Allied Farce:
A Wartime Diary

Past Diaries

by Justin Raimondo



Today's news that the flow of refugees streaming out of Kosovo has been reduced to a trickle -- under 100 -- has the American media and the NATO propaganda machine (or do I repeat myself?) baffled. News reports on CNN and MSNBC view this development as "disturbing" -- with the clear implication that the villainous Serbs have closed the border. But no evidence is presented to back this up -- quite the contrary, aid workers at the border are quoted as saying that they don't know what is going on. Without any fresh Kosovars to film, the all-refugees-all-the-time news channels are forced to call up the reserves: old footage of weeping Kosovars and . . . can it be? Is that the Old Man in the Wheelbarrow again?


I always thought there was something strange about the Allied Supreme Commander, General Wesley Clark: the eerie glint in his staring eyes, the curious immobility of his boyish face, the overly-controlled timbre of his voice as he repeats his endless mantra of what he would like to do to the Serbians: "degrade, diminish, and destroy." And now Columnist Bob Novak has confirmed my worst suspicions. Novak relates that in a meeting with members of Congress, the Supreme Commander startled lawmakers with his proposal to bomb an oil pipeline that runs through Hungary -- a nation which has been recently admitted to NATO. But irony is lost on a madman.


That this would mean attacking one of the newest members of NATO did not phaze Clark, he also ranted that we should bomb Russian battleships that enter the area. Obsessed with Slobodan Milosevic, Clark's vendetta is apparently getting a little out of hand. Novak quotes one House member as saying "I think the general might need a little sleep." The Supreme Commander requires more than a night's sleep: he should be given a permanent vacation, before he is given the chance to start World War III.


Archbishop Christodoulos, prelate of the Greek Orthodox Church, must have had Clark in mind when he called the NATO attackers "pawns of Satan."


Congressman Tom Campbell (R-CA), an articulate and outspoken opponent of the war, is embarked on a quixotic and somewhat quirky crusade to have Bill Clinton's foreign policy of coercive "humanitarianism" declared unconstitutional. Invoking the War Powers Act, he has introduced two resolutions: one calling for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces from the region, and the other calling for an official declaration of war. While Congress is unlikely to pass either -- provided they even get to the floor, which is doubtful -- surely this has got to be a tactical blunder of major proportions. Now I understand that Rep. Campbell is a lawyer, and worse than that a Standard University professor, but even this fails to explain the breathtaking stupidity of an alleged peace advocate introducing a declaration of war. In the present volatile situation, the old adage "be careful what you wish for, you might get it" applies in spades to the Campbell resolution. Anything could happen between now and May 4, when the votes are tentatively scheduled to take place. With the fighting threatening to spill over into Macedonia and Albania, any one of a series of cross-border incidents could be used as a pretext for a major escalation. And remember the three American POWs held by the Serbians. If anything happens to them, a bipartisan majority in favor of a declaration of war is not at all inconceivable.


Campbell's attention-getting stunt accomplishes its true purpose quite well: Campbell comes out looking principled, and everyone else looking cowardly and evasive. But aside from all this good public relations for Campbell, the Man of Principle, the introduction of these two resolutions at this time is a setback for the antiwar movement. They are a setback in particular for conservative Republicans who have opposed this war from the beginning -- and are just waiting for the failure of the policy to become incontrovertible. An article in Roll Call quotes an advisor to the Republican leadership as saying: "This is the Clinton-Gore war, and we want nothing to do with it. If we declare war, it's our war." This is absolutely correct: if most Republicans agree that the policy is a disaster, then why not let the Democrats take responsibility for Clinton's war? With characteristic self-righteousness, Campbell says that he understands the political considerations: but he is naturally above such vulgar considerations. "It's a lot easier politically [to drop the issue]," says Campbell. "If [the war] works out okay, you were with him, and if it doesn't, you saw it coming." Aside from its unbearable pretentiousness, this statement is also wildly inaccurate. The majority of Republicans in both houses voted no on the use of force against Yugoslavia, and it is a tactical matter and not a matter of high principle to force the issue at this juncture. "What I disagree with is the process of us defining a policy that clearly the [Clinton administration] should define," said Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a staunch anti-interventionist. The problem with Campbell is that he wants to go down in legal history as being the one who single-handedly restored to Congress the power to declare war. Unfortunately, this is not about to happen, and it is hard to believe that Campbell believes it either. No amount of legal maneuvering is going to stop the bombing or bring our troops home. The time for such a lawsuit -- when Truman ordered troops to Korea, without the authorization of Congress -- is long since passed. Other than for the delectation of law students and constitutional scholars, Campbell's gambit is an empty gesture -- one that could easily boomerang.


The good news is that Campbell's resolutions will never make it to the floor; the bad news is that the Republican leadership is going to use the coming debate over the appropriations for Operation Allied Force as an opportunity to call for exponential increases in military spending. Roll Call speculates that the President's "emergency" request "could grow from an anticipated $6 billion to three times that total before the debate ends." I can just hear Madeleine Albright saying in the upcoming congressional hearings just what she said to General Colin Powell: "What good is having this superlative military machine if you never use it for anything?" The Republicans, of course, will have no answer -- and they don't call them the Stupid Party for nothing.


Having spent the last year hurling every epithet in the English language at Bill Clinton's detractors, New York Observer and Salon Magazine columnist Joe Conason is now one of the leading defenders of his hero's war. Conason hails the bombing campaign which has so far killed over 350 Yugoslav civilians as "the progressives' war," and smears its opponents as "fascist sympathizers." While the idea of a "progressive war" may sound like an "Orwellian oxymoron," especially to lefties like Conason and his ilk, this leading spokesman for the Clintonian Left hastens to assure us that it just ain't so. All the smartest progressives of yesteryear, like Tony Blair, who once opposed the Vietnam war, are invoking this trendy new phrase to describe the rape of Serbia. He then gives a mini-history of anti-imperialism on the Left, which caricatures that noble tradition as well-intentioned albeit archaic and ultimately naive. According to Conason's revisionist history, his naiveté drove idealists like Norman Thomas "into a strange coalition known as the America First movement organized mainly by right-wingers opposed to U.S. intervention in World War II." Conason is proof that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. The reality is that the America First movement was organized by Yale students who were hardly right-wingers, and that its leading lights were John T. Flynn, a leading liberal journalist at that time, as well as progressive Republicans such as William T. Borah, Hiram Johnson, and Robert LaFollette.

But Conason has his own agenda, and historical accuracy is not his concern: "Echoes of the old America First rallies can be heard today in the motley domestic movement against NATO, which draws together the likes of Patrick Buchanan and Noam Chomsky." If only it were so. In fact, the right and left -wings of the antiwar movement operate in completely different orbits; the leftist International Action Center has its tiny little leftist rallies, and goes out of its way to exclude everyone to the right of Jesse Jackson. The attitude of the remnants of the "progressive" antiwar Left is similarly sectarian: for example, Z-net, the leftie magazine that maintains an antiwar website, steadfastly ignores the existence of, refusing to even answer repeated requests for a link. But I digress.

Chomsky gets off easily -- if he is wrong, it is merely because he is "deeply suspicious of military force as an instrument of foreign policy" -- but Conason's real target is Buchanan: "From the right, Buchanan is, in fact, the proper heir of the fascist sympathizers whose isolationism defined itself as America First, a term he proudly uses in his current presidential campaign." Of course, it is impossible for a small-minded ideologue and professional smearmonger like Conason to imagine that Buchanan might be "deeply suspicious of force as an instrument of foreign policy." To the New York cosmopolitans who read -- and write for -- the New York Observer, the official organ of New Labour's Upper West Side branch, there can be no sincerity or thoughtfulness on the Right. Their enemies are "fascists" who deserve to be silenced if not prosecuted for sedition -- as the "isolationists" were prosecuted during World War II. The irony of this phony "progressive" hurling epithets like "fascist" at the antiwar opposition as NATO's warplanes bomb television stations and slaughter civilians (both Serbian and Albanian) will perhaps be noted by those few non-totalitarian liberals who still remember their antiwar heritage.

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Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of 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).

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