October 16, 2003

Agents of Empire
The Infrastructure of Intervention
by Nebojsa Malic

One of the secrets of Empire's success is that so many people have a vested interest in it. From the White Marble Throne itself to the lowliest NGO intern in some obscure occupied satrapy, the fact that they represent the Empire gives them power, authority and meaning. It is also a very lucrative source of income to many.

Local rulers can hardly come to power without Imperial blessing. Knowing that without the Empire one would probably decorate a lamppost is a powerful incentive to be obedient and loyal. So, any rumored shifts in policy – and with it, their precarious status – bring on fits of hysteria.

Swarms of people endeavor every day to perpetuate the current system: "judges" and "prosecutors" at the Hague Inquisition, legions of missionaries from the so-called "NGOs," news media, and local potentates, who still get to boss their own people around even as they serve foreign masters.

All of them form an "infrastructure of intervention," growing fat on pillaged tax money and intoxicated with near-absolute power. Lying, cheating, stealing, killing – all is justified for the greater cause; not human rights, liberty, democracy or any such nonsense, but the very real perks of serving the Empire.

Star Witness?

Towards the end of September, reports from the Inquisition revolved mostly around the shocking testimony of Momir Nikolic, former officer in the Bosnian Serb Army involved in events around Srebrenica in July 1995. Needless to say, few made a point of noting that Nikolic's confessions and testimony were part of a plea bargain he made with the prosecutors.

On September 26, the London-based IWPR reported how Nikolic "made history as the first Serb commander to give the inside story on the massacre at Srebrenica," citing his testimony in great detail. The same day, Marlise Simmons of the New York Times cites a part of Nikolic's tale about six Muslims who surrendered to a UN vehicle, only to realize it had been captured by Serbs; then they were taken away and shot by one Serb soldier, who said he had "taken revenge for my brother."

Note that this hardly sounds like "systematic genocide" the case is supposed to be about, but rather like an opportunistic execution of POWs (still criminal, but lacking the propaganda punch). Yet the best – or the worst – is yet to come.

Holy Perjury!

Three days later, on September 29, a different IWPR "reporter" breaks the shocking news: Nikolic was exposed as a liar! In front of the "judges," the prosecutors and the defense attorneys for another officer – who did not cop a plea, but chose to defend himself – Nikolic admitted to lying about one event (just one?) crucial to the current case. The star witness, the "insider" who "made history," committed perjury.

According to IWPR's Chris Stephen, Nikolic "was so desperate to get a deal with prosecutors that he was willing to lie to them." This revelation "will undermine confidence in other details he has supplied about the Srebrenica killings in July 1995, and raises questions about how plea-bargain agreements are negotiated with those accused of war crimes."

That story is not trumpeted by wire services, or the New York Times, nor did anyone issue retractions for deceiving their readers. But there is more. By October 4, IWPR has replaced their original article with another one, also by Chris Stephen, again on the subject of Nikolic's perjury. But instead of "Key Srebrenica Witness Admits Lying," this article is titled "Key Srebrenica Witness Apologises for Lies." The above-cited passages are gone, replaced by editorial guidance and spin.

Fortunately, the original article was re-posted elsewhere on the web, and thus saved from the Memory Hole.

Now, it is not unusual that the Tribunal's "star witnesses" turn out to be liars; that's a quotidian occurrence in the Milosevic show trial. That the IWPR changed its story after accidentally telling the truth isn't so shocking, either. Though it purports to teach "professionalism" to Balkan presstitutes, it is really just a paid propaganda outlet. That no one is shocked by either the ICTY's, or IWPR's actions – now that's a story.

Protecting Power and Privilege

Meanwhile, in Bosnia, NATO occupation troops accused the Bosnian Serbs of hoarding weapons, and raided the Muslim-Croat police and intelligence HQ, refusing to explain why. Ethnic quotas were imposed on the Serb Republic's Supreme Court. According to BBC, everyone just loves the impending merger of Serb, Muslim and Croat armies. Humbug! According to local press, the Muslim-Croat armed forces can't even pay electricity bills (Oslobodjenje, 12 October 2003) in their headquarters. BBC doesn't mention that, naturally.

This is life as usual in Lord Ashdown's fiefdom. That is, until someone threatened to topple the entire house of cards by speculating about withdrawing Imperial troops badly needed in, say, Babylon.

Even as the EU announced readiness to take over the Bosnia mission from NATO, Ashdown led the howls of protest. American presence is necessary, he said, because "[Bosnians] regard Europeans as the people who sat there and did nothing for four years while they were slaughtered…The Americans are the people who came in and saved them," the viceroy is quoted as saying.

Of course, he wasn't speaking about "Bosnians," but about Bosnian Muslims, and though those might be one and the same to him, the distinction is important. Besides, Europe sent peacekeepers, food and negotiators to try and stop the war. It is hardly their fault that the Muslim leader Izetbegovic was only interested in provoking American military intervention by any means necessary, including holding his own people hostage.

Ashdown's protests were immediately echoed by the International Crisis Group ("it is vital to have an American commitment"), and Izetbegovic's SDA party ("categorically against an American pullout"). And remember, just last week Richard Holbrooke and Bernard Kouchner paraded around the Balkans advocating continued US presence.

Sounds as if someone is afraid for their authority and influence if Americans leave, making one wonder where that power and influence (and let's not forget, money) came from to begin with.

The Vienna Setup

"Bosnians" are not the only ones fussing. There was a meeting in Vienna on Tuesday, between a delegation of "Kosovo" (i.e. separatist Albanians) and Serbian government officials, and Imperial legates, ostensibly to talk about license plates and other such nonsense. Since the KLA leaders refused to attend, the Albanian cause was represented by "president" Rugova, dubbed by new viceroy Harri Holkeri as "a symbol of multi-ethnic unity of Kosovo."

Someone should have searched Holkeri's bags for drug paraphernalia. The only unity Rugova symbolizes is the Albanian desire for an ethnically pure, independent Kosovo.

Or maybe Holkeri means exactly what he said. On October 8, his spokesman chose to argue his case for Albanian attendance in Vienna (through IWPR, no less!), explaining in rather thinly veiled terms that this whole dog-and-pony show was concocted for their benefit.

Dialogue "should happen as an expression of the maturity of Kosovo's provisional institutions," wrote Whitney Mason. The "burden is on Kosovo Albanians to show they are serious leaders prepared to face tough issues… prepared to act like governments everywhere." Translation: this could legitimize your claim to independence by showing you can behave like a government.

And just in case they don't get it, here it is again, verbatim:

"If… Kosovo leaders are sincere in wanting to resolve Kosovo's status, they have to prove that they have the maturity to conduct themselves as a government."

Hints are already dropping that the Empire seems inclined towards independence. The media are already preparing the public for certain conclusions. Serb concerns are dismissed. Yet the Albanians protest, boycott and stonewall, vowing to achieve independence by any means necessary. Sounds a bit like the 1999 Rambouillet setup, doesn't it?

Fight to the Finish

Those who have come into positions of power and prestige through violence and lies have never allowed truth or reason to stand in the way of their ill-gotten gains; it is unlikely they should start now. Thus the Hague Inquisition continues to fabricate lies in its quest for a false Balkans history; Bosnia's rulers – both foreign and domestic – continue to pursue their pipe dreams, and the Conquerors of Kosovo don't intend to begin paying attention to international law just because Dossie quislings asked them nicely. There is too much blood on the ground, too many skeletons in the closet, too much debauchery still ahead, to stop now. They mean to keep this up, till the very end.

All the more reason to bring it about.

– 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 Antiwar.com appears every Thursday.


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Fresh Blood in Kosovo

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The New Janissaries

The Worthy Balkans Booklist

Worthless Words

Liars, Halfwits, Inquisitors and Thieves

The Serbian Lincoln?

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

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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

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