JEREMY SCAHILL: I find it very interesting that the Bush administration is talking about international law and how international law needs to be upheld for the protection of the US embassy. That certainly is true, but notice the selectivity of when the Bush administration chooses to recognize that there actually is international law. I mean, this is an administration that refuses to support any kind of an effective and independent international criminal court, preferring to support these sort of ad hoc tribunals, which have been used against Yugoslavia and certainly with Rwanda.
In the case of Hillary Clinton, what’s particularly interesting is that she and her advisers, which include many of the key figures involved with the original bombing of Yugoslavia and, in fact, the architects of much of US policy in the 1990s toward Yugoslavia, people like Madeleine Albright and Richard Holbrooke, that Clinton holds this up as a sort of successful US foreign policy or international action.
And I think it’s important to remember that this declaration of independence from Kosovo was immediately supported by the Bush administration and many powerful countries in the world. I was recalling during the 2000 elections in the United States, being in Serbia and people joking that the worst thing that could happen to us is that Al Gore would be president, because then we’ll have the Democrats continuing to focus on us, and if Bush is president, he’ll ignore us. And, well, of course, Bush immediately recognized Kosovo, and that sort of seals the deal, in a sense.
But it’s important to remember how we got to this point. I mean, Samantha was talking a little bit about the broader context here. The fact is that this was sort of Clinton’s Iraq, in a way. He bombed Yugoslavia for seventy-eight days with no United Nations mandate. I was at the UN the night that it began, and Kofi Annan was sort of beside himself that the action had been taken so swiftly, this military action, seventy-eight days of bombing of Yugoslavia under the auspices of NATO.
Wesley Clark was the commander of those operations, the Supreme Allied Commander. They bombed a Serbian television station, killing sixteen media workers; some of them were media workers, some of them were makeup artists, others were engineers. They directly targeted passenger trains and then fabricated a video afterwards to make it seem as though it was a split-second decision. They killed thousands of civilians.
And the fact was that the exaggerations of what was happening in Kosovo by William Cohen, the Defense Secretary at the time, who talked about a million missing people—then it was scaled back to 100,000, then 50,000, then 10,000, and now the official number is that there were 2,700 people that were killed, and there’s been no determination of their ethnicity. Now, I can tell you from being on the ground in Kosovo that some of the worst violence that occurred, slaughtering of Albanians, happened after the NATO bombing began. And the fact was that the US sabotaged the work of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in the weeks leading up to the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.
And I think that what we have to understand here is that this is where the sort of liberals, like Hillary Clinton, come together with the neocons, because there are a lot of similarities between what happened in Yugoslavia and what happened in Iraq, with the lead-up to the war, the disregard for international law or international consensus, and then the outright killing of civilians under the auspices of a humanitarian intervention. read full debate at Democracy Now
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