A reader, Denis Perkovic of Dallas, Texas, took exception with Michael Stowell's articles covering the IWCT, "Beneath the Cloaking Device" (4/30/01) and "Proactivism at The Hague" (8/20/01). A short correspondence ensued.
to mr. stowell, who is agonizing over IWCT activities in hague, to help you and others who agonize over this, let me ask you:
if members of your family were butchered by serbian liberators, and then burned; if your mother, your wife and your daughter [were] raped, then tortured, butchered, by these liberators, would you still consider IWCT and some NATO member states of doing something improper? would this make you and all the other human right concerned citizens do little more research into what was happening in kosovo, bosnia, croatia, macedonia?
maybe after research you would find out that some people, serbs, believe they are 'the chosen', they believe if they acts of barbarism against, let's say albanians, they are not wrong, for they are superior to their victims, they are better nation than those victims of theirs, victims are not actually humans, because they are not christian-orthodox (as serbs), therefore, they are not guilty of doing one criminal act of torturing, raping, killing a human being (on a massive scale).
this is what they believe, but why would you believe it, is this sane reasoning? i believe it is not. where do you find sympathy for beasts such as these, and their bosses, who actually unleashed the beasts? maybe you agree with the idea that what was done in the name of serbian nation and serbian god (they have their own saint who they keep at the higher level than christ) is not a crime?
well, just imagine your family members in hands of those 'liberators', then pass judgement, about IWCT and some NATO nations; this is so disgusting, that any normal human being from a free civilized world would actually think for a second that these creatures, with their boss milosevic, are actually human beings; [the] real tragedy is that there are so many of these people between ordinary citizens of serbia, that now are silent, but were cheering when crimes were being done in their name,
Thank you for bringing your perspective to my attention, I always welcome responses from my readers.
Please believe that my heart is with you and those people who are terrorized and slaughtered by the criminals of this world. Here in America we are at such distance from foreign events, which are cloaked with deceit by our government and its media, that it is an unpopular struggle to bring truth to light. Most Americans simply don't want to be distracted from their selfish consumption, especially not by the results abroad.
May I remind you that America and its NATO allies were friendly with Mr. Milosevic until he became nationalistic and began thwarting the West's control of the region? Do not make the mistake of trusting your enemy's enemy. The indiscriminate bombing and its aftermath are proof enough of the little regard for life and human rights.
Fact is, Denis, Milosevic could have been brought to trial and a UN intercessory force could have been deployed without all the rampant destruction. That, of course, would not have been in the interest of capitalist hegemony. Relinquishing authority to a court that has higher jurisdiction would place the US in an indefensible position regarding the many war crimes committed on its behalf. Thus we see the creation of a kangaroo court (IWCT) that is illegitimate in origin and hasn't any right to try other cases. Furthermore, destruction of the region's infrastructure was a necessary component for creation of economic dependency.
Speaking of which, those who believe they are the 'chosen ones' and retain the power to enforce their will upon the rest of the world are not Serbian or Albanian. The most powerful have no allegiance to any nation state or specific religion, other than the religion of wealth and power and any form of civil government that cannot resist their dominance. We know well enough that religion has been used many times to divide people, in the interest of exploitation. Those divided are easily conquered, and then blame is laid at their doorsteps.
Call me disgusting if you will, that is your choice, but we are all human beings, no matter how brutal. Witness what human beings do and have done to the rest of life on this planet, and all in the name dominance.
As disturbed as you seem, I would not trust you with a gun, either. Would you kill a Serb for revenge?
if i used strong language, you will excuse me, and i will never call you disgusting, i also do not see myself as a disturbed individual, i might have reacted to your text in not the most polite manner, but the reason is only that i feel and understand a bit more what is exactly that milosevic and his crowd has done. i did not need to ask you how would you feel if your family members were 'handled' by those folks over there in kosovo, and bosnia, but if we bring some details real close to our mind and heart, then we might understand better what the other person is talking about.
as far as trusting me with a gun, right now, i would not hurt a single serb, out of revenge or for any other reason, i don't believe in that, i wish that milosevic and other high serb officials pay for what they did organize, not more not less, the only thing is all the other 'ordinary' citizens that were cheering their own thugs and butchers on their departure from serbian cities, to 'liberate' and 'pacify' croatia, bosnia, kosovo. those folks are just a part of any ordinary crowd we can see in any ordinary city, but their mind is still unchanged, they still believe in 'their right cause'.
i appreciate your giving me some details as to how all this linked together,'my enemy's enemy' is not my friend necessarily, i do not have any enemies, believe it or not, i just don't wish to condone someone's crimes, because they are christian brothers, or because they are my neighbors, or because they are my real family members, or just because they appear to be more civilized.
i also agree that there are so many unjust things happening all around the globe, but i think it's a lame reasoning: well, we did not do anything in burundi, what about kurds, why should anyone intervene in kosovo, bosnia? to me, that's even worse. as far as this NATO bombing, you might not believe me, i feel sorry for any innocent life that was lost thru this bombardment, children women, old people, hospitalized people, anyone that was defenseless. but, what would you say about the TV-station bombing in belgrade, where serbs were informed about bombing but they did not evacuate the building (only very few 'selected' were warned), instead they, serbs, used this terrible tragedy to show how 'bad' NATO is. excuse me, i don't think this needs any comment.
anyway, this is if we focus to one specific tragedy, we can see how basic principles of morality, ethics, humanism can be applied, so is it burundi, timor or bosnia, it is just the same principle, thugs are thugs, defenseless are defenseless, rape is done in same fashion in east timor and burundi, and we, the observers of all of this can choose to lament, moralize, tell stories, look into why this group of people is killing this other group (usually defenseles, and that is actual problem), we can put victims and killers in the same basket (it would not be fair), because, so many time we hear: oh, they are all the same, everybody killed everybody.
or we can put some effort and analyze some specific situation and figure out as to who is who, and say clearly that we do not condone attack on defenseless. or we can go about our everyday life and forget all of this.
i do believe that here in this country USA they are very many people that are very much loveable people, who care about other people, many people that want to know truth.
i can tell that you are one person that cares, too, and i am glad that, by pure chance, i got to read your name, and talk to you in this manner, and i appreciate you taking time to write to me.
just to tell you, when Tito was alive, i was very young, we in SFR of Yugoslavia, well, some of us did believe that the idea of being "Yugoslav" is pretty good (something like being "American"), but all of that was shattered because of people that believed they are superior to these other people (usually neighbors), but still, we can not now generalize things and say, oh, everyone is same there, they are all killers. i say, no, there are killers and there are victims.
michael, i hope i did not bore you with my thoughts, i might not express myself in a proper fashion, but one thing i can tell you, i believe in civilized communication, i believe people can be polite to other people, and also, on occasion, we can help one another.
p.s. i also hope this was not too lengthy.
Once again, thank you for writing and sharing your thoughts. I agree with you, civil communication is essential for understanding other viewpoints.
Nearly as I can tell, you believe that Serbs are evil in that they both overtly and covertly supported the 'ethnic cleansing' carried out by Milosevic and/or his supporters (I only hesitate to condemn Milosevic because justice demands he be deemed innocent until proven guilty, though it is hard for me to believe that the atrocities could have been committed without his approval if not his participation). I am not a religious person so the word 'evil' has no place in my vocabulary. I do believe the Serbs were and are a much-deceived people, as are most people.
You state that the Serbs "feel superior" even now, after shameful acts have come to light and that "here in this country USA they are very many people that are very much loveable people, who care about other people, many people that want to know truth." It is my observation that, although I do know some genuinely empathetic people, most Americans feel quite superior to the rest of the world and believe they are the envy of all the poor unfortunates.
Gilles d'Aymery, the publisher and co-editor of Swans.com recently compiled and posted a dossier, "US Military Budget for FY2003" that makes some very important comparisons; he sourced the Council for a Livable World and International Institute for Strategic Studies. (the White House has summary tables for the proposed budget at http://wwww.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2003/bud34.html). America's proposed military budget for next year is $396.1 billion; that's a lot of money! Yet "the entire international affairs budget, including foreign military aid, is $23.9 billion (half of it is military 'aid'). So, $12 billion is the total amount the US spends on helping poor countries (80 per cent of the world population)....that's three percent of the entire military budget or 0.006 percent of the entire US budget."
So you see, the American government and the people who support it, either actively or by default, are far more concerned with protecting their own economic interests, which to a large degree means exploiting 'poor unfortunates' through threat of military force, than they are with helping people of other countries. Therein lies my point; all is not what it seems.
Also, I believe you miss both the contemporary and historical context of the role played by primarily Germany and the US in destabilization of the Balkans for purposes of exploitation. You, like many Americans and Europeans, have swallowed the bait, as we say, hook, line, and sinker.
Please feel free to respond.
Articles Published on Swans Regarding the War in Yugoslavia and its Aftermath