by Justin Raimondo
HEROES OF THE GRAND OLD PARTY
We know the world is changing and fast when the Republicans who control the House Armed Services Committee voted Wednesday to forbid Clinton from spending a single dime of the $288.8 billion in the defense budget on the war against Yugoslavia. Passed on a 31-27 party-line vote, the provision in the defense bill specifies that none of the appropriation "may be used for the conduct of combat or peacekeeping operations" in Yugoslavia. The Democrats, now officially the War Party, saw this as a potentially seditious act: "That's a heck of a message to send to that 23-year-old climbing into the cockpit of an F-16 tonight," groused Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss). We have neard so much about "human shields" lately; NATO propagandists assure us that the evil Serbs, having driven the Kosovars out of their homes, are now putting large groups of them hear military targets to act as "human shields" against NATO attacks. This is precisely what Taylor and his ilk are doing to deflect all criticism of Clinton's unconscionable war: can't you see that kid getting into that cockpit, a worried look on his otherwise unwrinkled brow, as he wonders why he has to go drop bombs on Serbian civilians, on hospitals (they got one tonight), monasteries, and the homes of ordinary people? Can't you imagine him wondering: Why? As well he might. The answer to the honorable gentleman from Mississippi is that the GOP is sending exactly the right message to that pilot, and to the country, a clear and unambiguous one: Get us out of the Balkan quagmire the sooner the better.
TIME WAITS FOR NO ONE
Republicans on the committee deny they are trying to pull the plug on Clinton's war, and insist that Congress is merely reasserting its constitutional prerogatives: the power of the purse and the warmaking power. As committee chairman Floyd Spence (R-SC) explained, if Clinton wants to continue the war past September he'll have to come to Congress if he wants to be able to pay for it. "What's wrong with that?" he asked. From the Clintonian point of view: plenty. For this means that the clock is ticking: the money is running out, the Balkan winter approaches, and the President's options are beginning to narrow. As Robin Cook, the British Foreign Secretary, has ceaselessly repeated in recent days, if the refugees don't make it back to Kosovo by the onset of winter it is highly unlikely that they will ever return. Come September, and the "humanitarian" veneer of Operation Allied Force will have worn pretty thin. With this prop kicked out from under them, the real aims of the War Party will be up for full examination, a prospect that makes them very nervous. With Tony Blair demanding an American blood sacrifice on the altar of Atlanticism, the President faces enormous pressures to send in the Marines. Is this to be the disgusting finale of a degrading Presidency, the story of how Clinton the draft-dodger "grew into" his job as Commander in Chief at the end of his second term? Yuck!
THE TRUTH LEAKS OUT
It was only a matter of time before real journalists started to ferret out the truth about what is really going on inside Kosovo. Amid fantastic claims of "genocide," of mass rape, and a level of barbarity comparable to the Holocaust, Tom Watson of the Los Angeles Times and Steve Erlanger of the New York Times stand out in their depiction of a more ambiguous and complex picture. Now we have none other than the BBC corroborating this dissenting view of the Serbian role in Kosovo. The Blairites must be seething at this story by Jacky Rowland (BBC Online, May 19, 1999) which reports that thousands of Kosovars have sought refuge in other parts of Kosovo "reportedly without harassment." As Foreign Secretary Robin Cook throws around numbers as high as 100,000 Kosovars executed by the Serbians, his own government-subsidized media is exposing the stories pouring out of the NATO propaganda mill as pure swill. "These examples stand in stark contrast to persistent reports from refugees arriving in Macedonia and Albania of serious human rights abuses committed in Kosovo": with typical British understatement, the BBC story demolishes the whole premise behind this "humanitarian" intervention that the Kosovars need to be rescued from some terrible fate. Rowland reports from inside Kosovo that refugees left their homes for a variety of reasons: some were evacuated by the police, others fled the bombing. The police and Yugoslav Army units leave the refugees alone, "even though there are clearly supporters of the Kosovo Liberation Army in their midst. 'The police come here only to sell us cigarettes,'" said one refugee. Aha! Evidence of a war crime! The Serbians are trying to undermine the health of the entire Albanian population by making them nervous enough to smoke and then selling them the cigarettes now surely that is "genocide"! This just goes to show you how effective the air campaign has been: NATO bombs have been decimating Yugoslav cigarette factories left and right.
HUMAN SHIELDS DISAPPEAR!
The same BBC report debunks NATO's tall tales of refugees being massed as "human shields": "Meanwhile, in the south we were unable to find any evidence of the tens of thousands of refugees who NATO alleges are being kept here by the security forces near the town of Urosevac," says Rowland. A local resident, a Kosovar Albanian farmer, said he continues to live in his small village, unmolested by the Serbs; not only that, but he has never seen large groups of refugees in his daily travels into town. Having swallowed the assertions of the NATO-crats whole, and reported them as news, an awful lot of alleged journalists are going to be mightily embarrassed when the truth comes out, as it will. The great problem in the past has been that the truth takes time to leak out, especially under wartime conditions; one big advantage of life in the Information Age is that the leakage is much faster and much more widely disseminated.
BLACK PROPAGANDA, REVISITED
Of course, this works both ways: the dawn of the cyber-age means that disseminating lies is a whole lot easier, and this war is generating some real whoppers. The Whopper of the Week Award goes to the London Telegraph, for featuring "black propaganda" thinly disguised as news two days in a row: first crowds of "women and children" were rising up in righteous anger and demanding that Milosevic throw down his arms, withdraw from Kosovo, and basically surrender to NATO's demands. Today the Telegraph, evidently aware of the improbability of this scenario women and children? have added a few men to the cast of this little docudrama: "Soldiers join Serb protests at war" read the headline. The article claimed that "hundreds of Yugoslav soldiers fired their guns in the air in the town of Aleksandrovac yesterday and yelled: 'We are not going back to Kosovo.'" We also learn that the mayor was not lynched, as was claimed earlier, but that "a mob of 1,000 people was reported earlier to have come close to lynching the mayor, Sivov Cvetovic." Rebellion is also reported in the normally pro-Milosevic town of Kresevac, a stronghold of the Serbian Socialist Party, as well as in Cacak, controlled by the anti-Milosevic opposition. The source of this information is never named, but that is only the most obvious suspicion to be raised. Another is the strangely contradictory account of the numbers of people involved in this alleged rebellion. First we are told that "thousands" are refusing to fight and turning their guns on Milosevic: a few paragraphs later, the numbers are somewhat depleted: "The mayor of Cacak, Veldimir Ilic," told the Telegraph "with a nervous voice: 'The demonstrations are growing. It started with 100 or 200 people. But now there are about 600 or 700.'" First it was "thousands," then "about 600 or 700." But which is it? If the NATO-crats are going to peddle the story that a rebellion in Yugoslavia is imminent they had better get their story straight and they had better not count on it happening anytime soon. Far from weakening Milosevic, the military campaign has strengthened him politically, as virtually all journalists inside Yugoslavia report.
INTIMATIONS OF THE GROUND WAR
Today's most ominous development: NATO wants to send ground troops and artillery to Hungary. While clearly meant as an invasion force, the NATO-crats are claiming that its soldiers will be there to "protect" the ethnic Hungarians of Serbia's northern province of Vojvodina. That the Hungarians of the Vojvodina never asked to be "protected" by NATO or anyone else is not an obstacle to our NATO-crats. They blandly declare that U.S. troops will be stationed to "deter" the Serbians from attacking their own country! Unlike in Kosovo, where a terrorist campaign is being waged by the KLA, there is no Hungarian equivalent in the north, and no history of ethnic conflict unless NATO is prepared to stir some up. Here is yet another possible flashpoint, the scene of a NATO provocation, a "border incident' that could well escalate into the ground war Clinton claims not to want. Tony Blair's Secretary of Defense, George Robertson, visited Budapest, the capital of Hungary, yesterday and did his best to whip up ethnic hatred and suspicion, predicting that "Vojvodina will be next in the drive for ethnic purity." But the Hungarians have lived peacefully with the Serbs in that province since the end of world War II, and there is no sign whatever of the anti-Hungarian pogrom Mr. Robertson anticipates with such seeming eagerness. So much for the pretense that the Allies have come to heal ethnic tensions.
A few weeks ago the Hungarian government was declaring that it would not allow any troops to be stationed on its soil; a combination of bribes and arm-twisting may have changed some minds, but this announcement will come as a surprise and a shock to many. This is bound to cause a political firestorm in Hungary, where the polls are running three-to-one against the NATO intervention. Besides having a devastating effect on Hungary's economy, the whole thing is far too close to the Hungarians for comfort. Many Hungarians have friends and relatives who live in Vojvodina, and if these people need to be protected from anything then it is from NATO bombs and, now, the threat of an Allied invasion.
JUST IN CASE
If Milosevic is preparing to make a deal by largely giving in to NATO's outrageous demands, then why is he fortifying his southern border with Macedonia and Albania against the possibility of a NATO attack?
DISPATCH OF THE DAY
The Macedonian Press Agency reports [5/19/99] that "NATO aircraft raided again today the center of the town of Gilane, 50 kilometers from the Kosovo capital of Pristina, killing 4 civilians and injuring 15 others. The allied aircraft used three missiles and destroyed a restaurant which was located close to an army camp." It took three missiles, at a cost of about a million dollars-plus per missile, to blow up a restaurant? Is the fact that it was near an army base somehow supposed to justify such a bizarre choice of targets or is this just their way of saying they didn't like the food?
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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).