The Moment of Truth — May 28, 1999

Milosevic Indicted By the Hague

Hi, welcome to the moment of truth – the one moment in the broadcast week when the a kind of hush comes over the earth and the truth, normally drowned out by the endless din of capitalism extolling its virtues to itself, finally gets its day in court

This week Yugoslav President Slobidan Milosevic was officially charged with war crimes by the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. The international press has said that the decision by the tribunal was facilitated by information recently made available by governments including those of England and the US. This information was previously withheld because it was felt by the withholding governments that the indictment of Milosevic as a war criminal would curtail the possibility of a negotiated settlement of the war between NATO and Yugoslavia.

In other words, the press says that NATO sat on information linking Milosevic to war crimes. NATO wanted to keep the possibility of a negotiated settlement alive. The information it was hiding from the Hague Tribunal was evidence of Milosevic’s complicity in international crimes. So NATO was protecting Milosevic from criminal indictment by concealing evidence from an international legal body. NATO was protecting a criminal from prosecution by hiding evidence from a court of law.

Now, I don’t know if you watch Law and Order, or The Practise, or Judge Judy – but according to all the TV and movie courtroom dramas I’ve studied, hiding evidence in a criminal case is itself a crime. And in cases, such as this one, in which the suspect is charged with murder, concealing evidence from the court is, like, a total felony man.

So the scenario looks like this: A gang of felons, called NATO – most of whose members have pasts muddied with the crimes of endo- and/or ecto-colonization, and all the attendant crimes such as murder, kidnapping, censorship, tampering with elections that go along with colonization – anyway, this gang of international thugs, NATO, decides to go into Kosovo and try to stop this other felon, Milosevic, from pushing around a bunch of white Europeans in territory which NATO considers to belong to it – and of course to its client corporations.

Now NATO, like Milosevic, has to whip up some enthusiasm for its violent actions among its rank and file civilian constituents – its citizens. Milosevic used nationalism and a squelching of political opposition. The US government and its media commissars, speaking to US citizenry on behalf of NATO, had to paint a picture of Milosevic as a war criminal.

But because they didn’t want the Hague to indict Milosevic as a war criminal – which would have curtailed the possibility of a negotiated settlement – they had to do two things at the same time: convince the US populace that Milosevic was a war criminal on the one hand, while concealing evidence from the Hague that Milosevic was a war criminal on the other.

I would very much like to see the documentation of this process. I would really like to see where the State Department drew the line between what was necessary to gain public support of attacking Yugoslavia and what was too many beans to spill to the Hague. I would also like to read transcripts of discussions in which it came up that citizens of democracies have a lower standard of evidence than an international legal body. Not that I doubt that US citizens are more likely to condemn an entire population to ruin, death and misery quicker and with less to go on than an international tribunal would be to condemn a leader as an international outlaw. I just want to read where someone in the State Department said so.

Because, you know – if all this is true and NATO really withheld this evidence from The Hague rather than just told The Hague to sit on the indictment until NATO military/public relations strategists deemed it strategically advantageous to hand the indictment down – which amounts to practically the same thing anyway – but you know that at some point the NATO military/public relations strategists and their counterparts in the US State Department – if such a distinction need be made – you know these covert media manipulators had some discussions about how much to tell the public. You know that this evidence had to come up when they wondered about public support for the initial bombing:

"Well, we can certainly count on some public support based on the fact that people don’t like hearing about other people kicked out of their homes or taken out and shot. But it would really help if we could release this evidence that Milosevic himself handed down the orders to do it."

"No no no. We can’t do that. If we release that evidence, then an international tribunal in the Hague will indict Milosevic as a war criminal. Maybe. I mean, it would be the first time a sitting head of state was so indicted, but still, it would probably happen. And that would mean Milosevic would be an outlaw everywhere but Yugoslavia, so he wouldn’t be able to go to exotic locales in France or Ohio to negotiate a settlement. Although, he usually sends an envoy anyway. But still, we wouldn’t be able to negotiate him immunity in return for a settlement. Maybe."

Actually, when you try to reenact the scenario, the whole thing sounds pretty fishy. I mean, didn’t Clinton say we weren’t holding the Serbs collectively responsible, but rather Milosevic and the Serb leadership? So wouldn’t granting immunity be letting them off the hook? And what about the pummeling the Serbs have been taking from NATO?

Whatever way you slice it, it’s clear that the public is once again being lied to by western governments and their capitalist-owned media. It’s clear that it was in the interest of someone besides the public to delay the indictment of Milosevic. And it’s equally clear that it was in the interest of someone other than the Serbs and even the Albanian Kosovars to bomb the crap out of Yugoslavia.

As I’ve said before, when a country is destroyed – economically, socially, infrastructurally – the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and all kinds of excited capitalists can rush in to guide the chaos toward its manifest destiny: its future as a mature capitalist democracy. Never mind that that future may never emerge. The point is to whip up monetary excitement, keeps the global capitalist spirits up, keep them involved in the drama of building from the ruins. You gotta have ruins to build from. US urban slums are only part of the promise of future growth. Demolished land in Europe would present a real opportunity to a gang motivated developers with their eyes on the future.

Of course, that’s just one possible explanation of why we’re being lied to about a war that’s supposed to be as morally clear-cut as the dichotomy between the light and dark sides of the Force. The one thing that’s certain is, we’re not getting the whole truth, and there’s probably a reason.

Sorry I don’t have anything more salient to say than that. Just remember, stay skeptical. Until next week, this has been mejeffdorchen with the Moment of Truth.