Top Menu


April 2009 (Volume 60, Number 11)

» Notes from the Editors

It is now universally recognized that the U.S. economy is experiencing a deep downturn unlike anything seen since the 1930s. Hence, the question continually arises: How close is this to a depression? One way of answering is to look at the unemployment rate. The Great Depression hit bottom in 1933 when unemployment peaked at 25 percent. Today the United States is losing jobs at the rate of 600,000 a month. But the official unemployment rate currently stands at 8.1 percent (seasonally adjusted, February 2009). This is the highest rate of official unemployment in a quarter-century, but hardly what is considered a depression-level rate, which is usually thought of as well into the double-digits.

Abu Ghraib and Insaniyat

The issues that I will cover in this article and the cases I would like to describe make for uncomfortable reading. But I believe that it is important to record the torture at Abu Ghraib prison and elsewhere in Iraq and to deconstruct the culture that accommodated and legitimated it, because what happened cannot be relegated to a mere footnote in the history of the region. I feel the same about Halabja and the chemical warfare employed by Saddam Hussein with the sponsorship of the “international community,” which is why I covered it in my other writings.1 I do not want to be misunderstood as arguing that the cultural context I will explain here is all-encompassing, that the U.S. presence in international society is singularly destructive, and that the “West” as an idea is nothing but “intoxicating.”2 What I say is much more confined. I am arguing that Abu Ghraib could not have happened without a particular racist current in the United States, that the individuals who committed the atrocities against the detainees were not isolated, and that they were part of a larger constellation with its own signifying ideational attitudes toward Muslims and Arabs. Those are the general claims that I would like to qualify in the following paragraphs

Reclaim the Neighborhood, Change the World

Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh, Off the Books: The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006), 448 pages, hardcover $27.95.

In 1988, the National Urban League reported, “More blacks have lost jobs through industrial decline than through job discrimination.” For a civil rights organization, this was a remarkable observation. Born in the era of Jim Crow racism, the Urban League championed the aspirations for upward mobility among urban African Americans. When banks refused to lend money to black entrepreneurs or when municipalities failed to service the black community, the Urban League intervened. One of the demands of the Urban League was for public goods to be shared across racial lines. While the organization was not on the frontlines of the civil rights struggle, it would have been a major beneficiary of the movement’s gains. But the tragedy of the civil rights struggle was that its victory came too late, at least thirty years late. Just when the state agreed to remove the discriminatory barriers that restricted nonwhites’ access to public goods, the state form changed. Privatization and an assault on the state’s provision of social welfare meant that it was not capable of providing public goods to the newly enfranchised citizens. At the same time as the state retreated from its social welfare obligations, the industrial sector in the U.S. crumbled in the face of globalization. Industrial jobs, once the backbone of the segregated black communities, vanished

The Dismantling of Yugoslavia (Part III)

Jump to Part: I, II, IV | Glossary | Timeline

7. The Milosevic Trial

The four-year trial of Slobodan Milosevic was the culmination of ICTY service to the NATO program in the Balkans. It was designed to show the world by an elaborate procedure leading ultimately to the conviction of the top Serb leader—the first head of state in modern times to be indicted, seized, and tried in this fashion—that the “judgment and opprobrium of history awaits the people in whose name their crimes were committed,” as Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger said in 1992.95 As with the ICTY overall, this trial was supposed to “help shape how current and future generations view the wars and in particular Serbia’s role in them,” as the advocates for this brand of “international justice” at Human Rights Watch clearly understand.96 This required the framing of indictments around the Serbs’ unique guilt for wars dating back to the summer of 1991, when Slovenia and Croatia declared their independence, with NATO’s 1999 violation of the UN Charter vindicated on moral grounds that allegedly preempt the Charter’s restrictions on the use of force.

But the ICTY’s assault on Milosevic started out clumsily, with the hasty indictment for Kosovo in May 1999 clearly designed to meet a PR need by providing a distraction from NATO’s bombing of Serb civilian facilities—itself a violation of international law. Another problematic justice move was the kidnapping of Milosevic and his shipment to The Hague in June 2001, in violation of Yugoslav Constitutional Court decisions. Justice was compromised further by the belated extension of the indictments during Milosevic’s incarceration, first to cover Croatia (October 8, 2001) and finally Bosnia (November 22, 2001).97 The last of these was especially important to the ICTY, as it made possible bringing the charge of “genocide” against him for the first time. It was likely that this followed from the court’s conviction of Radislav Krstic for “genocide” in the Srebrenica case three months earlier, and the prosecution’s assessment that a charge of “genocide” would be impossible to sustain on the basis of events in Kosovo alone, where the estimated toll from the seventy-eight-day bombing war had fallen from a peak NATO charge of 500,000 Albanian deaths to well under the final but still inflated estimate of 11,000.98 There was also the problem that NATO might have been responsible for as many Kosovo deaths as was the Serb army, raising questions of why Milosevic but not Clinton and Blair should be in the dock. This could be circumvented by linking Milosevic to Croatian and Bosnian casualties, even if belatedly, and with evidence still to be gathered—but in a justice system where charges often came first, with evidence hopefully to follow, this was routine.

Even before the kidnapping and revamped indictments, and throughout the trial, the proceedings were compromised by a steady barrage of ICTY prosecutor and other officials’ public charges against the man on trial, a further demonization process intended to build support for the ICTY and its operations, but incompatible with a fair trial. However, it was compatible with the political purposes of the trial, with the fact that finding Milosevic guilty was built into the ICTY by design. As John Laughland points out, the ICTY is a “prosecutorial organization” whose “whole philosophy and structure is accusatory.” This is why its judges gradually accepted a stream of rulings damaging to the defense and to the possibility of a fair trial—including allowing hearsay evidence, secret witnesses, and closed sessions (the latter two categories applicable in the case of 40 percent of the Milosevic trial witnesses). ICTY rules even allow an appeal and retrial of an acquitted defendant—“in other words, the ICTY can imprison a person whom it has just found innocent.”99

The trial moved ahead while the “evidence” was still being assembled. Most of it was provided by scores of alleged witnesses to alleged crimes, a large majority of it hearsay, and almost none of it bearing on Milosevic’s decision-making or distinguishing his actions from what could have been said against Izetbegovic, Tudjman, or Bill Clinton. Laughland shows very persuasively that the inordinate length of the trial was in no way related to Milosevic’s performance, a false claim repeated many times by the mainstream media; it was based on the fact that this was a political trial that inherently demanded massive evidence, and the prosecution, struggling to make a concocted case plausible, poured it on, trying to make up for lack of any evidence to support their charges by the sheer volume of irrelevant witnesses who could testify to suffering during the civil wars.100

A key element in the prosecution case was the belated charge that Milosevic was involved in a “joint criminal enterprise” (JCE) with Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia to rid themselves of non-Serbs by violence, looking toward that Greater Serbia. The JCE concept is not to be found in prior law or even in the ICTY Statute. It was improvised to allow the finding of guilt anywhere and anytime. You are part of a JCE if you are doing something bad along with somebody else, or are attacking the same parties with somebody who does something bad. With that common end you don’t even have to know about what somebody else is doing to be part of the JCE. Laughland has a devastating analysis of this remarkably elastic doctrine, and notes that Milosevic probably would have been convicted based on its catch-all—or catch anyone—expansiveness.101 Of course it fits much better the joint Clinton, Blair, and NATO enterprises in Yugoslavia, or the Croats’ U.S.-supported ethnic cleansing of Serbs from the Krajina in August 1995. But there is nobody to enforce the JCE against them, whereas we have the ICTY to take care of U.S. and NATO targets!

On the one hand, Milosevic won that trial in a substantive sense. In this victory, he was helped along by the fact that this was a political show trial, that the case against him was laughable and much weaker than cases that might have been brought against Clinton, Blair, Tudjman, or Izetbegovic, that it was badly mismanaged, and that despite a severe courtroom and media bias against him, Milosevic was able to expose many of its vulnerabilities, which live on in the ICTY’s massive database—even if how the current generation views the trial has not been shaped by them.

On the other hand, the ICTY not only killed Milosevic,102 but with the help of the Western media and intellectuals his substantive victory remains missing and unaccounted for, while the demonization and the claims about his drive to create a “Greater Serbia” stand tall.

8. Humanitarian Intervention, the Rise of al-Qaeda, and the Surge of Islamic Fundamentalism in the Balkans

Completely ignored until the events of 9/11, another consequence of the humanitarian wars in the Balkans was the stimulus they provided to Islamic fundamentalism and to the al-Qaeda network. Between the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in early 1989 and the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003, no other theater of conflict inspired a greater commitment of Mujahedin and jihad resources than wartime Bosnia.103 As we’ve seen, Izetbegovic had long advocated an Islamic state in the Balkans; and both the Bosnian Muslim Army and later the KLA used Mujahedin volunteers along with an organizational infrastructure whose roots reached back to some of the major U.S. campaigns of the 1980s in what Richard Aldrich calls an “Iran-Contra style operation” and “one of the dirtiest wars of the new world disorder.”104 But the Clinton administration overlooked the regressive ideology of its “assets,” and supported and participated in the importation of vast quantities of arms and up to 4,000 Mujahedin to fight in Bosnia,105 just as the Carter and Reagan administrations had done in Afghanistan from 1979 on. This gave al-Qaeda a foothold in the Balkans. But more important, it provided a rallying cry and recruitment tool that was unsurpassed until the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.106

These aspects of taking the side of the Bosnian Muslims have always been awkward for the humanitarian war propagandists, but they became more so after 9/11. The U.S. government’s official 9/11 Commission Report claims that at least two of the nineteen suicide hijackers, Nawaf al Hazmi and Khalid al Mihdhar, both Saudis who perished when they crashed American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon, “were already experienced mujahideen” who “had traveled together to fight in Bosnia in a group that journeyed to the Balkans in 1995.”107 More revealing was the itinerary of Khalid Sheik Mohammed, a Pakistani whom the 9/11 Commission called the “mastermind” and “chief manager of the ‘planes operation.’” Khalid Sheik Mohammed served at least two tours of duty in Bosnia. “In 1992, KSM [Khalid Sheik Mohammed] spent some time fighting alongside the mujahideen in Bosnia and supporting that effort with financial donations,” and again in 1995 “to join the Bosnia jihad.”108 The commission also reported that Osama bin Laden’s “network” included “a ‘services’ branch in Zagreb” as well as “an office of the Benevolence International Foundation in Sarajevo, which supported the Bosnian Muslims in their conflict with Serbia and Croatia….”109

Despite the huge focus on 9/11 and al-Qaeda, these links have seldom been featured in the mainstream media. The Serbs, of course, were complaining about the brutality of the “foreign fighters” (or “Turks”) as early as 1992, including the beheadings practiced against residents of Serb villages in eastern Bosnia, within striking distance of the Srebrenica enclave; an official attempt by the government in Belgrade to document these activities in the communes of Bratunac, Skelani, and Srebrenica during the first twelve months of the war in Bosnia was ignored when delivered to the Security Council in May 1993.110 Nor were the media and ICTY interested in them. Instead the focus of their concern was on Bosnian Muslims as a unique victim category, and Clinton’s and the West’s generous if belated service to these underdogs.

Unquestionably, had such ties been traceable to Milosevic and the other members of the “joint criminal enterprise,” Clinton, Blair, Del Ponte, Simons, Vulliamy, and others would have featured them and drawn the appropriate conclusions about the forces of evil helping to “shape a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives” and “fuel the spread of the jihadist movement.”111 But given that the linkages were to the good guys, silence has prevailed.

9. The Impact of the ‘Humanitarian’ War

While the social costs borne by the so-called “transitional” countries of Europe were great, in the balance sheet of human development Yugoslavia’s civil wars and the “humanitarian intervention” brought about the ultimate reversal. Yugoslavia went from an upper-middle-income country of 23.8 million people and a ranking of 34th in the newly minted Human Development Index (HDI),112 to a disappearance from the charts, not to be heard from since. Other European countries whose 1990 HDI rankings were very near Yugoslavia’s were Czechoslovakia and Hungary (slightly higher), and Portugal and Poland (slightly lower). We recognize the problems caused by gaps in data about the former republics/independent states for several years after 1990, and the risks inherent in drawing comparisons between them and other countries not at war. Nevertheless, it is revealing that by 2004, Slovenia’s per-capita GDP and HDI ranking were higher than for each of these four European countries (the Czech Republic taking the dissolved Czechoslovakia’s place), while the same measures for Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia lagged far below, the latter two substantially so.113

As for Serbia and Montenegro (which in 2007 no longer exists, just as Serbia itself may soon undergo the amputation of Kosovo), though some “basic indicators” began turning up for it at the UN Development Program by 2001, at no time was its HDI ranking estimated, and for years its data were consigned to the same underworld of countries that includes Afghanistan, Iraq, North Korea, Liberia, and Somalia. This juxtaposition of the fates of the old Yugoslavia’s northwest and southeast reminds us of a passage in Warren Zimmermann’s Origins of a Catastrophe, about how, “in their drive to separate from Yugoslavia” in the late 1980s, the Slovenes “simply ignored the twenty-two million Yugoslavs who were not Slovenes.” In Zimmermann’s judgment, “They bear considerable responsibility for the bloodbath that followed their secession.”114 Alone among their former brothers in unity, the Slovenes plucked the fruits of secession at their ripest, largely escaping the civil wars of the 1990s. By 2006 they enjoyed per-capita GDP that had climbed to 80 percent the EU’s average,115 full EU and NATO membership (2004), and soon thereafter conversion to the euro (2007). And in a supreme irony, Slovenia now contributes troops to at least four different theaters occupied by NATO—Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, and Kosovo (i.e., inside Serbia)—and has “more troops abroad in NATO missions per capita than any other member of the alliance.”116

Although the Republic of Serbia and ethnic Serbs in general remain the designated villains in the standard narrative of Yugoslavia’s dismantling, many of the consequences of the wars contradict the role in which they’ve been cast.

Table 1:
Refugees and internally displaced persons in the former Yugoslavia, as of January 1, 2005a
Column 1:
Refugees by country of origin
Column 2:
Refugees by country of asylum
Column 3:
Internally displaced persons
Column 4:
Total number of refugees and displaced persons by host country

a Compiled from Nada Merheb et al., The State of the World’s Refugees 2006 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), annex 2, “Total population of concern to UNHCR, end-2004,” 211; annex 4, “Refugee population by country of asylum,” 214–16; and annex 5, “Refugee population by origin, 1995-2004,” 217–20.

b Refers to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

What is more, Serbia-Montenegro hosted the third-highest refugee population in the entire world (as a percentage of its total population), just behind Chad, which happens to share a border with the three Darfur states in the western Sudan; Bosnia-Herzegovina ranked twenty-fifth overall, hosting only one-fifth the Serbia-Montenegrin percentage of refugees.117 Taking into account both refugees and internally displaced persons (columns 2 and 3), we see that Serbia-Montenegro was the host of 534,837 uprooted persons overall, 38 percent more than Bosnia-Herzegovina, widely regarded in Western commentary as the severest victim of the wars of “ethnic cleansing.”

A long-term pattern also appears evident: Some of the refugee and internally displaced person crises in the former Yugoslavia were reversed over time; others, however, proved more permanent. At the time of Dayton (December 1995), 769,753 refugees had fled from Bosnia, and 245,572 from Croatia;118 nine years later, the number of refugees from Bosnia stood at 229,329, a reduction of 70 percent; Croatia’s was 215,474, a reduction of only 12.3 percent. Clearly large numbers of refugees have been returning to Bosnia, but very few to Croatia. This suggests that some “ethnic cleansings” may reach much more deeply into the fabric of Balkan history than others.

In the most dramatic case, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) once boasted that the 1999 “Kosovo crisis produced possibly the fastest mass exodus and rapid return of refugees in modern history,” when some “860,000 ethnic Albanian Kosovars fled or were deported to neighbouring states within weeks [of the onset of NATO’s war] and then returned just as quickly later in the year.” But, the UNHCR added, the “first exodus-return of ethnic Albanians [was] followed by a second massive flight of 230,000 Serbs and Roma as the fortunes of war changed dramatically”119—and just like the refugees who fled Croatia through 1995, very few of these have returned to Kosovo. Once again, this suggests that some “ethnic cleansings” are more reversible than others; and that in the former Yugoslavia, the deciding factors are not only the ethnicity of the victims and perpetrators but also whether foreign powers advocate on their behalf—and if so, which foreign powers. Is it not odd that the one republic which allegedly organized the wars of ethnic cleansing has suffered the greatest long-term refugee burden, and hosts the greatest number of uprooted persons overall?

NATO’s “humanitarian” war exacted no less fearful a toll. Aside from the perhaps 1.5 million people uprooted during the three months it was waged, the material damage was considerable. Serbia-Montenegro had already been subjected to extensive sanctions dating back to May 30, 1992, along with highly theatrical condemnation and isolation around the world. The ruthless bombing campaign in 1999 not only killed and injured several thousand people (including large numbers of Kosovo Albanians120), but in a targeting pattern reminiscent of the U.S. strategy during the first Iraq war,121 it struck a severe blow to Serbia’s infrastructure (electrical plants, bridges, factories), causing yet more economic hardship, unemployment, and pollution. A postwar assessment by the UN Environment Program identified at least four “hot spots”—in or near Pancevo, Kragujevac, Novi Sad, and Bor, where oil refineries and petrochemical plants had been destroyed.122

Particularly hard hit were the provincial cities. “All our cities were bombed, especially the cities where the opposition is greatest,” the mayor of Nis told the Washington Post. “Now, how do you explain to the people who voted for democratic reforms, who rallied against Milosevic, how do you explain that, well, the Western democracies bombed and killed you, and now they don’t want to help you rebuild?” The same bewilderment was expressed by the mayor of Pancevo: “NATO had to understand what they were doing to us, because these factories were built by American and European firms. They could not have been ignorant of the environmental damage.”123 Of course NATO understood. But we are aware of no advocate for this “humanitarian” war who has ever shown the slightest understanding that NATO’s target selection bore zero correlation to the plight of the Kosovo Albanians. Or that its real purpose was progressively to disable Serbian society at large, to take over Kosovo, and to effect regime change—all missions accomplished.

The June 1999 end of the war, the Security Council resolution and treaties giving the Secretariat the power to establish a UN government in Kosovo, the rapid return of the refugees, and the ouster of Milosevic in October 2000 were all supposed to bring economic revival and democratic renewal. But none of it happened. The neoliberal rules imposed by the new, NATO-friendly government of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic led to extensive privatizations and foreign takeovers of business properties, layoffs, more severe unemployment, and negligible economic growth. As of 2006, Serbia’s GDP remained at only 60 percent its 1989 level, when it was roughly the equivalent of Yugoslavia’s average, and the republic still functioned as part of Yugoslavia’s integrated economy. Serbia’s per capita GDP in 2006 amounted to only one-fifth that of Slovenia; and its unemployment rate stood at 31 percent.124 The government remains hostage to the ICTY for failing to meet the quota of indictees that it ought to have arrested and turned over for trial, one of the obstacles to the promised land of EU membership (and possibly a further loss of independence). The largest vote-getter in this badly splintered society is Vojislav Seselj’s Serbian Radical Party; in January’s elections, his nationalist party received almost 29 percent of the vote, more than any other in a campaign where the party platforms distinguished themselves by whether they were “pro-Western” and “pro-EU” or pro-Serb.125

In the two regions that were the main supposed beneficiaries of humanitarian intervention, the result in one (Bosnia) has been a failed mini-state and NATO-power neocolony, administered by a “High Representative” appointed by the EU, with official unemployment around 45 percent and one-quarter of the population living in poverty, splintered ethnically into two statelets that are held in place by coercion only, and with much corruption and crime.126 In the other (Kosovo) the result is a failed province and further NATO-power neocolony, administered by a “Special Representative” appointed by the UN Secretary-General, with official unemployment at roughly 50 percent and massive organized crime, still seething with intense ethnic hostility, its internal ethnic cleansers (Albanians) pressing for independence, but it is still occupied by NATO, and home to perhaps the largest U.S. military base in Europe.127

In both of these regions, there has been top-down foreign rule; and in the name of their captive populations a phalanx of administrators has imposed neoliberal regimes without their subjects’ consultation. In both, moreover, privatization and foreign investment are featured, along with glowing promises and poor results. In both, the privatizations have been corrupt, contributing to clientalism, the deepening of the informal markets of the war years, and the institutionalization of organized crime, particularly in Kosovo. In the latter, we have a fear-dominated state “that is falling into the grip of Albanian organised crime gangs,” with “a burgeoning trade in illicit petrol, cigarettes and cement. Prostitution and drugs are also popular staples of the black economy.”128 The “macroeconomic reforms” imposed by the external rulers have indeed managed to “clear away the debris of the formerly socialist economy and open up the [countries] to international markets and investment,” in the words of a former High Representative for Bosnia,129 and with clear application to both experiments in neocolonial engineering. But by every decent measure of human development and liberation, these externally imposed regimes have been historic failures—except to the robbers.

The United States and Security Council, with Russia so far dissenting, are pressing for a quasi- and Bosnia-like “independence” for Kosovo, with the clear aim of eventual full independence from Serbia. This full independence will come when Kosovo finally achieves the goal of being a “multi-ethnic society, governing itself democratically and with full respect for the rule of law,” in the words of the UN’s Comprehensive Proposal for the Kosovo Status Settlement.130 But under NATO auspices, and after the impact of the NATO war, Kosovo has not only witnessed a huge ethnic cleansing of non-Albanians, but in March 2004 had an outburst of Kosovo Albanian violence reminiscent of the German Kristallsnacht. The remaining minorities in Kosovo are fear-ridden, and dissident Albanians dare not speak up.131 Even the 2005 report by Kai Edie for the UN noted that “the overall return process has virtually come to a halt,” and that “as many or more Kosovo Serbs are leaving Kosovo than are returning.”132 Yet we must have independence for the Kosovo Albanians, and no partition of territory between Serbs and Albanians. And in Bosnia we must keep the three hostile nations together under one “multi-ethnic” roof, even though this doesn’t work, and they don’t want it. The arbitrariness and irrationalities here boggle the mind. But as the under secretary of state for political affairs explained to Congress in April, “The cornerstone of [U.S.] policy in this region has long been the promise of integration of the Balkan countries with NATO and the European Union.”133 And as always, what the United States says, goes.

We should recall here President Clinton’s statement in April 1999 that what “we and our allies have been fighting for in the Balkans is the principle of multiethnic, tolerant, inclusive democracy,” and “against the idea that statehood must be based entirely on ethnicity.”134 It is understandable that neither the politicians, media pundits, nor humanitarian intervention intellectuals refer back to this claim and discuss it in evaluating the war itself, their analysis of the case for humanitarian war, and the prospects of Kosovo. In fact, they have all put the entire background into the black hole, except for snippets of misrepresented history of Serb villainy and Kosovo Albanian victimization.

[return to top]


  1. Elaine Sciolino, “U.S. Names Figures It Wants Charged with War Crimes,” New York Times, December 17, 1992.
  2. Sara Dareshori, Weighing the Evidence, Human Rights Watch, December 2006, 5.
  3. At the time of Milosevic’s June 28, 2001, transfer to the Scheveningen prison at The Hague, the only indictment he faced was the initial one for Kosovo (May 22, 1999).
  4. The charge of “genocide” appears in both the initial and the amended indictments of Milosevic for Bosnia, but in none of the three indictments for Kosovo, and none of the three indictments for Croatia.
  5. John Laughland, Travesty (Ann Arbor, MI: Pluto Press, 2007), 97 and passim. Also see Mandel, How America Gets Away With Murder, chaps. 4–5, 117–75; Johnstone, Fools’ Crusade, 91–109; and Hans Köchler, Global Justice or Global Revenge? International Criminal Justice at the Crossroads (New York: Springer- Wien, 2003), annex 1, 353–56.
  6. Laughland, Travesty, chaps. 5–6, 88–124.
  7. Laughland, Travesty, 110–24. Also see David Chandler, The ‘Butcher of the Balkans’? (University of Westminster, UK, 2006), This paper was drafted at the request of Milosevic’s defense team. But since Milosevic predeceased its submission, it was never formally submitted.
  8. Laughland, Travesty, 203–04.
  9. We use the terms “Mujahedin” and “jihad” with a great deal of caution, and note, for example, the Western media’s frequently prejudicial usage of these terms to denigrate “their” religiously motivated foreign fighters or mercenaries in contradistinction to “our” business-like professionals.
  10. Richard J. Aldrich, “America used Islamists to arm the Bosnian Muslims,” The Guardian, April 22, 2002.
  11. Wiebes, Intelligence and the War in Bosnia, 1992–1995, 207–08.
  12. See, e.g., Jason Burke, Al-Qaeda (New York: I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd., 2003); Robert A. Pape, Dying to Win (New York: Random House, 2005); and Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank, “The Iraq Effect,” Mother Jones, March/April, 2007.
  13. Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton, The 9/11 Commission Report (Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States) (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2004), 155.
  14. The 9/11 Commission Report, 147; n. 5, 488.
  15. The 9/11 Commission Report, 58.
  16. See Memorandum on War Crimes and Crimes and Genocide in Eastern Bosnia (Communes of Bratunac, Skelani and Srebrenica) Committed Against the Serb Population from April 1992 to April 1993 (A/48/177–S/25835), May 24, 1993.
  17. See “Excerpt from the National Intelligence Estimate,” Washington Post, September 27, 2006, which reproduced the “Key Judgments” section of “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States.”
  18. Mahbub ul Haq et al., Human Development Report 1991 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), table 1.1, 15. The HDI for this year combined national income per capita, longevity, and knowledge, i.e., literacy rates and years of schooling.
  19. Kevin Watkins et al., Human Development Report 2006 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), table 1, 283–86.
  20. Warren Zimmermann, Origins of a Catastrophe (New York: Times Books, 1996), 71.
  21. G. Schäfer, ed., Europe in Figures (Luxembourg: Statistical Office of the European Communities, 2007), table 6.1, 152.
  22. Christopher Condon, “A leap to international visibility,” Financial Times, December 13, 2006. Also see Richard Bernstein, “Slovenia Strides Westward and Does Not Look Back,” New York Times, July 26, 2006; and Christopher Emsden, “With Slovenia, ECB Will Add a Hawk,” Wall Street Journal, December 13, 2006.
  23. Nada Merheb et al., The State of the World’s Refugees 2006 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), annex 7, 224. These rankings are based on the number of refugees per 1,000 inhabitants living in a country of asylum as of December 31, 2004. For every 1,000 inhabitants, Chad hosted 26.7, Serbia and Montenegro 26.3, and Bosnia-Herzegovina 5.7. Although more current data are not available, the breakup of Serbia and Montenegro in 2006 likely increased Serbia’s percentage, i.e., by subtracting Montenegro’s approx. 630,000 population from the total.
  24. For the numbers dating from 1995, see Merheb et al., The State of the World’s Refugees 2006, annex 5, “Refugee population by origin, 1995–2004,” 217–20. Space limitations prevent us from including these numbers in the table.
  25. “Serbia and Montenegro: Kosovo,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees. See “The Balkans” Web site hosted by UNHCR,
  26. We are referring to multiple bombing raids on Kosovo Albanian convoys in April and May 1999. In the last of these (at least that we know of), at Korisa on May 13, several dozen were killed, and several dozen more wounded. See Amnesty International, “Collateral Damage” or Unlawful Killings? Violations of the Laws of War by NATO during Operation Allied Force, June 6, 2000, esp. sections 5.2 and 5. 7. And for a detailed account of earlier bombing raids, see Robert Fisk, “Convoy of the Damned,” The Independent, November 28, 1999.
  27. As the Washington Post reported in 1991, target selection during the first Iraq war was aimed at “disabling Iraqi society at large.” “The worst civilian suffering…has resulted not from the bombs that went astray but from precision guided weapons that hit exactly where they were aimed—at electrical plants, oil refineries and transportation networks.” In the words of a confidential source who “played a central role in the air campaign,” so-called “Strategic bombing…strikes against ‘all those things that allow a nation to sustain itself.’” Barton Gellman, “Allied Air War Struck Broadly in Iraq; Officials Acknowledge Strategy Went Beyond Purely Military Targets,” Washington Post, June 23, 1991.
  28. Pekka Haavisto et al., The Kosovo Conflict (Balkans Task Force, UN Environment Program: October 1999), esp. 29–61.
  29. William Booth, “Milosevic Foes Appeal to West To Help Serbia,” Washington Post, July 6, 1999; Chris Hedges, “Serbian Town Bombed by NATO Fears Effects of Toxic Chemicals,” New York Times, July 14, 1999.
  30. See “Background Note: Serbia,” Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, U.S. Department of State, October, 2006; also see the entry for “Serbia” in the CIA’s World Factbook 2007.
  31. David Vujanovic, “Ultra-nationalist win clouds Serbia’s future,” Agence France Presse, January 22, 2007; Beth Kampschror, “Serb elections complicate Kosovo issue,” Christian Science Monitor, January 23, 2007; and Dusan Stojanovic, “Serbian Radical Party Riding High,” Associated Press, January 24, 2007.
  32. See “Background Note: Bosnia,” Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, U.S. Department of State, February, 2007; also see the entry for “Bosnia and Herzegovina” in the World Factbook 2007, Central Intelligence Agency.
  33. Michael Pugh, “Crime and Capitalism in Kosovo’s Transformation,” in Tonny Brems Knudsen and Carsten Bagge Laustsen, eds., Kosovo between War and Peace (New York: Routledge, 2006).
  34. Tom Walker, “Rampage of the mafia may delay Kosovo independence,” Sunday Times, April 9, 2006; Bojan Pancevski, “Report damns West’s record in reviving Kosovo,” Daily Telegraph, March 19, 2007; and Svante E. Cornell and Michael Jonsson, “Creating a state of denial,” International Herald Tribune, March 23, 2007.
  35. Paddy Ashdown, “BiH Open for Investments,” Office of the High Representative for Bosnia- Herzegovina, December 9, 2003. Ashdown uttered these words while attending a conference in London to promote Bosnia to foreign investors.
  36. Comprehensive Proposal for the Kosovo Status Settlement (S/2007/168/Add.1), March 26, 2007, General Principles, Article 1.1.
  37. See, e.g., Christian Brunner, “The Situation of Internally Displaced Persons in Serbia and Montenegro,” ICRC, May, 2005; “IDPs from Kosovo,” Global IDP Project, Norwegian Refugee Council, September 22, 2005; and “Position on the Continued International Protection Needs of Individuals from Kosovo,” UNHCR, June, 2006.
  38. Kai Eide, A comprehensive review of the developments in Kosovo (S/2005/635), October 7, 2005, par. 52; par. 54.
  39. R. Nicholas Burns, “The Outlook for the Independence of Kosovo,” U.S. Department of State, April 17, 2007.
  40. Bill Clinton, “Remarks by the President to the American Society of Newspaper Editors,” Federal Documents Clearing House, April 15, 1999.

Oaxaca: Rebellion against Marginalization, Extreme Poverty, and Abuse of Power

In the last five years, millions of people have taken to the streets in Mexico challenging the political system and economic policies. In Atenco, in the state of Mexico, the population prevented the construction of the new Mexico City airport in 2002. Atenco became a center of resistance which has supported numerous struggles. Over a million people participated in protests in the year 2005, when the right-wing government of Vicente Fox attempted to eliminate Andrés Manuel López Obrador from the presidential elections of 2006 by way of a “legal” maneuver. More than two million protested against the election fraud with which Fox’s government imposed the presidency of Felipe Calderón. Thousands of citizens of Oaxaca rebelled against the corrupt and oppressive state government of Ulises Ruiz Ortiz. Despite assassinations, disappearances, beastly abuse, and imprisonment, the protest, which began in May of 2006, continued until April of 2007. In retaliation for the events of 2006, the federal police repressed hundreds of protesters and arrested dozens of people. They broke into homes without warrants, and raped women

Transient Servitude: The U.S. Guest Worker Program for Exploiting Mexican and Central American Workers

Defining moments in the history of a nation are time and again overshadowed by the drama of war. These critical events are often domestic policy decisions that affect the immediate state of a country and have serious consequences for the future. Significant examples in U.S. history include: the initial decision of the revolutionary government to found a republic dedicated to the lofty principles of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” but embracing slavery, a contradiction that ultimately led to civil war; the decision to prematurely end reconstruction efforts in the South after the Civil War, a policy reversal which allowed the long-term oppression and exploitation of the emancipated slaves and their descendents; and the decision during the Second World War to encourage the mass migration of poor African Americans from the rural South to the industrial centers of the Midwest and Northeast to support the war economy, a haphazard resettlement program that resulted in the ghettoization and continued oppression of a significant national minority

The Twilight of Personal Liberty: Introduction to ‘A Permanent State of Emergency’

“The law is a mask that the state puts on when it wants to commit some indecency upon the oppressed.” I put these words into the mouth of a character in my play “Haymarket: Whose Name the Few Still Say with Tears.” Jean-Claude Paye has once again done us a service by showing how those words can come true. In theory, the bourgeois democratic state, as defined in the American constitution, was to operate under two basic principles. The first of these was separation of powers. Legislative and executive action would be held to a standard of legality by the action of unelected and therefore presumably independent judges. The second principle, elaborated more fully in the Bill of Rights, is that certain invasions of individual personal liberty are forbidden, and that the judges will provide a remedy against those who commit such invasions

Kathy Kelly’s Chispa

Kathy Kelly, Other Lands Have Dreams: From Baghdad to Pekin Prison (Oakland & Petrolia, Calif.: Counterpunch & AK Press, 2005), 168 pages, paper $14.95.

For almost ten years Kathy Kelly has walked the wards of Iraq’s hospitals. She sits beside the beds of ailing children and tells them that she is sorry that her country has brought them such pain. She then gathers their family and apologizes to them as well. Her letters from Iraq, many published on the Internet during the late 1990s and into the 2000s, carried tales of these victims of the long U.S. war on Iraq. From her we got their names and fragments of their stories: we read of the tragic death of seven-month-old Zayna who was emaciated by nutritional marasmus, of Shehadah who might get heart surgery but no time in the hospital to recover, and of Miladh and Zaineb who had to fashion their imaginations around the daily bombardments that brought them “freedom.” From Kathy Kelly we learned about this long war, about its impact on the ordinary people of Iraq, about the embargo’s victims, the war’s victims, and the occupation’s victims. Her new book is a collection of her antiwar journalism (with a long excursus on her time in jail for her antiwar activism)

The End of Habeas Corpus in Great Britain

The British Parliament adopted a new antiterrorist law, the Prevention of Terrorism Act, on March 11, 2005. By doing so, Parliament made it possible for the government to carry out the long-standing project of expanding the emergency provisions to which foreigners are subjected within the context of the war on terrorism to cover the whole population, including citizens. This change is important because it calls into question the notion of habeas corpus. The law attacks the formal separation of powers by giving to the secretary of state for home affairs judicial prerogatives. Further, it reduces the rights of the defense practically to nothing. It also establishes the primacy of suspicion over fact, since measures restricting liberties, potentially leading to house arrest, could be imposed on individuals not for what they have done, but according to what the home secretary thinks they could have done or could do. Thus, this law deliberately turns its back on the rule of law and establishes a new form of political regime

Silencing the Cells: Mass Incarceration and Legal Repression in U.S. Prisons

People without a voice are not people in any meaningful sense of the word. Silenced people cannot express their ideas; they can neither consent nor protest. They are reduced to being pawns in the schemes of the powerful, mendicants who must accept whatever is imposed upon them. In order to keep people in a state of subjugation, silencing their voices is essential. Nowhere is this clearer than in U.S. prisons

Poverty and Inequality in the Global Economy

Capitalism is hundreds of years old and today dominates nearly every part of the globe. Its champions claim that it is the greatest engine of production growth the world has ever seen. They also argue that it is unique in its ability to raise the standard of living of every person on earth. Because of capitalism, we are all “slouching toward utopia,”—the phrase coined by University of California at Berkeley economist J. Bradford DeLong—slowly but surely heading toward a world in which everyone will have achieved a U.S.-style middle-class life

The U.S. Prison State

Tara Herivel and Paul Wright, editors Prison Nation: The Warehousing of America’s Poor (New York: Routledge, 2003), 256 pages, cloth $80.00, paper $19.95.

I sit in the day room/lobby waiting to be released for lunch. I read a novel in which one character, a Pole, comments to another that the Germans consider Poles to be untermenschen, subhuman. I look at the women around me: Latinas arguing among themselves in Spanish; a black woman making signals to someone I don’t see; two white women—one of whom is stringing beads—are murmuring together. Two of these women are here because they are undocumented workers; three are incarcerated for economic offenses; the other is falsely convicted; all of us are caught inside the nightmare of an oppressive state and an expanding empire. Instead of storm trooper boots and brown shirts, those who command wear Tony Lamas cowboy boots, expensive suits, and ties—men who see in the U.S. prison establishment ways to both intensify control of the population and squeeze more profits out of late-stage capitalism