On Nader and Kosovo….

There are two spectacular articles (well, perhaps more) over at Counterpunch right now. The first I’ll look at is Ralph Nader vs. the Fundamentalist Liberals by Michael Colby:

We live in scary times. And no one scares me more than the faux-liberals of today. They are a most intolerant mob that has become so dislodged from logic that they’d rather gaze reverently at the false packaging of hope than seriously contemplate the issues of the day. They love bandwagons and hate activism. They strive for insular popularity while trampling the populace. And, in the true spirit of fundamentalism, they loathe dissent and flog the dissenter with the kind of glee that is seemingly borrowed from Jimmy Swaggart’s beating of the ungodly unbelievers.

Tell us what you think, Michael! Of course, if you peruse the ‘progressive’ blogosphere at all, you know that he’s hit the nail on the head. First there was the reverential tones used toward John Edwards (who at least knows how to parrot the progressive line, for the most part), and now is the crowning of Barack Obama as the Democratic Party’s messiah. Mind you, the Hillary people, though down now, are of the same mindset.

Oh yeah, hell hath no fury hot enough for the fool who holds a mirror up to the nonsense of modern liberalism. Just ask Ralph Nader.

There are still a few people posting pro-Ralph arguments, but not many. Let’s face it: It’s his fault Al Gore wasn’t able to get those extra 537 votes. It was Ralph’s fault that Gore ran a fairly insipid campaign and couldn’t even cleanly beat W. It was Ralph’s fault that Gore didn’t call for a total recount in Florida. You know the routine. And he’s being castigated by the ‘progressive’ blogosphere for running again.

My goodness, imagine if all this liberal bluster was saved for things like taking it to the streets and stopping the war, or demanding universal health care, or cracking down on the subprime criminals on Wall Street, or impeaching the president who has brought us all of these not-so-nice policies. But that would require real action. And the fundamentalist liberals don’t have time for action–just rhetoric, blame and all the Obama Kool-Aid they can fill their confused kidneys with. It’s easier that way.

A Democrat, any Democrat, is better to have elected than a Republican. Now, in most cases, this is true. The problem of course arises when the Democrat elected is a Jim Webb, an Evan Bayh or any of the other ‘Blue-dog’ conservative Democrats. Oh, and let’s not forget the top of the Congress Dems like Pelosi, Reed, Emanuel, Hoyer and the like. Better than Repugs, yep. The best the Dems have to offer? I fear for the party if that’s true.

It’s sadly comical to me to see the fundie liberals bash Nader while he’s calling for universal health care but give Obama a pass for leaving more than 15 million Americans uninsured in his so-called solution. Or bash Nader for his role in “causing” the Iraq war but giving Clinton–and a majority of her Dem colleagues — a pass for actually voting for it. Or blaming Nader for the entirety of the Bush years while refusing to acknowledge the real blame that rests at the feet of the fundamentalist Dems who have done little but play along for eight years–remember, it was only ONE Dem (Feingold) who opposed the Patriot Act.

Think your way through it. If you’re a progressive, the Dems aren’t going to nominate one (look at how they treated the true progressive Dennis Kucinich). If you’re further left, it’s probably going to be like passing a spleen to vote for the Democratic nominee.

Earth to the liberal fundies: Skip the Kool-Aid, try the reality sandwich.

And thanks for offering a necessary option, Ralph.

B…b…but it’s the netroots who are reality based. It’s just that their reality equals power. Don’t expect things to change if a Dem becomes President, they think (IMHO) that the power grabs of W are OK if only held in the right hands.

The second article is Neo-Liberalism and Protectorate States in the Post-Yugoslav Balkans which is an interview with Tariq Ali by Global Balkens:

Global Balkans: It is rather fortuitous that today is the 5th of October 2007, 7 years since the so-called October 5th revolution in Serbia when Slobodan Milosevic was overthrown. The post-intervention period since October 5th is known as the “tranzicija” or “transition” in Serbia. What we are witnessing now is an accelerated privatization program, mass unemployment, massive impoverishment following upon ten years of war, the highest number of refugees and internally displaced people in Europe, and a lot of promises of a better future through privatization and so on. I wanted to ask you what your perspective on transition in such post-intervention contexts is. How do you see this?

Tariq Ali: Well, I mean the first question which arises is: transition from what to what or from what to where? And for me the big tragedy of Yugoslavia is that it was split up.

Yeeps! I bet you didn’t know that there were people around who actually think that Yugoslavia spliting up was a bad thing. Bully for Tariq.

TA: This was a country in the middle of Europe where different communities lived with each other for 50 years quite well. And it is not suddenly that they developed ethnic hatreds and killed each other. It had material bases for it. And that material bases was the insistence of the IMF on the implementation of its program, which broke the unity of the Yugoslav Army which couldn`t be paid. It was the intervention of some of the European powers, mainly the new Germany after the collapse of the Wall, which encouraged the secession of Slovenia and subsequently encouraged the separation of Croatia. So I hold the Germans largely responsible for breaking up the Yugoslav federation.

Say what you will about Tito, Yugoslavia faired pretty well while he was in power. Could the rotating Presidency have managed to hold the country together if the neo-liberal approach wouldn’t have been pushed on the country?

TA: Now this doesn`t mean that there weren`t contradictions within the country, but in my opinion these contradictions could have been sorted out by the European Union if it had been visionary and farsighted – offering a billion dollars to Yugoslavia to put its house in order, to democratize itself more, to remain a federation, to give to Kosovans the same rights as those enjoyed by the Croats and the Slovenians. And it probably would have happened.

We know what happend. The nationalists took over in several parts of what once was Yugoslavia, and then the various wars happened. Was the bloodletting worth the dismemberment of the former Yugoslavia? Ali points out that separation and partition was tried when India and Pakistan got their independence. We knew what happened then. Why would we be surprised if it happened again?

TA: So I don`t think that transition to a neoliberal state run on neoliberal lines with the market determining everything can help the citizens of that state, whatever it is. So it is going to be and it is being–as we know–a messy and one-sided transition which will not benefit the bulk of the population.

And it looks like the US is going to end up being the biggest neo-liberal experiment of them all!

Later in the interview:

Global Balkans: At the time of the NATO intervention and bombing of Serbia and Kosovo (the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) in 1999, much of the western left became very divided. Alot of rifts and debates took place, with some supporting the intervention on what were considered humanitarian grounds and others opposing it. Looking back in light all of that has happened since, in terms of global politics and the military interventions that have taken place elsewhere in the world, can you talk about how you came to the position that you did – opposing the NATO intervention amidst all these rifts – and reflect on why you think it was important?

Tariq Ali: Well, I saw the intervention of the west in Yugoslavia, and of the United States and NATO, as being determined largely by western needs and not the needs of the populations in that region. That is what always determines these interventions. They give them a covering: “humanitarian intervention”, “civilizational interventions”, “interventions to save humanity.” But deep down, and sometimes not so deep down, close to the surface, there is only one reason. It is to defend their own interests or what they see as their own interests in the region.

The US and it’s lackeys acting like a modern day empire? Who’d have thought it?

Further on:

Global Balkans: You have mentioned the war in Iraq, the ongoing militaristic bent of the US and NATO, and the events of 9/11. The catastrophic results of the US interventions into Iraq and Afghanistan have in some sense eclipsed attention to the post-intervention context in the Balkans. There are a number of reasons for this, some of which you have already pointed out. In this shift from the ‘humanitarian’ intervention’ of 1999 to the so-called ‘war on terror’ that started in 2001, there are some clear differences, but there is also a certain trajectory there. How do you view the NATO intervention in `99 in the context of what has come subsequently?

Tariq Ali: Well, there were different allies then. This is why it is so sad–I was going to say entertaining, though it isn’t exactly entertaining–to see how the western needs of the United States, its allies and its media networks have changed. During the intervention in Yugoslavia, the line they put out was: “we are defending the poor Muslims of Bosnia and Kosovo against Milosevic.” It was very pro-Islamic, and they utilized religion. They appealed to supporters of Al-Qaeda to come and fight in Bosnia. American planes were sent to pick them up. British intelligence recruited Islamic fundamentalists to go and fight in Bosnia, which they don’t like talking about. This great big book The Looming Tower written by Lawrence Wright on Al-Qaeda does not mention Bosnia at all, even though that was the last joint intervention by the West and Islamic fundamentalism before 9/11. Not talked about too much, because it’s embarrassing now.

Embarrassing now = blowback, I think. Oh, and are you surprised to hear that we were on better terms with the islamic fundamentalists prior to 9/11?

Later on, talking about Western Liberals and their support for the bombing of Yugoslavia and the Iraq misadventure:

TA: There were two groups of Western liberals who agreed with this. One was the new wave of human rights professors on American campuses, who are basically put there to defend new wars: Ignatieff, Ian Buruma, people like that. Then you had others who said, “No, the world has changed, and we need to have a big power which actually defends the enlightenment and defends democracy and freedom.” I would argue against these people. The United States have never done that. You can look at its record in the past and in the present. They are not going to do that, because that is not in their interests. They do what is in their own interests. This has got nothing to do with universal needs, or what some people regard as universal needs.

So that is why quite a large number of liberals who had supported the war in Yugoslavia supported the invasion of Iraq. Then they began to backtrack. But initially they supported the invasion of Iraq. And this was very strong in France. Chirac didn’t go along with the invasion of Iraq. But there were French intellectuals, especially around Le Monde and LibĂ©ration and all these liberals, who would have been quite happy to go into Iraq. So it completely changed it was very decisive, the Yugoslav war, in shifting the alignment of left and liberal intellectuals and bringing them on the side of the American Empire. That played a very, very big role in it and they haven’t look back since.

Pacifism, if you didn’t know it, is a bad term among many in America’s left/’progressive’ community. Even self-defense where our troops are kept within our borders is a bad idea, too. Ask Joe Biden what he wants done in Darfur. Many on the left are just as militaristic as many on the right: They just couch their militarism in different terminology.

Later, on how big empires act:

TA: So this notion that big empires act only out of narrow economic interests is not true. They act to defend their political hegemony on a global scale, and we`ve seen this time and time again. Why did the British take Africa when they were an Empire? Not because they got more money out of Africa–the figures are very interesting. The British made more money from their investments in Argentina, which they never occupied, than they did from most of Africa. They did it because it suited their global strategic needs. And the occupation of Yugoslavia suited the global strategic needs of the United States once it saw that the Europeans had made a big mess, breaking up a country and not being able to deal with it. Then they went to show the Europeans that “we are still around and we are the power here.”

And now we have a military base in Kosovo! I wonder why? Does Kosovo have anything we might want, like oil or strategic minerals? Here may be part of the answer!

Further on, talking about the US political situation:

TA: I mean if one were to be perfectly blunt, one would say that in the United States, we essentially have one party rule. There are two factions of one party – the republican faction and democratic faction. And in terms of imperial interventions and defending US interests abroad, there is not much difference. The differences are cosmetic. One likes to do it with a large coalition if it can be organized, and the other doesn’t care whether there is a coalition or not.

Obama! Yes we can! And if you don’t think that’s a fair reading of Obama, look up Zbigniew Brzezinski.

You can learn more about Tariq Ali at his website. A good sumation about Global Balkens is located at the end of the interview with Mr. Ali.


  1. Michael says what needs to be said, and Tariq Ali is spot on.

  2. when I saw the headline that he was entering the race a few days ago I immediately went to Daily Kos to see how bad the damage was and boy oh boy, it was magnificent. Same shit as always… Nader is a Republican. Nader works for Karl Rove. Nader is a vampire. If you support Nader, you’re an idiot. You’re a traitor. Go to RedState.

    Personally, I like Ralph Nader. Never voted for him, but I always wear my seatbelt. I hate the 2 party system and only accept it because I have to. I don’t blame him for 2000. Gore lost because Clinton ran the party to the right for 8 years and really did lend a lot of credibility to the “the 2 parties are the same argument”. That’s been discredited, but it sure wasn’t at that point in time. That hurt GOTV. The base was weak, so there was less to turnout anyway. He was also a bad candidate; only now, years later, has he kicked the “boring” label. Too late. And last but not least, gotta give W/Rove their credit for running a great campaign. They really fleeced the superreligious nutjob voters for everything they could.

    Anyway, I line up with Nader on a lot of issues and he’s more vocal about my top issues (military spending, campaign finance, regulating corporations) than the vast majority of public officials and candidates are. I admire that, and I’d love to see the Green Party get 5% of the vote someday so they can get public financing, but it’ll never happen because the American gov’t structure is just too hostile to 3rd parties.

    As for Nader possibly throwing the election to McCain, what a crock of bullshit. If Obama can’t get 50-55% of the vote for the Democratic Party in this election, of all elections, I’ll just be speechless…fuckin’ catatonic. If he can’t do it, no one can.

Comments have been disabled.