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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Ethnic Cleansing? Mass Graves?

Eli at Left I on the News has an update on those "hundreds of thousands" of Kosovars killed by Milosevic which "justified" Clinton's bombing the crap out of Serbia in 1999:
"The war crimes tribunal in The Hague is 'beginning to panic' over its case against former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic according to a Vancouver detective sent to unearth mass graves in Kosovo and a Canadian filmmaker who documented the exhumations.

"'I would think they'll have a tough time with the charge of genocide with only 5,000 bodies,' said retired Vancouver detective sergeant Brian Honeybourn. 'It seems as though The Hague is beginning to panic.'

"Mr. Milosevic's trial is to resume next week with the former Serbian dictator defending himself against charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. Former Canadian Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour made history when she laid the charges -- the first against a head of state -- as the tribunal's special prosecutor.

"Calgary filmmaker Garth Pritchard and Sgt. Honeybourn are critical of Ms. Arbour, now UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and her claims that the Serbs, directed by Mr. Milosevic, murdered as many as 200,000 civilians during its ethnic cleansing of Kosovo.

"The alleged massacres were used by U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Western leaders as justification for their bombing campaign and intervention in Kosovo, and were regularly and routinely reported as fact on television networks such as the CBC and CNN, as the West backed the Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) against the Serbs.

"'This was a massacre that never happened,' Mr. Pritchard maintains.

"Sgt. Honeybourn and forensic team leader Brian Strongman echoed Mr. Pritchard's doubts that the genocidal massacre by the Serbs ever took place.

"'I can't say that there weren't 200,000 bodies because I wasn't covering the entire country,' said Sgt. Honeybourn.

"'But I never saw any sign of anything like 200,000. If there were that many, then why did they have us exhuming single graves? The biggest mass grave we examined contained about 20 and there was another one of 11. But mostly our nine-member team worked on single graves.'

"In the six weeks Sgt. Honeybourn spent digging up fetid graves in Kosovo during the sweltering summer of 1999, the Canadian team exhumed 86 bodies."
Sounds a lot like Tony Blair's gross exaggerations of the number of mass graves in Iraq. And the reasons seem to be the same. Here's a selection from Chalmers Johnson's The Sorrows of Empire:
Kosov's Camp Bondsteel, a Brown & Root [That's Halliburton--ed] product, is a spooky place, surrounded by a 2.5-meter-high earthen berm and nine wooden guard towers. All trees in the are have been removed to provide open fields of fire. Dominated by a mass of communications antennae, satellite dishes, and hovering attack helicopters, it has a six-mile perimeter and seems too large and permanent an installation merely to meet the requirements of peacekeeping in southern Serbia, a mission that President Clinton asserted would last no longer than six months and that George Bush said in his election campaign he wished to eliminate. More likely, Camp Bondsteel is intended to play a role in a grand strategy to secure for us Middle Eastern and Central Asian oil supplies and to control oil going to other countries.

Camp Bondsteel is actually located astride the route of the proposed AMBO (Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria Oil) Trans-Balkan pipeline. This $1.3 billion project, if built, will pump Caspian Basin oil brought by tanker from a pipeline terminus in Georgia across the Black Sea to the Bulgarian oil port at Burgas, where it will be piped through Macedonia to the Albanian Adriatic port of Vlore. From there, supertankers would take it to Europe and the United States, thus bypassing the congested Bosporous Strait--as of now the only route out of the Black Sea by ship--where tankers are restricted to 150,000 tons. The initial feasibility study for the AMBO pipeline was done in 1995 by Brown & Root, which updated it in 1999. Bondsteel appears to be a base camp for what the University of Texas political scientist James K. Galbraith has called the "military-petroleum complex," of which Dick Cheney is assuredly a godfather.

Not coincidentally, in February 2003, the United States also began to build two new military bases at Burgas. On November 14, 2001, the Bulgarian parliament ratified an agreement giving the United States overflight and transit rights for the war in Afghanistan; when Turkey withdrew its support of Washington's 2003 invasion of Iraq, the United States turned to Sofia for a permanent installation, to which the Bulgarians agreed. The air force took over much of Burgas International Airport, one of three commercial airports in Bulgaria, and flew in numerous construction crews to build a garrison at a nearby beach for American military personnel. It is called Camp Sarafovo. The large number of airmen who arrived seemingly overnight are the first foreign troops to commandeer the Burgas airport since the Luftwaffe seized it in 1943. During the second Iraq war, the United States flew KC-10 and KC-135 aerial refueling missions from Burgas to support air operations over Baghdad. The port of Burgas is home to the country's largest oil refinery and, under the terms of the Bulgarian-American agreement, supplies all the fuel required by the air force. Just a few hundred miles up the Black Sea coast, at the Romanian port of Constanta, the air force is building a similar base complex. Constanta is the center of Romania's large oil industry. The Afghan war and the second Iraq war turned out to be splendid opportunities for the United States to consolidate its oil strategy for the Balkans, the first stage of which was Camp Bondsteel.
Pretty much a seamless transition in foreign policy from Clinton to Bush. Expect no different if Kerry wins. Behind the smokescreens of sexual scandals and gay marriage and swiftboats, the goal of the two major parties is the same: Consolidating the wealth of the world into the hands of the American elite. Any excuse will work for any war that furthers that cause.