and Balkans Don't Mix
by Nebojsa Malic
in Basra to rumblings at home, it is becoming obvious
that the half-witted "plan" to conquer Iraq is slowly
smashing against the hard rock of reality. Unfortunately,
evidence also indicates that Imperial leaders will not let
something as irrelevant as reality disturb their march of
an effort to ex post facto justify their "liberation,"
they are now cruelly mocking its victims. If a recent Reuters
story is to be believed, young Ali Ismael Abbas "has
no grudges" against America or Britain. Sure, they've
killed his entire family – father, pregnant mother,
brother, aunt, three cousins and three other relatives – and
left him crippled. But see? He doesn't mind! They are
now giving him nifty new prosthetic arms, and with a Manchester
United logo, no less! Alas, Beckham
plays for Real Madrid now. Maybe the boy didn't get the memo.
weeks or so ago, British columnist George Monbiot wrote a
analysis of ideology behind the Empire, with a haunting
conclusion: American leaders believe this country is Chosen
of God, with a divine mission to "liberate" the
world. This really is a Crusade. Well.
York author John
Zmirak contends that "America's governing elites
increasingly rule the American people as if they were an occupying
army, dictating its ideology and imposing its raw power on
a defeated, prostrate nation." If so, then why would
they treat Iraq – or the rest of the world any different?
is certainly true in the Balkans. Last week's announcement
that Serbia offered
troops for the occupation of Iraq was greeted with a mix
The Empire might just need the troops badly enough to take
them, but it is unlikely to express any gratitude to the Serbian
regime. After all, vassals are supposed to offer troops,
so why thank them for it?
their groveling was "outed" in the American media,
Serbian rulers busily spun the offer as support for "UN
peacekeeping," not the actual occupation of Iraq.
While it is possible some people may have believed them –
that DOS is still in power proves the people will believe
anything – at least one media commentator has asked
if the troops intend to explain the difference to Iraqi fedayeen
who'd try to shoot them.
leaders are probably thinking that being Empire's most dedicated
lickspittle will bring Serbia (i.e. them) some specific benefits.
What exactly they are expecting isn't clear. For example,
the US continues to support the separatist regime in Montenegro,
which is doing its best to sabotage
the union with Serbia.
Belgrade may have finally formulated a policy on Kosovo that
ruled out independence, there is no evidence the Empire's
position of supporting Albanians has changed at all. The pro-Albanian
viceroy Michael Steiner was just replaced by Finn Harri
Holkeri, but UNMIK's policies have stayed the same.
mid-July, a UN court found four KLA members guilty
of war crimes against Albanian civilians. Albanian
media immediately saw a "UN-Serb
conspiracy." (!) KLA sympathizers struck back immediately,
stations and even shooting
UN personnel. But in keeping with their practice of never
blaming the Albanians, UNMIK and NATO are still trying to
play down the attacks. Even when confronted with raving accusations
of its "partiality to Belgrade" (!), UNMIK merely
gave them a polite
the other side of the occupation line, Albanians in Presevo
valley are plotting
to form a "National Council" that would work on
the area's annexation to Kosovo. The bandits who were "persuaded"
by NATO to halt their attacks in 2001 are growing restless.
Just to make sure the Serbs get the message, they fired
at an Army outpost Sunday night – with US-made
for the fanciful theory that the Empire wants to pull out
of Kosovo or Bosnia in the near future, Washington's recent
of a EU takeover of the Bosnia force clearly indicates
this is how the Empire treats is "allies" and "partners"
– and it really
does, across the board – it might just be better to be
this point it might be appropriate to recall some history.
With due wariness of flawed analogies, there is nonetheless
an interesting pattern that emerges when empires get entangled
in Balkans affairs.
Ottomans first established their empire in the Balkans, and
it was there that it started to unravel. For all its defeats
at the hands of Austrian armies, the Ottoman Turks lost their
grip only when their slaves revolted (Serbia in 1804 and 1815,
Greece in 1820…). The infamous 1878 Congress
of Berlin was called to decide the fate of Ottoman possessions
in the Balkans. By 1912, defeated by a league of its former
vassals, the Ottoman Empire was out of the Balkans – and six
years later, out of existence.
which vied with the Turks for domination of the peninsula,
tried to step in, but Serbia stood in its way. After the Sarajevo
Assassination, Austria relished the excuse for a short, victorious
war. Though Serbia was reduced to ashes, the war was neither
short, nor victorious. By 1918 Austria-Hungary was gone.
defeat did not escape
the memory of an Austrian, Adolf Hitler, who twenty-some
years later decided to make a stopover on his way to Moscow
by punishing the defiant Serbs "with unmerciful
harshness." This pushed the planned invasion of the
Soviet Union from April 22 to June 22, 1941, and wrought havoc
on Nazi logistics. As a result, Hitler's legions bogged down
in Russian mud and froze to death in Russian snows, in sight
– but out of reach – of Moscow. Imagine the world in which
Hitler had those extra eight weeks, and the importance of
his Balkans blunder becomes more obvious.
are conflicted theories as to when the United States became
an Empire. Some say it was the 1898 Spanish-American
War and the seizure of Cuba and the Philippines. Some
go back to Jefferson's 1803 Louisiana
Purchase. Others, and with good reason, cite Abraham
Lincoln's War, or Woodrow Wilson's entry into World War
I, or Roosevelt's meddling in World War II, or the Cold War…
may have been an Empire from any point mentioned above.
But its leaders made a clear choice to become The Empire
in 1992, when they decided to meddle in the messy dismemberment
of Yugoslavia. The First Gulf War was fought cautiously, largely
within the boundaries of international law. Somalia and Haiti
were sideshows. It was the "death by recognition"
practiced in the former Yugoslavia, combined with covert and
overt action in Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia, that established
today's Imperium, with its claim to absolute
power and ultimate judgment.
arming of Croatia, the strikes and occupation of Bosnia, the
bombing of Serbia and occupation of Kosovo – each intervention
built upon the previous and paved the way for the next. Without
them, what His Confounded Majesty did to Iraq would have been
It Will End?
the Balkans may seem inconsequential – conquered, subjugated
and broken. Certainly, the quisling regimes now running the
shattered remnants of Yugoslavia appear to support such a
conclusion. But they cannot outlast the rape of reason, the
brute force that brought them to power. Once that force weakens
– and it must, if not through counteraction, then through
entropy – the unnatural edifice it has built will collapse.
Along with everything else built on its foundations, including
the hopes and dreams of various vassals.
systematic violation of laws and principles that stood between
a desire for civilized society and might-makes-right imperialism
that was the Balkans interventions will eventually come back
with a vengeance. Though it may be elsewhere the Empire actually
stumbles hard enough to fall, it will be the Balkans that
sowed the seeds of its destruction. As shown by history, it
won't be the first time. We can only pray it is the last.
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