8 April 1999 Edition

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Mála Poist

The ugly face of realpolitik - NATO seeks Balkan foothpold

If it wasn't for the daily accounts of Serbian terror in Kosovo, we'd all be seeing it for what it is - NATO taking a foothold in the Balkans. It is a dedicated strategy initiated back at the start of the nineties, when the EU, and in particular Germany, rushed into the breakup of what was Yugoslavia to recognise the independence and of course re-alignment, of first Slovenia and then Croatia.

Since then, the World Bank and IMF have been hard at work taking control of these separate states and their economies. Everyone is crying to join the EU, and NATO if possible. It is an amazing political diplomatic victory - worthy of a Bismark.

In 1994, the US Secretary of Defense arrived in Tirana, escorting the first US arms shipment to an Eastern European country since the end of the Cold War. Two months later, NATO troops had their first joint manoeuvres with the Albanians under the Partnership for Peace. Remember little Albania, ruled by the commie Hoxha, more Maoist than the Maoists, totally insulated from Western culture and tourists who couldn't get in. Things change fast.

NATO strategy here is what Western European countries have long attempted through history this century - the incorporation of the Balkans into the so-called Western Hemisphere of influence.

People wonder why NATO, apparently so keen to look after the Kosovars in the face of racial suppression, was less keen when it came to the slaughter of some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda, in a 100-day frenzy of killing 5 years ago. According to a study by Human Rights Watch, published last month, the Western powers received dozens of warnings months in advance of the genocide. And yet they allowed the killing to go ahead.

Some have suggested that this is because NATO is the `white man's club', the `defence club of the prosperous transatlantic democratic world'. They weren't too bothered about the genocide of blacks.

Condemnations of NATO's usurpation of the United Nations' role in establishing world order, become almost irrelevant. The UN was never a part of NATO's strategy to help itself to the Balkans. It is indeed ironic that when the bombing started, Bertie Ahern, who was at Hillsborough to discuss peace, could not find his way to condemn NATO's exploits at the other side of Europe. He wished Tony Blair well. The shame of it.

Name and address supplied.

Brutal statistics

Speaking in relation to the bombing of civilian targets in Serbia, a NATO military spokesperson said: ``The laws of statistics will sometimes go against us.''

Imagine the reaction of the establishment media here had the IRA issued such a callous statement after a terrible incident like the Warrington bombing.

But then the IRA does not control the media.

Is Mise,

Mick Ryan,
Dublin 3.

Bad omen for peace

The adjournment of the talks process in Ireland without an elected executive in place can only be a bad omen for peace there. By now it should be apparent to Prime Minister Blair that the loyalists will only be happy with a return to the status quo. If there is, as the Joint Declaration suggests, an agreement on the obligations and timetable for decommissioning, then once again the unionists have vetoed any real progress.

Now the loyalists are whining that Further British demilitarisation moves should not be linked to the day of reconciliation. The loyalist bully boys haven't got much time for democracy if they haven't got the hammer of the security apparatus. Decision making-by-delay has enabled the loyalists to keep the Six Countiers right where they want them, on the brink of renewed violence. Rosemary Nelson's execution was simply another way of sending the same message.

In these circumstances it is difficult to speak of ``ceremonies of remembrance'' as a means of healing the wounds of nearly 80 years of oppression. Still, we recognize that such gestures have a salutary effect. We welcome them and, if invited, would be prepared to participate in such ceremonies. If anything should be remembered it is this. There is no substitute for concrete and positive actions which reverse the years of degradation under the occupation and which add to the final chapter of Britain's misrule in Ireland.

Is Mise,

Thomas E. Gilligan,
National President,
The Ancient Order of Hibernians in America.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1