April 7th 2001

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Articles from this issue:

CANBERRA OBSERVED: BHP goes offshore as Australia goes broke and ill

EDITORIAL: IMF or UN intervention - what's the difference?

New Zealand sets up a People's Bank

BRITAIN: Foot and mouth: the real costs

Straws in the Wind

QUEENSLAND: Horan has the hardest job in Queensland

DRUGS: Beazley's drug policy: more of the same



TRADE: Europe's Common Agricultural Policy flourishes

ECONOMICS: The Aussie peso is dropping; but so is the penny


COMMENT: Islam and the West

BOOKS: 'Damaged Men: The Precarious Lives of James McAuley and Harold Stewart', by Michael Ackland

BOOKS: 'LIFE IS A MIRACLE: An Essay Against Modern Superstition', by Wendell Berry

BOOKS: King's servant: 'David Collins: A Colonial Life', by John Currey

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Straws in the Wind

by Max Teichmann

News Weekly, April 7, 2001
NATO: dizzy with success

Readers of this journal will recall the strictures we advanced quite early on, concerning the dangers of Anglo-European involvement in the Serb-Albanian conflict, and the dragging of a patently unwilling and unprepared NATO into yet another Balkan ethnic/territorial quagmire.

This folly reached its zenith with what was essentially the population bombing of Belgrade, and the quite predictable Serb riposte, of a military reoccupation of Kosovo. And an ethnic cleansing of people whom Serbs regarded as interlopers, back to their state of origin, viz, Albania.

No peace

The forced withdrawal of Serbia from what, legally speaking, is still one of her provinces, the installation of an Albanian/Kosovar government, and the policing of Kosovo by UN-backed NATO forces, have not brought peace to the area. Quite the contrary.

Albanian terrorists - sorry, Freedom Fighters - previously trained and armed by the CIA (and reportedly the British SAS) have been attacking and killing whom they choose, while a NATO force of 42,000 has looked on.

Albanian terrorists have been killing Kosovo Serbs, and moderate Albanians, with impunity, in between destroying Christian churches and their revered artistic contents.

Now, quite predictably, the same kind of probing attacks and guerrilla incursions, involving the murder of local policemen and officials, which triggered the initial Serb response - are being launched against the little state of Macedonia. In the hope of fermenting a civil war between the Christian majority and the Muslim/Albanian minority, hitherto living and coexisting in peace. Or what counts for peace in this area.

NATO's response has been pusillanimous, while Bush, even before his election, started signalling that the US wished to disengage from this damned spot.

So it is Europe's responsibility, and Europe is showing the same kind of timidity it displayed in the Serb/Kosovo episode.

No ground engagements, for that means body bags. In this spirit, German KFOR troops abandoned parts of the area they were controlling, because they came under fire. (At this point Rommel turned in his grave.)

Now there were two weapons possessed by the US that NATO cannot use - as a substitute for ground operations. Bombing - high level or otherwise - and/or an economic blockade. It was these tactics which defeated the Serbs. But what can be done with the Albanians, who are once again, speaking openly of a Greater Albania? Which could concern the Montenegrins, the Greeks, even the Bulgarians in the longer run.


Russia saw all this coming, and supported the Serbs until forced to back off. Russians prophesied that paying and arming Albanians to destabilise Kosovo and force Belgrade's hand, would finish up creating a monster - a multiplying collection of criminal or semi-criminal gangs, linked to a long-standing crime network resident in Europe - which would defeat control by all but the most draconian methods. Like... Turkey's war against its Kurds. Or Russia in Chechnya.

All that NATO's mouthpieces - their foreign policy chief, Solano - (moved sideways from Secretary-General after the unearthing of various shady deals), and Lord George Robertson, the new Secretary-General, (obviously no relation to Boy George, or even Lloyd George, for he talks like Will Fyffe) ... are offering Macedonia, is a formula for local Albanian power-sharing and semi-autonomy, which Skopje sees as the first step to secession. It all smells like Western appeasement policies of the '30s. As Putin said, "Those who armed Albanian separatists now do not know how to handle them."

Meantime in the US, Albanian-Americans have raised $500,000 to buy arms and raise recruits to help their friends in Macedonia. Has the US Government a policy on this? The Macedonian Prime Minister has accused America and the West of "breeding Europe's answer to the Taliban".

After all, the US, through Pakistan, did create the Taliban, and give Bin Laden his start in the hit parade. Just as Israel helped launch Hamas as a rival to the PLO. The law of unintended consequences?

Unfortunately, both the Albanian separatists and the Taliban and Mujahadeen have assisted the global drug trade most conscientiously; just as the Burmese military regime lives a strangely charmed life. But let us not talk about people-smuggling, for the Burmese don't appear to be involved - and to put the finger on the others would count as racial and religious libel, under our forthcoming Act.

This whole conflict is starting to be called the War of Clinton's Succession, but I think Albright deserves a gong. I still don't understand how an obscure diplomat suddenly became Secretary of State, and obviously exercised more clout then Bill. But one relief is that Clinton's friend, Tony Blair, is, for him, remarkably silent. Like many others, he doesn't want to be around when the roof falls in. But neither does Dubya.

Militarily speaking, NATO has become a rubber lion, a device for producing, buying and selling enormous quantities of arms, many of which finish up in Africa or other poor regions; a great espionage complex - military, political and economic, for spying on outsiders and one another; a legitimising device for interfering in the internal affairs of sovereign states trying to remain sovereign, an intrusive activity which it shares with freshly minted War Crimes tribunals and Human Rights multinationals. They all work together, for they have a common source.

NATO doesn't and can't keep the peace anywhere; it has nothing to say on the illegal immigration crisis of Europe, on the invasion of the mafias, or the scourge of drugs. But it provides status, money and non-jobs for an enormous bureaucracy, who, along with the innumerable journalists who live off its posturing, will fight to the death to retain its power, and sanctified irrelevance.

But that is all the fighting they will do - the Macedonians, etc., will have to shift for themselves.

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