March 25, 2002
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"Every dragon gives birth to a St. George who slays it."
A respected and trusted friend wrote last month, in the early going of the Milosevich political trial, that he could "not share much of [my] obsessions re: Yugoslavia" (emphasis added). He continued, "While, I am reasonably confident that all is not as portrayed, I am also reasonably confident that much alleged to Mr. M. is relatively accurate." And he summarized his thoughts, "Lots of folks were done in and out. Lots of stuff got smashed. None of the actors gave appearance of taking actions to mitigate rather than to expand. All apparently assumed and acted as though the only possibilities for resolution were military."
Reasonable -- or unreasonable -- confidence aside, was my friend really thinking of the various parties in Yugoslavia or was he subconsciously referring to the recurring patterns of US behaviors or to the Israelis and the Palestinians, etc.? Never mind... I am not in the mood to engage in another polemic.
Neither am I willing to reiterate my oft-repeated argumentation that the Serbs have been lynched, literally and psychologically hanged, their psyche drawn and quartered, from the gallows of neo-liberal globalization and resource-based economics. It all was a jolly scene, would have mused Orwell.
These little bugs have somehow vanished from the news -- we are up to more grandiose enterprises now, much bigger "parasites" -- even though the rope is still twisting around their necks. Day in and day out the hangmen keep blackmailing the puppets they installed in the Serbian corridors of power. Oh irony of ironies, when will people ever learn that loyalty (1) does not belong to the repertoire of American mythology? America has interests, global interests, not friends.
Three years is an infinite time for the Sega generation. So why bother? There must have been at least as many new releases of the video games since then. Who today, among the "valiant" soldiers who so "heroically" defended "civilization" from 15,000 feet asunder, could tell the meaning of Yugoslavia, even its English translation? Culture and history vs. oil, McDonald's and the Mall... Who wins? And is winning not the name of the game? Eat lunch or be lunch! (2) Give war a chance! (3) Do you still wanna be a Serb now!! (Yes, no question mark... Is there a common denominator between illiteracy, video games and the US military? Be all you can be!) (4)
It was not worth a byline in the local papers, anyway. The name Yugoslavia was scrapped a few days ago without trumpets or fanfare -- a privilege we reserve for the Super Bowl or Tiger Woods.
It's such insignificant news compared to smoking the new pariahs out of their caves, taking them dead or alive, leveling yet another country, experimenting with the newest weapons in the arsenal, scaring the entire world to death, and still having the time to drive our SUV to the Mall. What a defining culture...
Why bother about the Balkans when one can ponder about nuking Mecca, Baghdad, Tehran, and "if we have clean enough bombs to assure a pinpoint damage area, Gaza City and Ramallah would also be on list. Damascus, Cairo, Algiers, Tripoli and Riyadh should be put on alert that any signs of support for the attacks in their cities will bring immediate annihilation." (5) Why not discussing in good company, over cognac and cigars, like a sweet little literary fantasy, the pros and cons of whopping Saddam once and for all? A slam-dunk, isn't it? Who next? We can do anything; we can do it all; no one can stop us; god's on our side. (6) A messianic court-appointed front man talks about a new crusade and the populace genuflects in ecstasy.
We have our good Arabs, (7) like we used to have our good Indians; we wonder whether there can be a Decent Left (8) and we are desperately searching for it, (9) possibly at the Waldorf-Astoria, during the World Economic Forum where one of its dinosaurian apostles was reflecting on the Leviathan; (10) and we can hold in contempt anyone, especially if European, who may have a divergent opinion of our sanctified correctness. (11)
We are Americans, placed on earth by god herself, to right the wrongs of humanity. We are so morally superior, the latter-day Aryans, that we are willing to spend $589,802 on the military each and every minute around the clock (12) and pay $228 million to the Turkish army so that their foot-soldiers may do the dirty work unworthy of our bravest and finest heroes. (13)
For those morally and intellectually inferior beings who would dare question our righteous anger, our need for vengeance in response to the 9-11 tragedy, our unquestionably just retaliation, and our immaculate wisdom; for those who would dare suggest that there are ample reasons to refrain from attacking Iraq, (14) to halt using Depleted Uranium, (15) to cease this saber rattling, to desist from threatening the world, and to stop feeding this military industrial monster, we profess from our pedestal at the top of the hill that they are unabashedly anti-American, members of the blame-America-first crowd, and "aiding the terrorists." Let it be known: we will not tolerate such deviancy anymore.
Saint Ashcroft, endowed by god, (16) can take care of these deviants by deep-freezing the first Amendment in the name of safety and security. (17) Members of Congress who take it upon themselves to criticize and disagree with the righteousness of our cause had better hire a bodyguard (Congresswoman Barbara Lee, D-California 9th district) or quickly backpedal on their inane statements (Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich, D-Ohio 10th district). (18) As to the United Nations, we will abolish this ungodly institution at our whim.
It must be clearly emphasized then that they either "are with us or against us" and they need to fully appreciate the consequences; for if one is not with us, one then becomes evil, a friend of our enemies... As Sen. John McCain said, "this mission . . . ends not with the capture or death of Osama bin Laden, but with the destruction of the terrorist networks that threaten our way of life, and the defeat of nations supporting and collaborating with this evil. These nations, too, are our enemies." Echoing the good Senator, Rep. Dennis Hastert asserted, "The friends of our enemies are also our enemies, and they will bear equal responsibility." (19)
We have put the world on notice.
Meanwhile, the hole in the ozone layer is increasing year after year (20) and the Larsen ice shelf in Antarctica, an ice shelf the size of Rhode Island, is disintegrating at an extraordinary pace... (21)
So, you have it. Why, indeed, should one be obsessed with Yugoslavia?
(Perhaps because this was when Pandora's Box became wide open and America, stung by genuinely pronounced delusions of grandeur, went fully mad...)
1. "Any active and pessimistic man is or will become a fascist, except if he has a fidelity [a loyalty] behind him." --André Malraux (back)
2. Scott McNealy, the CEO of Sun Microsystems, in a New York Times OP-ED of July 5, 1999: "The culture in Silicon Valley is ultracompetitive. For a few entrepreneurs, it's eat lunch or be lunch, really. That's a pretty harsh reality, but everyone here knows it's true." See Gilles d'Aymery, Swans, "Did They Say Latcho Drom? Thinking hard about our deeds in Yugoslavia" - 07/6/99 (back)
3. Thomas L. Friedman, the Foreign Affairs Editorialist of The New York Times, wrote on April 23, 1999 "...Let's at least have a real war...It should be lights out in Belgrade: every power grid, water pipe, bridge, road and war-related factory has to be targeted...the stakes have to be clear: Every week you [Serbs] ravage Kosovo is another decade we will set your country back by pulverizing you. You want 1950? We can do 1950. You want 1389? We can do 1389 too...Give war a chance...." See Gilles d'Aymery, Swans, "The Logic of War and the 'We Will Prevail' Concept" - 04/24/99 (back)
4. On an unexploded shell, an unnamed member of the US Air Force had written: "Do you still wanna be a Serb now!!" See Gilles d'Aymery, Swans, "He Was my Brother, Whatever his Faith Was!" - 05/30/99 (back)
5. Warmonger Rich Lowry, the Editor of The National Review mulled over on March 7 in the magazine's Internet chat-room, The Corner, what should be the US response "if al Qaeda succeeded in detonating a nuke in a major American city? This is the disturbing thing: I'm not really sure what we could do any differently from what we're doing now. What would we do? Nuke Riyadh? Baghdad? A real conundrum..." In a later post, the same day, he added, "Lots of sentiment for nuking Mecca. Moderates opt for something more along these lines: 'Baghdad and Tehran would be the likeliest sites for a first strike. If we have clean enough bombs to assure a pinpoint damage area, Gaza City and Ramallah would also be on list. Damascus, Cairo, Algiers, Tripoli and Riyadh should be put on alert that any signs of support for the attacks in their cities will bring immediate annihilation.' Then there are those who think we really can't do too much differently than what were doing now (my original proposition)."
Talking about "clean enough bombs," the same Rich Lowry posted on Feb 27, "A while ago, I wrote a piece on the need for the U.S. to have a really small, bunker-busting nuclear weapon and got a bunch of e-mails about it. If anyone out there has thoughts on this-do we have such a weapon?; do we need one?; why or why not?-please e-mail me. I want to return to the topic."
Upon worldwide protests by Muslims Lowry issued a faint-hearted apology, "By that call I did not mean an actual strike on Mecca. The article was only a literary fantasy and should not be considered more than that." (back)
6. Dan Eggen, "Ashcroft Invokes Religion In U.S. War on Terrorism," The Washington Post, Feb. 20, 2002; Page A02. "Attorney General John D. Ashcroft yesterday cast the government's war on terrorism in religious terms, arguing that the campaign is rooted in faith in God and urging Christians, Jews and Muslims to unite in the effort.
Contrasting 'the way of God and the way of the terrorists,' Ashcroft's speech to a group of Christian broadcasters in Nashville included some of the most explicitly religious remarks from the attorney general since he was confirmed amid controversy over his views more than a year ago.
'Civilized people -- Muslims, Christians and Jews -- all understand that the source of freedom and human dignity is the Creator,' Ashcroft said in prepared remarks released by the Justice Department. 'Civilized people of all religious faiths are called to the defense of His creation. We are a nation called to defend freedom -- a freedom that is not the grant of any government or document, but is our endowment from God.'" (back)
7. Claudia Winkler, "Good Arab," The Weekly Standard, 03/19/2002 (back)
8. Michael Walzer, "Can There Be a Decent Left," Spring 2002 issue of Dissent Magazine (back)
9. Lee Bockhorn, "Searching for a Better Left," The Weekly Standard, 03/19/2002 (back)
10. Lewis H. Laphan, "Leviathan," Harper's Magazine, April 2002 (back)
11. Writes David Gelernter: "But what of Europe? Not long ago I picked up a copy of Le Monde, which reports on the recent meeting where work was started on a constitution for Europe--the goal being to allow Europe to campaign, as the equal of any great power, "pour affirmer ses valeurs," to assert its values; and you can't help but wonder, exactly what "valeurs" are we talking about? Indifference? Complacency? Spiritual exhaustion? "European values" (certainly "French values") has come to sound like "Palestinian moderates"--a contradiction in terms. To any instance of Western man--American or not, Jew or gentile, male or female--Europe's spiritual collapse is heartbreaking." In David Gelernter, "The suicide of the Palestinians," The Weekly Standard, March 25, 2002. (back)
12. According to the Center for Defense Information "every minute the United States spends another $589,802 on the military; 51.3% of the discretionary federal budget." See http://www.cdi.org/msc/clock.html (back)
13. John King, "U.S. wants $228 million for Turkish peacekeepers," CNN Europe, March 20, 2002. The article further reads, "White House officials said the money would be included in the State Department portion of an emergency supplemental budget request the administration is to send to Congress on Wednesday. In all, the Bush administration is seeking roughly $1 billion in new help for allies in the war on terrorism, these officials said." (back)
14. Ten Talking Points: No New War with Iraq, January, 2002, http://www.nonviolence.org/vitw/TPJan2002.html (back)
15. For the consequences of DU, read the article in Le Monde Diplomatique, Depleted Uranium In Bunker Bombs, by Robert James Parsons, and ponder the meaning of its last paragraph: "In Jefferson County, Indiana, the Pentagon has closed the 200-acre (80-hectare) proving ground where it used to test-fire DU rounds. The lowest estimate for cleaning up the site comes to $7.8bn, not including permanent storage of the earth to a depth of six metres and of all the vegetation. Considering the cost too high, the military finally decided to give the tract to the National Park Service for a nature preserve - an offer that was promptly refused. Now there is talk of turning it into a National Sacrifice Zone and closing it forever. This gives an idea of the fate awaiting those regions of the planet where the US has used and will use depleted uranium." (back)
16. John Ashcroft recently sang a song of his own composition following a speech at a North Carolina seminary. Reports Beliefnet.com, "[Ashcroft's] touches with the Holy Spirit have left him feeling optimistic. Once, in 1997, while walking through a field on his 155-acre farm in Missouri and praying about the spiritual condition of the United States, Ashcroft says he saw some eagles flying across the dawn sky. The senator was discouraged about the national impact of President Clinton's moral problems, but the sighting of the eagles conjured an almost prophetic message. He was inspired to write a song about America's brighter future. The words:"
"Let the eagle soar,
Like she's never soared before.
From rocky coast to golden shore,
Let the mighty eagle soar.
Soar with healing in her wings,
As the land beneath her sings:
'Only god, no other kings.'
This country's far too young to die.
We've still got a lot of climbing to do,
And we can make it if we try.
Built by toils and struggles
God has led us through."
See http://www.beliefnet.com/story/61/story_6188.html (back)
17. Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), "Chilling Effects of Anti-Terrorism 'National Security' Toll on Freedom of Expression," http://www.eff.org/Privacy/Surveillance/Terrorism_militias/antiterrorism_chill.html (back)
18. Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio 10th district), following a speech at the University of Southern California on February 17, 2002 in which he said, "The trappings of a state of siege trap us in a state of fear, ill equipped to deal with the Patriot Games, the Mind Games, the War Games of an unelected President and his unelected Vice President," was quickly forced to eat his words and issue a correction. The congressman had not meant, of course, that the President and his Vice President had not been elected. According to Jules Witcover, in "A lonely lawmaker cries out for peace" (The Baltimore Sun, March 11, 2002), "He says now his comment was not intended to challenge the legality of their election but as a reminder that, in his view, they are acting regarding the war policy without a clear 'consent of the governed'."
His speedy retraction notwithstanding, Kucinich's speech is worth reading. Here are a few excerpts:
"....How can we justify in effect canceling the First Amendment and the right of free speech, the right to peaceably assemble?
How can we justify in effect canceling the Fourth Amendment, probable cause, the prohibitions against unreasonable search and seizure?
How can we justify in effect canceling the Fifth Amendment, nullifying due process, and allowing for indefinite incarceration without a trial?
How can we justify in effect canceling the Sixth Amendment, the right to prompt and public trial?
How can we justify in effect canceling the Eighth Amendment, which protects against cruel and unusual punishment?"
He also said,
"....We did not authorize the invasion of Iraq.
We did not authorize the invasion of Iran.
We did not authorize the invasion of North Korea.
We did not authorize the bombing of civilians in Afghanistan.
We did not authorize permanent detainees in Guantanamo Bay.
We did not authorize the withdrawal from the Geneva Convention.
We did not authorize military tribunals suspending due process and habeas corpus.
We did not authorize assassination squads.
We did not authorize the resurrection of COINTELPRO.
We did not authorize the repeal of the Bill of Rights.
We did not authorize the revocation of the Constitution.
We did not authorize national identity cards.
We did not authorize the eye of Big Brother to peer from cameras throughout our cities.
We did not authorize an eye for an eye.
Nor did we ask that the blood of innocent people, who perished on September 11, be avenged with the blood of innocent villagers in Afghanistan.
We did not authorize the administration to wage war anytime, anywhere, anyhow it pleases.
We did not authorize war without end.
We did not authorize a permanent war economy."
The full text can be read at http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=special&s=kucinich20020226 (back)
19. Excerpts of the Congressional Record as cited at http://commondreams.org/views02/0315-03.htm (back)
20. "Our planet's Antarctic ozone hole is opening once again as Spring approaches in the southern hemisphere -- and scientists say it's a big one." NASA Science News, September 17, 2001. See Gilles d'Aymery, Swans, "Terrorism And The Ozone Layer" - 10/29/01 and , "A Real Energy Challenge" - 11/12/01 (back)
21. Andrew C. Revkin, "Large Ice Shelf In Antarctica Disintegrates At Great Speed," The New York Times, March 20, 2002. "....While it is too soon to say whether the changes there are related to the 'greenhouse' gas emissions that scientists believe are warming the planet, many experts said that it was getting harder to find any other explanation. ....'The speed of it is staggering,' said Dr. David Vaughan, a glaciologist at the British Antarctic Survey. ....Scientists say the likely culprit is rapidly warming summer air temperatures. Along that part of the peninsula, temperatures have risen 4.5 degrees in five decades..." (back)
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This Week's Internal Links
Yugoslavia R.I.P. - by Alma Hromic
Conspiracy Theory As Received Wisdom - by Stephen Gowans
The Armageddon Story - by Michael Stowell
We Are A Peaceful People - by Deck Deckert
Dealing With The F-Word - Book Review by Stephen Gowans
War up Close -- Irena Galina - by Harrison E. Salisbury (Book Excerpt)
I'm Explaining a Few Things - Poem by Pablo Neruda (Spanish and English)
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