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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful Guide to Propaganda, March 13, 2000
This review is from: The New Military Humanism: Lessons From Kosovo (Paperback)
Chomsky's latest is a meticulous dissection of the role played by the Western, primarily American, media during the 1999 Kosovo crisis. Although a bit tedious at times if one has already read his classic critical works on the mass media as propaganda system (e.g. "Manufacturing Consent" and "Necessary Illusions"), "New Military Humanism" is still a crucial work to read if one wants to understand an important aspect of this war. Perhaps my only criticism of the book is that Chomsky is not sufficiently familiar with recent Balkan politics, so that his overriding message at times seems to be that Kosovo did not become a problem until the U.S. government, followed by the American media, came in and made it a problem. Kosovo and its Albanian population were in fact one of the major contributing factors to the breakdown of Yugoslav politics in the late 1980s, eventually leading to the collapse of that country with the consequences that are well known to us all. The problems in Kosovo itself festered for over ten years before taking the form of open hostilities in 1997/1998. Where Chomsky is correct is in pointing out that once the U.S. and (to a lesser extent) its NATO allies decided to take a more active role in Kosovo for whatever reason, the media promptly jumped in to generate public support for any policy moves. What the media did, following cues from the State Department, NATO headquarters and elsewhere, was to turn something that was essentially a regional dilemma (albeit an extremely troubling one) into a matter of major international concern. After all, why should Kosovo be more important to the average American citizen than East Timor-as Chomsky frequently points out? The stage was then set to make even air strikes against Serbia publicly acceptable-much as the war against Iraq was in 1991. Parenthetically, I don't say any of this, and I don't necessarily think it was Chomsky's intent, so much to condemn or defend the local actors in this conflict, i.e. the KLA and Milosevic's regime of thugs and war criminals, but to criticize the way the problem was handled by the "world's only remaining super-power" once it become involved. Just as in Bosnia, the timing of involvement and the political structure set up to maintain "the peace" are all wrong, as the continuing turmoil of Kosovo under international military occupation is now proving.
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