Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
May 3, 1999
IMF's contribution to Yugoslavia's ethnic strife
It may well be disturbing and confusing for Canadians who thought we were doing the right thing in Kosovo to hear the pope, Senator Doug Roche and the Canadian Council of Churches speak out against NATO intervention there.
The matter seemed clear enough. For years we've heard about the brutal dictator Slobodan Milosevic who was "slaughtering his own people" and it was only right that the civilized West should put a stop to this "genocide."
In all the debate whether bombing is the right tactic to bring about peace, whether it contravenes international law, or whether air attacks are sufficient and the deployment of ground troops are inevitable, or whether Milosevic is profiting from the NATO bombardments, one element is conveniently glossed over.
As in all rationalization to start a war, the public has been bamboozled. Before the war with Iraq, a U.S. public relations firm was hired for $10 million to televise the 15-year-old daughter of the ambassador of Kuwait who told a tearful story that Iraq soldiers had thrown Kuwait babies out of their incubators. By the time it was discovered that this was a dreadful hoax, the military operation was "successfully" completed.
Years later, it is Iraqi babies who are dying because of U.S. sanctions. There is no public outcry about that.
In the case of Yugoslavia it is not so much a question of blatant misinformation as a serious omission of information. While it is right to show deep concern about human rights abuses wherever they take place, consistency is required if we insist on taking the moral high ground.
You can't pick and choose your dictators to cozy up to and vilify others. So this is not about ethics. The western nations have backed the U.S. time and time again when it propped up puppet dictators in various regions of strategic interest.
Milosevic happens to be a dictator who refuses to dance to the piper's tune. And here is at least one reason why, which has not been discussed much.
Since 1990 the IMF and the World Bank have systematically dismantled the country's ability to govern itself by imposing structural adjustment programs.
Real wages dropped by 41 per cent in the first six months and inflation shot up by 70 per cent. By 1991 inflation rose to 140 per cent soared to 937 per cent in '92 and veered out of sight in '93 at 1,134 per cent.
As some may remember, this is how the Second World War started. All transfer payments to the republics were frozen by the financial institutions of the nations who are now doing the bombing.
People were declared redundant and social programs were no longer funded as part of the economic restructuring. Socially-owned enterprises had to be privatized as integral to the deal. All of this added up to a sure-fire recipe for secession and ethnic tension.
The IMF austerity measures laid the groundwork for the "re-balkanization" of Yugoslavia. The country should have fallen into our hands like a rotten apple by now to be incorporated into the NATO sphere of influence. It didn't quite turn out that way.
Now we're trying to disentangle ourselves from the webs we have woven by sending in young men who do what they are told but who know little of the political manoeuvring which has taken place. All they need to know is that Milosevic is evil and we are good.
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