Accuracy in Media

In a column about former anti-Vietnam war protesters backing the war on Yugoslavia, Mona Charen commented, “Vitriolic haters of the war in Vietnam who cut their teeth chanting, ‘Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?’ [have been] transformed into hard-liners on Kosovo.” Referring to Clinton and his allies in Congress, Charen commented, “the new internationalist Democrats argue explicitly that because the United States has no conceivable national interest at stake in Kosovo, our intervention is moral and right.”

If this is disturbing to you, it gets worse. Commentator Michael Valerio has said Kosovo represents “The chickens of the ‘60s [turning] into the hawks of the ‘90s.” He adds, “The heads of state of the current U.S. and NATO countries are all relics of the Old Left who led the Peace Movement and demanded that the U.S. disarm unilaterally.”

That may be an overstatement, but the New York Times itself covered the turnaround in a story headlined, “The Doves of Yesteryear Fly Off to a Different War.” The story included a photo of Bill Clinton when he was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford; a photo of Tony Blair, now Britain’s Prime Minister, when he was 21 and a college student and wearing hair down past his shoulders; and the German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder, when he was a 36 year-old Young Socialist leader speaking in an anti-nuclear rally. Reporter Craig R. Whitney said Kosovo “is a liberal’s kind of war” because of some of the reasons that Mona Charen described. The most important reason is that it has nothing to do with America’s national interest.

The Times noted that the Italian Prime Minister, Massimo d’Alema, “who protested Italy’s support for the Persian Gulf War in 1991, has made the entire country into one giant aircraft carrier for the daily blitz across the Adriatic.” The Washington Times said he was “raised on the precepts of Marxism, became a Communist Party youth leader and rose through the party…” Whitney of the New York Times also highlighted the British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, who was a left-wing pacifist in the 1980s and is now a big backer of the war on Yugoslavia.

The Washington Post has noted that the foreign minister of the government of Germany, which is an ally of Clinton in this war, “spent his youth as a radical Marxist…” Joschka Fischer, the German Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs, has been a member of the far-left German Green Party since 1982. The Greens have been considered pacifists except under certain circumstances, such as the former Yugoslavia, when interventions can be justified by multinational coalitions such as NATO.

The fact that Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic is a communist only confuses this picture. He is being opposed not because he is a communist but because he is a nationalist. If communism were the problem, Clinton, Blair and many of the others we have mentioned would have supported the war against communism in Vietnam. It is also interesting that many of those supporting the war on Yugoslavia opposed NATO’s alliance against Soviet communism during the Cold War. That includes the NATO Secretary General, Javier Solana.

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