Sunday, May 13, 2007

"Fools' Crusade" Postscript: Perpetual War [3]

POSTSCRIPT: PERPETUAL WAR


PARTNERS IN CRIME

The "partners" in the title of this section refer to the NATO allies allegedly duped into cooperating with the United States; the "crime" refers to the plot to "destroy Yugoslavia." If that seems more than a little off, wait until you read the opening sentence:

"The NATO war against Yugoslavia might be studied by ethnologists as a contemporary example of the familiar role of blood rituals in sealing the unity of groups."

Feel free to re-read that sentence again; I'm sure most of you experienced some sort of double-take. I certainly did. Please note--I am not discounting the possibility that modern nation-states are incapable of participating in pre-modern rites and rituals. There are continuities of human existence and human societies which can and should humble the hubris of contemporary humanity. That is not the point--the point is more specific--is this true? I think that anyone with even a shred of respect for the facts and the truth knows that the answer is 'No'.

This imagined blood ritual, Johnstone believes, bound the NATO countries into a collusion with an aggressive United States "even if they secretly knew better." She compares this enforced, guilt-ridden solidarity to the racist imperial ideologies of the 19th Century.

Having established the self-evident truth of this thesis in her own mind, Johnstone then proceeds to detail a "dangerous precedent" set by NATO involvement in Yugoslavia. She goes so far as to call this delusional pattern a "formula for transforming contemporary internal conflicts into pretexts for military intervention." The "formula" is as followed [each point is the first sentence from the original text; this is all quotes]:

1. Economic "reforms" weaken the state.
2. The weakening of the central state aggravates ethnic or regional particularities and conflicts.
3. The ethnic troubles are interpreted as a "human rights crisis."
4. The United States and/or NATO go to war to resolve the alleged "human rights crisis."
5. The resulting chaos is turned over to an "International Community."

If you have been following me through the preceding 261 dreary pages, you can fill in the rest of the text on each point (each are a short paragraph). We have already seen this entire "argument" developed at length throughout this book. There is no point in slogging our way through her twisted logic and revisionist retelling one more time; instead, ask yourself one question--what would Johnstone's reaction be if the United States and NATO did what should have been done years ago, and gone into Darfur to put a stop to the genocide there? Would she apply the same "formula" to a Western-led intervention to save the impoverished black Muslims of western Sudan?

Here's hoping we find the answer soon, by the way.

The section closes with a long paragraph that asserts that:

"The unilateral procedures adopted by NATO for Yugoslavia amounted to asserting a Western monopoly on determining what is a "humanitarian catastrophe" and what should be done about it. A genuine, unquestioned humanitarian emergency could be dealt with legally through the United Nations."

The first sentence involves an odd sort of circular reasoning--there is apparently something wrong with Western societies determining how they interpret and respond to global events. The second sentence is, of course, highly ironic given the counterproductive and anemic actions of the United Nations in Bosnia, Rwanda, and now Sudan. While Johnstone parses factually unsubstantiated hypothetical situations and abstract legalisms, people continue to die under the watchful eye of the "lawful" United Nations.

The section ends with Johnstone asking:

"What is to stop a ruthless group, ready to sacrifice some of its own people to reach its goals of taking power over a territory, from staging fake massacres in order to gain the prinze of being able to "use NATO as its air force"?

No bonus points for whoever guesses what she's implying here. General MacKenzie and her should do lunch sometime.

1 comment:

Owen said...

More sloppiness. How binding can a "blood ritual" in a foreign context be in a democracy where domestic issues are the determinants of a transfer of power? "It's the economy, stupid".

Perhaps she got the idea from reading about the "blood rituals" that some Bosnian Serbs were forced to take part in - as per the account of "conscription to rape" given to Gutman.