August 7, 2003

The New Janissaries
How Low Can Serbia's Rulers Go?
by Nebojsa Malic

This week, just as His Elevated Majesty was becoming increasingly testy about all the questioning of his feeble rationalizations for the Empire's Middle Eastern adventure – which has turned quite sour for the troops on the ground – Washington received an unlikely morale booster. It was announced that during his late July visit to Washington, Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic offered 1000 Serbian troops for the occupation of Iraq or Afghanistan – "any mission" His Majesty decides on.

During the centuries of occupation, Ottoman Turks would regularly round up young Serbs and other Balkans Christians, march them to Istanbul, convert them to Islam and train them as the sultans' shock troops and administrators. This was known as devshirme, or the "blood levy," and these converts as janissaries. This conscription and forcible conversion was considered a particularly painful episode in Serbian history. Apparently, in the "new democracy," that has changed.

The Blood Offering

Zivkovic came to Washington in order to boost his flagging popularity among Serbians by appearing to enjoy favor with the ultimate power. Upon his return, he talked about "strategic partnership" and "end to pressure and coercion," never mentioning the troops.

The Prime Minister's offer was revealed in a patronizing Washington Post column this Monday. Even as it actually sought foreign mercenaries to relieve the strain on its shock troops, the Empire was so scornful of its groveling slaves that it treated the offer cautiously. The columnist who reported it, one Jackson Diehl, was openly contemptuous.

One is tempted to treat Diehl himself with caution. He displays appalling disrespect for facts by claiming NATO "crushed" the Yugoslav Army in 1999 (it didn't), and that Serbia was "the most frequent starting point for European wars in the past 100 years" (it wasn't). He reported differently from Kosovo back in 1986, when he still knew how. But given the Dossies' record of prostrating Serbia (not so much themselves) before Washington, the claim that Zivkovic offered troops is credible enough.

Furthermore, news from Belgrade this past weekend was that Dossie defense minister Boris Tadic purged the top brass, forcing into retirement a perfectly competent general who humbled NATO in Kosovo, as well as the head of Army Intelligence. While Tadic has pledged to purge opposition to joining NATO's satellite program "Partnership for Peace," these dismissals might be aimed specifically at clearing the way for Zivkovic's troop offer.

"Partners" or Servants

Is it not enough that four years ago the Empire launched a war of aggression against Serbia – accusing it of "invading" its own territory – thus committing a clear-cut prima facie war crime? Now the Serbs are expected to join Imperial aggression against Afghanistan, Iraq, and God only knows who else, and maybe even say, "thank you very much, may we have another?" to the whole issue of NATO's barbaric bombing.

Perhaps not. Again, Zivkovic had not mentioned the troops at all until Tuesday night, when the word got out on CNN. Serbian media then re-broadcast the news, and it was all over the Wednesday morning newspapers as well. Obviously, someone in Washington talked. So much for the "strategic partnership," then.

So what now? With the Empire "considering" Zivkovic's offer, how will Serbia react? Will the Women In Black protest the deployment of Serbian conscripts to an Imperial war, the way they protested "Serbian nationalist aggression"? Or is it OK to die for foreign "democracy," but not for one's own home? Don't bet on it. All the supposedly pro-peace and human-rights NGOs are a pillar of Dossie (i.e. Imperial) power, guided by nothing even remotely resembling a coherent principle. Knowing which side their bread is buttered on, they will stay silent.

Prattle aside, there will never be a "partnership" – strategic or otherwise – between Serbia and the Empire. The neocons want servants, not "partners;" compliance, not "cooperation." Everything Washington needs in the Balkans, it has already received from Serbia's hostile neighbors, and even its co-habitant in the "union," Montenegro. Far from securing some sort of preferential treatment, further groveling will only invite further abuse. But that is yet another concept the Dossies are incapable of comprehending.

A Power Struggle

Some clues as to why Zivkovic is courting support from Washington come from Serbia itself. In late July, the government managed to purge the Serbian central bank, whose governor was leader of an opposition party. In place of Mladjan Dinkic and his G17 associates – chiefly responsible for the Dossies' economic program in 2000, be it noted – DOS appointed Kori Udovicki, former Energy Minister notorious for soaking the life savings of elderly Serbians by raising electricity prices.

The departing governor accused two high-ranking advisors in the Zivkovic government – and members of his Democratic Party – of money-laundering. This pushed the already scandal-ridden government's approval rating to new lows. DOS-friendly analysts at Radio Netherlands speculated this week that the scandal would herald a power struggle within the Democratic Party, from which Zivkovic would emerge stronger and ready to "confront the voters," but that is highly unlikely. Dossies view elections as a vampire would garlic and stakes – with a mixture of fear and loathing.

And with good reason. Their former Trojan horse Vojislav Kostunica is enjoying rising poll numbers, a development the Empire is observing with some concern. Erstwhile Djindjic stooge Miroljub Labus is also polling well, though not nearly as well as Kostunica. Both of them are just as committed to "reforms" and service to the Empire, albeit somewhat more subtly, as DOS. Empire's grip on Serbia is not in jeopardy, unfortunately – only Zivkovic's.

Lessons from Another Vassal

Another recent visitor to Washington was the Macedonian KLA leader Ali Ahmeti, until recently on the US terrorist blacklist. His one-time nemesis, former interior minister Ljube Boskovski, was meanwhile added to the blacklist. Neither change was followed by an explanation, leaving the Macedonians confused. They've done everything the US has asked of them, and more, yet the Empire has persistently favored the Albanian segregationists. While the Empire claims to fight terrorism, it blacklists Macedonian security officials and treats the leaders of terrorists ("murderous thugs," as NATO chief Robertson called them) as statesmen.

Back in September 2001 it was obvious that US actions (or rather, lack thereof) in Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia made the "war on terror" as good as lost. For their part, Macedonians learned a depressing lesson from their bitter experience: sometimes, even being an obedient US vassal cannot save you.


In fact, Zivkovic & Co. should read one of Wednesday’s editorials in the Washington Times, composed by the known Serbophobe Helle (Bering) Dale. Her "Are you being Serbed?" asks how these uppity savages dare protest US hostility and demand fair treatment, when the entire world knows they are as racist, genocidal and criminal as Nazi Germany. Zivkovic and his foreign minister, Svilanovic, yap to presstitutes at Washington clubs over brandy and cigars, but it’s the people they represent who suffer. Dale's verbal abuses are one thing, but deaths in battle quite another. No number of dead Serbs can ever appease the likes of Dale and her employers at the Heritage Foundation and the Council of Foreign Relations. Yet that’s what Zivkovic is trying to do.

DOS is nothing but a motley collection of irresponsible, corrupt, statist kleptocrats, who came to power only because of the public's resentment of the government they replaced – and lots of bags filled with US taxpayers' cash. Ostensibly "democrats," they've established a "domination of political and economic life of which Slobodan Milosevic could only have dreamed" (BHHRG). Whatever troubles beset Serbia before 5 October 2000, the situation today is entirely the fault of DOS. Zivkovic's groveling offer of Serbian troops to help the Empire's wars of conquest and occupation ought to be the last straw for the people who simply cannot take any more social engineering, deliberately malicious or otherwise.

It is time to show these lying, plundering quisling sleazebags the door – preferably to Hell, or prison, but out of office will do. Anyone else could run Serbia better, preferably as little as possible, guaranteeing the Serbians their liberty but otherwise not preventing them from improving their lives, as all governments have done so far.

At some point during the Dossie reign, an anonymous Belgrade street artist made a pun on the ruling band of thieves' name: "DOSta," meaning "Enough of DOS." It's time the pun becomes reality, before young Serbians start coming home in body bags from once again serving a cruel conqueror.

– 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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