Barbarians at the Gate

by Jared Israel

In 1995 the Croatian Army, trained, led and given air support by the Pentagon, launched a blitzkrieg against the Krajina section of Croatia, driving out in a matter of days approximately 250,000 Serbian men, women and children whose ancestors had lived in that mountainous region since medieval times. Thousands were strafed by U.S. planes or slaughtered by Croatian troops as they fled. Afterwards, Croatian President Tudjman went on a tour of celebration. Croatian radio reported that he boasted to cheering crowds:

"There can be no return to the past, to the times when Serbs were spreading cancer in the heart of Croatia, a cancer that was destroying the Croatian national being...So it is as if they have never lived here...They didn't even have time to take with them their filthy money or their filthy underwear!" (See: "The Invasion of Serbian Krajina," by Gregory Elich )

If this mass expulsion and Tudjman's comments seem barbaric, it is perhaps fitting. Krajina, pronouced "Kry-eena," means 'military frontier,' in this case the boundary between civilization and barbarism, from the Serbian word 'kraj' (pronounced "cry") or 'end.' The Serbs were settled in the Krajina hundreds of years ago to keep the Ottoman armies from overrunning Europe and now they had born the brunt of a new barbarism, this one centered in the U.S., as well as Germany, England and France.

Endless murder numbs the sensitivity; so after a while the images of civilians torn apart by these new barbarians, who strike from 15,000 feet, slip out of focus, thus granting some relief until a new twist jars one into terrible awareness. For a friend of mine, it was the picture of a little girl in Nis who had lost her leg to a cluster bomb; she had been in the wrong place at the wrong time but what wouldn't leave my friend alone was -- she looked like his own child. Now this American who had never protested anything before has written two compelling essays, one on how it torments a U.S. patriot to see his country's leaders guilty of war crimes and another from the perspective of a Jew, rejecting Clinton's use of the Holocaust to sell this war. If you'd like to see these essays, email me at [Note: the second article, "Hijacking the Holocaust," is posted on this website. See 'Emoff' under 'Articles by Author.']

What got to me yesterday was the news that bombs exploding near the Belgrade Zoo had driven a rhinoceros mad; he banged his head against a wall until he died. This was somehow more terrible to me then the ordinary routine of blown up bridges, homes, factories, markets,cemeteries, airports, electrical plants, water treatment facilities, day care centers, and other military targets. Today they blew up another market and an old folks home. The staff had painted a red cross on the roof of the home. Perhaps, seeing the red cross, the pilots mistook the building for a hospital or clinic; perhaps such facilities are on the approved targets list. Approved targets. Do they think this is Nintendo? Is that what the pilots think? Do the pilots think?

The following is an excerpt from an article by Scott McConnell which appeared in the Conformist. It describes atrocities but don't worry, he's talking about buildings, not people. Or maybe you should worry. Maybe it will affect you the way the rhino effected me or the way the missing leg affected my tormented Jewish friend, in Ohio.

* * * * *

Scott McConnell

Clinton's War Crimes

"If we have to use force, it is because we are America. We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall. We see further into the future." So said Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, The New York Times, Feb. 22, 1998. It may be unfair to single out Albright, then contemplating bombs over Baghdad, not Belgrade. Her qualities of mind permeate the entire Clinton administration, and are expressed with equal zeal in the neoconservative Weekly Standard and the liberal New Republic. As the NATO campaign against Yugoslavia enters its ninth week it is worth asking where this attitude has led the United States. Clinton apologized for bombing the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, though it was instructive to see the Beltway press warriors rail against Beijing's "orchestrated" anti-American demonstrations. Chinese-Americans I know contrasted the demos with Clinton's response after two American embassies were bombed last summer: He fired off volleys of cruise missiles into the Sudan, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Two weeks ago Washington finally acknowledged that one target it destroyed, a pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum, had no connection to Osama bin Laden, the accused terrorist Clinton wanted to punish. Another intelligence booboo, and what a shame for the people who worked there. At any rate, we have apologized to the Chinese. The same day the U.S. bombed their embassy, NATO planes hit a marketplace and a hospital in the city of Nis, in southern Serbia, with antipersonnel cluster bombs, killing 15 and wounding 70. No apologies were tendered. But as bombing from 15,000 feet, firing cruise missiles from afar and hectoring nations who fail to appreciate that we understand better than they how to manage their internal affairs have become the hallmarks of the Clinton foreign policy, they have begun to attract more critical attention. In a stunning column in the May 7 London Times, Simon Jenkins surveyed the damage NATO strikes have done to historic sites in Serbia and Kosovo. Gen. Wesley Clark's bombers have destroyed the Banovina Palace in the city center of Novi Sad, the finest work of art deco architecture in the Balkans. They have battered the old city of Pec, destroying a picturesque grouping of old markets and Turkish fortified houses dating from the Ottoman period. They have ruined the old trade center in nearby Djakovica and damaged the 16th-century Hadum Mosque there. They have destroyed the medieval Vrsac Tower near the Romanian border, and the 18th-century Tabacki Bridge. NATO planes have bombed repeatedly around the renowned medieval church of Gracanica near Pristina, its walls covered with 14th- and 15th-century frescoes. Deep fissures are now reported in the frescoes, which are detaching from the walls. In Belgrade, the 16th-century Rakovica monastery has taken a hit through its roof; in Kursumlija, Clinton's bombs have struck the churches of the Virgin and St. Nicholas, dating from the 12th century, as well as St. Procopius' ninth-century church in Prokuplje. As Jenkins points out, these sites date from the earliest years of Christianity in Eastern Europe. NATO's response to the Serb refusal to give up its Kosovo province has been to wage a civilizational war, to try to demoralize an enemy by obliterating a cultural heritage. One can only marvel at what must go on in the minds of Clinton, Albright, Gen. Clark and the others: What-in this age of Littleton and The Jerry Springer Show-makes them so certain that America "stands taller" and "sees further"? Who do they think they are?

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