Libération, 29 April 1999
All over Europe ethnic minorities are in the process of disappearing. All states as such cannot but be accomplices of Milosevic.
Total Duplicity of This War
by JEAN BAUDRILLARD
Thursday 29 April 1999
One should have to extract the true cynical reasons of this “war,” the unacknowledged reasons of this intervention of which it is said that it is a failure, which is said to be catastrophic on all counts. And that is precisely where a cruel doubt creeps up in us about this whole theater. So many accumulated errors, so much indetermination and actions missed out on must have a meaning after all, and this persistence in tactical confusion, in this wavering war that misses it target as if on purpose (I mean the Westerners here: Milosevic did not miss his), all this makes us doubt the very definition of war: the continuation of politics by other means. If this definition is still valid, then all our strategists and our Western politicians are idiots, which cannot be ruled out, but before we reach this extremity let us ask ourselves whether they are not on the contrary leading a perfectly programmed operation to its success, which indeed unfolds as if it was thus planned.
It has been said: NATO makes mistake upon mistake. Europe is incapable of having the slightest concerted politics. But NO, exactly the opposite is true. What is Milosevic doing? He is eliminating his minorities, in particular of course the Islamic minority, a task for which he has all of the “white,” catholic or orthodox, Yugoslavia behind him. But not only Yugoslavia. All of Europe is behind him. All the European nation-states have problems with their minorities, inborn or immigrant, which are not going to be exhausted with time, quite the contrary. Everywhere ethnic and linguistic minorities are disappearing or being eliminated. Milosevic is the standard bearer, the propagandist of purification, but the latter is at work everywhere in a political perspective, beyond the boastings on autonomy and Human Rights. All European states as such (I do not speak of their populations, though what are they if not the ideological and humanitarian resonant body of information?) cannot but be fundamentally accomplices to Milosevic – even if it means to puke him out like their bad conscience and act as if they were castigating him because he does the dirty work too well (i.e., too badly, too brutally). But in the process, they will have given him all the time needed to do it.
Why unremittingly regret that one has not intervened a year, two years, three years earlier (this has been going on for fifteen years), and why, by what stupefying misjudgment of the situation, have NATO engaged in aerial attacks without any sense of the consequences on the ground (when surely so many experts have been pondering this for months), and why not immobilize the Serb forces on the ground immediately, in Kosovo, rather than deploying an aerial logistic that is more or less useless? Well, it’s blindingly obvious – it all falls into place if you imagine that the role of the aerial attacks is to avoid intervening on the ground, or delay as much as possible this intervention – when it is all over. Solana put it nicely (without suspecting that he cruelly giving away the secret on the political truth of this war): “We will resume negotiations with Milosevic (interesting: the aim is no longer to get rid of him?) only when he will have put an end the ethnic cleansing” – which is to say: when it has been completed. Which is proceeding inexorably. In this sense, this war – or at least the operation that underlies this war we are being shown – is progressing in the best of fashions, programmatically so to say. Since Milosevic is the executing arm of European politics, the true and only, the politics of a white, clean Europe expunged of any minorities – negative politics, exclusive and fundamentalist politics, but why indulge in illusions, Europe has not a single positive idea about itself, Europe is only obsessed with the specter of Europe –, for all these reasons we act as if we were fighting him, but always later and badly. In any event, it’s not over: after Kosovo, Montenegro, and besides also Kurdistan, Palestine, etc. (the tragic-comedy of the “Peace Process” in the Middle East relies precisely on such indefinite and calculated “delaying).
But things are even more complicated. For if Europe has a resolute, if not deliberate politics, that of a future coalition of national entities that have cleaned up at home (or else, how could it globally consolidate itself in view of the US?), and not in the least multicultural and multiracial, the US in its own right, via NATO, has a strategy that is no less resolute. After having taken the upper side over communism at the end of a cold and unfrozen World War III, after having neutralized the other immediately threatening power, Japan, thanks to a destabilization of the Asian markets that was itself largely calculated, it has now focused its finder on Europe, and its aim is now to prevent for as long as possible the moods for any coherent European multinational, which would become a menacing rival. The best means for this is to is to disrupt Europe’s unity by entangling it in the trap of a war it does not want, and which ruins its last chances to possibly come to the rescue of the minorities (Bosnia, Kosovo, Kurds, etc.), for which the US themselves couldn’t care less, and of which everyone secretly want to rid themselves – the public enemy number one being obviously Islam and the Islamic front, being the only one deeply refractory to the ongoing globalization –, this is the true front of World War IV. Inevitably then, one will negotiate with Milosevic, one will let him survive (just like Saddam Hussein) half in order to consolidate the clean-up, half in order to disturb the European game. Even the presence on the ground of an International force (of which one knows the entire ambiguity in the continuation of the massacres in Bosnia) will not change anything there. The US thus know perfectly well what they want – you’d believe that the experts of the Pentagon are geniuses (same politics through Israel: maintaining everywhere the abscesses of fixation and destabilization, policing by being at once the advocate of the victims and the accomplice of the tantalizers).
But nothing of the kind is happening: the inescapable course of the New World Order demands it, and they are only its operators. As for the Europeans, implicated (but we have seen with what ulterior motives) in the actions of NATO, which works towards their defeat, they are diving into a confused and intractable situation. Every state today finds itself caught between two fundamental enemies: its own minorities and the US. To manage at its own level the New World Order (eliminating all heterogeneous and refractory elements) and to be hit by the effects of a globalization on a large scale, of which this Europe, as it presents itself, is both the agent and the victim. This is more or less hopeless. Remains the refuge of the humanitarian coalition, for lack of a coherent politics – another pathetic contradiction, as rescuing the victims as victims only goes to legitimize the success of the clean-up operation. But Benetton will be able to source its advertising from there, and each of us, “by quitting smoking and wiring the equivalent amount to the Kosovars, will be able to save two lives in one go!”
There is thus a fundamental duplicity of this “war,” of which not the least is to prompt us to be for or against it. Nothing makes it possible to take sides in a war that is only a lure, which is played for other reasons and whose objectives are masked, unacknowledged and perhaps even obscure in the conscience of one and the other side. One would need to be utterly unaware of the cynical and secret reasons of this war, masked profusely and from all sides by ideological, intellectual and humanitarian commentaries. To destroy Milosevic? It means not seeing that we are his accomplices. To stop everything, going all the way to what? It means not seeing the subdeterminations of this war that has never really started, given that one has never really wanted to be done with it, and which is but one of multiple episodes to come from a confrontation which is this time indeed itself. Whence the paradoxical difficulty of putting an end to a war that is not the real one, whose duplicity is total and whose objectives will not even have been achieved – but which is in fact unfolding, behind this duplicity and these false maneuvers, exactly as it is supposed to. It is therefore absurd, in the midst of trickery and as the disinformation is in full swing – a disinformation which is itself part of the “humanitarian catastrophe” (what a slip of the tongue! either this catastrophe is human, or it is the humanitarian itself that is part of the catastrophe) of being for or against. What first of all needs to be denounced and brought to full daylight is the illusion of this war. To the realpolitik we must oppose a realanalyse – which does not prevent the violence of reactions and of feelings that this hegemonic globalization can provoke. But, in order to fight, one must know, behind the ideological meanderings that the war and the media are part of, who is truly on the good or the bad side of the universal… We Westerners are on the good side of the universal. Honor to those who have fallen on the wrong side. Honor, not compassion. No compassion for the victims, but no mercy for the others.