Chomsky News Late March 2009
MORE THAN JUST COMMENTARY:
A Progressive Legacy: Bill Clinton's Long War in Serbia Rages On
by Chris Floyd
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
There are still a small number of Progresso-Americans who will condemn
Bill Clinton's war on Serbia as a war crime; but most P-As are
perfectly happy to laud this precusor to Bush's Iraq atrocity as one
of America's many "good wars."
Progresso-Americans (P-As) are of course united in their rightful
condemnation of George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq. Those on the
milder, "centrist" side will boldly aver that the invasion was a
"mistake," was "done badly," or was "the wrong war at the wrong time."
A much smaller number -- those not seeking jobs with the Obama
administration or sinecures in "serious" media outlets and think tanks
-- will denounce it forthrightly as an act of evil, a war crime of
monstrous, murderous proportions. But all the groovy great and good
agree that the Iraq War has been a major harsher of America's buzz.
But when it comes to an earlier instance of a young president from a
Southern state waging a unilateral, undeclared, unsanctioned war
against a nation that had not attacked the United States and posed no
threat to it, progressive unity falls by the wayside -- although the
"serious" vs. "shrill" dynamic still holds. There are still a small
number of Progresso-Americans who will condemn Bill Clinton's war on
Serbia as a war crime; but most P-As are perfectly happy to laud this
precusor to Bush's Iraq atrocity as one of America's many "good wars."
Noam Chomsky, arguably the most "unserious" analyst of American policy
out there, has, along with many others, thoroughly demolished the
alleged case for Clinton's civilian-murdering assault on Serbia: i.e.,
that the Serbs were carrying out vast atrocities and mass
displacements in Kosovo that could only be stopped by NATO bombs.
Chomsky followed the radical course of actually consulting the
abundance of official documentation on the run-up to the war.
(Consulting documents! You can tell he's no journalist.).There he
found something curious:
The documentary record is treated with what anthropologists call
"ritual avoidance." And there is a good reason. The evidence, which
is unequivocal, leaves the Party Line in tatters. The standard
claim that "Serbia's atrocities had of course provoked NATO action"
directly reverses the unequivocal facts: NATO's action provoked
Serbia's atrocities, exactly as anticipated...
In brief, it was well understood by the NATO leadership that the
bombing was not a response to the huge atrocities in Kosovo, but
was their cause, exactly as anticipated. Furthermore, at the time
the bombing was initiated, there were two diplomatic options on the
table: the proposal of NATO, and the proposal of the [Serbians]
(suppressed in the West, virtually without exception). After 78
days of bombing, a compromise was reached between them, suggesting
that a peaceful settlement might have been possible, avoiding the
terrible crimes that were the anticipated reaction to the NATO
Chomsky's September 2008 article, "Humanitarian Imperialism," in
Monthly Review, will give you chapter and verse of this case, which he
has also spelled out at book length. But what is perhaps most
interesting is the new confirmation he has found for the real casus
belli behind the mass bombing operation dubbed, with truly macabre
cynicism, "Merciful Angel":
Without running through the rest of the dismal record, it is hard
to think of a case where the justification for the resort to
criminal violence is so weak. But the pure justice and nobility of
the actions has become a doctrine of religious faith,
understandably: What else can justify the chorus of
self-glorification that brought the millennium to an end? What else
can be adduced to support the "emerging norms" that authorize the
idealistic New World and its allies to use force where their
leaders "believe it to be just"?
Some have speculated on the actual reasons for the NATO bombing.
The highly regarded military historian Andrew Bacevich dismisses
humanitarian claims and alleges that along with the Bosnia
intervention, the bombing of Serbia was undertaken to ensure "the
cohesion of NATO and the credibility of American power" and "to
sustain American primacy" in Europe. Another respected analyst,
Michael Lind, writes that "a major strategic goal of the Kosovo war
was reassuring Germany so it would not develop a defense policy
independent of the U.S.-dominated NATO alliance." Neither author
presents any basis for the conclusions.
Evidence does exist however, from the highest level of the Clinton
administration. Strobe Talbott, who was responsible for diplomacy
during the war, wrote the foreword to a book on the warby his
associate John Norris. Talbott writes that those who want to know
"how events looked and felt at the time to those of us who were
involved" in the war should turn to Norris's account, written with
the "immediacy that can be provided only by someone who was an
eyewitness to much of the action, who interviewed at length and in
depth many of the participants while their memories were still
fresh, and who has had access to much of the diplomatic record."
Norris states that "it was Yugoslavia's resistance to the broader
trends of political and economic reform--not the plight of Kosovar
Albanians--that best explains NATO's war." That the motive for the
NATO bombing could not have been "the plight of Kosovar Albanians"
was already clear from the extensive Western documentary record.
But it is interesting to hear from the highest level that the real
reason for the bombing was that Yugoslavia was a lone holdout in
Europe to the political and economic programs of the Clinton
administration and its allies. Needless to say, this important
revelation also is excluded from the canon.
And needless to say, the malign effects of Bill Clinton's stern
chastisement of Serbia for its failure to get with the globalization
program -- i.e., the very program that has now brought the entire
world to the brink of economic ruin -- are still going on. The BBC
reports this week that thousands of unexploded cluster bombs still
litter the Serbian landscape, still killing people or maiming them
horribly -- and will keep on doing so for decades:
Every year the Maksic family like to visit the river near their
home in southern Serbia. They go to remember 12-year-old Miroslav.
Miroslav had just been for a swim with his friend in Bujanovac,
when he was killed by a cluster bomblet. His friend was seriously
It was a hot August day, a few months after the end of the 11-week
Nato bombing campaign, launched on 24 March 1999 in an effort to
push Serb forces out of the province of Kosovo.
The unexploded ordnance had been lying discarded in a field, it had
been dropped as part of a cluster bomb....
A decade on from the Nato bombing campaign, more than 90,000 Serbs
are still in danger from unexploded cluster munitions, according to
a recent report funded by the Norwegian foreign ministry. The
report says they face a daily threat and estimates that there are
some 2,500 unexploded devices in 15 areas of Serbia.
In a bitter irony, the cluster bomb problem has been made worse by the
fact that Serbia has indeed finally gotten with the program and is
seeking to please the Potomac overlords. The Serbian government has
joined the bipartisan elite in Washington in refusing to sign the
international treaty banning cluster bombs -- a refusal which hinders
efforts to cleanse the country of the overlord's leavings. As the BBC
Sladjan Vuckovic says the anniversary is also difficult for him.
The 43-year-old retired Serb military officer was clearing cluster
munitions from Mount Kopaonik in central Serbia when one exploded.
He lost both his hands and part of his right leg, and his face was
"I can't forget how my life has changed since that day. I can't
take my children for a walk, I can't hold their hands," he says.
"It is especially hard when I think of Serbia, the country that I
fought for, not signing the convention on banning cluster bombs."
Doesn't it make you feel good -- doesn't it make you feel humanitarian
-- to know that little children are still being killed in your name,
even ten years after Bill Clinton killed hundreds of innocent
civilians to make the Serbs open up their markets and cut their social
programs? And isn't it great that the Clintonistas are back in the
saddle again, riding herd with Barack Obama? Doesn't that fill you
with hope for the future? Why, there are probably thousands of
12-year-olds yet unborn who will die from cluster bombs yet undropped
in humanitarian interventions yet unlaunched by the defenders of
NOTE: We would be remiss if we failed to note one of the most
paradigmatic statements issued by a "public intellectual" in the
United States during the bombing of civilians in Serbia. It was, as
you might expect, our old friend (and a friend to all humankind), the
Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist of the New York Times, Mr. Thomas
Friedman, who in April 1999 called explicitly for the infliction of a
war crime -- the targeting of civilian infrastructure -- on Serbia:
"Let's at least have a real war... It should be lights out in
Belgrade: every power grid, water pipe, bridge, road and
war-related factory has to be targeted...Every week you ravage
Kosovo is another decade we will set your country back by
pulverizing you. You want 1950? We can do 1950. You want 1389? We
can do 1389 too."
Here is the true face of the American elite: ignorant, arrogant and
bloodthirsty. But serious; oh-so-serious.
(For more on this most worthy gentleman, see Hideous Kinky: The
Genocidal Fury of Thomas Friedman. This piece is about a later
genocidal fury, by the way, directed at the people of Iraq.)
Chris Floyd has been a writer and editor for
more than 25 years, working in the United States, Great Britain and
Russia for various newspapers, magazines, the U.S. government and
Oxford University. Floyd co-founded the blog Empire Burlesque, and is
also chief editor of Atlantic Free Press. He can be reached at
Akron, OH March 24 2009
Nothing Good Happens in a Vacuum of Leadership
5 Steps to Lead through Presence
Noam Chomsky, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology linguist and
US foreign policy critic, ranks as the most quoted living thinker.
Marx and Lenin rank as the most often quoted individuals in history.
Lincoln may be the most quoted president in history, followed closely
by FDR, and JFK. However, one of my favorite sayings is my own. Or at
least I believe it is my own: nothing good happens in a vacuum of
Much has been written about leadership: what makes an effective
leader? The questions I am addressing in this article are: when and
why does a leader need to be present?
Our journey must first take us to the definitions of the key words
involved: Presence, Vacuum, and Leadership. The word presence was
first used in popular English literature sometime before 1010.
However, Webster's online dictionary covers in more depth a studio
album by Led Zeppelin entitled Presence, than it defines the word
presence in any other implementation.
Presence is simply defined as the act of being present. In our every
day lives, we do not define, discuss, or develop the word presence.
A vacuum is defined as the absence of matter in a volume of space. The
definition of vacuum is applied in several areas: aerospace,
literature, mechanical engineering, and mining. There is no
application of the word in business, leadership, or politics.
A vacuum in leadership may be the most dangerous vacuum of all because
it has long lasting consequences. Hitler came to power when there was
a vacuum of leadership in Germany; Ahmadinejad has come to power in
the absence of leadership in Iran.
The word leadership was first used in English literature in 1517. We
have used the word leadership in every decade, and yet what do we
The European Union defines leadership as a term . . . generally
applied to qualities and forces existing within an organization
(usually centered in the top executives) which motivate, guide and
So what happens when there is a vacuum of motivation, guidance, and
direction? From a communication perspective, nothing good. Just as
water fills a vacuum, some one or some thing will fill in where there
is an absence of leadership. As a lame duck President, Bush created a
communication vacuum of economic leadership when the financial perfect
storm hit in September. The stock market kept plummeting and
plummeting and plummeting. Juxtapose this approach with Obama's
actions when he became president-elect. Obama had no authority to do
anything other than talk. Every day the week of Thanksgiving he held a
news conference to talk about his vision or announce an appointment.
The stock market went up each of these days.
5 Rules to Lead through Presence
1. Sell the Vision
What's your vision, your biggest picture of the future of your
company? You need to both communicate and create buy-in for this
vision. How will someone, a department, a company, one person, be
better off for having bought in to this vision? Figure that out,
and then sell this vision at every opportunity. Effective leaders
A YOB assaulted a dog lover before running off with one of his four
James Hindley was punched in the face four or five times before his
attacker ran off with cornlands labrador, Chomsky.
However Mr Hindley, 37, gave chase with his remaining puppies and
cornered the youth at the ambulance station in Rayne Road, Braintree,
where the yob dropped Chomsky and fled.
The drama unfolded after Mr Hindley, a horticulturalist, arrived home
near midnight in Rayne Road after visiting a fellow cornlands labrador
breeder in Stisted.
He had taken Sasmita, the puppies' mother, and their grandfather
Wellington into the house, and was putting leads on the
three-and-a-half-month-old puppies when he was approached by a young
man, aged between 18 and 20.
Mr Hindley said: "I was just about to put the lead on the fourth puppy
when this youth turned up right next to me.
"He started talking about having had an argument with his girlfriend.
He then said he was going to take one of the puppies and I said no he
"Then he started to bash me around the head with his fists on the left
and right side and on the bridge of the nose. It must have been about
four or five times.
"I was just so shocked. I was completely dazed. He then picked up the
fourth puppy and ran with it down towards Braintree town centre."
Mr Hindley ran after him and watched as the man tried to get through
fencing behind the ambulance station with Chomsky, before dropping him
Chomsky was uninjured and has now found a new home in Cheshire as a
Mr Hindley, who was left with slight injuries, said: "I was very
shaken. It hit me the most when I went out to take them for a walk the
He is caring for the remaining puppies - Cacia, Luke and Popper - with
housemate Angus McGregor.
Mr Hindley's attacker is described as white, 6ft 1ins tall, slender
with a slim face and mousey/dark auburn hair. He wore a grey and blue
jacket and jeans. Anyone with information about the incident on March
12, details of which have just been released, should call PC Rosanna
Rowe at Braintree police station on 0300 3334444 or call Crimestoppers
on 0800 555111.
Sport | When you spilled your beer and nachos in a moment of
excitement watching the Duke game the other day, it probably didn't
occur to you that you were tapping the beast within.
But David P. Barash, psychology professor at the University of
Washington, writes that, for many, sports spectatorship taps a
primordial human instinct for belonging, much as militaristic
nationalism does. It indulges "the illusion of being part of something
larger than ourselves and thus nurtured, understood, accepted,
enlarged, empowered, gratified, protected."
In the wave-generating arena crowd, Barash adds, "one becomes part of
a great beckoning, grunting, yet smoothly functioning, and,
presumably, security-generating Beast. And for those involved, it
apparently feels good to be thus devoured whole and to live in its
belly." Has anyone suddenly lost the appetite for nachos?
Noam Chomsky and Murray Sperber, among others, have weighed in
significantly on this idea: that sports, on its grand national
scale in America, at least, distracts us from more important
matters. The markets play in, but mass media facilitate this, of
course. The shame is that so many otherwise brilliant people in
higher education and meaning-making have been eagerly complicit in
creating a monolithic cultural that seems immune to moderation or