“Target: America,” screamed the headlines following last October’s attack on the U.S.S. Cole in Aden. The nation was supposedly outraged. But Joe Sobran gave us a more accurate reading. “Nobody really cared,” he wrote; ordinary Americans know perfectly well that they weren’t the targets:
A warship, allegedly “their” warship, was. They are vague about why their “defense” forces are scattered all over the globe, but they understand that it’s none of their business, really. These foreign policy decisions are made by committees of experts in some Washington office, prattling of “U.S. interests,” meaning their own. The rest of us aren’t invited to sit in on the meetings. In a democracy, the people are allowed to vote. They have no say in running an empire.
Bill Clinton promptly vowed revenge, but—as Sobran pointed out—the thing about private, unauthorized violence is that we don’t know whom to retaliate against:
There are no fleets of Arab destroyers off the coast of Florida, no Chinese fleets off San Diego . . . The only enemies we have are the enemies our government continues to make for us, particularly by meddling in the Middle East. Countless people are “anti-American” in the sense that they don’t want to be ruled or bullied by this country and its allies and clients; but they aren’t anti-American in the sense that they would wish us ill, let alone try to hurt us, if we minded our own business.
Which is exactly what the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, a think-tank with close ties to the U.S. government, does not do. On October 18, CSIS issued a draft report in which Palestinian leaders were urged to forget about human rights when acting against opponents of the “peace process” (www.csis.org/stratassessment/reports/IsraelPalestine.pdf):
[T]here will be no future peace, or stable peace process, if the Palestinian security forces do not act ruthlessly and effectively . . . They must halt civil violence even if this sometimes means using excessive force by the standards of Western police forces. They must be able to halt terrorist and paramilitary action by Hamas and Islamic Jihad even if this means interrogations, detentions and trials that are too rapid and lack due process.
The report’s author, Anthony Cordesman, argues that both sides will have to conduct “aggressive security operations for years to come” which may have “a high price tag in terms of human rights”:
Effective counter-terrorism relies on interrogation methods that border on psychological and/or physical torture, arrests and detentions that are “arbitrary” by the standards of civil law, break-ins and intelligence operations that violate the normal rights of privacy, levels of violence in making arrests that are unacceptable in civil oases, and measures that involve the innocent (or at least not provably directly guilty) in arrests and penalties.
Such methods have already been tested in Kosovo. For the reality of life there, we turn to eXile, an Internet magazine published by American expatriates in Moscow. One of them, Mark Ames, filed a report from Kosovo (October 26) that is part Graham Greene, part Dante:
The internationals working here for the UN administration, for the OSCE, for NGOs and news organizations, are the most demoralized, cynical group of people this side of the Moscow Times headquarters. Most came in hating the Serbs, and found themselves soon hating the Albanians at least as much, and now are just trying to save their sanity and get out of this hellhole before they’re dragged down with it. “We call the Albanians ‘rats’ and ‘cockroaches,'” one top UNMIK official told me. “If they gave guns to the internationals here, there’d be another genocide. Much bigger than what the Serbs did. Much worse.”
The U.N. administrators, Ames explains, are stuck with a monster of their own creation and know that any open confrontation with the officially disbanded KLA would lead to “a rapid undoing of the Western presence, a complete collapse, and bloodshed.” That may be happening anyway:
The day before I arrived for a piece I was going to write on the German occupation force . . . the KLA had set off a car bomb in Dragash, a Muslim Slav enclave outside of Prizren. The bomb went off one house away from an American working for the OSCE, and in front of the house of an OSCE interpreter. The same day, a bomb had gone off just a couple hundred meters away from the UNMIK police headquarters in Prizren.
Compared to Kosovo, a tropical island right in the middle of the Indian Ocean by the name of Diego Garcia sounds like paradise. But according to the London Guardian (September 1), Washington’s concern for human rights does not extend to the island’s less fortunate inhabitants, who were removed in 1973 to make room for one of the biggest U.S. Air Force bases abroad. According to a confidential State Department letter leaked to the paper, resettlement of the islands “would significantly degrade the strategic importance of a vital military asset unique in the region.” The exiles want to repopulate two islands some 140 miles from the base, but an assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs wrote to his British colleagues
to express the United States government’s serious concern over the inevitable compromise to the current and future strategic value of Diego Garcia that would result from any move to settle a permanent resident population on any of the islands of the Chagos archipelago. In carrying out our defence and security responsibilities in the Arabian Gulf, the Middle East, south Asia and east Africa, Diego Garcia represents for us an all but indispensable platform . . . If a resident population were established on the Chagos archipelago, that could well imperil Diego Garcia’s present advantage as a base from which it is possible to conduct sensitive military operations that are important for the security of both our governments but that, for reasons of security, cannot be staged from bases near population centres.
The door may be closed to Diego Garcians, but—as we learn from the Times of London—”Bosnia opens the door to Europe for Iranian illegal immigrants” (August 31):
A senior United Nations official watched another planeload of Iranians fly into Sarajevo airport on what is becoming an almost daily smuggling run: “There should be a sign on the tarmac saying ‘Welcome to Bosnia-the open backdoor to Fortress Europe’,” he said . . . International investigators believe up to 10,000 migrants a month are arriving here by air and road and then smuggled through Bosnia’s largely unguarded borders on their way to the main European capitals.
The Times fails to point out that Bosnian Muslims (and especially their political class) desire to help as many of their Middle Eastern coreligionists as possible settle in the infidel West. This particular connection was explored in an article on Bosnia’s role in the smuggling of illegals published in the Middle East Newsline (September 17):
Iranian fighters who participated in the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo are illegally resettling in Western Europe. Russian diplomats said many of the Iranian fighters trying to enter Western Europe have participated in the current war in Chechnya. NATO said the Iranians have not been training in Bosnia but sources in the alliance acknowledge that the fighters have been traveling with their weapons.
Many of them will be heading to Berlin, Stuttgart, or Munich, which may be why, as the Independent reported on November 7, “the opposition Christian Democrats declared that foreigners were welcome in the Fatherland, provided they behaved just like Germans.” That is the message of a policy paper adopted by the party’s presidium:
I t features emotive terms, such as “patriotism,” “the nation,” and “the Fatherland” and also the new word “Leitkultur” which critics say is an ill-disguised synonym for “assimilation.” . . . Economic think-tanks say the country needs up to 250,000 immigrants every year to keep industry going and pay the pensions of the post-war generation.
The millions of Muslim Gastarbeiters in Germany may soon be followed by the veterans of the current intifada in the Middle East. Edward Said, a veteran critic of U.S. media bias in that conflict, was nevertheless occasionally allowed a few column-inches on the subject in national newspapers. After a recent diatribe in the Pakistani daily Dawn (www.dawn.com/2000/11/03/op.htm#l), however, he is likely to be banished from the national media:
The events . . . in Palestine have been a near-total triumph for Zionism in the United States for the first time since the modem re-emergence of the Palestinian national movement in the late 1960s. Political as well as public discourse has so definitively transformed Israel into the victim during the recent clashes, that even though 140 Palestinian lives were lost and close to 5000 casualties have been reported, it is still something called “Palestinian violence” that has disrupted the smooth and orderly flow of the “peace process.”
This mindset. Said says, is “truly staggering in its recklessness and were it not very much a practical, as well as actual distortion of reality one could quite easily be talking about a form of private mental derangement.”
The further peculiarity of American Zionism, which is a system of antithetical thought and Orwellian distortion, is that it is impermissible to speak of Jewish violence, or Jewish actions when it comes to Israel, even though everything done by Israel is done in the name of the Jewish people for and by a Jewish state.
Said ends by complaining that the American flag can be burned in public, but the systematic continuity of Israel’s 52-year treatment of the Palestinians is “a narrative with no permission to appear”:
There is simply no people in the world today whose killing on television screens seems to be considered by most American viewers to be acceptable as well-deserved punishment. This is the case with Palestinians whose daily loss of life in the past month i s herded under the rubric “the violence on both sides,” as if the stones and slings of young men thoroughly tired of injustice and repression were a major offence rather than the courageous resistance to a demeaning fate meted out to them not just by Israeli soldiers armed by America, but by a peace process designed to coop them up in Bantustans and reservations fit for animals.
Edward, it was nice knowing you. You might want to talk to Joe Sobran about starting your own newsletter, since that’s the only way you are likely to get published from now on.