This is a documentary about the late Scottish lawyer Polly Higgins and Spanish jurist Baltazar Garzon and their efforts to have the UN declare ecocide (damage to the Earth) a crime against humanity.
Higgins who died unexpectedly in April, gave up her corporate law practice in 2010 to mobilize support for an amendment to the UN Rome Statute defining crimes against humanity. This would make corporate executives (rather than corporation) personally responsible for environmental crimes committed by their companies. Higgins believed the interests of the Earth could only be protected by international law, as most countries have laws requiring corporations to put shareholders above any other interests.
Garzon, a former Spanish judge, first attracted international prominence in 2000 for having former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet arrested in London for crimes against humanity. The jurist presently serves on Julian Assange’s legal team. With his daughter Maria’s help, he has established a nonprofit foundation to assist communities sue international corporations whose mining and international activities have destroyed ecosystems they rely on for their basic needs.
In the early 70s, Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme launched the first campaign to have the UN declare ecocide as a crime against humanity. He did so in reaction to America’s total decimation of Vietnam’s jungle habitat via Agent Orange and indiscriminate bombing, Although Palme was assassinated in 1986, his supporters’ resolution was nearly adopted in 1996. Unfortunately backdoor lobbying by the US, UK, France and the Netherlands blocked the UN General Assembly from adopting it.
The deliberate demonization of the Serbian people by the Clinton administration has been a special interest ever since I cared for Serbian PTSD victims in the mid-nineties. At the time there were rumors the US was after oil in the Caspian basin. Until I saw this documentary, I was unaware of the bloodthirsty ruthlessness of US policy in Yugoslavia. Nor that Clinton, like his successors George W Bush and Barack Obama, was guilty of war crimes. The film also sheds important light on current US policy in Ukraine.
The Weight of Chains is about the deliberate break-up of Yugoslavia in the 80s and 90s to enable its transformation into a US colony, like Iraq and Afghanistan. The cover story blaming Serbian barbarism for the conflagration in Bosnia and Kosovo was pure fabrication by the Clinton administration and US media.
Under Marshall Tito (1943-1980), Yugoslavia enjoyed an ethnically diverse society in which Muslim Turks, Croatians, Serbians, Hungarians, Albanians and other ethnic minorities lived side by side and intermarried. It was a very prosperous nation, thanks to a mixed economy that combined central economic planning with private enterprise, worker cooperatives and a generous welfare state. Tito, who stubbornly resisted Russian pressure to join the Soviet bloc, was one of the founders of the non-aligned movement.*
Enter the NED
Shortly after Tito’s death in 1980, President Reagan signed a secret memorandum declaring his intention to transform Yugoslavia into a “market economy” (translation: US colony for Wall Street investors). The first salvo in this campaign was to send in the CIA-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED), to finance pro-US opposition groups, journalists, trade unionists and the G17. The latter was a group of World Bank economists who seized control of the Yugoslavian economy by inducing corrupt officials to enter into unpayable loans. By the late 1980s, the G17 had imposed deep cuts on all social services and forced 1,100 industries into bankruptcy. Those that weren’t totally wiped out were sold to foreign investors at rock bottom prices.
Thanks to these austerity cuts, by 1990 Yugoslavia’s unemployment rate had soared to 20%. When the government appealed to the US for debt relief, Bush senior cut off all aid to Yugoslavia. Under US pressure, the IMF only agreed to fund right wing ultranationalist groups in six autonomous regions (Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Bosnia) – provided they declared independence from Yugoslavia. The Bush senior administration also illegally supplied arms to Croatian fascists who would seize control of Croatia and the Muslim Bosniaks who controlled Bosnia.
Accordingly Slovenia and Croatia declared independence in 1992 and Bosnia in 1992.
US-Inspired Ethnic Cleansing
Despite constant denunciation of the Serbian people (as fascist thugs) by the Clinton administration and Senator Joe Biden, the real culprits were fascist American thugs. In 1995, the Clinton administration financed and armed the Croatian government to carry out the largest act of ethnic cleansing in history in the Serbian enclave of Krajinia. Thanks to the American-inspired Operation Storm, 2,000 Serbs were killed and 250,000 were driven from their homes over a period of 84 hours. One of my patients, whose sister was massacred during Operation Storm, only survived because his Muslim neighbors hid him and his children from the Croatian army.
The Weight of Chains also deconstructs the alleged Serb atrocities committed at Srebrenica (where equal numbers of Serbs and Muslims died), which the US would use to justify NATO intervention.
Enter Osama bin Laden
Following Serbian independence, Clinton armed and trained the terrorist Kosovo Liberation Army,** with the assistance of Osama bin Laden and heroin-trafficking Mujahideen from Afghanistan. The President’s chief motivation was to further destabilize Serbia to open it up to US investment.
When Slobodan Milosevic refused to sign a peace agreement accepting US occupation of Serbia, Clinton committed further violations of international law by using NATO aircraft to bomb Serbian civilians and deliberately target civilian infrastructure that included power grids, schools, hospitals and water filtration plants.
Enter George Soros
Following Milosevic’s surrender in June 1999, the World Bank immediately sent in an army of World Bank lawyers to privatize Serbia’s most valuable state-owned assets. Soros and his cronies were particularly keen on getting the Trercha mining interest into western hands, with its rich coal, copper, zinc, cadmium, gold and silver resources.
The film concludes by examining the dire economic consequences (ie massive debt, industry closure and joblessness) for Eastern European countries whose business elites opt to join the EU and NATO. For example, the EU forced the Czech Republic to close their sugar industry because it was more profitable to import Cuban sugar. While the French destroyed the Hungarian vineyards by dumping cheap wine into their market, forcing Hungarian wine growers to sell their vineyards to English investors at bargain basement prices. After Slovenia joined the EU in 2004, they experienced massive layoffs after most of their factories were privatized and moved overseas. In 2009, Croatia (like Greece) was forced to start selling their islands to pay off their debt.
*The Non-Aligned Movement is a group of states which aren’t formally aligned with or against any specific power bloc.
**Kosovo is a disputed territory within Serbia in which ethnic Albanians make up 80-90% of the population.
US Veto History Shows Flagrant Disregard for International Law
The western media is roundly condemning Russia for vetoing a Security Council resolution condemning tomorrow’s referendum on Crimean self-determination as illegal under international law. The US, as usual, is being extremely selective in their support for international law. Their own veto history reveals that they have vetoed 41 resolutions demanding that Israel respect international law in occupied Palestine.
According Samantha Power, US ambassador to the UN, “Russia has used its veto as an accomplice to unlawful military incursion.”
How ironic. Substitute “US” for “Russia,” and you could be describing US behavior as regards the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
The 41 US vetoes include numerous resolutions condemning the construction of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine, which are illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention. The Obama administration last blocked Security Council efforts to force Israel to end settlement construction in February 18, 2011. You have to question the President’s sincerity in the current Middle East peace process. For peace negotiations to be fair, surely they must start with an absolute requirement that Israel abide by international law.
Other resolutions condemn Israeli for massive human rights violations against Palestinian civilians, their illegal war of aggression against Lebanon and Gaza, and their illegal expropriation of land in the West Bank, the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem. The US also vetoed a call for the UN to investigate Israel’s role in the murder of UN Food Program workers and countless Palestinian civilians
Any of the five permanent members of the Security Council (US, UK, Britain, France, Russia, China) have the power to veto a Security Council resolution. There have been 264 vetoes of Security Council resolutions. Approximately half were exercised by the Soviets prior to 1965, in most cases to oppose the admission of new pro-Western states to the UN.