by Justin Raimondo
This war is rapidly taking on the qualities of a surrealistic nightmare, a collective hallucination of horror from which we are all trying in vain to awaken. That the U.S. government is now attributing the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade to an outdated map is the kind of bizarre touch that not even Kafka could have come up with.
A PAPER TIGER?
So much for "the world's only superpower"! If we are targeting buildings in Yugoslavia using 1993 maps, if this "error" went up through multiple layers of political and military bureaucracy undetected and was approved at the highest levels, then we have to wonder: is the U.S. a paper tiger? The Vietnamese thought so, and this latest incident in the Balkan misadventure seems to underscore the point: the would-be architects of a "new world order," the little Napoleons of NATO are not the mightiest military machine in human history: instead, they are more like the Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight.
WITH A STRAIGHT FACE
Of the many reactions to the embassy bombing, my own favorite is the comment of Senator Bob Kerrey (D-Nebraska), who opined that "While this was a horrible mistake, we cannot avoid the fact that we have overtasked and underfunded our intelligence agencies for too long." It is not known if Senator Kerrey said this with a straight face.
LET YOUR FINGERS DO THE WALKING
My favorite headline: CIA PLANNERS FAILED TO CHECK PHONE BOOK, in the Times of London [May 10, 1999]. In the story, Michael Evans remarks that "with the embassy listed in the Belgrade telephone directory, as well as the official diplomatic list of all embassy buildings in the capital, there was a sense of incredulity" at the official explanation.
GET THEE TO A THESAURUS
The embassy bombing had the NATO-crats scrambling for the thesaurus, desperately seeking synonyms for the word "disaster." Defense Secretary William Cohen, who fancies himself a literary man he has authored a volume of poems, and, I think, a novel came up with "anomaly" soft, harmless-sounding, and often preceded by the word "slight."
PONTIUS SHEA OR IS THAT JAMIE PILATE?
Asked who is to be held responsible for the bombing, NATO spokesman Jamie Shea replied: "Nobody is responsible." This from a man who, every day, demands that Slobodan Milosevic be held personally responsible for every war crime committed in the Balkans in the past decade.
THE INTELLECTUALS MARCH OFF TO WAR
Is there anything uglier and more sinister than the spectacle of the intellectuals marching off to war? During World War I, academics and independent intellectuals were mobilized by the government into the Committee on Public Information, led by George Creel, which organized a mighty battalion of court intellectuals to rationalize and propagandize on behalf of the great crusade "to make the world safe for democracy" a slogan that has an eerily modern ring to it. There was a National Board of Historical Service, a government propaganda agency established for the duration of the war, to propagate the myth of German war guilt and rewrite history to suit the Allies. The New Republic saw in the war the chance to impose socialism: "We who have gone to war to insure democracy in the world will have raised an aspiration here that will not end with the overthrow of the Prussian autocracy. We shall turn with fresh interests to our own tyrannies to our Colorado mines, our autocratic steel industries, sweatshops, and our slums. A force is loose in America . . . Our own reactionaries will not assuage it. . . We shall know how to deal with them," wrote New Republic writer and editor Walter Lippmann. Before and during World War II, the intelligentsia was similarly militarized. The Cold War, culminating in the Vietnam war, was authored and defended by the liberal intellectuals until it became clear that the U.S. was losing only then did they jump ship. This time around, many of these very same intellectuals who turned against the Vietnam war with a vengeance are now imbued with the spirit of Ares. They long for combat, for a cause in which the righteous triumph not so much on account of their goodness but due to their overwhelming power. Once again, as in every major war in this century, the New Republic is the chief flagship of the War Party, or at least of its left-liberal wing. And once again they have outdone themselves, they have taken warmongering and demonization one step beyond with a new and startlingly evil thesis: that the Serbians are culturally determined to be mass killers. A special issue of the New Republic is given over to the theme of "Milosevic's Willing Executioners," in which the theme is that Serbian culture is inherently genocidal. The proof? Well, you see, Stacy Sullivan, intrepid girl reporter, drove out to Kamenica, a village in the Serbian section of Bosnia, and "we found ourselves standing on a grassy hillside littered with human bones." A battlefield? A graveyard? We are told only that "none of the Serbs of Kamenica had thought to bury them," and that is it. Serbs amble by, with apparent unconcern. Ms. Stacy approaches two young Serbs and asks "if they knew what had happened on the hill. They shrugged their shoulders and told us that they had been on vacation in Austria during the summer of 1995. " Aha! Here, then, are two of Slobo's "willing executioners." How dare they take a "vacation'" in the midst of all this slaughter? As Stacy puts it: "Ever since that encounter, I have been struggling to understand what these men could have been thinking." Naturally, the possibility that the two men might have been telling the truth that they were, in fact, on vacation in Austria at the time does not occur to her. In a mind narrowed by propaganda, a certain myopia sets in: the obvious is not only discounted, it is willfully blocked out.
THE DEATH OF REASON
Stacy gives voice to the latest theme of the War Party: the myth of the "exterminationist' Serbs. While the strategy of NATO's psychological warfare campaign has been to vilify Milosevic and not the Serbian people, Stacy gives voice to the new line of the warmongers: "But what if it isn't true," she writes. "What if the Serbs who wear targets on their t-shirts and gather in morbid celebration for daily rock concerts or marathon races actually support ethnic cleansing actively or passively?" What if the Serbs are an inherently evil race? Does Stacy, or anyone, really believe this pernicious and blatantly racist nonsense? Her authorial voice dripping with hate, Stacy declares that it is not enough to destroy the Serbian military: the real object of our campaign is the destruction of "the very mentality of a nation." This kind of monstrous evil is meant to shock us by its boldness and bluntness of expression, to say nothing of its ominous implications. But since boldness in the service of evil has been the leitmotif of the 20th century, what makes us think that the 21st century is going to be any different? It is impossible to argue with such people: like the Nazis, who were convinced of the noumenal malevolence of the Jews, and the cultists of the Christian Identity movement who claim that nonwhite races are the spawn of the Devil, the theorists of Serbian "exterminationism" hold that the Serbs, as a people, are controlled by a collective mythology that not only allows but somehow compels their complicity in mass murder.
WHAT I DID ON MY SUMMER VACATION
Armed with such an explosive thesis, the expectation of a formidable array of historical, sociological, and scientific evidence hardly seems too much to ask but no, instead we are treated to a string of the most pitiful anecdotes, all told in the first person. A more pathetic performance is not even imaginable: there she is, "on a sweltering afternoon in late July 1996," in Kravica, near Srebrenica, in the company of Physicians for Human Rights carefully exhuming an alleged "mass grave." Stacy begins to hector a Serbian farmer who lives in the vicinity; Pavel is a 68-year-old man who is not easily intimidated by this arrogant Westerner. Asked about the exhumed bodies, he asks her how does she know they aren't Serbs. Not having an immediate answer to this, Stacy changes the subject and demands to know if he realizes that "more than 7,000 Muslim men went missing after the fall of Srebenica." Then they must have been fighting among themselves as, indeed, did happen and slaughtered each other. It wouldn't have been the first time. She persisted, however, quizzing him on the details: how come the corpses' arms were tied behind their backs with wire? "'How should I know?' he shot back" a fair question which Stacy does not deign to answer, because she knows he is guilty: he is, after all, a Serb: "Obviously Pavel knew the truth," she writes, and "just as obviously his true sentiment about the fact that so many Muslims had been slaughtered was: 'They asked for it.'" Stacy adorns this latter phrase with quotation marks, but the Serb peasant she is hectoring never said any such thing. What he did say is that the Muslims ethnically cleansed him out of his home in Sarajevo, now the capital city of the NATO-created Muslim protectorate although it seems as if Serbs are never "cleansed" from their homes by fanatical Croats or Muslims; they are, in Stacy's relatively benign phrase, "forced out," like a blackhead or a bad smell.
The NATO-crats are supposed to be exporting the joys of democracy and pluralism to the benighted peoples of the former Yugoslavia yet they bomb television stations and openly proclaim their intention to shut down the Yugoslav media, both public and private. But the theoreticians of Serbophobia rationalize this by claiming, as does Stacy, that Milosevic's propaganda incites "a belief system that already exists" in the genes? in the soul? where? "just below the surface of the Serbian personality." And now we get down to it: the Serbian Personality. What is this collective monster, this dark subterranean stream of viciousness that courses through Serbian veins? Its source, we are told, is in Serbian culture, which is itself "built around elaborate sagas of failure and betrayal." Say what? Is there a single nation in the Balkans that does not glorify its own victimization at the hands of its enemies? The Serbs' "deep-rooted historical sense of frustration and grievance" makes "Serbs feel that they are, by definition, victims." But this exactly describes the attitude of the Bosnians, who, on February 5, 1994, even went so far as to launch a rocket attack on their own marketplace in Sarajevo, so they could blame it on the Serbs, in a widely-acknowledged bid to draw attention to their alleged plight. 68 people were killed. Surely this is victimology carried to the nth degree.
STACY'S SOCIAL CALENDAR
The peasant Pavel believes that the fate of the supposedly massacred Muslims is "cosmic payback" for the sins of their tribe but surely, writes Stacy, such primitive vindictiveness is not shared by the more sophisticated Serbs? To no one's surprise, her answer to this rhetorical question is: all Serbs are guilty. Her evidence for this is a party she attended in Belgrade in 1997 "at the home of a beautiful artist," and her boyfriend, "a talented graphic artist." There she ran in to a Swedish diplomat she knew through mutual friends and "as we recounted the good times we had with the Albanians we knew in common, many of the well-bred Serbs in the room started laughing. They thought we were joking. Surely, we hadn't really gone out for a beer with the Albanians." Everyone gradually left, and "I assumed that they were bored" as well they might have been but she discovers the terrible truth from a similarly anonymous partygoer "who has since left the country" that "the other partygoers had gone into another room to express their dismay that the two foreigners had been associating with Albanians." This is presented as "evidence" of the Serbs' inherent evil? Even in the world circa 1999, when reason is in flight, a refugee from the mad bombers of "humanitarianism," it boggles the mind that this sort of crap oh, get me to a thesaurus! is taken seriously.
A WORLD GONE MAD
In a better world or, at least, a half-sane one Stacy Sullivan's docudrama would be relegated to the category of imaginative fiction, and naturally would not be published in any respectable magazine or periodical. Perhaps she would be reduced to paying a printer and handing out her hymn to hate on the nearest streetcorner. Unfortunately, in today's world such ideas are not only entertained by the intellectual "mainstream" but none dare stand against them. That is the truly frightening aspect of this whole shabby intellectual farce. If any other national group had been so characterized and vilified, the cry of "racism" and "bigotry" would be heard from one end of the country to the other. In this case, however, there is nary a peep out of anyone, not even the liberal and leftist opponents of this war.
But the consequences I warn you of not speaking out are too gruesome and too obvious to be evaded. Already the "exterminationist" thesis is gaining currency among the intellectual elite: this Sunday's New York Times [May 9, 1999] gives the lead article in the "Week in Review" section over to this repulsive thesis in an article with the revealing title of "What It Would Take To Cleanse Serbia." The piece touts the program of the grand theoretician of "exterminationism," Daniel Goldhagen himself, who wants NATO to occupy Serbia and not only crush it militarily but also spiritually. Like postwar Germany and Japan, Serbia must be "remade" in the image of the liberal universalists who have besieged it: the concept of nationalism must be burned out of the Serbian soul with a hot poker or else the Serbs "will continue to harbor the burning hatred of ethnic nationalism" and their "delusions about themselves" that are solely responsible for all the troubles in the Balkans. "Serbia's deeds," pontificates Goldhagen, "are, in their essence, different from those of Nazi Germany only in scale." A more idiotic statement would be hard to imagine, for this would be true even if Slobodan Milosevic could be shown to be responsible for even a single death. The truth is that, before the bombing, approximately 2,000 people 500-600 of them Serbs had perished in Kosovo as a result of the civil war less than died at the Battle of Antietem during our own Civil War. But Goldhagen, who deals in sweeping theoretical propositions, cannot be bothered with such mundane facts. He has his eye on the prize: the complete subjugation of Serbians to his bloodless universalism, who must be "compelled by their conquerors to adopt democratic institutions and to remake themselves, to rid their public spheres of their nationalist, militarist, and dehumanizing beliefs." Could anything be more dehumanizing than this? Shrieking his song of vengeance, Goldhagen pounces on prostrate Serbia like a shrike on his prey, tearing through the flesh to get at Serbia's very vitals. That such a vampiric figure could possibly claim the moral high ground, is, in itself, a gruesome commentary on the state of our rotten culture; was it so long ago that such people were called maniacs, instead of intellectuals? But only a modern intellectual Goldhagen teaches political science at Harvard could have the gall to announce that "the moral objections against occupation and the forced reshaping of Serbia are slender." This is true only if you start from Goldhagen's totalitarian premise: that the human mind is something to be "reshaped" by the state and not even by the NATO-crats. Until reading Goldhagen, I didn't realize that it was possible to smirk in print, but here you go: "The majority of the Serbian people, by supporting or condoning Milosevic's eliminationist policies (see "Milosevic's Willing Executioners," by Stacy Sullivan, The New Republic, May 10), have rendered themselves both legally and morally incompetent to conduct their own affairs" and are "a presumptive ongoing danger to others." The mind of a totalitarian liberal is an ugly sight indeed: filled with hate, dreams of vengeance, and sheer bloodlust, it seems utterly indistinguishable (in spirit if not in content) from the supposedly "primitive" nationalism of the Serbs.
APOLOGIA FOR MASS MURDER
Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's dogma of collective guilt is a prescription for a Serbian Holocaust; Goldhagen is the Goebbels of a grotesque inverted Nazism that is a transparent rationale for slaughtering Serbs civilians, military, men, women, and children, the whole damned lot of them. For if they are culturally deranged in the way that Goldhagen alleges, if there is something tainted either in their blood or their folk songs that compels them to commit genocide at the drop of a hat, then according to him there are no innocent Serbs. All are guilty, by his lights, and all must be punished, if not by death then by imprisonment in a very large concentration camp (perhaps called a "rehabilitation camp") let us call it "Camp Goldhagen" in which souls are broken and reborn. The sadistic glee with which Goldhagen advances his sinister program recalls the spirit and style of National Socialism; in the grand sweep of its totalitarian vision, of a world cleansed of sin by a mighty conqueror, it recalls Hitler at his most megalomaniacal. Obsessed with Hitlerian evil, possessed by an all-consuming hatred, Goldhagen, in the end, becomes the mirror image of his hate-object, a modern-day Hitlerian ideologue with an "exterminationist" doctrine of his own. For certainly that is the only real use to which Goldhagen's Serbophobia can be put: as the invasion, occupation, and "remaking" of Serbia is unlikely, as Goldhagen admits, the real meaning of his doctrine of collective Serbian evil is as a rationalization for the physical extermination of Serbian civilians in the current air war.
ON THE NEW REPUBLIC: A BIBLIOGRAPHICAL MINI-ESSAY
What is it about the New Republic that makes it one of the main apologists for mass murder in this century and, probably, the next? Well, that is another story, and a very interesting one, which is told by the late Murray N. Rothbard in his classic essay "World War I As Fulfillment: Power and the Intellectuals," published in The Costs of War: America's Pyrrhic Victories [Transaction Publishers, 1997; pp. 224-31] and especially Wall Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1995; pp. 14, 19, 90] by the same author. For a blow-by-blow analysis of the shifts and ideological gymnastics performed by the liberals in their eventual embrace of the war god, see also James J. Martin's monumental two-volume work, American Liberalism and World Politics, 1931-41 (Devin-Adair, 1963].
THE INTELLECTUAL AS WARRIOR
The image of the spindly-legged, dome-headed intellectual as a kind of warrior prince is not a pretty picture. There is nothing of the hero (or heroine) about him (or her), nothing passionate or even very convincing in their ritualized exhortations, not even any real argument: even their hate is strangely passionless, as cold and utterly ruthless as the doctrine that spawned it. Such things as heroism and passion are hate crimes in the world that Goldhagen and Stacy and the New Republic are building for us. They get in the way of the bloodless universalism that is carried on the wings of NATO's warplanes, those deadly harbingers of the New World Order, and in the future they will be strictly regulated and controlled if not completely forbidden lest innocents be ensnared by "elaborate sagas of failure and betrayal" or a sense of "national grievance." Locked in the deadening embrace of the global Therapeutic State, the peoples of the earth will have the very vitality and lifeblood squeezed out of them, down to the last bitter drop. There will be no more national grievances because there will be no nations, no culture, no real human beings only the soulless, hopeless creatures trapped in a culture that resembles a padded cell.
COME TO THE ANTIWAR ORGANIZING CONFERENCE!
The antiwar movement is growing by leaps and bounds, and this upcoming conference, endorsed by Antiwar.com and the Committee Against U.S. Intervention, and sponsored by the Center for Libertarian Studies, is gong to be a milestone: featuring Congressman Ron Paul, Congressman Tom Campbell, Norman Soloman, author of The Habits of Highly Deceptive Media, Kathy Kelly, President of 'Voices in the Wilderness," a leading peace group, Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., editor of the Rothbard-Rockwell Report, our webmaster, Eric Garris, and yours truly, among others, this promises to be a seminal event. We get letters every day asking 'What can I do to help?' Well, part of the answer is: come to this conference. This is the first genuine coalition effort of the Right and the Left working in concert to build a single-issue antiwar movement. We need to broaden and deepen the growing movement to end this rotten war, and we need to do it quickly. Come hear speakers, and get involved on the ground floor of a new national coalition to end the war now and stop the next one before it starts. The date: Saturday, June 12, 1999. The time: 8 am to 5 pm. The Place: The Villa Hotel, 4000 South El Camino Real, San Mateo, California (near the San Francisco Airport). For $89 you get a luncheon and an all-day program of speakers and workshops. Come one, come all! Phone Sybil Regan (toll-free), at 800-325-7257 to register. She can make your hotel reservation too. See you there!
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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).