THE FOG OF WAR
fog of war most of it generated by the U.S. government obscures
the real agenda of the administration as we enter the sixth week of the
conflict. But behind the scenes, Clinton is moving on two tracks, simultaneously:
one headed toward escalation and the other on the road to negotiation.
The announcement that NATO and the Russians have reached an agreement
in principle on the status of postwar Kosovo is cause for cautious optimism,
but it would be too much to expect that today's meeting of the G-7 nations
holds out much hope for a negotiated settlement. The two sides are still
far apart on the key questions of the composition of the occupation force,
and the presence of Serbian troops in Kosovo. If all goes well, however,
the frenetic diplomatic activity will culminate in a UN Security Council
resolution to be presented to Milosevic. With the UN as a cover, Milosevic
is then expected to do what he did in Bosnia essentially sell out
Serbian interests in exchange for being allowed to retain power.
is not to say that these interests are entirely legitimate: the Serbian
custom of claiming every bit of land within a 100 mile radius of some
half-ruined monastery has caused endless trouble in the Balkans. In this
the Serbs are no different from any of the other peoples of the region:
a "Greater Albania," a "Greater Macedonia," a Bigger
Bulgaria, a Restored Romania the babel of Balkan voices, each proclaiming
their dreams of irredentist glory, makes for a deafening cacophony. Forced
to listen to it, to arbitrate the claims and counter-claims, one would
go deaf and mad, perhaps simultaneously. This is the fate that
awaits us in the Balkans.
it funny how, no matter what happens a full-scale war on the ground
or a negotiated settlement the interventionists have managed to
attain their goal of pushing inexorably eastward. Convinced that the disintegration
of Russia is inevitable yesterday Yeltsin's government missed another
interest payment on their gargantuan foreign debt the Western powers
want to be close enough to the scene to pick up the pieces. With Tony
Blair promising the Romanians NATO membership in exchange for military
and political support in the war on Serbia, the frontiers of the emerging
NATO superstate will soon reach Russia. With an occupation force of at
least 60,000, a third to a half of them Americans, ensconced in Kosovo
come peace or war, the first phase of NATO's long-term goal has been accomplished.
NATO's would-be Napoleons are bound and determined to export Democracy
and MTV to the oil-rich and strategically important republics of central
Asia. If they are not stopped, now, either militarily by the Serbians
or on account of an anti-Napoleonic backlash on the home front, they will
take us to the gates of Moscow and to the brink of World War III.
SOME ICE ON THAT"
the talk of a negotiated settlement gets louder, so does the warlike rhetoric:
the war on Serbia is "a fight for the future of Europe," said
the President on a visit to a military base in Germany. He pledged to
escalate it "in an unrelenting manner" even as the news of a
Russian-American settlement was breaking. Politicians are notorious for
talking out of both sides of their mouths, but in Clinton we have one
that speaks out of both sides of his mouth at the same time. Such verbal
ambidexterity seems almost supernatural, like Linda Blair's head-spinning
scene in The Exorcist. Come to think of it, the President's schizoid
Jekyll-Hyde persona has a certain demonic quality to it, as he alternates
threats with hints of peace. Listening to the exhortations of this mad
rapist, how many of his centurions are thinking about what he said to
Juanita Broaderrick: "You'd better put some ice on that."
speech to the
troops was meant to be inspiring, to give them a reason for fighting
and possibly dying: "If we don't want your successors to have to
come to this continent to fight another bitter war, then we must stand
in Kosovo for the elemental principles of the common humanity of every
breathing living person in this continent." And so we have taken
on the burden of determining the fate and defending the rights of each
and every living breathing human being on an entire continent: without
a vote of Congress, or of the people, without any debate or general discussion,
without even a by-your-leave.
European continent includes Russia, of course, as far as the Ural mountains,
but perhaps this is another geographical misunderstanding on the part
of the President, like his assertion that Kosovo is "in the center
of Europe." The irony is that his relentless bombing of Kosova has
indeed had the effect of putting a great number of Kosovars in the center
of Europe in Germany, as refugees.
we predicted in this
column weeks ago, Kosovar leader Ibrahim Rugova has shown up in Rome,
along with his family. For months NATO has been claiming that Rugova has
been held a virtual hostage in Pristina, that in signing an agreement
with Serbian President Milan Milutinovic and forming a provisional autonomous
government he was mouthing Serbian propaganda with a gun held to his head,
and that everything he said about stopping the bombing and a negotiated
peace should therefore be ignored. Now that this has been exposed as an
outright lie, and Rugova is conferring with Italian Prime Minister Massimo
D'Alema, this line of argument is no longer possible, and so the NATO-crats
are saying nothing except that this is a "positive development."
This is meant in the same spirit as the White House's congratulations
to Jesse Jackson at the end of his successful trip. Both Jackson and Rugova
are threats to the moral and political legitimacy of Clinton's war, two
major obstacles on the road to all-out war in the Balkans. Both seek to
forge an end-run around the NATO-crats, and pull off a negotiated peace.
They are bound to meet up, and indeed the two of them have much in common:
both embrace a militant nonviolence and a tradition that includes Gandhi
and the American civil rights movement. Jackson's brand up of black self-help
and his commitment to nonviolent protest are a mirror of Rugova's strategy
of setting up parallel institutions within the Yugoslav framework, an
alternative government with its own elections, finances, legislative body,
and social service agencies operating at the local level. Pushed aside
at Rambouillet, Rugova's moment has arrived. As the only elected
leader of the Kosovars, Rugova has the stature and the moral authority
to largely delegitimize a war allegedly fought on behalf of the Kosovar
people, and thus represents the biggest threat to the War Party. In this
regard, the death sentence pronounced
by Rugova's KLA critics needs to be taken seriously. If anything happens
to him, the subsequent investigation into the covert relationship between
NATO and the KLA, along with any number of Western and Muslim intelligence
agencies, should prove interesting indeed.
MEASURE OF GOOD WILL
and without any concession to the principles of reciprocity or even simple
Secretary William Cohen has finally announced that the two Yugoslav prisoners
will "probably" be released, sooner or later. But please
let it be understood, said Cohen, that his recommendation to free them
was "no measure of good will." I wonder, if and when they are
finally freed, whether they will be leaving any thank you notes behind,
as Staff Sergeant Chris Stone did in Belgrade. Which raises an important
question: why haven't we been allowed to see the condition of the Yugoslav
POWs? Remember, it was the KLA who captured them, and handed them over
to their NATO overseers. Cohen says that there are a few formalities to
be gone through before they can be released: the Red Cross must first
visit them. But they were captured weeks ago: why hasn't the Red Cross
been allowed access to them before now? The Serbs put their three American
captives on television, but we have seen no images of the Yugoslav POWs.
Why not? Could
it be because they were so beaten up, and perhaps seriously injured?
Stone's thank you
note to the Serbs, signed "Slobodan" a Serbo-Croatian
name that can be translated as "freedom" sure sounded
like opposition to the war to me. But the U.S. Army says that the "note
in no way reflects a lack of support for his mission or for NATO policy."
On what planet are the NATO-crats living? The note was even decorated
with a peace sign, and Stone wrote that he hoped for a quick "end
to the war." What could be clearer? But what else can we expect from
the same people who stoutly maintain that the three Americans were captured
on Macedonian territory, a story contradicted by the President of Macedonia
as well as the Serbians?
ACT OF PROVIDENCE?
architects of this war have now taken to lying even when the truth is
obvious to one and all, they lie about everything because Operation
Allied Force is itself founded on the Big Lie: that this is a humanitarian
mission on behalf of the Kosovars. As the parameters of the proposed "peace
settlement" take shape, and the diplomatic frenzy of the past few
days reaches a crescendo, the power politics behind the "humanitarian"
facade will be more visible. Whether the Serbs resign themselves to defeat,
or choose to go down fighting, the longer this war continues, the more
its true nature is revealed to the public and the more militant
and insistent the opposition becomes. This war has now become a race between
dropping political support on the home front and the degradation of the
Yugoslav Army on the military front. Bad weather continues to hamper the
Allied effort, and in the end it could be this act of Providence that
allows the Serbs to hold out long enough for the patience of the American
people to run out.
ILLUSION OF INVINCIBILITY
reality does not intrude on the fantasies of the War Party. Already the
U.S. and Russia are making plans for the dismemberment of Yugoslavia and
the division of the spoils, and the media is full of suggestions as to
the shape of the postwar order. Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, whose profoundly
immoral thesis of collective guilt is applied to Serbia in a vicious
article in the New Republic, has even come out with a plan
to "remake" Serbia., whose inhabitants must be relieved of their
"illusions" and "vengeful dreaming," subjected to
a kind of cultural cleansing, and doused in the fresh waters of "Enlightenment
values" at gunpoint. If I were a NATO-crat, however, I would
wait before starting the victory celebration, never mind formulating plans
for the postwar subjugation of the Serbian people. Jesse Jackson came
back from Belgrade warning us about the "arrogance of power"
and questioning what he called the "illusion of invincibility."
His point was underscored by the crash of yet another Apache helicopter,
and the "temporary" grounding of the whole fleet of Apaches.
The introduction of these supposedly formidable killing machines was supposed
to put real oomph into the campaign, and herald the war on the
ground instead, they symbolize the ongoing failure of the NATO
military campaign. This illustrates the chief lesson of this war up until
now: Everything that comes out of the NATO-crats' mouths is a lie. So
that it is safe to say that the louder they proclaim their impending victory,
the more certain we can are of their coming defeat.
of $20 or more gets you a copy of my Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The
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Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com. He is also the author
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).