June 13, 1999
"I can report to the American people that we have achieved a victory for a safer world, for our democratic values and for a stronger America," President Clinton boasted triumphantly from the Oval Office last Thursday night, before adding, towards the end of his address, "As long as he [President Milosevic] remains in power, as long as your nation [Serbia] is ruled by an indicted war criminal, we [the 'Western' international community] will provide no support for the reconstruction of Serbia."
No need for a Derridean analysis to deconstruct the president's shibboleths.
A victory? One million refugees, unfathomable destruction of civilian infrastructure, exorbitant cost for waging an undeclared war on a sovereign country that pales with the future cost of reconstruction, thousands killed and maimed, exacerbated hatreds, and a compromise that could have been reached through diplomacy and in place of the now infamous Rambouillet ultimatum. Victory when none of the initial objectives, except for the destruction of an entire region, has been achieved? Now if destruction in and of itself is a measure of victory, then we certainly can be proud of our actions. It took almost 80 days for the mightiest armada in history, backed by the taxes of 600 million Westerners, to bomb a country of 11 million people, impoverished by close to a decade of harsh economic sanctions, into negotiating a compromise relatively close to what its government had initially offered. What a victory, indeed!
For a safer world? To which world is Mr. Clinton referring? Our schools patrolled by armed security guards? Our walled suburbs? Afghanistan? Azerbaijan? Kashmir? Cyprus? Tibet? Angola? Sudan? Sierra Leone? Rwanda? Palestine? Ethiopia? Kurdistan (part of Turkey, Syria and Iraq)? Should we ask China, India, Russia and myriad smaller countries whether they feel safer today, now that we have "prevailed" upon a sovereign democracy? In what world are Mr. Clinton and his advisers living? Dreamland or bunkerland? Or both? What is the next country to be invaded for our safer world to perdure? Kazakstan, so that, in the name of humanitarianism, we can appropriate the Caspian oil riches?
Or will we bomb Russia? This morning on the CBS news show, Face the Nation, the host asked General Wesley Clark whether we could take out those 200 Russian soldiers that have taken charge of the Pristina airport. A rhetorical question that speaks loudly about our frame of reference... If the Russians do not yield to our demands, we'll just bomb them. The general mildly elucidated that the present situation was in need of a political solution. At least he understood the dangerous stupidity of the question; and he must be silently praying that we manage to bribe the Russian government into compliance. Talk about a safer world!
For our democratic values? We have flouted practically all international and national laws on the book (Geneva Convention, NATO's own charter, the War Powers Act, the United Nations, etc.). We have attacked a sovereign country, a parliamentarian democracy. We have intentionally bombed civilian populations and civilian infrastructure (what do you think was the meaning of NATO's statement, the morning after the tentative agreement was reached, that the alliance would scale back its bombing to strictly military targets?). Errand ordinance struck Macedonia, Albania, Bulgaria. We have bombed diplomatic missions and an embassy. What kind of democracy do such values reflect? Goliath? The Philistines?
For a stronger America? Which America? The 1.4 million children in poverty, the American Indians, the homeless, the famed middle class that is serenely indebting itself into oblivion? The country that spends more on jails and prisoners than on education? The over 40 million inhabitants that do not carry health insurance? The Black and Hispanic communities that are constantly hounded by our police state? Or our military-industrial complex, our corporate and financial robber-barons, for the 1 percent of the population that largely controls the entire country? Which America, indeed?
The NATO propaganda was compared by some commentators, including this one, to Goebbels', the German master propagandist of WWII. What an error of judgment! NATO used much more simplistic techniques, spitted out through the voice of a baby-bomber doll, Jamie Shea, for the sad and simple reason that we have become a brain-washed citizenry, a lobotomized people, whose raison d'être is to commute between work and the Mall, with a short weekly detour to their Pagan church. With very little time to think and the knowledge of a pinhead, we've come to rely upon the so-called pundits, the self-serving experts of Officialdom to tell us the truth -- and God knows how much we love The Truth... So we were told that there was a tyrant, a dictator, a latter-day Hitler, a Holocaust maker, a genocidal paranoid, a warmonger who was harrowing the Balkans; and we swallowed the bait. Even friends did, like sheep with a fish-like brain.
Unable to fathom the enormity of the blunder, the fabrications, the lies, we could not reconcile the flow of refugees relentlessly played in the media and the fact that for a full decade, we have cornered this small nation for its refusal to abide by our pro-Western rules of free-market pilfering; at every turn of this long and archaic conflict, we have made the Serbs bear the full responsibility of all the violence, and we have kept squeezing them at any opportunity, both economically and politically.
And we will continue the squeeze until they finally relent. At least, is that not what President Clinton is telling us? "As long as he remains in power, as long as your nation is ruled by an indicted war criminal, we will provide no support for the reconstruction of Serbia."
It does bring to mind the Iraqi scenario, does it not? Problem is, what will happen to our good conscience when we find out that maybe, just maybe, Slobodan Milosevic is no Saddam Hussein and the Serbs are not Nazis?
The price we will pay for our strategic and moral blunder will pile up for years to come and not just in financial terms.
Let us conclude with the following words from Branislav Andjelic:
The Long Dark
Barbarians are inside our gates.
If Bosnia is any example, the occupation will be neither kind nor fair.
We can expect a military governor (or civilian administrator, as they are now called) to arbitrarily decide what kinds of license plates and street signs we will have.
To design our currency and passports.
To select which elected official can take his seat and which cannot.
To approve what is to be aired on the evening news.
To decide which books we can read, what music we can listen to, what films we can watch.
And, what is most important, who gets the aid and how much.
Again, if Bosnia is any example, we can expect Serbs to get about 2% of the total aid that is to come.
We can expect unemployment, malnutrition, sporadic healthcare, flourishing black markets, and increased crime.
But we must not despair.
Those who thought they could impose their decaying culture with bombs have revealed themselves to the world. New alliances, awakened by our plight, are forming to oppose them.
Six hundred million against ten million. They have destroyed us but they have not defeated us.
Real resistance begins now. This battle is for the mind and the soul.
We must stay united. We must continue to preserve our culture, our religion, our uniqueness.
We must not allow ourselves to be assimilated.
--Branislav Andjelic - Copyright 1999, beograd.com
A word of Thanks
For the past two months many people have helped me in my endeavor to bring news and thoughts to SWANS's readership.
First and foremost, my companion, Jan Baughman, who has kept me going and has bore the bulk of my despair and anger. I love you, Jan.
Also, my friends at the Foundation for Global Community where I support the networking and communication systems. They have allowed me to concentrate as much as possible on the issue which has engulfed my mind day and night. In particular, I'd like to express gratitude to Mac Lawrence who took the time to listen to me, question me and read the documentation I gave him. Out of these discussions the Foundation issued a position statement on Kosovo that was mailed to the entire subscription base of its newsletter, Timeline. Perhaps, after all, and in spite of my lack of resources, did I have some influence on a few individuals.
I wish to express my gratitude to Branislav Andjelic of beograd.com, not only for having inserted a link to SWANS in the War Edition of Beograd.com, but for being the man of forceful and talented convictions that he is. Bane, I have a deep respect for you and your friends.
Let me not forget Marian Shuter in New Mexico and Charles Buffalo in Virginia for their thoughtful essays sent SWANS's way. I was honored to publish them and will keep doing so in the future. Thank you Marian. Thank you Charles.
And my friend of 20 years, Lioubomir Mihailovic, without whom I might not have had the opportunity to learn about the Serbs, their nation and their history. The world would be a better and a truly humane place if it could know and learn from this remarkable man. Liouba, I deeply apologize for our shameful actions.
Finally, what would SWANS be without you, the readers? Since May 1996 we have been publishing practically without interruption. The readership has substantially grown these past few weeks. I hope you will continue to read and participate. SWANS could not carry on without you. Thank you all.
A word of hope
Indeed, I hope that we all keep working together and keep sharing our energies, our commitments and our resources. For my part, I will carry on on a weekly basis with the help of other contributors. With the present cease-fire, a new phase is beginning that will require less urgency and more thoughtful responses to our decaying culture. We cannot continue as a species to act with such annihilative patterns. We have to leave the era of the cavemen and embrace a new paradigm.
Can we all together keep working for creative solutions? I would like to try, for instance, to initiate a forum of 100 wise men and women who would gather in a location and confer about these issues. We need to draw a map of our predicaments, a sort of a State of the World that would include all the variables and show their links. Hypertext may be a model to follow. I will elaborate on this in the near future.
This Week's Other Articles:
The Pale Criminal by Marian Shuter
Why the murder of Serbian spring? by Alex Vardamis