MICHAEL MOORE ON KOSOVO AND THE AMERICAN WAR CRIMES:
The Bombing of Kosovo
By Michael Moore
April 15, 1999
As we file our taxes today (procrastinators, all of us), and we sign our names on the bottom line of our 1040 tax forms, perhaps we should ask ourselves if what we are doing is signing a death warrant for people we don't even know. Because each night, for the past three weeks, millions of dollars of bombs and missiles -- that you and I paid for -- are being used to kill people in the former Yugoslavia. That makes you and I culpable in their execution.
Did you personally know any of the people who were killed in the village of Pristina (capitol of Kosovo) last week? Had they ever done anything to harm you? How about the children who were blown to bits in the building in Prizren? Had they ever threatened you in any way to cause you to have to kill them in self-defense? Perhaps you had met the people who were incinerated by us on the train to Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Can you tell me why you would want to take their lives?
I'm sorry to personalize it in this way, but this slaughter is being conducted in your name and mine, and I'll tell you, this is blood I don't want on my hands. We will all have to answer for this some day, and I would like to be able to say that I did not sit by silently while this was being done, and that I did whatever I could to stop it as soon as possible.
Right about now, some of you, with all good intentions, are saying, "But, Mike, this Milosevic guy is a madman. He's committing genocide. We should not ignore this as we did the Holocaust in the early days of World War II. He must be stopped by any means necessary."
Yes, he must be stopped. But bombing the people of his country is exactly the wrong way to stop him. In fact, it has only strengthened him. There was a growing dissident movement in Yugoslavia before the war, and every letter I get from these brave souls tells me that the bombing has set back their struggle so incredibly far that they worry they will now be stuck with Milosevic for a long time. They are pleading with us to stop it. The bombing has made him a hero at a time when nearly half of the country was very unhappy with his leadership. We did not consult the anti-Milosevic movement in advance to see if they would like our help in the form of 10,000 bombing sorties. We just went off half-cocked on our own, and started killing the very people we were claiming to save. Anyone who remembers Vietnam knows that sordid logic and insanity. We have strengthened Milosevic and destroyed his opposition. Happy now?
Friends, Milosevic must be stopped, BUT BOMBING DOES NOT WORK. It has never worked. It didn't work in Iraq -- Sadaam is still in charge no matter how many bombs we have dropped. It didn't work in Vietnam. During the Christmas week of 1972, the amount of bombs we dropped on North Vietnam was equal to half the tonnage of bombs dropped on England during World War II.That didn't work, so one month later, we gave in and announced our complete pull-out.
What a sad, pathetic man Bill Clinton is. Though many have criticized him for dodging the draft, I actually admired the fact that he refused to go and kill Vietnamese. Not all of us from the working class had that luxury, and tens of thousands of our brothers died for absolutely no damn reason. For this "anti-war" President to order such a misguided, ruthless -- and, yes, cowardly -- attack from the air is a disappointment of massive proportions.
Bombing didn't work for either side in World War II. Hitler bombed Britain mercilessly for years, but it didn't work. Our bombing did nothing to save the lives of 6 million Jews, 4 million Catholics, Gypsies and other "undesirables," and 20 million Russians. Our bombs couldn't even take out one German machine-gun on top of the cliffs overlooking the beaches of Normandy. World War II was won because my father and uncles and your fathers and grandfathers risked their lives pouring out of amphibious carriers like sitting ducks on a beach, crawling through the dead bodies of their friends and fellow soldiers, and climbing up those cliffs in France and Italy and the South Pacific. Over a quarter of a million of them, including my uncle, died doing this.
And that, my friends, as some are known to say, is the awful truth. If genocide is really taking place, the only way to stop it militarily is to send our children in there and accept the fact that thousands upon thousands of them will be killed. Are you willing to do that? Or better yet, this is the question I always ask myself when confronted with whether or not I should ever support a war: Do I believe strongly enough in this cause that I MYSELF would be willing to risk my life to go over there and square it with my conscience to kill Yugoslavians.
I have a feeling I know the answer most of you would give. We know Clinton is lying to us. We know there is no "Holocaust" taking place. What IS happening is that two groups of people are carrying on their centuries-old mission to annihilate each other. The Kosovo Liberation Army announced their intentions to rid Kosovo of all Serbs (the Albanians are the majority in Kosovo, the Serbs, a minority). That's all a nutcase like Milosevic needed to justify his campaign to rid Kosovo of all Albanians. This is true madness and a lot of innocent people are losing their lives in the process.
NATO/U.S. Out of Yugoslavia!
As a deadly rain of high-tech bombs falls on Yugoslavia, a deadening rain of propaganda falls on Americans, media-manipulated lies designed to prime the populace into supporting harsher military measures against a sovereign nation, in the name of protecting human rights.
NATO is but a fig leaf for American "interests," and the bombing of Yugoslavia is but a global demonstration of the ruthlessness of the American empire. A demonstration? The monstrous atomic bombing of Japan, after it was virtually beaten in World War II, was not a military necessity, but a political one, designed to demonstrate to the Russians that the U.S. was, and would ever be, boss. It was a massive, deadly demonstration.
So too, the Yugoslavia bombing treats Serbs as the U.S. treated Japanese during the war -- as props to demonstrate the power of the empire.
Let us consider the claims that the U.S. is concerned about "human rights" or about the "rights of ethnic minorities," as the corporate press projects hourly. What of America's largest national minority -- African Americans? The world-respected Amnesty International group, speaking through its secretary general, Pierre Sane, announced just days before the bombing, "Human-rights violations in the United States of America are persistent, widespread and appear to disproportionately affect people of racial or ethnic minority backgrounds."
Sane was critical of police violence and executions in the U.S. Further, internationally, let's see how the U.S. responds to "liberation movements" of the oppressed. When fighters for Puerto Rican independence began to raise their voices, the U.S. didn't support this "ethnic minority," they sought (and continue) to crush, incarcerate and silence them.
Consider the case of the Palestinians, the Kurds, the East Timorese, the Colombian rebels -- who has the U.S. consistently supported, the oppressed or the U.S.-armed governments?
This isn't about "human rights." It isn't about "ethnic minorities." And it also isn't about "genocide." It's about establishing who's "boss" in the next century. It's about keeping Russia in its place. It's about keeping the European Union under the thumb of Wall Street.
The bombing of Serbia is an echo of the bombing of three other countries in the past six months -- of Iraq, Sudan and Afghanistan. And for precisely the same reason -- to show that it can be done, no matter what so-called "international law" states. It is to instill terror throughout the world, in order for U.S. capital to institute what former president George Bush tried to do, but failed: to establish a New World Order.
Days before the bombing, NATO signed up Poland, Hungary and the former Czechoslovakia (Czech Republic) as its newest members, thereby virtually isolating Russia. Only Serbia and the Yugoslav states have refused to join NATO -- their bombing is their punishment.
Our brilliant, revered nationalist leader, Malcolm X, taught us to examine history. If we look at history, the bombing of Yugoslavia becomes clear.
Empires are maintained, not by reason, but by ruthless terror. It was so in Rome. It is so in the U.S. The brilliant revolutionary, Dr. Huey P. Newton, founder of the Black Panther Party, explained, "The United States was no longer a nation. We called it an empire. An empire is a nation-state that has transformed itself into a power controlling all the world's lands and people." (1973)
Huey was right then, and our response then was to oppose the empire. We must do that now.
Down with imperialism! Stop the bombing! NATO/U.S. out of Yugoslavia!
I am deeply honoured to be given this degree by such a great University.
It will come as no surprise to you, I'm sure, when I say that how we use language has always been, for me, a major preoccupation. Recently, I have been particularly interested in the term 'humanitarian intervention' as used by NATO to justify its bombing of Serbia.
I would like to read you an eyewitness account of the NATO bombing of the market place of Nis in 1999. The writer is Eve-Ann Prentice.
"The little old lady looked as if she had three eyes. On closer inspection, it was the effect of the shrapnel which had drilled into her forehead and killed her.
At first, the dead had seemed almost camouflaged among the rubble, splintered trees and broken glass but once you began to notice them, the bodies were everywhere, some covered in table cloths and blankets, others simply lying exposed where they had fallen. Houses with picket fences and window boxes bursting with blooms were now riddled with scars. Widows in black leant on their garden gates, whimpering into handkerchiefs, as they surveyed their dead neighbours lying amid the broken glass, gashed trees, smouldering cars and crumpled bicycles. Plastic bags lay strewn near many of the dead, spilling parcels of fruit, eggs and vegetables, fresh from the market.
It was Friday 7th May 1999 in the southern city of Nis and NATO had, they said, made a mistake. Instead of hitting a military building near the airport about three miles away the bombers had dropped their lethal load in a tangle of back streets close to the city centre. At least thirty-three people were killed and scores more suffered catastrophic injuries; hands, feet and arms shredded or blown away altogether, abdomens and chests ripped open by shards of flying metal.
This had been no "ordinary" shelling, if such a thing exists. The area had been hit by cluster bombs, devices designed to cause a deadly spray of hot metal fragments when they explode."
The bombing of Nis was no 'mistake'. General Wesley K Clark declared, as the NATO bombing began: "We are going to systematically and progressively attack, disrupt, degrade, devastate and ultimately - unless President Milosevic complies with the demands of the international community - destroy these forces and their facilities and support". Milosevic's 'forces', as we know, included television stations, schools, hospitals, theatres, old people's homes - and the market-place in Nis. It was in fact a fundamental feature of NATO policy to terrorise the civilian population.
The bombing of Nis, far from being 'a mistake', was in fact an act of murder. It stemmed from a 'war' which was in itself illegal, a bandit act, waged outside all recognised parameters of International Law, in defiance of the United Nations, even contravening NATO's own charter. But the actions taken, we are told, were taken in pursuance of a policy of 'humanitarian intervention' and the civilian deaths were described as 'collateral damage'.
'Humanitarian Intervention' is a comparatively new concept. But President George W. Bush is also following in the great American presidential tradition by referring to 'freedom-loving people' (I must say I would be fascinated to meet 'a freedom-hating people'). President Bush possesses quite a few 'freedom-loving' people himself - not only in his own Texas prisons but throughout the whole of the United States, in what can accurately be described as a vast gulag - 2 million prisoners in fact - a remarkable proportion of them black. Rape of young prisoners, both male and female, is commonplace. So is the use of weapons of torture as defined by Amnesty International - stun guns, stun belts, restraint chairs. Prison is a great industry in the United States - just behind pornography when it comes to profits.
There have been and remain considerable sections of mankind for whom the mere articulation of the word, 'freedom' has resulted in torture and death. I'm referring to the hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of people throughout Guatemala, El Salvador, Turkey, Israel, Haiti, Brazil, Greece, Uruguay, East Timor, Nicaragua, South Korea, Argentina, Chile, The Philippines and Indonesia, for example, killed in all cases by forces inspired and subsidised by the United States. Why did they die? They died because to one degree or another they dared to question the status quo, the endless plateau of poverty, disease, degradation and oppression which is their birthright. On behalf of the dead, we must regard the breathtaking discrepancy between US government language and US government action with the absolute contempt it merits.
The United States has in fact - since the end of the Second World War - pursued a brilliant, even witty, strategy. It has exercised a sustained, systematic, remorseless and quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide, while masquerading as a force for universal good. But at least now - it can be said - the US has come out if its closet. The smile is still there of course (all US Presidents have always had wonderful smiles) but the posture is infinitely more naked and more blatant than it has ever been. The Bush administration, as we all know, has rejected the Kyoto agreement, has refused to sign an agreement which would regulate the trade of small arms, has distanced itself from the Anti-Ballistic-Missile Treaty, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and the Biological Weapons Convention. In relation to the latter the US made it quite clear that it would agree to the banning of biological weapons as long as there was no inspection of any biological weapons factory on American soil. The US has also refused to ratify the proposed International Criminal Court of Justice. It is bringing into operation the American Service Members Protection Act which will permit the authorisation of military force to free any American soldier taken into International Criminal Court custody. In other words they really will 'Send in the Marines'.
Arrogant, indifferent, contemptuous of International Law, both dismissive and manipulative of the United Nations - this is now the most dangerous power the world has ever known - the authentic ' rogue state' - but a 'rogue state' of colossal military and economic might. And Europe - especially the United Kingdom - is both compliant and complicit, or as Cassius in Julius Caesar put it: we 'peep about to find ourselves dishonourable graves'.
There is, however, as we have seen, a profound revulsion and disgust with the manifestations of US power and global capitalism which is growing throughout the world and becoming a formidable force in its own right. I believe a central inspiration for this force has been the actions and indeed the philosophical stance of the Zapatistas in Mexico. The Zapatistas say: 'Do not try to define us. We define ourselves. We will not be what you want us to be. We will not accept the destiny you have chosen for us. We will not accept your terms. We will not abide by your rules. The only way you can eliminate us is to destroy us and you cannot destroy us. We are free.'
It is certainly true that the police action in Genoa recently made it clear that the forces of reaction and repression remain savage, vicious and merciless.
But we are free. And I believe that this brutal and malignant world machine must be recognised for what it is and resisted.
STATEMENT MADE TO THE ITALIAN PRESS 13TH SEPTEMBER 2001
My speech at the University of Florence (10/09/01) was highly critical of the NATO action in Serbia and other manifestations of US foreign policy. Nowhere in this speech, however, did I advocate violence. I was not throwing bombs, I was using words. The atrocities in New York and Washington are horrific, appalling. No responsible person can regard them in any other light.