I got the following email from a source:

Dear Julia,

Are the talking heads on US news shows using Kosovo to justify Libya? [Yes, they were.] The Brits sure are. It is disgusting.

Below is a note I sent to the MP representing the constituency I reside in. I doubt that it will make much difference, but maybe. He has a very small majority (about two thousand votes), and there is a substantial British Serbian population in East Oxford. He might pay some heed. I live in hope. Unfortunately, many Serbs in Oxford do their best to avoid being identified as Serbs. This, of course, diminishes their political clout. The Albanian immigrants Tony Blair blessed Oxford with have a rather higher profile — not just for voting I should add.

Regards,

Tom

———- Forwarded message ———-
Date: 20 March 2011 13:06
Subject: British Serbs in East Oxford
To: Andrew Smith

Dear Andrew,

As you no doubt know[,] East Oxford has a large and vibrant British Serbian community, but you may not be aware of the prejudice that these East Oxford residents frequently encounter.

Here’s an example, several years ago residents in Iffley mounted a sustained effort to prevent a British Serb from taking up residence in “their” village. They failed, but the racist rumours spread about this man and his family by the residents were vile, and the slurs they made against Serbs in general offend me to this hour. Now I see anti Serb propaganda being reintroduced into the public discussion.

Over the past 48 hours I have been listening to commentator after commentator (e.g. Col. Bob Stewart, MP) justifying actions taken against the Libyan regime by making comparisons to what happened in Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s. By in large these comparisons have tended to demonise the Serbian people, and to celebrate Bosniaks and Albanians.

These rants typically describe all Balkan atrocities as Serbian atrocities: they never mention KLA or Bosniak atrocities committed against the Serbs. (Such reporting and commentary unjustly portrays the Serbian people as an ethnic SS. This is especially galling given the heroic resistance of the Serbian people to German aggression.)

On 13 April 1941 Churchill broadcast the following statement to the Serbian people, ‘Serbs we know you. You were our allies in the last war, and your arms are covered with glory. . . . Your fame as warriors spread far and wide on the Continent.’ According to Lord Owen, as many as 750,000 Serbs may have perished in concentration camps, and 1.7 million Yugoslavs in total were killed in Second World War. It is estimated that somewhere between 6 and 36 German divisions were tied down by predominately Serbian guerilla fighters in WW2.

Britons of Serbian heritage are rightly proud of the contribution that the Serbian people made to that war effort.

In more recent times the Serbs have been unjustly vilified.

When the Balkan civil wars are discussed there is seldom a reference made to what happened to the Krajina Serbs. (I recommend Brendan O’Shea’s balanced account found in Crisis at Bihac. Dr. O’ Shea was a serving officer in the Irish Defence Forces (Army), and an EC Monitor in the Former Yugoslavia (1994-5).)

Few outside of the British Serbian community seem to recall, and none outside that community reference[,] Madeleine Albright’s admission [to BBC in late 2000 or early 2001] that she knew that the KLA was a “terrorist organisation” and that she “crossed her fingers” hoping they would not commit any atrocities that made headlines before she could get authorisation to bomb Serbia. I was with a number of East Oxford Serbs when I first saw that interview: to a person, they were angered by Sec Albright’s admission [at a time when Albanians were next trying to seize southern Serbia and western Macedonia]. Oddly, no one outside of the Serbian community seems to care that Albright misled the public.

More recently the former chief prosecutor of the UN’s Yugoslav war crimes tribunal, Carla Del Ponte, has indicated that rather unspeakable crimes were committed by the KLA against [mostly] Serbian prisoners. Her allegation is supported by a report prepared by the Swiss senator Dick Marty for the Council of Europe. According to Marty (as reported by [pro-Albanian writer] Tim Judah):

“In a report for the Council of Europe which took two years to compile, he has accused Hashim Thaci, the prime minister of newly independent Kosovo, not only of being a mafia boss, a murderer and a drug dealer – but of having been involved with a group that in 1999 killed prisoners to sell their kidneys.”

I have a copy of the Marty report and would be happy to forward it to you, if you would like to see it. If such allegations had been made against the Serbian people, they would no doubt be used to justify our actions in Libya today. As it is[,] the commentariat seems happy to portray people of Serbian heritage as uniquely having Nazi criminality in their DNA. However, it is the KLA that stands accused of slaughtering people like cattle for their organs.

By the way, what do we know of the rebels we are indirectly supporting in Libya?

Judah continues:

“There are, however, other allegations that are very real and very current. A courthouse in Pristina heard last week how seven Kosovars were part of an elaborate international ‘organs for cash’ network, in which donors from poor countries such as Moldova, Turkey and Kazakhstan donated their body parts to wealthy patients on the promise of payments of up to EU 15,000 at a time…While no connection has yet been found between the current trafficking allegations and the “organ harvesting” claims of a decade ago [indeed it has], some doubt whether it can be purely coincidence. Defending his report on Thursday, Mr Marty added that he [has] often seen “terror” in the eyes of witnesses he had talked to…”

Andrew, shouldn’t humanitarian interventions protect all innocents, and not merely some favoured few? And, shouldn’t we take care not to vilify a people for the crimes of the very few? [As has been the general insistence, in contrast, on behalf of the Albanians and their ill-gotten Kosovo — despite their far more gruesome, more confirmed, and more widespread and iron-fisted terror.]

I want to provide you with one last illustration of how hatred against the Serbs has been stirred in the past. Tony Weymouth (University of Central Lancashire) has written an excellent analysis in his “The Media: Information and Deformation”. Weymouth writes:

“. . . the front-page headline of the Independent of 12 April 1999 asserted that, ‘Nato hits Serbs as fears rise for 100,000 “disappeared” . . .’ On 18 April 1999 an American government official claimed on ABC television that: ‘Tens of thousands of young males have been executed . . .’ On 19 April 1999 the US State Department announced that: ‘500,000 Albanian Kosovars . . . are missing and feared dead.’ Western television and radio also put out what in retrospect appear to be grossly inflated figures of Kosovo Albanian casualties from Serbian violence. . . .Sometimes the politicians led the way with exaggerated and ill judged references to ‘genocide’. Prime Minister Blair, two weeks into the bombing campaign, spoke of the Serbian situation thus: ‘I pledge to you now, Milosevich and his hideous racial genocide will be defeated . . .’ In the aftermath of the conflict, such assertions were found to be significantly exaggerated . . . .”

I hope that you will encourage your colleagues to find better examples to use to justify their support for actions taken against Libya, and that I can assure my Serbian friends in East Oxford that you understand their concerns, and will do your best to protect them from unjustified condemnation.

With warm regards,

Thomas Tait

There is exactly one subject, and one place, whose narrative is immune to evidence — no matter how much of it accumulates, no matter how recently, no matter how prominently. That subject and place is the former Yugoslavia. Indeed, even in the face of daily — nay, hourly — reports of the badness that Albanians, Bosnian Muslims, and the unreformed Nazi populace of Croatia are up to (and were found to be up to at the time), the dated and debunked but still designated villain is trotted out on cue for utilization in whatever current context requires him. And the obsolete official truth is always left unperturbed and untainted.

Regardless of more recent findings, testimonies, hard evidence, and anecdotal evidence provided by clear world trends, none of it ever causes a questioning — from ANYONE, EVER — of the original Western premises, positions and policies, still in effect and still wreaking havoc. Only the fast-fading organs story came close. The Balkans chapter is to remain suspended out of context, uninterpretable by trends or rationality which apply to all other subjects and places; no critical thinking (i.e. obvious thoughts) allowed. Or else Bosnia and Kosovo won’t have been “successes”; the Muslim genocide industry would be jeopardized; policy would have to be reevaluated; prominent journalists would be exposed and Pulitzers would have to be revoked; and a lot of Western politicians and generals alike would have to be brought up on war crimes charges. And lost would be the following refuge of Islam-critical pundits: “I’m not anti-Muslim! Look — I supported the Muslims against the Christians in the 90s!” (Clue to the clueless: It’ll still serve if you revise to “But I supported the Muslims against the Christians in the 90s, even though I was wrong.”)

No matter what we learn about what these people are — whether an Albanian kills U.S. soldiers in Frankfurt, a Bosnian massacres Americans in Salt Lake City, or Croatians brandish swastikas at the Australian Open while punching and spitting at a photographer and menacing fans with flares — all the world complies in not questioning whether we didn’t get something backwards along the way.

To cite just one random example, here is an excerpt from an article published in the days following the release of Dick Marty’s organ report:

Hilmi Gashi, a member of Switzerland’s 200,000 strong Kosovan diaspora…said the Kosovo community was “a little bit annoyed” about the report, especially coming shortly after a survey showing the unpopularity of Albanians in Switzerland and the vote on deporting foreign criminals… “They say [the report] is trying to change the roles of victim and perpetrator…” Gashi added, referring to crimes committed by the former Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic against ethnic Albanians during the 1998-99 war.

So in the 12 years since the intervention, which have allowed Europeans to get a more intimate sense of Albanians, the latter have proved “unpopular.” But whatever the traits and activities causing their unpopularity, don’t let them cause you to invert the inverted roles of good guy and bad guy.

As for Albanians being unpopular in the Diaspora, one wonders why the Serbs whom they originally invaded were supposed to get along with them so much better — though they did. And still do.

MP Andrew Smith, of the Labour Party, was decent enough to send the following response to Thomas:

Dear Thomas,

Thanks for this. I do well understand your concerns. Over the years, I have had a number of contacts with local people from the Serbian community, and do believe I understand their perspective and experience.

Before the whole Yugoslav tragedy unfolded, I met a number of constituents of Serbian background at Westminster, and it was all too clear what was likely to happen following the precipitate recognition of Slovenia. (If Slovenia can unilaterally secede from Yugoslavia, why can’t Srbska secede from Bosnia-Herzegovina? Etc). Now, many awful things, war crimes indeed, were carried out in the wars that followed, and some Serbs were amongst the worst perpetrators; but the brutality and criminality was as you say also carried out by others, including Croatians and Bosnians, but because of the way Milosevic exploited the situation, a disproportionate share of blame became associated with Serbia, when in fact of course ordinary Serbs had few ways of exerting influence; then there was the whole issue of Kosovo, where again a very one-sided perspective took root in the western media and political establishment. So I hope you will appreciate I do have some understanding of this and can sympathise with how people of Serb origin must feel as a result of the “demonization” you describe. I agree with you that it is wrong to brand whole people for the crimes of a few.

I suppose the best hope for the future is that over time there will be a new generation of leaders in the Balkan states, closer co-operation between them, closer relations in Europe, as well as the bringing to justice of war criminals. An important part of the reconciliation will need to be at the people-to-people level – as happened between French and Germans after the Second World War; this is the way to try and ensure the enmities of the past do not contaminate the future.

I will do what I can. If there are any specific points on all of this which you would like me to put to government ministers, I should of course be happy to do so.

Best wishes

Andrew

Thomas and I are still trying to find the transcripts from the program where “Not-at-Albright” said the bit about keeping her fingers crossed that the KLA wouldn’t commit any headline-making atrocities before she could get Serbia bombed, but Thomas adds that in the same interview she “described how she used bobbles and fashion to impress other diplomats — it was hard not to wretch when listening to her.” In the meantime, another BBC transcript of interest came to our attention. I close with an abridged version of it, my comments and bolding interspersed.

“MORAL COMBAT : NATO AT WAR”
A BBC2 special, 9pm Sunday 12 March 2000
Reporter Allan Little

ALAN LITTLE
It is almost a year since NATO went to war in Europe.

Kosovo, November last year. Five months after NATO won its war to end the oppression of one group by another, a Serbian family drove, by chance, into a crowd celebrating Albanian Independence Day.

Anonymous woman
This group flipped over the car, set the gas tank on fire, the car started to burn, so my parents had a choice either to burn alive in the car or to get out. These bunch of people just grabbed them and started to hit them with fists, punched them, with metal bars with everything … the rest were just standing watching and cheering. It was a lot of people, it was a big crowd. They were determined to kill them. And then somebody shot my father.

LITTLE
Her father died instantly. His wife and her mother were beaten to unconsciousness. One British UN police officer saw the mob make murder part of their festivities.

BERNIE COWAN
UN POLICE
It was like a victory for them, the fact that this - they were celebrating their independence [sic] for the first time for so many years - this was like the icing on the cake for them and you could see it in their faces.

LITTLE
Vengeance has been unleashed in Kosovo - in streets patrolled by NATO troops.

BERNIE COWAN
That night I just thought these are three innocent Serbian people. Just how could they do that to three innocent people?

Just how? Just the way they’d been doing it all along. Indeed, when a designated victim kills so easily, and with relish, one might question whether they hadn’t been practiced in the art all along. But no. No questions allowed.

LITTLE
Dragoslav Besic was a professor of civil engineering who’d taught at the Universities of Oxford and Berkeley.

Anonymous woman
It was basically a highlight of their celebration. It was a lynch. It was not an ordinary killing.

BERNIE COWAN
They were chanting UCK! I found out, later on, through one of the interpreters, that they had
been chanting: “three more Serbs dead”.

LITTLE
UCK is Albanian for KLA, the Kosovo Liberation Army. The KLA hold the whip hand here now. There is a state of lawlessness that grew directly out of the manner of Kosovo’s liberation. The KLA sprang from the desperation of a brutally oppressed [sic: ambitious] people for whom peaceful resistance had failed. The war in neighbouring Bosnia taught them the value of a resort to the gun. Even the children understand it. [And even the children are armed.]

VETON SURROI
KOSOVO ALBANIAN POLITICAL LEADER
There is a message that is being sent to the Kosovars - if you want to draw international attention you have to fight for it. That is exactly it. You need to use violence to achieve your goals.

LITTLE
From the remote wooded hillsides of rural Kosovo, they embarked on a strategy to draw the world’s most powerful military alliance into their struggle. They began in the villages from which they sprang, a shadowy civilian militia force emerging from - and melting back into - the civilian population that sustained them. They aimed to make the roads that held Kosovo together too dangerous for the Serb forces to control them. [As they’ve now made the roads too dangerous for NATO and UN to patrol.]

DUGI GORANI
KOSOVO ALBANIAN DELEGATE
It was a hit and run strategy, done usually by very small groups of three to four people and the aim of these ambushes was to promote themselves.

GENERAL NEBOJSA PAVKOVIC
COMMANDER, YUGOSLAV ARMY IN KOSOVO
We saw the KLA as a serious threat as something which could endanger the Yugoslav army.

LITTLE
They began to ambush Serb patrols, killing policemen, then disappearing as rapidly as they had struck, an invisible Commando force. Serb casualties mounted. Would the West see them as victims of terrorism, or of legitimate peoples’ uprising?

JAMIE RUBIN
US ASST SECRETARY OF STATE
Killing postmen or killing Serb civilians in cold blood - those are terrorist acts that we do believe were wrong and unfortunately that was what the KLA was pursuing at the time.

LITTLE
It was a calculated but dangerous gamble. The KLA’s political leader Hashim Thaqi now admits that he knew the Serbs would retaliate against innocent civilians.

HASIM THACI
KLA LEADER
Any armed action we undertook would bring retaliation against civilians. We knew we were endangering a great number of civilian lives.

LITTLE
Their desperate calculation was to draw the world into Kosovo’s feud.

DUGI GORANI
KOSOVO ALBANIAN NEGOTIATOR
The more civilians were killed, the chances of international intervention became bigger, and the KLA of course realised that. There was this foreign diplomat who once told me ‘Look unless you pass the quota of five thousand deaths you’ll never have anybody permanently present in Kosovo from the foreign diplomacy.

[Similarly, recall the Bosnian-Muslim police chief of Srebrenica “telling a Dutch TV station that Clinton had promised [Bosnian president] Izetbegovic NATO military intervention against the Serbs as far back as 1993 if at least 5,000 Muslims could be killed in Srebrenica.”]

LITTLE
The western world was still haunted by a profound collective guilt: it knew it had waited too long to intervene [sic: to help kill infidels] in Bosnia. Now one woman resolved not to make the same mistake again.

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT
US SECRETARY OF STATE
I believed in the ultimate power, the goodness of the power of the allies and led by the United States. We were dealing which such a basic evil, that could not be tolerated.

LITTLE
…In the west, many came to believe that the lessons of Bosnia could now be applied to the very different circumstances of Kosovo…On March 5th 1998, Serb forces began an action that illustrated that very point of view. They attacked the home of a leading KLA commander called Adem Jashari, in the stronghold of Prekaz. The Serbs regarded this as legitimate anti-terrorist policing. It was the start of a brutal campaign that would lose them Kosovo.

VILLAGER
About six o’clock or seven o’clock in the morning we just saw about two thousand or two hundred soldiers or police, they were coming up…

LITTLE
As their home was being destroyed even the Jashari children understood the value of appealing to the world. As though heirs to an ancient tradition of epic tale telling. [And this tall tale was EPIC.]

NEBOJSA PAVKOVIC
COMMANDER, YUGOSLAV ARMY IN KOSOVO
There was a standard police operation in that village, I don’t know all the details. I know it involved the arrest of a notorious criminal, someone condemned for criminal offences. And that it was successfully executed. I don’t remember the other details.

LITTLE
These are the details he doesn’t care to remember. Fifty three members of the Jashari family were killed. What were KLA ambushes compared to this? Albanian leaders appealed to the wider world.

“Fifty three members” of a prominent Muslim-Albanian terrorist family were killed. Doesn’t that just pull at your heart strings? “What were KLA ambushes compared to this?” I think one might call them the reason. What’s better, Americans: Dead police, or 53 dead members of a terrorist cop-killing family? Take your time figuring that one out. Let’s not even go into the number 53, demonstrating the simultaneous demographic war that was in progress to help take over the area.

As Kristian Khars, a Norwegian former NATO officer in Kosovo who recently apologized to the Serbs, admits: Not only does even Wikipedia no longer accept that there was a massacre in Račak (it’s now called “Operation Račak” instead of the “Racak Massacre,” but “the operation against Adem Jashari was also legitimate…” (See “The first KLA armed groups in the region of Drenica were led by Adem Jashari of Donji Prekaz, and the membership was composed mainly of his close and distant relatives, usually persons prone to violent behavior and petty crime.”) Check out some of these Jashari family members!

And what were 53 family members doing at the Jashari “home”? Here’s a clue: the “home” was a compound, a veritable fortress, with guns blazing — guns being something that, as the reporter explained above, “even the children” understood the value of. Which helps explain some of the “civilian” deaths that occurred:

VETON SURROI
KOSOVO ALBANIAN POLITICAL LEADER
As soon as we got the photographs we put them on the internet because that was the most horrendous thing we had seen until then. Kids, shot dead, were images of a war that people needed to see. We were shocked and we thought that other people needed to see this because this was getting out of control.

LITTLE
Four days later, foreign ministers from allied countries met at Lancaster House in London: The ghosts of Bosnia were there too. [Whatever.]

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT
Not only was it a deja-vu about the subject generally, but we were in the same room that we had been in during Bosnian discussions. I thought it behooved me to say to my colleagues that we could not repeat the kinds of mistakes that had happened over Bosnia, where there was a lot of talk and no action and that history would judge us very, very severely.

ROBIN COOK
FOREIGN SECRETARY
She was very vigorous in making it clear that we had to prevent Milosevic from repeating in Kosovo what he had attempted to do in Bosnia. [i.e. that we had to repeat in Kosovo the war propaganda we did in Bosnia.]

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT
I think I probably seemed quite harsh to my colleagues. But I decided it was worth it.

LITTLE
…Milosevic regarded the KLA as a terrorist organisation funded by drug barons. [sic: The KLA was a terrorist organization founded on and funded by drugs.] But the US wanted to reach out to them. Richard Holbrooke - the US envoy who’d brokered Bosnia’s peace deal - went to seek them out.

RICHARD HOLBROOKE
We got into this Albanian village, we met with the village leader and as we were meeting with him seated in his living room upstairs, on the floor , Albanian style a guy sat down, wedged himself in between him and me cradling his Kalishnikov. This guy was very good at photo ops and he got photographed with me. He understood how to handle the world media beautifully and this photograph became the first official photograph of an American official with a member of the KLA. Snap!

GENERAL NEBOJSA PAVKOVIC
COMMANDER, YUGOSLAV ARMY IN KOSOVO
When the official ambassador of another country arrives here, ignores state officials, but holds a meeting with the Albanian terrorists, then it’s quite clear they are getting support.

RICHARD HOLBROOKE
Albanians were very encouraged.

LITTLE
With renewed confidence that the world was now at last taking heed, the KLA made astonishing advances[.] From countryside strongholds they now held major cities in their sights. In the city of Pec, half the population was Serb. The rise of the KLA terrified them. Pec is the home of Serbian Orthodox Christianity. They call it the cradle of Serb identity.

They were terrified because they, in contrast, did know what the KLA are, and had been their victims all along. Today, about 40 remain, huddled in a 12th-century monastery, plus a few token families that were returned in a 2006 project, whom the KLA were instructed to protect to show how Kosovo allows Serbs back.

FATHER MIRJLKO KORICANIN
PARISH PRIEST, PEC
Serbs could not move around freely during the day, let alone at night. Our youth couldn’t stay out after 10pm. We panicked if they weren’t back on time.

LT GENERAL MIKE SHORT
COMMANDER, ALLIED AIR FORCES
…We had just sat down when Milosevic leaned forward without any small talk or breaking of the ice and leaned forward and said ‘So you are the man who is going to bomb me’. And I will admit that I was stunned.

LITTLE
Milosevic agreed to an immediate cease-fire. He agreed to allow international observers into Kosovo and to limit his troop numbers.
It seemed that the threat of force had worked…

LITTLE
…A senior American diplomat was summoned to the State Department. The head of the political office made him an offer that surprised and offended him.

WILLIAM WALKER
HEAD, KOSOVO VERIFICATION MISSION
I remember thinking to myself he can’t be serious sending me to Kosovo. I’m a very senior career officer. How could Kosovo be important enough to require my services?

LITTLE
The cease-fire agreement made it important enough. In October Walker was received by Milosevic. His job was to make sure that Milosevic’s forces complied with the cease-fire. He set up the headquarters of the Kosovo Verification Mission in the capital Pristina. It was conceived as an independent, international body. But Walker had spent a life time loyally serving the US State Department. He saw the world from Washington’s perspective.

RICHARD HOLBROOKE
The selection of Bill Walker was made by the Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright. She knew him.. and made the choice herself.

CAPTAIN ROLAND KEITH
KOSOVO VERIFICATION MISSION
Ambassador Walker was not just working for the OSCE. He was part of the American diplomatic policy that was occurring which had vilified Slobodan Milosevic, demonised the Serbian Administration and generally was providing diplomatic support to the UCK or the KLA leadership.

LITTLE
Walker’s cease-fire monitors drove round Kosovo in brightly-coloured orange vehicles. Their job was to watch as Milosevic withdrew his police and returned his troops to barracks. In the beginning, he complied. The German General Klaus Naumann had helped broker the cease-fire deal[.]

GENERAL KLAUS NAUMANN
CHAIRMAN, NATO MILITARY COMMITTEE
He really did what we asked him to do, he withdrew within 48 hrs some 6,000 police officers and the military back into the barracks. This was also confirmed by the OSCE Verification Mission.

LITTLE
…Where the Serbs withdrew, the KLA moved forward, filling the vacuum. For the cease-fire agreement had a fatal flaw. It was one sided. It had required nothing verifiable from the KLA.

GENERAL AGIM CEKU
KLA MILITARY LEADER
The cease-fire was very useful for us, it helped us to get organised, to consolidate and grow.

WOLFGANG PETRITSCH
EU SPECIAL ENVOY TO KOSOVO
They were really growing ever stronger from day to day, and there was nobody to really stop them.

GENERAL AGIM CEKU
KLA MILITARY LEADER
We aimed to spread our units over as much territory as possible, we wanted KLA units and cells across the whole of Kosovo.

LITTLE
At Podujevo, in the north of Kosovo, the KLA now filled the very positions the Serbs had vacated. The pattern was repeated across the province. William Walker’s Deputy was a British General. He and his colleagues could see what the KLA was doing, but had no means of stopping or even discouraging it.

MAJ GEN JOHN DREWIENKIEWICZ
KOSOVO VERIFICATION MISSION
The Kosovo Liberation Army infiltrated forward.

WOLFGANG PETRITSCH
EU SPECIAL ENVOY TO KOSOVO
The KLA basically came back into its old positions that they held before the summer offensive.

MAJ GEN JOHN DREWIENKIEWICZ
KOSOVO VERIFICATION MISSION
And this started to be a factor in dealing with the Serbs. Because the Serbs said to us, well hang on, the deal was that we withdrew from these things, and you were going to police the agreement. So can you just get these Kosovo Liberation Army out of the trenches that we were in a month ago?

LITTLE
But they couldn’t. At NATO headquarters there was growing disquiet. We’ve obtained confidential minutes of the North Atlantic Council or NAC, NATO’s governing body. They talk of the KLA as “the main initiator of the violence and state…” It has launched what appears to be a deliberate campaign of provocation”. This is how William walker himself reported the situation then, in private[.]

GENERAL KLAUS NAUMANN
CHAIRMAN, NATO MILITARY COMMITTEE
Ambassador Walker stated in the NAC that the majority of violations was caused by the KLA.

LITTLE
Walker didn’t admit that in public at the time. He still doesn’t.

WILLIAM WALKER, HEAD KOSOVO VERIFICATION MISSION

Q: You told the North Atlantic Council that it was the KLA side who were largely responsible.

A: I would have to go back and re-read my notes. I don’t remember. Most of the briefings I gave to the North Atlantic Council was that both sides were in non-compliance. Both sides were doing things that were wrong. Obviously it was easier to point at the government.

LITTLE
With US backing for the KLA now barely concealed, Milosevic sent the army back into action to clear the KLA out of Podujevo. The doomed procession to war with NATO had begun. The KLA continued to smuggle arms over mountain passes from Albania. Albanian civilians were press ganged into service.
Before dawn on the fifteenth of December, they walked into a well prepared Serbian ambush. Most of those taken by surprise fled back into Albania. But 31 Albanian men were killed. Later on the same day in an apparent act of revenge, what remained of ethnic co-existence in the city of Pec nearby, was to be torn apart. A group of hooded, masked men drove up to this bar which was popular with young Serbs.

LAZAR OBRADOVIC
The doors opened and then we heard the machine gun fire.

LITTLE
Lazar’s teenage son, Ivan, was in the bar. He was a bright and promising school boy, who’d come top of his class..

LAZAR OBRADOVIC
It was a horrifying sight. We tried to help those that were still moving. There was blood everywhere. Ivan didn’t stand a chance. He was sitting right by the door. So he was the first one to be hit.

FATHER MIRJLKO KORICANIN
PARISH PRIEST, PEC
The situation in Pec became unbearable. The Serbs couldn’t stand the Albanians because they had killed 6 children. And the Albanians couldn’t stand the Serbs. Nobody knew what would happen next.

LITTLE
Walker condemned both the ambush on the border and the killings in the bar in equal measure.

WILLIAM WALKER
HEAD, KOSOVO VERIFICATION MISSION
It really looked like this was a tit for tat again. KLA hearing about their people being killed up on the border had done this in Pec.

WILLIAM WALKER

Q: There is a huge difference, isn’t there, between people killed in a legitimate military exchange and a bunch of hooded unknowns walking into a bar and killing some teenagers..?

A: I think the point is, we really didn’t know what had happened in Pec. Yes the government was saying it was KLA gangsters who had come in and sprayed this bar. When you don’t know what has happened, it’s a lot more difficult to sort of pronounce yourself.

LITTLE
One month later Walker was to break this rule to spectacular effect. He pronounced himself with absolute certainty about a massacre that occurred here, in the village of Racak. Even now, more than a year on, important questions about what happened here remain unanswered. This is the story of that massacre, of the political uses to which it was put, of how it galvanised the west to go to war, and of the pivotal role played by William Walker. There is nothing remarkable about Racak. Except that by January 1999, the KLA had moved in, most of the villagers had fled, and trenches had been dug on the edge of the village.

PAULA GHEDINI
UN REFUGEE AGENCY
We encountered many villages where the villagers themselves told us in very clear terms that they would prefer to be left completely alone. Often times they felt that if a KLA group were to come into their village, that would put them under greater threat.

LITTLE
From camouflaged positions near Racak the KLA launched well prepared hit and run strikes against Serb patrols. In early January, they killed four Serb policemen.


LITTLE
International observers watched from safe high ground as Serb forces took control of the village. They moved from house to house. Most were empty. The KLA had gone. When the Serb forces pulled out in the afternoon, they announced they’d killed 15 KLA men in action. The international monitors entered the village and reported nothing unusual. Only next morning did the full force of Serb retaliation become apparent [sic: staged]. William Walker went to see for himself.

WILLIAM WALKER
We progressed up the hill and about every 15 or 20 yards there was another body as we kept going up the hill, and I don’t know how many bodies we passed before we got to a pile of bodies.

LITTLE
By the time Walker arrived the KLA had retaken control of Racak[.]

Walker [archive]
The facts as verified by KVM include evidence of arbitrary detentions, extra-judicial killings, and the mutilation of unarmed civilians [sic: forensics found that mutilation was done post-mortem; staged] of Albanian ethnic origin in the village of Racak by the MUP and VJ.

LITTLE
In other words, he blamed the Serbian police and the Yugoslav army. Walker was supposed to be an independent international official. But did he seek direct instruction now from the Americans?

WILLIAM WALKER
Without calling any of my capitals I told what I thought I had seen, which was the end result of a massacre.

RICHARD HOLBROOKE
William Walker, the head of the Kosovo Verification Mission, called me on a cell phone from Racak.

WILLIAM WALKER
Q. But you don’t remember calling Washington at all?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK
SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER EUROPE
I got a call from Bill Walker. He said there’s a massacre. I’m standing here. I can see the bodies.

WILLIAM WALKER

(No reply to question)

Q: And you didn’t speak to Gen Clark or anybody like that?

LITTLE
Walker’s comments gave America the green light to enter Kosovo’s war. The KLA had pulled in it’s mighty ally.


DUGI GORANI
KOSOVO ALBANIAN NEGOTIATOR
With Racak, and with lots of others, the Serbs were playing into KLA hands. It will remain I would say an eternal dilemma whether the KLA initiated these battles in the civilian inhabited areas because it knew that the Serbs will retaliate on them…

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK
Clearly, after Racak, extraordinary measures had to be taken.

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT
It clearly is a galvanising event, and the President really felt that we could then move forward
, make clear that the US was going to be a part of an implementing force.

LITTLE
But Albright knew that the galvanising effect of Racak would not last long. She had to get her European allies on board. She insisted there could be no more diplomacy without the credible threat of force. The Europeans agreed. There would be one last diplomatic effort. The mesmerising splendour of the Chateau Rambouillet near Paris became the most luxurious last chance saloon in diplomatic history? Would the grandeur of Rambouillet beguile and seduce old foes to reconciliation?

DUGI GORANI
KOSOVO ALBANIAN DELEGATE
We became used to rare wines. We became used to delicious and I suspect tremendously expensive French specialities. We became used to a luxury which the main aim was to see us taking up a pencil and signing a piece of paper. So luxury was there, everything was there: you just sign the damned document.

LITTLE
As the delegates arrived, the last ditch nature of the talks became clear. The atmosphere was tense, it was the first time these old enemies had sat in the same room. The Europeans, some reluctant converts to the threat of force, earnestly pressed for an agreement both the Serbs and the Albanians could accept. But the Americans were more sceptical. They had come to Rambouillet with an alternative outcome in mind.

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT
If the Serbs would not agree, and the Albanians would agree, then there was a very clear cause for using force.

LITTLE
The Europeans clung to the formal purpose of the talks - an agreement by both sides.

JAMIE RUBIN
Obviously, publicly, we had to make clear we were seeking an agreement, but privately we knew the chances of the Serbs agreeing were quite small.

LITTLE
The Serbs did not object to the political aspects of the peace plan - including wide ranging autonomy for Kosovo. But their delegation refused even to consider the military part - a NATO peace implementation force. [Occupation.]

GENERAL NEBOJSA PAVKOVIC
They would have unlimited rights of movement and deployment, little short of occupation. Nobody could accept it.

LITTLE
Focus now shifted to the Albanian delegation. They’d elected the young and inexperienced KLA man [sic: former petty thief and budding mobster] Hashim Thaci as their leader. The entire delegation urged him to accept. But he refused because the agreement on offer did not include a referendum on independence.

DUGI GORANI
Thaci was really blunt to the delegation stating that look this document this actual presentation is completely unacceptable.

VETON SURROI
He used language which could be threat.. could be understood as threatening.

DUGI GORANI
And whoever signs it now, I would treat him or consider him as the enemy of the nation. [Paraphrasing Thaci]

The following sentence in a summary of a BBC documentary film elaborates: “A KLA commander tells how he threatened to blow up his own delegation to the Ramboulliet peace conference if they signed an agreement which didn’t secure Kosovo independence.”

LITTLE
It was a graphic illustration of the power the gun now wielded among the Kosovar Albanians. Thaqi’s intimidation of his fellow delegates did not stop a warm relationship developing between him and his international sponsors.

JAMIE RUBIN
He was somebody who was a younger member of the delegation more my age and so there was a certain natural rapport. I think I used to tease him a little bit about how he might look good in a Hollywood movie and I think he appreciated that sort of basic teasing back and forth.

LITTLE
Thaqi did not respond to this flattery. The Americans sent for their diplomatic big gun. Madeleine Albright arrived on St Valentine’s Day. She was absolutely focussed on getting a yes from Thaqi. She spent four days wooing him…Deadlines came and went, Thaqi still held out[.]

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT
I must say I was unbelievably frustrated. We needed clarity then and there.

VETON SURROI
She was saying you sign, the Serbs don’t sign, we bomb. You sign, the Serbs sign, you have NATO in. So it’s up to you to say. You don’t sign, the Serbs don’t sign, we forget about the subject[;] it was very explicit.

LITTLE
It took three weeks, but America’s chief diplomat got there in the end. The Serbs said no. The Albanians, finally, said yes…

CAPTAIN ROLAND KEITH
KOSOVO VERIFICATION MISSION
There was a lot of disquiet as our very lengthy convoys of international orange vehicles motored out of the province. I guess foreboding of what was coming next. I personally felt frustration, betrayal? Yes to some extent.

RICHARD HOLBROOKE
We [Milosevic and Holbrooke] sat alone in this vast white palace surrounded by Rembrandts or fake Rembrandts who knows, and we were totally alone and I said “You understand what will happen when I leave here?” and he said very flatly, no emotion, Milosevic said “Yeah, you’re gonna bomb us, you’re a big powerful country, you can do anything you want”. And I said “Well that’s it Mr President I have to go now”. And there was dead silence in this room where there had rarely been silence. And he said as we walked out “I wonder if I’ll ever see you again”. And I said “Well that depends on your actions Mr President”. And we shook hands and that was it. The bombing started twenty nine hours later.

[Fast-forward to mid-hostilities…]

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK
It wasn’t a War. There was no declaration of War. It wasn’t legally a War…And I don’t think there was a single member government of NATO that sought to go to war with Slobodan Milosevic.

LITTLE
All out war came to Belgrade on April 3rd - Day 11. NATO hit the Interior Ministry, the campaign headquarters of Kosovo’s ethnic cleansers. For the head of the air campaign, the real war had finally begun. But it was to prove a false start.

LITTLE
That difficulty came from France. Paris claimed not to have been consulted. President Chirac was furious to learn of the attack only afterwards. He and his foreign minister determined they would be consulted from now on.

LT GENERAL MIKE SHORT
For strategic reasons and, quite frankly, for signal reasons, I wanted to strike what had become called the rock ‘n roll bridge, the bridge that the Serbs were dancing on during the campaign to demonstrate their defiance. I wanted to bring that bridge down, and by one country we were denied the ability to strike that bridge. And in fact, what was relayed to me was that, the leadership of that country had said “Don’t even ask”.

Q: Which country?

A: It was France.

HUBERT VEDRINE
FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER
We tried hard to avoid targets affecting the economic life of the country, in other words people’s day-to-day lives in the most fundamental sense.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK
Nations beginning to ask us, in the region, said please get rid of Serb Television it’s just a huge propaganda weapon for Milosevic, its the way he maintains command and control. It’s a legitimate military target you need to disable this. And so we looked at a number of different techniques that could have been used to disable it. We finally concluded that the best way to do it was to bomb it.

LITTLE
RTS pictures were beamed around the world. Western television journalists in Belgrade used them too.

LITTLE
The American network CNN was based in the RTS building itself.

LITTLE
When these pictures hit western television screens they became a real threat to NATO’s ability to sustain the war. Whenever NATO made mistakes Western journalists were taken to film civilian casualties. At Djakovica, the allies bombed a convoy of Albanian refugees, wrongly believing it to be a Serbian military column, RTS pictures had an impact around the world.

ALESSIO VINCI
CNN, BELGRADE
…It was also a time when NATO started making the first mistakes, hitting civilian areas, and RTS was obviously prominently showing that… they were concentrating 99.9 per cent of their coverage on the mistakes or so-called mistakes that NATO would do…..and of course we were using those pictures because they were the only pictures that we had available.

TONY BLAIR
This was one of the problems about waging a conflict in a modern communications and news world…we were aware that there would be pictures coming back, the convoys were the, in many ways the worst of the refugees, that were hit by NATO bombs. We were aware that those pictures would come back, and there would be an instinctive sympathy for the, for the victims of the campaign.

LITTLE
RTS journalists openly taunted the west.

Newsreader
Let Clark take a shot, we are waiting for him. Our address is 10 Tarkovska street, I wont give you the co-ordinates, you’ll have to work them out yourselves.

ALESSIO VINCI
CNN, BELGRADE
And then at some point we were told that it was better to just leave the building altogether, because the risk of staying there, even during the day was too high because NATO had started 24-hour bombing, and that there was no way to find out when exactly RTS may get bombed.

LITTLE
Although the foreign journalists had pulled out local technicians continued to work their nightshifts. Kasenja Bankovic was among them. She believed that if the building was to be bombed the RTS bosses would warn the staff in advance.

BORKA BANKOVIC
I had the crazed look of a person searching through a crowd. Someone asked, Madam, was someone you know working here tonight? I said yes, my daughter.

LITTLE
Ksenija Bankovic and fifteen others, mostly technicians, died. When Belgrade woke the next morning, RTS was triumphantly back on the air. They were re-running the interrupted Milosevic interview. RTS had made a contingency plan in the event of bombing. It did not include evacuating their own staff [which of course would have required knowing when one was to be bombed].

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK
We knew that when we struck it there would be an alternate means of getting out the Serb television. There’s no single switch to turn off everything. But we thought it was a good move to strike it and the political leadership agreed with us[.]

BORKA BANKOVIC
This was an outrage. I can’t just condemn RTS and say NATO was right, because NATO killed my child and RTS were accomplices. NATO is the murderer.

LITTLE
American stealth bombers flew missions directly from bases inside the united states. The French government accused the Americans of flying unilateral bombing raids of their own outside the NATO command structure.

HUBERT VEDRINE
All the countries in the Atlantic Alliance acted as part of NATO, with full discussion about what to target, but the US was also carrying out a separate American operation. They deployed national forces, with a national decision-taking mechanism commanded from the US, and the European allies did not know about these other actions.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK
With all due respect the French foreign minister that’s incorrect.

Q: Why would he say it?

A: It’s incorrect I am not going to speculate on his motives. I can simply tell you it’s not correct. I commanded all assets and all assets were integrated into the NATO plan.

LITTLE
NATO had sent twelve thousand troops to neighbouring Macedonia, to go into Kosovo only once Milosevic had agreed to a peace deal. Britain now argued that they could be turned into a ground invasion force.

TONY BLAIR
I became convinced that we had to have that option there, and I became convinced even more so once I had visited NATO and sat down and talked to the guys who were fighting the campaign.

LITTLE
Clinton told Blair that NATO would not be allowed to lose. Blair took this to mean that US troops would be committed if needed.

LITTLE
But in the Pentagon there was intense opposition. When General Clark took a ground invasion plan to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he was cold shouldered.

LITTLE
The American military was closing off Blair’s ground option. Instead, the alliance stepped up the bombing campaign. Graphite bombs cut off the electricity. The targets were no longer purely military.

GENERAL LEONID IVASHEV
RUSSIAN DEFENCE MINISTRY
NATO, led by the USA, was flouting all the principles of international law. These principles had been in place since World War Two.

[Fast-forward to the Russian-brokered peace plan]

PRESIDENT MARTTI AHTISAARI
EU PEACE ENVOY
Both [Chernomyrdin] and I didn’t believe for a moment that we could get agreement in Belgrade…We went to the guest house where [Milosevic] was waiting….I actually read the peace offer, and he said “can we have a copy?”. They got it, and then they asked me if they could start improving the proposal. I said, unfortunately not, that this is as good as we can come up with, and if we can’t agree on this, then the next offer will be worse than this, from your point of view.

LITTLE
NATO had agreed [to] two key compromises.

PRESIDENT MARTTI AHTISAARI
For them I think the important points were the whole thing would happen under UN auspices and secondly that Kosovo would remain a part of Yugoslavia. That made the deal acceptable to the Russians. It also gave Milosevic something that had not been on offer before the bombing started: a UN mandate. There was a sort of sigh of relief, and I congratulated Chernomyrdin, and hugged him in a brotherly fashion.

LITTLE
But the relief was premature. The Russian military had expected their own sector of Kosovo, independent of NATO. They now felt double crossed.

GENERAL LEONID IVASHEV
RUSSIAN DEFENCE MINISTRY
I felt as if I were the defeated one. That was the feeling I had, as if I myself had been defeated. I felt that evil was triumphing over good.

LITTLE
They decided to try to take what they had been denied. Russian troops stationed in Bosnia rolled towards Kosovo.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK
They had informally conveyed information that they might be an advance party for an airborne operation that would go into Pristina Airfield and potentially partition the country.

LITTLE
There was a way to stop the Russians. In a Macedonian cornfield, Clark put five hundred British and French paratroopers on immediate standby to launch an air-borne assault. But Clark’s British subordinate told him the plan risked sparking World War Three.

LT GEN SIR MICHAEL JACKSON
COMMANDER, KOSOVO FORCE
We were standing into a possibility - let me put it no more strongly than that – a possibility of confrontation with the Russian contingent, which seemed to me probably not the right way to start off a relationship with Russians who were going to become part of my command.

LITTLE
British and French objections thwarted Clark’s plan. The two hundred Russian troops passed through Kosovo and were greeted as liberating heroes by local Serbs. They took the airport unopposed. The world watched nervously. The Russians were planning to fly in thousands of paratroopers, who would then cut Kosovo in half, leaving Milosevic in control of the North…Clark asked neighbouring countries to try to stop Russian aircraft flying towards Kosovo. The Rumanian defence minister took great pleasure in warning Moscow not to try to fly over his country.

LITTLE
June 12th 1999, Force Entry Day, with the agreement of Slobodan Milosevic, fifty thousand NATO troops entered Yugoslavia at last. They went more in relief than in triumph…

LITTLE
The Kosovo Liberation Army recruited NATO to its cause. An old injustice [sic] was defeated here. But NATO’s moral war rewarded those who took up arms.

RICHARD HOLBROOKE
I don’t believe that any of the liberation forces, or guerrilla forces of our lifetime moved more rapidly, or more successfully, from total obscurity to international standing and recognition than the Kosovo Liberation Army[.]

LITTLE
The Serbs that remain live in ghettos now. At Gorazdevac, near Pec, six hundred Italians stand between them and the vengeance [sic: continued violence] of their old neighbours. The war started as a moral
crusade to end such intolerance. But in the end it wasn’t about morality. It wasn’t even about Kosovo. It was about saving NATO from collapse.

TONY BLAIR
The bottom line was we couldn’t lose. If we lost, it’s not just that we would have failed in our strategic objective; failed in terms of the moral purpose - we would have dealt a devastating blow to the credibility of NATO and the world would have been less safe as a result of that.

Of course, as we all know, the war itself is what dealt a devastating blow to the credibility of NATO, and the world is far less safe as a result of that war, and of NATO’s designs for this world.

LITTLE
And NATO’s leaders did not know, when they led us into it [the war], that [NATO’s credibility] is what they were jeopardising. How closely they courted catastrophe, or how hollow the moral victory amid the ruins of a Kosovo where the oppressed, once liberated, themselves oppress.

But, like Glenn Beck said in February 2008 upon Kosovo’s illegal secession flouting the international agreements cited herein, “Who cares about Kosovo?!”