June 10, 2000 International Tribunal for U.S./NATO warcrimes in Yugoslavia



by Richard Becker


Richard Becker of California is an International Action Center organizer who has participated in tribunal hearings in the U.S., Germany and Yugoslavia. He has written and spoken extensively on the role of the talks held in Rambouillet, France in February and March 1999. He showed the Rambouillet "agreement" was really an ultimatum from the U.S. aimed at provoking war, and constituted a crime against peace.

Following Racak came Rambouillet, the next critical step in the drive toward war. When the real content of the Rambouillet Accord became known, which wasn’t until three weeks after the bombing began, we labeled it a declaration of war disguised as a peace agreement. There was no question that Rambouillet was never intended to bring peace, but instead just the opposite. This is confirmed by even a superficial examination of what the Rambouillet agreement demanded from Yugoslavia.

In the days after the bombing started in March and early April, President Clinton, on several nationally-broadcast occasions, said, "We tried to reach a peaceful settlement, but the Serbs refused to negotiate, leaving no alternative but a military solution." This stereotypical and racist demonization of "the Serbs" became official U.S. policy, a policy faithfully reflected in the corporate war media. But Clinton’s lie was unmasked by the statements of his own Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright. When she was at Rambouillet in February, 1999 she repeatedly stated that "we are not here to negotiate." Albright told the media that the "best international mediators have drafted the agreement." It was, as Albright stressed, a take-it-or-leave-it deal.

The accord provided a very broad form of autonomy for Kosovo. As had been reported in some of the big-business media, the Yugoslav government indicated its willingness to accept the autonomy part of the agreement, but rejected the occupation of Kosovo, a province of sovereign Yugoslavia, by a 28,000-strong NATO ground force. The Yugoslavian government made it clear that it would consider other forms of "peace-keeping" forces, but not NATO.

But many aspects of the accord were given very little or no coverage in the corporate media. For example:

Chapter 4a, Article I-- "The economy of Kosovo, shall function in accordance with free market principles." Kosovo is rich in mineral resources like gold, silver, mercury, molybdenum and other ores.

Chapter 5, Article V-- `The Chief of the Implementation Mission (CIM) shall be the final authority in theater regarding interpretation of the civilian aspects of this Agreement, and the Parties agree to abide by his determinations as binding on all Parties and persons."

Chapter 7, Article XV-- "The KFOR [NATO] commander is the final authority in theater regarding interpretation of this Chapter and his determinations are binding on all Parties and persons." This chapter refers to all military matters.

Together, the CIM and the NATO commander were to be given total dictatorial powers: the right to overturn elections, shut down organizations and media, and overrule any decisions made by the Republic of Serbia, the Yugoslav federal governments, or any future Kosovo provincial government.

The Rambouillet Accord’s Appendix B, the "Status of the Multi-National Military Implementation Force," included even more intrusive provisions for Yugoslavia as a whole.

Section 6b: "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 FRY (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia)."

Section 7: "NATO personnel shall be immune from any form of arrest, investigation, or detention by the authorities in the FRY."

Together, Sections 6 and 7 compose the old, hated, colonial concept of "extraterritoriality."

And then there was Section 8: "NATO personnel shall enjoy, together with their vehicles, vessels, aircraft, and equipment, free and unrestricted passage and unimpeded access throughout the FRY including associated airspace and territorial waters."

Section 11: "NATO is granted the use of airports, roads, rails, and ports without payment of fees, duties, dues, tolls, or charges occasioned by mere use."

Section 15: "The Parties (Yugoslav government) shall, upon simple request, grant all telecommunications services, including broadcast services, and the right to use all of the electromagnetic spectrum for this purpose, free of cost."

Section 22: "NATO may, in the conduct of the Operation, have need to make improvements or modifications to certain infrastructure in the FRY, such as roads, bridges, tunnels, buildings, and utility systems."

Stationing 28,000 U.S./NATO troops in Kosovo, a province of Yugoslavia would, by itself, be a gross violation of the country's sovereignty. But the Rambouillet accord went much, much further–it required that Yugoslavia allow NATO unfettered access to any and all parts of the country's territory, with all costs to be borne by the host country. The accord blatantly violated Yugoslavia's sovereignty in so provocative a manner that it cannot have been accidental. It was, in reality, a demand that Yugoslavia submit to colonization. No independent or sovereign government could possibly have agreed to such a treaty. Nor was Yugoslavia expected to. The role of Rambouillet was to put the onus for the failure to achieve a peaceful resolution on the Yugoslav side, in order to justify the massive bombing of the entire country.

In June of last year, George Kenney, a former State Department Yugoslavia Desk, wrote in the June 14, 1999 issue of The Nation that an "unimpeachable press source" had informed him of how a senior State Department official had bragged during the Rambouillet talks, in an off-the-record press conference to the big media, that the U.S. "deliberately set the bar higher than the Serbs could accept" because they needed "a little bombing to see reason." On the Pacifica Radio program Democracy Now on June 2, Kenney confirmed that the high official was in fact Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

We believe that the Rambouillet Accord is, in itself and particularly when considered in connection with other events and testimony presented here today, clear and irrefutable evidence of a crime against peace, the planning and carrying out of a war of aggression by the U.S. and the other NATO powers.

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