Bard College and human rights imperialism

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Tue Sep 3 13:21:12 MDT 2002

While taking a quick look at the Bard College home page, I was stunned to
see a link to video coverage of Milosevic's kangaroo court show trial,
which is provided through a joint project of the Human Rights project at
Bard and an outfit called the International Center for Transitional Justice
( Ever since Susan Soros got the plum assignment of
running the Bard College Center for Decorative Arts (funded by her sugar
daddy), we can assume that a tit-for-tat relationship between the
billionaire investor and my alma mater has not only been ongoing but
largely responsible for this latest sordid exercise in human rights

A cursory examination of the ICTJ website will reveal all the usual
culprits. It gets its funding from:

Ford Foundation
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Carnegie Corporation of New York
Open Society Institute (ie., Soros)
Rockefeller Brothers Fund
Andrus Family Fund
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
The Atlantic Philanthropies
Charles Stewart Mott Foundation

This is what you might call the philanthropic wing of the East Coast white
shoe Protestant liberal establishment, with George Soros's Open Society
Institute functioning as the arriviste Yiddisher caboose.

The president of the ICTJ is Alex Boraine who as former deputy chair of the
Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa was probably selected
for his proven ability to get fascists off the hook. While 50 years of
apartheid most assuredly should have called for a Nuremberg type trial,
Boraine and his allies in the right wing of the ANC were anxious to avoid
any kind of nasty confrontations with the Afrikaner ruling class. No doubt
the aspiring ruling class within the ANC sought to move as quickly as
possible to a "normalized" South Africa where the Black rich could have
equal rights with whites in exploiting miners and other wage earners.

Commenting on the wholesale pardons of the apartheid murderers, the widow
of Steven Biko said, "We teach our children that if they do something
wrong, they will be punished. We don't say if you do something bad,
whatever it is, all you must do is confess. Even if they confess, they must
be punished in some way. I don't care if Steve's murderer is given a fine
or a light sentence, just so long as he stands up in court and is judged."

Even though most of the racist killers have gone scot-free, Boraine dubbed
the Commission to be a huge success and now tries to export this model
around the world like any other multinational commodity through the
auspices of the International Center for Transitional Justice. With the
lavish funds available from its deep-pocketed funders, it hires and trains
field workers in Burma, South Africa, former Yugoslavia, Peru, Rwanda and
elsewhere. It is part and parcel of a human rights imperialism agenda,
which amounts to a kind of missionary service to the South from the North.
It goes like this: the banks and brokerage houses that fund the Foundations
penetrate the nations of the periphery and bleed them dry. After the
economically desperate population throws itself into a disastrous civil
war, the NGO's that get funded by the Foundations go in and try to
straighten things out, usually aligning itself with whichever faction is
more in favor of "peace" and "democracy". In other words, that which takes
its marching orders from the US Embassy.

As might be expected, the International Center for Transitional Justice
website betrays not an ounce of leniency when it comes to Slobodan
Milosevic. In an op-ed piece that appeared originally in the NY Times and
which can be found on the ICTJ website, Boraine lays out the difficulties
facing prosecution of Milosevic, which at that time had not gotten off the
ground. In conversations with Boraine, President Kostunica expressed his
"deep reservations as to whether any Serb could receive a fair trial in The

But Boraine assured his NY Times readers, "Mr. Kostunica is also a very
astute politician and knows there are clear political realities that will
not go away. He is mindful that the demands from the West are inextricably
linked with the economic support he so desperately needs." Translation: If
the Serbs know what's good for them, they'll kowtow to Washington or else
they'll starve. This was the same tactic that got the Sandinistas removed
from power in Nicaragua.

For a reminder of how grotesque Boraine's pretensions are with respect to
the Balkans, I recommend a look at Marko Lopusina's "War, Lies, and
Videotapes: the role of the CIA and the News Media in the Breakup of
Yugoslavia", from which this is extracted:

 >>Today, when the U.S. impact on Balkan events became direct and open, it
is clear that official Washington was only too concerned about who would
come to lead Yugoslavia and who would lead the process, first of saving and
then of extinguishing SFRJ. Americans therefore placed their bets on Stipe
Mesic, Ante Markovic, and Janez Drnovsek. Warren Zimmermann, the last U.S.
ambassador to Belgrade, speaks openly about his cooperation with Yugoslav
prime minister in his memoirs, first published in Zagreb:

"In the seething cauldron of ethnic rivalries, Yugoslavia needed a leader
who could deal with the growing economic crisis and at the same time appeal
to Yugoslavs to stay together and build a democratic society. Amazingly, a
man who represented all these qualities found himself the new prime
minister of Yugoslavia in March 1989. Ante Markovic, a man of great ability
and determination, had been voted into office by the Yugoslav parliament
with a mandate to curb the runaway inflation and institute a radial
economic reform. Milovan Djilas, the famous dissident and political seer,
called him Yugoslavia's first modern statesman. Markovic was impossible to
dislike. A good-looking silver-haired man in his mid-sixties, he radiated
good humour and ebullience. He laughed easily - not a trait of Slavic
officials and certainly not of Yugoslav communists. He had a can-do
attitude and an unbounded conviction that he could overcome what was now
universally called 'the Yugoslav crisis'. A man of large ego, he saw
himself as a messiah for Yugoslavia. After he became Yugoslav prime
minister, his dynamism and supreme self-confidence impressed visiting
Westerners. The financier-philanthropist George Soros, a shrewd judge of
Eastern European politicians, told me after a visit to Belgrade that
Markovic was one of the most remarkable leaders he had met.

"What Markovic wanted most of all was support from the West. He saw the
United States as the key country. He wanted to visit Washington to meet
President Bush. He wanted clear statements of American support for his
programs. And above all he wanted money. How much? 'Well,' he said with his
infectious smile, 'I'm playing a big game, and it requires big money. I
think four billion dollars would be a good start to help a reform that's
going further than anything in eastern Europe.' Swallowing hard, I told him
I'd report his request to Washington. I knew what the answer would be. U.S.
policy on Eastern Europe was heavily focused on Poland and Hungary,
countries that were moving on the reform path faster than Yugoslavia and
without the baggage of divisive nationalism. Yugoslavia would be seen as a
poor risk and therefore a low priority. Markovic got his trip to Washington
in October 1989. I had lobbied hard for it," writes Zimmermann.

With the support of Eagleburger and European Bureau of the State
Department, the White House agreed to a meeting with President Bush. He
then had meetings with Secretary of State James Baker, Defense Secretary
Richard Cheney, Treasury Secretary Brady, and Commerce Secretary Mosbacher,
as well as a visit to Congress and a trip to New York for talks with
bankers and businessmen. U.S. President repeated his strong support to
Yugoslav independence, unity and sovereignity, welcomed Markovic's
determination to implement reforms which were to establish market-driven
economy and build up democratic pluralism.<<


Louis Proyect

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