Articles on the Kosovo Conflict
June 17, 1999
Editor, The Washington Free Press:
The Free Press coverage of Kosovo (May-June, 1999) got it wrong from start to finish. The front cover portrayed Kosovo in ruins, under attack by NATO warplanes, as if the Serbian destruction of Kosovo's villages and the expulsion of its population never happened. Not a marauding Yugoslav soldier is to be seen; no mass graves, now being discovered daily, are depicted. The cover seems designed to feed the misconception, more common among progressives than others, that this is NATO's war.
David Bacon develops the same theme. Referring to the conflict as a "civil war between Serbs and Albanians," he seems unaware of a decade of Yugoslav government-imposed apartheid, long-term planning for the destruction of Kosovar communities, and the escalation of a purge of ethnic Albanians that began months before NATO's involvement.
Resorting to the passive voice - the last refuge of a writer bent on deception - he writes that villages "have been destroyed" and the civilian population "has been increasingly treated as indistinguishable from actual combatants." These were not phenomena of nature, but rather the actual goals of the Yugoslav campaign.
Bacon proceeds with a hefty dose of disinformation, including eight paragraphs purporting to link NATO's intervention to Caspian Sea oil. But he never gets around to saying that - fortunately, since a pipeline from the Caspian would not go near Kosovo.
The interview with Vanya Vujinovic continues with similar themes and adds another: uncritical acceptance of Serbian nationalism.
As the war ends, we are left to untangle the peculiar response of the Left. We have a history of actively supporting the oppressed, from Mississippi to Vietnam to El Salvador to Chiapas. How is it that progressives utterly failed to act in support of the Kosovo Albanians, whose entire society was the target of obliteration by Serbian forces?
In the face of a genuine human rights tragedy, the Left has either remained silent or reserved most of its sympathy for the Yugoslav aggressors. After this, how can progressives be taken seriously as a force for peace and justice? The knee-jerk anti-interventionism exhibited here discredits the movements that have for so many years struggled for justice.
The author has traveled throughout the former Yugoslavia. He has been active in peace and justice movements for 35 years.
Originally posted at http://www.wafreepress.org/40/Mail.html