Bush vs. Kostunica

The bombs may have stopped falling on Belgrade, but America’s war against the former Yugoslavia continues unabated. If anyone was ever in any doubt that the Clintonian policy would be extended under President George W. Bush – as I warned it would be – then all uncertainty was ended on May 24, when Bush sent Congress a letter explaining his decision to extend the alleged “national emergency” declared by Clinton in 1999, one which enabled him to initiate his criminal war without Congressional authority or approval. A national emergency, you say? What’s up with that? IT’S AN EMERGENCY

Whether you knew it or not, during the Clinton years we were not only operating under the terms of a “national emergency” regarding the crisis in Kosovo, but Clinton also declared 11 other “national emergencies” during his two terms in office, enabling him to bypass Congress on a host of issues ranging from “wilderness preservation” (i.e. federal land grabs) to the imposition of an embargo on Yugoslavia and the seizure of its assets in the US. The letter gives a brief history of the various presidential orders regarding Bosnia and Kosovo, reiterating the history of Clinton’s usurpation of congressional power, and concludes:

Because the crisis with respect to the situation in Kosovo and with respect to Slobodan Milosevic, his close associates and supporters and persons under open indictment for war crimes by ICTY has not been resolved, and because the status of all previously blocked property has yet to be resolved, this situation continues to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States. For these reasons, I have determined that the emergency declared with respect to Kosovo, and the measures adopted pursuant thereto, must continue beyond June 9, 2001.”


In plain English: Yugoslavia is our official enemy, on the same level as Iraq, Libya, North Korea, and other “rogue” states. Forget the effusive statements of support for President Vojislav Kostunica and the US government’s hailing of Yugoslavia’s revolution that overthrew Milosevic’s neo-Communist regime. It was all public relations, of no more consequence than Team Bush’s pre-election signals that they would get us out of Kosovo (and Bosnia) entirely. With the signing of this executive order, it can no longer be said that this is a policy President Bush inherited. Now he has affixed his signature to a document officially continuing and, in my view, escalating the continuing war on the people of Yugoslavia. The Clinton policy is his now – and it may turn out that his is far worse.


Yugoslavia, as Bush puts it, is “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.” But how, exactly, does that work? After all, according to the US, former dictator Slobodan Milosevic was the cause of the region’s problems, an evil influence who had to be expunged and whose overthrow we not only loudly called for but openly subsidized. “Milosevic must go,” declared then-secretary of state Madeleine Albright: this was the precondition for the “normalization” of US-Yugoslav relations. So now that old Slobo is gone – rightly locked up in a Serbian jail on charges of embezzlement, vote fraud, murder of his political opponents, and other crimes – what’s Washington’s beef?


Albright’s State Department soon dreamed up yet more preconditions for normalizing relations with the new, democratic Yugoslavia. Chief among them being the new government’s acknowledgment of the International Criminal Tribunal’s authority. From “Milosevic must go,” the demand was revised to read: “Milosevic must go to the Hague.” Albright and Clinton, who tried to submit the US to the dictates of the UN’s International Criminal Court, backed down in the end, but wanted to set a precedent with Yugoslavia – so as not to rule out the future imposition of this budding globalist judiciary on American citizens and soldiers.


As a subset of the International Criminal Court, the International Criminal Tribunal for War Crimes in the former Yugoslavia (ICTFY) would be empowered to decide the fate of any Serbian citizen based on anonymous witnesses and evidence collected by a “court” that has never indicted a single Muslim “war criminal” – although there is no dearth of these. President Kostunica has denounced this globalist monstrosity as “unabashedly biased” and surely that is an understatement: Carla Del Ponte, the Grand Inquisitor of this kangaroo court, has never made a public statement about Albanian post-war crimes against Serbs and others in Kosovo, although these are well-documented. She has, in the past, refused to accept testimony and evidence from Yugoslavia, on the grounds that Milosevic himself was a war criminal, although what her excuse is these days is hard to fathom.


Kostunica has so far resisted the demand to hand Milosevic over, but the US has him over a barrel. When US bombs dropped on some of the oldest cities in Europe, the economic toll was less immediately obvious and dramatic than the 5,000-plus casualties, but now the pain is getting rather intense. Yugoslavia is broke, and in ruins, not only on account of American barbarity, but also due to the socialist barbarism of Milosevic and his gangsterish regime.


Milosevic and his cronies systematically looted the country, and ran into the ground what they couldn’t cart away. Indeed, one of the charges against Milosevic is that he pursued an inflationary policy that destroyed the buying power of the people while enriching Milosevic and his cronies – who, in a classic case of grand theft on a grand scale, were the first to receive the freshly-printed bills, before the inevitable devaluation. Not everyone suffers from the consequences of inflation, and the Yugoslavs’ understanding of this simple principle, which has so far eluded the American public, is one of the charming things about their revolution.


In any case, the bombing of civilian targets by the US, such as the country’s electrical grid, and factories that produce consumer goods, was the final straw that broke the back of the Yugoslav economy. Without US aid, Kostunica is facing the immediate prospect of bankruptcy. The effect of Bush’s signature at the bottom of this re-declaration of war is that a message is being sent to Kostunica: either bend or you’ll be broken.


Kostunica is no weak reed, in spite of attempts by his leftist critics to portray him as Yugoslavia’s absent-minded professor, a mere figurehead without real power, the President of a make-believe country that has practically ceased to exist. If Montenegrin separatists have their way, they say, he’ll be the President of nothing. This conveniently overlooks Kostunica’s power as a national figure whose power transcends his office. As I wrote in a previous column, the popular upsurge that brought Kostunica to power was a revolution against socialism and for a new nationalism. Kostunica’s program represented the marriage of market liberalism with a nationalist opposition to US hegemony in the region and a refusal to surrender his nation’s sovereignty to some supra-national institution such as the ICTFY. In short, Kostunica represents market nationalism, a trend that shows signs of taking root in Japan, Italy, and, I would now argue, in the United Kingdom. It is the natural and healthy response of advanced nations whose leaders acknowledge the triumph of the free market over socialism in the economic realm, and yet still insist on maintaining their political and cultural independence from any kind of global hegemon, whether it be the US, the EU, the UN, or some other acronym..


If America were governed by those who want to return to constitutional principles, and the foreign policy of the Founding Fathers, the rise of market nationalism from Belgrade to Tokyo and points in between would be seen as a good sign, the final proof that the Founders were right in their vision of America as the inspiration of all, and the master of none. But we aren’t being governed by Thomas Jefferson or his latter-day equivalents, I hasten to remind you: George W. Bush isn’t even close. To the Bush administration, Kostunica represents a “threat” – but to what?


The policy of the Clinton administration was that Serbian nationalism, in any form, represented a dire threat to the region, while the Albanian variety (far more virulent, as it turns out) was to be praised, subsidized, and militarized. The theoreticians of Serbian “collective guilt” over at the New Republic even expounded the idea that there was something inherently Serbian about “genocide” and that the people who allowed Milosevic to remain in office as long as they did are incorrigibly evil. This, really, is the theory that informs the practice of the ICTFY. In linking cooperation with Del Ponte to US aid and the normalization process, the Bush administration is implementing this odious Clintonian theory – and aiming a hammer blow at Kostunica, one that could shatter his government.


This, of course, has been the objective of US policy all along, albeit not one openly expressed. While Madeleine Albright used to demand “Milosevic must go!” at the top of her lungs, the Bushies are a bit more discreet, whispering “Kostunica must go” underneath their collective breath, and only when they’re sure practically no one is listening. The difference, however, is merely stylistic: the radical anti-Serb policy remains in place. As the supposedly “disbanded” Kosovo Liberation Army rampages through Macedonia, and beyond, can anyone doubt that their sponsors and creators, the US and the governments of Western Europe, have more than a little to do with it? The Kosovo war never ended: it merely migrated to other parts of the Balkans. The Albanian siege of Macedonia is just the beginning. The Turkification of the Balkans continues on schedule: this is the solder that will bind Turkey, a NATO member and vital Western ally, to a united Europe: that, and the prospect of a Trans-Balkan oil pipeline, requires the extermination of Serbian nationalism, whether it be socialist, market liberal, or vegetarian.


How does any of this serve US national interests? Why is the integration of Turkey into a European socialist super-state viewed as a benefit by US policymakers? As Brussels claims the status of a superpower, a rising rival to the US for the role of global hegemon, why are we helping to enlarge and embolden the Euro-monster? Umberto Bossi, the leader of Italy’s libertarian-regionalist Northern League, quipped that the EU is “the Soviet Union of the West,” a remark that just about sums up the political vision (and pedigree) of the Euro-crats. Why oh why are we in the business of creating our own enemies?


As a critic of nations “that too easily give up their sovereignty to supranational organizations” – as he once put it to the European leaders gathered in solemn conclave – Kostunica is precisely the kind of leader that an America First foreign policy would promote and support. As a pole of opposition to the extension of EU power into Eastern Europe, Kostunica could be and should be a valuable ally. But our globalist foreign policy does not put America first, and never has: that won’t change with the ascension of George W. Bush to the imperial throne. It will take massive popular outrage at this shameful treatment of a man who is a friend of American ideals – free markets and national independence – to reverse the effects of our disastrous Balkan policy. Above all, it means we have to have determined pressure from those Republican lawmakers who overwhelmingly opposed Clinton’s dirty little war.


Market nationalism as an international phenomenon is rising up through the cracks of global fault-lines like a volcanic vapor. Eruptions, as I have mentioned, have occurred not only in Yugoslavia, but in other regions where radical political change and conflict is in motion: in Italy and Japan. While the market part of the equation is conducive to makers of US policy, the nationalist aspect is bound to cause conflict, as long as the US is committed to a policy of global intervention. In Yugoslavia, the conflict with the US is pronounced and now largely out in the open: after all, the US has just proclaimed Kostunica’s government such a “threat” to the US that it requires nothing less than a declaration of “national emergency.”


In other instances, the conflict will be less open, at first, yet the undercurrent of tension will cause more than a few ripples on an otherwise smooth surface. This is especially true in the case of Japan, where the supreme rule of form is designed to mask such undercurrents, while subtly underscoring them. George Szamuely, writing in the New York Press, ruins a really excellent column on the vicitmization of Japan during World War II by concluding:

“There is little prospect of Japan’s subordination coming to an end any time soon. Today, the new Japanese prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi – widely hailed as a Japanese ‘nationalist’ – is talking of modifying the U.S.-imposed post-1945 constitution. Japan, it seems, is soon to possess armed forces beyond what is necessary for self-defense, and there is nothing whatsoever ‘nationalist’ about this proposal. It is just the latest policy being foisted on Japan by the United States. It is not hard to figure out why: Japan is to be our junior partner in the coming conflict with China.”


Gee, that’s funny, but every Japanese nationalist of any significance supported Koizumi and the governing coalition parties. But, then again, we should hardly be surprised that Western gaijin have arrogated to themselves the privilege of deciding who is and is not a true Japanese nationalist. If an aide to General MacArthur wrote the rough draft of the Japanese ‘Peace Constitution’ on the back of an envelope; then why shouldn’t George Szamuely appoint himself the final arbiter of Japanese politics?


Furthermore, it seems to me that there is something inherently and essentially nationalist about insisting on the right to defend the territory and interests of the country by engaging in war. After all, what is nationalism without a nation – and what is a nation without an army? This is not something that is “foisted” on a nation, but a core necessity. Japan is now defenseless against the possibility of attack. Don’t they have the right to defend themselves, independently of what the US might wish? And, in wishing for it, US policymakers will not necessarily be all that pleased with the results. The strong pro-China lobby in the US – and I include both factions, the mainlanders and the Taiwanese – is not likely to be all that receptive to a resurgent Japan. Powerful pro-China interests, influential in the Bush administration, will likely be aroused to opposition. Best of all, Japanese rearmament, and the cultural-political shift this implies, will eventually lead to the demand for an end to the US occupation, a demand that has been getting louder and more insistent lately. Surely the noninterventionist Szamuely thinks this would be a good thing.


As to the charge that Koizumi is a US sock-puppet, the “junior partner” of US imperialism in the region – and that Japan is somehow fated to endure “subordination” in perpetuity – one can only wonder if, as far as Szamuely is concerned, the only legitimate form of Japanese resistance to American domination is voluntary absorption by China. The rise of China as a regional hegemon would never have been possible without the American conquest and subordination of Japan. Reduced to the status of a protectorate, forced to “host” an army of occupation, Japan’s natural role as the counterweight to China was sabotaged by the US. By distorting the natural balance of power in Eastasia and tilting it toward China – aside from having a hand in ensconcing Mao’s gang in power – US policymakers created their own enemies, who simply moved into a power vacuum.


The election victory of Koizumi, whose brand of market nationalism involves freeing up the Japanese economy as well as reasserting Japanese sovereignty, is clearly in America’s legitimate national interest – and also in the interests of peace. For the Japanese would hardly be served by the escalation of tensions, or even a war with China: after all, they would be caught in the crossfire. The economic liberal aspect of Koizumi’s market nationalism means trade, not war, with Beijing. Japan’s semi-socialist export-driven economy, totally geared toward US markets – and woven into the fabric of America’s overseas empire – so clearly described by Szamuely in his piece, is coming to an end, along with the complete military dependence on the US. This is what Koizumi’s reforms will accomplish: if they succeed, then the US and Japan will ultimately switch roles in Eastasia, with the US relegated to “junior partner” in the relationship. Which is as it should be: after all, America, for all the pretensions of its globalist leaders, cannot and should not try to be an “Asian power.”


The rise of market nationalism – of real leaders, serious and principled men like Kostunica and Koizumi – is proof that nationalism abroad can be something other than crude anti-Americanism, something less tiresome than a hatred of McDonald’s or a reflexive Third Worldism. It is proof that the spread of liberty worldwide is not dependent on the actions of the US government overseas, and that our self-appointed role as the global guardian of “democracy” is unnecessary and counterproductive. Finally, it is a retort to some who claim that anti-interventionism must mean support for “anti-American” dictators – whether they be interventionists, who claim that all opposition to their war plans is by its nature “anti-American,” or those on the far Left who do support foreign dictators, just as long as they are anti-American.

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo passed away on June 27, 2019. He was the co-founder and editorial director of Antiwar.com, 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].