August 27, 2001

What they're doing to Macedonia

A recent report by the Macedonian Information Agency, filed August 24, gives us the flavor of what life is like in NATO's latest target:

"Relatively calm Thursday night in Tetovo, without armed provocations by the Albanian terrorists. Yet the atmosphere was tensed, as the terrorists continued terrorizing, driving out the Macedonian inhabitants from their homes, as well as robbing and demolishing their properties."


Ah yes, another uneventful weekday night in Tetovo: just your routine ethnic cleansing and rampant Albanian hooliganism. <<<Yawn>>> The smoke had barely cleared after an ancient Orthodox monastery was blown to smithereens when the Brioni Motel in Tetovo was similarly attacked: two security guards on duty were tied to the explosives [gross-out alert: do not click if you are squeamish]. The "ceasefire" has been punctuated by ceaseless gunfire – including a series of brutal and deadly ambushes carried out by Albanian "rebel" forces – and over 150,000 ethnic Macedonian refugees are on the move. But no matter: it's the Macedonians who are at fault, if we are to believe the limey press. Now that 2,000 Brits are pouring into the country – ostensibly to disarm the rebels – the war drums are beating up and down Fleet Street, and the Macedonians are being demonized (just as the Serbs were in Kosovo) for daring to fight back against a gang of Western-armed and trained terrorists.


Naturally "Human Rights Watch" – one of the biggest cheerleaders of the Kosovo war – is leading the pack with a report coming out detailing alleged Macedonian "atrocities" in the village of Ljuboten. The Macedonian government claims that its operations were directed at rebel fighters, not civilians, but as usual Albanian villagers have a different story and the [UK] Telegraph eagerly recounts these tall tales as if they came within even a few light-years of the truth.


No, wait: I take that back. I don't know, for a fact, that the stories told by the villagers are untrue: I note only that a pattern is emerging, one all too familiar to those of us who paid attention during the Kosovo war. First, the Albanians launch a vicious attack, then they scream bloody murder when the other side retaliates – and only the latter is given credence as a bona fide "atrocity." Demonization and the intense personalization of the propaganda campaign are other hallmarks familiar to aficionados, and from here it seems the War Party has settled on a Macedonian version of Slobodan Milosevic: Macedonian interior minister Ljubce Boskovski, described by the Telegraph has "an ultra-nationalist and a bitter opponent of the current British-led NATO disarmament mission." Naturally, the brutal thugs who tied two security guards at the Brioni Motel to explosive devices after torturing them are not "ultra-nationalists." Perhaps the right word is maniacs.


In any case, the Macedonian victims of this terrorist campaign, like Boskovski, will likely be hauled before Carla Del Ponte and her kangaroo court for daring to imagine that they could defend themselves – that is the explicit threat behind the Human Rights Watch accusation, one timed to demoralize as well as demonize the Macedonians. Wherever the fighters for a Greater Albania take up arms, there is Human Rights Watch presenting their case to the West, targeting their enemies and painting the insurgents in the best possible light. I sometimes think that what we need here at is a new column, to be called "Human Rights Watch Watch," to document their bias and bear witness to the truth about this left-wing front for the War Party. (The writer Paul Treanor has described HRW as "a joint venture of George Soros and the State Department," which about sums up an organization that includes a US foreign policy maven and pillar of the national security establishment, Morton Abramowitz, and Bianca Jagger, international jet-setter and bitch-goddess of political correctness.)


There are several problems with the Telegraph report, not the least of which is its brazen one-sidedness. The testimony of Albanian rebel supporters is taken as gospel, and the Macedonians – so we are told – could not be reached for comment. A child is said to have been killed by a grenade, which supposedly exploded in the midst of a crowd of kiddies playing ring-around-the-rosie in the village square. Strangely, this youngster is apparently nameless, but one guesses that the Telegraph did not press the Albanian witnesses too hard on this point. The main problem is not what the article tells us, however, but what it omits....


What the Telegraph doesn't tell us is that on July 29, this same Boskovski was himself the victim of an attempted assassination by Albanian militants: his car was ambushed as he was traveling to visit refugees being returned to their homes. Boskovski's guards engaged in a pitched battle with the terrorists on the main road from Skopje, the capital, to Tetovo. This occurred as the "peace talks" were into their second day. So much of what is happening in the Balkans is tit for tat, a cycle of endless retaliations that have to be traced back to some primal act of violence, some initial outrage, before we can understand who and what set the whole tragedy in motion. In Macedonia, we can trace the trail of blood and tears all the way back to the murder, in May, of Josif Ilkovski, a Macedonian writer and mountaineering enthusiast, who volunteered as a host at the mountain chalet on Kitka mountain. His throat was slit, his body was mutilated with numerous stab wounds, and a message in ungrammatical Macedonian was left beside his body: "We are waiting for you in the forest, UCK."


The first casualty of the Albanian ethnic cleansing campaign was born in 1924 in Veles, Macedonia. A veteran of World War II, Ilkovski joined Tito's Partisans early in the war, and later became a journalist, publicist and writer, authoring five novels. His final work, Ridge, was nominated for the novel of the year award given out by Utrinski Vesnik. According to a report posted on Reality Macedonia, "a note was found in the room in which the murdered journalist, publicist and writer, Josif Ilkovski, lived on Kitka. It seems Ilkovski wrote his own epitaph. 'Man-beast, your boundary is good-evil.'" If there is a phrase that describes the UCK-NLA rebels more succinctly and accurately than "man-beast," I cannot think of it.


Speaking of evil, the NATO "disarmament" process is turning out to be a joke, albeit a grim one as far as the Macedonian people are concerned. The NATO-crats are now saying that, instead of completely disarming the insurgents, they will stop when they reach 3,500 weapons. The Macedonian government insists that the real number of weapons in the rebel arsenal is closer to 70,000 – and the respected Jane's Defense Weekly estimates at least double the NATO numbers in terms of rifles alone, not to mention surface-to-air missiles, mortars, and other relatively sophisticated military equipment.


How to account for this little discrepancy? When we remember who armed, trained, and tried to legitimize the Kosovo "Liberation" Army to begin with, the theory floated in this space – and by many a Macedonian – begins to make a twisted kind of sense. Instead of restraining the rebels, NATO is their instrument – or is that vice-versa? NATO's entry into the country is meant to consolidate and make permanent the Albanian gains. A good 30% of Macedonia has already fallen into rebel hands: if the balance of power is frozen at this level, the fighters for a "Greater Albania" have already won – with virtually no opposition.


The campaign of lies directed at Boskovski, the routine labeling of any Macedonian who dares question NATO's intentions as an "extremist" or an "ultra-nationalist," is a replay of the methods used so effectively during the conquest of Kosovo. In Britain, the War Party is going into high gear, with the most ludicrously one-sided "news" coverage of the crisis. A typical headline in the [UK] Times: "Slav sabotage feared in weapons handover"!


It isn't the Albanian terror attacks – launched even as Ali Ahmeti, the bandit-in-chief of the rebel forces, proclaims his eagerness for "peace" – that get in the way of implementing the Ohrid agreement. It's those "Slav extremists" who have the nerve to be "angered by the relatively low number of weapons to be handed over." But what is so "extreme" about the Macedonian government's position? After all, this operation was supposedly launched to effectively disarm the so-called "National Liberation Army," but now the NATO-crats are going back on their word. As if to confirm this widespread suspicion on the part of ordinary ethnic Macedonians, the author of this piece goes on to inform us that Major-General Gunnar Lange, the Danish commander of all NATO troops in Macedonia, "surprised the Macedonian media when he said at a press conference: 'The mission we have is to collect the weapons that are handed over voluntarily by the insurgents, so the number they have declared they are willing to hand over is the number we're going to collect.'" In other words: the rebels are controlling this charade, and the Macedonian government is either going to learn to like it – or lump it. Is it really so "extreme" to distrust such a dubious method? By essentially treating the rebels as if they were a sovereign government on the same footing with the authorities in Skopje, the NATO-crats have already delegitimized the elected government. But that is whole point of this "disarmament" exercise: to weaken Skopje both militarily and politically.


The Times is basically channeling the "spin" of British and other Western diplomats, who are quoted as saying that:

"The concern about Slav extremists centered on three issues: the likely dispute over the size of the NLA's weapons stockpile; the continuing blockade of the main border crossing between Kosovo and Macedonia at Blace, which is causing serious logistic problems for NATO; and the threat by some Macedonian Slav politicians to force a referendum on the peace settlement. It is feared that a referendum would delay the whole arms collection program and ruin NATO's plan to start withdrawing its troops, now expected to rise to 3,800, by the end of next month."


If you object to the conquest of your country, then you are an "extremist." And anyone so rude as to take the "democratic" rhetoric of the West seriously is, without doubt, a "hard-liner," or, worse, an "ultra-nationalist." Why, how dare those ungrateful Macedonians demand anything so undemocratic as a referendum?! As for those Macedonian patriots who dare to act in defense of home and hearth – let them be forewarned. They will find themselves targeted as war criminals and dragged, in chains, to The Hague. That is the real "news" being reported in this article, telegraphed between the lines and communicated to all and sundry – but especially to the Macedonian government. Like the Borg in Star Trek, the half-human collective organism that absorbs entire worlds, an attack by the NATO-crats is always preceded by a call to surrender: "Resistance is futile."


Well, then, is it? In short: no. There is still time for Macedonia to avoid the fate of Bosnia and Kosovo. Resistance is not futile – but it's time to start fighting back. What is needed, as well as resolve and a show of force, is the political will to survive and prevail – and a political strategy to fight back, not only on the ground in Macedonia, but here in the West, in the court of public opinion. A referendum is the only way to decide the fate of the country, but that cannot happen until and unless the rebel army is 100% disarmed and disbanded. Any agreement short of this amounts to the piecemeal surrender of the country to the rebels. If this be "hard-line," "ultra-nationalist," and even "extremist," then so be it – and let the Albanian amen-corner in the West make the most of it. As a great American conservative once put it, "Extremism is defense of liberty is no vice. Moderation in pursuit of freedom is no virtue."

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Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of He is also the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (with an Introduction by Patrick J. Buchanan), (1993), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against US Intervention in the Balkans (1996). He is an Adjunct Scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Libertarian Studies, and writes frequently for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard.


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