As the son of Cuban exiles, junior Florida senator Marco Rubio should be particularly sensitive to attempts at painting a people as crazed criminals, often done in service of an underlying political agenda. But in his speech last week at the Jesse Helms Center in North Carolina, Senator Rubio said, “The American armed forces have been one of the greatest forces of good….They stopped Nazism and Communism and other evils such as Serbian ethnic cleansing.”
In the Elian Gonzalez saga, the Cuban community was depicted as wild extremists and the Gonzalez family as “kidnappers” who were breaking the law, when they merely expected us to follow our own laws and give Elian due process. But the larger agenda was to deliver the boy back into Castro’s clutches, for reasons that remain mysterious to this day.
As with the Balkan wars, no one paid attention when, once the agenda was fulfilled, the truth came out. In the Gonzalez case, not only did Elian’s father Juan call ahead to tell the Miami relatives that Elian and his mother were coming, but he was speaking under duress when saying he wanted his son back in Cuba. He had also made his own attempts to leave Cuba. What caused the Cuban-Americas to go so “wild” was that word got out (but not to the wider American public) that Juan Gonzalez was seeking asylum for both himself and the boy. Most of this came out in a belatedly revealed INS memo that could have changed Elian’s fate but was ordered destroyed by then INS Commissioner Doris Meissner.
As appalling as a senator singling out one of the warring nationalities to perpetuate a longdebunkedlieabout it, is the fact that by equalizing the fictitious ethnic cleansing with the Nazis, he reinforces the WWII inversions that we’ve been fed by the Serbs’ enemies — Croatians, Albanians and Bosniaks — all of whomsidedwith the Axis powers. (This of course made it doubly important to paint the Serbs as the modern-day Nazis in the 90s, since it was their stubborn WWII resistance that delayed Hitler’s attack on Stalingrad, with decisive consequences.)
The Balkans are precisely an example of where America and its military were the opposite of “a force for good,” giving wings — and continued support today — to a state ruled by fear, with an elite that is above the law and where prosecution witnesses drop out or drop dead. A “Mafia society based on ‘capture of the state’ by criminal elements,” is how the Institute for European Policy put it in 2007. This was seconded by a Foreign Policy magazine article last February titled “Thug Life”: “It is difficult to see how democracy or respect [for] the rule of law could develop and flourish amid such overt displays of American support for a corrupt and criminal leadership…The [ethnic Albanian] war crimes…have never been fully investigated — in fact, in some cases they have been covered up.”
So it’s rather rich when Rubio cites Jesse Helms and Ronald Reagan as introducing a “‘morality in foreign policy’ plank to the 1976 Republican platform [which stated,] ‘The goal of Republican foreign policy is the achievement of liberty under law….’” This, while applauding a war which was achieved by the breaking or ignoring of every international law (and also without UN or even Congressional approval). A gratuitous war whose criminal spawn was born in likewise criminal fashion, without regard for the international order or any existing norms of state craft.
There are two iconic harbingers of the force against liberty that America risked becoming, and they came in back-to-back symbolic years at the turn of the millennium: the surreal sight in 1999 of the U.S. Air Force bombing Yugoslavian children in their beds, and in 2000 the image of a Federal agent’s machine gun fixed on a six-year-old boy in the arms of the fisherman who rescued him.
The free world was not there for Elian or his father, and it was downright murderous to the Orthodox Serbs. Some might even draw the connection that in one case, we betrayed a Catholic community on Easter in service to communism, and in the other we betrayed Orthodox Christians in favor of Islamic propaganda traceable to the Bosnian Ministry of Information and Albanian disseminators. (And no, we didn’t hold the bombs on Easter in that case either, though we do so on Ramadan.)
As a Jewish conservative who vigorously defended Cuban-Americans during the Elian siege (and was offended by the mainstream defamation of them), I am sickened that Senator Rubio would turn the same kind of spear — though far more elaborate and psychologically entrenched — onto another maligned people. I was always of the hope that if ever there were a swath of Americans who could be convinced of the disinformation campaign perpetrated against the truly besieged Serbs, it was Cubans. Shame on you, Senator Rubio.
Below are some relevant items about the Free World attacking Christians on Easter. Bombing Serbs on Easter had its precedent in history. Hitler bombed Serbia on Easter 1941. Germans wrote “Frohe Ostern” (”Happy Easter”) on the bombs they dropped on Serbian women and children.
This fact was not lost on our victims. Fast-forward to 1999:
Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister, Vuk Draskovic, condemned the Nato attack as “a crime against the Serbian nation’’.
“Downtown Belgrade is on fire on the biggest Christian day of Easter,’’ he told the British satellite station Sky. ‘’The last time Belgrade was on fire [over] Easter was in 1941 when Hitler bombed it.”
It is interesting to note that the Clinton administration in the winter of 1998-1999 stopped its brief bombing campaign on Iraq due to the period of Ramadan on the Islamic calendar. However, both English and American warplanes continued to bomb the Serbian Christians throughout the Christian Holy Week and especially on Easter Sunday of the Orthodox Christian calendar. Some of the bombs that were dropped by English pilots had the message painted on them, “Happy Easter.”
The other grievance was who Nato was targeting. From the foreign broadcasts (CNN, SKY, BBC) the message came across loud and clear — we have no quarrel with the people of Serbia, only with the president and the army. So why, asked the people of Serbia, did you have to bomb over Easter, one of the most holy periods in the Serb calendar, as the Nazis had done in 1941? Why did we find an unexploded bomb with the words “Happy Easter” engraved, if you were on the side of the “people?”
– Unknown Questioner
Throughout May, Nato repeatedly targeted the town of Kraljevo, destroying its school and a hospital clinic. More than 20 civilians have been injured. A message on one of the bomb casings found at Kraljevo read, “Do You Still Want to Be a Serb Now?”
– “Who NATO Killed,” by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, June 15, 1999
It is one of the most underreported aspects of the bloody wars that have taken place in the Balkans: the same Clinton administration that now professes concern about the Kosovo refugee crisis promoted a similar crisis almost four years ago. In August 1995, the Clinton administration supported the Croatian Army when it drove hundreds of thousands of Serbs from Krajina…?
A major war was averted when Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic, who is now demonized as a new Hitler, failed to send his army to defend the Krajina Serbs, who had set up an independent mini-state. The U.N. says the Croatian attack included the shelling and burning of Serb villages and the bombing of refugees. The War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague is gathering evidence to determine if the Croats should be charged with war crimes. The U.S. has been slow to supply satellite images that have been requested by the prosecutors.
Walter Roberts, a retired foreign service officer, said in an April 10 column in the Washington Post, “The pictures from the borders of Kosovo have outraged the whole world. But where was the outrage when more than 300,000 Serbs were evicted by the Croatian government from the Krajina, a Croatian land inhabited by Serbs for centuries?”
Footage of Krajina Serbs loading what possessions they could onto wagons had been shown on TV, but there were no touching interviews with pathetic Serb refugees telling tales of woe in the refugee camps where many of them have lived for nearly five years. On May 5, President Clinton, addressing our troops in Germany, declared, “We have no quarrel with the Serb people….Our quarrel is with ethnic cleansing.” That was not the position he took when the Serbs were driven from Krajina.
– Reed Irvine, Accuracy in Media, May 1999
“What the former communist Vuk Draskovic was not telling the truth about,” wrote “Serbstvo,” whose research most of this last segment is, “was the last time Serbia was bombed on Easter. It was in fact Serbia’s own allies that carpet-bombed her in service to Communism, and they chose to do it on Easter Sunday of 1944. The Nazis and Allies bombed Belgrade over Easter, which is regarded as the holiest day by Orthodox Christians. Serbs would gather in greater numbers for Easter Sunday Mass than they would on any other day of the year. The Germans, British and Americans took advantage of knowing that bombing Serbs over Easter would inflict the maximum amount of civilian casualties. The Allies showed they were as cynical as the Nazis and also wrote ‘Happy Easter’ on the bombs.”
The city of Belgrade was bombed during two campaigns in World War II, the first undertaken by the Luftwaffe in 1941, and the latter by Allied air forces in 1944…Belgrade was bombed by Anglo-American air forces on April 16 and 17, 1944, which was Orthodox Easter Day. The most important unit that took part was American 15th Air Force, based in Foggia in the south of Italy. This carpet bombing raid was executed by 600 bombers flying at high altitude.
[The] bombing of Belgrade on Easter Sunday 1944 was deliberate — UXO was found with [the] inscription “Happy Easter” written in Serbian. According to flight documents, bombers were heading to Romania, but UXO shows otherwise. [Belgrade’s] city core was deliberately targeted, more than
2000 civilians were killed while the damage to occupying Wehrmacht forces was negligent (several dead and wounded)
The Allies claimed Serbia was bombed for the purpose of destroying German occupying troops, but what association did Germans have with an Orthodox holiday and why were only several Germans killed compared to the thousands of Serbian civilians? How was bombing churches filled with Christian believers in Easter Mass supposed to harm the Nazis? How were they killing Germans if they were targeting churches, schools and hospitals?
[The] campaign of bombing civilian buildings, hospitals, bridges and residential quarters was carried out without permission of the UN Security Council and is one of the major crimes at the end of the XX century. Belgrade was bombed three times more during the same century: in 1914 by Austrians and Germans, in 1941 by Hitler and in 1944 by the British Royal Air Force (on Easter day) - Serbia forgives but will never forget.
Serbstvo closes with a note on Allied support for the communist takeover of Yugoslavia:
Churchill promised Tito would rule over a communist Yugoslavia. He was aware that Tito’s communist movement was not popular in Serbia (as far as Serbs went, his army was mostly composed of Bosnian and Krajina Serbs) as [those] in Serbia mostly favored Draza’s Chetniks, who were both anti-fascist and anti-communist in defense of the Monarchy. The Allies realized that the only way they could bring Tito to seize power in Yugoslavia was by crushing the Ravna Gora Movement and terrorizing civilians through carpet-bombing.
The Allies ensured that Yugoslavia would be communist after WWII, and once we defeated the Nazis we adopted many of them and proceeded to actualize parts of Hitler’s vision of the world — ostensibly to defeat Communism. So when Rubio invokes American opposition to Nazism, Communism and Serbs, let’s keep in mind that only one of those oppositions by us was full-hearted — and it wasn’t either of the first two. Unless we’re talking specifically about Ronald Reagan who — incidentally — knew the value of a Serb. Also while pondering that list — Nazism, Communism, and Serbs — let’s keep in mind that, heartbreakingly, the U.S. and her NATO allies have more in common with Nazi Germany than most would be willing to admit.
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