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By Nenad N. Bach | Published  03/28/2004 | Politics | Unrated




by Brian Gallagher

The Croatian Herald, Australia No. 1007 - 19.03.04

The latest indictments for Croatian Generals Cermak
and Markac along with the revised one for Gotovina
regarding Croatia's Operation Storm in 1995
effectively puts America in the dock. Operation Storm
was under the de facto control of the United States.
It liberated much Croatian territory and half of
Bosnia-Hezegovina from the Serbs into the bargain.
Milosevic was largely defeated. However, it seems that
Hague Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte considers all
this to be a "joint criminal enterprise" - and that
implicates America.

The indictment claims that the above Generals, late
Croatian President Tudjman and "others" were involved
in a "joint criminal enterprise" to cleanse Croatia of
its Serbs during and after Operation Storm. As is well
known, the United States trained the Croatian forces
and provided Croatia with real-time intelligence
during the operation. They knew everything that was
going on during it. They controlled the operation;
indeed it was they who halted it, as stated by Richard
Holbrooke in regard to stopping Croat forces outside
Banja Luka.

By claiming that Operation Storm was a "criminal
enterprise", the Americans stand accused of not merely
involvement in an alleged major war crime - but
control of one. Del Ponte does not name the Americans
in the indictment - that would be too dangerous for
her politically. However, she does not have to.
American involvement in Operation Storm has been
credibly discussed by Newsweek and the Washington
Times in relation to the Gotovina indictment. US
involvement would form part of any defence. America is
going to be dragged into this, whether they want to be
or not - as Del Ponte must surely know. She is quite
clearly spoiling for a fight with the United States.

Del Ponte must also realise that any kind of guilty
verdict condemns the United States. America can then
look forward to politically motivated prosecutors in
various countries - perhaps Belgium? - exercising
'universal jurisdiction' to prosecute US citizens.
Indeed, Henry Kissinger has made similar points
regarding the Hague Prosecutor looking at NATO's
Kosovo campaign. Such prosecutors would use guilty
verdicts as a basis for their actions. Candidates for
such anti-US prosecutions range from Bill Clinton to
Richard Holbrooke and even to members of Military
Professional Resources Incorporated, the private firm
that trained the Croatian military so well.

America rightly used Croatia to defeat the Serbs.
Operation Storm was conceived to liberate large parts
of Croatia and thus push the Serbs back in BiH. It
took place at that particular time because the UN safe
haven of Bihac in BiH was about to fall to the Serbs -
which would have made rolling them back strategically
difficult. Those are the reasons for the offensives -
not some ethnic cleansing exercise. However, many UN
personnel colluded with the Serbs - not just at
Srebrenica - and did not welcome the Croatian action.
Criminalising Operation Storm is a way to divert
attention from UN-Serb collusion. This helps explain
the actions of the prosecutors - who work for the UN,
of course.

The exodus of Serbs from Croatia was organised by the
Serbian leadership - which they have admitted - in
advance of the Croat offensives. For evidence of this,
we can point to the Hague Prosecutors themselves. In
the Milosevic trial, Prosecutor Geoffrey Nice on
February 13 2002 referred to an "overall plan" by the
Serb leadership to "funnel" Croatian Serbs to Kosovo
to change the demographics there. More recently in the
Milosevic trial, the prosecutor deliberately elicited
testimony from ex-US Ambassador to Croatia Peter
Galbraith. He quite clearly stated no ethnic cleansing
had taken place. This was evidence the Prosecutor
submitted; are they now saying they were wrong, or
that Galbraith was not telling the truth? And just why
didn't these indictments against Croat Generals
mention that the Serb population were ordered and
organised out by their leadership? Indeed, why don' t
these indictments point out that the territory
liberated in Croatia was occupied as part of
Milosevic's "criminal enterprise" - which involved
ethnic cleansing and atrocities against Croats?

As for crimes committed in the aftermath of Operation
Storm, regrettably this happens in liberated territory
- especially given the horrors committed by the Serbs.
The individual perpetrators should be punished
severely. These crimes should be taken case by case,
not cynically lumped together as part of some imagined
masterplan. Furthermore, the difficult law enforcement
situation improved over time - which is more than can
be said for NATO's efforts in protecting Serbs after
entering Kosovo in 1999, where murders still take
place today. Ironically, the indictments of these
Generals let real perpetrators off the hook. This is a
disturbing precedent for the future, where individual
soldiers will commit crimes safe in the knowledge that
only senior commanders will be held accountable.

Apart from the United States being put in the dock,
all those who supported Croatia's - and indeed
Bosnia-Herzegovina's - military actions against the
Serbs in 1995 will be accused of supporting a
'criminal enterprise'. That would include varied
people like Margaret Thatcher, ex-British Labour
Leader Michael Foot and the Member of the European
Parliament Doris Pack. Groups like London's Bosnian
Institute may encounter some difficulty as well. BiH
exists today because of Operation Storm. Is its
existence now due to a "criminal enterprise"?

A great many people should be examining the
indictments against Croatian Generals, and none more
so than United States. American intervention in
Croatia and BiH saved countless lives and prevented
the establishment of a Greater Serbia. This is a fine
achievement. America's enemies - many, these days -
will delight in seeing the UN pervert this into a
crime. The United States should not let it happen.

© Brian Gallagher

My 'Viewpoint from London' column appears fortnightly
in the Australian 'Croatian Herald' and thereafter at

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