The Irrepressible Rothbard
Essays of Murray N. Rothbard
Edited by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
U.S., KEEP OUT OF BOSNIA!
- When Johnny comes marching
They'll give him a hearty welcome
home again, Hurrah! Hurrah!
There'll be bankers and writers
then, Hurrah! Hurrah!
To send him off to war again, They'll all be there when Johnny
comes marching home.
Isolationist ditty, 1941
And so, are we off to war again? Add Social Democrats, and, considering
the malignant role of the warmonger, Lady Thatcher, keep the "Englishmen,"
in the ditty, and guard your son (and daughter now) Mom and Dad,
because they're beating the war drums again.
It's a heavy irony. Triple R has been in the forefront,
for the last two years, in denouncing the Serbs. Not long ago, the
entire New World Order crowd, from the New York Times to
the New Republic to every "foreign policy expert" on TV,
that is our entire Social Democrat elite, were defending the Serbs,
who spoke for the "territorial integrity of Yugoslavia," the rest
of their time was spent desperately trying to help Gorby keep the
old rotting Soviet Union together.
The Bush administration was obedient to their call. Every Establishment
article on Yugoslavia was not considered complete unless the beleaguered
Croats were attacked for being "Nazis," with the Ustashi regime
of World War II lovingly dredged up. The Serbs, on the other hand,
were supposedly "anti-Nazi" and "pro-West," this grossly over-simplified
version of World War II in the Balkans presumably defining their
positions for all time.
But now, suddenly, it's a different story. Suddenly, the Social
Democrats, the same old suspects, now including the Clinton-Gore
ticket are denouncing the Bush administration for not making war
upon the Serbs, instantly, and for not pressuring and squeezing
our "European allies" in the UN, i.e., forcing them to go along
to give a war policy an internationalist veneer.
Is there to be no conflict, no war, no problem anywhere in the
world that the poor United States, already declining in productivity
and living standards, mired in depression and groaning under a $400
billion annual deficit, must send its troops and its treasure to
set everything right? How long is it going to take to learn the
lesson: that just as government throwing money at social and economic
problems only makes those problems worse, so the United States government
is not able to cure all the ills of mankind?
The problem is that increasingly we have government by TV clip.
All the media have to do is to send some newsmen to a war-torn area,
show pictures of torture or detention camps or starvation, and the
sentimental fools who constitute Western public opinion, especially
in the U.S., where sentiment and demagogy have long replaced thought,
will pressure the U.S. government to "do something" to set everything
right. As usual, it is the fat cat civilians, the "experts" and
media elite sitting in their plush, air-conditioned offices and
bars, that are thirsting for blood, and the youth of the armed forces
and the taxpayers who are supposed to supply it.
To his credit, President Bush is at least cautious at getting in
a Balkan quagmire, reflecting the position of the Pentagon, who
are very mindful of the lessons of Vietnam and of Lebanon. Military
experts estimate that it would take an army of 500,000 men to secure
Sarajevo and Bosnia alone, and far more to try to occupy Serbia.
Even the Nazis had a great deal of trouble with Serbian guerrillas
in World War II. What can we expect, blundering into an area of
intense and ancient ethnic hatreds, armed only with empty clichés
about "aggressions" and "territorial integrity?"
And what of the Europeans, our NATO Aallies," the French and the
Germans and the rest? Why are they so reluctant to send troops,
why are they confining their reaction to handwringing? Why? Because
they are right there, and they know a lot more about what's going
on than the foolish, quixotic U.S., always ready to leap in where
everyone of sense refuses to tread.
This good sense, of course, does not apply to that neocon heroine,
that old shrew, Mrs. Thatcher. On Thursday, August 6, our cup ran
over, for on that day the organ of Social Democracy Central, the
New York Times, published on its op-ed page, back to back,
two solemn articles by certified Big Shots demanding immediate war
against the Serbs. One was Mrs. Thatcher. That aging jingo, unchastened
by the repudiation of her own party, is back, urging the U.S. and
the West to give an immediate ultimatum to the Serbs to comply with
a series of absurd Western demands, or else face maximum military
force. Those demands include "demilitarization of Bosnia" and the
entire region (Yeah! Fat chance!), and, in particular, the protection
and enforcement of the "territorial integrity" of Bosnia. Mrs. Thatcher
adds that the West's aim should be to "restore the Bosnian state,"
which must also be guaranteed as a unitary country, "not allowing
for its partition into three cantons."
What in the world is this? "Territorial integrity" of Bosnia? For
Heaven's sake, Bosnia didn't even exist until a few months ago!
These are the same characters who, a short time ago, insisted on
defending the "territorial integrity" of Yugoslavia! Does all someone
have to do is declare some area a "country," and then the entire
world, led of course by the U.S., must rush in with money and men
to guarantee its "integrity?" And what's wrong with partition, at
least as a concept, and apart from the fact that the Serbs want
to grab a lot more than their ethnic regions?
In fact, while the Bosnian Muslims running the new little country
may be lovable, gentle people, the idea of maintaining Bosnia-Herzegovina
as a unitary, multi-ethnic "democracy" was and continues to be idiotic.
It cannot succeed, and can only cause continued, permanent trouble
and conflict for everyone. Since the Bosnian Muslims are gentle
folk without much of an armed force, they have gotten the dirty
end of the de facto partition, but they should be happy, eventually,
to take their ethnic areas and forget the multi-ethnic nonsense.
In the Balkans, where every group hates the other, it's simply not
going to work. American Social Democrat busybodies should understand
that in the Balkans, at least, there is and won't be any "melting
pot" or even a "gorgeous mosaic."
In the accompanying article, Times foreign policy maven
Leslie Gelb repeats the Thatcher argument. So: what about the quagmire
problem? Both Thatcher and Gelb, especially the latter, and the
other warmongers, claim that U.S. ground troops won't be needed.
Again: the old seductive nonsense that we have heard since Mayor
deSeversky in the 1930s is trotted out: we can do it all by air
power. Cheap, effective, and only foreigners get killed (except
for one or two American pilots who might get shot down by ground-fire).
Again, it's not going to work, as the Pentagon knows all too well.
The original idea, floated by the poor Bosnian Muslims themselves:
All we want is for the American air force to bomb the gun emplacements
in the hills around Sarajevo. Well, that's been given up. Even Gelb
admits that the gun emplacements can't be knocked out from the air,
and also that the Serb guerrillas will smash the blue-helmeted UN
"humanitarian" troops. So: what to do? Aha! Punish the civilian
Serb population! The warmongers are talking about tightening the
embargo (yeah, lots of luck, with all the land routes into Serbia).
And don't forget, this ain't the Middle East desert; this is a
land of lots of mountains and trees. But the key proposed punishment
is to bomb the Serbian population: bridges, military stores and
"installations," airfields, "military factories." So what they are
saying, when we peel away the occasional lip-service to "military,"
is to bomb Serbian civilians, and to bomb and bomb and bomb again
until the Serbs cry uncle. Well guys, it's never worked. It didn't
work in World War II, it didn't work in Vietnam, it didn't work
anywhere. No country or people get bombed into submission. They
just get madder and find ways of carrying on the war despite the
bombing. And that means that after the lack of success of the sanctions
and the "punishment," a million or so American troops will have
to be sent in to occupy Bosnia and Serbia forever, to get pounded
and shot at year in and year out, forever.
What's the alternative? All right, say it: "Nuke Belgrade." Are
you prepared to come to that? And what if, after we kill a million
or more Serbs in Belgrade, what if that doesn't work either?
Many of the mavens acknowledge that our choices are hard, that
the problem is difficult (no difficulty, of course, is acknowledged
by the Iron Lady). But they are prepared, of course, for Serb civilians,
young Americans in the armed forces, and the U.S. taxpayer, to pay
any price needed for ultimate victory. But why? Why is the U.S.
supposed to be the world's policeman and nanny?
And then we have it: not only the ultimate, but the only argument:
Hitler! Just as Hitler did not stop when he was "appeased," so we
have to stop the Serbs, before it is "too late." Too late for what?
Perhaps this common imbecility was expressed by my least favorite
Senator (yes I know, it's a tough choice): Joseph Lieberman (D.,
Conn). Lieberman said that if we don't stop the Serbs in Bosnia,
then they will go on next to Kosovo, and then maybe even Macedonia.
Ooohh?! Must we go all-out to stop them before they get to Skopje?
And if that happens, the war will spread, Bulgaria, and Turkey will
step in (Eh?!). And then the rest of the sentence after "and then"
is always left hanging. And then what exactly, Senator? If we don't
stop the Serbs in Sarajevo, they will wind up swimming the "tlantic
and, with daggers in their teeth, invade Connecticut? Is that what
you're saying, Senator?
The argument about stopping the Serbs now, now before they invade
New York, is the reductio ad absurdum of the favorite warmongering
thesis that "aggression" must be nipped in the bud, as if "aggression"
were a disease, an infection that must be caught early or else it
will overwhelm us all. It is a reductio ad absurdum, and
yet no one laughs. The degeneration of American culture, the descent
to absurdity, has no clear demonstration. And this argument, of
course, is based on the Hitler analogy. In the space of no more
than a year, the Social Democrat elite that runs American opinion
has discovered no less than five "Hitlers," against each of whom
we have had to be mobilized to the teeth.
Let's call the roll: Saddam Hussein, David Duke, Pat Buchanan,
H. Ross Perot, and Slobodan Milosevic. All, all, have been denounced
hysterically by our Social Democrat elite of media and intellectual
"experts," and all have been treated as an immediate menace to the
American Republic. You'd think that, after a while, this baloney
wouldn't work. How many times does the kid have to cry "Wolf" before
no one takes him seriously? As for me, I can't wait.