July 26, 1999


With 14 Serb farmers found massacred in Kosovo, and the province descending into chaos, the NATO-crats and their United Nations cronies have really come up with a whopper. KFOR commander Lieutenant General Michael Jackson raised “a number of possibilities” concerning the motive for the killing, “from something like local revenge to something rather more sinister in terms of an organized way.” With the Kosovo Liberation Army running rampant, shooting Serbs and driving out the rest, they would be the natural suspects at the top of any investigator’s list – but not in this case. Instead, the NATO-crats are floating a conspiracy theory that demonstrates, in the starkest possible terms, the corrupting influence of the wartime mentality on the media and the culture – a story so farfetched that “Ripley’s Believe it or Not” wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole.


The head of the UN's Kosovo mission, Bernard Kouchner, claims that the massacre was part of a dastardly plot that came to fruition "when – and maybe because – we were taking firm steps towards stability" and democracy. (Stability? What a laugh! Kouchner fiddles while Kosovo burns.) While neither Jackson nor Kouchner would say, as yet, just who was responsible, an anonymous KFOR officer did not hesitate to tell Agence France-Presse that "it was not being ruled out that Serb paramilitaries were responsible. Such a thing is not entirely unknown in this part of the world." Since the Albanian Kosovars can do no wrong, and the KLA is a band of angels, the Serbs must be doing it to themselves.


One would think that even the NATO-crats would be embarrassed to make such a suggestion, even in jest. But these liars are utterly without shame. They say it with a straight face – and the media reports it as if it were credible! If someone so much as hints that the allegations of a Serb massacre of Kosovar civilians are grossly overstated for propaganda purposes, he is put in the same category as a "Holocaust denier" and deemed an apologist for mass murder. Yet the crimes committed against Serbian Kosovars by the KLA, which are occurring daily right before our eyes, are casually denied by KFOR – which instead blames the victims.


Governments lie as a matter of course, and the capacity for lying comes naturally to its servants. But what makes them think they can get away with such a whopper? Because they aren't getting called on it, that's why. Where's the media, the "human rights" organizations, the punditocracy? Out to lunch, missing in action, and so morally compromised by their complicity with the NATO-crats that they actually believe this crazy conspiracy theory.


The "spin" being put on this incident by the NATO-crats is that an attack that took 14 lives, all Serbs, including a 15-year-old boy and a 60-year-old grandfather, was really an attack on . . . NATO. The frog – or should I say 'French' – socialist Bernard Kouchner, who heads up the UN's Kosovo administration, declared that "the murderers sought to stop us. We must not permit that. The mission must go on with redoubled energy." In other words: it's all about us. This, uh, creative interpretation of events makes perfect sense – if you credit the wacko conspiracy theory that the massacre was carried out by "Serb paramilitaries."


Speaking of which, just who and where are these mysterious paramilitaries, anyway? The whole world saw the Serb army's retreat and KFOR verified their complete withdrawal before the bombing stopped. With tens of thousands of KFOR troops in Kosovo, and the KLA still armed and dangerous, where are these all-purpose villains hiding?


Mike Lofgren, an aide to Rep. John Kasich who works on the Research and Development Subcommittee of the House Committee on National Security, sent me an interesting letter, which I print below in full (in italics) – interspersed with my own comments (in regular typeface):

"Congratulations to Antiwar.com. Not only is its editorial policy refreshing, but it is a valuable research tool for those of us who need, for professional reasons, to pierce the media blackout of the real news pertaining to Kosovo. I would suggest, however, that Justin Raimondo might lower the tone of his pro-PRC pieces a few decibels. Just because the bombing of the Chinese Embassy was wrong (and the changing U.S. ex post facto rationales are evidence of that), that does not make the trashing of the US embassy and burning of the US consulate right. Whether the students who did it did so spontaneously or not is irrelevant. The Chinese authorities plainly permitted it to continue by their ostentatious non-action to stop it. Does this non-action retroactively justify the American bombing, as some US hawks appear to think? No. But the bombing did not justify the Chinese police's non-enforcement of order either, as they are plainly obligated to by international treaty and diplomatic courtesy."


I would love to be able to lower my shrieks of outrage – if only by a few decibels – over the way the War Party is demonizing and provoking the Chinese. Unfortunately, nothing short of a thermonuclear explosion is going to concentrate the attention of our policymakers – and that is how it may very well end up. This fully justifies the decibel level, in my view, and on these grounds one could even argue for an increase. As it is, I have to stop myself from making every column about China, and only manage it just barely. Oh, and thanks for the compliment to our coverage of Kosovo – but why is it that we can't pierce the same sort of blackout when it comes to China?


The real meaning of the question posed above is this: in a war between the People's Republic of China and the US over Taiwan, which side are you on? I'll take the Fifth on that one, given the existence of our sedition laws, but possibly Lofgren meant by "pro-PRC" that I approve of the present government of China. But this begs another question: compared to what? Compared to China under Mao and the ultra-leftist "Gang of Four"? Absolutely. Compared to our own? Well, at least the Chinese government is moving in the right direction, away from socialism – unlike our own.


As a libertarian, I disapprove – if that is not too mild a condemnation – of one-party dictatorships, and can hardly be accused of ideological sympathy with the Chinese Communist Party. However, in the sense that I believe that the present Dengist regime is a vast improvement over its Maoist predecessor, and that it is moving in the right direction – toward the full establishment of capitalism in China – then, yes, I am "pro-PRC." In this very narrow sense it could also be said that Ronald Reagan was "pro-Soviet" in his rapprochement with Gorbachev. Like Gorbachev, and Yeltsin, the present Chinese Communist leadership is headed for self-abolition and rebirth in another guise, whether they know it or not. Why not encourage and hasten the completion of their project?


I cannot agree with Lofgren's moral calculus when it comes to the trashing of the US embassy. It is precisely because the bombing of the Chinese Embassy was so wrong that the trashing of the US embassy and burning of the US consulate was, well, so right. – that is, if (and only if) the bombing was intentional. For surely there is justice, however rough, in retaliating against a deliberate attack. Or are we to accept the official explanation of "outdated maps"?


And, excuse me, but whether the students who did it did so spontaneously or not is all-too-relevant considering the resolution put forward in the House by Rep. Benjamin Gilman, which attributes the damage incurred by our embassy and consulate directly to the Chinese government and accuses them of "orchestrating" the attacks. The Gilman resolution furthermore forbids any reimbursement of the victim's families so long as the Chinese refuse to pay damages to the US – a calculated insult to the memory of the dead and their families, and a gross injustice.


As for the "ostentatious non-action" of the Chinese government to stop it – will the myth of the omnipotent Chinese Communist Party ever die? A more brittle regime is hard to conceive of: faced with regionalist rebellions, major economic dislocations, and the ideological bankruptcy and self-immolation of Marxism, the crackup could come at any time. The last thing the regime wants is a confrontation with Chinese students, who are now on a nationalist kick, for that would be the end of the Chinese Communist Party. The Chinese government is not obligated, by treaty or international protocol, to commit suicide in defense of the American Embassy, but only to do everything within its power to maintain security at US diplomatic facilities. Yes, it could have crushed the student riots with brute military force – but then the same critics of China who accuse them of directing the attacks on the Embassy and our consulate would be screaming about another Tiananmen Square massacre. Some people are just so hard to please.


Lofgren continues: "Raimondo seems to believe his evident, and probably well-founded dislike of the US government requires the worst possible 'spin' on events to vindicate his pessimism. Contrary to his statement in his July 23 column, there is nothing in the Taiwan Relations Act [P.L. 96-8] that "commits the United States to the unconditional military defense of the island . . . ." Although others believe that as well (see the op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, July 20, 1999) a plain reading of the Act would dispel this belief."

I cheerfully admit to being a pessimist when it comes to American foreign policy: that way I am rarely disappointed, and (even rarer) sometimes pleasantly surprised.


The Taiwan Relations Act, in its language and its historical context, was clearly meant as an unconditional pledge of military support. This is the price that was exacted by Taipei's lobby in return for the belated and begrudging diplomatic recognition of the PRC; after the divorce between the US and the Nationalist regime, the Americans were obliged to pay alimony in perpetuity, to expunge the guilt of having "lost" China.


How could we have "lost" China, if it was never ours to begin with?


Be that as it may – Any reading of the Taiwan Relations Act, "plain" or fancy, illustrates the reality that Taiwan is as much a US protectorate as Kosovo. The political purpose of the Act was "to make clear that the United States decision to establish diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China rests upon the expectation that the future of Taiwan will be determined by peaceful means," as stated in the legislation. Furthermore, the US will consider "any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means, including by boycotts or embargoes, a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of grave concern." Concretely, the US government is obligated "to provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character; and to maintain the capacity of the United States to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people on Taiwan." This is stated at the outset, and repeated and elaborated on in Section 3, items (a) through (c), which explicitly stipulate that "the United States will make available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability." If this doesn't mean that we must arm Taiwan, and prepare for war, unto perpetuity, then what, pray tell, does it mean?


Delving yet deeper into the legislative morass that is the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, we see that the President is bound to report to the Congress "promptly" any perceived threat "to the security or the social or economic system of the people of Taiwan." While we not compelled to declare war, this Act pre-authorizes any sort of military action: "The President and the Congress shall determine, in accordance with constitutional processes, appropriate action by the United States in response to such danger." A President who moved against China – without congressional authorization, as required by the Constitution – could and would point to the Taiwan Relations Act to justify his evasion. Not only that, but the President is authorized to conduct this policy in utter secrecy from Congress and from the people, or what else can Section 12, item (a), possibly mean? And I quote:

"REPORTING REQUIREMENT – The Secretary of State shall transmit to the Congress the text of any agreement to which the Institute is a party. However, any such agreement the immediate public disclosure of which would, in the opinion of the President, be prejudicial to the national security of the United States shall not be so transmitted to the Congress but shall be transmitted to the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate and the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives under an appropriate injunction of secrecy to be removed only upon due notice from the President."


The meaning of this particular provision is underscored by the recent revelation in the Los Angeles Times that the Pentagon is practically coordinating and directing Taiwan's military forces, as well as keeping them well-supplied with weapons, without congressional knowledge or authorization – and contrary to hysterical reports by Bill Gertz in the Washington Times that the administration is cutting off all military aid. What is happening is that the United States has agreed to suspend, at least temporarily, the massive military buildup on the island. Far from "appeasing" Beijing, Clinton has been preparing for this crisis by preparing for war – and this is the real provocation as far as the PRC is concerned.


Lofgren concludes: "The US foreign policy apparat under the Clinton dispensation is doing quite well at alienating three-quarters of the world as it is. Pointing out that fact does not require attesting to the guiltless purity of foreign countries. That is an old rhetorical fallacy, which weakens the main argument."

Now here we get to the crux of the matter: of what crime is China "guilty"? Have Chinese forces entered US territory, or violated the rights of US citizens? While no one is arguing for the "purity" of China's rulers, is "purity" a precondition of immunity from US attack? If so, then no nation is safe, and we might as well sign on to the Clintonian-Wilsonian doctrine of militant internationalism and be done with it.


The guardians of morality and decency are ever-vigilant, and they have made a special target of the Internet – but it isn't just pornography and "hate sites" that they want to block, but downright subversive sites like . . . well, like Antiwar.com! Yes, folks, the Internet Thought Police, in association with the Guardians of Political Correctness over at Compuserve, have decided that our beloved Antiwar.com is not a site fit for the innocent eyes of children. A reader writes:

"The good news is I found your website today. We just got a computer and got on the Internet last week. Another bit of good news is our son knew the website address by heart.

"I have a little story to share with any interested readers. There are two adults in our house, my wife and I. On the computer we put her on as the main name on CompuServe, and I was a secondary name. I did a lot of exploring of the net, and found that the secondary name was considered a child by CompuServe. Preset parental controls were in effect, so I did a survey of sex sites on the Net through my wife's name. Having seen some sites, I'm kind of glad these are restricted. I was pleased to find, though, that as a child I seemed to be able under my own name to go anywhere on the Net that didn't relate to sex.

"I had my conclusion adjusted a few minutes ago when I tried to go to www.antiwar.com, which we had accessed together as three of us were looking around the Internet. Under my name, the parental controls, preset by CompuServe, would not let me go to this antiwar site. That is an obscene situation! Our children can go to school, get filled with the Pledge of Allegiance and other war rhetoric, but cannot freely access antiwar information in their own homes."


Don't you feel better just knowing that CompuServe, in its infinite wisdom, is "protecting" your child from this column?


And yet another reader reports that his employers at J.C. Penney Marketing have blocked one and only one site from their server, and that is – you guessed it! – Antiwar.com. All we need is for the US military to jump on this little bandwagon, and decide to block access to our site on their computers – that would really begin to cut into our hits.

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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