Media questions sanity of ex-establishment defender of Milosevic

Anyone who dissents from U.S. foreign policy must be nuts, hints Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail.

In its August 1, 2001 edition, the newspaper uses the occasion of former U.S. attorney-general Ramsey Clark’s visit to Slobodan Milosevic, the former president of Yugoslavia, to paint a picture of Clark as having gone “ga-ga.”

Milosevic, now in a Dutch prison, is awaiting trial for war crimes.

Clark, a lawyer, whose father was U.S attorney-general, and who, himself served as U.S. attorney-general during the Vietnam War, visited with Milosevic to offer advise on Milosevic’s legal defense.

Once hailed as a possible presidential candidate, Clark’s politics turned sharply left in the 80’s. He founded the International Action Centre, which describes itself as being active in “resistance to U.S. militarism, war, and corporate greed.”

The full-page Globe and Mail article is silent on the reasons Clark is defending Milosevic, pointing instead to Clark having a history of taking “on an assortment of accused terrorists, accused war criminals, and ex-Nazis,” including “native activists Leonard Peltier, accused terrorist Lori Berenson, accused Rwandan war criminal Elizaphan Ntakirutimana as well as Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb leader charged with war crimes.” A personality defect, not sound reasons, apparently, led Clark to the steps of the Dutch prison.

The newspaper points to the New Republic’s assessment of Clark (disreputable) and to online magazine Salon’s (the tool of left-wing cultists), but in a concession to journalistic balance also serves up a defense. Christopher Black, a Canadian lawyer who has also visited Milosevic at The Hague, is quoted as saying ,”They always try to marginalize the left, saying we’re either old fashioned wing nuts or Stalinist hard-liners. Any emotive word that condemns you off the bat, they use.”

Black himself was the subject of a Globe and Mail  profile, which dwelled long on the lawyer’s connection to the Communist Party of Canada, but had little to say about the reasons why Black opposes Milosevic’s imprisonment.

For its part, the newspaper links Clark to emotionally-charged names: Gadhafi, Lyndon Larouche, the PLO, terrorists, and astonishingly, to Quebec’s Bill 101, much hated in English Canada. It seems Clark is linked with everything that is loathsome.

Among Mr. Clark’s many actions the newspaper holds in disrepute is his condemning of “the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia to end the army’s purge of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo as a violation of human rights.”  Clark is portrayed as opposing a legitimate and humanitarian attempt to stop the Yugoslav army’s purge of ethnic Albanians, yet in a bit of Orwellian rewriting of history, the Globe and Mail has the exodus happening before the NATO bombing campaign, not after. Clark didn’t oppose an end to repression. He only questioned whether it was actually happening, and whether stories of ethnic cleansing and genocide were the Balkan’s Gulf of Tonkin equivalent. Much that’s been revealed since shows he was right.

As U.S. attorney-general, Clark supported U.S. intervention in Vietnam, an immoral war that killed or injured 1,000 civilians every week, far bloodier, and more decidedly criminal, than anything Milosevic, “the butcher”, is accused of. At the time Clark’s sanity was never questioned, he was never reviled in the media for offering comfort to “war criminals,” even though he was a member of a cabinet of war criminals, and his reasons for supporting U.S. foreign policy were explained by the media in detail.

But today, as he questions the foreign policy of the establishment he once belonged to, doubts are raised about his sanity, and the media keeps mum on the reasons for his dissent. He’s simply ga-ga.

Support an insane, immoral policy, and you’re a model of reasonableness. Dissent, and you’ve gone mad.

Mr. Steve Gowans is a writer and political activist who lives in Ottawa, Canada.

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