Opening Borders

Jim heartfield jim at
Sun Apr 4 12:24:41 PDT 1999

In message <000001be7ed8$73ae6fc0$161dfea9 at sawicky>, Max Sawicky <sawicky at> writes
>Jimbo: nice to see you back,


>but where've you been? Doing actual work . .
>. for pay? Yecch.

Yes, real life exploitation.

>You've echoed what has been said here already,

My apologies I haven't read all the posts.

>but I
>would like to provoke you regarding the implications of your assessment of
>NATO/US motives, in light of the record re: Kurds, etc.

Please do.

>A good argument by my lights is that NATO/US/Clinton are so inherently
>treacherous and anti-humanitarian by constitution that no venture they
>engage merits support. One could tell a similar story in the realm of
>domestic policy. Nothing good can be expected from the state. Democratic
>practices are ineffectual and illusory. Only proto-revolutionary insurgency
>forces the state to make concessions. It's a good argument, but I would say
>a faulty one.

It's not mine, in any event. I am not selling any revolutionary snake oil. I just want to stop people selling humanitarian snake oil - especially when it's proving so poisonous. I'm not even optimistic that NATO can be deflected from bombing hospitals and bridges on the Danube. I only know that if we all sit here pretending that they are really saving Kosovars that they will find it a great deal easier to press on.

>Any such positive outcomes are less likely in a foreign policy context,
>where elites have much more sway (control over information, decision-making,
>etc.), so the grain of truth in the strict anti-imperialist case is that any
>support for the state's exercise of foreign policy has a high burden of
>proof. At the same time, the gravity of a situation -- the threat of
>genocide -- reduces this burden.

Genocide is a big word to throw around. (I know of one genocide this century. It was committed by the NATO ally, Germany, against an East European people, the Jews. In a side-show to that horror story, Croat and Muslim battalions allied to the Nazis slaughtered Serbs in their thousands.)

I suppose that you can bamboozle people into cheering on the bombers by saying 'genocide'. (In the first world war it used to be Belgian Nuns being raped and huns sticking babies on their bayonets.) But the truth is that there is no genocide of the Kosovars. There have been brutalised and some have been killed. But you should remember that the trains carrying the Jews were not going to the border.

> The threat to
>Kosovars seems a bit more real on the one hand, and given the will a
>successful intervention on behalf of self-determination for the enclave also
>looks practical, ergo the policy proposed above.

First, nobody is talking about self-determination, but the establishment of a UN protectorate - which is to say a small military dictatorship over a part of the Balkans, from which US forces can dictate the rest of the policy in the region. May I recommend Dave Chandler's new book on Bosnia: Faking Democracy After Dayton (Pluto Press) on this subject.

Second, it is painfully obvious that the attempt to shore up an independent Kosovo polity is entirely without any economic or political basis.

>Junking all this, Jim, doesn't the logical extension of the strict
>anti-intervention position to domestic matters deprive the left of most any
>practical politics, other than an ultimatist one which must await the
>proverbial, possibly mythical mass strike?

Well, I think you might know that I am more anti-interventionist than most. (As far as welfare socialism goes I tend to think that it has exhausted itself in the political demobilisation of the very people that it was supposed to help.) But in any event, I can't quite square the foundation of the National Health Service with bombing a hospital in Belgrade. 'Come friendly bombers..' as the Laureate had it.

-- Jim heartfield

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