by Justin Raimondo
SORRY ABOUT THAT
The horror of this war splashed across televisions screens around the world today as Serbian television released pictures of a Kosovar convoy of civilians bombed by NATO jets: over 70 were killed, and many more injured. The pictures of bodies being packed into a truck for transport like so many slabs of meat, a child sobbing forlornly, a grief-stricken man covering his face with his hands, and body parts scattered all over the road like some Dadaesque debris -- these are the images that will stay with us and define this war in the minds of the American people. All the talking heads and the speeches, the war propaganda, the "experts" and their exhortations to "stay the course" -- none of it can stand against the brutal truth of those pictures, which dramatize the evil of this war and the folly of our policy in the Balkans with far more eloquence than any writer could hope to achieve.
THE SUPREME LIAR
NATO's initial response was to lie: the "Supreme Commander," Wesley Clark, told reporters for Bloomberg News Service that the Serbs were responsible for the killings, and that after a NATO sortie had bombed a Serbian military convoy the Serbs had responded by killing the Kosovars -- and that video from the NATO warplanes would soon confirm this story. No such video ever turned up, however, and within hours NATO was backtracking. For weeks the Kosovar exodus has dominated the nation's television screens; endless shots of weeping children clinging to their toothless bedraggled mothers and atrocity stories of mass expulsions, mass rapes, and mass murder. This is not a war of conquest that has been depicted in the American media, but a "humanitarian" mission of mercy. If we are bombing the very people we are supposed to be saving, however, then the whole rationale of the war begins to unravel. While NATO has been training its satellite reconnaissance cameras on every inch of Kosovo for even the slightest evidence of mass graves, some concrete evidence to back up allegations of mass killings, the biggest verifiable mass killing of the war has been committed in broad daylight by the NATO "humanitarians."
ACCIDENTALLY ON PURPOSE
Also unraveling is the NATO campaign to convince the world that the fleeing Kosovars were expelled by the Serbs rather than forced out because of the intense bombing by Allied forces. The bombing of the refugees shows that the people of Kosovo, whatever their ethnicity or religion, had every incentive to leave the moment the war began, and quite sensibly did so in great numbers. The irony is that these refugees were coming back over the border, back into Kosovo, heeding the call of the Yugoslav government that the Kosovars should return to their homes. If the Kosovar exodus was in the process of being reversed, then certainly this "accident" should discourage others from making a similar journey.
Jamie Shea claims that NATO centurions go to "extraordinary lengths" to avoid "collateral damage." Yet as Robert Fisk points out in The Independent [April 13, 1999] NATO "was prepared to attack a railway track in midmorning -- in full knowledge that the railway carried scheduled passenger trains -- to blow up a bridge. So much for Mr. Shea's 'extraordinary lengths.' "
THE MILITARY USES OF LANGUAGE
The passenger train incident is indicative of the extraordinary lengths the NATO war machine will go to retain its "humanitarian" halo. The Supreme Commander himself briefed reporters, and felt compelled to give his "spin" on the passenger train decapitation in a long Jesuitical disquisition which reinterprets the deaths of a score of civilians in a nightmarish "accident" as an act of God rather than the result of a deliberate policy. While the cockpit video of the airstrike against the train was not available to reporters at the briefing -- "it's hung up on a computer problem in my computer at SHAPE" -- Clark said "but I want to describe it, because this is a case where a pilot was assigned to strike a railroad bridge that is part of the integrated communications supply network in Serbia." Note how the corruption of the English language into bureaucratese enables Clark to obfuscate what he is really saying. No ordinary person would describe a mid-afternoon passenger train filled with civilians as "part of" something called "the integrated communications supply network of Serbia." Using words like "network" and "supply," the NATO-crats are saying that practically everything in Yugoslavia is a legitimate target. How long before they start calling baby carriages "part of the coordinated population transfer grid"?
The Supreme Commander continued: "He launched his missile from his aircraft. It was many miles away. He was not able to put his eyes on the bridge. It was a remotely directed attack." Okay, so he couldn't see his target, and everything was done according to a prearranged plan: lock into the target and fire. But then Clark abruptly switches gears: "And as he stared intently at the desired target point on the bridge . . . and worked it and worked it and worked it, all of a sudden, at the very last instance, with less than a second to go, he caught a flash of movement that came into the screen, and it was the train coming." Hey, wait a minute: If the pilot couldn't see his target, then what was he staring at so intently? Furthermore, with all the sophisticated technology packed into those warplanes, is it really true that a large passenger train is both invisible and undetectable? Clark claims that "he couldn't dump the bomb at that point. It was locked ." But if it was already locked, then the pilot made a decision -- or had orders -- to lock on to his target before he could really see what he was hitting. This is hardly going to "extraordinary lengths" to avoid civilian casualties. Clark goes on to say that "it was an unfortunate incident which he and the crew and all of us very much regret," but what Clark may come to regret most of all is his role as apologist-in-chief for NATO's Balkan debacle.
ELIMINATE THE "ELIMINATIONISTS"
Barely two weeks into the war, and already the anti-Serbian propaganda campaign has reached unbelievable heights of hysterical ugliness. On the front page of the "Week in Review" section of the Sunday New York Times a piece entitled "Looking for the Line Between Patriotism and Guilt" by Michael T. Kaufman sent a chill down my spine. In light of the atrocity stories that are now being accepted without evidence and without any independent verification, "the conduct of ordinary Serbs is starting to attract the kinds of questions raised in Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's book, Hitler's Willing Executioners, Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust. The utterly evil premise of Goldhagen is that "eliminationist" tendencies are somehow inherent in German culture and the German national character, and therefore all Germans must bear a sense of collective guilt and responsibility for the Holocaust. "Mr. Goldhagen himself thinks that questioning the behavior of the Serbian national is essential: "right now is the time when we must ask the question of how ordinary people have acted while it can still influence events." If the Serbs persist in defending their national sovereignty, and fail to surrender immediately, "they should be made aware that they will be held complicit in what will most likely be the last enormous crime of the century." The Goldhagen thesis applied to Serbia condemns the Serbian people as Nazis. Race-hate, according to this view, it is part of the Serbian psycho-historical make-up. Even if they don't know about alleged mass killings in Kosovo, "how many Germans knew that there was a formal program of Jewish extermination? My guess is not many, but almost all knew that their civilization was killing Jews by the tens of thousands." Lawrence Eagleburger, former Secretary of State and former ambassador to Yugoslavia, also chimed in, writing that "the Serbian people are the willing instrument of [Milosevic's] terror." This demonization process, starting with and centering on Milosevic, but now being expanded to include the overwhelming majority of Serbians, can only have one purpose. For if Serbians are inherently evil, or if they are all somehow complicit in "the last enormous crime of the century" then why not hit a passenger train? Why not terrorize a nation made up almost entirely of "war criminals," It isn't really that big a deal if we kill innocent civilians, because they are all guilty civilians. The Goldhagen thesis of collective guilt is the perfect rationale for mass murder, for it poses the obvious question: why not eliminate the "eliminationists"?
The very real danger of FBI penetration and disruption of SerbianAmerican organizations and allied antiwar groups is raised by a very disturbing news item in this morning's New York Times [April 15], which reports that several churches allegedly received a letter written in Serbian "urging that American soldiers be killed to end the bombing of Yugoslavia." This story is suspicious from beginning to end, and ought to put all SerbianAmericans and all Americans concerned with the preservation of civil liberties in wartime on red alert: something very fishy is going on. According to a "secret" FBI memo that somehow wound up in New York Times, "The threat letter requested that all Serbian nationalists living in America take action against the NATO decision to intervene in the Serbian/Kosovo conflict by killing as many American soldiers in the United States as necessary." The news of this ridiculous and obviously fabricated "memo" was sent to military commanders throughout the U.S., along with the opinion that "there is a credible threat outstanding to take action within the United States against U.S. military personnel."
What is so "credible" about this letter, that could have been written by the KLA or some lone nut with time his hands and a fax machine? This phony letter would seem to defeat its ostensible purpose. Surely saboteurs and assassins don't start faxing press releases until after the event, and it seems more than a bit odd to be taking credit for an act of terrorism before it has even occurred. The FBI investigation is just another front in the propaganda war, meant to smear and discredit all SerbianAmericans as a potential "fifth column" planning sedition. This is an exceedingly ominous and dangerous development. It means that the war on Serbia is being brought home to America. Let all SerbianAmericans be put on notice: the FBI, and who knows how many other government agencies, have declared war on SerbianAmericans who are organizing to stop this war. Given the "evidence" of a single letter circulated anonymously, "anti-terrorism" legislation passed by Congress permits them to do to SerbianAmerican organizations (and the domestic antiwar movement) what they are doing to Yugoslavia: "disrupt, degrade, and destroy," as the Supreme Commander is so fond of putting it. We hear endlessly that "this is the greatest humanitarian disaster since World War II," or Milosevic is "the biggest threat to peace since World War II," well, this new threat to open up the war on the domestic front is the greatest threat to civil liberties since World War II, the first stage of the attempted ethnic cleansing of SerbianAmericans from American political life. Witchhunts are as much a part of modern warfare as air raid sirens and land mines, so brace yourself and remember that the War Party is capable of anything.
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Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com. 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 U.S. Intervention in the Balkans (1996). He 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).