by Justin Raimondo
CASUALTIES OF WAR
NATO has struck at the town of Aleksinac, in southern Serbia. Five people were killed, and at least thirty injured. Brent Sadler reports on CNN that elderly men and women were victims of the bombing, and that one woman managed to save two of her children but was forced to leave her other family members beneath the rubble. A civilian medical facility was hit. "I think what I'm seeing here is the largest civilian casualty toll since the beginning of the NATO airstrikes," said Sadler. "I saw quite clearly that these were civilian homes. . . . I saw body parts inside these buildings." Serbian television shows bombed out houses and apartment buildings, insides exposed to the open air, the contents spilling out like guts trailing from a corpse. Then we cut back to the omnipresent Christiane Amanpour, her portentous voice intoning the litany of Muslim victimology, and the endless pictures of Kosovar refugees who seem able to cry on command, just as you or I would turn on a tap or a light. Today the CNN cameramen are concentrating on long loving close-ups of Kosovar children, each one of whom emits a steady trickle of tears. Never mind the children whose blood stains the streets of Aleksinac -- that is the unspoken exhortation. Look at these children, over here.
A PROUD PEOPLE
In Aleksinac, we hear from our nongovernmental sources in Serbia that body parts are strewn all over the streets: "Photos to follow." Such pictures are not available on Serbian television, which shows damage but no bodies; the government doesn't want to panic the population, and they are too proud to want to evoke that kind of sympathy in the West.
Each day, as I have pointed out, has a theme, a leitmotif that permeates the propaganda emanating from America's television screens like some hypnotic ray. But reality sometimes breaks through, and careens out of the control of the propagandists: Brent Sadler's gruesome report, Ron Allen's gentle insistence that this war is not as antiseptic as it is made out to be. On April 5, 1999, the theme of the day is: death.
THE JOHN McCAIN MARATHON: DAY 5
The John McCain marathon continues, with no end in sight. His bloated and weirdly unresponsive face is everywhere, from CNN to MSNBC. His idiotic slogan "now that we're in it, we've got to win it" is like the lyrics to some pop tune, the kind you can't get out of your head. The sheer power of its inanity, reinforced by endless repetition, is meant to overwhelm all critical thought: ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do and die. A perfect credo for a dictatorship, but grotesquely inappropriate in the United States of America.
THE RUGOVA FACTOR
Ibrahim Rugova, the pacifist leader and elected president of the Kosovar "underground" Republic, continues to be the wild card in an increasingly fluid situation. He is everywhere: shown on Serbian television meeting with Milosevic in Belgrade, in Russia meeting with officials, holding a news conference in Pristina and demanding a halt to the bombing. NATO officials, worried that Rugova will sign a separate peace with the Serbians, moved today to preempt Milosevic's anticipated "peace offensive." It is widely expected that the Serbians will propose a cease-fire over the Orthodox Easter holiday, which is next week, and announce that they have signed an agreement with Rugova to pursue a political settlement of the Kosovo question. While NATO today denounced such an move in advance, it is significant that they did not name Rugova as a possible party to this settlement; their reticence reflects the tremendous prestige he has built up for his principled nonviolent stance. This has naturally not stopped the fanatics of the KLA from accusing him of treason -- a crime punishable by death, at least according to the Albanian "Code of Lek," the ancient laws of retribution that have governed Albanian life and culture for centuries. The KLA would have long ago carried out this sentence if not for the Serbian police, who stand guard over Rugova's house in Pristina. This has given the Western media the perfect pretext for ignoring his pronouncements: Rugova, who has fought for independence for many years, is suddenly the Marshall Petain of the Balkans. But if Rugova does sign an agreement with Milosevic, NATO and the Clinton administration will face a setback on the diplomatic front to match the series of defeats the Yugos have been handing them all week on the military front. Domestic political pressures in Germany, France, Italy, and especially Greece would exacerbate growing tensions within the NATO alliance, and could lead to an open split. For the Serbs, a political agreement with Rugova's signature would be the diplomatic equivalent of downing half a dozen Stealth bombers.
THE COSTS OF WAR
Clinton's war has already cost us over $400 million, according to an article to be published in tomorrow's Los Angeles Times. Matt Drudge reports that the price tag could quickly escalate "to between $2 billion and $4 billion if the airstrikes proceed for even a few weeks longer."
A few weeks longer? What are these people thinking? Do they really imagine that the nation that held off both Hitler and Stalin is going to capitulate in a few weeks? By the time we fight ourselves out of there, the cost in human lives as well as tax dollars is going to be horrific. Here is the excuse elements in both parties have been looking for to throw even the pretense of fiscal restraint to the four winds. The war gives them cover while they get down and dirty in an orgy of spending that will effectively put an end to conservative efforts to cut the federal budget.
A LUST FOR LIES
The Yugo media is tonight reporting that their air defenses shot down two NATO combat jets: one, near Novi Sad, was on a mission to take out the last remaining bridge over the Danube. The pilot ejected near the northern village of Remete, in Petrovaradin. As I write this, the Yugos are claiming that "NATO helicopters appeared around the targeting spot" and "the chase is still going on." Serbian RTS television also claimed that a second plane was hit after an attack on an RTS transmitter on Mount Fruska Gora, south of Novi Sad. NATO contemptuously dismisses this contention, as it has denied similar assertions in the past week, claiming that all its aircraft returned safely from their latest bombing missions. In view of the great secrecy in which the Allied operation is being conducted, a NATO cover-up of the true extent of our losses is not completely beyond the pale. Lying in the name of patriotism seems at least as excusable as lying for love (or lust) -- it is just a different kind of love.
Holy Cow! I thought, as I read the weekly website hit report: 17,000 hits! What is even more exciting is that the numbers have quadrupled over the past three or four days. But the numbers don't really reflect the intensity of being at the center of all this attention: the letters we get reflect the significance this site has for many, especially to our friends in the Balkans -- not only in Yugoslavia but throughout the Balkans. I got one letter from a Serbian emigrant in Budapest, an intelligent young man who wrote that he couldn't trust the biased media and turned to antiwar.com as his primary source of news about the war. A worried Macedonian writes about the destabilizing effects of the massive influx of Kosovars, who are joining up with their Macedonian Kosovar brothers in demanding the partition of the country. An American living in Belgrade with a daughter who is half-Serbian and a wife writes of his shock and dismay at the American attack, and the shambles it has made of his life. It is not just the growing quantity of our readers and supporters, but their quality that imbues me with a sense of responsibility and a new determination to continue this project to the end, despite the chaos it is causing in my personal and professional life, not to mention my financial state. Like a jealous lover, the site is taking up all of my time and attention, leaving other writing projects undone -- and the income from these uncollected. Going through all the email we get takes practically all morning; researching new stories takes up the rest of the afternoon, while the evening is reserved for writing that day's diary entry and consulting with Webmaster Eric on the phone. I don't get to bed until 3 A.M.
How long can I keep this up?
I can keep it up only as long as they don't turn off the electricity, but they are mighty close to doing that, and so I am going to pull a fast one on you -- yes, you -- and take this opportunity to pass the hat. We don't mind living on Ritz crackers and Mayonnaise sandwiches as long as we can bring you the best, the most interesting, and the fastest news and analysis of this war without interruption or editorial constraints. In spite of the Clintonians' naive expectations, this war isn't going to end anytime soon. NATO has announced that they are settling down for the long haul, and we must follow suit: antiwar.com is here to stay, if not eternally, then indefinitely. But we cannot do it without your active support. We need your help: or else this bookmark may one day yield a "not at this URL" -- in which case you'll have to get your news from Christiane Amanpour. A contribution of $20 or over gets you a copy of my Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against U.S. Intervention in the Balkans, a 60-page booklet packed with the kind of intellectual ammunition you need to fight the lies being put out by this administration and its allies in Congress. Send contributions to
Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com. He is also the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (with an Introduction by Patrick J. Buchanan), (1993), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against U.S. Intervention in the Balkans (1996). He writes frequently for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (forthcoming from Prometheus Books).