by Justin Raimondo
You have to hand it to Jesse Jackson never mind his leftist politics, his annoying habit of speaking nonsense in rhyme, and his recent rebuke to Ollie North for "not supporting the troops." He has done what no amount of maneuvering by Russian diplomats was able to achieve, what no amount of demonstrating and letter-writing and calling members of Congress was able to accomplish, what even the Republican majority in the House of Representatives failed to do and that is to throw NATO and the Clinton administration on the defensive in the propaganda war.
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE FAMILIES, BILL?
The timing of Jackson's coup was perfect: just as the ceaseless agitation for a ground war had reached a new pitch, like the a chorus of cicadas in summer, Jesse's triumph threw the War Party off course and they are hopping mad. The really delightful part of all this is that they can't just say "goddamn that [unprintable] Jesse Jackson!" They have to congratulate him on the success of his mission, undertaken in spite of the administration's open opposition, and they have to smile while they criticize. Perhaps I speak too soon, but so far the only one gauche enough to say what he really thinks is Bill "Skull-Crusher" Kristol, on ABC's Cokie and Sam Show, when he said he was tired of Jackson "traipsing after dictators" and sticking his nose in where it doesn't belong and that he found the whole thing "appalling." "But what about the families of the Americans he rescued?" inquired Sam Donaldson. Kristol did not answer the question, but went on to denounce Senator Trent Lott, who had just gone on record as saying that we ought to "give peace a chance." What a joy to watch this war-maddened cretin froth at the mouth in the full view of millions. A few more outbursts like this from the War Party, and sheer revulsion at the war mania is sure to set in.
LIKE PEAS IN A POD?
I am sure that when Jesse Jackson proposed a face-to-face meeting between Clinton and Milosevic, and said that "I think [Clinton] and Milosevic would understand each other," that he did not really mean to insult Milosevic. But now that Jesse mentions it, there are a lot of similarities between the two: both are consummate opportunists who will do almost anything to take and retain power: neither of them are political ideologues, but pragmatists who leave the ideology to their spouses. Mama Milosevic is an orthodox Marxist-Leninist who is often said to wear the real political pants in the family: her husband dutifully consults her on all matters of policy, and she even has her own political party, separate from her husband's ruling Serbian Socialist Party, the "Yugoslav Left Party," a name that accurately describes her politics. Clinton has already rejected the idea of a meeting with Milosevic, but what about a meeting between the two First Ladies? They seem to have a lot in common, temperamentally as well as politically, and, who knows what might develop out of a meeting of the minds?
A GRACIOUS CAPTIVITY
One of the captured Americans said that he was so "graciously" treated by his captors that he felt sad that he had to leave them there while he was getting to go home. He apparently befriended his guards, and spoke in glowing terms of how well he was treated. This underscores the utter barbarity of the American assault on a people who were civilized when we were still living in log cabin huts.
THE STENCH OF HYPOCRISY
The NATO-crats responded to Jackson's peace offensive with vows of renewed savagery. The bombing, they announced, would not only continue but would "intensify." The propagandistic war-speak of Secretary of Defense William Cohen's response was an unmistakable signal that there is not going to be any deal: "This gesture on his [Milosevic's] part cannot overcome the stench of evil and death on the killing fields of Kosovo." For Cohen, an official of a government which recently murdered over 60 civilians (many of them Albanians) in a missile attack on a bus, to speak of "the stench of evil" is an obscenity surpassed only by the attack itself.
ACCIDENTALLY ON PURPOSE?
And what about all these "accidental" attacks on civilian targets? Every time they hit a caravan of fleeing Albanians, or destroy a residential neighborhood, they issue an official apology, along the lines of "We do out best to avoid civilian casualties, and we very much regret. . . " etc. etc., ad nauseum. But just how "accidental" are these mass killings? The favorite phrase of the NATO-crats "disrupt, degrade, and destroy" applies to their designs on Serbian morale as well as Yugoslav air defenses. The bombing is meant to demoralize the population, to reduce their will to resist, and essentially to frighten them into surrendering. This is the gist of leaflets dropped by American planes over Kosovo, addressed to Serbian army conscripts: "There is nowhere to hide. The only way to save yourself is by leaving Kosovo." Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's friendly little chats in Serbo-Croatian broadcast similar sentiments: "The whole world is against you," she gloats, "you cannot win."
ALL IN THE FAMILY
Speaking of the witch Albright, she is now embroiled in a legal wrangle over the ownership of some valuable paintings, purportedly stolen by her father when he was an official in the 'antifascist' government of postwar Czechoslovakia. According to an article in the London Telegraph, Albright and several relatives have been given an ultimatum: hand over valuable paintings by the seventeenth-century Dutch artists Ludolf Backhuysen and Hendrik Van Steenwyck, along with other valuable antiques, or face legal action. These items were reportedly claimed as "war booty": as the Telegraph explains, "After the red Army liberated Czechoslovakia from Nazi occupation, the incoming Communist government expelled more than 3 million Germans." Among the ethnically-cleansed Germans was the family of Philip Harmer, well-to-do former industrialists whose house was expropriated by the Communists and turned over to Albright's father. "I cannot believe that the Secretary of State of the United States and her brother and sister enjoy eating with my family's silver while surrounded by my family's paintings and furniture." When Albright's father, Josef Korbel, returned with young Madeleine to Prague after the war, he took up residence in the Harmer's house, at 11 Hradsanke Street. Although the Harmers had never had anything to do with the Nazis, they were forced to flee. While the paintings had been stored away for safekeeping, when Albright's father saw the bare patches on the walls where the paintings had been he demanded to know where they were hidden, and under his threats the paintings were produced. When he decided to emigrate, he took the paintings and other loot as "diplomatic baggage," and thus got through customs with no questions asked. Although Farmer's lawyers have been demanding an accounting for the past three years, all efforts to get even so much as an acknowledgment of the theft has been rebuffed by Albright and her relatives, who have retained legal counsel. While Madame Albright is demanding that Slobodan Milosevic be dragged before an International Tribunal to answer for his alleged "war crimes," the war crimes committed by her own family which she continues to profit from are of little consequence. Apparently some kinds of ethnic cleansing are okay, and even admirable, provided the beneficiaries are "anti-fascist."
THE SLAUGHTER CONTINUES
The malevolence of the NATO overlords is dramatized by MSNBC's Ron Owen in his report from Belgrade, which has been plunged into a "total and complete blackout." NATO's warplanes are striking at power facilities, Serb TV is knocked off the air, and for the first time damage is widespread: water supplies have been disrupted. Ron's tone of voice is heavily overlaid with a thick coat of irony, as he underscores the fact that this ferocious attack comes "on the eve of a good will gesture" by the Serbians. As the devastation of Yugoslavia proceeds apace, can anybody doubt the moral depravity of our "humanitarian" warhawks? A policy which has nothing to do with "saving" the Kosovars is now reducing a whole nation to rubble: of course, only a cynic could believe that the government contracts to rebuild what our warplanes are destroying are even now being sold to the highest bidder in Washington.
THE OTHER CAPTIVES
We have heard much about the three American captives, now reclaimed for their families by Jesse Jackson, and we will no doubt hear yet more about them: how they felt, what their families had to go through, what they experienced during their period of captivity. But what about the Yugoslav captives who were kidnapped by the KLA and (presumably) turned over to NATO? To begin with, there has never been a clear accounting of just how many there are: we have received conflicting reports, with the Yugos reporting as many as a dozen, and the U.S government admitting to only two. Unlike the Yugoslav government, which provided information as to the condition of the Americans and allowed visits by the International Red Cross and others, the American government has not released any information and there are no reports of visits by international observers. Will NATO now release these prisoners, in a reciprocal act of good will? It is hard to believe that they will not, but with NATO anything is possible: if they refuse to even pause in the bombing, how likely is it that they will release their captives? The NATO-crats have not an ounce of good will in their bodies, and expect a long delay before they even address the question of a prisoner exchange.
THE COSTS OF WAR
"The amount of money to be spent, and the amount of blood to be shed in this war is beyond comprehension.," said Jesse Jackson upon returning from Belgrade. The amount of casualties that would result from a land war are estimated in the tens of thousands of American soldiers; but we have seen how quickly the American public can get used to violence: and so perhaps we will have to count at their horror at the cost in terms of dollars and cents which is going to be staggering: this is one aspect of the war that is ultimately going to prove our long-term undoing. Every time we air-launch a cruise missile, the cash register rings up another $2 million. It costs $8,300 an hour to fly those B-52s and the total cost of the war is estimated by the Pentagon to be $37 million per day, not including the cost of relief operations. How long can we keep this up before suffering major economic dislocations? There is every indication that, like the Vietnam war, the economic effect of the Balkan war will be a disaster for the U.S. economy. The economic upturn that the Democrats have reveled in may take a dive, and quickly, due, first of all, to the inflationary pressure on the Federal Reserve. As Niall Ferguson points out in the Wall Street Journal [April 30, 1999], "a surprisingly large number of financial crises over the past 200 years have been caused by wars or diplomatic crises." The economic manipulations of the Fed are as much a part of war as government propaganda and "collateral damage," and if this one goes on much longer, as Ferguson puts it, "at some point the peace dividend seems likely to be replaced by a war levy of some sort. At that point, the gap between the front page and the business page will start to narrow."
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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).