The policy of EU containment
Whereas US strategic foreign policy in South Central Asia is based on containment and disintegration of Russia into smaller "more controllable" states, the Balkan policy of containment was directed toward the European Union, most members of which are supposed to be our allies.
The policy of EU containment
© 2002 by Jim Moore, from the forthcoming book "Big Oil - Big War: The true story of September 11, 2001 and the 'War on Terror' - Writer's Club Press: San Jose, New York, Lincoln, Shanghai.
Whereas US strategic foreign policy in South Central Asia is based on containment and disintegration of Russia into smaller "more controllable" states, the Balkan policy of containment was directed toward the European Union, most members of which are supposed to be our allies.
There is an old saying, "Be careful what you wish for, you may get it." For decades, we fought the "Evil Empire" of the Soviet Union, in hopes that we could bring it crashing down. The fall of the Berlin Wall triggered that collapse and, as a result, threw all US European foreign policy into chaos. Why we didn't foresee the results is a mystery that may never be answered.
Our main, perhaps only, club over the nations of Western Europe was the Soviet boogey man. Europe depended on the US for protection from this evil monolith. The price was subservience to US interests, primarily commercial. There was a heavy price in sovereignty to be paid for the Pershing missiles and US troops stationed throughout Europe as a wall of protection against Soviet expansion.
Once that wall fell, and Western Europe evolved into the Common Market and then the broader European Union, there was no more boogeyman. For the US, it meant there was no more club of fear to hold over their heads to keep them in line. US State Department officials were outraged that European leaders such as Prince Charles made public pronouncements that the European Union should create its own military force, rendering NATO an obsolete relic of the Cold War.
For the European nations to legitimize their claim of independence from the US, they would have to prove themselves capable of handling flare-ups within their own community. The US was equally determined to show they couldn't. What was needed was a European conflict in which the US could once again flex its muscles and demonstrate that without us, Europe was nothing.
Therefore, Clinton's drive for war was dictated by US strategic goals in Europe and in the international arena, and had nothing whatsoever to do with any piously-feigned "concern" for the plight of Albanian refugees or any other ethnic group. Fomenting a war in Yugoslavia therefore became just an instrument of overall US geopolitical strategy - to show the inability of the European Union to sustain a collective political will in the face of unremitting US pressure.
The New Dreyfus Affair
Peter Gowan, in an excellent and insightful article in CounterPunch ( http://www.counterpunch.org/gowan.html) notes that while this theory "is anathema to the media pundits in NATOland, it is overwhelmingly popular in the foreign offices and state executive offices of the states of Europe and of the entire world."
Clinton, ever the master politician, counted on the rivalries and vanities of the individual European states as the way to "divide and conquer." Sewing the seeds of jealousy and distrust and fanning the flames of bruised national egos seeing themselves forced into a broader European subservience, often against their will, Clinton virtually insured that the European Union would be unable to coalesce and stand up to America's own expansionism. Gowan calls this "the Theory of European Stupidity."
For several months in 1998, Europe did try to stop the American drive for a NATO-led war. European interests were far different from those of the US, and Europe wanted the situation resolved peacefully, not with the slaughter of thousands of civilians that would certainly happen with war. By late January 1999, Clinton succeeded in driving the wedge he hoped for, as Britain and France broke with the European Union and lined up behind the idea of war.
Europe found it was far, far easier for one nation to wage a war rooted in fiction and outright lies than for a collection of nations to build a transnational, post-nation structure of states like the European Union, the Council of Europe or the OSCE.
Claude Lanzmann, the producer of Shoah, a documentary account of the Holocaust, captured the sentiment of millions of Europeans when, at a gathering of intellectuals at the Marc-Bloc Foundation in Paris May 29, he characterized the NATO attack on Yugoslavia as "a new Dreyfus affair," with a whole nation cast in the role of Dreyfus.
Once millions of Europeans saw the war for what it was - a power play of Western nations, built upon a total lie, which shattered the whole structure of what Europe was trying to do, European sentiment turned bitterly against the United States. When September 11 happened, that bitterness - often hatred - explained why so much of Europe had so little sympathy for the bruised and bloodied giant across the Atlantic. While there was widespread and genuine sympathy for the thousands of victims of that awful Tuesday morning, there was virtually none for the US government itself.
The Carefully-Nurtured 'Theory of American Stupidity'
There is also what is called "the Theory of American Stupidity," a theory carefully planted and nurtured by the Clinton administration. This led Europe to initially believe that the horrible mismatch of American methods and supposed American aims was sheer US stupidity. If the situation, contrived as it was to begin with, could be resolved peacefully, why was the US so insistent on war? That theory of American stupidity was a sham, for the US aims were not, in reality, what the US publicly professed them to be.
Until January 1999, when Britain and France caved in, Europe constantly undermined and checked the US demand for war. In a countermove, the US constantly undermined any European solution that would not require war.
That notion of American stupidity, Gowan wrote, was from the outset a British theory. It was fed by the upper-class right-wing distrust of the British for "stupid Americans," balanced by the hope that "perhaps this time we can outfox the Americans and manipulate them to our advantage." Britain was sick and tired of always being manipulated by the US, and saw their own Yugoslav solution as a way to break the chains.
Russia saw the US ploy for what it was, and insisted that, if there had to be a war, it was to include a Russian presence. US invaders were stunned and angry when they moved into certain military bases, only to find the Russians had got there first and were denying the Americans access. The Russian move required a minimal investment of manpower and materials, but accomplished much more in a global PR coup, putting quiet smiles of satisfaction on the faces of those millions of Europeans who, while not overly fond of Russia, were at least as disdainful of America. The American "comeuppance" was quietly toasted throughout Europe.
Never, Ever Trust an American Politician
From the very beginning, there was no way out for Milosevic. While he agreed, even pleaded, for a UN force to establish the peace - and the truth - he felt a NATO invasion and takeover was totally unacceptable. He was betting the farm on the European Union - and lost.
The only thing the US and Europe ever agreed upon, and that was only in the beginning, was that the KLA was a dangerous terrorist group unworthy of being handed the Yugoslavian nation.
US Secretary of State Albright made it clear from the beginning that only a war would do, when on March 7, 1998, she declared "We are not going to stand by and watch the Serbian authorities do in Kosovo what they can no longer get away with doing in Bosnia." Two days later she reserved the US right to take unilateral action - Europe be damned. "We know what we need to know to believe we are seeing ethnic cleansing all over again."
Just what is it that the Yugoslavian government had done to merit such a response? It had launched a counter-insurgency against what everyone agreed was a terrorist operation in Benistar against the KLA. Milosevic got the green light from Ambassador Gelbard, US special envoy to the region, when Gelbard announced of the KLA, "I know a terrorist when I see one and these men [KLA] are terrorists." According toe BBC correspondent in Belgrade, Gelbard's primary reason for flying into Belgrade was to denounce the KLA as terrorists.
It was a cynical replay of Ambassador April Glaspie's words to Saddam Hussein about Hussein's complaint that Kuwait was stealing Iraqi oil through side-drilling. Basically, yes, these guys are bad guys and we have no intention of getting involved in your internal affairs. Milosevic failed to learn from Hussein's mistake: never believe the Americans. As for Clinton, hey, if it worked once for Bush, it ought to work again for me.
Why Clinton prayed for a slaughter of the Albanian refugees
The Europeans and Russia had been working throughout the UN in 1998 (UN Resolution 1199) to bring about a ceasefire and provide autonomy for the Albanians without breaking up Yugoslavia itself. From March 1998, the Serbian government supported this approach. Only Albright and the KLA opposed it, and the US response was to start pouring massive amounts of arms and money to the KLA - through Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden - to encourage the KLA to win on the battlefield what it could not win in negotiations.
Publicly, the Clinton administration said it did not support the KLA aim of splitting up the country, but privately US actions indeed were supporting those aims. By June 1998, NATO's war plans were complete. Albright had known all along that she would never accept a negotiated peace and that when the US wants a war, by the gods, the US will have a war.
In March, White House spokesman Mike McCurry told the world that Serbia "must immediately withdraw security units involved in civilian repression, without linkage to ... the stopping of terrorist activity." Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon echoed this statement, proclaiming, "We don't think that there should be any linkage between an immediate withdrawal of forces by the Yugoslavs on the one hand, and stopping terrorist activities on the other. There ought to be complete withdrawal of military forces so that negotiations can begin."
In short, the US demand was that the Serbs abandon Kosovo to the "terrorist" KLA, which the US knew full well would move in and slaughter any remaining Serb citizrens, as well as the very large population of Albanians who preferred to Serbs to the KLA. Those Albanians would be treated as "traitors," the KLA made clear. We all know what Muslim terrorists do to infidels.
In 2002, President Bush used the same demands against Israel's Premier Ariel Sharon, who promptly told him to "go to hell" when the US demanded Israel withdraw its forces from the West Bank based only upon a worthless verbal promise that the Palestinian terror waves would stop. Sharon knew better. Through widespread Mossad infiltration of the highest levels of US government, Sharon knew full well what the real agenda had been in the Balkans and he "would be damned" if he let the US do the same thing to Israel. Bush, faced with a much stronger opposition from American Jews than Clinton had faced from the American Serb population, backed down.
All of this important in the context of what is happening in Afghanistan only because it shows a pattern of agenda and tactics that have been used successfully over and over, and because it shows the US has relied upon the same terrorist organizations to accomplish its aims in both spheres of influence.
The Great Lie - Hook, Line and Sinker
On October 13, 1998, Albright's primary rival for power, Richard Holbrooke, negotiated a cease-fire agreement with Milosevic, a ceasefire which was to be monitored in Kosovo by OSCE observers. Milosevic said he would accept that, but would not accept NATO interference. The agreement also demanded that the US enforce a KLA ceasefire.
Milosevic continued to wait - for a month - for the US to keep its part of the bargain. In the meantime, the US-armed and trained KLA overran the countryside, extending its reach farther and farther, slaughtering Serbs and Albanians alike. Clinton must have smiled at the depth of his deception. It would be like telling Israel to open the gates of Jerusalem and let the Palestinian terrorists overrun the city while "someday" the US would move to stop that invasion.
During this month-long delay, Clinton managed to take control of the OSCE, placing William Walker in charge of its monitoring force. Walker, as you may recall from earlier pages, was a key organizer of the brutal bloodbath in El Salvador and a key organizer of the Contra operations in Nicaragua. He could not be trusted.
Walker refused to allow the 2,000 OSCE monitors into the country, giving the DynCorp mercenaries, ex-US military men, time to get in and survey every bridge, crossroads, official building, security force billet and barracks that would become targets in the war Clinton was determined to have all along. Thisintelligence was then promptly passed along to bin Laden's KLA.
The European General Affairs Council took note of this on December 8, 1998 as foreign ministers of the EU met to assess the situation. The following day, they announced that "at the close of its debate on the situation in the Western Balkans, the General Affairs Council mainly expressed concern for the recent 'intensification of military action' in Kosovo, noting that 'increased activity by the KLA has prompted an increased presence of Serbian security forces in the region." They clearly saw the KLA as the driving force that was undermiing any possibility peace.
Negotiation or Ultimatum?
The French finally proposed the idea of bringing the two sides face to face in what became known as the Rambouillet Negotiations, an idea Clinton bitterly opposed because it might interfere with his his war plans and would certainly destroy his whole agenda of containment of and decimation of EU power and independence. Europe had to be kept under US control at all costs.
In the end, France won on form, the US won on substance. This "compromise" is what led to British and French capitulation on January 29, 1999, exactly a week before the negotiations were to begin February 6. From January 29 on, a NATO war was a virtual certainty. Milosevic was suckered not into negotiations, but into an ultimatum that would be cleverly hidden from the world until after the war was finished, just as US support of the KLA was successfully hidden from global scrutiny.
First, the Serb government had been expecting to meet face to face with KLA representatives. Clinton adamantly refused to let this happen. Some on the Kosovo side also wanted to meet face to face with the Serbs, but Clinton knew that if this happened, his cleverly-constructed web of lies would fall apart. To compare his political strategy to his sexual piccadillos, Clinton was like the lover two-timing two separate women. Under no circumstances could he allow them to get together to compare notes or his whole charade would be exposed.
Milosevic was then presented with an "agreement" Clinton had already devised. He would not be allowed to change a single word of it; it was an ultimatum, not a negotiation. Since any agreement signed under duress and threat wouldn't hold water under international or any other law, some argue that Milosevic should have gone ahead and signed it, under duress, and fought it later in international courts. Milosevic apparently realized the jig was up and he would get nowhere in an international court system controlled by Clinton - so he refused to sign it.
Milosevic's refusal was not based, as the world was led to believe, on the idea that Kosovo would become a separate nation (it wouldn't, it would have been a NATO Protectorate, not a democratic entity). Milosevic refused because the agreement, as written and as withheld from the world, would have given NATO complete authority over all of Yugoslavia. NATO forces could commit any crime, confiscate any property, and face no risk of punishment whatsoever. "NATO personnel, under all circumstances and at all times, shall be immune from the Parties' jurisdiction in respect of any civil, administrative, criminal or disciplinary offenses which may be committed by them in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia." (See Appendix for complete NATO terms).
It further demanded that Milosevic open up his country to "any manner of persons, goods, capital or services," giving the KLA free reign to use Yugoslavia as a worldwide staging area for opium or arms shipments to and from anywhere on the planet without any possibility of Yugoslavian interference.
The agreement (ultimatum) covered not just NATO but also "non-NATO" ground, air and maritime forces. It in effect was forcing Milosevic to allow NATO to invade Kosovo, use it as a staging area for an invasion of all Yugoslavia, and at the same time provide NATO and non-NATO forces complete freedom to wander throughout Yugoslavia mapping all the targets that would be destroyed in the inevitable war. It gave NA%TO full and complete control "at no cost" to all roads, bridges, tunnels, buildings, utility systems, airports, rails, ports, telecommunications and broadcast facilities" throughout the country. These terms were covered in Appendix B of the Rambouillet "agreement" and were kept secret until eventually released and published in the French press months later. It was a demand no head of state in his right mind could accept.
Can one imagine the reaction of a US president if confronted by a terrorist organization or militia in any of the western states making the same demands, with the forces of the world's most powerful army behind it? Any president agreeing to such terms would most likely be convicted and hanged for treason.
Why War is Peace
On March 19, Clinton and Albright clearly demonstrated they had absolutely no concern for the "poor refugees" whose plight supposedly prompted this war. Clinton announced the upcoming bombing, which would start five days later, in the hopes that the result would be a last blood orgy of refugee slaughter, thereby providing the bait that would justify the war in the first place. Up to then there had been none. Perhaps, just perhaps Miolosevic would be stupid enough to take that bait and send in his own forces in one last-ditch attempt to kill as many KLA as possible before the bombing actually started. Milosevic wasn't that stupid and refused to take the bait.
Still hoping, Clinton ordered the bombing of targets outside Kosovo, still leaving the Albanian refugees unprotected and under threat. Still, Milosevic wouldn't bite. The Clinton administration on one hand said its war was to prevent the threat of genocide. On the other hand, the administration claimed Milosevic really had no intentions of genocide, but wanted the bombing in order to sell the Rambouillet ultimatum to the Serbian people. It wasn't until much later, during impeachment proceedings, that the American people became aware of just how two-faced this American president really is - but then, that may hinge upon your definition of the word "is."
There were parties opposed to Milosevic, such as the Radical Party of Sesselj and various Serbian fascist groups, who wanted nothing more than to do the ethnic cleansing Milosevic's own Socialist Party opposed. So Clinton's strategy was not without some basis. It could have easily happened the way he wanted, giving various Serb forces the chance to commit the atrocities that could then be used to legitimize the war. Indeed, some of the fascist parties did launch their own ethnic cleansing, and Yugoslav forces did pour into the areas vacated by OSCE observers who had finally been allowed into the country. And, yes, there was, predictably, a flood of refugees across the borders into Macedonia and Albania. Resulting TV news photos of the three-day orgy in Pristina did not explain that it was these fascist parties, not Milosevic's committing the atrocities.
In retrospect, US actions were clearly designed to increase the refugees' suffering, not abate it, and that strategy worked, but it could never be admitted. Thus, the Theory of American Stupidity. Stupid like a fox.
The Balkans tragedy was full of such "stupidities": the "stupidity" of trying to save the refugees with an air war announced nearly a week ion advance. (Would Japan have announced Pearl Harbor a week in advance?) The "stupidity" of killing so many civilians, both Serb and Albanian. The "stupidity" of destroying most of the country's heritage - its museums, its churches and synagogues, its whole infrastructure. The "stupidity" of denying such US atrocities until days or weeks later, when the evidence was all to clear for all to see.
Bombing the Chinese Embassy - Stupid or Clever?
And let us not forget the "stupidity" of bombing the Chinese Embassy. That was no mistake and all of Europe knows it, even if the average US citizen doesn't. US military attaches had dined many times at the Chinese embassy compound. It is a very prominent structure and there is no way Europe will ever be convinced that the sophisticated US spy satellites, on-the-ground intelligence, etc,. would have made that kind of "mistake." Any local yokel could have bought a one-dollar city map and and pointed out the Chinese embassy. The fraud of a "mistake" was confirmed by the way Clinton himself reacted. He called no press conference to make a formal apology; he just casually called it "an unfortunate mistake" in a speech he was giving about something else totally unrelated. The Chinese were understandably livid.
So what was the agenda behind that? The Russians and Germans had been working for weeks to produce a G-8 declaration which Clinton felt would undermine the US's five demands for a halt in the war, and the agreement threatened to put the UN in charge, not NATO. Furthermore, Chancellor Schroeder was in the final stages of plans to visit China on a business trip. By taking a softer line on Yugoslavia, Schroeder was hoping to steal America's thunder - and valuable business contracts. Again, Clinton's core agenda was to wreck any movement toward EU independence and to keep it as addicted to US control as any heroin addict is to heroin. The embassy bombing brought all that crashing down. Still, many Europeans regarded as the "stupidest" blunder of "American stupidity."
The deeper goal of US strategy was to overthrow both the principles of state sovereignty and the authority of the UN Security Council. It would also consolidate Russia's exclusion from NATO, from the EU and from the European community in general. Dragging European nations into a NATO war they didn't want consolidated US hegemony over them, the development of the EU and of the Euro, which Clinton saw as a threat to the dollar. The attack on the Chinese embassy was in no way meant to be an abandonment of US economic engagement of China (Clinton had already accepted too many millions of dollars in Chinese campaign contributions in exchange for US nuclear secrets to jeopardize that), but to inaugurate a new phase of its China policy, one which was as duplicitous toward China as it was toward the American voter and legitimate US security interests. Clinton no longer needed Chinese money; he wouldn't be running for a third term. The Chinese had served their purpose - and this was his way of telling them so. It seems to be a favorite tactic of both Bill Clinton and his wife - suck as much as you can out of those around you, then dump them once they've outlived their usefulness.
The European Agenda and How It Was Destroyed
Europe, of course, had its own agenda. The most important of goals was to maintain stable and strong states that could keep their impoverished populations under control. No European nation wanted to have to absorb the refugees of another. The only reason for any European military intervention in the Balkans was to staunch the flow of refugees and keep them bottled up within the embattled nation from which they came. This was seen in Anglo-French involvement in Yugoslavia through UNPROFOR. The "humanitarian aid"? That was nothing more than to keep the refugees at home. Stay home, we'll feed you. Cross the borders, we'll let you starve. Italian intervention in Albania in 1997 was for the same purpose, to stop the westward flow of Albanian refugees. Anglo-French involvement in Albania and Macedonia, going on now, is for the same purpose. Keep the peasants caged up, don't let them spoil our beautiful countries.
The US military invasion threw those plans asunder for probably the next 20 years, guaranteeing chaos from which the younger generations will somehow find a way to flee. That is the European stupidity, as Gowan clearly points out.
A second major agenda to Europe is to keep the governments of Russia, the Ukraine and the other de-Sovietized states also happy and stable. Again, the NATO Balkans war threw a monkey wrench into that. Both Russia and the Ukraine are on the verge of spinning out of control, and the consequences for Central/Western Europe will be disastrous. The Ukraine, for example, now has to choose between Russia and the US, since the EU is not even alternative. As will be detailed in later chapters, the same thing is happening in South Central Asia where the Bush administration, using a carrot and stick approach ("you are either with us or you are against us in the 'watr on terrorism'") to force Georgia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and all theother "stans" into choosing between the US and Russia/China. "Side with us and we'll pour money into your country. Side against us or remain neutral and we will bomb you back into the Stone Age."
Gowan points out a third strategic agenda on Europe's plate. There's an old saying that "I keep my friends close, and my enemies even closer." It has been the European strategy (much like Clinton and Bush have expressed about China) that "the closer our relationship with them, the more influence we will have over them." A sort of checks and balances system. That, too, got dumped in the Balkans. Previously, the best European check against "American stupidity" was France's veto power in the UN Security Council. Since Jacques Chirac discredited the UN Security Council, he has cut his own throat and is no longer in a position to speak for Europe or to be useful to those other European states seeking to restrain the US. Britain has always been considered a US lapdog in the Security Council, so only the French had any influence there.
The fourth agenda Gowan points out has already been shown to be a farce. That is for Europe to be able to say that, at least in its own front and backyards, it has the dominant say. With the Balkan Wars, Clinton called their bluff - and won, showing Europe to be little more than a slavering yes-man for NATO. Europe basically ended up on the sidelines as a spectator, except for being forced to supply some troops, which were put under effective US control. Europe had no role in ending the Balkan Wars. It is Europe that has been exposed as the toothless paper tiger, doing nothing more than carrying out the US economic agenda of NATO. Let there be no doubt; within NATO, the US rules. The future of Europe is still being decided in the White House. As Gowan so aserbicly notes: "The West European states (not to speak of the EU institutions) are political voyeurs with their noses pressed against the windows of the Oval Office trying to read the lips of the people in there deciding Europe's fate. This is a fourth [European] stupidity."
Four years later, months after the World Trade Center attack, the European Union began to regroup and re-exert its role in European affairs, though still plagued with inner divisions and vanities.
Europe's Revenge? Mideast Powderkeg Explodes in 2002
On April 3, the EU launched a two-pronged diplomatic attack against the United States - in China and in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. European Commissioner Chris Patten, whose name was once a dirty word in China, used a speech to China's elite Communist Party cadre school to urge Beijing to develop stronger ties with Europe.
"We should not see the Sino-Europe relationship entirely through the prism of our respective attitudes and partnerships with the United States," he said pointedly. "I suspect ... with your sense of history and ability to think in the long term you have a fairly clear idea of how Europe is likely to look as a partner of 25 countries or even more in the decades to come."
Once called a "sinner", a "whore" and a "tango dancer" by Beijing for trying to introduce last-minute democratic reforms before he left his post as Hong Kong's last governor, Patten received warm smiles and handshakes, according to press reports. (Agence France-Presse, 4 April 2002, http://sg.news.yahoo.com/020404/1/2nh4p.html)
The other response was a more direct criticism of US "failure" in the Middle East, as the EU made it clear it intended to step in do the job the Americans were unable to do, as Israeli tanks moved into take nearly full control of the West Bank.
Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Pique told reporters the 15-member EU would push for an immediate cease-fire, an Israeli withdrawal from Palestine and a return to peace negotiations. Senior European diplomats, according to NBC, MSNBC and news services, were saying Washington should now step aside.
Romano Prodi, the EU president, echoed Pique, saying, "it is clear that previous mediation efforts have failed and we need new mediation."
"We need around one table United States, European Union, United Nations, Russia, moderate Arab states, Israel, and Palestinian Authority. We can't get out of this situation with any other, partial solutions."
By openly inviting a larger Russian presence, and pushing the US to one side, Pique and Prodi sent waves of consternation through the White House, forcing President Bush to do an abrupt about-face in a position he had reiterated only a few days before, saying Yassir Arafat had to stop the terrorism attacks on Israel before there could be any negotiations.
Prodi, in recent months, had been repeating the claim that the EU was a "new superpower" that should, and would, stand not as subservient to the US, but as its equal. In the Mideast, it intended to do just that. (Washington Post, "EU Offers to Mediate Middle East Conflict" by T. R. Reid, 4 April 2002).
Bush, on the defensive, immediately said it was dropping its insistence that diplomatic efforts be focused solely on achieving a cease-fire.
"There are two vital guidelines that the president is seeking to advance," said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer. "The important thing is for the parties to begin the focus, with the United States' assistance (emphasis added), to making progress in both of them or either of them." (The Washington Post, "U.S. Willing to Talk as Fight Rages On" by Alan Sipress and Mike Allen, 4 April 2002 - ( http://www.msnbc.com/news/7337895.asp)
Mired down in Israel's own Vietnam, by proxy, the US was losing credibility rapidly as an impartial mediator. BBC anchor Peter Sissons told viewers, "The Americans seem to see Israel's aggressive actions as little more than an extension of President Bush's war on terrorism," which is exactly how Ariel Sharon himself had compared the US-Israeli positions earlier. Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice were virtually alone in insisting the conflict could not be solved by military means, but required a political context.
"The Palestinian people," said Powell, "have to see that there is a political process and not just a cease-fire and security process, a political process that we will get involved in early on, through negotiations, that will lead quickly to a Palestinian state."
" ... the political component of this process has to be brought forward much more quickly than we might have thought otherwise." (CBS 60 Minutes II, 4 April 2002).
Another key criticism came in rapid fire from Pope John Paul II, who decried the US "unjust conditions and humiliations" of Palestine as Israeli troops were photographed firing into Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, where some 450 Palestinians had holed up, directly over the spot where Christians believe Jesus was born. The pontiff called Israel's policy one of "reprisals and revenge attacks which do nothing but feed the sense of frustration and hatred."
EU officials demanded to be allowed access to Arafat, who was trapped by Israeli troops in a two-room office without electricity, food or water. Israel promptly refused and said it was doubtful they would even let the US representative, Anthony C. Zinni, through the barricades to speak with Arafat.
The EU diplomatic offensive was not just "revenge" for its shabby treatment during the Balkan wars; there was also a more urgent, internal issue threatening to explode in Europe's face - an intense growth in anti-Israeli violence within Europe itself, as synagogues, Jewish cemeteries and visiting Orthodox Jews were being targeted in a fiery escalation of violence in Spain, Belgium and Germany, and violent clashes at Paris' Orly Airport in France between pro- and anti-Israeli mobs.
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer warned fellow Europeans that unless those clashes are halted, the Mideast violence threatens "a destabilization of the entire region" and dangerous spillover into Europe's ethnically diverse and volatile cities.
He was joined by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi who, in a trip to Moscow, asserted, "The aggravation of the crisis in the Middle East risks opening a wound that could infect the whole world. All efforts must be made to open negotiation in which Europe and Russia could have a greater role and contribute to finding a peaceful solution... There is the risk that the Israeli-Palestinian crisis could evolve into a conflict of all Islam against the West." (Los Angeles Times, "Europe Sees a Tinderbox in Its Streets" by Carol J. Williams, 4 April 2002).
As the secret foreign policy objectives of four consecutive US administrations threatened to come unraveled, British Prime Minister Tony Blair was preparing to visit Bush's Crawford, Texas ranch for private face-to-face discussions. Only two weeks earlier, Blair had proclaimed he would be bringing with him "a dossier" of evidence that would underscore the Bush-Blair policy that a war with Iraq was the only solution to terrorism. But in the wake of the EU diplomatic offensive, Blair's office admitted there would now be no such dossier. Instead, the primary subject would the growing rift between the EU and the US on how to deal with the Mideast.
"This is now the most dangerous conflict in the world," said Peter Hain, a Foreign Office minister in Blair's government. "There's no point in striking poses." (Washington Post, ibid).
The ghosts of the Balkans had reared their frightening heads, four years later, threatening to inflame Mideast hatreds that had burned for millennia. If that flame were to explode, the world would be engulfed in a nuclear holocaust. That was the one reality of which all sides were painfully aware and in agreement, but which no one wanted to be the first to acknowledge.
© 2002 by Jim Moore. All rights reserved. Publication for non-profit use is hereby approved. For commercial or for-profit use, e-mail the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
add a comment on this article