Category Archives: (Ex-)Yugoslavia

Canada’s Military shapes Coverage of Deployments

To the military, shaping media coverage of deployments is what roasting a marshmallow is to a summer camper’s S’mores; there isn’t one without the other.

Even before beginning a small “peacekeeping” mission the Canadian forces’ have an elaborate media strategy.

At the end of June Chief of the Defence Staff Jonathan Vance brought journalists with him on a visit to Mali. They toured the facilities in Gao where an advance team was preparing for Canada’s UN deployment to the African nation. An Ottawa Citizen headline described Vance’s trip as part of an effort at “selling the public on the Mali mission.”

The tour for journalists was followed by a “technical briefing” on the deployment for media in Ottawa. “No photography, video or audio recording for broadcast purposes” was allowed at last week’s press event, according to the advisory. Reporters were to attribute information to “a senior government” official. But, the rules were different at a concurrent departure ceremony in Trenton. “Canadian Armed Forces personnel deploying to Mali are permitted to give interviews and have their faces shown in imagery”, noted the military’s release.

None of these decisions are haphazard. With the largest PR machine in the country, the military has hundreds of public affairs officers that work on its media strategy. “The Canadian Forces studies the news media, writes about them in its refereed journals—the Canadian Army Journal and the Canadian Military Journal — learns from them, develops policies for them and trains for them in a systematic way,” explains Bob Bergen, a professor at the University of Calgary’s Centre for Military and Strategic Studies. “Canadian journalists simply do not access the Canadian Forces in the scholarly fashion that the military studies them. There are no peer-reviewed journals to which they contribute reflections on their success or failure as an industry to cover the 1991 Persian Gulf War or the 1999 Kosovo Air War.”

While the tactics have varied based on technologies, balance of power and type of conflict, the government has pursued extensive information control during international deployments, which are invariably presented as humanitarian even when motivated by geostrategic and corporate interests. There was formal censorship during World War I, WWII and the Korean War. In recent air wars the military largely shut the media out while in Afghanistan they brought reporters close.

Air wars lend themselves to censorship since journalists cannot accompany pilots during their missions or easily see what’s happening from afar. “As a result,” Bergen writes, “crews can only be interviewed before or after their missions, and journalists’ reports can be supplemented by cockpit footage of bombings.”

During the bombing of the former Yugoslavia in 1999 the CF blocked journalists from filming or accessing Canadian pilots flying out of Aviano, Italy. They also refused to provide footage of their operations. While they tightly controlled information on the ground, the CF sought to project an air of openness in the aftermath of the Somalia scandal. For 79 days in a row a top general gave a press conference in Ottawa detailing developments in Yugoslavia. But, the generals often misled the public. Asked “whether the Canadians had been targeted, whether they were fired upon and whether they fired in return” during a March 24 sortie in which a Yugoslavian MiG-29 was downed, Ray Henault denied any involvement. The deputy chief of Defence Staff said: “They were not involved in that operation.” But, Canadians actually led the mission and a Canadian barely evaded a Serbian surface-to-air missile. While a Dutch aircraft downed the Yugoslavian MiG-29, a Canadian pilot missed his bombing target, which ought to have raised questions about civilian casualties.

One reason the military cited for restricting information during the bombing campaign was that it could compromise the security of the Armed Forces and their families. Henault said the media couldn’t interview pilots bombing Serbia because “we don’t want any risk of family harassment or something of that nature, which, again, is part of that domestic risk we face.”

During the bombing of Libya in 2011 and Iraq-Syria in 2014-16 reporters who traveled to where Canadian jets flew from were also blocked from interviewing the pilots. Once again, the reason given for restricting media access was protecting pilots and their families.

Since the first Gulf War the military has repeatedly invoked this rationale to restrict information during air wars. But, as Bergen reveals in Balkan Rats and Balkan Bats: The art of managing Canada’s news media during the Kosovo air war, it was based on a rumour that antiwar protesters put body bags on the lawn of a Canadian pilot during the 1991 Gulf War. It likely never happened and, revealingly, the military didn’t invoke fear of domestic retribution to curtail interviews during the more contentious ground war in Afghanistan.

During that war the CF took a completely different tack. The CF embedding (or in-bedding) program brought reporters into the military’s orbit by allowing them to accompany soldiers on patrol and stay on base. When they arrived on base senior officers were often on hand to meet journalists. Top officers also built a rapport with reporters during meals and other informal settings. Throughout their stay on base Public Affairs Officers (PAOs) were in constant contact, helping reporters with their work. After a six-month tour in Afghanistan PAO Major Jay Janzen wrote: “By pushing information to the media, the Battalion was also able to exercise some influence over what journalists decided to cover. When an opportunity to cover a mission or event was proactively presented to a reporter, it almost always received coverage.”

In addition to covering stories put forward by the military, ‘embeds’ tended to frame the conflict from the perspective of the troops they accompanied. By eating and sleeping with Canadian soldiers, reporters often developed a psychological attachment, writes Carleton professor Sherry Wasilow, in Hidden Ties that Bind: The Psychological Bonds of Embedding Have Changed the Very Nature of War Reporting.

Embedded journalists’ sympathy towards Canadian soldiers was reinforced by the Afghans they interviewed. Afghans critical of Canadian policy were unlikely to express themselves openly with soldiers nearby. Scott Taylor asked, “what would you say if the Romanian military occupied your town and a Romanian tank and journalist showed up at your door? You love the government they have installed and want these guys to stay! Of course the locals are smiling when a reporter shows up with an armoured vehicle and an armed patrol.”

The military goes to great lengths to shape coverage of its affairs and one should expect stories about Canada’s mission in Mali to be influenced by the armed forces. So, take heed: Consume what they give you carefully, like you would a melted chocolate and marshmallow coated graham wafer.

The Woes of Luka Modrić: Croatia, Nationalism and Football

Juraj Vrdoljak of Telesport was convinced.  “I think half the population didn’t show up to work on the morning after the win against England.” The victory had inspired early shop closures, a feeling of rampant escapism. “Croatia is a country with a deep economic crisis.  Every day, life is really hard.  It’s full of bad stories and tough times.  There is lot of poverty.  A lot of people are emigrating.”

Members of Croatia’s football team have become national talismans of endurance, the shock troops of resilience and hope.  Ivan Rakitić, when he takes the field against France, will be playing his 71st match of the season, the most than any top-flight player this year.  Luka Modrić remains unflinching in the midfield as the team’s general.  Domagoj Vida has been granite in defensive solidity.

Football teams can be held up as mirrors of the nations they represent. This sociological gazing can always be taken too far, a scholar’s fruitless pondering, but Croatia’s national side is instructive.  It was Dinamo Zagreb’s Zvonimir Boban who stirred matters with his heralded assault on a police officer engaged in a violent scuffle with fans in a match against Red Star Belgrade.  Croatian football was fashioned as a vehicle of protest and dissent against what was seen as a Serb-dominated federation.

In time, football kicks became shells and bullets in the murderous dissolution of Yugoslavia.  To this day, a legend stubbornly holds that the truculent Bad Blue Boys of Dinamo and the countering Deljie of Red Star precipitated the first shots of that war.

Starting with its current inspirational captain, the link between social ill and patriotic performance can be seamless.  When he finishes the tournament in Russia, Modrić will have to turn his mind back to his relationship with mentor and former Dinamo Zagreb executive Zdravko Mamić, a towering figure who finds himself facing a six-and-a-half year prison sentence for corruption and fraud.  From Bosnia and Herzegovina, he does battle with the authorities, attempting to avoid extradition after fleeing Croatia.

A bursting feature of the case mounted against Mamić involved claims of ill-gotten gains from transfers of Modrić from Dinamo Zagreb to Tottenham Hotspur in 2008 and Dejan Lovren to Lyon in 2010.  Modrić, it seemed, was implicated in signing an annex to his Dinamo contract, suggesting a 50-50 split of any future transfer fee.  What was significant was the timing – 2015 as opposed to any earlier dates.  Through his tenure, suggestions that Mamić had conducted a “silent privatisation” of the club were rampant, producing inflated transfer prices and a cult of acquisitiveness.

Modrić, having been billed as a star witness who initially supplied anti-corruption investigators with gold dust on Mamić’s penchant for cooking the accounts, notably in terms of pocketing millions of euros of the transfer fee, froze in the dock.  His memory, it seemed, had failed him; the contract annex was not signed, as he initially claimed, in 2015 but 2004.  This testimony was effectively rendered worthless.  Croatia’s captain now faces the prospect of a perjury charge that carries a possible sentence of five years in prison.

The Croatian Football association, in an official statement in March, was not having a bar of it, unsurprising given the powers that be within the country’s football hierarchy.  The body insisted upon “the principle of innocence and considers every person innocent until proven otherwise.”  It was also “deeply convinced of the correctness of Luka Modrić’s testimony before the court in Osijek, and especially because of Modrić’s behaviour since his first appearance for the Croatian U-15 team in March 2001 to date.”

While every inch the commander in the field, with his team keen to impress in their following, not all Croatian supporters are in the Modrić tent of fandom. The Bad Blue Boys have found themselves split in loyalties over the years, with some, such as Juraj Ćošić, forming a breakaway team, Futsal Dinamo. “Zdravko Mamić,” claims football sociologist Ben Perasović, “is a typical member of the new rich class.”  It is a class that continues to afflict Croatian football with their depredations, a looting tendency that is only now being reined in with mixed success.

The other team members have also shown this side to be rather prickly. Vida, and the now sacked assistant coach Ognjen Vukojević, were caught on film making comments supportive of Ukrainian nationalists in the aftermath of the side’s defeat of Russia in the quarter-finals.  FIFA’s benevolence prevailed, and the centre-back was permitted to play in the semi-final against England.

Such a background adds more than a touch of complexity, with all its discomforts, to the World Cup final against France.  Croatia’s team will not merely be facing their opponents on the field in a battle of wits and tenacity. Off it, pens and knives are being readied and sharpened, with prosecutions being prepared.

Even now, the team is being written off by the smug pundits of football orthodoxy, though with less disdain than before.  Three matches on the trot into extra-time suggest imminent exhaustion, a possible overrunning by a more refreshed French team. But desperation, in meeting talent, can be the most potent of elixirs.  This Croatian team has pushed the sceptics to the edge, and threatens to leave them there.  And with players like Modrić, adversity remains their closest companion.

The Balkanization of South America and the Role of Fifth Columns Throughout the World

During the recent meeting in Caracas of the Venezuelan Presidential Economic Advisory Commission, in mid-June 2018, President Maduro said something extremely interesting, but also extremely disturbing, nonetheless highly important for the region to be aware of. Mr. Maduro mentioned Yugoslavia, the foreign induced local conflicts, the breakup and dismemberment of Yugoslavia, starting with the “Ten Days War” on Slovenia in 1991, the Croatian War (1991-95); the Bosnia War (1992-95); the Kosovo War (1998-99), culminating with the Clinton induced 69-day NATO bombing of Kosovo, under then European NATO leader Wesley Clark (today the Repentant – in retrospect it’s easy to be sorry), pretending to save the Kosovo Albanians from Serbian Milosevic’s atrocities. How Milosevic served as a patsy for the imperial forces is another story.

All of this would not have been possible without a decade long preparation by several Fifth Columns infiltrated and trained in and outside of Yugoslavia, the only country in Europe that in the 1980s and 90s flourished, with general well being above that of the average Europeans, who were suffering recessions and increasing inequality, the beginning of xenophobia in the age of nascent neoliberalism. There was no extreme poverty in Yugoslavia, but prosperity without excesses for everybody. There was economic growth under a loose Mao-model socialism which could, of course, not be allowed to persist, lest it might serve the world as an example. Besides the breakup of Yugoslavia into chaos was needed to create mini-states that are in conflict with each other, some of them still today, and that could be ‘accommodated’ against a hefty ‘fee’, of course, to accept the installation of NATO bases ever an inch closer to Moscow’s door step.

Well, Mr. Maduro saw and sees it clearly. History repeats itself all too often, especially when it comes in the form of western neoliberal-neofascist atrocities, as people’s memories are dulled with lie-propaganda. In fact, there is hardly any real news, only ‘fake news’ in the western mainstream media. Mr. Maduro envisions that “their” plan for Latin America is similar to what “they” did to Yugoslavia. He is probably right. All signs point into this direction.

A pact between Colombia and NATO, a so-called “Security Cooperation Agreement” was first signed in June 2013 but prepared way before. Records of first communications to this effect, by Juan Manual Santos, then President of Columbia and Peace Laureate in 2016 for his traitorous Peace Agreement between the Colombian Government and FARC (vaya-vaya! Doesn’t this speak volumes by itself?), can be traced back to early 2012.

President Hugo Chavez was the first one to warn his Latin American partners of the imminent clandestine infiltration of NATO into South America. Nobody listened. Today it’s a fact, too late to fight against. NATO troops are occupying gradually all seven American military bases in Colombia. They are just simply converting from US to NATO bases – sounds more palatable than US bases – for sure. In the minds of unfortunately still most uninformed or mal-informed people, NATO stands for security. NATO – the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – in South America. What an oxymoron! Well, it is the same ‘security’ farce as is NATO in Afghanistan and bombing the Middle East.

Venezuela is full with Fifth Columnists. They are the ones that facilitate the highly speculative and inflationary manipulation from Miami of the black-market US dollar rate in the streets of Caracas; they are the ones that emulate the food shortages in Chile 1973, successfully disappearing duly paid-for imported merchandise, mostly food and medical supplies, ending up as smuggle-ware in Colombia, leaving empty supermarket shelves in Venezuela. All meant to instigate people to stand up against their government.

So far, this strategy has failed bitterly. On 20 May 2018, President Maduro has been overwhelmingly re-elected, under the most internationally observed elections the world has ever experienced, and the result was “the cleanest, most democratic elections we have witnessed in our history of worldwide 92 election observations”. So said the US-based Carter Institute.

Yet, the Fifth Columnists are relentless. Worldwide. They are immersed in the government apparatus, institutions, military, police – even Parliament and very important in the financial system, possible in the central bank. They “allow”, or rather promote, the manipulation of the US-dollar black market, causing sky-rocketing inflation and lack of food and medicine on supermarket shelves. They disrupt electricity, internet and water services. The approach is similar in every country that refuses to bend to the empire’s dictate. In Russia, Iran, China, Syria, South Sudan, possibly even in Cuba they are in control of the financial system – that’s also how they are easily being financed, through the dollar-based monetary fraud of the west, to which most countries still have some links – fortunately every day less.

Take Russia, the Central Bank is still largely run by the Fifth Columnists, whose ‘chief’ is Putin’s just recently re-appointed Prime-Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, an arch-Atlantist. The structure of the Russian Central Bank is even today mainly a remnant of the Russian Reserve Bank, designed by the FED after the collapse of the Soviet Union, with the help of the UN-masked Bretton Woods crooks, the IMF, World Bank.

Similarly, part of the masked international promoters of instability, are the Bretton Woods regional associates, the so-called regional development banks, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), African Development Bank (AfDB) and their sub-regional cohorts. In the nineties, the Gang was joined by WTO (the World Trade Organization). And here they are, the world’s three most hated international UN-backed financial and trade organizations, IMF, World Bank and WTO. All three are promoting fundamentalist “free-marketeering” across the globe, especially throughout the southern hemisphere (though Greece and southern Europe do not escape), indebting and enslaving countries to the western corporate oligarchs. All well-structured to control the world’s financial system – so as to march towards world hegemony of a One World Global Economy. We are almost there, though not quite yet. There is always hope. Man’s last shred to hang on to life is HOPE. And only Man can translate hope into reality. So, as long as we have life, it’s not too late.

Why is it so difficult, say, impossible to get rid of them, the Fifth Columnists, the vermin of any unaligned political system? Why did President Putin re-assign Medvedev as his PM?  Mr. Putin knows that he supports a network of Atlantist oligarchs that seek nothing more than to ‘putsch’ him, Mr. Putin, and ultimately to destroy the rather egalitarian, though capitalist-based, economic system Russia has enjoyed for the last almost 20 years, becoming self-sufficient in agriculture, food, industry, high-tech science, pharmaceuticals. Russia has developed herself into an exemplary “Resistance Economy”, ready to be emulated by any western-named ‘rogue’ state that is sick and tired of the Empires boots and bombs and forced ‘democracies’ through ‘regime change’.

There are many western countries that just wait for a leader, one that moves head-on. Russia, China, Venezuela, Iran, Cuba, are shining examples. They are gradually escaping the yoke of the dollar-dominated western economy.

So, why are countries like Russia, Iran and maybe Venezuela afraid to get rid of their Fifth Columnists? For fear of a civil war, of a blood bath? Yes, we have seen the violent unrest they caused in preparation of the two major democratic elections in Venezuela in the last 12 months, the National Constituent Assembly (30 July 2017) and the Presidential Elections on 20 May 2018, when altogether close to 200 people died. The media immediately blamed the death on police and military oppression and violence but the only armed protesters were those armed and funded by Washington, and responsible for more than 80% of the death. Chavistas cheered for their Government with their bare fists.

The question remains in the room – why does Mr. Putin not get rid of them, the Fifth Columnists?  Would they cause a civil war?   It seems to me they wouldn’t have sufficient supporters in Russia, but they could disrupt the internal economy, as the Russian internal financial systems, especially private banking, is still in the hands of these Atlantists. They are also in China, but it appears that President Xi Jinping has better control of them.

How about Iran? Why are they still able to hold on to and fight for ‘western deals’; i.e., the upholding of the Nuclear Deal that Trump has stepped out from and now is sanctioning Iran ‘with the most severe sanctions the world has ever seen’, sounding similar to what he said to Mr. Kim Jong-un, the ‘Little Rocket Man’, with whom Trump then made peace a few weeks later?  Or something like it. One never knows with the Donald what the meaning of Trump’s trumpeting is, other than screwing up alliances and creating physical and sociopsychological chaos. He is also threatening European corporations, mostly oil companies, with heavy sanctions if they dare maintain their contracts with Iran.

Many cave in. Among them, the French-UK owned Total, Italy’s Eni and Saras, Spain’s Repsol and Greece’s Hellenic Petroleum. In the case of Total, according to the director of the Venezuelan branch, instead of filling their contracts with US-“fracking” oil, as Trump would expect, they are negotiating with Russia, to fulfill their obligations in Europe and elsewhere. “We cannot trust Brussels to fend for us, therefore we have to fend for ourselves”, the Total representative said.

Iran doesn’t really need the Europeans to buy their oil. Europe constitutes only about 20% of the Iranian hydrocarbon market – an amount easily taken up by China. The same with other European corporations that may choose similar ways of self-protection – cutting ties with Iran – like the Peugeot-Citroen automobile giant. Iran doesn’t need them. That these sanctions and EU corporate reactions to the US sanctions, are causing hardship and unemployment in Iran is just western propaganda, a vast exaggeration, at worst a temporary affair. As Mr. Rouhani said, we might go through a short period of difficulties but will recover rapidly by becoming self-sufficient. And that’s true. Iran is well embarked on their “Economy of Resistance”, aiming at self-sufficiency through import-substitution and orienting themselves towards eastern markets.

In fact, Iran is already part of the Eurasian Economic Community and will soon become a full-fledged member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).  So why can Iran not get rid of their Fifth Columnists? This is a question I can only answer with “fear from bloody civil unrest, prompting possibly western military intervention”.

Back to Venezuela, it could be similar fears that prevent the Maduro Government from taking drastic actions, like declaring a temporary state of emergency and drastic measures of de-dollarization to stop inflation and speculation, and strengthen the local currency, the Bolivar, by backing it with their internationally accepted cryptocurrency, the Petro.

On 20 May 2018, six million Venezuelan’s mostly Chavistas, voted overwhelmingly for President Maduro and his Government, a 68% majority, representing a solid block of people supporters. If you have the choice between an artificially made-to-starve population and a crumbling what used to be a solid block of 6 million Chavistas behind you but gradually disappearing because of lacking actions by the government, what do you do? Perhaps the only way is to economically isolate the Fifth Columnists or Atlantists, despite their apparent control of the economic system. What Atlantists are actually controlling is the dollar-based economy. Quitting the dollar-base, they may become rather powerless.

Venezuela faces a dire dilemma: Die or be killed. Venezuela has already started moving out of the dilemma, with the creation of the totally dollar-detached Petro, the government controlled blockchain currency based on hydrocarbons and precious minerals. Today, Venezuela imports about 70% of their food, and guess from where?  You guessed right – from the US of A. Thus, de-dollarization at first sight is a challenge.

Therefore, a massive diversification of imports, and efforts to become food self-sufficient, is in the order. Venezuela has the agricultural potential to become 100% food self-sufficient. In the meantime, Russia, China and other Eurasian countries will substitute. Venezuela may apply for SCO membership. Why not? After all, China has already about 50 billion dollars’ worth of investments in Venezuela, mostly in hydrocarbons, and just declared making another 5-billion-dollar equivalent loan to refurbish the Venezuelan petrol industry. China and Russia have big stakes in Venezuela, an excellent defense strategy. Now, Venezuela’s membership in the SCO would be another big step away from the dollar economy.

The Balkanization of Latin America is already happening. When Mr. Maduro referred to the 7 US bases in neighboring Colombia, aka, now NATO bases, with a porous 1,500 km (out of a total of 2,000 km) uncontrollable jungle border with Venezuela, and even open and welcoming borders with Peru, Ecuador and Brazil, he said it all. It will be easy to suffocate any uprising – NATO will do it, by now the generally accepted world police, as generally accepted as the recently intact, totally unelected and self-appointed world government, the G7. They are now crumbling, thank heaven for Mr. Trump’s egocentric pathology, his “Let’s make America Great Again”; and thanks to Mr. Putin’s non-intervening but strategic sideline observance.

Will Trump continue to provide majority support for NATO? He recently warned the Europeans to contribute their share; i.e., increasing their NATO contribution to 2% of their GDP – or else. Well, what is “else”?  Reducing NATO, an enormous cost to the US?  And counting on the CIA-trained and NED-funded destabilizing insurgents (NED = National Endowment for Democracy, a state department financed “regime change’ and “democratization” NGO) throughout the world? Insurgents in alliance with the local Atlantists? Will this be enough in a rapidly changing international monetary and payment system?

The US scheme for Balkanizing Latin America, and by extension the world, is as porous as the 1,500 km long tropical forest border between Colombia and Venezuela. The hegemony of the dollar-economy hangs in the balance. Only drastic actions by victimized but courageous countries, like Venezuela, Iran and Russia can break the balance and destroy the western monetary hegemony.

Fighting Where We Stand

In our hyper-alienated and media-saturated societies, struggles for collective liberation are all too often reduced to a contest of ideas. Rather than fighting tooth and nail against conditions of exploitation, oppression and ecological devastation, we often instead find ourselves mired in an endless cycle of argument, critique and debate. But while theory can and should play an important role in informing our actions and helping to build relationships based in trust and mutual understanding… at the end of the day, any meaningful practice of collective autonomy requires the capacity to actually defend territory.

Though they often draw inspiration from one another, struggles for territorial autonomy – if they are to be successful – must be based on local realities. After all… defending a physical space means fighting where we stand. And so the battle to defend a squatted social center in an urban neighbourhood will necessarily look very different from one waged by Indigenous land defenders against the encroachment of pipeline companies through their territories. But though these struggles may assume different forms, they stem from a shared resolve to draw a line in the sand and to defend it… come what may.

In this month’s episode of Trouble, subMedia showcases three ongoing land defence struggles: the Unist’ot’en Camp, located on the unceded Wet’suwet’en territories of so-called “British Columbia”; the autonomous spaces movement in Ljubljana, Slovenia and the eco-defence occupation known as La ZAD, in Notre-Dame-des-Landes, France.

Toronto Van Attack: Toxic Msculinity and the Canadian Forces

Progressive online commentary about Monday’s van attack in Toronto has focused on the influence of “toxic masculinity”. The analyses should be expanded to include the alleged perpetrator’s ties to a powerful patriarchal institution that is Canada’s biggest purveyor of violence.

Early reports suggest alleged mass murderer Alek Minassian may have targeted women and been motivated by sexism. Before carrying out his horrific attack he posted on Facebook about the “Incel Rebellion”, a community of “involuntarily celibate” men who hate women, and praised misogynistic US mass murderer Elliot Rodger. Minassian reportedly wrote: “Private (Recruit) Minassian Infantry 00010, wishing to speak to Sgt 4chan please. C23249161.The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys! All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!”

It should surprise no one that alongside his call for an “Incel Rebellion” the misogynist Minassian cited his (short) military service. Last fall he joined the Canadian Forces, which has one hundred thousand active members and three hundred thousand retired members. A 2015 investigation led by former Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps found a “culture of misogyny” in the CF “hostile to women and LGTBQ members.” While women now represent 15% of military personnel, the Deschamps report concluded that “the overall perception is that a ‘boy’s club’ culture still prevails in the armed forces.”

Until 1979 women were excluded from the Royal Military College. Until 1989 women were excluded from combat roles in the CF. In 2000 the submarine service was finally opened to women.

A 1992 Department of National Defence survey found that 26.2% of female CF respondents were sexually harassed in the previous 12 months. Subsequent investigations have shown steady improvements, but 27.3% of women in 2016 still reported having been victims of sexual assault at least once since joining the CF. The Deschamps review “found that there is an undeniable problem of sexual harassment and sexual assault in the CAF.” In 2017 plaintiffs in five separate cities united to sue over sexual assault, harassment and gender-based discrimination in the CF.

When Nichola Goddard became the first female CF member to die in Afghanistan it came to light that she wrote her husband about sexual violence on the base. Goddard wrote about “the tension of living in a fortress where men outnumbered women ten to one” and “there were six rapes in the camp last week, so we have to work out an escort at night.” But, the CF only admits to investigating five reports of sexual harassment or assault in Afghanistan between 2004 and 2010. Valerie Fortney, author of Sunray: The Death and Life of Captain Nichola Goddard said she “hit a brick wall” when seeking to investigate sexual harassment in Afghanistan.

Male veterans have repeatedly engaged in gender-based violence. Last year Lionel Desmond killed his wife, daughter, mother and himself while Robert Giblin stabbed and threw his pregnant wife off a building before killing himself in 2015.

After the worst incident of patriarchal violence in Canadian history members of the elite Airborne Regiment reportedly held a celebratory dinner to honour Marc Lepine. In 1989 Lepine massacred fourteen women at the Université de Montréal while shouting “you’re all a bunch of feminists, and I hate feminists!”

Not only is the CF a patriarchal social force, it is the country’s greatest purveyor of violence. The Canadian military spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year promoting militarism and during the past quarter century it has fought wars of aggression in Libya, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia and Iraq (not to mention helping to overthrow an elected government in Haiti and engaging in gunboat diplomacy in a number of locations).

To a large extent the CF is the institutional embodiment of toxic masculinity and therefore it’s not surprising that Minassian was drawn to it. His connection to an organization that receives over $20 billion a year in public funds while upholding patriarchy and promoting violence ought to be part of the discussion of this horrible act.

Remembering the War on Yugoslavia, 1999

The ethnic map few understood. Should make it clear that cutting up Yugoslavia in independent republics could not be done without bloodshed. (1)

Yellow = Serbs, Dark Green = Muslims, Light Blue = Croats, Light Green = Slovenes, Orange = Montenegrins, Pink = Albanians, Darker Blue = Macedonians

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March 24, 2018, marks the 19th anniversary of NATO’s illegal and illegitimate bombing of Yugoslavia, Serbia and its Kosovo province during 78 days. It has – one is tempted to say, of course – been conveniently forgotten by the West itself.

It was masterminded by the United States under Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright after the so-called negotiations between Serbs and Albanians in Rambouillet outside Paris (the parties never met face-to-face)

While Clinton may be best remembered for his relations with Monica Lewinsky and his wife, Hillary Clinton, some of us also remember him (and Albright) for bombing Afghanistan, Sudan, Bosnia-Hercegovina and contributions to the proportionately largest ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia – of Croatian Serbs out of Croatia’s Krajina, Eastern and Western Slavonia where they had lived for about 400 years, in Operations Storm and Flash in 1995.

Clinton was also the President who started the expansion of NATO against assurances about never doing so given by leading NATO politicians to Mikhail Gorbachev. But the former Yugoslav republics are now NATO members (Slovenia, Croatia and Montenegro). Clinton also upheld the sanctions on Iraq’s innocent citizens even after 500,000 had died.

By an objective analysis of the contemporary history of interventionism and militarism, Russia’s response to the de facto coup d’etat in Kiev by [allegedly — DV editor] annexing Crimea would, one should expect, be compared with such fundamentally important and international law-violating policies and, likely, found to be minor in comparison. But that, naturally, is impossible for those who have reasons to be in denial of their own wrongdoings and large parts, therefore, of the post-Cold War history.

With a history like that – and more since then – it is no wonder that the West/NATO must blame everything evil on virtually everybody else: Russia, Syria, Iran, North Korea and China in particular. In psycho-political terms, it’s called projection while others might call it amnesia or attention-diversion that fit new crimes.

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Yugoslavia’s dissolution was surely caused by internal dynamics accumulating over a decade after Josip Broz Tito’s death. But the international so-called community’s involvement could, in the macro-historical perspective, be viewed as at least as destructive, if not more. The understanding of the hugely complex conflict formations in the Yugoslav space was unknown to 99% of the Western governments and their diplomats – having no other mental patterns than the Cold War and, thus, casting the Serbs as the evil, expansive Orthodox Russians and the rest as freedom-seeking peoples who ought to belong to “us”.

They thought it was about ethnicity while ethnicity was just a vehicle for mobilisation of warfighting energies and exploitation of traumas from the Second World War. They thought that conflict-resolution was about reducing complexity down to two parties, one good and one evil and that peace-making would succeed if they supported the former and punish the latter.

With such a deficient intellectual toolbox, with such amateurish Diagnosis of Yugoslavia’s problems, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the Prognosis was wrong too and that the kind of final Solution – dissolution, split-and-rule and rewarding extremist nationalism and humiliating Russia – turned out catastrophic.

A good doctor causes minimal pain and blood loss. Western conflict doctors, accompanied by their arms traders, spilt as much blood as possible, on top of what the various domestic governments, private warlords and paramilitaries of Yugoslavia were able and willing to do to each other.

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Tito (Photo: Jan Oberg)

To make this Western – remember, Russia was in turmoil and could play no role – quackery succeed, at least in their own eyes, the self-appointed peacemakers of our world had to produce a number of novel tricks – all of which makes the long-term effects of this Yugoslavia’s dissolution more significant than the fall of The Wall.

Among such politico-military inventions one would perhaps in particular point to these:

• Since this was the first larger conflict after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, everything seemed possible, no need to take into account what Russia might do because it could do virtually nothing.

• Splitting with violent means an existing founding member state of the Non-Aligned Movement and of the UN;

• Bombing without a UN Security Council mandate (and undermining any UN success);

• Recognising Slovenia and Croatia out of Yugoslavia while the criteria for declaration of independence (such as control over a territory) were not met;

• Recognising these two republics out of Yugoslavia while not having the slightest idea about what to do with the remainder of Yugoslavia and, thereby, making the war in Bosnia-Hercegovina impossible to avoid.

• Inventing the peace enforcement idea in the UN Agenda for Peace report that contravened everything the UN stood for and enabled one-sided military action by outsiders;

• Inventing the idea of humanitarian intervention – and using it where there was no genocide (or plan of it, certainly not in Kosovo either) or other historically, uniquely huge, humanitarian catastrophe, and having never since contemplated such interventions to stop such mass-killing calamities elsewhere;

• Bombing relentlessly and shamelessly over 78 days one country, Serbia, in order to create a new state out of it, Kosovo – the second Albanian state in Europe;

• Threatening the destruction of the capital, Belgrade, unless President Slobodan Milosevic withdrew from Kosovo;

• Establishing a special Tribunal in the Hague for only this conflict and Rwanda, a tribunal which, to the very end, was marked by strange procedures and biases that, hardly surprisingly, fit the political patterns and deficient conflict diagnosis practised by the West.

• While one can certainly argue that the UN was undermined by many other wars before those in Yugoslavia, Vietnam not the least, it can be argued that it was here the UN became a victim of systematic marginalisation and accused of being useless and even complicit in its policies and on-the-ground missions – to the extent that the UN has not been thought of as a central peace-keeper, -maker and -builder in any of the large conflict zones since 1999.

• And it is, finally, the conflict in which commercial marketing companies – such as Ruder Finn – were brought in to secure an advantageous but deceptive global image of Croatia, Bosnian Muslims and Kosovo-Albanians. Powerful narratives that serve certain interests but not truth in any sense didn’t start with Syria. Neither did monopoly media’s loyalty to their governments and addiction to simplifying two-party narratives that were particularly misleading here, in one of the world’s most complex conflict formations.

Those of us who were more or less permanently on the ground in all parts of Yugoslavia – had been there decades before and followed it closely after, tended to see things in rather different perspectives and would maintain that the outside “help” Yugoslavia received from the international so-called community was a kind of cynical euthanasia rather than a genuine help to recover.

*****

Kosovo and TFF’s mediation and peace plan

This author served as goodwill mediator/adviser to three governments in Belgrade and to the non-violent leadership team of Dr Ibrahim Rugova in Kosovo. They wanted an independent state but only through non-violent means – and were therefore soon marginalised by the West which, with the particular contribution of the German intelligence service BND and the American CIA, instead invested in the darkest and most criminal circles in Kosovo and set up the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA/UCK) which later served as a kind of army on the ground for NATO’s bombing raids.

We developed a plan for a negotiated solution to the conflict based on a total ceasefire, UN presence and monitoring and a three-year negotiation process. It was shaped like an international law document. As far as we know, it is the only plan that was widely discussed and presented in details in both Serbian and Albanian media.

It turned out soon to be all in vain. The US and NATO allies had other plans – and they were not about peace. The Rambouillet meetings were totally fake, meant only to secure that Belgrade would say No and the Albanian Yes. Then Assistant Secretary of State, James Rubin, formulated it so well – people thought: Today the Serbs have chosen war and the Albanians peace. He said it to his wife, Christiane Amanpour on CNN – State war policies and monopoly media already then in symbiosis.

How was it done? Well, in the first round of talks the Albanians had stalled while the Serb team went along with a plan presented by Madeleine Albright. That was not what they wanted, so she later produced an Appendix to the text – to be used to turn the talk results around 180 degrees: The Appendix stipulated that NATO forces should be deployed to Serbia, should not be legally responsible for damage it may cause to Serbian property and not pay for the use of harbours and airfields.

Who would not have smelled a rat here? NATO could then have started a war from inside Serbia itself, having already a first contingent on the ground, or they could move to arrest President Milosevic at some point. Surprise, surprise: The Serbs said no and the Albanians were enthusiastic.

That was the pretext to NATO bombings 19 years ago. Plus the – presumably nicely staged – massacre in the village of Racak. A US head of the OSCE-related KVM monitoring mission, Mr William Walker, with a less than clean-handed past in the CIA, arrived immediately and, before any analyses had been made, declared it the work of the Serbian government.

*****

TFF’s team of Yugoslavia experts, psychologists, media people, peacemakers etc. was on the ground everywhere, conducted interviews on all sides (some 3000) and roamed around with flak jackets also where no embassies were found. No Western government ever took any interest, except former US Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and his team whom we had a long conversation with in a late evening at his hotel suite. A delightful intellectual with a heart, a moral man – who was quickly sidelined by the Clinton administration and one of the students Vance had taught diplomacy – Warren Christopher.

TFF’s first report, After Yugoslavia – What? in September 1991 was published at the same time as Vance’s team was working on the idea to deploy UN peacekeeping missions in Croatia. That was also a central proposal of the mentioned report.

Over the years, three TFF Associates – Johan Galtung, Hakan Wiberg and Jan Oberg who in total had about 130 man-years of experience with Yugoslavia – wrote the equivalent of about 2000 A4 pages of main comprehensive conflict analyses and peace proposals and some debate articles and press releases. They’re all gathered – as they were written at the time – in the blog 1 report “Yugoslavia – What Should Have Been Done” which is not only the largest peace research publication about Yugoslavia but also a frontal criticism – with alternatives point by point – of how the West practised what must be termed peace prevention.

Yes, there were alternatives.

But those who mastermind wars are not exactly the best listeners.

Back then as today, somebody else paid a high price.

We don’t want to contribute to the special war crimes amnesia of the West.

And we want to remind our audiences that there are always alternatives to warfare.

Remembering the War on Yugoslavia, 1999

The ethnic map few understood. Should make it clear that cutting up Yugoslavia in independent republics could not be done without bloodshed. (1)

Yellow = Serbs, Dark Green = Muslims, Light Blue = Croats, Light Green = Slovenes, Orange = Montenegrins, Pink = Albanians, Darker Blue = Macedonians

*****

March 24, 2018, marks the 19th anniversary of NATO’s illegal and illegitimate bombing of Yugoslavia, Serbia and its Kosovo province during 78 days. It has – one is tempted to say, of course – been conveniently forgotten by the West itself.

It was masterminded by the United States under Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright after the so-called negotiations between Serbs and Albanians in Rambouillet outside Paris (the parties never met face-to-face)

While Clinton may be best remembered for his relations with Monica Lewinsky and his wife, Hillary Clinton, some of us also remember him (and Albright) for bombing Afghanistan, Sudan, Bosnia-Hercegovina and contributions to the proportionately largest ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia – of Croatian Serbs out of Croatia’s Krajina, Eastern and Western Slavonia where they had lived for about 400 years, in Operations Storm and Flash in 1995.

Clinton was also the President who started the expansion of NATO against assurances about never doing so given by leading NATO politicians to Mikhail Gorbachev. But the former Yugoslav republics are now NATO members (Slovenia, Croatia and Montenegro). Clinton also upheld the sanctions on Iraq’s innocent citizens even after 500,000 had died.

By an objective analysis of the contemporary history of interventionism and militarism, Russia’s response to the de facto coup d’etat in Kiev by [allegedly — DV editor] annexing Crimea would, one should expect, be compared with such fundamentally important and international law-violating policies and, likely, found to be minor in comparison. But that, naturally, is impossible for those who have reasons to be in denial of their own wrongdoings and large parts, therefore, of the post-Cold War history.

With a history like that – and more since then – it is no wonder that the West/NATO must blame everything evil on virtually everybody else: Russia, Syria, Iran, North Korea and China in particular. In psycho-political terms, it’s called projection while others might call it amnesia or attention-diversion that fit new crimes.

*****

Yugoslavia’s dissolution was surely caused by internal dynamics accumulating over a decade after Josip Broz Tito’s death. But the international so-called community’s involvement could, in the macro-historical perspective, be viewed as at least as destructive, if not more. The understanding of the hugely complex conflict formations in the Yugoslav space was unknown to 99% of the Western governments and their diplomats – having no other mental patterns than the Cold War and, thus, casting the Serbs as the evil, expansive Orthodox Russians and the rest as freedom-seeking peoples who ought to belong to “us”.

They thought it was about ethnicity while ethnicity was just a vehicle for mobilisation of warfighting energies and exploitation of traumas from the Second World War. They thought that conflict-resolution was about reducing complexity down to two parties, one good and one evil and that peace-making would succeed if they supported the former and punish the latter.

With such a deficient intellectual toolbox, with such amateurish Diagnosis of Yugoslavia’s problems, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the Prognosis was wrong too and that the kind of final Solution – dissolution, split-and-rule and rewarding extremist nationalism and humiliating Russia – turned out catastrophic.

A good doctor causes minimal pain and blood loss. Western conflict doctors, accompanied by their arms traders, spilt as much blood as possible, on top of what the various domestic governments, private warlords and paramilitaries of Yugoslavia were able and willing to do to each other.

*****

Tito (Photo: Jan Oberg)

To make this Western – remember, Russia was in turmoil and could play no role – quackery succeed, at least in their own eyes, the self-appointed peacemakers of our world had to produce a number of novel tricks – all of which makes the long-term effects of this Yugoslavia’s dissolution more significant than the fall of The Wall.

Among such politico-military inventions one would perhaps in particular point to these:

• Since this was the first larger conflict after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, everything seemed possible, no need to take into account what Russia might do because it could do virtually nothing.

• Splitting with violent means an existing founding member state of the Non-Aligned Movement and of the UN;

• Bombing without a UN Security Council mandate (and undermining any UN success);

• Recognising Slovenia and Croatia out of Yugoslavia while the criteria for declaration of independence (such as control over a territory) were not met;

• Recognising these two republics out of Yugoslavia while not having the slightest idea about what to do with the remainder of Yugoslavia and, thereby, making the war in Bosnia-Hercegovina impossible to avoid.

• Inventing the peace enforcement idea in the UN Agenda for Peace report that contravened everything the UN stood for and enabled one-sided military action by outsiders;

• Inventing the idea of humanitarian intervention – and using it where there was no genocide (or plan of it, certainly not in Kosovo either) or other historically, uniquely huge, humanitarian catastrophe, and having never since contemplated such interventions to stop such mass-killing calamities elsewhere;

• Bombing relentlessly and shamelessly over 78 days one country, Serbia, in order to create a new state out of it, Kosovo – the second Albanian state in Europe;

• Threatening the destruction of the capital, Belgrade, unless President Slobodan Milosevic withdrew from Kosovo;

• Establishing a special Tribunal in the Hague for only this conflict and Rwanda, a tribunal which, to the very end, was marked by strange procedures and biases that, hardly surprisingly, fit the political patterns and deficient conflict diagnosis practised by the West.

• While one can certainly argue that the UN was undermined by many other wars before those in Yugoslavia, Vietnam not the least, it can be argued that it was here the UN became a victim of systematic marginalisation and accused of being useless and even complicit in its policies and on-the-ground missions – to the extent that the UN has not been thought of as a central peace-keeper, -maker and -builder in any of the large conflict zones since 1999.

• And it is, finally, the conflict in which commercial marketing companies – such as Ruder Finn – were brought in to secure an advantageous but deceptive global image of Croatia, Bosnian Muslims and Kosovo-Albanians. Powerful narratives that serve certain interests but not truth in any sense didn’t start with Syria. Neither did monopoly media’s loyalty to their governments and addiction to simplifying two-party narratives that were particularly misleading here, in one of the world’s most complex conflict formations.

Those of us who were more or less permanently on the ground in all parts of Yugoslavia – had been there decades before and followed it closely after, tended to see things in rather different perspectives and would maintain that the outside “help” Yugoslavia received from the international so-called community was a kind of cynical euthanasia rather than a genuine help to recover.

*****

Kosovo and TFF’s mediation and peace plan

This author served as goodwill mediator/adviser to three governments in Belgrade and to the non-violent leadership team of Dr Ibrahim Rugova in Kosovo. They wanted an independent state but only through non-violent means – and were therefore soon marginalised by the West which, with the particular contribution of the German intelligence service BND and the American CIA, instead invested in the darkest and most criminal circles in Kosovo and set up the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA/UCK) which later served as a kind of army on the ground for NATO’s bombing raids.

We developed a plan for a negotiated solution to the conflict based on a total ceasefire, UN presence and monitoring and a three-year negotiation process. It was shaped like an international law document. As far as we know, it is the only plan that was widely discussed and presented in details in both Serbian and Albanian media.

It turned out soon to be all in vain. The US and NATO allies had other plans – and they were not about peace. The Rambouillet meetings were totally fake, meant only to secure that Belgrade would say No and the Albanian Yes. Then Assistant Secretary of State, James Rubin, formulated it so well – people thought: Today the Serbs have chosen war and the Albanians peace. He said it to his wife, Christiane Amanpour on CNN – State war policies and monopoly media already then in symbiosis.

How was it done? Well, in the first round of talks the Albanians had stalled while the Serb team went along with a plan presented by Madeleine Albright. That was not what they wanted, so she later produced an Appendix to the text – to be used to turn the talk results around 180 degrees: The Appendix stipulated that NATO forces should be deployed to Serbia, should not be legally responsible for damage it may cause to Serbian property and not pay for the use of harbours and airfields.

Who would not have smelled a rat here? NATO could then have started a war from inside Serbia itself, having already a first contingent on the ground, or they could move to arrest President Milosevic at some point. Surprise, surprise: The Serbs said no and the Albanians were enthusiastic.

That was the pretext to NATO bombings 19 years ago. Plus the – presumably nicely staged – massacre in the village of Racak. A US head of the OSCE-related KVM monitoring mission, Mr William Walker, with a less than clean-handed past in the CIA, arrived immediately and, before any analyses had been made, declared it the work of the Serbian government.

*****

TFF’s team of Yugoslavia experts, psychologists, media people, peacemakers etc. was on the ground everywhere, conducted interviews on all sides (some 3000) and roamed around with flak jackets also where no embassies were found. No Western government ever took any interest, except former US Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and his team whom we had a long conversation with in a late evening at his hotel suite. A delightful intellectual with a heart, a moral man – who was quickly sidelined by the Clinton administration and one of the students Vance had taught diplomacy – Warren Christopher.

TFF’s first report, After Yugoslavia – What? in September 1991 was published at the same time as Vance’s team was working on the idea to deploy UN peacekeeping missions in Croatia. That was also a central proposal of the mentioned report.

Over the years, three TFF Associates – Johan Galtung, Hakan Wiberg and Jan Oberg who in total had about 130 man-years of experience with Yugoslavia – wrote the equivalent of about 2000 A4 pages of main comprehensive conflict analyses and peace proposals and some debate articles and press releases. They’re all gathered – as they were written at the time – in the blog 1 report “Yugoslavia – What Should Have Been Done” which is not only the largest peace research publication about Yugoslavia but also a frontal criticism – with alternatives point by point – of how the West practised what must be termed peace prevention.

Yes, there were alternatives.

But those who mastermind wars are not exactly the best listeners.

Back then as today, somebody else paid a high price.

We don’t want to contribute to the special war crimes amnesia of the West.

And we want to remind our audiences that there are always alternatives to warfare.

Canada’s NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and Political Violence

We should be concerned about Jagmeet Singh’s support for political violence. But not the stuff that’s making news. While the media makes much of the new NDP head’s ties/indifference to Sikh violence, they’ve ignored Singh’s leadership of a party/community that has repeatedly backed Canadian aggression.

In a Rabble story on the controversy, Karl Nerenberg described Singh as the “leader of a party that has throughout its history favoured peaceful and non-violent solutions.” As such, Nerenberg called on the NDP leader to “make a stronger statement against any use of violence in furtherance of Sikh goals.”

While not downplaying the terrible human loss in the 1985 Air India bombing or disagreeable aspects of the Khalistan movement, it’s more salient to know Singh’s position on Canadian violence. Contrary to Nerenberg’s claim, the NDP has repeatedly supported Canadian aggression.

Seven years ago the NDP wholeheartedly endorsed bombing Libya, a quarter century ago it applauded the bombing of Serbia and in 1950 it cheerlead Canadian participation in the Korean War. At the beginning of the century important elements of the party backed Canada’s deployment to Afghanistan and the NDP was ambivalent towards Canadian-assisted violence in Haiti.

After the Communists took control of China in 1949 the US tried to encircle the country. They supported Chiang Kai-shek in Taiwan, built military bases in Japan, backed a right-wing dictator in Thailand and tried to establish a pro-Western state in Vietnam. The success of China’s nationalist revolution also spurred the 1950-1953 Korean War in which eight Canadian warships and 27,000 Canadian troops participated. The war left as many as four million dead.

The NDP’s predecessor, the CCF, endorsed the US-led (though UN sanctioned) war in Korea. Deputy leader and party spokesperson Stanley Knowles immediately endorsed the deployment of Canadian naval units to the Western Pacific, which the government sent in case they “might be of assistance to the United Nations and Korea.” Before Ottawa committed ground troops the CCF Executive Council called for them. The CCF started to shift its position on the Korean War when Washington had the UN condemn Chinese “aggression” six months into the fighting.

The NDP backed Canada’s significant contribution to NATO’s 1999 bombing of the former Yugoslavia. Contravening international law, the 78-day bombing campaign killed hundreds and spurred the ethnic cleansing of Albanian Kosovars NATO officials claimed to be curbing. The party only turned critical over a month after the bombing began.

Important elements within the NDP initially supported Canada’s October 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. Two days after the George W. Bush administration declared war, NDP leader Alexa McDonough and defence critic Peter Stoffer issued a “joint statement”, saying they “completely back the men and women in the Canadian military assigned to the U.S. coalition.”

The NDP was wishy-washy on the February 29, 2004, US/France/Canada coup in Haiti and violence that followed. In the days after the US/France/Canada military invasion NDP foreign critic Svend Robinson called for an investigation into Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s removal and asked if “regime change in Haiti” was discussed at the January 2003 Ottawa Initiative on Haiti, where high level US, Canadian and French officials deliberated on overthrowing the elected President. But, subsequent foreign critic Alexa McDonough largely stayed mum as Canada offered military, policing, diplomatic and financial support to a dictatorship and UN force that killed thousands violently suppressing Port au Prince’s poor (pro-Aristide) neighborhoods.

In 2011 the party supported two House of Commons votes endorsing the bombing of Libya. “It’s appropriate for Canada to be a part of this effort to try to stop Gadhafi from attacking his citizens as he has been threatening to do,’’ said party leader Jack Layton. But, the NATO bombing campaign was justified based on exaggerations and outright lies about the Gaddafi regime’s human rights violations as I discuss in detail in The Ugly Canadian: Stephen Harper’s foreign policy. Additionally, NATO forces explicitly contravened the UN resolutions sanctioning a no-fly zone by dispatching troops and expanding the bombing far beyond protecting civilians.

Canada also defied UN resolutions 1970 and 1973 by selling drones to the rebels. After Gaddafi was savagely killed, NDP leader Nycole Turmel released a statement noting, “the future of Libya now belongs to all Libyans. Our troops have done a wonderful job in Libya over the past few months.”

Beyond this history, there are good reasons to fear Singh will support Canadian aggression. During the leadership race he allied himself with pro-US Empire MP Hélène Laverdière and subsequently reappointed the former Canadian diplomat as NDP foreign critic. At last month’s party convention he mobilized supporters to suppress debate on the widely endorsed Palestine Resolution. Singh has also said little (or nothing) about Canada’s new defence policy, which includes a substantial boost to military spending and offensive capabilities.

In the interests of a first do no harm Canadian foreign policy, it’s time for a comprehensive discussion of Singh’s views on political violence.

Assassination in Kosovo: The Killing of Oliver Ivanović

I won’t even start with the old rule that when there’s a contract killing, it’s usually the killer who first offers their condolences.

— Nenad Čanak, Radio Free Europe, January 22, 2018

The highest form of scandalous patriotism is real estate, often blood soaked, and almost always fortified.  What one controls is often less important as who is doing so. In the case of Kosovo, attempts at control, overt and covert, have been exerted for years. Officially, Serbia lacks de facto effectiveness, a state of affairs in place since the aftermath of the 1999 bombings by NATO.  Neither does Albania, which also acts as a stalking counterpart in the region. Kosovo itself occupies a legal twilight zone, tormenting those in search of certainty, puzzling international legal scholars and experts in the field of recognition.

The territory itself has been pockmarked over the years with ethnic displacement and redistributions.  Concentrations of Serbs, for instance, can be found across the Ibar River, many having fled in the wake of avenging Albanians in 1999.  Governance has been shot to pieces.  Security incidents take place during the course of each week.

Various groups, elements, and bands of not so merry creatures have done their best to insinuate themselves into the ethnic and loose framework of this fragile entity.  Such conditions have been facilitated by the less than forceful assertion of control by NATO and the United Nations, notably over matters touching on security. In such a vacuum, vigilantism and crime thrive in abundance.

Oliver Ivanović, who was gunned down on January 16 outside his party office in Mitrovica, was one such figure to rise out of this anarchic storm. A Serb who nonetheless still engaged Albanian counterparts when needed, his political awareness was such as to be inaccurately labelled as a moderate.  The informed pragmatist would have been more accurate.

No figure of prominence can ever function in the politics of Kosovo without cracking the odd egg, if not skull.  Reputations are often made in the cauldron of most resistance and greatest defiance.  Ivanović became known for being the front man of the self-styled bridge watchers, keen to ensure that Albanian influence stopped before the town of Mitrovica.

Ivanović, however, had noticed a change in local conditions, notably touching on Mitrovica itself. Albanians were, for one, no longer the largest threats, the irritations in the ointment.  The agents of disorder and decay could be found within.

In September, he made an observation that caught much attention: “Fear is pervasive in Metrovica, not of Albanians anymore but of Serbs, local criminals who ride around in SUVs without license plates.  Drugs are sold on every corner.  And the police only watch.  It is obvious that they are afraid of the perpetrators or the perpetrators are part of the security structures themselves.”

A contract, or contracts, were duly made on his life, though in the fetid depths of misrule, it remains unclear who was the group behind the trigger.  Vuk Dračković of the opposition Serbian Renewal Movement spotted the traits of political murder similar to those of the 1990s.  Ivanović had been the conciliator, the voice of reason, a figure of negotiation, all factors earning him demerit points with his enemies.  The bullets for Ivanović were “aimed at the Brussels agreement, the internal dialogue on Kosovo’s future, the stability of the region as a whole, and Serbia’s European path.”

Nenad Čanak of the League of Social Democrats for Vojvodina sees a picture a few steps removed, smoked and cured in the great tradition of Balkan conspiracy.  Russia, he suggests, might be involved, as the killing potentially provides an opportunity for Moscow to “act as the peacemaker” thereby causing “the international community [to turn] a blind eye to Crimea and the Donbas and accep[ting] the usurpation of parts of the territory of a neighbouring country, which Russia supports.”

In the aftermath of the death, political figures are treading on water. Serbia’s Aleksandar Vučić took stock and paid a visit to Mitrovica, a point that immediately drew comments from such figures as Dejan Jovic, who called it his kosovski momenat, or “Kosovo moment”.  This was hardly meant to flatter: the late Slobodan Milošević paid a trouble-stirred visit in 1987 promising that “no one should beat you again”.  The blood was rushing, hearts were aflutter, and the separatist feelings were biting.

As Gordana Knezević noted, the greeting for the Serbian leader on this occasion was different.  1987 had been all bluster and nationalist stirring, spotting and detecting enemies.  Now, the log of concerns was more immediate, tangible and desperate: a fear of local ruination, despoliation and lawlessness.  His response to such insecurity was similarly more contained.

Some fairly pointless speculations have been made in assessing this brutal incident.  One view is that this was blood shed with potential, a murder with decent consequences.  People, for one, will start talking: in Pristina, in Belgrade, in Kosovo.  This aspirational view is well and good, but will hardly be of comfort to those who hanker for that most novel of ideas in Kosovo: stability.

Remember the Balkans?

“The Balkans” – this notion that signifies more a state of mind than geographic location, usually derisively associated with powder kegs, ancient hatreds and “Asiatic” primitivism “in the heart of Europe” – has long ceased to occupy the headline pole position of the Clinton era. Used since the 1990s mostly as code for the violent dissolution of former Yugoslavia and the various spillover effects regionally and beyond – the term and its theme have been since displaced by waves of other real (and some imaginary) news, only occasionally to briefly flash back through mainstream Western media. The recent flare with the final verdicts of the Hague tribunal (ICTY) – replete with the almost ritual hara-kiri of a convicted Croatian general in open court – is no different, as it will quickly fade back into apparent oblivion. However, this is a good opportunity to bring up some of the many lessons and occasional pointers still relevant today.

To clarify – this is not a requiem for the Hague kangaroo court, as many measured reviews of the subject have been done to date. Let’s simply summarize that this caricature of the Nurenberg war tribunal has failed miserably in its purported main goals of bringing truth, justice and reconciliation to an area in dire need of it, along with a greater accountability in world affairs. Quite the contrary: its glaring political dependence, selective local justice and, above all, complete blindness to any outside culpability – all have considerably set back these necessary processes. They will simply have to wait for some more dispassionate – and more autochtonous – vehicle for the dispensation of real justice. Likewise, a critical analysis of the South Slav national project – and specifically, of the post-WW II socialist, nonaligned Yugoslavia – is beyond the scope of this short note. Suffice it to say that this was a country of some relevance, warranting careful study that eschews glib and summary pronouncements. So, the main focus here is to briefly explore a couple of key issues going forward.

At first it is hard to see much hope in the post-Yugoslav wasteland: a familiar picture of dysfuntional banana-republics with corrupt quasi-democratically elected governments (fiercely nationalist locally, pliably globalist beyond), botched privatizations, plundered public assets, brain-drain exodus, rampant unemployment, torn safety nets…  Although Serbia fits well this general mold, there are important differences. Specifically, there is resistance to joining the EU – certainly on the demeaning terms of territorial dismemberment currently proposed, but increasingly in general as well – along with almost universal aversion to entering NATO, a declared military neutrality with refusal to participate in the anti-Russian sanctions regime, and an increasing openness to economic partnerships and investments from China, Russia, Gulf states etc. These are not policies that the Serbian power structure can abandon easily, regardless of outside pressure or its neighborhood with virtually universal membership (or aspiration) to both the EU and NATO, with Western-sponsored propaganda ceaselessly implying that resistance is futile: “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”. Many suspect that they would if they could – numerous WikiLeaks dispatches show regular promises made to US/EU interlocutors to that effect — except for the amorphous but ominous pressure of the Serbian body politic.

In many ways, this might appear paradoxical. In the aftermath of the wars, sanctions and international ostracism — followed by a disappointing “transition” and copiously aided in all that by Western propaganda outlets — the Serbian body politic at large has become mostly dispirited and apathetic. The collapse of the larger country at the dawn of the New World Order was never properly fathomed, the response mostly reactive and ambivalent, the disappointment of apparently lost (both shooting and information) wars quite thorough. An objectively most honorable collective history for much of the 19th-20th centuries gave way to bitter feelings of resentment, self-doubt and insularity.

Nonetheless, the Washington-Brussels-Berlin axis somehow failed to secure the needed coup de grace, with the requirement of Serbia formally abandoning its occupied Kosovo province in exchange for further EU accession steps never materializing – despite the fact that every Serbian government since 2000 has been anointed (if not effectively appointed) by Washington.  However, these politicians — and, in particular, the currently well-entrenched government of the (grossly misnomered) SNS Progressive Party — are generally well aware of the local “red lines” whose crossing could easily lead to loss of  the driving seat and associated privileges (not to mention some more vital values). Relatively calcified over the years, this state of affairs is unlikely to change without major shifts.

There have certainly been many objective outside factors from our century that may have contributed to this: from the 9/11/01 attacks, to the ensuing US-led military misadventures in Asia, the Great Recession, the irrevocable demise of the EU project (in its current form), refugee crises, the rebound of Russia and rise of China – to name but a few. Nevertheless, this is not an accident — there is a deeper historical logic to it all, in some ways related to the genesis of Yugoslavia itself — that might help explain it better (with possible elaboration to be left for another time).

The movement behind this process is admittedly messy — mostly intuitive, heterogenous and spontaneous. It lacks a real “vanguard”, claiming only token representation in the national parliament, with any attempts at better articulation and organization facing forceful discreditation methods by the government and its captive media. It frequently seems flirting dangerously close to the fringes of retrogressive movements that are no different than various chauvinistic counterparts regionally and in much of Europe. It often appears unaware of its natural allies in a broader struggle. Nonetheless — and this is important to understand — there is a real and progressive element here that must not be discounted. The reality is that the pulse of this broadly understood Serbian public opinion has, willy-nilly, informed key elements of its government’s policy for some time now, and remains the bulwark precluding this last East European domino to fall in line with basic imperial precepts. And while their exploits hardly make Western media headlines, the constant stream of sundry Eurocrat commissars and ministers, along with plenipotentiary DC apparatchiks — visiting Belgrade with various carrot and stick combinations — is pretty conspicuous and just as clearly indicates their staunch interest in addressing the issue on their terms.

The Serbian body politic was the backbone of a functional and prosperous Balkan federation once before, and it has the potential to be a catalyst for positive and unifying processes again. Of course, for this resistance to yield any broader anti-imperial fruit, a few more dots need be connected.  Likewise, there should be no illusions of this being an easy or straightforward process. For starters, some of the painful but required regional truth and justice issues from the opening paragraph are still ahead, and the many salutary lessons from Yugoslavia’s collapse will have to be understood better. Furthermore, a currently missing realization of the real common goals with other regional forces — for example, the Greek Left, most certainly including its KKE Communist Party — will have to emerge. However, the stakes are simply too high for this not to be attempted in earnest, loudly barking populist ruling regimes notwithstanding. The disillusionment among the masses in the rest of the Balkans is too high not to be harnessed. And history has repeatedly shown that once the globalist neoliberal “prosperity lifting all boats” narrative runs its local course, the choices become rather stark: either a nationally-aware but internationally-oriented progressive coalition, or the scourge of xenophobic reactionary demagoguery. Let’s hope for the former, with the metaphor of the Balkan Sprachbund prevailing over its derogatory tinderbox alternatives.