Examination of witness (Questions 1080
TUESDAY 20 JUNE 2000
1080. Two questions. Getting back to these possible
invasion routes, there was a former CIA Director whose name escapes
me who argued that going through Hungary was a way to go and presumably
Austria would have been relatively supportive given its EU position.
(Lord Gilbert) Do you not have to go through Slovakia?
1081. Slovakia clearly wants to be in NATO and
feels out of things because it is not in the first wave and has
been put back. Was there not a political case? I suspect the Hungarians
would have been more resistant but the argument that you gave
about the neighbouring states, I would be interested to know whether
that was the real reason.
(Lord Gilbert) I merely pointed out that that is a
fact. I think you are probably right, Mr Gapes, that the real
problem would have been for the Hungarians who had compatriots
in large numbers living in Vojvodina.
1082. The second question
(Lord Gilbert) Forgive me. There is no reason why
you should not do it that way in military terms. If you wanted
to get the Serb forces out of Kosovo you were approaching them
from the point in Serbia furthest away from Kosovo coming from
1083. If Serbia wants to defend Serbia against
invasion it will soon move them out of Kosovo.
(Lord Gilbert) I think that is a perfectly fair point.
1084. The second point is about the KLA. Various
things have come to us in this evidence we have taken so far.
My impression is that a relatively well armed uniformed force
came from virtually nowhere and all the questions we have asked
about that in the past people have put a block on, it is as though
"we do not talk about that" or "we do not have
a view about that". I am interested to know what level of
co-ordination there was in terms of the ground offensive by the
KLA in the way that was all happening and also really how much
support was being given from NATO countries, particularly the
United States, to the KLA.
(Lord Gilbert) I am afraid I am going to be one of
your wimps on this one, I do not know. If I did I would be happy
to discuss it with you. I suspect there was some financial support
from Middle Eastern countries and other Muslim countries.
1085. There are a lot of Albanians outside.
(Lord Gilbert) It was, in the eyes of a lot of people,
a religious war, as I am sure you know.
1086. What about what General Naumann told us
when he was here two weeks ago? He said that he believed as the
Chairman of the Committee that Milosevic, despite a bit of to-ing
and fro-ing around the edges, had honoured the October Agreement
by removing his troops from Kosovo and then the void was filled
by the KLA going in and committing atrocities and abuses against
the Serbs which then left Milosevic in the precarious position
of either sitting back and allowing that to continue or to react.
The suggestion he was putting forward was that the KLA manufactured
the final NATO involvement there by taking that line when they
did. If that was the case, did no-one see that coming?
(Lord Gilbert) I think certain people were spoiling
for a fight in NATO at that time, ***. If you ask my personal
view, I think the terms put to Milosevic at Rambouillet were absolutely
intolerable; how could he possibly accept them; it was quite deliberate.
That does not excuse an awful lot of other things, but we were
at a point when some people felt that something had to be done,
so you just provoked a fight.
1087. Was the conflict avoidable?
(Lord Gilbert) Chairman, yes, I suppose the answer
has to be that, but on what terms is very difficult to say. Was
the conflict avoidable without Milosevic behaving in the way he
subsequently did in Kosovo? Would he have done the same thing
in Kosovo if it had spread it out over a period of five years
rather than a few months? If you will forgive me, I think that
is an almost impossible question to answer.
1088. Fair enough. John, when we were both involved
in the aftermath of the Falklands one of the many areas that we
had to take a line around was on psychological operations. Nobody
put their hands up to actually having any responsibility but you
managed to get them, through pressure on them, at least to give
us transcripts of Radio Atlantico, Dell and SUR. We have not got
the slightest idea how psyops are organised in NATO or the Ministry
of Defence, if there is such an organisation. Could you tell us
are psyops directed against a domestic audience or against adversaries?
How successful was it? How do we find out how successful or otherwise
(Lord Gilbert) I have a lot of sympathy with you in
your difficulty, Chairman. I was trying very hard to find that
out when in the Ministry of Defence and my formal responsibilities
did include intelligence and security matters under the Secretary
of State of course. One of the things that I regret about the
MoD document, Lessons from the Crisis,
is that there is no mention of psyops that I can find in it at
all. The nearest you get to it is on page 30 where there is a
discussion of IW but that is not the same thing at all. When the
Ministry of Defence is talking about IW it means intercepting
communications and screwing up people's computer systems and telephone
systems and all of that. I was asking questions about psyops from
the very beginning. I think there was certainly a feeling on the
part of some senior people in the Ministry of Defence that psyops
meant telling untruths, telling falsehoods, and therefore these
were things that should be avoided and were very, very dangerous.
I used to take what I had always understood to be Churchill's
view of these matters, namely in war it is permissable to deceive
your own people, it is obligatory to deceive your enemy and one
thing you should never, never do is deceive your allies. I think
that is not a bad basic rule. There was a certain sensitivity
within the Ministry of Defence. ***. The structure, as far as
I knew, was as follows. I am sorry this is very patchy and incomplete.
***. Presumably the Americans have some psyops base there. I was
also told that at the beginning at any rate every single NATO
leaflet was approved personally by General Clark. I do not know
if that is true but that is what I was told. We were also told
that in the first five days, I think, my memory is a little hazy
so do not hold me to the figures, ***. I can remember also being
told "awfully sorry, our Hercules are not adapted to dropping
leaflets" and you will probably understand that this is a
highly technical thing, dropping leaflets and so on. And, of course,
everything was supposed to be done from 15,000 feet at that time,
as you are well aware. There was one ridiculous leaflet. The first
ones were very crude, very primitive, but I saw one later on in
the campaign, and I cannot recall exactly when it was but I can
go and check the files of when it was, which said that some ***
Yugoslav troops had defected. I said "what is the evidence
for this?" in MoD when I got hold of this and nobody had
any evidence. I went to our intelligence people and said "do
you know about these *** Yugoslav troops who have defected, why
have we not been told about it in our 8.30 briefings every morning?"
and, of course, nobody knew anything about it. This was in the
leaflets that were being dropped which was a clear nonsense. You
could say it would have affected people's morale but most of the
people on whom those leaflets would have landed would have known
perfectly well it was a nonsense and I would have thought been
counterproductive. I am told that we had *** I could never find
out. They probably said this as a sop to me but I said "for
God's sake, do we have *** engaged in psyops campaigns, it is
extremely important". I think they were patronising about
all that. I happen to know that DERA Malvern employs no fewer
than 100 psychologists. I was very surprised when I found this
out. I found it out before Kosovo and I asked ***. You know how
it is, you ask a question three times and if you do not get an
answer you give up asking the question, you are only a humble
Minister of State.
Chairman: We will let Julian have the
last word, he rarely does.
1089. That is very kind. I would just like to
go back to what I said before. Do you know whether any attempts
were made at the time that we were publicly proclaiming to Milosevic
that we were not going to do this, we were not going to do that
and we were not going to do the other, primarily, of course, in
order to satisfy our allies and our domestic un-war like populations,
whether there were any psychological operations directed against
him to indicate that, whatever we were saying publicly, in fact
we would stop at nothing to ensure that he was defeated? That
is what should have been done, is it not?
(Lord Gilbert) An awful lot of things should have
been done, Dr Lewis. No, I do not is the answer. We prided ourselves,
or NATO boasted in a number of broadcasts it made, that it had
a website where people sitting in Belgrade could tune in and read
"NATO is good, Milosevic is bad", but I think the whole
thing was pretty amateurish I have to say. Are we coming to the
end of our time, Chairman?
(Lord Gilbert) There are couple of points I would
like to leave with you.
1091. Can I ask one further question for you
on the press conferences, bearing in mind how awful it was in
the Falklands. Was that one of the more successful aspects of
(Lord Gilbert) Yes, I think it was. Personally I did
not share some of the emphases of the press conferences. The use
of the word "genocide", which came up very often, I
thought was quite misplaced because I do not think Mr Milosevic,
whatever else he was doing, was engaged in genocide, he was just
trying to kick people out. He used very unpleasant methods to
do it but he was not actually trying to exterminate them all.
That was unfortunate. No, I think they were extremely informative
and they were watched throughout Europe, in the chanceries of
Europe, and they were also replayed by CNN and got a lot of attention
in Washington. We were the only country doing it. It was a masterpiece
by the British Government, I think that was where we did extremely
well regardless of whether you endorse every last thing that was
said. There are a couple of things that I would like to leave
with your Committee, if I may. One is the terms of the MTAthe
Military Technical Agreementwhich was the basis on which
Milosevic finally pulled his people out of Kosovo. There are several
items in that which I find surprising. There is a term in that
requiring the Serbs to pull out all their heavy equipment in stages
at given days, to get it all out of Kosovo. I could never understand
the rationale for that when it was over. My view was there should
have been a term in the Treaty, the Agreement, which required
them to leave all their heavy equipment in Kosovo. Now they have
got it all back in Yugoslavia. If they want to pick a quarrel
with Montenegro or somebody else they have got all their kit intact.
It seems the most extraordinary perverse logic. I raised this
subject and I found out who had drafted this particular clause
who took rather an exception to the fact that I was challenging
it. They said "What do you want" so I told him and he
said "Well, you could not do that, NATO had no authority
to make such requirements". I said "Well, that being
the case, at the very least the MTA should have been silent on
this subject. It should not have required this kit to be taken
out, just to see whether they have got it or not". That is
one thing you might like to take into account, whether it is within
the terms of evidence of your inquiry, Chairman, I am not sure.
The other thing isand I know this very often raises smiles
if I mention it to youI do think it is important for the
future, particularly when you get people being very squeamish
about the type of targets being attacked, I am quite sure we are
going to see more and more in the future of two features of warfare.
One is the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, we lost several and
so did our Allies, and needless to say there was not a mention
of this in the newspapers. Who cared? They were fairly cheap and
nobody's lives were lost, but they were very effective in bringing
battlefield intelligence back to us. I think we are going to see
more and more of them. Alsoand this is another of my hobby
horsesuse of non-lethal weapons. At the end of the day
we destroyeddestroyed is not the right wordwe inhibited
the Serbs' power supplies by the use of non lethal weapons. There
is always a feeling in the back of people's minds I think that
non lethal weapons are not really proper weapons, almost wimpish
things. If I could leave your Committee with the thought that
the custodians of this great body of experimentation and theory
on the use of non lethal weapons in the United States is the United
States Marine Corps who are hardly the wimps of the American defence
establishment. I think these are matters which we need to address
very seriously in the Ministry of Defence. I think they are being
looked at but I do not think they are being given the priorities
they should. One last thing, if I can remind your Committee, Chairman,
is the incredible shambles we found ourselves in over the oil
embargo. Something needs to be done about it and I have refreshed
my memory on that, if I can detain you just a moment longer, within
the last 24 hours. Under international law, as I understand it,
you need the consent of the state of which a particular ship is
flagged in order to detain that ship. That is enough legal basis
if you get the consent of that particular state. The United Kingdom
can apply that regime to the ships of flagged states and, with
the consent of the regime, hold them up. Naval vessels of consenting
states can apply their regimes to United Kingdom ships. It is
when you get to United Kingdom ships being detained by Royal Navy
ships, surprisingly enough, that you get legal problems. There
are some limited powers under domestic law to apply the regime
to our ships. I am told regulations have been made under the EC
Act of 1972, but even that is debateable. I am also told that
in all these situations you could be subject to litigation where
we are stopping other people's ships, where people are stopping
our ships, let alone where there is any question of us stopping
our own ships. I think, if I may say so, that is an area that
your Committee might, with profit, like to look into, Chairman.
Thank you very much.
1092. Thank you so much, John. You have the
perfect liberty to make Nixon-like deletions. Even if you do,
it has been very, very helpful, thank you very much.
(Lord Gilbert) Thank you very much for having me.
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