Winter is Coming

The fog of deception lies heavy over Libya still, with the pro-Imperial rebels proclaiming victory half a dozen times over four days. Claims they had captured one of Gadhafi’s sons were quickly debunked. While it does appear that Gadhafi may have lost control of the country, who is actually in control – the motley coalition calling itself the "National Transitional Council," or their NATO sponsors – remains very much in doubt still.

How is something like this even possible, in an age of unprecedented media coverage? Primarily because the war has been a media operation from the very beginning. It took massive amounts of spin to paint the rebels as peace-loving freedom-fighters (who weren’t jihadists, honest), to claim that Gadhafi’s forces threatened a bloodbath in Benghazi, and to keep anyone from wondering how a mandate to enforce a no-fly zone became a license to bomb, invade, and occupy.

Forgotten Precedents

What shocks the most is that this isn’t the first time something like this happened. In 1999, NATO launched an illegal invasion of then-Yugoslavia on the basis of a faked atrocity story, changed justifications for the invasion at least three times during the 78-day war, and occupied the province under a UN mandate it immediately proceeded to shred. In 2003, the U.S.-led "Coalition of the Willing" invaded Iraq on a completely false pretext of "weapons of mass destruction". When confronted with the lie, the U.S. leadership shrugged, "So what?"

In all these cases, the interventions caused all the things they nominally sought to prevent or stop: civilian deaths, widespread devastation, conflict between ethnic and religious groups, pogroms and ethnic cleansing, and even terrorism – the very thing the U.S. declared its sacred historical mission to fight, following 9/11. The parallels are so striking, even cartoons can be recycled to fit.

While the pattern is obvious to some, the mainstream media work really hard to banish all context from collective memory, so everything always happens in a vacuum and the only points of reference are the talking points emanating from Washington. Where, incidentally, snow in winter comes as a surprise.

What Price Victory?

So, once again, the Empire pats itself on the back, smugly celebrating a victory. But was it? Well, so long as Gadhafi is out, and the rebels – whoever they are – divvy up the Libyan economy to major Western companies, the country’s reserves of gold and foreign currency conveniently disappear into "proper" pockets, who cares? And if the rebels turn out to actually be bloodthirsty jihadists – as it happened in Afghanistan – that but guarantees that the Pentagon will never run out of wars to fight.

You won’t hear the talking heads on mainstream cable channels mentioning that the rebels’ draft Constitution has a provision in Article 1 making Sharia the supreme law of the land. What a splendid victory for democracy!

Now John McCain, a U.S. Senator who never saw a war he didn’t like, is saying that Syria is "next" and that even Russia and China are in need of "democracy," Imperial-style. This just days after the Senate unanimously passed an idiotic anti-Russian resolution. The march to madness continues…

The False Arab Spring

What the public in the U.S. and Europe is supposed to think, according to its overlords, is that liberal democracy is such a wonderful system of government – really, the only one possible – that Arab masses everywhere are rising up on their own accord to demand "freedom." Leaving aside the false belief that democracy equals freedom, actual reports from countries affected by the so-called "Arab Spring" suggest the very opposite: the popular discontent is stoked, channeled and manipulated by professional revolutionaries, trained by the U.S. and set loose on the world.

Tunisians and Egyptians may be rid of the individuals – Ben Ali and Mubarak – who ruled them for decades, but the system in which they operated has not been dismantled. Some "freedom"! No one hears anything about Bahrain anymore, where a Saudi-backed Sunni dynasty lords it over the Shia populace with an iron fist. Now that is a bona fide popular protest, but they don’t get to enjoy "democracy" – the Fifth Fleet has to moor somewhere, after all. As for the Saudis, they continue to be the living proof that the U.S. has no problem with dictatorships or theocracies per se, so long as they remain obedient allies.

Syria is now the next target of bombs-for-peace activists. The hereditary dictatorship is beset by protesters carrying signs in English (odd, that, in an Arab-speaking country once ruled by the French), who also appear to be armed. The official story, of course, is that they are unarmed demonstrators being wantonly butchered by the country’s military. Remember, though, that "Gay Girl in Damascus" was part of the official story for months – until "she" was outed as a middle-aged American man living in Scotland.

The question is no longer whether interventions might poison the well of Arab democracy, but whether the "democratic revolutions" were anything but a cruel hoax. Iraq, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria – whether by war or by subversion, it is all about the Empire taking control. Freedom, democracy – those are just words in the wind. What will happen once the people, seduced by promises of security and prosperity, realize they’ve only traded one tyrant for another? Even if Empire’s policymakers are intellectually aware they are seeding the world with bitter enemies, they simply don’t care.

Yet history offers an example of where such betrayal leads: Iran, where in 1953 the CIA overthrew the democratic government of Prime Minister Mossadegh, in favor of a dictatorial Shah. The 1979 Islamic revolution was directed against the Shah, and his principal backer – the U.S. Yet to the policymakers in Washington, history has nothing to do with anything, and the Iranians are simply irrationally evil.

Balkanize the World

Those who dismiss the lessons of history invoke American exceptionalism: it can’t happen here, this country is different. In one respect, that is true; never before in history has a hegemon itself demolished the very order its hegemony rested upon.

Nearly a decade ago, Emperor Bush II unveiled a grand strategy that envisioned a global Balkans: governed by arbitrary rules, enforced by American bombers and local quislings. It was the alleged triumph in the Balkans that encouraged further interventionism. Never mind that Kosovo wasn’t a brilliant victory of air power but an evil little war that ended up a  near-disaster; or that the Bosnia policy is based on fetishes and fantasies; the important thing was that Serbia – which had resisted Imperial diktat for a decade, invoking international law – be broken at the wheel, as an example to others.

And if the chosen tool for the breaking is Germany – with its heritage of aggression and atrocities from two World Wars – so much the better, then, to show the truly post-historical nature of Empire’s Pax Balcanica.

Thus German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Belgrade this week to demand recognition of the "Independent state of Kosovo". Even the pathetic quisling regime currently running Serbia balked at that – which the German media promptly dubbed "refusal to compromise."

It is one thing to discount history, to spin failures into successes, and even to dismiss observable reality. What the Empire is doing here, however, is waging a war on meaning. When one wages a war on "terrorism" but promotes one’s own terrorists as "freedom fighters"; when "democracy" means whatever the Imperial bureaucrat on the ground declares it means at any given time, things have gone beyond surreal.

This Summer of lies is almost over. Winter is coming.

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 debuted in November 2000.