[Marxism] Slobodan Milosevic ‹ Demonized to the End

jacdon at earthlink.net jacdon at earthlink.net
Mon Mar 20 21:12:24 MST 2006

The following article will appear in the next issue of the Hudson Valley
Activist Newsletter, New Paltz, N.Y.
Slobodan Milosevic ‹ Demonized to the End
By Jack A. Smith
The former president of the Yugoslav federation, Slobodan Milosevic, died in
prison March 11 at the age of 64, demonized  by the United States until the
end. He had been an inmate of Scheveningen prison in The Hague for some five
years during his trial for alleged war crimes at the UN¹s International
Criminal Tribunal On The Former Yugoslavia.
Milosevic, who led Yugoslavia throughout the 1990s, enjoyed friendly
relations with Washington for his first several years in office. But in his
latter years, he became the object of an intense U.S. campaign to falsely
depict him as a totalitarian dictator, a mass murderer, a virtual
reincarnation of Hitler, and the scourge of the ethnic Albanian majority in
the Serbian province of Kosovo.
We choose to remember him primarily for his staunch defense of Yugoslavia in
the spring of 1999 when the U.S. and NATO subjected the country to a vicious
and unjust 78-day campaign of massive bombings and missile attacks. The
purpose, which succeeded, was to depose Milosevic and to destroy the last
remnant of the socialist Yugoslav federation.  Yugoslavia no longer exists.
Its remains are known as Serbia and Montenegro, and even that bilateral
association may not last long.
Many people and groups in  the U.S. usually supportive of the peace movement
instead backed the Clinton Administration¹s aggression against Yugoslavia,
either because they believed the anti-Milosovic propaganda or because it was
a war initiated by a ³lesser-evil² Democratic president. A vocal antiwar
opposition developed nonetheless, under the leadership of former Attorney
General Ramsey Clark and the International Action Center. We were associated
with the IAC at the time under the name Mid-Hudson National People¹s
Campaign, and with other groups in the Hudson Valley organized several
antiwar rallies, meetings and a bus trip to a lively demonstration at the
Yugoslavia was a composite of several Balkan states formed after the
collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War I. It was ruled by a
monarchy. The country waged an eventually victorious resistance war against
German occupation during World War II. After the defeat of the Nazis and
their domestic collaborators, the country became socialist under the
leadership of Josip Broz Tito, who broke with the Soviet union in 1949 and
ruled until he died in 1980.
The multiethnic, multinational Yugoslav federation had been disintegrating
throughout the 1990s, following the implosion of the USSR. One constituent
republic after another ‹ Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia, and
Bosnia-Herzegovina  ‹ encouraged by Germany, the U.S.,  and others, broke
away from the federation, resulting in civil wars. By this time also, most
of the socialist aspects of Yugoslavia had been discarded.
When President Clinton launched the March 1999 war, Yugoslavia consisted
only of Serbia and Montenegro. Thousands of Serbians died during the war,
and the country¹s infrastructure was destroyed in the relentless bombings,
but the U.S. did not lose one member of the armed forces. The reason was
that the entire war was waged by high-altitude bombers flying beyond
anti-aircraft range, and missiles from afar. In addition, Clinton ordered
severe economic sanctions against Yugoslavia, suggesting they would be
removed only upon the downfall of Milosovic.
The U.S. and its NATO minions went to war arguing that the Belgrade
government under Milosovic was responsible for mass murders of ethnic
Albanians who were supposedly buried in collective graves in Kosovo. This
was the main pretext for destroying Yugoslavia. After the war,
U.S.-supported UN grave inspection teams searched the entire area. The UN
reported back nearly a year and a half later.  Here is how we described its
conclusions in the Nov 29, 2000, Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter:
³Carla del Ponte, chief prosecutor of the UN war crimes tribunal, told the
French news agency Agence France-Presse Nov. 22 that the Œtask of exhuming
bodies from the Kosovo war is complete.¹  The number of bodies found was far
lower than official estimates. At one time during the height of the 78-day
U.S./NATO bombing war against Yugoslavia last year, the allies speculated
225,000 ethnic Albanians may have been murdered in the province of Kosovo by
Yugoslav Serbs, who were said to be burying the bodies in mass graves.  The
number was reduced to 100,000 soon after.
³When the bombing ended [in June, 1999], U.S./NATO official figures were
immediately cut to 10,000. At that point, the UN set up teams to scour the
countryside, digging for bodies. After 16 months of effort,  del Ponte told
AFP, Œalmost 4,000 bodies or parts of bodies¹ were detected. It was not
clear whether the bodies were all those of the ethnic Albanians or included
Serbs as well. There also was no way of fully determining whether several
hundred victims of the U.S. bombings were included in the count or whether
the dead were all civilians or included soldiers.  Antiwar activists last
year evidently were correct when they charged that Œthe U.S./NATO reports of
mass killings are being grossly exaggerated in order to provide a
justification for the murderous bombing campaign.¹²
The entire war, in our view, was based on fraudulent allegations not
dissimilar to the lies about weapons of mass destruction and ties to
al-Qaeda disseminated  by the Bush Administration in the months leading up
to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Three months after Yugoslavia¹s capitulation, the 18 existing Yugoslav
opposition political parties (some totalitarian dictatorship!) coalesced
into an entity named the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) ‹ a coalition
organized, directed and financed by Washington.. The U.S. charged that
Milosovic had repressed the ³democratic opposition,² but that wasn¹t true.
The 18 parties were extremely factional and always squabbled with each
other, until the Clinton Administration brought them together after the war.
The coalition defeated Milosovic in the election 49% to 39%. Many voters
turned against Milosovic because they believed it was the only way in which
to achieve a permanent peace with the U.S. and to rebuild the country with
Washington¹s aid after the bombings.
There was supposed to be a runoff election if no party attained 50% of the
vote. The opposition coalition, which had demanded that stipulation, refused
to participate in the runoff, insisting without proof that it won over 50%
in the first round. Within days, hundreds of thousands of people supporting
the DOS arrived in Belgrade to take possession of the Parliament building
and the government-owned media. Milosovic refused to order the army and
security forces to fire at the demonstrators.
Milosovic stepped down in the face of a coup. and Vojislav Kostunica, a
minor figure in Serb nationalist politics, was sworn in as president. He
became the DOS candidate because he had the fewest enemies among the
coalition parties. 
Kostunica, a ³pro-Western liberal,² quickly aligned his country with
victorious  U.S. and NATO aggressors, renewed ties to the IMF and the World
Bank, and in effect kidnapped the former president and bundled him off to
the Netherlands for a UN trial that Washington sought.
Milosovic, acting as his own lawyer, conducted an extraordinary defense
during his years in court, fighting off high blood pressure and a weak heart
in the process. He often complained about not receiving adequate medical
care and unsuccessfully sought treatment by Russian doctors. Death was said
to be from heart failure, although there is speculation about other causes
and there are calls for an independent inquiry.
The tribunal announced March 14 that Milosevic¹s death ³terminates these
proceedings.² Some progressive observers believe that, given more time, the
former president¹s exhaustive legal arguments might have prevailed against
some or all the charges against him.
According to a New York Times report from Belgrade March 19, ³well over
50,000 Serbs massed on the central square here on Saturday in a public wake²
for Milosevic. The newspaper then quoted Milorad Vucelic, deputy president
of Milosevic¹s Socialist Party: ³We are bidding farewell to the best one
among us.²
Milosovic was neither perfect nor much of a socialist. He made some bad
decisions in the civil wars as did his seceding opponents.  He cannot be
immune to criticism. But the demonization campaign by Washington was little
more than a preparation for war and regime-change, similar to allegations
against other national leaders who were former friends  before the U.S.
invaded Panama  in 1989 and Iraq in 2003.
Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's propaganda chief, famously said, "If you repeat a
big lie long enough, people will begin to believe it."  This certainly
applies to the propaganda campaign against Milosovic, which continues all
the way to his grave.
In the days following his death, the New York Times among other papers,
shamefully published a cartoon showing the former Yugoslav president
standing next to the Devil on an outcropping in Hell looking down upon
tormented multitudes in the flames, saying to the evil spirit, ³Not bad, but
I could improve your operation here.²
Milosovic may not have been a saint, but to the extent that he was a sinner
his presidential actions couldn¹t compare in duplicity and violence to those
commanders-in-chief in Washington who launched unjust imperialist wars
against essentially defenseless countries for hegemony and political or
economic profit. 

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