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This Old Firehouse
Military interventions on supposedly humanitarian grounds have become an established feature of the post-Cold War global order. Since September 11, this form of militarism has taken on new and unpredictable proportions. Diana Johnstone's well-documented study demonstrates that a crucial moment in establishing in the public mindand above all, within the political context of liberalism and the leftthe legitimacy of such interventions was the "humanitarian" bombing of the former Yugoslavia in 1999.
In the course of the civil wars that led to the break-up of Yugoslavia, a complex history came to be presented as a morality play in which the parts were scripted to meet the moral needs of the capitalist West. The identification of Muslims as defenseless victims and Serbs as genocidal monsters inflamed fears and hatreds within Yugoslavia, and prepared the way for power to be shifted from the people of the region to such international agencies as NATO.
Deceptions and Self-Deceptionstests the popular myths against the reality of Yugoslav history. Johnstone identifies the common geopolitical interests running through such military interventions, and argues persuasively that they create problems rather than solving them. She shows that the "Kosovo war" was in reality the model for future destruction of countries seen as potential threats to the hegemony of an "international community" currently being redefined to exclude or marginalize all but those who conform to the interests of the United States.
A concluding chapter shows how the script prepared for Yugoslavia is being re-enacted in Afghanistan. Whether Milosevic's trial before the International Court at the Hague or the capture of bin Laden will provide an adequate conclusion to this ideological play-making, remains an open question.
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