The Déjà Vu War

by , March 20, 2004

American and other “coalition” forces try to keep order, but outbursts of ethno-religious violence break through the façade with dismaying regularity and increasing intensity. As of Thursday, 22 civilians were dead, and hundreds wounded, in the latest wave of rioting, with 35 occupation troops injured – and immediate reinforcements totaling some 2,000 rushed to the scene. The occupation authorities vowed “robust action,” and appealed to the international community for support, as the UN went into emergency session to discuss the imminent crisis. The EU’s Javier Solana declared it “a major setback,” the French were frantic with outrage, and the Russians solemnly underscored the urgency of the situation, the implication being that the Americans and their Western allies were again failing to live up to their responsibilities. A neighboring nation deplored the ethnic cleansing of its cross-border compatriots and mobilized its forces.

The latest from Iraq? Nope. Follow the links: we’re talking Kosovo….

Remember Kosovo? That was the war that “liberated” the Albanian Kosovars from the supposedly “genocidal” tyranny of the Serbian-dominated Yugoslav federation. We were told, at the time, that the Albanians were in imminent danger of virtual extermination at the hands of the Serbs. As we observe the first anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq war, few realize that today is the fifth anniversary of the day President William Jefferson Clinton spoke to a bipartisan group of senators and made the case for military intervention on the Albanian side:

“If we do not act, the war will spread. And if it spreads, we will not be able to act without far greater risk and cost. I believe the real challenge of foreign policy is to deal with problems before they harm our vital interests, and that is what we must do in Kosovo.

Not that Clinton believed he had to go to Congress to ask permission: like every chief executive since Truman, this one ignored the clear statement of the Constitution that only Congress can declare war. He thought he had the same right as any Roman emperor to call out the troops in his capacity as commander-in-chief: even as the President spoke, American forces were preparing to strike.

Prefiguring the behavior that so irritates the liberal-left when Republicans indulge in it, Clinton disdained the UN, as well as any concept of international law, and proceeded to attack a country that had never attacked us, and could not possibly pose even the remotest military threat. If anything, Clinton was more contemptuous of the UN: at least Bush sent Colin Powell to the Security Council and risked a French veto. Clinton simply ignored Russian protests and acted unilaterally.

It is one of the great myths perpetuated by the left-wing of the anti-war movement, i.e., the left-wing of the Democratic party, that Team Bush invented the doctrine of preemptive war. In declaring their imperial prerogative of intervening anywhere with impunity, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz merely formalized and elaborated on what had already been put into practice by Albright and Holbrooke, who touted the cause of “humanitarian” intervention in the Balkans to the loud applause of the left-liberal peanut gallery. The same people who are now hooting at the myth of “imminent” danger from Saddam Hussein nodded sagely when Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware), echoing the President’s rationale for war, warned of “the consequences of non-action” in Kosovo:

“(Yugoslav president Slobodan) Milosevic will engage in ethnic cleansing. The number of refugees will be in the magnitude of tens of thousands. The region will be destabilized. And our interests will be badly hurt.”

If we don’t act today, the Albanians will be goners on the morrow. But it all turned out to have been a lie, albeit one less exposed to the light of day than the massive campaign of deception carried out by Doug Feith and his Office of Special Plans in collaboration with Ahmed “the thief of Baghdad” Chalabi.

Postwar revisionism on Iraq bears an eerie resemblance to the misgivings expressed in the headlines of the world’s newspapers as the “liberation” of Kosovo was accomplished: “Cook accused of misleading public on Kosovo massacres,” [London Times]; “Where Are Kosovo’s Killing Fields?” asked Stratfor, the online foreign policy analysts; “Despite Tales, the War in Kosovo Was Savage, but Wasn’t Genocide,” averred the Wall Street Journal; “Serb killings exaggerated by the West,” said the London Guardian [8/18/00].

Instead of the 100,000, 50,000, or 10,000 victims of Serbian “genocide” we were led to believe we would find in "liberated" Kosovo, at one time or another, the total number of bodies exhumed was never more than a few thousand, including both Albanians and Serbs. As the British writer John Laughland pointed out at the time:

“Even if one assumes that all these people are Albanians murdered for ethnic reasons by Serbs, this is 1/5 of the number alleged by the Foreign Office in June; 1/50 of the number alleged by William Cohen in May; and 1/250 of the number suggested by the State Department in April.”

More recently, Laughland asked “Is Blair trying to sex up Saddam’s atrocities, too?” To those of us who have been watching the pattern play itself out since the last "liberation" – when Antiwar.com began covering the news on a daily basis – Iraq is the Deja-vu War. Where are the “weapons of mass destruction” that Saddam was supposed to be cleverly hiding? The same place as all those missing Kosovar corpses, the nonexistent evidence of mass murders that never happened. Lies, lies, and more lies – it’s what our government does best, no matter the party in power.

Kosovo today is a gangster state ruled by armed gangs that deal in drugs, prostitution, and extortion: the ethnic cleansing of the last remaining Serbs from the land of their forefathers has been going on since the “liberation,” and is only being noticed now that it is reaching a blood-soaked crescendo. Five years of UN rule, and a military occupation, have produced – this. As one UN official put it:

“Kristallnacht is under way in Kosovo. What is happening in Kosovo must unfortunately be described as a pogrom against Serbs: churches are on fire and people are being attacked for no other reason than their ethnic background.”

In his excellent link-rich analysis of the Kosovar Kristallnacht, Antiwar.com writer Chris Deliso, now a resident of Macedonia, cites a senior UN official as saying:

“This is planned, co-ordinated, one-way violence from the Albanians against the Serbs. It is spreading and has been brewing for the past week. Nothing in Kosovo happens spontaneously.”

Planned by whom? The links between the Kosovo “Liberation” Army and Al Qaeda are well-documented, and you can follow the links here, and here, for some of the details. Suffice to say that the same people who are now bombing Spanish commuter trains are in the same movement as the Mujahideen who fought alongside the KLA to “liberate” Kosovo. Are Osama bin Laden’s Bosnian and Kosovar lieutenants creating a diversion while the Boss moves on other fronts? It’s more than possible.

This would give new meaning to the term “blowback“: we’d have to call it a case of double blowback. Not only did we create the Mujahideen that eventually gave rise to Al Qaeda, but the KLA is also our progeny. Funded, trained, and let loose in the heart of Old Europe by their Anglo-American parents, these twin monsters, born of the same mother, unite in the cause of matricide.

Never mind “World War IV,” a term which hardly seems to adequately describe the endless conflict we’ve signed on to: the Deja-vu War is a much better name. Because, you see, this has all happened before: the lies, the propaganda, the fake “evidence,” a complicit media, a campaign carried out, in large part, by many of the same people. Back in 1999, then, as now, prominent neoconservatives were in the vanguard of the War Party. As one writer noted at the time:

“One of the most unusual ads in recent months appeared in The New York Times of Thursday, May 13, in the first section of the paper, surprisingly enough, right under a story about the Philadelphia mayoral race. The ad, placed by an organization called the Balkan Action Council and couched as an open letter to President Clinton, argued that only the use of ground troops in Kosovo will end the ethnic cleansing.

“The argument was not so unusual; it was the signatories, quite prominent names from both sides of the political barricades in the culture wars, that were a shocker. This must be the only place where you will see the likes of Saul Bellow, Robert Kagan, William Kristol and Norman Podhoretz on the same page with Geraldine Ferraro, Bianca Jagger, Rabbi Michael Lerner, David Rieff and his mother Susan Sontag. Will wonders ever cease?”

Bill Kristol and Susan Sontag: they said it would never last.

And it didn’t. Yet Sontag served the War Party’s purpose, and very well, at the time. If they now excoriate her as the very incarnation of “defeatism,” one can only note that tools often have multiple uses. As Kosovar Albanian mobs burn Serbian Orthodox churches to the ground and murder the last Serb holdouts, the same people – minus Sontag and Co. – are saying pretty much the same things about Iraq (and Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and North Korea) as they once said about Kosovo: Strike! Kill! Invade! When the House Republicans balked at supporting the appropriations for the Kosovo war, Kristol threatened to walk out of the GOP: Clinton was right to “crush Serb skulls,” as the editor of the Weekly Standard put it in one of his more memorable editorials. And Bush is right to crush Arab skulls. Crush! Kill! Conquer!

In a recent National Review, David Frum replies to critics of An End to Evil, the book he co-authored with Richard Perle, complaining that instead of facing up to the real issues,

“What we get instead is a lot of angry shouting about neocons, neocons, neocons – as if the nation’s foreign-policy doves had been seized by a wonk’s version of Tourette’s syndrome.”

But if the word neocon has become an obscene epithet, then who is to blame for that? Frum hears a lot of angry shouting, and it frightens him, as it should. That’s because an increasing number of people have traced the beginning of the evil afflicting us back to Frum and his friends, that troublesome sect of leftists-turned-right-wing ideologues known as the neoconservatives.

The neocons – they’re the one constant factor in these two cases of foreign policy blowback, the catalytic element that set off the chain reaction of events leading up to this moment. They wanted war in Kosovo, and they got it. They wanted the conquest of Iraq, and they got that, too. Now the consequences of both reckless adventures are simultaneously wreaked upon us. If I were the neocons I would keep a very low profile – though I doubt I would go as far as they’ve now gone, in denying their own existence.

Read more by Justin Raimondo