Behind the Headlines
by Justin Raimondo
What I don't get is this: how come American born-again Christians slavishly rationalize the casual brutalities of Israel's every twist and turn, close their eyes to the killing of Palestinian children, and hail the butcher Ariel Sharon as some kind of modern-day Moses but, when it comes to defending a Christian nation under attack from Islamic "holy warriors," such as Serbia or Macedonia, the silence is deafening? Conservative evangelicals, from Hal Lindsey to Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, are vocal supporters of Israel, but have nothing to say as Christianity is ethnically cleansed from the southern Balkans. While I am not a believer, I can't help wondering if self-crucifixion is taking the Christian thirst for martyrdom a little too far.
I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach as I read the news that State Department officials will meet with Chechen "ambassador" Ilias Akhmadov. For years, the Chechens have been kidnapping, murdering, and looting their way across the steppes of Central Asia, carrying out a bombing campaign in major Russian cities, and launching Islamic insurgencies throughout the region. They take great pride in beheading their enemies and displaying the severed organs as trophies of their military prowess and as a warning to Christian missionaries, who are their special targets. Russian policemen recently defused an explosive device with 10kg of TNT in the basement of a secondary school in the Urus-Martan district of Chechnya. The stated goal of the separatists is to establish an Islamic state based on the model of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and they are doing it with the aid of the man the US holds responsible for the bombing of the USS Cole and practically all major anti-Western terrorist incidents in the Middle East: Osama bin Laden. But according to State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, there is nothing at all unusual in the meeting of Team Bush with this "ambassador" of a terrorist gang. "We've had meetings with a variety of people," he said. "I don't see anything unusual or upsetting in it."
In a sense, he's right. The US whose Draconian sanctions are responsible for the deaths of 5,000 Iraqi children per month is itself the biggest terrorist nation on earth. It's only natural that the creators and chief sponsors of the Kosovo "Liberation" Army would want to link up with the KLA's Muslim brothers in the former Soviet Union. "We've made quite clear that while we accept Chechnya as part of Russia," averred Boucher, "they [the Russians] need to take steps to bring the violence to an end. There's no military solution to the problem. Both sides need to find ways to begin a dialogue and reach a political settlement." Notice how it is always other countries that need to realize that "there's no military solution to the problem" but never the US. Why didn't the Americans take their own advice in Kosovo, Iraq, and Somalia?
It's always the same story: if the Russians are fighting Chechen terrorism within Russia, they need to start a "dialogue." If the Serbs resist the dissolution of their country, they are genocidal neo-Nazis and ethnic cleansers. If the Macedonians insist on fighting grenade-throwing Albanian fanatics who seek to overthrow the Skopje government, then Colin Powell tells them that "'this is the time to show what a multiethnic government can do, to start to look at those points of irritation that exist within your society [and] within the Albanian minority." According to an Associated Press report, "In addition to constitutional changes, [Powell] suggested that adjustments might be made to enable Albanians to use their native language more outside the home." The arrogance of American officials knows no bounds: what other country would interfere so blatantly and unapologetically in the internal affairs of another people, presuming to dictate changes in their constitution virtually word-for-word? Imagine the Macedonian foreign minister arriving in Washington with the following advice: ditch the first ten amendments to your antiquated Constitution!
When the French received the Chechen "ambassador," foreign minister Hubert Vedrine burbled benevolent-sounding bromides: "We think that Russia has gone astray in this adventure of the North Caucasus and that, in one way or another, it should recognize there is a problem which goes far beyond the question of terrorism," he said. "This Chechen problem should be approached on a political basis." But what about the French why don't they approach their Corsican problem "on a political basis"? Don't they recognize that, although the Corsican rebels have carried out bomb attacks on civilians and each other and are little more than bandits, in Corsica there is a problem which goes far beyond the question of terrorism?
I greatly admire the British journalist John Laughland, whose excellent book, The Tainted Source, is the definitive work on the totalitarian origins of Euro-federalist thought. But I'm afraid that in his otherwise excellent piece for the (UK) Spectator, Laughland gets it wrong when he alleges a 180 degree turn in Western policy against the Albanians and in favor of Serbia: "The real reason for our new anti-Albanian policy," he writes, "is that the West has succeeded in installing a compliant regime in Belgrade." Not so fast. If Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica is "compliant," then the word will have to be redefined. For here is a man who told off Carla Del Ponte, refused to extradite Milosevic, and denounced the West for being behind the recent KLA-inspired insurgency in southern Serbia. What else does he have to do in order to satisfy Mr. Laughland: order his air force to launch an attack on NATO headquarters?
Laughland should heed his own words: "The more chaos there is in the Balkans," he continued, "the more our compliant media demand intervention." Here Laughland seems to switch his perspective, and the effect is jarring: he seems to imply that the West is behind the recent rash of Albanian terrorism in the Balkans. This is entirely plausible as I said in my last column but, if so, then how to reconcile this with his contention that a genuine switch of allegiances has taken place? Laughland either doesn't see the contradiction, or is content to merely imply it. In any case, he barges right ahead, recklessly attacking the victims of NATO aggression, the very voters who toppled old Slobo and elevated Kostunica to the Yugoslav Presidency. He writes:
" More troops for Macedonia means fewer in Kosovo: Who can fill the gap? Now that Belgrade is back in the Western fold, there is no reason why the Serbs should not be part of the new "regional security structures" for which Prime Minister Djindjic called recently in Berlin, and which are in any case a key part of the EU's plans for a Balkan 'Stability Pact' The end-game, in other words, should be obvious: Yugoslav troops will be back in Kosovo quicker than you can say George Robertson and the new euro-Serbia will become the West's favorite Ordnungsmacht [the power which brings order] in the Balkans at least until the next turn in Nato's wheel of fortune, that is."
To begin with, it is a fantasy to believe that the US and its European allies will permit Yugoslav troops to set foot inside Kosovo, even if President Kostunica were so naïve as to agree. In any event, Kostunica is more concerned with holding onto Montenegro: while I wouldn't rule out the reintegration of the so-called "buffer zone" and the reclaiming of a few monasteries, the legal fiction that Kosovo is part of the Yugoslav federation has been blown away by events in Macedonia. Kosovo is already independent: not only that, its armies are on the march, bent on the conquest of Macedonia, Montenegro, and parts of Serbia proper. While the US and Britain may publicly denounce this war of aggression, they aren't doing much to stop it, either: at best, they are guilty of passive complicity. Given their formerly intimate relations with the KLA, however, is it really all that inconceivable that their complicity is a bit more active?
In characterizing the Yugoslav government as "compliant," Laughland cites the unpopular Djindjic, whose real constituency is in Washington rather than Belgrade, but pointedly ignores the valiant Kostunica, a principled and courageous man who is trying to rebuild a nation shattered by NATO's bombs. It was Kostunica who admonished the smaller countries of Europe for giving up their sovereignty too easily. As I noted in a column written last year, in his first major comments since his stunning victory, Kostunica disdained the trend among Eastern European countries to jump on board the NATO-EU-OSCE bandwagon. Yugoslavia, he declared, will never become "anybody's protectorate." Furthermore, he upbraided former European communist countries that went unnamed who, he said, had applied for membership in supra-national organizations "without caring much for their independence, their own freedom in relations with the outside world."
This is "compliant"? I don't know what Laughland means by "the new euro-Serbia," but if it means a Serbia with heat during the winter, air-conditioning in the summer, and consumer items commonplace in London, then I'm for it. As for the nonsense about Serbia as "the West's favorite Ordnungsmacht" no fancy German word is going to cover up the holes in Laughland's theory of an Orwellian turnabout on the part of the NATO-crats. While paying lip service to preserving Macedonia's territorial integrity, the US, Britain, and the other NATO powers are urging the Skopje government to prevent war by giving in to the Albanian demands. Furthermore, Laughland's facile characterization of Kostunica's government underestimates the enormity of the task they face: to dig Yugoslavia out of the ruins, while guarding their country's integrity and independence from vicious and powerful enemies on every side. Kostunica has so far navigated this narrow strait with skill and without compromising either his own integrity or that of the nation he leads. Now he faces a March 31 deadline, imposed by the pro-Albanian lobby in the US Congress, which is holding millions of dollars in "aid" (i.e. just reparations) to Yugoslavia hostage and demanding that he surrender Milosevic and other "war criminals" indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal. In their ongoing struggle against the NATO-crats, Kostunica and the Yugoslav people deserve to be supported not slandered.
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