Martin Jay – Strategic Review April 17, 2022
The former UN Ambassador for the U.S. and first female secretary of state won’t be missed in the Middle East. The link between her legacy in Yugoslavia and Iraq and the Ukraine will not have Gulf oil rich kingdoms lining up to write her eulogy
With the death of Madeleine Albright being covered by much of western media, followed by the anniversary of the siege of Sarajevo we are reminded of her legacy in the former Yugoslavia and how she, along with Richard C. Holbrook, Warren Christopher and Peter Galbraith, finally convinced Bill Clinton to throw the lever on NATO airstrikes.
The events on the ground and across the diplomatic community involved in the Ukraine conflict are strikingly similar as we see President Zelensky constantly begging and haranguing western leaders to impose a no fly zone, which could probably lead to an air campaign later on. The difference is that Biden is weak and too afraid of Putin, whereas Clinton didn’t have the same dilemma with Milosevic, who was easy to bully on the battlefield.
Just as Bosnia’s Prime Minister, Haris Silajdzic, regularly telephoned Secretary of State Warren Christopher in 1994 to tell him that NATO must go ahead with a bombing campaign against Serb positions, Zelensky also makes the same calls asking for the unrealistic no fly zone.
The decision to begin airstrikes in the former Yugoslavia changed the course of the war and finally led to the Dayton Accord signed later in 1995, despite its basis being a lie, just as in Iraq in 2003. Yet interestingly, what Albright succeeded in doing with Clinton was to convince him that NATO airstrikes were the only way forward to deal with the recalcitrant Serbian leader who would have no way of striking back, as well as the threat of a huge ground invasion of U.S. troops which, in one stroke of a pen, airbrushed out of the equation the useless UN soldiers there which more often than not were more part of the problem and not the solution. In the event, U.S. troops weren’t required to put Milosevic in line as the NATO bombing of Bosnian Serbs was very effective.
But this was the 90s. Today leaders in the Middle East and Arab world in general observe how impotent both the UN and NATO are in Ukraine and probably see little comparison to the Yugoslav war. However, there are still elements of both wars which have common themes.
Today in Ukraine there are no UN troops on the ground, a point rarely if ever raised by western media or pundits who are regularly on our TV screens. Did the war in Yugoslavia, during Albright’s period as America’s UN ambassador (and later as Secretary of State during the Kosovo crisis), create such a precedent, given UN troops’ diminutive if not servile role which often led to being literally pushed around by Bosnians Serb soldiers?
It’s hard to say but there are other lessons from Yugoslavia and Albright/Christopher legacy which are chilling and worth mulling.
Good guys and bad guys
The over simplification and total abandonment of facts and historical context when dealing with Milosevic designed to give the diplomats, like Albright, a clearer path to finding a solution is worrying. Milosevic wasn’t very receptive to U.S. hegemony and so was instantly dismissed as the bad guy and the root of all the problems – which was a narrative which worked very well for U.S. media, American people and the west in general, even Europeans who knew more of the history and the situation. Croatians, despite having a sensational legacy of being the greatest fascists of the 20th century and murdering 100s of thousands of Serbs during WWII, were quickly embraced as America’s allies so that intermediaries like Albright (once called a “Clinton hawk”) could appear to be relevant with their egos left intact. The narrative was flawed on so many levels that it was entirely acceptable to take it to another level, which is why and how two mortar massacres of Muslims in Sarajevo in the summer of ’95 were blamed on Serbs, as media had also bought into the Albright/Holbrook/Warren mindset. The horrific market bombing, captured on film, was in fact what we would today call ‘false flag’ attacks and was the pretext for Clinton to push for an intensive campaign from NATO to hit Milosevic – or more specifically Bosnian Serbs who served him – hard.
Are we being tricked in a similar light in Ukraine? Is western media, lazy and complicit to tag along with the oversimplification of the situation, dutifully reporting on attacks which they know are a grey zone and are suspicious at best and duplicitous at worse? The bombing of the Mariupol theatre is a victim of this same call-centre journalism where western hacks want to fill in the gaps themselves and present it to humble readers around the world as a Russian atrocity. How though, with Russia’s sophisticated weaponry does it strike the theatre with hundreds apparently sheltering in its cellars, not manage to kill one civilian, with all apparently surviving the attack? Even Reuters has to admit in its reporting that “Information about the victims is still being clarified”.
When you study the reports, you see a pattern from MSM which shows it to be a standard attack by a ruthless army (Russia) but some key questions still remain unanswered, presenting one theory which cannot be overlooked: was the bombing arranged beforehand by far-right groups linked to Zelenksy and staged, so as to draw the U.S. into the same mindset that Clinton had in 1995? In other words, could such a massacre push Biden over a line and reach a conclusion that the west has to intervene itself to stop the atrocities?
The fake news packages which are being processed by journalists around the world – from the “Snake Island killings” by Russians of Ukrainian soldiers who insulted their attackers with verbal abuse (who turned up later alive and captured) to a fictitious Ukrainian pilot to name a couple – are being made by PR agents in the Ukraine, some even working as ‘fixers’ for the BBC. An army of such people who are producing fake images and videos being fed into western media newsrooms is winning the information war for Ukraine’s President who recently shut down media outlets which he claimed were pro-Russian, while letting “nationalist” [read far-right] outlets continue.
Muslims pay in blood
And so, we should not eulogise Madeleine Albright as her legacy of sloppy, partisan diplomacy was responsible for a colossus of lies about what was the reality of the Yugoslavian conflict which we are seeing replicated on a broader scale today in Ukraine. She stood for the U.S. interventionalist policy to impose U.S. hegemony at any cost, regardless of the lives of millions it affects, often with Muslims paying the heaviest price. She, along with Holbrook, had little problem by false flag attacks, such as the one in Sarajevo in August 1995, but also looked the other way when America’s chief ally Croatia, carried out appalling acts of genocide when Tudjman’s soldiers took advantage of Bosnian Serb forces being on the back foot at the end of the war to return to the Serbian enclave of Knin in Croatia forcing out the Serbs, while murdering old women who decided to stay and burning their homes to the ground. And then there was the betrayal of Bosnian Croats towards its so-called ally, the Muslims, which also led to thousands being slaughtered.
Later, on Iraq, who can forget the comment she made about the death of half a million Iraqi children “worth it”, when asked by a journalist on 60 minutes?
It seems the West and those who champion its American lead ideas like Albright have no problem with massacres as long as they are carried out towards its foes. The U.S. has assisted and financed far-right groups all over the world as a useful tool to thwart Russian influence and today Ukraine is the price that it pays for its ill-gotten ideology which at best, like Albright, is outdated and not much use any more to anyone, even in the Middle East. Is the new impetus from leaders there to embrace Assad, like the UAE recently did by welcoming him with a visit, an indication that the Albright notion of U.S. hegemony – bombing, shuttle diplomacy, backing far-right groups and encouraging false flag attacks on innocent Muslims – is over, or about to be replayed in the next conflict in the region where some might look to Russia for assistance? Albright’s legacy will be stained into the history books by her complicity with disinformation which drew the U.S. into a war in Yugoslavia, which supported neo-Nazis in Croatia and their horrendous murders and later on the slaughter of almost 400,000 civilians in Iraq (not to mention 4,550 American servicemen). This same formula is being used by Ukraine’s leaders to pull Biden into the conflict there as Middle Eastern leaders watch with glee and learn how to use America to fight your wars for you.