Date: Fri, 18 Jun 1999 01:01:58 +0000
From: SchNEWS (
Subject: SchNEWS 216, Friday 18th June 1999


"The economy shall function in accordance with free market principles." - Rambouillet accord, Feb 99

"There will be a new deal for financial institutions"

These were the words of the UK's Foreign Secretary Robin Cook last week after NATO's 'victory' against Serbia. Where NATO's troops tread, multinational corporations will surely follow in their never ending pursuit of minerals, fossil-fuels and cheap labour.

For the bombing was never a humanitarian mission, but a war not only about NATO expansion, but about resources; it's a resource war which, as former head of the European Commission, Jaques Delors, said will define the 21st Century.

Kosovo is rich in nickel, lead, zinc magnesium, lignite and kaolin. It also has vast forests of wild chestnut, oak and beech all ripe for multinational pickings.

Further afield is the question of oil under the Caspian Sea. As environmental journalist Robert Allen points out "For some time now the leases for this oil have been up for grabs and the US oil corporations have been desperate to get their hands on them."

The problem is access. In the winter of 1997, the American oil boys began seriously hassling Washington politicians to loosen the restrictions on doing business in that part of the world. The best route for a pipeline is through Iran, a country which nicknamed the US 'the Great Satan'. Maybe not the best option. An alternative is via the Balkans, but that would require a US military and diplomatic presence to 'stabilise' the region.

Enter NATO. On 12 August 1998, the US Senate Republican Policy Committee claimed "Planning for a US led NATO intervention in Kosovo is now largely in place. The only missing element seems to be an event - with suitably vivid media coverage - that could make the intervention politically saleable; that Clinton is waiting for a 'trigger' in Kosovo is increasingly obvious."

That trigger was Serbia's failure to sign the "peace accords" drafted at Rambouillet, France in February. The accords would have given a NATO force occupying Kosovo complete and unaccountable political power, immunity from laws, ability to go where they want, when they want, and "upon simple request" to be given all telecommunications services completely free. As the author John Pilger commented, "The peace negotiations were stage-managed, and the Serbs were told: surrender and be occupied, or don't surrender and be destroyed; No government anywhere could accept this."

Hey, we won the war!

SchNEWS aren't apologists for Serbian atrocities but what about some of 'our boys' antics.

* 1,500 is the number of Yugoslavian soldiers Serbia admit have been killed in the bombing campaign. That's also the number of 'collateral damage', sorry - civilians casualties NATO admit have been killed by their bombs.

* Professor Nikos Katsaros, head of the Union of Greek Chemists reckons "an ecological catastrophe" has taken place in Serbia. Nikos Charalambides, of Greenpeace Athens adds "When pharmaceutical plants, oil refineries, fertiliser depots and transformers are bombed you create the conditions for the production of dioxin." Dioxin is the industrialised world's most toxic product, a carcinogen that can exist in the atmosphere for up to 50 years, it has been linked to foetal death, immune deficiencies and skin diseases.

* Depleted uranium shells were being used, as they were in Iraq, where the incidence of leukaemia and rare cancers has multiplied seven fold since the 1991 Gulf War. Depleted uranium is also the most likely cause of "Gulf War Syndrome", which has crippled thousands of veterans.

* There's nothing like a war for improving arms sales. On the first day of the bombing, shares in British Aerospace rose faster than any other company in the FTSE index. Meanwhile, when President Clinton gave a speech in May refusing to rule out a ground war the Janes Defence Weekly Index shares rose 24 points.

But it is after the conflict that the real arms bonanza begins. Planes unable to fly because of cloud cover, or rain and cruise missiles missing targets, will result in a race to supply high-tech more accurate weapons. The B2 Stealth Bomber, can bomb in any weather, even at night, but costs $2 billion a throw so only a few have been built. Post conflict, Clinton has promised to pay for a lot more.


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