April 17, 2003

Empire's 'Liberation'
The Opposite of Liberty

Last week's "liberation" of Iraq bore a striking resemblance to the "liberation" of Kosovo four years ago, or the continuing "freedom" Bosnia enjoys, replete with the Imperial occupation troops, a viceroy, general devastation and cultural destruction. Empire's quest for a global Balkans grows more apparent by the day. The polls may indicate that most Americans are happy with the Brave New World thrust upon them, but the wise are already wondering if what has emerged could be better called Communist, Fascist or something else altogether. In any case, not the Republic envisioned by its Founders.

Nor are its occupied territories and vassal domains in the Balkans anything like the public has been led to believe. Bosnia has been writhing in torment for over a decade, in a Hell partly of its own making, but now run by an Imperial viceroy. Kosovo is a land of darkness and despair, mired in terror and lies. Serbia has fallen under a reign of terror cleverly disguised as a "war on crime." But at least they all have democracy seeping out of every wound, and isn't it grand?

Illusions of truth, perversions of justice, and a demonic sort of "democracy" are today's Balkans reality, and the coming reality of "liberated" Iraq.

Truth?

The "liberated" Kosovo is an example of many things: naked aggression posing as humanitarianism; ethnic cleansing and cultural persecution posing as multi-cultural tolerance; an occupation posing as freedom. It is also a symbol of the way the Empire decides what is reality: whatever it says it is. One could talk about the way NATO fabricated pretexts and justifications for its invasion, or how it twisted the armistice to mean unconditional surrender, or how it "interprets" the fig-leaf UN mandate to do whatever it wants.

Or one could just read the recent news reports about a string of terrorist attacks by an "Albanian National Army" (AKSh), whose very existence NATO and its flunkies hotly deny. So a northern Kosovo railroad track blew itself up this weekend, and the two terrorists who died in the explosion did not really exist. The non-existent organization certainly doesn't have a web site. The simultaneous bombing of two police stations in Pristina last month? Never happened. And the February bombing of a court house in Struga, Macedonia? Figment of someone's imagination.

This deliberate denial of the obvious is staggering. A major witness against KLA officers charged with murder, torture and abductions is gunned down in a family car, yet the UN police say they "do not know" who did it, "nor the motive." The pinnacle of outrage surely must be the insinuation by Empire's propaganda vehicle, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, which blamed Serbs for many deaths of Albanian civilians and KLA officers in the first year of Kosovo's occupation. But for all the Empire has done, and is doing, in Kosovo, that should not come as a surprise.

To the Indispensable Nation, truth is a matter of convenience.

Justice?

News came from Bosnia last Friday that Naser Oric, former commander of Muslim forces in Srebrenica, was seized and shipped off to the Hague Inquisition, on charges of war crimes.

Oric was the notorious warlord who abused Srebrenica's status as a UN "safe haven" to launch raids on nearby Serb villages, and is directly responsible for hundreds of murders. He even videotaped some, and those videos are evidence beyond reasonable doubt that the man ordered and committed atrocities. All of which makes his indictment by the Inquisition even more insidious.

"Serbs begin believing in justice and The Hague" read a headline in Sarajevo's daily Oslobodjenje on Monday, the paper unwittingly revealing the real reason behind Oric's arrest. The illegal and illegitimate Hague "tribunal" is desperate to create a perception among all Balkans peoples, but mainly the Serbs that it is really a legal, legitimate institution, meritorious to decide whether war crimes happened and who was responsible for them. Occasional arrests and convictions of non-Serbs are supposed to serve this important credibility effort. Meanwhile, the Inquisition's actual goal to fabricate charges of a "joint criminal enterprise" of Serbian leadership to foment and conduct the Balkan wars and commit atrocities therein can proceed unchallenged.

People like Oric, or the Celebici torturers, or Stela and Tuta, are but sacrifices. Whether they committed atrocities or not is irrelevant to the Big Picture, which demands their conviction for the sake of "bagging" the Serbs. In fact, the Inquisition is really not interested in establishing whether its Serb detainees actually committed the atrocities they stand accused of. Their very indictment is proof enough, and the conviction merely a preordained matter of procedure.

There has been word of possible US military tribunals trying Iraqi officers and officials for "crimes" committed under the rule of Saddam Hussein, as a "sovereign right" of the conqueror. Between The Hague Inquisition and this, it is obvious that any pretense of justice has been perverted and corrupted to serve the interests of power.

Democracy Incarnate

Purges initiated by the Serbian government after the assassination of Prime Minister Djindjic last month continue unabated, targeting the regime's political rivals even as the new Prime Minister denied such a thing was happening.

Following the lead of His Most Democratic Majesty, Zivkovic offered no argument beyond his assertions. "Because I say so" seems to be the popular argument these days. Unsurprisingly, the supine media took his word for it, and ran headlines proclaiming "No repression in Serbia" or some such. Ah, freedom at work! At the same time, Zivkovic indicated that "it may happen" that top opposition politicians would be found guilty of crime connections. Well, how convenient.

The Serbian parliament a mockery of that institution if there ever was one recently passed new laws allowing the police to detain people up to 60 days without charges, legal counsel or visitation, all in the name of "fighting crime," of course. A comparison with the intent, if not extent, of the USA Patriot Act would be tempting, except that the term "patriot" has been banned in Serbian public discourse, and will likely be replaced by "democrat." Furthermore, there is nothing patriotic about the amendments to the extradition law, passed purely to appease the Empire.

But none of it matters, because the people overwhelmingly support the government or so the government says. DOS' approval rates match those of His Imperial Majesty so much that they might have been cribbed from American pollsters. But any media examination of these claims is, of course, banned under the State of Emergency Act.

Culture Cleansing

Another disturbing trend in Serbian purges is the emerging Kulturkampf component. The arrest of folk singer Ceca Raznatovic for weapons possession and alleged links to the Djindjic assassination prompted a condemnation of the "symbiosis" between Serbian popular culture, crime, and the [former/evil as opposed to current/good] Government.

Proponents of "cultural cleansing" who fashion themselves Serbia's "civil society" don't have a problem with government manipulating the popular culture, as long as it is the culture they approve of. Their sentiments go beyond the dislike of some contemporary trends of truly questionable quality, but actually represent a fiery hatred of all Serbian folk culture as lowly, unworthy, primitive and "retrograde."

The next step is, logically, the elimination of Serbian folk culture in favor of a more "progressive" set of values, imposed by the all-benevolent State for everyone's benefit, under the pretext of "de-Nazification" and "lustration." After surviving almost 60 years of social engineering, the Serbian society would be finished off by the modern managerial State and its faithful flunkies.

The Real Liberation

One libertarian columnist recently remarked that the young countries can prosper only in the climate of "culture-driven self-government, absent outside military interference and manipulation from great powers and entangling alliances. It's kind of like what the founding fathers envisioned for this country. A variation of national socialism, administered by outsiders or their handpicked minions, will stifle and annoy any country, but especially one that has been promised 'liberation'."

Empire's "liberation" is the actual polar opposite of liberty.

Based on just the examples cited above, the truth of this proposition has already been decisively demonstrated in the Balkans. It will be demonstrated again in Iraq. The Empire has denied it, and will continue to deny it, because this truth is inconvenient, but it is truth nonetheless. So long as we refuse to accept it, we will continue to be in thrall to Empire's lies as well as our own.

– Nebojsa Malic

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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. His exclusive column for Antiwar.com appears every Thursday.

 

Archived Columns

Empire's 'Liberation'
4/17/03

Bolsheviks in Belgrade
4/10/03

Seeking Scapegoats
4/3/03

The Argument of Force
3/27/03

Alley of the Damned
3/20/03

Death of a Manager
3/12/03

From Kosovo to Baghdad
3/6/03

Genocide Games
2/20/03

Excuses and Justifications
2/13/03

Yugoslavia's End
2/6/03

Balkanizing the World
1/30/03

A Chauvinistic Farce
1/23/03

The 12 Months of Christmas
12/26/02

More Dirty Lies
12/19/02

Democratic Destruction
12/12/02

Forged Memories
11/28/02

Making the Balkans Connection
11/21/02

Remembering the Obvious
11/7/02

Empire's Playground
10/31/02

Casus Belli
10/24/02

Forward to The Past
10/10/02

The Unbearable Futility of Voting
10/3/02

A Global Balkans
9/26/02

Triumph of the Will
9/19/02

The Day Nothing Changed
9/12/02

Illusions of Truth and Justice
9/5/02

More archived columns by Nebojsa Malic


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