NATO Has Already Lost Morally and Politically; Mikhail Gorbachev, Former Leader of the Soviet Union, Writes for the Mirror on the Air War against the Serbs

Article excerpt

FOR almost two months the world has witnessed a huge humanitarian tragedy. And a crime against human rights.

Two thirds of the world's military might is crushing a small European state. Yugoslavia's economic infrastructure has been practically destroyed.

Innocent people are dying. And still the aim of Nato strategists has not been achieved.

Aggression has only aggravated the situation.

Is it possible to achieve legitimate aims by violating international law? Where is the mandate? Why are international agreements ignored - especially the United Nations' Human Rights Declaration?

As the German politician Oskar Lafontaine said recently, the USA and Nato appropriated this mandate - they assumed the rights of judge and hangman.

In Yugoslavia and in Kosovo, we are dealing with a major human drama.

What can be more terrible than people who are placed in a situation where they leave everything behind to save themselves and their children?

Huge responsibility lies on Slobodan Milosevic who stripped Kosovo Albanians of their autonomy, setting instability and uncertainty among them.

It was also the time when Yugoslavia was collapsing and Western countries hurriedly recognised Slovenia and Croatia, speeding up the disintegration process.

But that doesn't justify Milosevic's decisions. In the following years, he failed to find the political means to ease the situation.

As a result, the Kosovan Liberation Army appeared and started to arm themselves. Where did they get the weapons from? From Albania, from the West - but not from Russia.

That transferred all the conflict into a new stage of resistance and confrontation and the response was police and then military action.

I do not want to appear cynical, but at that point the victims were still counted in dozens.

Had we exhausted all diplomatic possibilities? Did the bombing have to start? I say no. Missile and bomb attacks led to an escalation of the conflict.

Generally speaking, the West operates hypocritically. Take Turkey. There is an acute domestic conflict there, and hundreds of thousands of Kurds fled their land.

Nato never interfered.

And look at Northern Ireland.

They have been seeking a peaceful settlement there for 25 years. And although the number of victims is higher than 3,000 now, Nato's patience HAS lasted for a quarter of a century. Why doesn't it in other cases?

In my view, the strategy changed.

Perestroika, which began in 1985 in the Soviet Union, opened ways for progressive political transformation of my country. Velvet revolutions spread across eastern Europe. Trust between East and West grew after the Cold War ended, particularly with the re-unification of Germany. …