had been designated one of five so-called UN "safe areas"
for civilians. These "safe areas," however, served
to garrison Bosnian Moslem armed forces. The Moslems would
regularly launch offensives against Serbs living in the surrounding
countryside to drive them out. By protecting one of the armed
protagonists of the war, the United Nations, in effect, was
taking sides in the conflict. There is no admission of this
in Annan’s report and you would not expect to find it there.
It is worth recalling how Annan got his present job. Richard
Holbrooke gives an account of it in his book To
End A War. In August 1995 the United States was itching
to bomb the Serbs. But UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali
and the Europeans kept getting in the way. Finally, the Clinton
crowd got a lucky break. Boutros-Ghali was on route somewhere
and could not be reached. His deputy, Kofi Annan, who was
responsible for UN "peacekeeping" operations, took
charge and informed the Americans that "he had instructed
the UN’s civilian officials and military commanders to relinquish
for a limited period of time their authority to veto air strikes
in Bosnia." At last, the armchair warriors got to don
their flak jackets. "For the first time in the war,"
exults Holbrooke, "the decision on the air strikes was
solely in the hands of NATO." He means the United States,
of course—a common slip of the tongue for our policymakers.
Annan was handsomely rewarded for his toadying. His "gutsy
performance in those twenty-four hours," explains Holbrooke,
"was to play a central role in Washington’s strong support
for him a year later as the successor to Boutros Boutros-Ghali."
was nothing if not grateful for his elevation. In his shameless
pandering to Washington’s whims he has been ready to abandon
every principle of the United Nations and every precept of
international law. By June 1998 his speeches on Kosovo sounded
as if they had been drafted for him by the State Department.
"Already, the shellings, the ‘ethnic cleansings,’ he
droned on, "the indiscriminate attacks on civilians in
the name of ‘security’ are taking place. Already thousands
have fled…Already excuses for the inexcusable are being offered
by those who seem to have learned little…from the war in Bosnia.
This time, however, we cannot be taken by surprise…This time
ethnically driven violence must be seen for what it is."
The phrase "ethnically driven violence" is the giveaway.
Since almost all of the world’s conflicts pit one ethnic group
against another, "ethnically driven violence" will
end only when war is abolished. Annan was, in effect, asking
for a mandate to intervene everywhere.
January Annan was brutally threatening the Serbs: "The
issue of the use of force has been in the air for quite some
time. Everyone had hoped that the issue can be resolved peacefully
without the use of force, but [if] the situation continues,
as NATO has indicated, it may be unavoidable." A few
days later he was in his drooling visionary mode: "The
success of the NATO mission operating [in Bosnia] under a
United Nations mandate is surely a model for future endeavors."
Two months later, as the NATO bombs were raining down on Belgrade
there was no longer talk of a "United Nations mandate."
This was scarcely surprising. By launching its unprovoked
attacks on Yugoslavia, NATO had broken innumerable Articles
of the United Nations. There was Article 2.1: "The
organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality
of all its Members." There was Article 2.3: "All
Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful
means in such a manner that international peace and security…are
not endangered." There was Article2.4: "All Members
shall refrain in their international relations from the threat
or use of force against the territorial integrity or political
independence of any state" There was Article 2.7: "Nothing
contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United
Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within
the domestic jurisdiction of any State." There was Article
39: "The Security Council shall determine the existence
of any threat to the peace , breach of the peace, or act of
aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what
measures shall be taken…to maintain or restore international
peace and security." And so on.
United Nations is what its name implies: a body comprising
sovereign nations, no one of which has any authority over
another. The United Nations does not even have a collective
will that it can impose on anyone. It was founded on the principle
of national sovereignty. It is this principle that Kofi Annan,
in accordance with the dictates of his masters, is determined
to destroy. Writing in the Economist last September
he outlined his basic idea:
world has changed in profound ways since the end of the cold
war, but I fear our conceptions of national interest have
failed to follow suit. A new, broader definition of national
interest is needed in the new century, which would induce
states to find greater unity in the pursuit of common goals
and values. In the context of many of the challenges facing
humanity today, the collective interest is the national interest…The
charter requires the council to be the defender of the ‘common
interest’." With supreme contempt Annan is announcing
that nations no longer have the right to defend themselves,
that international law today requires that certain states
intervene in internal affairs of other—weaker—states. As justification,
they can come up with some hooey about the "common interest."
This, of course, is exactly how the United States sees things.
The United States will define what international law is and
what punishment is appropriate against whom. International
law, of course, does not apply to the United States.
is this more evident than on the issue of "war crimes’
in Yugoslavia. The International Criminal Tribunal for the
former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was established in May 1993 by means
of a UN Security Council resolution. Its chief promoter was
the US Ambassador. She came up with the $6 million startup
money and she hired the first legal team of 25 jurists. Its
mission was clear from the outset. It would use the aura of
"international law" to punish and humiliate the
Serbs—and only the Serbs. The Tribunal, of course, had nothing
to do with international law. An international penal tribunal
can have jurisdiction over individual states only if they
voluntarily transfer to it their sovereign rights by means
of treaty. They had not done so. The UN Security Council simply
imposed this judicial body on the states of the former Yugoslavia—which
it had no right to do.
attitude of the United States is most instructive. For years
people have been talking about setting up some kind of an
International Criminal Court that will have jurisdiction over
all nations. Such a body can only come into being by treaty
and the voluntary surrender of sovereignty. The United States,
of course, has refused to ratify the treaty. Prosecutions,
the Americans argue, can only be sanctioned by the Security
Council. There the United States will always be secure behind
its right of veto. The Serbs are not so fortunate. The Tribunal
that convicts and punishes them is financed by the very states
that seek to destroy them. The Serbs have no right of veto.
Last April, while NATO was cheerfully murdering away, the
Tribunal’s presiding judge Gabrielle Kirk McDonald told the
US Supreme Court that the ICTY "benefited from the strong
support of concerned governments and dedicated individuals
such as Secretary Albright. In May in a speech to the Council
on Foreign Relations she thanked the US Government which "has
very generously agreed to provide $500,000 and to help to
encourage other States to contribute." And there were
other benefactors to thank. Corporations, with financial interest
in the outcome of the conflict in the Balkans had also chipped
in: "The moral imperative to end the violence in the
region is shared by all," she rhapsodized, "including
the corporate sector. I am pleased, therefore, that a major
corporation has recently donated computer equipment worth
$3 million, which will substantially enhance our operating
get a clear idea then what the United States means by international
law. It is the establishment of the right conditions for uncontrolled
US investment. And how nice, that nations can be destroyed
by cluster bombs and fancy criminal tribunals! The poor Serbs
just don’t get it. They are under the impression that the
ICTY will seriously investigate their complaints about NATO’s
destruction of a bridge while a passenger train was crossing
it, or the bombing of the refugee convoy near Djakovica, or
the targeting of the Serbian television building in Belgrade.
The White House was outraged that someone would even dare
suggest such a thing. "Completely unjustified,"
spluttered Clinton flunky Jim Fallin. When asked whether she
would look into the charges against NATO, Tribunal prosecutor
Carla del Ponte explained:
not my priority, because I have inquiries about genocide,
about bodies in mass graves." Of course. Her priority
is to come up with charges against the Serbs. Otherwise, she
is out of a job.
the worst crimes against humanity are being perpetrated in
the name of international law.