The Breakfast Table

Troubled Bridges Under Water

Dear Clive,

I agree that the bungling is the fault of the politicians. But who chooses the targets? The bridge in Novi Sad, for example, was extremely stupid–its an old historic bridge too fragile even for lorries.

You are quite right about the technology. This is one of my favorite themes. The technology has evolved according to the logic of the defense industry and the imaginary scenarios of military planners–a logic that tends to lead to overelaborate, complicated, and expensive equipment. During the Cold War, it didn’t matter, because the technology was never used. Now there is a major media effort to convince us that the technology is wonderful. The effort was so successful during the Gulf War that it convinced the military and the politicians themselves, and now we are reaping the consequences. Do you know Baudrillard’s book The Gulf War Did Not Take Place? For him it was a figment of media imagination. Perhaps that is also true of this war. There is a war going on in NATO propaganda that bears little relation to what’s going on on the ground.

You have to read the other papers. I ring my Kosovan and Serbian friends. Today, I heard one very nice story–a Serbian woman, Natasa Kandic, runs the Fund for Humanitarian Law. When the bombing started, she got in a car and drove to Pristina to save her staff there. I rang one of my friends in Belgrade to ask why Milosevic had attacked an Albanian village. She didn’t believe it. She is anti-Milosevic, needless to say. But she says it is against his own logic to cross a border since he insists on the integrity of borders. What do you think about Madelaine Albright’s meeting with Ivanov? Will it lead to anything?

If I have a cover idea, I’ll ring you up. You wouldn’t want it revealed on the Internet!