G8 "Peace Plan"
A Quick Reaction from Michael Albert
Here is the text of the G8 "principles" as published by BBC on May 6:
"The following general principles must be adopted and implemented to resolve the Kosovo crisis:
- Immediate and verifiable end of violence and repression in Kosovo.
- Withdrawal from Kosovo of military, police, and paramilitary forces.
- Deployment in Kosovo of effective international civil and security presences, endorsed and adopted by the United Nations, capable of guaranteeing the achievement of the common objectives.
- The establishment of an interim administration for Kosovo, to be decided by the Security Council of the United Nations to ensure conditions for a peaceful and normal life for all inhabitants for Kosovo.
- The safe and free return of all refugees and displaced persons and unimpeded access to Kosovo by humanitarian aid organisations.
- A political process towards the establishment of an interim political framework. An agreement providing for substantial self-government for Kosovo, taking full account of the Rambouillet accords and the principles and sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and other countries of the region and the demilitarisation of the UCK.
- Comprehensive approach to the economic development and stabilisation of the crisis region."
Some things to notice:
- The word "bombing" doesn't appear...
- Kosovo, part of Yugoslavia, is left with no police at all...other than occupying elements.
- The deployment of "civil and security presences" is very vague -- it could mean without U.S. and British troops or it could mean led by them. When the Russian negotiators discuss the principles, they say without...when the U.S. negotiators and Albright discuss them, they say led by them. By all accounts I am aware of, it is the U.S., not Russia, that is in command of the bombings and therefore presumably the commentary of Albright that would be most heard by the Yugoslavs.
- The seemingly unequivocal gain is that Russia is involved in negotiations -- but is this a sign that the U.S. is bending to incorporate them hoping to find a way to cease the bombing, or is it a sign that Russia is bending to pressure from the U.S. to visibly convey to the world's publics a clear message that this war is not going to lead to conflict with Russia too, thus reducing at least one cause of opposition to continued bombing?
- It is unclear what "taking full account of the Rambouillet accords" means, but as with the "presenses" reference in the prior point, it is quite vague. It could mean nothing more than what is in the rest of these principles (whatever precisely that is), or it could (more likely) be a basis for intimating and demanding inclusion of Section 8 of Rambouillet which literally causes Yugoslavia to become a militarily occupied country and will of course be repeatedly rejected as a term of "peace."
The bottom line...
To offer terms during bombardment is commonplace. During the Vietnam War the U.S. regularly offered terms, changing every now and then, that were always unacceptable until the end. At the end, the terms the Vietnamese had offered, virtually unchanging from the beginning, were the terms of agreement. The war then was really a kind of gigantic grotesque apostrophe to a settlement that was possible from the outset. The war, in other words, indicated the price of "success" against the U.S. lest others be tempted to follow a similar path: near annihiliation.
It is difficult to know immediately on their face the purpose of any given list of "peace terms": it could be to move toward settlement, or it could be to force a rejection with the purpose of holding up the rejection as justification for increased violence. It could be a merely a holding pattern, keeping options flexible. In this case, certainly the U.S. wanted the Russians to make clear that our actions aren't going to lead to expanded conflict with them and the Russians wanted to reveal that even if they stick to different terms (and verbally they are, at the moment) if doesn't imply general decay of relations. Only those at the scene can know fully the tone and content of any proposals and thus the additional specific meaning of these. Even now only very small sectors of "the public" are first becoming aware of the content and meaning of the Rambouillet Terms, themselves. Therefore, in reacting to such offerings the best approach is clam caution, continued resistance to in justice, and, by and large, extreme skepticism about mere rhetoric.