By Randy A. Sprinkle
The events in Yugoslavia leading up to the NATO operations against the Serbian people in 1999 and the events which followed should be taken into consideration as a possible precursor for future actions taken against other nations and in particular, Israel. Although every situation is unique unto itself, there are patterns, models, and precedents that may indicate the direction and even to some extent outcomes. While responses and actions may differ, by looking at past events we can understand established mindsets that will determine future actions as well as results.
In 1995, Militant Islamic Albanians organized into the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Employing guerilla-style tactics against Serbians, incidents of violence increased, as did reprisals. The Serbian government claimed that their army was only going after suspected Albanian “terrorists” however, reports began to circulate that Yugoslav forces were committing war crimes in Kosovo. As violence escalated in a series of KLA attacks and Yugoslav reprisals, diplomatic efforts for a peaceful solution were initiated. Under an agreement led by Richard Holbrooke, OSCE observers moved into Kosovo to monitor the ceasefire. Yugoslav forces partly pulled out of Kosovo, however, the ceasefire was broken shortly thereafter by KLA forces, which again provoked harsh counterattacks by the Serbs. Rumors of genocide against Albanians began to circulate and the rest is history – a civil war was settled by a multi-national third party who became both judge and arbitrator.
While there are differences in circumstances between what happened in Kosovo in 1999 and what is taking place in the Middle East today, there are also similarities including past events that could foreshadow some future ones.
The Yugoslavian Blueprint
Leading up to NATO actions against Serbia the world news media methodically turned the Serbs into the new “Nazis” of our time while portraying Islamic radicals as victims of genocide and ethnic cleansing. Today similar accusations are cast at Israel and the USA anytime they attempt to take any action in order to defend their nations from terrorist and rouge nations. I would not excuse genocide or any crimes against humanity committed by anyone, but Kosovo was pre 9/11 and there was much more to be told that went virtually untold and other things reported that were not true. The result was that the world in large believed accusations which now appear to have been at the very least greatly exaggerated and war was waged upon a people under siege of radical Islamic militants.
Does it seem odd that international actions seem to be taken only when Islam is losing while in the places they are clearly committing crimes the world closes its eyes?
The NYT ran an article in 1999 titled: “NATO Peacekeepers Plan a System of Controls for the News Media in Kosovo” – the bottomline: censorship and processed news with a biased slant – “All the news that’s print to fit“. The world was told international intervention was necessary as a humanitarian effort to keep the radical Serbs from committing genocide and eradicating poor oppressed Islamic people (terrorist?).
Is it possible that anti-Israeli Arabs will force the same type of actions in the Middle-East? – That is; use terrorist actions and guerrilla warfare to provoke a conflict in which the media will portray the civilian populations as victims which must be saved by international intervention. If terrorist groups can escalate the conflict to create great hardships upon civilians then calls will go out for measures to be taken on an international level as a humanitarian effort – In fact they already have.
Consider international responses to the crisis
EU – Javier Solana
A senior European Union official returned from the Middle East on Monday sounding pessimistic about the chance of a cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah militants, and the EU said it was considering the deployment of peacekeepers.
Javier Solana, the EU’s foreign and security chief, said the best that could be hoped for was a “de-escalation” of the fighting. He was to brief a meeting of EU foreign ministers on his weekend talks in Beirut.
UK – Tony Blair
“The blunt reality is that this violence is not going to stop unless we create the conditions for the cessation of violence,” Blair said after talks with Annan in Moscow.
“The only way is if we have a deployment of international forces that can stop bombardment coming into Israel,” he said.
France – Dominique de Villepin
French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin on Monday joined British Prime Minister Tony Blair and United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in calling for the deployment of an international force in southern Lebanon, in order to end the spiraling conflict between Israel and Hezbollah.
Germany – Angela Merkel
Germany’s leader on Monday spoke in favor of sending international peacekeepers into Lebanon but only if the United Nations endorses the move.
Speaking at the Group of Eight summit near St. Petersburg, Chancellor Angela Merkel said an international peacekeeping force could provide much-needed support for the government of Lebanon because it is in a “difficult position.” Israel missiles have been hitting targets on Lebanese territory for six days now.
UN – Kofi Annan
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for ending the latest Middle East crisis by establishing an international force in Lebanon, saying it would have to be stronger than the largely ineffectual U.N. peacekeeping force that has been there for nearly three decades.
“It is urgent that the international community acts to make a difference on the ground,” he said. Annan provided few details, saying the Security Council “will have to discuss this and define the specific mandate for one to be able to talk in more concrete terms.
Russia – Vladamir Putin
ABC reported: Russian President Vladimir Putin, closing out the first G-8 summit on Russian soil, said his nation would contribute troops to a U.N. peacekeeping force. The European Union said it also was considering deploying peacekeepers in Lebanon.
“Russia is continually taking part in peacekeeping operations. And we will not turn away from involvement in such operations in the future. “Putin stated Monday.
Italy – Romano Prodi, PM
Italian PM says 10,000 peacekeepers needed in Lebanon-Israel
Prodi said his country was ready to make a “significant contribution’’ to any deployment in Lebanon, after UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced the plan at the Group of Eight summit in St. Petersburg, Russia. U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Angela Merkel also backed the idea.
Israel and the USA
Israel is against the idea of international forces being introduced on a large scale in the region; for now that may be enough to keep it from happening, especially if the US backs Israel up on the issue. ‘Peacekeepers’ are only effective where they are not needed or until conflict breaks out. The problem is that the mindset of the forces is to treat all parties equal and not take sides. By treating aggressors as defenders, peacekeepers will complicate the situation by becoming ‘terrorist protection agents’. Terrorist attacks will not stop but the Israelis will be hindered from dealing with them freely and effectively. Israel could be turned into the “bad guy” by the media and international community when they have to take actions to protect themselves after international forces fail to do the job.
Note: This is the beginning of a process and there is much more to happen before international forces become a problem; in fact, if they are introduced into the region they may help establish a temporary pseudo-peace. Although the deployment of international forces on a large scale may or may not take place at this point in time; I predict it will take place or at least be made a compulsatory demand at some point. Also, when this does take place I expect a multi-national UN sanctioned force with a much broader base rather than NATO. However, before any such military action will take place the UN will first make demands with ultimatums, for why would the internationalist risk fighting for something if they can persuade Israel to give in willingly?
Although currently there is strong support for Israel among US citizenry, the political pendulum of power swings both ways. It is also possible that international intervention can be sold to a number of uniformed people who are sympathetic to Israel if it is packaged in a way where it appears “good“ for all parties.
If the consensus is that international intervention is necessary to protect citizens in the region from Israeli actions, and also to protect the Jewish people from terrorist actions, Russia will not be opposed, nor China, the EU or many other nations with one possible exception being the USA. – And the US is the wild card. If the administration changes in 2008 or if at present complete chaos were to break out and continue for a time, these events may be used as grounds to bring “peace” to the region by interjecting international forces as a buffer between the parties.
Due to the extent of Israeli military power there would be no NATO type of operation as used against the Serbs, but rather, an attempt to persuade Israeli politicians to accept the forces into the region as peacekeepers for the common good of all parties.
If Israel were to refuse then the media along with many nations will use the occasion to blame Israel for all the problems and for being the obstacle to peace. All of this will work to create a situation where the UN will seek embargos and sanctions to pressure the Jewish state into accepting the international peace plan. What happens from this point on is difficult to determine but there are a number of scenarios depending on how Israel responds to international demands and pressures. It could end with military confrontation or it could end in Israeli compliance by accepting international forces in the region which would lead to an eventual undermining of the state.
Related: Europe, Israel, United States, War Against Islamo-fascism