Editor’s Note: To this day most American fail to understand that the cynical use of the “humanitarian intervention” pretext for imperial meddling was first rolled out in recent times by Bill Clinton’s team, with the former Yugoslavia as the chosen target for the grand experiment. The dismemberment of Yugoslavia, or, more precisely, the crippling of Serbia, was the real strategic objective of the exercise, a goal eagerly shared by other European partners, especially Germany. Indeed, the assault on Serbia by America and NATO constituted the first major use of NATO in a manner inconsistent with the rationales for its creation (now obsolete), something which in the intervening years has become, after Libya, Syria and soon perhaps Iran, the new criminal “normal.”
In First Do No Harm: Humanitarian Intervention and the Destruction of Yugoslavia, David Gibbs analyzes the war in the Balkans and sorts out the players with the kind of honesty and erudition most Western media figures shamefully lack and in fact seem proud not to possess. He asks uncomfortable questions. Why didn’t the fall of the Berlin Wall and the USSR’s sudden implosion not trigger a grand debate in the United States about the possibility—at last—of reordering our domestic and international agenda? Fact is, US militarism has increased after the demise of the Soviet Union instead of the opposite, but this required the manufacturing of a new state of chronic war and the expansion of the Orwellian apparatus of misinformation besotting the American mind, a machinery already gargantuan by any standard.
I should note that The Washington Times and Doug Bandow, would not have been my first choice for a review of Prof. Gibbs’ book. The Washington Times, with its long and unsavory history of affiliation with the Moonies and right-wing evangelizing is much too often practically the equivalent of Fox News in print, and Bandow’s salient lines in his political resume are his association with the Cato Institute and service in the Reagan administration. However, like other hard-core libertarians Bandow claims to profess an allergy to American military adventures, and if this antiwar stance is genuine, it merits respect. In any case, this review is as balanced and informed as we could hope for a book of this kind, and the Washington Times deserves some credit for running it.—P. Greanville