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Israel's email debate with Noam Chomsky has been added to the text. To read it, click here
There are three main positions on
Serbian government military action during the 78-day
bombing of Yugoslavia.
POSITION 1: NATO ARGUES GENOCIDE
Position One includes a broad spectrum of NATO leaders, political parties and various intellectuals. In Europe, most of the Social Democrat leaders and many of the conservative ones, in the US, Clinton as well as Dole plus many supposed intellectuals, such as Christopher Hitchens from The Nation, Todd Gitlin who writes for Mother Jones, and Elie Wiesel. The list is incomplete, to be sure, but you get the idea: a diverse group with enthusiastic support for NATO as the organizing principle.
Position One justified bombing
Yugoslavia by arguing it was necessary to stop a modern-day
We were told that perhaps hundreds of thousands of Albanians were being butchered. (How bombing would halt this alleged slaughter was unclear but that didn't matter; the idea here was really punishment not prevention.) NATO and the media continued making these Holocaust claims after the bombing stopped. Here's an example from Canadian TV:
Note the technique used here. The Narrator, that is, the Voice of Anonymous Authority, says: "He [the Albanian gentleman] doesnt care if it now appears the Albanians are no better than the Serbs."
A couple of thoughts on this sentence.
First: elsewhere in this TV "news" report, the Narrator mentions that Mr. Muratti is a KLA member. But note that here the Narrator refers to "the Albanians" - not to the KLA or to KLA supporters among the Albanians.
In this way the Narrator creates the impression in the viewer's mind that the KLA is no more than the political expression of all Albanians. Another view, held by many observers, that the KLA is a fascist group whose base among SOME Albanians derives from racism and among OTHER Albanians derives from fear, intimidation and social pressure; that it has terrorized a THIRD group of Albanians into silence and that it harasses, kills and evicts a FOURTH group and that all this is complicated by turf wars among the KLA and other secessionists - this possibility is not considered. Indeed, it is bypassed because the Narrator (that is, "the Expert") has expressed, as an obvious truth, that all Albanians act as one when it comes to "The Serbs".
Second, note that the Narrator offers no evidence that "The Serbs" are bad. Instead, he merely reminds his viewers of what they have been told in countless media reports: that Serbs provide the standard against which other evils may be measured.
Thus, no matter how "bad" the "Albanians" may be they can only play catch-up with the Serbs.
The Narrator uses a similar method to characterize Mr. Murati's attitude: this Albanian has "gone through too much" to worry about what outsiders think of "Albanians". The Narrator mentions Mr. Muratti's suffering in passing, thereby communicating that said suffering is beyond question: of course he suffered. Didn't all Albanians suffer at Serbian hands?
The possibility that Mr. Muratti's "pain" may be a Public Relations lie invented by the KLA to maintain the support of Western public opinion and mitigate outrage at the treatment of Serbs, other minorities, and anti-KLA Albanians - this thought is beneath consideration.
In this way Mr. Muratti's remarks are validated in advance and we are set-up for the slam-dunk: Mr. Murati refers in passing to "hundreds of thousands of dead." No evidence is presented for this crazy claim; that because there IS no evidence. But by dint of clever writing and because viewers have been subjected to so much anti-Serbian baloney in the past that they have trouble thinking straight, the "hundreds of thousands" figure is swallowed, whole.
This particular show was aired Sept. 27th. By then a miracle had occurred, at that time still unnoticed by the Western Media. A group of Spanish forensic scientists had held a press conference where they said: NATO lied. We were sent to Kosovo, they said. We were told we'd be doing autopsies on 2000 victims of Serbian genocide. It was all lies.
It was all lies! May those Spanish forensic experts and policemen live long, happy lives. The rulers of our planet do not figure on moral courage. (For the full translation of the Spanish Forensic scientists' report, and a commentary, see note #21 at the end.)
The Spanish experts' press conference was picked up by one magazine, El Pais. Emperors-clothes.com had the El Pais piece translated. We and others, and then many thousands of others, plastered it all over this last vestige of democracy, the Internet.
Various Websites and then newspapers picked it up. An ember of intellectual honesty flared: some newspapers actually began subjecting NATO's mass-murder claims to the awkwardness of scrutiny. Serb-baiters like Richard Gwyn turned fickle and commented that with NATO's claims of Serbian mass murder obviously false, there was a real possibility that the genocide justification "may have been a grotesque lie concocted to justify a war." (Toronto Star, 11/4/99) Who would have thought it was possible?
Damage control was called for. The so-called "War Crimes" Tribunal threw together a progress report on the Great Kosovo Cadaver Hunt. The statement was delivered by Chief Prosecutor Carla del Ponte herself.
Del Ponte avoided the matter of the Spanish experts. Instead she dwelt on Numbers. In 6 months, said del Ponte, her battalion of forensic experts had found 2108 bodies.
An analysis published by Emperors-Clothes proves that there's no reason to believe that any of the alleged 2108 are victims of alleged Serbian terror. It's not even clear that most are Albanians, and those who are may have died from natural causes or been killed by NATO bombs or by the KLA, which has from its inception conducted a terror against "collaborationist" Albanians, that is, those loyal to Yugoslavia instead of to NATO and the KLA. (See note #22 at the end.)
This complication - i.e., no evidence - has produced psychosis in the NATO camp. On the one hand, the loyal media ploughs forward like a brain-dead elephant, explaining away KLA-Albanian attacks on Serbs as "revenge for Serbian atrocities". But why revenge? Revenge for what if there were no massacres.
Meanwhile, NATO leaders are scrambling for the high ground. This has been attempted with most spectacular gracelessness by Assistant Secretary of Defense Kenneth Bacon, who claimed in a November 16 letter to the NY Times that boss William Cohen had never said huge numbers of Albanians were killed by Serbs. Huh? (Unfortunately for Bacon it is possible to retrieve the text of previous statements from the Internet. See note # 23 at the end)
Some NATO apologist even argued that numbers don't really matter: one dead Albanian is as bad as 100,000. Huh? Do these people read their scripts before they speak?
DOWN BUT NOT OUT
So Position One has had its foundation knocked out from under; it is now an argument suspended in thin air. Sorry buddy, no bodies, no genocide.
But does this mean, as some good souls have suggested, that NATO is kaput? Alas, no. NATO does not need overwhelming public support to continue its war of decimation against Yugoslavia. It merely needs public silence, lack of action. It is only necessary that the public have MIXED FEELINGS so that it does not VIGOROUSLY OPPOSE NATO's attempt to destroy Yugoslavia.
Which brings us to Position Two.
According to Position Two, Serbian forces did commit atrocities, but not on the scale NATO claimed. Moreover, Position Two people argue, these atrocities increased when NATO started bombing. Thus they manage to criticize the bombing while more or less supporting the rationale used to justify the bombing (that the Serbian government carried out atrocities as a matter of policy.) They are virtually silent about the massive terror campaign against Serbs, "Gypsies" and others which is going on, as you read this article.
Position Two says the Serbs are pretty bad but NATO has only made matters worse. This may seem reasonable at first glance, quite factual. Actually the folks who expound Position Two have yet to present any factual evidence to support their claims of Serbian atrocities. This is most strikingly absent in the case of Noam Chomsky who uses his prestige to affirm Position Two without benefit of fact.
Position Two relies for support on POSITION One. As in chess and real estate, in politics location is key. Position Two people have located themselves in the center of the board: they represent themselves as moderates, interested in peace.
This is very attractive to many good folks. On the one hand, many people hated the bombing and Position Two says NATO should not have bombed Yugoslavia. And if NATO again bombs Yugoslavia this spring, Position Two folks will again disapprove.
At the same time, many people have been deeply affected by the hate-Serbs campaign in the mass media. How could they not be affected? Is it surprising that some people want to believe that the Serbs did something bad? After all, if the Serbs did nothing wrong, what are the implications? Not only did the West "over-react" to a "minor conflict" (as Position Two argues.) No, it's much worse than that. If the Serbs are telling the truth then our entire media was involved in promulgating lies on an unprecedented scale. And, worse yet, the holders of Position Two would themselves be in trouble. They have parroted Position One charges against the Serbian government. They have failed to lift a finger against the on-going destruction of the Serbian people. They backed fascist leaders in Bosnia, calling them "democrats". They ludicrously mis-portrayed ethnic Albanians as an oppressed group in Kosovo. If all this was lies - if the reality is anti-Serbian genocide - then these Position Two people have a lot of explaining to do.
In the U.S. Position # 2 is held by Noam Chomsky. (This may shock many people but it is the truth. Chomsky refused to speak out when 250,000 Serbian farmers were driven from the Krajina section of Croatia, with thousands slaughtered. I use the word refused here advisedly. He was not unaware; he did not simply fail to speak. He refused to speak. He entirely misrepresented the conflict in Bosnia, accepting the media's distortions and absurdly criticizing the U.S. for inaction. He misrepresented the situation in Kosovo as one of Serbian oppression of Kosovo Albanians. In both cases he parroted, even grudgingly praised, media coverage. This is important. Many honest people in the West were taken in by what have been shown to be media lies about Bosnia and Kosovo. But Chomsky is respected for being a media critic. He is the Watchdog. So when he agrees with, or even grudgingly praises media mis-reporting, he is telling people: this is not a case where you need to be wary. There may be sensationalism, or exaggeration, but the main story is true as presented.
Because of his reputation, Chomsky has given Position Two much credibility on the "left." (I put "left" in quotes because, quite frankly, I don't know what to make of a "left" that seems to apologize for US policy and even encourages intervention in third world countries.)
Note: After this article was written, I had more-or-less of an email debate with Noam Chomsky concerning Slobodan Milosevic and Serbia. This took place at the beginning of September of 2000.
Actually, this was my second email exchange with Chomsky on Milosevic.
The first occured a year and a half earlier, during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. At that time I contacted Chomsky and asked him to speak at one of the weekly rallies I was helping organize against the bombing.
I knew of Chomsky from the late 1960s. Back then, I was a leader of Students for a Democratic Society, the student antiwar group, at Harvard. I was friends with one of Chomsky's teaching assistants at MIT. We considered Chomsky a bit of a political eccentric; in any case he was a minor figure in the antiwar movement, though very powerful in Linguistics. Now, some 30 years later, I heard that he was quite well-known, hence the invitation. He replied that was booked-up for the indeterminate future.
When I wrote to Chomsky, I also sent him transcripts of German Court and Foreign Ministry documents confirming that Yugoslav forces did not target ethnic Albanian civilians during the fighting with the Kosovo Liberation Army terrorists, which began in January 1998. And I sent him Slobodan Milosevic's speech from 1989. I made the point that this speech showed the media was lying outright about what Milosevic said; clearly they were trying to demonize him. Chomsky's response is posted in the text of our exchange, below.
I wrote Chomsky again in September 2000. I began this second discussion because I had read a post in which Chomsky was quoted, replying to some comments from a person who held 'Position One.' Chomsky wrote, "The Milosevic regime has committed many crimes, but one cannot attribute the terrible conditions [in Yugoslavia] completely to its crimes."
Chomsky and his associates at Z Magazine never tire of making such remarks. I called him on this. He and I went back and forth a few times. The text of our debate is reprinted below. Not a word has been added or left out. - JI
FIRST LETTER FROM JARED ISRAEL TO NOAM CHOMSKY, 4 SEPTEMBER 2000
Your continuing demonization of "the Serbs" is appalling. I thought you were too-little-too-late, conceding US guilt and Yugoslav innocence one step behind media-admitted facts - but now, it appears, you trail further, falling behind even the ICTY.
Your "lack of time" to speak at the Boston antiwar demonstrations to which I invited you 16 months ago takes on a different significance in light of the statements you have issued during and since the bombing.
The tragedy is that with your influence on young people you could have encouraged the creation of a protest movement, instead of throwing cold war on the antiwar impulse by parroting NATO in the guise of criticizing NATO with your "NATO is even worse than the Serbs" nonsense.
FROM NOAM CHOMSKY TO JARED ISRAEL, 5 September 2000
I think you are aware of the fact that in the past 10 years the Milosevic regime has committed many crimes.
The statement you quote is from a forum, where I rejected the charges made by a questioner against the Milosevic regime. In that context there is no need whatsoever to add an essay documenting every factual statement that is made.
FROM JARED ISRAEL TO NOAM CHOMSKY, 5 September 2000
In a message dated 09/05/2000 3:22:12 PM Eastern Daylight Time, you wrote:
<< I think you are aware of the fact that in the past 10 years the Milosevic regime has committed many crimes. >>
"The fact that"? Who said it was a fact? You construct a sentence that asserts as given the truth of the very thing which in my note I said was a lie. Clever.
Noam, I have been reading your stuff for a long time and I am not a dope. I am "aware of the fact" that you have repeatedly charged Milosevich AND "The Serbs" with criminal actions, e.g., atrocities against civilians. Your sentences are routinely constructed so as to assert the truth of your charges, despite no proof. Your writing has "in fact" had a negative effect on the left, such as it is, cooling antiwar passions and hindering the creation of a serious antiwar movement.
The burden of proof cannot be escaped by tricky wording or sloppiness.
I repeat, what crimes has Milosevich committed in Kosovo, Bosnia, Croatia? Date or dates, place or places. Details. Prove the credibility of your sources. I think you just parrot what's written in the mass media.
FROM NOAM CHOMSKY TO JARED ISRAEL, 6 September 2000
Apologies. I didn't realize you thought that Milosevic's regime was alone in the world in not having committed many crimes.
If you think I'm going to take time to discuss this topic with you, think again. There are serious things to do.
FROM JARED ISRAEL TO NOAM CHOMSKY, 7 September 2000
Yesterday you wrote me:
<< Apologies. I didn't realize you thought that Milosevic's regime was alone in the world in not having committed many crimes. >>
What's the point of the sarcasm, Noam? You cannot avoid the serious questions I and others have raised about your writing on Yugoslavia by resorting to mockery.
Your writing is full of explicit accusations such as: ""By summer , the KLA had taken over about 40 per cent of the province, eliciting a vicious reaction by Serb security forces and paramilitaries, TARGETING THE CIVILIAN POPULATION." (Al-Ahram, June 2000, my emphasis)
Obviously you are not talking about every government in the world. You are claiming that the Yugoslav government made certain choices. That is, faced with an isolated terrorist group (which the KLA was until after the onset of NATO bombing convinced key Albanian clan leaders that the KLA had the full support of NATO) - given that the Yugoslavs were faced with an isolated terrorist gang the Yugoslavs could a) do everything possible to avoid civilian casualties or b) take it out on civilians, thus guaranteeing support for the KLA.
The Yugoslav Army has an unusual history. Its doctrine is based on the expectation of conducting a mass-based resistance to a new attack from the West, an attack which they anticipated for 50 years. This army studied the tactics of conducting a war of resistance.
Now whether one likes or dislikes armies per se, this particular army grasps the key role played by popular support (and antagonism!) in warfare. Why would they make such a stupid mistake as to target the civilian population when they were fighting a (then) isolated gang of dope smuggling fascists?
Moreover, as you have known for a year, the antiwar movement possesses a number of documents from the German Courts and Foreign Ministry, documents produced in response to the requests by Kosovo Albanians to receive the status of political refugees. The German courts studied the situation in Kosovo and ruled in every case that there was no evidence - none - that the Yugoslav Army targeted civilians. The Humanitarian Crisis was manufactured by Western officials and the mass media to justify Western demands that the Yugoslav special troops leave Kosovo - Yugoslav territory.
All this was known to you a year ago. Every website that opposed the bombing of Yugoslavia featured those documents. I believe that even the Z website, stronghold of Serb bashing within the antiwar movement, posted those documents. Why then, a year after the end of the war, after Carla Del Ponte admitted in mid November that they had found a grand total of 2108 bodies whose identities were unknown - that is, that these bodies, which they allegedly found, could be anyone - why did you write in June, 2000 that the Yugoslav Army targeted Albanian civilians? This is not a trivial matter, Noam.
And this is only one of the times you made statements which uncritically parroted what we have been told by the Western media. This particular statement was written in an Arab publication - particularly harmful since the Western media tries to convince Arabs of the lie that "the Serbs" are anti-Muslim bigots.
You say: <<If you think I'm going to take time to discuss this topic with you, think again. There are serious things to do.>>.
What could be more serious than whether Yugoslavia has committed serious crimes of war? What could be more serious then whether you have, in fact, publicly lied with the effect of discouraging action by antiwar activists?
A year ago you sent me the following email post:
Date: 5/12/99 10:40:46 PM Eastern Daylight Time From: chomsky@MIT.EDU To: JaredI@AOL.COM CC: chomsky@MIT.EDU Dear Jared, I guess I feel I've known you for many years, even if we haven't actually met (so you tell me; I would have guessed otherwise).
Thanks for the text of the speech [I had sent you Milosevic's speech, made in 1989 at Kosovo Field], which I'd never seen. Interesting. On the "demonization," it's actually been conceded. An article in the Times a few weeks ago, which I'm sure I kept, observed that "demonization" of Milosevic was necessary in order to maintain public support for the bombing. Noam
[End of last year's email from Noam to Jared]
Now Noam, if you knew way back then that demonizing Milosevich is critical in order to maintain public support for the attack on Yugoslavia, why have you persistently demonized him and the Serbian people and Yugoslav army?
For example, during the bombing you wrote:
"The bombing was then undertaken under the rational expectation that KILLING and refugee generation would ESCALATE as a result, as indeed happened, even if the scale may have come as a surprise to some, though apparently not the commanding general. " (This is from a piece you wrote and posted in May, 1999 on the Z website, my emphasis)
I have done text analysis of several of your articles about Yugoslavia and the above excerpt demonstrates a technique you employ over and over. In brief, you attack the Yugoslavs in the guise of either defending them or attacking NATO.
Thus, here you say that the NATO commanding general obviously knew how terribly the Serbs would react. Posing your point in this form seems to be a criticism of NATO; this lends it credibility on the left. But what you are really doing is taking the "commanding general's" statement - that the bombing DID precipitate escalated Serbian atrocities - as axiomatic: true without requirement of proof. Indeed, you assert the truth of NATO's charge in passing, using it as the basis of your false criticism of NATO.
Now, your claim to fame is media criticism. You opposed the Vietnam War. Why does an antiwar activist, who studies the media, and who knows - who has told me he knows - that demonization "is critical in order to maintain public support for" the attack on Yugoslavia - why does such a person fail to even question - even question! - the anti-Yugoslav news reports? Why? Why, during the bombing and since, have your statements even at times lagged behind what we are reading in some of the mass publication newspapers? (This is the case with the Al-Ahram article which was contradicted by the German Court and Foreign Ministry documents over a year ago!)
If these are trivial questions then what is serious?
At that point Chomsky responded, in an email I have unfortunately misplaced, that he had learned that I had posted our correspondence to an email discussion list, and he refused to continue an exchange with someone who had no respect for privacy, or words to that effect. However, he then wrote a letter to one Andrej, my opponent on said email list (I think it was called the Crash List, something like that) Andrej published his response. So much for privacy. Here's what Chomsky wrote to Andrej.
NOAM CHOMSKY TO ANDREJ, 8 September 2000
If you'd like my advice, you're wasting your time writing to Israel. I suppose I can't criticize you for being too polite (though it's true) because I am too. These people are worse than "not helpful." That goes back a long time. And completely beyond any rational discussion.
Regarding this, one might comment that Prof. Chomsky's responses to me do not really indicate the possible extent of "rational discussion..." .- JI
[END INSERT - JARED ISRAEL/NOAM CHOMSKY EMAIL DEBATE]
Other "left wing" advocates of Position Two are Howard Zinn, Mike Albert of Z-magazine Website, and various peace groups. On the Right we have elements of the Serbian Orthodox Church and some anti-Milosevich Serbs living outside Serbia, especially in the US. We also have Fr. Sava and Bishop Artemije, two much-quoted Church leaders from Kosovo. Also elements of the Serbian "Democratic" opposition (including the leaders of the Alliance for Change and Vuk Draskovic). Position Two is also held by many non-governmental (or should we say VERY governmental?) organizations, or NGOs - including Amnesty International and most of the Helsinki groups, with the notable and (I would say) heroic exception of the British Helsinki group.
All these people use their positions (as Serbs, as Churchmen, as objective neutrals or as legendary Peace advocates) to protect themselves from criticism. They provide a modified diet of anti-Serbism for every political persuasion.
Position Two has great importance. While it is insufficient on its own to justify the U.S. agenda, which calls for the further (read: COMPLETE) starvation and decimation of Serbia, it serves to weaken the opposition to that decimation: it damns the Serbs with mild scorn and thereby dampens the ardor of those who would oppose NATO. Who is going to get excited about NATO attacks on people who are led by Fascists? Bishop Artemije says Milosevic should be tried for "War Crimes". Shalom of Z magazine agrees. Zinn compares the Serbs to Nazi's - but adds that they nevertheless should not be bombed. Which is a little like Marc Anthony's speech praising Brutus in the famous scene from Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar", after which, if I remember correctly, Brutus is torn apart by the audience.
People evaluating a political argument tend to Split the Difference. So in this case.
The two extremes being offered here are: A )NATO's position, which portrays the Serbs as outright monsters. And B) Position Two which includes Chomsky/Zinn-types, viewed as ideologically-committed peaceniks, and Serbian leaders, viewed as being "pro-Serb".
People look for the truth between these "extremes" - that is, between the extreme attack on the Serbs made by NATO and the less extreme attack made by Position Two.
After listening to this "debate" and now comforted at having arrived safely at a middling conclusion, our ordinary American can go back to the mass media which is guaranteed to administer some anti-Serbian lie(s) at any time, day or night.
A FLIGHT OF FANCY
Imagine that the Serbs were Jews. Does this sound far-fetched? I believe it's apt. First of all, after the Jews, the Serbs suffered the worst slaughter at the hands of World War II Nazi's and the Nazi proxy groups in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. You see, when Hitler's troops invaded Yugoslavia the Serbian people, and both political factions among the Serbs (the royalist Chetniks and the communist Partisans) refused to round up the Jews. This convinced Mr. Hitler that the Serbs had low culture and he supported plans for their extermination, in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo. Moving to the present, there are now over a million refugees in Serbia, about 10% of the population. The entire Serbian population has been driven from the two main Serbian ancestral areas (the Krajina section of what is now Croatia, and also from Kosovo). Literally tens of thousands have been slaughtered. Serbs who remain in Kosovo, in towns such as Orahovac, are literally imprisoned in Warsaw Ghetto-type situations. And Serbs have been subjected to vicious and largely unanswered attacks in the media for ten years. This includes special issues of magazines and other reading material used in elementary schools throughout the US, so that Serbian-Americans can be tormented even before they get to be full-blown, grown-up monster Serbs. Doesn't all this resemble the treatment given the Jews in Eastern Europe during WWII? It does to THIS Jew.
BY WAY OF ILLUSTRATION
Anyway, even if you disapprove my Serbian-Jewish comparison, please stay with it for a moment. Let the imagination soar. Imagine: it is World War II. Some Jews and some Gentile "defenders" of the Jews are putting forward Position Two, you know, helping out the way Prof. Chomsky, Z Website, Fr. Sava and the others do today. They are arguing that sure, maybe some Jews do grind up Gentile kids for Matzo - but not ALL Jews. Hitler is greatly exaggerating. And even if the Jews do sometimes grind up a Gentile baby or two, is this a valid reason to butcher all Jews? No way. Moreover, the whole thing is the fault of certain authoritarian Jewish leaders who have organized the gentile-grinding groups so stop blaming the whole Jewish religion for the crimes of these authoritarian rulers! By attacking all the Jews, you just make the authoritarian Jews more powerful. Instead, Mr. Hitler should help the anti-grinding Jews take over and before you know it Gentile-grinding will be a thing of memory.
Imagine now that an anti-Auschwitz organizer is speaking to a group of Gentiles. The minute the organizer brings up the issue of the Jews, the thought of MEAT GRINDERS comes quite involuntarily to the Gentile mind. The gentiles quietly turn green and they think: we sure don't want to see anybody get gassed, but dear God those Jews are some AWFUL people.
This in fact is similar to what really happened in World War II. Anti-Semitism was so pervasive that many people who would not have themselves advocated gassing six million human beings were hesitant to come to their defense. They therefore did nothing. That was all the murderers needed.
THE SERBS AND THE YUGOSLAV GOVERNMENT WERE AND ARE FUNDAMENTALLY RIGHT AND THE U.S. AND ITS VARIOUS SECESSIONIST PROXY FORCES WERE AND ARE FUNDAMENTALLY WRONG
That's the Third Position. It is held by many in the American peace movement, by almost all Serbs in Serbia, by most people in the European peace movement, probably by most people in most other countries, perhaps by most Serbs living outside Serbia including those in the U.S. and by Emperors-Clothes.com. And by me.
According to Position 3: the moral equivalency of Position Two is profoundly wrong. The Serbian "regime" (as Position Two people like to call the elected government that runs Serbia) had and has a perfect right to GO TO WAR to defend its territory - KOSOVO and the rest of SERBIA. If it has made mistakes these are mistakes that were made IN A JUST CAUSE. The Albanian minority is not and never was an oppressed group.
Let me be clear: I am talking here about SOVEREIGNTY. I am not trying to interfere in the internal affairs of Yugoslavia. Americans have done enough of that. Indeed, that is precisely the problem. The U.S., German and other Western governments have been openly interfering in Yugoslavia since 1985. Before that they were undoubtedly interfering covertly. This immense interference has complicated the task for me and other non-interventionists.
On the one hand, we do not want to interfere.
On the other hand, the United States Senate recently voted $100,000,000 for interference in Serbia - the money to go to "independent" forces. That on top of $millions already spent. "Independent" thus means "U.S.-controlled," unless you believe that Uncle Sam gives it away as a hobby, and if you do, we have a great bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.
Thus some indigenous Yugoslav forces are in fact paid agents (does that sound too harsh? is there something else I should call them?) of a government that wants to reduce Yugoslavia to a group of banana republics with U.S. bases and impoverished (but highly skilled) people. As Sen. Biden has said:
Whatever motivates certain Yugoslavs, when they take U.S. money they become extensions of the U.S. They may think they can beat the house - that they can take the money and use it for good things - but if so they are living in a dreamworld. The more they get, the more they will want; that's why the devil gives out free samples. (It's also why the Las Vegas casinos give out free rooms - because you can't beat the house.) The U.S. elite has been playing this game for a hundred years and they are working with elements of the British elite which has been playing a whole lot longer. The British colonialists believed in indirect rule, wherever possible; that means they ruled through puppets.
Therefore in criticizing Serbs who take the bribe, we are not interfering in Yugoslav affairs - we are exposing that interference. We are trying, in my case as an American, to compensate for the meddling done by our (NATO) governments. The minute people accept this money they become part of the problem which all of us face: the spreading of the U.S. empire. That empire is my problem, that empire is a big problem for 95% of the people in my country, although many Americans may yet have only the beginnings of awareness - yet.
When Serbs parrot the line of the U.S. War Party they not only do harm to other Serbs, they do harm to the American people as well. When I and other Americans criticize those Serbs who take the bribe, we are fighting for the soul of our own country - for its soul, for its decency - and knowing what we know we must do so or be accessories to genocide.
Serbia is in the position of the North during the American Civil War. The North had the right to fight when the Southern states tried to secede. Moreover, whereas the Southern secessionists were a real internal force, the Albanian secessionists could not have existed as a cohesive movement without massive involvement (overt and covert) by the U.S. government, starting as far back as 1985. This is an externally-created and externally-manipulated "insurrection" and always was - though as we shall see it has a profound base of support because of racism.
BY VIRTUE OF SOVEREIGNTY the Serbian government is right in this conflict and the U.S. and Germany are dead wrong - period. Apart from this point - i.e., that one side is completely right and the other side is completely wrong - in addition, we have seen NO BELEIVABLE evidence of Serbian government-sanctioned atrocities in Kosovo. Some may have occurred. But why should we accept this possibility as fact without conclusive evidence?
The Serbian government has said that during the bombing, some self-proclaimed Serbian (and non-Serbian) leaders, really criminals, took advantage of the chaos to pillage and settle old scores. The Serbian government says it arrested several hundred such people. (See Note #24 at end.)
This is encouraging. However even if they had not arrested those people, the Yugoslav government would still be right. We cannot limit the right of sovereignty based on a litmus test for political and humanitarian correctness. That having been said, you might want to recall that NATO has had forensic experts digging up Kosovo for six months trying to get something on these guys and they have come up with exactly NOTHING. No evidence of Serbian government war crimes. 'Cause if they had it believe me they would flaunt it. No evidence. None. Nothing. Nada. (Again, see note #22 at end)
(Parenthetically, del Ponte did recently promise to have much more evidence by spring. Does that mean NATO plans to use the winter months to concoct something good? Something that will be used to create the proper public mood for renewed attacks next Spring?
The amazing thing is they haven't done it yet. Considering that they control Kosovo, that they have, in the KLA, the most willing thugs in history, that they have the most sophisticated equipment and also a wealth of forensic scientists, and that they would not know a scruple if it bit them, what's the glitch? Could it be that other forensic experts, while not as vocal as the Spaniards, also resist being used as NATO's whores? Maybe there is hope for this world. Now let's hope some guys in the Military are also doing some thinking about character and backbone. Let's hope they are asking themselves: "Did I sign on to crush other people's countries? Is that the proper role for a nation's military? It's one thing to defend against aggression; it's a whole other thing to go for colonial conquest "!)
Consider for a moment the point I made a moment ago. NATO has produced NO evidence that Yugoslav Army troops attacked Albanian civilians. This is really quite amazing.
Imagine if you will that in some part of the U.S. some minority was in the majority. Imagine that 19 countries, with 97 times the population of the U.S. had ganged up and were slamming America day and night with massive firepower against which the U.S. was helpless. Imagine that schools, bridges, factories, refineries, chemical plants and so on - even the White House - were bombed. Imagine that automobile factories were bombed with the workers in them. Imagine that at the same time, there was an army, within the U.S., comprised of members of the rebellious minority, which was using all-out terror to crush the U.S. Army and slaughter American citizens, including those minority members who were loyal to the U.S. as a nation.
Would the U.S. army show restraint? Or would we see a horrendous slaughter? Just recall what happened in Seattle, where there was NO real provocation, and imagine what might be expected in the U.S. or other Western countries, were they to be terrorized as the Serbs have been terrorized by NATO and the KLA.
POSITION TWO: BANKRUPT
There is simply no hard evidence to support Position Two (that the Serbs are somewhat guilty).
This came home to me most strikingly in an exchange this past July with Howard Zinn. Zinn, for those who don't know him, is very influential on the moderate left. The moderate left is a very important group because it includes many young people who historically have opposed Imperial war. Thus the antiwar movement in the 60s was literally created by Students for a Democratic Society, a group made up of young people who (whatever they believed) constituted the moderate left.
So Zinn is important. Zinn has written some popular lefty books, and he is old: "a classic".
Zinn spoke at a tech-in in Cambridge, Mass this past July. The teach-in is fully described in "Out of the Looking Glass and Into a Brave New World". Zinn had tremendous presence at this meeting of several hundred. The audience was mostly young. Zinn was old and elegant - an elder statesman of "the left" and the audience responded to him with great affection.
Zinn began his remarks by saying the following: "By now there is nobody who would not agree that the Serbs committed widespread atrocities against Albanians who are an oppressed people in Kosovo. And the bombing of Kosovo only made those atrocities much worse."
When Zinn finished speaking, I challenged him from the floor. I said "Not only do I disagree, but in fact most people in the world would disagree with your assessment of Kosovo." I went on to say:
How did Zinn reply? Did he bring out his big guns? Did he present the evidence for his catastrophic charge - catastrophic because he was talking to an anti-war audience about a people the US had just bombed and who were now being terrorized and driven from their ancestral home - Kosovo - with US complicity. So telling these young people that the Serbs ARE MONSTERS was indeed catastrophic. So, did he present his evidence?
He did not.
I pointed out the absurdity of refusing to expose your enemy's lies because it would isolate you, to which he had no reply. The whole thing was, quite frankly, shocking.
Question: what character in "Wizard of Oz" does Mr. Zinn's performance call to mind? Answer: the Wizard, of course. He makes truly CATASTROPHIC charges which can ONLY have the effect of dampening the ardor of people at what is billed as an antiwar teach-in - and when challenged he admits he has no facts to back up his charges. There is nothing behind the curtain.
But there is some truth in what Zinn said, though perhaps unintended. That is, the mass media gives voice to people like Chomsky and Fr. Sava and Zinn precisely because they a) claim to be antiwar but b) are in fact anti-Serb.
And my demand of Zinn, that he expose the anti-Serbian lies imbedded in every news story about Yugoslavia is unrealistic. Unrealistic because Zinn, and Chomsky, and Vuk Draskovic, and all the other partial apologists for NATO derive their strength from an important source: the mass media. Why should they attempt to destroy the source of their strength.
Even though some Position Two people sometimes criticize the media for "excessively" demonizing Serbs, nevertheless they rely on the demonizers. Take away the hard work of the Western mass media and the Position Two people would have no arguments. Moreover, they constitute, whether they know it (in some cases I believe they know it) or not - they constitute the fall-back position for anti-Serbism.
Anti-Serb attacks have been so pervasive they are now a habit of thought which many decent folks hesitate to shed. As evidence emerges to discredit Position One (that the Serbs are totally guilty) people are naturally drawn to Position Two (that the Serbs are partially guilty.)
A friend tells of an incident which illustrates the holding power of the demonization campaign. Chatting with a colleague, he pointed out that the recent "War Crimes" Tribunal report in essence HAS CONCEDED that there was no mass killing of Albanians in Kosovo. The colleague listened politely and then commented: "That's all well and good. But it in no way excuses the Serbs for killing all those tens of thousands of Albanians."
As I have said, the factual basis for Position One is gone, vanished. Since Position Two is just Position One watered down - that is, Position Two relies on the impressions people have gotten from the mass media - Position Two has lost any pretense that it has a real factual basis as well. But again, that does not mean it is defeated.
Because both Position One and its piggy-back rider, Position Two, do have something.
That something is MEMORY. People have learned to be anti-Serb. And to constantly refresh that memory, Position One and Position Two rely on and encourage:
We will answer that in a moment. It is ludicrous on the face, and we will show you why. Moreover, the mystery disappears if one examines history, which we shall do.
But before we remove this argument, let us perform a pre-op procedure. Let us remind ourselves how the ALBANIAN REVENGE argument actually evolved.
ON DAY TWO THERE WAS THE TRUTH
As you may or may not recall, NATO did NOT initially cite Serbian atrocities as the reason for bombing Yugoslavia.
No sir. Initially the reasons were quite straightforwardly geopolitical. Here is top Clinton adviser Sandy Berger answering questions the day after the bombing began:
When the bombing began, Western public opinion was initially overwhelmingly against it. I spent a lot of time arguing on the AOL "Kosovo Discussion Boards" and at that time it was hard to find a non-Albanian who supported the bombing.
The Western elite was uncomfortable with Berger's explanation. It wasn't emotionally charged - who could get mad at Yugoslavia for refusing to sign an agreement? Moreover, by making it clear Rambouillet was the issue, NATO risked having people read the "Agreement," particularly Appendix B, the part the U.S. added at the last minute and which caused the Yugoslav government not to sign.
Here is a brief excerpt from Appendix B, so you can see what the powers that be did NOT want people to read:
As you can see, Rambouillet was an "Agreement" for the complete takeover of Yugoslavia by NATO. It gave NAT0 extra-territorial rights, like something out of 19th century Imperialism. How could the Yugoslavs sign? They would be giving away the country.
(For the full text of the Rambouillet "Agreement" see note #25 at the end. I put "Agreement" in quotes because Rambouillet was negotiated with a gun to the Yugoslav head: accept or be bombed. Incidentally, by international law, no agreement extracted through force or threat of force is binding.)
In any event, it was clear that Yugoslavia was not going to capitulate quickly. Some new justification had to be presented, something that would get around the obvious illegality of the bombing. The answer: accuse the Serbian people of Genocide.
So from mid-April on we were drowned in a deluge of newspaper articles and TV photo-ops aimed at proving Kosovo was a new Holocaust.
Since the war, much evidence has come out indicating that these anecdotal accounts were staged. Reporters have admitted that their sources lied. The KLA has been caught in possession of Serbian police uniforms, supporting the suspicion that KLA people masqueraded as Serbian police and carried out atrocities to discredit the Yugoslav government. ( See note #26 at the end)
IMAGINARY MASS MURDER AND IMAGINARY "REVENGE"
In June the Yugoslavs signed a peace agreement and NATO marched into Kosovo, side by side with the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).
Then began a reign of terror against non-Albanians and Albanians who oppose the KLA. Hundreds of thousands of people have been driven out of Kosovo. In essence, NATO has taken over Kosovo and given it to the KLA. The KLA, which never won a battle, could hardly have seized this prize on its own. (For an interview with a Jewish leader driven from Kosovo, including a detailed description of how NATO and Albanian thugs worked together, see Note # 28 at the end.)
The Western Press hasn't said much about the murderous terror against Serbs, "Gypsies" Jews and other Kosovo minorities. There is nothing like the coverage accorded the IMAGINARY terror against Albanians. But the anti-Serbian campaign is reported. Here's an example, from the TV show mentioned earlier:
NATO leaders do not deny there is widespread terror against Serbs. They express regrets but argue there is little they can do.
Why is there not a great outcry against these horrendous abuses? Why don't people rise up against NATO for its complete failure to practice what it preaches: the prevention of racist terror.
The reason is two fold. First, the massively publicized stories about so-called Serbian atrocities have weakened people's sensitivity to the real atrocities going on now. As the saying goes, what goes around comes around, so if the Serbs really did those bad things in the past why should anyone be surprised that they're getting attacked now?
The second reason is more important. That has to do with Position Two. The leaders who hold position two, who have been so critical of the Serbian government for supposedly condoning atrocities - even though the Position Two leaders have to date produced NO EVIDENCE of atrocities - nevertheless, these leaders have not called for massive demonstrations against the NATO/KLA terror in Kosovo.
Before and during the bombing these people mis-described the Kosovo Albanians as an oppressed group. Some of them even described the KLA (gangster-ridden, violently misogynist and racist towards every ethnic group in Serbia's crazy-quilt of nationalities) - some of them even labeled the KLA "progressive" - thus giving progress a bad name.
Now that NATO and the KLA have been able by dint of power to demonstrate their hearts' desire, now that their rule of Kosovo has shown itself some ways worse than Nazi rule - where are these great humanitarians?
Where is Mr. Chomsky?
Is he sleeping? Where is Mr. Howard Zinn? Does he consider this a petty matter? Where is Fellowship of Reconciliation and the American Friends Service Committee and Mike Albert of Z magazine and the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and a busload of Italian politicians and all the other self-important humanitarian NGO's and peace groups and ad hoc humanists? Are the Serbs not human?
These groups have all harshly attacked the Serbs claiming (without evidence except a perjured media) that the Serbs committed war crimes. Why are they silent now, when NATO itself admits that not only are all non-Albanians being driven from Kosovo, but all evidence of Serbian history - for example, scores of priceless ancient churches and monasteries - in being destroyed. Isn't this genocide - the eradication of a people - in the most profound sense?
Moreover, the media whose testimony was the sole basis for their arguments - even that media has printed articles questioning the truth of the war propaganda. Since the Position Two people refused to question the truth of the "news" reports during the bombing why don't they admit their error now? Position Two people have uncritically repeated lies and those lies have made genocide easier and that genocide is on-going. Are the leaders of Position Two silent about genocide now because they plan to participate in defusing opposition during the next phase of escalation this coming Spring when the U.S. tries to break Montenegro or other sections of Yugoslavia away? Is that their next job? Is this why Position Two people are now silent?
If not, then why are Chomsky and the rest of them silent?
These leaders could do the right thing. They could admit their errors. They could mobilize tens of thousands of people to oppose genocide. Why don't they? Do all the Serbs have to be killed first? Will they then say, as Clinton said after the U.S. government-organized slaughter of the Guatemalan Indians - "Oh. Sorry."
By failing to act, Chomsky and the others fulfill a most important role for NATO: they are the Inert Opposition. People say "How can you attack Chomsky et al? They have wonderful reputations. They are like Saints." Alas, we at the emperors-clothes are not dazzled by reputation. We cannot tell a lie. So here's the truth: admirable reputations don't stop wars of genocide. Chomsky may have written some useful things about South America and the IMF but the Balkan wars are at the heart of the U.S. attack on this world now - right now. We don't need general statements and regrets about past mis-deeds and watered-down demonization. We need refutation of lies and the mobilization of every decent person in the NATO countries and we need that NOW. This is life and death.
These people like Chomsky and Vuk and Mike Albert of Z magazine - fill political spaces and by right of occupation head off debate and action. They function to impede, like fat in an artery. By misdirecting and demoralizing opposition to US and German policy they have made themselves accomplices in the break-up of Yugoslavia in general and the fascist takeover of Kosovo in particular.
I realize these are harsh words. I mean every one. Am I impolite?
Let me say, to the Position Two leaders: This is not a game, gentleman, ladies. I consider you accomplices in genocide. Should I be polite?
Or am I wrong? Then show me! I would love to be wrong. I urge those varied spokesmen and women of Position Two - write a reply! Anything you want to say. Emperors-clothes likes a two-sided argument and we will print your replies. Will you also print, in your publications, our answers to your replies?
If these so-called leaders do not reply, if they try to sit out this debate in the hope that we will tire and go away, if they try to ignore what I have said, which is only by way of an opening shot, their silence will admit several things by default. Let me mention two. First, it will admit that my charge is true: they are the primer coat that allows the US and German empires to go on smoother. Second, it will admit that they have no shame for the terrible consequences of their deeds.
Their silence will be eloquent confession.
GETTING BACK TO "REVENGE"
As I noted, one of the reasons Westerners don't rise up against the terror in Kosovo is - they have been told over and over that the Serbs deserve it. Even if Westerners don't believe this lie fully, it serves to blunts opposition.
To emphasize Serbian guilt, NATO and the media pose Albanian attacks on Serbs as acts of revenge. This started soon after NATO took over Kosovo. Here is a speech which Clinton adviser Sandy Berger made which sums up the NATO position:
The REVENGE argument is inserted in virtually every news story about Kosovo:
The revenge argument is put forward by spokesmen for Position One (like Berger) and by advocates of Position Two. The Serbian Orthodox monk, Fr. Sava, is a Position Two man. Often quoted in the West, Sava differs from Berger only in orientation. Here's a typical statement by Fr. Sava:
AN ALTERNATIVE TO THE 'REVENGE' ARGUMENT
Those who advocate Position One and Position Two say: if Albanians are NOT motivated by Revenge then why are they so hell-bent on attacking Serbs? What, other than persecution, could make them so hostile?
In the first instance, the revenge argument is absurd. Because it's not only Serbs whom the Albanian secessionists are attacking. It's also "Gypsies", Slavic Muslims, Turks, Croatians who live in Kosovo, Catholic Albanians, Muslim Albanians who oppose the KLA. Are we to believe that EVERYONE in Kosovo was involved in a conspiracy against ethnic Albanians, organized by the Yugoslav government? Including other Muslims? Including - ethnic Albanians?
But if those Albanians who are attacking Serbs et al are not motivated by Revenge, what IS their problem?
The answer can be found by looking at history. During World War II, Kosovo (and Albania) were under Italian Fascist and then German Nazi control. The local Albanians ruled the roost. A large section of the Albanian population actively backed Nazism. Indeed, many were more fanatical than most Germans. The local Slavs as well as Jews and Gypsies were at the mercy of these pro-Nazi Albanians who expelled or murdered them or sent them to concentration camps or used them for slave labor.
These Kosovo Albanians were driven from power when Partisans and Russians swept into Kosovo at the end of the war. Many could not accept this defeat. They continued to fight during the late 1940s and they have indoctrinated their children (as Nazi's always do, or try to do) with their beliefs. Keep in mind that Kosovo Albanian culture is clan-based, with tremendous power in the hands of the oldest male. Myths of Paradise Lost (i.e., World War II Nazism) are especially effective in such a climate: once we ruled, but now we have to co-exist with untermenschen.
The Western media has pictured Kosovo Albanians as being analogous to black people in the segregated American South. Wrong. Albanians have much more in common with Southern whites who had been part of the slave system just and who had been "robbed" of their wealth and status by the American Civil War. With slavery shattered, these whites watched in horror as Northern armies installed Reconstruction governments of "white trash" and - horror of horrors - freed slaves.
These Southern whites organized terrorist groups to right the "imbalance" - to put the untermenschen back in their place. That's where the KKK came from. Albanians in Kosovo reacted the same way, first openly fighting for control, and then operating in a hidden way.
Thus we have Ibrahim Rugova's "non-violent resistance", which was neither non-violent nor a movement of resistance to oppression. Instead it was a coercively organized attempt to destabilize Kosovo society and create Western public support for secession. The same is true of the KLA, though of course their methods are openly terrorist.
The motor force behind Albanian secessionism is race hate. And it's rooted in the World War II "experience" when racism ruled Kosovo.
For a history of that period, see 'THE ROOTS OF FASCISM IN KOSOVO,' by George Thompson at
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