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Clinton gave three reasons for his military intervention in the heart
of Europe. A quick look shows them to be models of the state
disinformation we’ve come to expect in wartime.
First, he says he is dropping bombs to prevent the spread of war. But
this is straight out of Orwell. Escalating war does not prevent its
spread. It encourages it. It brings about more property destruction,
suffering, and death. It inflames tempers, entrenches positions, sows
indelible hatreds, and draws others into long-lasting conflicts.
Second, he says he wants to curb the ability of Milosevic to build up
his defenses and enforce Serbian territorial claims. This line was
copyright at the beginning of the ten-year war on Iraq. Substitute the
name Saddam and it’s a perfect fit. This policy plays right into the
hands of the respective country’s leader, making him more popular than
ever and unifying the people against the foreign aggressor.
Incidentally, how many days before we hear that Serbia is building
“weapons of mass destruction”?
Third, Clinton says he wants to underscore the credibility of Nato.
The truth is that Nato has had no credibility since the collapse of the
Cold War took away its official reason for existence. The entire world
now sees this organization for what it is — a fig leaf for U.S.
imperialism. Nato has become a threat to peace in Europe because the
U.S. believes Nato must fight wars to preserve U.S. hegemony.
The conflict in Kosovo comes down to this: Serbia believes that the
territory belongs to it, and bases this claim on history dating back 600
years. Serbia cites the presence of ancient churches and monasteries
central to the Serbian Orthodox faith in Kosovo, which in turn are
wrapped up tightly with Serbian nationalist feelings. On the other hand,
Kosovo is today inhabited by a Moslem population that demands the right
Which principle should prevail: the claims of history or the
political rights of the majority in a polyglot territory? Look at
American history. Both the claims of history and the rights of the
majority were solidly in favor of Southern secession. But the U.S.
decided on union by force. Ever since then, the U.S. has generally
opposed secession, not only at home but around the world.
The U.S. tried to keep the Soviet Union together when Latvians,
Lithuanians, Ukranians, Estonians, and all the rest were demanding the
right of independence. In the same way, the US backed unitary Nigerian,
Congolese, and Rwandan states against tribal secessionist impulses.
Currently, the U.S. backs Britain against the claims of Irish and
Scottish nationalism, France against Breton and Corsican nationalism,
Italy against Lombardian nationalism, Spain against Catalan nationalism,
Russia against Chechen nationalism, and Mexico against secessionists
Will the U.S. now reverse its current position against all these
regional majorities subjugated by alien nation states?
Only during the First World War did the U.S. back self-determination,
when the fanatical Woodrow Wilson used this venerable principle as a
weapon against the multinational monarchies he was dead-set on
destroying. It was political propaganda, both then and now.
The Clinton administration says it supports the Kosovo Liberation
Army. In truth, this support is narrow and temporary. The analogy is the
support the U.S. provided to the Kurds in Iraq. This support was quickly
withdrawn when the U.S. believed it had achieved its real objective,
which was to punish anyone who dared question the right of the U.S. to
run the world.
The hypocrisy is nowhere as clear as in U.S. opposition to Kurdish
demands for separation from the Turkish government. The U.S. sees Turkey
as a reliable vassal, so the U.S. turns a blind eye to ethnic oppression
of the most brutal sort. It turns out, then, that the principle is not
that downtrodden ethnic groups ought to have autonomy, but that the U.S.
ought to manage the entire map of the world.
And how well does the U.S. do this? In the same region the U.S. is
now bombing, the Clinton administration enforced a unified,
multicultural Bosnia, where U.S. troops are permanently stationed,
against the pleas of every ethnic group that resides there for
independence. This is the peace of a prison camp. It also deprived
Serbia of an area with a Serbian majority, an act which inflamed the
Ironically, Bosnia also provides a model for what the U.S. would like
to do across the region — become an occupying force that overrides
everyone else’s rights at the point of a gun. The U.S. government has
come to view itself as a god-like figure that will purge the entire
world of ancient claims and prejudices, and selectively impose a
deracinated ideology of democratic equality. This is nothing short of
So who is right in the present dispute? The Kosovo independence
movement that claims to be speak on behalf of the Moslem majority, or
the Milosevic government that claims to represent the Christian Serbian
majority’s desire for a Serbian-controlled province?
The short answer is: this is not for the U.S. government to decide.
Indeed, the U.S. has no position that squares with reality. It says that
Kosovo should be neither independent nor Serbian. The “peace agreement”
Clinton hails was nothing but blanket permission for Nato as a permanent
occupying force, which is why Milosevic rejected it.
But Clinton says if he doesn’t drop bombs and settle border disputes,
we would repeat the errors of the past. Really? It was US involvement in
Europe that turned a limited conflict into a global one in the First
World War. The later attempt to punish its opponents and redraw borders
helped bring Hitler to power. And it was U.S. refusal to choose
diplomacy over terror that deepened and widened another ghastly global
bloodbath, to be followed again by a disastrous redrawing of borders and
the fastening of communism on half of Europe.
Yet here we go again, imposing sanctions, lobbing bombs, and
redrawing maps. We are not learning from the errors of the past but
repeating them. Clinton’s missiles have already caused irreparable
damage. Orthodox Christians are horrified that the US would back the
claims of Moslems, and we can now add Serbians to the growing list of
groups that have sworn eternal enmity to the U.S. world empire.
When we consider the original American vision — of a peaceful,
commercial republic would be a beacon of freedom, trading with all and
staying out of the endless quarrels of the Old World — we can only be
utterly alienated from the regime that rules a country conceived in
liberty. It is clearer than ever that the U.S. warfare state must be
dismantled, so that it can no longer threaten the world, or trample on
true American ideals.