April 18, 2002

Shadows of the Past
Dreadful Fallout of Empire's Balkans Policies

For over a decade, the Empire and its vassals have gradually imposed themselves into the lives and lands of people in the Balkans, almost always to those peoples' detriment. In the process, they have torn down many pillars of civilization, law and common decency, all in the name of help, human rights and humanitarianism. Whether they did so as actual masters of malice, or mere fools who thought they could use the power of Tolkien's metaphorical Ring for good, now hardly seems to matter. For all power exacts a price, and absolute power most of all.


The Dutch government collapsed this Tuesday, following the publication of a report that analyzed the role of Dutch troops in one of the most controversial episodes of the Bosnian War. A government-established commission concluded, after a five-year investigation, that the tragedy of Srebrenica was not so cut-and-dry as is still widely believed in the West. The resulting outrage compelled the government to resign, and on Wednesday, the Army Chief of Staff resigned as well.

There are many interesting things about the 7000-page report. Apparently, it says that there has been no evidence of Slobodan Milosevic's involvement with Srebrenica, corroborating what Milosevic has said to the Hague Inquisition. Nor does it blame Radovan Karadzic, wartime leader of the Bosnian Serb Republic. Another largely under-reported point was the activity of Bosnian Muslim troops in the supposedly demilitarized enclave. Judging by the outrage of defenders of Official Truth, the report could even be casting some unwelcome light on the accepted assertion that some 8000 Muslim civilians were killed in cold blood, which the Hague Inquisition has already declared a genocide.

It so happens that the Dutch have been one of Empire's most eager vassals in the Balkans interventions, especially the NATO attack on Serbia. As General Michael Short told the US Congress in October 1999, they were "small dogs [who wanted to] have a seat at the table." Unfortunately, the bitter experience of Bosnia is unlikely to urge Empire's lapdogs to re-think the policy of blind obedience.

The Bosnia Blowback

Dutch actions (or lack thereof) in Srebrenica are just the tip of the Bosnia iceberg, though. For years, the Serbs clamored about the substantial presence of Muslim radicals in Bosnia. Since they were considered demons, though, hardly anyone was inclined to listen – even when the said radicals tried to blow up the Pope (see April 11-12) in 1997. Now, however, Bosnia's NATO occupiers are "finding" Islamic terrorists everywhere. Three former Muslim intelligence officials were even indicted by the new government over their involvement with Iranian terrorist operations in Bosnia during 1995/96.

Now even the most popular US military newspaper writes about Osama Bin Laden's ties with the Bosnian mujahedin, and the threat which this represents to the US military. The same article says the US turned a blind eye (and nothing more?) when Iran sent weapons, money and men to Bosnian Muslims and Croats during the war, while possible violations of the arms embargo to the region were discussed by none other than the infamous General Wesley K. Clark, the "hero" of Kosovo.

To think the Imperial air force bombed Serbian TV for saying much less!

Law of Submission

Nor is Bosnia the only Imperial intervention causing major tremors in the fabric of world sanity. Claiming to be under heavy US pressure, Serbia's ruling hydra approved a bill last week regulating the extradition of Serbian and Yugoslav (while it still exists) citizens to the Hague Inquisition, based on its indictments for "war crimes" in Kosovo. The full text of the bill was published in Belgrade daily Glas Javnosti (in Serbian), just before it was voted into law.

There are many problems with the ICTY Cooperation Act. It is unconstitutional, it gives undeserved legitimacy to the Hague Inquisition, and it is just plain atrocious as to the degree of power it gives to the Inquisitors inside Serbia. Such powers most closely resemble those demanded by Austria-Hungary in 1914, in one of the classical examples of Imperial blowback*. Yet according to this Empire's eager servants, even that is not submissive enough.

In response, the former minister of Internal Affairs shocked the nation by committing public suicide in front of the Parliament. Former Army Chief of Staff, however, said surrender was his "duty" and "legal obligation." The Djindjic regime wholeheartedly agreed, and promised to extradite all those currently wanted by the Inquisition before May 1.

Such groveling of a nominally sovereign country before an emphatically illegal and illegitimate institution set up by the Empire should be deplorable at any time. However, too many took comfort in the fact that the Inquisition was mostly after Serbs, and that its scope was limited to the territory of former Yugoslavia. This past week, all of that changed…

Inquisition Goes Global

On April 10, the International Criminal Court came into being – a global version of the Hague Inquisition set to demolish sovereignty and nationhood on behalf of prosecuting war crimes, genocide, war and other "human rights" violations. Though the Empire has not ratified the Rome Treaty that established the court, and there is no way the ICC can force the Empire to submit as its Hague progenitor (with NATO's and Empire's help) did to the Serbs, the ICC nonetheless claims the right to put anyone, anywhere, on an Inquisition-style trial.

While the Hague "tribunal" has been a tool firmly under Empire's control, its heir claims to be more independent-minded, and that is seen as alarming. Yet few have actually grasped the connection between the ICC and the ICTY. If the ICC is a world conspiracy against a naïve US government, what about its model? The only "axis of evil" involved in its creation was between Madeleine Albright and Bill Clinton, and his successor George II isn't exactly keen to abolish this abomination.

More likely, the Empire will seek to co-opt the ICC and use it for further conquests, smearing enemies with "indictments" for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity while passing its own as "collateral damage". The ICC needs to get money from somewhere, and it's well-known who has most of it. And whoever has the gold, makes the rules.

Slouching Towards Bethlehem

Some well-intentioned people will no doubt applaud the establishment of the ICC, hoping perhaps to see Imperial leaders in the dock at some time in the future. Among them would probably be those who still believe that the ICTY could become a fair court by indicting leaders of other Balkan statelets, or even NATO. None of them really understand that neither of those options is possible, not in today's world. ICC's mandate sounds much like the mission of Sauron's Ring (with apologies to Tolkien): one court to rule them all, one court to find them, one court to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.

For the ICC runs completely counter to the basic principle of international affairs, one that has been around for over 350 years: sovereignty of nation-states. Though hardly perfect, it is the only system around, with no clear-cut alternatives save worldwide libertarian anarchy. What the Empire did to that system in the Balkans through NATO and the ICTY, the ICC is poised to do on the world scale. In the ensuing vacuum, the only alternatives would be Imperial hegemony. Perhaps that is why Washington has said very little about the ICC over the past week.

What began as a weapon of political warfare in the Balkans has morphed into a worldwide leviathan with unprecedented power to destroy: the proverbial "rough beast" of Yeats' poem, "its hour come at last."

The Final Twist

Right now, only one man stands fighting against the Inquisition and all that it represents. He may have very personal and selfish reasons for doing so, or he may not. It hardly matters. Though faced with prosecution "witnesses" who regularly commit perjury, have no idea what they are talking about, and even ridicule the very existence of Empire as nonsensical, Slobodan Milosevic is still refusing to surrender to the Inquisition. In doing so, whether he wants it or not, he is actually defending liberty – a declared American value that the American Empire has done its best to obliterate.

Ironic? Oh yes. Then again, irony seems to be what the Balkans is all about.

* NOTE: Austria-Hungary thought to use the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand at the hands of a disgruntled Bosnian Serb as a pretext for invading Serbia. The invasion, however, prompted a chain of events that led to World War One and the eventual destruction of the Austro-Hungarian empire. It also ended Europe's golden age, ruined the German and Russian Empires, caused the rise of the American Empire, brought to power Communism in Russia, and spawned Nazism and Fascism.

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.


Archived Columns

Shadows of the Past

All the Wrong Lessons

Bosnia Revisited

Once Upon A Country

A Superbly Organized Crime

Bitter Balkans Ironies

Of Hubris, Heretics, and Hermits

Masters of Mendacity

The Trial

Exercises In Wishful Thinking

Ten Years in the Twilight Zone

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

Déja Vu

The Crucible

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