Sunday, March 26, 2006

Significance of Milosevic's Death for International Relations by Tfataona P. Mahoso --Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe)

Significance of Milosevic's Death for International Relations by Tfataona P. Mahoso --Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe)

[Here's another analysis of the Milosevic execution that would have curled the toes of certain of the 'polite' defenders of the late President: Milosevic as Mugabe, Serbia/Yugoslavia as Zimbabwe. After an edit by Rick Rosoff, many of the pieces of recent Balkan history seem to be in place. But I still sense a terrible absence in all the stories I've read so far. We'll try to fill that hole here soon. --mc]

Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe)
March 19, 2006

Significance of Milosevic’s death for international
AFRICAN FOCUS By Tafataona P. Mahoso

Supporters of US and Nato hegemony last week were
quick to draw their usual analogies in order to bury
the history of former Yugoslavia and its last
President Slobodan Milosevic. Slobodan Milosevic died
in his cell at The Hague after accusing his Nato
captors of poisoning him in order to stop the
embarrassment which Nato heads of state and commanders
felt about his rigged trial.

The neo-Rhodesian Press in Zimbabwe were quick to jump
on the anti-Milosevic and anti-Serb bandwagon, with
The Financial Gazette naively lumping together the
former Yugoslav leader with former Chilean fascist
leader Augusto Pinochet, former Cambodian mass
murderer Pol Pot and former Iraq President Saddam
Hussein. Clearly demonstrating the gross ignorance of
history and international relations prevalent in the
neo-Rhodesian ranks. The Financial Gazette even told
its readers that Augusto Pinochet was the leader of
Argentina rather than Chile. The Financial Gazette
article was strangely entitled "Catch and punish
despots before they die".

This is the technique of relying on arbitrary
classification and mere analogy as substitutes for
analysis and explanation. Any thinking follower of
international relations would notice immediately that
Milosevic’s captors and persecutors were the ones
responsible for covering up the crimes of Pol Pot,
Augusto Pinochet and Saddam Hussein.

The kidnappers of Slobodan Milosevic were instrumental
in creating and arming Augusto Pinochet and Saddam
Hussein. So, how could Slobodan Milosevic be in the
same class as these collaborators with US imperialism?

First, let us look at the consequences of the reckless
use of false classification and uncritical analogy in
recent African and Zimbabwean history in order to
appreciate the magnitude of the disservice of the
neo-Rhodesian Press to its readers. The Financial
Gazette of March 16 2006 simply fell back on the same
lazy habit which oppositional forces have employed
over and over again.

The MDC and its oppositional allies have tended to
rely for strategy, analysis and projection on
oversimplified analogies, as follows: In 1956, when
the British government wanted to overthrow the
Egyptian government of President Gamal Abdel Nasser,
they unleashed media propaganda to frame him as a new
Hitler. The Rhodesians used the same tired analogy and
tactic against President Robert Mugabe before 1980.

It is interesting to notice that the MDC and its
allies have tried the same tactic of framing President
Mugabe as an African Hitler and that same tired
approach is also being used to dismiss the kidnapping,
persecution and death of Milosevic.

When the people of Chile finally got rid of their
CIA-imposed dictator and murderer Augusto Pinochet,
the MDC and the British tried to create a false
analogy between President Mugabe and Pinochet,
Zimbabwe and Chile. When Indonesian President Suharto
resigned in May 1998, the forces who later formed the
MDC tried to create an analogy between President
Mugabe and President Suharto, Zimbabwe and Indonesia.

When in 2001 President Didier Ratsiraka of Madagascar
was defeated in a power struggle by Marc Ravalomanana,
the MDC and its allies again tried to equate
Madagascar with Zimbabwe, President Ratsiraka with
President Mugabe and new President Ravalomanana with
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

When in October 2000 the US and the European Union
finally overthrew the government of former Yugoslavia
after waging an illegal Nato war against that country,
the MDC and its allies created a false analogy between
Yugoslavia and Zimbabwe, President Slobodan Milosevic
and President Mugabe. They fantasised that there
"could do a Milosevic" against Mugabe just like the
Serbian collaborators.

Indeed the false analogies are endless and they
illustrate two things: an attempt to gloss over the
national state’s needs for independence, the nation’s
need for liberation and the people’s demand for
revolution against the forces of imperialism, and a
dismal failure to engage in independent, original
readings of historical reality. The MDC’s readings and
projections were mostly based on mass media
speculation and propaganda. The most notorious one
being the Daily News story of February 21 2001
predicting that President Mugabe and his Zanu-PF
Government would be out of office by June 2001.

All these analogies were wrong and have been proven
wrong as bases for national political choice and
decision. And in Perception and Misperception in
International Politics, Robert Jervis suggests that:
"When interpretation of the past is strikingly
incorrect it is likely that it was influenced by
current preferences rather than the other way around."

In other words, it is not a deep understanding of the
real histories of Cambodia, Iraq, Chile, Germany or
Yugoslavia at The Financial Gazette and within the MDC
which caused those ridiculous analogies to be made.
Rather it is the publisher’s and the editor’s current
preference for Euro-American apartheid and hegemony
which causes the paper to gloss over the profound
significance of Yugoslavia and Milosevic so easily and

The over-reliance on one type of analogy in
international relations is usually caused by ignorance
and narrow-mindedness or by sheer propagandistic

In the words of Jervis citing Norwood Hanson: "Suppose
no alternative systems of concepts were available with
which to describe and explain a type of phenomenon,
the scientist would then have but one way of thinking
about the subject matter. It would then always make
sense to adjust or force the data to fit the theory or
ideology because the latter could not be abandoned. A
decision maker whose conceptual framework is dominated
by a few narrow categories will fit events into them
quickly and on the basis of little information."

The question then arises: What is the dominant theory
or ideology at The Financial Gazette which cannot be
abandoned and which causes the paper’s journalists to
forcefully lump Pinochet, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein,
Mengistu and Milosevic together? The theory or
ideology which cannot be abandoned is that the US and
Nato are not only democratic forces in the world but
also teachers and bearers of democracy wherever they
go and whatever means they use.

Their bombs, their embedded journalists, their guns,
their tanks, their jails, their apartheid war crimes
tribunals automatically become democratic simply
because they are North American and European. So, any
leader they condemn, whether in words only or in words
and deeds, also becomes a tyrant or despot. And any
leader they install, praise, sponsor, bribe or
manipulate also automatically becomes a democrat.

Unfortunately for the neo-Rhodesian Press and its
publishers and writers, the world knows too much about
the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and its
leaders to be able to accept the naive analogies being
perpetrated. Our readers may remember how the road to
the death of Milosevic was prepared by the North
Atlantic powers.

The first step was to undermine the economies of the
member states of former Yugoslavia through economic
structural adjustment. Our readers are familiar with
this same strategy here. The second step was to use
the economic decline and hardships resulting from
structural adjustment to create regional tensions and
conflicts within the federation. The regional
differences caused by varying degrees of economic
decline and hardship were then ethnicised through the
media in order to make them look racially motivated.

When Yugoslavia realised that structural adjustment
was being used to destroy its sovereignty with very
few benefits coming from the World Bank, the IMF or
other global financial institutions, it tried to
resist further extensions of the programme. This gave
the imperialist powers the excuse to impose sanctions
on the country.

The third step was for the US and other Nato powers to
bribe, manipulate and protect sponsored parties and
individuals engaged in treason and destabilisation
against their own country.

Then when wars broke out among the various "ethnic"
groups, first UN forces were used and later replaced
by Nato forces to protect the sponsored
destabilisation movements and undermine the

Eventually, Nato declared war on the biggest of the
Yugoslav republics, Serbia. The war was illegal, as it
was not authorised by the Security Council. The war
became an embarrassment because the most modern jets
and bombs from 19 Nato countries were employed for 79
days to bomb a small country less than the size of

The targets were mostly civilian infrastructure and
the casualties were unarmed men and women going about
their daily activities or refugees trying to run away
from bombs to safer territories. So the war ended
without actually overthrowing President Milosevic’s
government. This had to be achieved much later by
rigging elections and bribing opposition parties.

But these are not the only reasons for condemning the
Nato intervention in Yugoslavia and the persecution to
death of an elected head of state. There are other
simple facts which the Western media will not reveal,
such as:

l That Milosevic and other leaders of Serb origin had
to be kidnapped by Nato forces and paid mercenaries
because they enjoyed support and security among the
people who had elected them.

l That the kidnapping of leaders to try for war crimes
ignored Croats and Bosnians of other ethnic groups
while targeting Serbs.

l That the new government of Serbia was bribed in
order to allow Milosevic to be kidnapped to The Hague.
The government was promised foreign aid money in
return for sacrificing Milosevic.

l That in order to manufacture evidence against
Milosevic and other Serbs, the US and Germany engaged
in the massive bribing of UN officials and NGO
activists. As David Hampson wrote on May 28, 1999:

". . . Many people who work for NGOs here in Spain
have returned with the story of how the new people
from UN organisations are actively seeking ‘evidence’
against the Serbs; and the refugees, knowing they will
be rewarded with better treatment, give them what they
want. Some reporters on the scene say that considering
this purchased information as evidence is laughable,
the problem is that it is presented by Louise Arbour
and accepted by the ‘kangaroo court’ called a War
Crimes Tribunal as fact."

In addition to bribing informers and mercenaries, the
North Atlantic states, especially Germany,
deliberately sidelined all the journalists and
witnesses who possessed contrary evidence.

Author Peter Handke referred to this silencing of
critical voices by mass media supporting US
imperialism and Nato expansionism. Handke was asked
whether he was the first German [born in Austria]
writer to travel through Yugoslavia and bring out
evidence starkly contrary to the US-Nato position. Why
was there so little information telling the story from
the point of view of the people of Yugoslavia? Handke

"I have noticed one thing now in connection with my
article. I have concluded that in Germany there
existed a very strong group having a critical attitude
to the establishment of the states of Bosnia, Croatia,
Slovenia (that is, the splitting up by Nato of
Yugoslavia). However, nobody wanted to listen to these
people in Germany. Many German journalists have been
pushed out of their public work precisely because of
their differing opinions. . . They no longer dared to
act as they had been doing. Strict censorship was

The most critical voices against Nato war crimes in
former Yugoslavia will therefore not be found in the
mainstream Western racist media but there are
thousands of them. They are not all Milosevic
loyalists or hard-core communists as AFP would like us
to believe. These voices include former US
Attorney-General Ramsey Clark. They include British
legal expert on international law Ian Brownlie. They
include professors Michel Chossudovsky of the
University of Toronto, Canada, and Raymond Kent of the
University of California in the US. They also include
the writers and intellectuals whose views were
published in a book called The Twilight of the West:
Statements made by World Intellectuals on the Killing
of Yugoslavia.

Thus David Hampson wrote in that book:

"Does a court paid for by the US, staffed by judges
paid by the US, considering ‘evidence’ compiled with
the very intention of getting an indictment against
already specified persons present justice at law? . .
. Any criminal lawyer with six months’ experience
could . . . have disqualified the evidence in 30

Professor (Emeritus) Noam Chomsky of the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology referred to this same issue
when he pointed out that the US role against
Palestine, Cuba, Iraq, Vietnam and Yugoslavia had
exposed a scandalous situation in the UN system.

"Look at the record of vetoes and the serious issues
in which the US is involved. Let’s take the Vietnam
war. The world was overwhelmingly opposed to it. It
almost never came up at the United Nations because one
of the high officials that I have talked to understood
that if they brought up the Vietnam war at the United
Nations Security Council the UN would simply be
destroyed. During the bombing of Serbia in 1999, there
was a brief moment — about five seconds — when it
looked as though the International War Crimes Tribunal
on former Yugoslavia might take a look at Nato crimes
instead of looking at Serbs alone. During that moment,
an American Congressman was interviewed by the
right-wing Canadian Press, the National Post, and they
asked him what would happen if the tribunal took this
up (that is the question of US-Nato war crimes) and he
(the US Congressman) said that we would take the
United Nations buildings in New York apart, brick by
brick, and throw them into the Atlantic Ocean."

On January 20 2000, the chairman of the US Senate
Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Jesse Helms, in
fact told the UN Security Council in person that:

"Most Americans do not regard the United Nations as an
end in and of itself — they see it as just one part of
America’s diplomatic (and propaganda) arsenal. . .
Most recently, we learn that the chief prosecutor for
the Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal has compiled a report
on possible Nato war crimes . . . At first the
prosecutor declared that it is fully within the scope
of her authority to indict Nato pilots and commanders.
When news of her report leaked [to the imperial
powers] she backpedalled . . . She realised, I am
sure, that any attempt to indict Nato commanders,
including British Prime Minister Tony Blair and US
President Bill Clinton, would be the death knell for
the International War Crimes Tribunal for former
Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Court."

This is the politics which explains Milosevic’s
kidnapping, persecution and death, not the fight for
human rights. The real terrorists and war criminals
have still not yet been indicted.


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