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MORE THAN JUST COMMENTARY:
A Progressive Legacy: Bill Clinton's Long War in Serbia Rages On
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
There are still a small number of Progresso-Americans who will condemn Bill Clinton's war on Serbia as a war crime; but most P-As are perfectly happy to laud this precusor to Bush's Iraq atrocity as one of America's many "good wars."Progresso-Americans (P-As) are of course united in their rightful condemnation of George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq. Those on the milder, "centrist" side will boldly aver that the invasion was a "mistake," was "done badly," or was "the wrong war at the wrong time." A much smaller number -- those not seeking jobs with the Obama administration or sinecures in "serious" media outlets and think tanks -- will denounce it forthrightly as an act of evil, a war crime of monstrous, murderous proportions. But all the groovy great and good agree that the Iraq War has been a major harsher of America's buzz.
But when it comes to an earlier instance of a young president from a Southern state waging a unilateral, undeclared, unsanctioned war against a nation that had not attacked the United States and posed no threat to it, progressive unity falls by the wayside -- although the "serious" vs. "shrill" dynamic still holds. There are still a small number of Progresso-Americans who will condemn Bill Clinton's war on Serbia as a war crime; but most P-As are perfectly happy to laud this precusor to Bush's Iraq atrocity as one of America's many "good wars."
Noam Chomsky, arguably the most "unserious" analyst of American policy out there, has, along with many others, thoroughly demolished the alleged case for Clinton's civilian-murdering assault on Serbia: i.e., that the Serbs were carrying out vast atrocities and mass displacements in Kosovo that could only be stopped by NATO bombs. Chomsky followed the radical course of actually consulting the abundance of official documentation on the run-up to the war. (Consulting documents! You can tell he's no journalist.).There he found something curious:
Chomsky's September 2008 article, "Humanitarian Imperialism," in Monthly Review, will give you chapter and verse of this case, which he has also spelled out at book length. But what is perhaps most interesting is the new confirmation he has found for the real casus belli behind the mass bombing operation dubbed, with truly macabre cynicism, "Merciful Angel":
And needless to say, the malign effects of Bill Clinton's stern chastisement of Serbia for its failure to get with the globalization program -- i.e., the very program that has now brought the entire world to the brink of economic ruin -- are still going on. The BBC reports this week that thousands of unexploded cluster bombs still litter the Serbian landscape, still killing people or maiming them horribly -- and will keep on doing so for decades:
In a bitter irony, the cluster bomb problem has been made worse by the fact that Serbia has indeed finally gotten with the program and is seeking to please the Potomac overlords. The Serbian government has joined the bipartisan elite in Washington in refusing to sign the international treaty banning cluster bombs -- a refusal which hinders efforts to cleanse the country of the overlord's leavings. As the BBC reports:
Doesn't it make you feel good -- doesn't it make you feel humanitarian -- to know that little children are still being killed in your name, even ten years after Bill Clinton killed hundreds of innocent civilians to make the Serbs open up their markets and cut their social programs? And isn't it great that the Clintonistas are back in the saddle again, riding herd with Barack Obama? Doesn't that fill you with hope for the future? Why, there are probably thousands of 12-year-olds yet unborn who will die from cluster bombs yet undropped in humanitarian interventions yet unlaunched by the defenders of humanity.
NOTE: We would be remiss if we failed to note one of the most paradigmatic statements issued by a "public intellectual" in the United States during the bombing of civilians in Serbia. It was, as you might expect, our old friend (and a friend to all humankind), the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist of the New York Times, Mr. Thomas Friedman, who in April 1999 called explicitly for the infliction of a war crime -- the targeting of civilian infrastructure -- on Serbia:
Here is the true face of the American elite: ignorant, arrogant and bloodthirsty. But serious; oh-so-serious.
(For more on this most worthy gentleman, see Hideous Kinky: The Genocidal Fury of Thomas Friedman. This piece is about a later genocidal fury, by the way, directed at the people of Iraq.)
Chris Floyd has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years, working in the United States, Great Britain and Russia for various newspapers, magazines, the U.S. government and Oxford University. Floyd co-founded the blog Empire Burlesque, and is also chief editor of Atlantic Free Press. He can be reached at email@example.com.
This column is republished here with the permission of the author.
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This story was published on March 24, 2009.
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