Florence Prison

SUNDAY, MAY 9, 1999. ABC correspondent Sam Donaldson interviews the Chinese ambassador to the U.S. following a devastating American bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. The biased, corporate media mindset is reflected in Donaldson’s first question: "Mr. Ambassador, does the Chinese Government guarantee the safety of American Embassy personnel Beijing from the thousands of angry protesters outside its compound?" The distraught Chinese ambassador looked directly at Donaldson and expressed his disappointment that the correspondent did not first inquire about the many Chinese who perished or were wounded in the bombing, which he called an "atrocity". Donaldson defensively countered that the bombing had been a "mistake".

An imperfection. Accident. Collateral damage, parroting the euphemistic and official line of the American run NATO war machine.

WHEN THE AMERICAN Embassy in Kenya was bombed by unknown persons in August of 1998, Donaldson and the rest of the US based correspondents & pundits called it "terrorism.". This double standard is based on the view that American lives and property are worth more than the lives of others. That violence by the United States government & its client states is legitimate, while armed resistance which defies US policies in unlawful. Its a standard that that permeates U.S. rhetoric and actions abroad- as when U.S General William Westmoreland stated that the "oriental "- meaning Viet Namese- does not value human life like the Westerner, and over two million Viet Namese war dead, mostly civilian, are deemed insignificant next to the deaths of 58,000 American soldiers.

THE CIVILIAN CASUALTIES from the Chinese Embassy bombing are not a mistake or an aberration. These deaths resulted from a continuing criminal enterprise-US/NATO- which repeatedly demonstrates a depraved indifference to human life. A day before the Embassy attack, US warplanes bombed a hospital and a neighborhood market. These attacks followed other U.S bombings of neighborhoods throughout Yugoslavia. Neighborhoods filled with children, working people, and old folks. These bombings overlapped with others hitting city busses, commuter trains, refugee convoys, factories, television and radio stations, the powergrid, the Yugoslavs presidents home- and about anything else in the countries infrastructure that brings life’s nesscessities to millions of people.

IN REFLECTING ON such a target list of death I destruction we need to consider what our reaction would be if a foreign military power bombed our neighborhood, the market where we buy groceries, the hospital, where our sister labors in childbirth, the bus and train we take to work, the White House, and ABC-TV (Sam Donaldson optional) Then, maybe, we can feel for the victims of American bombs and understand why they’ve come to hate the U.S., and rally in defense of their nation. .

A PEOPLE UNITED will not be defeated. The Yugoslavs did not yield to Nazi bombings or Waffen SS invasion during WWII. They united and resisted till they drove the fascists out with guerrilla guns. The spirit of this heroic resistance still resonates among the Yugoslav people today. They are not about to roll over now for a self- proclaimed moral beacon like Bill Clinton. The U.S./NATO war machine underestimated the will of the Yugoslav people & their elected government. So they continue to try to bomb them into submission.

CLUSTER BOMBS ARE now used, as they were in Viet Nam, antipersonnel explosives designed to inflict massive civilian causalities. Recently, they dropped their first 5,000 LB bomb. I cant imagine the size and deadly force of a 5,000 pound bomb, but I know from the devastating results of a 5,000 LB bomb in a Ryder truck that destroyed the Oklahoma City Federal Building that it kills unmercifully.

AWAY FROM THE CARNAGE it perpetuates NATO recently celebrated its 50th birthday. News featured a photo op of these Euro males making a fashion statement, and flaunting the arrogance of Imperial power. The Trenchcoat Mafia, as I see them- except more murderous. These are the Masters of War, the intellectual architects of death from above, launching million dollar missiles from billion dollar warplanes, while American manufacturers of such devices profit from their cowardice.

IF, AS CLINTON maintains, U.S. aggression is based on "humanitarian" concerns, i.e., protecting the Yugoslav Albanians in Kosovo, why haven’t American soldiers invaded overland? Because, as Donaldson indicated in his interview, American lives are worth more than the lives of others. More than Serbian lives. More than Kosovar lives. More than Chinese lives- none of which are risking a political career over if American soldiers come home in body bags. To date, as the Serbs and Kosovars bleed and die, not a single American soldier has died in combat. Clinton says the bombing defends "our values". What values ARE these?

SEVERAL MONTHS AGO, the U.N. sponsored "truth commission" released a report on 35 years of human rights violations in Guatemala. It documented that 93% of the investigated violations were committed by Government forces- including what they called genocide against the Mayan people. Approximately 250,000 people were butchered. The report documents how the United States government- particularly the State Department and CIA- were deeply involved and complicit in these crimes against humanity. The report documents how U.S administrations from Eisenhower thru Clinton (notwithstanding Clintons recent lukewarm mea culpa re: Guatemala) lied. about these crimes and American collaboration. What "humanitarian" concerns did the U.S pursue in Guatemala? None. They scorched the earth in the interest of corporate profits, under the guise of anticommunism. And what of "our values" hitched to American policy? The sweat value they drained from Central American peasants and workers. What about the lying? Its an established fact of U.S foreign policy- Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, apartheid South Africa, the bright, shining lie of Viet Nam- the list of atrocities & lies runs all the way back to the colonization of America, when religion & other "humanitarian" concerns & values served as convenient camouflage for plunder, slavery, genocide, and the brutal exploitation of labor.

WHAT OF CLINTON’S professed need to redefine NATO’s mission for the next millennium ? Screw a U.S led and dominated NATO. NATO’s ostensible reason for being was to defend against a possible attack from the Soviet Union following WWII. Times have changed. Not only does the Soviet Union no longer exist, Russia has become a debtor nation in hock to American & European banks with NATO bombs dropping at its Balkan front door. NATO needs no further military inspired missions.

OFTEN LINKED TO NATO’s mission is its "credibility". As in- they cant afford to loose the war they escalated. I know of no one who wants to die for NATO’s credibility.

All I hear are politicians and military commanders who think others must die so their perversely defined credibility can be maintained. The U.S. is using NATO as a vehicle of military aggression because it knows it cannot obtain the nesscessary UN Security Council mandate to attack Yugoslavia. NATO should fold up its tent and donate its considerable resources to human service organizations.

CLINTON SAYS BOMBS must rain on Yugoslavia to insure the "stability of Europe". Are we so blind that we cannot see that the U.S. military attack has seriously worsened the situation in Kosovo in particular and the entire Balkans region in general? By all accounts, except the U.S./NATO’s, the bombings, deaths, injuries, destruction, and fleeing refugees have further destabilized the region, exhausting the resources of poor countries, and running the real risk of drawing others into this war.

IS IT U.S./NATO’s GOAL to further dismember or partition Yugoslavia (as in: Bosnia, Croatia ......Korea, Ireland) ? Kill President Milosevic (the U.S. has tried often enough to kill President :Castro)? Consolidate control over a region loaded with oil and natural gas? (What has the U.S. NOT done to secure its unquenchable appetite for energy)? Gain another vantage point on the Mid East (Preserve Israel and the oil sheikdoms, suppress the Palestinian nation and Iraq)? Secure more military bases to control all this (The US currently bases troops in over 100 countries. Last week Congress voted to give the military $13 billion dollars- twice Clintons request for continuing the war against Yugoslavia. The extra 6.5 billion includes funding for more bases abroad)? The goal could be "all of the above"- because they fit well with a New World Order based on a predatory & profit driven capitalism.

HISTORY SHOWS US that Kosovo has been a battleground at various times for centuries, taking down Serbs, Albanians, and invading Turks. Death and suffering stalk Kosovo’s people today. Violent confrontations between Serbs and ethnic Albanians preceded the US/NATO bombings. Atrocities by both sides preceded the bombings.

The Serbs have an army & paramilitary. The Kosovars have a guerrilla force called the KLA. The US/NATO bombings escalated the level of violence on the ground, and it has been to the Serb’s advantage. although the ethnic Albanians are in the numerical majority in Kosovo, the Serbs have superior military strength. The more US/NATO bombs drop on the Serbs, the more retaliation the Serbs bring to bear on the Kosovars. Whether this retaliation is carried out by the Serb army following a chain of command , or Serb paramilitaries acting on their own, the command structure is largely moot to the dying and those fleeing their homes. The dead do not return, and the refugees will not return until they are assured of their safety .

THE KLA, WHICH advocates independence for Kosovo and expulsion of the Serbs, has been reduced to calling in air strikes for US/NATO warplanes- a sad irony considering testimony by the ethnic Albanians that such bombings terrorize them and fuel retaliation by the Serbs. Both Serbs and Albanians have justifiable grievances. Ethnic conflict and hatred into which a foreign power brings more violence produces a blood lust not easy to contain.

BY ABANDONING EARLIER negotiations on Kosovo, (which included a US demand that Yugoslavia be occupied by NATO forces) and rejecting recent overtures by the Yugoslavs and other governments to renew negotiations, US/NATO opted for war and its attendant violations of international law. While the U.S. threatens to put Milosevic in a war crimes docket, it opposed the establishment of an International Criminal Court precisely because it is aware that its own past, present, and no doubt future human rights crimes would be subject to prosecution.

THE CHINESE AND OTHER peoples throughout the world are demonstrating that protests against US/ NATO imperialism can be organized and militant. American citizens have a particular responsibility to stop U.S. military aggression given its greater culpability in the bombings. When Lenin withdrew Russian soldiers from the Balkan battlefields in WWI, he said the war was driven by the ruling classes of Europe and America for their own greedy benefit, while peasants and workers paid the supreme sacrifice. Too often we’ve seen workers fight and die in wars not of their making nor in their interests. Clinton would have us believe that we should unconditionally support- morally, financially, politically, militarily- this massive air war, while he pontificates about youth violence and guns in America. The hypocrisy should give even the most ardent Democrats reason to pause.

THE POLITICAL AND HUMANITARIAN crisis in Kosovo cannot be resolved by a foreign military force bombing Yugoslavia "back to the stone age ". Such bombings have and will continue to worsen the suffering of the people, regardless of which side they favor, if any. The disputed issues are significant and include the future of Kosovo and its relationship with Yugoslavia. They include the end of summary executions and the return of refugees to safe and secure homes. A huge community rebuilding and economic recovery plan will be nesscessary. It may be that a ethnically re-arranged Kosovo is what the people want , or some other form of self determination , such as autonomy. Independence from Serbia will mean a different negotiating track, or they will have to fight for it.

There may yet be a productive role in Kosovo for a United Nations mission and monitors. This is for the people of Yugoslavia - including Kosovo, to decide among themselves thru negotiations , and with the support from those in the world community committed to a peaceful and just settlement.

RLL, 10 May, 1999

Ray Luc Levasseur, 10376-016, PO Box 150160, USP Atlanta, Atlanta, GA 30315