Harvest of Cynicism

Aronowitz and Willis

Harvest of Cynicism

Aronowitz and Willis

Harvest of Cynicism
An email conversation about the news of the day.
April 5 1999 10:53 AM

Aronowitz and Willis

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There are two more things to be said. Early in the World War II period an aeronautical engineer named Seversky published a very popular book called Victory Through Air Power in which Americans were promised a virtually push-button war. The illusion that bombing the enemy to hell can save "American" lives while destroying others remains with policy-makers a viable option but it is as looney tunes today as it was almost 60 years ago. Unless the United States and its NATO allies are willing to fight a ground war and reverse the corrupt policy of arms embargo that devastated Bosnia and has had a similar effect in Kosovo, the result of this intervention is likely to strengthen reactionary nationalism in the region.

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But Western policy in Yugosalvia has been to strengthen reactionary nationalism since the collapse. It began with Germany's recognition of Croatia. The idea is to "Balkanize" the region so as to more easily control it. Social democrats and human-rights advocates in Croatia have been subject to death squads, exile, and other forms of repression for nearly a decade. But "communism" has been defeated and from the perspective of NATO it's worth the price of ethnic cleansing and mass emigration. Far from humanitarianism, the West is reaping the harvest of its cynicism.

Ellen Willis directs the Cultural Reporting and Criticism program in the department of journalism at New York University. Her latest book, Don't Think--Smile! Notes on a Decade of Denial, will be published this fall. Stanley Aronowitz is author of From the Ashes of the Old: American Labor and America's Future (click here to buy the book), and he teaches social and cultural theory at the City University of New York Graduate School. His forthcoming book is Knowledge Factories.