The Wrong Lessons
Middle East Parallels
the past month or so, violence in Israel has commanded most
of the world's attention, leaving the now-dormant volcanoes
of conflict such as the Balkans to smolder
in relative obscurity. Compared to the daily images of carnage
in the West Bank, news from the peninsula is positively bland:
more dickering over constitutional
changes in Bosnia, the endless saga of war
crimes extraditions in Serbia, riots
tiffs in Kosovo, and so on. Empire's conquest of "Southeastern
Europe" is just about done. Now it's the
Middle East's turn.
far from becoming irrelevant, the Balkans is now more important
than ever. It is being invoked
by Empire's warmongers as an example of what to do in the
newly conquered vassal lands. It is also serving as a template for more interventions
around the world. But most disturbingly, its propaganda war
experiences are being most astutely abused by the belligerents
in the current conflict.
in Bosnia, images of civilian deaths are used as excuses for
murder. As in Kosovo, talk of "human rights" and
"justice" is being invoked as a pretext for aggression.
The twin demons of "genocide" and "ethnic cleansing"
have already been invoked in a war of words even more vicious
than that of weapons. Again, the conflicting collectives are
being identified by the media charlatans in the personae of
their leaders ("Sharon must…" or "Arafat has
to…"). The running thread all along is emotion as a weapon
of war, as a tool of swaying public opinion Empire's
it's working. Already some imperialist heavyweights are advocating
justifying it by "America's national interest." The interest
in question? Global hegemony.
the aftermath of the Balkans campaign, and the successful
crushing of all resistance to Imperial might, it is no wonder
that the idea of Empire is gaining
prominence in the American circles of power. Engineers
of America's policy in the Balkans may have retired from the
limelight, but they still power the ideological and intellectual
engines of Imperial expansion.
Albright chairs the National Democratic Institute.
Wesley Clark sits on the board of the ICG. Christiane Amanpour,
who made "advocacy journalism" mainstream with her
reports for CNN from Bosnia, is now that network's chief
foreign correspondent. Then there are European fellow-travelers
and vassals, rewarded for their obedience with plush jobs.
Javier Solana, the Bomber of Belgrade, now shapes European
Union's foreign policy. Former British Kosovo envoy Paddy
Ashdown is soon to become the new viceroy of Bosnia. For some,
playing around in the Balkans has been very profitable, indeed.
course, the people down whose throats the Empire shoved its
acts of benevolence democracy, human rights, civil society,
so-called market reforms and humanitarian bombing, for example
are still scavenging in the ruins
of their former lives. But who can bother with such details?
a lack of rational thought, coupled with deliberate malice,
produces such blatant idiocies as the argument
that Imperial occupation of Kosovo brought peace and multiethnic
harmony. If the victims of KLA terror under NATO's indifferent
gaze do not merit mention, how can one possibly hide the entire
Macedonian crisis? But logic hardly applies
to Empire's enterprises any more, if it ever has.
doesn't matter, therefore, that imperial advocates have it
wrong. In the Balkans, the Empire got away with mass murder,
and it will now try again.
their next victims are literally begging for such a turn of
events. In an echo of the first imperial age, local leaders
are anxious to enlist the might of the Empire in their wars.
Like the tribes of old like the leaders of former Yugoslav
lands, who also solicited foreign intervention they will
find themselves in Empire's thrall when the shooting subsides.
The war will be over, yes, but they will all have lost.
the past 18 months, Balkan Express has tried to analyze
the consequences of Empire's meddling in the Balkans. It has
also tried to repeal the popular fallacy that Imperial intervention
brought peace and justice to the former Yugoslavia, and challenge
the notion of Imperial intervention anywhere. At the core
of this column has always been a conviction based on experience
and reasoning that the Balkans conflicts of the 1990s were
much more than a local affair, and that their consequences
would have a bearing on the rest of the world.
Recent admissions by Empire's own ideologues, as well
as events unfolding in the Middle East right now, seem to
have proven this conviction right.
me if I don't celebrate.