Archive for July 2009

The Seoul Times: KOSOVO & Systematic Persecution by KLA

July 24, 2009

http://theseoultimes.com/ST/?url=/ST/db/read.php?idx=8646
 

 

 

By Lee Jay Walker

 
Tokyo Correspondent
 
The former Yugoslavia was engulfed by many conflicts and ethnic and religious differences tore away at the very fabric of this nation. Like all wars, atrocities took place on all sides but the mass media in general focused on Serbian atrocities, while neglecting brutal crimes committed against the Serbian community. This certainly applies to the glossing over of war crimes done by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).

However, more and more evidence is coming to light about brutal KLA death camps and killing people for organs. Therefore, will former KLA members be charged with war crimes and will the “real truth” be told about international collusion? If not, then where does this leave Kosovo?

Before focusing on this important issue I fear a major cover-up. After all, the American version of history is that Kosovo should be independent because Albanians suffered greatly, therefore, Serbia does not have a moral right to keep Kosovo under Serbia.

Yet, if it comes to light that the KLA killed mainly Serbians, and also fellow Albanians, Roma, and other minorities, then where does this leave the American, British, and the Albanian version of events?

Remember, we are not talking about massacres taking place by opposing armies; on the contrary, we are talking about the KLA killing civilians for organs and for other brutal reasons.

Also, since the ending of the conflict it is clear that countless numbers of Christian Orthodox Churches have been destroyed and non-Albanian culture is on the wane. Added to this, thousands of people have been killed by Albanian nationalists and innocent Serbians, Roma, and others, have “been killed in silence” because it doesn’t suit the interests of America, the United Kingdom, and other nations who supported the KLA.

The BBC, a very liberal British network, highlighted the brutal deeds of the KLA during the airing of “Crossing Continents” and “Newsnight” which was broadcasted on April 9, 2009. Paul Mitchell, BBC correspondent, states that this provides “another side to the conflict which the world was not supposed to see.”

If we take this further, it also undermines the claims of America, the United Kingdom, and other nations who support the independence of Kosovo. After all, the findings show “a dirty covert war” and it raises further important questions, for example, how did the KLA develop overnight and where did they obtain their military hardware from?

However, I do not want to get bogged down by the justifications of either side in this article. Instead I want to focus on the disturbing findings of the BBC and others who hope to bring to light the past evils of the KLA.

Once more, before delving into this I wish to state that all sides in this conflict committed atrocities be they Albanian or Serbian. Also, the brutal civil wars which took place in Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo, witnessed many massacres and like all wars, you have no pure side because war always leads to atrocities and often it is the civilian population which is victimized the most.

Therefore, this article is not intended to be anti any one single ethnic group and of course many Albanians in Kosovo were also victims. Each ethnic and religious group suffered pain, irrespective if Orthodox Christian or Muslim, or if Serbian or Albanian.

However, the mass media mainly gave a one sided point of view, and this point of view was anti-Serbian. Yet the findings by the BBC and others highlight a different story and one which continues to be mainly ignored. This applies to the brutal killings and torture of innocent Serbians by the KLA and others were also murdered by this terrorist organization.

Yes, I stress terrorist organization for one simple reason. Throughout all of the civil wars in the former Yugoslavia it was clear that many Muslims remained in Serbia, after all, the Muslim community in Serbia is part and parcel of this independent nation which is multi-ethnic and multi-religious.

However, did the KLA protect Serbian Orthodox Christians, Roma, and other minorities? The answer is clearly no. Instead the KLA used a reign of terror against all minorities and persecuted fellow Albanians who were deemed to be traitors. Therefore, the KLA was a terrorist organization and clearly this organization was involved in major criminality including the killing of innocents in order to sell organs.

In the article written by Paul Mitchell, a former KLA prisoner states “I’ve seen a lot, people beaten, stabbed, hit with steel pipes, left without eating for 5 or 6 days. People had bullet proof vests on and were shot to see if it was working, thrown into tombs, beaten up and killed.”

The former KLA prisoner continues by saying “What can you feel when you see those things?” he added. “It’s something that is stuck in my mind for the rest of my life. You cannot do those things to people, not even to animals.”

Another Albanian who is suffering the aftershocks of this brutal conflict also bravely speaks the truth. He highlights that he drove trucks with prisoners who were shackled and he stresses that the majority were Serbian civilians and not only this, he drove them from Kosovo to Albania. He continues by stating “I was sick. I was just waiting for it to end. It was hard. I thought we were fighting a war [of liberation] but this was something completely different.”

KLA sites of systematic torture and killings were based throughout Kosovo and also in parts of Albania. For example Kukes and Burrel in Albania were used by the KLA with regards to military training, obtaining weapons, and for other factors. This in itself raises the role of Albania and NATO nations which took part in the bombing of the former Yugoslavia.

However, getting back to Kukes and Burrel and systematic torture and killing of innocents, it becomes apparent that these sites witnessed many barbaric atrocities. The International Centre for the Red Cross obtained information about brutal murders in Burrel in 2000. This applies to being informed by KLA fighters who stated that Serbian civilians were killed in 1999 in Burrel and these killings had an economic motive because organs were removed and then sold abroad.

Of course, this information would be very troubling for both America and the United Kingdom, because both these nations had sold the war in the disguise of “good” versus “evil.” However, if the good side, the KLA, is involved in killing civilians for harvesting organs and then selling these organs on to other nations, then what does this make America and the United Kingdom?

Also, the hard sell by America, the United Kingdom, and other nations who support independence, is that independence is justified on the grounds of Serbian atrocities. Yet if the KLA was found to be involved in killing civilians for organs then “the spin machine” collapses and “democracy” rings hollow.

The role of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) is also criticized because of deeds which took place. UNMIK’s former head for Missing Persons and Forensics, Jose Pablo Baraybar, comments that “There were people that are certainly alive that were in Kukes, in that camp, as prisoners. Those people saw other people there, both Albanians and non-Albanians. There were members of the KLA leadership going through that camp. Many names were mentioned, and I would say that that is an established fact.”

More alarming, Baraybar openly admits that UNMIK was fully aware that the KLA had many detention centres and this in itself should have warranted a major investigation. Yet, claims Baraybar, “no proper investigation was ever carried out.”

Sian Jones, Amnesty International spokesperson was more scathing because Jones states that UNMIK “chose not to investigate.” Jones also adds that there were “lots of allegations, lots of victims but little true justice.”

Therefore, it is clear that important vested interests have a need to cover-up the real truth behind “this dirty war.” The United Nations, NATO, the role of Albania and major political leaders in nations like America and the United Kingdom, all come out of this in a terrible light. Also, it raises the issue of “war crime tribunals” and fairness and this terrible and tragic conflict questions the morality of major nations and institutions.

The issue of Kosovo remains because the majority of the international community does not recognize Kosovo to be an independent nation. If the truth really “came to light” and a full and major investigation took place, then clearly you would have many disturbing findings. However, world leaders from major nations do not have to worry about war crimes, and this is the problem, you still have a world of “real power” versus nations of “limited power” and we all know that the outcome is dependent on this sad reality.

The real tragedy of Kosovo, like all civil wars, is that innocents died on all sides. Yet it is clear that a major investigation is needed because killing innocents for organs is truly barbaric and you have enough evidence that this did take place. So will this disgraceful chapter come to light or will it be brushed under the carpet because of power politics?

If we judge past history then it would appear that it will be brushed under the carpet. However, when major powers want to ignore issues like this, it is truly sickening and the role of the mass media in general is also a loser because not enough was said or done at the time of this conflict. Once more the propaganda machine of “the rich and powerful won” and the real losers were the innocents on all sides.

However, one story was told, that of the persecution of the Albanians; but the other story, the persecution of Serbians, Roma, and other minorities remains untold. Yet the story of death camps and killing innocents for organs must be told and a true investigation is needed and this applies to everything and not just minor people who took part in this brutal war.

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Gwynne Dyer: What do Iceland and Blair have in common? No future in EU

July 21, 2009

By Gwynne Dyer

 
NZ Herald, 21 July 2009

 

Tony Blair (or “the Winston Churchill of our times” as he was known in the Bush White House) is not going to be the first president of the European Union. And Iceland isn’t going to join the EU either.

This sort of story only gets traction in the northern summer holidays, when all the movers and shakers are away at the cottage/villa/yacht and there is very little real news to hold the ads apart.

Iceland, we are told, is going to join the European Union and it’s also going to start using the “single currency”, the euro. Indeed, the Icelandic Parliament, the Althing, has just voted to start negotiations and the EU said it would be happy to have the big island as its 28th member – or 29th or 30th or 31st, depending on whether Croatia, Macedonia and/or Albania make it into the EU first.

Don’t believe it. The Icelanders want to join the EU now because the country is dead broke. The Icelandic krona is worth less than the Lower Slobbovian gugulev and they are very scared for the future.

When there’s only 320,000 of you and the bottom falls out of your economy, the shelter of big, seemingly solid institutions like the EU and the euro have an irresistible appeal.

It has been a fast, steep fall for the Icelanders, who were among the most prosperous people in the world only one year ago. Hardly any of them wanted to join the EU, suspecting that its member countries only wanted access to Icelandic waters so they could vacuum up all their fish. Besides, Icelandic banks, which had practically taken over the economy, were among the most profitable in the world.

It was the banks that caused Iceland’s downfall. The country radically deregulated its banking system some years ago, and the small, previously humble Icelandic banks suddenly became major international players. With government backing, they grew rapidly until they were 10 times the size of the real economy, yet all of the Icelandic bank directors together had about 25 minutes of international banking experience.

The island had become a giant hedge fund sitting in the middle of the North Atlantic and when the bubble burst last October it promptly morphed into a soup-kitchen. The currency collapsed, unemployment soared and the Government fell.

The new Government, headed by Social Democratic Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir, saw no other option than to seek shelter within the EU.

But Arni Thor Sigurdsson, chairman of Iceland’s parliamentary committee handling EU issues, reckons entry negotiations will take at least four years. Then, probably in 2013, there will have to be a referendum.

By that time the world economy will have recovered and Icelanders will have regained their usual confidence – or at least enough of it to reject membership in the EU, whose only plausible motive for wanting them to join is to steal their fish. So it won’t happen.

Then there’s Tony Blair, who was Prime Minister of Britain for 10 years before his Labour colleagues finally got him out in mid-2007. He was only 54 when he finally left office, and the make-work job they found him afterwards as “Middle East envoy” of the Quartet (the United States, Russia, the EU and the United Nations) doesn’t really fill his time. So why not president of the EU?

Well, for one thing, the job doesn’t exist yet. It will come into existence if and when the Lisbon Treaty is ratified, which can only happen if Ireland votes “yes” in a second referendum in October. (The Irish voted “no” in their first referendum in mid-2008, but opinion polls suggest they have changed their minds.) But even if the Irish vote “yes”, the Poles and the Czechs also have to ratify it.

Both the Czech and Polish Parliaments have approved the Lisbon Treaty but both presidents dislike it and have not yet signed it. If one of them stalls until there is an election in Britain and the Conservatives take power, the latter would then hold a British referendum on the treaty and the British might reject it.

It would therefore be a bit premature for any of the candidates for EU president to give up their day jobs. Blair has not even admitted that he is a candidate.

As an ally explained: “He wants it, but he does not want to be humiliated by failing to get it.” He should stick with that position, because he’s not going to get it.

It is only six years since Tony Blair invaded Iraq, siding with George W. Bush and against most of the other large EU states.

The British public ultimately turned against his war but most of his Western European neighbours were against it from the start. A significant number even think of him as an unindicted war criminal.

The EU frequently shoots itself in the foot but it won’t discredit its new presidency from the start by putting Blair in the job. He will be left to roam the speakers’ circuit in the United States, advise Wall Street bank JP Morgan and potter about in the Middle East.

 

 

* Gwynne Dyer is an independent London-based journalist.

To Mitigate Economic Armageddon: Slash the Defense Budget

July 10, 2009

By Ivan Eland, July 10, 2009

The U.S. government is deeper in debt than it has been since just after World War II. When Bill Clinton, who actually reduced the federal deficit as a portion of GDP, left office, the Congressional Budget Office projected an $800 billion dollar yearly budget surplus for the years 2009 to 2012. Now CBO projects an annual budget deficit of a whopping $1.2 trillion.

Although Republicans are blaming Barack Obama for this gargantuan budget gap, George W. Bush is responsible for 53 percent of the total, according to the New York Times. Another 37 percent is due to the recession of the early part of the decade and the global meltdown that began in late 2007. Obama is responsible for only 10 percent of the total. Yet the reason that Obama’s portion is so small is because George W. Bush, a big-government Republican, was in office for eight years, and Obama has been in office less than six months. Obama has been spending at a phenomenal rate — on a pork-filled stimulus bill and an expansive domestic agenda.

Thus, Obama is guilty of making Bush’s legacy of massive red ink even worse. Obama’s budget would double the projected deficit over the next 10 years. By 2019, federal spending is projected to be an eye-popping quarter of the nation’s GDP. By contrast, for four decades federal taxation has averaged about 18 percent of GDP. These massive deficits, accumulating as a monstrous national debt, could cause hyperinflation and the prolonged economic stagnation (stagflation) that would make the 1970s look like an economic picnic.
Yet a liberal Democratic president and Congress seem determined to pass an ambitious domestic program, including expanded health care coverage — even after two costly wars and an irresponsible expansion of Medicare under Bush have already led the nation into financial ruin. The big entitlements, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, will eventually have to be cut, but politicians are too scared to do so now. The biggest chunk of the non-entitlement budget is defense spending — sucking up almost $700 billion a year, including the cost of the two wars. Thus, defense spending must be slashed.

More: http://original.antiwar.com/eland/2009/07/09/to-mitigate-economic-armageddon%c2%a0slash-the-defense-budget/