August 20, 1999


Is anybody besides me getting more than a little tired of James Rubin, the Pretty-Boy-Floyd of the U.S. State Department? Mad Madeleine we can take on her own repulsive terms, although it takes some getting used to, reassured in the knowledge that she is sui generis. We expect her to outrage reason and decency, she looks and acts like the witch she is; but Rubin, with his oily narcissism, knowing smile, and epicene good looks, catches us off-guard. Here is this ephebe with the face of a model and the mannerisms of a movie idol politely and calmly telling us the most outrageous lies. Listening to his various pronouncements over the past few days, one can only look at him and conclude that here is the face of evil. Alright, so you're think: "Surely you exaggerate." But listen to this:


I could hardly believe my eyes when I read the press reports last Thursday: the United States was blasting the Iraqi government "for being an uncaring tyrant" in the wake of a UN report showing that Iraq's child mortality rate has more than doubled since 1991. Up popped Barbie-doll Rubin, declaiming that this is "irrefutable proof" of Saddam Hussein's "neglect of his own people." This is said by the spokesman of a government that has, for the past nine years, been killing Iraqi children with draconian sanctions. Over a million children have starved to death as a result of the countless ordinary consumer items on the "forbidden" list: stuff like diapers, food supplements, and even blankets, all of which have a possible military use. What kind of a monster is the cherubic Rubin that he could make such a statement with a straight face?


Rubin argues that the food-for-oil program now in place, which allows Iraq to market $5.2. billion in oil in exchange for essential items, is working in areas not controlled by the regime. Instead of the sanctions, he blames Saddam for "hoarding" medicine and comestibles. In the Turkish-controlled north, which Ankara has been allowed to informally annex, the flood of Western aid has succeeded in reducing the horrendous rate of infant mortality by 20 percent. According to the UN, south and central Iraq, controlled by Baghdad, show an increase from 56 deaths per 1,000 in 1984-89 to 131 deaths in 1994-99. Rubin triumphantly avers that "the clearest conclusion to be drawn, therefore, is that the oil-for-food program is working in the regions where it is allowed to work freely. The bottom line is that if Saddam Hussein would not continue to hoard medicines and capabilities to assist the children of Iraq, they wouldn't have this problem." All very smooth and self-assured, uttered in Rubin's honeyed voice, this explanation seems plausible and even somewhat believable – except he left something out. . . .


Buried in the back pages of the nation's newspapers, in little wire stories not more than a paragraph long, the continuing story of America's relentless assault on Iraq has played out, well beneath the public's radar. As Alan Bock pointed out in his excellent column the other day, "American and British pilots have fired more than 1,000 missiles against more than 350 targets in the last eight months – two-thirds as many missions as over Yugoslavia." One major difference between the Turkish-controlled north and the Saddam-controlled south and central zones is that the latter have been under almost continuous assault from US and British warplanes since 1991. Yesterday we ran a story with the headline: "Rescuers Search for Baby Buried in Iraq Strikes." Does anybody seriously believe that this is the first time an Iraqi baby has been buried in the ruins of a bombed-out building? A continuous rain of bombs on the Iraqi people may – just may – have something to do with the increased infant mortality rate in the areas under Saddam's control.


The story, an Agence France Presse dispatch, relates how a bomb dropped by US planes destroyed a house and killed 12 members of a single family in the small town of Jassan, south of Baghdad: "In front of the brick house at the entrance to the town, an old woman sat crying, repeating the names of her daughter and grandchildren slain in the raids, and calling on God to punish the Americans."


Such divine retribution, if it should come, would be truly terrible: since it involves a crime against children, it could be that a vengeful God will cause our own children to suffer. Perhaps he will inflict on them a plague of drugs, or the curse of sub-literacy. Or it could be that He will unleash some psychic contagion that will cause them to turn on each other, and then themselves, in an orgy of vengeance and blood. Last week, as students returned to Columbine High School, site of the latest and biggest in a rash of high-profile public school shootings, they did so under conditions of unprecedented security – and even then, someone managed to scrape a few swastikas on the freshly-painted walls.


There was something almost satanic in Rubin's hubris as he denied all US responsibility for Iraq's appalling infant mortality rate – satanic in the sense that he inverted rather than merely attempted to refute the statement of UNICEF executive director Carol Bellamy, who blamed the sanctions as well as Iraqi government policy: "Our concern is that whenever sanctions are imposed, they should be designed and implemented in such a way as to avoid a negative impact on children," she said. But Rubin, with the arrogance of a young Lucifer, "outright rejected Bellamy's claim that the sanctions were even partly responsible for the worsening mortality rate," according to the report. In response to a reporter who asked about the UNICEF director's comments, Rubin snapped: "You may continue your dialogue with Ms. Bellamy as much as you want. We can't solve a problem that is the result of tyrannical behavior by the regime in Baghdad. Clearly the blame for the suffering of the Iraqi people falls squarely on the shoulders of its tyrannical leader." By endlessly repeating the word "tyrannical," Rubin hopes he'll hypnotize his audience into believing such drivel. But how many are really fooled?


A people ruled by odious murderers is not liable for the crimes of its leaders so long as they have no knowledge and no choice in the matter. But how long can even a forgiving God permit such acts to go unpunished? This is what an old woman, sitting in the ruins of her former home, asked aloud as she mourned her children and grandchildren – and we are wise to dread the answer.


These are evil times, and the face of evil is never far from sight – Rubin was in the news again, today, as the State Department demanded that the New York Times retract its recent story by Chris Hedges exposing the theft of over $1 billion in American aid to the Muslim state of Bosnia – ruled over by our noble "democratic" allies, the radical Islamist Alija Izertbegovic and his party of militant mujahadeen. "It's hard enough to get support in this country for foreign assistance as it is," whined Rubin. "To have a false and unjustified and unsubstantiated perception that a billion dollars in foreign aid money has been stolen by the Bosnians harms that cause."


But does it really harm the cause of those who are pushing to get the current foreign aid bill through Congress without any meaningful cuts? The answer is: not fatally. Foreign aid has never been popular with the American people, and if you ask ordinary voters what government program they would most like to cut, foreign aid is at the top of the list. But not in Congress, where foreign lobbyists and their domestic amen corners hold almost complete sway. The foreign aid program is immune to scandal, because its proponents are shameless in their self-interested agendas: more for me and my guys, and to hell with the American taxpayer. The lobbyists have people working full time on this, all day every day, and in the end they will win due to a tragic fact: while every foreign interest has a Washington lobby, there is no lobby for America.


But Rubin and his Clintonian confreres aren't taking any chances. Just in case the truth should, by accident, somehow get out to the American people – as in the case of the Hedges story – the Spin Patrol cannot let it stand unchallenged: "We would like to see corrective measures taken that create the truth and not this false perception." With their new International Public Information group (IPI) – a new government agency ostensibly designed to "correct" foreign news reports but really to influence the media at home – the campaign to "create the truth" is going full blast. Government officials have launched an extraordinary public relations effort to discredit Chris Hedges' reporting, arranging a conference call between the head of the US aid program and reporters, and going to the nearly unprecedented lengths of demanding a retraction – which is something not even Richard Nixon thought of doing.


The official line is that a little more than $1 million was pilfered, and that this can be recovered. But where will it be recovered from? No one in Bosnia has the cash to pay it back, and certainly not the government, which gets all its money from the US and other donors. News reports indicate that payments will come from the BH Bank, which, we are told, the Bosnian federal banking agency has taken over due to its insolvency. But how is an insolvent bank going to pay such a debt – unless the United States Treasury makes up the difference?


In spite of all the bluff and bluster, Rubin did not dispute the substance of the charges, but only the details: the Hedges story cites a 4,000-page document reporting official corruption, while Rubin avers that the document is in Serbo-Croatian and describes the financial shenanigans of only a single city, Tuzla. But surely this strengthens the case made by Hedges; for if 4,000 pages of documentation exist describing the corruption of one city, how many pages will it take to detail the large-scale looting of the entire country?


The New York Times, for its part, is standing by the story: "We have reviewed all of his complaints and found a couple of minor points on which we think we made factual errors," said Times foreign editor Andrew Rosenthal, "which we are going to correct in the paper tonight." But he maintained that "the basic premise of the story is completely sound." The errors? They got somebody's name wrong, and they mixed up one locality with another. And that is it. For this, Rubin is demanding a retraction – yet more proof, if more were needed, that this administration's disdain for truth is practically limitless.


Rubin and his ilk are part of a culture that thrives on lies: indeed, they have constructed an edifice around the lie that they are the main defenders of democracy and "human rights" in the world. But the lies are coming unraveled, in spite of their best efforts, and the whole elaborate structure is constantly threatening to come down on their heads – a fate that awaits most liars, who ultimately pay the full price (and more) of whatever benefits their deception allowed.


Rubin is frantic now that the muck at the bottom of the Bosnian quagmire is finally being dredged up. His explanations are not quite so smooth anymore, and his words not at all honeyed, but rather bitter: "The sum total of potential losses to us at this time is in the nature of $1 million. That is a thousand times less than what the international community has been subject to reports about over and over again. The total amount of foreign assistance at issue is $20 million. The remainder of the funds are local funds that have been obtained and possibly misused, and worse, projections on what funds ought to have been provided to the local government if taxes had properly been levied and collected." Note the qualifier "at this time" – and expect the amount they admit was embezzled to go much higher. And what are these "local funds" except tax monies that were supposed to pay back American and European "loans" and instead went into the pockets of Bosnian embezzlers. But who will cover the "loans"? You guessed it – the American taxpayers..


Essentially, Rubin contends that we are getting ripped off a lot less than we have any right to expect – an argument that is more apt to convince ordinary Americans that the whole foreign aid program ought to be abolished. Rubin's rationales are not directed at ordinary Americans, however, but to the government, media, and corporate elitesin Washington who profit from and make propaganda for the slush fund known as "foreign aid." And as long as the arena is confined to that imperial city – the decadent capital of a world empire, flush with cash and drunk with power – the battle is lost.


Even Rome had its tribune, the voice of the people, who protected ordinary citizens against the excesses of the elites and made their case to the Senate. But there is no one to speak for the average American: only a few scattered voices in Congress, such as Ron Paul, and almost none among the presidential candidates, call for ending this system of legalized theft that shovels money overseas, down into a bottomless rathole. This, then, is a job left to and its supporters: to expose the larcenous "new order" that the "liberators" of Bosnia and Kosovo would impose the world over. We can and will continue to document it – so that you can effectively fight it.

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

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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 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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