Pilger gets it wrong on Kosovo

Sorry, but this is revisionism ("How Silent Are The 'humanitarian' Invaders Of Kosovo?" ZNet, December 2004) no less than that of the propagandists Pilger is critiquing. He seems to want us to forget that 200,000 Kosovar Albanians (out of a total population of 1.4 million) had been forced from their villages to refugee camps in the mountains or in Albania and Macedonia by the time the bombing started in March 1999. After the bombs started falling, the number was quickly jacked up to 800,000. So the Albanians weren't (for the most part) being massacred--they were just having their villages burned down! What an exoneration! And the Milosevic regime was a kleptocratic mafia state--not a socialist one. Very demoralizing that Pilger is buying this reactionary line. This is why the left is so marginal and ineffective--it never blows an opportunity to discredit itself and cede the moral high ground to imperialism.

Bottom Line: Milosevic Resisted Empire

Great numbers of Kosovo's Albanians and Serbs fled Kosovo when it became clear the US would bomb the h-ll out of the place. They fled to Serbia proper as well as to Macedonia. This was a very intelligent thing to do, and there was nothing surprising or scandalous about it. Perhaps you can explain what you read between the lines, and your evidence for that.

Your thousands of burned down villages is as mythical as the 100s of thousands of dead Kosovans that propagandized America into our intervention.

Pilger states that Milosevic was a "brute," which should be good enough for you. Actually, there's little evidence for Milosevic the brute or bully, though he did behave in an unexceptional way in brutal times (the West's 10 to 15 year campaign to dismember Yugoslavia).  He was, of course, an opportunist, and there's nothing to admire in his taking advantage of religious and ethnic grievances and mistrust. However, he's about the middle of the pack among democratically elected politicians for that kind of rot, both in Yugoslavia and elsewhere.

By the problem for the left is that it continually gets routed by those falsifying history, so it always needs to educate before it can actually make its immediate arguments. In the short run, of course, it seems advantageous to go along with the history arguments of the empire; after all it's just old news. But the concession to the propaganda leaves us unprepared to defeat the new falsification for the next imperial campaign.

For example, one of the great problems for the left now is that many Americans actually buy the argument that we are in Iraq to democratize the place. This is the result, in part, of the left going along with that kind of lie, and the humanitarian intervention lie, very recently in places like Afghanistan and Yugoslavia. Our argument then has to devolve into "our good intentions have gone awry," or "that place isn't worth our good intentions." The truth would be powerful, and I think the American people are ready to receive it.

Who's falsifying history here?

Albanians did not flee to Serbia proper. They fled--800,000 of them--to Albania proper, and to Macedonia. And I never said "thousands of villages" were burned. (What, is burning mere hundreds OK?) Milosevic was utterly complicit with Empire. As a banking official in the '80s, he played ball as the IMF imposed austerity on Yugoslavia. Then he exploited the misery he had been complicit in creating, riding to power in '87 by scapegoating the Albanians the way Pat Buchanan scapegoats Mexicans in this country. In '89 he broke the Tito-era peace by revoking Kosova's constitutional autonomy, the first blow against the Yugoslav federal system. His forces destroyed Vukovar and shelled Dubrovnik, and his surrogates (akin to those of US imperialism in the Colombian paramilitaries) did far worse in Bosnia. After all this, he was predictably embraced as a "peacemaker" by the US in the Dayton talks, in which the Kosovar Albanians were sold down the river. He stayed in power for ten years through measured terror against Serbia's opposition. Not a brute? Don't complain about others falsifying history if you do same.

I don't really get...

... your beef with Pilger. Where does he suggest that Milosevic was a nice guy, or, as you put it, a "socialist". He notes that there were state-owned industries left over from the old days, which were bothering the Empire. But where does he glorify Milosevic?

Who said "glorify"?

Loaning propaganda cover for ethnic cleansing isn't nasty enough for you?

Bottom line: Milosevic resisted empire.

Dear Sir or Madam,
I read your comments on the issue of Milosevic. I have to say that you are absolutely wrong.
Milosevic was nothing more than a war criminal. He was a fashist dictator that terrorized the whole of Yugoslavia at one time or another. This doesn't mean that the Serbian people innocent and they were missled. They all bare the burden of guilt for the sensless murder campaign they led through the 90's. Milosevic just led the effort.
As far as the refugees leaving Kosovo during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, you make these asertions and pass judgement as if you were there and wittnesed the events first hand, then you documented them and now you are reporting them.
Well as opposed to yourself I was there. I endured 2 weeks of NATO bombing and never suffered a scratch. That is because NATO was bombing Serb troops and not civilian targets. When the time came for us to leave we were not driven out by NATO bombs but by the people those bombs were meant to hit, Serbian troops. We were forced from our home under threat of death by Serbian paramilitary and police personel. No NATO bomb ever endangered my life and each NATO bomb saved it.
I'm sorry but I can not take seriously a person who consideres a blood thirsty war monger like Milosevic a "resistant of the Empire" and tries to glorify him in any way. It is the same like stating that the Holocaust never happened or that Area 51 houses bodies of aliens. You are wrong. Dead wrong. I feel bad for poor souls like you that live in complete oblivion of the obvious. I fell contempt when you speak out of thin air with no proof or evidence.
Please leave Kosovo alone. For the sake of the tens of thousands killed and the suffering we all indured, please do not speak of Kosovo as if you know something about it, because you do not.
Best Regards, Ylber Burgija.

Anti-Milosevic, anti-NATO

Welcome to the fray, Ylber. I thoroughly share your assesment of Milosevic, but I have to take issue with your support for NATO. It is simply not true that the bombardment of 1999 didn't hit civilian targets. The Pancevo gasworks, the Belgrade television building and the numerous bridges plunged into the Danube are but the most egregious examples of NATO's civilian targets. I'm not saying there was any easy answer to the Kosova crisis, but the NATO bombardment assuredly wasn't it.