January 3, 2002

Operation Enduring Stupidity
The Year That Was

Upon the completion of Earth's revolution around the sun, the only things that change are the numbers on the calendar. Problems that existed on December 31st are still there on January 1st. Stupidity does not vanish at the stroke of midnight, the way common sense does anywhere the Empire gets involved.

More to the point, whenever the Empire does get involved, the existing problems are never solved. Instead, they are treated temporarily, with nothing more than a band-aid "agreement" or a half-witted "peace process," and left to fester. When they inevitably erupt again, that – naturally – calls for more "treatment" by Imperial diplomats, which is to be financed by Imperial loans, which in turn produce further problems, and so on, ad infinitum. This is not just the case in the Balkans, by the way. From Somalia and Afghanistan (the first time) to Haiti, Argentina and the Middle East, the world is strewn with examples of Imperial intervention's ongoing consequences.


Recipients (i.e. victims) of this "treatment" create elaborate delusions of grandeur and suffer frequent bouts of groveling whenever their Imperial masters are around. A perfect sample case could be Serbia's Prime Minister, Zoran Djindjic. He has exhibited symptomatic behavior before, and his latest statements show no sign of recovery.

Three days ago, Djindjic's optimistic, self-congratulatory holiday message aimed to convince the Serbian population that his government enjoyed the respect and admiration of the Empire. To this purpose he employed phrases such as "equal partners," and "driving force of regional development," which were both misleading and meaningless. The Empire has no partners, only servants, and it certainly does not care for regional development – which, again, can hardly be driven by a nation whose infrastructure was demolished by the Empire's bombs just three years ago.

No less insane was the holiday message of Montenegro's ruler Milo Djukanovic, who actually said that "not a single Montenegrin problem can be resolved without our own Montenegrin state." Given that Montenegro, under his leadership, already has de facto independence and that its inhabitants are still fairly miserable, Djukanovic's appeal to nationalism is disingenuous at best.


Victims of imperialism also tend to substitute madness for elementary logic. Normal reactions to certain developments are repressed or even completely substituted by irrational expressions of submission, no doubt motivated by the desire to secure the Empire's ever-elusive but oft-promised affection.

Djindjic's delusional visions would have the Serbs believe their government is now favored by the Empire. This is no doubt buoyed by a recent spate of self-serving interference in the debate between Serbia and Montenegro about the future of Yugoslavia. Indeed, official Belgrade is not bothering to hide its excitement over the possibility that the Empire might actually favor its position (or the position the Empire "persuades" Belgrade to adopt?) over Djukanovic's.

As usual, reality does little to support Djindjic's claims. Instead of favoring his regime, or even cutting Serbia a break, the Empire continues to insist on absolute submission to the Hague Inquisition. As a good vassal, Djindjic is supporting that insistence. He is also trying to justify it as a price that must be paid for becoming a province of the EU superstate (something most Serbian politicians consider a worthy goal! O tempora, o mores!).

Of course, Djindjic might not be entirely delusional. He might say things he does not really believe, knowing that if he failed to submit, the Empire could simply stop giving him money needed for his regime's survival. Or, if he really got out of hand, they could reopen the old wound in southern Serbia, right along the border of semi-amputated Kosovo, where Albanians are still "restless." But whether the Serbian Prime Minister (and the regime for which he stands) is really schizophrenic, or simply pretending, the end result is the same: groveling.


There is more, of course. When Kosovo's occupying governor Hans Haekkerup unexpectedly resigned just before the New Year, Kosovo Albanians by and large hailed the news. They saw both Haekkerup and his job as obstacles to their goal of an independent, all-Albanian Kosovo.

Now, Haekkerup was a governor of a Serbian province occupied by some 20,000 NATO troops, ethnically cleansed of most Serbs, Jews, Roma and other non-Albanians – with the remainder living in ghettos surrounded by barbed wire. It was Haekkerup who engineered an election that gave this occupation a pretense of legitimacy. However "honest" and "decent" he may have been, Haekkerup was still a representative of an illegal, illegitimate occupying authority. Any rational government would have maintained insistence on ending the occupation as the matter of principle. The current regime in Belgrade, however, expressed "regret" at Haekkerup's departure, and the "elected" leader of Kosovo Serbs said she looked forward to cooperating with the occupiers and their protégés.

Americans' regret over Haekkerup's resignation was at least a polite fallacy. Certainly someone in Washington will be very happy that the new interim satrap in Kosovo is an American. But if, after this, the  Serbs still have any respect for their leaders, then perhaps those are the leaders they deserve.


It is hard to imagine that a year ago the future actually looked better. The Emperor-designate had spoken about the possibility of withdrawing from the Balkans, and cutting back on his predecessor's worldwide warfare in general. There was at least a glimmer of hope that something good could come out of partisan bickering and a change of faces in Washington, and that the Empire's crusade in the Balkans might end now that its power-seeking purpose was accomplished.

2001 was also supposed to be a year of flying cars, colonies on the Moon, and expeditions to Jupiter turned tragic because of computers gone haywire. Humans have proven to be perfectly capable of producing tragedies without the help of artificial intelligence, and much closer to home. The war fever in the aftermath of Black Tuesday only confirmed what was obvious a month earlier in Ohrid, Macedonia. Far from being over, the crusade was just getting started.

As other parts of the world are being pulverized, driven to a killing frenzy or drowned in delusions, the Balkans continues to undergo a seemingly unending collective lobotomy at the hands of Imperial surgeons. How much longer before the admittedly flawed denizens of the Peninsula become permanently corrupted into a more hideous form of existence?


There is always hope, of course. As with any disease, only after the proper diagnosis can one come up with a cure. At the root of the Empire's success is a common ailment of the human mind, a misguided belief that problems of the Society can only be solved by the State. From there it follows that problems that confound the state can only be solved by a more powerful state, i.e. the Empire. Formerly known as Communism or Fascism, depending on symptoms, this ailment is more properly described as Tyrannical Statism and commonly misdiagnosed as Democracy.

Obviously, problems cannot be solved by the reasoning responsible for creating them. Things can change – for better or worse, but change – only if this dangerous mindset is replaced with even the tiniest bit of rational, principled thinking. For stupidity endures the test of time, but not the test of reason.

Text-only printable version of this article

Nebojsa Malic left his home in Bosnia after the Dayton Accords and currently resides in the United States. During the Bosnian War he had exposure to diplomatic and media affairs in Sarajevo, and contributed to the Independent. As a historian who specializes in international relations and the Balkans, Malic has written numerous essays on the Kosovo War, Bosnia and Serbian politics, many of which have been published by the Serbian Unity Congress. His exclusive column for Antiwar.com appears every Thursday.


Past Articles

Operation Enduring Stupidity

Balkans Christmas – All Year 'Round

A Trojan Horse in Belgrade

Where the Shadows Lie

Republic Day

Surrender in Kosovo

A False Choice for Kosovo

Death by Protectorate

Perverted Justice

The Meanings of Madness

Arrogance of Power

Reflections on Revolution

War Without End

Battle in the Balkans

Intersections of Fate

Macedonia's Tragedy Masquerading as Farce

A Day to Remember

The Serbian Standoff

Macedonia's Futile Surrender

Murdering Macedonia

Rambouillet Repeated?

Empire's Willing Servants

Kostunica's Choice

Betrayal in Belgrade

The Empire Shows Its Hand

The Return of Kings

Meditations On The Edge Of The Abyss


Terms of Betrayal

Presevo – A False Victory

The Balkans: Land of Delusions

Enemies at the Gates

ICG's Blueprint for Destruction

Kosovo: Between Death and Taxes

Madness in the Mountains: Montenegro's Looming Secession

A House Divided


Empire at the Gates

Macedonian Maelstrom

Pax Americana

The Fourth Balkan War

Mayhem in Macedonia

Surreal Realm

Santayana's Curse

The Croatian Conundrum

March of the Black Eagle

Showdown in Belgrade

Out of the Shadows

With a Grain of Salt

Crusade's End

The Worst of Times

Moments of Transition

Déja Vu

The Crucible

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