by Justin Raimondo
IF ONLY YOUR NAME WAS MOHAMMED
Yesterday Bill Clinton acknowledged that "we can't intervene everywhere," which is a bit of a relief, although not much. But why Kosovo? The reason, we are told, is because the Kosovar Albanians are being persecuted "on account of their race." The Balkan war, then, is a war against racism, a war for political correctness, an egalitarian crusade that takes on all the moral righteousness of the sainted civil rights movement except that this is a lie of monstrous proportions, as a news story culled from the London Telegraph [May 18, 1999] makes all too clear.
Stojan Zlatonovic, a Bosnian Serb living with his wife and child in Kosovo, had been working in Bosnia when news of the NATO assault sent him back to Kosovo to take care of his family. Eager to get out of the province, he could not persuade his wife, who was reluctant to leave everything behind to start a new life somewhere else. The dilemma was resolved in a dramatic and grisly fashion when a NATO bomb fell on the Zlatonovic house, killing his wife and child while he sat on a neighbor's porch drinking coffee. He fled, getting on a bus full of Albanians and driving to the Macedonian border. "The Macedonian guards let me out because they said they wouldn't be able to protect me," he said. Without money, or even shoes, he was given some old clothing and some footwear by the Association of Serbs in Macedonia and told that he does not qualify as a bona fide refugee. The policy seems to be: no Serbs need apply. "The lady taking names for the UN refugee bus to Germany wouldn't listen to me," he said. "She said if my name had been Alija or Mohammed I might stand a chance."
This about sums up U.S.-NATO policy in the Balkans: if your name is Alija or Mohammed you stand a good chance of getting your own little statelet, protected by NATO troops, as ethnically "pure" as Bensonhurst or Little Italy; if your name is Stojan Zlatonovic, however, you are, by definition, not a victim but a villain. While Kosovar refugees flood into the United States, and are immediately showered with welfare benefits, free housing, free clothing, and all kinds of psychological counseling, their Serbian equivalents are treated like trash. While the Rexheps and the Krasniqis are settling into their subsidized digs, spending their food stamps at the local market and being guided through the naturalization process, the Zlatonovics are left to languish at the Macedonian border. The bitter fate of Stojan Zlatonovic dramatizes in the starkest possible terms that this is not (and never was) a war to "save the Kosovars," but a war against the Serbs.
GET YOUR STORY STRAIGHT
A television station in Montenegro is reporting a series of anti-government riots centering in the southern Serbian town of Aleksandrovac. The British press is headlining this story, and all cite the same Montenegrin news story: "Some 1,000 Aleksandrovac citizens, who had gathered at the town's bus station to bid farewell to local troops on short leave from Kosovo, demanded that the mayor prevent their departure and that all remaining troops mobilized in the region be returned to Aleksandrovac." The mayor of the town, according to this report, was lynched by the angry mob. As many as 5,000 are reported to have marched to the seat of the municipal government, which they attacked, and then marched on a trade union headquarters, where they were addressed by officials, who complained that they had no power to repeal the conscription law passed by the federal government. The crowd reacted by throwing stones at the mayor and his 50 bodyguards." The report continues: "The protesters decided to meet again in the town square at 10 a.m. on Tuesday." This is somewhat startling news, given all the guff about the "ruthless dictator Slobodan Milosevic," the latest incarnation of the Eternal Hitler. If Milosevic is so ruthless, and Yugoslavia is a totalitarian prison, then what are thousands of people doing marching all over the place, making demands, shouting slogans: "We want our son, not coffins!" This is a dictatorship?
While the British media, feverish with war hysteria, is running with this story, even they are qualifying it with a caveat: they admit that it "cannot be independently verified." To say the least: indeed, this news item seems like a textbook case of "black propaganda," a bit of "disinformation" designed and disseminated to shore up public opinion at home and spread demoralization inside Yugoslavia. Even the most accepting news editor would have to ask: why did fifty armed guards stand by and watch this attack on public officials without seeming to do much in retaliation? How could a crowd supposedly consisting mostly of "women and children" face down the police, lynch a mayor, and practically effect a revolution? Are we really supposed to believe that the by now completely militarized Yugoslav state was going to stand by helplessly while unarmed mobs wreaked havoc? That so many news outlets are taking this story seriously shows just how much the media has been reduced to the role of lapdog, barking on command.
What is it about the Brits that incline them to drag us into wars? World War I, World War II, and now this one are they really going to be allowed to get away with it again? Tony Blair is pulling out all the stops, renewing the pressure on his pal in the White House to get on with the ground war, and Foreign Secretary Robin Cook is on his way here to put the screws on the President. Blair has been ratcheting up the rhetoric lately, growing more militant by the hour, until one is certain that we will all wake up one morning to the news that 10 Downing Street is demanding we nuke Belgrade for strictly humanitarian reasons, of course. The Brits and their American "amen corner" are yapping that the "time element" is crucial and that we must resettle the Kosovars back into Kosovo before winter sets in. But just to assemble the number of troops will take at least a month, and so the clock is ticking, by their account, and we haven't a moment to lose. Polls show that a majority of the British public favors the introduction of ground troops mostly Americans, of course. With no real army to speak of, they haven't got many men to lose, either and this, more than anything else, does much to explain their warlike spirit.
THE BLIND LEADING THE BLIND
NATO finally released the two Serbian prisoners of war captured by the KLA and turned over to the Americans, at a checkpoint on the Serbian-Hungarian border. But why were reporters kept away from them; the official excuse was some obscure provision in the Geneva convention forbidding "pressing" prisoners, but this clearly did not apply to the their American counterparts, whose every bruise was magnified beyond all reason. The video that showed the transfer of the prisoners at the border was quite strange: what we saw were two clearly physically damaged individuals, hunched over as if they had been imprisoned in a box, moving with some difficulty; in a bizarre touch, they were also blindfolded as if to symbolize the utter blindness of our own media in failing to follow this story. The Red Cross was laconic, at best, on their condition, and the suspicions of any honest observer must be aroused by the fact that the two Serbs were captured by KLA units, not exactly known for their gentleness. Just how badly off these two are will no doubt be revealed after they get home in which case it can always be dismissed by the Western media and NATO (or do I repeat myself?) as Serbian propaganda.
ON THE DIPLOMATIC FRONT
The effort to win by negotiation what extreme caution prevents them from winning on the battlefield continues to grind on; it is the main front in this war right now, to which the military conflict is just a backdrop. Everybody is awaiting the joint NATO-Russian-United Nations proposal, which will soon be unveiled. But don't expect peace anytime soon. While Foreign Ministry spokesman Nebojsa Vujovic said Yugoslavia is ready for a deal as long as its territorial integrity is left intact, he did so in a way that illustrates why such a deal is unlikely to take place: "How could a nation of 11 million be a loser when the mightiest, the most developed countries in the world and the mightiest military alliance, is conducting a high-tech war for almost two months against a small nation?'' declared Vujovic. "And who is the moral victor standing by against this powerful aggression?" While the Clinton administration may have been willing to cut a deal with someone they accused of being the moral equivalent of Hitler, a war criminal who supposedly embodies the dark spirit of barbarism, this talk of a Yugoslav victory is too readily taken up by the Western media to be tolerable to the Clintonians. A peace deal is out of the question, unless Milosevic agrees to cringe and be properly humiliated.
HINTS OF WAR
If peace is breaking out, then you couldn't tell from the President's public utterances, which today took an ominous turn: we "will achieve our objectives one way or the other" in this war, he said, and refused to rule out introducing troops on the ground. Is the Brit campaign to draw the first American blood in the Balkans finally succeeding? This is the crucial week in which the direction of the war will be decided: will we move toward peace, or toward the bloodiest conflict since Korea? We must hope for the former, and plan for the latter.
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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 is an Adjunct Scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Libertarian Studies, and 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).