May 8, 2003

Worshippers of Power and Violence
Sketches for a Portrait of Lost Peoples

One thing that more than anything else defines the contemporary patchwork of states that used to be Yugoslavia – with the notable exception of Slovenia – are the 1990s Succession Wars. They are the Genesis myth, at the heart of their governments' source of legitimacy and their leaders' claim to power. No longer just the Health of the State, war for them is the source of the State. Not surprisingly, the veneration of war finds greater expression among those who "won" (Croatians, Bosnian Muslims, Kosovo and Macedonian Albanians), then among those who "lost" (Serbs and Macedonians). But there are many ways of glorifying violence. For example, the current regimes in Serbia and Montenegro draw their power from their political opponents' defeat in the 1999 Kosovo war.

Governments are so fond of conflict because it allows them to increase their power and silence opposition. Faced with danger, people become a herd, and the instinct of the herd is to "fall in line." Everyday politics is a low-intensity conflict, a smoldering fission reaction politicians believe they can control and exploit. War, on the other hand, is akin to a full nuclear blast, uncontrollably smashing everything it its path. Sadly enough, some people think they can control it nonetheless, as a form of "creative destruction." In the Balkans, this heinous notion created only widespread death, devastation and despair. But this is yet another lesson the Empire will ignore.

Groveling to Force

After all, all of the Balkans bows to its power. Bulgaria and Romania beg for U.S. military bases. Bosnia and Kosovo are under occupation already. The rest grovel and bow, eager to swear fealty to the new lords of destruction, and maybe get a good-doggie treat in return. This is seen as a vindication of that perverse belief that success indicates righteousness.

All the talk about security, integration, peace and prosperity (which will, of course, be nothing of the sort) reveals only the degree to which the current rulers of Balkan countries are not so much puppets as willing servants of the Empire.

Nowhere is this more pronounced than in Serbia, itself a victim of NATO's naked aggression just four years ago. Now its leaders cite a need to avoid another 1999 as a reason to become a NATO satellite. Some advocates even go as far as to say that Serbia presents a "threat to global security" by not being a member of NATO! Furthermore, they say, because it's unworthy of NATO membership, Serbia should realistically only hope to perhaps join the Junior Varsity version, the Orwellian-named Partnership for Peace.

So far does this mental rot go, that the president of Serbia-Montenegro recently questioned the very need for a military – while denying he was doing so, in an execrable display of doublespeak now commonplace in Belgrade and Podgorica.

Denying Reality

Few places are such obvious examples of "creative destruction" at work as the occupied Serbian province of Kosovo. A product of the 1999 NATO aggression, it has been systematically ethnically cleansed of non-Albanians under a mask of "multi-ethnicity" and "dialogue." Its imperial overlords have committed so many abuses and criminal misdeeds, their name is legion.

The appropriate poster-boy of this tragic farce is Michael Steiner, a disgraced German diplomat who is the province's current Imperial proconsul. Unlike his predecessor, who at least tried to commit his promises to paper before proceeding to break them, Steiner has made a host of promises to both Serbs and Albanians which he had no intention of keeping.

In what could be another of those false promise, he recently suggested to an Albanian gathering that Kosovo's independence was a foregone conclusion. This was immediately condemned by Serbian government legate Nebojsa Covic, who nonetheless felt compelled to say that Belgrade wanted to "work with the international community in establishing a multi-ethnic Kosovo." Why, there is nothing more natural than cooperating with one's occupiers in achieving their official goals!

And how are those official goals holding up under the harsh pressures of reality? Not too well, it turns out unsurprisingly. Kosovo's UN authorities have quietly terminated a program of training members of the "Kosovo Protection Corps" in foreign countries, after two KPC members died attempting to mine a Serb-used railway. The UN-funded Corps was conceived as a way to provide some legitimacy for Albanian militants after their "Kosovo Liberation Army" was officially disbanded.

It's hard to talk about protection when the "protectors" are members of a terrorist organization…

Engineering Obedience

While Kosovo has been under Imperial occupation for almost four years, Bosnia has experienced its softer form for over seven. Forcibly "reunited" through the Dayton Peace Agreement, the conflicted country is struggling under the burden of managerial state and democracy while its leaders and occupiers claim the solution is more of both.

The past seven years have been an endless parade of laws and decisions aimed at expanding, strengthening and making all-pervasive the power of the State – all in the name of the people, of course. Complicating things somewhat is that Bosnia's political and administrative divisions weren't designed to check the power of the State government, but to replicate it on a lower level.

Now preparations are underway to create a unified system of State education. Behind the claims of giving "greater autonomy" to local schools lurks the reality of a centralized system of State indoctrination. Talk of "non-discrimination" means mandatory political correctness. And good old-fashioned knowledge, deemed "outdated" by the occupiers, will be replaced with "skills, values, competencies and attitudes."

For all its flaws and propaganda, the old Communist system still managed to instill its victims with enough knowledge to be more than competitive at Western institutions of higher learning. Now that danger will be removed, and the children across the Balkans will enjoy a cloned version of the American public-school system, free and compulsory.

Then again, the current government is falling over itself to give its American occupiers immunity for any war crimes they might commit in course of their stay, even as its members clamor loudly for prosecution of domestic war criminals. Now, those leaders are a product of the old educational system. One shudders to imagine what sorts of similar reasoning leaps the new system will produce.

Justifying the Means

Any study of Balkan depravities should not omit the mention of recent purges in Serbia, as a textbook example of crass social engineering. But since that has been analyzed in some detail here already, it bears no repeating now. The government's attempt to portray a political crackdown on its enemies and former associates as a "war on crime" should have been laughed out of any newsroom in a remotely sane society. That it wasn't testifies to Serbia's tired resignation more than anything else.

This "end justifies the means" approach is by no means unique to Serbia.

The Hague Inquisition recently "indicted" Croatia's former top general, Janko Bobetko, for murders of Serb civilians in 1995. Bobetko refused to surrender, and ten days ago, died of old age. Even before his "indictment," Bobetko protested the prosecution of any Croatian war crimes as "treason" against heroes of the Homeland War. His death came as a relief for the beleaguered Croatian government, caught between needing to please both The Hague Hydra and its own population, which considered Bobetko a national hero.

Venerating the people indicted by the Inquisition is not uncommon in former Yugoslav states. Until recently, the most popular imprinted goods in Serbia bore the likenesses of Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, Bosnian Serb war leaders accused of genocide. But while Karadzic and Mladic sympathizers believe their "heroes" are unjustly persecuted for atrocities they did not commit, Bobetko's advocates advance a horrifying argument: that the atrocities were the proper, even heroic thing to do.

It is one thing to defend people accused of war crimes by either alleging the crimes were fabricated, or claiming they were a justified response to others' atrocities. Both defenses, however flawed, at least retain humanity in recognizing that atrocities are an act of evil. But in the minds of those who idolize Bobetko, the "Homeland War" was holy and good, thus everything done in its pursuit was blessed. A similar notion could have been heard from the mouth of Izetbegovic's wartime foreign minister, Haris Silajdzic, about a decade ago: whatever the Bosnian Army did was in self-defense, and thus legitimate. There is hardly a clearer distilment of the Machiavellian creed.

Lost and Frustrated

Ruled by politicians who thrive on conflict and worship power, the peoples of the Balkans are steadily driven away from reason, responsibility, freedom and choice. They already live in a silent horror dystopia, lost and frustrated in the wastelands of democracy. They hope for quick deliverance through false promises, oblivious to the possibility that the road not taken could lead to honor, freedom and peace.

The choice ought to be clear. Further worship of power, violence and servitude can only bring more of the same. Isn't a definition of madness doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result?

The road is there. If only someone would bother to look.

– 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 appears every Thursday.


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