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    Paper no. 46

(To be read in continuation of earlier papers titled Psywar in the New  Millennium and the Kosovo Tragedy: In perspective

         Writing in the "Strategic Review" (Winter 1998-99), Major.Gen. Robert H. Scales, Commandant, US Army War College, prophetically cautioned, inter alia, as follows: "There is no compelling evidence in the modern history of war to suggest that the killing effect of modern weapons is sufficient to break the will of a determined opponent…. The less than sterling performance of the US military in two recent wars against thinking, creative, reactive Asian militaries possessed with their own will should make Americans cautious about an over-reliance on a style of war focussed primarily on the advantages of superior fire power…..A thinking opponent will quickly realise that our intensive reliance on information age technologies becomes a weakness that can become an asymmetric target…..It is only a matter of time, unfortunately, before a creative opponent will develop a method of war that will attempt to defeat our preoccupation with the science of war  and the application of precise fire power."  
         What we are witnessing in Yugoslavia today, 15 days after the NATO led by the US started its ruthless bombing of Government buildings, oil storage depots, refineries, telephone exchanges, bridges used by the civilian population and even the residential buildings of  the ethnic Albanians of Pristina whom the NATO is supposed to be protecting, is the discomfiture of the deadly tools of the latest technologies, wielded by minds motivated by a desire to intimidate and enforce their will, right or wrong, before a superior human will, with no comparable weapons to defend itself, but motivated by a quiet determination to defend what it considers to be a sacred cause.  
         For the Americans and the West European powers of the NATO, Kosovo is another piece of territory where NATO's will has to prevail. For the defending Serbs, it is a sacred land where the Serb civilisation was born. Kosovo is as sacred to the Serbs as Jerusalem is to the Jewish people.  
         The type of bombs and other weapons which the British had to face at the hands of Hitler's Nazis during the ruthless bombing of London was primitive compared to what the residents of Belgrade, Pristina and other cities of Yugoslavia have been facing during the much more ruthless bombing of their cities and economic targets by NATO planes and Cruise missiles.  
         Pristina has already been reduced to a ghost city and if the bombing continues, it is only a question of time before Belgrade and other cities meet a similar fate at the hands of the US and other powers of the NATO.  
         Despite whatever they might say, the real objective of the continued NATO bombing is no longer the protection of the ethnic Albanians, but the protection of the NATO's credibility.  Its face has to be saved in this 50th year of its anniversary, by subduing the Serbs who dared to resist the NATO's will, whatever be the human cost.  
         How to explain to their (US and Western) people this determination of a mere ant to resist the attempts of a marauding elephant to crush it?  The Psywarriors of the NATO have brought into play all the modern tools of disinformation at their command to project the ant as, in fact, a ferocious elephant.  
         This Psywar has passed through the following phases: 

  • The First phase: The Yugoslav armed forces were projected as a formidable fighting machine, with the latest weapons and technologies. This, despite the fact that due to the economic sanctions and arms embargo imposed at the West's instance, the Yugoslav military has not been able to procure any military equipment for over five years and is suffering from an acute shortage of spare parts even for its old pre-1990 equipment.  Disinformation pieces were also planted on the media about the capability of the Yugoslav anti-aircraft defence and about the supposedly secret visit, before the NATO-imposed war, of a Yugoslav Air Force team to Iraq for a briefing by the Iraqi experts on the techniques employed by the US in its air and Cruise missile attacks on Iraq.  When the Yugoslavs, apparently through sheer luck, managed to bring down a US Stealth fighter, this was projected by the  NATO and US Psywar machines as proof of the clandestine procurement by Belgrade of anti-stealth technology, possibly from sources in Hungary.
  • The Second Phase: The large-scale exodus of the Albanians from Kosovo caused further embarrassment to the US and the NATO since their scorched-earth bombing of Yugoslavia was supposed to prevent it. Faced with the troubling question as to whether the exodus was caused, at least partly, by the destruction wrought by the NATO bombing of Pristina and other places in Kosovo, the psywar machines planted stories of large-scale Serb genocide of the Albanians which, it was alleged, had started long before the NATO bombing. Before the NATO bombing had started, William Walker, the US Ambassador, had ordered the  1,400 international monitors of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe to leave Kosovo, apparently so that they did not become casualties of the NATO bombing. The "Financial Times" of London (March 31, 1999) quoted an unidentified monitor as describing this as a disastrous decision under US pressure that "propelled Kosovo towards further violence." However, after the refugee exodus following the NATO bombing, the US and NATO psywar machines projected the departure of the monitors as due to their "expulsion" by Belgrade as a prelude to its alleged genocide. The BBC, the Direct-To-Home (DTH) British Sky TV and the CNN collaborated with these psywarriors in their satanisation of Yugoslavia. Stories were disseminated of ethnic Albanian political leaders being executed by the Serb military. When some of them turned up alive, with one of them shown on Yugoslav TV with Slobodan Milosevic, these stories were replaced by stories of young Albanian males being prevented from leaving Kosovo and executed. These stories were contradicted by the presence of a large number of young and middle-aged males in the refugee camps in Macedonia and Albania. To cover up the resulting discomfiture, the Western visual media resorted to the practice of focussing only on women, children and old people or repeating old visuals again and again.  Careful viewers of the news bulletins of the BBC, the SkyTV and the CNN would have noticed  that at least a half of the visuals of refugees were repeats of past visuals, re-played to create an impression of continuing exodus. The "Financial Times" of March 31,1999 wrote: "Government leaders such as Britain's Tony Blair can talk freely in Parliament about the "massacres" of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, as recounted by refugees, because no one is able to confirm or deny them independently.  Similarly, NATO claimed on Monday that Fehmi Agani was among five prominent ethnic Albanians executed by Serbs on Sunday, although one close colleague of Mr.Agani in Pristina, Kosovo's capital, told the FT, he had seen the respected ethnic Albanian leader alive and well on Monday morning…Distortion of important background by Western broadcasters, whether intentional or not, has also helped the NATO's cause." 
  • The Third Phase: The third phase, which started on April 8,1999, is directed towards intimidating the Yugoslav psywar machine and destroying its capability to counter the US and NATO psywar machines. As against the crude bluff and bluster techniques of the US and the NATO, the Serb psywar machine has shown much more finesse, by focussing only on true incidents which cannot be shown to be false--though not showing all true incidents. Thus, it has shown a remarkable self-confidence in telecasting all instances of NATO bombing, even in Belgrade, without the least worry that these visuals could affect the morale of the people. Instead of weakening the morale of the people, these visuals have only added to the indignation of the people against the US and the NATO and steeled their determination not to capitulate before the bombing. The Yugoslav psywar set-up also took the CNN and other journalists to Pristina so that they could see for themselves how the US bombing has reduced large sections of the city, including graveyards, to rubble driving practically the entire population out of the city. For the last few days, to correct the earlier impression of a one-sided coverage influenced by the NATO psywar machine, the CNN has also been focussing on scenes of continuing high morale in Yugoslavia, such as well-attended street concerts, a jam-packed football stadium in Belgrade, on the morrow of the most intensive NATO bombing of the city etc. The finesse of the Yugoslav psywar machine was also reflected in the very low-key manner, without any signs of triumphalism, in which the Yugoslav TV reported the downing of the US stealth fighter and the capture of the three US soldiers. 

        Embarrassed by the better performance of the Yugoslav psywar set-up, the NATO demanded on April 8, 1999, that the Yugoslav TV should relay for six hours a day the coverage of the war by Western electronic media, failing which it has threatened to categorise the TV and radio stations of Yugoslavia as military infrastructure targets and bomb them. The CNN reported on the afternoon of April 10,1999, that the NATO has already destroyed a TV transmission tower of Pristina. The NATO spokesman has, however, projected it as due to a mishit and not deliberate.  

B.RAMAN                                               10-4-99 

(The writer is Additional Secretary (Retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, and presently Director, Institute for Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: