July 2, 1999


For weeks and months on end – indeed, ever since we set up this Website – we have been getting a lot of mail asking why we never posted the stories of Serb atrocities circulated by the War Party. Naturally, a lot of these inquiries were from people named Mohammed, and were accompanied by epithets that seemed – at least to me – anatomically if not metaphysically impossible.


Ominously, Clinton has declared that the bombing of Serbia was justified because this was a war "against racism." Why does that send a chill down my spine? I'll tell you why: If he will slaughter thousands of foreigners to stamp out "racism," either real or imagined, what will he do to his own subjects – including the author of this column? Since the commentary above is, by current standards, "racist," I am waiting for a guided missile to target my humble San Francisco abode. But please, guys, be careful – the German consulate is right down the street.


It is naturally a "hate crime" to report a simple fact: when the bombs started falling, the overwhelming majority of hate mail was from Kosovars and other Muslim immigrants, with many Mohammeds among them. When I reported this is my column, we received indignant letters from "concerned" liberals who quailed at the prospect that we were "scapegoating" and indulging in unnecessary Muslim-bashing that did nothing to advance the antiwar cause. My answer then, and now, is that the cause of the truth must be served above all, and that the antiwar movement could have no interest in ignoring an obvious fact: that immigrants invariably lobby for the interests of the "mother country." As I point out and document in my Into the Bosnian Quagmire, American Muslim immigrants were in the vanguard of the War Party from very early on. This makes perfect sense, of course: but for some reason we are not allowed to say these things out loud, never mind in print – except here.


But as the war dragged on, just as the missives from Mohammed started to peter out, we began receiving letters of a different sort: from antiwar people, our own supporters, who were snowed under by the propaganda blizzard and thought we were "in denial." With the NATO propaganda mill churning out atrocity stories faster than anyone could refute them, even hardcore opponents of this war were getting nervous. A great show of sympathy for the Kosovars – and implied contempt for the Serbs – was featured prominently in the rhetoric of most antiwar commentators, and opponents of NATO's war began to preface their protests with something like "of course, the Serbs are guilty of horrific war crimes, and of course Milosevic is Hitler's doppelganger, but . . . ." Others were more skeptical of NATO's atrocity stories, yet wrote us to say that we couldn't just "ignore" the issue of Serb atrocities, and a few days ago I received a good example of such a letter, which I quote in full:


"I am a user who liked your site well enough to send you a small contribution a month ago. Here's my thought. I think Antiwar.com would be improved by a more balanced approach. Over the last few weeks, there has been a media firestorm (my impression) regarding supposed Serb atrocities. Yet there is no sign of this at Antiwar.com. I haven't been able to find anything on your site that deals with the allegations. Of course it may turn out the stories are ALL fabrications or propaganda. Yet you seem to have a lower standard for reporting allegations of KLA atrocities. You can't just ignore the allegations of Serb atrocities. They need to be at least acknowledged (as allegations), so that they can be dealt with, either questioned or refuted, or put in perspective, apologized for, or whatever, if you want to have any credibility as an objective information source."


Close readers of this site will know that we answered this question long before it was asked, in a statement on "Our Editorial Policy," and I quote: "We have no policy against publishing such articles. While many of the news items we post contain references to the NATO-Kosovar allegations against the Serbs., it is true that we have not published stories that assume the truth of these allegations. The reason is because no evidence has so far been offered to prove the truth of these assertions, except for the contradictory testimony of Kosovar refugees and fuzzy NATO aerial photos that prove nothing. . . . We know that NATO is raining death on the people of Yugoslavia, a fact that can be easily verified. The same cannot be said about the allegations of 'genocide' being recklessly made against the Serbians." In the beginning of the war, the reports of "genocide," "mass graves" and "mass rapes" were usually qualified by statements to the effect that these stories "could not be independently verified." This caveat was usually mentioned in the eighth or ninth paragraph, after verbatim accounts of alleged massacres by Kosovar refugees. After a while, however, even this pretense was dropped, and the Kosovar "Holocaust" was reported as fact.


At the time this editorial statement was posted, the NATO-crats' rhetorical firepower almost equaled their military firepower: Jamie Shea and NATO's shills in the English-speaking press were claiming that the Serbians were conducting nothing less than a reenactment of the Holocaust. When NATO troops entered Serbia, the war crimes investigators rushed in to confirm what Shea, General Wesley Clark, and Madeleine Albright had asserted as fact. Journalists eagerly converged on scenes of mayhem and destruction, so as to be first to report from the scene of a Serbian Auschwitz. The warhawks spoke sternly of retribution, and Clinton put a price on Milosevic's head – $5 million for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the Serbian Hitler. But there was a slight problem – it wasn't true. And the truth, as always, is now beginning to emerge – too late to stop the war, but not too late to teach us all a lesson.


It turns out that the NATO-crats' inflated rhetoric of "genocide" was backed up by some equally inflated numbers: according to a report in USA Today, "instead of 100,000 ethnic Albanian men feared murdered by rampaging Serbs, officials now estimate that about 10,000 were killed." Even this figure should be lowered, considering a number of other factors: the NATO bombardment, the revenge killing of Albanian "collaborators" (including supporters of Ibrahim Rugova and other rivals for the leadership of the Kosovar independence movement), and the fact that many of these casualties were KLA fighters fallen in the battle for Kosovo. Above all, considering the source of the new figures, this new number of 10,000 is undoubtedly yet more exaggeration, albeit on a smaller scale.


It also turns out that the tales of starving Albanians trapped inside Kosovo, supposedly being kept on the move by the heartless Serbs, was a complete fiction, the invention of NATO and CNN (or do I repeat myself?). In May, when Clinton solemnly averred to a skeptical audience of veterans that the Kosovars were "trapped within Kosovo itself lacking shelter, short of food, afraid to go home or buried in mass graves dug by their executioners," he was lying. Those who didn't flee went into hiding, but they came out of it alive and healthy. The "rape camps," the "mass graves," the homeless helpless Kosovars as the passive pawns of the Serbian sadists is a myth that is now being exploded by the facts. The fields were not burned and the livestock were not massacred en masse by the Serbs, as was widely reported. "Yes, there were atrocities," says House intelligence committee chairman Porter Goss (R-Florida), "but no, they don't measure up to the advance billing."


The much-touted "humanitarian crisis" that supposedly justified the conquest of Kosovo by the West seems to have been seriously downgraded to the status of a humanitarian fraud. The avalanche of food and medical supplies that poured into the region now sits in warehouses, rotting, or else is being sold on the black market; at any rate, these programs are "taking a back seat while the United Nations rushes to assemble a police force," according to USA Today. "The 'missing men' – young Albanians who were believed killed – are home with no jobs. NATO forces are struggling to keep them from seeking retribution." Having switched places with Milosevic, the NATO-crats must now rule over the unruly Albanians, and somehow keep them from murdering the few remaining Serbs, and – when they are gone, driven out – somehow keep the Kosovars from turning on each other


The NATO-crats' response to the revelations is to openly acknowledge their deceit, and even to be more than a little proud of it: after all, they accomplished their goal, the lies worked, and who is going to argue with success? National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer denied that the Liar-in-chief had any intent to deceive. "As you go through a campaign like this," he explained, "there is a great deal of uncertainty." Uncertainty? What uncertainty? As the bombs were dropping on Belgrade, Mad Madeleine was unequivocally comparing the civil war in Kosovo to the Holocaust, while her eunuch, James "Pretty Boy" Rubin, dutifully reported that the Serbs were herding the Kosovars into concentration camps and systematically exterminating an entire population. Lies, all lies, brazenly told and calculated to keep the antiwar opposition off balance. As the mad dogs of war bayed and howled about Serb "atrocities," the idea was to silence their domestic critics and keep the focus away from the death and devastation NATO's warplanes were wreaking on the Serbian people.


But never mind the details, says Hammer, because the new numbers will do just as well, and, at any rate, "we needed to move because of the campaign of ethnic cleansing that could not be allowed to stand." In other words, the truth is irrelevant if lying serves "humanitarian" ends. In the international war against "racism," truth is often an obstacle. "I don't think you can say killing 100,000 is 10 times more morally repugnant than killing 10,000," says Defense Department spinmeister Kenneth Bacon. Are the planners of what is coming to be called the Cowards' War, who dropped cluster bombs on hospitals and train stations at 30,000 feet, now giving us lessons in moral calculus? How does the man keep from retching on his own words?


Unlike the Nervous Nellies of the Left, who didn't like the war but liked the Serbs even less, I warned from the beginning that the atrocity stories would be debunked. On March 30th, I wrote "As of this moment, the only evidence for the allegations of genocide are contained in KLA press releases and the testimony of KLA partisans and sympathizers." You didn't have to be Nostradamus to see that, after the war, a lot of reporters were going to be standing around wondering how they were duped so easily. How did I know this? The history of propaganda in wartime is replete with so many examples of government lies – including forgeries, covert action, and blatant manipulation of the mass media – that it is impossible not to know it. Besides, lying is what government officials are hired to do: it is their job, and if the American people need to be reminded of this every so often then wartime is the perfect time to do it.


But a healthy skepticism requires a sense of history. This is one major reason why Antiwar.com will soon be initiating a new column, "Our Anti-Imperialist Heritage," which will offer reprints of classic texts, as well as original essays on the history and the heroes of the noninterventionist movement.


In the next day's column [March 31], I cited Arthur Posonby's classic book, Falsehood in Wartime (1928), which neatly describes the methods of the NATO-crats and their predecessors: "Facts must be distorted, relevant circumstances concealed, and a picture presented which by its crude coloring will persuade the ignorant people that their Government is blameless, their cause is righteous, and that the indisputable wickedness of the enemy is beyond question. A moment's reflection would tell any reasonable person that such obvious bias cannot possibly represent the truth. But the moment's reflection is not allowed; lies are circulated with great rapidity. The unthinking mass accept them and by their excitement sway the rest. The amount of rubbish and humbug that pass under the name of patriotism in wartime in all countries is sufficient to make decent people blush when they are subsequently disillusioned."


We are up for another great disillusionment – except for those of us who were never under any illusions to begin with. One difference between Posonby's time and our own, however, is that the public has grown much more skeptical. We have been through this too many times to be taken in again.


Another great difference is technological. In 1917, the elites of the U.S. and England were bound and determined to get this country into the Great War. With the mass media, led by such esteemed journals of intellectual opinion as The New Republic, beating the drums for war – some things never change – the antiwar opposition was steamrollered, silenced, and destroyed by a combined effort of government-sponsored propaganda, outright State repression, and the violence of "patriotic" vigilantes. World War II was another holy crusade of mass deception and willful suspension of disbelief, in which an American President lied repeatedly to the Congress and the people – for the good of the nation, of course. The propaganda of the Cold War followed the classic pattern: lies dressed up as "fact" by a self-censoring and entirely credulous media that became a virtual adjunct of the national security State.


During the Vietnam War, however, the technology caught up with them: the power of television to project the barbarity of American atrocities and the unworthiness of our thuggish South Vietnamese allies. But that was before the advent of the Clintonian spinmeisters, yesterday's Vietniks – the phrase evokes a whole era – and today's NATO apparatchiks, who understand and have learned to control, or "spin," the power of televised imagery. They realized that if the power of televised images could demoralize and defeat the War Party, as in Vietnam, they could also mobilize and advance the interventionist cause. For the duration of the Balkan conflict, television news programs and commentary shamelessly trumpeted the government line.


But the hegemony of the idiot box was challenged, in this Information Age, by the rise of a new technology that liberated ordinary people from the media moguls' yoke. The Balkan War of '99 signaled the rise of the Internet as a vital arena in the battle for hearts and minds. While television adhered to the old "loose lips sink ships" code of journalistic ethics, acting as the servant of government rather than the watchdog of the truth, the role of the Internet was inherently subversive, transmitting images and ideas unfiltered by the media elite to millions of people all over the world. Antiwar.com tried to break through the "fog of war" generated by the NATO smoke machine and expose the pro-war bias of the major media – especially television, which, this time around, turned out to be the great enemy of truth. We set ourselves up as a kind of anti-CNN, determined to disseminate alternative views as quickly as the "mainstream" media could spread NATO's war propaganda. And to an amazing degree, we succeeded. For that, I am grateful beyond words to our supporters, contributors, and faithful readers, who are keeping those hit report numbers high beyond our wildest expectations.


Looking at those numbers, Alan Bock's first column for Antiwar.com is a fantastic success – and I want to take this opportunity to welcome him to the site and urge you to check him out. Alan is a great guy, a veteran journalist with the Orange County Register, and an excellent writer. His fascinating book, Ambush at Ruby Ridge, is a riveting account of atrocities committed against Americans by their own government. Welcome, Alan: with you keeping an "Eye on the Empire," the NATO-crats are really in for some close scrutiny – and that is the one weapon we have that will defeat them.


Alan Bock's column, "Eye on the Empire," is just the first of a number of changes we will be introducing in the weeks and months to come. A good site evolves, and especially one like Antiwar.com – because, as our Great Leader put it last week, "We can do it now. We can do it tomorrow, if it is necessary, somewhere else." Someone must keep an eye on the Empire; Someone must keep you up to date on the plans of the War Party; Someone must track and refute the lies that come as naturally and effortlessly to the servants of the State as buzzing comes to a bee. If we don't do it, then who will?


That is why it is more important than ever that you continue to support Antiwar.com, and not only by logging on but by sending in a contribution. Columnists don't work for free (except for this one), and we plan on signing up a few more. But we can't do it without your help. If you run a company, or if you have Friends in High Places, or if you just want to contribute as an individual, you can sponsor a columnist – and we'll put your name in lights. With a nice banner advertising your generosity – or your product – you can show your appreciation for what we do. If you want to sponsor a columnist, let us know: click here and send us a message. Or, you can click here for the secure credit card contribution form, and help keep Antiwar.com alive. We're doing a job that has to be done – but we can't do it without you.


I hope I answered the concerns raised in the above quoted letter, especially the part about providing "a more balanced approach." We make no pretense about being "balanced" – we are brazenly biased in favor of a peaceful noninterventionist foreign policy for the United States. There can be no "balance" between truth and falsehood. By refusing to become a sounding board for NATO's fabrications, by withholding judgment until all the facts were in, we made the right decision. Far from threatening our "credibility as an objective information source," our unwillingness to swallow the "humanitarian" cant spewed by official (and unofficial) government mouthpieces preserved our integrity. In the context of what is happening today in Kosovo, we stand by our evaluation of the KLA – and Kosovar Albanian society in general – as violent, authoritarian, and antithetical to the establishment of free institutions. This judgment, too, has been confirmed by events. Against the conventional wisdom, which "everyone" knew beyond the shadow of a doubt to be true, we stood up and dared to say: "Well, 'everybody' is dead wrong." And, you know what? They were.

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.

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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 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).



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