Notes from underground

يارب يسوع المسيح ابن اللّه الحيّ إرحمني أنا الخاطئ

Archive for the category “Balkans”

PR firms: igniting the fires of ethnic hatred

The public relations firm of Bell Pottinger have just apologised for fanning the flames of racial hatred in South Africa, for money. Bell Pottinger’s full, unequivocal, absolute apology for selling Gupta lies – BizNews.com:

LONDON — Here’s a very big win for the good guys. The £100 000 a month London agency which promoted the Gupta agenda in South Africa – including instigating a threat to use the UK courts to close down Biznews – has suddenly seen the error of its ways. After steadfastly denying any wrongdoing by his company and claiming its clients were innocent victims, Bell Pottinger’s owner and CEO James Henderson today issued a grovelling apology: “full, unequivocal and absolute” to quote from the statement. News like this takes time to digest. Nice. But given the damage this firm’s dark media arts has created in South Africa, and the personal attacks and despicable social media deeds conducted under its instruction, I’m pretty sure this doesn’t close matter. But perhaps, to paraphrase Churchill, it is the end of the beginning. – Alec Hogg

That’s all very well. It’s fine for the arsonist to apologise for starting the fire, but the flames are still burning, and the apology does not put them out.

This is also not the first time that a PR firm has made a handsome profit from fanning the flames of ethnic hatred, and it probably won’t be the last. But to my knowledge it is the first time that a PR firm has apologised for its role in this.

Victoria Geoghegan, MD Financial and Corporate at Bell Pottinger.

The secret to PR spin is not to tell absolute lies, but to put a spin on the truth.

To put it crudely, what Bell Pottinger were paid to do was to bring about “radical economic transformation” in South Africa by promoting the replacement of White Monopoly Capital by Indian Monopoly Capital (the latter represented by the Gupta family).

Some might think that “radical economic transformation” should begin by questioning the role of monopoly capital in the economy, regardless of the race, ethnicity or nationality of the capitalists. The truth that is at the basis of the spin is that historically there has been white monopoly capital in South Africa, and part of the “white privilege” narrative is that it has had sufficient clout to fight back and wrest a public apology from Bell Pottinger.

Those who don’t have that kind of clout aren’t so lucky.

I’ve yet to see an apology from the firm of Ruder Finn for their role in fanning the flames of ethnic hatred that led to the Wars of the Yugoslav Succession, for example. Ruder Finn’s work for Croatia – SourceWatch:

On 12 August 1991, the Croatian government hired the American public relations firm Ruder Finn Global Public Affairs to “develop and carry out strategies and tactics for communication with members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate as well as with officials of the U.S. government including the State Department, the National Security Council and other relevant agencies and departments of the U.S. government as well as with American and international news media”. On 12 November 1991, Ruder Finn’s contract was renewed to include lobbying in relation to diplomatic recognition, sanctions, and embargoes, as well as briefings for officials of the first Bush administration and preparation of special background material, press releases, both reactive and proactive articles and letters to the editors to appear in major newspapers, briefings for journalists, columnists, and commentators. In January and February 1992, Ruder Finn organized trips to Croatia for U.S. Congressmen. The United States recognized Croatia as an independent state on 7 April 1992.

Truth is the first casualty in PR offensive | The Independent:

The Ruder Finn strategy has been to build a congressional and Senate coalition in the US in support of Croatia. The strategy has included mobilising the 2.5 million Croats in the US to lobby their own representatives in Congress.

Central to all this activity was equating the Serbian forces with Communism and the Croats with Western freedom and democracy.

In October 1992, Ruder Finn took up the job of public relations for the ethnic Albanian separatists in the Serbian province of Kosovo.

Bell Pottinger’s work in South Africa hasn’t yet led to death and destruction on that scale, but the story isn’t over yet, and the flames fanned by Bell Pottinger are still burning.

 

Advertisements

Trial by media trumps truth and justice

The warmongering mendacity of the Western “mainstream” media just became a whole lot more obvious. They lied about the Iraq War, and several other wars, but at least they did report on the Chilcot report, which exposed many of their lies as just that.

But they are still covering up the lies they told about the Wars of the Yugoslav Succession, which they assiduously promoted. They lied about Slobodan Milosevic, the former President of Serbia, calling him “The Butcher of the Balkans”, a “mass murderer” and saying he was responsible for the deaths of 250 000 people. They brainwashed a lot of people, especially in the West, into believing these lies, which is presumably why none of them have said a word about this — ICTY Exonerates Slobodan Milosevic for War Crimes | InSerbia News:

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague has determined that the late Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic was not responsible for war crimes committed during the 1992-95 Bosnian war.

In a stunning ruling, the trial chamber that convicted former Bosnian-Serb president Radovan Karadzic of war crimes and sentenced him to 40 years in prison, unanimously concluded that Slobodan Milosevic was not part of a “joint criminal enterprise” to victimize Muslims and Croats during the Bosnian war.

Why should we worry about this?

Slobodan Milosevic

Slobodan Milosevic

Slobodan Milosevic died more than 10 years ago, the Wars of the Yugoslav Succession ended nearly 15 years ago — why not let the past stay in the past? What purpose can be served by dragging all this stuff out of the past?

It is almost a cliche to say that those who do not study the past are doomed to repeat it, but what the Western media did to Slobodan Milosevic 15-20 years ago helped to promote a regional war, and what they did to Milosevic back then they are now doing to Vladimir Putin, where the stakes are higher. It is not just a regional war they are trying to promote, but global thermonuclear war.

Here is one example of an obituary in the Western “mainstream” media — Slobodan Milosevic, 64, Former Yugoslav Leader Accused of War Crimes, Dies – The New York Times:

As he rose and then clung to power by resurrecting old nationalist grudges and inciting dreams of a Greater Serbia, Mr. Milosevic became the prime engineer of wars that pitted his fellow Serbs against the Slovenes, the Croats, the Bosnians, the Albanians of Kosovo and ultimately the combined forces of the entire NATO alliance.

By stirring a dormant but incendiary nationalism, he succeeded in rallying support for himself in the late 1980’s, at a time when Communism in the rest of Eastern Europe was in its death throes.

At the time of Milosevic’s death most of the obituaries accused Milosevic of “engineering” or “orchestrating” these wars. I wrote more on this at the time of his death here Will the real “Butcher of the Balkans” please stand up? – Methodius Hayes’s journal. The stories treated these accusations not as allegations, but as established facts, though the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia has now shown that most of these accusations were groundless.

As for the “orchestrating”, a contemporary American policy analyst, Samuel Huntington, describes the orchestration as follows (in his book The Clash of Civilizations):

The breakup of Yugoslavia began in 1991 when Slovenia and Croatia moved toward independence and pleaded with Western European powers for support. The response of the West was defined by Germany, and the response of Germany was in large part defined by the Catholic connection. The Bonn government came under pressure to act from the German Catholic hierarchy, its coalition partner the Christian Social Union Party in Bavaria, and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and other media. The Bavarian media, in particular, played a crucial role in developing German public sentiment for recognition. ‘Bavarian TV’, Flora Lewis noted, ‘much weighed upon by the very conservative Bavarian government and the strong, assertive Bavarian Catholic Church which had close connections with the church in Croatia, provided the television reports for all of Germany when the war began in earnest. The coverage was very one-sided’…

Germany pressured the European Union to recognize the independence of Slovenia and Croatia, and then, having secured that, pushed forward on its own to recognize them before the Union did in December 1991.

And the first violent act in the Wars of the Yugoslav Succession was the seizure of customs posts along the Austrian border by Slovenian nationalists — did Milosevic really “engineer” that? One of the better obituaries of Milosevic in the Western media is to be found here — Scapegoat, R.I.P.:

Slobodan Milosevic’s obituaries are damning. In death, as in the last years of his life, the former Serbian president is being blamed for all of the death and destruction that accompanied the breakup of the Yugoslav Federation in the early 1990s. He has been described as the “Butcher of the Balkans.” He is accused of masterminding four wars, of committing genocide and ethnic cleansing. These charges have been repeated so many times that they have become part of received wisdom. Yet the facts tell a different story.

And among the facts that the author, James Bisset, adduces are:

But it was not the Serbians and “Slobo” who started the wars in Yugoslavia. The fighting started because Slovenia, then a Yugoslav republic, declared unilateral independence and used force to seize customs posts along the Austrian border.

The federal prime minister of Yugoslavia, Ante Markovic, who happened to be a Croatian, ordered the army into Slovenia to restore order. The army was met by armed resistance and retired to barracks in Croatia to avoid further bloodshed. The Croatian security and paramilitary forces then surrounded the federal barracks and fighting broke out in Croatia. At this time, Milosevic, as president of Serbia, had no control over the federal army. (Incidentally, the federal minister of defence at the time was also a Croatian, as was the foreign minister.)

Later, when the army lost all of its non-Serbian soldiers, it did become a Serb-dominated force. But when the federal government collapsed, it was none other than Milosevic who ordered all Serbian soldiers out of Bosnia.

Bisset goes on to point out that Milosevic was not a very nice man. He was an unreconstructed communist leader, but so were Tudjman and Izetbegovic, who were backed by the West. But he was not a war criminal, the accusation used by the leaders of Nato at the time as a casus belli.

The Western media are not just spinning, they are spinning out of control, and I urge anyone with any concern for truth and justice to tweet and retweet and share this until the Western media acknowledge that they lied, and start publishing the truth for a change.

Iraq Inquiry witness lies through his teeth

A top Foreign Office legal advisor, Sir Michael Wood, told the British Iraq inquiry that the invasion of Iraq had no basis in international law, and that he had told government ministers that.

Fair enough, so far, so good.

But then he went on to contrast it with the 1999 Nato attack on Yugoslavia, which he said was justified because of the humanitarian situation, with hundreds of thousands of people being driven from their homes.

That is pure propaganda spin.

Yes, thousands of people were driven from their homes in that conflict, but only after the Nato bombing of Yugoslavia had begun.

That doesn’t mean that driving people from their homes was a good thing, but the historical fact is that it was in retaliation for the Nato bombing, it was not the cause of reason for the Nato bombing.

Sir Michael Wood lied through his teeth.

The ugly face of US imperialism just got uglier

The ugly face of US imperialism just got a whole lot uglier.

Notes from a Common-place Book: Time to Move On, We’re Told

Condeleeza Rice is losing patience with Serbia.

In Washington, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said it was time for Serbs to accept that Kosovo is no longer theirs. She also suggested it was time to drop centuries of grievance and sentimentality in the Balkans. ‘We believe that the resolution of Kosovo’s status will really, finally, let the Balkans begin to put its terrible history behind it,’ Dr. Rice said Friday.

Oh, really. Her message to Serbia seems to be something like this: We are America and we know what is best for you. We have divvied-up your country in a manner we think best, and it is high time for you to stop your whining and learn to live with it.

But I have saved the best for last. Rice continues:

‘I mean, after all, we’re talking about something from 1389 – 1389! It’s time to move forward.’

With the President out of the country–last seen getting-down, so to speak, with some Liberian tribal dancers–this statement is easily the most inane commentary coming from the Bush administration in recent memory.

Of course, unlike the mess in Iraq and Afghanistan, this one was not created by the Bush administration, but was one they inherited from the previous Clinton administration. But they seem to be handling it just as ineptly.

Any doubts that the USA saw its role as bully to the world have now been laid to rest — we’ve just had it from the horse’s mouth.

Kosovo UDI a headache for Canada

clipped from www.reuters.com

Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia is a headache for Canada, which needs to find a way of recognizing the new state without boosting the fortunes of separatists in its French-speaking province of Quebec.

Polls indicate that around half of Quebecers support the idea of independence for the province of 7.5 million.

The Parti Quebecois, now in opposition in the provincial legislature, said that if Canada recognizes a unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo it would have to treat a similar move by Quebec the same way.

blog it

And then, of course, there was the speedy recognition granted to Ian Smith’s Rhodesia, and “homelands” like Transkei, Bophuthatswana, etc.

Disingenuous "fact" file on Kosovo

clipped from www.reuters.com
Here is a brief profile of Kosovo, an ethnic crossroads in the heart of the Balkans and the cause of NATO’s first “humanitarian war” in 1999.
WAR * Albanians have officially demanded independence since renegade elections in 1992 made pacifist leader Ibrahim Rugova president of a self-declared republic. The demand was ignored as Serbs fought for pieces of Croatia and Bosnia, and support shifted to armed struggle by the Kosovo Liberation Army, a guerrilla force. Serb forces hit back so hard in 1998 that 100,000 Albanians fled to the hills and NATO powers warned Milosevic they would not tolerate another round of “ethnic cleansing” in the Balkans. Peace talks in France failed and in March 1999 NATO started bombing to force Serbia to withdraw. Some 800,000 Albanians fled or were expelled to Macedonia and Albania before Milosevic gave in 78 days later. As his forces pulled out, up to 200,000 Serbs and other ethnic minorities left as well.
blog it

“Peace talks in France failed and in March 1999 NATO started bombing to force Serbia to withdraw.”

What’s hidden in that bland statement is that the reason that peace talks failed was the intransigence of Madeleine Albright, the US Secretary of State, who was determined to have a war.

Russian Church on Kosovo UDI

The West and Nato opted for military rather than diplomatic solutions to the tensions in the former Yugoslavia, which simply exacerbated the tensions. .

South Africa, which abandoned apartheid and had a Truth and Reconciliation Commision, perhaps has a better mo0del to offer than apartheid and UDI.

The Russian Orthodox Church has called on Albanians in Kosovo to understand disastrous consequences of the unilateral recognition of the region’s independence.
“We would like the Albanian side, which admitted this, to understand that this path is disastrous and to seek reconciliation with Serbians,” priest Georgy Ryabykh, a representative of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations, told Interfax-Religion.
Any decision concerning several parties cannot be made unilaterally, as it could lead to the escalation of the conflict, he said. “That is why in case of the escalation of the situation in Kosovo, the responsibility will lie with the Albanian side that dared for this unilateral step,” the priest said.

Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and all Russia has many times stated that the Kosovo status issue should not be solved disregarding the opinion f the Serbian people.

blog it

Kosovo UDI: the Clinton legacy

Notes from a Common-place Book: Kosovo: The Real Clinton Legacy just about says it all.

According to Kosovo Travelogue this is certainly not one of the things that Hillary Clinton is hoping to reverse. Under Bill Clinton the US bombed Belgrade and under Bush the US bombed Baghdad, and there is really little difference. Is that one of the things Barack Obama wants to change? I hope so.

Links to a news report with my own comments on the Kosovo UDI are in my Khanya blog.

Other comments:

  • The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle compares the Kosovo UDI to Sudetenland.
  • Jams O Donnell in The Poor Mouth: UDI says “I hope to God it’s peaceful”
  • A Lanson Boy worries that it might be an unviable state and a drain on Western taxpayers
  • David Lindsay criticises the BBC for giving a wholly-false version of the history of Yugoslavia
  • Chekov writes of the hypocrisy of the Western cheerleaders for Kosovo’s independence
  • The Western Confucian is sickened by the USA’s siding with terrorism and pravoslavophobia.

One thing that needs to be borne in mind is that though the majority of the population of Kosovo speak Albanian, they lack the religious tolerance of Albania.

The Albanian government deported Iranian Islamist teachers who incited young people attending a Muslim youth camp at Voskopoje to destroy Christian ikons that had survived the Turks and the Communists. In Kosovo dozens of Christian churches have been destroyed under the noses of Nato troops.

EU states vow not to recognise Kosovo’s independence bid

Several EU member states are worried that if a Kosovo UDI is recognised by other states it will destabilise the Balkans again, and also set a precedent for minorities in other countries to do something similar.

As the European Union struggles for a unified response to Kosovo’s expected
declaration of independence, several EU states – mainly those near the Serb
province – fear the move could destabilise the historically volatile Balkan
region.


Romania, Cyprus and
Slovakia were the loudest to state their opposition this week, all vowing not to
recognise Kosovo if it declares
independence.


Greece and
Bulgaria are also wary of potentially explosive border changes in their area
while Spain and Slovakia cannot ignore the possible effects on their respective
Basque and Hungarian
minorities.


Spain faces an
additional challenge as its northeastern region of Catalonia has long sought
greater autonomy.

Cyprus – which holds
elections on February 17 – has seen all this
before.


The island has been
divided into ethnic Greek and Turkish parts since 1974, and the breakaway
Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) declared independence in 1983, though
it is only recognised by
Turkey.
blog it

And then, of course there is the possibility that a UDI will be followed by a resumption of ethnic cleansing.

US, Germany agree to recognize Kosovo after Serbia elections – The Boston Globe

The US and Germany, which fuelled the Wars of the Yugoslav succession in the 1990s, are planning to fan the embers to a flame again.

US, Germany agree to recognize Kosovo after Serbia elections – The Boston Globe:

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia – The United States and Germany have agreed to recognize Kosovo and get the rest of Europe to follow suit after the province declares independence following the Serbian elections next month, according to senior European Union diplomats close to negotiations over the future of Kosovo.

In a recent conversation about the future of Kosovo, EU officials said President Bush and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany had agreed it was imperative to secure the stability of the western Balkans by coordinating the recognition of Kosovo after the second round of Serbian elections planned for Feb. 3.

They said Washington was aggressively pressing the EU to ensure that the recognition of Kosovo was not delayed by even a week.

Remember how it started?

As Samuel Huntington (1998:282) described it in his book The clash of civilizations:

The breakup of Yugoslavia began in 1991 when Slovenia and Croatia moved toward independence and pleaded with Western European powers for support. The response of the West was defined by Germany, and the response of Germany was in large part defined by the Catholic connection. The Bonn government
came under pressure to act from the German Catholic hierarchy, its coalition partner the Christian Social Union Party in Bavaria, and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and other media. The Bavarian media, in particular, played a crucial
role in developing German public sentiment for recognition. ‘Bavarian TV’, Flora Lewis noted, ‘much weighed upon by the very conservative Bavarian government and the strong, assertive Bavarian Catholic Church which had close connections with the church in Croatia, provided the television reports for all of Germany when the war began in earnest. The coverage was very one-sided’… Germany pressured the European Union to recognise the independence of Slovenia and Croatia, and then, having secured that, pushed forward on its own to recognize them before the Union did in December 1991.

Austria and Italy promptly moved to recognize the two new states, and very quickly other Western countries, including the United States, followed. The Vatican also played a central role. The Pope declared Croatia to be the “rampart of Christianity,” and rushed to extend diplomatic recognition to the two states before the European Union did. The Vatican thus became a partisan in the conflict, which had its
consequences in 1994 when the Pope planned visits to the three republics. Opposition by the Serbian Orthodox Church prevented his going to Belgrade, and Serb unwillingness to guarantee his security led to the cancellation of his visit to Sarajevo. He did go to Zagreb, however, where he honored Cardinal Alojzieje Stepinac, who was associated with the fascist Croatian regime in World War II that persecuted and slaughtered Serbs, Gypsies and Jews.

The focus then moved to Bosnia, where John Major agreed to recognise Bosnia’s independence in return for German support for Britain’s position on the Maastricht Treaty, thus condemning Bosnia-Herzegovina to a bloody civil war. And what was the result?

As Brendan O’Neill (Comment is free: The Bosnian connection) notes:

Far from being radicalised by the failure of the west to act, large numbers of Muslims were radicalised by western intervention in the Balkans. Their movement to Bosnia was facilitated by Washington’s support for a military gateway between the Islamic world and Bosnia, and inside Bosnia they fought with a military outfit that Washington armed. They were also inspired to take up arms against the Serbs by western media depictions of the Serbs as sub-human savages who deserved ‘punishment’. The mujahideen meted out such punishment, in the form of stabbings, beheadings and forced circumcisions, as well as ordinary warfare.

Many of the mujahideen who fought in Bosnia went on to become al-Qaida operatives. They learned their trade of simplistic moral fury and brutal violence on the battlefields of Bosnia, where they were enticed and inflamed to execute holy war against the Serbs by western meddling and western media coverage.

And now it’s Kosovo — deja vu all over again!

Post Navigation