by Justin Raimondo
Five hours after the downing of an American Stealth bomber, the U.S. government has yet to acknowledge what the whole world is watching: every American media outlet is broadcasting Serbian television showing the burning wreckage of the American plane. The first American casualty in what promises to be a long and bloody war is a spectacular event: the much-vaunted Stealth bomber was the star of the Gulf wars, hammering prostrate Iraqis and bombing that benighted land back to the Stone Age in a matter of a few weeks. Larry King suggests that now is the time for Clinton to "take to the airwaves and "speak to the nation." But surely if each time we suffer a casualty in this bloody war, the President has to speak to the nation then the airwaves will be filled with little else but an endlessly repeating loop of the Great Liar and Pants-Dropper.
It was a San Francisco event, and, as such, dominated by the Left -- not the Clintonian Left, of course, which avidly supports this act of aggression, just as they ignored and whitewashed Clintonian aggression against Juanita Broderick -- but the Marxist Left. About two thousand people surged down Market Street, on a bright Spring afternoon, much to the amazement of Saturday downtown shoppers, who lined the streets watching the spectacle. The marchers are half Serbians, and half American leftists, with a few stragglers thrown in for good measure. A grizzled Serbian man holds a framed painting of Saint Sava, fighting the long-ago battle in which Kosovo was lost to the invading Turks. The leftists have the megaphones, and they belt out slogans of mind-numbing banality. "U.S. intervention can't end oppression" -- a slogan the Serbs pointedly do not take up, as it implies that their countrymen are in fact oppressing the Kosovars, the latest victim group in the liberal pantheon of "oppressed" peoples. "Money for housing," the leftists shout, not for war!" But I have housing, someone calls out, I'm just against this dirty war! In spite of the desultory chanting, there is an undercurrent of energy and anger centering on the large and vociferous Serbian contingent. Strapping young men with WWII Chetnik hats jauntily pulled down over their brows raise high the red-white-and-blue banner of their homeland. The march pauses in front of the San Francisco Chronicle building: as the voice of middle-class liberalism in the Bay Area, the paper has loyally supported Clinton's war in its news columns as well as on the editorial pages. "Clinton lies, people die!" yell the marchers, shaking their fists at the building. It doesn't matter that no one is in the building to hear their imprecations: it is enough, apparently, to vent their anger. As if struck by the futility of this, the marchers resume their spirited advance, back toward Market Street where at least there are people on the sidewalks. The march stops in what is called "UN Plaza," normally a headquarters for homeless bums and illegal immigrant drug dealers, and now occupied by sturdy young Serbian youths huddling in groups, and clots of leftist grouplets, hawking their unreadable newspapers and waving their banners, printed with complicated slogans. The speakers are Richard Becker, of the International Action Center, who blames the war on nameless "multinational corporations." His rhetoric falls flat on his audience, and he seems to sense this, shifting gears to attack "the German Luftwaffe which is dropping bombs today on Serbia just as they did during World War II." This raises a cheer from the hundreds of Serbians: a young Serbian girl, her blonde hair gleaming like a golden helmet in the sunlight, holds aloft her placard which proclaims: "Kosovo is my Alamo." A pale, rather wan-looking young woman in her twenties is standing next to me, and she looks worried: "What do you think of the nationalist tone of the demonstration?" she asks me: I point out that it is only natural that people would want to fight for the independence and sovereignty of their own country, and that it is a good thing that the Serbians showed up in such numbers. Without them, the crowd would be considerably reduced in numbers and spirit. This appears to make her quite unhappy, and it turns out that she is one of the speakers, representing the International Socialist Organization. From the podium she berates the idea of nationalism, and basically repeats the slogan her group had been chanting with maddening regularity all afternoon long: "U.S. intervention can't stop oppression." A Serb woman with the Serbian national colors pinned to her breast stands next to me, frowning. She does not applaud.
"This is not the first aircraft that we have shot down," says Vladislav Jovanovich, the Serbian charge d'affaires at the UN. "Then where is the film?" asks Larry. Withholding it, says Jovanovich, may be a military tactic." It may also be a military tactic that the U.S. has (so far) denied these allegations. In view of the Serbians' proven military capabilities, their claim to have downed five or more NATO planes is credible. An administration that lied in peace will certainly make lying a policy in war. Larry interviews General Wesley Clark, the picture-perfect image of the American general, who is eerily handsome in an ephebic way: he denies to Larry King that the bombing has united the Serbian people around Milosevic. The demonstrations in Macedonia and around Europe were "planned in Belgrade." Government officials lie effortlessly no matter what the medium, but the TV cameras and the harsh lighting reveal that the Supreme Allied Commander dyes his hair, a kind of silver chestnut color, with distinguished patches of white on the sides.
After polite preliminaries, Larry King immediately begins to bait Buchanan: Pat, you railed against the Vietnam protesters, back when you worked for Nixon, aren't you helping the enemy? Pat brushes aside the implied insult and concentrates on getting his own message out: This Balkan war is not America's war. There is no vital American interest in whose flag flies over Pristina." He is passionate, yet calm, a skilled debater whose sentence structure is perfect and even poetic. "We have put our foot on a slippery slope," he warns, and it is only a matter of time before the administration commits to sending in the ground troops. Begala refers to vague atrocities, and invokes the specter of "genocide." But Buchanan is not cowed by such sanctimony: "Genocide? -- five times as many Americans died at Antietem in the American Civil War as have died in Kosovo's civil war." Begala's face twitches uncontrollably at the mention of this scintillating statistic. Larry wants to know: "What would you do, Pat, about the situation in Kosovo?" and Pat is ready with his answer: "If I were President of the United States President I would withdraw all of our soldiers from the Balkans. " The American role would be purely diplomatic. Pat's critique of the KLA as "a terrorist organization hits home." Begala face twitches, again. Larry interjects: "Aren't you an isolationist, Pat? Isn't Milosevic Hitler?" Ignoring the insult once again -- which not so subtly implies that Pat Buchanan an apologist for Nazism -- Pat is unruffled and manages to land a few good ones: "Oh, for heaven's sake, are you telling me that someone who has lost six provinces in a few years is the equivalent of Hitler. I don't think so. Hitler was thundering at the gate of Moscow and threatening to cross the English channel." Pat points out that Serbia is shrinking, not expanding and then once again avers that this intervention has nothing to do with American interests: We have ruined our relationship with Russia. Begala pipes up; we shouldn't let Russia have a veto over U.S. foreign policy. In this moment, the reversal of political polarity that has been taking place since the end of the Cold War is completed: the liberal Begala calling for a new Cold War with Russia, and the ex-Cold Warrior Buchanan standing up for peace.
Finally, after more than five hours, the Pentagon admits that the American Goliath has been downed by the Serbian David. The good news is that the pilot has been rescued. Fortunate for opponents of this war, that is, as well as fortunate for the family of the pilot. For this means that there will be no parading of an American captive on Serbian state television, inciting Americans to a frenzy of war hysteria. Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon, in his polka-dotted bowtie and thick glasses, looks sternly at the assembled reporters, as if daring them to ask an impertinent question. Nothing has dampened our resolve, he insists. Nothing has changed. His nerdiness is reminiscent of Robert McNamara, with his high domed forehead and the imperious tone: "We will continue to expand the targets to focus more on the forces within Kosovo." Strangely, he refuses to acknowledge that the plane was shot down, insisting they don't know how it went down. But a reporter challenges this, asserting that a SAM missile downed it. Bacon stonewalls, and will not give any details. Virtually all questions are ruled out of order. "Isn't this is a propaganda coup for the Serbs," says a reporter. "And what does this say about the Stealth fighter?" Bacon ignores the crack about the Stealth, and stonily insists that the mission will go forward.
What about public opinion? asks Larry of Begala. The President, we are informed, is not going to base his decisions on public opinion. Oh? The downing of the first American plane marks a turning point in the battle for American public opinion. The fantasy of an antiseptic war in the air, in which our military technology pounds a virtually helpless enemy, is now exploded, along with several million dollars worth of military hardware. With a presidential election on the horizon, the issue of the war is going to be front and center. Buchanan has positioned himself as a Eugene McCarthy of the new millennium, the peace candidate arrayed against the warmongers in both parties. I wonder how the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom is going to handle that. What is more important, however, is that Buchanan's message of bring the troops home is going to reach far beyond anything possible to the small bands of leftist demonstrators that gathered in New York and San Francisco today. He alone dares to ask why the United States is sponsoring the creation of a Muslim state in the heart of Christian Europe. It is a question that would horrify the Marxist organizers of the day's antiwar demonstrations, but would bring the Serbs in the crowd to their feet -- and not just the Serbs. For the Christian activists who make up the electoral base of the GOP are not about to be dragooned into a crusade to make Europe safe for Islam, and Buchanan knows it. If he can mobilize them in protests against the war, then the headline that adorns this website -- "Clinton Does to Belgrade What He Did to Juanita Broderick" -- may become the slogan of a new and exciting antiwar movement that will make the last one look tame.
~ Justin Raimondo