WAR CRIMES AND PUNISHMENT
theme of the day is punishment. Administration officials are letting us
know, through their media megaphones, that the Serbs are going to be punished
for taking the captives. The Serbs, for their part, have announced that
they are putting the three Americans on trial before a military tribunal.
While Vuk Draskovich, the Serbian Deputy Minister known for his moderate
stance, assures the West that they will be well-treated, the charges and
possible sentence have put the War Party in a frenzy -- even while NATO
admits that the captives may indeed have been captured in Serbian territory.
yellow ribbons are going back up. Talk of "the hostages" fills
the airwaves and the internet. Once again, Senator John McCain is all
over the talk shows, his eyes strangely vacant, his sneering smile sinister.
His warmongering is oddly passionless, the veritable embodiment of what
it means to kill "in cold blood." While announcing that he had
put his presidential bid on hold -- "the country is going through
a bad time now," he explained, oozing insincerity -- he attacks Pat
Buchanan's position that we ought to get every one of our soldiers out
of the Balkans: "If we aren't the world's superpower, then who shall
play that role. There are great luxuries and also great responsibilities
with being the world's only superpower." Name one such luxury, Senator,
one that all of us enjoy -- aside from the luxury of getting campaign
contributions from foreign lobbyists and their domestic fifth column.
McCain's alleged moral authority on military issues rests on his 7-year
residence at the Hanoi Hilton, a prisoner in another immoral and unwinnable
war. But why does this mean that his opinion has any special value on
these matters? Quite the contrary: given the bloodthirstiness of his views,
it seems that his years in captivity unhinged him.
ARE YOU READY?
interviewer, Bob Novak on CNN's Crossfire, put the uproar over
the "hostages" in sober perspective: "If Americans get
this upset over three captured soldiers, they aren't ready for a war."
all the analysis and speculation about what circumstances led to the capture
of three American soldiers, the mother of one of them put it succinctly
but quite accurately when, between sobs, she said: "They were put
in a bad situation." Every American soldier in the Balkans
is in that same situation.
RUGOVA PULLS THE
appearance of Ibrahim Rugova, the only democratically-elected representative
of the Kosovar people, at talks in Belgrade with Slobodan Milosevic has
caused a sensation in the West -- and effectively pulled the rug out from
under whatever legitimacy "Operation Allied Force" ever had.
Rugova is a revered figure, among his own people and internationally,
a kind of Gandhi of the Balkans who preaches nonviolent resistance. He
was, up until recently, the recognized leader of the Kosovan independence
movement, having been elected President in a referendum organized by the
nonviolent wing of the Kosovar resistance last year. Rugova not only called
for a halt to the bombing, but also denounced U.S.NATO intervention.
as Serbian government propaganda is, the reaction over at NATO headquarters
to the news of Rugova's peace initiative was as heavy-handed as anything
that ever came out of Belgrade. "NATO officials have concluded that
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is holding Kosovar leader Ibrahim
Rugova against his will," said a UPI dispatch from Washington headlined
"Milosevic Holds Rugova Against His Will." But the ludicrous
assertion that Rugova is somehow being forced to hold news conferences
with a gun to his head is not proved by anything in that story. Unnamed
NATO officials are quoted as saying that "Rugova's detention is a
sinister development," and UPI reporter Sid Balman, Jr., claims that
U.S. officials asked him not to break the story of Rugova's alleged detention
by the Serbs on the grounds that it puts Rugova's life in danger. KLA
sources had earlier claimed that the Kosovar leader had been abducted
and shot by the Serbian police, and NBC reported it as fact: When he turned
up some hours later at his home in Pristina, untouched and eager to talk
with Western reporters about the prospects for peace, the NATO disinformation
campaign went into overdrive. According to the Balman account, Rugova's
reappearance "took a bizarre twist when [he] told the small pool
of reporters, hand-picked for the news conference by Serbian authorities,
that NATO should stop the airstrikes."
is so "bizarre" about that? With the exception of the KLA, the
peoples of the region desperately want peace -- and especially Rugova,
a principled pacifist, who has consistently opposed the violence of the
KLA as well as that of the Serbian state. The article goes on to state
that Rugova was "smiling but clearly uncomfortable during an appearance
with Milosevic" -- a lie made even more bald-faced when Serbian television
distributed that footage around the world. No way did Rugova look
in the least uncomfortable: there he was looking quite relaxed and chatting
away, laughing and smiling at the man we are supposed to believe is the
mass-murderer of the Kosovar people.
DEPT. OF MISSING
resurrection was followed by two others: Fehmi Agani, former chief negotiator
for the Kosovars, and Baton Haxhiu, editor of the Pristina daily Koha
Ditore, also turned up unharmed, after NATO military spokesman David
Wilby claimed they had been executed. Is some Balkan Lazarus raising all
these victims of Serbian atrocities from the dead?
VICTIM GROUPS IN
the endless footage of dumpy Kosovar women bawling for the cameras, a
glimpse of ethnic hatred, Kosovar-style: A woman shrieks that she was
driven out of Pristina by men wearing black masks. She is crying hysterically,
and claims that her tormentors were "let out from the prisons":
they are "criminals and Gypsies." This last word is uttered
with the utmost disgust and contempt; her face is contorted, for a moment,
by hatred, and she bursts into uncontrollable sobs -- as if the mere thought
of a Gypsy is too much to be endured. What is surprising is that this
got past the guardians of political correctness at CNN; for the Gypsies
have long had victimological credentials. But in the fast-moving field
of victimology, yesterday's victims are forgotten and even transmuted
into villains as new victim groups make their way to the fore.
SERBS BEARING GIFTS
Europe has good reason to fear the effects of the KosovarAlbanian
diaspora is illustrated in a report in the London Telegraph (April
1) which details a gun battle that took place in Calais between two Kosovans
in which one died, two others were injured, and a British tourist's camper
was struck by gunfire. The Kosovars have descended on the 24-hour terminal,
where they have camped out with the intention of eventually traveling
to Dover. A spokesman for the ferry company complained that "for
several weeks we have sounded the alarm to tell the authorities the problems
we face each night. Even the truck drivers are afraid and dare not sleep
in their lorries in the car parks." The wounded were taken to the
hospital, and five other Kosovars were questioned. The Albanians are some
pretty rough customers, they are up to their necks in the heroin trade
and make up the hard core of Europe's criminal underclass. Several hundred-thousand
of these model citizens are now headed straight for Western Europe, and
America -- Milosevic's gift to the West.
Republicans so dislike Bill Clinton," averred Bill Kristol on ABC's
This Week, "that they are in danger of becoming neo-isolationists."
Poor Billy just doesn't get it -- but, for once, Bill Maher does: "I'm
for this war," says Maher, host of Politically Incorrect,
"because it's the liberal thing to do." This was confirmed by
the ugly spectacle of Jesse Jackson scolding Ollie North for "not
supporting our troops" -- a moment of such mind-boggling hypocrisy
that not even Jackson could look Ollie full in the face. Ollie deserves
a medal for not reaching over the table and strangling this Johnny-come-lately
"patriot" then and there, in the full view of millions.
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 also the author of An Enemy of the State:
The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (forthcoming from Prometheus Books).