June 19, 2003

Paragons of Empire
Balkans Protectorates Celebrated as Exemplary

"Rare Bosnia Success Story, Thanks to U.S. Viceroy," blares the New York Times headline on a story celebrating Empire that appeared this Tuesday. It has to be read to be believed, but suffice to say that the author unflinchingly uses terms such as "viceroy," "proconsul" and even "colony" while arguing that a bit of occupation is a good thing.

As his example of Imperial bliss, the New York Times reporter took the Brcko District, a sliver of territory dividing the Bosnian Serb Republic under direct rule of foreign satraps since 1999. Using the absolute power that came with the position, its third supervisor, one Henry Clarke, has forcibly integrated public schools, prevented local elections and "reformed" the area "with a whip and some cash in hand," as the Times put it. Brcko, boasts the article, "is the only city in Bosnia where the three main ethnic groups are mandated to go to school together." It is social engineering at its purest, Empire's prurient fantasy come true.

Balkans to Baghdad, Again

Nothing notable has happened in Brcko recently to warrant the attention of the discredited American paper of record. The forced integration of schools prominently mentioned in the article actually took place two years ago. The real reason, even mentioned in the fifth paragraph, is the "lesson" it offers to the US occupiers and "nation-builders" in Iraq: Empire works, and here's how.

That is, of course, sheer nonsense. Brcko's location makes it a natural hub for commerce – a peaceful, mutually beneficial activity absolutely unconnected with displays of Imperial power. Also, the District lacks authority to levy taxes that Bosnia's quasi-state entities mercilessly extort from their residents, thus attracting even more business. It is the absence of state in Brcko that makes it prosper, not the presence of some American proconsul or other. But far be it from the New York Times to ever let facts get in the way of an agenda.

Realities of Occupation

Despite the efforts of the New York Times to present Imperial occupation as something wonderful, reality is quite different. For example, the current viceroy of Bosnia, Paddy Ashdown, has recently decided to protect Bosnians' human rights by abolishing the Human Rights Court. He would replace it with a Constitutional Court, controlled by the Bosnian state, thus eliminating the only venue of ordinary citizens to protest the egregious violations of basic human rights (life, liberty, property) committed every day by their rulers. Plus, Ashdown is directly violating the Dayton Constitution, which he is supposed to be protecting. What, someone actually expected the Empire to abide by its commitments!? Fools…

Over in Kosovo, things are even worse. There, Albanian militants murder Serbs at will while the viceroy comes up with excuses. Most of the occupied Serbian province does not have regular electricity. It might be because the international bureaucrat in charge of the power company embezzled almost 4 million euros during his tenure.

Nor is Kosovo immune from power games in the larger Imperial context. With the current viceroy scheduled to leave in about two weeks, Europe and the US are trying to decide who will succeed him. One choice, a Swedish bureaucrat, was already vetoed by Washington because of his opposition to the invasion of Iraq.

Opposed Iraq, but wants to run occupied Kosovo? The fellow was clearly in the wrong place to begin with…

Instead, Europeans are suggesting an Italian diplomat, who most recently worked as "as Rome's link-man with the U.S. occupation forces' civil administration in Baghdad." That says it all.

Playing With Kosovo

With a new viceroy fresh from the sands of Mesopotamia, things in Kosovo may take a turn for the worse quite soon. There are rumors that final status talks might begin next year. By then, Albanians may declare independence already, with enthusiastic support of the U.S. Congress. A recent flurry of lobbying efforts in Washington has led reliable analysts to speculate that Empire might actually be considering the independence of (Albanian) Kosovo. The KLA, George Soros and the ICG might finally get their wish, to the detriment of most inhabitants of the Balkans.

Missionaries of Empire

After a brief recovery from substantial embarrassment after it accused Serbia of "arming Saddam" last December, the International Crisis Group is pushing to regain its influence in Washington. Its program manager was extensively quoted in the New York Times Brcko piece, to lend credibility to the argument for Empire. One of its "special advisers" recently advocated a Liberian adventure on the op-ed pages of the Washington Post.

Officially a "research group" and "non-governmental organization," the ICG is funded by government grants and run by former government officials from all corners of the Empire. Along with a host of other such "NGOs," they are at the vanguard of Imperial aggression, twisting history and manipulating politics of target countries. Such power naturally breeds large egos, which often lead to displays of arrogance that reveal true goals behind the officious rhetoric.

Another organization, the IWPR, focuses on sowing chaos and confusion, claiming to pursue "independent journalism" while actually serving as a conduit of vilest propaganda. Fortunately, as with ICG, their enthusiasm often overtakes their caution. Three days before Albanian thugs will murder an entire Serb family in Obilic, IWPR's Pristina correspondent filed a report describing the horrible oppression of … homosexual Albanians (she called them "Kosovars," but it was pretty clear what she meant). Next thing you know, they'll be suggesting that Albanians persecute their homosexual kin because Kosovo is not independent and some Serbs still live there.

Between the ICG, IWPR, the New York Times and the actual Imperial officials, no wonder their victims in the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan are seething with rage.

Ending the Lies

Two weeks ago, commenting on Bush the Lesser's fiasco over nonexistent Iraqi weapons, fellow Antiwar.com columnist Matthew Barganier wrote: "A nation must be nearing the end of its decadent twilight when its politicians no longer bother to cover up their lies." And with media such as the New York Times and "watchdogs" such as ICG and IWPR, why should they? Obviously, the people on whose behalf (but at whose ultimate detriment) the Empire is acting couldn't care less.

Or could they?

Last week, in the London Spectator, Neal Clark detailed how the U.S. and British regimes simply made up justifications for invading Kosovo out of whole cloth. This was not deception or trickery, but outright lies. Now a British journalist is speaking out, at the time when NATO's victims – the Serbs – watch in silence as their quisling government begs for the proverbial 30 pieces of silver from the Empire. How sad.

And therein lies the answer and the hope for a free tomorrow. It is not governments who will eventually stop the Empire, nor meaningless treaties and sham UN resolutions, but the revolted human beings sick and tired of lies and murder perpetrated in their name. And the lying hacks and bureaucrats will have to face reckoning for their heinous crimes against life, liberty and property.

Someday. Somehow. Soon.

– Nebojsa Malic

comments on this article?

Please Support Antiwar.com

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


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

Paragons of Empire

Remember Kosovo?

Retrospect: Balkans And the Big Picture – A Year Later

Bosnia's Founding Stepfather

The Folly That Is Europe

Lies Reporters Tell

Worshippers of Power and Violence

After 'Liberation,' Democracy

Empire's 'Liberation'

Bolsheviks in Belgrade

Seeking Scapegoats

The Argument of Force

Alley of the Damned

Death of a Manager

From Kosovo to Baghdad

Genocide Games

Excuses and Justifications

Yugoslavia's End

Balkanizing the World

A Chauvinistic Farce

The 12 Months of Christmas

More Dirty Lies

Democratic Destruction

Forged Memories

Making the Balkans Connection

Remembering the Obvious

Empire's Playground

Casus Belli

Forward to The Past

The Unbearable Futility of Voting

A Global Balkans

Triumph of the Will

The Day Nothing Changed

Illusions of Truth and Justice

More archived columns by Nebojsa Malic

Back to Antiwar.com Home Page | Contact Us