It should also be remembered that these
inflated body counts undoubtedly played a large role in building
up support or at least in neutralizing latent opposition
among ordinary Americans. With or without inflated body counts,
we were told repeatedly by official spokesmen and their unpaid media
flacks that a virtual genocide a wholesale slaughter of unarmed
Albanian civilians of horrifying proportions was taking place.
Only a hard-hearted isolationist (or perhaps wink, wink
a Milosevic lover who took pleasure in the death of innocents),
the propaganda line went, could fail to be moved and to support
at least some effort to stop the slaughter. Bombing might not have
been the perfect answer in many Americans' minds, but at least it
was a gesture of outrage.
But it is now becoming clear that the U.S. government undertook
a massively expensive and ill-planned but enormously destructive
bombing campaign against unarmed civilians to prevent a genocide
that was not taking place to stop a mass deportation that
had not happened. Now see Bosnia where, as a Monday night
"Nightline'' report makes clear, there is no end in sight to
foreign occupation US and Western European troops are likely
to be ensconced in Kosovo engaging in fruitless and counterproductive
"nation-building'' for years to come.
All based on lies.
(All right, I'll concede that some of the spokesmen, forced to rely
themselves on necessarily partial information, might actually have
believed some of the lies they told when they told them. But some
of them clearly knew they were lying at the time and continued to
do so with gusto.)
OF THE CONSCIENTIOUS
It was enormously frustrating to watch
the process, as a journalist with more than a few years of professional
experience, during the war. One watched the NATO briefings and knew
numerous lies were being told, if only because all too many of the
assertions were so implausible. But it was too facile to say, simply,
"of course they're lying; their lips are moving'' without some
documentation, some countervailing evidence from reliable sources
or authorities on the ground.
But I wasn't in a position to investigate personally, and few of
the journalists close to the action were inclined to undertake lengthy
and possibly dangerous personal investigations that might have debunked
some of NATO's claims. And even if those in a position to do so
had wanted to look more closely at NATO assertions, the assertions
were so numerous and came at us so quickly that it would have been
virtually impossible to do so in a timely fashion.
Most of the "journalists'' near the action were content to be mouthpieces
for unrebutted NATO claims anyway. But to cut them a bit of slack,
it would have taken battalions of skilled investigative reporters
with wartime experience to run down all of NATO's claims.
FIRST INTERNET WAR
We did have the advantage of the Internet
during this war, an information tool not available either to supporters
or to opponents or skeptics of previous wars. But in part because
it was the first time the tool had been used Antiwar.com
was the best but not the only conscientious disseminator of information
skeptical of the official line it was difficult to have as
much confidence as one might have liked in the sources made available
through the Internet. There's little doubt, for example, that official
Serb sources had an ax to grind and should be viewed with at least
a modicum of skepticism.
So I, for one, was completely convinced NATO spokesmen were lying
early and often, but more than a bit uncertain what countervailing
information to believe. It was almost impossible to pinpoint and
document the lies when they were being told. So those who questioned
the official version were subject to skepticism sometimes warranted themselves.
One other NATO lie recently came to
the surface. NATO and US officials grudgingly acknowledged in the
last few weeks that one of the vaunted Stealth aircraft coated
and shaped so as to be virtually "invisible'' to radar
was shot down during the war. I remember claims from the Serbian
government and from Serb sympathizers during the war that at least
one of the Stealth planes had been shot down.
Without dismissing the possibility, I and many others were skeptical
of such claims as obvious Serb wartime propaganda. NATO spokespeople,
of course, vigorously denied not only the claims but even the possibility
that one of America's proud technological triumphs was potentially
vulnerable to enemy fire. These were super-weapons, symbols and
instruments of the Empire's ability to impose its will on smaller
countries without taking personal casualties.
It turns out, however, that however many lies and whoppers the Serb
spokesmen might have told during the war and I have no doubt they
told plenty they were more reliable as purveyors of information
than "our'' side.
Please, please, let's remember this and be able to remind others
during the buildup to the next conflict when those who doubt
the wisdom of further adventures or question the claims of official
spokesmen will once again be dismissed as unthinking critics with
no proof or even as sympathizers with whatever leader (who will
undoubtedly have plenty of real blemishes) is being demonized by
the war propaganda machine and its subservient courtier press.
contribution of $20 or more gets you a copy of Justin Raimondo's
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