Pat Riot Games

Written by Christopher Caldwell on . Posted in Breaking News, Posts.

the country gets stuck in the seemingly permanent situation that France is in:
an electorate whose sympathies are split quite evenly in thirds, between a government
that lacks legitimacy, an opposition that lacks legitimacy and a collection
of "spoiler" third parties that think the whole thing’s a pile
of crap. Of course, such a country could also wind up like Venezuela, in which
the government and the "opposition" come to be viewed as basically
the same party. Once that happens, the spoiler element grows to a landslide
majority, and you have Hugo Chavez’s red-bereted partisans rioting to keep
the national legislature from even entering the capital building in Caracas,
as they did last week. (Not that their diagnosis of Venezuela’s two-party
shell game is necessarily wrong; it’s just that their prescription is going
to take them God-knows-where.)

In this
light, the state-delegitimizing potential of the FBI cover-up of the 1993 Waco
incident now looks like a more and more serious matter. The existence of two
incendiary canisters fired into the Branch Davidian compound–and, now,
tapes confirming their use–changes everything. The collection of Justice
Dept. hacks who have made their appearance on the pundit shows don’t seem
to recognize this at all. They say: There were only two canisters fired, and
besides, they didn’t start the fire. Yeah, sure. The Justice Dept.–which
spectacularly seized all the FBI’s evidence last Wednesday night–is
now saying that only a "very limited number" of pyrotechnic devices
were fired.

that "very limited number" is, I’d bet a paycheck that it’s
not two. As Flann O’Brien used to say, "Quid dicerunt Dublin Transport
Company? ‘Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus

Uglj Americans
part-Serb, part-Albanian town of Orahovac was blockaded two weeks ago by Albanians.
(Yes, Albanians–you notice how they don’t refer to themselves as "Kosovars"
anymore, now that our air power has brought victory to the most enduringly fascistic
nation in Europe?) The protesters were indignant that the Dutch United Nations
forces billeted in Orahovac were scheduled to be replaced by Russians–who
are feared to be pro-Serb. This, in turn, might cramp the new Albanian National
Sport of hunting the few Serbs who remain in the ghetto-like enclave to which
they’ve been confined. So the Albanians put their foot down, and after
a week of being hung out to dry by NATO’s American leaders, the Russians
retreated. Two big problems: First, although we’ve moved on to bigger and
better mistakes, this humiliation is huge news in Russia, leaving Ivan Potentialfascistovski
less and less inclined to have any truck with such Western hypocrisies as democracy
and human rights. Second, since a Russian role in the peacekeeping forces was
guaranteed by the treaty that ended the war, one wonders how long the rest of
the treaty will hold up.

UN troops
are now in the situation they were in during the Srebrenica period of the Bosnian
war: They’re armed escorts for ethnic cleansers. Since we were led into
the Kosovo operation largely out of frustration and wounded pride at the ease
with which Slobodan Milosevic was able to manipulate the West in 1995, one wonders
how long it will be before we turn against the Albanians for the same reason.
Not long. Delaware’s Joe Biden, ranking Dem on the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee, has threatened to cut off all funds to Kosovo if the Kosovo Liberation
Army has not fully disarmed by the agreed-upon deadline of Sept. 19. The KLA
has already said, "Nothing doing."

Last week
the first mass grave from this stage of the war was found outside the town of
Zlas. It held the bodies of 42 Serbian men, women and children. What’s
more, according to the website, the Russian foreign ministry says
that the "U.S. contingent" of the UN Kosovo mission (KFOR) has covered
up the killing of 15 Serbs in Ugljare in August. Russian government agencies
are almost totally unreliable, but since they’ve been consistently more
reliable than KFOR, the report can’t be dismissed. Veton Surroi, the director
of the Albanian-language Pristina daily Koha Ditore, expressed his shame
in last week’s Le Monde at the sadistic vengeance his countrymen
have been wreaking on the Serbs. For an Albanian to publish a disquisition entitled
"Fascism in Kosovo: The Shame of the Albanians" takes considerable
guts; Surroi, for all his patriotic credentials, may have guaranteed himself
an Ibrahim Rugova-style permanent exile with his remarks.

But Surroi
is wrong to say that "for the first time in our history, we, the Albanians
of Kosovo, are equally capable of carrying out acts just as monstrous"
as the Kosovo Serbs’. During the Second War–as I’ve mentioned
in this column before–Kosovo’s Albanians were gung ho volunteers for
the Special SS regiments (known as the "Skanderbeg Brigades") that
the occupying Germans set up there. As Chris Hedges has reported in Foreign
, one faction of the KLA admired the Skanderbegs so wholeheartedly
that it modeled its uniforms after them.

Wesley Clark
came to Washington last week to issue an apologia pro quagmire sua.
I was out of town when he came but I did catch an excerpt of an interview he
did on Montenegrin television. In it, he was asked about mounting reports of
atrocities against Serbs, and said there was nothing to worry about: "We
know where Serbs are living. We call on them frequently. We patrol those areas
and are carefully listening to what they have to say about their concerns and

My favorite
Clarkism was his claim that "we contact Albanians and talk to their leaders.
We have told them they must control their men." I’d love to be in
on these conversations: Hey, Rexhep, are you exterminating villages full
of people? No? Good!

Ump Change
Sept. 1 is the day Major
League baseball teams go to 40-man rosters. This year it was also the day bullying
umpires got their comeuppance from Major League baseball. Twenty-two of the
umpires who resigned in unison last summer (in their bid for even more outrageously
Croesian pay than they already get) had to accept a severance package that–pending
arbitration–will keep them from umping a big-league game ever again. Good

umpiring, particularly on ball-and-strike calls, has become so arbitrary and
odd that it would mystify any longtime baseball fan. The strike zone is now
preposterously wide and preposterously short–although it varies more widely
from ump to ump than it has in my lifetime. The umps’ labor savvy seems
to have been of a piece with their on-field lack of judgment. It seems to be
a pattern. Like Britain’s National Union of Miners, which staged the biggest
strike in its history in 1984, at precisely the moment when the public’s
hatred of them had risen to an all-time high, the umpires who pulled their strike-by-resignation
stunt did so when their job performance was at an all-time low. Most of these
guys are jock-sniffing loudmouths. The four steak-and-martini meals a day that
their generous meal allowances provide for have left them as grotesquely bloated
as the salaries they’ve been able to extort. It’s tough to shed a
tear for them.