Wednesday, March 09, 2005

A Template for War

Robert Higgs of the Independent Institute engages in a fascinating exercise today on, presenting a template for the current Iraq war/occupation. He then reveals that the text was cribbed entirely from a 1979 Walter Karp book on the 1898 Spanish-American war! The comparison between Bush the Lesser and William McKinley is eerie.

Since no one has done this yet, I thought I would try to apply the template to the 1999 Kosovo War. My adjustments to the original text are noted in brackets, following the lead of Prof. Higgs. Not surprisingly, the fit is nearly perfect:
To gain popular support for so useless a policy [as attacking Serbia] Democrats were unrelenting in their efforts to arouse jingo sentiment in the country. The Republicans too, were eager for a foreign adventure. . . .

the American people could indeed be diverted from their domestic concerns if the right sort of foreign crusade was offered. By inciting hatred of [Milosevic], by crying up interventionist pretexts, by encouraging the [Albanians] to prolong their struggle, by entangling America officially in [Serbian] affairs, the interventionists bent themselves to the task of turning passive, if promising, sympathy [for oppressed Albanians] into active, fighting support.

. . . interventionist sentiment ran strong in both parties.

. . . there was nothing independent about the American press. It was, overwhelmingly, a party press, a press that echoed to the point of slavishness the policies and propaganda of one or the other major party. Of the mendacious warmongering journalism of the American press, suffice to say that everything that would inflame public sentiment against [Milosevic's regime] was prominently reported, exaggerated, or fabricated.

There was nothing subtle about [Clinton's] dealings with [Serbia]. From the start he claimed the right to dictate [Serbia's] conduct . . . and to intervene by force should that conduct fail to meet the American government's approval.

The Democrats, by now, were a united, vociferous war party . . . .

. . . the [Racak "massacre"] wrought a profound change in American public sentiment.

Although the [Racak "massacre"] produced no clamor for war [against Serbia], it had made the great majority of Americans impatient for the first time to see matters settled in [Kosovo], by American intervention if necessary.

The American ultimatum [to the Yugoslav government] was harsh. Had [Clinton] been seeking a peaceful solution, the [Yugoslav] concessions certainly provided the basis for one. Few sovereign nations have ever made such concessions to a foreign power in peacetime over their own internal affairs. It availed [Belgrade] nothing.

[On March 24, 1999] . . . the President delivered his war message . . . . the President concluded quite falsely that he had "exhausted" all diplomatic means to secure peace. ["We act to protect thousands of innocent people in Kosovo from a mounting military offensive. We act to prevent a wider war; to diffuse a powder keg at the heart of Europe that has exploded twice before in this century with catastrophic results. And we act to stand united with our allies for peace. By acting now we are upholding our values, protecting our interests and advancing the cause of peace," Clinton declared.]

Popular support for the war was more than overwhelming. It was joyful, exuberant, ecstatic. Americans greeted the war in a tumultuous holiday spirit . . . .

What was there to fret about? America was good! America was true! [Stop the genocide in Kosovo!] In that spirit, generous and giddy, righteous and irresponsible, the American people rallied to war against a fifth-rate power under the leadership of their ostensibly peace-loving President.

To conquer and rule [Kosovo] as [a de facto] American [protectorate] was [Clinton's] principal war aim.

The [U.S. armed forces] . . . . in about [11 weeks'] time, . . . . destroyed the hapless hulks that passed for the [Yugoslav civilian infrastructure]. The battle was no more perilous than target practice since [U.S. bomber crews and cruise missile crews] simply fired at will out of range of the [Yugoslav] guns. . . . News of [quick U.S. victories] sent the populace into a fit of ecstatic rejoicing.

Logic is no help to the vanquished. . . . international law is no help to the vanquished either.

Reluctant acceptance of a fait accompli was the keynote of the propaganda campaign. . . . The American people were invariably described as already demanding what the propagandists were trying to get them to accept. The debasement of language by political mendacity was never more aptly illustrated than in the [humanitarians'] desperate pretense that imperialism was a popular movement. . . .

Above all, the propagandists, again following [Clinton], made frantic efforts to deny any imperialist intentions. . . .

America's control of [Kosovo], so the propagandists insisted, brought distasteful but unavoidable "duty" in its train, namely the duty to rule [Kosovo, until the "final solution" is achieved]. . . . [Clinton] himself sternly repudiated the term "imperialism." . . . If America was becoming an imperial power, it was an empire purely by inadvertence. So the propagandists insisted.

Had the [Republicans] marshaled their party strength against [Clinton's] designs, those designs would never have succeeded. Even without a Republican opposition, the American people, with nothing to guide them save ceaseless [war] propaganda, were painfully divided and confused about [Kosovo]. Even at war's end, with the American flag flying over [Pristina], there was no grass-roots demand for retaining [Kosovo] and no evidence that a majority even favored it. . . . For the success of [Clinton's] imperial design the silent complicity of the [Republicans] proved decisive.

Nothing further, Your Honor. The defense rests.

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