< < < Date > > > | < < < Thread > > >


 >>USI, New Delhi, April 6, 1999
 >>Lt Gen Satish Nambiar (Retd.)
 >>(First Force Commander and Head of Mission of the United Nations Forces
 >>deployed in the former Yugoslavia  03 Mar92 to 02 Mar 93. Former Deputy
 >>Chief of Staff, Indian Army. Currently, Director of the United Services
 >>Institution of India.)
 >>My year long experience as the Force Commander and Head of Mission of the
 >>United Nations Forces deployed in the former Yugoslavia has given me an
 >>understanding of the fatal flaws of US/NATO policies in the troubled
 >>It was obvious to most people following events in the Balkans since the
 >>beginning of the decade, and particularly after the fighting that resulted
 >>in the emergence of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and the former
 >>Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, that Kosovo was a 'powder keg' waiting to
 >>explode. The West appears to have learnt all the wrong lessons from the
 >>previous wars and applied it to Kosovo.
 >>(1) Portraying the Serbs as evil and everybody else as good was not only
 >>counterproductive but also dishonest. According to my experience all sides
 >>were guilty but only the Serbs would admit that they were no angels while
 >>the others would insist that they were. With 28, 000 forces under me and
 >>with constant contacts with UNHCR and the International Red Cross
 >>we did not witness any genocide beyond killings and massacres on all sides
 >>that are typical of such conflict conditions. I believe none of my
 >>successors and their forces saw anything on the scale claimed by the
 >>(2) It was obvious to me that if Slovenians, Croatians and Bosniaks had
 >>right to secede from Yugoslavia, then the Serbs of Croatia and Bosnia had
 >>equal right to secede.  The experience of partitions in Ireland and India
 >>has not be pleasant but in the Yugoslavia case, the state had already been
 >>taken apart anyway.  It made little sense to me that if multiethnic
 >>Yugoslavia was not tenable that multiethnic Bosnia could be made tenable.
 >>The former internal boundaries of Yugoslavia which had no validity under
 >>international law should have been redrawn when it was taken apart by the
 >>West, just as it was in the case of Ireland in 1921 and Punjab and Bengal
 >>India in 1947.  Failure to acknowledge this has led to the problem of
 >>as an integral part of Serbia.
 >>(3) It is ironic that the Dayton Agreement on Bosnia was not fundamentally
 >>different from the Lisbon Plan drawn up by Portuguese Foreign Minister
 >>Cuteliero and British representative Lord Carrington to which all three
 >>sides had agreed before any killings had taken place, or even the
 >>Plan which Karadzic was willing to sign.  One of the main problems was
 >>there was an unwillingness on the part of the American administration to
 >>concede that Serbs had legitimate grievances and rights.  I recall State
 >>Department official George Kenny turning up like all other American
 >>officials, spewing condemnations of the Serbs for aggression and genocide.
 >>I offered to give him an escort and to go see for himself that none of
 >>he proclaimed was true.  He accepted my offer and thereafter he made a
 >>radical turnaround..  Other Americans continued to see and hear what they
 >>wanted to see and hear from one side, while ignoring the other side.  Such
 >>behaviour does not produce peace but more conflict.
 >>(4) I felt that Yugoslavia was a media-generated tragedy.  The Western
 >>sees international crises in black and white, sensationalizing incidents
 >>public consumption.  From what I can see now, all Serbs have been driven
 >>of Croatia and the Muslim-Croat Federation, I believe almost 850,000 of
 >>them.  And yet the focus is on 500,000 Albanians (at last count) who have
 >>been driven out of Kosovo.  Western policies have led to an ethnically
 >>Greater Croatia, and an ethnically pure Muslim statelet in Bosnia.
 >>Therefore, why not an ethnically pure Serbia?  Failure to address these
 >>double standards has led to the current one.
 >>As I watched the ugly tragedy unfold in the case of Kosovo while visiting
 >>the US in early to mid March 1999, I could see the same pattern emerging.
 >>In my experience with similar situations in India in such places as
 >>Punjab, Assam, Nagaland, and elsewhere, it is the essential strategy of
 >>those ethnic groups who wish to secede to provoke the state authorities.
 >>Killings of policemen is usually a standard operating procedure by
 >>terrorists since that usually invites overwhelming state retaliation, just
 >>as I am sure it does in the United States.
 >>I do not believe the Belgrade government had prior intention of driving
 >>all Albanians from Kosovo.  It may have decided to implement Washington's
 >>own "Krajina Plan" only if NATO bombed, or these expulsions could be
 >>spontaneous acts of revenge and retaliation by Serb forces in the field
 >>because of the bombing.  The OSCE Monitors were not doing too badly, and
 >>Yugoslav Government had, after all, indicated its willingness to abide by
 >>nearly all the provisions of  the Rambouillet "Agreement" on aspects like
 >>cease-fire, greater autonomy to the Albanians, and so on.  But they
 >>that the status of Kosovo as part of Serbia was not negotiable, and they
 >>would not agree to station NATO forces on the soil of Yugoslavia.  This is
 >>precisely what India would have done under the same circumstances.  It was
 >>the West that proceeded to escalate the situation into the current
 >>bombing campaign that smacks more of hurt egos, and revenge and
 >>NATO's massive bombing intended to terrorize Serbia into submission
 >>no different from the morality of actions of Serb forces in Kosovo.
 >>Ultimatums were issued to Yugoslavia that unless the terms of an agreement
 >>drawn up at Rambouillet were signed, NATO would undertake bombing.
 >>Ultimatums do not constitute diplomacy. They are acts of war.  The
 >>of Kosovo who want independence, were coaxed and cajoled into putting
 >>signatures to a document motivated with the hope of NATO bombing of Serbs
 >>and independence later.  With this signature, NATO assumed all the legal
 >>moral authority to undertake military operations against a country that
 >>at worst, been harsh on its own people.  On 24th March 1999, NATO launched
 >>attacks with cruise missiles and bombs, on Yugoslavia, a sovereign state,
 >>founding member of the United Nations and the Non Aligned Movement; and
 >>against a people who were at the forefront of the fight against Nazi
 >>and other fascist forces during World War Two.  I consider these current
 >>actions unbecoming of great powers.
 >>It is appropriate to touch on the humanitarian dimension for it is the
 >>innocent who are being subjected to displacement, pain and misery.
 >>Unfortunately, this is the tragic and inevitable outcome of all such
 >>situations  of civil war, insurgencies, rebel movements, and terrorist
 >>activity.  History is replete with examples of such suffering; whether it
 >>the American Civil War, Northern Ireland, the Basque movement in Spain,
 >>Chechnya, Angola, Cambodia, and so many other cases; the indiscriminate
 >>bombing of civilian centres during World War Two; Hiroshima and Nagasaki;
 >>Vietnam.  The list is endless. I feel that this tragedy could have been
 >>prevented if NATO's ego and credibility had not been given the highest
 >>priority instead of the genuine grievances of Serbs in addition to
 >>Notwithstanding all that one hears and sees on CNN and BBC, and other
 >>Western agencies, and in the daily briefings of the NATO authorities, the
 >>blame for the humanitarian crisis that has arisen cannot be placed at the
 >>door of the Yugoslav authorities alone.  The responsibility rests mainly
 >>NATO's doors.  In fact, if I am to go by my own experience as the First
 >>Force Commander and Head of Mission of the United Nations forces in the
 >>former Yugoslavia, from March 1992 to March 1993, handling operations in
 >>Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Macedonia, I would say that reports put
 >>in the electronic media are largely responsible for provoking this
 >>Where does all this leave the international community which for the record
 >>does not comprise of the US, the West and its newfound Muslim allies ? The
 >>portents for the future, at least in the short term, are bleak indeed.
 >>United Nations has been made totally redundant, ineffective, and impotent.
 >>The Western world, led by the USA, will lay down the moral values that the
 >>rest of the world must adhere to; it does not matter that they themselves
 >>not adhere to the same values when it does not suit them.  National
 >>sovereignty and territorial integrity have no sanctity.  And finally,
 >>secessionist movements, which often start with terrorist activity, will
 >>greater encouragement.  One can only hope that good sense will prevail,
 >>hopefully sooner rather than later.
 >>Lt. General Satish Nambiar
 >>Director, USI, New Delhi
 >>6 April 1999

< < < Date > > > | < < < Thread > > > | Home