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The Big Lie About Kosovo

                        Richard Poe
                        April 14, 1999

"Save the Albanian Kosovars!" Clinton cries. "Save
the Sudeten Germans!" Hitler
                     trumpeted in 1938. The names have changed, but the
strategy remains the same.

                     For more than 50 years, we Americans have looked
down our noses at the Germans, for
                     having followed Hitler so blindly. But now it's our
turn. We are proving no more resistant to
                     propaganda than those cheering crowds in Leni
Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will.

                     Back in the 1930s, Adolf Hitler needed an excuse to
seize Czechoslovakia. So he invented
                     one. Three and a quarter million ethnic Germans
lived in the Sudetenland, under Czech rule.
                     As William L. Shirer recounts in The Rise and Fall
of the Third Reich, Hitler secretly funded
                     an extremist group called the Sudeten German Party
and ordered it to provoke an uprising
                     against the Czechs.

                     Kosovo, too, appears to have been destabilized by
outside forces. For years, Kosovars
                     protested Milosevic peacefully. But in 1997, a
group called the Kosovo Liberation Army
                     (KLA) suddenly started shooting. Who were these

                     The Times of London (March 24, 1999) described the
KLA as "a Marxist-led force funded by
                     dubious sources, including drug money." European
police suspect the KLA of connections
                     to Albanian gangsters. At least two of the group's
backers appear to have been the CIA and
                     the German spy agency BND, according to
intelligence analyst John Whitley, quoted in the
                     Truth in Media Global Watch Bulletin (April 2,

                     The purpose of staging a provocation is to create a
backlash. This strategy certainly worked
                     for Hitler in 1938. As unrest spread in the
Sudetenland, the Czechs cracked down. Czech
                     President Eduard Benes ordered troops into the
region and declared martial law.

                     Right on cue, the German press went wild. "Women
and Children Mowed Down by Armored
                     Cars," ran a typical Berlin newspaper headline in
September 1938. "Poison Gas Attack on
                     Aussig" cried another.

                     Hitler accused Benes of waging a "war of
extermination" against Sudeten Germans. "The
                     Germans he now drives out!" cried Hitler, in a
September 16, 1938 speech. "We see the
                     appalling figures: on one day 10,000 fugitives, on
the next 20,000... and today 214,000.
                     Whole stretches of country were depopulated,
villages are burned down, attempts are made
                     to smoke out the Germans with hand-grenades and

                     Sound familiar? Hitler's rhetoric bears an eerie
resemblance to the CNN news blitz on
                     Kosovo. Of course, Hitler was exaggerating. Many of
the atrocities he alleged later turned
                     out to be fabrications. But the same is true of our
newscasts on Kosovo.

                     Take the alleged massacre of 45 Albanian civilians
at Racak, for instance, reported in
                     January 1999. Forensic and other evidence now
suggests that the bodies were those of KLA
                     guerrillas killed in combat.

                     The hoax has been widely discussed in the European
press (including Le Monde, Die Welt,
                     Le Figaro and the BBC). But U.S. news outlets have
been as silent on the controversy as if
                     they were taking orders from Goebbels himself.

                     In the Sudeten crisis, Hitler claimed to be
inspired by internationalist ideals. "Among the
                     fourteen points which President Wilson promised
..." the Fuhrer proclaimed, "was the
                     fundamental principle of the self-determination of
all peoples ..." By freeing the Sudeten
                     Germans, Hitler argued, he was fulfilling Wilson's

                     Clinton too claims he is fighting for human rights.
But ethnic cleansing does not bother
                     Clinton when his friends are the ones doing the
cleansing. He ordered no bombing when the
                     Croatians drove 300,000 Serbs from Krajina, burning
their homes and killing many. Nor did
                     he intervene when our NATO ally Turkey slaughtered
over 35,000 Kurds.

                     Every schoolchild today knows that Hitler's real
goal, in seizing Czechoslovakia, was to use
                     it as a stepping stone for his planned invasion of

                     But what is Clinton's real interest in Kosovo?
Nobody knows.

                     Many theories have been floated. Some point to the
Trepca mines of northern Kosovo, rich
                     in gold, zinc, silver and lead. The New York Times
called them the "Kosovo war's glittering
                     prize" (July 8, 1998).

                     Others see a more far-reaching strategy. The
Russians claim that NATO, like Hitler, wants to
                     use the Balkans as a stepping stone for extending
its power eastward -- eventually meddling
                     in the affairs of Russia itself.

                     But this is all speculation. Only time will reveal
Clinton's true intentions, as it ultimately did

                     In his memoir Inside the Third Reich, Albert Speer
recalled the anxious mood of Berliners, in
                     September 1939, as they digested the news that
England and France had declared war.

                     "The atmosphere was noticeably depressed," he
recalls. "The people were full of fear about
                     the future. None of the regiments marched off to
war decorated with flowers as they had
                     done at the beginning of the First World War. The
streets remained empty. There was no
                     crowd on Wilhelmsplatz shouting for Hitler."

                     A wise man once said that those who fail to study
history are condemned to repeat it.
                     Should Clinton actually succeed in sparking a world
war, Americans will no doubt react with
                     the same shock and fear as Berliners did in 1939.
But we will have only ourselves to blame.

                     Richard Poe is a freelance journalist and a New
York Times-bestselling author. He writes
                     frequently on historical themes. Poe's latest book,
"Black Spark, White Fire", explores the
                     Afrocentric controversy concerning ancient Egypt.

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