by Diana Johnstone

The order of events is strange. On March 24, 1999, the
NATO forces led by the United States began an
eleven-week-long punishment of Yugoslavia's President,
Slobodan Milosevic, which amounted to capital punishment
for an undetermined number of citizens of that
unfortunate country. Two months later, on May 27, the
U.S.-backed International Criminal Tribunal for former
Yugoslavia issued an indictment of Milosevic for "crimes
against humanity" having occurred after the punishment
began. Then, in late June, the Clinton administration
dispatched 56 forensic experts from the Federal Bureau of
Investigation to Kosovo to gather material evidence of
the crimes for which Milosevic and five of his colleagues
had already been indicted and for which his country had
already been severely and durably punished.

The FBI had no instructions to search for evidence of
crimes as such, including those that might have been
committed by, say, armed rebels fighting against the
established government of Yugoslavia. The only crimes of
interest were those for which Milosevic had previously
been accused, and all evidence was assumed in advance to
point to his guilt.

Thus the world entered the new age of humanitarian
vigilante power.

At the end of World War II, a world political system was
put in place to outlaw war. In its triumph as sole
superpower destined to govern the world, the United
States is currently striving to replace the system that
outlaws war by a system that uses war to punish outlaws.
Who the outlaws are is decided by the United States.
Alongside economic globalization, this vigilante system
corresponds to a dominant American world view of a
capitalist system inherently capable of meeting all human
needs, marred only by the wrongdoings of evil outcasts.

At home and abroad, the social effort to bring everybody
into a community of equal rights and obligations is
abandoned in favour of universal competition in which the
rich winners exclude the losers from society itself. On
the domestic scene, as the rich get richer, the
well-to-do escape from the very sight of the poor by
moving into gated communities, social programs are cut,
while prisons and execution chambers fill up. Punishment,
even vengeance, are popular values.

Twenty years ago, the United Nations and its agencies
provided a political forum for discussions of such
matters as a "new economic order" or a "new information
order" that might seek to narrow the enormous gap between
the rich Atlantic world and most of the rest of the
planet. All that is past, and today, the United Nations
is instrumentalized by the United States to pursue
dissident States which it has chosen to brand as rogues,
terrorists or criminals. Capitalist competition is being
forced onto the entire world as the supreme law by new
bodies such as the World Trade Organization. NATO-land is
a gated community whose armed forces are being prepared
to intervene worldwide, at the bidding of Washington, to
defend members' interests, in the name of the war against
crimes against humanity.

The Clinton Doctrine

The NATO war against Yugoslavia marks a great leap
forward toward the depoliticization and criminalization
of international relations. In the case of the similar
war against Iraq, the regime of Saddam Hussein was in
fact a military dictatorship, which did in fact violate
international law by invading Kuwait (leaving aside
eventual extenuating circumstances), and the United
States did obtain a mandate from the United Nations
Security Council for at least some (but not all) of its
military operations. In the case of Yugoslavia, the
military operations were carried out without U.N. mandate
against a state with an elected civilian government,
which had not violated international law.

NATO's war, directed from Washington, was intended as a
pure demonstration that the United States could make or
break the law. For it was Yugoslavia, which had not
violated international law, that was branded a criminal
State. Already on November 5, 1998, the American
presiding judge at the International Criminal Tribunal
for former Yugoslavia, Gabrielle Kirk McDonald, described
Yugoslavia as "a rogue state, one that holds the
international rule of law in contempt". During the
bombing, U.S. and British leaders regularly compared
Milosevic to Hitler. And afterwards, the U.S. Senate on
June 30 adopted a bill describing Yugoslavia as "a
terrorist State", in the total absence of any of the
usual criteria for such a designation. The United States
is free both to commit crimes, and to criminalize its
adversaries. Might is sure of being right.

"A Clinton Doctrine of humanitarian warfare is taking
place", rejoiced (1) columnist Jim Hoagland, a leading
voice in the chorus of syndicated columnists who have
nagged away at the President to get up the gumption to
lead NATO through the Balkans into a brave new
millennium. This "doctrine" is not quite as spontaneous
as it is made to seem by the media chorus which portrays
Uncle Sam as a reluctant Hamlet generously stumbling into

Since the end of the Cold War, United States leaders have
been searching for a grand new design to replace the
containment doctrine developed after World War II. To
this end, the oligarchy that formulates American foreign
policy has been hard at work in its various exclusive
venues such as the Council on Foreign Relations, private
clubs, larger assemblages such as the Trilateral
Commission (which specializes in the great American
ruling class art of selective co-optation and conversion
of potential critics), and a myriad of institutes,
foundations and "think tanks", overlapping with a half
dozen of the most prestigious universities and, of
course, the boards of directors of major corporations and
financial institutions. All are united by an unshakable
conviction that what is good for the United States (and
the business of the United States is business) is good
for the world. American policy-makers may be more or less
generous or cynical, crafty or forthright, but all
necessarily share the conviction that the system which
has made America great and powerful should be bestowed on
the rest of an often undeserving and recalcitrant world.
There is no conflict between this conviction and ruthless
pursuit of economic self-interest; they are part of the
same mindset.

None better epitomizes the combined power and good
conscience of American capitalism than the Carnegie
Endowment for International Peace, founded in 1910 by the
Scottish-American steel king Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919)
who recycled part of his vast rags-to-riches fortune into
philanthropic enterprises. It is fitting that in
formulating the Doctrine of Humanitarian Warfare now
attributed to Clinton, a major ideological role appears
to have been played by the Carnegie Endowment under the
presidency of Morton I. Abramowitz (2).

The Importance of War Crimes

In May 1997, three months after taking office as U.S.
Secretary of State, Madeleine Korbel Albright created a
new post, ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues. The
creation of the post indicated the crucial importance of
"war crimes" in Albright's foreign policy. Two days
later, crime was linked to punishment as she delivered
her first policy speech on Bosnia to senior military
officers aboard an aircraft carrier in the Hudson River.
These gestures showed that the first woman Secretary of
State was out to demonstrate the serious meaning of her
famous remark, "What's the use of having the world's
greatest military force if you don't use it?"

Albright and the man named to the new "war crimes" post,
David Scheffer, were putting into practice new policy
concepts they had helped develop before Clinton was
elected President, and before the war in
Bosnia-Herzegovina, when they had been part of what a
privileged observer (3) recently described as "a small
foreign policy elite convened by the Carnegie Endowment
for International Peace to change U.S. foreign policy
after the Cold War."

During the last years of the Bush administration, the
Carnegie Endowment for Peace was confronting the major
question raised by the collapse of the Soviet bloc: what
new mission could save NATO, the necessary instrument for
U.S. leadership in Europe? And it found an answer:
humanitarian intervention. Reports by group members
Albright, Richard Holbrooke and Leon Fuerth "recommended
a dramatic escalation of the use of military force to
settle other countries' domestic conflicts." (4)

The Carnegie Endowment's 1992 report entitled "Changing
Our Ways: America's Role in the New World" called for "a
new principle of international relations: the destruction
or displacement of groups of people within states can
justify international intervention". The U.S. was advised
to "realign" NATO and the OSCE to deal with these new
security problems in Europe.

Release of this report, accompanied by policy briefings
of key Democrats and media big shots, was timed to
influence the Democratic presidential campaign. Candidate
Bill Clinton quickly took up the rhetoric, calling for
Milosevic to be tried for "crimes against humanity" and
advocating military intervention against the Serbs.
However, it took several years to put this into practice.

At the Carnegie Endowment, as member of a study group
including Al Gore's foreign policy advisor Leon Fuerth,
David Scheffer had co-authored (with Morton Halperin) a
book-length report on "Self-Determination in the New
World Order" which proposed military intervention as one
of the ways of "responding to international hot spots". A
major question raised was when and to what end the United
States should become involved in a conflict between an
established state and a "self-determination" -- i.e. a
secessionist -- movement. Clearly, the question was not
to be submitted to the United Nations. "The United States
should seek to build a consensus within regional and
international organizations for its position, but should
not sacrifice its own judgment and principles if such a
consensus fails to materialize"(5).

In general, the authors concluded, "the world community
needs to act more quickly and with more determination to
employ military force when it proves necessary and
feasible"(6). But when is this?

When a self-determination claim triggers an armed
conflict that becomes a humanitarian crisis, getting
food, medicine, and shelter to thousands or millions of
civilians becomes an inescapable imperative. A new
intolerance for such human tragedies is becoming evident
in the post-Cold War world and is redefining the
principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of
states (7).

Now, in theory, this sounds almost indisputable. However,
in practice the question becomes one not of theory but of
facts. When does a crisis in fact correspond to this
description, and when, on the contrary, can it simply be
made to seem to correspond to this description?

In the official NATO version, vigorously endorsed by
mainstream media, the Kosovo war was precisely an
instance when "a self-determination claim triggers an
armed conflict that becomes a humanitarian crisis..."
However, there is considerable, indeed overwhelming
evidence that the "self-determination claim" quite
deliberately provoked both the "armed conflict" and the
"humanitarian crisis" precisely in order to bring in, not
humanitarian aid, but military intervention from NATO on
the pretext of humanitarian aid. For there was never any
need of NATO intervention in order to provide food,
medicine and shelter to civilians within Kosovo or before
the NATO bombing. The "humanitarian crisis" was a mirage
until NATO triggered it by the bombing.

But in the culture of images, temporal relationships are
easily obscured. What came before or after what is
forgotten. And with temporal relationship, cause and
effect are lost, along with responsibility.

Can Kosovo be detached from Serbia? "The use of military
force to create a new state would require conduct by the
parent government so egregious that it has forfeited any
right to govern the minority claiming
self-determination"(8). But who decides that conduct is
sufficiently "egregious"?

Clearly, Madeleine Albright was so eager to put these
bold new theories into practice that she worked mightily
to make the crime fit the punishment.

Morton Abramowitz himself, who as Carnegie Endowment
President nurtured Albright, Holbrooke, Fuerth, Scheffer
and the others as they jointly developed Clinton's future
doctrine of "humanitarian warfare", has also played an
active role. In 1997, he passed through the elite
revolving door from the Carnegie Endowment to the Council
on Foreign Relations. He has contributed his wisdom to a
new, high-level think tank, the International Crisis
Group, whose sponsors include governments and omnipresent
financier George Soros. The ICG has been a leading
designer of policy toward Kosovo.

Putting into practice the hypothesis of "a
self-determination claim triggering an armed conflict",
Abramowitz became an early advocate of arming the "Kosovo
Liberation Army"(U?K). At Rambouillet, Abramowitz
discreetly coached the ethnic Albanian delegation headed
by U?K leader Hashim Thaqi (9).

Back in February 1992, before civil war broke out in
Bosnia-Herzegovina, television producer John B. Roberts
II was asked to design a publicity campaign to gain
public support for the soon-to-be-published Carnegie
Endowment recommendations. When he saw that "Changing Our
Ways" proposed "the revolutionary idea that a U.S.-led
military first strike was justified, not to defend the
United States, but to impose highly subjective political
settlements on other countries", that it "discarded
national sovereignty in favour of international
intervention", Roberts "began to regret [his] efforts to
build publicity for the report" (10).

One way or another, the "revolutionary idea" has been
widely propagated during the 1990s. Humanitarian
intervention was an idea whose time had come because it
met a certain number of perceived needs. It provided a
solution to the problem formulated by Senator Richard
Lugar, that once the Cold War ended, NATO must be "either
out of area or out of business". A new missionary mission
not only kept NATO alive, thereby nourishing a vast array
of vested industrial and financial interests, primarily
but not solely in the United States, it also could be
seen as a potential instrument to defend less broadly
perceived geostrategic interests without submitting them
to public controversy.

Humanitarian Realpolitik

When Madeleine Albright took over the State Department
from Warren Christopher in early 1997, her promotion was
presented to the public more as a personal success for a
woman than as a corporate success for a policy design. At
its most informative, The New York Times (11), mentioned
influential policy-makers as if they were benevolent
uncles ready to give encouragement to a lady. Three
months after she took office, it was reported: "Ms.
Albright has reached out for advice. She has talked with
Zbigniew Brzezinski; the departing president of the
Carnegie Endowment, Morton Abramowitz; the philanthropist
George Soros; and Leslie Gelb, president of the Council
on Foreign Relations."

If Abramowitz may be considered the ?minence grise behind
the whole "humanitarian intervention" policy, Brzezinski
provided a geostrategic rationale. Brzezinski has no
inhibitions about using high principles in the power
game. In Paris in January 1998 to promote the French
edition of his book, The Grand Chessboard, he was asked
about an apparent "paradox" between the fact that his
book was steeped in Realpolitik, whereas, in his days as
National Security Adviser to President Jimmy Carter,
Brzezinski had been the "defender of human rights".

Brzezinski waved the paradox aside. There is none, he
replied. "I elaborated that doctrine in agreement with
President Carter, as it was the best way to destabilize
the Soviet Union. And it worked"(12).

Of course, it took more than nice words about human
rights to destabilize the Soviet Union. It took war. And
Brzezinski was very active on that front. As he told a
second French weekly (13) during his book promotion tour,
the CIA had begun bank-rolling counter- revolutionary
Afghan forces in mid-1979, half a year before the Soviet
Union moved into Afghanistan on a "stabilizing" mission
around New Year's Day 1980. "We did not push the Russians
into intervening, but we knowingly increased the
possibility that they would. That secret operation was an
excellent idea. The effect was to draw the Russians into
the Afghan trap."

Brzezinski rightly felt he could be forthright about such
matters as humanitarian entrapment in Paris, where the
policy elite admires nothing so much in American leaders
as unabashed cynical power politics. This admiration is
most acute when the French are offered a share in it, as
was the case with Brzezinski and his book. France, wrote
Brzezinski, "is an essential partner in the important
task of permanently locking a democratic Germany into
Europe", which means preventing Germany from building its
own separate sphere of influence to the East, possibly
including Russia -- a connection that Brzezinski's policy
recommendations are designed to forestall at all costs.
"This is the historic role of the Franco-German
relationship, and the expansion of both the EU and NATO
eastward should enhance the importance of that
relationship as Europe's inner core. Finally, France is
not strong enough either to obstruct America on the
geostrategic fundamentals of America's European policy or
to become by itself a leader of Europe as such. Hence,
its peculiarities and even its tantrums can be

These assurances may contribute to explaining the mystery
-- as it was widely perceived in other countries -- of
France's strong support to NATO's Kosovo war, second only
to Britain and in disharmony with reactions in Germany
and Italy. That is, the French elite had been given to
understand this war as part of the Brzezinski design for
a transatlantic Europe giving France a politico-military
leadership role offsetting Germany's economic

Brzezinski frankly sets the goal for U.S. policy: "to
perpetuate America's own dominant position for at least a
generation and preferably longer still". This involves
creating a "geopolitical framework" around NATO that will
initially include Ukraine and exclude Russia. This will
establish the geostrategic basis for controlling conflict
in what Brzezinski calls "the Eurasian Balkans", the huge
area between the Eastern shore of the Black Sea to China,
which includes the Caspian Sea and its petroleum
resources, a top priority for U.S. foreign policy. In the
policy elites of both Britain and France, perpetuation of
Trans-Atlantic domination could be understood as a way of
preventing a Russo-German rapprochement able to dominate
the continent.

Along with Jeane Kirkpatrick, Frank Carlucci, William
Odom and Stephan Solarz, Brzezinski has joined the
anti-Serb crusade in yet another new Washington policy
shop, the "Balkan Action Council", calling for all-out
war against Yugoslavia over Kosovo.

In the Brzezinski scheme of things, Yugoslavia is a
testing ground and a metaphor for the Soviet Union. In
this metaphor, "Serbia" is Russia, and Croatia, Bosnia,
Kosovo, etc., are Ukraine, the Baltic States, Georgia and
the former Soviet Republics of "the Eurasian Balkans".
This being the case, the successful secession of Croatia
and company from Yugoslavia sets a positive precedent for
maintaining the independence of Ukraine and its
progressive inclusion in the European Union and NATO,
which he sets for the decade 2005-2015 as a "reasonable
time frame".

The little Balkan "Balkans" appear on a map on page 22 of
The Grand Chessboard interestingly shaded in three
gradations representing U.S. geopolitical preponderance
(dark), U.S. political influence (medium) and the
apparent absence of either (white). Darkly shaded (like
the U.S., Canada and Western Europe) are Hungary,
Rumania, Bulgaria and Turkey. Medium shading covers
Slovakia, Moldavia and Ukraine as well as Georgia and
most of the "Eurasian Balkans". Glaringly white, like
Russia, are Yugoslavia and Greece. For Brzezinski,
Belgrade was a potential relay for Moscow. Serbs might be
unaware of this, but in the geostrategic view, they were
only so many surrogate Russians.

Cultural Divides and Caspian Oil

Samuel Huntington's notion of "conflict of
civilizations", by identifying Orthodox Christianity as a
civilization in conflict with the West and its famous
"values", has offered an ideological cover for the
"divide and conquer" strategy, which has less appeal, but
is not incompatible with, the "humanitarian"
justification. It has been taken up by influential (15)
writer Robert D. Kaplan, who sees a "real battle" that is
"drawn along historical-civilizational lines. On the one
side are the Turks, their fellow Azeri Turks in
Azerbaijan, the Israelis and the Jordanians [...]. On the
other side are those who suffered the most historically
from Turkish rule: the Syrian and Iraqi Arabs, the
Armenians, the Greeks and the Kurds"(16). It is not hard
to see whose side the United States must be on in this
battle, or which must be the winning side.

Kaplan places Kosovo "smack in the middle of a very
unstable and important region where Europe joins the
Middle East" while "Europe is redividing along historic
and cultural lines"(17).

"There is a Western, Catholic, Protestant Europe and an
Eastern Orthodox Europe, which is poorer, more
politically unsettled and more ridden with organized
crime. That Orthodox realm has been shut out of NATO and
is angrier by the day, and it is fiercely anti-Moslem",
Kaplan declares.

An oddity of these "cultural divide" projections is that
they find the abyss between Eastern and Western
Christianity far deeper and more unbridgeable than the
difference between Christianity and Islam. The obvious
short, three-letter explanation is "oil". But there is a
complementary explanation that is more truly cultural,
relating to the transnational nature of Islam and to the
importance of its charitable organizations. Steve Niva
(18) has noted a split within the US foreign policy
establishment between conservatives (clearly absent from
the Clinton administration) who see Islam as a threat,
and "neo-liberals" for whom the primary enemy is "any
barrier to free trade and unfettered markets". These
include European leaders, oil companies and Zbigniew
Brzezinski. "Incorporating Islamists into existing
political systems would disperse responsibility for the
state's difficulties while defusing popular opposition to
severe economic `reforms' mandated by the IMF. Islamist
organizations could also help fill the gap caused by the
rollback of welfare states and social services...", Niva

In any case, all roads lead to the Caspian, and through
Kosovo. Kaplan publicly advises the nation's leaders that
an "amoral reason of self-interest" is needed to persuade
the country to keep troops in the Balkans for years to
come. The reason is clear. "With the Middle East
increasingly fragile, we will need bases and fly-over
rights in the Balkans to protect Caspian Sea oil. But we
will not have those bases in the future if the Russians
reconquer southeast Europe by criminal stealth. Finally,
if we tell our European allies to go it alone in Kosovo,
we can kiss the Western Alliance goodbye"(19).

Looking at a map, one may wonder why it is necessary to
go through Kosovo to obtain Caspian oil. This is a good
question. However, U.S. strategists don't simply want to
obtain oil, which is a simple matter if one has money.
They want to control its flow to the big European market.
The simple way to get Caspian oil is via pipeline
southward through Iran. But that would evade U.S.
control. Or through Russia; just as bad. The preferred
U.S. route, a pipeline from Azerbaijan to the Turkish
Mediterranean port of Ceyhan has been rejected as too
costly. Turkey has vetoed massive oil tanker traffic
through the Bosporus on ecological grounds. That leaves
the Balkans. It seems the U.S. would like to build a
pipeline across the Balkans, no doubt with Bechtel
getting the building contract -- former Bechtel executive
and Reagan administration Defense Secretary Caspar
Weinberger is a leading Kosovo warhawk. Bechtel has
already obtained major contracts in Tudjman's Croatia. It
is interesting that the Danube, likely to fall under
German control, has been blocked for serious transport by
NATO's bombing of Serbia's bridges.

On the way to the Caspian, the next stop after Yugoslavia
could be the big prize: Ukraine, which like the other
former Soviet Republics is already under U.S. influence
through NATO's "Partnership For Peace". Early this year,
asked by a German magazine whether NATO should be the
world policeman, NATO commander Wesley Clark observed
that the "countries on the Caspian Sea are members of the
`Partnership for Peace'. They have the right to consult
NATO in case of threat." Clark "didn't want to speculate
on what NATO might then do..."(20).

Scenarios Reach the TV Screen

As television producer Roberts recalls, it was a
Ukrainian friend who, seeing the implications for his own
country of the Abramowitz humanitarian war plans, set him
to worrying. "If the U.S. endorsed this new foreign
policy principle the potential for international chaos
was immense. Real or trumped up incidents of destruction
or displacement would be grounds for Russian or American
military intervention in dozens of countries where
nothing like a melting pot has ever existed."

"Real or trumped up" -- that is the question. For once so
much is at stake -- nothing less than the future of the
greatest power the world has ever seen -- events are all
too likely to follow the imaginary scenario laid out by
the policy planners.

This can happen in at least three ways.

1 - Reality imitates fiction. It is a common human
psychological phenomenon that people see what they are
looking for, or have been led to expect to see, often
when it is not there. This happens in countless ways. It
may account for desert mirages, or apparitions of the
Virgin, or simple errors of recognition that occur all
the time.

When reporters unfamiliar with the country are sent into
Bosnia or Kosovo to look for evidence of "Serbian war
crimes", and only evidence of Serbian war crimes, that is
what they will find. And if Croats, Muslims and Albanians
who are fighting against the Serbs know that that is what
they are looking for, it will be even easier.

If they are expecting, say, Serbs to be criminals,
everything Serbs say or do will be interpreted in that
light, with greater or less sincerity. Every ambiguous
detail will find its meaning.

2 - Evidence will be trumped up. This is an age-old
practice in war.

3 - Circumstances can be arranged to incite the very
crimes that the power wants to be able to punish. In
police language, this is called entrapment, or a "sting"
operation, and is illegal in many countries, although not
in the United States.

The Kosovo scenario has been advanced in all three ways.

(1. continua)