I wrote a column subtitled, "How do we know what's going on in Macedonia?," which concluded that I would have to go there myself to find out. But that is really far too general a question for just one short visit, so I'll have to narrow it a bit, and get down to the essential question: who or what is behind the destabilization of the country, and to what end? Clearly, the UCK-KLA-ANA is the instrument, but in whose hands and to what ultimate purpose?
I think we are coming to some understanding of the broad outlines of the conflict, its origins and sources of support, with the news that the European Union is now considering sending an armed force when NATO leaves. You guys drop the ball, the Euro-crats seem to be saying, and we'll pick it up. This gives credence to the theory, put forward by Michael Chossudowsky and others, that the Macedonian conflict signifies the growing split between the US and the EU. According to this theory, the UCK-KLA is entirely the creation of US intelligence services, and represents an extension of American military power in Europe. Does this mean the Euro-crats are siding with the Macedonians? I wouldn't count on it, but the possibility is there, and hopefully Skopje will take full advantage of it.
I also do not think it is as simple as the US versus the EU. How does this explain the key German role in the development of the UCK? This "war by proxy" theory also fails to explain the apparent unity of NATO during the Kosovo war, except for a few ineffective protests from the Greeks. It cannot account for the key role of the British, not only in Macedonia but throughout the Balkans, in creating and sustaining the Albanian insurgents. While American troops escort NLA fighters to safety, the Brits pretend to disarm them. In any case, an appeal to European public opinion may be Macedonia's last and only hope.
Another reason for the Macedonian leg of my Balkan journey is, frankly, to help fill the tremendous void left by the complete absence of any Macedonian public relations effort in the United States and internationally. The cause of the Macedonian people their sovereign right to live, unmolested and independent is entirely without defenders in the West. Except for a few journalists, whose work we feature in the pages of Antiwar.com, the bias of the media is clearly pro-Albanian, just as it was during the Kosovo war. The New York Times splashes "news" of an alleged Macedonian massacre all over its front page: once again, the victims are those blameless, peace-loving Albanians.
The EU foreign ministers will meet in Brussels at the end of September, where the subject of the Macedonian "security vacuum" is slated to come up. As nature abhors a vacuum, so does international politics, and there is always some wannabee superpower ready and willing to fill it. Francois Leotard, the EU envoy to Macedonia, will make his pitch for a "lightly armed" EU force of some 1,500. One curious aspect of the Human Rights Watch report alleging a Macedonian massacre of civilians at Ljuboten is that it attacks the OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] almost as much as it denounces the Macedonians. According to HRW,
"The OSCE mission in Skopje has remained largely silent on the grave human rights abuses that have been committed by the Macedonian forces throughout the conflict. For example, the OSCE has not issued a single statement about widespread beatings and torture at police stations in Macedonia, even though its monitors have certainly documented an adequate number of such cases to speak with authority. Human Rights Watch researchers were often told by victims that the OSCE monitors had also interviewed them."
Could it be that OSCE monitors were not overly impressed with the credibility of these witnesses? The possibility is unimaginable to HRW: Albanians are apparently inherently incapable of lying. HRW hews strictly to this axiom throughout their report, which repeats the testimony of Albanian "victims" verbatim, as if it were gospel. I realize Ljuboten is an Albanian-dominated area, but weren't any non-Albanians on the scene or is this yet another village entirely "cleansed" of ethnic Macedonians by the NLA? I suppose I'll find out soon enough…
Furthermore, claims HRW, "the OSCE has been much more willing to criticize similarly serious abuses by the NLA. This imbalance in its public reporting clearly has an impact on the OSCE's credibility and effectiveness in addressing abuses by both sides." The mentality behind this kind of critique is revealed in the footnote, which enumerates three OSCE press releases condemning Albanian atrocities including the bombing of the monastery in Leshok and bemoans the fact that the OSCE failed to generate a similar number of press releases attacking the other side "even though both NLA and government forces were responsible for serious abuses during this period." What were these abuses for which the Macedonian government was responsible? I guess we are supposed to take their word for it: after all, this is Human Rights Watch talking.
The brazen quality of HRW's willingness to act as NATO's enabler is evident in the following horrifying quote, which treats opposition to or even suspicion of NATO as evidence of "extremism" and "ultra-nationalism":
"Many Macedonian leaders, in particular ultranationalist members of the government such as Prime Minister Georgievski and Minister of the Interior Boskovski, have been openly hostile to international actors in Macedonia, such as the western media, NATO, the OSCE, and international NGOs. They have accused all of these actors of having a pro-Albanian bias and often whipped up public hostility against them, resulting in several anti-Western riots in the capital Skopje."
It is the natural reaction of patriots to bridle and rebel at the prospect of foreign occupation, but the New World Order forbids patriotism as the greatest sin. There are no more patriots: there are only "ultra-nationalists." And, after all, why should the Macedonians complain about being demonized in the Western media? Whereas before they were a relatively obscure people, today their international profile is considerably higher. At least they can claim they are no longer being ignored. But this, as the Macedonians have discovered, is not a good thing. They long for the kind of obscurity that will give them peace, but, unfortunately, their country is getting more famous by the minute, for all the wrong reasons.
If HRW is to be believed, along with the Western (and particularly the British) media, those ornery Macedonians are Balkan porcupines fairly bristling with hostility. Not only have they failed to roll out the red carpet for NATO's faithful scribes, but their elected government failed to bend the knee to their masters. Here NATO has offered them control over at least part of their country, and prevented the NLA from swallowing up what is left, yet "ultra-nationalists" like Georgievski and Boskovski have the nerve to complain. What ingratitude! Off to The Hague with them!
The one-dimensional imagination of a committed ideologue is on full display in the HRW report, and the author's blinders, his infuriating thick-headedness, is never more in evidence than when, as evidence of the Macedonians' incorrigible extremism, he cites Antonio Milosovski, the government's chief spokesman, as saying: that "NATO is not our enemy, but it is a great friend of our enemies who are attacking the future of this country." This is hardly extremism, but is, instead, a fairly moderate position, and a subtle one at that. It takes into account the American-European rivalry, and accurately describes the NLA as NATO's chief ally in the region. I would say that Milosovki does not go far enough: NATO is indeed the enemy: it is both father and mother to the enemy. For the NLA is nothing more than NATO's spawn, an army of real ultra-nationalists, armed, trained, and unleashed by the West.
The developing tension between what the French call the American "hyperpower" and the rising European superpower could provide a way for Macedonia to preserve its territorial integrity and its independence from both blocs. By appealing to the Europeans to save them from a guerrilla insurgency that has "made in America" written all over it, Skopje can raise the banner of "Europe for the Europeans," one that will have resonance of continental proportions. But the Europeans alone cannot and will not save them. What the Macedonians need is more understanding of their own case in America and Britain. An appeal must be made over the heads of the elites in government and the media, directly to the public.
This, of course, has always been our strategy here at Antiwar.com: to bypass the media elite, so often beholden to (and, often, married to) government officials. In the past, we have simply gone around them, by linking to alternative, non-Western, or lesser-known news sites, and featuring the work of those few mainstream journalists who refuse to be inducted into NATO's media harem. Now we are trying a different strategy: we have the technology and we have the people to go directly to the scene and report the news ourselves. That, really, is the whole point of my Balkan odyssey: to get behind the headlines and record some semblance of the truth.
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