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Tokyo is urging Beijing to accept U.S. explanations that the bombing of its Belgrade embassy was a genuine mistake. Maybe it was. But why automatically rule out the possibility it was a devious scheme by rogue hawks in the powerful U.S. military/intelligence machine to encourage China to veto any U.N.-backed compromise scheme for Kosovo?

The hawks have done this sort of thing before. The best example was the probable CIA staging of the U-2 spy plane crash within Soviet territory in 1960, a move that succeeded beautifully in sabotaging the emerging detente between U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower and Soviet leader Nikita Khruschev.

The U.S. military, with cooperation from their Soviet opposite numbers, managed to extend the Cold War and their massive budgets for another 30 years as a result.

So why do we have to assume that this time the hawks would sit by quietly while Moscow, with Beijing’s support, gained kudos for brokering a Kosovo peace that effectively meant yet another political defeat for the U.S. military in its long history of foreign interventions in Cambodia, Laos, Lebanon, Somalia and even Korea to some extent? A conspiracy theory maybe — on a par with the theories that say the same hawks were behind the assassination of former U.S. President John F. Kennedy because of concessions he had made over Cuba and possibly Vietnam. But it is no more unlikely than the claim that the Pentagon did not know where the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade was situated.

Tokyo seems determined to get caught up in the Kosovo quagmire. Asked on TV recently why Tokyo, which says the United Nations is the cornerstone of its foreign policy, had supported NATO rather than the U.N. over the bombing of Yugoslavia, Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura said Japan had a moral duty to help stop ethnic cleansing.

Can’t something be done to put an end to this ethnic cleansing myth? Already there is a wealth of reportage on the aims and methods of the Kosovo Liberation Army, in particular an excellent article in the latest issue of the U.S. journal Foreign Affairs by Chris Hedges titled “Kosovo’s New Masters?” To anyone of normal intelligence it should long have been obvious that what was happening in Kosovo was a civil war between an ethnic Albanian majority against a Serbian minority, with the ethnic Albanians relying on the more vicious kind of guerrilla-war tactics.

Anyone familiar with the concept of civil war knows that these wars are meat-grinders, with both sides committing tit-for-tat atrocities. The U.S. should know from its own civil war. When guerrillas are involved the killing is even worse, since anyone living in guerrilla-controlled areas is a potential enemy and is treated as such.

In Vietnam, this meant the daily horror of massacres similar to My Lai, free-fire zones, toxic defoliations, torturing and killing of virtually all prisoners, massive, forced transfers of people into refugee camps or strategic hamlets and planned assassinations of proguerrilla village chiefs. Even “better” examples have been Sri Lanka and East Timor, where anyone with the same ethnicity as the guerrillas has been seen as a potential recruit or sympathizer for the guerrilla cause and is therefore to be rounded up and brutally killed, particularly if they were young, male and seemed somehow suspicious.

In Kosovo, with the KLA waiting on the Albanian border to recruit or even dragoon fit male refugees into attacks on the Yugoslav Army, the killing imperative would normally be even stronger. Normally, this would create an even greater imperative for any kind of compromise settlement that stopped the killing. The NATO claim that it was entitled to reject compromise and hold out for a maximum settlement because the KLA will have no role in a pacified Kosovo is patent nonsense.

To anyone who reads the Hedges article, plus other recent reportage on lawlessness, factionalism and ideological rigidity in the KLA, it is clear that a NATO victory would see the KLA in control and Kosovo turned into another Afghanistan.

True, and as in Afghanistan, the government side was not without provocative fault. But anyone who knows Yugoslav history would realize the background to Serb behavior there. Kosovo originally had a Serb majority. Many were wiped out by pro-Nazi Albanians during World War II, with entire villages ethnically cleansed as part of the campaign by pro-Nazi Croat and Muslim forces that saw 1 million Serbs killed throughout Yugoslavia, particularly in Bosnia.

Meanwhile, the Serbs were putting up an incredibly brave resistance to Nazi Germany, which some people credit with helping to turn the tide in the Allies’ favor. (A junior British government minister trying to justify NATO intervention has said the wartime Serbs were on the side of the Nazis, a statement even more ignorant than U.S. President Bill Clinton’s claim that the Balkans were responsible for WWII.)

In postwar Yugoslavia, a skillful mix of national communism and autonomy for regions combining different ethnic groups, including Bosnia and Kosovo, was able to keep the lid on ethnic reprisals and hatreds. But, as in Bosnia, with the collapse of communism, autonomy gave the non-Serb majority a free hand to dominate the Serb minority.

In Bosnia, the suppressed hatreds surfaced in reciprocal, reprisal, ethnic cleansings, by both sides, particularly after mistaken Western pressure helped turn autonomy into sovereignty. But in Kosovo there was relative peace. A 1987 incident, however, with a few Serbs beaten up by ethnic Albanian police during a Kosovo visit by Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic, led to withdrawal of that autonomy in 1989, and the Serb minority began to lord it over the Albanian majority.

But anyone who saw the recent Kosovo section in the brilliant BBC series of in-depth, direct-interview, Yugoslavia historical reportage would realize just how complex events there have been, with Milosevic reacting to developments rather than trying to impose them.

In short, to describe post-1989 Serb behavior in Kosovo as ruthless ethnic cleansing or even a deliberate suppression of ethnic Albanian rights justifying a vicious anti-Serb guerrilla war and now the NATO bombing is a bit exaggerated. To say that the viciousness with which Serb forces have reacted both to the guerrilla attacks and now the NATO bombing further justifies the original NATO decision to bomb is to turn cause-and-effect logic completely on its head.

Even worse is the NATO head-in-the-sand approach to the tragedy about to embrace the entire ethnic Albanian population of Kosovo. Does Japan really need to be part of this fiasco?

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