January 17, 2002

Wastelands of Imperial Reality

In the twisted universe that is the Balkans today, the improbable may happen any minute and the most absurd often assumes the mantle of logic. As the song goes, "black is white, up is down and short is long."


While millions of desperate denizens of the Peninsula spend their lives waiting for a better tomorrow that is supposedly just around the corner, their hopes will remain largely meaningless for as long as they are led by the people whose actions and ideas lie at the very root of the region's misery. Much has been said of the Empire's responsibility already, perhaps not enough and yet too much to be repeated just now. A lot has been said about its willing local servants as well. However, though head-on resistance to the Empire might well be both masochistic and suicidal at this time, resistance to its local enforcers can and must be the first step if the Balkans – and the rest of the world, for that matter – is to ever emerge from the darkness that lies upon it firmly still.


Already the wheels of malice are on the move. News coming out of Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Serbia is most disturbing. In Sarajevo, the Empire's Reichskommissar plots to forcibly amend the constitutions of Bosnia's member entities, in order to enforce a judicial ruling that explicitly violates the 1996 peace treaty. The ruling – which makes all ethnic groups "constituent" in the entire territory of Bosnia – is supposed to protect equal rights of all ethnic groups. Conveniently forgotten is the fact that guarantees of those rights were in the Constitution before the war, and that government abuse of them was largely responsible for both the war's outbreak and Bosnia's "independence." What makes anyone think the current authorities would behave differently than their ideological predecessors? Or that Bosnia's foreign masters would care about Bosnian laws, when they hardly heed their own?

No less perturbing – but entirely predictable – was last Friday's announcement by Macedonia's Albanian separatists that their "liberation army" is being resurrected as a "response to Macedonian repression." Another faction of the separatist movement is also readying for war; though officially blacklisted by the US government, it still considers the Empire "an important ally in the efforts of the Albanians for freedom and democracy." It begs the question why… or does it?


Every country in the world expects its Foreign Minister to represent its government before foreigners, which is often done by projecting a positive image abroad. As with everything else, Yugoslavia is a sad exception to that seemingly inviolate rule, as its foreign minister, Goran Svilanovic seems to have understood his job as representing the foreign governments in Yugoslavia.

He did Florence Hartmann's job earlier this month, when he supported the Hague Inquisition's claim to supremacy over his country's laws. Then, in a news conference this Tuesday, he accused his own government of promoting and tolerating "expressions of [ethnic] hate." Anywhere else in the world, a member of the cabinet who spoke thus would be immediately sacked – but don't hold your breath.

Unlike other governments in the world, such institutions in the Balkans are composed of multiple political parties, whose leaders all hold cabinet positions. FRY, Bosnia, Macedonia and Croatia are all in the same fix. Instead of just one incumbent party abusing power to promote its reelection, they all do – in Yugoslavia's case, eighteen of them.

Svilanovic's statements are thus partly his own political promotion and partly the promotion of ideas and policies favored by his government's sponsor – the Empire. His loyalty is to his own political advancement, rather than his country – and by virtue of necessity, also to Serbia's current fuehrer Zoran Djindjic. No one aspiring to power in the Balkans can afford to be disloyal to the Empire, too, for its enmity usually ends political careers with a "war crimes" indictment.


The hunger for power is so potent, it makes people do the most monstrous things. Serbia is by no means the only example of this truism, but it may be the most acute. For instance, Serb representatives in the phony parliament of occupied Kosovo recently expressed a willingness to support Albanian separatist Ibrahim Rugova in his presidency bid, if Belgrade blessed the choice. It is easy to see how Belgrade might actually do this in order to appear a "constructive partner" in the Imperial occupation, thus sacrificing its territory, people and dignity for the sake of fleeting and insincere Imperial approval.

After all, Djindjic & Co. are by no means protesting the fact that the EU has already written a new Constitution for Yugoslavia, since they see that as a personal victory over Montenegrin separatists. Djindjic already scrapped the Constitution last June, so he can hardly be its defender, but to have it written by Javier Solana and his NATO pals… well, there might be such a thing as dignity, but there is precious little of it left in Serbia.

Even criticism of Djindjic's ever-more-blatant dictatorial behavior leaves Serbia and Yugoslavia as collateral damage. Vuk Draskovic, a former opposition leader, recently compared Djindjic to Milosevic by describing Serbia as a fascist dictatorship – something that will no doubt please the Empire. Draskovic most likely seeks to unseat Djindjic by himself, but apparently cares little that the integrity of the country might get squashed in the process.


While on the subject of Zoran Djindjic, one more thing deserves mention. Having arranged for the liquidation of four major Yugoslav banks last week, this Monday he attended the ceremonial opening of a new state bank, National Savings, Inc. Started up by thirteen anonymous investors contributing more than $50 million (from where?), one third of National Savings will be "bought out" by the government over the next three months. But with what? For an impoverished country that begs foreign bribes – in exchange for gross violations of sovereignty – that is an awful lot of money. Why go through the trouble?

The answer lies in a boast by National Savings' new CEO, who told Belgrade daily Glas Javnosti that the bank's purpose was to "collect money from the citizens, safely invest it in economic development, and offer the citizens attractive consumer credit in the near future." Most likely, this state-owned institution will invest the money of private citizens in state-approved business ventures, then offer the citizens credit to purchase consumer goods. This is no way to achieve economic development, only a way to enrich the government. Perhaps that is the point.

Consider also that the four banks were closed per instructions from the World Bank and the IMF, whose "assistance" never helped any country develop. On the contrary, benefits from any money borrowed from these institutions are always privatized (among government members), and their cost is always socialized (to the general populace).


Djindjic's regime, like the regimes it replaced, seeks to control all aspects of society – as all governments do, to differing degrees. Serbia's current predicament is exemplary of other post-communist nations. Decades of Communist socialism have taken their toll on its inhabitants, discouraging profitable enterprise and destroying the very fabric of traditional society. Nationalist socialism that followed in 1990 was no better economically, and it further devastated its subjects through vicious warfare.

The current system, best described as Imperial Socialism, was adopted by Serbia's neighbors more or less simultaneously with its nationalist variety, their dictators  securing power by pledging allegiance to the Empire. Only after Slobodan Milosevic – who refused to make such a pledge – was removed, could Serbia bend its knee and join the rest of the world. Thus the only legitimate function of government – defense against foreign aggression – was subverted into its very opposite.

Whether ruled by Tito, Milosevic or George II through his gauleiter Zoran the Foul, Serbs are still subjects in a socialist State. There should be no illusions about the meaning of "socialism." It is most emphatically not a "humane" form of anything, nor is it concerned with "society." What it is concerned with are power and force – power of the State and force with which it controls its subjects. Rather than guaranteeing the freedoms of individuals (the basic of which is ownership of one's own life – the root of private property), the State violates that freedom by taking property from some and "giving" some of it to others, while retaining the lion's share for its own growing apparatus of repression. It is called "law enforcement" in the name of "liberty," but of course that is pure Doublethink, just as black is white and ignorance is knowledge.

Imperial Socialism is doubly repressive, for it exploits a nation not only for the sake of its own rulers, but for the benefit of the Empire as well. Hardly capable of supporting the avarice of one's own local kleptocracy, no Balkans nation is capable of serving the Empire as well. All that try sink even deeper into poverty and despair.


So deep is the bog of delusions and despair, so strong the merciless Imperial boot that grinds the Balkans deeper into it every day, that few are even aware they should oppose it, let alone know how. One such voice of opposition is Belgrade University law professor Kosta Cavoski, whose scathing commentaries are frequently found on the Internet page of the aforementioned daily Glas Javnosti. With a superb command of facts and a plethora of classical metaphors at his disposal, Prof. Cavoski does not hesitate to condemn in the harshest of terms the policies practiced by the current regime, nor does he fail to identify the policies' foreign sponsors and those sponsors' ultimate intentions.

Indeed, Prof. Cavoski's ideas and essays deserve much more space – something which this particular column is running out of. Suffice it to say, for now, that his is a rare voice of liberty, dignity and justice in a land otherwise confined to dreary darkness of Imperial servitude. Hopefully, his voice will soon be joined by others.

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

Wastelands of Imperial Reality

Off to a Bad Start

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

Dιja Vu

The Crucible

Please Support Antiwar.com

A contribution of $50 or more will get you a copy of Ronald Radosh's out-of-print classic study of Old Right conservatives, Prophets on the Right: Profiles of Conservative Critics of American Globalism. Send contributions to

520 S. Murphy Ave., Suite #202
Sunnyvale, CA 94086

or Contribute Via our Secure Server
Credit Card Donation Form

Your contributions are now tax-deductible

Back to Antiwar.com Home Page | Contact Us