My good friend Nebojsa Malic has been the Balkans columnist for Antiwar.com since 2000, and blogs at grayfalcon.blogspot.com. I am always thrilled when Nebojsa finds the time to pen an exclusive editorial for Barely A Blog. (Click on “BAB’s A List” for Nebojsa’s articles archive.)
US Abroad: ‘White Knighting’ Or White-Hot Hatred?
BY NEBOJSA MALIC
In my Antiwar.com article last week, I mentioned the call to war in Syria sounded by WSJ contributor Fouad Ajami in early February. According to Ajami, B. Hussein Obama should follow the example of his Democratic predecessor, who launched proxy and air wars to “save” the “Bosnians” and “Kosovars.”
The quotation marks are absolutely necessary here. Because all three factions that fought in Bosnia were actually native Bosnians, the Western media applied the name solely to the Bosnian Muslims, who in 1993 deliberately adopted the name “Bosniak” to stake a claim on the country. At least they use that name for themselves; denizens of the occupied Serbian province of Kosovo don’t even bother with “Kosovar” – a nice, sanitized name bestowed upon them by sympathetic NATO propaganda – and identify themselves simply as Albanian.
Last, but not least, neither were actually “saved” by Clinton. The Bosnian Muslims started a civil war after being given assurances of U.S. support, but in the end settled for an arrangement worse than the one they rejected at Washington’s urging. In Kosovo, Washington embraced a terrorist, drug-running, organ-harvesting cabal of Nazi sympathizers, responsible for killing many more fellow Albanians than the Serb “oppressors,” who used the NATO air war to purge all rivals and set up a mafia “state” thereafter. Both the Bosnian Muslim leadership and the “Kosovo Liberation Army” have shown the most callous disregard for the lives of their kin, so long as their deaths furthered the cause. Whatever was required to mobilize the world opinion, it was provided: fake death camps, fabricated stories of mass rapes, marketplace massacres or “genocides”.
Horrific as it was, such behavior at least had some degree of logic behind it. If you are a weak local actor, the best way to reach power is to get a strong outside power to fight and win your wars; fourth-generation warfare at its most effective. But what had possessed the American Empire to go along? Brendan O’Neill explained it as a quest for meaning following the Cold War: by “saving” the fictitious damsels in distress in Bosnia and Kosovo, the U.S. could present itself as the White Knight, thus earning the everlasting gratitude of Muslims worldwide.
Rep. Tom Lantos (D-KLA), a noted interventionist, validated this analysis in 2007, when he called on “jihadists of all color and hue” to take note of the U.S. creating another Islamic state in Europe. By that he meant Kosovo, Bosnia presumably being the first (though over half of its population is Christian).
Trouble is, the expected gratitude of worldwide jihadists manifestly failed to materialize. Washington’s white-knighting in the Balkans was followed by 9/11. “Bosnians” mocked international humanitarian aid efforts with a kitschy monument to canned beef. Albanians may have erected a gilded statue of Bill Clinton, but what is one to make of a stream of Albanian jihadists since the “liberation”? Meanwhile, the “nation-building” programs in Iraq and Afghanistan have been a complete fiasco. U.S. activists may have helped steer the Egyptian “revolution” but now find themselves on trial.
None of this is going to make the slightest dent in Washington’s reality-distortion field, unfortunately. Odds are there will be an intervention of some kind in Syria, on the pretext of “saving lives”, but definitely with the expectation of Muslim gratitude.
Ajami and his fellow interventionists are missing a key difference between Clinton and Obama. While Clinton embarked on white-knighting wars to cover up scandals at home and would do anything to be loved, Obama is a paragon of virtue in comparison, and treats adulation as his due. Remember, he got a Nobel Peace Prize just for showing up, and a statue in Indonesia just for being a schoolboy there once. In other words, he has no need to prove himself now – not with the Republican establishment candidates being so absolutely inept, that Obama’s second Imperial mandate is all but guaranteed.
Then again, Obama didn’t really care about Libya, either. The three Valkyries ran that operation. They may yet do the same in Syria, hoping perhaps for statues of their own – and gratitude that will never come.