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Kosovo - behind the headlines

NATO has launched a hot war against the Serbs - and there is a propaganda war too. LM Online has launched a special page on the Kosovo crisis to look behind the headlines, and to provide critical analysis and alternative viewpoints on NATO's war.

This page will be updated regularly. If you have any ideas or comments, email Brendan O'Neill at brendan@mail.informinc.co.uk

What's new

'Mick Hume, editor of Living Marxism magazine, triggered controversy in the Freedom Forum discussion when he referred to "predictable propaganda rituals", claiming, "You can almost write about it before it happens. You know it would only be a matter of time before somebody discovered a concentration camp, then there was going to be a rape camp and then there was going to be mass graves and then aerial photographs, all supposed to make us believe the Serbs are the new Nazis".'

See Journalists Against War in the Balkans for more.

Read the latest commentary: 04-23-99 No refuge

LM debate: NATO and Kosovo - a just war?

Tuesday 11 May, 7.30 pm

Methodist Central Hall
Storey's Gate
London SW1
(nearest Underground stations: Westminster or St James's Park)

7 ( 5)

Mark Seddon (editor of Tribune and member of Labour Party NEC)
Jonathan Freedland (Guardian columnist)
Mick Hume (editor of LM magazine)
Edward Pearce (Scotsman columnist)

Jonathan Freedland: 'NATO is prosecuting a war which many liberals can hardly believe: a war fought in pursuit of a humanitarian aim. The prize is not turf or treasure, but the frustration of a plan to empty a land of its people. It is a noble goal...'

Mick Hume: 'NATO cares no more for the Kosovo Albanians than it does for the Turkish Kurds. Blair's war is a self-serving crusade. It may give his government an aura of moral authority, but at what price for the peoples of the Balkans?'

For more information contact Helene Guldberg on (0171) 269 9228 or at lm@informinc.co.uk

LM commentaries

16 April 1999: 'New Britain's moral crusade'

What did Tony Blair mean when he told parliament that the war is being fought 'for a moral purpose as much as a strategic interest'? The war against the Serbs is about projecting a self-image of the ethical New Britain bestriding the world. It is a crusade, argues LM editor Mick Hume

9 April 1999: 'Why Blair's humanitarian war is even worse'

For the first time, a Labour prime minister leads Britain into a major international war. What's more, Tony Blair is being cheered on loudest by the 'peacenik' Guardian and 'Red' Ken Livingstone, while Tory MPs and the Daily Mail worry about the war. Mick Hume looks at how humanitarian intervention can be worse than traditional warfare

1 April 1999: 'Genocide: what's in a word?'

The deployment of language like 'genocide' and 'ethnic extermination' is designed to give an air of moral certainty to NATO's 'non-war' against Serbia. Yet its real effect can only be to cloud the issues further. Mick Hume challenges the propaganda war over Kosovo

25 March 1999: 'Blowing up the Kosovo crisis'

The NATO alliance, ostensibly a defensive creature of the Cold War, has launched a hot war against a sovereign state in Europe, in contravention of both the UN charter and NATO's own founding principles. Mick Hume on what's behind the bombing of Yugoslavia

Articles from LM magazine

May 1999: ''Bomber' Blair's crusade'

The real 'moral purpose' of Blair's war is not to be found in the Balkans at all, but back home in Britain. As ever, foreign policy is an extension of domestic politics. The war against the Serbs is primarily about giving Mr Blair's government itself an aura of moral authority and a sense of mission. Mick Hume on the moral crusade

May 1999: 'The lesson of Bosnia'

The lesson of Bosnia is that any form of international protectorate can only intensify and institutionalise ethnic divisions. Without a negotiated compromise between the Serb and Albanian representatives there can be little legitimacy for any new Kosovo institutions; and a freely negotiated settlement is the one solution that is automatically excluded by any form of protectorate. David Chandler explains why Bosnia is not a good model for Kosovo

May 1998: 'Kosovo: the final act'

The lesson of the past decade is that Western diplomatic and political meddling is more likely to exacerbate than resolve local conflicts. The conflict in the Serbian province of Kosovo is the final act of the tragic Yugoslav drama - and exposes the danger of yet more outside intervention, argues Linda Ryan

May 1998: 'How Kosovo became a powder keg'

The escalation of the KLA's campaign over the past year is symptomatic of growing conflicts within the Albanian leadership over what course to pursue in the struggle for independence. The militants have raised the stakes by resorting to violence in an attempt to internationalise the conflict and provoke Western intervention to impose a settlement.

Other interesting articles

May: 'Why Kosovo?', from The New American

'The public has been inundated with similar photos and footage: Kosovo Albanians driven from their homes, packed into boxcars, and consigned to wretched refugee camps; throngs of desperately hungry refugees reaching plaintively for bread; elderly women and young children racked with sobs. This barrage has been the most effective weapon of the war, since it has been calibrated to break down the American public's resistance to a protracted involvement in a ground war in the Balkans on behalf of NATO, the United Nations, and the cause of global government.' William Norman Grigg challenges the propaganda war.

April 1999: 'A futile exercise in fantasy', from The Scotsman

'As Tony Benn asked in an outstanding speech: "What do we hope to achieve for people being killed at one of a country by killing other people at the opposite end of that country?" Nothing! No, not so much; less than nothing. For the first casualty of the Passiontide War has been an intensification of murders in Kosovo. Was that not foreseen, thought about, imagined, contemplated? If not, it was an error of peculiar weight. If it was thought about, then someone somewhere in a high place has decided that further Kosovan deaths were - what? - a price worth paying? Eggs broken for an omelette? An acceptable overhead?' Edward Pearce points out the folly of the conflict

30 April 1999: 'From "peacekeeper" to war hawk - Canada and NATO's war on Serbia', from the World Socialist Website

'Canada has been militarily aligned with the US through NATO and a strategic air defence alliance for decades. But until last month, Canadian military forces had not seen battle service, except in missions authorized by the United Nations, since World War II. For four decades, from the Korean War to the Gulf War, Canadian troops exchanged fire only when policing UN sponsored truces and peace settlements. That Canada's role is essentially that of a "peacekeeper" in international relations has been incorporated into Canadian nationalist mythology. Yet all five parties in Canada's parliament quickly endorsed NATO's bombing campaign and have already indicated their readiness to support the introduction of ground troops.' Keith Jones offers a left-wing perspective on the Canadian authorities' increasing taste for war.

26 April 1999: 'Our illegal war', from The New American

'The war on Yugoslavia, we must remember, was brought about by NATO's demand that Milosevic consent to the foreign occupation of his country by an international army, which would enforce the terms of an agreement intended to grant "autonomy" to ethnic Albanian rebels. When Milosevic refused to permit the occupation, NATO threatened to bomb his country, and ultimately carried out that threat. Once again, the Clinton Administration has been devastatingly candid about key facts. On February 10th, in testimony before the Committee on International Relations, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Pickering confirmed that Kosovo is part of Yugoslavia's sovereign territory, and that an attack upon Yugoslavia waged because of Milosevic's refusal to allow foreign intervention would be nothing less than an act of war.' Congresswoman Helen Chenoweth takes to task America's unlawful war.

25 April 1999: 'The Hollywood paradigm', from Academy for Peace

'The lavish 1999 Academy Awards ceremony, reigned over by the delightful Gwyneth Paltrow, replete with song, dance and celebration may one day be regarded as the last hurrah of America's soft power which has significantly augmented national influence through the seductive appeal of culture and lifestyle. Just a few days after Hollywood's tribute to the power of soft power, hard power took center stage as the US military and a tough-talking President prepared a nation for war. A global television audience was told that bombs had to be lobbed onto Yugoslavia in the name of US and Nato credibility. The President undoubtedly hoped the war would be a quickie, but the script went awry.' Philip Cunningham on a politically correct conflict

24 April 1999: 'Flattening a few broadcasters', from The Guardian

'The effect of bombing on populations has generally been to increase support for their leaders. So, logically, the effect may be to glamorise the survivors. Certainly, it seems to me that, in a similarly blitzed Britain, broadcasters would become heroes. Newscasters who happened to be off-shift at the time of the bombing would speak from makeshift studios on flickering screens. The power of samizdat publications on paper or the internet would increase. Organised state broadcasting would be replaced by an informal and less reliable network of gossip and rumour. Resentment at the enemy would rise and it would become easy for demagogues to suggest that the hostile power was frightened of the truth.' Mark Lawson wonders what the reaction would be if British broadcasting houses were bombed by a foreign power

22 April 1999: 'The fatal flaws underlying NATO's Intervention in Yugoslavia', from the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research

'My year long experience as the Force Commander and Head of Mission of the United Nations Forces deployed in the former Yugoslavia has given me an understanding of the fatal flaws of US/NATO policies in the troubled region. It was obvious to most people following events in the Balkans since the beginning of the decade, and particularly after the fighting that resulted in the emergence of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, that Kosovo was a 'powder keg' waiting to explode. The West appears to have learnt all the wrong lessons from the previous wars and applied it to Kosovo.' Lieutenant General Satish Nambiar (retired) wonders if the West will ever learn.

15 April 1999: 'Bahus war diary', from Yurope News

'Rajab Abu Sarieh commented in independent, pro-Palestinian Authority Al-Ayyam: "The Serbian government in particular and the Yugoslav federal policy in general, are considered to be deviations from the New World Order, and therefore the United States is using the Serbian [crisis] to enforce its own policy and coerce the Serbs into obedience. The goal of the American and NATO intervention in Serbia is to discipline the Serbian regime and not to defend the right of the Albanian Kosovars for a homeland".' Just one of a number of quotes from newspapers and journals around the world

10 April 1999: 'A war of words', from The Guardian

'Forty reasons why the Serbs are not the new Nazis and the Kosovars are not the new Jews:
1.Because the Nazis did not put Jews on the train to Israel, as the Serbs are now putting ethnic Albanian Kosovars on the train to Albania.
2.Because we're the ones fighting alongside the Luftwaffe and the Serbs are the ones whom the Luftwaffe is bombing.
3.Because the Serbs tend to be really good- looking, especially the women.
4.Because pop stars don't, and never will, dress up as Serbs.
5.Because Serbs don't feature in pornography.'
Julie Burchill's take on the comparisons between the Serbs and the Nazis.

10 April 1999: 'Belgrade displays its own casualties of the battle', from the Independent

On the second floor of the Serbian Clinical Centre in Belgrade are victims of the Balkan war who will never be mentioned in any Nato briefing. There's a 14-year-old boy with his head crushed, lying in a coma, eyes half-closed, a fat oxygen tube down his throat. There's a middle-aged farmer hit in the head by shrapnel and expected to die within a few hours. A little further down the emergency ward is another boy - 13 this time - with his head swathed in bandages, moving in agony, his brain damaged and his right leg fractured by a falling building. They are Nato's victims. Robert Fisk reports from Belgrade on 'collateral damage'

9 April 1999: 'Bombing and the media war', from the 'Press Now' website

In the third week of the war, an open media war has started between the world and the Serbian media. It was marked by the moment when a NATO officer threatened that due to 'lies for propaganda purposes, the building of state television will be bombed if it does not agree to broadcast program of foreign stations', or perhaps NATO itself. Spomenka Lazic reports from Belgrade on the propaganda offensive

9 April 1999: 'Taking responsibility', from the World Net Daily website

The old cliche that in war the first casualty is truth - on all sides - is a cliche because it rings true...In such a totalist war environment information is naturally viewed as simply one more weapon to be deployed against an enemy. All warring states use it this way. It is more likely that both sides are lying - or at least spinning dizzily - than that either is telling anything resembling the truth. Alan Bock points to the evidence of civilian casualties in Yugoslavia

6 April 1999: 'A war of words and pictures', from the Independent

They told us the paramilitary leader Arkan was in Kosovo, when he was appearing almost daily in Belgrade - and being interviewed by John Simpson there. They told us Pristina stadium had been turned into a concentration camp for 100,000 ethnic Albanians, when it was empty. Robertson posing for photographers in the cockpit of a Harrier can't have been propaganda. Only the enemy goes in for that sort of thing. Phillip Hammond on the media war

5 April 1999: 'The Balkans: lies v facts', from the International Action Centre

'To call what is happening in Kosovo genocide is an affront to those who have been victims of genocide. What is happening in Kosovo now is nothing like the Holocaust of the Jews in Germany and Eastern Europe...The stories being propagated by the White House, the Pentagon and NATO are intended to justify their military aggression. This is a war against Yugoslavia, and in a war the first thing to question is the daily barrage of propaganda from the officials of the attacking countries.' Gary Wilson sifts through the truths and untruths

2 April 1999: 'The current bombings: behind the rhetoric', from ZNet

Where does that leave the question of what to do in Kosovo? It leaves it unanswered. The US has chosen a course of action which escalates atrocities and violence. As for the longer term, consequences are unpredictable. One plausible observation is that 'every bomb that falls on Serbia and every ethnic killing in Kosovo suggests that it will scarcely be possible for Serbs and Albanians to live beside each other in some sort of peace' (Financial Times, March 27). Some of the longer-term possible outcomes are extremely ugly...Naom Chomsky points out the consequences of NATO's breaking of international law

1 April 1999: 'Radioactive weapons used by US/NATO in Kosovo', from the International Action Center

The International Action Center, a group that opposes the use of depleted-uranium weapons, called the Pentagon's decision to use the A-10 'Warthog' jets against targets in Kosovo 'a danger to the people and environment of the entire Balkans'. The A-10s were the anti-tank weapon of choice in the 1991 war against Iraq. It carries a GAU-8/A Avenger 30 millimeter seven-barrel cannon capable of firing 4,200 rounds per minute. During that war it fired 30 mm rounds reinforced with depleted uranium, a radioactive weapon. The international action center discusses the unseen side of the war on Yugoslavia

April 1999: 'Atrocities management', from ZNet

Atrocities management works, but it also requires a complementary gross misunderstanding of the issues at stake and context of the actions taken....Past NATO policies have contributed to the ongoing violence and are part of the problem - their bombing strategy is the culmination of policies that have exacerbated the crisis. The bombing is not merely immoral and illegal, it is part of an ugly and destructive policy sequence rooted in self-serving geo-political strategies. Edward S Herman discusses the West's responsibility for the conflict in the Balkans

1 April 1999: Two 'executed' Kosovo Albanian leaders reported alive, from 'Press Now' website

Two Kosovo Albanian leaders reported to have been summarily executed by Serbs over the weekend are alive, U.S. diplomatic and Kosovo Albanian sources have said. The disclosure was likely to prove embarrassing for NATO, which has stressed the pains it is taking to release only the information it regards as factually accurate. NATO military spokesman Air Commodore David Wilby, citing what he called 'reliable sources', said on Monday that the two were among five prominent Kosovo Albanian men who had been executed on Sunday.

30 March 1999: 'Kosovo: the liberals' war', from the Canada National Post

There is something more than a little weird about hearing former peaceniks - the people who called on the United States to abandon South Vietnam, who demanded that America unilaterally 'freeze' its nuclear weapons, and who opposed the Gulf War - demand that NATO bomb Serbia into submission. It seems like only yesterday that such people were telling us we must not shed blood for oil...David Frum explains why the bombing of Yugoslavia is the 'perfect liberal war'

30 March 1999: 'American journalists have no reason to be smug', from Media Beat website

When the 'free press' marches off to war, the reflexive deference to official sources - with their nonstop briefings, interviews and behind-the-scenes backgrounders - produces an overwhelming flood of propaganda. One result is that buzz phrases like 'air campaign', 'strike against Yugoslavia' and 'collateral damage' generate a continual fog. Norman Soloman looks at the US media's uncritical reporting of events in Yugoslavia

30 March 1999: 'The Kosovo crisis: perception and problem', from IDSA India

Since March 1998, the Kosovo crisis has been heightened again, but a distorted perception of the crisis has been built up, and a majority of commentators and analysts have ended up demanding an unjust war in the Balkans. O.N. Mehrotra gives an alternative viewpoint on the problem in Kosovo

Links to other sites

ZNet and ZMagazine
Znet publishes regular commentaries and articles taking a critical look at events in the Balkans and opposing the NATO bombings.

Institute for War and Peace Reporting
The IWPR watches the conflict in the Balkans from the media's point of view, often giving valuable insights.

International Action Center
'Information, Activism and Resistance to US militarism', including to the war in the Balkans.

The Committe Against US Intervention
Describes itself as the best 'anti-war' reference point on the net: has some useful criticisms of America's war and its attempts at censoring its opponents.

Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research
Anti-war campaign: has some excellent information and links on the conflict in Yugoslavia.

Mako News
This Balkans news site offers some useful insights into what is happening on the ground in Belgrade.

Ministry of Defence
For all the latest statements and press conferences from the organisers of Britain's war in the Balkans.

Serbian Information Centre
Regular reports on NATO attacks and critical media coverage of the West's war on Yugoslavia (from the Yugoslav government point of view).

Kosova Information Centre
Daily reports and articles on crisis in the Balkans (from the Kosovar Albanian point of view).

'Active site which criticises the NATO bombings and links to those who do likewise.'

Truth in Media
This media activist group claims to 'listen to the unsaid, read the unwritten, and cover the concealed'. Some good alternative viewpoints on NATO's war.

Kosovo Fact Files
BBC Online's excellent collection of all the latest news on the conflict, as well as background information and links.

Bombing Yugoslavia - a few critical thoughts
One of the few British websites to oppose the war - with some good links and comments.

Central Europe Online
Excellent site, which contains news about the conflict as it happens and collates different viewpoints from around central Europe and the world.

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)
FAIR aims to highlight the double standards of some of the media and calls for truth and accuracy in journalism. A section of the site is now dedicated to the Kosovo conflict.

Radio Jugoslavija
This is the website of the government-sponsored radio station in Belgrade. It presents media views from inside Yugoslavia, mainly from the government's point of view.

Committee Against US Intervention
This steadfastly antiwar website contains much information about the Kosovo conflict and has articles which 'reveal what the media keeps hidden'.

The John Birch Society
This site has articles and viewpoints on many political and social issues, with an impressive amount of information on NATO's war.

Interesting and entertaining site, which implacably opposes NATO's war. Also has some good and well-illustrated facts about the refugee crisis.


To debate some of the ideas on this page or to voice your opinion about NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia, visit the LM Online discussion pages .


Saturday 8 May: A major rally will be held in Trafalgar Square, open to all those opposed to the NATO bombings. Organised by the Committee for Peace in the Balkans. For more information, phone (0171) 354 5200.

Tuesday 11 May: 7.30 pm. LM debate: NATO and Kosovo - a just war? Speakers are Mark Seddon (editor of Tribune and member of Labour Party NEC) and Jonathan Freedland (Guardian columnist) vs Mick Hume (editor of LM magazine) and Edward Pearce (Scotsman columnist). Methodist Central Hall, Storey's Gate, Westminster, London SW1. Nearest Underground stations: Westminster or St James's Park. Price: 7/ 5 For more information, phone (0171) 269 9200.

If you are organising any debates or events on the Kosovo crisis email Brendan O'Neill at brendan@mail.informinc.co.uk




Mail: webmaster@mail.informinc.co.uk