Beneath the Cloaking Device

by Michael W. Stowell

April 30, 2001
(Re-posted on July 23, 2001)

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The International War Crimes Tribunal (IWCT) was founded in 1993 by the United Nations Security Council on the insistence of permanent U.S. representative to the United Nations, Madeline Albright (President of the Tribunal Gabriella Kirk McDonald often refers to Albright as the "mother of the Tribunal"). The normal channel for creating such a court, as the United Nations' Secretary General pointed out at the time, would have been "via an International Treaty established and approved by the Member States permitting them full exercise of their sovereignty." The U.S. undermined the democratic process and imposed an arbitrary interpretation of Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, that permits the Security Council to take "special measures" to restore international peace.

According to Article 32 of the statute book of the IWCT, the expenses of the Tribunal must be covered by the United Nations Budget. However, between 1994 and 1995 the War Crimes Tribunal received from the U.S. government $700,000 cash and $2.3 million worth of computer equipment. The Rockefeller Foundation kicked in $50,000 and another $150,000 was delivered by U.S. billionaire speculator George Soros. At the same time, Mr. Soros was financing the main Albanian separatist newspaper in Kosovo. A large number of IWCT lawyers were recruited from the "Coalition for International Justice" which was founded and is financed by the same George Soros.

In May 2000, President of the Tribunal McDonald thanked the U.S. government for another $500,000 and stated "The moral imperative to end the violence in the region is shared by all, including the corporate sector. I am pleased, therefore, that a major corporation has recently donated computer equipment worth three million dollars." Media monarch Time Warner is another donor as well as Ronald Reagan's "Institute for Peace."

The Tribunal is empowered to create its own laws retrospective to any event, may refuse a defense, may accept unverified and "secret" information as legal exhibits, may issue indictments that can remain secret "in the interest of justice," and may detain unindicted suspects for up to 90 days without charging them. In fact, the IWCT subverts the fundamental principles of law including the separation of power (executive, legislative and judicial), equality between prosecution and defense, and presumption of innocence until guilt is proven. This is the brand of justice found in Milosevic's handbook.

"It can't be justice, because justice has to be based on just principles," MIT linguistics professor Noam Chomsky said in an April 8, 2001 Reuters interview. "The Tribunal instantly discredited itself in the Balkans case by excluding crimes committed by NATO. That doesn't mean Milosevic isn't a criminal but it does mean that you can't take the proceedings seriously."

According to Russian parliamentarian Dimitri Rogozin, Moscow believes that the pressure to deliver Milosevic to the IWCT is simply "NATO bullying." "Milosevic's surrender will play into the hands of the U.S. government which would like to see him in The Hague and thus legalize the spring of 1999 and justify NATO's aggression against Yugoslavia."

Serbian Justice Minister Vlandan Batic has demanded of the Tribunal's chief prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, that ethnic Albanians also be indicted for executing Serb civilians. "The scales of justice must be equal for all because all sides have committed crimes," Batic said. "How come not a single leader of another nationality was indicted? Something is wrong here. It looks like selective justice." Yugoslav Justice Minister Momcilo Grubac argued last year the court itself was clearly made up of respected judges but the prosecutor's office was a political institution.

What if Tony Blair and Bill Clinton were indicted for Yugoslavia, John Major and George Bush for the Gulf War, Margaret Thatcher for the Falklands, Henry Kissinger for Cambodia? Writing in The Guardian, London solicitor Dragon Plavsic said "the call for Milosevic to be tried in The Hague is arrogant and patronizing because it is based on the belief that only the West knows how to administer justice." Britain's Yorkshire Post said "Putting foreigners on trial for war crimes is a satisfying pastime. We can exercise our self-righteousness at someone else's expense," But if others can put us on trial "it could all blow up in our face."

Noam Chomsky has also pointed out that the International War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) had indicted Milosevic in the middle of the NATO bombing for alleged crimes in Kosovo. "He had committed his biggest crimes in Bosnia and wasn't indicted because the West was dealing with him (to obtain the 1995 Dayton peace accords which would have stripped Yugoslavia of sovereignty)." "When NATO started bombing Yugoslavia in March 1999 it was not for humanitarian reasons but to show who was boss because the credibility of NATO was at stake," Chomsky adds. "Ask any mafia don and he'll tell you. If someone doesn't pay his protection money, you beat them to a pulp so that others will understand. That's credibility, and it's a very significant element in international affairs. Action after action by great powers is taken to protect their credibility and it makes sense. Others have to be afraid of them."

It is my observation that the IWCT is no more than a "cloaking device" for the most deplorable criminals of all, and that Chomsky and the others fall short in their assessment of NATO's ultimate motivation and bottom line.

After hundreds of years of foreign incursion, including the repression imposed by the Soviets, the Balkans are now forged with the nationalistic fervor which is the nemesis of global capitalism. Lest democratic socialism evolve and emerge the corporate oligarchy must intercede quickly and with irresistible force. The very future of capitalism is at stake. Forty years of resistance by the Cuban revolution must not become an example of economic liberty and the beginnings of such a movement in the Balkans must be aborted. What better means of creating crippling dependency than total destruction of the region's infrastructure? The debt incurred for rebuilding basic facilities and transportation routes will subjugate the entire region.

The most valuable land in the Balkans is the Preshevo Valley in southern Serbia. It borders Macedonia to the south, the Serbian Province of Kosovo and Metohija to the west, and Bulgaria on the east. The most strategic in importance for NATO's expansion to the east, the valley connects Serbia with Macedonia via the Belgrade-Skopje-Thessaloniki highway, the thoroughfare between Central Europe and the Aegean Sea. It is an essential piece of real estate for the NATO countries' oil pipeline which is planned for connection of oil terminals on the Black Sea in Bulgaria and on the Adriatic Sea in Albania. This region also has several mineral-rich mines and is a hub for textile, tobacco, furniture and other industrial and agricultural enterprise. Moreover, it is the key to the treasures of the Caspian Sea oil fields.

Who's beneath the cloaking device? The same morally bankrupt transnational corporate criminals who are behind NATO, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization, NAFTA, GATT, and now the FTAA; among them members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Petroleum Institute.


       Michael W. Stowell is chairperson of The City of Arcata Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Commission, Humboldt County, CA. When interviewed by the Arcata City Council for a position on the NWFZ Commission, Michael was asked why he wanted to participate. His answer was that 40 years ago when he entered grade school, the boys lavatory was in the basement of the school, and on the wall was a sign that read "Nuclear Fallout Shelter." When he asked what the sign meant, he was frightened by the answer.

Many events have occurred in the last 40 years that have caused the concerns about nuclear weapons to become widespread and Michael believes that serving with Arcata's NWFZ Commission is a fine opportunity for expressing his concern and acting upon it.

[Ed. Note: The City of Arcata, incorporated in 1858, is located in Humboldt County, on California's Redwood Coast, at the juncture of California Highway 101 and 299 West. The city is approximately 289 miles north of San Francisco, 150 miles west of Redding and 760 miles north of Los Angeles. The 1990 census reported Arcata's population as 15,197 and the county population as 119,118.]


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Published April 30, 2001
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