Killing Journalists

The news cycle moves ever so quickly, as new scandals overtake those from yesterday. Late in November, Washington and London responded with indignation when British tabloids alleged the intent of George II and Tony the True to bomb Al-Jazeera for daring to oppose the Empire. After a week or so, the scandal blew over – after a fashion – to be replaced by the hubbub over Imperial torture camps in Europe and elsewhere. Only a few, like Robert Fisk, mentioned that bombing Al-Jazeera would have had a precedent in the Balkans. After all, most Imperial actions these days do.

The precedent in question is, of course, the night bombing of the Serbian radio-television (RTS) in April 1999, during the Alliance’s assault on Yugoslavia. Sixteen people lost their lives that night, all civilians. No NATO personnel, command or otherwise, was ever called to account for what was clearly a war crime. Families of the victims, unable to find justice in Europe, turned their frustration and rage at their own government. Dragoljub Milanovic, manager of the TV station, was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment in 2002 for his “criminal negligence” for failing to protect his staff.

No doubt, Milanovic bore some responsibility for the well-being of his employees; but to declare him a criminal, while the real criminals – the Solanas, Robertsons, Clarks, Albrights, Clintons, Blairs and others – who ordered the murderous act not only remain free, but receive honors from the new regime in Belgrade*… let’s just say the lesson NATO learned from its 1999 adventure is that one can get away with murder, as long as the victims go along.

Somehow, I just don’t see the Qatari, or the Arab world in general, demonstrating the same spinelessness and self-loathing if Imperial missiles had struck at Al-Jazeera. Perhaps that’s why that bombing never happened.

*According to the Serbian media, Robertson received a recognition plaque from the Army Chief of Staff Branko Krga in November 2003, as he was leaving the post of NATO Secretary-General, for his “special contribution to the armed forces of Serbia and Montenegro” (!)