September 15, 1999


All over the world, war clouds gather. On every continent, and by any measure, the portents are ominous indeed. From the Straits of Taiwan to the South China Sea, from the Balkans to the distant shores of the Caspian, flashpoints proliferate faster than we can keep up with here at And with the prospects for peace nil to nonexistent, the prospects for liberty are equally dark. One is a function of the other, and nothing dramatizes the indissoluble connection between peace and liberty more vividly than a recent op ed piece in the New York Times, "Battles After the War," by Richard Holbrooke, one of the architects of the Dayton Accord that supposedly "ended" the Bosnian civil war, and now the U.S. representative to the United Nations.


Holbrooke, just back from a recent trip to Bosnia and Kosovo, avers that "our work isn't done in the Balkans." Addressed to those largely Republican lawmakers who are beginning to wonder if the US "investment" in Bosnia and the Balkans isn't an endless drain on our resources and patience, Holbrooke's piece is hardly reassuring: indeed, it seems to confirm the Republicans' worst fears of a quagmire. Holbrooke vows that we cannot leave Europe and specifically Bosnia and Kosovo "so long as war, ethnic hatred, and conflict exist within its space." Sure, we can leave Europe to its own devices one day – once war is forever abolished and universal brotherhood reigns supreme. What this means is that we can never leave the Balkans, or indeed any part of the world, since "conflict" is inherent in human nature.


Without mentioning any of the specifics, Holbrooke writes that Kosovo "still lives in the heady but confusing aftermath of the war and the liberation from oppression." Well, that's one way to describe the execution of Serbs, the reverse ethnic cleansing, and the rampaging Kosovar mobs who have instituted a reign of terror in Kosovo. From the tone of Holbrooke's rhetoric, I am not at all surprised that he finds this bloody spectacle "heady." He who speaks of "the timelines of history and reconstruction" in the Balkans is not one to shy away from a grandiose vision. When you're busy "reconstructing" a continent, you don't have too much time or inclination to notice a few minor casualties on the ground.


But what is truly ominous about the Holbrookian vision is the strange sense of déjà vu that overcomes the reader as he reads the following: "Meanwhile, many of the forces of darkness – separatists, racists, war criminals and crooks – are still there, continuing their efforts to keep the people in the Dark Ages." In its stridence and inflexibility, this kind of language resembles nothing so much as the stylized and highly jargonized sloganeering of Communists and other Marxists, circa 1935. The cheap vulgarity of a phrase like "the forces of darkness" is a linguistic clue to the insincerity and indeed the ill intent of its author. And who, in this arena, are the Forces of Light? The Muslims, whose party is openly authoritarian, and whose government is stealing us blind? And certainly not the Croats, who have more than their share of defendants before the International Tribunal at The Hague.


If anyone is taking Bosnia and Kosovo into the Dark Ages, it is Holbrooke, Madeleine Albright, and the architects of the war of "liberation." Their vast social engineering projects in Bosnia and Kosovo are literally taking the Balkans back to an earlier time, when Tito constructed the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia out of a collection of ethnic enclaves. Like Tito, the NATO occupation army suppressed all opposition, closing down Serbian radio and television stations. As in the Communist era, "hate speech" in Bosnia was defined in explicitly political terms (anything that dissed NATO). In Kosovo, NATO and UN officials will monitor and regulate the media just as Tito's censors once did – in order to safeguard "democracy," of course. And now, in the Titoite tradition, Commissar Holbrooke wants to close down not one but two Serbian political parties in Bosnia.


While praising a "new generation of leaders," left unnamed, Holbrooke does name those Forces of Darkness alluded to earlier, and furthermore proposes a blunt and pitiless strategy to defeat them:

"But two major political parties in the Serb part of Bosnia continue to preach ethnic hatred and attack the very foundations of the Dayton agreement: the war criminal Radovan Karadzic's Serbian Democratic Party, and Vojislav Selselj's racist, fascistic Serbian Radical Party. These two parties should be disestablished by international order (as Dayton authorized the High Representative to do), just as the Nazis were outlawed in Germany after World War II."


To dispute any part of the complex and even Byzantine Dayton agreement – which was never agreed to by the Serbs of Bosnia, only by Slobodan Milosevic – is equated with promulgating "ethnic hatred." For this one can be charged with the grave thoughtcrime of "separatism" – which was also a political crime under the Tito dictatorship.


Note, also, how the guilty parties are defined in terms of specific individuals, as if they were David Koresh-style cults that somehow deserve to be annihilated. But the Serbian Democratic Party is far larger than Radovan Karadzic, and indeed for a while the US government was aligned with a faction of it that managed to gain temporary control of the Bosnian Serb Republic of Srpska, under President Biljana Plavšic. But she apparently fell out with her American allies, and then lost her position: now the US is calling for the party to be banned. And Plavšic herself once served in the same Cabinet as Karadzic – but never mind. In the Communist lexicon of old, today's ally could be tomorrow's "fascist," depending on the Party line, and comrade Holbrooke seems entirely immersed in this tradition.


As for the Serbian Radical Party, the Republic of Srpska edition is unlikely to be under the direct control of the much-vilified Vojislav Selselj. In any case, whatever the West finds unpleasant in the party's doctrines is likely to be confirmed and strengthened by the actions of the Allies, who are treating the Bosnian Serbs like a conquered people.


In its Orwellian language – instead of being banned, the offending parties must be "disestablished – and emotional vehemence the language of Holbrooke evokes the "Third Period" of the Stalin era, in which Communists likened all their enemies to "fascists" and no rhetorical excess was too extravagant. In comparing these two parties to the Nazis, Holbrooke trivializes history and tramples on common sense, so that any validity in his critique is dissolved in his own vehemence. He assures us that the "genuine multiethnic parties" in Srpska "will surely grow in numbers with each election" – in spite of the fact that these thinly-disguised US fronts have been decisively repudiated at the polling booth a number of times – but that we have to make sure that "the pressure is kept on the extremists." The manipulation of elections until the "right" results are gotten, censorship of the media, ideological campaigns against various forbidden "isms" – where have we seen all this before?


I'll tell you where: When the Red Army moved into Eastern Europe, at Roosevelt's invitation, a number of "coalition" governments were set up, and staged "elections" were held, ratifying what had already been decided by the presence of Soviet troops. A similar charade is going on in Bosnia and Kosovo today, with Holbrooke, Albright, and the so-called High Representative presiding over it all – as arrogant, murderous, and openly authoritarian as any Communist despots of yesteryear.


In what have to be the most revealing few sentences in his article, Holbrooke actually has the nerve to excuse the atrocities carried out by the Kosovo "Liberation" Army in the same sort of exculpatory language Western Communists and fellow-travelers used to describe the Soviet Russian "experiment": "A people who have known nothing but various forms of oppression since at least 1912 have emerged into the harsh light of the modern world," writes Holbrooke. "The internal Kosovo political scene is chaotic, and will take time to sort out." In other words: sure the KLA is just another gang of tribalist thugs, but they're our thugs. And besides, give these guys a break: after all, they've just been "liberated."


But don't worry: with plenty of US tax dollars, and a dictatorship enforced by NATO's centurions, we'll have the New Kosovar Man up and running in a few decades. In the meantime, we have to foot their bills, censor their media, and make sure they do all their homework without getting too mixed up in drugs. This taking on of two new dependencies, Bosnia and Kosovo, is like having children: "The leaders of the effort against Slobodan Milosevic cannot turn their backs on what they have started," we are told. "Having started the job, we must continue to lead the effort to finish it successfully." Like an unwed mother stuck with a squalling brat, the US must care for and raise her young protectorates – and, in the beginning, at least, attend to them twenty-four hours a day. The Allies, says Holbrooke, "will be sorely tested." But in the end, it will all be worth it – or will it?


And what would it mean to "finish it successfully"? Do you ever really get rid of your children? Even if you're totally estranged, even if they run off and join the Moonies or Heaven's Gate, you are linked to them in some fundamental way, and, most would argue, obligated to them. No matter how callous you are, the relationship never really ends, until one of you dies. The truth is there is no end to the task Holbrooke would have us take up, no end to the job of policing Europe, and especially the Balkans. For years, the Clinton administration has been putting time-constraints, and "deadlines" on the US military presence in Bosnia: three times a withdrawal date was set, prior to the Kosovo war, and three times it was postponed. And each time the Republicans went along with the fiction that this was not a permanent fixture of our overseas military operations, as if wishing could make it so.


The diktat of Holbrooke – his draconian program to impose a "democratic" dictatorship on Bosnia and Kosovo – comes at a crucial time. For there are rumblings from General Wesley Clark that hostilities could resume: the General charges that Serbian "paramilitaries" are "infiltrating" back into Kosovo to "cause a little bit of trouble here and there." On the other side of the Kosovo-Yugoslav border, Serbian generals are demanding that the terms of the peace agreement be honored, and that they must be allowed to post soldiers and customs officials on Kosovo's frontiers. Meanwhile, next Monday is the third or fourth "deadline" set by NATO and UN authorities for the KLA to completely disarm, and the violence (including mortar attacks on Serb civilians!) continues unabated. While Kosovo has managed to stay out of the headlines, hardly a day goes by without a new atrocity, a new bombing, and fresh incidents of Serb blood spilled – but don't shine too "harsh" a light on these incidents. After all, practically anything is justified in a battle against the Forces of Darkness – isn't it?

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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 (forthcoming from Prometheus Books).

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