This weekend, I had the chance to speak at the conference “Global peace vs. global interventionism and imperialism” organized by the Belgrade Forum for a World of Equals, led by Živadin Jovanović who was the Yugoslav minister of foreign affairs when NATO when to war against Yugoslavia in 1999. For more information about Jovanović and his work, you can see my interview with him on my YouTube channel. You can also listen to a sound recording of my speech here (5 min).
Many of the speakers on the conference have very confrontational attitudes towards NATO, and I am also critical to why NATO and my country Norway went to war against Yugoslavia and many other countries in the world. My question, however, is how to have the best impact in NATO countries.
A lot of the rhetoric I heard on this conference has been counterproductive. We heard that one of the speakers saying that Serbs and Turks (meaning Albanians) could never be friends, and NATO has been frequently referred to as the North Atlantic Terrorist Organization. Many of the speakers displayed hatred and intolerance in their speeches. With this kind of rhetoric, it will be much harder to have a voice in Western mainstream media; a conference like this would be dismissed as Serbian nationalist propaganda.
My mission is to create awareness in the West that we made a terrible mistake when we went to war against Yugoslavia in 1999, but instead of attacking Western politicians, I want to treat them with respect and dialog.
Therefore, I have also been able to have good interviews with Norwegian leading politicians, diplomats and officers who were involved in the war against Yugoslavia. I have also been able to speak to Christopher Hill who was leading the talks in Rambouillet. Later on I will publish the interview I made with Dr. Hill where he is speaking about how NGOs were an important factor in creating a public pressure for going to war against Yugoslavia.
However, if those who are fighting for peace and national sovereignty, all kinds of imperialism should be criticized not only the cases where NATO and the West has violated international law.
Getting back to my speech that I gave on March 23, I was not a popular man when I said that we need to oppose imperialism, no matter if it is coming from Western nations or Russia. Brigitte Queck, a communist from the old German Democratic Republic accused me of supporting fascism because I would also hold Russia accountable. Above you hear her interrupting my speech, and here you can hear her rhetoric when she praised Russia hoping that they would destroy what she calls Nazi, fascist and SS NATO and the US. (4 min). In my opinion, Ms. Queck has very dangerous rhetoric, and it is not consistent with true peacemaking.
In fact there were many speakers with classic communist rhetoric on the conference, and I find it quite ironic that classic communists speak against imperialism. It would make more sense to argue that great powers have their geopolitical interests instead of branding it as imperialism.
The consequences of NATO’s war are evident today as well. We were told that Kosovo was a special case, an exception. However, in 2008, shortly after the Kosovo declaration of independence, Russia did exactly the same as NATO did in 1999 in the war against Georgia. Of course, Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili played an important role in provoking the war, but Russia is the dominant military and political power. In principle, there is no difference between South Ossetia / Abkhazia and Kosovo. Déjà vu, like a true image of the movie Groundhog Day.
Of course Russia has legitimate concerns in Crimea and in the rest of Ukraine. The mob of the streets of Kiev took the power from a legally elected president in an unconstitutional manner, and the presence of anti-democratic and fascistic elements in the new regime is very worrying. And yes, I’ve seen how John Kerry doen’t understand the history of Ukraine, how deputy secretary of State Victoria Nuland wanted to Fuck the EU, and how other Western politicians encouraged the Maidan protesters to take power from the democratically elected president.
However, if those who protest against NATO and US-led wars and campaigns of destabilization should have any credibility, all those who try to manipulate international law must be held accountable. Russia’s seizure of Crimea, even after a referendum, escalates the conflict in the current situation, and the Russian military presence there does not calm the situation. As long as Russia as the strongest military and political power in the area, it is of course an act of provocation to conduct military manoeuvres in Western Russia and not to exclude the use of military force in Ukraine.
At the end of the conference, the participants voted for the final document by acclamation. I did not applaud. Even if the document has valid points, it is too one-sided with too much communist rhetoric. True peacemakers should not be critical only to one side.
Below you can see British journalist Neil Clark reading the final document.