Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi NATO's Humanitarian Bluff

By Noah Masterson

JUNE 21, 1999:  The atrocities Slobodan Milosevic and his band of merry Serbs have committed against ethnic Albanians are reprehensible, no question about it. But these atrocities are a smokescreen for the real reasons NATO has been bombing Yugoslavia to kingdom come -- reasons that have little to do with "humanitarian concerns." A little digging turns up some alarming, underreported facts about NATO, the Kosovo Liberation Army and the United States government. Examples are listed below.

· The Rambouillet Agreement, which the Serbs refused to sign in March, contained only 352 words (fewer words than appear in this article) about humanitarian assistance -- with no specifics about returning refugees (of which there were thousands before we dropped any bombs) to their homes. The chapter about the designs of uniforms worn by NATO's occupying force is about 300 words long. Much of the agreement is devoted to establishing elections and "free market principles" in Kosovo. The agreement also grants NATO troops immunity from prosecution while in Yugoslavia, whether "civil, administrative or criminal." In other words, men with guns could horse around all they want with no fear of consequences. No leader would sign an agreement like that.

· Kosovo is the richest area of the Balkans. A short distance from the capital, Pristina, are the Trepca mines, which the New York Times called, "a war's glittering prize ... the most valuable piece of real estate in the Balkans ... worth at least $5 billion." The mines contain 17 billion tons of coal reserves. The United States has mined a total of 58 billion tons of coal in its entire history. Seventeen billion tons of coal is enough to fuel our nation for 20 years.

· Vojvodina, like Kosovo, is a province in Yugoslavia. It's on the north side. More than 300,000 of Vojvodina's residents are ethnic Hungarians. Milosevic wants them to abandon their homes and leave the country, just like he does the Albanians in Kosovo. NATO does not acknowledge the ethnic cleansing in Vojvodina, even though it's right there in the same country. Vojvodina contains no resources that interest NATO or the United States.

· NATO and the United States publicly oppose the use of land mines. NATO jets have been dropping cluster bombs on Yugoslavia. Cluster bombs are designed to detonate after a brief delay. Often, that delay is not so brief, and they lie around undetonated. Cluster bombs are brightly colored, and children sometimes think the bombs are toys. When a child (or anyone else) touches a cluster bomb, it blows them to smithereens -- just like a land mine.

· The Kosovo Liberation Army -- which NATO supports -- is headed by a guy named Agim Cecu. Cecu was a Croatian army general who oversaw the ethnic cleansing of 170,000 Serb civilians from Krajina. In August 1998, the state department described the KLA as "armed extremists" and warned travelers in the region to stay away. Now the KLA is our pal. The United States supplied the "extremists" with many of those arms.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Milosevic is a bad guy, surrounded by a lot of other bad guys, in a messy region filled with people who have hated each other for hundreds of years. It's noble to think that we can help all those hate-filled people make peace with each other. But NATO isn't setting much of an example.

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