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 Posted Tuesday, May 18, 1999

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A friend has translated the following essay from French. The text is quite long, "but," he noted, "the time spent was worthwile. It is a far more nuanced, more comprehensive analysis of the Serbian crisis than we see around here."



Le Temps irreparable
Paris, 27 April 1999


By Serge Thion

For those who, like ourselves, have been watching closely, sometimes in situ, the replacement, ever since Biafra, of the traditional humanitarians -- the good nuns and the Red Cross -- by media-oriented personages, by doctors in search of political careers and other illiterate pen-pushers, the word "humanitarian" sets off a constipation-inducing movement that is difficult to control. In May 1991, we titled editorial no. 4 in the "Gazette of the Gulf and of the Suburbs": "The Humanitarian War" (see annex).

The idea that we were going to pound Serbia for "humanitarian" reasons was of course monumental hogwash to begin with. During the past month, the following question has arisen: Is this NATO-war executed by imbeciles who were unable to imagine that bombs falling on Yugoslavia would have a virtually automatic effect on Kosovo; or, if the military leaders did actually foresee this, does this mean that this war has hidden objectives, unspoken because they are better left unsaid?

One can reply frankly: both answers are true, mon general. I had occasion to observe up close, on the ground, and sometimes under the bombs and the machine-guns of the helicopters, the behaviour of the higher ranks of the American forces, those who in military jargon are known as the "top brass", the senior clique. I can confirm that their extent of stupidity and narrowness of mind is just as high, and perhaps even higher, than among those of other nations. To try and explain anything whatsoever to an American general is a real labour of Sisyphus. [1]

Their discussions about the choice of targets must be unreal, as the military have bizarre euphemisms to speak of the destruction and mass murder that they carry out on a professional basis. One does not speak of a house but of an "enemy structure", and so on ...

A paradox manifests itself right from the start: in an area as small as the existing Yugoslavia, the NATOists seem incapable of deciding exactly what targets to hit. In any case, they remain very discreet as to the real targets and the actual damage. And yet they have, overlooking this zone, twenty or thirty satellites that take photos or radar images which ought to make it possible for them even to read the newspaper headline that some Serb idiot might be in the process of reading over breakfast at a sidewalk cafe.


GUNBOAT DIPLOMACY This process worked as follows: arriving at a place where the inhabitants did not have industrial strength (steamboats, modern cannon), the colonial powers would send a boat so equipped. It stationed itself in front of the royal palace and threatened directly the local sovereign. The means the locals had at their disposal were insufficient to repel the gunboat. A single boat sufficed. This is how many African and Asian possessions came to be conquered by the happy wielders of a little bit of superior technology, available at the start of the 19th Century. This little superiority that was purely material allowed, as well, enormous "ethnic cleansings" -- to use a currently popular term -- that history has recorded: the near-disappearance of Amerindians in North America, and of the Australian aborigines. That which Milosevic is doing in Kosovo, on a local scale, was done on a larger scale by the precursors of the people who enjoy today these huge open spaces, these enormous natural resources, that they stole from the legitimate owners by obliging the latter, guns at their backs, to quit their homes and putting these to the torch. No one came to bombard Washington or Sydney to prevent such colossal crimes against humanity -- to cite, as before, a currently popular expression. That which NATO is doing is thus within the capabilities of power politics, a Machtpolitik, which has never concerned itself with such scruples as the funeral processions of those it kills and the destruction it leaves behind. There is no need to go very far in history: suffice it to recall the attack upon Panama (1989). The capture of Noriega and the one or two thousand dead that it cost, never shown on TV. Let us recall that Noriega, a notorious drug trafficker, was an employee of the American CIA, therefore not even a real "enemy".


YUGOSLAVIA OR POLDEVIA? At the start of the century, inventors of the tall story invented Poldevia, a vague Balkan country that falls victim to a lamentable fate. If this hoax had a certain success in journalistic and political circles, this was because knowledge of this region in the Balkans was always limited. Since the 19th century, it has been the principal point of conflict between a Western Europe which was undergoing industrial growth, and a sleeping giant, the Ottoman Empire. While Greece gained independence, within rather narrow borders, Serbia became autonomous. But the entire 19th century saw bloody confrontations between the two southern dynasties, the Karageorevich and the Obrenovich. Placed on either side of the fracture line between West and East, Catholicism and Orthodoxy, Habsburgs and Ottomans, the Croats and the Serbs, those who, by all imaginable norms are one and the same people, inherited an identity entirely based on confrontation with one another. The Europeans, at that time called "The Powers", whipped into life the embryos of nationalism. With intrigues and money, they created client states in the Balkans that they then set one against the other. It is from this period that derives the so-called "traditional friendship" between the Serbs and the French. Manipulation, civil wars. For, while the Europeans were united in their desire to see the Ottoman Empire disappear, they by no means agreed as to what to do with the pieces that they gradually tore away from the Sublime Porte.

Thus, Poldevia could perfectly well have existed in the imaginations of those who saw the Balkans as an anthill where swarthy types were always very busily slitting each other's throats. Already at this time (before the 1914 war) the Balkans and the Black Sea were a frequent venue for closed-shop conflicts: the English, the French, the Austro-Hungarians, the Turks, the Russians could each play their part, play at war games and partake of long and furious international conferences. It's a role that Lebanon has played these past 15 years, which now returns, as before, to the Balkans. One may well ask why.

Indeed, one may well ask what the United States is doing there, a Power that has never played any role there in the past. It goes without saying that, insofar as American public opinion is concerned, Yugoslavia, the Balkans and Kosovo are no more real than Poldevia or the penguins at the South Pole. All the fashionable gadflies tell us insistently, as if to justify their intervention: the Americans have no interests in Kosovo. This is true. And it is all the more disturbing for that reason. In Iraq, they had, in a manner of speaking, oil as an excuse. We know that the decision to attack Iraq was taken during a meeting of the American National Security Council where the participants were scolded by President Bush on the subject of oil about which, according to witnesses, they had understood nothing, not having had the advantage, like Bush, to have made their fortunes in oil before embarking upon a career in intelligence or in politics. Now here, in Kosovo, there is an interesting mining industry, but its importance seems to be minimal. In actual fact, the Americans care not a fig about what is happening in Kosovo, whose inhabitants were certainly oppressed by the Milosevich regime, especially over the last ten years, but one must also admit that they were oppressed to a much lesser degree than are the Kurds in Turkey, the Tibetans in China, the Indians in Guatemala, and many other minorities that are mistreated by governments that are allies of the Americans. The suggestion that humanitarian sentiment would play even the tiniest role in this, that there would be the least concern about respect of the rights of man in the foreign (and domestic) policy of the USA, is immediately demolished by a cursory review of their past history, their current practices and their power structure. Ask of American Blacks what they think of it, today. One may thus safely dismiss all the laudable motivations that the US puts forth today, as being so much PR, for consumption by its own public opinion as well as that of the Europeans. In fact, the real reason for US intervention, through the intervention of NATO at that, remains deeply hidden.

RAMBO And yet, it is clear that the inspiration is American. Well-meaning spirits would have us believe that it was Europe that wished to intervene. Since the beginning of the Yugoslavian crisis, we can well see that Europe intervenes only with the arms and the concepts of the 19th century, via locally-controlled clients. The Germans have armed the Croatians and set fire to the powder keg. An old technique. In the case of Kosovo, under the iron boot of Belgrade for nearly ten years now, the situation was relatively stable. Over the space of the last 20 or 30 years, Kosovo's standard of living improved along with that in the rest of Yugoslavia. The rare participation of Albanians in local political life had become an unfortunate but established fact decades ago. The detonator was the growth of a sort of militia, the UCK. The politics of non-violence of Rugova, which had garnered hardly any sympathy amongst Europeans, were threatened since their very beginnings by such an eruption. But the origins of the UCK are obscured in a thick fog of mystery. We are told that the gorgeous uniforms and the arms were paid for by mysterious "drug traffickers". This is a convenient joke designed to be swallowed by the nincompoops of journalism. There are no drugs in Kosovo, and drug traffickers wouldn't do such things on their own. They therefore provided the cover for an operation that has to be purely American.

We know that the American military has a long-standing, unbroken history of collaboration with drug traffickers, starting with the Mafia in Sicily in 1944-45, through Laos and the "secret war", in Afghanistan, and elsewhere. The creation of an armed militia, in a region where the Serbs have been for a very long time only a small minority, was obviously perceived by Belgrade as the start of a project for demolishing a Yugoslavia reduced to the level of acquets, as the creation of Croat militias had been with respect to the destruction of the old Yugoslavia, that of Peter the First and of Tito.

What followed is a logical chain of events: under pressure, the Serb military create for themselves security zones by chasing out the Albanian residents and burning villages that might have given food and shelter to the UCK. The Americans force negotiations to start at Rambouillet and table conditions totally unacceptable for any kind of government located in Belgrade. One of the clauses of the Rambouillet "Agreement" provides, for instance, that American troops will have free access via road, sea, and the skies to all locations in Yugoslavian territory, as needed, and that said American troops will not be required to respect local laws (see annex 2). In summary, those good old colonial extra-territorial rights all over again. (The Italians have just tasted some of that, with the fighter plane that caused the collapse of a ski lift in the Alps). Whoever it was that noticed that the name of Rambo appears in Rambouillet will have been right on target.

At Rambouillet, the threat was simple and clear, with the hypocritical acquiescence of the Europeans who performed at centre stage (the act performed by the clowns Fox and Vedrine was particularly painful): either you accept or you will be bombed. It will be done Iraqi style. This kind of process has nothing in common with diplomacy, but rather with Mafia methods that American politicians know so well. Blackmail, pure and simple. The Iraqi example shows that the hyenas on the Potomac invent new conditions that must be met whenever the enemy, beaten and humiliated, tries to fulfill those that have already been imposed upon him in order to end the war.

The bombs fell on people who had been warned and who consequently took the necessary military actions: they dispersed men and heavy equipment and, in view of an attempt to conquer Kosovo, they cleared the border zones of their populations that were ready to collaborate with the invader, through the use of force and terror. All of this was perfectly predictable. To claim that the military could not predict this suggests that they are paid to think, something which they are not likely to be accused of. Thus the Americans were all the better prepared to enter into the conflict, which they initiated themselves and which they manage with perseverance, and not without success. We are therefore confronted by this extraordinarily bizarre situation, of seeing a war in Europe carried out by the USA, a war reminiscent of the wars they launched in Asia, Korea, Viet Nam, and in Latin America. In the Middle East and in Africa, on the other hand, they have only staged brief and grotesque interventions.

Insofar as jurisprudence is concerned, this war lacks the most minimal legal foundation. NATO, which is a defence pact, goes into attack mode against a country which has not threatened it in any manner whatsoever. We discover therefore that NATO is not what it was made out to be. NATO is simply a useless boondoggle. We have already noted that the UN Charter had been totally and irrevocably abrogated during the Somalia intervention: there, the task of intervening was assigned not to the United Nations or to a group of nations acting in the name of this community, but solely to the USA, with a mandate recommending the "reconstitution" of a political entity. We know that no Somalian authority requested this intervention. The UN died legally during the ridiculous landing by the Marines on the beaches of Mogadishu. Alain Joxe drew attention at the time to the American game of alternating between "blue helmets" and "khaki helmets".

Having gotten rid of the UN and of NATO as an organisation for defence, one may now attack and bomb a sovereign country: there is now no longer any international law based upon the sovereignty of States. One may lament this change or applaud it, as one wishes, for this law was hypocritical anyway, but, at least it served as the basis for order in the world since the end of WWII. We therefore see a powerful country acting arbitrarily, creating for itself enemies as well as allies as it goes along. When Hitler did this at the expense of his neighbours, although without doubt with more justification than is evident in the present case, he was condemned for it. His regime is, today, justifiably execrated. Is it probable that the future holds the same treatment for American expansionists?

It seems that the first objective of this war is this: setting aside all legal considerations (no longer any legal basis) and political implications (such as Poldevia), the World Power requires those who desire to be its allies to get in line, stand to attention, do as they are told, and only speak when spoken to. Washington wants to test the slave-like natures of ourselves, the Europeans. Europe, with all the evil implications that we can -- and should -- attribute to it, has just taken an action that could lead to consequences: monetary union. But Europe has not addressed the problem of political union. This was, therefore, the opportune moment for the Americans to convince each of the European governments that they are nothing but pigeon droppings and can be crushed with ease. That they should march in lockstep to the tune called by American politicians.

The 50th anniversary of NATO represents Caesar's triumph and his ascent to the Capitol. All of this imagery is there to see. But we no longer know where is the Tarpeian Rock.

[Translator's Note: the Tarpeian Rock was an ancient rock or peak -- no longer in existence -- of the Capitoline Hill in Rome; so called from Tarpeia, the faithless daughter of the governor of the citadel, who was flung from this rock by the Sabines after they conquered the city thanks to her treachery. It became the traditional place from which traitors were hurled to their deaths].

With Poldevia for a territory of operations, the Poldevians as cannon fodder, and Albanian idiots as lamentable tele-refugees, NATO as a military instrument 90% made in USA, flunkies such as Chirac, the wretched Blair, the lamentable Schroeder, Israel sitting in the revolver holster, America is assembling the elements of its hegemony. Certain people, who seem motivated by a primal anti-Americanism that is very badly viewed in the servile press that assaults us daily, might believe that America desires hegemony for the love of hegemony, for the narcissistic pleasure of affirming itself the biggest, the strongest, etc. Certainly, there must be some of this sentiment in the cowboy culture of those who sit in the padded armchairs in Washington.

But the real truth lies hidden behind an illusion that we may formulate as follows: the Cold War is over. But, in fact, it is not quite over.

Certainly communism, or that which passed for such, disintegrated 10 years ago. Certainly the Soviet Empire has fallen apart. Certainly the Red Army is only a shadow of its former self. Certainly the alcoholic joker that the West has put in the Kremlin still wallows there, as before. Certainly all Russian financial wealth is still being transferred into Swiss bank accounts. All this is true, and even truer than true. But there persists an extraordinary threat. There remain 10 or 20 thousand nuclear missiles, equipped with functional warheads, controlled by fragmented military-industrial groups, preoccupied with internecine quarrels about which we know very little. Barons in the Middle Ages made use of transients, mercenaries who eventually ended up fighting their own causes. The split-up of the USSR could create similar situations. The Russian state is growing steadily weaker. It is not a threat politically, but it conceals a potential nuclear military menace. The Cold War will not be over, until this danger is physically eliminated. Political manoeuverings will not suffice. For candidates aspiring to global hegemony, there is still the recent memory of the jitters they suffered during 40 years of Soviet saber-rattling. The future of these thousands of nuclear arms, more or less abandoned, is uncertain.

The aspiring hegemonist wants to destroy them to be done with his nightmares once and for all. It is logical. One may negotiate, buy back, one by one, these monstrous weapons. It would cost dearly, but it would inject great quantities of money into the Russian army and it could turn out to be a double-edged sword. Therefore, from the point of view of US hegemonists, it is necessary to proceed differently: continue to destroy the guts of the Soviet system, the financial resources, the raw materials, the industrial base, the political centralization, the central-European plains, the areas of central Asia, the Siberian backwoods, etc. All must be hurled to the ground, dissolved, deconstructed, sold, exported.

With Operation Kosovo, the Americans take a big step in this direction: while integrating Poland and Hungary into NATO against the promise to these new lapdogs of a golden future bound up in solid chains of steel, they proceed to crush one of the two remaining unconditional allies of Moscow in the Balkans (the other being the insignificant Bulgaria).

They've lined up all their European slaves in their order of battle, thus showing the banana republics of Central and Eastern Europe, including, without doubt, Ukraine, that they have to crawl at the feet of the master to avoid being crushed by his bombs.


THE RUSSIAN TARGET All this pressure has only one target: the Russian military. There is entirely fraudulent activity taking place, centered on the "role" that Russia might play in a "settlement". But there will be no settlement, there will only be various stages of destruction of the designated enemies. All this agitation about an eventual "role" for Russia is just a way of poking the sinister stooges in the Kremlin into the faces of the Russian military, sitting there on their rusting missiles, their troops snoring, their ships lacking fuel, their aircraft sold to clients better financed than they... These military leaders cannot be unaffected by the enormous provocation that the bombing of Belgrade under their very noses represents.

The second objective of this war, hidden behind the first, is therefore to demonstrate to the Russian military their utter helplessness, to show them that the American army can operate with impunity inside the perimeter of their defences and massacre their friends and allies at will because, betrayed in any case by the entire hierarchy, they cannot hit the red nuclear button. They have to be made to understand that, very soon, the Americans will be in their very homes, installed in their barracks with all their caboodle, come to take delivery of the so called "arms of mass destruction". Thus will the destruction of Russia be completed. For the Russians, deprived of their industries, of their natural wealth sold to the West, of their money accumulated under the collectivist regime, of their intellectuals gone to work elsewhere, of their womenfolk transformed into whores on the Cote d'Azur, there will remain nothing more to do but to eat the grass of the steppes and the bark on the birch trees.

Thus shall the vengeance of the rich against the grimy poor who once put a scare into them be achieved. Then it will be the turn of the Chinese to feel themselves the heat of this new totalitarian hegemony. And we, heads bent to our mess tins, in any case probably half-empty, attached to a hitching-post, will weep over our lost freedom. It is already too late.



The reader will find additional information in Joseph Heller's Catch 22 or, better but less funny, in the book by Neil Sheehan, A Bright Shining Lie, Random House, 1988

Point of information: All the ignoramuses of this world, and particularly those who are reporters, speak of Kosovo. This is the name of a plain where a battle of the identical name took place. The region also includes another zone of plains called Metohija. Traditionally, in Yugoslavia, one speaks of the Kosovo-Metohija territory, or Kosmet. As to the Albanese majority, it owes a great deal to Mussolini who expelled hundreds of thousands of Serbs from Kosmet. There are some who still remember this, perhaps.


The Humanitarian War

For once, Libe had the right term: "The Humanitarian War". We have known this all along. We saw it in situ, in the mud and the horrors of the camps set up along the borders. Some of us saw the same thing in Cambodia and in Ethiopia; it was the same in Afghanistan. A powerful nation comes to play marbles in the backyard of a small one: she gets angry, breaks everything, the house caves in; the survivors fight each other and some run away. Then the powerful nation returns to the scene of its crime. She takes pity, its TV reports show the usual procession of horrors. There, one does not hesitate to show the dead. It is normal, these are civilians. Funds are canvassed for, piggy banks are cracked open; everyone has to be a witness and be made to feel guilty so that everyone forgets the primary cause of this enormous mess, that the great power has destroyed everything the little country had.

But, wait, what follows is even more delicious. They send doctors, cute nurses with pink cheeks and blonde tresses, they off-load, they parachute, they throw out packages of medicines, blankets, food, water. They save people. How marvellous, no? Then they build camps, with shelters, nylon tents, sanitary installations, field hospitals, administrators. It is all very nice. It is the ultimate degree of the precarious. Then, time passes, the television cameras go elsewhere. Then, the guerillas return. Those who had fled, that had lost the "just" war they had been fighting against a regime that displeased the powerful nation. They come back to life in the camps, they start the fighting all over again, they take with them the young -- there are plenty of those in the camps -- and off we go, lads. And the long sterile battle begins again, financed discreetly by the powerful nation which has played its great humanitarian act and now washes its hands of all that is going to happen for the next ten, fifteen, twenty years and the useless deaths, the mines, the insecurity, the stagnation, the local famines that are ignored.

This is exactly what happened in Cambodia where the humanitarian aspect was used to hide the fact that the Americans had taken up again with the Khmer Rouge, what happened in Afghanistan where the humanitarian aspect openly served to multiply the atrocious little bands of mujaheddin who massacre each other for the sake of controlling a stretch of valley and some traffic, what happened in Ethiopia where the humanitarian aspect discreetly veiled American aid for military expansion, from the borders, by the Erithrean secessionists and the ultra-maoists of the Tigris. What do you think will happen to the Kurds? The expression "to have been screwed" will, in Kurdish, be "Kurded".

("The Gazette of the Gulf and the Suburbs", editorial, May 4, 1999)

ANNEX 2: Rambouillet: the Diktat


The text of Article 8 of this Appendix reads: "NATO personnel shall enjoy, together with their vehicles, vessels, aircraft, and equipment, free and unrestricted passage and unimpeded access throughout the FRY [Federal Republic of Yugoslavia] including associated airspace and territorial waters. This shall include, but not be limited to, the right of bivouac, manoeuvre, billet, and utilization of any areas or facilities as required for support, training, and operations."

Article 6 guarantees the occupying forces absolute immunity: "NATO personnel, under all circumstances and at all times, shall be immune from the Parties' jurisdiction in respect of any civil, administrative, criminal, or disciplinary offenses which may be committed by them in the FRY."

Article 10 secures NATO the cost-free use of all Yugoslavian streets, airports.

LE TEMPS IRREPARABLE, Paris. Our latest communiques:

  • 990110 De quoi M. Roland Dumas est-il innocent (2e edition).
  • 990111 The World as a Magical Gas Camber, by Serge Thion.
  • 990121 De quelques cerveaux a semelles cloutees
  • 990216 Der Begin des Endes ? Martin Walser

These communiques can be seen at http://www. abbc. com/aaargh/fran/revu/revu.html and at

ARTICLE 19. "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers." The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, in Paris, on December 10, 1948.

[ARTICLE 19. "Tout individu a droit a la liberte d'opinion et d'expression, ce qui implique le droit de ne pas etre inquiete pour ses opinions et celui de chercher, de recevoir et de repandre, sans consideration de frontiere, les informations et les idees par quelque moyen d'expression que ce soit ." Declaration internationale des droits de l'homme, adoptee par l'Assemblee generale de l'ONU a Paris, le 10 decembre 1948.]

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