Saturday, January 29, 2011

Blind Spot

Reading James Bovard's review of Derek Leebaert's "Magic and Mayhem: The Delusions of American Foreign Policy From Korea to Afghanistan," I am struck by how persistently the Balkans shows up as a blind spot for critics of the U.S. foreign policy.

Leebaert puts together an interesting read about how arrogance and ignorance have led the policymakers down disastrous paths, yet he offers the 1999 Kosovo war as a contrasting example of success! Bovard disagrees, and it is worth quoting him at length:

Leebaert actually understates the U.S. debacle rate abroad. He hails the American-led NATO bombing of Serbia: “The 1999 eleven weeks’ war over Kosovo was undertaken by a coalition of Western governments, preceded by two months of negotiation that legitimized and clarified its objectives, then followed by a UN peacekeeping mission. The presence of overwhelming backup forces nearby as well as American military leadership resting on political good sense and seasoned diplomacy further increased the chances of success.”

What success? After NATO planes killed hundreds if not thousands of Serb and ethnic Albanian civilians, Bill Clinton could pirouette as a savior. Once the bombing ended, many of the Serbs remaining in Kosovo were slaughtered and their churches burned to the ground. NATO’s “peace” produced a quarter-million Serbian, Jewish, and Gypsy refugees. At least the Serbs were not murdering people for their body parts, as the Council of Europe recently accused the Kosovo Liberation Army of doing to Serb prisoners in recent years. (“When the transplant surgeons were confirmed to be in position and ready to operate, the [Serbian] captives were … summarily executed by a KLA gunman, and their corpses transported swiftly to the operating clinic,” where their kidneys were harvested for sale.)

Perhaps even worse, Clinton’s unprovoked attack on Serbia set a precedent for “humanitarian” warring that was invoked by supporters of Bush’s unprovoked attack on Iraq.

That the Serbs were vicious, genocidal fascist aggressors who could have only been stopped by an American intervention - details such as law and truth be damned - is an article of faith in the U.S. mainstream, and it is not often someone like Bovard dares to defy it. It takes a lot of courage to go against the self-appointed guardians of Official Truth.


Lasse Johansson said...

To say that something is true is often an over simplification. But the Bovard text quoted above comes really close. Having tried to understand the PR(opaganda) from both the Serbian, Albanian, Muslim, Croat and Empire sides for a long time my conclusion is that the words of Bovard is as close as you can get to the truth in the case of the 1999 "peace"-bombs.

I really enjoy your articles too Mr. Malic and find them almost neutral. Only slightly biased in favor of the Serb case. And that is actually a compliment because most articles written on the Balkans by other authors is much more biased to one side or the other.

Gray Falcon said...

I'll take the compliment in the spirit in which it was given; however, I endeavor to be biased towards a certain set of (clearly outlined) values and principles, rather than towards a particular ethnic group.

One of the things I rail against is the whole twisted logic wherein something is good if "we" do it, but bad if "they" do it (to us, or someone else).

Eugene Costa said...

"Perhaps even worse, Clinton’s unprovoked attack on Serbia set a precedent for “humanitarian” warring that was invoked by supporters of Bush’s unprovoked attack on Iraq."

Bovard is not wrong here, simply incomplete, and the incompleteness is telling.

In fact, the unprovoked attack on Yugoslavia was more than a precedent for the attack on Iraq, it was a "dry run", so to say, though not on the part of bleeding Yugoslav civilians and others, for whom it was very wet indeed.

As for the continued demonization of Milosevic and the Serbs, there is a complex psychology at work here that cannot be reduced to a few words.

Suffice it to say for the moment that for the British and American Calvinist Capitalists and Imperialists, it is not enough to provoke a war and "win".

The only true victory is when the defeated admit that their defeat, however criminally accomplished, was just and necessary and thank the victors for the opportunity to submit.

In American history particularly you can see this psychology at work again and again, especially in the dealings with the native American tribes.

But this is only scratching the surface.

Gray Falcon said...

Yes, it's the obsessive need of Big Brother to be loved by his victims that's at work here. Caligula's Oderint dum metuant is not enough for them.