nettime's_indigestive_system on Thu, 8 Apr 1999 01:27:45 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> nato/yugoslavia digest 040799 [stahlman, murph, byrne]
          So, the Context is . . . Western Imperialism
murph the surf <>
          Anne Roiphe on Serbians
Chris Byrne <>
           Valery blindness

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Date: Wed, 7 Apr 1999 12:10:54 EDT
Subject: So, the Context is . . . Western Imperialism


It seems that nettimers aren't the only ones seeking some rational context 
for all things catastrophic.  Even normally astute policy-wonkers need a 
refresher course.  Finally, the cold-hard reasons for events in the Balkans 
are beginning to surface -- which means, as the logic of events normally do, 
that the wheels have already been turning for quite a while.

Today's NYTimes, 7 April 99, OP-ED page, in an article entitled:

"In the Balkans, No Wars are 'Local'" by Robert D. Kaplan (Atlantic Monthly 
correspondent and author of "Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History")

Kaplan says:

"The humanitarian nightmare in Kosovo may be reason enough for NATO's 
involvement in the former Yugoslavia, but for the United States there are 
vital strategic interests involved as well . . . Defeat Serbia, or the West 
may lose Bulgaria, Romania and Greece . . . Appeals to conscience will not 
keep Greece a de facto member of NATO, nor will they keep Romania and 
Bulgaria from slipping into the sway of Russia.  What is required is nothing 
less than a complete NATO military victory . . . Only Western Imperialism -- 
though few will like calling it that -- can now unite the European continent 
and save the Balkans from chaos."

Last night on the Lehrer Report (the "liberal" PBS-TV in-depth newshow), a 
panel consisting of past U.S. Secretaries of Defense Harold Brown and James 
Schleisinger, along with past CIA-head Carlucci, all agreed:  There will need 
to be an international conference on the Balkans to "redraw borders" and 
define "spheres of influence."  Brown was forthright enough to say "And, of 
course, this will have to involve Russia."  

In response to a question from Lehrer to a later panelist about Russia's role 
in all this, "Oh, don't worry, they're impotent, bankrupt and deeply 
divided."  Whew!  Glad "we" don't have to worry about the Russians.

And, this morning's Daily Variety (the "official" newpaper of Hollywood) 
announced that Fox News had just hired General Alexander Haig as it's "senior 
policy advisor."  You can now place your bets about when he'll wind up on 
"The Simpsons" explaining Balkan history to Homer, Bart and Lisa.

While pictures of the tormented and tortured may be enough to mobilize public 
opinion behind a massive ground invasion of the Balkans (Kosovo, Albania, 
Montenegro, Macedonia, Transylvania and . . . Serbia), this may not be enough 
to mobilize the policy-wonkers -- particularly the "progressives" who read 
the NYTimes and the Atlantic Monthly.  So, for the still-confused, the 
context is . . .

While demonizing the opposition (a practice brought into the modern media age 
by H.G. Wells when he ran the German Section of Beaverbrook's British 
Ministry of Propaganda during WW I -- when he launched the campaign to label 
Germans as barbaric "Huns" -- which was later claimed by Hitler in "Mein 
Kampf" to be all anyone needed to know about propaganda), may be enough to 
get 70% approval ratings in the American public for sending 200,000+ troops 
to become a plausibly-permanent occupation army in the Balkans, it might not 
be enough to solidify support among the social-democrats who now run the 
ALLIANCE.  And, in case you're still wondering, the context is . . .

For anyone who is still unclear about why this is going on, the real context 
of current events is now being widely and publically announced.  The context 
is . . . Western Imperialism.

For certain, no one involved with nettime will object to calling it that.  
Right?  We're all familiar with Western Imperialism, aren't we?

Now, all we need is someone to help explain how this brand-new version of 
Western Imperialism has been radically techno-updated, detail its intimate 
relationship to the "revolution" known as the Internet, how we are all 
engaged in making the world safe for e-commerce, how multi-nationals and 
PoGOs plan to override national sovereignty and how brand-new institutions 
(like the new "Green" NATO, War Crimes Tribunals and Mr. Soros' proposed new 
World Bank) intend to preside over the new imperial palace's beautiful, 
high-tech war-room.

Any volunteers?


Mark Stahlman

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Date: Wed, 7 Apr 1999 15:09:37 -0400 (EDT)
From: murph the surf <>
Subject: Anne Roiphe on Serbians

I pass this on with hesitation but was so shocked to read it in a
mainstream New York publication that I think it deserves comment. I don't
know what to say other than a century ago the same screed could have
substituted Irish for Serbian here in the U.S.

Rob Murphy

Serb Vulgarians: Compare, Equate and Rage Again

by Anne Roiphe

Our diplomats can't say it. Our politicians feel embarrassed saying it. We
have had some unsavory allies, and our Government is often willing to go to
bed with anyone offering a buck-and what about little My Lai and napalming
the rice paddies, and what about our military complicity in torture centers
in South America? But, mea culpas aside, does anyone doubt that the Serbs
are the Scum of the Earth, the latest Darth Vader lookalikes, at least
today's best candidate? There they are, the winners of the award for the
least-civilized, least-humane,
least-able-to-understand-Mozart-or-Shakespeare-or-Yeats, distinguished
vulgarians of the year.

There they are: fangs for teeth, claws for hands. Upright they walk on two
legs, but that's an illusion; they really crawl on their metaphoric
bellies. I do not want them in my neighborhood. I do not want them to come
for dinner. I do not want them in my children's schools. I know I should be
more tempered, more polite. Six hundred years of regretting a battle loss
can do bad things to a person's disposition, but still: The burning, the
killing, the chasing into the night of women and babies who are without
blankets to keep them warm, the destruction of marriage and birth records
and the occupation of other people's homes and villages, well, what is that
but coarseness, human indifference, bestiality, brutish behavior of the
barely human, the not quite human? Look at those evilhearted ones for whom
nationalism is the bad excuse but not the whole story, reeking of Cain's
self-interested false justifications and seeking reward in unarmed people's
blood. What are they but men with the moral complexity of
hamsters-unfortunately, hamsters with pistols and knives.

Yes, the war crimes tribunal will catch one or two of them. Yes, the
killing will one day be finished, exhausted, because there is no one else
to roust, pursue, plague; no families left to destroy. Or perhaps the
slaughter will end because the outside world has found a way to put the
monster back in his hole, at least for a while.

But let me say it clearly. This is no time for seven kinds of ambiguity, no
climate for irony, no place for the long-distance view The Serbs
responsible for the work of death in Kosovo are vile, contemptible people
who will leave a permanent scar on the name of that very nation they seem
so excessively proud of. This is a moral blot that will have a significant
half-life, lingering in historical memory at least as long as that distant
Turkish victory. The Serbs will glow in the moral dark until my
grandchildren have gray hair.

I know there must be Serbs who would not do what these Serbs have done. I
know that there will emerge later some much-ballyhooed story about a hidden
Albanian child and a farmer who would not ride off on his Albanian Muslim
neighbor's dray horse. But the fact is that those in authority have ordered
this attack and the soldiers in the army have followed it through and, like
sharks in bloody waters, care not a fig what someone far away, someone
neither Serb nor Albanian, will think of them.

We shouldn't generalize about all Serbs, but one has to wonder, where are
their intellectuals? Cowering behind their doors, I suspect. Where are the
independent-minded priests and schoolteachers and doctors and heads of
do-good organizations? Those are the kind of people who by the nature of
their profession should be able to imagine themselves in the skin of other
humans. Someone in that nation ought to be performing the role of
conscience to the id-driven leadership.

Their silence is indefensible. We've seen this before. More than once, the
civilian population has seen no evil while peeping from behind the curtain
at a neighbor's catastrophe. Later, they will tell us they were afraid to
speak out, but they wanted to, oh so badly, they wanted to. Of course, if
they win, if they take over a Kosovo emptied of Albanians and a Greater
Serbia rests-teeth glistening from the marrow dug from the bones of the
dead, a great wolf after a high romp through a henhouse that was home to
the farm dog, the family pig and maybe the newborn baby-then the
after-the-fact objections will be just so much more hot air polluting our

My horror at Serbian thuggery is mitigated only slightly by the fact that
Serbs did fight the fascists in the last war. They did rescue some Jews
and, with Jewish partisans, were true heroes of the resistance. That
kindness was not the milk of human kindness so much as the result of "My
enemy is your enemy and my friend is your friend." The luck of the draw
brought the Serbs and the Jews together; I know it seems ungrateful to turn
on them now. But it's not enough to have bravely fought for me if you go
and kill someone else another day. There is no moral bank account in the
sky in which one good deed earns you forgiveness for whatever may follow.

I know the Kosovo Liberation Army might turn out to make the Taliban look
like Girl Scouts, and I know that the Albanians might be capable, if they
had the power, of driving the Serbs into the Adriatic Sea. But we don't
live in a maybe world of might and would, we live in the here and now, and
here the Serbs are possessed by the demon of nationalism and are forfeiting
their claim to belong to the civilized community. What others have done or
would do or might do is not the point. Today, as I write this, frightened
children are climbing through the snowy mountain passes and old people,
with the dirt of their land still on their faces and under their
fingernails, are weeping for their homes and their families.

When Jews said "Never again," it was meant as a fist shaken at the human
community: You cannot do this to us again. We will be prepared. We will
have our own nation. We will have our own weapons. We will not be a
civilian population pushed off the flat edge of the round world. But those
words touch our spirits like cruise missiles if they do not include the
other vulnerable peoples of the world. When I saw a crowded train of
sad-eyed Albanian exiles, stopped at a small wooden rail station far from
their homes, I couldn't help but compare and equate and rage again.

I, for one, will never, ever buy a Serbian car. Perhaps Noah should not
have been helped into his ark. Perhaps beetles are a more promising species
than humankind. We are surely God's terrible mistake. Is it time for a
recall? back to top

This column ran on page 5 in the 4/12/99 edition of The New York Observer.

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Date: Wed, 7 Apr 1999 21:51:22 +0100
From: Chris Byrne <>
Subject: Valery blindness

Valery Grancher frothed at the mouth:

>I'm sending the message, beacuse we cannot play with ideology by
>confusing all the elements from reality and denying others:

Maybe you should take heed of your own advice.

>a tree may hide a forest ! and I really scare about this forest !!!!

Yes, I see your logic ??? Not.

I have not seen anyone defending the Milosevic regime on this list. But you
are definately propagandising for NATO bombing. I get enough of this on my

Valery, are you doing an interview with somebody from a NATO country next?
Or maybe in the interests of "balance", you could interview a pro-bombing
citizen of the USA? Be sure to ask a few awkward questions now.


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