REVIEW: 'TO KILL A NATION (The Attack On Yugoslavia)' (newly revised review)

Borba100 at Borba100 at
Sun Apr 15 20:38:36 MDT 2001

The URL for this article is
[Emperor's Clothes]

'TO KILL A NATION (The Attack On Yugoslavia)'
by Michael Parenti
London: Verso, 2000

Review by Richard Hugus [16 April 2001]

The United States has committed an enormity against the people of Yugoslavia
-- a crime which many have been unable to recognize because of its very size
and audacity. We seem to have reached a stage in the "information age" when a
completely factitious war is now possible -- that is, a war based entirely on
false information.

The war against Yugoslavia didn't come about because of a crudely  staged
incident or provocation, like wars of old. It came about by virtue of a state
and corporate media working in unison to create an entire world in which
falsehood and lies were passed off as facts, and such facts, once
established, became the building blocks for even greater fabrications.

Propaganda which set the stage for the attack on Yugoslavia by the US and its
NATO minions is not a recent phenomenon. The groundwork for it was laid years
ago. It was carefully and logically planned. Such incidents as were staged,
like the "Racak massacre", were only small pieces of a much larger production.

The intent of the US, simply put, has been to dismember and consume this
once-prosperous Socialist federation. It has attempted to do so by, among
other things, implementing long-term economic sanctions; fomenting civil war;
passing off impossible ultimatums as diplomacy; engaging in a 78 day
bombardment and massacre based on the outrageous pretext of such bombing
being "humanitarian"; organizing a proxy army and calling it a "liberation"
movement; using "peacekeeping" as the excuse for direct military occupation
and the setting up of major military bases; manipulating  national elections
through massive fraud; carrying out a political takeover by US-backed puppets
(1); and through continuing economic warfare through  IMF and World Bank
"structural adjustment programs. "

In 'To Kill a Nation,' Michael Parenti has detailed these and other facts
about the war against Yugoslavia, and, in doing so, has helped set the world
right side up again.

Because of his previous scholarship on the ways in which history is written
to serve the needs of the powerful (see his last book, 'History As Mystery')
Parenti is well suited to examine the 'history' of the Balkans which is being
made each day through reports in the mainstream press.

Take this typical example -- a single sentence, provided as stock background
-- from a recent article in the Boston Globe  about new conflicts taking
place in Bosnia:

"Serb paramilitaries, with Belgrade's support, waged a brutal campaign of
ethnic cleansing there [in Bosnia] as Yugoslavia's former president, Slobodan
Milosevic, attempted to carve a 'Greater Serbia.'" ("Balkan Policy Has New
Challenges", March 8, 2001)

Parenti discusses the way in which such statements, though never established
as true, became 'true' by virtue of being repeated over and over again in a
wide variety of supposedly independent news sources. Today, to most readers
of the mainstream press, the idea that Serbs were not guilty of 'ethnic
cleansing' would come as a surprise. The fact that the much-reported mass
graves of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo were never found, or that the Serbs were
themselves the victims of ethnic cleansing in 1995 in Croatia, (2) and in
1999 in Kosovo, (3) is either not presented or is overwhelmed by the sheer
weight and number of assertions of Serbian guilt.

These facts are documented by Parenti, who goes on to describe even more
insidious feats of propaganda -- hiding the deeds of the criminals by
shifting them onto the shoulders of their victims. For example, in the
excerpt above, it isn't the fascist KLA who have been trying to create a
"Greater Albania"; it was Milosevic who "attempted to carve a 'Greater
Serbia.'" This is complete nonsense.

What of the crimes of people who were not directly involved in civil war but
who waged war from the outside of what was, after all, a sovereign nation
which had attacked no one? In a chapter entitled "NATO's War Crimes", Parenti
describes the real atrocities which the fabricated atrocities were supposed
to divert us from. (Again, the deeds of the criminal have been imputed to the
victim.) These atrocities include the US/NATO's:

"bombing fifteen cities in round-the-clock air raids for over two months,
spewing hundreds of thousands of tons of highly toxic and carcinogenic
chemicals into the water, air, and soil, poisoning agricultural fields and
rivers, maiming and killing thousands, exposing millions to depleted uranium,
and obliterating the productive capital of an entire nation." ('To Kill A
Nation' (The Attack On Yugoslavia) by Michael Parenti)

In the popular press,  'Serbs' can barely be mentioned without being
connected to the terms 'ethnic cleansing' or 'atrocities'; and 'Milosevic',
of course, cannot be mentioned without the word 'brutal' lurking somewhere
nearby  -- usually 'brutal dictator.' Parenti is one of the most notable left
intellectuals in the U.S. to defend Milosevic and the Serbs against the
slander that has been laid upon them. He does this with an excellent account
of the multiculturalism  which prospered in Yugoslavia while Milosevic was in
office, and by bringing levelness and common sense to the question of what a
national leader and a people really are.

Parenti's stand takes courage. Why? Because of the bullying of the press and
its staunch opinion-makers. Because of fierce pressure to conform to accepted
and seemingly universal opinion. Because the charges against the Serbs and
Milosevic are so extreme, and repeated so often, that would-be defenders are
themselves incriminated. Because, in the world of the media and academia,
those who defend the Serbs, or even just attempt to moderate the anti-Serbian
onslaught, are routinely marginalized.  And because, amazingly, so few
well-known left intellectuals have actually taken these steps.

The overt phase of the ongoing war against Yugoslavia represented by the
March-to-June 1999 bombing was a crisis which discombobulated the antiwar
Left. Some notables sold out completely, supporting the bombing. Others
suffered different degrees of co-optation. For example, Parenti makes
reference to Noam Chomsky's interview on KPFA radio. The interview, which
took place in the early stages of the bombing of Yugoslavia, is quite
amazing. In it, Prof. Chomsky never says NATO is morally wrong to bomb
Yugoslavia. Rather, he uncritically accepts the validity of Western claims
(e.g., the assertions of Gen. Wesley Clark) that Yugoslav forces engaged in
widespread atrocities against ethnic Albanians prior to the bombing, and that
these increased following the bombing. On the basis of these entirely
unsupported charges of Yugoslav atrocities, derived from Western war
propaganda, Prof. Chomsky argues that the bombing has been counter-productive
because (says he) it has served to justify an increase in atrocities against

Why were American intellectuals, like Prof. Chomsky, unable to subject
Western war propaganda to critical scrutiny? Official documents from the
German government, widely distributed on the Internet at the time, proved
that Yugoslav forces did not target ethnic Albanians civilians prior to the
NATO bombing. (Parenti refers to these German documents in 'To Kill a
Nation"). In other words the atrocities posited by Prof. Chomsky did not take
place. How then could they have 'increased' after the onset of bombing?

In North America, some ordinary people (4) and some courageous,
independent-minded intellectuals like Parenti, Diana Johnstone, Michel
Chossudovsky, Greg Elich, Sean Gervasi, Peter Maher, George Pumphrey, Raju
Thomas, Jude Wanninski, and others did try to combat anti-Serbian media lies.
(5) Locked out of mainstream and Leftwing media, these people had to use the
Internet to demolish the propaganda lies about atrocities.

Now we have evidence from NATO sources (6) that the anti-Serbian claims were
fabricated. Yet some leading Leftist intellectuals continue to repeat the old

The past writings of people like Prof. Chomsky have helped many thousands of
people to think critically. Prof. Chomsky is highly respected, especially by
young people. Therefore it had an especially harmful effect when he and other
well-known critics swallowed the NATO line uncritically and gave it back,
dressed up in an anti-NATO veneer.

Concerning the Left's co-optation, Parenti writes:

"In the face of such a relentless propaganda campaign against Milosevic and
the Serbs, even prominent personages on the Left - who oppose NATO's policy
against Yugoslavia - have felt compelled to genuflect before this orthodoxy.
While establishment liberals said,  'The Serbs are brutal and monstrous.
Let's attack them,' some progressives argued 'The Serbs are brutal and
monstrous. But let's not attack them, for that would be even worse.' Thus did
they reveal themselves as having been influenced by the very media propaganda
machine they criticized on so many other issues."

The Obligatory Bash

While it is admirable and correct of Parenti to point this out, Parenti
himself, unfortunately, makes generalizations derived from this orthodoxy.
For example, he writes:

"To reject the demonized image of Milosevic and of the Serbian people is not
to idealize either nor to claim that Yugoslav forces have not committed
crimes. It is merely to challenge the one-sided propaganda that laid the
grounds for the imperialist dismemberment of Yugoslavia and NATO's far
greater criminal onslaught." ('To Kill a Nation')

Parenti starts the above paragraph by refusing to rule out crimes by
''Yugoslav forces'' (presumably the Army and security police). Next, the
anti-Serb accusations are called "one-sided", which suggests that they are
not essentially wrong, but simply don't tell the entire story. Then Parenti
ends the paragraph by saying that NATO has launched a "criminal onslaught"
that is ""far greater" than that of the Yugoslav forces. In these remarks,
Parenti is bowing to the monolith of unproved accusations which he elsewhere
criticizes.  Where is the proof that Yugoslav forces committed crimes? Mr.
Parenti does offer some 'examples' of alleged Serbian crimes, mostly dating
from 1991-1995. But numerous experts argue that these so-called examples are
as false as the supposed massacre at Racak in Kosovo, which did not occur.
One example of Serbian crimes which Parenti cites is the alleged massacre at
Srebrenica, the very existence of which is refuted in well-documented

Thus we know that Yugoslav army and security forces have been accused of many
crimes which subsequent evidence, even from Western sources, proves did not
occur. So far, no one has presented proof of any crimes that  did occur. So
why should Parenti concede a priori that the Yugoslav forces committed
crimes, while adding that NATO's were "far greater"?

This is something that Jared Israel talks about in "The Obligatory Bash":

"Even if a newspaper, let us say the Toronto Star should happen to report
that there is overwhelming evidence that there is no evidence that Serbian
troops committed atrocities in Kosovo - even if said newspaper article should
suggest to any functioning mind that the media tales of widespread Serbian
atrocities, now revealed to be false, must therefore have been fabricated by
some living beings - even then said newspaper must add: 'There's no question
that atrocities were committed in Kosovo, overwhelmingly by the Serb forces.'

 "'No question?' Even though one is reporting that half the charges are based
on misinformation (that is, lies) one must state, without restriction of
evidence, that the other half of the charges is true? Doesn't this contradict
every rule of normal reasoning?

"It does. But giving Serbs the benefit of normal reasoning is just not done."
("Obligatory Bash" at

It turns out to be very difficult to speak up against what everyone says must
be true. It is difficult for all of us. But there is no reason to concede any
part of a lie.

In addition to his own analysis, Michael Parenti discusses in this book the
insights of a number of other writers who discerned and foretold a  pattern
of US aggression in the Balkans going as far back as the 1980's. With this
pattern coming into horrifying focus today  -- Serbia encircled, the
US-supported DOS people in power, the US-backed KLA lined up like wolves on
Serbia's border -- now is not the time to turn our backs on the people of
Yugoslavia. 'To Kill A Nation' is a book which shows one way  we can lend
support. This was a war based on lies. The first step toward justice is to
understand these lies. And then begin the work of setting them straight.

[Richard Hugus is a carpenter, writer and political activist on Cape Cod,
Massachussetts. He is the author of:

'Hollywood Invades Kosovo: An Analysis of the NATO Trepca Takeover' at
'Inequality of Destruction: Cape Cod and Vieques' at
'Massachusetts National Guard Bombs Iraq' at

(1) 'U.S. Arrogance and Yugoslav Elections' by several authors, at

(2) The Expulsion of the Serbian People from the Krajina by Greg Elich at

(3) 'I cannot give it a name but it seems like hell' by Anonymous author, at

(4) 'A Tale of Three Soldiers' by Jared Israel at

(5) The authors mentioned in Richard Hugus' review have produced a wealth of
material analyzing and exposing the U.S. attack on Yugoslavia and refuting
media lies. Here are some examples:

'The Media and Their Atrocities' by Michael Parenti at

'NATO Installs a Reign of Terror in Kosovo' by Michel Chossudovsky at

'Bringing Democracy to Bosnia-Herzegovina' by Greg Elich at

'What Does NATO Want in Yugoslavia?' by Sean Gervasi at

'NATO's Humanitarian Trigger' by Diana Johnstone at

'What's in a Name?' by Peter Maher at

'Scandal in the Hague' by George Pumphrey at

'Mocking Tradition and Practice - NATO's War & World Security' by Raju Thomas

'Abe Lincoln and Slobodan Milosevic' by Jude Wanninski at

(6) 'Spinning the Kill: Albright's Tribunal Hastens to Save a Lie' by Max
Sinclair and Jared Israel at

Send this article to a friend! {Does not work with all email programs...}

We may be free but alas, we do need money...

Emperor's Clothes does not charge a subscription fee. But of course nothing
is free

We may be free but alas, we need money...

Emperor's Clothes does not charge a subscription fee. But of course nothing
is free.

For example, the cost of Lexis, our news media search engine, has doubled.
Lexis is the best method of rapidly locating news stories from thousands of
sources over the past twenty years. It is vital for research, but the cost
has doubled. Moreover we are almost $1500 behind on payments to Lexis. Not to
mention phone bills.

Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated.

You can mail a check to Emperor's Clothes, P.O. Box 610-321, Newton, MA
02461-0321. (USA)

You can make a credit card donation by going to our secure server at

Or make a donation over the phone. Call us at (U.S.) 617 916-1705 between
9:30 AM and 5:30 PM, Eastern Time (USA) and Bob will take your credit card

Thanks for reading Emperor's Clothes!
[Emperor's Clothes]

More information about the Marxism mailing list