June 2, 1999

Media Advisory:
Was Rambouillet Another Tonkin Gulf?

New evidence has emerged confirming that the U.S. deliberately set out
to thwart the Rambouillet peace talks in France in order to provide a
"trigger" for NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia.

Furthermore, correspondents from major American news organizations
reportedly knew about this plan to stymie the Kosovo peace talks, but
did not inform their readers or viewers.

FAIR's May 14 media advisory, "Forgotten Coverage of Rambouillet
Negotiations," ( http://www.fair.org/press-releases/kosovo-solution.html
asked whether the media had given the full story on Rambouillet. News
reports almost universally blamed the failure of negotiations on Serbian
intransigence. The headline over a New York Times dispatch from Belgrade
on March 24 - the first day of the bombing - read "U.S. Negotiators
Depart, Frustrated By Milosevic's Hard Line."

But the evidence presented in "Forgotten Coverage" suggested that it was
U.S. negotiators, not the Serbs, who blocked an agreement.

Now, in the June 14 issue of the Nation, George Kenney, a former State
Department Yugoslavia desk officer, reports:

An unimpeachable press source who regularly travels with Secretary of
State Madeleine Albright told this [writer] that, swearing reporters to
deep-background confidentiality at the Rambouillet talks, a senior State
Department official had bragged that the United States "deliberately set
the bar higher than the Serbs could accept." The Serbs needed, according
to the official, a little bombing to see reason.

In other words, the plan for Kosovo autonomy drafted by State Department
officials was intentionally crafted to provoke a rejection from Serb
negotiators. In his Nation article, Kenney compares this plan to the
Gulf of Tonkin incident.

Providing further confirmation of Kenney's account, Jim Jatras, a
foreign policy aide to Senate Republicans, reported in a May 18 speech
at the Cato Institute in Washington that he had it "on good authority"
that a "senior Administration official told media at Rambouillet, under
embargo" the following:

"We intentionally set the bar too high for the Serbs to comply. They
need some bombing, and that's what they are going to get."

In interviews with FAIR, both Kenney and Jatras asserted that these are
actual quotes transcribed by reporters who spoke with a U.S. official.
They declined to give the names or affiliations of the reporters.

The revelation that American reporters knew about a U.S. strategy to
create a pretext for NATO's war on Yugoslavia - but did not report on it
- raises serious questions about the independence of mainstream news

More reporting is needed on the origins of this war, as well as the
opportunities for peace that may have been overlooked.

This release will be updated as new information becomes available.

This media advisory was written by FAIR media analyst Seth Ackerman


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