PERSPECTIVErnUnder Western Liesrnby Thomas FlemingrnOne hot evening at the end of August I was walking uprnSouth Michigan Avenue with an Irish-American linguistrnon the way to eat in a German-American restaurant. The newsrnwas filled with reports on the NATO bombing raids against thernBosnian Serbs, but no one on the street seemed to care that anrnAmerican President had declared death and devastationrnagainst a people whom neither he nor his principal advisorsrncould locate on a map. Looking out at all the smiling faces ofrnrich proletarians on their way home to thaw out the suppersrnthat would complement an evening with Friends, I thought ofrnhow unfair we had been to blame the Germans who livedrnthrough the Third Reich, oblivious to the crimes committed byrnthe Nazis.rnThe Germans did not know because they did not want tornknow, any more than their American cousins wanted to thinkrnabout what their own generals were doing to Dresden, to Milan,rnto Hiroshima, any more than the well-dressed serfs out herernon the streets of Chicago are willing to listen, even for a minute,rnto the crackpot on the corner denouncing the Serbian genocide.rn”We didn’t know; Peter Jennings never told us.”rnYou might want to argue that this indifference to foreign policy,rncriminal or not, is a sign of health, along the lines of “Lordrngive me the serenity to accept what I cannot change.” Butrnthere is a difference between serenity and this bovine placidityrnthat blinds us to our own government’s criminal actions. Arnpeople this docile deserves the fate that is in store for them,rnwhen their rulers will turn their Balkans-hardened troopsrnagainst them.rnIt is a dissociating experience, going between the CNN reportsrnin my hotel room and the Symposium on the Balkans Warrnsponsored by the Lord Byron Foundation. On the screen is arnseries of official spokesmen—fresh-faced kids boasting andrngloating over what the richest and most powerful nations of thernworld can do to punish a million Orthodox Christians whornhave endured fire and sword, conquest and slavery for over 500rnyears, while down at the conference, one competent expertrnafter another patiently explains the facts of the situation—factsrnthat will never enter the pages of an American newspaper untilrnit is too late.rnMichael Shuttleworth, a diplomat and EC monitor, tellsrnhow he checked out a story that the Serbs were using Muslimrnpatients in an asylum to clear minefields. After much effort, herndiscovers the truth, that brave Serb doctors and nurses haernstayed close to the front in order to minister to their charges,rnbut the journalist to whom he gives the story acts on the principlernenunciated in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: “Thisrnis the West, when the legend becomes truth, print the legend.”rnIt is hardly worth the effort to pretend that American newspapersrnare independent. Ben Bradlee, former editor of thernWashington Post, was asked by Peter or Dan or Tom about thern8/CHRONICLESrnrnrn