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O ne of the really depressing features of the Democratic political advance is that it forwards the career of Richard Holbrooke, widely thought to be the most likely Secretary of State under a Democratic presidency. Holbrooke represents an aggressively imperialist United States, not perhaps at its irrationally ultra-dangerous as in the case of a Cheney, but not much better. He proved his credentials for the merciless pursuit of the “national interest” in his stint in the State Department under Carter, where he was the front person for apologetics for Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos and even more dramatically in the protection of the murderous Indonesian occupation of East Timor, a support policy which had not eased at the time he told Congress on December 4, 1979, that “the welfare of the East Timorese people is the major objective of our policy toward East Timor.” For Holbrooke, it was not the Indonesian killing but the “centrally directed Fretilin armed activity” that presented “a significant problem,” finally allegedly “contained” in early 1979 (a claim that was contested by East Timorese refugees).
It is revealing that Holbrooke was on very collegial terms with his successor in Indonesia, Paul Wolfowitz, telling an Italian audience back in 2000 that Wolfowitz’s “recent activities illustrate…the degree to which there are still common themes between the parties,” and that “Paul and I have been in frequent touch to make sure that we keep [East Timor] out of the presidential campaign, where it would do no good to American or Indonesian interests”—note his omission of East Timorese or “human rights” interests. Wolfowitz and Holbrooke clearly speak the same language. (The quotes are from Tim Shorrock, “Paul Wolfowitz, Reagan’s Man in Indonesia, Is Back at the Pentagon,” Foreign Policy In Focus , February, 2001.)
Holbrooke’s admirers at Harvard’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy and the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch are able to ignore Holbrooke’s record on East Timor and the Philippines because these are not their favorite country subjects. They prefer focusing on places where U.S. targets, rather than U.S. client states, are allegedly misbehaving and violating human rights.
Both Carr and HRW have focused heavily on Bosnia and Kosovo, an area in which Hol- brooke played an important role, once again in a Democratic (Clin- ton) administration. U.S. policy there was designed: (1) to preserve and expand the NATO military bloc; (2) to humiliate the European Community (later the European Union) over its inability to provide a decisive threat-making and militarily punishing force in its own backyard; and (3) to destroy any holdouts in the form of socialist and planned economic arrangements.
To serve these ends the Clinton administration and Holbrooke sabotaged a stream of peace efforts between 1992 and the Dayton accord of 1995; encouraged Bosnian Muslims to refuse to settle until their military position was improved; helped arm Muslims and Croats to shift that balance; and finally settled at Dayton with an agreement that imposed a Western-managed neo-colonial regime on a Bosnia that 12 years later is an undemocratic and much divided mini-state. Holbrooke bears substantial responsibility for this lagged settlement and failed resolution. Amusingly, under his watch and with Clinton administration connivance, thousands of Mujahadeen were brought into Bosnia to help their fellow Muslims, and Al Qaeda came in as well, using Bosnia as a training ground—2 of the 19 September 11, 2001 bombers, as well as the “mastermind” of the attack, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, all “fought” in Bosnia. Osama bin Laden visited Izetbegovic in Sarajevo and had “service” offices in both Zagreb and Sarajevo—awkward points that are carefully suppressed by the mainstream media and Holbrooke’s Carr, HRW, and other allies and admirers.
As the engineer of the Dayton Accord in 1995, Holbrooke had to acknowledge at the time that Milosevic played a positive role in that settlement. (“People keep asking whether Milosevic is going to deliver on the peace agreement,” Holbrooke said at Dayton. “It’s impossible to answer that question right now. All we know is that he has delivered on everything...over the past four months.”) But this, and other real world facts, didn’t prevent him from declaring at the time of Milosevic’s death that “Milosevic started four wars. He lost them all. The biggest of them all was the one in Bosnia, where over 300,000 people died, two-and-a-half million homeless. And we bombed him in August and September of 1995. We should have done this much earlier.”
These are the words of a demagogue without a vestige of intellectual scruple. Milosevic didn’t start those four wars, Slovenian and Croatian nationalists did, with encouragement from Germany, and the “wars” began as conflicts within Yugoslavia, not cases of external attack such as the one NATO engaged in against Yugoslavia in 1999. Holbrooke gives the figure of 300,000 dead in Bosnia, although two establishment research organizations (one sponsored by the Prosecutor’s Office of the Yugoslavia Tribunal) had each long before come up with totals of about 100,000 dead.
Holbrooke’s vested interest in the establishment narrative about how NATO saved Kosovo as well as Bosnia from evil men, as well as his lack of intellectual scruple, is well illustrated in his recent op-ed column on “Russia’s Test In Kosovo,” in the Washington Post (March 13, 2007). According to Holbrooke, the Bush administration, obsessed with Iraq, paid too little attention to “a series of Russian challenges to the stability of Europe.” Putin engaged in policies that sometimes “look like blackmail” (i.e., his energy cut-offs and threats, by implication the kind of thing the United States would never do), and Putin even had the audacity to “harshly criticize” U.S. policy at Munich with Gates, Lieberman, McCain, and Lindsey Graham “sitting in front of him.” Presumably, the Putin stress on Bush’s unilateralism, the attack on Iraq in violation of the UN Charter, the provocative attempt at missile placement in Eastern Europe, and renewal of a nuclear arms race, was offensive to this key foreign policy representative of the Democratic Party as well as to Gates, Lieberman, McCain, and Graham.
“Now a key test of Russia’s relationship with the West is at hand, and Russia’s actions could determine whether there is another war in Europe.” He is not referring to the immensely provocative effort of the Bush administration to place new missiles in Europe near Russia’s borders. He means the threat of a war in Kosovo that might possibly occur if Russia supports Serbia in not giving Kosovo its independence. Do you suppose if Russia sought to place missiles in Cuba or Venezuela Holbrooke would fail to consider that destabilizing?
In this Post article on Kosovo, Holbrooke says that the bombing war was closed with a UN Security Council resolution that left the final status of Kosovo “unresolved.” This is a half-truth at best—the language of that resolution was clear: that Kosovo would remain part of Yugoslavia. (Resolution 1244 of June 10, 1999 is explicit that calling for “substantial autonomy” for Kosovo requires that this be done while “Reaffirming the commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the other States of the region, as set out in the Helsinki Final Act and annex 2.”) It was only “unresolved” because the Kosovo Albanians and United States were determined to ignore the clear statement and grant the Albanians full independence.
The resolution also calls on the occupation forces to perform “basic civilian administrative functions” (which would include maintaining the peace and protecting minorities from violence) and for “demilitarization of UCK” (the KLA). Hol- brooke says that “NATO has protected the region ever since.” This is untrue: the NATO occupiers incorporated the terroristic KLA into the Kosovo Protection Corps and under the auspices of these protectors several thousand Serbs and Roma have been killed, 200,000 Serbs and Roma have fled Kosovo in what Jan Oberg has called “the greatest ethnic cleansing in the Balkans” (in proportionate terms), and Kosovo is a fear-ridden, mafia-dominated, broken society doing a large trade in drugs and women.
There is no hint at this reality in Holbrooke’s account and of course he doesn’t mention that his boss Bill Clinton said that the objective of the NATO war was to make Kosovo into a “multi-ethnic, tolerant, inclusive democracy.” It had the opposite effect, as any honest person could have anticipated, and it is today considerably more intolerant and non-inclusive than it was before the NATO war. While Belgrade and Serbia are truly multi- ethnic and are not subject to any trace of ethnic cleansing, Pristina and Kosovo have terrified and shrinking minorities and ethnic cleansing is active and threatening.
Holbrooke favors the independence plan of former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari, and he explains that Serbia has forfeited its rights in Kosovo as “a result of the policies of the former Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic.” Milo- sevic was actually elected, in contrast with Suharto in Indonesia or Marcos in the Philippines, neither of whom Holbrooke ever called a dictator. And if a country can be made to forfeit a piece of its territory where inhabitants are badly treated, wouldn’t that require that Indonesia forfeit any claims to East Timor—which was actually held based on open aggression by Indonesia—where Holbrooke, instead of calling for forfeiture supported Indonesia’s genocidal violence? Shouldn’t NATO and the Kosovo Albanians have forfeited the right to rule Kosovo by their failures to protect large minorities there from brutal ethnic cleansing? Shouldn’t Israel be forced out of the occupied territories and the United States out of Iraq as a result of criminal behavior?
Holbrooke also fails to mention that prior to the NATO bombing war in 1999 the CIA was training and supplying the KLA in Kosovo and encouraging them to believe that by provoking the Serbs into retaliation against Kosovo Albanians they might induce a NATO intervention. Former NATO Secretary General George Robertson has stated that before the bombing war the KLA killed more people in Kosovo than the Serbs. Shouldn’t this willingness to terrorize before the bombing war as well as after cause them to forfeit any right to independence? Shouldn’t the U.S. support of that prewar terror make it ineligible for any role in Kosovo?
Holbrooke says that if the Russians don’t support Kosovo independence, “NATO, which is pledged to keep peace in Kosovo, could find itself back in battle in Europe.” What hypocrisy. There has been no peace in Kosovo, with steady killings, massive ethnic cleansing, endemic fear, and with no end in sight given the ideology and aims of the dominant Kosovo Albanian leadership.
Holbrooke finds the Russians quite unprincipled, with their leadership “having no feeling whatsoever for the Serbs,” whereas Hol- brooke and company really have feeling for the people of Kosovo (like he had for the East Timorese) and want peace and human rights protection, although U.S. intervention from 1992-1995 prevented peace and in Kosovo brought about an ugly war and then a NATO- KLA regime that has engaged in ecumenical ethnic cleansing beyond anything that happened in pre-war Kosovo—where the difficulties were stoked by CIA policies.
Holbrooke has had an almost regular monthly column in the Washington Post since January 2005. He is greatly admired by Samantha Power and her colleagues at the Carr Center of Human Rights Policy, and by Kenneth Roth and other leaders of Human Rights Watch. He may be our next Secretary of State if the establishment “left” is triumphant. Holbrooke should provide continuity from Powell-Rice and display, as he said in reference to his buddy Paul Wolfowitz that “there are still common themes between the parties.” In short, a ruthless imperialism is here to stay, barring a political turn not yet in sight, though desired and supported by what may even be a public majority at this juncture.
Edward S. Herman is an economist and an author of numerous articles and books.
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AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; email@example.com; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; firstname.lastname@example.org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: email@example.com; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; email@example.com.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; email@example.com; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: email@example.com; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.