Saturday, August 25, 2007

"To Kill A Nation" by Michael Parenti [26]


Aside from the standard redefinition of "genocide" to exclusively denote campaigns of absolute extermination, this chapter mainly serves to discount or diminish the suffering of Albanians expelled from Kosovo while simultaneously transferring as much blame as possible to NATO for what level of suffering Parenti is willing to acknowledge. Aside from the obvious blind spots in his vision, this chapter also reveals a callousness towards refugees and other victims which would be shocking if the reader weren't already accustomed to Parenti's thinly veiled contempt for ethnic Albanians.

There is very little to comment on here, especially since I am somewhat impatient to have this horrible, dishonest, and stupid book behind me. So what follows is merely a brief summary of a few select points:

-Parenti harps quite a bit on what evidence he can muster that Serbian operations were not genocidal in intent but rather focused on "counter-insurgency" against the KLA. Aside from the obvious bias--Parenti never, as far as I've seen, doubts Serb sources--this point entirely ignores the gap between literally stated goals versus implied intent, not to mention the reality of how orders were interpreted and implemented. Balkan revisionists love to point out that Milosevic never wrote his own "Mein Kampf" -like master plan, as if this and only this (rather than actual actions) could be the only possible smoking gun.

-As noted before, a common theme of Balkan revisionism is that refugees are fundamentally unreliable sources of information. But furthermore, we should demand a very, very high level of desperation and need before refugee status can even be granted. It is striking how often Parenti makes note of the high standard of material well-being and health most Albanian refugees displayed. They weren't destitute enough, apparently. What's more, he discounts the impact of one refugee's story thusly:

"A man told of fleeing to the railroad station to get a train out of Kosovo: "We were frightened by the police," he said (not shot, beaten, or tortured, but frightened)."

These were the same police who were shooting and beating plenty of other ethnic Albanians, but clearly this guy was just being skittish when he made a run for it. Then again, Parenti also discounts another women's story because she was merely driven from her home by police, which he claims is "not exactly an atrocity." When armed paramilitaries evict you from your home at gunpoint, I hope you'll be able to keep that in mind.

And so on...there are fourteen pages of this garbage. At the end Parenti tries to display some balance of humanity by acknowledging that

"...the refugees that Clinton spoke to certainly had endured the terrible experience of being uprooted from their homes and sent off with few possessions, in some cases being separated from loved ones."

But in Parenti's world, this is pales next to the far greater injustice committed by a NATO which had to oversell it's war to a skeptical public. It's easy to look at a complex, multifaceted issue such as international intervention in Kosovo and do nothing more than pick and choose certain inconsistencies for ridicule. Easy; but also just about the extent of Parenti's critical abilities. Normally, one must go to a campus coffeehouse to find such a mixture of self-righteous bombast and clueless simplemindedness. Reading Parenti's book is like experiencing youthful hard-left idealism shorn of its redeeming qualities--namely, youth and inexperience. Parenti is old enough to know better. But not wise enough, or sophisticated enough, or mature enough, or compassionate enough.


Owen said...

Any mention or discussion of Operation Horseshoe?

Kirk Johnson said...

No, none at all.

Anonymous said...

I think its insane that you have the audacity to imply there is no cause for alarm with the U.S over estimating the situation to gain the skeptical support of the public. They were skeptical for a reason and let us not forget, the goverment of America is supposed to answer to the people and not LIE to them to achieve its own goals. The fact is that if they stated the TRUTH as it was prior to the bombing, no one would have supported it!!!!