The nostalgic should derive some comfort from the knowledge that, in one respect at least, the 1930″s are back: Dr. Joseph Goebbels is alive and well, and living in Atlanta. According to the Dutch daily Trouw (February 21), CNN employed military specialists in “psychological operations” (psyops) disguised as journalists during the Kosovo war:

“Psyops personnel, soldiers and officers, have been working in CNN’s headquarters in Atlanta through our program Training With Industry,” said Major Thomas Collins of the U.S. Army Information Service . . . “They worked as regular employees of CNN. Conceivably, they would have worked on stories during the Kosovo war. They helped in the production of news.”

Trouw points out that this revelation raises serious doubts about CNN’s journalistic integrity and independence. The military personnel belonged to the Fourth Psychological Operations Group, stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and charged with spreading “selected information.” CNN proved evasive at first: “I don’t believe that we would employ military personnel; it doesn’t seem like something we would normally do,” said CNN spokeswoman Megan Mahoney.

But when the U.S. Army Information Service confirmed the news, Mahoney said she would have to contact CNN’s senior officials. However, on Sunday evening CNN still could not provide an official statement to Trouw.

Trouw concludes by pointing out that CNN has been accused of being “one-sided, overly emotional, over-simplified and relying too heavily on NATO officials.”, commenting on the story and a subsequent report by Geoff Metcalf on their website, remarked that “what CNN and the U.S. military are doing is reminiscent of those dark years in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, when Goebbels kept the masses ignorant and misinformed”:

If you still think major media players like CNN are “fair” and “unbiased” and “honest” in the way they present the news, you’re hopeless. . . . [T]hat concept—”presenting the news”—is revealing in and of itself. Goebbels “presented the news” to the German people; the German press did not “report” it. Now we know that—at least when i t comes to military adventures that are likely less than popular with the American people—CNN, with Uncle Sam’s help, is also “presenting the news” rather than reporting it. Just like Goebbels.

Those psyops soldiers need to try harder if they want us all to think politically correct thoughts: According to a poll released on March 2, “74% of Americans oppose defending Kosovo militarily,” and similar percentages think the United States shouldn’t defend Taiwan (69 percent), Israel (59 percent), or South Korea (72 percent).

The poll results are probably troubling to the Taiwanese government. In the aftermath of Kosovo, the Chinese leadership stepped up its rhetoric regarding Taiwan and, in early March, stated categorically that it would not renounce the use of force to take the island. Yet only 31 percent of Americans said the United States should defend Taiwan. Apparently, the views of the overwhelming majority of Americans don’t count with the best Congress money can buy:

Last month, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling for closer U.S. military ties between Taiwan and the United States. The Taiwan Relations Act already states the United States will aid in Taiwan’s defense if Taiwan is attacked.

On this issue, don’t expect mature, statesmanlike diplomatic poise on either side of the political divide, however. According to Insight Magazine, “Casper Weinberger told a meeting on Capitol Hill that ‘it might not be wise for America to go to war with China, but it might be necessary.'” Unwise but necessary? What does that mean?

Small wonder that the arms trade is booming all over the world. The only guarantee against becoming the target of some future “humanitarian” campaign is the ability to strike back—hard. Russia’s top defense industry official announced on March 7 that Moscow expected to earn at least $4.3 billion from foreign arms sales this year. While this was taken as a sign of the recovery of Russia’s struggling military-industrial complex, world arms sales topped $55.8 billion in 1998, according to the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies; half of the sales were made by the United States.

Tolerance toward the tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers stationed in Germany is in danger of snapping after the arrest of three American teenagers for murder. All sons of servicemen at the U.S. base at Darmstadt, the youths, ages 14 to 18, have confessed to throwing rocks onto six cars from an overpass. The attacks caused the deaths of two women and injured five other motorists. “Killer kids from Darmstadt,” ran the headline in Bild:

Relations between Americans and their German hosts are usually good, perhaps because they have almost nothing to do with each other. But the three boys on Darmstadt’s Lincoln Estate evidently found life dull, and while hanging out at the local bowling alley they invented a new game. For weeks they have been going to a nearby motorway and throwing stones at passing cars. It turned deadly serious on Monday night. The teenagers grabbed 10 rocks, each weighing about 8kg, from a local building site. They launched them from the overpass, cheering each time they scored a hit. Two women driving separate cars died instantly.

Now the boys are under arrest, facing a German trial for murder. The “killer kids” can expect to spend up to ten years in a German jail if convicted. But the funny part is the absence of this story from our own media. Had German teens from the embassy in D.C. murdered Washingtonians on the Beltway in a similar fashion, it would have been headline news, from sea to shining sea.

So who can blame those Europeans who wish to develop a defense structure that is independent of the United States? Britain’s Daily Telegraph (March 6) reports that the former NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana, who is the present head of security for the European Union, has angered France by trying to end its hopes for a European army. He and his allies within the European Union even:

proposed allowing Nato officials to attend meetings of the EU’s new military committees, causing consternation in Paris, where the move is seen as tantamount to handing the new bodies to Washington on a plate. Paris wants to keep the Americans locked out until the new institutions have grown to maturity and established the final blueprint for EU defence integration.

At a summit in Helsinki in December, E.U. leaders vowed to develop by 2003 the ability to deploy up to 60,000 soldiers within 60 days and to sustain that force for up to a year. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has summed up U.S. concerns about the plan in what she calls the “three D’s”: The European defense initiative must not “decouple” the United States from Europe; it must not “duplicate” NATO structures and capabilities; and it must not “discriminate” against NATO members that do not belong to the European Union.

Mrs. Albright’s stock in Europe is somewhat low right now, as even “mainstream” publications have unveiled her bellicose deviousness in dealings with America’s “allies.” The Sunday Telegraph of London (February 27) is one example:

When news of a massacre in the Kosovan village of Racak reached Washington early last year, Madeleine Albright’s reaction was immediate. “Spring has come early,” the US Secretary of State told Sandy Berger, the National Security Adviser, after hearing that the corpses of 45 ethnic Albanians had been found following an attack by Serb forces. Ms Albright, one of the West’s leading anti-Serb hawks . . . knew that she would have to move quickly to take advantage of the Racak effect. “It was the kind of event we wanted to avoid,” she told me. “But the fact that it had happened meant that it had to be a galvanising event and we had to move the Allies as rapidly as we could.”

The whole thing was a setup, of course, as our readers have known for a year now. The Sunday Telegraph‘s reporter adds that

Ms Albright and Mr Thaci made their candid admissions to me as I compiled a BBC documentary to mark the first anniversary of a war which the West presented as a moral crusade against ethnic cleansing but which, in reality, was rather more complex . . . Even on the North Atlantic Council, Nato’s governing body, there was profound scepticism about rebel intentions. Confidential minutes taken by one member nation on November 13, 1998, speak of the KLA as “the main initiator of the violence which is threatening the ceasefire arrangements .”

But the Americans took a firm line:

Three days after Racak Ms Albright persuaded President Clinton to promise that US troops would be part of a peacekeeping force in the event of a political agreement . She then began to work on the European allies. They wanted another round of diplomacy. She declared bluntly that she had had enough of meetings that did not lead anywhere. “I remember telling the Europeans that I was not going to come to any more meetings where nothing happened until you give me your word that we will have a Nato activation order authorising the threat of the use of force.”

The rest, as they say, is history, in which Mrs. Albright’s place is assured. So is that of Mr. Milosevic. Very few Western journalists have grasped the essence of the Serbs’ drama, squeezed between the hammer of NATO bombs and the anvil of Milosevic’s ruthless regime. One exception is Marcus Gee, writing in Canada’s Globe and Mail (March 1):

An evil lord rules over a poor medieval town. The lord is so cruel to his people, and such a nuisance to his neighbours, that all the nobles of the land band together to overthrow him. There is one problem: None of the nobles are willing to shed a drop of their own blood. So, instead of attacking the lord in his castle, they surround the town and let nothing in or out—no food, no water, no wagons, no people. Eventually, the nobles reason, the townsfolk will be so hungry and poor that they will rise up and overthrow the lord themselves. This, in a nutshell, is the Western plan for unseating Slobodan Milosevic, the evil lord of Serbia. NATO bombed him into pulling out of Kosovo last spring, but it stopped short of toppling him.

Since the end of the Kosovo war last June, the victorious Western allies have tightened the economic noose on Serbia, choking off all legal trade and reducing the Serbian economy to a gasping wreck. Western leaders insist that, as long as Mr Milosevic is in power, there will be no end to sanctions and no Western help in repairing the billions of dollars in damage from last year’s airstrikes.

“A cruder and more stupid policy would be hard to imagine,” Gee concludes.