The superlative media critic Ed Herman has teamed up with indy-journalist David Peterson to publish what I consider to be one of the most important series of the last decade over at Monthly Review. It is about Yugoslavia: its history, its break-up, the geopolitical forces involved in that break-up, and the highly successful propaganda effort surrounding US/NATO intervention there for “humanitarian” reasons.
The reason this is so important is that no effort to co-opt left-liberals into support of US military adventures has been so successful. This co-optation was engineered for that very purpose; and the narrative of the propaganda effort has now solidified into the standard history of Yugoslavia to such a degree that to contest it is seen as tantamount to holocaust denial.
DeAnander recently wrote here about the Zionist thaw, the long-overdue breakdown of the pernicious lie that anti-Zionism is synonymous with anti-Semitism… another example of a highly successful disinformation campaign in the US. Herman and Peterson have made an important contiribution here to breaking down the disinformation Yugoslavia, and explaining how this episode paved the way for the current occupation of Iraq. Diane Johnstone has written a very important book that expained this; but this series — now available on line to the general public — will take this story to a far broader audience… with the help of those of us who call attention to it.
When I went to a meeting with my Congressman, Democrat David Price, in 2003, along with other military families opposing the war, we directly asked Congressman Price why the Democrats were failing to cite the United Nations Charter — to which the US is a signatory — when it was so clearly violated (therefore violating US law) in the invasion of Iraq absent a Security Council Resolution. Congressman Price told us — with atypical candor — that they could not cite the UN Charter because Democrats had overwhelmingly violated the same law when they authorized President Bill Clinton to take military action in Yugoslavia.
In my own account of the Jessica Lynch saga, which was incorporated into Sex & War, my book on gender and imperial militarism, there is a fairly detailed account of the hired PR flaks at Rendon Group, who openly boasted that their Serbophobic propaganda on Yugoslavia was designed to vector in support for US miltary intervention from “feminists and Jews.”
This was so successful that the strategy was redeployed in support of liberating women in Afghanistan and Iraq, and transferring the discursive mantle of Adolph Hitler from Milosevic to Saddam.
Here is the series The Dismantling of Yugoslavia: A Study in In Humanitarian Intervention (and a Western Liberal-Left Intellectual and Moral Collapse), by Edward S. Herman and David Peterson.
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The breakup of Yugoslavia provided the fodder for what may have been the most misrepresented series of major events over the past twenty years. The journalistic and historical narratives that were imposed upon these wars have systematically distorted their nature, and were deeply prejudicial, downplaying the external factors that drove Yugoslavia’s breakup while selectively exaggerating and misrepresenting the internal factors. Perhaps no civil wars—and Yugoslavia suffered multiple civil wars across several theaters, at least two of which remain unresolved—have ever been harvested as cynically by foreign powers to establish legal precedents and new categories of international duties and norms. Nor have any other civil wars been turned into such a proving ground for the related notions of “humanitarian intervention” and the “right [or responsibility] to protect.” Yugoslavia’s conflicts were not so much mediated by foreign powers as they were inflamed and exploited by them to advance policy goals. The result was a tsunami of lies and misrepresentations in whose wake the world is still reeling.
From 1991 on, Yugoslavia and its successor states were exploited for ends as crass and as classically realpolitik as: (1) preserving the NATO military alliance despite the disintegration of the Soviet bloc—NATO’s putative reason for existence; (2) overthrowing the UN Charter’s historic commitments to non-interference and respect for the sovereign equality, territorial integrity, and political independence of all states in favor of the right of those more enlightened to interfere in the affairs of “failing” states, and even to wage wars against “rogue” states; (3) humiliating the European Union (EU) (formerly the European Community [EC]) over its inability to act decisively as a threat-making…