Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Humanitarian Intervention - Isn't

The edition of RT's "Crosstalk" that was taped Monday morning was shown last night, and is up on RT's website today.

While I don't have much to say about Ian Williams' boilerplate interventionism, I found myself intrigued by some of the arguments of Isa Blumi. Of course I find the claim that the Empire was somehow in cahoots with Milosevic absolutely preposterous; if that was collaboration, what's hostility like?

Blumi also argued that dictators who can quash dissent quickly aren't picked as targets of "humanitarian" bombs. If true, this would greatly undermine the case for interventionism , since by implication, the Empire isn't noble and caring but rather coldly opportunistic, and only picks safe victims for its self-righteous knight-errantry.Which, of course, tracks with everything I've argued over the years.

However, Blumi's argument founders on the shoal of Kosovo. Milosevic actually had the KLA crushed, not once but twice - in 1997, and again in 1998. The first time it was resurrected by Germany's BND, and the second time the US intervened to save it, by sending Holbrooke to treat with the KLA. Holbrooke, Talbott, Norris, and others have outright confessed that this wasn't about the Albanians at all, or even about breaking Serbia (which did figure into the equation, mind you), but all about establishing dominion in the Balkans and keeping Russia out and down.

Interventionists would have us believe they are knights-errant riding around the world bombing "bad guys" and "liberating" their people from "tyranny." Spare me. They are in it for their own purposes - often for natural resources, but always for power.

And no one, not Williams, not Blumi, not any of the US and EU diplomats, not Blair's chief spin-doctor Alistair Campbell (currently on the blood-drenched payroll of Crime Minister Thaci) has ever managed to explain how "protecting and saving" people is accomplished by killing them.

"We had to destroy the village to save it," an American soldier famously quipped to a reporter in Vietnam.
Well, that's why you lost.

11 comments:

Ultravoice said...

Good one Nebojsa. I just watched the mentioned CrossTalk, and I can say i m pretty much satisfied with what and how you managed to share with the public. However, I must point out that you did miss quite an opportunity to answer to some of the preposterous accusations and views shared by Ian, specially about Kosovo issue. I m referring to the point when Isa jumped in to answer Ian about the mineral resources in the Serbian province. You could have simply played the "Western" game, by pointing out the state of the province, human rights violation, ethnic cleansing of the Serbs, human trafficking operations by the ex-terrorist/present day "politicians" of the so called independent Kosovo, etc, 11 years after the aggression.

Speaking of which, i cant remember hearing the term "aggression" during the show, even if it was almost called out by Peter.

Otherwise, good job Nebojsa, keep it up!

Ultravoice

The Hero of Crappy Town said...

This Ian Williams character is such a buffoon I was almost embarrassed for him watching the show. Isa Blumi was better, but he was extremely vague and had great difficulty finishing his thoughts — so much that I still don't know where he stands. I have a nagging suspicion, however, that he is perfectly fine with interventionist fabrications only looking to modify them slightly so that they implicate the West in addition to its targets. Kind of like what Al-Quada types do. They're very happy to run with the liberal-interventionist nonsense about a genocide of 250,000 Bosnian Muslims, but with the caveat that it was done with the tacit support of the Western powers. Maybe I'm being unfair to Blumi, but it seemed to me that is where his assurances of 'they are all in it together' were headed.

Suvorov said...

So Milosevic collaborated with Holbrooke to have his country bombed and dissected, and to have himself ousted from power, kidnapped and delivered to the Hague. Makes sense to me.

Btw, very well-done on your part!

Asteri said...

I think it was more of a case of Milosevic collaborating with the Empire than the Empire collaborating with him. There was a brief period when Milosevic was regarded by the west as a kind of Balkan Gobachev. A banker with an experience of the western life and ready to implement privatization of state owned assets (though not to the levels they would have liked). Although all this changed very quickly I would hardly call it a collaboration on the Empire's part, but rather dealing with someone they needed. This is why I would say that Milosevic actually did collaborate with the likes on Holbrook. The US-EU had to be seen as doing something about Bosnia and Milosevic needed the sanctions lifted. He must of agreed to abandon the Kraijna Serbs and sanction the Bosnian Serbs in return for being left to consolidate what he had left on his own turf. Even after his risible treatment of the Serb refugees and his tolerance of the high treason being committed by Montenegro he still ended up demonised, double crossed and cast aside as soon as he out lived his usefulness.

Gray Falcon said...

Indeed, a good case can be made that Milosevic tried to collaborate with the Empire.

I think I can pinpoint the moment in time when he changes his mind: the infamous "blank paper" incident in Dayton, when he asked Warren Christopher to write down Empire's demands, and Christopher pushed the paper back and said (in effect) that only unquestioned, absolute obedience would do. That was too much for Milosevic, and that is why he fought when Rambouillet and Kosovo came up.

Collaboration with the Empire simply doesn't work, not in the short run, not in the long run. The wages of that sin are always death.

Lasse Johansson said...

I heard the same thing. Milosevic was in bed with the western powers until the point where he was asked to give up the sovereignty of Serbia. Then even Milosevic could not play along any more. Warren Christopher said "you don't understand, there is no such list of demands. We expect that you at any time do precisely as we ask of you". When Milosevic failed to comply with these unrealistic demands, that was the point when they turned on him.

MindyC said...

Hi! I enjoyed the Crosstalk segment. Thanks for participating in that with Isa and Mr. Williams...

Nebojsa (and everyone else reading) I would urge you to read more of Isa's work on the Balkans and the Middle East. He has written extensively on both. He is a historian, and often compares events in the late Ottoman period (the policies of the Sublime Porte) with more recent events (his book Chaos in Yeman is a good place to start). His work is always well researched, passionate, and meticulous in nature. You may not agree with his work, but it will make you think about your own position...

Also, I think he is arguing that actors on the ground have agency vis-a-vis the big actors, not that the small actors are just hapless victims and that we often miss this part of the story as told from the Western media (or from a nationalist narrative). Small actors can force events in their own way.... I do notice some of you conceding his point on Milosevic, at least a little, regarding Empire. I have to agree with Mr. Williams that he was something of a nationalist of convenience. Keep in mind that an indictment of Milosevic is not an indictment of all serbs everywhere for all times. This mindset is a part of the problem.

Further, I (this is me, now, not what I think Isa is getting at) would argue about the ill treatment of any civilians, be they serbs, albanians, Libyans, Yemenis, Syrians, Egyptians, etc, who ever... well, once we get into the game of this group was more victimized than that group, we've already lost the game - the devaluation of human life is always a tragedy, and it always makes me sad that no one learned that state power can very effectively mobilize these lies, make them real, and turn one group of people on another, for their own benefit. "Ancient ethnic hatreds" is a tired old trope that is used to have the rest of us do the dirty work of those in power. Milosevic used it to great effect to keep himself in power for quite a while. This was bad for all, including the Serbian people. If we can't come together and cry for each other's dead children, then we are well and truly fucked (pardon my language, but there it is).

Anyway, thanks for the lively debate, it was great to watch. It's nice to see people trying to hash out these things that actually matter and it's incredibly sad that no media outlets in the US is actually doing so...

Gray Falcon said...

Mindy, thank you for the comments. I actually enjoyed arguing with Isa in a constructive manner; it's always fun to have an informed difference of opinion with a reasonable person. I looked up his writing and other interviews after the show, and he does make some interesting arguments all right.

Notice how we agreed that mistreatment was wrong no matter who was on its receiving end. But that then has to be true for the Serbs as much as it is for the Albanians, or the Yemenis, or anyone else. Yet there has been zero sympathy for the very real plight of the Serbs, even from people who claim to be principled and tolerant of all.

I actually mean it when I protest the aggression against Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Pakistan, or Libya. I don't actually care if Afghan mujahedin took part in making Bosnia a jihadist hellhole - invading their country and trying to force-feed them "democracy" is still wrong. Williams doesn't get that, but that's his loss.

But while I do cry for everyone's dead children, I end up looking like a total idiot when no one cries for mine. I cannot help but notice that the people calling the loudest for letting bygones be bygones are those who have achieved all their aspirations (usually at someone else's expense). Yeah, sure, now that they've reached their desired End of History, let's freeze time and keep things as they are forever. It doesn't work that way.

You say that indictment of Milosevic "is not an indictment of all serbs everywhere for all times." But the Empire, the ICTY, all the regional belligerents and even the Yellowcrats in Belgrade all seem to think otherwise. I am yet to meet someone in the Imperial mainstream who doesn't believe in the General Theory of Collective and Absolute Serbian Guilt. So to believe that somehow the Empire is going after Milosevic, and not the Serbs in general, is to ignore observable facts. And I don't do that.

Dorde said...

Yes,an intersesting discussion. One thing that struckmme was Williams' and Blumi's agreement on why it is okay to go after some dictators and not others. Basically if you can't control them the you are seen as vulnerable to Western intervention! A rather curious stance. Was not Milosevic successful in turning back the KLA? Then why his ouster? Is intervention legal when the West takes a hand in fomenting unease with it's color-coded revolts or this just used as a test to see whether or not the ruling class is up to a little gamesmanship?

The Hero of Crappy Town said...

Milošević may have collaborated in a technical sense, but he wasn't a collaborator. What he sacrificed he did so believing that doing so would benefit not just his own position, but also that of FR Yugoslavia. There is no hint of this sort of statesmanship any longer. Anyone arguing for appeasing the West today is doing so only for their own personal interest. Milošević routinely put the state before the people, and sometimes himself before the state, but he never put the Empire before the state he was in charge of.

@Mindy, I don't know what you mean by coming together and crying for each other's dead children. How many American children were killed in wars with the Serbs, Albanians, Libyans, Yemenis, Syrians, Egyptians, etc, who ever? Exactly who are we crying for on your side? I appreciate the point that any group is likely to have been alternatively the victim and the victimizer, but that is obviously not true for America. It's been a while since either the Serbian, or the Albanian, Air Force blew up a train, or a refugee column in Boise, Idaho. Who do you need comforting for?

State power effectively mobilizing lies is terrible, I concur. We only have to look at the satanic things Americans did to the Vietnamese (which was not an ethnic conflict albeit the two were of different ethnicities and in conflict) on the account of anti-Communist hysteria. I don't know anything about Milošević mobilizing "ancient ethnic hatreds", however. If you think Balkan politics are based around "ancient ethnic hatreds" then you must also believe Balkan wars are fought with sticks and stones? Don't get me wrong, I understand where you are coming from. It is such an attractive thing to believe Balkan politics are that low-brow. If it were true it would instantly make you so much classier than an average Milošević supporter! One tiny problem — it isn't so, and you aren't.

Gray Falcon said...

"Milošević routinely put the state before the people, and sometimes himself before the state, but he never put the Empire before the state he was in charge of."

Hero, I'm gonna quote the hell out of this. Well said.