April 24, 1999

The Hidden History of the War Against Yugoslavia

By William F Hagel


The United States government and its NATO junior partners claim they were 
forced to bomb Yugoslavia out of humanitarian concern for the victims of 
Milosevic's dictatorship. Because this is the main rational for what would 
be condemned as an outright criminal attack on a country with which we are 
not at war, it is important to examine this claim of humanitarian concern 
going beyond the rhetoric to actual deeds.

At the early start of the Cold War, upon reports (rumors?) that the 
Indonesian Communist Party was planning a revolt, the Indonesian military 
with the support of the CIA carried out a preemptive campaign in which 
upwards of one million people were massacred. Anyone on the CIA's list of 
suspected communists was systematically eliminated without due process. It 
is incredibly difficult to believe there were one million Indonesian Soviet 
agents or that indiscriminate slaughter was the answer.

Also in the case of Indonesia one doesn't have to go back that far to 
illustrate the US concern for humanity. In 1976 Indonesia annexed the former
Portuguese colony of East Timor in flagrant violation of international law 
and the wishes of the people of Timor. Since that day the Indonesian 
military has conducted a bloody campaign to overcome the resistance of the 
people of Timor who only want their independence. In a revealing 
demonstration of the concern for humanitarian interests. the US government 
has enthusiastically supported the Indonesian military with money and 
weapons in this near genocidal war against the people of East Timor.

The war against Vietnam was based on an outright lie and a paranoid 
deception. The Gulf of Tonkin attack on an American vessel was the lie and 
the paranoid "domino theory" of communist conquest was the deception. 
Neither one proved to be true. The object was to accomplish in Vietnam what 
the Indonesian military did in East Timor with US approval, to pick up a 
colony abandoned by another power. In this case, France was finally forced 
to surrender by the Vietnamese liberation army but not before the US made 
the "humanitarian" offer to help the French overcome the Vietnamese by using
the atom bomb. The French, to their credit refused the offer. The US "
humanitarian" effort in Vietnam cost 55,000 American lives one million 
Vietnamese lives, widespread ecological destruction from chemical warfare 
and the ongoing death and injury from the thousand of landmines the US 
employed in a "humanitarian" effort to "save" the Vietnamese people.

The civilized world was horrified by the ruthless Khmer Rouge attempt to 
cleanse Cambodia of western influence. The slaughter of a million Cambodians
left no doubt about the criminal nature of this enterprise. Yet for many 
years, the US government openly supported the Khmer Rouge claim to a seat on
the UN and secretly helped to support them in the field with weapons and 
supplies. The reason for this "humanitarian" support of one of the most cold
blooded regimes of this bloody century? The US hoped to use the Khmer Rouge 
against the Vietnamese government. The details of this sordid policy were 
hidden from the American people with the complicity of the commercial media.

Nicaragua suffered under the US supported dictatorship of Somoza until 1979 
when he was finally overthrown in a popular rebellion. The US responded in 
typical "humanitarian" fashion by open and clandestine efforts to overthrow 
the new democratically elected government. Economic pressure, CIA sabotage, 
including the illegal mining of Nicaraguan harbors and the arming of death 
squads specializing in killing and terrorizing civilians was the US "
humanitarian" response to the first ever democratic government in Nicaragua.
This "two wrongs make a right" policy was justified by the preposterous claim
that this tiny desperately poor third nation of peasants was a threat to our 
national security. In hindsight it is disturbing to contemplate the power of
the media to sell such a bald-faced lie.

The same can be said about El Salvador and Guatemala where the attempt by a 
desperately poor peasantry to free itself from a military imposed semi- 
feudalism was met with a genocidal attack by a military financed, uniformed,
armed and trained by the US. Thousands of innocent peasants, including women 
and children were slaughtered in protecting the power and privilege of a 
handful of propertied elites. Among the victims of this slaughter were 
Archbishop Oscar Romero, four American Catholic church women, countless 
priests and lay church leaders All of the death squad leaders involved in 
these crimes were trained by the American military in the School of the 
Americas or as it has come to be known the School of Assassins. The "
humanitarian" impulse of the US government can best be judged by the fact 
that to this day after the full disclosure of these crimes, the US refuses 
to close down this notorious installation and is continuing to train more 
third world military.

Chile elected Allende, a socialist president who had the nerve to exercise 
Chile's sovereign right to nationalize the US owned copper industry. At the 
behest of the copper industry, the US embarked on a campaign to destabilize 
and overthrow the democratically elected government. The US orchestrated a 
military coup which murdered Allende, killed thousands of his supporters and
other political opponents and installed a reign of terror, the effects of 
which are still felt to this day. Fortunately for the cause of justice, 
General Pinochet, the Chilean puppet of US "humanitarian" policy, is being 
held in England pending criminal charges of war crimes.

In invading the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada, the US claimed that Cuban 
forces were on the island building a military airfield and that American 
students were in danger from a local insurrection none of which proved to be
true. The Cubans on the island were civilian construction workers, not 
military. The airfield was strictly for civilian, not military use and the 
students were never in danger. In fact, the government of Grenada offered to
airlift the students to other islands but the other islands under US pressure
refused to allow this. To justify the invasion of Grenada the US employed a 
humanitarian concern for the safety of the students where no danger existed.

The US expression of "humanitarian" concern about the fate of oppressed 
minorities is especially suspect in the case of Iraq and Turkey. Both 
governments severely repress the Kurdish minority including savage attacks 
on civilian villages and ethnic cleansing of whole areas.

When the US needed Saddam Hussein to counter the influence of Islamic Iran, 
we armed him to the teeth and turned a blind eye to the plight of his 
victims. It was only when we no longer needed him and he got too big for his
britches that we suddenly became concerned about the Kurds the Kuwaitis and 
other victims. Our "humanitarian" response is to impose economic sanctions 
and bombing attacks that have resulted in the needless death of at least 
500,000 innocent children while not touching a hair on Saddam's head. When 
questioned by a reporter about this effect of the sanctions, Madeline 
Albright the "humanitarian" Secretary of State replied that it was a tough 
decision but in the final analysis it was worth the cost.

Contrast this with our treatment of Turkey. For years the Turkish military 
has been conducting a campaign against the same Kurds that Saddam Hussein is
oppressing. The Turkish effort if anything is far more devastating including 
hundreds of villages destroyed, over a million refugees and countless killed.
Turkey even violates international law by extending its attacks on Kurds 
beyond it own borders in Iraq. The difference is that this is done with the 
active support of the US government which is the major supplier for the 
Turkish military effort In this case our "humanitarian" conscience is 
conveniently put aside because Turkey is a key NATO ally

Last but not least is the example of Haiti. After suffering many years under
the cruelest of dictators, the Haitian people finally elected a democratic 
government with Aristide as president. As soon as Aristide was elected on a 
platform of social reform the US government through the CIA organized a coup
that overthrew him forcing him into exile here in the USA. The coup resulted 
in the killing of anyone who dared speak against the coup. The killers, 
Tonton Macoute, were organized and armed by the CIA. When the US military 
finally went into Haiti to "protect democracy" their first act was to steal 
the official Haitian records which would have exposed the role of the US and
the CIA in overthrowing the democratically elected government and supporting 
the dictatorship. To this day the US supported death squads are active in 
Haiti and the US refuses to return intact the stolen documents to the 
Haitian government. Thousands of innocent Haitians have suffered and are 
still suffering as a result of US "humanitarianism".

The record of US "humanitarian" concern forces us to look beyond official 
explanations for the horrific bombing of both Kosovo and Iraq. It is not 
enough to expose the lies our government uses to justify its military policy,
it is necessary to learn the real reasons for this criminal violation of 
international law and human decency. For this one must go beyond the 
establishment commercial media to the internet, the independent publishers 
and independent press.

Anyone interested in receiving additional material from independent sources 
can contact me at <bill.hagel@juno.com>