April 26, 1999, Published as a widely distributed leaflet and
on the Internet
Humanitarian bombing, month two
by David Orchard
For over a month Canada has been bombing Yugoslavia. Without a
parliamentary resolution, without a declaration of war and without
a shred of legality Canadian war planes are attacking the nation
that stood at the forefront of the fight against both Hitler's Nazis
and Mussolini's fascists during World War II.
The Nuremberg trial ruled that "to initiate a war of aggression...
is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international
crime." Yet this is precisely what Canada and its NATO allies have
The Canadian government said it was bombing to force the Yugoslavian
government to sign the Rambouillet "agreement" -- an ultimatum which
provided for NATO's occupation of Yugoslavia. Yet article 52 of
the 1980 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, to which Canada
is a signatory, states that any treaty procured by force or the
threat of force, is null and void. The bombardment of Yugoslavia
is a flagrant violation of the UN charter, which prohibits the use
of force against a sovereign state which has not committed aggression
on another state; of NATO's own charter and of international law
on a number of other fronts. NATO is dropping internationally outlawed
cluster bombs and using missiles hardened with depleted uranium
which vapourize upon impact releasing deadly radioactive fall-out
which will, as in Iraq where similar weapons were used, leave a
legacy of agony in Yugoslavia for decades to come.
Canada's government said it was bombing to prevent a humanitarian
crisis, genocide and "ethnic cleansing." The unvarnished truth is
that the bombing has increased the humanitarian crisis a thousandfold
and knowledgeable observers have repeatedly stated that what was
going on in Kosovo before the bombing began cannot be called genocide.
In a recent article, "The fatal flaws underlying NATO's intervention
in Yugoslavia," Lt. General Satish Nambiar, former commander of
the United Nations forces in Yugoslavia, writes that he "did not
witness any genocide beyond killings and massacres on all sides
that are typical of such conflict conditions." He points out that
over 800,000 Serbs were driven out of Croatia and the Muslim-Croat
Federation without a word of complaint from the west. Canadian Roland
Keith, a former field office director of the Kosovo Verification
Mission, recently returned, reported that "the clear majority" of
the violence he saw in Kosovo was instigated by the Kosovo Liberation
Army, and that "there was no ethnic cleansing going on that I witnessed
and certainly no genocide." The total deaths on all sides in Kosovo
prior to the bombing was 2000. Yet now, in one of the defining moments
of our century, NATO has launched a massive around-the-clock air
bombardment on behalf of a shadowy, armed Kosovo secessionist movement
seeking to break up what remains of Yugoslavia.
For Canada to be bombing in favour of the breakup of a sister
multi-ethnic state defies comprehension. In Iraq, our government
said it was bombing to maintain the territorial integrity of Kuwait.
Here, it is openly bombing to dismember a country, a founding member
of both the UN and the Non-Aligned Movement and Canada's staunch
ally in both world wars.
The lesson NATO is teaching the world is that from now on the
only sovereign nations are those capable of defending themselves
with nuclear weapons. All others apparently can be bombed and now
also, it appears, blockaded -- another flagrantly unlawful act by
Who exactly has ordered Canada into war? Do unelected generals
at NATO now determine Canada's foreign policy, including decisions
of war and peace? It is clear our Parliament does not. In a crowning
abdication of responsibility, Mr. Chrétien has declared that whatever
the NATO "team" decides about a ground war, Canada will go along.
Our government, through Mr. Axworthy, tells us this is a "humanitarian
bombing mission." In fact, it is a campaign of terror. Over 4000
bombing sorties, plus hundreds of cruise missiles, have struck Yugoslavia,
a country one-fifth the size of Saskatchewan. Over one hundred schools
and churches, including monasteries dating back to the 12th century,
have been hit; as well as power stations, chemical plants (releasing
toxic clouds over Belgrade and polluting the Danube), water and
sewage facilities, factories, including the Yugo car plant, trains,
train stations and apartment buildings; the result is untold suffering,
a human and environmental catastrophe. NATO doesn't like Yugoslavian
media coverage of the damage on the ground, so it bombed the television
station in Belgrade incinerating twelve young journalists, burying
another eighteen, perhaps more, alive under tons of rubble.
This is not a war. It is the slaughter of a tiny, virtually defenceless
nation by a vigilante gang-up of western powers. "Massive bombing,"
in General Nambiar's words, "intended to terrorize Serbia into submission."
President Clinton told his shocked nation after the Colorado school
killings that we must teach our youth to solve conflicts with words,
not weapons. And who will teach NATO's adults this lesson now that
the rule of law has been thrown onto the ash heap of history?
David Orchard is the author
of The Fight for Canada - Four Centuries of Resistance to American
Expansionism and was runner-up to Joe Clark in the 1998 federal
Progressive Conservative leadership contest. He farms in Borden,
SK and can be reached at tel (306) 664-8443 or by e-mail at email@example.com