Those were the Good Old Days – when the United States could credibly keep up the pretense of being the agency of moral rectitude, the heroes who come over the hill and, at the last minute, save the day from the savagery of the Orcs and the forces of Mordor.
Oh really?, said my young friend, who knows only what he can glean from the Dark Days that are now upon us. In the distance, the low rumble of thunder. Or is it the sound of the battle inching forward …?
Oh yes, we were the Good Guys. Swooping down over a nation once called Yugoslavia, where atrocities were said to be watering the trees with the blood of children. We fought in the name of refugees seeking to reclaim what their Kosovar mythology depicted as their ancient homeland. It was only that anachronistic artifact of racist oppression – a wall – that kept them on what had been their side since the Great War destroyed the order of things.
Kosovo had seen many battles, many acts of heroism, as the Bad Guys – otherwise known as the Serbs – defended their sacred history from their castle keeps. They fought using modern weapons, which their noble ancestors would have looked on with awe: they went into battle invoking the memory of the royal dynasties that fought the same enemies – the slaves of the Ottomans, forcibly converted to Islam – on the same battlefields. They fought off the invaders year after year, but each year it became more difficult. The Kosovars were a fecund race and they swarmed at the border in bigger numbers, while the Serbs dwindled – and then came the Americans.
There was but one established cable news channel in those far-off days: CNN. The anchor was Christiane Amanpour, an Iranian-British journalist who, in reporting the story of what was happening in Kosovo, did not hide her sympathies for her fellow Muslims. Being married to James “Jamie” Rubin, who was then serving as Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs under Bill Clinton, solidified her role as the voice of the administration. Few challenged this dual role as journalist and wife of a Washington warlord.
Fox News was in its infancy then, and a visible split emerged there between their resident neocons and paleoconservatives who opposed US intervention in the Balkans. Within a few months, the neocons won out and the antiwar conservatives were brought into line. Some were even forced to make "self-criticism" statements on-air denouncing their previous antiwar position.
In search of a moral crusade to take up, and eager to divert attention from the President’s burgeoning scandals, the Clinton administration became the champion of the supposedly oppressed Kosovars – and this was reflected in Amanpour’s “reporting.”
Every day, it seemed, there was a fresh “crisis” and the casualties on the Kosovar side increased exponentially (Serb casualties were never mentioned.) And a very visible and vocal Kosovar lobby took to the battlefield, an entire constellation of organizations whose main goal was to drag the US into the war on the Kosovar side and establish a Muslim State in the heart of Christian Europe. (Or, rather, another Muslim State: Bosnia and Herzegovina were already raising the flag of the scimitar and the crescent moon).
The Serbs tried to negotiate: they knew they could not stand alone against the Americans, who were soon bombing civilian areas – 6,000 were killed. And the propaganda war was completely one-sided: Serb propaganda was crude, and usually blocked by the Americans over the Internet.
The Serbs were depicted as Nazis – aren’t all our “enemies” – and the Americans demanded unconditional surrender. Yet the heirs of the Serbian kings fought bravely on.
Here in the United States hardly anyone knew the war was even happening. As far as organized opposition to US intervention was concerned, it was confined to a few far-left groups – but even they were divided. After all, this was a “humanitarian” intervention, the Serbs were “fascists,” and they even sent “aid convoys” in hopes that a “revolutionary” situation would develop.
The only other node of opposition was right here, at Antiwar.com. I started this column just as American bombers started doing their dirty work, writing on a daily basis. And Antiwar.com came into its own during that war, breaking major stories before CNN and reporting hourly on that war. Our traffic increased several hundred-fold and we got noticed by major news sources.
I won’t reiterate the tragic story of that war: by now the rulers of Kosovo, the Kosovo Liberation Army, are known as a drug gang masquerading as a “government,” thugs who crush whatever opposition dares raise its head. And just to add insult to injury: Kosovars are among the most numerous recruits for ISIS: hundreds are being repatriated back to Kosovo. This is what they call gratitude.
Hundreds of churches have been burned by Kosovar mobs: US troops – yes, they’re still there! – stand by and watch. The official program of the KLA is to drive out the Serbs, create an ethnically pure Albanian State, merge with Albania to create “Greater Albania.”
So it appears that some forms of nationalism are good, according to the standards of the European Union overlords, and some are to be crushed.
After the war the Kosovars renamed the Main Street of Pristina “Bill Clinton Boulevard” and erected a ten-foot statue in his honor. Meanwhile a new threat of war threatens the region as the Kosovars aggressively push for more territory and the fulfillment of the Kosovar dream.
This was the beginning of America’s post-Soviet push eastward, and the new Cold War between the US and Russia – with consequences that cannot end in anything but the revival of ancient feuds put to contemporary purposes.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.