Behind the Headlines
by Justin Raimondo

September 7, 2001

In a world where patriotism is a crime.

Saturday is "National Day" in Macedonia, the tenth anniversary of its founding – just in time to mark the dissolution of that beleaguered nation. NATO's latest conquest is putting up as much resistance as it can muster, but, at this late date, that doesn't seem to be enough. In a bitter, almost heartbreaking speech to the Macedonian Parliament, Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski denounced the NATO-imposed "peace" agreement, while admitting that they had no choice but to pass it. Interior Minister Ljubco Boskosvki, earned the eternal ire of the West's Albanian amen corner by declaring that, after the agreement is signed, he would arrest those guerrillas still intent on terrorizing his country. For this he has been targeted by the Albanians' organizational support group – which goes under the name "Human Rights Watch" (HRW) – and smeared in the international media as a moral monster. His crime? Daring to imagine he would be allowed to fight back against the concerted assault on his country.


HRW has recently issued a report – trumpeted far and wide by the NATO-crats – claiming that Boskovski personally directed a "massacre" of unarmed civilians in the village of Ljuboten. Carla Del Ponte and her Kangaroo Court immediately announced that they would conduct an "investigation," albeit a preliminary one. However, word is out that a full-fledged all-out effort to get Boskovski is already well along, and the "humanitarian" vultures are circling. The Macedonian drama is playing out exactly as scripted in Kosovo: create a "massacre," rationalize a NATO presence – and move in for the kill.


The utter phoniness of HRW's accusations is at least hinted at in the opening lines of their account of the incident, which they characterize as a "revenge" killing in response to the assassination of 9 Macedonian soldiers by the rebels. We are given a novelistic vignette of a mother, Saifa Fetahu, hugging her children, who are frightened to death:

"Friday morning at eight in the morning we were having breakfast. I heard automatic rifle fire, the shooting started and we knew nothing about it. When they started shelling, the house was shaking and the kids started yelling. We went to the basement and were afraid to get out, even to get water. They [Macedonian forces] were shooting all day and all night at the houses. The kids of my son, aged eight, six, and two, were very afraid. The youngest one just grabbed hold of me and refused to let go."


Touching, isn't it? Perhaps just a little too touching, one might even say pat or even hokey, like a scene out of a grade-C made-for-TV movie. To Mrs. Fetahu, I say this: if you, and all the other Albanian women, would prevail on Mr. Fetahu to quit the "National Liberation Army," lay down their arms, and do something a bit more productive than shooting up the country – say, earning an honest living – you and your children will never again cower under the kitchen table.


What virtually every news account of this incident fails to point out is that Ljuboten, a mere 10 kilometers from the capital city of Skopje, has long been considered a no-man's-land, if not rebel-held, and certainly not under government control. Foreign reporters have frequently met NLA officers in Ljuboten, and, from there, were escorted deeper into rebel territory where they conducted adoring interviews with various NLA commanders. Would NLA cadre go into territory with such regularity if it wasn't militarily secured? Ljuboten is on the front lines of the government's war against the guerrilla insurgency.


On August 10, eight Macedonians were blown to bits on the road to the village by a landmine, a murderous act that occurred just as KLA commanders were bloviating the loudest about their commitment to "peace," and the West was insisting on the Macedonians' immediate capitulation to virtually all Albanian demands. Responsibility for these acts was taken, not by the peace-loving NLA, but by a new player, the "Albanian National Army" (ANA), which is kind of like the Real IRA, the only difference being that the Irish are not valorized by the leftist cognoscenti. One guerrilla army supposedly disarms, while yet another springs out of the earth and takes up where the other left off: it is a ruse so transparent that no one believes it, least of all the Macedonian majority. Just a few months ago, Radio Free Europe – i.e. the US government – was echoing Jane's Intelligence Review [February 6] in reporting that "the alleged Albanian National Army (AKSh) is the creation of Belgrade's disinformation experts."


I think it was Simon Jenkins, in a recent piece, who pinpointed the Western media's seduction by the rebels on account of their "bulging biceps." So like the biceps of the Sandinistas, those radical chic icons of yesteryear. The sexual exploits of Sandinista groupie Bianca Jagger, a prominent member and contributor to Human Rights Watch, are amusingly recounted in Ronald Radosh's excellent new book, Commies – and no doubt the carnal appeal of the dashing NLA commanders and their hunky troops is the source of at least some of the good press they've been getting. But their real appeal, it seems to me, is more or less ideological: like the Vietcong and the Nicaraguan commies, the NLA and the ANA have announced that they are fighting a war of "national liberation." They accuse the Macedonians of "racism" and their Western apologists and international publicists characterize them in much the same terms as the American left situates blacks: as a super-oppressed minority, perpetually victimized by "the system."


To characterize Human Rights Watch as an organization of the Left, is, I think, not unfair. Although they pose as unbiased observers of human folly, both the timing and the content of their pronouncements are indicative of their real agenda. They have now announced that they will henceforth devote themselves to defending "economic rights" as well as the right to be free of coercion, and this involves the whole laundry list of "rights" enumerated in the platform of any European social democratic party, or in the fulminations of Jesse Jackson and the far left fringe of the Democratic party in the US: the "right" to healthcare, the "right" to an education, as well as a plethora of "cultural rights" that HRW goes to great pains to illuminate. Yet this "left" face is really a fašade, one that hides the broad coalition of groups and donors that cooperate in the operation of HRW. Without going into too much detail, except to link to today's excellent "spotlight" piece on this site, suffice to say that if Morton Abramowitz, a mainstay of the American foreign policy establishment, and former Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research, is a man of the left, then I am Che Guevara.


The ring of untruth permeates the HRW report. Their account of the death of a young boy, although appealingly cinematic, is decidedly peculiar:

"When the shelling resumed on Friday afternoon, six-year-old Erxhan Aliu was playing in the street. 'Basqim', (not his real name), a twenty-five-year-old farmer from the village, watched as Erxhan was hit by a shell: 'On Friday, at about 5 or 6 p.m. when the shelling started again, there were people standing in the road and I was watching them. There were some kids also. I saw the kids running towards [the adults] and at the same moment a grenade hit the kid. The boy flew into the air and there was lots of smoke....'"

So, all these kids are playing in the street at every lull in the fighting? Either the parenting skills of Albanian mothers are not quite up to snuff, or else somebody is telling a little fib. Indeed, the dishonesty of this dubious account is all too apparent, not only in its lack of coherence, but also in the anonymity of the witness. Such testimony would not stand up in an American court of law, but Carla Del Ponte is far less fastidious.


Other details give the game away. Here is part an account of an alleged Macedonian attack on a private home in Ljuboten, supposedly inhabited by civilian noncombatants:

"First they were on the side of the house, and they couldn't shoot through the walls. So they went a bit further and were directly in front of the house, and started shooting again. They were firing on the second and third floor from the APC; they broke all the windows. Then they came to the gate of the yard, the gate was closed. They shot out the lock to break it, but they couldn't do it. Afterwards, I don't know how, but they blew away the whole door...."


But surely the Macedonian police would have enough firepower to blast through the door of an ordinary "civilian" home – so why does the witness seem so surprised that they succeeded? The answer is that traditional Albanian homes are not ordinary houses but more like small castles, or forts, built to withstand just such an assault as was launched at Ljuboten. The description of the events that took place in the village has all the hallmarks of a pitched battle – minus one side, of course. The Albanians, naturally, were completely disarmed, and did not fire a shot – at least this is the story HRW is peddling. There's only one problem: it's a lie.


Paraffin tests conducted by Macedonian police on the terrorists confirms that they had recently fired weapons: HRW, however, taking the stance of the Oswald-didn't-do-it Kennedy assassination conspiracy theorists, derides the test as "unreliable" – although such tests are routinely treated as valid evidence in American and European courts. Perhaps the entire West, then, is guilty of violating "human rights" and bears watching. So far, however, HRW seems to be applying this standard only to Macedonia.


In his own defense, Boskovski has said that what is being created here is yet "another Racak," and in that he is surely right. The Racak massacre, you'll recall, was the incident cited by the War Party – and Clinton himself – to target Yugoslavia and conquer Kosovo. It was only after the fact, however, long after the last bombs fell on Belgrade, that the truth came out about the battle of Racak. Oh, a few French newspapers had articles exposing the hoax early on, but in this country the real story wasn't widely known until long after Bill Clinton had declared "victory" and put the KLA on the American payroll as the "Kosovo Protection Corps."


At least at Racak they tried to give some credence to the idea that targets of a Serbian military operation were just hapless peaceful villagers; in Ljuboten, however, the HRW expects us to believe that because the combatants weren't wearing uniforms they couldn't have been NLA (or ANA) fighters. We are also told that the Macedonians didn't find any weapons – but how does HRW know that? If I were them, I wouldn't bet the ranch on it – especially in a country where the right to bear arms is so often exercised by so many. And so what if they didn't find the weapons: according to reports from the Macedonian media, the police couldn't even get into the village due to interference from the OSCE monitors and the villagers. The bodies of all the alleged victims were quickly buried – although probably not in the same spot as their Kalishnikovs.


HRW describes all the Albanian inhabitants of Ljuboten as "civilians" by definition, and rules out any NLA presence in the village on the grounds that it is surrounded on three sides by Macedonian towns. But if the rebels were trying to create a provocation – in order to gain some advantage in the "peace" talks – then surely this is where they would do it, in an area a few minutes from Skopje, so as to underscore their own power and the military weakness of the government. Weak logic, dubious and self-contradictory testimony, and the suspicious timing – the report was issued just as cries for extending the NATO presence beyond the September 26 exit date – all point to yet another slipshod effort by the War Party to pass off propaganda as fact.


Yet the "massacre" that supposed took place at Ljuboten is indeed being reported as fact in most major media. Even more significant is what is not being reported: the Albanian campaign of ethnic cleansing that has created over a hundred thousand refugees, the burning of Macedonian homes, the rape and pillage of a country once considered a model of mult-cultural democracy. If you want a lesson in "how to demonize an enemy," then watch the concerted campaign against Georgievski, against Boskovski, against any Macedonian who dares to resist the conquest and partition of his country. Their only crime is to stand up for Macedonia, its sovereignty and its dignity – and that is a crime in the world NATO and Human Rights Watch are busily building for us.


What is most shameful about this whole sordid affair – the mugging of Macedonia – is the active participation of a Republican administration in a project begun by its debauched and corrupt predecessor: the destruction of the Balkan Slavic states and the creation of a Greater Albania. I would argue that, of all Bill Clinton's crimes – the depravity, the lying, the brazen tackiness and greed – his war against the people of Yugoslavia was the worst. But even among those conservatives less emphatic in their foreign policy views, surely Kosovo was way up there on the list of Clintonian evils that make up his legacy. Why oh why, then, is an ostensibly Republican administration replicating his sin in Macedonia? The US is hip-deep into this one, and where are the Republican members of congress who demanded that we get out of the Balkans when Clinton was in the White House? Are they deaf, dumb, and blind? What is needed is a thorough congressional investigation of our role in the ongoing destruction of Macedonia – and of our Balkan policy in general. The much-vaunted "policy review" undertaken by the Bush administration has yet to be completed: what needs reviewing, first of all, is our ongoing complicity in the rape of Macedonia.

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