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Re: <nettime> remember the kosovo war on this list?
Dan Wang on 27 Sep 2000 04:05:13 -0000


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Re: <nettime> remember the kosovo war on this list?


Dimitri,

> As a newcomer to Nettime, I didn't see your Kosovo war discussions. May I
> ask a few simple questions:
>
> 1) Were there any people on Nettime who supported the NATO bombing
> campaign? What percent?

The NATO bombing was a fairly divisive crisis, among intellectuals no less
than anyone else. Susan Sontag, having been involved in Balkan politics as
a (relatively) not-so removed North American commentator since the siege of
Sarajevo, wrote strongly in favor of the action. Chomsky, taking his rather
structuralist view of American foreign policy (and, given the history, who
can really blame him), wrote of the action as the latest, "kindest" chapter
in American imperialist aggression. Continental folks were, if not
similarly split, at least wary of taking quick stands. I think it was
Pierre Bourdieu who called for something like a new creativity in analyzing
the Kosova situation, rather than presenting a solid case for or against
straight away. Mainly lurking at the time, it is my impression that the
general Nettime leaning was of a high skepticism of any NATO action, and an
especially high concern about media presentations of the war, which
probably had something to do with the lack of certain consensus regarding
the rightness or wrongness of the action (i.e., people were first of all
concerned about getting reliable information about exactly what was
happening), but there were also a handful of strong voices taking definite
positions, including some communication from out of Belgrade and Novi Sad.

> 2) Did anyone think that Serbian Television was a proper war target and
> that bombing it was a correct act? How about the Chinese Embassy?

For myself, I would have to agree with those who think television should
have been the first to be hit. Clinton and NATO seem to understand the
military problem of image when it comes to their home countries' media, but
not understand that media itself can be a weapon in actual war--in this
case, state tv as a shield against internal disloyalty and ebbing of
patriotism. It was truly a media war, but it was Milosevic, shutting down
B92 and preserving state tv, who used media more effectively considering
the vastly unequal resources of the two warring sides. He used media within
his own beleaguered domain to practically fight to a draw.

> 3) What might have been the nature of any 'censorship' that was carried
> out by the editors of Nettime -- from what point of view? (Specifically
> what do your critics think you edited out, besides messages +ACI-that
> appeared to be written by secret police or others intended to disrupt the
> discussion+ACI- ? Did you cut off rabid Serbian supporters?)

I think the moderators did a good job, and added much of their own thoughts
at the time. As far as censorship goes. . . well, I couldn't tell of any,
but the moderators might have more to say about what didn't make it onto
the list.

> Many well-educated, liberal, otherwise gentle, loving people I know
> swallowed the NY Times propaganda whole and to this day support the
> bombing. It could easily happen again... That's what concerns me.

Yes, that is the concern. It seems that even thoughtful, critical people
have different comfort levels regarding the use of military force in any
given situation. When a guy like Milosevic, who needs very little
pre-action demonization on the part of opposing forces within or without
his country to begin with, really does beg for some sort of punitive
action, the ethical stakes are that much higher.

For myself, I have to say that I was completely comfortable with the
intital action, if not cheering like Richard Barbrook (and his sister). I
mean, come on, everyone knows Milosevic and his circle are thugs, we've
seen some of what they are about through their involvement in the Bosnian
war, to name just one unsavory bit of their history, and the then-alleged
atrocities taking place in Kosova seemed completely in character. But then,
in say the first two weeks of the bombing, it became obvious to me that
NATO action is not the answer to this kind of political problem. NATO is a
war machine, with war machine spokespersons trained to think only of
sorties, casualties, targets, and absolute justifications, and cannot do
much more than destroy lands and peoples in its path--though it can do that
very well. And is that what we, outside of Yugoslavia who are hoping to
support anti-Milosevic sentiment and movement, really want? No, of course
not.

But if the Kosovars were to use force to achieve some sort of autonomy (and
they might have to use force since many Serbs, even those opposed to
Milosevic, seem to favor a Serbian nation that would include rule of
Kosovo) where are they going to get the means? The cold war is over, and
that means local national liberation movements all over the globe can't
pander to this or the other superpower for funding, arms, and training
anymore. So what's it gonna be, NATO, the most powerful war machine on
earth, sending in bombers behind ragged,disorganized, and possibly even
imaginary (thinking about the future here) national liberation fronts from
now on? To do what--serve the liberation front, or simply have an excuse to
put on a show and remind everybody everywhere that it is the most powerful
war machine around?

dan s. wang

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