by James Bisset, for Toronto Star
When Canadian pilots joined in the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in March 1999, we were told by Lloyd Axworthy and Art Eggleton that the intervention in Kosovo was necessary to prevent the violence there from spreading and de-stabilizing the Balkans. Yet we now know that long before the bombing it was NATO countries themselves that were inciting violence in Kosovo and attempting to de-stabilize that Serbian province. Moreover despite the bombing the violence has spread -in Kosovo itself, in southern Serbia, and more recently in Macedonia. Media reports have revealed that as early as 1998, the central intelligence agency assisted by the British Special Armed Services were arming and training Kosovo Liberation Army members in Albania to foment armed rebellion in Kosovo. The KLA terrorists were sent back into Kosovo to assassinate Serbian mayors, ambush Serbian policemen and do everything possible to incite murder and chaos. The hope was that with Kosovo in flames NATO could intervene and in so doing, not only overthrow Slobodan Milosevic the Serbian strong man, but more importantly, provide the aging and increasingly irrelevant military organization with a reason for its continued existence. After bombing Yugoslavia into submission, NATO then stood by and submissively allowed the KLA to murder, pillage and burn. The KLA was given a free hand to do as they wished. Almost all of the non-Albanian population was ethnically cleansed from Kosovo under the watchful eyes of 40,000 NATO troops. Moreover, in defiance of United Nations resolution 1244 which brought an end to the fighting, NATO adamantly refused to disarm the KLA fighters. Instead, NATO converted this ragtag band of terrorists into the Kosovo Protection Force - allegedly to maintain peace and order in Kosovo. To add insult to injury NATO appointed an alleged war criminal, Agim Ceku, as commander of this force. Agim Ceku is an Albanian Kosovar who led the Croatian army in "operation storm" which ethnically cleansed all of the Serbian population from their ancestral lands in Croatia. Some news reports have suggested that there is a sealed indictment against Ceku held by the war crimes tribunal in the Hague but not acted upon because to do so would embarrass his NATO bosses. On June 10 of this year the London Times reported that in early march, Agim Ceku ordered 800 KLA reservists from Kosovo to enter Macedonia to help their fellow Albanians in their rebellion against the government there. Few Albanian nationalists in the Balkans had forgotten that under the fascist and Nazi regimes of the 1940's, Albania was given control of Kosovo, parts of Macedonia and northern Greece. Those latent dreams of Greater Albania have been given new life by NATO's policy of encouraging and actively supporting the Albanians of Kosovo to use violence and force to achieve their political goals. It appears our NATO leaders did not realize (or did not care) that by supporting Albanian extremists the scourge of Albanian racism would be unleashed in the Balkans. Now in Macedonia the broader consequences of NATO's ill-considered intervention in that troubled region of Europe is becoming more evident. The KLA learned early in the Yugoslavian campaign that NATO countries are unwilling to risk the lives of their soldiers to resolve Balkan problems. It is one thing to bomb targets in Yugoslavia from 15,000 feet with little or no risk to its pilots. It is quite another thing to become involved in armed conflict on the ground against a well-armed and determined enemy. Confirmation of this was evident when the KLA went into to southern Serbia. NATO was not prepared to intervene militarily to halt that aggression. It was only when NATO was able to strike a deal with the new democratic powers in Serbia to have Serbian troops restore order in that region that the KLA were stopped. Thwarted, at least temporarily, in southern Serbia, the KLA then turned its attention to Macedonia and in March started a new military campaign in that country. Their tactics were the same as those used successfully in Kosovo, i.e. assassination, ambush, and intimidation of the local population. Again as in Kosovo the KLA is armed and equipped by western powers. The Macedonian authorities in order to put down the armed rebellion have used the same tactics as employed by the Serbian forces in Kosovo; shelling of villages occupied by KLA fighters with consequent civilian casualties and refugees. Unlike Kosovo, however, NATO authorities are unable to react to the Macedonian crisis as they did two years earlier in Kosovo because obviously bombing Macedonia is not the answer. Macedonia is not headed by a Slobodan Milosevic and its record of dealing with its Albanian minority is, by Balkan standards, exemplary. The issue is further complicated by the reality that the KLA is NATO's own creature and continues to be looked upon favorably by its previous masters. There seems little doubt that NATO intends to ensure that Kosovo remains under KLA control. Even more alarming is the fact that the KLA and its brethren in Macedonia continue to receive assistance and military help from NATO countries. Last month when Macedonian forces were closing in on KLA rebels near the town of Aracinovo, NATO intervened and helped evacuate the KLA fighters. According to German media reports the intervention was ordered because among the KLA forces were 17 American advisors from an American private mercenary organization that has been actively engaged in the Balkans during the Yugoslav wars. It would not do to have had a number of former us military personnel captured along with KLA terrorists. Although embarrassed by the actions of the KLA in Macedonia NATO has shown no inclination to bring a stop to this naked aggression against a democratic and peaceful nation. To do so would result in armed clashes with the KLA with consequent loss of NATO lives. It would also underline the bankruptcy of NATO's policy in the Balkans. This is not something that Lord Robertson or our NATO political leaders wish to have highlighted. Unwilling to confront the KLA the response so far from NATO has been to bring diplomatic pressure on the government of Macedonia forcing it to yield to Albanian demands. The secretary general of NATO, Lord Robertson and the European Union's foreign minister, Javier Solana have arrived in Skopje to press home NATO's insistence that Macedonia's sovereignty must be compromised. In the meantime KLA rebels are reinforcing their forces who have occupied most of western and northern Macedonia. So much for NATO's dedication to democratic ideals, the rule of law and the peaceful resolution of international disputes.