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Monday, 3 April, 2000, 11:59 GMT 12:59 UK
Kosovo: Is the West losing the peace?
Did the West go to war at great expense only to lose the peace for lack of resources? Is the international community doing enough to rebuild Kosovo? What is the future of the province? Are there any lessons to be learned from the conflict?
Former K-For commander General Sir Michael Jackson and Nato spokesman Jamie Shea took your questions in our live brodacast online and on BBC World Service radio.
Select the link below to watch Talking Point On Air
Alam Navruzov, US
This shows the absurdity of war. We spend millions waging war in the Balkans, now we are going to spend millions rebuilding it. Have we all lost the plot, or what?
If Kosovo was so important to the Serbs how come they don't consist not even 10 percent of the population there. If it was so important to them, they would move from other parts of Serbia and would be settled in Kosovo to live. How is this possible? The answer is simple: through a PROPAGANDA WAR that builds hatred against other nations that live there. There is PEACE in Kosovo everybody knows it.
I think Kosovo belongs to Yugoslavia and to the Serbian people, e.g. how would the people of UK or USA will feel if tomorrow, for example, the Mexican people declared California an independent State of Mexico
Off the cuff I would say the only lesson to be learned by UN and Nato countries from Nato's fiasco is crudely but aptly put in the American phrase, "either put up or shut up".
I strongly suggest that since an equitable balance of power never was and never will be the priority of the Nato countries and their justice is rife with hypocrisy and racism, let the next beleaguered people fight it out themselves and gain assistance from whoever provides it.
Considering that Kosovo (and Kosovo only not kosova or kosava) is the heart and cradle of the Serbian nation; a small peace of land that to them shares equal importance and value as does Jerusalem to the Jews, has been forcefully taken by others to give to them to whom it does not belong, be sure that the Serbs staying true to their warrior tradition will retake what truthfully belongs to them (with or without Milosevic in power it does not matter, they will still do it.).
Does it not concern people in the West that a land that the Albanians claim is their land bears no monuments or evidence of their so-called ancient culture.
Daniel Michaels, Sweden
Nato, USA and the European countries didn't make any mistakes so far. They are going to make a mistake if they do not recognise the independence for Kosovo. Independence for Kosovo may not be the best solution for everyone but it is the best solution for most of the people of Kosova.
The population ratio between Serbs and Albanians was 50:50 just after the WWII
Just before Nato involvement it was 93% of Albanians and 7% of Serbs.
Who is the aggressor and who is the victim?
After witnessing the turmoil and lack of peace in Kosovo, I must ask what did you expect to happen. Nato's campaign of only air bombardments was only going to leave thousands of innocents slaughtered on the ground. It is well known by even the most simple-minded military analyst that no campaign can be won from the air only.
I am concerned how some people can be so short-sighted by claiming that Nato lost the peace in Kosova. War in Kosova has been won in a very fair way and there should be some more attempts to rebuild everything from the scratch there.
Dr. G. Shaw, Canada
Nato aggression in Yugoslavia is crime before humanity.
Igor Miljkovic, Republic of Srpska (Bosnia)
We've all, I believe, witnessed Bill Clinton's lying on MANY occasions...And many times he has been proven a liar...
Mr Shea, why is it that you and the British Government describe the Serbian President as a war criminal and murderer yet, you shake hands with Mr Putin who has murdered men women and children in Chetinya. Is this human rights hypocricy?
The on-going rapes, murders and general terrorism committed by Albanian separatists against the elderly Serbs in Kosovo can be compared to the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany. At Nato's admission, Nato lacks the means to curb atrocities against minorities in present day Kosovo.
Nato's short-sighted intervention in the Balkans seems to have created a dangerous precedent. Who can now be surprised if China invades and occupies Taiwan?
People in the Balkans need a role model on how to treat their ethnic minorities. Since Greece is a member of both Nato and the EU, can its treatment of its ethnic Macedonian minority serve as a model for other Balkan countries?
Jamie, your perceived understanding of democracy is a hypocrisy, you claim Mr Milosevic is a dictator and yet you acknowledge there are elections and he does win them. Kosovo has been Serbian for over a millennia and has been taken by force many a time and yet been reunited with its rightful owner. There will never be peace until the cradle of Serbian culture is returned.
Mirko Lazarevic, England
Thanks very much for the informative programme. I've always found Jamie Shea a master of restraint for the sometimes very provocative and emotive questions. Not a job to envy regardless of the pay...
The wave gave a nice personal touch. Isn't technology scary sometimes?
Dr Andrew Moore, Cyprus
It is interesting to note it's unlikely Nato commanders will not be prosecuted, which seem fair. The general never answered the issue of compensation for the injured innocent. The fact that Milosevic is still in power does not mean those people should be condemned to whatever fate they suffer by collateral damage.
The politics and war of Russia in Chechnya now is not better (in the sense of human rights) than of Serbia in Kosovo. Why hasn't Nato bombed Moscow? Is Russia too big? Do you have double standards for small and big countries?
Is it possible fewer people would have been killed on all sides if the UN and the countries that supported the autonomy of Kosovo had sent in people in the first place?
Michael Sestak, USA
We watched the Serbian military pull out of Kosovo with their military hardware almost
intact. Do you think that Nato have been duped by the Serbs by putting decoys at important
sites for the Nato planes to bomb?
Is there any kind of organised pro-reconciliation propaganda in Kosovo? Is there a support for democratic media, that spread the ideas of living together and also the violence monopoly for the state organs as element of a modern society?
I began to suspect that each so-called mistake might have been more of a strategic action, that needed to be portrayed less than completely honestly. Tonight it was pointed out that the targeting of the journalists was a legitimate action because of their propaganda role. What I'm wondering then is just how much does the media and/or public opinion dictate the progress of the war. It seems to me that Milosevic, Karadich and Vladich etc were not impossible targets and that their martyrdom wouldn't have affected the eventual outcome of the war, so why are they also not legitimate targets of war?
Trish McDonald, Australia
Hi! I am enjoying the programme and feel sad for the apparent unending to each side's inability to let go of their histories. I guess if I was living there I may see things differently.
I hope you consider these parents who lost their children every time you see your child do you finally acknowledge that a lot of innocent women and children died for your bombing campaign?
Koviljka Trivalic, Australia
May I first of all thank your organisation for bringing peace to Europe and the world, the safe heavens save the civilians in Bosnia, the bombing brought back the Albanians to Kosovo.
What was the reasoning behind the use of the word "genocide" prior to and
during Nao's actions in the former Yugoslavia? Considering the level of the
killings, didn't Nato's dependence upon the term to stir emotions and gain
support for its actions cheapen the word? Especially considering the West's
reluctance to use the same term when killings on a much grander scale took
place in Rwanda just a few years prior.
Where are those resources now to work for peace, when there were
no limits on the resources used previously to make war?
Your comments before we went ON AIR:
Disasters like Kosovo will become more frequent. US diplomacy consists of little more than threats and sermons.
These people have hated each other for hundreds of years, far longer than Arabs and Jews have been fighting. Any who expects them to kiss and makeup in a year isn't living in the real world. This take generations, not a couple years.
Hence to save face how about a show of force so that it would be recorded in the annals of history that the right and good Nato saved the skins of these hapless Muslims. The truth is that were it not for the terrible human tragedy in the massacre and mayhem of Muslims at the hands of the Serbians and Russians, Nato's laughable performance can at best be compared to the Key Stone Cops.
Tahir Nawab, USA
We have heard very little from the media throughout the long winter months as to the social and economic effects of the air raids launched on Yugoslavia a year ago. Whether this has been due to feelings of guilt or callous indifference is not clear. Maybe the effects were so devastating that public opinion would have turned against "us" had they been exposed.
Now it is more of individuals seeking justice for their loved ones. When it comes to justice I personally hold responsible UN. If they would do something about bringing the war criminals to justice I am sure that acts of "revenge" against Serbs would not take place. Instead of taking action they just are trumpeting on about a multicultural Kosova. I totally agree with that but how can you have such Kosova when criminals are still at large. How can you ask people who lost up to 40 members of their family to just forget like nothing happened.
Nicholas Wright, you should read "Nineteen Eighty Four" by Orwell, have you ever heard of "Two Minutes Hate"? This is where people are driven to hate and violence by what they see on TV.
There is no peace to lose-there has been no peace either before nor after NATO's bombardment.
Isn't it the case that the current inter-ethnic conflict in Kosovo is the inevitable consequence of Nato's actions? The war was fought on the basis of upholding an ethnic division of the country (as witnessed in the alliance's support for the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army, and in its refusal to listen to those who warned that the KLA was as xenophobic as the Serbian forces in Kosovo). The Nato/KLA 'victory' has unleashed KLA and Albanian chauvinist attacks on Serbian civilians, it has made matters worse, not better.
In the aftermath of the Second World War in Europe, German civilians became the target of revenge attacks by recently liberated inmates of labour and concentration camps. Between 1944-47, around 2.1 million ethnic Germans died during flight or forced expulsion from central, eastern and southern Europe. However, few people have argued that such consequences outweighed the moral case for going to war against Germany.
If there's a legacy of bitterness between Albanian and Serb Kosovars, it's not because NATO bombed Serbia. It's because of what Serbia did to Albanians before, and during, the NATO intervention. To place the blame squarely on NATO is merely an attempt to excuse or deny that simple fact.
NATO made the same mistake that has kept the Balkans unstable for centuries. Instead of acting neutrally to stop the violence, they chose local allies. Now the cycle of violence will continue as each side now has a whole raft of new reasons to take revenge against the other - and many of these reasons were caused by NATO.
After one year passing by it is obvious that there still has not been any result and the Albanians are doing anything to raise tensions again at the Kosovo-Serbian Border. I have been asking myself for some weeks now if this is leading to a new even greater war with Nato ground forces and probably Russia. In my opinion this is only a question of time. No one can stop this development and some people even don´t want to stop it! So I keep on asking myself what were the real aims of last year´s bombing campaign? All the news has been manipulated by the West.
The solution to the misery in Kosovo is in the hands of the leaders in that region. There seems to be a battle for leadership which has divided Kosovo into small little groups, with different leaders. This is creating confusion and a circle of tension among different groups, who want political control. Nato and United Nations have done all they can. The rest is left with the people and the leaders themselves. Enough with Ethical cleansing, the world must unite and safe Kosovo before is too late. A year is a long time to allow such a terrible deed to continue.
Murder, torture and extortion: these are the extraordinary charges made against the UN's own Kosovo Protection Corps in a confidential United Nations report written for Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The 5,000-strong corps, funded by UN members including Britain, has a £30 million aid budget for Kosovo. It was set up to provide 'disaster response services'; instead, says the UN, it has been murdering and torturing people.
At the same time, international agencies fighting the drug trade are warning that Kosovo has become a "smugglers' paradise" supplying up to 40 per cent of the heroin sold in Europe and North America.
Overall, what is the EU goal in Kosovo and Serbia? How this goal/objective is going to be achieved? Do we really have a policy?
I feel sorry for Lieutenant-General Sir Michael Jackson, soldier and officer par excellence, left in a darkness of Kosovo to deal with Albright/Clark ego mania without having a clear mandate.
Spyros Milinis, Greece
USA finally began the first step of correcting the injustice act that Europe did to the Albanians. The global politics will continue the corrections of injustice done to the flattened nations. The only European country that corrected its mistakes is the U.K. This latest affirmations that the NATO is loosing the Peace in Kosovo are only the propaganda of serbian allies like Russia, Greece etc., (that did everything to stop the bombing and to let the ethinc cleansing continue).
The latest issues in northern Mitrovica (the only region of crisis) are provoked by the Serbs loyal to the war criminal Milosevic. However, with the neutralisation of these criminals by the KFOR & UNMIK, the situation will calm down. So, this propaganda that "Nato is loosing the Peace" only serve the criminal - Yugoslav President Milosevic, and doesn't let the peace to continue in the Balkans region.
U.S involvement in Kosovo had nothing to do with saving Albanians. They wanted to see if the Russian bear had any teeth left.
What was the objective of the war? If the objective was to destroy the economy, infrastructure and accidentally bomb innocent civilians then congratulations NATO mission accomplished. If it was to stop a civil war, by supporting ethnic Albanians, then NATO failed.
Adem Sylejmani, Kosova
Are you all missing something? The people make the peace. NATO went to stop the genocidal maniacs. NATO gave the opportunity of peace not to make peace themselves.
Peter Fredericks, USA
Military force can only be used effectively against other identifiable military forces. Soldiers can be used to keep warring parties apart, but cannot and should not be expected to be policemen. Peace keeping is only possible once peace making has succeeded, and peace enforcing is practically impossible as it undoubtedly leads to charges of bias by one side or both.
Nato did not lose the peace simply because this battle is not over. K-for was a logic consequence of Allied Force. You can't seriously expect aeroplanes to solve the problems on the ground. You can't educate Serbs and Albanians to peace in just one year after centuries of hate.
Gone are the days of complete annihilation leading to a total rebuild such as happened after the war. The policy now is to punish military dictators but leave them installed in office rather than allow these regions to find new leaders.
At the end of the day Milosevic has gone quiet but he can now justifiably say look I told you what the Albanians would do. He will again become the voice of reason in the region just like Saddam Hussein is a martyr to his people in Iraq.
Hmm, well Leka, if you are as you say a civil engineer then why do you not go back to Kosovo and help the rebuilding of your country? Is it because you've landed on your feet and wouldn't go back to Kosovo if they paid you? Believe me, the UK doesn't need civil engineers anywhere near as much as Kosovo.
People should accept that civilians get killed in wars - peace at any price is no peace at all! If we'd done the job right in the first place, bombed the people on the bridges, bombed the cities, then 2 days would have seen the end of it and fewer people would have died, and we wouldn't now be in the state we're in.
Unfortunately Western Governments have the arrogance to believe that they can put right any injustice in the world. Once you believe you can do that and also have the moral right to intervene in anyone's problems, the use of armaments is not far away. An armed response usually makes things worse not better. Offer food, medicine and clothing to refugees; offer to mediate, offer money to rebuild or resettle, but never, never resort to armed conflict.
Stephen Kenney, USA
Milosevic or not; birth-rate vs. birthright; Kosovo is a civil war that will happen with or without NATO. The West has much to learn about the Albanians.
Sulay Kemokai, USA
NATO failed looking from all aspects,
I feel ashamed that my country participated in aggression of sovereign country. Our tax money went to destroy civilian infrastructure for more then 10 million people in Yugoslavia.
We spent tons of money helping Albanians. Now they are shooting at our soldiers.
NATO has damaged relations with Russia and China beyond repair.
NATO should get out soon as possible.
An interesting historical parallel: 'We had to destroy the province to save it.' This is suggested by the wording of your news bulletin.
Meanwhile: the Serbian forces in Kosovo withdrew intact, ready for another go as soon as the UN, Nato and the alleged international community, like the Cheshire Cat, fade from the scene.
And Milosovic remains at the helm of his government, as does Saddam Hussein, another well-bombed dictator.
Not an unexpected state of affairs when great powers opt, once again, to carry out diplomacy through air power.
A neo-colonial war, yet lacking the old rigour. War on the cheap.
NATO lost the peace by leaving
Milosevic in power. He should
have been taken in as a war
criminal; the Serbs should been
forced to agree to unconditional
Never has so much been spent, by so few, against the wishes of so many, with such a sad result. I am ashamed...
How many times will we discuss this issue? Without a doubt: Europe would have been able to handle the situation one hundred times better WITHOUT the US. Europeans know a lot more than those naive Americans when it comes to diplomacy. Washington only worsened the situation.
It is hard to describe war between civilians and Army, that is a nonsense. If "civilians" carry machine guns, canons and have air support from 19 most developed countries, "civilians" are de facto army.
That was war between regular Yugoslav units and foreign funded and airs supported rebels/terrorists. That is the fact the rest is just propaganda.
Nato lost the "peace" on March 24 1999. You can not claim to be fighting for peace bombing civilians inside unprotected cities with unimaginable cruelty and cynicism. Nato did not win the war either. Considering that there were no refugees prior to the bombing the only Nato shining achievement - return of Albanians now looks pretty tarnished. Nato's cowards in the face of adversity render them losers in both war and peace.
NATO is not seeking peace or justice in Kosovo, but is experimenting militarily for the first time after WW2. It is also taking control of the Balkan region because it wants to control the major trade land route that connects Europe with Asia and Africa. US stated that they are looking for their own interests in the region. They are not concerned for either the Albanian or the Serbian population. If they were they would not have left both to suffer as they do. US is looking for an opportunity to take complete control of Serbia.
- Jack Dawson wrote that the Kosovan refugees in Britain are claiming free benefits and housing.
Well for your information Jack, I am a Kosovan refugee in the UK, I work as a civil engineer, I design Hospitals and Schools in the UK, and I pay approx. £700 in taxes every month. So god forbid, anything happens to you tomorrow, early retirement, redundancy, or an injury or whatever, don't worry I will still be paying my tax for benefits that you will receive.
I would suggest a very endeavouring task for you, Get a life.
The UK as usual leads the rest of the world, except for our American friends, are we the only countries who are prepared to provide so much to Kosovo? I say pull out our troops and let them sort it out. Britain's defence is hard pushed as it is now what with all the Labour
Governments' defence cuts in the last 3 years or so.
Nicholas Wright, EU & US
As we all read, the Rambouillet talks were 'designed to fail'. And the two additional terms that made Milosevic say 'no' were the allowance of NATO forces in the entire Yugoslavia and the referendum within three years with the question of autonomy.
However, the settlement after the bombing involves UN and NATO forces, no allowance to enter Serbia, and agreement that no referendum with the question of autonomy is to be made. Your readers may conclude weather that massive bombing was worth it, or weather it was a 'convincing victory'.
I feel the need to respond to the abuse that NATO has to suffer. If Milosevic had not forced NATO to bomb Serbian civilians back to the stone age then most of the current problems would not exist. No one can blame Britain and the US for acting while the rest would stand by and let the horror of Bosnia happen again. The blame for the systematic eviction and mass murder of ethnic Albanians can be levelled at Milosevic and the Serbian government alone. The reality is Serbia tried to eradicate Kosovan Albanians on a scale not seen since World War 2. NATO went to war and casualties are part of war. We did what was right and I hope the short-sightedness of some critics does not stop us acting in the future.
Jack Dawson, England
I agree totally with Eddie, USA. The Western politicians' wimped out, when it was crying out for the job to be finished i.e. by taking out Milsoevic and Saddam. With the regimes still in power, what did they think they were going to achieve. Thank god that the politicians who were controlling World War 2 did not wimp out in going after Hitler. Imagine where we would be if that was the case now.
George, United Kingdom
The Serbs at first looked more likely than the Albanians to agree to a plan for self-government. But they dug in their heels on the Nato-led implementation force.
The military text allowed Nato forces freedom of movement not only in Kosovo but throughout Serbia.
So much for NATO honesty.
Trying to police Kosovo by forcing people who have some much hate for each other is and will never work. The only way for peace is if NATO breaks Kosovo up and they know that. Only thing is that they can't do it because as a western power, they cannot be seen to promote racism, can they?
What peace? Just because the killing slows down a little you call that peace?
Instead of the Serb gangs terrorising the Kosava Albanians, as was happening before, now, under Nato cover, Kosava Albanians wreak revenge on the Serbs.
Kosava needed a political solution; Nato has provided a sort of military answer; but, it is a fragile peace, unlikely to last.
Absolutely all of Serbia's "partners" in Yugoslavia chose to leave this dysfunctional marriage of convenience because of economic, cultural and political oppression from Belgrade. No republic in former Yugoslavia was unaffected by the Serbian army (under the guise of the Yugoslav Army), and I commend NATO for what they have done. My only criticism is that they did not completely destroy the murderous military machine which, by the way, the victim states of Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia paid for through federal taxes.
I do not see peace in Kosova in the near future. Nor, for that matter, in Bosnia. Until the Serbian nation admits mea culpa there is unlikely to be much peace with their neighbours. One cannot have peace without justice, and the Serbian government, in its entirety, and its military must face this. The Serbian nation must come to terms with the crimes committed in their name, and only then will there be potential for peace.
The war in Yugoslavia was a disaster to start with. No surprise that a year afterwards, things are no better. If the Kosovo Albainians who NATO was trying to help now wants to fight the Serbs again, then maybe the West should just pull out completely and just let them all get on with it.
It's bizarre to see the NATO media pretending concern about the catastrophic situation in Kosovo under NATO occupation. The expulsion of non-Albanian minorities from the province was, after all, deliberate NATO policy. They knew that fighting as the KLA air force, and then arming and legalising the KLA as the "Kosovo Protection Force", would enable the Albanian separatists to follow their well-known and long-term policies of ethnic cleansing and Kosovo independence. NATO made that choice because it furthered their real political agenda: to crush Yugoslavia as the last opposition government within the borders of the enlarged NATO empire in the east.
Until NATO changes its policy, disarms the KLA, allows the Serbs and others to return, lifts sanctions on Yugoslavia, helps the hundreds of thousands of refugees there, and pays for the damage from their criminal aggression, their alleged humanitarianism isn't credible.
NATO world empire or humanitarian international law: it's got to be one or the other.
It was folly from the beginning and anyone familiar with the history of the area knows it. It was a cause that was no business of the western powers, and certainly not a matter to change NATO from a defensive pact into an aggressor and world police force.
This exercise in stupidity, hatched out by Bill Clinton and Tony Blair-two renowned military strategists, only wasted the recourses of the west, while killing innocent civilians in the former Yugoslavia, and destroying their country in the process.
Clinton and Blair have a lot to answer for in this war.
Nato went to war for US interests. There was nothing humanitarian about it. Nato has not fulfilled even one of the clauses in the peace agreement. It has not disarmed the KLA so that today almost all non-Albanians have been cleansed from Kosovo. NATO's crime ie that it did nothing to prevent this KLA terror against non-Albanians. Kosovo is a lawless land. Today, the situation is worse than it was before the bombing. Nato is in Kosovo to take this land from Serbs and hand it over to Albanians. Nato should be disbanded because it no longer is an honourable entity.
If everyone in that country could just put aside their differences and work for a better world around them NATO wouldn't have to intervene at all and there would be no rebuilding to do.
The USA and the world should have stayed out of Kosovo. You don't see the USA getting involved in the British and Irish mess. Kosovo is an internal affair. It belongs in Yugoslavia and always will. The USA should mind its own business. Yugoslavia is trying to keep order in a province that does not respect laws. Serbs are now being kicked out and killed what is Nato doing about that? They're helping the Albanians move and kill Serbian people. Serbs stood side by side with the free world through two World Wars and this is how they repay them.
It will be ironic to see what NATO achieved after such an effort whittled away right before our eyes. The region needs additional resources and troops, and that need is only going to get worse as we delay and ponder. To expect that we'll ever see a multi-ethnic society there is naive. The only practical solution lies in partition of the province along the ethnic lines. Ethnic hatred is too intense and deep-seated to let any other option survive for long. It is difficult, as we have learned in Bosnia, but all other available options are fraught with danger, now or later.
The era of using force is gone. When the international community is trying to solve a problem it must try to use common sense and dialog rather than using military actions.
Unfortunately this is what is been happening more and more under mandates of UN or NATO. The international community has destroyed Kosovo, Iraq etc. These actions not only have failed to solve the problems but also have created lot of misery for the innocent people. Those who order these attacks are committing crime against humanity and must stop meddling.
You always lose when you don't finish the job. The job should have been to take Milosevic out, just has it should have been to take out Saddam. The problem with the World is politicians.
M. Gordon, Australia
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