warplanes pulverized a passenger train today, killing at least 12 people,
including a young girl, and injuring dozens. But the American media wasn't
interested. The same people who obsessively dissected each and every lurid
detail of Bill Clinton's sex life for over a year are squeamish when it
comes to the details of war: on MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams,
the pictures of the train crash "are so graphic," avers Brian,
"that we cannot show them on television for fear of upsetting viewers."
forbid viewers should see anything that might upset them, and cause them
to question the "humanitarian" rationale for this war. Just
keep showing the same loop of crying refugees, interspersed with military
"experts" to explain the technical details and a steady parade
of administration spokesmen to give every event the right spin. Throw
in a couple of gangersterish Albanian-Americans screaming for Serb blood,
fifteen hours a day of John McCain, and you have the "coverage"
of Clinton's conquest of the Balkans: a propaganda extravaganza of major
proportions. The charged atmosphere of a nation in wartime is beginning
to show up in the coverage, and the door to dissent is rapidly closing.
Reporting on the war is cast in cartoonish sloganeering language, such
as this MSNBC teaser line: "The borders between Serbia and Albania
are now closed. Can ground troops open them?"
a feat of journalism akin to never using the word "scandal"
in a documentary about the Clinton administration, CNN managed to produce
a documentary about the KLA without once mentioning the word "heroin."
It was a memorable piece of hagiography, deftly mythologizing KLA "martyrs"
and full of camera close-ups of young female cadres in snappy green-and-red
uniforms. For "content," viewers were treated to an official
of "Human Rights Watch," the self-styled guardian of individual
rights around the world, admitting that the KLA participated in kidnappings
and killings of Serbians in Kosovo. But, he said, they weren't
"really" terrorists because there were "no bombings in
Belgrade." Whose human rights are these people watching out
speaking of the KLA, this "human rights" activist smiled and
his eyes were shining with a fanatic idolatry hauntingly familiar to longtime
observers of guerrilla chic. Bianca Jagger, who is now a leading light
of the War Party, a kind of rock-&-roll version of Madeleine Albright,
used to make pilgrimages to Managua to make propaganda for the Sandinistas.
The "revolutionary" movements championed by the baby-boomers
in their babyhood -- remember 'Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh, the NLF is gonna win!"
-- have all failed. Except in the United States, where the long march
of yesterday's New Leftists through the institutions has yielded them
the bastions of power in academia, the media, and government. Now that
the they are in power they see the U.S. government, far from being an
agency of evil, as an instrument of the good -- not only at home but abroad.
From cheerleading the NLF to embracing the KLA is not that long a road
to travel: both are dubious "liberation" movements in backward
countries heavily influenced by Marxist ideology and devoted to violence
in theory and practice. And so, you see, the boomers haven't really changed.
The only difference is that, today, instead of demonstrating for peace
and taking over the Dean's office, they are itching for war and have taken
over the Oval Office.
NATO disinformation campaign aimed at Ibrahim Rugova, the Albanian pacifist
leader who is seeking to bring about a peaceful resolution of the Kosovo
civil war, took a comic turn when BBC newscasters opined that footage
shown on Serbian television of Rugova meeting with Slobodan Milosevich
was at least three years old -- because Rugova was wearing a suit he had
worn three years ago. When it turned out that Rugova had indeed been in
Belgrade, no more was heard on the BBC about this feat of sartorial detection.
is standing by her man, in war as in peace. Her recent trip to Morocco
was meant to spotlight support for American policy on behalf of Muslim
Albanians in the Arab world, and was thought all around to be a great
success. Traveling though a nation whose government has routinely nullified
elections and repressed opposition parties, Hillary noted that "I've
witnessed many examples of how this country continues to expand the circle
of human dignity." She also "imagined how life would be different
in other parts of the world -- especially in Kosovo -- if all of the world's
leaders worked for tolerance and peace rather than divisiveness and war"
-- as her husband makes war on the Serbian people, and seeks to divide
a multiethnic nation along ethnic and religious lines. "As we have
learned in the United States," she continued, "and as I have
seen in Morocco this week, government can enforce rights and create a
fertile climate for tolerance." As the world enforcer of "rights,"
we will force the Yugos to "embrace peace." Naturally, a few
lives will be lost, victory "won't come without a price," but
never mind that: "We must do whatever it takes to ensure that ethnic
tensions are resolved by force of argument, not the force of arms."
This from a woman whose husband has unleashed a war of aggression on a
sovereign nation that has so far claimed over 400 lives.
WITH THE SHOW
foreign policy elite is tearing its hair out over the upcoming celebration
of NATO's 50th anniversary. With Serbia standing up quite well to the
combined assault of NATO's nineteen member nations, the advocates of a
ground war in Europe are claiming that we can't afford to lose because
"it may be that NATO's first major engagement turns out to be a failure,"
says Ivo Daalder, a former member of Clinton's National Security Council
and a leading warmonger. "And that forces you to ask: What is NATO
for?" God forbid we should be forced to ask any such question: that,
of course, would be a fate far worse than losing tens of thousands of
lives in a war to the death with Serbia.
BLAST FROM THE PAST
is a question that was asked by opponents of the NATO treaty fifty years
ago, such as Senator Robert A. Taft, Republican of Ohio, who noted that
for all the rhetoric about NATO being a "defensive" measure,
the line between defense and offense was easily blurred. His comments
come to mind as I read, in today's New York Times, that the theme
of the 50th anniversary shindig is to be NATO's "new strategic concept"
as a force operating far beyond Europe, with NATO patrolling hotspots
in the Middle East and South Asia. Taft was also right that the passage
of the NATO treaty would allow the President to take the nation into war
without the consent of Congress, as we are beginning to learn. As the
last great Republican leader who stood for the foreign policy of the Founding
Fathers, and opposed America's drift toward empire, Senator Taft looked
into the future and described our own dilemma in terms that can only be
called prophetic. Warning of the disastrous consequences of passing the
NATO treaty, Taft wrote: "Think of the tremendous power which this
proposal gives the President to involve us in any war throughout the world,
including civil wars where we may favor one faction against the other."
But this warning was ignored as the carping of outdated "isolationists,"
and the NATO treaty passed the Senate with only a handful of dissenting
votes as the Cold War went into high gear. As Cold War II gets off the
ground, and the advocates of a newly-aggressive and expanded NATO flex
their muscles in a public "celebration," Taft's remarkable prescience
needs to be remembered. The question is not, as Ivo Daalder puts it, "What
is NATO for?" Instead, we need to ask: "Is NATO necessary?"
If the purpose of the alliance is to meddle in the internal affairs of
sovereign nations, then the answer must be an emphatic no.
mantra repeated endlessly is the description of the Kosovar exodus as
"the worse humanitarian disaster in Europe since World War II."
What is not even mentioned, naturally, is that this war is the first attack
on a sovereign nation since the end of World War II.
Hayden, a professor of Russian history at the University of Pennsylvania,
has somehow managed to get hired on as a resident Balkan expert on John
Hockenberry's MSNBC program, "Crisis in Kosovo: Live From Albania,"
and he is magnificent: clear, concise, passionate, and aggressive, he
regularly demolishes the interventionist nonsense of such worthies as
Caspar Weinberger and Henry Kissinger, who argue that we must pursue a
wrong policy to the very end for reasons of "prestige" and "win"
this war. Tonight he was particularly memorable, as, in an emotional yet
effective rhetorical flourish, he said: "Yeah right, Henry, the way
we won it in Vietnam. In Laos. In Cambodia." It was a rare moment
in the television history of this war: for the first time a note of reality
and a sense of history was introduced into the discussion.
keep hearing about the great national debate that is supposed to precede
a military intervention of this magnitude and significance, but when oh
when is it going to start? The few bright spots of televised dissent that
light up an otherwise dreary procession of administration apologists and
militaristic "experts" stand out because they are exceptions
to the rule: only a few, including Hayden, Bay Buchanan, and the heroic
Ollie North, dare to challenge the interventionist consensus that this
war is both moral and necessary. As World War I broke out, and a new dark
age seemed to be descending over the continent, it was said that "the
lamps are going out all over Europe." Now the lamps are flickering
all over America, as we enter the second month of Clinton's war. U.S.
troops stream into Albania, over 300 new warplanes are commandeered for
the battle, and the leaders of both parties differ only in the degree
of their murderousness. On the domestic front the theme is unanimity.
this unanimity is superficial. Dissent is bubbling just beneath the surface,
waiting to erupt. Today's news that the Warmonger-in-chief was being held
in contempt by a judge for lying under oath in the Paula Jones sexual
harassment case was a kind of poetic justice -- for contempt describes
exactly what growing numbers of people both here and internationally feel
for this American Caligula, whose bloodlust is surpassed only by his lust
for other less deadly forms of gratification.
of $20 or more 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
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Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com. He is also the author
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).