Ken Freeland kenfree at SPAMhal-pc.org
Sat Jan 29 01:06:35 MST 2000


by Geoff Berne

A review of four articles:

Mark Schapiro, "Serbia's Lost Generation," Mother Jones, Sept-Oct. 1999 Todd
Gitlin, "The End of the Absolute No," Mother Jones, Sept-Oct. 1999 William
Finnegan, "Letter from the Balkans: The Next War," The New Yorker, Sept. 20,
1999 Christopher Hitchens, "Thunder in the Black Mountains," Vanity Fair, Nov.


By Geoff Berne 1/27/00

If NATO decides to finish the job it started in the Balkans by aiding a
breakaway by Montenegro from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia this spring, it
will have to do so without the public support it enjoyed the first time around.
Awareness has spread through the world that NATO's demonization of Yugoslavia
and its President, Slobodan Milosevic, were products of fabrication and
disinformation. Unfortunately, however, few as yet have found it in their hearts
to take the next step of ridding themselves of anti-Serb prejudices and
embracing the Serbs as a kindred and unjustly victimized people. It's my hope in
what follows to argue for such an attitude adjustment and "return to sender" of
the flawed writings and exaggerated rhetoric of journalists such as those
surveyed here, that have contributed to the branding of the Serbs of Yugoslavia
with the demon label in no small way.

"A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture,
to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group
of people like- an electric current, . . . and yet the rage that one felt was an
abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another
like the flame of a blowlamp George Orwell, 1984

In today's age of Orwellian doublethink, in which peace is just a mask for
unending wars and hate campaigns against now this, now that lesser nation,
reality has surely been turned on its head.

American planes bomb Christian cathedrals in defense of bloodthirsty
gun-slinging Muslims once typecast as terrorists. Belligerent Buchanan who once
penned war whoops for Reagan in Nicaragua and Nixon in Cambodia - now, reborn,
like Dickens' Scrooge on Christmas Eve - link arms with Tom Hayden against
imperialism in Seattle. Mice are genetically engineered with dorsal human ears.
Revisionism is in the air with the overturning by a trial jury of government
denials of conspiracy to murder Dr. King, with the revelation that U.S.
"defenders of freedom" in Korea massacred noncombatant South Korean civilians
they were supposedly defending, and that American top military officers in World
War II directed looting of boxcars filled with wedding rings of murdered Jews.

Then there's Daniel Goldhagen, spokesman for the idea that the entire German
population were "willing" participants in the Nazis' holocaust madness, whipping
up the mad enthusiasm of today's Americans for their own holocaust - against
Yugoslavia's Serbs.

America while purporting to stop a holocaust all but launched one of its own,
targeting civilians of Serb nationality as an enemy deserving of being bombed,
pressing sanctions that cause death and disease to innocent children, and
facilitating the murder and dispersion of the Serb minority in Kosovo. Now the
rationale that was used for this draconian treatment, preventing Serb atrocities
against ethnic Albanians, has completely fallen apart. The holocaust that
Yugoslavia's Serbian majority was accused of waging against the Albanian ethnic
group of Kosovo has been refuted and laughed out of court. After six months of
occupation of Kosovo, no evidence that you'd need to make a case for
state-supported genocide - bodies, mass graves, victims of torture - has been

Starting with the anti-Clinton protests in Greece and echoing through the
internet you can hear the indignant reaction of people who realize they've been
grossly misled: Serb "ethnic cleansing" was a fake. Holocaust II never happened.
Case dismissed.

It's time for America to deny this apocryphal "holocaust," eat crow, and make
restitution to the sturdy people of Yugoslavia for our punishment of them for a
pogrom against an ethnic minority that was never committed. Not only has America
wrongfully judged a whole people guilty of an unproven genocide, our government
appears to have promoted this sham knowingly and with deliberation.

Indemnification reaching into every tax-sheltered American pocketbook is due.
Exoneration is owed to the Serbian people, who have fallen victims to a fate
worse than bombs: severance from "the international community"- and a withering
imperial attitude that treats them as unworthy of consideration as
fellow-humans. Hitler had a word for the Slavs of East Europe that is reborn
today in the ethnocentrism that has crept into America's perception of the
geopolitically nettlesome Serbs: "Untermenschen". Subhuman. The opposite, that
is, of the"Ubermenschen," the Master Race, the Aryans. Heirs of yesterday's
Germans, Americans are today's Ubermenschen, the civilized, the supermen,
godlike imperial beings blessed with the divine right to give thumbs ups and
thumbs downs to the political behavior of the world's nations as though doling
out Siskel & Ebert movie reviews.2

NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia was not just a war crime, it was a hate crime
against the Serbian Slavs who are its ethnic majority. If 19th Century Russia
had its Slavophiles, patriotic lovers of the motherland, we have our
Slavophobes, hawkish zealots who have sought to criminalize the Serbs as a

In classic "blame the victim" fashion, spokesmen for the NATO countries took
to the airwaves to rouse support for the taking of Kosovo, the stripping of this
precious and strategic territory from Yugoslavia, and the humbling of this last
of the former socialist countries to remain standing. The darkly ominous picture
our government spokespersons painted of Yugoslavia's main national group, the
Serbs, went over the air without either challenge or verification: in this
official view, the Serbs' civilian population had earned the punishment NATO had
heaped on them by their supposed innate tendency toward "pathological
nationalism," their refusal to cooperate smilingly in the breakup of their own
country, and refusal to disavow Slobodan Milosevic, twice elected president of
Serbia and, currently, of all of Yugoslavia.

What makes this concept of "killer nationalists" so utterly preposterous is
that far from being trapped in ethnic thinking, what really makes these Slavs so
incorrigibly threatening to the West is their espousal of the exact opposite
values, of peace, cultural equality, and tolerance. Nothing could be more
grotesque than to pin the label of ethnic cleansers on a people known for their
tenacious adherence to the concept of "Bratstvo i Jedinstvo!" (Brotherhood &
Unity), a watchword that had symbolized the 26 nationalities' determination to
live together since the late 1940's in a small land area the size of Wyoming.

This slogan of Yugoslavia's fiercely independent post World War II leader
Josip Broz Tito was more than empty words. The generation that grew up after the
war, like couples who discovered interracial dating in the wake of the Civil
Rights movement of the 1960's, had grown up and lived their lives based on an
ingrained belief in Yugoslavia's ideal of multiethnicity and tolerance.

Yes, hard as it is to believe, Yugoslavia's credo was brotherhood, not
ethnicity. Not only did Yugoslavs not fit the assumption held so dearly by
Georgetown international relations professors: that a person automatically feels
his first allegiance is to the racial, ethnic, or religious group of his oldest
ancestors; they were the complete opposite! Ethnically assimilated,
multicultural, and - rather than religiously fanatical and sectarian - more
likely to be secular and religiously indifferent.

In researching this article I decided to seek confirmation for this seemingly
rosy vision of interethnic amity in the former Yugoslavia from authentic Serb
sources. I had phone conversations and Internet exchanges with two
Serbian-Americans who live in America because of marriage to Americans. Ms.
Gordana Todorov, of Boston, and Petar Makara of New York spoke with me during
the week of November 23rd.

Gordana is a mathematician, a Ph.D., who came here at age 22 after a
childhood in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia's second largest city. Gordana considers
herself a Yugoslav, not a Serb. Her best friend from high school was Croatian
and they stayed friends until the country fell apart in the early 1990's.
Gordana's own family originally came from Croatia, but their Croatian past was a
subject never talked about while Gordana was growing up. It was only in the
90's, she says, that people were moved to bring out their memories of World War
II. Among the things that Yugoslavian Serbs had in common with Americans was
popular movies and music: Gordana remembers seeing "To Kill a Mockingbird,"
"Streetcar Named Desire," "Space Odyssey 2001," and enjoying popular musical
artists such as the Platters, Ray Charles, Mahalia Jackson, the Everly Brothers,
Paul Anka, Janice Joplin, the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones.

Gordana minimized the importance of religious differences amongst the Serbs,
Orthodox, and Muslims of Yugoslavia. They were not great, she says "because the
postwar generation in schools learned that there was no God." It was at home
that they heard about God, in celebrations of Easter and Christmas. "Teachers
believed religion was old-fashioned," she said, "and that science was a higher
form of faith."

According to this staunch believer in her former country's humanity and lack
of ethnic spite, the idea of Yugoslavia was felt in the hearts of the youngest
schoolchildren. One thinks more of "We Are the World" than Hitler's militaristic
marching song the "Horst Wessel Lied" when she reminisces about the meaning of
the "Brotherhood and Unity" slogan as it was taught to her in school: a symbol,
she says, "for mutual tolerance and respect, solidarity in hard times, and
antifascist thinking and action." Instead of preaching hate, she says her
teachers taught songs about the country being filled with love and pride. "We
were all very proud to become part of this big family called Yugoslavia. When we
supported Milosevic it was out of fear, not hate; fear not of what would happen
to us as Serbs but of the collapse of Yugoslavia."

The extremely well-informed Petar Makara, who has a website which has been a
source of enormous corrective information about Yugoslavia, finds the
falsification and negativism about that country has reached such a point that
that name for his former homeland has been removed from most of the online

As evidence of the unity of the various peoples of Yugoslavia Makara speaks
of schoolchildren in the six main language groups that make up the country
receiving school instruction in their own languages, though he notes that the
principal language of Yugoslavia was Serbo-Croatian, spoken by all nationalities
including Moslems. He says there are no distingishable physical differences
between Serbs, Croatians, and even Moslems, and no hint from appearances of
who's who. The Slavs, he says, are one people, and it's been this way for seven

For a country that lost 23 per cent of its population in the First World War,
the dream was always "let's all be in one country." There is no Croat
"neighborhood," he says, nor, really did anybody think of Croatia as Croatia
(any more than a New Yorker thinks of a person as being from Williamsburg or
Bedford-Stuyvesant rather than Brooklyn).

Well maybe, you may say, the Yugoslavian Serbs weren't genocidal after all,
but didn't they elect a murderous chauvinist in three straight elections? In a
speech to one million people of 28 June, 1989, at the central celebration
marking the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo, Milosevic uttered
sentiments that have been used by U.S. and NATO officers as proof of his
incurable pro-Serb nationalism and aggressive intentions toward Yugoslavia's
ethnic minorities. Hear President Milosevic in his own words and decide for
yourself if his message is that of a pathological nationalist, or is it the
opposite: a preacher of Yugoslavia's unique commitment to diversity!

"The Serbs have never in the whole of their history conquered and exploited
others. Their national and historical being has been liberational throughout the
whole of history and through two world wars, as it is today. They liberated
themselves and when they could they also helped others to liberate themselves .
. . Disunity among Serb officials made Serbia lag behind and their inferiority
humiliated Serbia. . . . (However) unity in Serbia will bring prosperity to the
Serbian people in Serbia and each one of its citizens, irrespective of his
national or religious affiliation. . . Serbia has never had only Serbs living in
it. Today, more than in the past, members of other peoples and nationalities
also live in it. This is not a disadvantage for Serbia. I am truly convinced
that it is its advantage. . . A progressive and just democratic society, should
not allow people to be divided in the national and religious respect. The only
differences one can and should allow . . . are between hard working people and
idlers and between honest people and dishonest people. . . Yugoslavia is a
multinational community and it can survive only under the conditions of full
equality for all nationalities that live in it. . . The threat is that the
question of one nation being endangered by the others can be posed one day - and
this can then start a wave of suspicions, accusations, and intolerance, a wave
that invariably grows and is difficult to stop. This threat has been hanging
like a sword over our heads all the time. Internal and external enemies of
multi-national communities are aware of this and therefore they organize their
activity against multinational societies mostly by fomenting national conflicts.
. . Equal and harmonious relations among the Yugoslav peoples are a necessary
condition for the existence of Yugoslavia . . .Equal and united people can above
all become a part of the civilization toward which mankind is moving. . . Words
devoted to unity, solidarity, and cooperation among people have no greater
significance anywhere on the soil of our motherland than they have here in the
field of Kosovo." - Compiled by the National Technical Information Service of
the U.S. Department of Commerce, published on Emperors-clothes.com.

If "the speech" shows anything, it's that hyper- nationalism and ethnic
dissension did not spring from the mind of Slobodan Milosevic or the Serbian
people. These were brought to Yugoslavia strictly from outside.3

Bent on staking out a United States military presence in the heart of Europe
and on keeping Yugoslavia's relaxed, multi- ethnic, pro-worker, and, until the
late 1980's, relatively prosperous social model from spreading elsewhere on the
continent, America chose to press each of Yugoslavia's five non-Serb republics
to become a sovereign state, scraping the bottom of the barrel in its search for
hired guns to carry out this policy of separatism and rebellion.

Down at the bottom of the barrel indeed is where they found pro-Nazi
terrorists in Croatia, and pro-Muslim drug runners and gangsters and descendants
of World War II's pro-Nazi Albanian Skanderberg SS division in Kosovo, to carry
out the operation. Thanks to American foreign and military aid to these
elements, a full-fledged Renaissance of Fascism was held on Yugoslavian

In Croatia it was a coming into the open of Nazi sympathizers who had either
collaborated with the Germans in World War II or styled themselves after the
fascist militants of those years when Croatia had its own version of Hitler's
Gestapo, the Ustashe ("the uprising"). The Ustashe, one of the most murderous
fascist movements in all of Europe, is credited with extermination of 500,000
Serbs, Jews, and gypsies in German-style death camps. The founder of today's
Croatia's drive for independence from Yugoslavia, which took place in 1991, and
mastermind of its uprooting of 200,000 Serbs from Croatia in the early 1990's,
was Franjo Tudjman, the Croatian General who died on December 10th. Tudjman is
generally credited with having fomented the ethnic bloodshed in Croatia of the
1990's that started the string of secessions.

Tudjman may best be remembered for his openly avowed hatred of other ethnic
nationalities. In his book Impasses he wrote "A Jew is still a Jew. Even in the
concentration camps they retained their bad characteristics: selfishness,
perfidy, meanness, slyness and treachery."4

Those who have accused President Milosevic of genocide against the Muslims of
Kosovo should remember that over 200,000 Muslims continued to live in Belgrade
without reprisal or threat even throughout the NATO bombing, and continue to
live there today. Before choosing sides between Serbia and Croatia, those who
have honored Tudjman as a fighter for Western democratic values should confront
the Tudjman legacy of revived Croatian fascist marching songs, anthems, flags,
and salutes, and policy of racial exclusion. Tudjman's obituary quoted words of
his that can serve as an emblem of the new kind of friends whom the U.S. has
chosen to support in place of the partisans of "Brotherhood & Tolerance" of
old Yugoslavia: "Thank God," said Tudjman,"my wife is neither a Serb nor a

The Slavs survived their years as slave laborers for the Third Reich only to
hear voices of would-be conquerors that today call once again, four decades
later, for their subjection.6 Since last fall, writers for opinion-making
magazines have been rallying Americans for a final go-round against Yugoslavia
that seems ready to happen this spring in Montenegro. Yugoslavia, which
translated means the land of the South Slavs but currently consists of just two
remaining Slavic republics, Serbia and Montenegro, is being dressed for
extinction as a national entity. It would then no longer be called Yugoslavia -
just Serbia.

Lining up for a berth on the first ship out of port to Montenegro, their flak
jacket pockets bulging with lurid tropes and lethal similes, the American high
imperial writers corps dress themselves in the shoes of Hemingway in the Spanish
Civil War of the mid 1930's, fighting fascist dictators with pen in hand. Filled
with determination to help win back Yugoslavia's regions from that devious
villain, the ever- so-politely named "Mr." (not "President") Milosevic, off they
go to Montenegro to fire the first verbal shots in what they hoped will be
America's and NATO's next shooting war.

Mark Schapiro even titles his collection of interviews with Yugoslavian
exiles and draft-dodgers with a nod to the label that's been given to Hemingway
and his expatriate friends in Europe in the years between the two World Wars:
"Serbia's Lost Generation." (Mother Jones, Sept.-Oct., 1999).

Montenegro, "which refused to enforce the Yugoslavian mandatory service law,
and still does today" has been one place of refuge for lost souls from the
former Yugoslavia, along with Hungary and other bordering countries that are now
stuffed to overflowing. Schapiro's estimate of 100,000 to 300,000 young men
fleeing Serbia to avoid military service may however be taken to have the same
numerical credibility as NATO's claims of "ethnically cleansed" non-Serb
civilians. Either that, or maybe he's right and all along the borders of Serbia
there are legions of expatriates, stranded and unable to get visas - "well-
educated," "sophisticated," and Westernized (miraculously considering that
they're all products of that Neanderthal tyrant Milosevic's universities)- who'd
pour back into their former homeland in a minute behind the tanks of a NATO
invasion even in spite of having little appetite for the present ruined
landscape of their country.

The fact that all Schapiro can find for an interview focus-group are one
family in Hungary and 20 draft age expatriates housed in a single Debrenecen
jail does not deter him from using them as symbols of a major demographic entity
for whom he seeks to stir American support. He says Americans should sympathize
with these exiles' suffering from loss of national identity, and should support
their return to their homeland so that, even if it takes another ten years to do
so, they can become "the new power in Yugoslavia."

In the same issue of Mother Jones is Todd Gitlin's now- notorious defense of
the NATO bombing of Kosovo ("The End of the Absolute No"). It puts to rest any
fears among our military and industrial establishment that the dead bodies of
once young New Leftists will rise from their academic graves and take to the
streets once again to denounce the relentless U.S. bombings of helpless foreign

His article is full of hints to the NATO warlords that he and the "friends"
he says he has all over the country will stand aside the next time a Kosovo
happens. Next time, instead of agonizing and dithering over such unpleasantries
of war as linking arms with "strange bedfellows" (meaning presumably the mafia
goons of the fascist KLA), they won't be so slow to support a military action.
No, they won't scruple about such trifling things as "winning pretty" or get all
upset about the "hideous means" used by NATO (by which he presumably means such
things as bombing pediatric hospitals, use of cluster bombs, and sending planes
to the same bombing site that had been hit fifteen minutes earlier just to
slaughter the rescuers and survivors). After all, NATO was just trying to "do
their best." Let's not get hung up with striving for "purity." Next time, this
so-called new leftist, whose idea of radicalism seems to find its fulfillment in
tearing down the expectations of humane behavior written into Geneva's
universally accepted war codes, says in effect to his NATO overlords: "Just go
for it!"

Another member of the cast of characters of this remake of a Hemingway tale
with writer as action hero is William Finnegan whose frontline reporting behind
enemy lines even led to his temporary detention in that looming war zone.

The title of his New Yorker article "Letter from the Balkans: The Next War"
tells us that for him the die is cast and Montenegro's being the next Kosovo is
a done deal.

I'll just highlight the tabloid words Finnegan uses to describe the nefarious
Milosevic and his killer Serbs: "big, incorrigibly aggressive Serbia . . .
Belgrade's next attempt to conquer and brutally absorb a neighbor . . .
(Milosevic won't allow Montenegro to secede without a fight) any more than he
allowed Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo to leave unmauled . . . Milosevic
has been the main perpetrator of the military aggression, the political
brutalization, and the sheer criminal rapacity . . . a powerful and dangerous
figure . . . ruthlessly . . .playing on the fears of the . . . masses, . . .
Montenegro is trying to escape the ogre's clutches without war. . . " You do get
the idea by now, don't you? Poor Mr. Finnegan needs to get these words off his
chest and not carry all that hate around inside him. Even if Montenegro is pried
from the dictator's grip, Milosevic will probably still be around, so Mr.
Finnegan may as well learn to live in the same world with this man - as the
first step toward his own inner healing!

For either Finnegan has problems of advanced psychological inconsistency or
his editor has altered the text to the point of leaving it wracked with illogic
and contradiction. Finnegan's ostensible purpose is to paint Milosevic as a
rampaging aggressor against his neighbors, an invader of foreign countries, a
threat to the stability of Europe. Yet at the same time, he also concedes that
Milosevic's engagements against Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo were
simply for the legitimate purpose of preventing secession and preserving the
borders of Yugoslavia, the country to which he had, after all, been elected

Finnegan describes the dispersion of Serb emigres all over the Balkans as a
flight from Serbia and the creation of an exiled diaspora community that he
labels "Outer Serbia" - even though, once again, four of the five sanctuaries
for these emigres that he makes you think are foreign countries are not foreign
countries at all, but simply former republics of Yugoslavia! Though large
numbers of people were displaced from Serbia by the NATO bombing, sizable
Serbian populations have lived in all geographic areas of Yugoslavia since long
before the coming of Slobodan Milosevic. Moving to another part of Yugoslavia to
escape the bombing hardly deserves Finnegan's stark description of "fleeing the

In Montenegro, for example, as he himself admits, Montenegrin natives and
Serbs are indissolubly linked by (Serbian) language, history, and Orthodox
religious roots. So much so that as Finnegan concedes, "it's not clear in
Montenegro exactly who considers himself a Serb and who considers himself a
Montenegrin." He quotes his Montenegrin Serb translator, Tijana, as saying that
at one time she had no sense of national differences at all: "When I was a kid,
I didn't even know I was a Serb. And I didn't know if my friends were Muslims,
or Croats, or what. That was Yugoslavia. My parents weren't nationalists. They
still aren't."

The purpose of Finnegan's article is to portray the passionate nostalgia felt
by his defeated interviewees as derived not from a wholly logical love of their
now smashed homeland, Yugoslavia, but from a dangerous unquenchable nationalism
that's a genetic birthright of Serbs. The Serbs are implied to be an alien
species, with a trait of irrational self-pity that easily spills over into
revanchism. Once again logic fails him, however, when he distorts a Yugoslav
army lieutenant's "hatred for Albanian, Bosnian Muslim, and Catholic Croat
politicians who had torn apart his former functioning country" by portraying it
as a "racist scorn" for them as ethnic Albanians, Muslims, and Catholics per se.

Finnegan rejects the angry complaint by former Bosnian Serb President Nicola
Poplasen, whom he interviews, that all Balkan nationalities are being treated as
"lower beings," as raging paranoia, even though Poplasen's rage clearly, and
logically, springs from having been forcibly removed, as Finnegan himself notes,
from his office by Bosnia's NATO occupiers! And finally he labels Milosevic a
Hitler, a dictator in search of a war, who keeps his power by exploiting "Serbs'
fears, national myths, martial traditions, and sense of righteous victimhood"
right after saying, in the immediately preceding paragraphs, that the Milosevic
brand of Serbian nationalism "can best be understood simply as an unusually
tortured effort to consolidate a state among the ashes of Communist Yugoslavia."

Now which is it, Mr. Finnegan? Is Milosevic rallying Serbs who live in
"foreign" countries (that is, with friends and families in the former
Yugoslavian republics of Croatia, Slovenia, and Bosnia) to join him in a "war of
conquest" against Montenegro - like a Hitler who marched into Czechoslovakia on
the false pretext of rescuing German citizens from ethnic discrimination? Or is
this NATO nemesis the leader of a people more sinned against than sinning, an
unjustly persecuted and outcast population whom thanks to journalists like you
"nobody wants to live next to," whose reaction to being thrown out of their
homes in a country they had grown up in and loved is simply to want to stick
together and defend what's left?

Will someone please explain why allegiance to Yugoslavian Serbia is
considered "pathological nationalism," while allegiance to Ireland, Italy,
Israel, the Queen of England, the American Legion, the Elks, the Masonic
brotherhood, the Mormon Church, football, boola boola fraternities at Yale,
country line dancing, Oprah Winfrey, or either of the political parties is
considered the pluralistic life's blood of our democracy?

But surely the writer who'll be handed the match to personally light the fuse
on the bomb that will start the next Western war against Yugoslavia via an
invasion of Montenegro, is Christopher Hitchens. In honor of a uniquely
incendiary prose style that outdoes the competition in arousing hate for any
subject it touches, Hitchens earns an unlikely comparison with, of all people,
novelist Harriet Beecher Stowe, credited by Lincoln as "the little lady who
started the Civil War." Who but Hitchens could use phrases like "Slobodan
Milosevic's demented 'Greater Serbia," "the endgame of a half-diseased and
half-romantic national frenzy," and "the nightmare state of which Slobodan
Milosevic is still the president"?

Having startlingly focused your attention, Hitchens who seemed to have
decisively burned Bill Clinton at the stake in his book No One Left to Lie To
published early last year, has no qualms about turning right around and serving
as an operative for Clinton's war aims in Yugoslavia by conducting an interview
with the President of Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic, that appeared with the title
"Thunder in the Black Mountains" in Vanity Fair, November, 1999. Hitchens's
purpose is to be the facilitator for the aspiring renegade Djukanovic to make
his debut in the role of heroic freedom fighter on the Western stage.

Relishing the final dismantling of the old Yugoslavia, Djukanovic launches
into the interview ever so brashly by proclaiming "The Fascist idea of 'Greater
Serbia' is now dead!" Through the kind of remarkable coincidences that occur
only with the most expert press agentry, only one day after his interview with
Hitchens Djukanovic announced that he intended to seek full control over
Montenegro's armed forces, complete economic independence, a one-chamber
parliament, and a referendum on these objectives within one year. Hitchens says
he arrived for the interview, as if by utter coincidence, "on exactly the right
day" to hear the man declare his intention to demand independence from
Yugoslavia because it just "happened" to be the 85th anniversary of the
anniversary of the British Empire's declaration of war on Germany in 1914, an
event that resulted in Montenegro's loss of its independence when it opted to
side with Serbia and was then overrun by an Austro-Hungarian occupation.
Liberated in 1918 by a Serb army that kept close reins on the plebiscite that
linked Montenegro to Serbia ever since, this small but strategically coastal
province was a staunch center of hardline party communism before becoming known
in more recent years for its friendliness to Western lifestyles, car theft
rings, drug smuggling, and its strong cooperation with the NATO war effort.
Let's be on top of this one, says Hitchens, not wait for Montenegro to
degenerate into a violent conflict while "we" who have a duty to intervene stand
aside. "This one has been coming for a long time," says this master of the
inflammatory comparison, "coming like Christmas, coming like a heart attack.
There's no excuse for being unprepared." Hitchens has already declared war in
Montenegro. If you're NATO and you don't do what he's telling you to do, you
risk getting a tongue-lashing by Hitchens. Frankly, if you're NATO, waging a war
must seem a lot more pleasant.


It will be noted that I have mostly just summarized the above articles and
their view that America should finish the job in Yugoslavia by backing the
secession of Montenegro. Rather than present a point by point rebuttal, for the
most part I've allowed the writers' views to be judged on their own, as though
resting a case without calling witnesses. My purpose is simply to draw attention
to the existence of a pro-war media campaign in which the group of writers cited
here have played their part.

The humbling of the Slavs and the nation of Yugoslavia have been a long-held
dream of Western European powers such as Austria and Germany. The American
magazine writers noted here are merely inheriting and dusting off this ancient
wish to conquer the Serbs.

If one seeks grounds for a reply, I suggest that readers go back into history
to discover who the Serbs of Yugoslavia really are. Is there something
heroically independent in these Balkan people that threatens the West's claim to
the right of being the dominant power? Yugoslavia's resistance to Nazi conquest
has earned a place in history as the key to the defeat of the German armies in
Europe. What the history books have failed to keep alive in the minds of
Americans today is just how incredible and improbable the Yugoslavian
performance in the World War II years really was. In every other Balkan country
invaded by Hitler's armies, there was no resistance or armed confrontation. The
keys to the country were handed to the invaders by prior agreement, and that was
that. As the German armies set out for Yugoslavia in 1941, that country was
expected to do the same. But, in spite of being hopelessly surrounded, the
people surprised the world by rebelling throughout the country. D. F. Fleming
describes the Yugoslavian resistance as an inspiration to the world as follows:
"Revulsion and rebellion swept the entire country. Plain people of every
occupation indignantly revolted, peasants and townspeople. The people knew what
(surrender to the Axis) meant and swept their own Government out of power
overnight. . . The Nazis had to act instantly, for two reasons. The heartwarming
example of the Yugoslavs was stirring the other Balkan peoples to consider
whether they too should throw all discretion to the winds and strike for
freedom. But equally vital was the delay in the invasion of Russia which the
Yugoslav revolt caused. It was essential to have the Balkans firmly under
control, before beginning the assault on Russia. So the Germans acted in furious
haste and with total brutality . . .Belgrade was blitzed from the air in the
first day . . . vengefully to deprive of their chief possession the little
peoples who had defied the Nazis. . . The resistance of the Greeks and Yugoslavs
was 'hopeless,' yet it gave hope to all mankind and very probably prevented the
conquest of the old world by the Nazis. Such 'futile,' immortal resistance had
not been expected by Berlin. Hitler had taken over all the other Balkan states
one at a time without war. He did not expect the last of his victims to

As Serbian-American Petar Makara describes it, the Serbs held out against a
Nazi invasion longer than any East European country. In 1941 one-third of Serbia
was actually liberated from the Germans. Nowhere else did this happen. Time and
Life magazines electrified the world with pictures of German soldiers being held
as prisoners of the Serb resistance.

After World War II, Yugoslavia found a new threat in Winston Churchill's
determination to halt Soviet expansion in East Europe. Even before war's end,
Churchill grew wary of the Greek and Yugoslavian partisans who were supposedly
his allies in fighting the Germans. "In 1944 Churchill crushed the Greek
communist-led partisans ruthlessly, but no one was able to suppress Tito's
communists in Yugoslavia. Even Moscow failed to manage them for long after the

A total of 1,014,000 Yugoslavians died in World War II, 487,000 of them

Obiously this is a people that has paid its dues and established unique
credentials as fighters against tyranny and racism.

Is it not possible for us today to look beyond the writers of the 1990's who
have tried to portray the Serbs as an inherently chauvinistic and murderous
ethnic society, and to look at their full history of commitment to freedom
before making such a truth- twisting judgment of them as a people. Notes

1 Brian Mitchell, "How Many Really Died in Kosovo? Body Count So Far Doesn't
Support Charges of 'Genocide,'" Investor's Business Daily, 11/17/99. "The Trepca
mines in Kosovo were alleged to hold 1,000 bodies of Albanians murdered by
Serbs. If the bodies weren't just dumped down mine shafts, they were supposed to
have been burnt or dissolved in acid in the mines' smelter. . . The Mirror of
London wrote that the name Trepca would 'live alongside those of Belsen,
Auschwitz and Treblinka. . . etched in the memories of those whose loved ones
met a bestial end in true Nazi Final Solution fashion.' But no bodies were found
at Trepca. No human remains at all, according to the International Criminal
Tribunal on the Former Yugoslavia - the ICTY. And all of Kosovo has turned up
far fewer bodies than expected. The results have raised the question of whether
Western officials deliberately exaggerated the suffering in Kosovo to justify
intervention. During the bombing, NATO officials reported as many as 225,000
Albanian men missing. After the bombing, officials said the Serbs had murdered
10,000 Albanians. The ICTY now believes over 11,000 people, mostly Albanians
were killed in war crimes. But so far investigators have found the bodies of
only 2,108 presumed victims, including some Serbs. . . The ICTY has already
investigated the sites most likely to yield the best evidence against Serbian
leaders. Pathologist Emilio Perez Pujol, who headed a team of Spanish
investigators in Kosovo, recently told the Times of London, 'I calculate that
the final figure of dead in Kosovo will be 2,500 at the most. This includes lots
of strange deaths that can't be blamed on anyone in particular." Many were
killed after NATO began bombing. Critics of the bombing wonder whether fewer
people might have died if NATO had not intervened. Alice Mahon, who chairs a
committee on the Balkans as a member of the British Parliament, told The Times,
'When you consider that 1,500 civilians or more were killed during the NATO
bombing, you have to ask whether the intervention was justified.' . . . During
the war, Clinton accused Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic of 'singling out
whole peoples for destruction because of their ethnicity and faith.' . . . Asked
if NATO committed war crimes by bombing civilians, Clinton told reporters on
June 25, 'NATO did not commit war crimes. NATO stopped war crimes. NATO stopped
deliberate, systematic efforts at ethnic cleansing and genocide.' By June 1,
U.S. and NATO officials were claiming 225,000 men missing and 6,000 killed 'in
summary executions,' according to NATO spokesman Jamie Shea. Within days, senior
British officials had pushed the number of dead to 10,000 'It's very difficult
to give an overall number, but what's clear is that the picture is far worse
than we thought,' said David Gowan, Britain's war crimes ambassador, in June.
The opposite seems now more likely. The 195 sites that yielded up to 2,108
bodies were supposed to have held 4,256 bodies. Many early reports of 'mass
graves' appear to have been exaggerated. The ICTY won't say how many mass graves
it has found. Too many 'mass graves' have turned out like Ljubenic. At Ljubenic,
Italian troops first claimed to have found a grave with 350 bodies, 'the largest
suspected mass grave in Kosovo so far,' according to the news service Agence
France-Presse. The next day, the same news service reported the Italians had
actually found only five bodies at the site."

2 The comparison of America's self-appointed role as world's "sole
superpower" with the world-saving mission of Germany under the Nazis is made by
Jan Oberg, "The Real Kosovo Mission," Daily Republican, 8/9/99. "Nazism's main
feature is our contempt for weakness and a celebration of strength, power, and
heroism. The Strong SHALL rule over the Weaker. The good/stronger has a right,
or God-given authority, to control or eradicate the evil/weaker who only
deserves our contempt. The stronger takes upon him a burden of civilisation,
sacrifices and acts heroically in the name of a higher principle or 'law.' Thus
he is never made responsible for his deeds; he has a higher mandate and is above
common law . . . Those carrying out the leader's orders are conveniently also
relieved from responsibility, no matter how criminal they may be - since they
too aim to drive out Evil and (re)install Good. . . An integral part of the Nazi
ideology is to PRETEND to fight idealistically for high moral goals and against
evil while promoting one's own petty cause and meanness. The world is black and
white. . . Aggression and idealism melt into one . . . the criminal is seen as a
hero. Projection means ascribing to others the 'dark sides' we find inside
ourselves and abhor. Could it be that Western leaders and media, when calling
Milosevic Hitler, signaled their fear or unpleasant awareness that their own
project could be seen as 'Hitlerist?'"

3 The opening of the door to foreign takeover of Yugoslavia's individual
republics through encouragement of separatist nationalisms has been blamed on
the impoverishment imposed on the population to repay loans extended by the
West's International Monetary Fund during the 1980's. "NATO is really nothing
but a collection agency for the IMF: it is meddling in the Balkans because the
Western powers are determined to collect their debts. Because Bosnia and other
states from Yugoslavia are in IMF financial custody, money that should be going
into reconstruction is being funneled into repayment of debts to foreign
creditors." David Fennario, "The West is to Blame for Balkan Fiasco," Montreal
Gazette, 5/30/99. Fennario links the West's backing of neo-fascist separatists
in Croatia and Kosovo as a defense against the angry resistance of Serbia's
masses to the austerity measures demanded by the IMF as guarantee that
Yugoslavia would have the ability to repay. See also Michael Parenti, "The
Destruction of Yugoslavia," Antiwar.com, 6/99: "Yugoslavia was the one country
in Eastern Europe that would not voluntarily overthrow what remained of its
socialist system and install a free-market economic order. Hence the goal of the
U.S. was to transform Yugoslavia into a cluster of weak right-wing republics
incapable of charting a course of self- development, . . . a shattered economy
wide open to transnational companies that could invest and rebuild on their own
terms." This strategy, of forcing nationalistic separatism on the individual
provinces of Yugoslavia, was epitomized in the bill President Bush pushed
Congress into passing in 1991: the Foreign Operations Appropriations Law, which
provided that any part of Yugoslavia failing to declare independence within six
months would lose U.S. financial support. Parenti quotes U.S. General Wesley
Clark, Commander of Operation Allied Force, as proof that the goal of the West's
military action was to destroy the authority of Yugoslavia's central government
- "to demolish, destroy, devastate, degrade, and ultimately eliminate the
essential infrastructure of Yugoslavia." For a revealing look at the West's wish
to convert a fragmented and disempowered Yugoslavia into a militarily imposed
business opportunity zone by replacing the national economy, see Benn Steil
& Susan L.W. Woodward, "A European 'New Deal' for the Balkans," Foreign
Affairs, LXXVIII, No. 6, November/December, 1999. "A radical but sensible
alternative is to abandon national currencies and adopt . . . the euro. This way
the Balkans' central bank functions would be either transferred to the European
Central Bank or eliminated . . . Development assistance should
be used to leverage private western financing of Balkan projects . . . The West
should make equity investments in Balkan business a priority. No positive
political change can occur (in Serbia) until the damaging psychological effects
of isolation are reversed and the legitimacy of a pro-Western platform is
restored after the damage done by the NATO bombing campaign. (Hence) NATO and
the United States must maintain a presence in the region for some time. . . The
proliferating military bases in the region already provide the support for a
NATO land headquarters." In the same magazine, an article suggests the
superiority of an ethnically purified, Muslim-only Kosovo to a Bosnia (now run
under as a shared government by three ethnic groups) as the location for such a
base, and supports a redeployment of "human, financial, and diplomatic resources
from Bosnia to Kosovo" where, the authors say, the UN administration has "powers
like those of the emperor: there is very little it cannot do." Ivo H Daalder and
Michael B.G. Froman, "Dayton's Incomplete Peace," Ibid., pp. 110- 111.

4 "Franjo Tudjman, Ex-Communist General Who Led Croatia's Secession, Is Dead
at 77," New York Times, 12/11/99.

5 Ibid.

6 "From the great height of their own racial superiority the (Germans) looked
down upon the Slavs as inferior beings, Untermenschen, and did everything within
their power to destroy any human dignity in them." D. F. Fleming, The Cold War
& Its Origins, Norwich, 1961, Volume I, p. 145. A plan to strip Yugoslavia
of its post-World War II advances and reduce it along with the rest of the East
European countries to a seedlot and pack horse for a resurgent "colonial"
Germany is alleged by Prof. Sean Gervasi, "Why is NATO in Yugoslavia?" Emperors
Clothes.com, December, 1999. Originally presented in Prague, Czech Republic,
13-14 January, 1996.

7 Fleming, pp. 128-129.

8 Fleming, p. 159. People searching for a villain in the Balkans may instead
of using President Milosevic want to turn back the clock and try Winston
Churchill. Some of the first seeds of NATO and the Cold War between the West and
Soviet Russia were planted by Churchill who had lobbied as early as 1944 for
"some sort of bloc against the Soviet Union." In 1943, Churchill lobbied
tenaciously, but finally unsuccessfully, for an Allied assault on the Balkans.
"Churchill's yearning," says Fleming, "to keep the Russians out of the Balkans
made no more sense politically than it did militarily," mainly because the
Russian armies had earned the right to have a security zone for Russia in the
Balkans by their prodigious military effort against the Germans. (p. 166)
Churchill's obsession with stopping the spread of Russian influence was lifelong
and took precedence over any other consideration. In 1927, he spoke in
Mussolini's Rome with enthusiasm for the accomplishments of Italian fascism: "If
I had been an Italian, I am sure I should have been entirely with you from the
beginning to the end of your victorious struggle against the bestial appetites
and passions of Leninism." "Address to the Roman Fascists," January, 1927, in
Salvemini, The Fascist Dictatorship, p. 20. Historian William Henry Chamberlin
locates the origins of the Cold War in Churchill's realization that the West
would need to carry on the fight against Russia, a fight that was only necessary
because by America's entry into the war "we prevented Hitler from finishing off
Stalin." Chamberlin credits Churchill not only with initiating the Cold War but
also introducing modern warfare's bombing of civilians (such as we have seen in
NATO's war in Yugoslavia) as a matter of strategy: "Hitler had tried to induce
the British to agree to bomb only military objectives. . .The British decisively
rebuffed this proposal. In the British decision to ignore the distinction
between military and civilian targets may be found the seeds of the destruction
of many continental cities. . . .Churchill told the House of Commons on Sept.
21, 1943: 'To achieve this there are no lengths of violence to which we will not
go.'" "The Bankruptcy of Policy" in Harry Elmer Barnes, ed., Perpetual War for
Perpetual Peace, Caldwell, Idaho, 1953, p. 531.

9 Dr. Robert M. Bowman, "Kosovo: Chronology of the Conflict in Kosovo," Space
& Security News, Institute for Space & Security Studies, Vol XVI, No. 2,
Sept. 1999.

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