Ethnic Divisions, Unified Empires -10
An extremely significant feature of the humanitarian intervention policy is its emphasis on collective in contrast to individual rights.
"In the aftermath of the breakup of the Soviet empire," runs the summary of Self-Determination in the New World Order, "new nations are emerging rapidly, and more and more ethnic groups are pushing for independence or autonomy." So the question is "how the United States should respond". The authors "propose criteria for decision makers who are weighing whether to support groups seeking self-determination, to offer political recognition, or to intervene with force."
This approach has practically nothing to do with democracy, and everything to do with empire construction. Although the words "democracy" and "democratic" are still used, they tend increasingly to be without meaning other than to designate favoured client leaders or groups in countries of interest to the United States. Certainly, Hashim Thaqi, the UÇK leader who counts Madeleine Albright's spokesman James Rubin (husband of CNN's Christiane Amanpour) among his fans, is scarcely more "democratic" than Milan Milutinovic, elected President of Serbia, indicted with Milosevic by Albright's "International War Crimes Tribunal". In fact, the selection of particular groups, ethnic or social, as clients, is the traditional way in which a conquering empire can reshape social structures and replace former elites with its own.
The imperial project is becoming increasingly open. Protectorates are being established in Bosnia and Kosovo, President Clinton is vigorously calling for the illegal overthrow of the legally elected Yugoslav president.
Totally disregarding the feelings and wishes of the real, live people who live there, Robert Kaplan announced that "there are two choices in the Balkans -- imperialism or anarchy. To stop the violence, we essentially have to act in the way the great powers in the region have always acted: as pacifying conquerors." Like the Romans and the Austrian Habsburgs, "motivated by territorial aggrandizement for their own economic enrichment, strategic positions and glory."
Merely to suggest that the United States might "intervene with force" on behalf of an ethnic group seeking self-determination is to cause trouble. There are potentially hundreds of such groups not only in the former Soviet Republics but throughout Africa and Asia. The prospect of U.S. military intervention will, on the one hand, encourage potential secessionist leaders to push their claims to the point of "humanitarian crisis", in order to bring in the Superpower on their side. By the same token, it will encourage existing states to suppress such movements brutally and decisively in order to prevent precisely that intervention. A vicious cycle will be created, enabling the single Superpower to fish selectively in troubled waters.
The concept of "ethnic group" rests on the notion of "identity". If individual identity is problematic, group identity is even more so. That is, just as individuals may have multiple or changing "identities", groups may have changing compositions as people come and go from one "identity" group to another. Especially in the modern mobile world, ethnic identity is therefore a highly questionable basis for claim to political recognition in the form of an independent State. The forceful affirmation of "ethnic identity" tends to strengthen traditional patriarchal structures in places such as Kosovo, at the expense of individual liberation. Stress on ethnic identity enforces stereotypes, mafioso structures and leadership by "godfathers".
Foreign policy based on ethnic identity has notorious antecedents: it was precisely the policy employed by Adolf Hitler to justify his conquest of the same Eastern European territories that Brzezinski now watches so attentively. Both the takeover of Czechoslovakia and the invasion of Poland were officially justified by the need to protect allegedly oppressed German minorities from the cruel Czechs and Poles. The British government's understanding for Herr Hitler's concern about Germans in Czechoslovakia is the real "Munich". Before invading Poland, Hitler had the SS manufacture an "incident" in which wicked Poles stormed an innocent German-language radio station in order to desecrate it with their barbarous Slav language. The dead body left on the scene to authenticate the incident was in fact a prison convict in costume.
In Yugoslavia, Hitler "liberated" not only Germans but also and especially Croats and (in conjunction with fascist Italy) Albanians, long selected as the proper Randvölker to receive German protection, the better to crush the main historic adversary, the Serbs, the people who more than any other had fought for independence from Empires. (The Serbs themselves as they became "Yugoslavs" were less and less unified around Serbian identity, even if they have continued to pay for it.)
Making policy by distinguishing between "friend" and "enemy" peoples is pure Hitlerism, and this is what the Anglo-American NATO leaders are now doing, while ironically pretending to reject "Munich".