The Anatomy of a Lie

It was a shock to see the headline: “Belgrade helped in planning of Baghdad bombing.” The story in the London Independent by Kim Sengupta claimed that the government of Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica “provided vital information on Saddam’s upgraded air defenses” and “passed on details of the hi-tech fiber-optic radar system supplied to Iraq under the Milosevic regime.” The story cited an anonymous “senior source” in the British government, who opined that “It is because of the new Kostunica regime that we got to know about it and we are learning about it. We have heard from Serbs who have actively been over there and built things in underground facilities in Iraq. It is now emerging that they were certainly helping under the Milosevic regime.” So what if they were helping Slobo – who could have blamed them for helping the Devil himself? After all, the Serbs – vilified by the trumped-up charge of “ethnic cleansing” and proto-Hitlerism – endured the bombing of their cities, in which over 5,000 were slaughtered and thousands more maimed, mutilated, and otherwise wounded. The Yugoslav economy, crippled and shrunken by socialism, was almost completely destroyed, and the Serbs are now living through the nightmarish poisoning of their land with “depleted” uranium. If I were a Serb, I would be asking my President: we’re f**k**g aiding the same people who attacked us without provocation – what’s up with that? Oh, say it ain’t so, President Kostunica! And, as it turned it, it ain’t so. FROM BEGINNING TO END

That’s right: the story was a lie from beginning to end, as Kostunica made clear in a statement carried by none of the newspapers that published the original story, including the Telegraph and the [London] Times (Sorry, but I can’t deal with the Times‘ search engine, which is the worst one on the Internet, so you’ll have to hunt down the link yourself.) In a meeting with Iraqi ambassador Samir Sadun, Kostunica called for increased economic ties between the two nations: in his statement following the meeting, the Yugoslav President not only denied that the Serbian government had in any way assisted the most recent US-UK mugging, but unequivocally condemned the aggression in principle.


So what is the point of the British government leaking such disinformation? To begin with, obviously the “news” that Kostunica had suddenly switched sides, and joined the mad bombers of the West, could not have done him any good in Yugoslavia. Milosevic and his supporters waged a campaign that characterized the Opposition (and its presidential candidate) as “lackeys of NATO,” and this report, if it were true, would seem to confirm the Milosevic-Commie analysis. In London and Washington, the news that Kostunica was joining the leaders of Kuwait and Israel as practically the only other countries to approve of this latest evidence of “Allied” savagery would naturally be greeted with cries of joy: but in Serbia, such a fabrication could only undermine Kostunica politically – which is, perhaps, the point.


Another point to the leak is that it could well be a warning: either cooperate in the future – or else. Or else, what? US aid to Serbia – which us opponents of foreign aid can easily put in the category of just reparations – is being made conditional on how well, and how fast, the Serbs dance to the American tune. Kostunica’s continuing defiance – on this, and on the question of delivering Milosevic to The Hague – is yet more ammunition for the “Hate Serbia” caucus of the US Congress (Bob Dole, founder and President Emeritus) to withhold much-needed resources, even while it strengthens the real American sock puppet in Serbian politics: Kostunica’s main rival, Zoran Djindic.


The whole tone of the Independent article is as if the author is writing as an official government spokesman, as if the piece is a feeler, a message sent out to the Serbs in journalistic Morse code and meant to be read between the lines. According to Sengupta’s sources, “Britain is considering offering Belgrade significant help over Kosovo. This includes possible joint patrols by British and Serbian troops to combat incursions into the Presevo valley by ethnic Albanian guerrillas; supporting plans to allow Serbian forces to operate in the 5km border buffer zone from which they are excluded; or even abolishing the zone altogether.”


Indeed, the NATO-crats have just announced that the “demilitarized zone” has been significantly reduced, albeit not abolished altogether. What is astonishing, however, is the offer of “joint patrols.” Is it really possible that the irony of this idea is completely lost on British officials and their US counterparts? Yesterday, we were told that the Serbs were the real problem in the Balkans, and that without their baleful influence the region would become a multicultural paradise. On that basis, the US and its allies went to war. Barely two years later, we are appealing to our former enemies, the supposedly evil Hitlerian Serbs, to help rein in the monster the NATO-crats created. While US policymakers can turn on a dime, ordinary human beings suffer from the effects of cognitive dissonance when doing an about-face with such dizzying speed. Besides that, this sudden switch is bound to raise a few questions, such as: now that we’ve apologized for the sinking of the Ehime Maru, isn’t it time to start thinking about issuing an official apology for the Kosovo war? If only Kostunica could afford the luxury of making that a condition for agreeing to joint patrols! The NATO-crats need to be reminded of how karma works, and, not only that, but – in the interest of justice – their humiliation needs to be savored and enjoyed by those they vilified and victimized.


What the Independent article doesn’t mention is that southern Serbia is not the only Balkan trouble spot to suffer from Albanian incursions. The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is under massive attack, and refugees are already fleeing the area. It may not be Iraq, but the Balkans that explode during the first year of the Bush Presidency (second edition). This is the great “humanitarian” legacy of the war to “liberate” Kosovo: the Frankenstein monster of Albanian nationalism has been unleashed. NATO troops are moving to intercept the Albanian invaders: what is particularly galling is that you can be certain this will be cited as yet another reason why George W. Bush can’t keep his campaign promise to get our troops out of the Balkans.


To now use the Albanian Threat as an excuse to prolong our wrongheaded intervention in the Balkans is to demonstrate, in the realm of foreign policy, how an economic principle established by Ludwig von Mises, the great free market theorist, works in the realm of foreign policy. On the question of why government seems to grow exponentially, Mises pointed out that market distortions – originally caused by government intervention in the economy – are then cited as “problems” to be solved by yet more forceful intervention from the same source. Folly is piled on error. As in economics, so in foreign policy: our rulers consistently and conveniently create the very problems they are then called upon to “solve.” Economically, the end result of such a policy is a market crash – in terms of foreign policy, it can only lead to war.


During the campaign, you’ll remember, Dubya – via Condolezza Rice and various other aides – opined that it was time to turn over the task of policing the Balkans to the Europeans. Now, we are told: “We went in together and we will come out together,” as secretary of state Colin Powell put it in his remarks to a recent meeting of the North Atlantic Council at NATO headquarters. It has been less than the first fifty days of the incoming administration, and already they have done a 180-degree turnaround on a major foreign policy issue. One can only wonder what the next fifty days – or the next year – will bring.


The only “mainstream” news source to run the correction of the NATO-crats’ disinformation campaign was United Press International (and, hey, I’m sorry for what I said about you guys in my “Bookmarks” column: I take it back!) As far as I am able to discover, neither the Independent, nor any of the other Western news sources who “reported” this lie, have so much as mentioned Kostunica’s vigorous denial. I wrote to the editors of the Independent, and raised this question: I have yet to receive an answer. Only WorldNetDaily was on this story, with an appropriately outraged dispatch from Aleksandar Pavic, their Belgrade correspondent, who perceptively asks the pertinent question regarding this whole murky affair: cui bono? Who benefits? “For one,” he writes,

“Yugoslavia’s status as victim of an illegal bombing . . . has been relativized. For, not only has the victim extended his hand to his assailant, he has identified with him, he has put himself on the same moral plane by joining him in his deeds. . . . And might not this also deflate the resistant spirit of all those for whom Yugoslavia has been one of the chief symbols of the struggle against the New World Order? The list of potential benefits seems endless.”


As endless, indeed, as the pumped-up ambition of the NATO-crats, who are looking to expand eastward – a project that is going to be the centerpiece of the Bush foreign policy. The Bushies are making an all-out effort to keep England from falling into the Euro-entity, and Tony is willing to make a deal, to act as the “bridge” between the US and Europe: continued US military efforts in the Balkans in exchange for going along on missile defense and Iraq policy. In the end, NATO will reach not only into Eastern Europe but also, perhaps, make inroads into Central Asia and the Caucasus, where Georgia has all but officially applied for membership – and where oil has recently been discovered in rather large quantities. Remember when George W. Bush talked about the need for US foreign policy to exhibit a little “humility”? Well, you can forget it. The Bush victory has swept all that humbleness aside: hubris is now the order of the day. I can confidently predict that, by the end of the Bush administration’s first year, US policymakers will have thrown all caution to the winds. The Western alliance, with NATO at its core, is clearly reaching for global hegemony: this is the operating principle of what may some day be called the Dubya Doctrine.

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo passed away on June 27, 2019. He was the co-founder and editorial director of, and was a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He was a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and wrote a monthly column for Chronicles. He was the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].