THE FIRST TIME
AS TRAGEDY . . .
theme is a variation of yesterday's: the "humanitarian disaster"
has now become a "humanitarian catastrophe." No one mentions
Serbian casualties, either civilian or military. The American and British
media are not interested in acts of mass murder that are indubitably occurring,
but only a "genocide" that cannot be verified. As of this moment,
the only evidence for the allegations of genocide are contained in KLA
press releases and the testimony of KLA partisans and sympathizers. The
mass exodus of Albanians from Kosovo, we are told, has nothing whatever
to do with the intensified bombing of the area by NATO.
. . . THE SECOND
have to take whatever measures are necessary, including, reluctantly,
ground troops to finish the job." -- former Secretary of State Henry
THE FIRST SYMPTOMS
and well into the evening, images of the Albanian exodus fill the screen,
and the constant refrain of "genocide" is heard. By mid-afternoon,
impelled by the force of sheer repetition, the subtext emerges: ground
troops. Richard Haas, of the Brookings Institution, says we have two
options: escalation or a "strategic defeat for the United States."
And it isn't just the Clintonians: their allies in the Republican party
are making their voices heard: not just the rabid militarists over at
the Weekly Standard, but also Senator John McCain, Republican presidential
hopeful and former prisoner of war in Vietnam, who opined on "Face
the Nation" that "we're in it, and we have to win it. This means
we have to exercise every option." Every option? One can only
assume that McCain does not mean to infer that he would consider using
nuclear weapons in the heart of Europe. As for "we're in it, we have
to win it" -- this is what might be called the "lemming strategy":
no matter how deep the abyss, we are committed to following our Leader
blindly and uncritically into it.
slavish devotion to the Clintonian policy, McCain won't last long in the
THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT
discussion on PBS's Lehr News Hour, at which various "human rights"
and U.S. government officials deplored the lack of a free media in Serbia,
makes a particular point of trying to discredit Radio B-92 -- the Belgrade
station made famous during the student uprising against Milosevich a couple
of years ago. Banned by the authorities, the station went underground
and became a rallying point for radicalized students. Lionized by western
liberals, the B-92ers were reinstated in their studio after the protests
subsided -- but according to the director of the national endowment for
Democracy, a U.S. agency, the station is 'no longer credible." Why?
Apparently they have "changed" since the bombing. Apparently
these ingrates show insufficient gratitude to the lovers of "democracy"
who are raining death on their heads. The NED honcho claims that B-92
has been "intimidated" and that all Serbian media are subject
to a strict censorship. Yet the station is reporting dissent within the
Milosevich government, detailing deputy minister Vuk Draskovich's proposal
to reopen negotiations and compromise on Kosovo. B-92 also reported its
own temporary shutdown by government authorities, and the arrest (and
release) of its editorial director, which occurred less than 24 hours
after the first air raid sirens sounded. While naturally opposed to the
bombing of their own country, Radio B-92 is still on the air and still
critical of the Milosevic regime. What makes this particular lie about
what is going on in Serbia so outrageous is that anybody with a computer
can log on to opennet.org and see the truth for themselves -- that the
Serbian censors are either asleep at their desks or else are otherwise
from the Other Side:
B92 Open Yugoslavia Radio
WHO WAS THAT
is a "free" press, anyway, if everyone is writing the same copy?
How many times do we have to see the phrase "the greatest humanitarian
disaster since World War II"? To say nothing of what everyone is
not writing about. The number one non-topic in the U.S. media is
also a subject that the U.S. government would rather not discuss, and
that is the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Who are these guys? Aside from
hearing about how they want independence for Kosovo, what does anyone
know about their politics or their sources of support -- and how did they
suddenly spring up, like Myrmidons, ready to do battle with Belgrade?
The few analytical articles that have appeared in the U.S. press refrain
from asking such questions. While Kosovars living abroad contribute money,
it is under the rubric of giving to charities and hospitals: the KLA diverts
the money to buy weapons. But this is hardly enough to sustain an army
in the field, not to mention an army of public relations consultants in
the United States. Those snappy khaki-green-and-red uniforms and jaunty
berets with the cool insignia do not come cheap, nor do the increasingly
heavy and sophisticated weapons the KLA is beginning to deploy in the
field. The London Times (March 24, 1999 details charges of intelligence
officers throughout Europe that the KLA is engaged in the lucrative heroin
trade. the German Federal Criminal Agency has concluded that "ethnic
Albanians are now the most prominent group in the distribution of heroin
in Western consumer societies." The Albanians, it seems, are a rough
bunch, the locus of Europe's criminal element. This ought to clear up
the mystery of why Serbians venerate Kosovo, yet hardly any choose to
actually live there.
ROCK AND ROLL
rock fans gathered for the third day in Belgrade's Republic Square, listening
to popular musicians and flaunting their defiance of NATO's imperial pretensions.
As if to say "you know what you can do with your 'New World Order,'"
concertgoers wore placards printed with a target: one prominent banner
read "F-117A. Sorry, we didn't know that you are invisible."
While the New York Times claims that the whole thing was "staged"
by none other than Slobodan Milosevich, who supplements his income as
absolute dictator of Serbia with a part-time job as a rock promoter and
club deejay. The Times describes it as an "eerie celebration"
which "bore an ironic resemblance to similar concerts held by anti-Milosevic
demonstrators during the mass pro-democracy demonstrations of 1996-97
in Belgrade." The reason for the resemblance is that it is the very
same people attended and the very same musicians organized it, such as
Bajaga and Cukic. The Times also fails to tell us is that, although a
state of alert had been in effect and all civilians were ordered to take
shelter, thousands of concertgoers in Belgrade defied both Milosevich
and NATO warplanes, and took their stand out in the open. Will we be seeing
this concert -- to be held every day until the bombing stops -- on MTV
or VH-1 any time soon? Or is that too much to expect of the so-called
THE LAST STALINIST?
of Milosevich as "the last Stalinist despot in Europe" and Yugoslavia
as the political equivalent of North Korea is a gross distortion designed
to appeal to the reflexive anti-Communism of conservative Republicans.
While Old Slobo is a wily politician not above strong-arming his political
opponents, virtually all points on the spectrum are represented in legal
organizations. Deputy Prime Minster Draskovich held a press conference
in Novi Sad a few days before the bombing began, and declared that a foreign
military presence in Kosovo would be acceptable -- provided it did not
endanger national sovereignty. He also stated that Serbia agreed with
"85 percent" of the Rambouillet peace proposal. On the right,
the Serbian Radical Party presciently declared that the negotiations were
futile as long as the United States was involved and trenchantly declared
that "the U.S. policy of double standards and one-sided pressure
represents a major threat to global peace and security."
THE REAL STALINISTS
London Times piece that exposed the KLA as the drug lords of Europe
describes the shadowy guerrilla group as "a Marxist-led force funded
by dubious sources." If any of the players in the Kosovo crisis are
going to be red-baited, then surely it should be the KLA, with its ties
to the old Albanian Party of Labor. With the same mixture of xenophobic
nationalism and Marxist-Leninist ideology and tactics, it is the KLA and
not Milosevic which can truly claim the mantle of Stalinism in the Balkans.