November 7, 2002
of Imperial Occupation
memory is what defines an individual, history is what defines
a nation. Just as personal memory is colored by individual
perceptions, collective memory – history – tends to be colored
by the perceptions of those who record it. However economy
of scale, and the differences between the collective and individual
mind, make manipulating collective memories much easier than
those of an individual. And since memories are so important
to one's identity, the amount of effort spent in manipulating
history is not at all surprising. As George Orwell
put most succinctly, "He who controls the past, controls
of former Yugoslav states, the Wars of Yugoslav Succession,
and the Albanian Expansion have all prompted a furious flurry
of historical manipulation, by the locals as well as the Empire
– whose fingers were in the Balkans pie all along, after all.
Perhaps the most notorious examples are certainly the "short
histories" of Bosnia and Kosovo,
penned by quasi-historian Noel Malcolm, but there is an entire
cottage industry dedicated to Balkans "histories,"
most of which are dreadful
amusing propaganda pamphlets.
is a serious topic, and worth discussing at length. But one
cannot seriously analyze contemporary attempts to manipulate
Balkans history ignorant of the climate in which they take
place. And there is one aspect of modern Balkans, crucial
to that climate, that is assiduously being ignored by historians,
politicians and journalists alike. It lords over the Balkans
like the proverbial elephant
in the room: no one can avoid the impact of its presence,
but no one dares mention the inconvenience.
Empire is everywhere.
every so often someone complains that the foreign proconsuls
aren't doing what that someone would like them to do. But
the very fact of their presence – and the legitimacy of their
presence – is seldom challenged.
is not short-term memory loss. Everyone still remembers the
wars, the suffering, the privation, and the burning hatred
all too well. But the memory of Empire's arrival seems to
have been repressed, probably because of Imperial power's
ubiquitous presence. So here are just several reminders of
what intervention and occupation have wrought.
Disturbing State of Mind
most recent conquest is a good example. Conventional wisdom
has it that Macedonia avoided a bloody ethnic war by giving
its Albanians "greater civil rights" last year in
of Ohrid. The fragile peace has been maintained through
the presence of a small NATO force, and an international envoy.
True, a full-scale ethnic war was prevented. But peace has
remained elusive. Violence continues, whether by bombs and
taking lives, or by renaming
of city streets.
a month ago, after the ritual offering to the gods of democracy,
bandits who fought for state-funded parallel Albanian society
were rewarded by becoming part of the Macedonian government.
Cynics have already dubbed it the "guns-and-roses"
regime, connecting the symbols of Albanian separatists and
Macedonian socialist-democrats. Throughout Macedonia, a parallel
Albanian society is being established, at the expense of already
impoverished Macedonian taxpayers.
Deliso excellently described it, Greater
Albania may not yet be a physical place, but in Macedonia,
it is already a state of mind.
Empire not only made all this possible, it has actively
labored to make it a reality. The consequences are more
than apparent, yet no one dares point a finger at the chief
of course, is where the Imperial march really started, back
in 1995. While there was some significant interference in
the Balkans much earlier, it was in the summer of that year
that the Empire crossed
certain boundaries and began imposing its will directly.
the terms of the Dayton Peace Agreement, extorted from the
warring parties (some more, some less) in November 1995, Bosnia
became a quasi-protectorate of the Empire. Back then, it went
by the sanitized moniker "international community,"
still widely used by Balkans political drones.
occupation of Bosnia has been comparatively gentle, since
the Empire did not scrap the last vestiges of international
conventions until 1999 and Kosovo. Nonetheless, foreign proconsuls
have consistently violated both the letter and the spirit
of the Dayton Agreement, in the name of upholding it. Well,
why not? They give the same treatment to their constitutions
at home, and who ever heard of respecting treaties
days, reports out of Bosnia have focused on results of the
recent elections and the allegations that Bosnian Serbs gave
aid to Iraq. Amidst the hullabaloo, two news items were
barely noticed as they slipped by.
Wednesday, the US ended
an almost seven-year program of training and equipping the
Bosnian Muslim military. The program, administered by a mercenary
outfit MPRI, was part of a bribe to obstinate Muslim leader
Izetbegovic, so he would approve the American-crafted peace
proposal. The program was technically conditional on the Muslim
regime deporting all foreign Islamic militants, the mujahideen,
who fought on its side during the 1992-95 war. Izetbegovic
"solved" the problem by giving them citizenship.
The program went on; many mujahideen stayed.
day after Train-and-Equip officially ended, US troops detained
a local Muslim, armed
with a rocket launcher, who allegedly spied on their base
in northern Bosnia. He lived in a village settled by the "naturalized"
mujahideen. There was no word whether the rocket launcher
was Made in the USA. But the man… who knows?
of the Damned
examination of Imperial presence in the Balkans can bypass
Kosovo. It is the black
hole of the region, a place from which most Imperial power
stems and one where it is most acutely felt. It is also worth
noting since it is being touted
as an example of future Imperial adventures.
last weekend of October, the occupation authorities organized
another local election, with the goal of providing a pretext
for further moves towards an independent, Albanian-dominated
Kosovo. Last year, before a general election, the former viceroy
managed to make
a deal with the authorities in Belgrade and the remaining
Kosovo Serbs, promising he would help the return of some 200,000-plus
Serbs and others expelled at the outside of UN-NATO occupation
by the "liberated" Albanians. After the Serbs voted,
decorative fixtures in an Albanian-run government, the
resigned. His successor did not feel obligated by the
agreement. Again, one does not make treaties with savages…
fact, the new viceroy came down hard on the remaining Kosovo
Serbs, whose continued existence outside Albanian domination
the Empire has deemed
the gravest threat to its authority in the province. While
risible at first glance, and especially when considering the
publicly proclaimed Imperial goals, such an analysis makes
sense. Free Serbs demolish the myth of Albanian tolerance
and the occupiers' alleged efforts to build a "multi-ethnic"
province. Ergo, they must be crushed.
exchange for their participation in local polls this year,
the viceroy promised – contrary to all his earlier pronouncements
– that he would entertain an option of Serb self-government
in certain areas, what was deemed "decentralization."
But this time, the Serbs were not fooled by empty promises,
and stayed home.
viceroy then did what he wanted to all along: he refused
to even contemplate Serb self-government, and blamed the Serbs
themselves for any misfortune that may now befall them.
this trip down Memory Lane ends in Kosovo, it is only fitting
to finish by a reminder of a recent event that made the present
grim reality of the province possible.
years ago today, the Kosovo Verification Mission was deployed;
ostensibly, to monitor the pledge president Milosevic gave
ambassador Holbrooke that Yugoslav forces would not attack
Albanian separatists. Belgrade authorities likely had little
hope that Albanian bandits would stop their attacks, but perhaps
believed, naively, that the KVM would witness these attacks
firsthand, and thus end months of trumped-up charges of "excessive
force" and "Serb brutality."
is now known that the KVM was pure subterfuge: a vanguard
for NATO bombers and occupation troops. Its head, US ambassador
Walker, was instrumental
in fabricating the story of the Racak "massacre."
The story, in turn, enabled the Empire to send the Rambouillet
ultimatum to Belgrade and, once it was predictably refused,
let slip the dogs of war.
rest, as they say, is history.
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