"Will the Real Nazis please stand up?"


For the last seven months we have been fed a diet of propaganda — the public relations of modern warfare — about Kosovo, that distant and foreign land, a province of Yugoslavia but now a ‘protectorate’ of the allied forces. A land where people — white people, doctors, lawyers and scientists — are being ‘ethnically cleansed’ by a ‘butchering modern day Hitler’. So far, the PR campaign (the spin as opposed to the facts) goes something like this….

Ethnic cleansing practiced by Slobodan Milosevic is systematic and brutal, like the extermination of Jews in Nazi Germany. Representing the people of the free, democratic world, America has responded to this grave humanitarian tragedy in a timely and appropriate manner. With NATO, America has lead an effort to end the suffering and misery of ethnic Albanians, their torment and distress cannot be allowed to continue in the civilised 20th century! The air strikes, and the capitulation of President Milosevic, has proven that the standards and principles of the free world can triumph over evil. NATO can look proudly upon its achievements in Kosovo, where ‘Operation Joint Guardian’ will bring peace and a new humanism to the once war torn province. On the dawn of the 21st century, we will continue to work with our partners towards the goal of a world that is safe for all peoples, under the guiding hand of the United Nations…..

In the final conflicts of the 20th century, public relations has become the politically correct term for propaganda, and while hundreds of noteworthy conflicts are being fought around the globe, NATO and US public relations experts have selectively focused our attention upon the ‘regime’ in Yugoslavia, and its leader, "that butchering modern day Hitler, Slobodan Milosevic."

The tactic of comparing the enemies of the US to Hitler, is tried and true. The Bush administration used it on Saddam Hussein, and before that, they tied the Nazi fanatic with various Latin American ‘dictators’. During the 1989 invasion of Panama, American soldiers showed reporters Hitler’s portrait hanging in Manuel Noriega’s home — a US Army colonel later admitted psychological warfare experts had planted the Fuhrer’s portrait and a voodoo altar shown to TV cameras.

The ghost of Adolf Hitler has been given a thorough airing in the Yugoslav crisis. The great irony is that those who condemn Milosevic as a modern day ‘Hitler,’ are themselves using the propaganda techniques that were refined and employed by the Nazis during World War Two.

"Propaganda is a weapon, and a frightful one in the right hands", said Adolf Hitler, in Mein Kampf. Explaining how this ‘weapon’ could be employed to win the hearts and minds of the masses, Hitler said propaganda must be limited to a very few points and a slogan, which must be harped upon until the last member of the public understands the point being made.

The war in Yugoslavia has been defined by two rallying cries — the slogan — ‘ethnic cleansing’, and the mantra, ‘humanitarian crisis’. In the mobilisation of public opinion behind the bombing of Yugoslavia, the Clinton administration endlessly repeated the phrase, ‘ethnic cleansing’ and NATO dwelled upon the fact that the only way to eliminate this "systematic, and methodical policy" within Kosovo, was by endless days of carpet bombing. The principal value of the phrase ‘ethnic cleansing’ is that it conjures up the image of Nazi Germany. The ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Kosovo, NATO argued, was the 1990s version of the Holocaust, while all of Serbia was compared to Nazi Germany.

Humanitarian crisis, on the other hand, is something that the US, the UK and NATO helped to create by escalating a serious situation to catastrophic proportions. The bombings undermined, and maybe permanently destroyed, a promising democratic movement in Belgrade, which was the best hope of getting rid of Milosevic. Further, US/NATO actions have caused considerable disruption and danger in surrounding areas, including the Yugoslavia republic of Montenegro and also Macedonia.

Up until the US/NATO bombing on March 24th, there had been, according to NATO, 2000 people killed on all sides, and a couple of hundred thousand refugees — indeed, a humanitarian crisis, but also the type of crisis happening all over the world. It would be an understatement to say ethnic cleansing is a tragedy, but it is happening, on an equal to or greater extent, in other parts of the world as well as Kosovo. For example, the crisis in Kosovo is numerically identical to the US State Department figures last year which showed Colombia with 300,000 refugees and two or three thousand people killed.

Hitler said that harping upon "very few points", would call the masses attention to certain facts, processes and necessities. "The greater the mass that propaganda is intended to reach, the lower the purely intellectual level of the propaganda will be." We can see Hitler’s advice is working well: the media absorbed with over-reporting of the refugee crisis, shuttle diplomacy and the triumphant movement of NATO ground forces into Yugoslavia.

During the air war we were told over and over again, morning to night, with close to 100% unanimity thundering that US/NATO actions were necessary to "save lives". And thus, many people tended to believe their absurd claims, even though, with a moments reflection, the absurdity of such claims would be realised.

Many important facts have been under reported in the Kosovo crisis. Such facts include Viktor Chernomyrdin’s dire warning on 27th May that "the world has never in this decade been so close as now to the brink of nuclear war"; NATO's new interventionist role; the setback of Russia-US relations; China’s veto of the UN Security Council resolution on Yugoslavia; and shelving the ratification of the Russian/US arms limitation agreement START II.

Hitler maintained that the "power to forget is enormous". Such forgetfulness is an important propaganda tool in modern warfare. The Balkans, like Iraq, used to be a ‘friend’ of the United States. In the 1980s Washington looked upon Slobodan Milosevic with favour to the extent that he initiated market policies and dismantled state industry in Yugoslavia. But in the 1990s the rules of the game changed and Serbia became a thorn in the side of US concerns. Milosevic joined Saddam Hussein on America’s list of "Most Wanted".

In his recent essay "Kosovo Peace Accord", Noam Chomsky notes that in the Yugoslav war the marching orders from Washington are the usual ones: "Focus laser-like on the crimes of today’s official enemy, and do not allow yourself to be distracted by comparable or worse crimes that could easily be mitigated or terminated thanks to the crucial role of the enlightened states in perpetuating them, or escalating them when power interests so dictate."

The war in Yugoslavia shows that the US has neither permanent friends, nor permanent enemies, only permanent interests. As our attention is focused upon a few important points within the current conflict, we forget that two hundred thousand Serbs were expelled from Croatia in 1995 with US support. (Croatia has since become a US ally and one of NATO’s "frontline states in the war against Serbia"). Over the past fifteen years, more than one million Kurds have been driven from their villages in Turkey, with not only support, but even military hardware from the US. Turkey, meanwhile, retains NATO membership and endorsed the bombing of Yugoslavia.

Had political conditions dictated, the media could have presented the suppression of the Palestinian intifadah from 1987-91 or the massacres that unfolded in Beirut in 1982, under the auspices of the Israeli state, in no less inflammatory terms than the events in Kosovo. And what of the savageries inflicted by the French on Algeria or the United States on Vietnam, or the Russians in Afghanistan, or the Indonesians in Timor etc, etc, etc. Such is the "power to forget".

Control of the Press

Propaganda necessarily involves the capitulation or control of the press. Censorship of the press during the Yugoslav crisis has been open and blatant, assisting in the reportage of ‘very few points’. While the Nazis employed the tactic of shutting any domestic press outlet that did not push the party message, NATO’s goal was to shut down the press inside Serbia, by bombing television stations, and electricity lifelines.

Censorship occurred at all levels during the Balkans conflict: from the ability of journalists to report ‘in the field’, to Pentagon briefings and high level diplomatic meetings. Many reporters have said access to the war zone was severely limited by the dominant military force on the ground in Serbia and Kosovo, and by NATO bombing raids. Travel restrictions in the Balkans war zone left reporters to cover daily press briefings at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, at the Pentagon and the White House in Washington.

The press corps ‘trapped’ at NATO headquarters, and at the Pentagon, rarely tried to pin officials down on anything questionable or vague, and NATO spokespeople would typically obfuscate answers to journalists questions. The Web magazine GRIDLOCK and LOAD reports one such example from NATO spokesperson Jamie Shea, noted for his sometimes strange and confounding pronouncements, including this one made in late May:

I am confident of success because all of those conditions for the defeat of the Belgrade regime are now in place. I suppose we could say that it is not yet the end; it perhaps is not yet the beginning of the end. But it is certainly the end of the beginning — there is no doubt about this — and I think that that decisive turning point is being reached.

In the arena of diplomatic negotiations, information for the press was tightly controlled. Following a meeting between Viktor Chernomyrdin, Finnish President Martti Ahtissari and US Deputy Secretary of State, Strobe Talbott, journalists were told by Chernomyrdin’s minder: "Perhaps the only thing on which the parties to the trilateral negotiations showed full unanimity was their desire to minimise information for the press".

Cable News Network (CNN) has played an important role in censorship of information during the Balkans crisis. CNN has been criticised for anti-Belgrade reporting by its ‘star’ correspondent Christine Amanpour, whose marriage to State Department spokesman Jamie Rubin is the source of constant speculation even in Washington of "insider trading" of information.

Throughout the Balkans conflict, CNN (along with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)) has been the major source of televised footage aired in news broadcasts throughout the world. Critics have pointed out that with few exceptions, only successful and bloodless uses of weapons were broadcast on television. This censorship ensured that public support for the conflict continued. If the public saw real weapons killing real people, they might get squeamish!

The language of double speak laced the voice overs that accompanied television footage: when NATO bombed civilians it was a "mistake", while the Serbs carried out "atrocities." As NATO ground troops entered Yugoslavia, it was interesting to note the change of televised footage to either troop movements, Serb booby traps or the "wanton destruction" of whole villages by the retreating Serb army. The devastation caused by NATO's bombing raids is nowhere to be seen or heard.

In another blatant example of media suppresson, comments by Russian President Boris Yeltsin were censored. Speaking to an audience of Russian writers, Yeltsin described NATO actions as barbaric. He said that the unleashing of war on a sovereign state without Security Council approval could only be "possible in the time of barbarism". But Yeltsin's comments were quickly stifled. His minders went into full ‘damage control mode’. They requested that Reuters, who had videotaped his speech under a media pool agreement, refrain from distributing it. Reuters never aired the footage, but provided the US NBC News network with raw footage.

NATO’s real character, that of a barbarian force, has also been exposed in recent revelations by Spanish fighter pilots, who disclosed NATO’s intentions to level civilian infrastructure.

Speaking to the Spanish weekly Articulo 20, (No. 30, June 14, 1999) Spanish fighter pilots admitted that NATO deliberately attacked civilian targets and that the alliance was destroying Yugoslavia by bombing it with novel weapons, toxic nervous gases, surface mines dropped with parachutes, bombs containing uranium, black napalm, sterilisation chemicals, spraying poison on crops and using other weapons which "even we still do not know anything."

"The North Americans are committing there one of the biggest barbarities that can be committed against the humanity. Much and very bad things will be told in the future about what was happening there, because, by the way, judging by what we talked about with the British and German officers, it was designed in order to divide the Europeans and keep us subjected for many decades," one of the Spanish pilots stated.

The suspicions that NATO’s repeated bombings of civilian victims and non-military targets are not the result of war ‘errors’, were confirmed by pilot Captain Martin de la Hoz:

Several times our Colonel protested to NATO chiefs why they select targets which are not military targets. They threw him out with curses saying that we should know that the North Americans will lodge a complaint to the Spanish Army, once through Brussels and again by the Defence Minister. But there is more, and I want to tell it to the whole world: once there was a coded order of the North American military that we should drop anti-personnel bombs over the localities of Prishtine and Nish. The colonel refused it altogether and, a couple of days later, the transfer order came.

A Long Range Plan?

In 1997, the establishment journal Foreign Affairs published an article by Zbigniew Brzezinski titled "The Geostrategy for Asia". In the article, the former National Security chief under Carter, outlined the way that NATO "entrenches American political influence and military power on the Eurasian mainland."

Brzezinski argued that a wider Europe and an enlarged NATO would serve the short-term and longer-term interests of US policy. A larger Europe would expand the range of American influence without simultaneously creating a Europe so politically integrated that it could challenge the United States on matters of geopolitical importance, particularly the Middle East.

NATO's actions in Yugoslavia may well be the first of many we will see in this area as the US gears up to implement its "geostrategy for Asia". The possibility of a struggle for access to the region and control over its raw materials, labor and markets could outstrip last century’s "scramble for Africa".

In the wash up of the Balkans crisis, the IMF and the World Bank will assist in the ‘reconstruction’ of war torn Yugoslavia, which will repay its debt via abundant mineral resources, that include substantial deposits of lead, zinc, cadmium, silver and gold and an estimated 17 billion tons of coal reserves.

US President Bill Clinton has already laid the groundwork for further intervention in the area. During a recent speech to newspaper editors, he noted the potential for ethnic conflict in the Ukraine, Moldova, southern Russia, the Caucasus nations of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan, and the new nations of Central Asia. Clinton discussed the fact that ethnic conflicts could pose a threat to what is "among our most critical interests: the transition of the former communist countries toward stability, prosperity and freedom."

The Spin vs the Facts……

The UK government and US administration, along with NATO, used lies and untruths in order to win support for a bloody war in Yugoslavia. Such untruths are the same as propaganda, used by Hitler during World War Two. Representing key corporate and institutional interests, NATO waged a war of aggression, without UN sanction, against an independent and autonomous state.

The air strikes prove that continual carpet bombing of civilians and vital national infrastructure will eventually bring the capitulation of the target country, and this strategy, including the use of depleted uranium weapons, will be employed in all future conflicts.

Operation Joint Guardian will bring important rewards to the US and our new friends. Working in partnership with the IMF we will help achieve a fully monetised economy in the former Yugoslavia. We will create an environment in which private enterprise can flourish enabling access to natural resources and an enormous labour force which can produce goods. Our success in Yugoslavia will provide a springboard so that we can continue to spread capitalism and consumerism into all states of the former Soviet Union.

On the dawn of the 21st century, we will work with our partners towards a new humanism, and a new world order. A world sponsored by our military and corporate interests, and the selective intervention of NATO and the United Nations.

Susan Bryce is an investigative journalist and researcher. Her interests include democracy and freedom, the technologies of political control, environmental health and global politics. She can be contacted at PO Box 66 Kenilworth Qld Australia 4574, or on +61 0754 723060. email: sbryce@squirrel.com.au