simultaneous ground invasion? I have never heard anyone suggest this.2.a) No it wasn’t. It was clear that the Albanians in Kosovo wanted to secede. NATO and the international community did not endorse that, they advocated autonomy within Serbia.2.b) For every minority that wishes to secede, there is usually a majority in that state that believes that that territory must remain part of their state. Hence, conflicts and wars. Do you really think that if the international community suddenly said ‘minorities can secede’, the majority populations of Russia, Bosnia, Georgia, Turkey, etc would say ‘Oh, ok then’, and allow the peaceful secession of Chechnya, Republika Srpska, South Ossetia, Abkhazia, and Kurdistan? And each side respectively would come to a fair agreement about whose territory is whose? There would be no disputes, along the lines of: this territory has always been part of our state and nation and is important to us, even if you have the majority there; you have a majority here, but only because three years ago you expelled our people who were the majority; this area is 60:40 in your favour, but geographically it would be absurd to include in your state rather than ours; etc. And what rights would, for example, Turks then have in Kurdistan and Kurds in Turkey? Would Turkish be an official language in Kurdistan, even if they were now a minority? If not, do you think they would be happy about that change, and accept it easily?3.a.) We cannot make an argument about what hasn’t happened? So, as I said, if we nuke Syria today, then tomorrow, no-one is allowed to turn around and say: ‘I don’t think as many people would have died if we hadn’t nuked them…’3.b) I have never said a brutal counter-insurgency cannot overlap with ethnic cleansing. I have said in this case, that was not the case. The fact that no Albanians had been forced from Kosovo testifies to that fairly strongly. Do you have evidence to the contrary?3.d) If genocide had taken place in Kosovo, then yes, perhaps we should have intervened. I think perhaps we should have intervened in Bosnia in 1992. But in Kosovo in 1998-9, before the bombing, there was no genocide, there was not even ethnic cleansing, nor reason to believe that these were about to occur. As I have explained, NATO bombing did not help further contain the conflict – a strategy that was working – but caused its massive escalation.I did not avoid your point on other conflicts. I responded that ‘Numbers of casualties are a very good way to judge whether wars were worth it.’ I don’t really want to begin a discussion about whether, for example, the English Civil War was ‘worth it’.Perhaps you could respond to my points on:- Nuking Syria- Siding with Serbs instead of Albanians- Up to how many casualties is Kosovo ‘worth it’?

        3. 1.a) This time you explained my point correctly.1.b) http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/348294.stm Look into these events a little more closely. The excellent film ‘The Special Relationship’ portrays the conflict over action very well and true to history.2.a) They supported a referendum did they not?2.b) Screw the national majority. That problem is known as a ‘tyranny of the majority’ and is one of the most dangerous situations in history. The revolutions in France and Russia are good examples of what happened when a national majority is given absolute power.3.a) I am referring to close examples like that we have been discussion. Reducio ad absudum is a poor argument in debate.3.b) Srebrenica massacre3.d) Ok, so your point is that every single conflict which caused massive casualties in the pursuit of an ideal were absolutely wrong?Nuking Syria – See above.Siding with Serbs – Yes, in all cases we should give the most powerful and violent what they want. Let’s give Afghanistan back to the Taliban immediately. Shouldn’t Gbago still rule the ivory coast right now?

        4. 1.a) This time you explained my point correctly.1.b) http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/348294.stm Look into these events a little more closely. The excellent film ‘The Special Relationship’ portrays the conflict over action very well and true to history.2.a) They supported a referendum did they not?2.b) Screw the national majority. That problem is known as a ‘tyranny of the majority’ and is one of the most dangerous situations in history. The revolutions in France and Russia are good examples of what happened when a national majority is given absolute power.3.a) I am referring to close examples like that we have been discussion. Reducio ad absudum is a poor argument in debate.3.b) Srebrenica massacre3.d) Ok, so your point is that every single conflict which caused massive casualties in the pursuit of an ideal were absolutely wrong?Nuking Syria – See above.Siding with Serbs – Yes, in all cases we should give the most powerful and violent what they want. Let’s give Afghanistan back to the Taliban immediately. Shouldn’t Gbago still rule the ivory coast right now?

        5. Peter Kelly 1.b) Perhaps you should look a little more closely. That article is from 21 May 1999 – two months after bombing began. This only helps confirm my interpretation, not yours.2.a) The phrase taking into account ‘will of the people’ was snuck into these behind-closed-doors negotiations. The US gave a secret promise that this meant a referendum on independence. This was in order to ensure Serbian rejection and thus bombing. Publicly, even the US was only advocating autonomy for Kosovo, and the June 1999 peace agreement and accompanying resolution had no provisions for any referendum, and instead confirmed the territorial integrity of Serbia. NATO did not fight the war for self-determination – they claimed only to favour autonomy, and to be fighting against genocide.2.b) ‘Screw the national majority’ is not a coherent strategy for avoiding the conflicts that a secession free-for-all would cause. Perhaps you should respond to the issues I raised.3.a) Could you please respond to the point on Syria? It seems to me that your logic is invalid, and you are simply rejecting the notion of evidence-based argument about past events.3.b) Srebrenica was committed by the Bosnian Serbs against the objections of Milosevic.3.d) No that is not my point, please read what I actually say. My point is that numbers of casualties is one good criterion for judging whether wars are ‘worth it’. If, for example, we kill 100,000 people to liberate 50,000 people from discrimination, I don’t really think that would be worth it. If we kill 1,000 people to save 100,000 people from genocide, I think it is worth it. Those are two ends of the scale. In my opinion, the Kosovo case falls at the wrong end of that scale.Re: Siding with the Serbs – as you know if you read my argument, I did not advocate siding with the Serbs. I pointed out that siding with the Serbs would have been a far less bloody and, in fact, more favourable solution that siding with the Albanians and bombing the Serbs, so what we did was definitely not the best course of action.

        6. 1.b) I know it is, I said look into it further.2.a) A horrendously biased argument based on guesswork and conjecture. I don’t think it really merits a response.2.b) Actually in most cases it is perfectly the right response. Majority tyranny should never just be handed over just because any other way might be a little trickier.3.a) I did respond to your point on Syria, it’s a stupid example with no relevance to the debate. As I said.3.b) So?3.d) So you’re saying more people died than were liberated from oppression?3.e) (Serbs) So you advocate siding with the Serbs then… this entire paragraph was self-contradictory.

        7. Peter Kelly 1.b) I have researched this a great deal, and never seen anything suggesting what you claim. As it is you who claim it, perhaps you should provide evidence in support of it, rather than, bizarrely, evidence that supports my interpretation.2.a) What is biased in what I said? All you have to do is read the media from the time to see what NATO was advocating in public: autonomy, not self-determination. This is not by any means a controversial point. No analyst argues that NATO was bombing for self-determination, even if they favour that themselves. And what occurred at Rambouillet has been documented by many authors, most of them pro-NATO, and all these documents are now available via the ICTY (and I have read them).2.b) I point out that what you advocate would cause wars, civil wars and ethnic cleansing the world over, and the only response you have is: screw them. This is telling.3.a) It is perfectly valid to, using evidence and arguments, analyse an intervention and analyse whether it really had a positive effect. Everyone does this, including about Kosovo. If the Syria case happened, we would do it. Do you believe that the past is beyond analysis? If we do not analyse past interventions, how can we possibly draw any lessons for the future?3.d) No I didn’t say that at all. Do you read anything I write? I said that a scale exists, and Kosovo is on the wrong end of that scale, i.e. on the balance of good and bad caused, the bad outweigh the good.3.e) From my original post regarding siding with the Serbs: ‘Personally, I do not think that this would have been at all fair or just. I think both sides should have been pressured to agree to a fair compromise. But can you refute the argument that siding with Serbia, in fact, would have ‘solved’ the conflict in a far less bloody manner than the NATO bombing? And, therefore, NATO bombing was not, by a long way, the best way to ‘solve’ the conflict?’ Again, please read some of the things I say. I have been entirely consistent on this point, and not at all contradictory.I have come to the conclusion that you are not properly reading what I have taken the time to write and are probably not even attempting to engage in a serious discussion. I will gladly respond to other commenters, but I think to continue this particular discussion would be a waste of both our time.

  3. The western intervention in Kosova was justified by the extensive and unequal use of force towards an authoctone ethnic groupWestern power are aware of long persecution of Albanians since the creation of Albanian state where majority of their territory and people were left outside the borders.It was an ethnic cleansing in Kosova taking place in last 2 centuries programmed by Serbian academy where all form of oppressions have been used.Albanian issues is quite special and there are not similarity with other places in the word. The background are many factors to be taken under account historical and humanitarians.There are not similarity between Serbian organised genocide and KLA fighting for its people right and liberation.By taking steps leading to NATO intervention western leaders distinguishing Tony Blair backed Albanian justified rights and western values. Britons must be proud of having in the past such Prime ministers as Tony Blair for many he was a hero

    1. dodona Hi Dodona, thanks for your comment.I agree with you that the Albanians got a pretty bad deal as far as nation-states and borders go. The same goes for Macedonians, Kurds, and probably many others. The Serbs themselves had reason to feel dissatisfied with the 1945 borders, which left more than a quarter of them outside Serbia. Certainly, though, the Albanians were worse off, and had the misfortune of living in many territories that neighbours, usually more powerful than they, also claimed.However, I do not think that Kosovo is a one-sided tale of Serbian oppression and persecution. Albanians also oppressed and persecuted Serbs, in the period before the first Balkan War, during the First and Second World Wars, in the 1970s and 80s (though that was more discrimination and low-level pressure), and during and after the recent war.Also, I think that the KLA was a very ruthless organisation guilty of many atrocities, and NATO intelligence documents, Dick Marty’s report, etc, provide a lot of evidence confirming this, as does research by the HLC on victims of the conflict. This is by no means Serbian propaganda.That’s why I argue that the West should have tried to minimise the conflict and promote a compromise, rather than siding with one side. And contrary to what you say – even if we take your interpretation of the facts and the history – the case of the Albanians is not exceptional. There are many groups all over the world to suffer unjust borders, persecution, and so on – the Kurds are the most famous example.

  4. There are many statements made which are highly disputed or downright incorrect, and to an extent one sided on the article.The first that is quite blatant, is the statement that Albanians have only been in the territory from the 19th century, theory not supported by any historian outside of Serbia.The second is the math, which does not add up, first you said that Serbs made up 25% of the population, and then you mentioned that Albanians made up 2/3 of the populations, beside Serbs and Albanians all other communities do not make up 9% of the population, so I do not know if you are inflating the numbers to support your case or your statistics are a little off, and on top of that, you chose to ignore the fact that the Serbs colonized Kosovo during 1910-1914, hence their rather large population at that time.Third, the struggles for power, where you claimed that during the Tito rule, the Albanians had ruled over the Serbian population with an iron fist: which somehow, makes the Serbian intrusion seem more like payback than an outright onslaught which it was, I mean over a million refugees are not created by payback….how many Serbs left Kosovo during Titos rule?……..I thought so.Than you mention the KLA commanders on trial, of which only 2 have been sentenced for bad treatment and torture, all other cases to date have NOT been proven, and the commanders have been released. Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty?!  Than there is the fact that over 15 Serbian soldiers and leaders have been indicted for war crimes…do you see a pattern here?Last but not least…the numbers game, of deaths, where on several occasions you mention how there where not as many deaths as we believed, basically you are saying that there should have been more deaths before we should have intervened. I guess over 12,000 deaths are not enough to be called genocide from your comfy, well ventilated, and safe seat now is it?

    1. Aleksander Hi Aleksander, thanks for your comments. You numbered most of them so I’ll respond to them by number, too.1. I did not say that Albanians have only been in Kosovo since the nineteenth century, which as you rightly point out would be nonsense. I said that Albanians had a majority population in Kosovo since the nineteenth century. I don’t have the book to hand to double-check, but my source for this is Noel Malcolm’s ‘Kosovo: A Short History’, a very pro-Kosovan book. I think it was around the middle of the nineteenth century he argues Albanians became the majority. In 1870, for example, Serbs still made up 40% of the population.2. For most of the twentieth century, until the 1971 census, then Serbs were usually just over a quarter of Kosovo’s population, and Albanians just over two-thirds. This census data is all available online. I did not inflate, or deflate, any numbers.As far as colonisation goes, this was in the 1920s and 30s, not the period you mention, it was not that substantial, and the vast majority of these people were expelled during the Second World War, and did not return.3. I did not say the Albanians ruled over Serbs with an iron fist under Tito. On the contrary, in the period before which I began my background section, Kosovo was ruled by an iron fist by Tito and Rankovic, in a disproportionately Serb regime. (As I noted, there has been a constant cycle, of each side abusing the other.) I stated that from the late 1960s, there was a power shift in Kosovo in the Albanians favour and Serbs began to be discriminated against and also abused in Kosovo. From then until the end of the 1980s, more than 100,000 Serbs migrated from Kosovo. I originally had a footnote about how Kosovo Albanian leaders themselves acknowledged these abuses, but footnotes were removed, I guess to make the article shorter. Here it is:’‘Fadil Hoxha, a [Kosovo Albanian] member of the Yugoslav Presidency, told a large gathering in Kosovo that there is undeniable evidence in the province of both “overt and covert” forms of pressure for the departure of Serbs and Montenegrins’, while Sinan Hasani, ethnic Albanian president of the Kosovo communist party, described how ‘there is vandalism against the graves of Serbs and Montenegrins, direct and heavy pressure is met with, objects are hurled at passing trains, windows are broken, and so forth’. Louis Zanga, ‘Rise of Tension in Kosovo Due to Migration’, Radio Free Europe Research, BR/149, 28/6/1983, accessed 5/9/2012 from: http://www.osaarchivum.org/files/holdings/300/8/3/text/86-3-301.shtml. Louis Zanga, ‘The Political Situation in Kosovo Today’, Radio Free Europe Research, BR/148, 12/7/1982, accessed 5/9/2012’The reason I noted these abuses was because this helps explains the context in which Milosevic exploited Serbian nationalism and ultimately abolished Kosovo’s autonomy, and illustrates my point that this is not a black-and-white conflict, and each side has abused the other. I did not connect the 1999 massacres during the NATO bombing to the abuses of the 1970s and 80s, when, in fact, there were hardly any ethnically-based murders. The only comparison I made about the 1998-9 conflict was that, proportionately, Kosovo Serbs suffered to a similar degree as Albanians.4. Re: KLA trials. I do not believe that the ICTY has been entirely unbiased in its indictments, and it has a very limited mandate. For example, it has no mandate to indict anyone for the atrocities after the June 1999 peace agreement, when the majority of KLA victims were kidnapped/killed. It also refused to examine the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia itself. Crimes of the KLA in 1998 and 1999 are very well documented, by organisations such as the HLC which are not in the least bit pro-Serbian.5. Re: Numbers. You refer to 12,000 deaths. But before NATO began bombing, there were only somewhere around 2,000 deaths. My point is that NATO caused this disaster: before bombing the conflict was of a much lower level and containable.As far as genocide goes, I am not an expert on what constitutes ‘genocide’. It is plain to anyone who examines it that what happened before the bombing could not constitute ‘genocide’. Perhaps the massacres of thousands of Albanians by Serb forces during the bombing could be qualified by genocide. But then, surely, would not also the massacres of Kosovo Serbs by the KLA after the war also count as genocide, given that, proportionately, a similar number of victims was involved?

      1. harrymartisius Aleksander Motherfucker.. the whole story you are telling is 100% lie…. it is shame for intelligence if you call yourself intelligent. You are a shame for the human kind.

  5. Nice try to rewrite history with a biaised point of view for the second time by Mr Martisius: ”The events in Srebrenica in 1995 included the killing of more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims as well as the mass expulsion of another 25,000–30,000 Bosnian Muslims, in and around the town of Srebrenica” NATO bombing began in march 1999.

  6. I think this article is not saying the facts rights…Tony Blair did what Western powers should have done a century ago….get rid of the bloodsucker neighbors who divided Albanian lands…and there is a fact….Albania is the only country in Europe surrounded by itself

  7. So unconsidering the situation from 1994 to 1999 and 5 years of NATO negociation is a complete historic aburdity.
    But it seems Mr Martisius is working hard to bring a new virginity to historic genocide and it’s main perpetrator, by tellnig us: IT was NOT soooo bad” What an idiot. And what undecency and an insult ”’again” for the victim of Sarajevo. I really try to refrain myself from using the word: as….. i prefer to cry than to hate stupidity.

    1. @Francois Desmeules Do you have any coherent arguments to offer?What genocide are you referring to – the genocide in Srebrenica, committed by the Bosnian Serbs despite the objections of Milosevic?If you are referring to Kosovo as genocide, can you offer any arguments or evidence for that? Before, during or after the NATO bombing? Did Kosovo Serbs also suffer genocide?What does Sarajevo have to do with this? The bombing of Sarajevo was the work of the Bosnian Serbs, and killed about 10,000 people as far as I can recall – and, incidentally, Milosevic was always against the idea of bombing Sarajevo (although he still supplied the Bosnian Serbs with the bombs, fuel, etc to do it).If there is a coherent argument somewhere that connects your rather random and disconnected comments, please do let me know, and I will respond to it.

    2. @Francois Desmeules Do you have any coherent arguments to offer?What genocide are you referring to – the genocide in Srebrenica, committed by the Bosnian Serbs despite the objections of Milosevic?If you are referring to Kosovo as genocide, can you offer any arguments or evidence for that? Before, during or after the NATO bombing?Did Kosovo Serbs also suffer genocide?What does Sarajevo have to do with this? The bombing of Sarajevo was the work of the Bosnian Serbs, and killed about 10,000 people as far as I can recall – and, incidentally, Milosevic was always against the idea of bombing Sarajevo (although he still supplied the Bosnian Serbs with the bombs, fuel, etc to do it).If there is a coherent argument somewhere that connects your rather random and disconnected comments, please do let me know, and I will respond to it.

  8. Dirty serbian baster, why so much hate against Albanians i can’t understand. How come you people can be so much evil. How come you still can have your mouth full with words against albanians?Indeed, you want find better people than Albanians in the entire Europe… How can you make such a faceless lie? I am an English, and when I hear this kind of stories i really can make peace with Serbians… They are the most dirty lying nation in the world. And they allies are ultimately the same.Day by day I come to conclusion that NATO should have put much much more bombs in Serbia… if they really can say these things than I don’t thing that Serbians are truly humans… they don’t deserve to live in this world.

  9. Dirty serbian baster, why so much hate against Albanians i can’t understand?????  How come you Sebian people can be so much evil. How come you still can have your mouth full with words dirty against albanians?Indeed, I assure all readers here that you can not find better people than Albanians in the entire Europe… How can you Serbian people make such a faceless lie after all you did in Bosnia & Herzegovina and Kosovo? There are a lot of Serbian people who have hand full of blood killing innocent Bosnians, Croatians and Kosovans. You are faceless criminal nation who never says sorry for all the terrible crimes done in the past. I am not from Balkans, I am an Englishman, but when I hear this kind of stories i really can’t make peace with Serbians… They are the most dirty lying nation in the world. And their allies are completely the same. I can’t understand them.Day by day I come to conclusion that NATO should have dropped much more bombs in Serbia… if they really can say these things than I don’t thing that Serbians are truly humans beings… they truly don’t deserve to live in this world. I hope there will come Serbian people around and stop this idiots doing what they are doing becuause otherwise Serbian nation is getting ashamed more and more, in the daily bases…And who the fuccck are THERISKYSHIFT??? How come they can allow to be published in their site this  kind of shameful articles.Is there a law anywhere to bring justice in the media??

  10. The wars in Yugoslavia throughout the 1990s served as a justification for the continued existence of NATO in the world, and to expand American imperial interests in Eastern Europe…..It was not President Milosevic but NATO who started the war in Yugoslavia.Two Western powers, the United States and Germany, deliberately contrived to destabilize and then dismantle the country. The process was in full swing in the 1 980s and accelerated as the present decade began. These powers carefully planned, prepared and assisted the secessions which broke Yugoslavia apart. And they did almost everything in their power to expand and prolong the civil wars which began in Croatia and then continued in Bosnia-Herzegovina. They were involved behind the scenes at every stage of the crisis. Under the guise of “fostering democracy”, the way was being opened to the recolonization of the Balkans……The NATO-Yugoslavia war should be understood in the context of the major developments that have shaped politics in the Balkans and internationally through the 1980’s and 1990’s. Prime among these developments are: the process of “economic globalization,” by which international capital has imposed a neo-liberal agenda on every region of the world, and placed much of the Third World and the former socialist countries under the tutelage of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank; the crisis of state-communism in Central and Eastern Europe (in large part activated by the adoption “market reforms”), which has opened the way for the establishment by the US and its European allies of a new global hegemony; the deepening capitalist crisis (reflected in the collapse of the Asian economies, and the profit stagnation in Europe), which has accelerated the rush of corporate capital to commercially exploit new areas of the world and find new sources of cheap labor; and the renewed assertion by the US as a global force, as the leading capitalist nation and the prime military defender of the so-called “free market.”At stake in the Balkans are the lives of millions of people. Macroeconomic reform combined with military conquest and UN “peace keeping” has destroyed livelihoods and made a joke of the right to work. It has put basic needs such as food and shelter beyond the reach of many. It has degraded culture and national identity. In the name of global capital, borders have been redrawn, legal codes rewritten, industries destroyed, financial and banking systems dismantled, social programs eliminated. No alternative to global capital, be it Yugoslav “market socialism” or “national capitalism”, will be allowed to exist…http://www.freenations.freeuk.com/gc-53.html

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