DIVIDE and conquer has been the classic imperial strategy since Roman times. Today's empire-builders are no different.
The particular genius of the modern neoconservative project has been the use of the theory of "humanitarian intervention" to co-opt liberal-left support for a centuries-old project of conquest.
In 1990s, it was the Serbs and their "extreme nationalist" leader Slobodan Milosevic who posed the threat to peace and civilised values. In 2001, it was Mullah Omar and the Islamist hardliners of the Taliban. In 2003, it was the turn of Saddam Hussein's Iraq, with its deadly arsenal of WMD. Now, it's Iran's President Ahmadenijad's alleged attempts to develop nuclear weapons which need to be countered.
Each time, a sizeable section of the liberal left has supported not those attacked or threatened, but the aggressors. You might have thought that, by now, the pattern would be clear to all. But the enduring success of the new world order's propaganda machine can be seen by the reaction of many on the left to Milosevic's death.
Milosevic, a life-long socialist, was a man all true progressives should have mourned. He was a man steeped in partisan culture - both his parents fought the nazis in World War II - he never once made a racist speech. The famous 1989 Kosovo Polje address, which his critics claimed whipped up ancient ethnic hatreds, was, in fact, a statement of support for multiethnic, socialist Yugoslavia. Far from being a rabid warmonger, the late Yugoslav leader was, in the words of Lord Owen, "the only leader who consistently supported peace" and "a man to whom any form of racism is anathema."
The dismemberment of Yugoslavia was initiated not by Milosevic, but by the German decision to prematurely recognise the breakaway republics of Slovenia and Croatia, against all the norms of international law. And war in Bosnia would have been avoided too had US ambassador Warren Zimmerman not personally intervened at the 11th hour to sabotage the 1992 Lisbon agreement which provided for the peaceful division of the republic.
"If you don't like it, why sign it?" Zimmerman told the hard-line Bosnian separatist leader Alija Izetbegovic, thereby lighting the touch paper to a conflict which would claim over 90,000 lives.
Even after the 1995 Dayton agreement which ended the war in Bosnia, the imperial appetite was not satiated. Milosevic's rump Yugoslavia had to be destroyed too by providing weapons and training for a separatist terror group, the Kosovan Liberation Army.
When the inevitable security clampdown from Belgrade came, the West was at hand to issue the ultimatum, producing a document at the Rambouillet peace conference, which, as Defence Minister Lord Gilbert, has conceded, was deliberately designed to be rejected by the Yugoslav delegation.
Why was it all done? Milosevic's Yugoslavia was targeted not for "humanitarian" reasons, as many still believe, but simply because it got in the way.
"In post-cold war Europe, no place remained for a large, independent-minded socialist state that resisted globalisation." These are the words not of a left-wing conspiracy theorist but George Kenney, an official at the Yugoslav office of the US State Department.
There's no doubting who has benefited from the wars which the West is happy to pin on Milosevic. One militarily and economically strong independent nation has been replaced by a series of weak and divided World Bank/IMF/NATO protectorates.
Western capital has unhindered access to raw materials and markets throughout the region while, in Kosovo, Camp Bondsteel, the biggest from-scratch US military base since the Vietnam war, jealously guards the route of the $1.3bn Trans-Balkan AMBO pipeline, guaranteeing Western control of Caspian oil supplies.
It's worth remembering that the very same people who clamoured most loudly for action against Milosevic in the 1990s were those who were at the forefront of the propaganda war against Iraq a few years later. And, today, the very same hawks are trying to convince us of the necessity of "strong action" against Iran. Among the members of the executive of the Balkan Action Committee who lobbied for US involvement on the side of Izetbegovic in Bosnia and then for full-scale war against Milosevic's Yugoslavia in 1999 are three names that will need no introduction - Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle.
"It's either take action now or lose the option of taking actionâ" was Perle's recent comment on Iran. In addition to signing - along with Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz - a notorious letter to President Clinton in 1998 calling for a "comprehensive political and military strategy for bringing down Saddam and his regime," he also acted as adviser to the Izetbegovic's delegation at Dayton.
It's time those who supported the military actions against Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and the current "strong" line on Iran, realised that the biggest danger to peace did not come from Slobodan Milosevic, Mullah Omar, Saddam Hussein or, now, from President Ahmadinejad, but from the serial warmongers who threatened them.
The road to Baghdad began in the Balkans. It won't end there unless the liberal-left supporters of US-sponsored "humanitarian" interventions start to see the bigger picture.
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