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A Response to Pfaff's Lies and Wars

Gordon Arnaut

Dear Mr. Pfaff:

It is quite ironic that you lament the massive lying of Western "democracies" to their own people, while at the same time regurgitating one of the Biggest Lies of recent times.

If you believe that the Yugoslav wars were about the Serbs' desire for a "Greater Serbia" then that tells me you have done no serious investigation of this important piece of history.

The reason it is important is precisely because this was the first large-scale success of the Big Lie strategy that would then be repeated for Iraq and Afghanistan, and now for Iran.

For the sake of brevity I will not bother to argue the point on the basis of facts. Instead I will appeal to logic. Is it logical to think the Western "democracies" were telling the truth about Yugoslavia, but then turned 180 degrees and started telling Big Lies about Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran a few years later?

Does a leopard really change its spots so quickly? Only a baby could believe such logic. You have zero credibility if you think this way. And the fact that you choose to write about Yugoslavia without availing yourself of even the most basic facts betrays an intellectual slothfulness that is inexcusable.

I will just add here that I do not understand why this writer is featured here. He is obviously an intellectual dwarf. He wants to believe that in the 1990s the West was a pure-as-the-driven-snow truth-teller and used its military might for good -- "saving" the Balkans from the evil Serbs.

But when it comes to Iraq and Iran then all of a sudden the West is lying -- and using its military might for selfish reasons? Pfaff wants to pick and choose a la carte when it comes to imperial wars of conquest. 

It does not work that way. You cannot support imperialism in one place and then reject it in the next. This is not a principled position and is therefore weak and useless. 

Moreover, Pfaff does not realize that Yugoslavia directly made possible Iraq and everything else that followed. 

The imperial project to dismember Yugoslavia was a resounding success mostly due to the massive effectiveness of the propaganda campaign. The publics of the West were completely misled about the real roots and causes of the Yugoslav wars. 

The power of the media to completely mold public opinion was surely a wake-up call to the leaders of the West. Here now was a tool that could give them carte-blanche for unfettered foreign military adventures. And since there was no longer a Cold War adversary to check their global ambitions, a new era of aggressive military action beckoned. And this is what has happened.

Let's just recap briefly how the truth was turned on its head in the Yugoslav crisis. The story that the wars were caused by the Serbs' desire to dominate their neighbors has as much truth to it as Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. It is a complete invention.

The real cause of the violent disintegration of Yugoslavia was the West's imperial ambition. Is it coincidence that the breakup of Yugoslavia commenced at precisely the moment that the Soviet Union collapsed?

In terms of historical fact, the war in Bosnia would not have happened had the US not prodded its muslim proxy to reject a negotiated settlement. Likewise the war in Croatia. Both Bosnia and Croatia contained significant Serb populations for centuries, living in Serb-majority enclaves.

Why then did the West decide to push for recognition of Bosnian and Croat independence that did not recognize those Serb territories, or even the legitimacy of the Serbian people (nearly 40 percent of the population of Bosnia and 12 percent of the population of pre-war Croatia)?

The obvious conclusion is that the West would push for such a partitioning of Yugoslavia (a founding UN member state) only if it were intent to provoke violence. 

I live in Canada, where the province of Quebec has considered the idea of independence. At the same time the English-speaking enclaves in the province assert that they, in turn, have the right to secede from Quebec, if Quebec leaves Canada.

This was the position of the Serbs in Bosnia and Croatia. This is a universal principle of the right to self-determination and is completely legitimate. That means that the question of those Serb populations should have (and could have) been settled through diplomacy. 

But instead of diplomacy the West chose to push a hard-line position that recognized Bosnian, Croatian and Albanian independence without any heed at all to the Serbian population.

What happened to the Serb-majority enclaves of Krajina and Slavonia in Croatia? They no longer exist. An entire population of several hundred thousand was driven out en masse in in the space of a few days, during the 1995 Croatian blitzkrieg (Operation Storm), funded and equipeeed by the West.

A few years later, the Kosovo Albanians demanded separation from Serbia in exactly the same way that the Serbs of Croatia demanded independence. But in this case, the exact opposite happened. Albanians were given a statelet and the Serbs were again driven out. By the same measure, the Serbs of Krajina and Slavonia should have been given their own "Kosovo."

There are more than 1 million Serbian refugees from Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo in Serbia proper. They are the ONLY ethnic group of Yugoslavia that has actually been ethnically cleansed from their towns, villages, farms and homes, despite the fact that they have been instilled in the Western public consciousness as the perpetrators of ethnic cleansing.

So the Big Lie propaganda, thanks to people in the media like Pfaff who endorse it and spread it, has worked fantastically in Yugoslavia. Here is an imperial project that has succeeded wildly, the first post-Cold war success of a resurgent Western imperialism.

Naturally, the empire desires to build upon that success. So the same cookie-cutter template of massive misinformation was employed in the runup to the Iraq invasion. The only problem here was that this was a much more difficult lie to sell. It soon became apparent that there were no WMDs at all.

When that became obvious, the story effortlessly shifted to how it was necessary to remove an evil dictator. Never mind that in removing this so-called dictator, more than a million innocent human beings paid with their lives. Many more with their homes and worldly possessions. And the rest continue to live in an earthly hell.

But of course none of this is really a topic of much discussion in the civilized and democratic societies of the West. Instead, the dialogue has shifted again to a new drumbeat for military action, now against Iran.

Supposedly Iran is a "threat." Although the US, which has used unprovoked and massive military force against Panama, Iraq, Serbia, Iraq again, and Afghanistan in the space of less than two decades, is somehow not a "threat."

Israel which has 200 nuclear weapons and has likewise engaged in almost nonstop violence for the last 20 years is likewise not a "threat."

So this is the topsy-turvy landscape of truth turned on its head that we live in.

And all of this was supposed to have happened overnight between the 1999 bombing of Serbia and the 2003 invasion of Iraq? In 1999 the West was pure and good and spoke only the truth.

Four years later it unleashed a Big Lie campaign the likes of which the world has never seen. And it continues to lie, lie lie.

How does this possibly add up? I think Mr. Pfaff must be living in some kind of parallel universe.


Gordon Arnaut, Oro-Medonte Township, Ontario

From: Israel Shamir <>

To: readers <>

Sent: Sat, April 24, 2010 9:05:10 AM

Subject: [shamireaders] Lies and Wars

Lies and Wars

By William Pfaff

April 23, 2010 "Tribune Media" -- Paris, April 20, 2010 – It is a dismaying reflection that the facilitator of major violence thus far in the twenty-first century have been lies told by democratic governments. The lies are continuing to be told, about the supposed “existential” menace posed by Iran to Israel , America and (if you believe some European leaders) to Western Europe .

One can say there is nothing new about lies. I would argue that the influence of mendacious official propaganda in the western democracies is probably greater today than in the last century.

There was a certain utopian innocence in the first half of the last century. The secular utopian promises were truly believed. People were made happy by believing in the romantic futures they were told would follow the seizures of power by Bolsheviks or the Italian Fascists. In Germany , Hitler offered vengeance and vindication to his people, and a future of supremacy. Those were serious matters, but romantic notions too, used to justify the fulfillment of criminal fantasies. At the end of the century, Slobodan Milosovich promised Serbs fulfillment of the dream of a greater Serbia ruling its lesser neighbors.

One might have thought there had been a lesson in the brutal and senseless murder of millions in the world wars to deter such ambitions.

But again the wars of Yugoslav succession were inspired by lies, deliberately perpetuated, reawakened lies about the past, fictions about the malevolent ambitions of intimately related fellow-peoples of the former Yugoslavia , to produce the murder of still more of them.

One might also have thought, at the end of that century, that Mikhail (and Raissa) Gorbachev’s inspired visitation by reason and wisdom would provide a decisive lesson about ending the lies. Gorbachev’s first liberating proposal was Glasnost – telling the truth. One might have believed that we would in the twenty-first century still be breathing the oxygen of Glasnost.

It was not so. Injustice and lies in the Middle East were responsible for unnecessary new wars in the new century, in which the United States took the lead. This time the lies were ideologically motivated and expedient lies.

First, it was that Saddam Hussein bore responsibility for the September 2001 attacks on United States . He did not.

Next was the fiction that Hussein’s government, during the period of UN sanctions before 2003, was able secretly to construct nuclear weapons, despite the efforts of western intelligence to detect them or deter him, and the presence of United Nations arms control inspectors. There were none.

Another fiction was that if Saddam’s Iraq did somehow obtain weapons of mass destruction, he could and would use them to attack Israel or the United States , despite the massive retaliatory power possessed by both those states, and their evident willingness to use it to revenge any attack.

When people insist that this danger from Iraq was not the product of western propaganda, but a reality, or at least a plausibility, it becomes necessary to ask, as one does in the strategic studies business: How? Give me the scenario. Tell me how this attack could come about. Without an answer, it was necessary to conclude that Iraq was attacked for reasons having nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction.

According to the post-invasion testimony of Saddam Hussein’s associates, prior to the Gulf War he was interested in weapons of mass destruction – in order to deter an attack by Iran ! He feared revenge for his own invasion of Iran in 1980, and the 8-year war that followed, in which Iraq did use poison gas, and also enjoyed favor and support from the United States .

The Iraqi dictator, following the Gulf War, decided that obtaining mass destruction weapons was no longer feasible, but he deliberately cultivated an air of mystery about his intentions as a factor of deterrence of Iran .

The American invasion of Iraq in 2003 was motivated by the neo-conservative illusion that the Iraqi people would welcome invasion and become a force for democracy, and friends to Israel . Instead, the death of Saddam Hussein and destruction of his government, the wrecking of Iraqi urban society and the country’s infrastructure and industry, which will take years to reconstruct, ignited anarchic insurrection and sectarian conflict, delivering the country into the power and influence of a much larger and more important enemy of both the United States and Israel, Iran. Another lesson about lies, one might have thought.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is reported to have sent a secret letter to President Barack Obama last January reviewing the military options available if diplomacy and the new American attempt to intensify international sanctions on Iran fail to produce the desired halt in Iran ’s effort, if that is what it is, to build a nuclear deterrent.

If Iran does pursue a nuclear capability, once again it is to deter attack. Precisely the same objection exists to theories of Iranian aggression as to those lies put forward in 2002-2003 about Iraq posing a nuclear menace to the world.

Once more the threat is a polemical invention, intended to frighten American, Israeli (and European) voters, and prompt a preemptive attack on Iran . The reason Mr. Gates reports his uncertainties to the president is that he too recognizes that the conflict with Iran is constructed from fictions – which, as with the lies about Iraq, may turn into another war, whose consequences are sure to be worse for all concerned than the fiasco and tragedy of America’s invasion of Iraq.

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