A Bipartisan Empire

One of the deadliest illusions persistent among the American public is the belief that Empire’s foreign policy is partisan by nature. Thus much of the opposition to American legions enforcing “liberty” in Iraq is aimed at Bush the Republican, just as feeble opposition to Kosovo and Bosnia targeted Clinton the Democrat. A closer look, however, reveals that both the Balkans and Babylonian expeditions have the essential bipartisan support. Whether led by Emperor George or Emperor Bill, the wars are still imperial, and thus unimpeachable. How else can one explain that for all the pundits’ braying, Bush’s policy in the Balkans has not substantially changed from his predecessor’s?

Common Cause

Those on the “left” who actually pretend to espouse an antiwar platform try to “oppose” the invasion and occupation of Iraq by reminiscing about the invasions and occupations – such as Bosnia and Kosovo – of the Good Ol’ Days of Clinton. They blame all the present ills on the neocons and their fellow-travelers, just about saying that had they remained in charge, the War on Terror would be going much better now.

One such lament was offered this week by genocide-peddler and professional Serb-baiter Ed Vulliamy, who raged that the capture of Saddam Hussein was not mirrored by captures of Bosnian Serb leaders:

“…it matters that this is an administration built on an alliance between evangelical Christianity and right-wing Zionism, and that a US foothold in the heart of Arabia can deal a crushing blow to the Palestinians, by letting Israel off the leash. This is the cause that is most dear to the neo-cons in Washington.

In this grand scheme of things, the killing of hundreds of thousands of Bosnians does not matter.”

While this may appear as a politically-correct opposition to invasion of Iraq and the capture of Saddam Hussein, it’s nothing of the sort. Vulliamy actually holds them up as an example.

But the neocons he rails against – in the manner he previously used only for Serbs – actually supported US intervention in Bosnia and Kosovo. After all, they’ve never seen a war they didn’t like. Some actually cheered on the war-chariots: Richard Haas, currently Director of Policy Planning at the State Department and Director of National Security Programs at the Council on Foreign Relations, based his entire doctrine of US intervention on Balkans precedents.

What more evidence of neocon complicity is needed than the involvement of Richard Perle in the Bosnian peace talks? Rogue diplomat Richard Holbrooke made a special point in his book of consulting the “Prince of Darkness” on the draft peace plan; Perle’s role was to make it more acceptable to the Muslims, which he seems to have supported just as much as the Clinton administration and Holbrooke himself.

‘Forgotten’ Friends

So, if there is indeed a “lack of political will” to seize Radovan Karadzic, as the Hague Inquisition’s mouthpiece Graham Blewitt complained to Bosnian Muslim media, it might be due to fear that Karadzic the defendant might expose Empire’s links with Islamic terrorists in Bosnia. It is much easier to organize futile hunts from time to time, appeasing the Muslim public opinion.

The extent to which Europe and the US mollycoddle their Balkans protégés produces incongruous results. Bosnia’s grand mufti, Mustafa Ceric, is quoted as saying recently that “European governments must do more to support Islam if they are to curb Islamic extremism.” He also said Europe needed to “institutionalize” Islam, and fund the construction of mosques and Islamic schools.

So, Muslims embrace religious violence because they aren’t getting enough government welfare? Codswallop! The obvious question of why any government should fund the spread of Islam, or any other religion, is not asked. Nor does Ceric make any allowances for the fact that billions of euros and dollars have already been spent to defend and bolster an Islamic regime in Bosnia that he represents.

Meanwhile, in Kosovo, the Albanian racists funded and supported by the US and UN erupted in outrage that left the remaining Serbs who refused to bow to the KLA dead. An editorial in daily Kosova Sot called for a “final solution” to the “stubborn minority that does not want to accept the new reality.”

“After all, why have the means of violence been created?” asks the editorialist.

These are “noble victims” that made the careers of advocacy journalists like Vulliamy, officers like Wesley Clark, and politicians like Richard Holbrooke. This is how forsaken they are, how despondent, that they issue extortion demands and calls for genocide without as much as blinking. The Empire is fully behind them, having built its foundations on favoring their causes.

Here Be No Terrorists!

When such causes prove embarrassing, there’s always denial. A recent book by Dutch scholar Cees Wiebes, the result of his research into Western intelligence operations in Bosnia during the war, reveals disturbing – but not new – information about US involvement in a weapons-smuggling scheme to arm the Bosnian Muslims from Iran. Similar channels were used to bring in mujahideen from Afghanistan and elsewhere. Some of these men committed heinous atrocities during the war, while others are connected to global terrorist networks.

Nonetheless, NATO’s new GenSec Jap de Hoop Scheffer claimed quite forcefully last week that NATO had “no firm evidence that international terrorists are operating, training or recruiting in Bosnia-Herzegovina.”


Since when did NATO need “firm evidence” for anything, from declaring people war criminals to committing naked aggression? The way international occupation in Bosnia functions, mere suspicion is enough to deprive people of liberty and property, if not life just yet. That takes place in Kosovo.

Was there not a terrorist camp in Pogorelica that NATO troops raided in 1996? Were there not six Algerians, stripped of Bosnian citizenship, arrested and imprisoned in Guantanamo in 2002? Were the US and British embassies in Sarajevo not repeatedly closed due to threat of attacks? Were there not closures of Islamic NGOs, and seizure of their assets, on charges of aiding terrorists? Are there not Bosnian Muslim youths, signing up to fight the jihad in faraway places?

An old Washington adage, “Believe nothing until it’s officially denied,” seems appropriate here.

A Crop of Warmongers

On what principle can those who supported intervention in Bosnia and Kosovo oppose Bush on Iraq, or Afghanistan? Or is there a principle at all, save the momentary emotional arguments and imperialist chic?

All of the leading Democratic candidates for “opposing” Bush the Lesser in November supported the Great Balkans Adventure during the 1990s. They are not opposing the current Perpetual War. They might claim they would do it differently, but they would still do it.

Wesley Clark‘s position needs no explanation. His pompous propaganda claims about “liberating a nation,” leaves out the truth of naked aggression, ethnic cleansing and occupation by NATO and its KLA allies. Queried about his war record by a leftist reporter (Jeremy Scahill of Democracy Now!), Clark lied and denied, from claiming that everything NATO did was legitimate and justified by US and international law (!) to blaming everything on the Serbs and Milosevic.

The current front-runner, John Kerry, had spoken in favor of Clinton’s Bosnia intervention and supported US deployment in the occupation of that country. His voting record also shows he supported the aggression in Kosovo. He may not flaunt his position like Clark, but he’s made it clear enough.

As for Howard Dean, this is the man who in July 1995 urged Clinton to unilaterally intervene in Bosnia, in a letter arguing for a “lift-and-strike” campaign against the Serbs. No one in the Dean camp has repudiated the letter so far.

The War Party

For all the criticism of electoral results in, say, Serbia, it seems Americans are ones lacking real options come November. People still convinced their vote has meaning see substantial differences where in truth there are only stylistic disagreements. Both major parties favor massive taxation, government spending, and foreign wars. Democrats justified their aggression with talk of “human rights” and “humanitarian aid,” while Republicans justify theirs with “war on terror” and “national interest,” but the end result is the same: people halfway around the world get bombed, killed in droves, and occupied by US and satellite troops.

Until that realization hits home, it is highly unlikely that US policy in the Balkans or in Babylon will change for the better.

Author: Nebojsa Malic

Nebojsa Malic left his home in Bosnia after the Dayton Accords and currently resides in the United States. During the Bosnian War he had exposure to diplomatic and media affairs in Sarajevo. As a historian who specializes in international relations and the Balkans, Malic has written numerous essays on the Kosovo War, Bosnia, and Serbian politics. His exclusive column for Antiwar.com debuted in November 2000.