Behind the Headlines
by Justin Raimondo

August 16, 2000


When the Kosovo war broke out, and the "Allies" took up the cause of that Albanian terrorist gang known as the Kosovo Liberation Army, received a lot of email from baffled readers who wondered: "Why Kosovo?" Here was an impoverished and isolated country in a notoriously unstable region of the world, without any strategic or military value to the US, the conquest of which could only add to our burdens. Virtually none of my correspondents believed the official explanation – that the Milosevic regime was slaughtering tens of thousands of ethnic Albanians in the province, and was determined to "cleanse" Kosovo so that it would be ethnically Serb. Since the inhabitants of Kosovo were then more than 90 percent Albanians, this would have meant the complete depopulation of the province – a policy that made absolutely no economic or political sense. The supposedly "humanitarian" motives of the NATO-crats were a fraud from the very beginning, it was clear, and in any case their fraudulence was proved after the war when UN forensic experts went in and recovered and identified a little over 2,000 bodies (including Serbs). But this only deepened the mystery, and the question went unanswered: why Kosovo, of all places, the closest thing to a Third World country in all of Europe? Over a year after the "humanitarians" bombed Belgrade and reduced much of Yugoslavia to rubble, the answer is beginning to take shape. . . .


Yesterday 900 British, Danish, and French troops moved in to take over the Trepca complex of mines in the northern city of Mitrovice – and were met with determined resistance by hundreds of mine workers. Hurling rocks, sticks, and stones, and wielding the tools of their trade as weapons, Serbs downed four Brits, shouting their defiance at this escalation of NATO's war on the last Serbs left in Kosovo. For the Trepca mining complex is an ancient treasure, mined by the Greeks, the Romans, the Turks, and is the richest source of lead and zinc in Europe. There is enough lignite deposits in those mines to last for the next 13 centuries. The capacity of Trepca's refineries ranks third worldwide. The now-deposed mine director reported that "in the last three years we have mined 2,538,124 tons of lead and zinc crude ore and produced 286,502 tons of lead and zinc and 139,789 tons of pure lead, zinc, cadmium, silver and gold." We don't need to ask why this action was taken: we have only to note Trepca's estimated value – over $5 billion. What else do we need to know?


Naturally, they couldn't just go in there, and grab Kosovo's crown jewels, without coming up with a politically correct rationale. Leave it to "Unmik," the acronymic tyranny set up by the NATO-crats to administer their conquered province, to come up with the most transparent lie imaginable – albeit one that, in its sheer ludicrousness, will appeal to such enthusiasts of the Kosovo war as the German Greens and their even flakier American counterparts. According to a report from MSNBC, French spokesman Colonel Henry Aussavy solemnly declared: "We've noted a significant increase in the level of lead in the air, which was dangerous for the people of Mitrovica and for KFOR (NATO-led) troops. We had to react."


Let's see if I get this straight: after a year and some months of organized ethnic cleansing by the Kosovar Albanians against the defeated Serbs – as NATO not only stood by but actively aided the KLA's campaign for a Serb-free Kosovo – Unmik finally decides to react: not, mind you, to the murder, rape, and pillaging of Kosovo's embattled Serb communities, but to the alleged threat of air pollution. Do these people even care if anyone believes their lies? I don't think so. Real power means that your lies don't even have to be convincing. It means further humiliating your victims – in the process of beating them to the ground and robbing them blind – by constructing the flimsiest of pretexts, the more absurd the better.


While the UN bureaucrats insisted that air samples indicated levels of pollution 200 times above World Health Organization standards, the Serbs counter that their measurements indicate ".12 milligrams of lead per cubic metre (permitted level .15 mg), .019 mg of zinc (permitted level .4 mg), copper .004 mg (permitted level .01 mg), iron .002 mg (permitted level .2 mg), etc." As to the medical rationale for this brazen act of thievery, doctors from the local hospital were more than skeptical about the veracity of the NATO-crats' diagnosis. Dr. Radoslav Jankovic wryly observed that "we haven't had a patient with a toxicology problem for years. Today only soldiers and Unmik police officers suffer problems of lead in the blood."


Are you beginning to see the answer to "why Kosovo?" A $5 billion prize – but who gets to claim it? Trepca was state-owned under Yugoslav suzerainty, but now it will be "privatized" and sold off to Western investors. In this context, it is important to realize just whom we are talking about. . . .


When George Soros invested $150 million in the region – most of it backed up by fail-safe US government guarantees – he declared that this was not strictly a humanitarian effort. While known for his philanthropy, Soros said that in the case of his Balkan investments he would be guided by the concept of "tough love" and insisted that the new enterprise must be "driven purely by profit." With $100 million of the US taxpayers' money in his pocket, Soros and his gang are swooping down on the prostrate body of the Serbian nation like vultures feeding on the liver of Prometheus – the Titan of Greek mythology who stole fire from the depths of the earth and gave it to mankind. The Titans, a subterranean race, were the first miners, who taught their metal-smelting techniques to mortal men and were punished for the sin of such extravagant gift-giving, were obliterated by the gods of Olympus. Our own Olympians seem determined to visit a similar fate on the Serbs – who, for their part, seem to be guilty only of getting between George Soros and $5 billion.


That the NATO-crats dare to invoke such a pathetic pretext for their plundering is not exactly astonishing. These people are moral monsters, after all, who would have reduced Belgrade to a smoking ruin if they hadn't been too afraid of the political consequences – and they may do so yet. What is truly astonishing is that all this was predicted, down to the details, back in February by Diana Johnstone, in a remarkably prescient article on, in which she foretold not only the expropriation of the Trepca complex, but also exposed Soros as the source of the scheme. Analyzing two key documents – a November 1999 International Crisis Group (ICG) paper on the Trepca mining complex, and a February 2000 article in the Toronto Star by ICG consultant Susan Blaustein – Johnstone saw it all coming, and with such stunning accuracy that one can hardly believe that her piece wasn't written yesterday. What is especially revealing is the role of the International Crisis Group in fomenting the takeover of Trepca – and the role of Soros as the ICG's main sugar-daddy. In its report, the ICG drools at the prospect of having such a rich prize fall into its benefactor's hands. As Johnstone relates:

"In the 'game-plan of measures' recommended by the ICG, UNMIK is advised to instruct a 'Zvecan environmental assessment team' to report on the status of the equipment and thereupon 'advise as to what measures must be taken'... Environmental hazards are to be the pretext to shut down Zvecan and deprive the last Serbs in Kosovo of their livelihood. Meanwhile, 'Stari Trg, one of the richest mines in Europe, must be potentially profitable again and should be a priority for donors interested in setting Kosovo on its feet.'"


Chief among these "donors" is none other than Soros, who now expects to be paid back for his "philanthropy" – with interest. Trepca can be profitable again, but the question is: for whom. Trepca seems to have fallen into Soros's lap – or was it pushed there? Another interesting aspect of this whole affair is that the seizure of the Trepca complex by NATO forces is part of the Sorosian "business strategy" designed to forestall and ultimately nullify the claims of two European companies derived from contracts signed with the Serbs. As the ICG report puts it:

"In July 1999, shortly after the conquest of Kosovo, one Jean-Pierre Rozan showed up claiming that 2.8% ownership of Trepca belonged to the Paris-based SCMM, of which he was a director. Rozan's claim was based on an agreement with Belgrade, in which SCMM took over Jugobanka's subsidiary in Kosovo as a result of Belgrade's default.


The ICG derides the Société Commerciale de Métaux et de Minéraux (SCMM) claim as being without foundation on the somewhat questionable grounds that the French government is giving it no backing. But just in case this is not enough, they throw another factor into their argument that Rozan's claim must be summarily dismissed. This being Kosovo, there is an ethnic angle in all this, underscored by the ICG report,

"Some Kosovar Albanians, always ready to believe in a conspiracy however unlikely, are prepared to perceive SCMM as part of a wider Franco-Serbian understanding, which incorporates French KFOR acquiescence in the partition of Mitrovicë, French economic interests in Trepca, and even the appointment of Dr Bernard Kouchner himself as head of UNMIK and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General. The recent award of a GSM telecommunications concession, regardless of the transparency of the process, to French company Alcatel, has fueled the suspicions of such conspiracy-theorists."


Soros and his hired hands have an inherent hostility to "conspiracy theorists," quite naturally, but that doesn't stop them from placing the blame for everything that goes wrong in the Balkans on Slobodan Milosevic

"To other veteran observers of the Balkans, however, the involvement of SCMM looks like a Miloševic-style attempt to create a diversion (including by encouraging exactly that Balkan and Kosovar propensity for conspiracy-identification outlined above), and confuse the thinking of international officials charged with working out the problem. By putting this and other claims to due process of arbitration, and meanwhile getting on with what needs to be done, the problem can be neatly sidestepped. "


How's that for a conspiracy theory? SCMM's claims are all part of a plot by Milosevic to "create a diversion." How convenient for Soros & Company that their chief competitors turn out to be enemy agents. Now that the NATO-crats have definitively settled the question of the ownership of the Trepca mines by force of arms, the next logical step is to lock up Monsieur Rozan and be done with it. In any case, it is clear that the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo will be carried out in the mines, if the ICG has anything to say about it. The author of the ICG report notes with some irritation that:

"The UNMIK regional office in Mitrovica meanwhile occupies the Jugobanka building and continues to display Jugobanka insignia in the very meeting room to which Kosovars are invited to discuss Trepca – some report that they feel uneasy in such surroundings. Rozan, as 'owner' of Jugobanka and the building, is demanding rent, which UNMIK has refused to pay."


Who cares about property rights when those poor sensitive souls, the Kosovars, reportedly feel "uncomfortable" in close proximity to anything Serbian, even a company logo. The ICG is basically making the argument that the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo must be completed: not only churches and other historical monuments must be destroyed – and there is hardly a Serbian church left standing in Kosovo – but everything Serbian must go. The ICG describes itself as a "private, multinational" organization devoted to strengthening the capacity of the international community to anticipate, understand and act to contain and prevent conflict." In our Orwellian age this means a government-connected tool of corporate plunderers devoted to anticipating the profits to be made from military conflict, and acting to furthering the interests of war profiteers.


Another company, the Greek firm of Mytineleos, has a claim through contracts with Yugoslav companies to market Trepca's lead and zinc, and this claim is going to be "a harder problem than SCMM for UNMIK" as the ICG report admits. With close ties to the Greek government, and a sterling international track record for solidity and performance, Mytineleos can make a strong case. The report also somewhat reluctantly notes that

"UNMIK cannot simply ignore claims which may be genuine, and the UN legal advisers in New York have concluded that the rights of claimants like Mytilineos must go to adjudication. The question arises as to which court. So far that is left in abeyance, as is the nature of the legal proceedings themselves. If all other decisions are left to depend upon the resolution of this issue, it could be many years before Trepca starts working again."


The military occupation of Trepca solves Soros's two major problems by arrogating de facto ownership of the mines to "the international community" embodied by Unmik – and deftly sidelines the French and the Greeks. Never mind the legal technicalities, and the risks of adjudication: just go in there and grab it! This is how the much-vaunted "Third Way" between socialism and capitalism, touted by the Clintonians and their British Laborite first cousins, works in practice. First, you invade a country; then you strip it of its assets, and sell them off to your politically connected friends, such as Soros – this is called "privatization," but there is nothing "private" about it. The source of Soros's Balkan coup is government power: the armed fist of the State, and not the invisible hand of the market. As the declared enemy of laissez-faire capitalism, which he rails against in several unbearably pretentious books, Soros practices what he preaches: using NATO and the UN as his instruments, he profits from the plundering of a proud nation – while his bought-and-paid-for shills rationalize the schemes of this modern Visigoth in the name of "humanitarianism" and "multiculturalism."

It kind of makes you want to puke, doesn't it?


For years, Soros funded the American Committee to Save Bosnia, the Balkan Action Council, and a plethora of other groups devoted to persuading US policy makers that nothing less than American military intervention in the region could save the Kosovar Albanians from "genocide." Soros himself spoke out on the issue, and chided the West for "appeasing" the Serbs. Now comes the payoff. Trepca is his, or will be shortly. So we have finally come up with the answer to the question that has been haunting us for over a year: why Kosovo? The answer consists of two words: George Soros. All you would-be tycoons out there, take heed: If you want to know what investment strategy to follow in era of the Third Way, then Soros has certainly set the example.

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