For Vecernje Novosti by Lj. Sobot
September 25, 1999.
"If NATO consistently carried out its ridiculous politics of ‘humanitarian bombing’, the world would be on the brink of nuclear war. For that which is happening in the southern region of the Russian federation – in Dagestan – is the exact same thing that happened in Kosovo before NATO intervention," says James Bissett, the former Canadian Ambassador to Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Albania. Novosti interviewed James Bissett, one of the few western critics and opponents of NATO aggression on Yugoslavia.
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" The double standard of the global community is best seen in the example of Dagestan," adds Bissett. "Russia, as was the case with Yugoslavia, sends its armed soldiers to prevent a group of armed rebels from aggressively seceding a part of Russian territory. They attack and bomb villages that are under suspicion of being rebel bases, and force people out of those villages. There are a lot of refugees and homeless people in that region; there are civilian victims…but the West is silent. There are no heartbreaking reports in the media about the burning of villages, the long lines of refugees, or the murdered civilians. On the contrary, the western media overlooks the events in Dagestan and, in general, support the actions of the Russian government."
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That which is now considered the legitimate right of a sovereign country (Russia), in the case of Yugoslavia had the complete opposite meaning – "a humanitarian catastrophe" provoked by the actions of the Yugoslav armed forces against the Albanian terrorists.
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"The reason there is no interference in the internal problems of Russia lies in the fact that they have nuclear weapons. The global community has not interfered much in the internal armed conflicts of India and Pakistan, for they are also nuclear powers. The West reacts only to countries that do not have nuclear arms – Grenada, Haiti, Panama, Yugoslavia, and Iraq. The biggest precedent was set in the case of Yugoslavia when NATO, by totally ignoring the United Nations, attacked a sovereign country," says Bissett with certainty.
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According to the opinions of this expert authority on the situation in the Balkans, a series of unfortunate circumstances led to the aggression of NATO on Yugoslavia. Firstly, Bill Clinton, the president of the United States, jeopardized his presidential position as a result of his sexual affairs. By going to war against Yugoslavia, he tried to improve his ratings as supreme leader. During all the wars that the USA has led throughout the world, the popularity of the president has always noticeably grown. This, however, did not happen with the most recent war -- the one in Yugoslavia. The decision to bomb Yugoslavia was not made in the Pentagon, but in the high political circles of the USA.

"The other reason why Yugoslavia was bombed," says Bissett, "is the 50th anniversary of NATO, a jubilee which needed to be marked with some sort of "real" armed action from this powerful world military machine. It was necessary to justify the million dollars that is spent yearly on the Alliance."

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The former Canadian Ambassador to Yugoslavia emphasizes that NATO, with its actions against Kosovo, has completely destabilized the entire Balkan region. He adds, "What is next on the list? Macedonia? There is a considerable number of Albanians that live there, and NATO has given Kosovo as the example on how "independence" is gained. With months of bombing, the whole situation in Yugoslavia has, without a doubt, gotten worse. The economic system had already been on the verge of disaster due to the sanctions. There is no sign of economic aid on the horizon, and much time will pass before Yugoslavia can economically get back on its feet. With its bombs, NATO has even managed to ruin the democratic process in Serbia, because the democratic forces are completely fractioned. The Serbs are in a very difficult situation.

From the very beginning of Yugoslavia’s disintegration, the Serbs have been unfairly labeled as "bad boys". That image in the media, which creates public opinion, is difficult to change.

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"It has been forgotten that it was the Slovenes who first pulled the trigger on the disintegration of Yugoslavia," says James Bissett, who at the time was the Canadian Ambassador to Yugoslavia in Belgrade. Just days before the Slovenes took over the border, the American Secretary of State, James Baker, promised the Yugoslav Premier, Ante Markovic, that the USA would not be opposed even if the Yugoslav Army used force to protect the northwestern border. However, when Markovic sent the army to Slovenia and when the Slovenes attacked the convoy and killed young soldiers, the media began to report the "brutal actions of the Serbian army in Slovenia". After that there was a shift in the American attitude towards former Yugoslavia, and the Serbs were unfairly labeled as the only culprits.
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The former Canadian Ambassador emphasizes that the commanders of the UN peace keepers in former Yugoslavia, Canadian General McKenzie, British General Rose and Indian General Nambiar, saw the situation best out in the field. They all realized, and later publicly stated, that it was a civil war and that the Serbs, were no better nor worse than the Croats or Muslims. The entire blame, however, was put on the Serbs.
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"People often have short memories, and they do not notice that the Serbian armed forces applied the exact same military tactics as did the Americans in Vietnam. As a military tactic, that type of "cleansing" is completely justified. And Canadians should remember that during WW II, out of fear from Japanese invasion, we "ethnically cleansed" the Japanese from the Pacific coast, temporarily put them in detention camps and held them there until the end of the war. No one condemned the Americans or Canadians for these acts as crimes against humanity," says James Bissett.

"And now, in Kosovo, the blaming of only one side is happening again – the Serb side," says Bissett. "It is more than obvious that the Albanians are doing the same thing – killing and carrying out ethnic cleansing of the leftover Serbian minorities in Kosovo. NATO now finds itself in a very difficult situation, for it is just a matter of time before the Kosovo Liberation Army attacks the NATO soldiers.