Of A Nightmare
is evil there that does not sleep."
this description of Mordor from the film version
of Tolkien's classic is too harsh on the Balkans. After all,
the peninsula is not a fountainhead of evil, merely a victim
of its ravages and possession. A more apt comparison in this
vein would be Moria: a crossroads once
full of wealth and splendor, now dark, desolate and taken
over by all manners of foul creatures. Either way, in this
southern corner of Europe evil truly does not sleep, though
it occasionally seems otherwise.
many have fled the Balkans in the past decade, those who remain
– out of pride, stubbornness, or folly – face a "nasty,
brutish and short" life in what Hobbes described
as a "state of nature." Only in this case, the Leviathan
is its cause, not its solution.
all their disputes, hatreds, conflicts and misunderstandings,
people of the Balkans share the same nightmare. And unlike
the evil that has possessed them, there is no sign of anyone
occupation and incessant
meddling in the region are so self-evidently destructive
they need no further expounding. Next to it, however, the
worst enemies of the Balkans people are their own politicians.
for example the parliament of the Muslim-Croat Federation
in Bosnia. By their very nature, governments take money from
enterprising citizens and spend it on themselves and those
they favor, often under the marquee of "common good" or "public
services." Most governments realize that their subjects need
to have money before it can be taken away from them. And though
Bosnia has successfully defied all logic for years, this law
of physics and economics simply cannot be circumvented.
reported this week that
the Federation parliament has launched an initiative to increase
veterans' benefits for those who fought for the Muslim regime
in the 1992-95 war. Given that general elections are coming
up in October, and that Muslim nationalists in both the government
and the opposition are hoping to seize power, this move is
but a naked attempt to buy votes of a large constituency.
Only trouble is, the money isn't there.
Federation already spends a quarter of its annual budget,
some $140 million, to pay veterans' benefits. Most of that
money seems to be coming from the IMF and the World Bank,
in form of "favorable" loans. Now these institutions are threatening
to stop further loans – as well they should. Financing social
policy from national debt is a recipe for certain disaster,
but no wonder the Bosnian politicians are spending frivolously.
They see the loans as "free money" that someone else will
have to repay down the road. This is a common problem in all
democracies, but more so
in those plagued by criminal stupidity.
top of it all, the politicos also want to raise their salaries.
Except for a handful of representatives who actually work
for a living and have to lose pay when they attend lengthy
and pointless debates in the Parliament, most of the members
are professionals, living large on the backs of an impoverished,
desperate populace (sounds familiar?). The more they talk,
the more they waste everyone's time, and the more frivolous
and repressive legislation they pass, the more money they
can take – money that comes either from plundering the Bosnians
who work, or from mortgaging the future of their children.
of them deserve to be hung on lampposts long before the October
election, but the likelihood of that is slim. Come October,
a new gang of thieves will inherit Ali Baba's den, and the
looting will begin anew. Even Viceroy
Ashdown, who sits so high and mighty in his white tower in
downtown Sarajevo, does not dare challenge this madness. He
knows better than to disturb the very nature of the game called
the Croatian economy stumbles and the country's population
shrinks, the government is yet again falling upon itself.
Three weeks ago, Prime Minister Ivica Racan disbanded his
cabinet and resigned over disputes within the ruling coalition.
Within a week, President Mesic appointed a new Prime
Minister: Ivica Racan.
a dysfunctional government should be a good thing, since then
it can hardly do much harm to the people it normally plunders.
But like everywhere else in the Balkans, the government controls
just about every aspect of life and society. As usual, there
is a sea of rules, laws and regulations designed to "help"
the citizens and provide "law and order." In reality, they
make it impossible to do business at all, let alone make a
profit. Only organized criminals prosper, relying either on
brute force or government connections (which sort of comes
out the same). The rest are paralyzed by fear of government's
thus languishes in the shadowland of stagnant or decaying
economy, widespread crime, and poverty, waiting for a new
government to "save" it from itself and "take
it to Europe." This is causal confusion on two levels:
first, in the naïve and dangerous belief that salvation comes
through a government program; and second, in mistakenly believing
that prosperity follows, rather than precedes, entry into the EU or NATO. How any country can
believe that supporting a European bureaucracy and a
tributary military force armed with expensive US weaponry
would make it richer instead of poorer is anybody's guess.
Croatia fared the best of all combatants in the 1991-95 Succession
Wars. It suffered very little war damage compared to Bosnia,
and it was not under international embargoes like Serbia.
Quite the contrary, it profited handsomely from Empire's financial
and military aid aimed to bolster an anti-Serb alliance. Despite
all those advantages, it finds itself in the same economic
basket as the rest of the peninsula. Given its statist frame
of mind, that is hardly surprising.
the worst-of-the-lot award should certainly go to the rulers
of Serbia and Montenegro, who in less than two years managed
to destroy what little survived after a decade of sanctions
and war, and actually boast of this as an accomplishment!
They've even managed to destroy their joint country, which
now languishes in undead existence until a
new Constitution can be put together.
elsewhere, government is the be-all and end-all of existence
in both Serbia and Montenegro. Its form is not as important
as its function. Parliaments, presidents and prime ministers
can come and go, but the plunder must continue unabated. For
example, the state-owned Serbian Power Co. is mercilessly
fleecing the people through fees and tariffs even its superior,
the Energy Minister, could not understand. Every protest is
met with a declaration that power is "too cheap," and needs
to be charged at "European levels," for the power system to
be profitable. Yet Americans, with far more appliances that
hog electricity – such as laundry dryers and air-conditioners
– pay far less for it than the tax slaves in Serbia.
never fear, stalwart Serbs, the people who brought you the
wonders of "freedom and democracy" (the way they see it) have
far more important things on their mind – such as the upcoming
elections. Just two days ago, Prime Minister Djindjic put
forth his candidate for Serbian presidency, economist Miroljub
Labus. He is expected to face the current president of undead
Yugoslavia, Vojislav Kostunica, who true to his style has not yet
decided if he'll run. The choice between a dawdling lawyer
and a quack economist is almost obscene under current circumstances.
Better to vote for a guy in a monkey suit
Djindjic is securing Imperial support by shipping every
member of the former government to the Hague Inquisition,
which hopes for one final push to convict Slobodan Milosevic
of war crimes. Even that is not going too well, as one of
the witnesses refuses
to testify without protection, another offers nothing
but hearsay, and the third has refused to say anything
for over a year.
true, a recent story in a Serbian paper – quoted by the London
Times – claiming that Milosevic's
daughter has joined the Montenegrin separatist movement
must be the final proof of Serbia's complete slide into insanity.
naïve, stupid, corrupt, hateful or avaricious the locals might
be, their foreign "protectors" are much worse – if nothing,
because they claim they know better and are better.
That's what gave them the "right" to intervene, murder and
occupy to begin with, right?
a decade of intervention, occupation and "humanitarian
aid" to the region, the UN and OSCE have now come up
with a brilliant
deduction: the presence of international troops and civilians
creates a demand for prostitution and slave trafficking. Really?
Before the Empire came, prostitution in the former Yugoslavia
was much less of a problem than elsewhere in the former Socialist
countries. For that matter, so were corruption, smuggling,
drug- and gun-running, and the slave
trade, which the Imperials hide under the euphemism "human
trafficking." Come the wars, interventions and occupation,
and - bam! – all these forms of "enterprise" spring
up and thrive. Since the impoverished locals can hardly afford
food, they obviously won't be paying for sex they can get
for free. But who does, then? Enter the UN's amazing powers
would have to be pretty thick to ignore the obvious – too
thick. And though stupidity is sometimes mistaken for evil,
it's pretty clear that in this case, they march together.
is already such a den of depravity that it
cannot possibly get worse. Yet it does. Last week, Albanian
villagers attacked and burned the monastery of St. Cosma and
Damian in Zociste, just after the church service held under
KFOR armed guard. Despite repeated requests and pleas by the Serbian
clergy in Kosovo – whose cooperation the Empire has repeatedly
used to legitimize the
occupation – German and Turkish troops prevented the monks
from visiting the ruined monastery. It does not take a genius
to see that iniquities of this sort will continue as long
as Kosovo is occupied, and as long as the remaining Serbs
continue to support the occupation in naïve belief it might
help their predicament.
Or Lack Thereof
as they created a market for prostitution and slavery, Imperial
interventions and occupation have made the Balkans fertile
for all sorts of malice: warfare, to begin with, followed
by mass murder, plunder, economic and cultural destruction.
Nothing is safe from the greedy, hateful claws of Empire's
servants, even if it survived the Empire itself.
25 years of fascism, 45 years of socialism, and 10 years of
warfare and Imperial occupation, there are hardly any values
left in Balkans societies except avarice and hatred. The
system in existence ensures that only those in whom these
"values" run the strongest can rise to the top. If any cultural,
economic and political heritage survived from that age before
the great disasters of the 20th century, the talk
of "human rights" and "democracy" is now wiping it out. There
is already no one left alive who remembers anything resembling
a life in freedom.
long as Imperial occupation endures, this dreadful state of
affairs will endure as well. Yes, much of the evil that plagues
the Balkans is local in origin; Empire's retreat will not
end hatred and avarice by itself. But while it lasts, the
occupation will continue to feed on them and nurture them
at the same time, a malignant grip on the hearts and souls
surrendering to despair is not an option. Though it seems
the human mind and body can withstand more torture than one
believes, even they must snap eventually and say "No more!"
Depending on how stupid, lethargic, apathetic, misguided or
deceived people are, they will continue to live the nightmare
until they cannot stand it any longer, until the continuation
of servitude becomes untenable. Then they will wake up.
is no other choice.