4 August, 2009 — Strategic Culture Foundation
Last week the western centres of power under the United States used their docile UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for their first attempt to officially legalize the so-called “humanitarian interventions”. The wily formula masks armed interventions in the internal affairs of independent states on the pretext of countering mass-scale human rights violations and war crimes, a formula that was first tested against Yugoslavia in 1999. That year NATO aircraft bombed the sovereign country for 78 days, killing several thousand people, mostly civilians. Even peaceful Albanians whom NATO was –by word of mouth – lavishing solicitude on, failed to appreciate Brussels’s manifestation of humanism. Some 1 million Kosovans had to flee to the neighbouring Albania and Macedonia to escape from the NATO bombs and missiles. The only ones who rejoiced at the international brigandage were the Albanian fighters who launched a spate of anti-Serbian “ethnic cleansings” under NATO’s military cover in Kosovo.
Today, exactly 10 years after that operation, the West voices its intention to expand the range of “humanitarian interventions” and simultaneously provide them with an international law basis. The UN Secretary-General’s report has been floated as a “trial-balloon”, a report in which Ban Ki-moon sets forth his vision of the “responsibility to protect” principle, as set forth in the decisions of the 2005 UN World summit. In 2005 the principle was formulated as the United Nations’ striving for pooling international effort to help prevent such heinous crimes as genocide, “ethnic cleansings”, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The time is ripe at last for creating a mechanism to implement the principle in question, but the West and UN Secretary-General have a very original view of that mechanism.
In his report, submitted to the UN General Assembly on the 28th of July, Ban Ki-moon referred to Rwanda’s 1994 actually tragic experience to urge that the pledge of responsibility to protect should be put on a practical plane and to give a timely and decisive reply to human rights violations. According to the UN Secretary-General, the United Nations is often prevented by self-complacence and cynicism from acting as timely or efficiently as it should.
Of course, one should only welcome the idea to shower actual capabilities and powers on the world community to prevent war crimes. But what’s disquieting about it is that the appeals for “humanitarian interventions” on behalf of the Untied Nations are made at a time when the United States and other western nations publicly threaten sovereign nations, such as Iran or Sudan, launch military operations in Pakistan, but are in no rush to draw conclusions from their previous “humanitarian interventions”. The issue actually boils down to an attempt to legalize at the UN level the right to armed interventions in the affairs of the countries where “the powers that be” (i.e. the United States, NATO and the European Union) feel human rights are flagrantly violated. This would enable the world’s leading powers to make “humanitarian interventions” against the unwanted regimes without bothering to observe the principle of respect for state sovereignty.
What makes one feel uneasy is that the Vatican is by far the most active in defending “humanitarian interventions”, a Vatican that acted provocatively in late 1991 to recognize Croatia’s independence and thereby signalling permission to perpetrating mass-scale crimes against humanity that swept over the expanses of the former Yugoslavia. Carefully avoiding naming specific states, the Holy See ambassador to the United Nations said that those countries’ authorities (in back translation) “had failed to protect their citizens and had actually helped commit crimes without performing their main functions. They should now bear legal responsibility for both their action and inaction”. It is perfectly well known just what countries these accusations are levelled at. These are the countries whose governments purse policies that are undesirable to the West; therefore the architects of a “new world order” feel that the governments in question should be toppled. The United States and its allies have carried out this kind of operations twice in the past 10 years. Besides Yugoslavia, it was Iraq that came to face an outside intervention without a relevant UN sanction, in March 2003. True, the intervention was launched on the pretext that weapons of mass destruction were to be destroyed in Iraq, weapons that Saddam Hussein was allegedly manufacturing in Iraq. But despite all the rake-through, no such weapons were found anywhere in Iraq. But the US-led coalition was not in the least concerned about it and went ahead with their plan to overthrow the undesirable regime. Today Washington is hurling similar accusations at the neighbouring Iran. Given that the US has in recent weeks come up with more accusations, those of human rights violations (that’s the way Washington describes the break-up by police of crowds running riot in Tehran streets), it is safe to conclude that the provision of “humanitarian interventions” is also needed to justify a US-Israeli operation against Iran. A similar threat is also looming large over Sudan, which pursues an independent foreign policy, so the West has immediately drawn a bead on it. The warrant that the UN International Criminal Court issued in March this year to arrest Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir for the war crimes in the Darfur province (while altogether ignoring crimes by the other side), can only make sense if the western countries have got a mechanism to implement it. This is yet another case for such a mechanism to be brought into play under the roof of “humanitarian interventions” and with the blessing of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
It is common knowledge that New York and Brussels have gained considerable experience of manipulating world public opinion and providing for propaganda support for their moves. The so-called “Racak massacre” was stage-managed in the early 1999 to justify the bombings of Yugoslavia. At the time the Serbian political forces had put great pressure on the enemy, causing them to retreat to the mountainous country. The village Racak proved the site of one of the bitterest clashes. The Serbian authorities allowed foreign reporters to cover the fight, so the Associated Press news agency documented in every detail the police operation to seize the village. Several dozen Albanian terrorists wearing US military uniform and armed with western-made weapons were killed in the operation. But the very next day the CIA coordinator William Walker and a group of reporters arrived at the village with a mandate of the OSCE Verification mission. They claimed that those killed at Racak had been only civilians, including a great many women and children. The report by Walker (who had grown ill-famed owing to his involvement in the CIA subversive operations in Salvador, Honduras, Bolivia and Peru) was carried by the US mass media as flash news, while the Associated Press newsreel was taken off the air at once. Three days after Walker’s report had been made public the then US Secretary of State Madeline Albright said that because of “the massacre of civilians” at Racak it was indispensable to carry out (in back translation) “a strong military action” against Yugoslavia.
At present the only international law provision authorising a military operation against another country is the UN Charter’s Article 51, which recognizes that the UN member-nations have “the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence, if an armed attack occurs against” them. It is that Article 51 that Russia resorted to in August 2008 when using force to take under its shelter South Ossetia’s population, who are mostly Russian citizens, as well as Russia’s proper peacekeepers that had become the target of Georgia’s aggression. All other instances of the use of force, whether in Yugoslavia in 1999, or in Iraq in 2003, or the currently prepared armed operations against Iran and Sudan are but the gravest international crimes that the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon so resolutely opposes by word of mouth.
Piotr Akhmedovich ISKENDEROV is a Senior Fellow with the Institute for Slavonic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Cand. Sc. (History), international observer of the Vremya Novostei newspaper.