Another attack in British press on prominent NATO critic

By Julie Hyland
22 May 1999

One of the most significant events revealing the hidden agenda of NATO's war against Serbia was the leaked publication of the Rambouillet Accord. It was the Yugoslav government's rejection of this accord—drawn up by the Contact Group comprised of the US, Britain, France, Germany and Russia—that provided NATO with the official pretext to begin its aerial bombardment of the country.

In the belligerent nations—most notably the US and Britain—the accord has received little press attention. Journalist John Pilger was given space to write a column in Britain's pro-war Guardian, in which he drew attention to the accord's provisions. The following day the paper's diplomatic editor Ian Black subjected him to a vociferous attack.

Pilger's article, “Acts of murder”, appeared on Tuesday, May 18. He wrote that pictures showing a room “filled with the bodies of children killed by NATO in Surdulica in Serbia” had not been published because the media claimed they were too horrific. “But minimising the culpability of the British state when it is engaged in criminal action is normal; censorship is by omission and misuse of language. The media impression of a series of NATO ‘blunders' is false. Anyone scrutinising the unpublished list of targets hit by NATO is left in little doubt that a deliberate terror campaign is being waged against the civilian population of Yugoslavia.”

Citing the Rambouillet Accord, unpublished in Britain, Pilger wrote that it showed “NATO's agenda was to occupy not just Kosovo, but all of Yugoslavia". Pilger noted that the ideological basis for the occupation was also left in no doubt under the accord, citing its provision that “The economy shall function in accordance with free market principles”.

Guardian diplomatic editor Black attacked both Pilger's May 18 piece and a previous article. Under the headline, “Bad news”, Black accused Pilger of being a stooge of the Serbian government. Ignoring the actual text of the accord, in particular its Appendix B, Black wrote the claim that Rambouillet proved NATO's agenda was to occupy Yugoslavia was a “canard now circulating among Serb apologists”. Black further charged that Pilger had invented the provision that the economy should be run “in accordance with free market principles”.

In fact, Chapter 4a, “Economic Issues—Article 1” of the Rambouillet Accord begins explicitly: “1. The economy of Kosovo shall function in accordance with free market principles”.