Regular readers of this column are acquainted with the exact terms of the Rambouillet “peace” accords, which Serbia refused to sign, and for which reason it got bombed. The details of this American-sponsored plan are still unfit to print in the “mainstream” media in the United States, but the cat is out of the bag in Europe. Le Monde Diplomatique, La Repubblica, and others have written about “the plan that was not meant to be accepted.” In Britain, John Pilger was the first to blow the whistle (New Statesman, May 17):
Anyone scrutinising the Rambouillet document is left in little doubt that the excuses given for the subsequent bombing were fabricated. The peace negotiations were stage-managed, and the Serbs were told: surrender and be occupied, or don’t surrender and be destroyed. . . . Nato’s aim was the occupation not only of Kosovo, but effectively all of Yugoslavia. Nothing like this ultimatum has been put to a modern, sovereign European state. Of all the Hitler and Nazi analogies that have peppered the west’s propaganda, one i s never mentioned—Hitler’s proposal in 1938 to the British prime minister, Neville Chamberlain, that Germany occupy Czechoslovakia because ethnic Germans there had been “tortured”, “forced to flee the country” and “prevented from realising the right of nations to self-determination.” As a cover for German expansion. Hitler was laying the basis for a “humanitarian intervention”, whose fraudulence was no greater than Nato’s cover for its own worldwide expansion.
Pilger singled out chapter seven of the Rambouillet accords (“Status of Multinational Military Implementation Force”), which says a NATO force occupying Yugoslavia must have complete and unaccountable political power,
immune from all legal process, whether civil, administrative or criminal, [and] under all circumstances and at all times, immune from [all laws] governing any criminal or disciplinary offences which may be committed by Nato personnel in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia . . .
The accords also placed under NATO control the airwaves, broadcast frequencies, and “the entire electromagnetic spectrum.” Pilger’s conclusion is simple: “No government anywhere could accept this. It was a deliberate provocation.”
To her credit, Serbia chose bombs, and the indiscriminate killing of the Serbs-as-Serbs (not merely as the supposed members of “Milosevic’s war machine”) was well under way when the New Republic, in its May issue, published an article entitled “The New Serbia” by David Goldhagen of Harvard University. Now, if you are intent on indiscriminately killing the members of an ethnic, religious, or socioeconomic group, the preliminary groundwork is always the same—whether your name is Robespierre, Dzerzhinsky, Himmler, or Albright. You demonize that group, dehumanize it, and proclaim all of its members collectively guilty of some capital crime—such as being what they are. In his remarkable piece of prose, Goldhagen provided a textbook case of collective demonization and dehumanization of an entire group:
[I]f a people’s self-understanding of self-determination includes conquest, mass expulsion, and mass murder, the principle of self-determination is rendered moot. . . . The majority of the Serbian people, by supporting or condoning Milosevic’s eliminationist politics, have rendered themselves both legally and morally incompetent to conduct their own affairs and a presumptive ongoing danger to others.
Madeleine Albright is on record as having called “the Serbs” “awful,” Richard Holbrooke labeled them “murderous assholes,” and Senator Joseph Biden routinely calls them “illiterates, degenerates, rapists, baby killers, and cowards” on national television. With Professor Goldhagen, we finally have a quasi-scientific “justification” for this frenzied orgy of Serbophobia. His suggestion that Serbs should be “occupied, rehabilitated and punished” for their collective sins—so that Serbia could turn into a miniature version of Germany, which he terms “a force for democracy, cooperation, and prosperity”—also implies that they should experience Hamburg and Dresden if they resist. Roll out more B-52’s, Wesley!
Speaking of General Clark, evidence is emerging that his treatment of the civilians of Belgrade, Nis, and Pristina was foreshadowed by a role in subduing the Branch Davidian aggression at Waco six years ago. According to Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair (CounterPunch, May 21), in the wake of the initial disastrous BATF attempt to storm the compound on February 28, 1993, Texas Governor Ann Richards asked to consult with knowledgeable military personnel. Her request went to the U.S. Army base at Fort Hood, where the commanding officer of the U.S. Army’s III Corps referred her to the Cavalry Division of the III Corps, whose commander at the time was none other than Wesley Clark.
. . . Richards met with Wesley Clark’s number two, the assistant division commander, who advised her on military equipment that might be used in a subsequent raid. Clark’s man, at Richards’ request, also met with the head of the Texas National Guard. Two senior Army officers subsequently travelled to a crucial April 14 meeting in Washington, D.C. with Attorney General Janet Reno and Justice Department and FBI officials in which the impending April 19 attack on the compound was reviewed.
The 186-page “Investigation into the Activities of Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Towards the Branch Davidians,” prepared by the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight and submitted to Congress in 1996, does not name these two officers, but CounterPunch implies that one of them was probably Clark. One of the officers had reconnoitered the Branch Davidian compound a day earlier, on April 13. During the Justice Department meeting, one of the officers told Reno that, if the military had been called in to end a barricade situation as part of a military operation in a foreign country, it would focus its efforts on “taking out” the leader of the operation:
ultimately tanks from Fort Hood were used in the final catastrophic assault on the Branch Davidian compound on April 19. Certainly the Waco onslaught bears characteristics typical of Gen. Wesley Clark: the eagerness to take out the leader (viz., the Clark-ordered bombing of Milosevich’s private residence); the utter disregard for the lives of innocent men, women and children; the arrogant miscalculations about the effects of force; disregard for law, whether of the Posse Comitatus Act governing military actions within the United States or, abroad, the purview of the Nuremberg laws on war crimes and attacks on civilians.
On the subject of Nuremberg, the last surviving prosecutor from that war-crimes trial, Walter J. Rockier, strongly condemned Clark’s and Clinton’s war as illegal and immoral (Chicago Tribune, May 10).
The planning and launching of this war by the president heightens the abuse and undermining of warmaking authority under the Constitution. (It seems to be accepted that the president can order his personal army to attack any country he pleases). The bombing war also violates and shreds the basic provisions of the United Nations Charter and other conventions and treaties; the attack on Yugoslavia constitutes the most brazen international aggression since the Nazis attacked Poland to prevent “Polish atrocities” against Germans. The United States has discarded pretensions to international legality and decency, and embarked on a course of raw imperialism run amok. . . . [W]hen we, the self-anointed rulers of the planet, issue an ultimatum to another country, it is “surrender or die.”
That such conduct undermines the moral and social fabric of the country has been clear to traditionalist anti-imperialists all along. It is gratifying to find the same conclusion on the left end of the spectrum, in the Independent (May 23):
Violence is horrifying but it is also exciting . . . Tony Blair’s strictures against the media, when he complained about “refugee fatigue”, ignored the possibility that violent acts by the state, legitimately reported by the press, normalise bloodshed by bringing it into our everyday lives.
What passes for France’s intellectual scene these days was badly shaken by an open letter to President Jacques Chirac from Che Guevara’s old pal, Regis Debray (Le Monde, May 13). Debray traveled all over Serbia (including Kosovo) in May; he also visited Macedonia and, witnessing the misery of the refugees from Kosovo, wanted to go to the other side to see how “that kind of crime” was possible. Uncomfortable with “the ‘Intourist’ way of travelling or journalist bus-cruises,” he demanded and received from Serbian authorities the right to travel with his translator and his car, to stop wherever he wanted, and to talk to whomever he liked. His impressions were radically at odds with the received wisdom:
It is possible to buy the foreign policy of a country that’s what the U.S. does with countries in this region-but not its dreams, or its memories. If you could see the looks full of hate that Macedonian customs officers and policemen are sending to armored vehicles and tank convoys, that are coming every night from Salonika to Skopje, looks aimed at the arrogant crews oblivious of their surroundings, you’d understand that it’s easier to enter this battlefield than to escape from it . . . . Remember De Gaulle’s view of NATO: “An organization imposed on the Atlantic Alliance that represents nothing but the military and political underestimation of Western Europe by the US.” One day you [President Chirac] will have to explain the reasons why you changed this judgement.
When Debray asked a Belgrade dissident why Milosevic received an American delegation but not a French one, he was told, “It’s better to talk to the boss than to his servants.”
Debray’s views promptly drew stinging replies from France’s globalist liberals and neoconservatives. “Philosopher” and professional Serbophobe par excellence Bernard-Henri Levy entitled his reply “Farewell, Regis Debray” and called the open letter nothing less than a “live broadcast of an intellectual’s suicide.” But in an open letter to Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, a broad group of anti-interventionists —ranging from former Foreign Minister Claude Cheysson and some ex-ambassadors to filmmaker Costa Gavras and photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson—attacked the NATO campaign as the pretext for “a questionable new post-Cold War role” in a New World Order of which France should not be a part. The French squabbling over the bombing of Serbia has reached the point of vitriolic ad hominem abuse; even leftist sociologist Pierre Bourdieu—no stranger to intellectual sparring—has called for a “ceasefire” of rhetoric and some serious debate on the fundamental issues involved.
In the meantime, the “ceasefire” within America’s intellectual elite—on Kosovo and on any number of other issues affecting the future of this country—is continuing, as it has for some decades now. AUGUST 1999/27