The U.N.-sponsored World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance in Durban, South Africa, turned out to be every bit as odious as its name promised. It furnished an occasion for the talking heads, otherwise-unemployable NGO apparatchiks, and sanctimonious windbags around the globe to do their thing, and—in particular—to agonize over the departure of the American delegation because of a declaration accusing Israel of racism. Not a single mainstream American commentator dared state the obvious: that the United States should never have attended this circus in the first place. Simon Jenkins, however, called this spade a spade in his September 5 column in the Times of London:
So Fidel Castro is the “world’s greatest democrat”, China is an authority on press freedom and Americans are guilty of the genocide of 800,000 people “for not intervening in Rwanda”. Welcome to the United Nations . . . The only question was which lobbyist could shout loudest, to bid for more cash back home by winning a paragraph in a meaningless resolution.
Durban symbolizes the global institutions that have lost all accountability and sense of proportion, writes Jenkins, and its fixation on “racism” was the nadir of the genre. It was planned as the first big outing for the most outrageous legal con in modern history, the demand that “white” states pay “black” people “reparations” for the slave trade:
This claim is being led by American lawyers whose mouths are so salivating at the “biggest class action in history” . . . This would be absurd were it not now raw politics. The American Democratic Party is committed to reparations at least for black Americans. . . . In Britain, there is growing pressure for organisations to confess to “institutional racism”. By forcing such Maoist apologies, lawyers hope to prise open huge claims for compensation, though no one seems clear about who would benefit. It is hard to imagine more fertile soil for racial disharmony. . . . This is nonsense. Yet there is no argument so indefensible as some fool cannot be found to defend it.
The pretense that the ills of black people everywhere are rooted in some “recalled ethnic memory syndrome” of the slave trade, Jenkins concludes, is a perversion of history geography, anthropology, and economics, and the most patronizing gesture of Western moral superiority.
But instead of staying a thousand miles away from Durban on all these grounds, the U.S. delegation left the proceedings because of yet another declaration in the “Zionism equals racism” series. The United States thus got the worst of both worlds. Being represented—even by a low-level delegation—conferred American legitimacy on an event as idiotic as it was sinister. But being the only country to leave early in disgust over a slight directed at Israel confirmed the suspicions of those commentators who maintain that U.S. Middle East policy is fatally flawed because of America’s passionate attachment. Writing in Al-Ahram Weekly (August 30), Edward Said explored the effects of media newspeak:
In Israel’s case, which has always had the intention to silence or make Palestinians invisible as it robbed them of their land, this has been in effect a suppression of the truth, or a large part of it, as well as a massive falsification of history . . . And what has made this campaign so effective is a long-standing sense of Western guilt for anti-Semitism. What could be more efficient than to displace that guilt onto another people, the Arabs, and there y feel not only justified but positively assuaged that something good has been done for a much-maligned and banned people? To defend Israel at all costs—even though it is in military occupation of Palestinian land, has a powerful military, and has been killing and wounding Palestinians in a ratio of four or five to one—is the goal of propaganda. That, plus going on with what it does, but seeming to be a victim just the same.
Telling the Palestinian side of the story in the United States remains an uphill fight even when the authors are Westerners, says George S. Hishmeh in the Jordan Times (September 5). Kathleen Christison, a former analyst with the CIA, spent years seeking a commercial publisher for her recent book, The Wound of Dispossession: Telling the Palestinian Story. It was repeatedly turned down because, as one publisher said, the Palestinian perspective was not “the path to commercial success”:
[O]ne major American university press on the East Coast, whose name she asked me to withhold, “came close to publishing it but allowed it to be suppressed by those who object to airing the Palestinian story.” The details of this mind-boggling, nine-month review process . . . must come as a shock to free-thinking Americans: “This episode was instructive. After two peer reviewers and, on the basis of their advice, the editor-in-chief recommended publication, a faculty board that oversees the press cautioned that the reviewers might be perceived as ‘too pro-Palestinian’ and instructed that the book be reviewed by two pro-Israeli readers. These two readers both strongly condemned the book and urged that it not be published.”
The irrepressible Benjamin Netanyahu is talking again—and causing trouble, according to a Tel Aviv paper. Arabs have increased reasons for anxiety now that former prime minister Netanyahu is saying publicly that Israel should upgrade its nuclear weapons capability (which has never been admitted) to include a “second strike” if Iran launches a first strike. Translation: Israel already has nuclear weapons and should let her Muslim neighbors know. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was outraged by this candor and is threatening the former prime minister with jail.
Palestinian rights are not a top priority for the establishment, but those of illegal aliens are. “As many rights as possible, for as many immigrants as possible, as soon as possible” was the battle cry of Mexico’s President Vicente Fox when he came to Washington on September 5. His American supporters, ever concerned about the “safety” of illegals as they sneak across the border, do not know—or perhaps do not want it known—that Fox has initiated a “Southern Plan,” using mass deportations and a stepped-up military presence in anti-immigrant operations to choke off the flow of Central Americans crossing into Mexico from Guatemala. According to a feature in the Mexican news magazine Proceso (June 26):
Over a period of 15 days, starting on June 4, the southern border of Mexico was the stage for a large scale police action that resulted in more than 6,000 deportations of illegal aliens to Guatemala from Mexico . . . The prelude, known as “orderly and secure repatriation,” mobilized over 200 police agents for several weeks. They checked hotels, parks, bars, brothels, and public areas in search of illegal aliens living in border cities . . . The Mexican army was used to cordon off certain areas . . . and buses carrying deportees were moving out on a daily basis . . . Now that the deportees have been moved out, crime has begun to decrease.
Perhaps the United States should follow President Fox’s example, rather than his rhetoric. The INS, assisted by the Army and hundreds of police agents (if it cannot do the job alone), should do no more to protect our southern border than its Mexican counterparts do to protect theirs—random checks, roadblocks, etc. When the flow of illegals across the southern border is reduced to one percent of those who try, the problem of illegal immigration will be solved.
In the first week of September, the mainstream press carried agency reports of “wild and extravagant accusations” by the president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, who accused representatives of the Western powers of plotting a “Yugoslav scenario” as his country’s presidential campaign drew to a close. But the image of a paranoid dictator unjustly accusing benevolent foreigners of wrongdoing did not fit with an extraordinary report from Moscow in the Times of London (September 3):
The US Embassy in Belarus has admitted that it is pursuing a policy similar to that in 1980s Nicaragua, in which anti-government Contra rebels were funded and supported. President Lukashenko, a dictatorial Communist, is heading for victory in presidential elections on Sunday. In an unusual admission, Michael Kozak, the US Ambassador to Belarus, said in a letter to a British newspaper that America’s “objective and to some degree methodology are the same” in Belarus as in Nicaragua, where the US backed the Contras against the left-wing Sandinista Government in a war that claimed at least 30,000 lives.
The ambassador’s disclosure, the Times continued, has coincided with reports in several European newspapers indicating that former U.S. servicemen believed to be working for the CIA were escorted, with Albanian guerrillas, from the village of Aracinovo in Macedonia last June. Ambassador Kozak apparently has had a career similar to his illustrious colleague William Walker: He served as principal deputy assistant sceretary for inter-American affairs under Presidents Reagan and Bush, working in Panama, Nicaragua, and El Salvador, and also served as ambassador to Cuba. While Ambassador Kozak was stationed in Nicaragua, President Reagan famously compared the Contras to the French Resistance fighters. However, the Times continues, there is a problem:
President Lukashenko is popular and most Belarussians fear that a new, pro-Western leader would bring the poverty experienced by many Russians and Ukrainians after the transition to a market economy. A spokesman for the US Embassy in Minsk told the Times that the embassy helped to fund 300 non-governmental organisations (NGOs), including non-state media, but did not fund political parties, since that is banned by law. He admitted that some of the NCOs were linked to those who were “seeking political change”.
Three hundred NGOs? And still no change in President Lukashenko’s stubborn popularity? Small wonder the BBC’s North American broadcasts claimed on September 5 that “his country is home to an authoritarian regime often compared to that of deposed Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.” In Belarus, President Kozak will have to try harder in the years ahead. How ever, if is a comforting thought that, in Macedonia at least, all will be well now that NATO has entered the country—at least, that is what the media would have us believe. The ugly truth was revealed by Chronicles‘ foreign-affairs editor, Srdja Trifkovic, in an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer on August 30:
On the eve of the war in Kosovo, I wrote in the Times of London that NATO support of ethnic Albanian separatists in Kosovo would unleash a chain reaction whose first victim would be Macedonia, because “once KLA veterans acting as policemen start to patrol Kosovo, the rising expectations of Macedonia’s Albanians will be impossible to contain.” “Nonsense,” a U.S. State Department official snapped at a conference in Washington a few days later. “The problem in Kosovo is Milosevic. In Macedonia the Albanians don’t need to make trouble because their rights are respected.” The issue was that of “human rights,” he said, not nationalism: the notion of Greater Albania was a Serb paranoid invention.
Two-and-a-half years, one bombing, and $100 billion later, we know better. The same pattern of NATO blunders is continuing, but to correct it, we need to recognize that no institutional arrangements short of ethnic partition will assuage Albanian separatism.