Blogging & Web 2.0 As A Tool In The Media War by Ari Rusila

October 2, 2013

(Editors note: This article is a modified web-version of my article printed in A Flying Finn : Finnish Civil Society Actors in the Global Sphere Melasuo, Tuomo; Nissinen, Petter; Tomperi, Outi (ed.), 2013, published by Tampere Peace Research Institute; ISBN: 978-951-44-9191-7.)

Ari Rusila, MA SocSc, is a Finnish freelancer and project management expert who lives in Jyväskylä, Finland. He has worked mostly in the Barents region, the Murmansk region of Russia and Kosovo/Serbia (Balkans). His main blog, Ari Rusila’s BalkanBlog, covers issues such as conflicts, crisis management and geopolitics.

 

Blogging statue

Introduction

Blogging is a part of the social media and Web 2.0 environment. While the first-stage web mainly included websites where people were limited to passive viewing of the content, the new-generation Web 2.0 creates highly interactive platforms that allow the creation of user-generated content, discussion and sharing in the virtual community. Besides blogging, the social media includes social networking sites (Facebook, LinkedIn…), microblogs (e.g. Twitter), wikis (wikipedia, wikimedia, wikileaks…), video sharing sites (e.g. Youtube), folksonomies (social bookmarking, tags) and other web applications (e.g. JavaScript). In conclusion, Web 2.0 has created a totally new level for communication between organizations, communities and individuals, far from the still-existing traditional and industrial media.

I have been blogging1 for over five years and have used some other social media applications for a few years. I have average computer and Internet skills, but programming is beyond my ability. So my experience of using social media is much the same as any ordinary citizen and not at any kind of expertise level. As my blog covers issues such as conflicts, crisis management and geopolitics – and regionally, the Balkans, the Black Sea, the Caucasus and MENA (the greater Middle East and North Africa) regions – I describe my experiences of the social media from that perspective. Another aspect should also be mentioned: I try to have blog articles with a message; in general, I take a position, describe a conflict from my perspective and give arguments for it. As my motto is “the other side of the story”, I never claim that my articles are neutral, or an academic description of different issues – the printed media and broadcasts can more or less pretend to have that kind of approach. In my opinion, when a reader compares my provocative or biased post with information collected from the mainstream media, he or she can get a more comprehensive picture of the related issues or events.

Web updated the media war

The traditional media has had a role in wars and international conflicts for at least a hundred years, e.g during the Armenian genocide it had some influence on the small humanitarian aid from the U.S. and afterwards influenced the trials against the perpetrators in Turkey. However, it was not until a half-century ago that it came clear that media hype can be far more effective than military combat success – as the Vietnam war amply demonstrated. It is said that Vietnam was the first conflict waged and won by the U.S. media.

The civil war in Yugoslavia lifted the media war to a more professional level when Croatian, Bosnian Muslim and Kosovo Albanian separatists employed PR firms to get U.S. public opinion and political leaders on their side, while the Serbs totally ignored the importance of the media. This proved to be a fatal Serb error in twentieth century hostilities, where public relations and media hype can be far more effective than military combat success. Barry Lituchu hit the nail on the head with these sentences2:

It is said that the first casualty of war is the truth. Of course, today with the appalling spectacle of the civil war in Yugoslavia filling our TV screens and newspapers, this old axiom has taken on an uglier, more sinister meaning. If four years ago we could say that the American public was totally uninformed about the conflict ready to unfold, today we can say with equal justification that Americans are doubly or triply misinformed, and dangerously so, about this tragic and completely unnecessary war.

Referring to the Yugoslav civil wars, Barry Lituchy describes the methods as follows3:

All public relations firms working for foreign governments must register with the Justice Department. I found in documents obtained from the Justice Department that while Croatia was contracted to pay Ruder Finn $16,000 a month and Bosnia was to pay $12,000 in 1992, payments in some later months were as high as $200,000, and total payments per year were ultimately in the millions of dollars. Moreover, Ruder Finn was not the only P.R. firm employed in Bosnia. Hill and Knowlton was also contracted early in the war. Waterman & Associates was employed by Croatia. Financial backing came from countries such as Saudi Arabia, which alone funneled nearly $1 billion to the Sarajevo regime from 1993 to 1996, according to the Washington Post, 2 February 1996. Ruder Finn was also contracted by the non-existent “Republic of Kosovo” for $5,000 a month, according to a Justice Department document dated 1 November 1992.

The outcome of this demonizing anti-Serb campaign was so effective that there was no market for stories by a journalist who discovered that the reported Serbian “rape camps” did not exist, or who included information about Muslim or Croat crimes against Serbs. Challenging the dominant interpretation in the major media became increasingly impossible.

Two decades ago the role of the average citizen with regard to printed or broadcast media was still passive; with social media the situation totally changed to the opposite – ordinary people can be creative through interactive media. The new trend in the present decade seems to be the ‘Internet revolution’. One of the first examples of this was way back in 2001 when the Filipinos famously overthrew their government with the help of text messaging. The latest example of the use of social media in the context of catastrophes or terrorist acts comes from the U.S., where, immediately after the bombs had exploded during the Boston marathon (Spring 2013), tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands or even millions, of social media users began to comb through still and video images from the explosion sites, like so many self-deputized CIA agents. These instant vigilantes not only shared images and theories on Reddit, Imgur, Tumbler and countless blogs but also fingered (innocent) suspects, most of them dark-skinned, as potential terrorists.

The use of social media in present day conflicts can be seen from a few examples I have studied or participated in in different roles (as a neutral observer, as writing articles from the grassroots level perspective or as an active participant in the virtual media war).

Case Moldova – Twitter revolution 4,5

After the Orange (Ukraine), Rose (Georgia) and Tulip (Kyrgyzstan) revolutions, the first attempt at a next-generation demonstration took place in Moldova after the 2009 parliamentary elections. Known now as “The Twitter Revolution” the protest was organized by two youth movements – Hyde Park and ThinkMoldova – using their generation’s social messaging network to gather 10,000-15,000 demonstrators on the streets in Moldova’s capital Chisinau at an event billed as “I am a not a Communist”, which included ransacking the presidential palace and parliament building.

As many as 50 per cent of the eligible Moldovan voters cast their votes for the Communist Party (PCRM). Thus the ruling party won a landslide victory, leaving the other three political parties that made it to parliament far behind. Three other parties managed to pass the 6 per cent threshold required to enter the legislature. All three are in favour of closer ties with the European Union, free-market policies and pursuing NATO membership. The Communists (PCRM) are pro-EU, anti-NATO and less market-friendly.

Election observers from the EU and OSCE accepted6 the voting as fair, though they expressed some concern about interference from the authorities. But the results were a deep disappointment in the capital. Expectation of change was in the air before the voting, but that did not happen.

On the other hand, the demonstration has been characterized in discussion forums (by government supporters perhaps?) as an act where

youth, paid by older internationally-acting manipulators with money, alcohol and drugs, seized a presidential office, planted a Romania’s flag on a president palace and set on fire country’s parliament, demanding inclusion as a province in Romania.”

Natalia Morar, one of the leaders of ThinkMoldova7, described the effort in her blog as “six people, 10 minutes for brainstorming and decision-making, several hours of disseminating information through networks, Facebook, blogs, SMSs and e-mails.” She said the protests organized under the slogan were organized online: “All the organization was through the Internet, and 15,000 people came on to the street.”

To create a demonstration via social media was easy, but to have a common view of its purpose and manage the crowd seems to have been problematic. That the demonstration turned violent was a surprise to the activists. Mr. Moscovici said the protests were never intended to turn in that direction. “The situation got beyond any expectations,” he said. “If it would have been planned in advance, they would have used Molotov cocktails or other bad stuff. Today they didn’t have any tools to fight back. The stones they got from the ground, from the pavement.” Ms. Morar of ThinkMoldova also distanced her organization from the violence, shifting the blame onto the opposition parties. What bothers her the most, she said, is the suggestion that she and her friends somehow contributed to the violence, which she watched on television. “Believe me, there is nothing at all enjoyable about it,” she said8.

ThinkMoldova gives an example of how a debate can be brought to the street level. One problem is manipulation by the media, etc, which is a common phenomenon in political actions, as well hijacking a demonstration for the purpose of one interest group. In the Moldova case, the two organizations behind the protest condemned the violence and were of the opinion that the opposition parties were behind these acts. The opposition parties deny this and of course it is possible that the Establishment orchestrated the hooligan part of the demonstration to weaken the NGOs. The truth – I don’t know.

The Moldovan experiment showed that Twitter has made some difference since the demonstrations in Ukraine 2004 and Belorussia 2006, which were mainly organized with SMS. It is practical and effective, but from my point of view not a sufficient method for democratic revolution. For protest certainly, for revolution maybe, sometime, somewhere.

Arab Streets: Social media gave good start and bad follow-up

The uprisings and revolutions on the Arab streets a couple of years ago clearly demonstrated the force of the social media in the early stages of those events. A sort of warm-up to the recent cyber war came with the release of a number of US diplomatic cables on Tunisia9by WikiLeaksin late November and early December 2010. The cables gave details about the “Family Mafia” led by the Tunisian President. A Lebanese news website that published the cables, Al-Akhbar, was blocked in Tunisia and attacked by hackers. The political campaign on the Internet escalated with Operation Tunisia10(an open letter to the media, a request for help from journalists, bloggers and hackers) in which activists targeted government sites with Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. The hackers also got their Open Letter onto the main page of the Government of Tunisia website. During critical days, the social media have been used to help get people out on the streets.

In Egypt the social media played a decisive role by bringing the protest onto the streets. Anonymous leaflets11How to Protest Intelligently – circulating in Cairo also provided practical and tactical advice for mass demonstrations, confronting riot police, and besieging and taking control of government offices. The leaflet asked recipients to redistribute it by email and photocopying, but not to use social media such as Facebook and Twitter, which were being monitored by the security forces.

While the social media was so effective during the uprisings, its role became insignificant immediately after the change of regime. Traditional, better organized religious groups got an almost landslide victory over different “ad hoc” temporary action groups. It seems that with Tweet and FB it is difficult to create any deeper group identity, common vision or commitment.

Iran: Unsuccessful Green revolution, but successful cyber war

The “green revolution” in Tehran started after the elections in the summer of 2009. The Western media relied on its reporters covering the mass demonstrations by opposition supporters. The most news coverage came from Tehran via English-speaking students – the bulk of the opposition demonstrators were drawn from the upper and middle-class students, business and professional classes.

From the post-election surveys it can be seen that the only demographic groups where the opposition candidate Mousavi was leading or competing with Ahmadinejad were the university students and graduates, and the highest-income Iranians. This group had the language skills, equipment and skills for using the social media for their purpose. But relying on them as a source of information gives a totally false picture about the grassroots level in Iran as, according to surveys, only one-third of Iranians have access to the Internet. Commentators portrayed Iranian youth and the Internet as harbingers of change in the 2009 election, whereas in reality, 18-to-24-year-olds comprised the strongest voting bloc for Ahmadinejad.

While distributing real-time tweets and pictures of the “revolution”, the Western media totally ignored and downplayed the huge turnout for Ahmadinejad. Worse still, the Western media ignored the class composition of the competing demonstrations – the fact that Ahmadinejad was drawing his support from the far more numerous poor working class, peasant, artisan and public employee sectors while ignoring the provinces, small and medium sized cities and villages where Ahmadinejad had his mass base of support.12, 13

Later, when the core problem (information coming from English-speaking students and highest income class) of the social media as a source of information was clear, and to give a deeper view, I published the traditional information from the Iranian opposition and, especially, from a group named The Organization of Iranian People’s Fadaian (Majority) – in Persian: سازمان فدائیان خلق ایران اکثریتSāzmān-e fedaiyān-e khalq-e Irān (aksariat) – which is the largest socialist party in Iran and advocates the overthrow of the Islamic regime there. The group is banned from open activity within the Islamic Republic, and works clandestinely inside Iran and openly abroad. I published their letter to EU leaders14 as such, and their other letter15 to President Obama related to a planned Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities as, in my opinion, their wise words reflected the grassroots attitude among the Iranian opposition

While social media like Twitter at a regional/local level can be a decisive factor by encouraging the masses to throw out an existing regime, one should remember that the stakes are on a different scale in a real cyber war. The best examples are the introduction of the Stuxnet computer virus into 30,000 computers in Iran’s nuclear reactors and the explosions in October 2009 in which 18 Iranian technicians were killed at a factory in the Zagros mountains that manufactured Shihab missiles.16

Israel: The most sophisticated use of social media as a tool of war

The old tradition (called also Pallywood) in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been the use of some respected media, such as the BBC, to show “Israel’s aggression” and, at the same time, Palestinians as innocent civilian victims. During earlier conflicts it was usual to bring the dead – anyone who had died or been murdered for reasons of crime during these wars – out from the hospitals in front of the cameras as victims of “Israel’s aggression”. This kind of media war is still continuing on the Internet. The difference with the old times is that while it is easy to create and publish (mis)information, it is just as easy for the public to detect photo manipulations and other fabrications.

During the Israeli Pillar of Defence operation against Hamas terrorists in Gaza, an Arab news site called Alarab Net released a photo17 that shows a family who were allegedly ‘massacred’ in Gaza on its Facebook page on Sunday, 18 November 2012. The caption in Arabic roughly translates into English as “martyred massacred family in Gaza shortly before…” Thanks to Tazpit News Agency’s investigative work, it was found that the photo had originally been published on a news site called Moheet based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, one month earlier, on 9 October 2012. October 19. On the Moheet website, the photo18 was entitled “Syria killed 122 Friday…Assad Used Cluster Bombs.”

And here another example where the Alqassam Brigades published an image which was taken in during the Syrian civil war weeks ago and attempted to pass it off as a picture taken in Gaza during current conflict.

media manipulation in the middle east, Pallywood

Trevor Asserson in YNetNews19:

The only force in the Middle East that can beat the Israeli army is a bunch of ragged reporters. Had it not been for the fear of world opinion the Army would have rooted out Hamas and its rockets… World opinion matters because Israel’s natural friends are democracies. Politicians in democracies will follow public opinion. In today’s digital world, where people can communicate across the world in seconds and access information anonymously from their own homes, the internet is the new battlefield. The BBC, with its halo of ‘impartiality,’ is the world leader in dissimulation. The BBC aired dead Syrian children passed off as Palestinians; a ‘badly injured victim of Israeli bombing’ was filmed moments later walking around healthily. The BBC shrugged it off – “perhaps he just recovered quickly.”

A couple of years ago, the General Staff of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) established a Cyber Defense Division in the C4I Directorate, which is responsible for protecting the IDF networks from hackers and infiltrations, to combat this new virtual frontier. While modern cyber warfare is more between skilled specialists, the information war in the social media is possible for anyone who has some kind of equipment and access to the web.

In my opinion, the most sophisticated use of social media as tool of war is the official blog of the Israel Defense Forces (IDFBlog)20. This is a source of information where one can find news from the field, including operational updates, photos and videos. Besides news, the IDF blog also includes wide background information and facts about related issues via different means (images, videos, FB discussions, interactive means, contacts …) and in many languages. The IDF are using Twitter as a means of making conflict, and their part in it, as transparent as possible. They are letting the world know exactly what they are doing, as well as why they are doing it. I think this is incredibly important as Israel is too easily cast in the role of “the bully” by the mainstream press abroad.

Besides blogging, the IDF also work with Facebook21, Youtube22, Twitter23 and Flickr24.

IDF leaflets during Gaza operation

As not all people have access to the social media, Israel has also used old-fashioned methods such as aircraft dropping leaflets in Gaza stating that the residents should “keep their distance from Hamas terror operatives”. There were similar warnings via Twitter. The reason for this kind of early warning was to minimize collateral damage (very bad for the public image) in any conflict.25

A very good example of how the IDF information unit works with the social media is its actions on 14th November 2012, when Operation Pillar of Defence was starting: in the morning, around 9:30 a.m. Eastern time, @IDFSpokesperson tweeted that “The IDF has begun a widespread campaign on terror sites & operatives in the #Gaza Strip, chief among them #Hamas & Islamic Jihad targets.” Minutes later they tweeted26, “The first target hit, minutes ago, was Ahmed Al-Jabari, head of the #Hamas military wing.” The tweet linked to a post on the IDF blog27 that explained: “The purpose of this operation was to severely impair the command and control chain of the Hamas leadership, as well as its terrorist infrastructure.”…“The IDF will continue to target sites that are used for carrying out terror attacks against the citizens of Israel while improving their daily security.” Soon after, a video of the IDF Pinpoint Strike on Ahmed Jabari28 hit YouTube, where it has accrued over 800,000 views so far (despite being blocked and reinstated by YouTube) 29. On the opposition’s side, the Alqassam Brigades30have been live-tweeting their attacks on Israel as well – e.g during Operation Pillar of Defence, tweeting the news of rockets being fired at different cities in Israel every few minutes.

Web 2.0 As a Tool - My conclusions

The Egyptian autocrats removed the Internet from Egypt; the Chinese autocrats removed Egypt from the Internet (an anonymous quote from a web forum)

The Web 2.0 revolution created a collective consciousness over the Internet, and, in addition, the social media also made it possible for large numbers of people to organize and, in certain cases create, attacks against the establishment – in the virtual or real sphere. The social media is different from the traditional/industrial media in many ways, such as quality, reach, frequency, usability, immediacy and permanence. A Web 2.0 site may allow users to interact and collaborate with each other in the social media. This new Internet culture reflects the fact of, or is a process by which, the centre of gravity of the news cycle has shifted to the social media. The critical task is, of course, criticism of the sources, so that what seems like complete democratization of information and news reporting can lead to a tyranny of the mob, even erupting into “virtual” and perhaps even physical violence.

Today’s communication tools are providing new aspects for election campaigns and politics in general. One of them is that modern technology can inspire young voters. Another aspect is that protest is not necessarily channelled via voting but through street democracy.

One can claim that both of these aspects can include undemocratic elements because the majority of the population are not familiar with these tools and directing democracy with violence can gain more than a fair share of power. On the other hand, one can claim that the Establishment has such strong means with which to exercise power that normal elections are insignificant. My position is not clear, because the situation is different in every society.

Web 2.0 has been excellent tool with which to mobilize huge segments of the population with “Colour revolutions” or uprisings. However, the problems start after the demonstrations or even when the regime changes. After changing the regime or ousting a dictator, any further goals are rarely discussed and accepted by the mobilized demonstrators. Indeed, the real aims – labelled the promotion of democracy – can be imported abroad to serve foreign interests (like pro-American economic and foreign policies on Arab streets) or at least one leading domestic interest group. So, in my opinion, the criticism is the core question from this aspect.

I do not think the Western traditional mainstream media are so interested in in-depth critical analysis or investigations, which are a thread for advertising money or other publishers’ interests. The Internet is an excellent medium for alternative critical citizen journalism and even investigative journalism. Speaking about today’s whistle-blowers – the most famous being WikiLeaks – it may be the only medium where these kinds of actions are possible. One can, of course, find a lot of nonsense and what I call Facebook journalism on the Internet. I personally prefer more op-ed articles, alternative perspectives, etc, with good links to background information. In blogging I have changed my approach from daily commentaries to longer and not-so-frequent articles.

I think that at best, the social media can challenge the existing system, policy and initiatives by looking behind the picture from the mainstream media and finding the core interests in ongoing and coming (e.g. Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, military intervention in Syria, etc) interventions, conflicts and high-flown statements, and investigate how the actions are implementing the interests of different lobby groups. The blogosphere can tell what’s really happening and why. The blogosphere can liberate us and our thinking from the mainstream media box. It delivers a huge amount of information and raw material from different shareholders. The critical task is criticism of the sources, but even with this reservation it makes a real change as a virtual think tank – far more than the traditional media.

¤ ¤ ¤

Excerpt: Ari Rusila – My Blogosphere

My motivation for blogging originates from my experience of working in the Balkans. While working in the Balkans I saw a huge gap between the mainstream media and reality, and between high-flown ideas from Washington and Brussels from one side and the grassroots from the other. To change the situation I started to write e-mails and memorandums to policy-makers and comments to different forums – although the response was modest at best. Then I went to different web forums and started blogging, and got much more feedback. My motto is “The other side of the story”.

My main blog is Ari Rusila’s BalkanBlog31, which covers issues relating to conflicts, crisis management and geopolitics, and regionally the Balkans, the Black Sea, the Caucasus and MENA (the greater Middle East and North Africa) regions. The content of the blog is more in-depth analysis or essays from my personal viewpoint on topics mentioned, not daily posts about current events. The main blog has visitors from more than 140 countries, mostly from North America.

There is a Finnish version of the main blog with a little different content: Ari Rusilan BalkanBlog32. I also launched a news portal, Ari Rusila’s Conflicts, where real-time news on diffferent topics was automatically generated from different sources – but no more, as the service provider ended this option. Then there is Themes of Ari Rusila33, which includes some minicourses for e-learning purposes. This site is still partly under construction. In addition to this, there is a more static website, Ari Rusila WebS34. I also participate in a number of community blogs with the same content as my main blog but with a different audience.

Blogosphere of Ari Rusila, Balkanblog, Web 2.0, blogging, social media

Highlights & Achievements 2008-

2013

2012

  • TOP 10 political blogs rank in Finland (Cision)

  • Translations of my articles are spreading my message

  • Interviews in international printed and online media: Crimea Policy Dialogue Project (Ukraine)

  • Blog-Zug Hall of Fame (week 43/2012)

  • Blog-Zug Top (week 43/2012)

  • Google Search can give a good score depending how high each article is at any given time (my best is 603,000 hits, normal variation is 7,000 – 200,000)

  • Technorati authority changes according tro article popularity (my scores between 1 -150) h

2011

2010

  • Blog got 1st position among the most visited Babelblogs in Cafebabel.com (The European Magazine)

  • 4,782 views on main blog in one day

  • TOP 10 political blogs rank in Finland (Cision)

  • Article for AC Policy Team/NATO Strategic Concept

  • Translations and forum activities disseminate views

2009

  • TH!NK ABOUT IT blogging competition by European Journalism Centre, only two selected to participate from Finland

  • Quality Blogging Award in TH!NK ABOUT IT blogging competition by European Journalism Centre

  • Intercultural Dialogue” Training workshop of Anna Lindh Foundation in Luxemburg for EuroMed bloggers. I was the only one selected from the Nordic countries

  • Platinium contributor to Atlantic-Community

2008

  • Article in New Kosova Report (Kosovo/Serbia)

  • Active participation in different forums and articles referred to

  • International Press Card

Other outcomes

  • Citations in a few academic works

  • Answering questions from researchers and students for their studies or publications

  • Contacted by a few writers and discussions of common issues

  • Helping aid or development workers with advice when they are going on missions

  • Giving official statements to, for example, asylum seekers

  • Contacted by a few moviemakers and giving background information and hints for documentary movies.

Notes:

1See “Excerpt: My Blogoshere

2 The Spectator (http://www.iacenter.org/bosnia/lituchy.htm)

3 The Spectator (http://www.iacenter.org/bosnia/lituchy.htm)

4 More in Twitter revolution – no coup d’etat but big drama anyway (http://arirusila.wordpress.com/2009/04/19/twitter-revolution-) and

5 Twitter Revolution-Case Moldova (http://arirusila.wordpress.com/2009/04/10/twitter-revolution-)

6 OSCE report (http://www.osce.org/documents/odihr/2009/04/37142_en.pdf )

7 Source NYT (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/08/world/europe/08moldova.html?_r=0)

8 Source NYT (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/08/world/europe/08moldova.html?_r=0 )

9 (http://213.251.145.96/origin/19_0.html)

10 (http://www.pdf-archive.com/2011/01/04/an-open-letter-to-all-media/an-open-letter-to-all-media.pdf)

11 (http://assets.theatlantic.com/static/mt/assets/science/assets_c/2011/01/Page%201_rev2-thumb-600×424-41204.jpg) and (http://assets.theatlantic.com/static/mt/assets/science/assets_c/2011/01/Page%204_rev-thumb-600×424-41213.jpg)

12 More in my articles IRAN – revolution postponed (http://arirusila.wordpress.com/2009/07/07/iran-) and

13 Iran – Twitter – Revolution (http://arirusila.wordpress.com/2009/06/22/iran-)

14 Support for Iranian Opposition (http://arirusila.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/support-for-iranian-opposition/)

15 US Giving a “Yellow Light” to an Israeli Strike (http://arirusila.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/us-giving-a-yellow-light-to-an-israeli-strike/)

16 More in my article Cyber war has became a tool between political and military options (http://arirusila.wordpress.com/2011/01/18/cyber-war-has-became-a-tool-between-political-and-military-options/)

17 The “recycled” massacre, transplanted to Gaza. (http://www.jewishpress.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/forgery-1.jpg)

18 The original massacre, in Syria. http://www.jewishpress.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/forgery-21-422×486.jpg )

19 (http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4315343,00.html)

20 (http://www.idfblog.com/ )

21 (http://www.facebook.com/idfonline )

22 (http://www.youtube.com/idfnadesk )

23 (http://www.twitter.com/idfspokesperson )

24 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/idfonline )

25 Minimizing Collateral Damage In Gaza Conflict (http://arirusila.wordpress.com/2012/11/20/minimizing-collateral-damage-in-gaza-conflict/)

26 (http://twitter.com/IDFSpokesperson/status/268722815300169729 )

27 (http://www.idfblog.com/2012/11/14/idf-begins-widespread-attack-on-terror-sites-in-the-gaza-strip/ )

28 (http://youtu.be/P6U2ZQ0EhN4 )

29 (http://allthingsd.com/20121115/youtube-blocks-israeli-hamas-assassination-video/ )

30 (http://twitter.com/AlqassamBrigade )

31 (http://arirusila.wordpress.com )

32 (http://arirusila.blogit.fi/ )

33 (http://arirusilathemes.wordpress.com/ )

34 (http://arirusila.webs.com/ )


Who Gets Justice From ICTY?

April 14, 2013

Finnish leading daily newspaper – Helsingin Sanomat – published today (14/04/2013) an investigative feature story Winners Justice related to recent release of Croatian war criminal Ante Gotovina. Gotovina was responsible about biggest ethnic cleansing during Balkan wars. The article clearly proves the political and biased nature of International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Headline: Bosniacs have got most justice from Hague, Albanians and Serbs least Lines from top to bottom: Croats, Bosniacs, Serbs, Albanians, Other Column 1: Civilian deaths Column 2: Refugees Column 3: ICTY sentencies (years) about crimes against nations on line Column 4: ICTY sentencies against nations on line/days/civilian death Column 5: ICTY sentencies against nations on line/ratio of civilian deaths+50% of refugee amounth Source: Helsingin Sanomat (http://hs.fi)

Bosniacs have got most justice from Hague, Albanians and Serbs least
Lines from top to bottom: Croats, Bosniacs, Serbs, Albanians, Other
Column 1: Civilian deaths, Column 2: Refugees, Column 3: ICTY sentences (years) about crimes against nations on line, Column 4: ICTY sentences against nations on line/days/civilian death
Column 5: ICTY sentences against nations on line/ratio of deaths + 50% of refugee amount
Free translation AR///Source: Helsingin Sanomat

Ante Gotovina was leading sc Operation Storm against Serb populated Krajina region. Krajina had been under UN protection from 1992, however some 10,000 UN peacekeepers could not stop the attack against civilians – three peacekeepers was murdered and over 200,000 Serbs escaped to Serbia. Croatian army looted homes of Serbs and burned most of them (about 17,000) down. Few thousands old or handicapped Serbs could not flee and hundreds of them were found later decapitated, burned or executed. More about operation Storm and ethnic cleansing in Krajina in my articles Krajina – Victory with Ethnic Cleansing and Operation Storm – forgotten pogrom.

The operation “Storm” successfully finalized the ethnic cleansing of the Republic of Serbian Krajina. Croat president Franjo Tudjman cynically described the pogrom of Croatia Serbs at the opening of the Military school Ban Josip Jelacic in Zagreb, on December 14 1998: “We have, therefore, resolved the Serbian question! There will no longer be 12 percent of Serbs, nor 9 percent of Yugoslavs, as before. One may find some equivalence between terms of Serbian question and Jewish question and not by coincidence as Mr.Tjudman is a widely acclaimed Holocaust denier and international hero to Neo-Nazis.

Serb populated areas in Croatia/Krajina before the Operation Storm

ICTY started to investigate war crimes and ethnic Krajina’s cleansing immediately 1995. U.S. – who was the main financier of ICTY – tried at daily basis to stop investigations and when they however continued U.S. refused to submit satelite photos and other evidencies in their possession to prosecutor. Despite all this sabotage ICTY anyway had enough evidence against Gotovina; after years of hiding he was arrested on 2005 – maybe because his arrest was one preconditition for Croatia’s EU membership. Gotovina got sentence of 24 years in Hague. However ICTY Appeals Chamber released him on Nov. 2012.

The obvious reason for outcome Ante Gotovina’s trial from my perspective is that operation Storm was implemented by help of U.S. All the procedure manifests that ICTY is a political construction to implement U.S. will, to whitewash actions and war crimes implemented by U.S. and their allies and to demonize Serbs to get justification for U.S. intervention to Balkan wars. The dominating political aspect casts shadows also the earlier court decisions – whether accused were acquit or not as well throws suspicion on ongoing trials in Hague.

P.S:

I have tried to tell the other side of Balkan war story in my previous articles such as


Devaluation of Nobel Peace Prize Continues But EU Could Show Way For Better Crisis Management

October 18, 2012

The stabilizing part played by the E.U. has helped to transform most of Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace,” (Thorbjorn Jagland, chair of awarding committee)

The leader of the E.U. is Germany, which is in an economic war with southern Europe, I consider this war equal to a real war. (Comment of Mr. Polychronopoulos, Greece)

The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded its 2012 peace prize to the European Union, lauding its role over six decades in building peace and reconciliation among enemies who fought Europe’s bloodiest wars. So far I have noticed this selection described as scandalous, parody, joke, sarcastic and bizarre act and late April fool. Also timing has been seen wrong as Europe is facing “increasing violence and division, the EU now appears to critics impotent amid a debt crisis that has widened north-south divisions.

I can agree that the origins of peace in Europe lie in the alliance made between France and Germany it gave birth to the European Coal and Steel Community, a forerunner of the EU. However in my opinion it is questioned whether the EU’s track record in the Balkan wars of the 1990s justified a Prize for spreading peace. However I hope that Peace Prize will give some self-confidence to EU to develop this content so that the block could increase its role in relation of conflict prevention and crisis management.

There are hundreds of worthwhile grass roots organisations and individuals for whom the award of the Nobel Peace Prize would have made a huge difference. For EU the Prize probably will be only one lucky event and photo-opportunity. Interesting but trivial alltough describing detail will be which EU president should collect the prize – Mr Barroso, Mr Van Rompuy or Martin Schulz as none of them or their institutions during their time has done nothing to solve conflicts or build peace. In my opinion the right address of this years Nobel award in EU would be ”spiritual father” of EU, Mr. Robert Schuman, for creating peace by making former Nazi Germany a “member of the family,” in the European Community.

Nobel’s Will questioned

There probably never was a finer gift donated to ‘the greatest benefit of mankind’ than the prize that the Swedish inventor and tycoon Alfred Nobel (1833-96) established for ‘the champions of peace’. When, on November 27th, 1895, Nobel signed his last will he had concluded that his desire for global peace required global disarmament founded on global law. He intended his prize to promote a systemic change in international relations.

Many years there has been debate are peace laureates reflecting Nobel’s last will. Norwegian lawyer and Nobel historian Fredrik S. Heffermehl claims the Norwegian Nobel Committee isn’t following Alfred Nobel’s wishes. His interview in The Local (Swedish news in English) highlights the orginal idea of Alfred Nobel.

Nobel’s will states that the prize should be given to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses”. According Heffermehl the reason might be that ”the military sector in Norway is a strong sector and the reality today is that a majority politicians favoring a strong military defense are in control of a prize, which was initially meant for their opponents.”

There is justified doubt that the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s decision does not comply with Alfred Nobel’s mission statement, which sets out to reward peace activists’ efforts throughout the preceding year. Nobel did not meant the prize to be a reward or recognition of civil right movements, social reforms and taming of ethnic conflict, but precisely and exclusively for substantial achievements on behalf of demilitarization in the world. This and nothing else was – and is – the exclusive intention of the prize.

EU has sadly done little for the demilitarization of Europe. Whilst the EU imposes severe austerity measures upon many EU countries, it simultaneously supports the growing militarization of Europe through support for US/NATO (guilty of war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.). It continues to support the policies of American nuclear weapons deployed to six EU States.


Degradation of Nobel Peace Prize

“Ahtisaari does not solve conflicts but drives through a short-term solutions that please western countries”. (Johan Galtung)

The best example of Nobel peace prize degradation during last decade could be President Obama who has ordered hundreds assassinations with drones, has accepted serious war crimes and human right violations e.g. in Guantamo, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen … and who has continued promoting interests of Military-Industrial-Complex.

Because Obama is too obvious choice in ”worst selections category” I would take other example which is No 119 peace laureate Mr. Ahtisaari. Personally I lost my respect to Nobel Peace Prize after his selection as laureate. No doubt that formally he has worked with many conflicts – Namibia, Yugoslavia(Bosnia and Kosovo), Indonesia – as ”peace broker”.

My critique is based first to his record and second to his methods and values behind them.

  • Ahtisaari, after consulting South African Foreign Minister Pik Botha and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, agreed to a South African Defence Force “hunt and destroy” mission, which led to the deaths of some 300 SWAPO fighters. SWAPO leader Sam Nujoma condemned the massacre saying, “At this crucial and critical hour for Namibia’s freedom, [Ahtisaari’s] action betrayed our cause and resulted in the deaths of many civilians.” Despite calling Ahtisaari “very much a collaborator with the US and pro-British [and] more concerned with his career at the United Nations than with his responsibilities to the oppressed people of Namibia”. Now Namibia keeps white landownership and black misery.
  • The role of Ahtisaari in Bosnia was insignificant; anyway after him the bloodiest war since WWII started. The compromise solution in Dayton can be described as temporary one as it never respected the Croat wish to join Croatia and the Serb wish for independence (also of Beograd).
  • In 1999 he was the envoy who persuaded the Serb state to give in after NATO’s 78 days of bombing, the most brutal event in Europe since 1945, which also lacked a UN Security Council mandate. .He then was appointed as the “architect” of the plan behind the separation of now “quasi-independent” Kosovo which, following this bombing, broke off from Serbia. Kosovo bypassed the Security Council and set a dangerous precedent.
  • Aceh was one lucky strike due to a tsunami washing the arms into the ocean. Ahtisaari himself recalled how the 2004 tsunami in South Asia was one factor that came to help open talks he facilitated between the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and Indonesia resulting in the August 2005 deal.

About peace broking methods of Mr. Ahtisaari the following quote gives good idea from2nd June 1999 when it was the task of Ahtisaari and Chernomyrdin visited President Milosevic to deliver NATO’s final terms to end bombings against Yugoslavia:

Ahtisaari opened the meeting by declaring, “We are not here to discuss or negotiate,” after which Chernomyrdin read aloud the text of the plan. Ahtisaari says that Milosevic asked about the possibility of modifying the plan, to which he replied, “No.” Milosevic took the papers and asked, “What will happen if I do not sign?” In answer, “Ahtisaari made a gesture on the table,” and then moved aside the flower centerpiece. Then Ahtisaari said, “Belgrade will be like this table. We will immediately begin carpet-bombing Belgrade.” Repeating the gesture of sweeping the table, Ahtisaari threatened, “This is what we will do to Belgrade.” A moment of silence passed, and then he added, “There will be half a million dead within a week. (Source How the Nobel Peace Prize Was Won by Gregory Elich at CounterPunch)

The result with Kosovo I have summarized following: Kosovo … a Serbian province, occupied and international protectorate, as quasi-independent pseudo-state has good change to become next “failed” or “captured” state; today’s Kosovo is already safe-heaven for war criminals, drug traffickers and international money laundry”. When Kosovo unilatarally declared intependence only less than half UN memberstates recognized it many of them after some pressure from U.S. Ahtisaari was not worried, describing to his values is following comment: “It really doesn’t matter if Paraguay hasn’t recognized,” Ahtisaari said. “Well over 65 percent of the wealth of the world has recognized. That matters.” This is in line with Ahtisaari’s role as messenger boy of U.S., if one doesn’t have money that opinion doesn’t matter.

I agree with Johan Galtung, who noted that “Ahtisaari does not solve conflicts but drives through a short-term solutions that please western countries”. My conclusion: Mr. Ahtisaari – an unofficial spokesperson of U.S. State Department and Nato who repeatedly functioned as “peace fixer” for Western power elites – good example of degradation of Nobel Peace Prize.


EU’s role with crisis management now and hopefully in the future

Putting Mr. Nobel and his Will aside, taking creative interpretation of peace award criteria of Nobel Committee as such I like to put focus on EU’s role with crisis management. The arguments given by the Norwegian Nobel Committee are not entirely false. I agree that “The stabilizing part played by the E.U. has helped to transform most of Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace,” The EU has played the historical role that it describes. Degradation of Peace Prize described above might have a positive follow-up; to avoid total devaluation of Prize the further selections should have more original content. I hope that Peace Prize will give some self-confidence to EU to develop this content so that the block could increase its role in relation of conflict prevention and crisis management.

Earlier The League of Nations and then The United Nations were created to prevent one nation-state from invading another nation-state and going to war with that other nation-state. Today most wars are intrastate ethnic conflicts. Current peacemaking, peace-building or crisis management structures are not designed to cope with this type of conflict.

U.S. itself has experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, that old military strategy is not effective. The integrated counterinsurgency, or COIN, strategy was strategic development from military alone approach. COIN has been applied last years in Afghanistan and it has many components: protecting Afghan civilians, rapidly expanding the Afghan army and police, reforming government, providing economic development assistance, weaning Taliban fighters and leaders away from Mullah Omar and al-Qaeda, reconciling them into the new government, and targeting those who refuse. This makes it a demanding strategy, maybe too demanding for U.S. However the good idea of COIN is that it emphasises a “population-centric” over an “enemy-centric” approach.

The events on Arab Street are reflecting also another problem with U.S. Strategies for dominating the rest of world. For similar reasons as the failure of COIN strategy in Afghanistan in Arab Street the strategy might be good in Theory but the Americans can not implement them. It seems that the Americans don’t understand deeply the operational theatre, they are unfamiliar in another cultural environment, in this case with Muslim world.

Hard vs. Soft Power
Hard Power Soft Power
Spectrum of behaviors Command, coercion and inducement Agenda-setting, attraction and co-opt
Most likely resources Force, sanctions and payments Institutions, values, culture and policies

EU has applied a bit similar approach. At theoretical level the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), launched in 1999, exemplifies the EU’s commitment to the so-called “comprehensive approach” – a strategy that emphasises the importance of combining civilian and military tools when dealing with external security challenges.

Crisis management in the future -by EU hopefully

I think that the conflict resolution by peacemakers is an ad hock fire department activity, important but secondary question. The primary issue from my viewpoint is prevention of problems and their causes, or at least awareness of them. Also important is to put single conflicts in wider context such as game between great powers, struggle over global energy resources and their supply routes, economic profits of military-industrial-complex etc. So in my view peace mediation is one part of handling conflicts.

The new approach should in my opinion cover the whole crisis cycle, from prevention to crisis management to post-crisis stabilization and capacity-building measures. The European Union prides itself on being able to deal with fragile and failing states outside its borders, from Kosovo to Kabul, through what it believes to be its distinctive combination of “hard” power – coercion by military or other means – and “soft” power – persuasion through trade, diplomacy, aid and the spread of values.

The key question is how to replace U.S. hard power with EU soft power. In Eastern Europe U.S. controls crucial foreign and/or domestic policies of another nation through ties with its military and intelligence institutions. EU’s military, political, and corporate elites have already increasingly become dependents or confederates of the US military-industrial complex. To take step forward EU must work to establish its own security structure in order to free itself from tactics which are now used under the current US-dominated Alliance. EU should stop outsourcing its strategical planning to U.S. The key question is focusing on EU civilian capabilities.

EU already has remarkable financial resources for capacity building measures. The EU accounts for half of all global aid. Last year, it donated €53.1bn (£42.8bn). The European commission by itself is the world’s second largest bilateral donor after the US, providing €12.3bn of external aid in 2011. Aid constitutes about 9% of the EU budget. EU is a formidable player in global development.

Replacing U.S. Cowboy policy by EU’s soft power in conflicts and crisis management is possible, if EU can find a common vision, strategy and position with its external relations. Even better would be if the OSCE could make this. It can be argued that the OSCE has a much better claim to represent all the states of Europe, (and possibly a better candidate for Peace Prize) since it has 56 States from Europe, Central Asia and North America – compared to the EU’s 27 — a “Europe with the windows open” rather than the “Fortress Europe” image associated with the EU. Ihope that Nobel Peace Prize can help with this even in EU.

More e.g. in my related articles:

Civil Crisis Management: Filling the Gaps Between the Aims and on the Ground Effectiveness of a Mission

Nobel: Do you hear Mr. Nobel rolling in his grave” – and more specific about Ahtisaari’s mediator tactics in my article500.000 bodies or sign” -headlines are describing quite well the content and my shock after his selection

Interventions in general: R2P vs Facades of Interventions, Multifaceted Intervention Practices , Is Peace more than absence of the War? , Could EU lead the 3rd Way out from Confrontation? , Quality Peace? and Peacemaking – How about solving Conflicts too?

About U.S. strategy in Afghanistan: Will COIN work in Afghanistan? andAfghanistan – to be or not?

U.S. practising intervention first in the Bosnian War 1992-95 and selecting terrorist/OC-groups to U.S. alliese.g. Srebrenica again – Hoax or Massacre? and Krajina – Victory with Ethnic Cleansing and the outcome Bosnia on the road to the EU, sorry to Dissolution

Racak fabrication and “humanitarian intervention” aka since WWII first ever full scale bombing operation in center of Europe 1999 High pressure to fabricate Racak reports and 10th anniversary of Nato’s attack on Serbia

Other related articles: Libya Intervention is creating problems instead of solving them and Some framework to Syrian crisis

Article (short version) first published as Devaluation of Nobel Peace Prize to be Continued on Technorati.

Devaluation of Nobel Peace Prize Continues But EU Could Show Way For Better Crisis Management

October 18, 2012

The stabilizing part played by the E.U. has helped to transform most of Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace,” (Thorbjorn Jagland, chair of awarding committee)

The leader of the E.U. is Germany, which is in an economic war with southern Europe, I consider this war equal to a real war. (Comment of Mr. Polychronopoulos, Greece)

The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded its 2012 peace prize to the European Union, lauding its role over six decades in building peace and reconciliation among enemies who fought Europe’s bloodiest wars. So far I have noticed this selection described as scandalous, parody, joke, sarcastic and bizarre act and late April fool. Also timing has been seen wrong as Europe is facing “increasing violence and division, the EU now appears to critics impotent amid a debt crisis that has widened north-south divisions.

I can agree that the origins of peace in Europe lie in the alliance made between France and Germany it gave birth to the European Coal and Steel Community, a forerunner of the EU. However in my opinion it is questioned whether the EU’s track record in the Balkan wars of the 1990s justified a Prize for spreading peace. However I hope that Peace Prize will give some self-confidence to EU to develop this content so that the block could increase its role in relation of conflict prevention and crisis management.

There are hundreds of worthwhile grass roots organisations and individuals for whom the award of the Nobel Peace Prize would have made a huge difference. For EU the Prize probably will be only one lucky event and photo-opportunity. Interesting but trivial alltough describing detail will be which EU president should collect the prize – Mr Barroso, Mr Van Rompuy or Martin Schulz as none of them or their institutions during their time has done nothing to solve conflicts or build peace. In my opinion the right address of this years Nobel award in EU would be ”spiritual father” of EU, Mr. Robert Schuman, for creating peace by making former Nazi Germany a “member of the family,” in the European Community.

Nobel’s Will questioned

There probably never was a finer gift donated to ‘the greatest benefit of mankind’ than the prize that the Swedish inventor and tycoon Alfred Nobel (1833-96) established for ‘the champions of peace’. When, on November 27th, 1895, Nobel signed his last will he had concluded that his desire for global peace required global disarmament founded on global law. He intended his prize to promote a systemic change in international relations.

Many years there has been debate are peace laureates reflecting Nobel’s last will. Norwegian lawyer and Nobel historian Fredrik S. Heffermehl claims the Norwegian Nobel Committee isn’t following Alfred Nobel’s wishes. His interview in The Local (Swedish news in English) highlights the orginal idea of Alfred Nobel.

Nobel’s will states that the prize should be given to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses”. According Heffermehl the reason might be that ”the military sector in Norway is a strong sector and the reality today is that a majority politicians favoring a strong military defense are in control of a prize, which was initially meant for their opponents.”

There is justified doubt that the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s decision does not comply with Alfred Nobel’s mission statement, which sets out to reward peace activists’ efforts throughout the preceding year. Nobel did not meant the prize to be a reward or recognition of civil right movements, social reforms and taming of ethnic conflict, but precisely and exclusively for substantial achievements on behalf of demilitarization in the world. This and nothing else was – and is – the exclusive intention of the prize.

EU has sadly done little for the demilitarization of Europe. Whilst the EU imposes severe austerity measures upon many EU countries, it simultaneously supports the growing militarization of Europe through support for US/NATO (guilty of war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.). It continues to support the policies of American nuclear weapons deployed to six EU States.


Degradation of Nobel Peace Prize

“Ahtisaari does not solve conflicts but drives through a short-term solutions that please western countries”. (Johan Galtung)

The best example of Nobel peace prize degradation during last decade could be President Obama who has ordered hundreds assassinations with drones, has accepted serious war crimes and human right violations e.g. in Guantamo, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen … and who has continued promoting interests of Military-Industrial-Complex.

Because Obama is too obvious choice in ”worst selections category” I would take other example which is No 119 peace laureate Mr. Ahtisaari. Personally I lost my respect to Nobel Peace Prize after his selection as laureate. No doubt that formally he has worked with many conflicts – Namibia, Yugoslavia(Bosnia and Kosovo), Indonesia – as ”peace broker”.

My critique is based first to his record and second to his methods and values behind them.

  • Ahtisaari, after consulting South African Foreign Minister Pik Botha and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, agreed to a South African Defence Force “hunt and destroy” mission, which led to the deaths of some 300 SWAPO fighters. SWAPO leader Sam Nujoma condemned the massacre saying, “At this crucial and critical hour for Namibia’s freedom, [Ahtisaari’s] action betrayed our cause and resulted in the deaths of many civilians.” Despite calling Ahtisaari “very much a collaborator with the US and pro-British [and] more concerned with his career at the United Nations than with his responsibilities to the oppressed people of Namibia”. Now Namibia keeps white landownership and black misery.
  • The role of Ahtisaari in Bosnia was insignificant; anyway after him the bloodiest war since WWII started. The compromise solution in Dayton can be described as temporary one as it never respected the Croat wish to join Croatia and the Serb wish for independence (also of Beograd).
  • In 1999 he was the envoy who persuaded the Serb state to give in after NATO’s 78 days of bombing, the most brutal event in Europe since 1945, which also lacked a UN Security Council mandate. .He then was appointed as the “architect” of the plan behind the separation of now “quasi-independent” Kosovo which, following this bombing, broke off from Serbia. Kosovo bypassed the Security Council and set a dangerous precedent.
  • Aceh was one lucky strike due to a tsunami washing the arms into the ocean. Ahtisaari himself recalled how the 2004 tsunami in South Asia was one factor that came to help open talks he facilitated between the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and Indonesia resulting in the August 2005 deal.

About peace broking methods of Mr. Ahtisaari the following quote gives good idea from2nd June 1999 when it was the task of Ahtisaari and Chernomyrdin visited President Milosevic to deliver NATO’s final terms to end bombings against Yugoslavia:

Ahtisaari opened the meeting by declaring, “We are not here to discuss or negotiate,” after which Chernomyrdin read aloud the text of the plan. Ahtisaari says that Milosevic asked about the possibility of modifying the plan, to which he replied, “No.” Milosevic took the papers and asked, “What will happen if I do not sign?” In answer, “Ahtisaari made a gesture on the table,” and then moved aside the flower centerpiece. Then Ahtisaari said, “Belgrade will be like this table. We will immediately begin carpet-bombing Belgrade.” Repeating the gesture of sweeping the table, Ahtisaari threatened, “This is what we will do to Belgrade.” A moment of silence passed, and then he added, “There will be half a million dead within a week. (Source How the Nobel Peace Prize Was Won by Gregory Elich at CounterPunch)

The result with Kosovo I have summarized following: Kosovo … a Serbian province, occupied and international protectorate, as quasi-independent pseudo-state has good change to become next “failed” or “captured” state; today’s Kosovo is already safe-heaven for war criminals, drug traffickers and international money laundry”. When Kosovo unilatarally declared intependence only less than half UN memberstates recognized it many of them after some pressure from U.S. Ahtisaari was not worried, describing to his values is following comment: “It really doesn’t matter if Paraguay hasn’t recognized,” Ahtisaari said. “Well over 65 percent of the wealth of the world has recognized. That matters.” This is in line with Ahtisaari’s role as messenger boy of U.S., if one doesn’t have money that opinion doesn’t matter.

I agree with Johan Galtung, who noted that “Ahtisaari does not solve conflicts but drives through a short-term solutions that please western countries”. My conclusion: Mr. Ahtisaari – an unofficial spokesperson of U.S. State Department and Nato who repeatedly functioned as “peace fixer” for Western power elites – good example of degradation of Nobel Peace Prize.


EU’s role with crisis management now and hopefully in the future

Putting Mr. Nobel and his Will aside, taking creative interpretation of peace award criteria of Nobel Committee as such I like to put focus on EU’s role with crisis management. The arguments given by the Norwegian Nobel Committee are not entirely false. I agree that “The stabilizing part played by the E.U. has helped to transform most of Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace,” The EU has played the historical role that it describes. Degradation of Peace Prize described above might have a positive follow-up; to avoid total devaluation of Prize the further selections should have more original content. I hope that Peace Prize will give some self-confidence to EU to develop this content so that the block could increase its role in relation of conflict prevention and crisis management.

Earlier The League of Nations and then The United Nations were created to prevent one nation-state from invading another nation-state and going to war with that other nation-state. Today most wars are intrastate ethnic conflicts. Current peacemaking, peace-building or crisis management structures are not designed to cope with this type of conflict.

U.S. itself has experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, that old military strategy is not effective. The integrated counterinsurgency, or COIN, strategy was strategic development from military alone approach. COIN has been applied last years in Afghanistan and it has many components: protecting Afghan civilians, rapidly expanding the Afghan army and police, reforming government, providing economic development assistance, weaning Taliban fighters and leaders away from Mullah Omar and al-Qaeda, reconciling them into the new government, and targeting those who refuse. This makes it a demanding strategy, maybe too demanding for U.S. However the good idea of COIN is that it emphasises a “population-centric” over an “enemy-centric” approach.

The events on Arab Street are reflecting also another problem with U.S. Strategies for dominating the rest of world. For similar reasons as the failure of COIN strategy in Afghanistan in Arab Street the strategy might be good in Theory but the Americans can not implement them. It seems that the Americans don’t understand deeply the operational theatre, they are unfamiliar in another cultural environment, in this case with Muslim world.

Hard vs. Soft Power
Hard Power Soft Power
Spectrum of behaviors Command, coercion and inducement Agenda-setting, attraction and co-opt
Most likely resources Force, sanctions and payments Institutions, values, culture and policies

EU has applied a bit similar approach. At theoretical level the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), launched in 1999, exemplifies the EU’s commitment to the so-called “comprehensive approach” – a strategy that emphasises the importance of combining civilian and military tools when dealing with external security challenges.

Crisis management in the future -by EU hopefully

I think that the conflict resolution by peacemakers is an ad hock fire department activity, important but secondary question. The primary issue from my viewpoint is prevention of problems and their causes, or at least awareness of them. Also important is to put single conflicts in wider context such as game between great powers, struggle over global energy resources and their supply routes, economic profits of military-industrial-complex etc. So in my view peace mediation is one part of handling conflicts.

The new approach should in my opinion cover the whole crisis cycle, from prevention to crisis management to post-crisis stabilization and capacity-building measures. The European Union prides itself on being able to deal with fragile and failing states outside its borders, from Kosovo to Kabul, through what it believes to be its distinctive combination of “hard” power – coercion by military or other means – and “soft” power – persuasion through trade, diplomacy, aid and the spread of values.

The key question is how to replace U.S. hard power with EU soft power. In Eastern Europe U.S. controls crucial foreign and/or domestic policies of another nation through ties with its military and intelligence institutions. EU’s military, political, and corporate elites have already increasingly become dependents or confederates of the US military-industrial complex. To take step forward EU must work to establish its own security structure in order to free itself from tactics which are now used under the current US-dominated Alliance. EU should stop outsourcing its strategical planning to U.S. The key question is focusing on EU civilian capabilities.

EU already has remarkable financial resources for capacity building measures. The EU accounts for half of all global aid. Last year, it donated €53.1bn (£42.8bn). The European commission by itself is the world’s second largest bilateral donor after the US, providing €12.3bn of external aid in 2011. Aid constitutes about 9% of the EU budget. EU is a formidable player in global development.

Replacing U.S. Cowboy policy by EU’s soft power in conflicts and crisis management is possible, if EU can find a common vision, strategy and position with its external relations. Even better would be if the OSCE could make this. It can be argued that the OSCE has a much better claim to represent all the states of Europe, (and possibly a better candidate for Peace Prize) since it has 56 States from Europe, Central Asia and North America – compared to the EU’s 27 — a “Europe with the windows open” rather than the “Fortress Europe” image associated with the EU. Ihope that Nobel Peace Prize can help with this even in EU.

More e.g. in my related articles:

Civil Crisis Management: Filling the Gaps Between the Aims and on the Ground Effectiveness of a Mission

Nobel: Do you hear Mr. Nobel rolling in his grave” – and more specific about Ahtisaari’s mediator tactics in my article500.000 bodies or sign” -headlines are describing quite well the content and my shock after his selection

Interventions in general: R2P vs Facades of Interventions, Multifaceted Intervention Practices , Is Peace more than absence of the War? , Could EU lead the 3rd Way out from Confrontation? , Quality Peace? and Peacemaking – How about solving Conflicts too?

About U.S. strategy in Afghanistan: Will COIN work in Afghanistan? andAfghanistan – to be or not?

U.S. practising intervention first in the Bosnian War 1992-95 and selecting terrorist/OC-groups to U.S. alliese.g. Srebrenica again – Hoax or Massacre? and Krajina – Victory with Ethnic Cleansing and the outcome Bosnia on the road to the EU, sorry to Dissolution

Racak fabrication and “humanitarian intervention” aka since WWII first ever full scale bombing operation in center of Europe 1999 High pressure to fabricate Racak reports and 10th anniversary of Nato’s attack on Serbia

Other related articles: Libya Intervention is creating problems instead of solving them and Some framework to Syrian crisis

Article (short version) first published as Devaluation of Nobel Peace Prize to be Continued on Technorati.

Devaluation of Nobel Peace Prize Continues But EU Could Show Way For Better Crisis Management

October 18, 2012

The stabilizing part played by the E.U. has helped to transform most of Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace,” (Thorbjorn Jagland, chair of awarding committee)

The leader of the E.U. is Germany, which is in an economic war with southern Europe, I consider this war equal to a real war. (Comment of Mr. Polychronopoulos, Greece)

The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded its 2012 peace prize to the European Union, lauding its role over six decades in building peace and reconciliation among enemies who fought Europe’s bloodiest wars. So far I have noticed this selection described as scandalous, parody, joke, sarcastic and bizarre act and late April fool. Also timing has been seen wrong as Europe is facing “increasing violence and division, the EU now appears to critics impotent amid a debt crisis that has widened north-south divisions.

I can agree that the origins of peace in Europe lie in the alliance made between France and Germany it gave birth to the European Coal and Steel Community, a forerunner of the EU. However in my opinion it is questioned whether the EU’s track record in the Balkan wars of the 1990s justified a Prize for spreading peace. However I hope that Peace Prize will give some self-confidence to EU to develop this content so that the block could increase its role in relation of conflict prevention and crisis management.

There are hundreds of worthwhile grass roots organisations and individuals for whom the award of the Nobel Peace Prize would have made a huge difference. For EU the Prize probably will be only one lucky event and photo-opportunity. Interesting but trivial alltough describing detail will be which EU president should collect the prize – Mr Barroso, Mr Van Rompuy or Martin Schulz as none of them or their institutions during their time has done nothing to solve conflicts or build peace. In my opinion the right address of this years Nobel award in EU would be ”spiritual father” of EU, Mr. Robert Schuman, for creating peace by making former Nazi Germany a “member of the family,” in the European Community.

Nobel’s Will questioned

There probably never was a finer gift donated to ‘the greatest benefit of mankind’ than the prize that the Swedish inventor and tycoon Alfred Nobel (1833-96) established for ‘the champions of peace’. When, on November 27th, 1895, Nobel signed his last will he had concluded that his desire for global peace required global disarmament founded on global law. He intended his prize to promote a systemic change in international relations.

Many years there has been debate are peace laureates reflecting Nobel’s last will. Norwegian lawyer and Nobel historian Fredrik S. Heffermehl claims the Norwegian Nobel Committee isn’t following Alfred Nobel’s wishes. His interview in The Local (Swedish news in English) highlights the orginal idea of Alfred Nobel.

Nobel’s will states that the prize should be given to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses”. According Heffermehl the reason might be that ”the military sector in Norway is a strong sector and the reality today is that a majority politicians favoring a strong military defense are in control of a prize, which was initially meant for their opponents.”

There is justified doubt that the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s decision does not comply with Alfred Nobel’s mission statement, which sets out to reward peace activists’ efforts throughout the preceding year. Nobel did not meant the prize to be a reward or recognition of civil right movements, social reforms and taming of ethnic conflict, but precisely and exclusively for substantial achievements on behalf of demilitarization in the world. This and nothing else was – and is – the exclusive intention of the prize.

EU has sadly done little for the demilitarization of Europe. Whilst the EU imposes severe austerity measures upon many EU countries, it simultaneously supports the growing militarization of Europe through support for US/NATO (guilty of war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.). It continues to support the policies of American nuclear weapons deployed to six EU States.


Degradation of Nobel Peace Prize

“Ahtisaari does not solve conflicts but drives through a short-term solutions that please western countries”. (Johan Galtung)

The best example of Nobel peace prize degradation during last decade could be President Obama who has ordered hundreds assassinations with drones, has accepted serious war crimes and human right violations e.g. in Guantamo, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen … and who has continued promoting interests of Military-Industrial-Complex.

Because Obama is too obvious choice in ”worst selections category” I would take other example which is No 119 peace laureate Mr. Ahtisaari. Personally I lost my respect to Nobel Peace Prize after his selection as laureate. No doubt that formally he has worked with many conflicts – Namibia, Yugoslavia(Bosnia and Kosovo), Indonesia – as ”peace broker”.

My critique is based first to his record and second to his methods and values behind them.

  • Ahtisaari, after consulting South African Foreign Minister Pik Botha and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, agreed to a South African Defence Force “hunt and destroy” mission, which led to the deaths of some 300 SWAPO fighters. SWAPO leader Sam Nujoma condemned the massacre saying, “At this crucial and critical hour for Namibia’s freedom, [Ahtisaari’s] action betrayed our cause and resulted in the deaths of many civilians.” Despite calling Ahtisaari “very much a collaborator with the US and pro-British [and] more concerned with his career at the United Nations than with his responsibilities to the oppressed people of Namibia”. Now Namibia keeps white landownership and black misery.
  • The role of Ahtisaari in Bosnia was insignificant; anyway after him the bloodiest war since WWII started. The compromise solution in Dayton can be described as temporary one as it never respected the Croat wish to join Croatia and the Serb wish for independence (also of Beograd).
  • In 1999 he was the envoy who persuaded the Serb state to give in after NATO’s 78 days of bombing, the most brutal event in Europe since 1945, which also lacked a UN Security Council mandate. .He then was appointed as the “architect” of the plan behind the separation of now “quasi-independent” Kosovo which, following this bombing, broke off from Serbia. Kosovo bypassed the Security Council and set a dangerous precedent.
  • Aceh was one lucky strike due to a tsunami washing the arms into the ocean. Ahtisaari himself recalled how the 2004 tsunami in South Asia was one factor that came to help open talks he facilitated between the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and Indonesia resulting in the August 2005 deal.

About peace broking methods of Mr. Ahtisaari the following quote gives good idea from2nd June 1999 when it was the task of Ahtisaari and Chernomyrdin visited President Milosevic to deliver NATO’s final terms to end bombings against Yugoslavia:

Ahtisaari opened the meeting by declaring, “We are not here to discuss or negotiate,” after which Chernomyrdin read aloud the text of the plan. Ahtisaari says that Milosevic asked about the possibility of modifying the plan, to which he replied, “No.” Milosevic took the papers and asked, “What will happen if I do not sign?” In answer, “Ahtisaari made a gesture on the table,” and then moved aside the flower centerpiece. Then Ahtisaari said, “Belgrade will be like this table. We will immediately begin carpet-bombing Belgrade.” Repeating the gesture of sweeping the table, Ahtisaari threatened, “This is what we will do to Belgrade.” A moment of silence passed, and then he added, “There will be half a million dead within a week. (Source How the Nobel Peace Prize Was Won by Gregory Elich at CounterPunch)

The result with Kosovo I have summarized following: Kosovo … a Serbian province, occupied and international protectorate, as quasi-independent pseudo-state has good change to become next “failed” or “captured” state; today’s Kosovo is already safe-heaven for war criminals, drug traffickers and international money laundry”. When Kosovo unilatarally declared intependence only less than half UN memberstates recognized it many of them after some pressure from U.S. Ahtisaari was not worried, describing to his values is following comment: “It really doesn’t matter if Paraguay hasn’t recognized,” Ahtisaari said. “Well over 65 percent of the wealth of the world has recognized. That matters.” This is in line with Ahtisaari’s role as messenger boy of U.S., if one doesn’t have money that opinion doesn’t matter.

I agree with Johan Galtung, who noted that “Ahtisaari does not solve conflicts but drives through a short-term solutions that please western countries”. My conclusion: Mr. Ahtisaari – an unofficial spokesperson of U.S. State Department and Nato who repeatedly functioned as “peace fixer” for Western power elites – good example of degradation of Nobel Peace Prize.


EU’s role with crisis management now and hopefully in the future

Putting Mr. Nobel and his Will aside, taking creative interpretation of peace award criteria of Nobel Committee as such I like to put focus on EU’s role with crisis management. The arguments given by the Norwegian Nobel Committee are not entirely false. I agree that “The stabilizing part played by the E.U. has helped to transform most of Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace,” The EU has played the historical role that it describes. Degradation of Peace Prize described above might have a positive follow-up; to avoid total devaluation of Prize the further selections should have more original content. I hope that Peace Prize will give some self-confidence to EU to develop this content so that the block could increase its role in relation of conflict prevention and crisis management.

Earlier The League of Nations and then The United Nations were created to prevent one nation-state from invading another nation-state and going to war with that other nation-state. Today most wars are intrastate ethnic conflicts. Current peacemaking, peace-building or crisis management structures are not designed to cope with this type of conflict.

U.S. itself has experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, that old military strategy is not effective. The integrated counterinsurgency, or COIN, strategy was strategic development from military alone approach. COIN has been applied last years in Afghanistan and it has many components: protecting Afghan civilians, rapidly expanding the Afghan army and police, reforming government, providing economic development assistance, weaning Taliban fighters and leaders away from Mullah Omar and al-Qaeda, reconciling them into the new government, and targeting those who refuse. This makes it a demanding strategy, maybe too demanding for U.S. However the good idea of COIN is that it emphasises a “population-centric” over an “enemy-centric” approach.

The events on Arab Street are reflecting also another problem with U.S. Strategies for dominating the rest of world. For similar reasons as the failure of COIN strategy in Afghanistan in Arab Street the strategy might be good in Theory but the Americans can not implement them. It seems that the Americans don’t understand deeply the operational theatre, they are unfamiliar in another cultural environment, in this case with Muslim world.

Hard vs. Soft Power
Hard Power Soft Power
Spectrum of behaviors Command, coercion and inducement Agenda-setting, attraction and co-opt
Most likely resources Force, sanctions and payments Institutions, values, culture and policies

EU has applied a bit similar approach. At theoretical level the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), launched in 1999, exemplifies the EU’s commitment to the so-called “comprehensive approach” – a strategy that emphasises the importance of combining civilian and military tools when dealing with external security challenges.

Crisis management in the future -by EU hopefully

I think that the conflict resolution by peacemakers is an ad hock fire department activity, important but secondary question. The primary issue from my viewpoint is prevention of problems and their causes, or at least awareness of them. Also important is to put single conflicts in wider context such as game between great powers, struggle over global energy resources and their supply routes, economic profits of military-industrial-complex etc. So in my view peace mediation is one part of handling conflicts.

The new approach should in my opinion cover the whole crisis cycle, from prevention to crisis management to post-crisis stabilization and capacity-building measures. The European Union prides itself on being able to deal with fragile and failing states outside its borders, from Kosovo to Kabul, through what it believes to be its distinctive combination of “hard” power – coercion by military or other means – and “soft” power – persuasion through trade, diplomacy, aid and the spread of values.

The key question is how to replace U.S. hard power with EU soft power. In Eastern Europe U.S. controls crucial foreign and/or domestic policies of another nation through ties with its military and intelligence institutions. EU’s military, political, and corporate elites have already increasingly become dependents or confederates of the US military-industrial complex. To take step forward EU must work to establish its own security structure in order to free itself from tactics which are now used under the current US-dominated Alliance. EU should stop outsourcing its strategical planning to U.S. The key question is focusing on EU civilian capabilities.

EU already has remarkable financial resources for capacity building measures. The EU accounts for half of all global aid. Last year, it donated €53.1bn (£42.8bn). The European commission by itself is the world’s second largest bilateral donor after the US, providing €12.3bn of external aid in 2011. Aid constitutes about 9% of the EU budget. EU is a formidable player in global development.

Replacing U.S. Cowboy policy by EU’s soft power in conflicts and crisis management is possible, if EU can find a common vision, strategy and position with its external relations. Even better would be if the OSCE could make this. It can be argued that the OSCE has a much better claim to represent all the states of Europe, (and possibly a better candidate for Peace Prize) since it has 56 States from Europe, Central Asia and North America – compared to the EU’s 27 — a “Europe with the windows open” rather than the “Fortress Europe” image associated with the EU. Ihope that Nobel Peace Prize can help with this even in EU.

More e.g. in my related articles:

Civil Crisis Management: Filling the Gaps Between the Aims and on the Ground Effectiveness of a Mission

Nobel: Do you hear Mr. Nobel rolling in his grave” – and more specific about Ahtisaari’s mediator tactics in my article500.000 bodies or sign” -headlines are describing quite well the content and my shock after his selection

Interventions in general: R2P vs Facades of Interventions, Multifaceted Intervention Practices , Is Peace more than absence of the War? , Could EU lead the 3rd Way out from Confrontation? , Quality Peace? and Peacemaking – How about solving Conflicts too?

About U.S. strategy in Afghanistan: Will COIN work in Afghanistan? andAfghanistan – to be or not?

U.S. practising intervention first in the Bosnian War 1992-95 and selecting terrorist/OC-groups to U.S. alliese.g. Srebrenica again – Hoax or Massacre? and Krajina – Victory with Ethnic Cleansing and the outcome Bosnia on the road to the EU, sorry to Dissolution

Racak fabrication and “humanitarian intervention” aka since WWII first ever full scale bombing operation in center of Europe 1999 High pressure to fabricate Racak reports and 10th anniversary of Nato’s attack on Serbia

Other related articles: Libya Intervention is creating problems instead of solving them and Some framework to Syrian crisis

Article (short version) first published as Devaluation of Nobel Peace Prize to be Continued on Technorati.

Devaluation of Nobel Peace Prize Continues But EU Could Show Way For Better Crisis Management

October 18, 2012

The stabilizing part played by the E.U. has helped to transform most of Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace,” (Thorbjorn Jagland, chair of awarding committee)

The leader of the E.U. is Germany, which is in an economic war with southern Europe, I consider this war equal to a real war. (Comment of Mr. Polychronopoulos, Greece)

The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded its 2012 peace prize to the European Union, lauding its role over six decades in building peace and reconciliation among enemies who fought Europe’s bloodiest wars. So far I have noticed this selection described as scandalous, parody, joke, sarcastic and bizarre act and late April fool. Also timing has been seen wrong as Europe is facing “increasing violence and division, the EU now appears to critics impotent amid a debt crisis that has widened north-south divisions.

I can agree that the origins of peace in Europe lie in the alliance made between France and Germany it gave birth to the European Coal and Steel Community, a forerunner of the EU. However in my opinion it is questioned whether the EU’s track record in the Balkan wars of the 1990s justified a Prize for spreading peace. However I hope that Peace Prize will give some self-confidence to EU to develop this content so that the block could increase its role in relation of conflict prevention and crisis management.

There are hundreds of worthwhile grass roots organisations and individuals for whom the award of the Nobel Peace Prize would have made a huge difference. For EU the Prize probably will be only one lucky event and photo-opportunity. Interesting but trivial alltough describing detail will be which EU president should collect the prize – Mr Barroso, Mr Van Rompuy or Martin Schulz as none of them or their institutions during their time has done nothing to solve conflicts or build peace. In my opinion the right address of this years Nobel award in EU would be ”spiritual father” of EU, Mr. Robert Schuman, for creating peace by making former Nazi Germany a “member of the family,” in the European Community.

Nobel’s Will questioned

There probably never was a finer gift donated to ‘the greatest benefit of mankind’ than the prize that the Swedish inventor and tycoon Alfred Nobel (1833-96) established for ‘the champions of peace’. When, on November 27th, 1895, Nobel signed his last will he had concluded that his desire for global peace required global disarmament founded on global law. He intended his prize to promote a systemic change in international relations.

Many years there has been debate are peace laureates reflecting Nobel’s last will. Norwegian lawyer and Nobel historian Fredrik S. Heffermehl claims the Norwegian Nobel Committee isn’t following Alfred Nobel’s wishes. His interview in The Local (Swedish news in English) highlights the orginal idea of Alfred Nobel.

Nobel’s will states that the prize should be given to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses”. According Heffermehl the reason might be that ”the military sector in Norway is a strong sector and the reality today is that a majority politicians favoring a strong military defense are in control of a prize, which was initially meant for their opponents.”

There is justified doubt that the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s decision does not comply with Alfred Nobel’s mission statement, which sets out to reward peace activists’ efforts throughout the preceding year. Nobel did not meant the prize to be a reward or recognition of civil right movements, social reforms and taming of ethnic conflict, but precisely and exclusively for substantial achievements on behalf of demilitarization in the world. This and nothing else was – and is – the exclusive intention of the prize.

EU has sadly done little for the demilitarization of Europe. Whilst the EU imposes severe austerity measures upon many EU countries, it simultaneously supports the growing militarization of Europe through support for US/NATO (guilty of war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.). It continues to support the policies of American nuclear weapons deployed to six EU States.


Degradation of Nobel Peace Prize

“Ahtisaari does not solve conflicts but drives through a short-term solutions that please western countries”. (Johan Galtung)

The best example of Nobel peace prize degradation during last decade could be President Obama who has ordered hundreds assassinations with drones, has accepted serious war crimes and human right violations e.g. in Guantamo, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen … and who has continued promoting interests of Military-Industrial-Complex.

Because Obama is too obvious choice in ”worst selections category” I would take other example which is No 119 peace laureate Mr. Ahtisaari. Personally I lost my respect to Nobel Peace Prize after his selection as laureate. No doubt that formally he has worked with many conflicts – Namibia, Yugoslavia(Bosnia and Kosovo), Indonesia – as ”peace broker”.

My critique is based first to his record and second to his methods and values behind them.

  • Ahtisaari, after consulting South African Foreign Minister Pik Botha and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, agreed to a South African Defence Force “hunt and destroy” mission, which led to the deaths of some 300 SWAPO fighters. SWAPO leader Sam Nujoma condemned the massacre saying, “At this crucial and critical hour for Namibia’s freedom, [Ahtisaari’s] action betrayed our cause and resulted in the deaths of many civilians.” Despite calling Ahtisaari “very much a collaborator with the US and pro-British [and] more concerned with his career at the United Nations than with his responsibilities to the oppressed people of Namibia”. Now Namibia keeps white landownership and black misery.
  • The role of Ahtisaari in Bosnia was insignificant; anyway after him the bloodiest war since WWII started. The compromise solution in Dayton can be described as temporary one as it never respected the Croat wish to join Croatia and the Serb wish for independence (also of Beograd).
  • In 1999 he was the envoy who persuaded the Serb state to give in after NATO’s 78 days of bombing, the most brutal event in Europe since 1945, which also lacked a UN Security Council mandate. .He then was appointed as the “architect” of the plan behind the separation of now “quasi-independent” Kosovo which, following this bombing, broke off from Serbia. Kosovo bypassed the Security Council and set a dangerous precedent.
  • Aceh was one lucky strike due to a tsunami washing the arms into the ocean. Ahtisaari himself recalled how the 2004 tsunami in South Asia was one factor that came to help open talks he facilitated between the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and Indonesia resulting in the August 2005 deal.

About peace broking methods of Mr. Ahtisaari the following quote gives good idea from2nd June 1999 when it was the task of Ahtisaari and Chernomyrdin visited President Milosevic to deliver NATO’s final terms to end bombings against Yugoslavia:

Ahtisaari opened the meeting by declaring, “We are not here to discuss or negotiate,” after which Chernomyrdin read aloud the text of the plan. Ahtisaari says that Milosevic asked about the possibility of modifying the plan, to which he replied, “No.” Milosevic took the papers and asked, “What will happen if I do not sign?” In answer, “Ahtisaari made a gesture on the table,” and then moved aside the flower centerpiece. Then Ahtisaari said, “Belgrade will be like this table. We will immediately begin carpet-bombing Belgrade.” Repeating the gesture of sweeping the table, Ahtisaari threatened, “This is what we will do to Belgrade.” A moment of silence passed, and then he added, “There will be half a million dead within a week. (Source How the Nobel Peace Prize Was Won by Gregory Elich at CounterPunch)

The result with Kosovo I have summarized following: Kosovo … a Serbian province, occupied and international protectorate, as quasi-independent pseudo-state has good change to become next “failed” or “captured” state; today’s Kosovo is already safe-heaven for war criminals, drug traffickers and international money laundry”. When Kosovo unilatarally declared intependence only less than half UN memberstates recognized it many of them after some pressure from U.S. Ahtisaari was not worried, describing to his values is following comment: “It really doesn’t matter if Paraguay hasn’t recognized,” Ahtisaari said. “Well over 65 percent of the wealth of the world has recognized. That matters.” This is in line with Ahtisaari’s role as messenger boy of U.S., if one doesn’t have money that opinion doesn’t matter.

I agree with Johan Galtung, who noted that “Ahtisaari does not solve conflicts but drives through a short-term solutions that please western countries”. My conclusion: Mr. Ahtisaari – an unofficial spokesperson of U.S. State Department and Nato who repeatedly functioned as “peace fixer” for Western power elites – good example of degradation of Nobel Peace Prize.


EU’s role with crisis management now and hopefully in the future

Putting Mr. Nobel and his Will aside, taking creative interpretation of peace award criteria of Nobel Committee as such I like to put focus on EU’s role with crisis management. The arguments given by the Norwegian Nobel Committee are not entirely false. I agree that “The stabilizing part played by the E.U. has helped to transform most of Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace,” The EU has played the historical role that it describes. Degradation of Peace Prize described above might have a positive follow-up; to avoid total devaluation of Prize the further selections should have more original content. I hope that Peace Prize will give some self-confidence to EU to develop this content so that the block could increase its role in relation of conflict prevention and crisis management.

Earlier The League of Nations and then The United Nations were created to prevent one nation-state from invading another nation-state and going to war with that other nation-state. Today most wars are intrastate ethnic conflicts. Current peacemaking, peace-building or crisis management structures are not designed to cope with this type of conflict.

U.S. itself has experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, that old military strategy is not effective. The integrated counterinsurgency, or COIN, strategy was strategic development from military alone approach. COIN has been applied last years in Afghanistan and it has many components: protecting Afghan civilians, rapidly expanding the Afghan army and police, reforming government, providing economic development assistance, weaning Taliban fighters and leaders away from Mullah Omar and al-Qaeda, reconciling them into the new government, and targeting those who refuse. This makes it a demanding strategy, maybe too demanding for U.S. However the good idea of COIN is that it emphasises a “population-centric” over an “enemy-centric” approach.

The events on Arab Street are reflecting also another problem with U.S. Strategies for dominating the rest of world. For similar reasons as the failure of COIN strategy in Afghanistan in Arab Street the strategy might be good in Theory but the Americans can not implement them. It seems that the Americans don’t understand deeply the operational theatre, they are unfamiliar in another cultural environment, in this case with Muslim world.

Hard vs. Soft Power
Hard Power Soft Power
Spectrum of behaviors Command, coercion and inducement Agenda-setting, attraction and co-opt
Most likely resources Force, sanctions and payments Institutions, values, culture and policies

EU has applied a bit similar approach. At theoretical level the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), launched in 1999, exemplifies the EU’s commitment to the so-called “comprehensive approach” – a strategy that emphasises the importance of combining civilian and military tools when dealing with external security challenges.

Crisis management in the future -by EU hopefully

I think that the conflict resolution by peacemakers is an ad hock fire department activity, important but secondary question. The primary issue from my viewpoint is prevention of problems and their causes, or at least awareness of them. Also important is to put single conflicts in wider context such as game between great powers, struggle over global energy resources and their supply routes, economic profits of military-industrial-complex etc. So in my view peace mediation is one part of handling conflicts.

The new approach should in my opinion cover the whole crisis cycle, from prevention to crisis management to post-crisis stabilization and capacity-building measures. The European Union prides itself on being able to deal with fragile and failing states outside its borders, from Kosovo to Kabul, through what it believes to be its distinctive combination of “hard” power – coercion by military or other means – and “soft” power – persuasion through trade, diplomacy, aid and the spread of values.

The key question is how to replace U.S. hard power with EU soft power. In Eastern Europe U.S. controls crucial foreign and/or domestic policies of another nation through ties with its military and intelligence institutions. EU’s military, political, and corporate elites have already increasingly become dependents or confederates of the US military-industrial complex. To take step forward EU must work to establish its own security structure in order to free itself from tactics which are now used under the current US-dominated Alliance. EU should stop outsourcing its strategical planning to U.S. The key question is focusing on EU civilian capabilities.

EU already has remarkable financial resources for capacity building measures. The EU accounts for half of all global aid. Last year, it donated €53.1bn (£42.8bn). The European commission by itself is the world’s second largest bilateral donor after the US, providing €12.3bn of external aid in 2011. Aid constitutes about 9% of the EU budget. EU is a formidable player in global development.

Replacing U.S. Cowboy policy by EU’s soft power in conflicts and crisis management is possible, if EU can find a common vision, strategy and position with its external relations. Even better would be if the OSCE could make this. It can be argued that the OSCE has a much better claim to represent all the states of Europe, (and possibly a better candidate for Peace Prize) since it has 56 States from Europe, Central Asia and North America – compared to the EU’s 27 — a “Europe with the windows open” rather than the “Fortress Europe” image associated with the EU. Ihope that Nobel Peace Prize can help with this even in EU.

More e.g. in my related articles:

Civil Crisis Management: Filling the Gaps Between the Aims and on the Ground Effectiveness of a Mission

Nobel: Do you hear Mr. Nobel rolling in his grave” – and more specific about Ahtisaari’s mediator tactics in my article500.000 bodies or sign” -headlines are describing quite well the content and my shock after his selection

Interventions in general: R2P vs Facades of Interventions, Multifaceted Intervention Practices , Is Peace more than absence of the War? , Could EU lead the 3rd Way out from Confrontation? , Quality Peace? and Peacemaking – How about solving Conflicts too?

About U.S. strategy in Afghanistan: Will COIN work in Afghanistan? andAfghanistan – to be or not?

U.S. practising intervention first in the Bosnian War 1992-95 and selecting terrorist/OC-groups to U.S. alliese.g. Srebrenica again – Hoax or Massacre? and Krajina – Victory with Ethnic Cleansing and the outcome Bosnia on the road to the EU, sorry to Dissolution

Racak fabrication and “humanitarian intervention” aka since WWII first ever full scale bombing operation in center of Europe 1999 High pressure to fabricate Racak reports and 10th anniversary of Nato’s attack on Serbia

Other related articles: Libya Intervention is creating problems instead of solving them and Some framework to Syrian crisis

Article (short version) first published as Devaluation of Nobel Peace Prize to be Continued on Technorati.

EU in Turmoil and not only in Financial One

July 8, 2012

The two dominating trends among EU leaders are to cut losses of players in virtual economy at the expense of taxpayers and to guide EU towards strict federation at the expense of democracy.

(Ari Rusila)

The financial crisis has been in headlines already few years. Despite continuous emergency meetings between EU and especially Eurozone countries no light can be seen for better future. Despite more and more ”effective” measures the markets are not satisfied more than few hours or days. In my opinion it is time finally admit that selected strategy to save euro has been disaster – not maybe to banks and speculators but to ordinary citizens at least. It is time to make alternative visions not only for Euro but for whole EU too, time to whistle game out, collect losses and start new game in Day after Euro/EU context.

Today strategic decisions are hard to agree due 27 different circumstances in 27 member-states (and more to come with enlargement). Also “European Monetary Union” is dead as economies inside Eurozone differ too much. It would seem nowadays that the Eurozone leaders have decided to place the region under Martial law. Old principles about democracy, subsidiarity etc are forgotten.

From my viewpoint intervene again and again into something that is not going to work in the long run is the wrong medicine. The two dominating trends among EU leaders are to cut losses of players in virtual economy at the expense of taxpayers and to guide EU towards strict federation at the expense of democracy. Change to this is needed for saving 99 % of people instead saving profits of the rest one per cent.

Grexit best for all

Eurozone countries have tried solve financial crisis in Greece with different measures – such as bailout packets – already few years with about € 320 billion. However this amazing solidarity of Eurozone has not helped average Greek. Instead foreign banks and financial speculators have been beneficiaries of the aid money. The still ruling government in Greece has also decided to invest aid money to new submarines and other military equipments instead the needs of their citizens. Btw as Nato country why Greece does not apply same strategy like Iceland who has outsourced e.g their military air-control to other member-states. Anyway on the bottom line Greece had public debts on 2009 some €300 bn and after aid packets it now has €420 bn . GNP is decreasing so debt problem is coming more difficult to solve every day. Same time the living conditions of average citizens has dropped dramatically and extra loans have not made ground for new entrepreneurship or new export business or helped still existing companies. When unemployment is rising the share of debt compared to GNP doing the same. (See e.g. ”Common Appeal for the Rescue of the Peoples of Europe”  )

Euro-zone, European Central Bank and IMF seem to have only one ultra-liberalist strategy to solve problem – cutting salary, public services and social benefits from ordinary citizens and saving some financial institutions, funds and speculators from bigger losses. But the problem will not be solved with this strategy and the reason is that these financial institutions and speculators have created a virtual financial world ( derivative markets, futures, hedge-funds …) which value is about ten times more than the real economy. I am not an economist but anyway how could this equation be solved with selected strategy.

Grexit now would be best for all. The new currency should be introduced at a one-for-one rate with the euro. But it will soon depreciate by something like 30-50% giving a boost to Greece’s international competitiveness. The government should renominate its debt in the new national currency and make clear its intention to renegotiate the terms of this debt.

Different analysts estimate that the overall debt load continues to grow faster than the economy, then large-scale debt restructuring becomes inevitable. Greece has been in a state of slow motion economic collapse on the scale of past economic collapses such as that of Argentina but so far without the ability to default, devalue and inflate.  It is to be noted that the case of Argentina shows one successful example how to copy in a similar situation.

Strategic miscalculation

“The euro should now be recognized as an experiment that failed”

(Martin Feldstein, an American economist in 2012)

Many economists, mostly from outside Europe, condemned the design of the Euro currency system from the beginning and have since been advocating that Greece (and the other debtor nations) unilaterally leave the Eurozone, which would allow Greece to withdraw simultaneously from the Eurozone and reintroduce its national currency the drachma at a debased rate. However the political will, or fear, has kept Eurozone leaders in their expired visions – current political leaders might be affraid to apply Modern Monetary Theory or post-Keynesian views. The European bailouts are largely about shifting exposure from banks and others, who otherwise are lined up for losses on the sovereign debt they recklessly bought, onto European taxpayers. However I believe that many of them will be either be replaced or finally they have courage to take new appraoach.

There are clear advantages to ridding Europe of the euro. Countries now suffering with debt could return to their national currencies, devalue, and regain competitiveness more easily. They wouldn’t have the same financial safety-net – at Eurozone level – but their freedom would also allow them to chart their own course. The poor outsiders could negotiate debt restructurings and a more fair division of losses would result and same time the rich outsiders could probably put their economies on a stronger growth path by using their money for supporting investments in real economy of their country instead supporting saving efforts of speculator money in virtual economy.

One viewpoint is that the debt should be characterized as odious debt. This definition is famous earlier from cases in South America and Africa uder military dictatorship. For example the Greek documentary Debtocracy examines whether the recent Siemens scandal and uncommercial ECB loans which were conditional on the purchase of military aircraft and submarines are evidence that the loans amount to odious debt and that an audit would result in invalidation of a large amount of the debt. (See more e.g. Liège based NGO Committee for the Abolition of the Third World Debt /CADTM)

EU Scenario: Dissolution, Federation, Confederation, EU Lite …

A lot of English people like the economic advantages, but are happy to keep the frogs and krauts and spics and eye-ties at a healthy distance.”

(One view from U.K. in web)

Now Eurozone as well EU as construction is on the verge of tumbling down. EU bureaucracy is implementing their only truth by trying to guide EU towards federation. Earlier agreements in Maastricht, Barcelona and Lisbon were only soft exercises. Now financial crisis has enabled stronger methods. In March 2011 a new reform of the Stability and Growth Pact was initiated, which provides for automatic penalties and obligations for states in case of breaches of either the deficit or the debt rules. By the end of the year, Germany, France and some other smaller EU countries went a step further and vowed to create a fiscal union across the Eurozone with strict and enforceable fiscal rules and automatic penalties embedded in the EU treaties. (More e.g. Wikipedia).

With the “golden rule” the Stability and Growth Pact, the political choices of national parliaments are limited. Besides killing the democracy the Pact will kill growth too so putting people in misery and dismay. The Pact is new tool for the plundering of the public services and the destruction of social rights in all EU countries.

The best scenario from my point of view could be some kind of EU Lite version. A bit of similar ”privileged partnership” agreement than planed with Turkey. EU Lite should be build simply to EU’s early basics as economical cooperation area including a customs union, the EU tariff band, competition etc linked to idea of the Common Market. EU Lite could also apply a structure of Confederation. Also some kind of fiscal confederation can be shaped. EU Lite could be described also as a political union and there could be some forum for national parliamentarians and party leaders. Federalist intentions, the EU puppet parliament and the most of EU bureaucracy should from my point of view put in litter basket together with high-flown statements and other nonsense.

The investors face normally e.g Interest rate risk, credit (i.e default) risk, volatility risk, structure risk, counter-party credit risk, prepayment risk, general market risk, liquidity risk, extension risk, transparency risk, political risk, and currency risk and now also with Euro a dissolution risk. As said this is normal and because of those risks also the profits are huge. But the basic principle in is that with investments and not to speak even speculations there is two sides – wins and losses. In my opinion the loss should no more be paid by taxpayers.

Many – still non-member – Balkan countries, Turkey and one disputed region (Kosovo) have some vision about EU association. While considering this in my opinion three aspects should be highlighted:

Why to join? Due the needs of people or due the needs of Brussels or elite?

When related to time-line? Association process is long and circumstances are changing, after EU/Eurozone crisis who know what kind of EU if any still exists, same time other regional and global power-centers are rising and options should be open.

Where? Now it is open question if country is joining in future to strict federation with martial law, to some sub-category of loose federation, confederation, open discussion forum or free trade zone only.

After this the forth question – how – is the easy one. (More this with example of Serbia in Serbia’s EU association is not a Must )

My bottom line

With today’s strategy there is a risk that the combination of economic insecurity and political paralysis has been recipe for an increase in extremism and xenophobia. It is slow motion death spiral of economic collapse. That is the base to my view that people should be the first priority and not virtual economy, fiscal system, euro or even EU.

I would like to see following principles – related to current Eurozone crisis – to came again to agenda:

  • People first system after
  • Real economy instead of virtual economy
  • Investor risk instead of taxpayers risk

As interests even inside Eurozone differ these new principles in my opinion have best change if implemented at national level. So e.g each country could nationalize their bankrupting banks, each country could start implement Toby’n (or transaction) tax by national decisions. And when different countries find common interests so new formations, forums and cooperation can be established.


Kosovo Referendum Prepares the Ground for Tripartite Approach

February 17, 2012

Ethnic Serbs living in northern Kosovo – municipalities of Zubin Potok, Zvecan, northern Mitrovica and Leposavic – have been voting in a two-day referendum on February 14.-15. The question was simple: Voters were asked simply ”Do you accept the institutions of the so-called ‘Republic of Kosovo’ established in Pristina?”. Turnout was at 75.28%. Final results will be made known on February 19th – just after the fourth anniversary of Kosovo’s independence declaration – but early estimate is that 99.74 % were against Pristina’s sovereignty. In Kosovo case the figure probably reflects good the opinion of local Serb population. The result shows that the barricades against EULEX were not just the work of “criminals” and “radicals” but instead have real popular support.

One should note that question about northern municipalities of Kosovo is only one – even if a core one – aspect in Kosovo framework. During NATO-bombing and after ethnic cleansing implemented by Kosovo Albanians, nearly 200.000 Serbs and Romas escaped to Serbia where they are living like internal refugees many of them in temporary conditions. Despite naïve multiethnic ideas in Brussels they have not any intentions to risk their lives by returning hostile environment and their destroyed homes. In my opinion international community – which allowed this problem to happen – should finance a housing program in Serbia for these refugees (or officially IDPs). Second core question is the fate of some half of remaining Kosovo Serbs namely those who are living in isolated enclaves outside northern municipalities in Kosovo. These enclaves are protected by KFOR troops and should be so long as Pristina administrated part of Kosovo is so hostile as it still is.

High Tension in Kosovo North

Tension has been high in northern Kosovo since last July. The situation escalated when Kosovo Serbs put up roadblocks and barricades to stop the deployment of Kosovo customs officers to border points between north Kosovo municipalities and Serbia. Several rounds of violence has occurred; a Kosovo policeman was killed and several NATO troops injured. The north was the scene of unrest in November, when some 50 soldiers from the NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping force were hurt in a dispute between the two sides over control of border crossings. This Pristina’s failed attempt to seize the northern boundary with support by EULEX and KFOR have demonstrated that using force does not solve dispute.

The governing coalition in Belgrade has called on the Serbs to end the blockade, refrain from violence and abandon the referendum and same time several EU nations, especially Germany, want Serbia’s government to make deals with Pristina so that Serbia could get EU candidate status this Spring.

In Brussels, the EU said it was preparing for a new round of talks between Belgrade and Pristina aimed at easing tensions in northern Kosovo. “There is a particular situation in the north that needs a solution, but neither violence nor barricades, or a referendum contributes to it,” EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said. “Only a dialogue can achieve that.” (Source AP ) Earlier the EU pressured Serbia intensely in November and December, demanding that it force the northern Kosovo Serbs to remove their barricades in the name of “freedom of movement”. KFOR fought several actions against barricades, inflicting – and taking – casualties.

The burned down border crossing Jarinje on Kosovo's northern frontier with Serbia in the early hours on July 28, 2011. (SASA DJORDJEVIC/AFP/Getty Images)

Time to Exit-strategy?

However the western powers have on the drawing board also an other strategy of fostering change to avoid reinforcing the status quo in the north. The press in Pristina has reported about secret meetings between the Kosovo government, the US ambassador and chief of the International Civilian Office (ICO), Pieter Feith,on a new plan to push the UN out of the north. An “EU House” will be established in the north to promote the “European perspective” and to cooperate with “progressive forces” willing to work with Pristina, “parallel” municipalities in the north would remain unrecognized and “Advisory Councils led by moderate Kosovo Serbs” chosen by Pristina taking place from democratically elected bodies in Leposavic, Zubin Potok and Zvecan. To make space for these innovations the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) Administration in Mitrovica (UAM), that administers north Mitrovica under UN Security Council Resolution 1244, will be closed.

Also the International Steering Group (ISG) had meeting on January 24th in Vienna to deside its 2012 program for Kosovo. Despite its name ISG represents only countries which have advocated Kosovo Albanian separatism, cover costs of Kosovo Albanian state-building efforts.cover costs of Kosovo Albanian state-building efforts and try to underestimate UN Security Council Resolution 1244 – which btw represents in Kosovo highest international law. Anyway ISG issued a communique calling upon the government of Kosovo to continue to implement the Ahtisaari Plan, aiming to complete outstanding elements so that the period of “supervised independence” could terminate by the end of this year. While the outcome both politically and on operation theatre has been modest as best and the results related to investments almost non-visible, ISG probably his hurry to implement fast exit-strategy.

Marko Prelec from International Crisis Group concludes well the situation now since last summer tensions started in his post Update on Northern Kosovo Barricades. A quote:

The situation shows with crystal clarity the folly of the “freedom of movement” campaign, which cost tens of millions of Euros (flying Kosovo officials to, and from, the border day after day runs into serious money), dozens of injuries, made travel more difficult for real people and achieved nothing. All this started because of the basic disputes between Kosovo and Serbia, over Kosovo’s independence and territorial integrity. Trying to use issues like freedom of movement – or the rule of law – as tools to change locals’ minds about sovereignty issues, rather than as ends in themselves, just damages the tool. The dispute isn’t a technicality and cannot be resolved as though it were.

or back to Dialogue?

Dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina has poor history. Serbs and Albanians have been in negotiations and talks frequently over the past two decades – from the tentative efforts of the 1990s to the doomed talks in Rambouillet, France, in 1999 and the later “status” talks between 2005 (Ahtisaari’s pseudo-talks) and 2007 (“Troika” led talks). None of these has led to tangible results and left outsiders imposing an outcome, be it NATO intervention or proposing the Ahtisaari plan.

The original or better to say official aim of international community was to build “standards before status”, on 2005 the task was seen impossible so the slogan changed to “standards and status”. Even this was unrealistic so Feb. 2008 “European”standards were thrown away to garbage and “status without standards” precipitately accepted by western powers. For international community I don’t see any success story with this backward progress. Thus the multiethnic idea is far away despite EU’s billions. The remaining Serbs in Kosovo are barricaded into enclaves keeping their lives mainly with help of international KFOR troops or in de facto separated Serb majority region in North Kosovo. This has changed former multiethnic province more mono-ethnic one.

Rewrite History: The Map of Destroyed Shrines in Post-war Kosovo

(To see picture above in full size click here!)

The new situation has forced also International Crisis Group (ICG) to admit the defeat of its Kosovo policy recommendations during last decade. ICG has acted as informal extension of U.S. State Department however pretending to be neutral mediator and think tank. During earlier “status” negotiations 2005 it endorsed preconditions before talks and afterwards supported sc Ahtisaari plan. Now in their new analysis ”Kosovo and Serbia after the ICJ Opinion”  ICG sees Kosovo’s partition with land swap one of possible solutions during coming talks between Belgrad and Pristina.

The fact on the ground is that northern part of Kosovo is integrated to Serbia like it always has been, as well those parts south of Ibar river, which are not ethnically cleansed by Kosovo Albanians. Serbia still runs municipalities, courts, police, customs and public services, and the EU Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) has been unable to deploy more than a token presence there.

During the course of events, the Ahtisaari Plan was implemented in south Kosovo, the north, however, remained outside Kosovo institutions and the ICO, and the Ahtisaari Plan was not implemented there. The Ahtisaari Plan derived a formula that would allow Kosovo Serbs to have their own local institutions and communal life with continued linkages to Serbia, but within the framework of a multi-ethnic Kosovo. If partition option – which in my opinion is pragmatic, the best and even realistical way to solve Kosovo conflict – is not yet possible so then the Ahtisaari Plan might be temporary base for compromise. The Plan however needs some modification. A new follow-up – entitled ‘The Ahtisaari Plan and North Kosovo’ - is presented by TransConflict and it might be achievable as the policy paper is authored by Gerard Gallucci, the former UN Regional Representative in Mitrovica.

My Scenario

Kosovo … a Serbian province, occupied and now international protectorate administrated by UN Kosovo mission; as quasi-independent pseudo-state has good change to become next “failed” or “captured” state; today’s Kosovo is already safe-heaven for war criminals, drug traffickers, international money laundry and radical Wahhabists – unfortunately all are also allies of western powers”.

(Ari Rusila)

US based Freedom House gave in their last report (2012) rank partly free to Kosovo related to political rights and civil liberties (5,4 points respectively), while Serbia got rank free (2,2) and e.g also Croatia (1,2), Bulgaria (2,2) and Romania (2,2) got rank free, while Bosnia-Herzegovina (4,3) and Albania (3,3) fell to category partly free. (Note: Each country is assigned a numerical rating from 1 to 7 for both political rights and civil liberties, with 1 representing the most free and 7 the least free.) So even western powers must addmit that despite billions of dollars for Kosovo state-building efforts during last 12 years the outcome is that the protectorate still is among the worst in region related to political rights and civil liberties. One could ask why then Kosovo Serbs should go backwards by integrating to that society when better the alternative could be integrate also officially to more developed Serbia.

In my opinion Kosovo will remain a frozen conflict probably whole this decade. The western powers can not addmit – yet – that their intervention was a mistake, international community can not addmit its failure with capasity-/state-building efforts after squandering billions of Euros, noor that instead of multiethnic democracy the out outcome mono-ethnic tribe-society.  EULEX etc will continue to build some facades and pseudo-activities like it used to do, Pristina pretends that north is integral part of their quasi-independent pseudo-state which the North never has been, the Kosovo institutions do not exist in the north, and it is very unlikely that they will be established there soon. Hard-line Serbs keep claim about Kosovo as Serbian province, which it indeed has been but after 1999 situation on the ground changed; instead the today’s government in Belgrade might change in next elections. What is clear after referendum is that population in Kosovo’s northern municipalities does not want to integrate Pristina lead institutions, they want to continue their living as part of Serbia like they always have been, in short they want reunify northern municipalities with Serbia again.

After this quite pessimistic view one can ask if there is any other way forward. From my point of view there is the negotiation option. But this time negotiations should base facts on the ground instead of high-flown ideas in Washington and Brussels, around negotiation table in addition to Belgrade and Pristina representatives should be also local stakeholders from northern Kosovo and selected by local population. The referendum made positions clear for tripartite approach.

More eg in Kosovo: Two years of Pseudo-state

Serbia: Kosovo vs EU?


Kosovo Referendum Prepares the Ground for Tripartite Approach

February 17, 2012

Ethnic Serbs living in northern Kosovo – municipalities of Zubin Potok, Zvecan, northern Mitrovica and Leposavic – have been voting in a two-day referendum on February 14.-15. The question was simple: Voters were asked simply ”Do you accept the institutions of the so-called ‘Republic of Kosovo’ established in Pristina?”. Turnout was at 75.28%. Final results will be made known on February 19th – just after the fourth anniversary of Kosovo’s independence declaration – but early estimate is that 99.74 % were against Pristina’s sovereignty. In Kosovo case the figure probably reflects good the opinion of local Serb population. The result shows that the barricades against EULEX were not just the work of “criminals” and “radicals” but instead have real popular support.

One should note that question about northern municipalities of Kosovo is only one – even if a core one – aspect in Kosovo framework. During NATO-bombing and after ethnic cleansing implemented by Kosovo Albanians, nearly 200.000 Serbs and Romas escaped to Serbia where they are living like internal refugees many of them in temporary conditions. Despite naïve multiethnic ideas in Brussels they have not any intentions to risk their lives by returning hostile environment and their destroyed homes. In my opinion international community – which allowed this problem to happen – should finance a housing program in Serbia for these refugees (or officially IDPs). Second core question is the fate of some half of remaining Kosovo Serbs namely those who are living in isolated enclaves outside northern municipalities in Kosovo. These enclaves are protected by KFOR troops and should be so long as Pristina administrated part of Kosovo is so hostile as it still is.

High Tension in Kosovo North

Tension has been high in northern Kosovo since last July. The situation escalated when Kosovo Serbs put up roadblocks and barricades to stop the deployment of Kosovo customs officers to border points between north Kosovo municipalities and Serbia. Several rounds of violence has occurred; a Kosovo policeman was killed and several NATO troops injured. The north was the scene of unrest in November, when some 50 soldiers from the NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping force were hurt in a dispute between the two sides over control of border crossings. This Pristina’s failed attempt to seize the northern boundary with support by EULEX and KFOR have demonstrated that using force does not solve dispute.

The governing coalition in Belgrade has called on the Serbs to end the blockade, refrain from violence and abandon the referendum and same time several EU nations, especially Germany, want Serbia’s government to make deals with Pristina so that Serbia could get EU candidate status this Spring.

In Brussels, the EU said it was preparing for a new round of talks between Belgrade and Pristina aimed at easing tensions in northern Kosovo. “There is a particular situation in the north that needs a solution, but neither violence nor barricades, or a referendum contributes to it,” EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said. “Only a dialogue can achieve that.” (Source AP ) Earlier the EU pressured Serbia intensely in November and December, demanding that it force the northern Kosovo Serbs to remove their barricades in the name of “freedom of movement”. KFOR fought several actions against barricades, inflicting – and taking – casualties.

The burned down border crossing Jarinje on Kosovo's northern frontier with Serbia in the early hours on July 28, 2011. (SASA DJORDJEVIC/AFP/Getty Images)

Time to Exit-strategy?

However the western powers have on the drawing board also an other strategy of fostering change to avoid reinforcing the status quo in the north. The press in Pristina has reported about secret meetings between the Kosovo government, the US ambassador and chief of the International Civilian Office (ICO), Pieter Feith,on a new plan to push the UN out of the north. An “EU House” will be established in the north to promote the “European perspective” and to cooperate with “progressive forces” willing to work with Pristina, “parallel” municipalities in the north would remain unrecognized and “Advisory Councils led by moderate Kosovo Serbs” chosen by Pristina taking place from democratically elected bodies in Leposavic, Zubin Potok and Zvecan. To make space for these innovations the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) Administration in Mitrovica (UAM), that administers north Mitrovica under UN Security Council Resolution 1244, will be closed.

Also the International Steering Group (ISG) had meeting on January 24th in Vienna to deside its 2012 program for Kosovo. Despite its name ISG represents only countries which have advocated Kosovo Albanian separatism, cover costs of Kosovo Albanian state-building efforts.cover costs of Kosovo Albanian state-building efforts and try to underestimate UN Security Council Resolution 1244 – which btw represents in Kosovo highest international law. Anyway ISG issued a communique calling upon the government of Kosovo to continue to implement the Ahtisaari Plan, aiming to complete outstanding elements so that the period of “supervised independence” could terminate by the end of this year. While the outcome both politically and on operation theatre has been modest as best and the results related to investments almost non-visible, ISG probably his hurry to implement fast exit-strategy.

Marko Prelec from International Crisis Group concludes well the situation now since last summer tensions started in his post Update on Northern Kosovo Barricades. A quote:

The situation shows with crystal clarity the folly of the “freedom of movement” campaign, which cost tens of millions of Euros (flying Kosovo officials to, and from, the border day after day runs into serious money), dozens of injuries, made travel more difficult for real people and achieved nothing. All this started because of the basic disputes between Kosovo and Serbia, over Kosovo’s independence and territorial integrity. Trying to use issues like freedom of movement – or the rule of law – as tools to change locals’ minds about sovereignty issues, rather than as ends in themselves, just damages the tool. The dispute isn’t a technicality and cannot be resolved as though it were.

or back to Dialogue?

Dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina has poor history. Serbs and Albanians have been in negotiations and talks frequently over the past two decades – from the tentative efforts of the 1990s to the doomed talks in Rambouillet, France, in 1999 and the later “status” talks between 2005 (Ahtisaari’s pseudo-talks) and 2007 (“Troika” led talks). None of these has led to tangible results and left outsiders imposing an outcome, be it NATO intervention or proposing the Ahtisaari plan.

The original or better to say official aim of international community was to build “standards before status”, on 2005 the task was seen impossible so the slogan changed to “standards and status”. Even this was unrealistic so Feb. 2008 “European”standards were thrown away to garbage and “status without standards” precipitately accepted by western powers. For international community I don’t see any success story with this backward progress. Thus the multiethnic idea is far away despite EU’s billions. The remaining Serbs in Kosovo are barricaded into enclaves keeping their lives mainly with help of international KFOR troops or in de facto separated Serb majority region in North Kosovo. This has changed former multiethnic province more mono-ethnic one.

Rewrite History: The Map of Destroyed Shrines in Post-war Kosovo

(To see picture above in full size click here!)

The new situation has forced also International Crisis Group (ICG) to admit the defeat of its Kosovo policy recommendations during last decade. ICG has acted as informal extension of U.S. State Department however pretending to be neutral mediator and think tank. During earlier “status” negotiations 2005 it endorsed preconditions before talks and afterwards supported sc Ahtisaari plan. Now in their new analysis ”Kosovo and Serbia after the ICJ Opinion”  ICG sees Kosovo’s partition with land swap one of possible solutions during coming talks between Belgrad and Pristina.

The fact on the ground is that northern part of Kosovo is integrated to Serbia like it always has been, as well those parts south of Ibar river, which are not ethnically cleansed by Kosovo Albanians. Serbia still runs municipalities, courts, police, customs and public services, and the EU Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) has been unable to deploy more than a token presence there.

During the course of events, the Ahtisaari Plan was implemented in south Kosovo, the north, however, remained outside Kosovo institutions and the ICO, and the Ahtisaari Plan was not implemented there. The Ahtisaari Plan derived a formula that would allow Kosovo Serbs to have their own local institutions and communal life with continued linkages to Serbia, but within the framework of a multi-ethnic Kosovo. If partition option – which in my opinion is pragmatic, the best and even realistical way to solve Kosovo conflict – is not yet possible so then the Ahtisaari Plan might be temporary base for compromise. The Plan however needs some modification. A new follow-up – entitled ‘The Ahtisaari Plan and North Kosovo’ - is presented by TransConflict and it might be achievable as the policy paper is authored by Gerard Gallucci, the former UN Regional Representative in Mitrovica.

My Scenario

Kosovo … a Serbian province, occupied and now international protectorate administrated by UN Kosovo mission; as quasi-independent pseudo-state has good change to become next “failed” or “captured” state; today’s Kosovo is already safe-heaven for war criminals, drug traffickers, international money laundry and radical Wahhabists – unfortunately all are also allies of western powers”.

(Ari Rusila)

US based Freedom House gave in their last report (2012) rank partly free to Kosovo related to political rights and civil liberties (5,4 points respectively), while Serbia got rank free (2,2) and e.g also Croatia (1,2), Bulgaria (2,2) and Romania (2,2) got rank free, while Bosnia-Herzegovina (4,3) and Albania (3,3) fell to category partly free. (Note: Each country is assigned a numerical rating from 1 to 7 for both political rights and civil liberties, with 1 representing the most free and 7 the least free.) So even western powers must addmit that despite billions of dollars for Kosovo state-building efforts during last 12 years the outcome is that the protectorate still is among the worst in region related to political rights and civil liberties. One could ask why then Kosovo Serbs should go backwards by integrating to that society when better the alternative could be integrate also officially to more developed Serbia.

In my opinion Kosovo will remain a frozen conflict probably whole this decade. The western powers can not addmit – yet – that their intervention was a mistake, international community can not addmit its failure with capasity-/state-building efforts after squandering billions of Euros, noor that instead of multiethnic democracy the out outcome mono-ethnic tribe-society.  EULEX etc will continue to build some facades and pseudo-activities like it used to do, Pristina pretends that north is integral part of their quasi-independent pseudo-state which the North never has been, the Kosovo institutions do not exist in the north, and it is very unlikely that they will be established there soon. Hard-line Serbs keep claim about Kosovo as Serbian province, which it indeed has been but after 1999 situation on the ground changed; instead the today’s government in Belgrade might change in next elections. What is clear after referendum is that population in Kosovo’s northern municipalities does not want to integrate Pristina lead institutions, they want to continue their living as part of Serbia like they always have been, in short they want reunify northern municipalities with Serbia again.

After this quite pessimistic view one can ask if there is any other way forward. From my point of view there is the negotiation option. But this time negotiations should base facts on the ground instead of high-flown ideas in Washington and Brussels, around negotiation table in addition to Belgrade and Pristina representatives should be also local stakeholders from northern Kosovo and selected by local population. The referendum made positions clear for tripartite approach.

More eg in Kosovo: Two years of Pseudo-state

Serbia: Kosovo vs EU?


Kosovo Referendum Prepares the Ground for Tripartite Approach

February 17, 2012

Ethnic Serbs living in northern Kosovo – municipalities of Zubin Potok, Zvecan, northern Mitrovica and Leposavic – have been voting in a two-day referendum on February 14.-15. The question was simple: Voters were asked simply ”Do you accept the institutions of the so-called ‘Republic of Kosovo’ established in Pristina?”. Turnout was at 75.28%. Final results will be made known on February 19th – just after the fourth anniversary of Kosovo’s independence declaration – but early estimate is that 99.74 % were against Pristina’s sovereignty. In Kosovo case the figure probably reflects good the opinion of local Serb population. The result shows that the barricades against EULEX were not just the work of “criminals” and “radicals” but instead have real popular support.

One should note that question about northern municipalities of Kosovo is only one – even if a core one – aspect in Kosovo framework. During NATO-bombing and after ethnic cleansing implemented by Kosovo Albanians, nearly 200.000 Serbs and Romas escaped to Serbia where they are living like internal refugees many of them in temporary conditions. Despite naïve multiethnic ideas in Brussels they have not any intentions to risk their lives by returning hostile environment and their destroyed homes. In my opinion international community – which allowed this problem to happen – should finance a housing program in Serbia for these refugees (or officially IDPs). Second core question is the fate of some half of remaining Kosovo Serbs namely those who are living in isolated enclaves outside northern municipalities in Kosovo. These enclaves are protected by KFOR troops and should be so long as Pristina administrated part of Kosovo is so hostile as it still is.

High Tension in Kosovo North

Tension has been high in northern Kosovo since last July. The situation escalated when Kosovo Serbs put up roadblocks and barricades to stop the deployment of Kosovo customs officers to border points between north Kosovo municipalities and Serbia. Several rounds of violence has occurred; a Kosovo policeman was killed and several NATO troops injured. The north was the scene of unrest in November, when some 50 soldiers from the NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping force were hurt in a dispute between the two sides over control of border crossings. This Pristina’s failed attempt to seize the northern boundary with support by EULEX and KFOR have demonstrated that using force does not solve dispute.

The governing coalition in Belgrade has called on the Serbs to end the blockade, refrain from violence and abandon the referendum and same time several EU nations, especially Germany, want Serbia’s government to make deals with Pristina so that Serbia could get EU candidate status this Spring.

In Brussels, the EU said it was preparing for a new round of talks between Belgrade and Pristina aimed at easing tensions in northern Kosovo. “There is a particular situation in the north that needs a solution, but neither violence nor barricades, or a referendum contributes to it,” EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said. “Only a dialogue can achieve that.” (Source AP ) Earlier the EU pressured Serbia intensely in November and December, demanding that it force the northern Kosovo Serbs to remove their barricades in the name of “freedom of movement”. KFOR fought several actions against barricades, inflicting – and taking – casualties.

The burned down border crossing Jarinje on Kosovo's northern frontier with Serbia in the early hours on July 28, 2011. (SASA DJORDJEVIC/AFP/Getty Images)

Time to Exit-strategy?

However the western powers have on the drawing board also an other strategy of fostering change to avoid reinforcing the status quo in the north. The press in Pristina has reported about secret meetings between the Kosovo government, the US ambassador and chief of the International Civilian Office (ICO), Pieter Feith,on a new plan to push the UN out of the north. An “EU House” will be established in the north to promote the “European perspective” and to cooperate with “progressive forces” willing to work with Pristina, “parallel” municipalities in the north would remain unrecognized and “Advisory Councils led by moderate Kosovo Serbs” chosen by Pristina taking place from democratically elected bodies in Leposavic, Zubin Potok and Zvecan. To make space for these innovations the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) Administration in Mitrovica (UAM), that administers north Mitrovica under UN Security Council Resolution 1244, will be closed.

Also the International Steering Group (ISG) had meeting on January 24th in Vienna to deside its 2012 program for Kosovo. Despite its name ISG represents only countries which have advocated Kosovo Albanian separatism, cover costs of Kosovo Albanian state-building efforts.cover costs of Kosovo Albanian state-building efforts and try to underestimate UN Security Council Resolution 1244 – which btw represents in Kosovo highest international law. Anyway ISG issued a communique calling upon the government of Kosovo to continue to implement the Ahtisaari Plan, aiming to complete outstanding elements so that the period of “supervised independence” could terminate by the end of this year. While the outcome both politically and on operation theatre has been modest as best and the results related to investments almost non-visible, ISG probably his hurry to implement fast exit-strategy.

Marko Prelec from International Crisis Group concludes well the situation now since last summer tensions started in his post Update on Northern Kosovo Barricades. A quote:

The situation shows with crystal clarity the folly of the “freedom of movement” campaign, which cost tens of millions of Euros (flying Kosovo officials to, and from, the border day after day runs into serious money), dozens of injuries, made travel more difficult for real people and achieved nothing. All this started because of the basic disputes between Kosovo and Serbia, over Kosovo’s independence and territorial integrity. Trying to use issues like freedom of movement – or the rule of law – as tools to change locals’ minds about sovereignty issues, rather than as ends in themselves, just damages the tool. The dispute isn’t a technicality and cannot be resolved as though it were.

or back to Dialogue?

Dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina has poor history. Serbs and Albanians have been in negotiations and talks frequently over the past two decades – from the tentative efforts of the 1990s to the doomed talks in Rambouillet, France, in 1999 and the later “status” talks between 2005 (Ahtisaari’s pseudo-talks) and 2007 (“Troika” led talks). None of these has led to tangible results and left outsiders imposing an outcome, be it NATO intervention or proposing the Ahtisaari plan.

The original or better to say official aim of international community was to build “standards before status”, on 2005 the task was seen impossible so the slogan changed to “standards and status”. Even this was unrealistic so Feb. 2008 “European”standards were thrown away to garbage and “status without standards” precipitately accepted by western powers. For international community I don’t see any success story with this backward progress. Thus the multiethnic idea is far away despite EU’s billions. The remaining Serbs in Kosovo are barricaded into enclaves keeping their lives mainly with help of international KFOR troops or in de facto separated Serb majority region in North Kosovo. This has changed former multiethnic province more mono-ethnic one.

Rewrite History: The Map of Destroyed Shrines in Post-war Kosovo

(To see picture above in full size click here!)

The new situation has forced also International Crisis Group (ICG) to admit the defeat of its Kosovo policy recommendations during last decade. ICG has acted as informal extension of U.S. State Department however pretending to be neutral mediator and think tank. During earlier “status” negotiations 2005 it endorsed preconditions before talks and afterwards supported sc Ahtisaari plan. Now in their new analysis ”Kosovo and Serbia after the ICJ Opinion”  ICG sees Kosovo’s partition with land swap one of possible solutions during coming talks between Belgrad and Pristina.

The fact on the ground is that northern part of Kosovo is integrated to Serbia like it always has been, as well those parts south of Ibar river, which are not ethnically cleansed by Kosovo Albanians. Serbia still runs municipalities, courts, police, customs and public services, and the EU Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) has been unable to deploy more than a token presence there.

During the course of events, the Ahtisaari Plan was implemented in south Kosovo, the north, however, remained outside Kosovo institutions and the ICO, and the Ahtisaari Plan was not implemented there. The Ahtisaari Plan derived a formula that would allow Kosovo Serbs to have their own local institutions and communal life with continued linkages to Serbia, but within the framework of a multi-ethnic Kosovo. If partition option – which in my opinion is pragmatic, the best and even realistical way to solve Kosovo conflict – is not yet possible so then the Ahtisaari Plan might be temporary base for compromise. The Plan however needs some modification. A new follow-up – entitled ‘The Ahtisaari Plan and North Kosovo’ - is presented by TransConflict and it might be achievable as the policy paper is authored by Gerard Gallucci, the former UN Regional Representative in Mitrovica.

My Scenario

Kosovo … a Serbian province, occupied and now international protectorate administrated by UN Kosovo mission; as quasi-independent pseudo-state has good change to become next “failed” or “captured” state; today’s Kosovo is already safe-heaven for war criminals, drug traffickers, international money laundry and radical Wahhabists – unfortunately all are also allies of western powers”.

(Ari Rusila)

US based Freedom House gave in their last report (2012) rank partly free to Kosovo related to political rights and civil liberties (5,4 points respectively), while Serbia got rank free (2,2) and e.g also Croatia (1,2), Bulgaria (2,2) and Romania (2,2) got rank free, while Bosnia-Herzegovina (4,3) and Albania (3,3) fell to category partly free. (Note: Each country is assigned a numerical rating from 1 to 7 for both political rights and civil liberties, with 1 representing the most free and 7 the least free.) So even western powers must addmit that despite billions of dollars for Kosovo state-building efforts during last 12 years the outcome is that the protectorate still is among the worst in region related to political rights and civil liberties. One could ask why then Kosovo Serbs should go backwards by integrating to that society when better the alternative could be integrate also officially to more developed Serbia.

In my opinion Kosovo will remain a frozen conflict probably whole this decade. The western powers can not addmit – yet – that their intervention was a mistake, international community can not addmit its failure with capasity-/state-building efforts after squandering billions of Euros, noor that instead of multiethnic democracy the out outcome mono-ethnic tribe-society.  EULEX etc will continue to build some facades and pseudo-activities like it used to do, Pristina pretends that north is integral part of their quasi-independent pseudo-state which the North never has been, the Kosovo institutions do not exist in the north, and it is very unlikely that they will be established there soon. Hard-line Serbs keep claim about Kosovo as Serbian province, which it indeed has been but after 1999 situation on the ground changed; instead the today’s government in Belgrade might change in next elections. What is clear after referendum is that population in Kosovo’s northern municipalities does not want to integrate Pristina lead institutions, they want to continue their living as part of Serbia like they always have been, in short they want reunify northern municipalities with Serbia again.

After this quite pessimistic view one can ask if there is any other way forward. From my point of view there is the negotiation option. But this time negotiations should base facts on the ground instead of high-flown ideas in Washington and Brussels, around negotiation table in addition to Belgrade and Pristina representatives should be also local stakeholders from northern Kosovo and selected by local population. The referendum made positions clear for tripartite approach.

More eg in Kosovo: Two years of Pseudo-state

Serbia: Kosovo vs EU?


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