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   ix Preface This book is the product of my long-standing interest in foreign intervention . As I grew up during the 1960s and 1970s, the unfolding disaster of US intervention in Vietnam sparked my interest in this topic. I remember well when I heard in 1969 the first details of the My Lai massacre and was disturbed to realize that US troops were capable of such actions. I was similarly shaken by the effects of US bombing, the use of chemical weapons, and the advent of “free fire”zones, among other horrors of that war. What impressed me even more was the extent to which official lies and deceptions helped to justify the war and to mislead the public (a point underscored by the publication of the Pentagon Papers in 1971, when I was thirteen). As a graduate student and a young professor, I pursued these interests in extended studies of foreign interventions in the Congo Crisis of the early 1960s, and then in Afghanistan after 1978. I am thus writing from a position that is fundamentally skeptical about the merits of intervention and, to some extent, of war more generally. I agree that there have been a handful of wars that produced positive results (and yes, US involvement in World War II was one such example). But I would see these “positive” cases as rare. In most instances, the legacy of military intervention has been appalling, and I have found nothing in my studies of Yugoslavia to challenge this basic assumption. Another influence on this book has been the continuation of US militarism following the demise of the USSR. The basic paradox was succinctly stated by Chalmers Johnson in a recent interview: In 1989, Mikhail Gorbachev makes a decision. [He] could have stopped the Germans from tearing down the Berlin Wall, but [instead] . . . he just watches them tear it down and, at once, the whole Soviet empire starts to unravel. . . . [W]hat startled me almost more than the Wall coming down x   First Do No Harm was this: As the entire justification for the military-industrial complex, for the Pentagon apparatus, for the fleets around the world, for all our bases came to an end, the United States instantly . . . began to seek an alternative enemy. Our leaders simply could not contemplate dismantling the apparatus of the Cold War.1 The lack of any basic change in US Cold War policy was indeed a remarkable fact. What was even more remarkable was the absence of any real public debate about the direction of US policy after the Cold War.This lack of debate was fully accepted by Democrats and Republicans alike, and most of the media. In a now famous speech to the US Senate, Robert Byrd stated: “This Chamber is, for the most part, silent—ominously, dreadfully silent. There is no debate, no discussion. . . .There is nothing.”2 These comments were made in February 2003 regarding the lack of debate on the impending war against Iraq, but the same could be said regarding the lack of debate more generally. The obvious questions are, Why was there so little change in American policy after the end of the Cold War, and why was there so little discussion on this topic? My tentative answer is that alleged humanitarian interventions in the Balkans helped establish a new rationale—however spurious— for militarism. The Yugoslav case served to define US intervention as a benevolent and even altruistic activity, and this image has proven useful as a justification for virtually all overseas action. I explore those issues more fully in later chapters, but I want to emphasize here that my interest in Yugoslavia stems from a larger concern with the persistence of US militarism—and the lack of serious discussion of militarism—after 1989. This study is written from the standpoint of the political Left, an ideological identification I have always held and have seen no reason to change. However, I have learned much from such conservative writers as Christopher Layne, Paul Craig Roberts,Ted Galen Carpenter, and Jude Wanniski. I hope that this book will appeal to readers on both sides of the spectrum. In writing this book, I have been helped by many friends and colleagues, including Ronald Cox, Bruce Cumings, Jerri-Lynn Scofield, Julia ClancySmith , Thomas Christiano, Gary Gaynor, Milan Brdar, Mark Zepezauer, Peter Gowan, Jovan Babić, Oscar Martinez, Susan Zakin, Laura Tabili, Ido Oren, Lisa Adeli, Sandy Thatcher, Nicola Ramsey, David Wilkins, Richard Falk, Paul Shoup, Jeremy Scahill, Robert Hayden...


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