Amnesty International and Yugoslavia: Duped or Accomplice?

by Philip Greenspan

June 11, 2001

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While browsing my mail, Monday, May 21, my attention was drawn to an item on page 1 of Amnesty International's periodical amnesty now. A highlighting red circle enclosed an appeal for members to support the transfer of Slobodan Milosevic to the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague. Only five days before, convinced of the unjust treatment he had been subjected to, I had added my name to a petition -- endorsed by many people from countries all over the world -- to free him. I was shocked and disheartened to discover the position taken by Amnesty International (AI). Accordingly, I e-mailed them the following:

"For several years I have been a member of AI; and was very proud of its human and civil rights positions. However, I was deeply disappointed when I opened the current edition of 'amnesty now' to see a circled request for members to urge the transfer of Slobodan Milosevic to the International Criminal Tribunal.

An organization that fights so hard on behalf of those unjustly punished should not be an instigator of just such an injustice. The exaggerated claims of atrocities have subsequently been shown to be completely false. Additionally, the International Criminal Tribunal as a court of justice is as shocking as those false atrocity charges.

So many articles have been published by reliable sources, on both the court and the atrocities (if you are unaware of them, I will provide you with some) that it should have, at least, caused hesitancy.

I may be mistaken to assume you are much too knowledgeable and intelligent to be duped by the lies of governments and their subservient media. It is extremely disheartening to find that a worldwide human rights organization of your stature taking such a reprehensible action.


Philip Greenspan"

What impelled me to criticize such a well-known and respected human rights organization with a million members and currently celebrating forty years of existence?

A combination of several factors provided the motivation.

a.. A rejection of the lies, distortions, and omissions that are characteristic of the major media.
b.. Access to sources that provide accurate information and logical and intelligent analyses.
c.. An interest in Yugoslavia -- the country and its people.
d.. U.S. policies since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
e.. Foreign interventions responsible for the breakup of Yugoslavia.
f.. How disturbances in Kosovo were augmented into a NATO provoked war.
g.. NATO's unconscionable wartime activities targeting innocent civilians.
h.. A spurious court (The International Criminal Tribunal); a deception to place the blame on the victim Serbs for the unconscionable and illegal acts of the NATO perpetrators.

Each element could be the subject of an extensive essay. What follows are brief explanations.

1. A cynicism of the major media

'Opinions Based on Fact Not on Prejudice' appeared above the blackboard in my high school homeroom. It was a maxim that impressed me so much that I have diligently sought to discover the truth before 'shooting off my mouth'! Accordingly I analyze news stories before coming to conclusions.

In my analyses over the years, it became apparent that the media was overly biased. A great deal of literature by prominent experts is available to substantiate this charge. But one need not rely on that source. One's own intelligent observations will reveal that bias in support of the government domestic and foreign policies, the military, and the corporate establishment.

For instance, foreign dictators (puppets for the U.S.) who receive political, military and economic support are praised by the media and described as democratic rulers. But very often they are overthrown by their people. The media will then reveal what they previously suppressed: how corrupt and undemocratic the regime was. Amongst this group are: the Shah of Iran, Marcos of the Philippines, Pinochet of Chile, 'Baby Doc' of Haiti, Suharto of Indonesia. The reverse are countries with Communist or Socialist 'dictators' that are vilified for their 'terrorist' activities and abuse of human rights. Not only are they deprived of support but are subjected to hostile acts such as embargoes, CIA instigated 'dirty tricks', etc. An example is Castro of Cuba. He has been successfully in power for over 40 years -- all during that time the media was predicting his immanent downfall.

2. Reliable news sources

I have found many fine sources, including small book publishers, periodicals of the alternate press and the Internet. It took me a while before I was able to determine which few among the very many were reliable. But the search is unending and there certainly are more sources yet to discover. I was delighted when I recently found Swans (see The Media by Deck Deckert) on the Web.

A very good Internet source is the foreign press which has not yet been overwhelmed by the U.S. media. However, each time I come across a new article from whatever source I evaluate it against what other information is currently available and my own prior knowledge.

A few excellent authors are Noam Chomsky, Michael Parenti, and Howard Zinn. Their output is usually found in the small press but at times a major publisher will take on a book. I visit the local library frequently and browse. By reading the blurb on the cover and seeing who may be endorsing a book I frequently strike gold -- an unknown (at least to me) who is a legitimate expert who has been shunned by the mainstream because his views do not conform to accepted wisdom. Within this group are 'whistle blowers' who previously were employed by the government such as William Blum (State Department), John Stockwell (CIA), M. Wesley Swearingen (FBI) and Michael Levine (DEA).

There are several journalists who have maintained their integrity. They get their news from the source and not from a government press briefing or the local ambassador. In the past George Seldes and I. F. Stone stand out. Among some of the good ones today are Robert Fisk, John Pilger, Diana Johnstone, Amy Goodman and Alex Cockburn.

3. Knowledge of the subject matter

In 1973 I visited Yugoslavia for two weeks. Although you can't learn too much on a short visit, it was sufficient to dispel many myths about the country and the people that were then prevalent. It also inspired me to learn more. Accordingly I read numerous books about its recent history and have kept up to date on current events there.

4. U.S. foreign policy since the collapse of the Soviet Union

With the collapse of the Soviet Union the U.S. was confronted with problems and opportunities. Both had some bearing on what has transpired in Yugoslavia.

Problem: How can a decrease in the defense budget be prevented? The military-industrial complex was concerned. The country was expecting a 'peace dividend'. Solution: A suitable enemy had to be found to replace the 'evil empire'. Iraq filled the bill very quickly and the 'peace dividend' was forgotten. Since then the U.S. has created several potential enemies, Yugoslavia being one.

Opportunities: Eastern Europe became a fertile field for exploitation. The same neo-colonialism that prevails in Latin America and the Middle-East could now be applied in that area. An existing country or a newly created one would become a target for takeover. Financial support and pledges of future goodies would be promised to dissidents who would be recruited to take over the country and reform the government to U.S. specifications. The CIA's intrigues provide insurance for such operations. Upon completion the country would be in the hands of the friendly quislings.

5. The breakup of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

With the Soviets gone Yugoslavia was no longer a Cold War asset.

Step one in the scenario: put pressure on the country. The IMF exerted its demand for austerity and the country's economic situation, already in poor shape, became catastrophic.

Next, encourage republics to secede. With assistance from some of its European allies, particularly Germany, the U.S. instigated the breakup of the federation by getting several of the republics to declare independence (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia). In Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, because of large ethnic minorities within them, Civil Wars ensued.

6. Tragedy in Kosovo

Yugoslavia's remaining republics Serbia and Montenegro did not yield to the U.S.'s neo-colonial ambitions. Therefore, a new strategy was called for to snare this prize.

The autonomous province of Kosovo within the republic of Serbia would provide the key. For some time the Albanians within the province had been clamoring for more rights and a small splinter group, the KLA, had resorted to armed actions. Until then the KLA had been described by both the State Department and the media as a terrorist organization that was involved in the drug trade.

Police battles against the KLA became the pretext for the U.S. and its proxy NATO to intervene in what could at best be called a Civil War. The KLA was now clandestinely supported by the U.S. in its aggressive acts. The response of the Yugoslav police and army to the KLA actions were characterized as war crimes.

Negotiations to resolve the Albanian problem were conducted between NATO and Yugoslavia, but they were a sham. The terms were so onerous that it forced rejection.

A battle between the police and the KLA was blown up to become an atrocity, the 'Racak Massacre'. NATO could now go to war to protect the poor Albanians and force Yugoslavia to its senses and enter into an agreement.

7. NATO's bombardment of Serbia

How NATO conducted the war shows exactly how concerned they are about atrocities. Targets were civilians, railroad trains, bridges, the Chinese embassy, etc. All non-military targets.

One of the most egregious targets was the Petrochemical Industrial Complex in Pancevo which was bombed several times. The devastating toxic cocktail that poured into the adjacent Danube and the atmosphere was so environmentally damaging that the resulting pollution affected many other Balkan countries. Another highly toxic weapon is depleted uranium, which has been affecting civilian populations for many years after its use. (The U.S. military has discounted all claims of its harmful effects. A similar denial was made for many years about Agent Orange until finally admitting it was toxic.)

Rather than focusing on these atrocities, the media stressed the plight of the Albanians and the destruction of the Yugoslavian army. After the cease fire the numerous Yugoslav atrocity murders, claimed in some reports to be in the hundreds of thousands, were nowhere to be found and the army remained largely intact!

8. The International Criminal Tribunal

Not leaving any conceivable stone unturned they now must find war criminals to prove to the world that their intervention was justifiable. To convict the Serbs in a show trial when there is no evidence of a crime can only be accomplished with a kangaroo court. Among the many prominent legal scholars who have exposed this court as a fraud is Christopher Black, a Toronto attorney. Three of his articles in Swans's archives -- dated 6/20/99, 11/28/99 and 2/13/00 -- point out that the court is a creation of the U.S; that most of its funding comes from the U.S. and American NGOs; that its staff is mostly from the U.S.; and that it is a court of inquisition devoid of the customary procedural protections for the accused.

Walter Rockler, a former prosecutor at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials said of the attempt by Black and other lawyers to prosecute NATO in the court: "NATO policymakers clearly are guilty of war crimes in Yugoslavia, but the prosecution staff of the [International Criminal] Tribunal [for the Former Yugoslavia] is not independent, so they are not going to charge those who effectively appointed them. It's like asking administration officials to jail their boss."


All of the above leads to one conclusion. Milosevic's accusers, the U.S. and its puppet NATO cannot be trusted to seek justice. They are not honorable or honest. They have ulterior motives. They need him as a scapegoat for the horrors that they themselves have caused. If there are criminals it is they, the accusers, who are GUILTY!


(Note: On June 1, I sent this follow-up mail to Amnesty International: "Over eleven days ago I sent you an e-mail letter (a copy is reproduced at the end of this message) but have not had the courtesy of a reply. Why can't Amnesty -- an organization that relies so heavily on the letter writing of its members -- furnish a timely response?"
I have yet to hear back from AI.)


       Philip Greenspan's bio is concise and right to the point: 75 years old, married 49 years, 2 children, 3 grandchildren. Veteran World War II Army of the U.S. Graduate Brooklyn Law School, member of the NY bar. Private law practice, followed by employments in the motion picture industry -- distribution and exhibition, and data processing industry -- retailing and stock market; retired 6 years.

       Please, DO NOT steal, scavenge or repost this work without the expressed written authorization of Swans, which will seek permission from the author. This material is copyrighted, © Philip Greenspan 2001. All rights reserved.

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Published June 11, 2001
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