Friday, March 09, 2007

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Four [11]



The saga of Joschka Fischer continues; apparently we are to believe that he is almost single-handedly responsible for Germany's decision to intervene in the Bosnian war. And by "intervene," we are to understand Johnstone to mean "revive the foreign policy of Nazi Germany."

In case it needs to be reiterated, the Nazis instituted a policy of genocide in Yugoslavia during the occupation, partially carried out by their proxies in Ustashe Croatia. Puppet regimes were set up, Jews were systematically annihilated, and ethnic Serbs were left at the mercy of Pavelic's deranged regime.

And, somehow, Johnstone wants to convince the reader to believe that this was, essentially, no different from the foreign policy of Gerhard Schroder. Correction--she doesn't seek to convince the reader at all, or at least not to any great extent. Despite the pretense she makes of laying out a case for a historical continuity of German foreign policy dating to Prussian times, she makes this incredibly hyperbolic claim without acknowledging how extreme it truly is. Serb nationalists who feel that Western observers of the recent wars overlooked Nazi and Ustashe atrocities against Serbs might want to consider how Johnstone's claims trivialize the true scale of this history.


Eventually, her bizarre fixation on the rise of Joschka Fischer leads us to this bizarre claim--the decision by Germany to send peacekeeping troops was a return to German imperialism in the Balkans. Yes, the German contributions to that woefully ineffective force in Bosnia and the decision to use air power to enforce UN no-fly provisions constitutes a repeat of Nazi foreign policy in the Balkans.

This section is long and meandering, but can summed up as simply this: Sending German air power to Bosnia was a psychological reminder of past atrocities. I have written previously about her tendency to give anthropomorphic qualities to collective groups; this section is a fine example. The implication is that Serbs as a group would be traumatized by the reappearance of German warplanes; in her world, "collective memory" is not a figure of speech but rather a literal phenomena.

She asks "why it must be German air power," when she has already acknowledged that newly reunified Germany was the most powerful country in Europe; the war in Yugoslavia was infamously hailed as the dawn of "the age of Europe." The US and the UN were more than happy to let the EC--and then the EU--deal with Bosnia for quite some time.

The above-mentioned anthropomorphism combines with some pretty sketchy pop psychology to produce a theory of that Germans transferred their guilt from World War II onto the "evil Serbs", a transference which necessitated military confrontation with a "new Holocaust." She has mixed her chronology quite a bit here--we're in Kosovo, in 1999 all of a sudden, without missing a beat--but why quibble with that? And anyway, the Albanians were, as you might remember, natural fascists and the inheritors of a Nazi client state just waiting for their Teutonic patrons to return in force.

And so part one of Chapter Four sputters to an end, with some admittedly ugly anecdotes of Albanians greeting German soldiers with Heil Hitler salutes and other fascist claptrap. Which provides Johnstone with a wonderful molehill on which to plant the flag proclaiming "Here is Mount Nazi!" She mixes and matches assorted quotes and scenes in order to create the illusion of a mass movement of Albanians flocking to sign up for SS all over again. I have to hand it to her; it's quite a spectacle. Given the widespread atrocities all over the former Yugoslavia, and the tens of thousands dead, it's quite a feat to locate the nexus of your outrage on a parade of liberated Albanians welcoming NATO troops in a parade.

This alternate history of Germany and the Balkans ends, rather blandly, with this little gem:

"In January 2002, after early resignations of the Frenchman Bernard Kouchner followed by the Dane, Hans Haekkerup, the post of UN administrator of the Kosovo protectorate went to a German, Michael Steiner, Chancellor Schroders former foreign policy advisor. Many things had changed in 50 years, not least the fact that Germany and the United States were now on the same side."

Where does one begin with such a statement? Had West Germany and the US not been "on the same side" for decades prior to this? Does she even care? I think not--when the next section begins, she immediately moves on from this crude statement. And by "moves on," I mean "moves back in time"--a thousand years.

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