|Bombs for "democracy"
After the armistice was signed, however, the Empire wasn't satisfied merely with selectively applying its terms - it falsified the war's aftermath as well. A commission of "independent experts" was hired to proclaim it "illegal but legitimate." Despite solemn proclamations that the sovereignty of Yugoslavia (and later Serbia) would not be violated, the process of creating the "independent state of Kosovo" began almost right away. But perhaps most importantly, the actual combat reports were falsified in order to create the impression that the war was "won" by air power alone.
As Alexander Cockburn notes in Couterpunch yesterday, that falsification had far-reaching effects:
"[t]he Kosovo campaign’s apparent confirmation that bombs and missiles could achieve a victory at no cost in friendly casualties, and in a good cause too, undoubtedly prepared the political landscape for the automated drone warfare so eagerly embraced by our current leadership."Indeed, as early as March 2003 it was obvious to some observers that Kosovo provided a precedent for the invasion of Iraq (and subsequently Libya).
Now, if NATO had not in fact beaten the Yugoslav Army, why did Belgrade surrender? The answer is very simple: it didn't. Even Cockburn makes a mistake of saying that Yugoslav President Milošević "accepted the allied terms", attributing that decision to Moscow's betrayal. While Yugoslavia was in fact betrayed by the puppet government of Boris Yeltsin - which some have argued played a crucial role in Yeltsin's subsequent demise and the rise of Vladimir Putin - it happened following the armistice, not prior.
The terms agreed upon in Kumanovo and built into UNSCR 1244 were different from NATO's demands prior to the war, in three crucial respects: NATO accepted UN authority over the province, there was no clause giving the Albanians independence after three years, and there was no mention of NATO's open access to the rest of Serbia (the infamous Appendix B of the Rambouillet ultimatum). On paper at least, NATO did not win an unconditional victory. That's why they proceeded to creatively reinterpret the paper.
Cheating the Serbs by altering the deal at gunpoint was one thing. Wrecking what was left of international law to establish the "independent Republic of Kosovo," was something else altogether. But perhaps worst of all, the falsified narrative of Kosovo as both the "good war" and a successful one has contributed to the quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan, the disaster of Libya and the bloodshed in Syria. Something similar happened with the deceptive success of the "revolution" in Serbia (2000), leading to its replication around the world.
The lies then beget atrocities, which beget more lies. And so on, until the whole thing comes crashing down, in fire and blood.