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Successful operation or war crime?

Posted By -NO AUTHOR- On 08/02/1999 @ 1:00 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled

NEW YORK — The Geneva Convention, The United Nations Charter, the
Nuremberg Principles, the Helsinki Accords and the U.S. Constitution
have all been violated by Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright and William
Cohen, according to charges filed by the Commission of Inquiry of the
International Action Coalition.

Nearly 800 persons participated in the inquiry hearings. Charges are
primarily grouped around those of “starting a war,” the “deliberate
targeting of civilian infrastructure” and “violating and destroying the
peacemaking roll of the United Nations.”

There are 19 charges detailed in articles and paragraphs from major
international treaties and even the U.S. Army Field Manual 27-10 (for
planning, announcing and executing attacks intended to assassinate
government leaders and selected civilians, e.g. “friends of Milosevic,”
the Yugoslav president). U.S. commanders and NATO/State Department
spokesmen were so ignorant or arrogant about international treaties and
laws, according to the charges, that they even publicly boasted of
highly illegal actions and destruction of non-military civilian
targets. For example, targeting Yugoslav journalists was a violation of
Article 79 of the U.N. Charter. Bombing fertilizer plants and a
cigarette factory was a violation of the Geneva Convention about hitting
non-military targets.

“Inflicting, inciting and enhancing violence between Moslems and
Slavs” was one of the charges. Aggravating conflict between Slavs and
Moslems and injecting U.S. troops for future actions to control Caucasus
oil exports was the argument of committee chairman, Ramsey Clark, former
attorney general and a former marine. He argued that the Orthodox and
Muslim worlds were potential centers of power that could thwart
Washington’s “imperialist objectives.” It had been pointed out that
Washington purposefully brought in Turkish planes (with no military
necessity) to bomb Serbian Slavs in what could have been an effort to
revive centuries old hatreds from Turkish colonial rule.

Other spokespersons argued all sorts of other economic motives for
the U.S./NATO attack, trying to rationalize a reason for it, from
promoting sales of American weapons to taking over Kosovo’s giant Trepca
mining complex.

Roland Keith, one of 1,200 former peace monitors, described his
experiences in Kosovo before all of them were ordered out so NATO could
begin bombing. He said “we were keeping a lid on the violence.” He
described how 20 minutes into his first mission an accompanying Serbian
policeman was shot by a KLA (Albanian) sniper. He said the violence
came from Serbs reacting to KLA guerrillas. Keith, a 32-year Canadian
army veteran, is a member of the Federal Council of the New Democratic
Party in Canada. He argued that if Washington had just offered to
remove the economic sanctions against Yugoslavia (which were
contributing to the poverty of Kosovo) an agreement might well have been

A main argument of many speakers was that the Yugoslav parliament had
already agreed to NATO’s key demand for much autonomy and armed U.N.
peacekeepers in Kosovo, before the bombing. It was Washington’s
insistence that Serbia allow NATO troops with extraterritorial legal
rights inside Serbia proper that was the stumbling block.

Quoting William Randolph Hearst’s old dictum, “You provide the
photographs, and I’ll provide the war,” speakers decried the media’s
feeding frenzy for atrocity stories after the bombing had started.
Speaker and author Michael Parenti argued that it was natural for
refugees to flee the bombing as much as from Serbian atrocities in areas
of KLA activity. Equally the Air Force bombing of a column of returning
refugees was a message, he argued, to the Albanians not to return until
Serbia had surrendered. He quoted the German Foreign Office
that there was no ethnic
cleansing in Kosovo prior to the NATO attack, just actions against the
KLA guerrillas.

Addressing the question of Serb atrocities, Parenti quoted the New
York Times that there was no proof of a conscious Serb policy of rape –
neither in Bosnia nor Kosovo. However, wartime atrocities were done by
both sides. The “mass graves” found in Kosovo now add up to maybe 200
persons while the supposed 100,000 dead Albanian males of NATO/U.S.
propaganda was just another lie, he said. Brian Becker of the IAC argued
that the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
(ICTY) which indicted Milosevic was a “phony, kangaroo court which only
indicted enemies of Washington” and a court for which the U.N. Charter
makes no provision.

Specific allegations of treaty violations by the U.S./NATO operation
are numerous. The prime indictment is that of violating the United
Nations Charter by attacking a sovereign nation that was innocent of any
aggression. NATO also violated Articles 1 and 7 of its own charter that
claim it is a defensive organization, only committed to force if one or
more of its members are attacked. The NATO Treaty also explicitly
recognized “the primary responsibility of the U.N. Security Council for
the maintenance of international peace and security.”

Charge No. 6 was “Killing and Injuring a Defenseless Population
Throughout Yugoslavia.” This violated the Hague Convention, Art. 22 and
23; Geneva Convention Art. 19; Nuremberg Principle VI a, b, and c; and
the U.S. Constitution, Art 1, Sec 8, cl.II.

David Jacobs of the Canadian Lawyers Group said that Clinton’s
argument about justifying military interventions for “humanitarian”
reasons recalled Mussolini’s arguments justifying his invasion of
Ethiopia to “save them from slavery,” or Hitler’s claim of occupying the
Sudetenland “to save Germans from atrocities.” It’s just the “same old
wolf” of imperialism.

“Starting an Unprovoked War,” was the prime charge against the
Germans at Nuremberg that the U.S. used to hang Germans. It is part of
the Nuremberg Principles subscribed to by Washington. William Rockler,
a former Nuremberg prosecutor (Chicago Tribune 5/23), was extensively
quoted in the testimonies.

Charges were divided into three categories. First was against those
nations’ leaders that carried out the attack, the U.S., U.K. and
Germany. Second was against those nations which provided bases for the
attack, Italy and Turkey. Third was against those NATO governments that
voted to participate.

Ramsey Clark referred to Spanish pilots who had refused orders to
attack civilian targets. A commission study referred to testimony in
the Spanish newspaper, ARTICULO 20, of Captain Martin de la Hoz,
“Several times our colonel protested to NATO chiefs about why they
select targets which are not military targets…. They are destroying
the country, bombing it with novel weapons, toxic nerve gasses, surface
mines dropped by parachute, bombs containing uranium, black napalm,
sterilization chemicals, spraying to poison crops and weapons of which
even we still do not know anything.” The United States and President
Clinton were singled out as the prime motivator for the war and the
“overwhelmingly responsible nation” for its atrocities and legal

The indictment and package of 15 research reports is available from
the International Action Committee, (212)

Jon Basil Utley is the Robert A. Taft Fellow in Constitutional and
International Studies at the Ludwig Von Mises Institute. He was a former foreign correspondent for the
Journal of Commerce and Knight Ridder newspapers.

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