May 23, 2002

Charlatans In Charge

The unprecedented farce that unfolded at the Hague Inquisition's "courtroom" last week transcended shocking, pushed the limits of even this kangaroo court's credibility, and perfectly exemplified the past decade in the former Yugoslavia.

What it has shown, and what most people don't seem to understand, is that Imperial military, political, and economic interventions were just one big con. Displaying a stunning degree of idiocy, leaders of Balkans fiefdoms bought into it, and made their people do so as well. Now the Empire has near-total control of the peninsula, logic and laws are turned on their head, and charlatans seem to have the run of the region.

Swindler's List

Having seen scores of their witnesses shatter to pieces as Slobodan Milosevic's questioning unmasked their fragile lies, the prosecutors decided to call their star witness, an anonymous "insider" who claimed intimate knowledge of Milosevic's policies. In exchange for money and a new life in the West, "K-3" told of being privy to Milosevic's master plan to murder and expel thousands of Albanians. Reuters called his account the "clearest testimony to date." K-3's damning admissions sounded as if they were read straight from the Inquisition's indictment, or the voluminous collection of anti-Milosevic diatribes written over the past 10 years. He even claimed that Milosevic desired the bombing, in order to cleanse the Albanians and crack down on domestic opposition.

Too good to be true? It was.

"K-3" was soon revealed to be no other than one Ratomir Tanic, a Serbian swindler known for massive gambling debts and a penchant for inventing personal exploits. In other words, a professional con artist. The Serbian press regaled its readers with stories of Tanic's life of deceit. He never worked for Yugoslav intelligence. He did not know the location of any of the meeting rooms he described, and the meetings he claimed to have taken part in never took place. Most of this was revealed in the course of Milosevic's cross-examination, but true to form, reports ignored it.

Even Tanic's alleged party comrades – members of New Democracy, led by the current DOS Police Minister, Dusan Mihajlovic – denied he was ever a member, much less a policy advisor or high-ranking official. Mihajlovic dismissed Tanic as a nobody and called his testimony "rubbish."

In a normal court, this sort of charlatan witness advertised as prosecution's key asset should have cast doubt on the veracity of other witnesses – already eroded by Milosevic's questioning. Then again, the Inquisition is not exactly a normal court, and the outcome of the "trial" has been fixed a long time ago.

Morons On The March

On Tuesday, agencies announced that the Empire certified Serbian submission to the Inquisition, and thus in His Elevated Majesty's infinite mercy deemed it worthy of several more high-interest loans from the IMF and the World Bank. The Djindjic regime would also get a small reward ($40 million), courtesy of U.S. taxpayers.

It just so happened that the announcement was made while Djindjic was visiting Washington yet again. (For a head of an impoverished state in dire need of money, he sure travels a lot!) Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic, Djindjic's designated groveler for this trip, proudly proclaimed that the certification was "an acknowledgment for what we did in the last year and a half," and that such policy would continue.

That is truly wonderful. Just a week before, both Djindjic and the Serbian public were appalled at the recent statements made by Senator Joseph Biden at an Albanian lobby fundraiser. Threatening to cut off Imperial "aid" again, Biden demanded that Belgrade give up all influence and involvement in Kosovo and the Bosnian Serb Republic, fully prostrate itself before the Hague Inquisition, and that both Djindjic and President Kostunica publicly apologize for a "campaign of genocide"  in the wars of the 1990s. Belgrade's shock was difficult to fathom. After all, Biden has long been a friend of the Albanian lobby, and a noted Serbophobe. More to the point, they have already accepted most of his demands, as exemplified by the policy Svilanovic was so proud of.

Exercises In Capitulation

Belgrade has essentially abandoned Kosovo to the capricious power of Imperial gauleiter Michael Steiner, whose chilling visions of "multi-ethnicity" and "integration" spell further woes for the nearly-extinct Serbs.  Even the Kosovo Serb leaders who condemn Belgrade's policy tend to believe in the occupiers' good intentions, proving either their extreme naiveté or simple thick-headedness.

The appalling "Hague Cooperation Act" passed a month ago has divested Serbia and Yugoslavia from any sovereignty in respect to the Inquisition. With that act, and the "extradition" of Milosevic last June, the DOS regime effectively recognized the existence of a genocidal campaign – or as the Inquisition's indictments call it, a "joint criminal enterprise." If it existed, why would anyone claiming to believe in "human rights" and "democratic reform" not apologize for it? If Bill Clinton could apologize for slavery...

Perverted logic thus produces the appropriately perverted conclusions. Sovereignty either is, or isn't. The Inquisition is either legitimate – and hence its charges would be legitimate, too – or it's a kangaroo court, railroading people who never had a chance to get a fair trial. As the old sayings go, one can't be "a little bit pregnant" or "almost a virgin."

Anyone could have told the collective circus in charge of Serbia (well, not exactly) that their actions would have predictably dire consequences. It is unlikely they would have listened, though.

Delusions Of Goodness

The rule of Djindjic and DOS is increasingly scrutinized by the Serbian media. No one has yet come to the logical conclusion that this motley crew couldn't find its way out of a paper bag, much less the conundrum of epic proportions Serbia has been thrown into at the fin de siecle, but it might only be a matter of time. Or it might not, given the extent to which so many in Serbia – and elsewhere, to be fair – still believe in Empire's ultimate goodness, and the promises of its Big Lie.

Take for example General Nebojsa Pavkovic, who commanded the troops facing the KLA and NATO in Kosovo back in 1999, and managed to defeat the former and hold off the latter with minimal casualties. He then became head of Yugoslav Army's General Staff. Over the past three years, the Empire and its most zealous servants have repeatedly called for his head. Now he tells the state news agency that he considers "the international community's support to … include our country into the Partnership for Peace … an expression of its endeavors to erase forever the traces of the Balkans' past as a trouble spot and to turn it into a zone of peace and cooperation." Translated from doubleplusgood duckspeak, this means he believes the Empire's good intentions in the Balkans, and wishes the Yugoslav Army to become a NATO satellite as soon as possible.

What Lies May Come…

When exactly did the Empire change its stripes? Did it recant the criminal act of aggression that the 1999 NATO bombing clearly was? Did it stop the Albanian massacres and expulsions of Serbs from Kosovo, after June 1999? Did it perhaps catch the terrorists who blew up a busload of elderly Serbs in February 2001, as they were trying to visit the cemeteries in their occupied Kosovo hometowns? How come no one sent out a memo?

In fact, the NATO aggression is still presented as defense of unarmed, innocent Albanians from Slobodan Milosevic's evil "crackdown, resulting in 800,000 expelled and thousands killed…" Just check any agency report, and that line will be in there somewhere. Not only did no one stop the Albanian terror since June 1999, it has been excused as "revenge attacks," ignored, and even helped by the occupying NATO armies.

As for the 11 Serbs killed on the bus in February last year… a lengthy report in the London Times last week revealed how the investigation was sabotaged, stonewalled and deep-sixed by the Empire. Now the London Times dutifully parroted the party line during the 1999 attack, and even now used the "revenge attack" rationalization, so this was obviously not some unexpected pro-Serb bias. It sounded more like a small, still voice of whatever's left of humanity amongst Empire's paid apologists.

The Balkans Theater of the Absurd really knows no boundaries. True to the misguided, malicious fixation with creating a state in Bosnia, the Empire is currently undertaking an expensive bureaucratic experiment in reforming the occupied quasi-state's judicial system – based on recommendations from the ICG. The effort is led by the 58-year-old Rakel Surlien, a prominent Norwegian judge, who decided to do foreign-aid work because she was "bored." That really says it all.

The Healing Power of Ridicule

Faced with this much hypocrisy, malice, mendacity and sheer madness, all one can do is laugh. Evil craves to be worshipped, praised, respected, and feared. It cannot stand to be mocked.

So perhaps Slobodan Milosevic was on to something, when he took a moment in the midst of a fight for his life to be the best man at a fellow prisoner's wedding this past weekend. The wedding itself was a powerful message to those whose efforts to manufacture "justice" depend on delusional liars, and not even the BBC's snide commentary could fully deflect its impact.

Empire's legitimacy is based on nothing but lies and fear. Ridicule is the best weapon against both. The sooner the people of the Balkans – and other places afflicted with Empire's penchant for conquest – start laughing at their masters and stop following their orders, the sooner a lot of them might be free, and truly better off. Or they could continue to obey the charlatans running their lives, and accept the inevitable consequences. Consider this a memo to that effect.

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 appears every Thursday.


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