Behind the Headlines
by Justin Raimondo
The headline in the London Guardian [18 Aug. 2000] was really a bit of an understatement: "Serb killings 'exaggerated' by West." The subhead, however, underscored the enormity of the lie: "Claims of up to 100,000 ethnic Albanians massacred in Kosovo revised to under 3,000 as exhumations near end." Think of what this has to mean: Madeleine Albright, James Rubin, and Jamie Shea didn't pull this off single-handedly. Not only the US government, but the worldwide media fabricated a "genocide" and, on that basis, launched a savage war against a sovereign nation that had never attacked us, in the name of "humanitarianism a war, I might add, that was stopped but has not ended.
In a sense, the NATO-crats have been tripped up by their own web of propaganda: in their eagerness to charge Yugoslav strongman Slobodan Milosevic with "war crimes," and indict him before their self-appointed "War Crimes Tribunal," Western governments have had to follow at least the forms of legality: due process, the rules of evidence and, in the case of murder, not to mention "genocide," the necessity of producing the corpus delicti. Where are the bodies, all 100,000 of them? This became the task of the "war crimes experts," as the Guardian describes them: to produce what never existed in the first place a task that naturally had to end in failure. The Guardian reports:
"As war crimes experts from Britain and other countries prepare to wind down the exhumation of hundreds of graves in Kosovo on behalf of the UN's International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the Hague, officials concede they have not borne out the worst wartime reports. These were given by refugees and repeated by western government spokesmen during the campaign. They talked of indiscriminate killings and as many as 100,000 civilians missing or taken out of refugee columns by the Serbs."
It was lies, all lies, from beginning to end. They may have originated from government sources, in most cases, but in spreading these lies far and wide the Western media were more than willing accomplices. Keeping in mind that over 5,000 civilians were slaughtered in the NATO air strikes, the ladies and gentlemen of the Fourth Estate might fairly be characterized as Madeleine's willing executioners. This is a takeoff, of course, on the favored phrase of the New Republic wing of the War Party, which condemns the entire Serb nation as "Milosevic's willing executioners." Based on the myth of an Albanian Kosovar "holocaust" perpetrated by the Serbs, not only Milosevic and his regime but the entire Serbian people are condemned as being no better than the "good Germans" who voted Hitler into power and tacitly supported the Holocaust. Here was classic war propaganda, on a par with stories of Belgian babies impaled on German bayonets during World War I and tall tales told during the Gulf war of babies dumped out of incubators and gasping for breath on the floor of a Kuwaiti hospital. The idea is to get public opinion behind the complete subjugation and "reeducation" of the Serbian people, utilizing the postwar German model.
In a 1999 speech to the Freedom Forum that bears rereading, Phillip Knightley predicted this turn of events, and his prescience is stunning. Speaking of how he came to write The First Casualty, his famous (and recently updated) account of wartime propaganda and its intimate relationship with "journalism," he relates how he started out wanting to portray war correspondents as heroes, but explains that he had to change his theme when he discovered that war reporting invariably falls into the following pattern:
"1. Although all the right is seldom on one side, the media will present the war in stark terms of good and evil.
"2. The evil side will be demonized, its leader depicted as mad, bloodthirsty, and subhuman, a modern-day Hitler.
"3. The good side will be presented as the savior of civilization, humanitarian, caring, and compassionate, forced to act because of the barbarity of the other side.
"4. To this end ignoring the fact that there are atrocities by all sides in all wars old atrocity stories will be dusted off and recycled. Some will be true, many will be false, and it will be difficult if not impossible to tell while the war is on which are true and which are propaganda. After the war, although some of the atrocity stories will be confirmed, there will be a retreat from many of the most outrageous ones."
In the case of the Kosovo war, the retreat has already begun. Far too late to help the victims of the vicious "Allied" air war: they are dead and buried, or else mutilated beyond repair. Yet we are still waiting for some acknowledgment aside from a few stories in overseas newspapers from the media that they were wrong. After endless horror stories illustrated with fantastically high death tolls were aired day after day on CNN, when will we hear a retraction? Christiane Amanpour repeated her husband's lies with a perfectly straight face: tens of thousands slaughtered, we were told, and the murderous drug-dealing KLA were really "freedom fighters," the Albanian equivalent of George Washington and his Continental Army! Journalists didn't question the government line about alleged Serbian "genocide": instead they wanted to know if the President would send in the ground troops and if not, why not?
Knightley gave his speech before an audience of journalists who reacted much as one might expect; furiously defensive and unrepentant. But the predictive power of Knightley's insight into the psychology of wartime propaganda has withstood the test of time, and is underscored by the following excerpt from his remarks:
"Usually the truth about what has really happened during a war will emerge after it is over. Sometimes it takes years and years we are still learning new things about the Second World War. But sometimes the truth surfaces quite quickly. Within little more than a year after the Gulf War we knew that the claims for the pinpoint accuracy of Allied air strikes and the ability of the Patriot missiles to intercept Iraqi missiles were all nonsense. Within two years we knew that many of the atrocity stories attributed to the Iraqis the incubator babies story, for example had been invented by American public relations companies working for the Kuwaiti government. But, of course, by then it was too late to make any difference to the outcome of the war, and the media caravan had moved on. We are learning only now that the CIA helped train the Kosovo Liberation Army before the bombing began. We did not realize at the time that NATO was lying when it said it did not deliberately attack civilian targets. There will be a lot more, believe me."
Oh, we believe you all right. There's more, a lot more including the story of how and why the media eagerly disseminated the oily deceptions of little Jimmy Rubin and his cadre of spin-doctors. And it is just now beginning to come out. When oh when is the American media going to start reporting this? Do we have to turn to the British papers via the Internet to get the truth? Most importantly, when are the journalists who "reported" Kosovo's phony "holocaust" as fact going to own up to their mistakes giving them the benefit of a doubt that this was an error and not deceit. Knightley correctly notes that in a war
"In which the revolution in communications technology the satellite phone, 'the star of the war'; instant television links from the front to the studio and between correspondents in the field; electronic transmission of still photographs; and the latest arrival at the front, the Internet should have provided the public with an unprecedented overview turned out instead to be a disaster for journalism."
Except that the Internet was clearly light-years ahead of the Old Media in discovering and reporting the truth about the nonexistent "genocide" in Kosovo. Antiwar.com reported the truth from Day One. We saw the culprits behind the campaign of lies, the journalistic auxiliary of the War Party, who collaborated with the NATO-crats whether consciously or not in the biggest hoax since the discovery of "Piltdown Man." In the opening paragraph of my first column for Antiwar.com [26 March 1999], I wrote:
"It was a sight that doubtless cheered virtually everyone who saw it the American media being chased down the street by an angry crowd of their slandered victims. In Skopje, Macedonia, thousands of Serbians, outraged by the relentless media barrage of anti-Serbian propaganda, converged on news crews, destroyed equipment, and literally chased American, British, and German reporters down the street and out of town. The same journalistic cleansing occurred in Pristina, capital of Kosovo province, and in Belgrade, where Western journalists were expelled. . . . In a tone of bewildered indignation, CNN reporters complained on the air that they had been singled out. But those Western journalists who have placed themselves and their profession in the service of Allied Force should not be too surprised to find that the people they have demonized are less than hospitable."
If, by some chance, the truth about Kosovo gets out, how will the American people react to the revelation that they were lied to by Clinton's numerous media enablers? Will they, like the Serbs, chase the bums out of town or will they bask in the warm security of their narcotized ignorance, indifferent to the truth and immune to righteous indignation except when prompted by government propagandists? This is the difference between cultural health and decadence, between a truly American political culture in the traditional sense and one that has become alienated from its roots and degenerate beyond redemption or revival. I like to believe that Americans even these Americans, who watched as Waco burned are not numb to the crimes of their government. I like to think that they don't react to the crimes of the US against the people of Iraq daily bombing excursions, and 5,000 children a month killed by murderous sanctions because they don't know about it. That is why Antiwar.com exists and must continue to exist.
We told the American people the truth last year, when the rest of the media with a few prominent exceptions, such as Paul Watson in the Los Angeles Times were lying through their teeth, avidly transcribing every word out of NATO shill Jamie Shea's mouth as if it were holy writ. Let's hope we can continue to do so with your continued support. We depend on financial contributions from our readers and supporters in order to bring you the real news of the world five days a week, with frequent weekend updates. Don't wait for the next war to remind yourself that there's just one place on the Internet you can go to ferret out the truth behind the headlines and that is right here.
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