SAT, 27 NOV 1999 16:23:52 GMT
Ljubljana, November 15, 1999
As the Balkans is concerned, the attention of the world media from Kosovo has turned to Belgrade and the powerless Serbian opposition. Journalistic reports from Kosovo talk only about incidents, using carefully chosen words in cases when Serbs are the victims of Albanian violence, and timidly mentioning the ethnic background of either the victim or the attacker. Much more ample is the coverage of the Serbian misdeeds against Albanians, both from the recent past and the latest period, after the Kosovo occupation.
A critical analysis of the results of the latest war is conspicuously missing. According to Klauzevic, the war is waged for achieving political ends by military means. Did the winning side accomplish its political ends and to what degree?
NATO started bombing Yugoslavia in order to "force Milosevic to step down from power", to enable democratization of the region, and to give freedom to Kosovo Albanians, perhaps additionally to Muslims in Sandzak and Hungarians in Voivodina, along paving the way for Montenegrins for the secession from the FRY. These were the declared objectives of the West. In fact, something other happened - NATO expanded its political influence towards the East and borders of Russia and connected important geographic spheres of interest, West Europe and the Near East. The deployment of NATO forces in Kosovo enabled a direct ground link among all NATO forces in Europe, which during Tito's Yugoslavia were divided in central-European, south (in Italy) and east wings (Greece and Turkey). The installation of NATO forces on the territory of ex-Yugoslavia and the entry of Hungary in the Alliance force the unstable regimes in Bulgaria and Romania to co-operate with the West and to distant themselves from their former historical ally - Russia. At the same time, the role of Turkey in the Near East, on the Caucasus and in the sea straits decreased and it can no longer extort concessions in regard to the issue of Cyprus, genocide over Curds or its joining the EU.
By the deployment of troops on the territory of former Yugoslavia the US efficiently secured its military presence in Europe since the shifting of NATO borders by 2500 km toward the East had made keeping of strong American forces in Western Europe redundant and unjustified. Holding of NATO soldiers on the shaky Balkanian terrain requires a strong commanding and logistic infrastructure in NATO countries in the southern European front, particularly in Italy. This reinforces the significance of Rome in the framework of the Alliance. France as well successfully returned to the Pact: it employed its own military contingents and persuaded the domestic public in the necessity of keeping strong professional army in the situation with no direct danger of the Russian aggression on France. It may be expected that over the next few months Paris also will get some concessions from NATO, perhaps a dislocation of some commanding body to France or an appointment of a French general to the top position in the NATO structure.
Finally, the latest battle in Kosovo helped Germany to get rid of a half-century long inferiority complex because of its army being confined within the state borders. In addition to being a great economic power, Germany now becomes a political and military superpower. The greatest result of the German participation in the Kosovo crisis was the fact that neither the world public opinion nor the world powers (winners over Hitler's Germany, like Russia) nor local peace movements had objected to the indirect change of the German constitution regarding the employment of the German military out of the borders of united Germany. This job was started by a demochristian Kohl, somewhat timidly, by the participation of the German medical and logistic units in the UNPROFOR forces in Bosnia, with a careful watch over the reactions by the European left and Russia. As these reactions were missing, the task was completed by a socialdemocrat Schreder, but also by his other "leftist" colleagues in other European countries, who met the changed role of the German army with silence. The German participation in the war in Yugoslavia brought it a considerable political gain, although it will have to pay a high price for it in money. As a leading power in the Stability Pact, Germany will have to put its hands deeply in the money bag, especially because a German mark has become almost a legal currency in all the countries of the former Yugoslavia.
Some gain for everyone...
With the American blessing, Rome increased its political and military influence in the Balkans. This confirms the assumption that Italy had been ascribed with some special mandate over the Balkans and Eastern Mediterranean, particularly in regard to the fact that Italy did not cut its diplomatic ties with Milosevic's regime even during the bombing. Italy proves itself as an increasingly trustful US partner in the south of Europe, where it promotes more its own aspirations and the US interests than interests of other European NATO countries. The other NATO members in this game played rather a role of a proof of the NATO war ˘unity÷ than a pursuit of their own aims and interests.
Russia as well achieved considerable gains in the war. For another time in history it skilfully cashed the Serbian obsession with "Slavness" and the Orthodox religion. The Russian Prime Minister Primakov, making a loop of his airplane practically above Washington when the NATO intervention started, avoided troublesome negotiations about the financial assistance, which had been probably conditioned by some tough and difficult to meet IMF requests and possibly concerned lower instalments than later on actually made. As a result, the money was brought directly to YeltsinĂs hands, relieved of any rigid conditions and limitations. But financial gain is not the only one. Along with finances, Moscow received a tacit approval to settle its accounts with disobedient Chechens. "The fight against terrorism of Islamic extremists" thus appears to be just an excuse for regaining a Russian control over Chechnia. Russia also got a chance to participate in calming down the Kosovo situation, but its military contingent is of a humble size and dispersed within NATO sectors. The occupation of the Prishtina airport was just a propagandistic action, something of a sort of a balm for the Serbian pride. It is realistic to expect that Russia will withdraw from Kosovo in some close future, as the war in Chechnia is quite costly and, on the other hand, the Russians cannot (or do not want to) help the Serbs anymore.
The role of Chernomirdin in NATO-Milosevic negotiations should not be disregarded. He is among the most influential managers of the Russian oil industry, therefore one of the richest Russians. Perhaps it was exactly him who made a deal on the West's concession in regard to the Chechnia issue. It must not be forgotten that the Russian oil from the Caspian sea goes through Chechnia, and the lack of the Russian control over this territory increased the oil costs (Russia had to pay to the Chechnian government) and made instable the oil supply to the European market.
The Kosovo Albanians as well should be the winners of the war. However, the time shows that they did achieve political affirmation, while, practically, they are the losers. They did not get the independent state and it is quite uncertain when and whether they will get it at all. The Albanian revanshism over other non-Albanians, a symbolic return of the weaponry, a general chaos and disorder in the province, the impossibility for acting of unified police forces - all these are the reasons for the West to delay the political solution which is suitable to Tachi and his fellow-fighters. The assistance arrives with a great delay: it was easy to throw war stocks over Yugoslavia, but assistance requires fresh money and other goods which should be paid from the budget.
The Albanian people lost roofs over their heads, lost jobs, an administration that was working, a regular supply of everyday goods... It is not foreseeable when they will regain the living standard from 1989, even from 1998. In the propagandistic war the West launched a figure of 11.000 Albanians massacred and of 500 mass graves. After six months of intensive digging up, about 2.100 bodies were found. Journalistic reports are indicative here - when a grave with several bodies is found, the media report on about ten, noting that there could be a hundred or more. But after the digging up is over, the reports on completion of the work do not follow up, nor the final number of the dead. Far from looking for justification for the crimes over Albanians, this only points to the problem that the "war truth" is increasingly becoming the peace reality.
The Albanian leaders, headed by Tachi, lost a great deal, as well. The West realized that it had no power to influence the Albanians and that it in fact practically complied with some extreme requests by the tribe leaders and religious leaders. There is no leader in sight with power and will to take the Albanian population from the 19-century agrarian backwardness to the 21-century information society.
Another dilemma remains to be solved: was Yugoslavia defeated in the war? The Yugoslav military machinery was not considerably diminished: losses in weaponry are almost negligible. At one moment of the war, general Clark was speaking about 90 % of destroyed tanks, 30% of artillery and 5.000 killed soldiers. Yugoslav generals claim something very different. This time, the truth is probably somewhere in between. No destroyed or damaged Yugoslav tank, or an artillery piece, was found on the Kosovo battlefield. It was technically almost impossible to clean the battlefield so thoroughly within seven days which were left to the Yugoslav army to withdraw. If ClarkĂs claims had been true, the Yugoslav army would have needed at least a month to take out the destroyed and damaged vehicles. If NATO so successfully registered the destroyed tanks from its planes and satellites, why hadnĂt it showed a Yugoslav convoy carrying out the damaged vehicles? It seemed that at least general Clark did not need a propagandistic boasting of the kind performed by the newly-created generals in this part of the world, including Kacin from Slovenia, Praljak from Croatia and coffee-shop generals form the war in Bosnia.
Each killed soldier is a great loss for his family and for the people. According to the published data, it could be concluded that human casualties at the Serbian side were far down from the West evaluations, especially in regard to the intensity of bombing and the amount of explosive used, i.e. the number of plane take-offs. This picture is spiced nicely with the Serbian television coverage of the country's reconstruction and recovery. Some no-named donors appear, donating hundreds of thousands of dollars and marks for the reconstruction of the destroyed infrastructure. Is this the West paying its pangs of conscience because of its misdeeds over the Serbian people? The main objective of the strikes was not accomplished. Milosevic still sits on his throne and will go away, as he says, only by regular elections. The West promises the help in energy and the abolishment of sanctions in return for scheduling the early elections. What will happen if in these elections - whether regular or early - despite the presence of many impartial international observers, Milosevic wins again, which is not impossible?
LetĂs assume that Milosevic will be removed in a democratic way and will recognize the will of voters. Will the West immediately help Serbia or will it request new and new concessions from the new democratic government? The Western analysts probably have not understood the anecdote about the Serbian duke Milos and his tactics to squeeze more when people talk too loud and to release the pressure when they become silent. One of the slogans of MilosevicĂs ˘anti-bureaucratic revolution÷ was - ˘winners in wars, losers in peace÷. Can this thesis be converted so that losers in the NATO bombing become winners in a democratic peace?
The future democratic government of Serbia is expected, like todayĂs Montenegro, to open the door for the entry of the foreign capital, which brings money and modern technology. Serbia has a qualified manpower, ready to work for the wage ten times lower in comparison to wages of guestworkers in Germany, but still two or threefold higher than the present earnings in Serbia. Despite the loss of Kosovo, Serbia can give the new industries cheap energy; additionally, its proximity to European markets decreases the transport expenses. Serbia definitely can be cheaper than the Far East. The only condition to realize this scenario is to continue the present line. Like the Germans after the W.W.II, the Serbs would have to admit their defeat and to accept the politics of the new political master and they will achieve the economic miracle in the Balkans.
Who, therefore, benefited from this ˘stupid war with smart weapons÷? If there is any truth in proverbs, than the one saying ˘every bad thing carries something good÷ concerns Yugoslavia which could recover rather quickly. The proverb ˘when two are quarrelling, the third one benefits÷ could concern Russia who got the money and Chechnia. ˘Who makes a trap for another falls himself a victim÷ could concern the West, as it has to pay for the reconstruction of Kosovo, and of Yugoslavia. Albanians should not be forgotten in this context, as for many years ahead they will depend on the foreign assistance and moods.