Topic: BALKAN AFFAIRS
Diplomacy: A New "Contact Sport?"
WHAT IF THE SHOE WERE ON THE OTHER FOOT?
PHOENIX - Picture a band of some 200 armed terrorists trying to enter the U.S. illegally across the Mexican border. The group's aim? "Liberating" the American Southwest (which they call Aztlan) by inciting the local Hispanic-Americans' insurrection against the U.S. American border patrols discover them and try to apprehend them. The intruders open fire. The U.S. officers return fire and call for reinforcements. After an all-night gun fight, 23 of about 200 guerillas are dead. An undisclosed number of American troops are also killed or wounded. Some terrorists manage to flee back to Mexico. Others are apprehended and held at a U.S. prison, pending an investigation and possible criminal charges against them.
That's the story. Now, picture yourself a judge whose job is to investigate this incident, affix the blame and recommend further action. Assuming that the above account does check out, mark off the box below which, in your opinion, is closest to how you would have judged the case:
If you've chosen either [A] or [B], you're probably a person of sound mind and body (maybe leaning a little toward being a "softy" if you marked off [B]). If you've chosen [C], you're probably a pacifist, or a member of some animal or vegetable rights' protection group. If you've chosen [D], you must be a either a State Department official, or perhaps a senior editor of one of the establishment media organizations.
For, the firefight just like the one described in the opening paragraph did happen during the night of Apr 22-23. Except that it was on the Yugoslav-Albanian, not the U.S.-Mexican border. And that the 200 intruders were Albanian terrorists bent on wresting Kosovo from Yugoslavia, not the Hispanics trying to "liberate" Aztlan. The Albanians were intercepted and repelled by the Yugoslav Army whose constitutional duty is to protect that country's borders, just like our government's is.
Yet the State Department spokesman, James Rubin, condemned the Yugoslav government for the incident, saying at yesterday's (Apr. 23) press conference that the U.S. is "working with our allies to develop a package of additional measures... (which) can only lead to further isolation of the people of the former Yugoslavia." The Washington Post reported today (Apr. 24) that the U.S. officials expect Yugoslavia's assets to be frozen (again!), and that a stiffer international ban on foreign investments and other measures will be approved at next Wednesday's (Apr. 29) meeting of the Contact Group (U.S., Russia, Britain, France, Germany and Italy).
Well, if that were to happen, not only will the U.S. government again be behind a travesty of justice, but it will have to break some of the Contact Group members' knuckles. No, we are not thinking only of Russia. The Yeltsin government has proven time and time again in Bosnia that it can be bought, and cheaply at that.
We are thinking of Italy. And to a lesser extent France. Italy is the only Contact Group country which has a direct "personal," not merely a geopolitical, interest in the Kosovo affair. Italy borders on the Balkans and shares the Adriatic Sea with the Balkan countries. Italy also has economic, historical and cultural ties to that region.
Prior to WW II, for example, parts of Croatia's Adriatic coast were a part of Italy. Also, during WW II, for example, Italy had occupied and then ruled both Albania and Montenegro, a Yugoslav province on the Adriatic with predominantly Serb population. Finally, as we speak, Italy now has troops on the ground in Albania, following that country's brief civil war in 1997, and the international intervention which helped end it.
No wonder, therefore, that the Italians see the U.S. as a global bully pursuing its geopolitical ambitions at other nations' expense. Lucio Caracciolo, editor-in-chief of LiMes, an Italian quarterly geopolitical review, had this to say in an OpEd piece, "Italy and the United States Clash Over Kosovo," published by La Repubblica in Rome on April 7:
Caracciolo also charges that, "the United States backs the Albanians in every possible manner... (and that the U.S. is) doing nothing to stem the influx of money and of arms to Kosovo that is funded with remittances sent home by migrants and with the drug traffic controlled by the powerful Albanian mafia."
Italy has a far more conservative approach, the Italian editor claims. In the Contact Group, "our diplomacy, along with that of Russia, is the one most inclined to take into consideration the viewpoint of the Serbs. If the United States pushes for increasingly harsh sanctions against Belgrade -- in this, effectively bolstering the very man, Milosevic, that it claims to be seeking to punish -- Italy compensates the Serbian leader with the Telecom operation that put fully 800 billion crisp new lire into Belgrade's pocket only a few months ago."
So stand by for fireworks not only in Kosovo, but maybe also at the next Contact Group meeting. The State Department spin doctors may yet regret to have chosen this name and to have included Italy. For, after next Wednesday, diplomacy may also become a "contact sport." Remember Rocky Marciano (1924-1969), the former boxing champion of the world? Guess from what country his ancestors came? [A clue: Not Albania!].
FREEDOM OF SPEECH: WHAT'S THAT IN BOSNIA?
WASHINGTON - Separately, but still related to the Balkans, the New York Times reported today (Apr. 24) that, "the United States and its Western allies in the Bosnia peacekeeping operation are creating a tribunal that will have the power to shut radio and television stations and punish newspapers that it decides are engaged in propaganda that is undermining the peace."
The move is raising concerns among journalists' organizations and other civil liberties groups. Those groups say they are concerned about any attempt by an alliance of democratic nations to impose restraints on the press and broadcasting in another country.
The proposed tribunal, which would be partly financed by the United States, highlights the awkward situation in which the United States finds itself, both as an international defender of free speech and as a military power trying to enforce a peacekeeping agreement among fractious ethnic groups, the New York Times said.
"An international defender of free speech?" What were the New York Times editors inhaling when they wrote that? The U.S. government and some of its allies are among some of the worst OFFENDERS of free speech. The Truth in Media articles would not be needed if free speech were truly practiced in our country.
As for being "an international defender of free speech, "in a truly Hitleresque style..." the U.S. troops serving within the NATO/S-FOR occupying forces in Bosnia, "moved in on October 1 (1997) and took over the four television transmitters which the Bosnian Serbs were using," we wrote in the TiM GW Bulletin 97/10-8, 10/31/97.
The story titled "Different Strokes for Different Folks: Croats Told to Apologize; Serbs Lose Freedom of Speech," also quoted a passage from this writer's Oct. 24 letter to a former senior U.S. diplomat. The Oct. 1 S-FOR move to seize the TV transmitters "was one of the more despicable acts of 'nation building' I have ever heard of. Goebbels might have approved of it."
As for Washington's other friends, Turkey, for example, our closest ally in the Middle East after Israel, is holding more journalists in its jails than any other country in the world - bar none, according to the Paris, France-based Reporters Sans Frontieres organization. Yes, more than even Iraq or Iran.
And just two days ago (Apr. 22), the New York Times reported that a quasi-military court had sentenced the Mayor of Istanbul, one of Turkey's most prominent Islamists, to 10 months in jail for a speech "that fell afoul of the growing secularist crackdown."
Is that what the "natives" can expect from the new, U.S.-sponsored Bosnian Thought Police whose mandate sounds awfully similar to the Kommunist Kommisars' Kontrol (KKK) of the press? Worse, is that what we can expect one day in AmeriKa? Way to lead the world by example, Uncle Sam a.k.a. Bill Klinton!
Also, check out... "A Balkan Affairs Potpourri", "Put the U.N. Justice on Trial", "International Justice 'Progresses' from Kidnapping to Murder", "Milosevic: 'A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery'...", "Kosovo Lie Allowed to Stand", "New World Order's Inquisition in Bosnia", "Kosovo Heating Up", "Decani Monastery Under Siege?", "Murder on Wall Street", "Kosovo: 'Bosnia II'", "What If the Shoe Were on the Other Foot?", "Green Interstate - Not Worth American Lives", and/or "Clinton arme secrètement les musulmans bosniaques"