Every now and then it really happens. A “military spokesman” emerges to prove that Joseph Heller was a realist, and Catch-22 a work of reportorial integrity. Right in the middle of the “Military Analysis” column in the New York Times:
Indeed, Pentagon and NATO officials have even mused that the complete expulsion of Albanians from Kosovo would give the alliance a big military advantage. “There would be Serb troops primarily left, and we would be able to attack them with more precision and more concentration,” a Pentagon spokesman, Kenneth H. Bacon, said recently.
Even the name of the spokesman seemed right somehow: Pork-barreled to the roots of his tight and curly tail, the porcine propagandist squeals the inadvertent truth. Throw all the pesky civilians out to make a new life on the rubbish-tips of neighboring lands (it was this same Bacon who instructed us earlier that the mass expulsion had been foreseen and, so to speak, factored in), and we can have our ultimate wargasm–a free-fire zone and a clear field of bombardment. What’s the frequency, Kenneth? In a Catch-22 scenario, as well as in the abjectly real world, this would also help insure that the Kosovar refugees had nowhere to go home to.
This objective collusion, between the aims of Milosevic and the aims of NATO, is what renders null the current debate between the remnants of the American “peace movement.” On one wing are those who say that NATO is doing the right thing by taking an antifascist position at last. On another are those who speak smugly about how all this bombing has upset the Serbian democrats. Such people also describe the bombing as an “aggression” and cleverly ask why we don’t bomb to save the Kurds or the Timorese. The other day at a “peace” event in Cambridge, I was solemnly handed a “target” symbol of the kind worn as a fashion statement in Belgrade these days. I threw it away at once. Those who wear such symbols are the self-pitying and not-so-reluctant supporters of a national-socialist demagogue–people who have never said a word about the aggressions and massacres in Bosnia and Kosovo. It was noticeable, at the recent funeral of the murdered Belgrade editor Slavko Curuvija, that none of the mourners displayed this false-populist logo. They were the serious opposition, who understand that the main enemy is at home. One who attended the ceremony told me that the silence, even between friends, was terrifying. “If we could not talk about the fact that he was murdered by the police death-squads, then what could we talk about?”
A principled peace movement in this country should at least attempt to contact the few genuine Serbian internationalists, ask them what they think and inquire how they can be helped. I try at least once a week to hold a conversation with either Srdja Popovic or Dusan Makavejev, both of whom have long and honorable records as Serb antifascists. Popovic was the human rights champion of the former Yugoslavia and acted as defense counsel for the leaders of various national minorities, including the Kosovar Albanians. Makavejev, a brilliant film director, is still remembered for his WR: Mysteries of the Organism, one of the defining movies of the seventies and a cultural achievement that earned him a jail sentence until it became clear that the motion picture was also the country’s chief cultural export.