to a Bad Start
Does the Morning Foretell the Day?
is a saying in the former Yugoslavia, that morning foretells
the day. In other words, the way something begins portends
how it will end. The accuracy of this proverb is somewhat
dubious. If taken to heart, it would mean that 2002 though
just beginning is likely to end badly.
the Julian calendar, Orthodox believers throughout the Balkans
gathered this Monday to celebrate Christmas. Yet morning never
came for Dragoslav Markovic, owner of a shop in eastern Kosovo
town of Kamenica. He was blown
up by a hand grenade, in his shop, on Christmas Eve. Occupation
authorities first claimed the grenade was thrown into the
shop, then said that Markovic had tripped a wire and set off
an elaborate booby-trap. The Serbian government's commissar
for Kosovo, the usually pro-NATO Nebojsa Covic, criticized the UN and
NATO authorities for failing to beef up security in Kosovo
during the holidays, despite the Albanian threats of violence.
with Serb outcry over the death, and Covic's uncharacteristic
condemnation, the UN quickly came up with another version of the
event: Markovic blew himself up, ineptly handling the
hand grenade that somehow materialized in his shop. If true,
this would make Covic look like a buffoon, Kosovo Serbs would
appear needlessly paranoid, the Albanians would be utterly
blameless indeed, slandered and injured! and the UN
police, plagued with corruption and sex scandals, would appear
professional and serious. Truth, apparently, is whatever it
needs to be.
and NATO's three-ring circus in Kosovo is in desperate need
of some credibility right now. Last week saw the abrupt resignation
of its head, former Danish defense minister Hans Haekkerup,
for "personal reasons." Unconfirmed reports indicate that
Reichskomissar Haekkerup angered some militant Albanians
over the last few months, and received death threats from
them as a result. Confirmation, however, is highly unlikely
even if the rumors are proven true. It would be too damaging
to UNMIK and NATO's reputation.
rumor has it that Haekkerup will be succeeded by the experienced
German Michael Steiner,
who formerly assisted the UN/NATO Reichskomissar in
Bosnia, then became the German chancellor's personal foreign
policy advisor. In the meantime, Haekkerup's post of viceroy
is occupied by an American bureaucrat.
is doubtful that even the most competent viceroy would be
able to control the immeasurable stupidity of his bureaucrats,
though. Just last week, UNMIK distributed thousands of fake
Euros through an Albanian newspaper, aiming to acquaint its
subjects with Kosovo's new currency. However, it failed to
mark them as samples, practically releasing counterfeit Euros
into the occupied province's notoriously criminal economy.
GREAT BANK ROBBERY
UNMIK's credit, it is not the only stupid, incompetent
and often evil government in the world. Indeed, most governments
embody all three characteristics as part of their job description.
A specific example, however, can be found just a bit further
north, in Serbia.
a move commended by the IMF, World Bank, and most of the Empire,
ministers in the Yugoslav government allied with Serbia's
Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic closed the four largest banks
in Serbia. Refusing to take responsibility for the closure,
the Yugoslav finance minister resigned
to Yugoslavia's central bank, the four commercial banks were
insolvent and burdened with billions of dollars in debt. As
usual, the truth is a bit more complicated. The banks were
not private, but government enterprises, and their losses
were really a consequence of government policies. Many employees
barricaded themselves in their offices, refusing to leave
and accusing the government of acting on the Empire's orders.
Some genuine libertarians have bluntly accused the Djindjic
regime of destroying the domestic banking system to make room
for foreign commercial banks. It goes without saying that
many such banks would pay substantial bribes in exchange for
favored status granted by the government...
the entire hubbub, no one bothered to reflect on the fate
of bank customers, whose meager possessions were effectively
expropriated by the state they trusted to protect them.
far, every time Djindjic's confederates have seized more power
whether by shattering the Constitution, destroying the Supreme
Court or staging a coup in the Parliament President Kostunica's
party has condemned the move, had its officials in the affected
branches resign, and then done absolutely nothing.
With every coup and every resignation, Djindjic has amassed
more power and Kostunica has been further removed from it.
of the governing coalition has already thrown its support
behind Djindjic, sensing the real power in the land. Through
his allies and vassals, the Prime Minister now controls the
judiciary, the police, foreign
affairs, the parliament, finances indeed, just about
everything except the military. It is still loyal to Kostunica,
though only as long General Pavkovic stays at its helm. Djindjic
has been pushing hard to have Pavkovic replaced, and Kostunica
has actually resisted. But
with most of the power already in Djindjic's hands, and the
Hague Inquisition eager to accuse Pavkovic of "crimes" in
Kosovo during NATO's 1999 attack, Kostunica may be fighting
a lost battle. With some help from his outside friends, but
mostly through his own ruthless cunning and Kostunica's ineptness,
Djindjic is poised to seize absolute power in Serbia any day
murders, coups, crime, plunder, and ever-present lies, 2002
has not started out well. But unexpected encouragement comes
from Bosnia, of all places. Even as this dysfunctional dystopia
struggled into another year of precarious existence, there
were no less than two signs that its peoples are beginning
to regain some of their formerly discarded self-respect.
central government has requested that the United States arrest
and extradite former Sarajevo regime official Mohamed
Sacirbey, on charges of embezzling some $600,000 in state
funds. Though a US citizen, Sacirbey served Alija Izetbegovic's
government as Ambassador at the UN (1992-96, 1998-2000) and
Foreign Minister (1996-98). If the Empire really believes
its own rhetoric about the importance of Bosnia's central
government, then Sacirbey will soon be on his way to a Sarajevo
jail. That is a big "if," however.
SPARK OF DEFIANCE
ray of sunshine comes from Bosnia's Serb Republic (RS), which
celebrated its 10th anniversary yesterday. After
years of silently suffering the vitriolic attacks of the International Crisis Group
(ICG), the ruling Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) struck back this past
weekend, dismissing the ICG an "informal group of lobbyists"
with no right to formulate the Empire's policies or pass judgment
on matters in Bosnia.
course, it is precisely ICG's "informality" that enables these
lobbyists to propose measures
the Empire would love to embrace openly but is held back
by whatever shreds of international dignity still remain.
However naοve and ineffective, this criticism nonetheless
indicates that some Bosnians are no longer in the thrall of
the Empire's busboys and that is always encouraging.
THE DYING OF THE LIGHT
will, naturally, take far more effort to free the benighted
Balkans lands from Imperial occupation and poisonous influence,
and even more to cure these societies from the deadly affliction
of repressive government. Yet each small act of resistance
is a good start, and each voice of responsibility is a flicker
of light in the darkness. It is worth remembering that the
proverb from the beginning of this text has never been conclusively