June 23, 1999


The War Party never rests. No sooner is the war in Kosovo "ended," and the sky cleared of NATO's bombs, then war clouds immediately begin to gather on the horizon. "In Africa or central Europe" intoned Clinton on the occasion of his visit to a Macedonian refugee camp, "we will not allow – only because of differences in ethnic background or religion or racism – people to be attacked. We will stop that." This underscores the quintessentially leftist nature of the new imperialism: the United States is now embarked on an international holy war against "racism," and woe unto those nations who fail to live up to Clintonian standards of political correctness. "We can do it now," said Clinton, strutting and boasting before his Kosovar vassals, who greeted him like a conquering hero. "We can do it tomorrow, if it is necessary, somewhere else." Forewarned is forearmed.


To the Clintonians, and their British and German counterparts, the very idea of national sovereignty is a racist concept, since, by definition, it necessarily excludes other nationalities and often coincides with ethnicity. This is the true meaning of the "Clinton Doctrine" now being enunciated, in fits and starts, by the administration: the whole world is fair game!


A crusade for multiculturalism in the post-Soviet world is a prescription for perpetual war. In Eastern Europe and Central Asia it means the reconstruction of the failed Soviet "multinational" model, and a relentless military struggle against all form of separatism. That this conforms nicely to the plans of powerful business interests in the West – as I pointed out in my last column, where I discussed the brewing crisis of Azerbaijan – is sheer coincidence of course. The big oil companies and the big investment banking concerns have already signed contracts with the government of Azerbaijan: if the country now begins to break up into separate statelets, then the deal is off.


The same is true in the neighboring country of Georgia, Stalin's homeland now run by former Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze, the diplomatic darling of the West. There was no more enthusiastic cheerleader of the Kosovo war than Shevardnadze. He has been clamoring for NATO membership and has been granted associate status, with Azerbaijan being given the lowly status of "observer." Shevardnadze has used the Kosovo precedent to call for NATO intervention with his own troublesome separatists in the Georgian province of Abhazia. In his weekly radio broadcast on June 7th he said "the operation for coercing peace in Kosovo is based on principles... which are fully acceptable to Georgia … these 'principles' may become a significant precedent for a peace process in some other conflict zones, for instance in Abhazia." On June 10th Shevardnadze revealed that a senior NATO official had told him "it is time we contemplated the possibility of internationalizing the peace process in Abhazia" and, again, he talked about establishing peace by "coercion".


Ethnically, religiously, and proudly distinct from their Georgian overlords, the Abhazians have set up their own breakaway republic, and at one point caused President Shevardnadze to evacuate his palace and set up a "national" government elsewhere. The rebels have close ties to the Russian military, and as a leading Gorbachevite, who was foreign minister at the time of the USSR's self-dissolution, Shevardnadze is hated in Russian military and nationalist circles. The latest story is that the Russians were in on an abortive coup attempt that never got off the ground. Shevardnadze is a living lightning rod for trouble in the Transcaucasus. He is clearly hoping for thunderbolts in the form of NATO airstrikes on those obstreperous Abhazians – and soon.


This will be done in the name of "humanitarianism," of course. 250,000 Georgian refugees fled Abhazia at the peak of the fighting in 1992-3, and these people are still languishing in camps. If and when the NATO-crats decide to start the bombing, there is a whole new "refugee crisis" for Christiane Amanpour to discover. This will pull in the Clintonian leftists, who will be appalled at this display of Abhazian "racism" against their Georgian brothers and would-be rulers. The oil profits will pull in the foreign policy "realists" in the Republican party, several of whom have extensive business interests and direct investments in the Caspian Sea oil projects undertaken by multinational firms. Here is a war all wings of the War Party can agree on.


The danger to world peace could not be greater. Russian troops are currently stationed in Georgia, as a buffer against the Abhazians, and also in Armenia, where they had a hand in fighting off the Azeris in Nagorno-Karabakh. Moscow, which is still armed with nuclear weapons would fiercely resist the NATO-ization of Georgia, and the Russian bear is already growling. The Foreign Ministry has warned that "Azerbaijan should beware of whipping up tensions in the Transcaucasian region," because such attempts "are fraught with serious consequences." Addressing broader regional issues, the Russians declared "we cannot fail to be alarmed by NATO's claims to ascribe to itself the main role in settling conflicts outside the zone of its responsibility, statements concerning its intention to proclaim Transcaucasia a sphere of its interests. If NATO tried to create military bases in the region it would create a direct threat to Russia's security on its southern borders and would upset the traditional balance of forces in the region."


If it happens, it will be quickly. Who knows what the next presidential election will bring? Even more problematic is the next Congress. Furthermore, with Yeltsin on his last legs, no one can predict who is going to be in power in Moscow. It could be someone like General Lebed, now the governor of Siberia, who would put up a fight. Don't be surprised to wake up some day real soon to discover that U.S. troops are on their way to some Central Asian country as obscure as its name is unpronounceable.


On the international front, the NATO-crats are proclaiming their glorious "victory," and positioning themselves for the next war, while on the home front their pet pundits and propagandists are seeking to marginalize any and all opposition to the wisdom and benevolence of the war-makers. Yesteryear, it was the Right that led the effort to smear and demonize the antiwar movement. This year the Left is leading the charge: Democrats in Congress rail against Republican "isolationists," openly challenging their loyalty. As the war seemed about to go into high gear, with ground troops being readied, the War Party took off the gloves and assailed their opponents as "extremists" – right-wing extremists, naturally, since all the left-wing extremists are either dead or in power.


In the vanguard of this rhetorical shift is the veteran witch-hunter and professional character assassin Morris Dees, whose Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has become the premier rightist-baiting outfit in the country. Dees has constructed an elaborate conspiracy theory in which virtually all of the groups and individuals to the right of William F. Buckley, Jr., are part of some vast interconnected network of cells, a "leaderless resistance" allegedly invented by Louis Beam, an obscure right-wing "theoretician" who Dees and his "researchers" imagine to be a kind of far right Svengali. The SPLC peddles a brand of conspiracism just as garbled and elaborately wrongheaded as some of the wackos they "investigate," and in this sense the group is a scam, a fundraising machine that pays Dees an exorbitant salary. As his former partner, Millard Farmer, put it to the Progressive: "I thought he was sincere. I thought the Southern Poverty Law Center raised money to do good for poor people, not simply to accumulate wealth." In another sense, however, the SPLC is deadly dangerous, a private spy agency that runs an "intelligence project" aimed at political dissent, This was brought home in an article in their quarterly Intelligence Report, "Kosovo and the Far Right" – a vicious attempt to smear the antiwar movement as racist, anti-Semitic, an evil plot by the Ku Klux Klan and Slobodan Milosevic to subvert the Allied cause.


"The NATO-led attacks on Christian Serbs in Kosovo and Yugoslavia have given the radical right a new ideological battleground," Intelligence Report breathlessly relates, "a battleground that some believe may become as important a rallying point as the conflagration in Waco, Texas." While Dees may not know the connection between General Wesley Clark's role in the Waco massacre, the implication of this opening sentence is clear enough: like Timothy McVeigh and whoever else was involved in the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, right-wing terrorists will one day exact vengeance for NATO has done to Serbia. Why? Because Serbia is Christian, and "white": "On scores of Web sites, in the extremist literature and in the speeches and conversations of far-right leaders, the Kosovo war is increasingly seen as an attack by the 'New World Order' on white Christian ethnics that is designed to force multiracialism and multiethnic states on the world over the protests of patriots everywhere." But how could anyone possibly believe such a thing: why, the very idea is too absurd to even contemplate!


Notice how the SPLC conflates "multiracialism" with multiculturalism: the main thrust of SPLC propaganda is to smear its opponents on the Right as racists: only a racist could oppose the war in Kosovo, or stand up for the concept of national sovereignty, or oppose something so obviously benign as the "New World Order." This technique is as old as the hills, and was used (successfully, I'm afraid) to smear the antiwar movement of the 1930s, the America First Committee, which opposed US entry into World War II. The antiwar opposition was called every name in the book, and then some, by the intellectual ancestors of Morris Dees and the SPLC, the Smear Brigade of yesterday. In league with government agencies, such as the FBI, professional provocateurs such as John Roy Carlson (author of Under Cover and The Plotters) spied on and smeared the opposition to FDR's war drive. His technique was to pick out obscure individuals, cranks with no real influence, and minuscule groups with extreme views, as if they were representative of the America First movement. His book, Under Cover, was touted by Walter Winchell – the journalistic trumpet of the War Party – and became a bestseller. It led directly to the Great Sedition Trial of 1944, in which 36 alleged "seditionists" were dragged before a federal judge and charged with conspiring with the Nazis to overthrow the US government and cause insubordination in the armed forces. Although the government later backed down, the first indictments named every organization opposed to the war of any significance or influence, including the America First Committee (composed of the chairman of Sears and Roebuck, as well as Norman Thomas and the veteran old-style liberal John T. Flynn). The technique back then: smear `em, and then jail `em.


The SPLC is carrying on in the same perfidious tradition: violence-baiting the antiwar Right, and crudely framing the issue in racial terms: "Although voices opposing the war have come from across the political spectrum, the debate is seen in explicitly racial and religious terms by the hard right. Like the 1993 tragedy in Waco, which extremists saw as revealing the true, repressive nature of American government, the US attacks on Serbian forces have emerged as a new right-wing battle cry. Perhaps most tellingly, Louis Beam, probably the revolutionary right's most important theoretician, recently broke a long silence to attack the war." Aha! There is the omnipresent Beam, again, with a direct line to all us nasty extremists. But why blame poor Beam, a man who has next to no influence on the actual course of events, for casting the Kosovo issue in racial and religious terms? Didn't the President declare that this is a war against racial and religious hatred? After months of hearing the same line over and over again, not only from Clinton but from Tony Blair, Madeleine Albright, Jaime Shea, James Rubin, and the whole repulsive crew, do we really need Louis Beam to tell us that this was a war for political correctness?


The really dirty smear, however, is reserved for the middle of the article: "At the same time, in Serbia and around Europe, people demonstrating against the NATO attacks have included large numbers of neo-Nazis, and many have been seen giving fascist salutes. There are also reports of European neofascists making their way to Serbia to fight for President Milosevic. Some extreme-right Web sites have called for volunteers." This is the real meaning of the leftist attack on the antiwar movement: since this is a war against a supposedly resurgent "fascism," rightist opponents of NATO's hegemonistic ambitions are "fascists." But who and where are these alleged fascists? In France, the National Front marched against the war, but these are hardly "fascists": they are simply opponents of unlimited immigration who garnered 15% of the vote in the last national elections. The National Alliance and the Lega Nord, the two major parties of the Italian Right, marched in the massive antiwar demonstrations held in Rome and throughout the country, but neither of these groups could credibly be called fascist: the Alliance is nationalist, and the Lega Nord is radically decentralist and classical liberal in its philosophy. In today's lexicon, however, anyone who opposes the cult of multi-culti is a racist, if not a fascist. Naturally, the chief defining characteristic of fascist ideology, militarism, is left completely out of the equation – which is how NATO and its cheerleaders, such as Morris Dees and the SPLC, escape that designation.


And once again we are confronted with the specter of Louis Beam, he who knows all and sees all, the puller of invisible strings, the master of us all: "Beam, like the Belgrade-based Serbian Hammerskins and other far-right organizations here and abroad, is especially angered by remarks attributed to NATO's supreme commander, Gen. Wesley Clark: 'There is no place in modern Europe for ethnically pure states. That's a 19th-century idea and we are trying to transition it into the 21st century, and we are going to do it with multiethnic states.'" If Beam and the so-called "Serbian Hammerskins" – a group that certainly sounds evil and scary, but which remains otherwise mysterious – are the only ones who are angered by El Supremo's inane remark, then we are really in trouble. As the KLA pillages, rapes, loots and murders its' way across Kosovo, driving the fleeing Serbs before NATO's conquering army, the chief result of NATO's war – aside from the death and destruction inflicted on the people of Yugoslavia – has been the creation of an ethnically pure Albanian Muslim state in Kosovo. The American people, the American Congress, and people all over the world are angered by this gross hypocrisy and the brazenness of NATO's lies. Are all these people "right-wing extremists"? In the twisted universe of Morris Dees, where there is a Klansman under every bed and Louis Beam is the evil mastermind behind a worldwide conspiracy of racist isolationists, the answer is: yes.


"To Beam," writes the SPLC, " independence-seeking Kosovars – seen by most of the world as the victims of President Milosevic's genocidal campaign of "ethnic cleansing" – are 'Albanian Muslim terrorists backed by American cruise missiles and B2 bombers.'" Who is this guy Beam? After all this, I am beginning to like the guy: Dees and his crew, far from discrediting the "extremists" they excoriate, are often their best recruiters. "Characterizing the US as a 'terrorist country,' Beam also slams President Clinton for recent American attacks in the Sudan and elsewhere. "Though you may feel no responsibility for violent acts of your government," says Beam, "it is still your government and others certainly hold you responsible. While it is true an Arab avenger cannot bring the desert to you and show you the blood of his loved ones, he can bring you pain, and the terror he knows so well. And he will." The condemnation of Clinton's bombing of the Sudan pharmaceutical plant was well nigh universal: even the US government now admits that the bombing was a "mistake." Beam is hardly the first to suggest that it was no "accident," but a ploy to divert attention away from his legal, marital, and political problems, i.e. the Lewinsky scandal. While the explicit message of the above paragraph is patently and obviously absurd – after all, who cares what Louis Beam thinks or writes? – the implicit message has to be taken seriously. And what is that message? If you believe any of these things, if you "slam President Clinton," if you consider the KLA to be a gang of terroristic thugs instead of angelic liberators, if you question the rationale for this "humanitarian" disaster, then you are no better than Louis Beam, who was once an official of the Ku Klux Klan. To marginalize, to discredit, to smear, and to destroy the conservative opponents of the President and his war – that is the goal of the SPLC, and not only in this article.


What is really ominous about Dees and the SPLC is their ability to work with the government and law enforcement agencies to smash dissent, infiltrate and disrupt the antiwar movement, and threaten the civil liberties of American citizens. As Randall Williams, the original director of Klanwatch – the SPLC's earlier incarnation – told the Progressive: "We were sharing information with the FBI, the police, undercover agents. Instead of defending clients and victims, we are more of a super snoop outfit, an arm of law enforcement."


In this context, the SPLC's sudden interest in the growing opposition to the Balkan intervention should set off alarm bells not only in the antiwar movement, but among those organizations devoted to maintaining and defending civil liberties in this country. The war waged by authoritarian liberals on the battlefields of Yugoslavia has its domestic counterpart in the war to delegitimize – and ultimately to criminalize – opposition to globalism at home. The massive opposition to the Vietnam war provoked the US government into a series of countermeasures designed to disrupt and discredit the antiwar movement in the public mind. Every war has provided the US government with ample leeway to engage in wholesale violations of citizens' rights, as well as spying, employing agent provocateurs, and generally making every effort to destroy domestic opposition the War Party. Why should anyone expect that this war has been any different? With a man known for his Nixonian ruthlessness, his abuse of power, and his insatiable desire to win at all costs, ensconced in the White House, it is not only possible but highly probable that the antiwar movement has been under surveillance by government agencies – and you can bet they did much more than observe.


This is where Dees and his "intelligence" operation come in handy to the War Party: as an auxiliary of law enforcement, a "private" political police. Dees and his ilk, like John Roy Carlson and what John T. Flynn used to call the "Smearbund" in the 1930s, are authoritarians who dream of outlawing the opposition. Toward that end, their goal is to demonize the Right, and isolate the antiwar movement, just as NATO demonized the Serbs and isolated them internationally.


The SPLC is the advance guard of a new McCarthyism, this time initiated and energized by the Left. Dees, for his part, is tireless, well financed, and utterly unconcerned with the truth or falsity of his reckless charges. As a key link in the War Party's propaganda machine, the SPLC is working toward the day when opposition to "humanitarian" wars will be virtually banned as "hate speech": on a more immediate level, Dees' group is working hand-in-glove with government agencies and even the military. The 1977 Special Operations School Catalog of the US Air Force lists a course entitled "Dynamics of International Terrorism": while we will never know the contents of this course, since it is classified "secret," we do know that the teacher was one Joe Roy, editor of the SPLC's Klanwatch.


In a sense, of course, it can be said the SPLC are experts on terrorism of a sort: as practitioners of a technique designed to terrorize their opponents into silence. Smears and the threat of outright government repression are the tools of their trade. But this intellectual terrorism is not going to play well in this country, especially if its' intended victims have the courage to stand up to him. Dees and the SPLC are classic bullies: they pick on socially marginal types, without any real influence, usually without defenders or many sympathizers. Dees has sued the Klan, made a name for himself, and raised millions – but he is riding for a fall. This crude attempt to smear the antiwar movement, and paint the noninterventionist Right with the broad brush of "racism" – just as Clinton is framing his warmongering foreign policy in similar terms – could be the beginning of the end. Remember that some elements of the Left, as well as the Right, opposed the Balkan war, and they are not likely to be amused by the SPLC's shilling for NATO. Now if only the antiwar Left will take a principled stance, and boycott this tinpot tyrant and his cadre of private spooks and professional snitches – perhaps then Morris Dees will finally learn his lesson.

Check out Justin Raimondo's article, "China and the New Cold War"

"Behind the Headlines" appears Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, with special editions as events warrant.

Past Columns

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 US 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).



Please Support Antiwar.com

A contribution of $20 or more gets you a copy of Justin Raimondo's Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against US Intervention in the Balkans, a 60-page booklet packed with the kind of intellectual ammunition you need to fight the lies being put out by this administration and its allies in Congress. Send contributions to

520 S. Murphy Avenue, #202
Sunnyvale, CA 94086

or Contribute Via our Secure Server
Credit Card Donation Form

Back to Antiwar.com Home Page | Contact Us