Saturday, June 23, 2012

Foundation of Lies

Bombs for "democracy"
Earlier this month, "Kosovarians" marked the anniversary of their "liberation" - i.e. the beginning of NATO's occupation of the Serbian province claimed by the terrorist KLA. Now, the Kosovo War was illegal and illegitimate, and its conduct doubly so - characterized by barbaric attacks on Serbian infrastructure and civilian targets, with the intent to demoralize and disrupt civilians. Most casualties suffered by the Yugoslav Army were along the Albanian border, while repelling the KLA invasion, and not from NATO airstrikes.

After the armistice was signed, however, the Empire wasn't satisfied merely with selectively applying its terms - it falsified the war's aftermath as well. A commission of "independent experts" was hired to proclaim it "illegal but legitimate." Despite solemn proclamations that the sovereignty of Yugoslavia (and later Serbia) would not be violated, the process of creating the "independent state of Kosovo" began almost right away. But perhaps most importantly, the actual combat reports were falsified in order to create the impression that the war was "won" by air power alone.

As Alexander Cockburn notes in Couterpunch yesterday, that falsification had far-reaching effects:
"[t]he Kosovo campaign’s apparent confirmation that bombs and missiles could achieve a victory at no cost in friendly casualties, and in a good cause too, undoubtedly prepared the political landscape for the automated drone warfare so eagerly embraced by our current leadership."
Indeed, as early as March 2003 it was obvious to some observers that Kosovo provided a precedent for the invasion of Iraq (and subsequently Libya).

Now, if NATO had not in fact beaten the Yugoslav Army, why did Belgrade surrender? The answer is very simple: it didn't. Even Cockburn makes a mistake of saying that Yugoslav President Milošević "accepted the allied terms", attributing that decision to Moscow's betrayal. While Yugoslavia was in fact betrayed by the puppet government of Boris Yeltsin - which some have argued played a crucial role in Yeltsin's subsequent demise and the rise of Vladimir Putin - it happened following the armistice, not prior.

The terms agreed upon in Kumanovo and built into UNSCR 1244 were different from NATO's demands prior to the war, in three crucial respects: NATO accepted UN authority over the province, there was no clause giving the Albanians independence after three years, and there was no mention of NATO's open access to the rest of Serbia (the infamous Appendix B of the Rambouillet ultimatum). On paper at least, NATO did not win an unconditional victory. That's why they proceeded to creatively reinterpret the paper.

Cheating the Serbs by altering the deal at gunpoint was one thing. Wrecking what was left of international law to establish the "independent Republic of Kosovo," was something else altogether. But perhaps worst of all, the falsified narrative of Kosovo as both the "good war" and a successful one has contributed to the quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan, the disaster of Libya and the bloodshed in Syria. Something similar happened with the deceptive success of the "revolution" in Serbia (2000), leading to its replication around the world.

The lies then beget atrocities, which beget more lies. And so on, until the whole thing comes crashing down, in fire and blood.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Life Imitating Art

HBO's recent comedy hit Veep was inspired - well, adapted from - a fantastic British comedy called  The Thick of It, which shows politics from the (sordid, self-serving, incompetent) inside. The creator of both shows is Armando Ianucci, who was recently honored with the OBE (in a funny twist, this prompted a Twitter war with Blair spin doctor Alastair Campbell, who is generally assumed to be the inspiration for the character of Malcolm Tucker on the show).

Showing just how accurately Ianucci's comedy skewers British politicians is a video of actual events that was uploaded to YouTube yesterday, and has since gone viral. It shows the EU commissar for foreign relations, Baroness Ashton, panicking before meeting the new president of Serbia (who visited Brussels last week), because she doesn't know what he looks like!

Fellow Brit Robert Cooper, Ashton's envoy for the "talks" between Serbia and the self-proclaimed "Republic of Kosovo", is no help. "Neither do I," he responds to Ashton's request. Fortunately, an aide has a picture, and Ashton is soon happily grinning next to the visiting Serb.

The ignorance is particularly embarrassing considering that Nikolić had been a presidential candidate in 2004 and 2008, narrowly losing to EU's preferred quisling Boris Tadić; upon winning this time, he was criticized by numerous EU officials for his "nationalism" and statements challenging the Official Truth about the Yugoslav Wars. And they don't even know what he looks like!

Yes, they really are that incompetent. And far less powerful than they seem.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Scoop of Quisling Pabulum

It isn't often that I want to facepalm when watching RT, but yesterday was one such moment.

Serbia's new President just returned from Brussels, where he basically assured the Eurocrats he  would continue the suicidal policies of his predecessor and EU/US drone, Boris Tadić. But Serbia doesn't have a new cabinet yet, so figuring out whether its policies will actually change remains a matter for speculation.

I suppose RT thought it would be a good idea to bypass the political operatives and speak to a diplomat, whose job after all is to represent the country, regardless of who were in charge. After all, as English diplomat Henry Wotton once famously observed, an ambassador is a "honest man sent to lie abroad for the good of his country." So they interviewed Serbia's Ambassador to the UK, Dejan Popović. Now, in a normal country, their assumption would have been entirely warranted. But remember, this is Serbia we're talking about. And in post-2000 Serbia, the "good of his country" part was officially redacted from that observation, and replaced with "for the EU and the Empire."

"Serbian" ambassador to the UK
Two minutes on Wikipedia, or even the Embassy's own website, could have saved them the trouble. Popović, a former law professor, was Deputy Finance Minister in the 2001-2004 DOS government, and subsequently deputy chancellor of the Belgrade University. Before becoming ambassador, he was on president Тadić's "privy council." He may claim not to be affiliated with any party, but how plausible is that? In post-2000 Serbia, no one can get even menial jobs without party connections. Yet this man was a deputy minister, vice-chancellor of the country's biggest university, member of the president's inner circle and an ambassador, supposedly without any party pull. Not possible. The only question is only which party, the Democrats or the disgraced bankster G-17, which has now morphed into United Regions?

Judging by the stupidities he spewed in the interview, it could be either. Supposedly the voters didn't care for the EU or Kosovo, but were "not satisfied with the performance of the economy." So that's how one says "you bastards ruined the country so badly, we're eating out of trash bins" in European, the language of the ruling quisling cult! More importantly, however, the only basis for his conclusion are the official election results. Which, let's remember, were absurdly unreal, doctored and tampered with. Anyone trying to make sense of them is wasting time, as they are nonsensical.

The way Popović prattles on about the economy is simply offensive, as if Serbia magically woke up in its present predicament, and this development had nothing whatsoever to do with his Democrat-bankster bosses. Nope, must have been unicorns from outer space who indebted the country to 45% of the GDP, brought unemployment to 25%, and put the country in a position where there would be no choice but to "enter a very strict domain of austerity measures".

That's rich, by the way, coming from a government that's grown in size even as it mercilessly suffocated every productive endeavor in the country. Božidar Đelić, Popović's direct superior in the DOS government, was nicknamed "the Flayer" (Derikoža) for the array of taxes he imposed upon the economy devastated by war and sanctions. Somehow I don't see the new Serbian government getting any smaller, lowering taxes on productive enterprises, or stopping the funding of soul-sucking NGOs. Oh yes, that's a pretty paradox right there, a government drowning the country in debt while giving 44 million Euros annually to fund the "non-governmental organizations" by and large focused on destroying the country from within! That's like deliberately infecting someone with AIDS, then feigning surprise that they are bleeding to death from Ebola.

Asked whether it was feasible for Serbia to pursue EU annexation and stay friends with Russia, he gushed that it absolutely was. Why, such "very good friends of Russia, for instance Bulgaria or Croatia" were in the EU or about to join! Um, last I heard, both of those were members of NATO and Washington's obedient vassals. How did he figure they were "friends of Russia"? Is that like the "friends of Syria"?

What about NATO membership? Oh no, no, Tadić said Serbia would be neutral, and the Constitution said Kosovo was part of Serbia. Surely no politician can disobey the Constitution, right? Or say one thing to his people and the other to the Empire? Right?

The ambassador showcased the "depth" of his economic and political understanding by arguing that the EU was a lofty collection of noble values, which will outlast the economic and fiscal woes. He best not leave the kiddy-pool without a life vest. The EU was built on a promise of prosperity through welfare statism. Clearly, that concept is now collapsing - as is its American variation, prosperity through oligarchy and conquest. Which country is actually prospering, debt-free and trying to hammer out a new form of government that would guarantee the liberty of its citizens without devolving into teleoperated mob rule? You've guessed it: Russia.

But the straw that broke the back of the proverbial camel was Popović's handling - or rather, mangling - of the Srebrenica question. Namely, president-elect Nikolić had recently told a radio show that Srebrenica was a horrific war crime, but not genocide - for which he was condemned by Bosnian Muslims, Brussels and Washington alike.

The Ambassador had plenty of room to maneuver here. Nikolić did condemn the atrocity, and executing POWs is bad enough there is no need to gild the lily by defining it as "genocide." The  ICJ verdict that keeps getting mentioned actually rejected the claim that "genocide" happened in Bosnia, and they only referred to Srebrenica as such because of a deliberate decision to take the verdicts of the ICTY (unlike the ICJ, an illegitimate court) at face value. Yet there is a growing body of level-headed evidence showing that the ICTY manifestly failed to prove the case for genocide in Srebrenica. Even the infamous parliamentary resolution promoted by the Tadic regime described Srebrenica as a "serious war crime", never mentioning the word "genocide."

No serious diplomat would allow himself to admit to genocide, regardless of his personal feelings in the matter, and even if it were true (which, again, is very much debatable). Instead, Popović did just that, and even reinforced it by saying he ought to know, as a lawyer and law professor! For that alone, he should be sacked immediately.

I don't know what RT was expecting out of the interview, but instead of getting a scoop on the new President's policies, what they got instead was a dollop of pabulum from the quisling regime still clinging to power, presented by a pathetic excuse for a diplomat who clearly cares more about the Brussels Reich than about his own country and people.


Saturday, June 16, 2012

New Boss, Same as Old Boss

New face, same promises: Nikolic in Brussels
Though the jury was out on it for a few weeks, it is now apparent that the election of Tomislav Nikolic to Serbian presidency was leveraged into a victory of the Empire. Nikolic has just returned from Brussels professing undying devotion to the EU, which means he intends to continue Tadic's suicidal course.

On the other hand, the Imperial media are using his election as the opportunity to demonize Serbia once more (not that they need much of an excuse). In turn, Nikolic's handlers are invoking this to tell the confused Serbs, "Look, he's a nationalist! He's not actually a quisling! He's just pretending to be a quisling so he can fool the Empire. Trust him!"

If that's an act, give the man an Oscar right now.

Meanwhile, the cabinet talks are still ongoing. Yesterday a tabloid owned by the Democrats (most of them are) claimed that an agreement was reached for a grand coalition of the Democrats, Socialists, Liberal-Democrats and United Regions (reference my handy guide to Serbian politics if this is confusing). The rumor was never confirmed, but it spread through Serbia like wildfire. Meanwhile, the Progressives are talking to the Socialists and, well, whoever.

No doubt there will be someone from the previous government in the new one, making Serbian politics much like those of the Bosnian Federation. In other words, even if someone had in mind to reform the system, there's no way that can be done in a precarious coalition with a partner that benefited from that system. Vojislav Kostunica and Zlatko Lagumdzija have had to learn this the hard way. I doubt Nikolic is even interested in trying.

Until a prime minister is appointed, however, Serbia's day-to-day affairs are run by the previous cabinet - only now the ministers have even less responsibility for their actions, because they are lame ducks. Whose policies are they actually implementing? The ones in effect before the May 6 general election? Those of their respective party leaderships? Those of the new President? Well, hardly, because the president isn't supposed to make policy. One can forgive the confusion of people who didn't know this, since all they've had to go on is Tadic, who notoriously violated that principle by staying the boss of the Democratic Party while holding the office of President, and essentially ran the country as an autocrat - albeit one teleoperated from Brussels and Washington.

Nikolic and the Progressives have shown nothing to indicate they had any sort of vision for Serbia, or even how they intend to do things differently. In the current vacuum, the Empire and the old regime are doing their best to ensure that even if they decided to try and untangle Serbia from the web of servitude to the Empire, they would never get a chance.

No wonder that a country where politics comes down to parties calling themselves Democrats, Socialists and Progressives is in such horrible shape. I don't know what sort of reaction might emerge to Serbia's corrupt, quisling oligarchy, but I wouldn't be the least surprised if it turned out to be decidedly non-political.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Following the Money

Despite numerous cogent analyses, and even frank admissions by former and current Imperial officials, indicating that their interventions around the world - and specifically in the Balkans - have been motivated by considerations of power, there are still some who maintain that the wars were all about the money.

This is a fundamental misunderstanding of the force driving politicians. Most of us normal folk want money because with enough of it (and how much is ever enough?) we think we can afford all the comforts of life we desire. But once you reach a certain level of power, money ceases to be an object. You don't have to worry about purchasing things; you can simply take them.

The other day an Imperial propaganda outfit revealed that Wesley Clark, the "General who led NATO’s campaign against Serbia in 1999" (that's one way of putting it) has asked Kosovo's government (sic) "for a licence to transform the country’s untapped coal reserves into fuel". Sure enough, a chorus arose: See, Kosovo was all about the ore, the oil, the mineral wealth!

No. Kosovo was about breaking Serbia, so as to conquer the Balkans and establish an axis with Turkey and the Middle East, while erecting a barrier around Russia. All ancient geopolitics, really. Any potential profit for Empire's camp-followers was merely icing on the cake. But the cake itself is hegemony in Eurasia.

The following is adapted from two emails sent to me by an astute reader, familiar with Balkans business deals. I won't reveal his name; suffice to say I have full confidence he knows what he's talking about.

The phrasing "License for Oil" is a bit deceiving. If you look at this API article (which can be read in full for free) then it seems that his company is seeking a license to 1) explore for coal, and, if found, 2) convert coal into gas and 3) convert gas into synthetic fuel ("oil").  If you look at the website of his company, Envidity Inc., you will see that they are already developing a coal-to-synfuel project in Mongolia, where they have obtained an exclusive license for coal extraction in an area of 774 sq. km.

On their page "About Us" you will see that they do not hide their association with Wesley Clark, and they are not entirely ignorant of his glorious military past: "...In his last assignment as Supreme Allied Commander Europe he led NATO forces to victory in Operation Allied Force, saving 1.5 million Albanians from ethnic cleansing." [!!!]

Looking over their website from a business point of view, it is clear that they are a bunch of experts with an idea, but no money or financial backing so far. They are betting everything on the theory of "peak oil"...  In addition, Kosovo's energy and transportation infrastructure is atrocious (probably not much better than Mongolia's), so unless the energy to run the conversion process will come from the coal itself then their facility would be a net consumer of electricity from the Kosovo power grid, and Kosovo is already a net importer of electricity, I believe.

Anyway, the thing seems to me like a pipe dream. Even their Mongolian project so far is merely at the stage of obtaining rights for the coal, and these people do not look to me like people who know about financing, building, and operating large chemical plants. (And they seem to be saying that this project would provide royalties to the Kosovo regime of €300 million/year, which implies sales of billions of euros per year, which would need a very large plant.) So unless we see them first succeed in finding someone with the pockets deep enough to backstop a construction project of a billion or two euros in Mongolia, we should conclude that they are just dreamers.

Sure, coal is known to exist in Kosovo, and in fact it is the only source that they have so far for producing electricity. And sure, there exist technologies to convert coal into gas and then into liquid. But these technologies are so expensive that I am not aware of any such plants operating at the present time. Here is an article posted yesterday about such a plant that is going to be constructed in West Virginia: this plant, which will produce 18,000 barrels of synfuel a day, is expected to cost $4 billion, so you can imagine how much Wesley Clark's plant would cost that "could eventually produce up to 15.9 million litres (100,000 barrels) a day". And no matter how many NATO troops may be available for free to guard their facilities, if they employ any of the local people then they will face horrendous problems with theft, corruption, careless maintenance, and so on.

The important thing is that due to this depression almost no projects of over €250 million are moving forward anywhere in SE Europe, and this would be a project of over €1,000 million. And it is entirely a gamble on "peak oil". In addition, the project would be in Kosovo, and I have the impression that no significant infrastructure, industrial, or energy project has moved forward in Kosovo since "independence", not even wind parks or hydro plants of €5-50 million, much less something of €1,000 million.

A few months ago I did some research, trying to find any register of "environmental impact assessments" (EIAs) in Kosovo. I found that the Priština regime did indeed publish a very rudimentary EIA law back in about 2004, requiring significant projects to file EIA studies and obtain EIA decisions. But I found no evidence at all - even in the Kosovo Official Register - that any such filings or decisions had ever been made.  I think to date it is all merely hypothetical.

More attractive than the coal would be the minerals, since the mountains of the Balkans are rich in all kinds of minerals, and the highest mountains - around KosMet - have some of the most exotic minerals. But if the Trepča mine complex is almost completely idle because no foreign investors have been willing to step forward, you can imagine that for an economically questionable project like coal liquefaction it will be harder still to obtain money from abroad.

So you see, Clark's project is a pie in the sky. It is much more likely, in my estimation, to be a front for some serious money-laundering than ever to actually produce any fuel. I suppose Clark figured he'd never be chairman of the Joint Chiefs, so he's settling for the next best thing, trying to cash in his "popularity" to profit from a snake-oil scheme. It's a long way from a self-styled noble knight saving the Albanians-in-distress to a vulture picking at their refuse - but I can't say I'm particularly surprised.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Speed of Truth

With last year's Libyan intervention proceeding according to an accelerated Balkans script, and Syrian "freedom fighters" going to "learn" from KLA terrorists, it was just a matter of time before a "massacre" would manifest and be used as justification for intervention in the name of "stopping genocide."

Enter Houla, a village where over 100 people were murdered, allegedly by the "Assad's regime." The story was the stuff of headlines in the mainstream Western media for days - and then it vanished. Why?

Because it has emerged that Houla was a frame job: the massacred civilians were loyal to the government, while the methods of murder suggested it was the "rebels" who did the killing. Daniel McAdams has more of the story on the LRC blog, quoting a variety of sources, and concludes:

"Syrian government responsibility for Houla was a lie; it was in fact a provocation by the rebels to get the Libya-style foreign intervention they need to overthrow the government. Will anyone listen now that a major mainstream outlet has reported it?"

Now, I doubt anyone will listen; the Imperial establishment has long disdained facts when they dared interfere with its conjured narrative. Even if the general public takes this story to heart, expect it to be taken by another forthcoming bit of atrocity porn. And if in some unlikely case it doesn't swallow the case for "saving Syria" by mass-murdering Syrians, the establishment will do it anyway. Just as they did in Libya, or Iraq, or Serbia. Impunity, thy name is Empire.

The silver lining, however, is in the speed with which lies can be debunked, thanks to new technology. It took a decade to get an accurate death toll of the Bosnian War, and years to expose the Racak hoax. But the "gay girl in Damascus" took a few months, and Houla was exposed as a fraud within weeks. That's still not good enough, but it shows promise.

Friday, June 01, 2012

A Message in Blood

There was some confusion in Serbia as to where the "international community" (i.e. the Empire and its long tail of servants) might stand on the newly elected president. After today, there shouldn't be.

Unarmed Serb civilian "threatens" NATO "peacekeepers"
In a shocking repeat of last September's bloodshed, this morning American KFOR troops fired upon Serb civilians trying to stop the demolition of the roadblocks in northern Kosovo. There are reports of 3-4 seriously injured people. KFOR immediately claimed several of their own soldiers were injured, but didn't provide any proof. Same as last time.

The roadblocks were erected after the KLA regime in Pristina tried to seize the "border" with Serbia in July last year. Serbs living in the north of the province refuse to recognize the illegally declared Albanian state, and continue to resist occupation.

The rest of their kin in the province has either been ethnically cleansed, or lives in ghettos surrounded by barbed wire and "protected" by the same NATO troops that established the Albanian "state" in the first place. While officially claiming to defend Serbia's claim to Kosovo, the quisling government in Belgrade has done everything to surrender the province. But the Serbs actually living there refuse to submit; in a referendum in February, they told both Belgrade and the KLA regime to bugger off.

NATO's "KFOR" mission has repeatedly tried to dismantle the roadblocks, asserting they were entitled to "freedom of movement" everywhere in "Kosovia." The local Serbs have defied them with sticks, stones and bodies, nothing more. There was an unofficial truce during the winter, as heavy snows blanketed the province (though contrary to KFOR's hopes, that didn't dampen the Serbs' resolve any).

Initially, the Serbs were blocking all traffic. But with KFOR outposts at risk of disease from waste accumulation, the blockade was relaxed: KFOR vehicles could pass, but Albanian "officials" and their EU enablers were still banned. Despite continuing to insist on unconditional passage, KFOR took the deal. According to local Serb leaders, after today, that deal is off.

Former UNMIK official and U.S. diplomat Gerard Gallucci - an outspoken critic of the occupation tactics, even as he supports "Kosovia" as "reality" - argued earlier this month that the Albanians aren't interested in a negotiated solution, only surrender. So they've been trying to provoke violence, in order to get NATO to do the job for them.

Albanian motives are hardly a mystery: they covet land, and hate the Serbs viscerally (as a legacy of the Ottoman era, not because of phantom "human rights violations"). But what is the Empire thinking? Though they've been used as an example of America-loving Muslims (though the Muslim angle is routinely downplayed in the West when Albanians commit acts of terrorism), creating the "Independent state of Kosovia" isn't really about the Albanians at all.

To conquer the Balkans, one must conquer the Serbs. To make sure the Serbs stay conquered - which a succession of empires in the course of history has found a challenging endeavor, to say the least - they must be lobotomized. And the way to do this is to destroy the nexus of their identity, the legend of their heroic defiance to Ottoman conquerors in the Battle of Kosovo. Once the Serbs embarked on the long, arduous road to freedom from the Ottoman Empire in 1804, they didn't stop fighting till they've liberated Kosovo - which they did in the First Balkan War of 1912. Ever since then, enemies have tried to take it away: from Austria-Hungary in WW1, Nazi Germany in WW2, the Communists since 1945, and now the Atlantic Empire.

Trouble is, there are still Serbs who refuse to surrender. Besieged, blockaded, bombed, betrayed by the quisling cult that rules in Belgrade - nothing seems to work. And nothing will. When people are set on liberty or death, there is little an aspiring conqueror can do. That's something KFOR and the Empire still have to understand.