Allied Farce:
A Wartime Diary
A New Feature of




by Justin Raimondo



Today's theme is an extension and expansion of yesterday's: defeat, big-time. The capture of three American servicemen on the Serbian–Macedonian border caps a week in which the Serbs shot down the once-invincible Stealth fighter, preserved their air defenses against an all-out assault, and effectively turned the tables on their NATO tormentors. Having turned the site of the downed Stealth into another one of their innumerable national shrines, now they are displaying new trophies of war on Serbian state television: three American captives looking shaken but unbowed. The Serbian television reports that the threesome put up a fight -- they "resisted arrest," as the Yugos put it -- and one, Jimmy Stone, looking a bit battered.

The five-minute NATO news conference acknowledging the capture of the Americans was like some surrealist parody, with NATO's Jimmy Shea claiming, in his limey accent, that the captured soldiers were "preparing for a peacekeeping mission." No American could have said that with a straight face. The three, he haughtily informs us, were only "on a routine vehicle patrol" on the Macedonian border, and, furthermore," all the soldiers there are in a peacekeeping mission and are no threat to Yugoslavia." In the Orwellian vocabulary of Operation Allied Force, troops poised at Serbia's doorstep in the midst of an air war on Serbian cities are "peacekeepers." The same man who had earlier that morning announced that downtown Belgrade is next on NATO's target list reminded the Serbians that they are obligated to treat their captives according to "civilized norms of behavior." He then gazed down his nose at the assembled reporters and announced: "I am not going to take any questions." And with that he stormed out of the room. The farcical aspect of "Allied Force" is underscored by the fact that, ten hours after the capture, military authorities still won't even name the captured soldiers -- in spite of the fact that their name-tags are plainly visible on the images transmitted from Belgrade.


Ron Allen's MSNBC reports from Belgrade are a refreshing breather from the relentless drumbeat. Cutting into the palavering of the "experts," with their harsh staccato rhetoric, the soft-spoken Allen's warm and reasonable voice is a welcome relief. The Serbian people, he says, are united as never before, not behind Milosevic but in spite of Milosevic. The life of the ordinary Yugo is completely changed: schools are closed, workplaces are closed, and the specter of sudden and violent death at NATO's hands hangs over every aspect of life like a dark and ominous cloud. Amid all the talk of "endgames" and "timelines," Allen's is the voice of a real human being.


The hour-long show on Bay TV's Take Issue program (see yesterday's diary entry for the story of how this came to be) was fun -- for me, not for poor Pete Wilson, the KRON news anchorman who made it clear during the off-camera preliminaries that he was none too pleased by the fact that I had managed to bulldoze my way onto his show. Nonetheless, I was there. Now deal with it, Pete. The atrocity stories, the Milosevic-as-Hitler analogy, the "isolationist" epithet, you name and he threw it at me. Rather than laud myself for having disposed of these canards with dispatch if not panache, I confine myself to describing his tone, which hovered somewhere between incredulity and condescension. "This is a view you will not usually hear," he said, describing my recitation of the history of the Tito era, in which Albanian Kosovars were given subsidies and preferential treatment by the Communist central government in Belgrade. "Well, I'll just bet Justin has an answer for that," he said, after talking with one pro-interventionist caller. At one point he got down and personal by saying that I am "very clever" and even "Jesuitical" (!) in making an argument that "twists" facts ("you're not so bad yourself," I observed). His claims about the "genocide" supposedly being perpetrated by the Serbs were, it turned out, based entirely on taking the Albanians' word for it. Why are the Kosovars leaving Kosovo, he asked, if not because of "ethnic cleansing"? My reply was simple common sense: wouldn't you get out of town and fast if warplanes were dropping bombs, I replied. When I challenged this, he acknowledged the truth of it, but counterattacked with the contention that I, in turn, was relying on information supplied courtesy of the Serbian government, with the clear implication that I am slavishly accepting the Serbian '"line." I am relying on my own independent judgment, I said, and nothing else. And that is what every American should be doing, rather than relying on the highly colored "news" accounts coming out of the American media.

What was brought home to me in the strongest possible terms by this encounter was the extent to which the media is militantly and unashamedly committed to "advocacy journalism" over the old-fashioned "just the facts, please" school. There is no longer even any pretense of objectivity: and as for the adversarial role of the press, it is confined to needling exchanges with government officials over what most reporters see as an unwillingness to escalate the war quickly enough. Wilson's unabashed bias -- he at one point acknowledged that he'd given me "a hard time" (yeah, I thought, but not as hard a one as I have given you!) -- and that of his colleagues in the media is a tremendous obstacle to the antiwar movement. Just getting past the filters that normally eliminate real dissent from the mass media requires an enormous effort: as Wilson put it, "this is stuff you don't normally hear." In the short-term, with the media beating the drums for war and drowning out all opposition, this administration could conceivably get away with its disastrous policy. In the long-to-mid-term, however, the arrogance of the elites that clamored for this war will be their undoing. For this is still America. In spite of everything, Americans are still natural contrarians, and they hate being talked down to. They want to trust their leaders, and don't want to have to pay attention to far-off conflicts in obscure places: but when they wake up one morning to the news of the latest casualties in Clinton's war coming home in body bags, and watch captive Americans gazing out at them, bewildered and in shock, from their television screens, they will begin to turn. And then -- watch out.

~ Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of 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.

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