Monday, March 24, 2014

The Real Day Everything Changed

The phrase "the day everything changed" is used in America to describe that Tuesday, the eleventh day of September, 2001, when hijacked airplanes destroyed the twin towers of the World Trade Center and damaged the Pentagon.
Belgrade, March 1999
Yet a sober look back at the past dozen years reveals a continuity, not change - at least in the government's behavior. Meanwhile, a certain spirit has gone out of Americans, and they now tolerate the omnipotent surveillance state and accept the regular trampling of what remains of their liberty in exchange for empty promises of temporary safety.

The government of George W. Bush was quick to launch a punishment expedition against Afghanistan, which morphed into "nation-building" and eventually failed. NATO forces have now been in Afghanistan longer than the Soviets, and with much the same result. In 2003, Bush invaded Iraq - a country entirely unrelated to the events of 9/11, but of personal interest to him and his advisors - on a manufactured pretext. Though U.S. troops have officially withdrawn by December 2011, some 25,000 "embassy staff" and "military contractors" have remained.

Osama Bin Laden, the alleged mastermind of the attacks, was supposedly tracked down to Pakistan and killed in 2011 - though there have been claims he died way back in 2001 of kidney failure, and everything since had been chasing a phantom menace.

But there was definitely no War on Terror when it came to Islamic militants in the Balkans, for example - quite to the contrary, US lawmakers called out to "jihadists of all color and hue" to take note of Washington promoting jihadism in Europe. And in the very year Bin Laden was supposedly killed, Washington backed jihadists in Libya - and later in Syria.

That is not to say there hasn't been an actual turning point in modern history, however. You just have to go back a bit more to find it. I would argue it is 3/24/1999, when the Atlantic Empire - believing itself at the pinnacle of power, exceptional, and exempt from the rules it sought to impose on others by force - launched an evil little war against a country called Yugoslavia.

Those who waged that war openly described it in terms that perfectly fit the definition of terrorism. Look at the photos from Yugoslavia 1999 and New York 2001 side by side, and contemplate the eerie similarities.

The war was a clear-cut act of aggression, violating both NATO's charter and the U.S. Constitution and lacking any UN authorization. It was illegal, illegitimate, and unjust. Ostensibly fought for "humanitarian" reasons, in practice it backed a terrorist Albanian insurgency aimed at carving out a province from Serbia (one of the two states federated within then-Yugoslavia).

Empire's "diplomats" and perfumed generals believed the Serbs would surrender within a week. It took a Trojan truce, eleven weeks later, for NATO to actually occupy the province of Kosovo (and not all of Serbia, as initially demanded). Undeterred by reality, NATO leaders believed their own lies, ensuring they would make the same - and worse - mistakes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya...

Most importantly, perhaps, the bombing of Yugoslavia had one effect no one in the West had anticipated. Up to that point, Russians were still enraptured with the West, despite nearly a decade of financial and political rape. But the first bomb that hit Belgrade was a wake-up call.

Fifteen years later, the leadership in Moscow has demonstrated they had neither forgotten, nor forgiven. And something tells me that the West hasn't yet begun to pay the real price for that golden idol in Pristina, or the train of abuses and atrocities inflicted upon Serbia since. 

1 comment:

bruce said...

I think the inflection point came a little bit later, when the Empire overreached and bombed the Chinese embassy. Even if you were a Chinaman who believed the bombing was of the "humanitarian" kind, you couldn't deny that the attack on the embassy was solely a show of power.

We've come a long way since then: These days, the Empire can still destroy a country with humanitarian aid in the form of missiles, but I don't think it would dare bomb the Chinese embassy.