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Monday, June 04, 2007


Darfur and the "moral authority" of the bombing of Yugoslavia

I do need to comment on one thing from the Democratic debate - this from Sen. Joe Biden:
"The reason we have no moral authority [in Darfur] is we're not acting. I heard the same argument with Milosevic. I went over there, found out there was genocide going on, I came to your husband, I said, 'We must act!' Now, look, we acted. Not an American was killed. We saved hundreds of thousands of lives."
First, note what Biden equates to "acting" - bombing. Second, note his standards for success, which is certainly completely typical - "Not an American was killed." The death of hundreds or thousands of innocent Yugoslavian civilians? Of no concern to Biden, or anyone else in the American ruling class (we need only recall Madeleine Albright's famous comment that the deaths of a half-million Iraqi children from the sanctions was "worth it").

And finally, the nonsense about "saving hundreds of thousands of lives," hand-in-hand with the equally specious claim about "genocide going on." As with the claims about mass graves in Iraq (not to mention claims about WMD in Iraq), claims about deaths in Kosovo before the U.S./NATO air assault were exaggerated by several orders of magnitude, and again, as with Iraq, virtually all of those deaths were the result of a civil war, not actual "genocide." Far from the fanciful notion that the U.S./NATO bombing "saved hundreds of thousands of lives," available evidence is that the bombing produced a net loss of life, a loss which continues to this day

Why do I single out this comment? Because this "performance" by Biden is being widely singled out in the media as having "distinguished" Biden (and they mean it in a good way, naturally). Fact-checking on what he had to say? You won't find it there; the alleged noble motives of American foreign policy are part of the very air that the corporate media breathe.

By the way, for a very informative discussion about Darfur, listen to or read the transcript (only partially online as I write this) of this morning's Democracy Now, featuring a professor from Columbia. Let me reproduce just one thought-provoking comment:

I was struck by the fact -- because I live nine months in New York and three months in Kampala, and every morning I open the New York Times, and I read about sort of violence against civilians, atrocities against civilians, and there are two places that I read about -- one is Iraq, and the other is Darfur -- sort of constantly, day after day, and week after week. And I’m struck by the fact that the largest political movement against mass violence on US campuses is on Darfur and not on Iraq. And it puzzles me, because most of these students, almost all of these students, are American citizens, and I had always thought that they should have greater responsibility, they should feel responsibility, for mass violence which is the result of their own government's policies.

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