An intervention intended to crown the US imperial project ended up “losing” Russia instead
FILE PHOTO. Two Kosovar boys play with a wheelbarrow January 12, 2001 in Klina, Kosovo at one of 112 sites where NATO used armor-piercing shells tipped with depleted uranium during the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia. © Getty Images/Darko Bandic/Newsmakers
Understanding the present-day events in Ukraine is impossible unless you study what happened in 1999 with Serbia. There is a Hegelian thread that runs directly from NATO’s ostensible “humanitarian intervention” to the Russian “special military operation,” linking Belgrade to Belgorod – and everything in-between.
When the first NATO jets dropped their bombs on the capital of then-Yugoslavia, on March 24, 1999, it was supposed to be the crowning achievement of a project described at the time as “benevolent global hegemony.” More commonly known today as the “rules-based international order,” it would be unipolar; the US would make all the rules and the rest of the globe would fall into two camps: allies and future targets.
The US, with NATO as its enforcement arm, had already managed to sideline the UN during the first half of the decade. UN peacekeepers were simply shoved aside during a US-backed Croatian onslaught against Serbs, followed by the NATO bombing of Serbs in Bosnia and a peace agreement negotiated in the shadow of US bombers at an airbase near Dayton, Ohio.
By February 1998, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was describing the US as “the indispensable nation,” willing and able to use force “to sacrifice for freedom, democracy and the American way of life.” Little wonder, then, that Albright was one of the main drivers of the 1999 NATO assault on Yugoslavia, with champions and critics alike dubbing it “Madeleine’s War.”