January 8, 2001
Note from the Editor: This is the text of a speech by Geoff Berne delivered December 7, 2000 on the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison, Wisconsin. The event was presented by U.S. Out Now as part of "16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence." Sharing the program was fellow-Ohioan Greg Elich who presented photographic slides and audio-taped interviews made during an August 1999 trip to Yugoslavia, just two months after the end of NATO bombing, and a report on his November, 2000 trip to Iraq with an international delegation seeking to defy NATO sanctions against travel to that country. Berne and Elich reached a wide audience in Madison in appearances on WYOU television, WORT-FM radio, and West High School. Following this transcript Berne adds an Afterword. We think you will find this commentary particularly instructive.
I am happy to stand here tonight with Greg Elich and lend my support to
his unusual effort, as an individual American, as a journalist, and as an
activist, to throw light on the dark world of American wars in Yugoslavia
and Iraq. Greg has put himself in a category all his own by traveling to
the scenes of these two controversial wars and bringing back a graphic,
ground's eye view of the bombing in Yugoslavia's devastation, in
particular, such as Americans have not seen on television since the war in
Vietnam: cluster bombs that bore through the roofs of an entire hospital
parking lot full of cars, spewing uncountable numbers of mini-bombs
leaving walls of entire neighborhoods pocked with puncture holes,
uranium-tipped missiles that destroyed an entire factory that once
manufactured the Yugo automobile, and bombs that found their way down
chimneys to destroy eleven people in a family hiding in the basement of a
village home and the rest of their neighborhood as well. What you hear and
see in his program leaves no doubt that America has stepped over the line
of acceptable conduct in these wars, as even Amnesty International, whose
reports of wrongs committed against the Albanian population of Kosovo
helped win world acceptance for the NATO intervention in the first place,
has implied in a report released in April 2000 that criticized our
deliberate terror-bombing of innocent civilians.
Our focus tonight is primarily Yugoslavia. We come from two different perspectives: Greg, from Columbus, Ohio, has been a scholar and activist on the Yugoslavian question, and Iraq as well, since the early 90's, I, a writer and consultant for political campaigns in southwestern Ohio, who in March, 1999, had barely finished reading an explosive memoir by Panamanian military leader Manuel Antonio Noriega called America's Prisoner, in which he tells the inside story of America's invasion and conquest of Panama in 1989 -- when the bombing of Yugoslavia burst onto the country's television screens and sent me in frustration with what I was watching to my computer in search of information and an explanation of what exactly was going on.
Here I had just read how Noriega, the leader of a small but strategically located Central American nation, who defied America by shutting down the original School of the Americas and refusing to allow Panamanian territory to be the staging ground for the Contra war against the Sandinista revolutionary government in Nicaragua, was first depicted as a drug-trafficking fiend and machete-waving psychopath and then, as night follows day, targeted for a full-scale American land, sea, and air invasion in 1989 that was waged to capture him, bring him to justice for his "crimes," and bestow the glories of democracy on his suffering and tyrannized people. And now in 1999 here were America and 18 other NATO nations, with a population of 800 million people, going off on another Armageddon-style manhunt against yet another world class monster, Slobodan Milosevic, the President of Yugoslavia, a nation of 12 million, who somehow was never referred to as President Milosevic but only, like an evil character out of "Batman," as "Mr. Milosevic" or, for fans of "Rocky" movies, shortened to just "Slobo."
Surely, I thought as I tried to watch CNN, I'm not the only person who saw the movie "Wag the Dog" and could recognize that what was happening was a re-enactment of the very syndrome that the film portrayed - slick Hollywood cinematography being used to fabricate the image of kerchiefed women and children of Kosovo as innocent, helpless victims of this Serbian vampire. As days wore on I discovered a world of information on about two dozen websites that blasted to shreds every word of official "news" that the networks were dutifully reporting about the war. Here were two worlds of truth on two different screens and myself fleeing in desperation from the melodramas masquerading as news on the one screen and becoming an admittedly fanatical searcher for hard facts and documentation on the other.
I want to share with you some of the sobering discoveries about the Kosovo mission that I made in doing all this website researching. First of all, while it may seem pointless to beat a dead horse considering that the war was over before a movement of protest against it ever really got off the ground, the fact is that our war to destroy Yugoslavia is far from over and American occupation, American bases, and/or American economic domination in Bosnia and Kosovo could keep us involved with the fate of the "former" Yugoslavia for decades to come. After all, we have been in South Korea for 50 years.
I am tempted to call Iraq the Bush family's war and Kosovo the Clinton & Gore war. Together these two wars define the two men who have divided up the American voting public. Both wars used bombs cased in depleted uranium that has brought Gulf War syndrome [a.k.a. Balkans Syndrome], cancer, leukemia, and untold other suffering to the populations of the two countries. Both wars involved saturation bombing of civilian targets including power, water, and sewage facilities. Both wars were waged on the pretext of rescuing women and children from the hands of political leaders portrayed as degenerates and sadists: in Iraq followers of evil Saddam Hussein were said to have marched into Kuwaiti maternity wards and ripped thousands of infants right out of their hospital incubators, while in Bosnia Serbian soldiers were said (in all seriousness) to have committed between 50,000 and 100,000 rapes on the Slavic Muslim women and girls. The Bosnian mass rape stigma helped mobilize world opinion in favor of sanctions against fiendish Serb followers of the evil Slobodan Milosevic, a barbarian stigma that persists today as a rationale for the occupation of Kosovo by NATO, bringer of peace and civilization. Of course how a Bosnian Serb army of less than 30,000 could have spent all that time raping while still conducting other acts of persecution they were accused of such as burning, looting, beating, and uprooting a million people from their homes is a question that was never answered, much less raised by the Western media in their rush to proclaim Serb "crimes" as the ultimate in horror.
One of the reasons why the wildest atrocity figures were so widely believed was because of the success of a former officer in the State Department's Latin American division, William Walker, in staging for the cameras the discovery of a mass "grave" (actually a shallow ditch) with over forty Muslim bodies in the town of Racak. Though proof resonated around the world that the bodies must have been trucked in from another location and hence were not shot in a mass execution by "Milosevic's" hate-crazed Serbs the impression of Milosevic as a mass murderer of 100,000 ethnic Albanians endured even after international forensic teams sent in after the war by the UN abandoned an exhaustive search of Kosovo after being able to find only 2,800 bodies, most of whom were assumed to be victims of armed combat in which the dead had, after all, been one of the aggressive parties. Walker's name woke me up out of a deep sleep when I realized that this was the very same Walker who had helped bring world outrage against Noriega in Panama by orchestrating mass demonstrations against him for the CNN cameras and then personally confronting Noriega with the choice of accepting a $2M payoff from the American government or subject his country to a full-scale invasion. Walker, who honed his trade of subverting foreign governments under the best of them, Col. Oliver North, in Nicaragua, has made a mark on history with his Racak "massacre." Look for him to show up in years to come in other countries, like Russia, China, Korea, and Venezuela, over which the United States has not yet assumed complete control.
Are the Serbs "genocidists?" How many today are aware that in World War II the people of Serbia who've been painted as racial persecutors of their country's ethnic minorities, Albanians and Catholic Croatians, were known as one of the bravest allies of the American fight against Nazi fascism and racism in all of Europe?
In fact, the Serbs organized the largest anti-Nazi resistance movement in Europe. In 1941 as Hitler was preparing "Operation Barbarossa" to invade the Soviet Union, he marched through every country in eastern Europe and the Balkans meeting absolutely no resistance except in Poland, Greece, and Yugoslavia. It was Serbia that posed the biggest problem because unlike other parts of Yugoslavia such as Slovenia, Bosnia, and Croatia, and Yugoslavia's neighboring countries of Romania and Bulgaria, where Nazi puppet governments set about slaughtering Serbs and sending them to homegrown concentration camps, Serbia rose up against their own acquiescent prince and refused to bow down to the Wehrmacht's might. This so enraged Hitler that he actually postponed his Russian invasion for a month. Instead he unleashed "Operation Punishment" on Serbia. Saturation bombing of the capital city Belgrade killed 17,000 on the first night. While Serbian resistance to the Germans continued after the fall of Yugoslavia, Hitler's timing was thrown off by a month, and the invasion of Russia never got back on track. Instead the punishing Russian winter took the toll of the German forces, marking the beginning of the end for Hitler's Reich.
The Serbs lost 52 per cent of their adult male population in World War I. In World War II one million Serbs were killed in Holocaust type deaths in concentration camps and other mass slayings alone. 700,000 others died from other causes related to the war. You see, the Slavs of Serbia were on the Nazi hit list that included Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, the elderly, the mentally and physically ill. These were called "Untermenschen," a subhuman species not worthy to breathe the same air as the superior Aryans, the supermen, that inhabited German and other Western European countries.
Could this Serb people, themselves historic victims of racial persecution, be one and the same as the population that Milosevic had supposedly brainwashed into following him on a crusade to exterminate and drive out two million ethnic Albanians from Kosovo? Somehow, with the election in October of a successor to Milosevic, Vojislav Kostunica, there has been a shocking turnaround in the western media that once portrayed the Serbs as rampaging genocidists. Now, almost overnight, they have started being portrayed as searchers for freedom and western-style democracy who have thrown off the dictatorial yoke of Milosevic after years of oppression. Now the theory's going 'round that there were only 200 or so hard-core paramilitaries who were doing all the genocidal stuff. The rest of the country simply stayed in the background and let these 200 beasties get all the world's headlines!
One has to marvel at the ease with which this supposed dictator was dislodged from his stranglehold on power. How could he have whipped the whole nation into a frenzy of murderous racial hatred and kept them in his iron grip for ten straight years and then in one October week politely, if reluctantly, just stepped aside when a challenger beat him in an election? Dictators just aren't what they used to be anymore. They go down without the waste of a single bullet.
Unfortunately, the melodramatic crusade the United States has waged against the villainous Milosevic has been the opposite of comedy. In fact it was just one chapter in a miniature version of a World War III that the Clinton administration has been waging all over the globe under the banner of peacekeeping for the past eight years. Under Clinton in those eight years from 1992-1999 the United States military was engaged in 45 "small-scale contingency" military operations. By comparison, in the entire 45 years between 1945 and 1990 the United States was engaged in a total of just 16. (These figures are taken from "Why is U.S. Foreign Policy Adrift," letter to The New York Times by University of Cincinnati political scientist Robert J. Harknett, March 12, 1999). In the four month period from December 1998 to March 1999 alone, Clinton sent bombing missions to Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, and Yugoslavia. We are still conducting bombing missions in Iraq, and are dispatching military forces in anticipation of a war in Colombia. When they say the Cold War is over, what they mean is that the era of hot war is once again upon us, with the Yugoslavia conflict and its 20 participating countries being the hottest so far.
The war in Yugoslavia was serious business. 20,000 tons of bombs were dropped by NATO planes, more tonnage than the Nazis dropped in all of World War II. There were 40,000 bombing sorties in 78 days. And yet with all of that, maybe there is an element of the comic in that we were able to destroy only 14 tanks and 20 artillery guns! *
The toll on the Serbs was as follows:
Consider the fate of Slavic Serbia today in the hands of its western masters -- and then go read Milosevic's 1989 speech commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Serbian defeat by the Turks in the Battle of Kosovo. According to NATO's propaganda this speech had been used by Milosevic to rally fellow-Serbs in a war of ethnic "cleansing" of Muslims in Kosovo and elsewhere in Yugoslavia. But Milosevic's actual words do no such thing. What he says is that Serbia's historic acceptance of literally dozens of ethnic populations is not its "disadvantage" but rather its "advantage"! "Socialism," he says, "being a progressive and just democratic society, should not allow people to be divided in the national and religious respect. Yugoslavia is a multinational community and it can survive only under the conditions of full equality for all nations that live in it. Equal and harmonious relations among Yugoslav peoples are a necessary condition for the existence of Yugoslavia." (Speech at Kosovo Field, June 28, 1989, in commemoration of the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo: http://emperors-clothes.com/articles/jared/milosaid.html)
Where in this speech is the call for ethnic cleansing? Ye mighty writers both right and left who have gloried in the downfall of this so-called racist dictator: have you ever read the actual words of this notorious address? If so, where is the hate speech? Where exactly is the beef?
And why didn't this alleged racist "war criminal" use the race card in his campaign for President last fall? How is it that not one word of hatred for ethnic Albanians was ever reported said by Milosevic during that campaign? America paid out $70 million to Milosevic's opponents to make fist posters and radio commercials calling Milosevic a dictator, but not one American newspaper printed what the man actually said in his own election speeches last September.
Here in Wisconsin, though, let's hear this rabid war criminal in his own "hateful" words. What is it exactly that he calls on the Serbian people to stand up against and fight? Is it Albanians, Croats, or Kosovars? No, it's colonialism by the western powers and the threat of colonialism and Americanization to the very existence of the Serbs as a people - and to Yugoslavia as a nation with its own cultural distinctness.
"The (western powers) want this to be a zone of permanent conflicts and wars which would provide them with an alibi for their lasting presence . . . Countries under foreign command relatively quickly part with their history, their past, their tradition, their national symbols, their way of living, their own literary language. Invisible at first but very efficient and merciless selection of national identity would reduce it to a few local dishes, a few songs and folk dances, the names of national heroes used as brand names for food products or cosmetics. One of the really obvious consequences of the takeover of territories of countries by the big powers in the 20th century is the annihilation of the identity of the people of those countries. People can hardly come to terms with the speed with which they are starting to use a foreign language as their own, to identify with foreign historic figures forgetting their own, to glorify the history of others while mocking their own, to resemble others instead of themselves." (Milosevic's Speech to the Nation, October 2, 2000: http://www.emperors-clothes.com/news/milosevi.htm)
At one time, Yugoslavia consisted of six areas that became republics after World War I- Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovenia, and Macedonia. Yugoslavia is now reduced to just two, Serbia and Montenegro, with Montenegro readying a bolt for independence as the clock ticks. At one time, Josip Broz Tito, the postwar Croatian-born leader, upheld the idea that all 26 ethnicities residing in the Yugoslav republics, would live according to the principles of "Brotherhood & Unity." Rather than concentrate all Serbs in Serbia proper, Tito ensured that large numbers of Serbs would stay a minority in all of Serbia's sister republics. Throughout Yugoslavia, however, each of the 26 ethnicities was allowed to have newspapers published and schools conducted in their own language; starting with the Milosevic era in the 1990's the Yugoslav parliament has had 20 political parties spanning all of these varied ethnic populations (more political parties than in any other parliament in Europe); and intermarriage between the different ethnic peoples was legendary in Yugoslavia. Nonetheless all this effort at multi-ethnic amity fell apart when in the early 1980's the International Monetary Fund demanded as a condition of loan repayments to international investors that Yugoslavia begin to eliminate unprofitable industries, reduce social services and welfare benefits, and allow western companies to invest and replace local Yugoslav businesses, many traditionally run by the state.
Efforts to comply with these loan terms resulted in a freeze on wages, food prices rising 50 per cent, 1100 companies closing, and two million (25 percent of the work force) unemployed. In these conditions brotherhood and unity fell apart as each of the ethnic groups vied with others for jobs and each of the republics began to break away from the sister-republics in defense of their own ethnic majorities.
In 1990, the U.S. fueled the growing conflicts by passing the Foreign Operations Appropriations Law ordering that any part of Yugoslavia failing to hold elections independently and without Yugoslav federal government oversight (in other words, declaring their independence) within six months would lose American financial support. And in 1992, with Ambassador to Yugoslavia Warren Zimmerman giving interviews proclaiming America's objective to break up the Yugoslav federation of republics into independent states, the U.S. imposed a freeze on all trade to and from Yugoslavia. David Fennario of The Montreal Gazette (5/30/99) accused the I.M.F. of creating the chaos in Yugoslavia by demanding that money stop going into social programs and instead go to pay off western investors who were demanding profits. "I.M.F. policies, backed by NATO," said Fennario, "are the root cause of the Balkan crisis."
In addition to debt repayment, and putting a permanent American military base in a country that until "Operation Allied Force" in 1999 had been the only country in Europe to not have one, there are other motives for America to move militarily on Yugoslavia. One big motive was the takeover of Yugoslavia's precious Trepca mines. There are profits to be made from the armaments, bombs, and planes used in Yugoslavia plus profits to be made from reconstruction of bridges and other new and old infrastructure. There are profits to be made by American investors in western companies that will replace Yugoslavia's own state and private concerns in every sector of the economy from telecommunications and cars to beer and fast foods. There are untold riches to be reaped by American oil companies from the soon-to-be constructed oil pipeline from Central Asia that will go right through Kosovo. There is money to be made by the organized crime syndicates of Albania who have turned Kosovo into a haven for drug trafficking, prostitution, and other criminal activity.
And finally, there is the all-important vanquishing of Yugoslavia's stubborn resistance to Western pressure to abandon its brand of independent socialism and uniquely "mixed" economy for the market system.
What has just been described is the classic definition of colonialism. Even if we use UN or European surrogates to administer them, or turn them over to lavishly financed, hand-picked puppet leaders, what we have shown in Bosnia and Kosovo is that the U.S. military is willing and able to seize foreign territories in the manner of a conquering colonial power. Martin Luther King in 1967 made a speech entitled "A Time to Break the Silence" in which he warned that America was going in the direction of becoming a feared and hated colonial power in Vietnam and elsewhere around the globe:
"We have no honorable intentions in Vietnam. Our minimal expectation is to occupy it as an American colony and maintain social stability for our investments. This tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Colombia and Peru. Increasingly the role our nation has taken is the role of those who refuse to give up the privileges and pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investment."
Just a few weeks ago Bill Clinton showed that the lessons King wanted us to learn from Vietnam have been forgotten and that from now on that war should simply be considered a tragedy in which there is no right and wrong, just unfortunate losses of life on both sides. In his visit to Vietnam Clinton even excused President Lyndon Johnson who'd been driven from office by an aroused peace movement. Clinton said "Johnson did what he thought was right," that the United States does not owe Vietnam an apology for its involvement in the war, and that no one should say the 58,000 Americans and the 3 million Vietnamese who were killed lost their lives in vain. "People fight honorably for what they believe in and they lose their lives. No one has a right to say that those lives were wasted."
Bill Clinton will become known through history as the President who refused when he had the chance to do so to apologize for Vietnam, and also for being open and above board about the true purpose of making these endless foreign wars: keeping things peaceful and stable for investors to make profits. Here is how he described the rationale for the war in Kosovo: "If we're going to have a strong economic relationship that includes our ability to sell around the world, Europe has got to be the key, . . . . and that's what this Kosovo thing is all about." (Address to the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Biennial Convention, Washington, DC, March 23, 1999: http://www.state.gov/www/policy_remarks/1999/990323_clinton_afscme.html)
Yes Mr. Clinton, wars that kill women and children and hundreds of thousands of innocent human beings are simply "the cost of doing business," a cost that must be paid without feeling any need for apology.
We have just experienced an election in which the pro-military stance of the major candidates and their running mates symbolized the new acceptability of war -- i.e. wars of the new cowardly kind that rely on acts of terror such as carpet bombings and torture that expressly target noncombatants such as women and children. Both Gore and Bush supported a military budget in the area of $290 billion. Both Gore and Bush stated they supported military actions in Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Somalia, and Bosnia. Gore was one of only 10 Democrats to vote with Republicans to aid the Contra counter-revolutionaries in Nicaragua in 1986. Joseph Lieberman was co-author of the Kosovo Self Defense Act, authorizing $25 million to arm and support the terroristic, drug-running Kosovo Liberation Army. As Bush the Elder's Defense Secretary Richard Cheney presided over "Operation Just Cause" in Panama that killed four or five thousand poor Panamanians who had the misfortune to live in slums that surrounded the military headquarters of General Noriega and presided over the annihilation of 125,000 Iraqi men, women, & children including 113,000 civilians in "Operation Desert Storm." Ralph Nader, while not in the camp of those supporting these wars, wrote 69 weekly columns from the start of the bombing in Yugoslavia in March, 1999 up through last summer yet never saw any need even to mention the war in Yugoslavia, which only happened to be the biggest military operation in Europe since World War II! Buchanan who posed as an opponent of the war in Yugoslavia and other "interventions" nonetheless in his 1999 campaign-year book defended all previous American interventions such as Vietnam, had served on the Reagan administration's Council for Inter-American Security which had responsibility for overseeing the American-armed Contra saboteurs and death squads in Nicaragua, and wrote the infamous Reagan speech at the cemetery honoring the inventors of the blitzkrieg -- those supreme interventionists -- the Nazi storm troops, the SS, at Bitburg, Germany.
In 1973 Congress passed the War Powers Act requiring that any foreign act of war by American Presidents be ratified by a formal Congressional Declaration of War within 60 days. The House of Representatives in April 1999 voted by 213 to 213 to deny approval for extending the operations in Kosovo, one of the strongest assertions of Congressional prerogative over warmaking in my lifetime. With that vote members of the House including Rep. Tammy Baldwin of Madison honored the memory of the Vietnam generation and its intention to control wars made by runaway Presidents issuing executive orders (Clinton issued 279 of them) without even consulting Congress.
Let's just see what it means when rulers like Clinton throw out the U.S. constitution's requirement that Congress make wars, throw out the Geneva Convention, the Hague Convention, the United Nations Charter, NATO's charter limiting its military actions to defense of member nations, the Nuremberg Principles, the Helsinki Accords, etc.
It means that NATO commander Wesley Clark can openly boast of using air war to "demolish, destroy, devastate, degrade and ultimately eliminate the infrastructure of Yugoslavia" in order to terrorize the population into acquiescence in a NATO takeover of the national government and economy. It means that V.P. candidate Joseph Lieberman can blithely shrug off questions about bombing non-military targets such as water supply and power stations because, after all, "we're trying to break the will of the Serbian people so they will force their leader to . . . order the troops out of Kosovo." And it means, as Nobel Prize winning Russian author Alexander Solzhenitsyn said, that there is "no difference in the behaviour of NATO and of Hitler. NATO wants to erect its own order in the world and it needs Yugoslavia simply as an example. We'll punish Yugoslavia and the whole rest of the planet will tremble."
It would be comforting, said columnist Charlie Reese of The Orlando Sentinel, "to imagine that one day the American people will elect to public office men and women who make clear to the world that we do not make war on women and children. So long as the victims are 'the other' -- foreigners -- most Americans don't seem to give a flip what is done to them."
And what of women and children and other civilians at the hands of these Americans who are supposedly in Kosovo to save the Albanian population in that province from ethnic persecution and violence, from rape, murder, and arson of their homes? In September of this year Time Magazine reported on the sentencing of Sgt. Frank Ronghi to a life sentence for rape and murder of an eleven year old ethnic Albanian girl in Kosovo. In all nine soldiers from the elite 82nd Airborne Division (five enlisted men and four officers) received punishments that other than Ronghi's consisted of reductions in rank, fines, etc. for having committed acts of gross intimidation against Albanians of Kosovo that this fighting division was obviously having trouble learning to protect and safeguard from supposed violence. "Soldiers would spit on locals, push them on the streets, poke the women with sticks, and generally act like barbarians. A group of four U.S. soldiers including Ronghi assaulted several females, touched some of the females' hair, grabbed their buttocks and their body parts, and spoke to them in a seductive manner. One soldier later confided to investigators that he groped the women 'just to get a cheap thrill.' The soldiers stopped women between the age of 15 and 25 on the sidewalks and then handcuffed their husbands or fathers, boyfriends, or brothers who came to their aid. Then they would slap the cuffed men and punch them in their groins. They would also grab people who were watching what was going on, handcuff them, and hit them also. Locals including women and children would be ordered to lay on the ground for up to a half-hour in sub freezing weather. Guns were trained on them by GIs and any questions would be met with a firm combat boot on the back, applying steady pressure." (How US 'Peacekeeping' Became a Reign of Terror A new report by the Army tells a horrifying tale of brutality and abuse by American occupiers by Mark Thompson, Time, September 20, 2000: http://www.pathfinder.com/time/search/article/0,8599,55375,00.html)
Violence against women is not limited to American occupying forces. In June 1999, for example, The New York Post reported that the Kosovo Albanian military rebels had desecrated and robbed a Serbian orthodox church at Devic, including the altar and icons, and "a 24 year old nun was taken to a back room and raped."
Before turning this program over to Greg Elich, I want to suggest that as you view his unique photos you keep in mind these words of warning from Martin Luther King in his 1967 speech, for what he said about Americans being degraded by the experience of Vietnam has come to describe prophetically our current situation as a feared colonial super-power in the world today:
"Now the Vietnamese languish under our bombs and consider us the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move or be destroyed by our bombs. So they go -- primarily women and children and the aged. They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the hospitals, with at least twenty casualties from American firepower for one Vietcong inflicted injury. So far we may have killed a million of them, mostly children. They wander into the towns and see thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals. They see the children, degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers. . . What do they think as we test our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe? . . We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. . . We have corrupted their women and children and killed their men. . . . We are at a moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of humane conviction must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest. The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality we will find ourselves organizing concerned committees for the next generation."
--Martin Luther King Jr.
("A Time to Break the Silence," Riverside Church, New York City, April 4, 1967. http://www.indiana.edu/~ivieweb/mlktime.html)
* Author's note (01/01/01): Inflating the scale of destruction of enemy military targets has been the trend throughout the 90's in American Defense Department war information under the elder Bush as well as Clinton. In a 1992 New York Times Op-Ed entitled "Operation Desert Sham," Mark Crispin Miller noted that by the end of the Persian Gulf War U.S. commander Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf was making the mathematically absurd boast of having knocked out 81 out of the 50 Iraqi Scud missiles whose destruction he had declared at the beginning of the war would be the goal of American intervention! As Miller showed, not only had Schwarzkopf claimed destruction of a far greater number of missiles than Iraq had actually been accused of having, but in the end "U.S. forces (had not destroyed) a single mobile launcher, and hence . . . no missiles were destroyed by allied bombing during the war" (New York Times Op-Ed, June 24, 1992). Taken together the wars against Iraq and Serbia were distinguished by American avoidance of direct engagement of enemy military forces and the substitution instead of terror-war against civilian populations.]
Afterword - January 1, 2001
The Madison, Wisconsin speech was delivered before the outcome of the Presidential election had been determined. The election of George W. Bush and the emergence of his designated Secretary of State Colin Powell (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the brutal 1989 invasion of Panama and 1991's Operation Desert Storm) as a supporter of continuing America's enforcement of inhuman sanctions against Iraq show that the era of colonial warmaking by American Presidents without formal declaration by Congress will continue. While the European Army, or Euroarmy, is being sold to people of Europe who opposed NATO in Yugoslavia as a European alternative to U.S. intrusion on the continent, what's more likely is that it would act as surrogate or agent, masking ultimate control of the occupied countries by the U.S. and its International Monetary Fund-World Bank financing powers. Even if Europe takes over for U.S. occupying forces in Yugoslavia in conformance with rumored goals of the new Bush administration, the pattern will have been established of European ground forces securing territory won by undeclared American air operations that, because of non-involvement of ground troops, will not be perceived by the public in this country as "wars." Hence a priority for opponents of American pursuit of global dominance who consider themselves "antiwar" should be to press for labeling of American air bombing operations as acts of war requiring adherence to the 1973 War Powers Act. Reaffirmation of the Constitution's vesting of war-making power in the Congress rather than the executive branch is needed for Americans to have any brake at all on a government of, by, and for the multinational corporations terror-bombing its way to World Empire. As George II prepares to pick up where George I left off in Iraq, and to squirrel American corporations into niches of opportunity left open by William I's flattening of the once-independent economy of the formerly socialist Yugoslavia, can there be anything of greater priority than enforcement of the Constitution's restrictions against a President acting like an emperor? If only on this point of constitutional strict constructionism I will have to agree with Cato Institute writer Gene Healy's warning against the trend of the Clinton years towards an "Imperial Presidency,"
"The president has repeatedly usurped the congressional war power. In Haiti, Iraq, Sudan, and Bosnia, the Clinton administration displayed its contempt for the constitutional process and asserted a unilateral power to wage war without congressional approval. The most flagrant example was the 78 day air war conducted against Serbia in 1999 despite Congress's adamant refusal to approve the action. As we approach the end of President Clinton's second term, the imperial presidency is as unconstrained and as menacing as it has been at any time since the Vietnam War. Bold congressional action is needed to reclaim legislative authority over the war power." ("Arrogance of Power Reborn: The Imperial Presidency and Foreign Policy in the Clinton Years," Cato Policy Analysis No. 389. December 13, 2000, http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-389es.html)
Geoff Berne is an Ohio writer known for his opposition to American policy in Yugoslavia. In June, 1999 he sponsored a forum with British Labour Party dissident and NATO critic Tony Benn and later co-organized a protest against a visit to Cincinnati by Bill Clinton. Berne is a former university English teacher and advocate-promoter for America's traditional and ethnic music. Previous posted writings on Balkans-related subjects include: "Yugoslavia: A Holocaust Denied," "Belligerent Buchanan Pleads for Peace," "In the Information War, A Victory for Peace," and "Boycotting the Election for Emperor."
Please, DO NOT steal, scavenge or repost this work without the expressed written authorization of Swans, which will seek permission from the author. This material is copyrighted, © Geoff Berne 2001. All rights reserved.
Bringing Democracy to Bosnia-Herzegovina by Gregory Elich
...Dream - by Milo Clark
Addendum to ...Dream - by Milo Clark
Freedom to Kill, Right to Live - by Jan Baughman
Depleted Uranium: The Balkans Syndrome - by Gilles d'Aymery
Short Excerpts of I Had Seen Castles - A Novel by Cynthia Rylant
Resources on the War in Yugoslavia and its Aftermath
Articles Published on Swans Regarding the War in Yugoslavia and its Aftermath