May 3, 2001
In the perennially paranoid Balkans, political speculation is one of the people’s favorite pastimes – right next to discussing soccer. Conspiracy theories are more abundant than in North America, and people are generally more suspicious – though in some matters they can be as painfully naïve as Americans.
One of these "conspiracy theories" spun six ways from Sunday over the past decade has been that the United States has a master plan for acting in the Balkans. While no one disputes that the US targeted the Serbs for destruction, the motivation for such a vicious policy is the subject of much speculation.
Was it at the behest of Germany, eager to avenge two 20th century defeats and re-establish the statehood of a former vassal, Croatia? Was it Turkey and the Islamic world, who paid the Empire to fight its jihad in Bosnia and Kosovo? Or was it the Vatican, which backed Austrian and Croatian attempts to eradicate the "heretical" Orthodox Serbs for almost 200 years? Historical memory aside, could it be that the United States is simply intervening in order to assert its supremacy in Europe and maintain its imperial reputation? Has there been any method in the madness, anyway? Sorting the truth from various "humanitarian" excuses and efforts to prevent "genocide" and "defend human rights" has often seemed impossible.
Just because one is paranoid, though, it does not mean someone is not out to get them. Last week, the evidence surprisingly surfaced in the shape of a 350-page document, ambitiously titled, "After Milosevic: A practical Agenda for Lasting Balkan Peace," published by the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG). If the Empire did not have a plan for the Balkans so far, one is out there now. And chances are, it will be followed.
Anyone who follows Balkan events, no matter how casually, had to have heard of the ICG sooner or later. Their offices are markers of US influence, from the protectorates governed from Sarajevo and Pristina, to vassals in Podgorica, Tirana and (perhaps) Belgrade. ICG’s Board is stacked with notables, many of whom had a hand in the Balkans tragedies of the past ten years.
There is Chairman Martti Ahtisaari, the former Finnish president who double-crossed the Yugoslav government to surrender to NATO in 1999. Morton Abramowitz advised the KLA delegation in the Rambouillet "talks." General Wesley Clark commanded the 1999 air war against Yugoslavia, mercilessly targeting civilian lives and infrastructure. Former ICTY prosecutor Louise Arbour was responsible for giving NATO a booster shot in May 1999 by indicting Slobodan Milosevic for war crimes that have still to be proven. Paddy Ashdown, former British politician who – according to whispers on high – is slated to take over the Bosnian protectorate later this year, heartily advocated European imperialism in both Bosnia and Kosovo. Further down the list is George Soros, who owns most "independent" media in the Balkans and funds most "civil society" groups that, consequently, profess more loyalty to their paymaster than the people they claim to represent.
This eclectic bunch – and this is just the tip of the iceberg – is leading an organization barely six years old, which has managed to handily outpace the US government in anti-Serbian sentiments. For years now, ICG has uncompromisingly howled for arresting "war criminals," toppling Slobodan Milosevic’s government, secession of Kosovo and unitarization of Bosnia. After aiding the KLA during the Rambouillet "talks," ICG cheered the NATO attack in Yugoslavia as the triumph of "democracy" over "genocide." Last year, following ICG’s recommendations to the letter, the UN viceroy took over a Serb-run mine and smelter in northern Kosovo and turned it over to the KLA.
Agencies and newspapers have taken to quoting ICG as a "leading" or "respectable" and its program directors as "Balkans experts," even though they are mostly advocacy-journalists and small-caliber political analysts. But the group definitely has access to the corridors of power, from the US State Department and European governments, to the boardrooms of US media.
Thus the Balkans policy outline was promoted through an editorial by ICG President Gareth Evans (former Aussie Foreign Minister) in the International Herald Tribune, while the actual promotion was hosted by the US Institute of Peace, a pseudo-governmental (i.e. Congressionally funded) "think tank" heavily involved in steering the US Balkans policy. USIP President Richard Solomon and Evans led the presentation on the "last unfinished business" in the Balkans: destroying Serbia.
If reading the actual 350 pages of Imperialism 101 does not sound appealing, there is the helpful Executive Summary, posted conveniently on ICG’s web site. Therein, one can clearly see that the "democratic overthrow" [sic] of Milosevic opened the doors to dealing with the Empire’s unfinished business: "to peacefully and enduringly settle unresolved political status and minority rights issues in all the areas, beginning with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and its component entities."
Translated into plain English (with guidance from ICG’s previous reports), this means partitioning FRY into ethnic enclaves. Says ICG, "Hopes that the FRY can be reconstituted - on a transitional or permanent basis … appear painfully detached from political reality."
Having labeled it inaccurately as a "constituent part" of Yugoslavia – rather than a territory of Serbia - ICG authoritatively claims that "Kosovo wants nothing to do with Serbia or the FRY at all." Apparently, Kosovo Albanians are the only legitimate denizens of the province – a position further confirmed when the report puts Serb resistance to ethnic cleansing in Mitrovica on equal footing with Albanian terror-bombings in Kosovo and armed rebellions in Macedonia and Presevo.
ICG’s solution for Kosovo is "conditional independence" – a concept falsely presented last fall as a UN-sanctioned solution, while in reality penned by a self-proclaimed "independent commission" headed by another ICTY alumnus, Richard Goldstone. This goal would be realized in three stages:
Given that in the minds of ICG only Serbs are capable of ethnic cleansing, the ethnic purity of Kosovo – reinforced with more "ethnically purified" territories of inner Serbia – becomes a humanitarian value. "As long as Albanians fear and Serbs hope that Belgrade’s rule might return, each side will be preparing both psychologically and practically for the next war," says the report. But Albanians hoping NATO would give them independence and Serbs rightfully fearing death at the hands of those same Albanians are simply not parts of the equation.
Throughout the report, ICG insists on Kosovo’s independence, claiming it would make no difference to Montenegro, that it would actually help stop the conflicts in Macedonia and Presevo (as appeasement usually does for greedy conquerors, I guess), and that Serbia should have absolutely no right to govern this piece of territory stolen from it by NATO. Indeed, the few surviving Serbs in Kosovo must be crushed if Kosovo is to become the paradise of ICG’s vision. The report says, verbatim, "A critical element in dealing with the Serbs of Kosovo, and indeed in preserving Kosovo as a single entity, is regaining control of Mitrovica." The way the rest of Kosovo was "regained," perhaps?
Additionally, "Montenegro should no longer be discouraged… by the international community, from seeking independence," since outside opposition has "discouraged Belgrade from engaging in meaningful dialogue." Once one’s established that only Albanians have legitimate rights in Kosovo, claiming that only 44% of Montenegro’s population represents the will of the entire republic comes out easily enough.
To be honest, ICG does acknowledge that "opposition to independence is strong, especially in parts of the north, but it does not appear severe enough to trigger violence or a counter separatist movement." Well, as long as people do not intend to actually fight for their rights, by all means, trample them. Libertarians in the US should know where this theory comes from.
So the occupation of Kosovo is to be used to secure a "Greater Albania," and Montenegro’s servile leadership should be rewarded for its service to NATO and Washington over the years. Macedonia, another devoted vassal which, nevertheless, refused to serve as NATO’s springboard for an invasion of Serbia, is to be appropriately disciplined. Its "Macedonian-speakers", demoted from nationhood to a mere linguistic category, need "to address the reasonable political, cultural and economic concerns of the Albanian-speaking community." Of course they are "reasonable" – if the KLA fights for them, they have to be. And certainly, what is the harm of butchering a country’s Constitution to accommodate a pack of terrorists? Now really, let’s be reasonable.
Before accusing ICG of supporting separatism wholesale, one has to note that this mammoth report does advocate that the Dayton-imposed occupation "must be used to further strengthen Bosnia’s central institutions while eroding the power base of factions that oppose the development of a functioning, democratic state and the reintegration of Bosnia’s ethnic communities." While Serbia and Macedonia are eviscerated and ethnically pure Albanian Kosovo revels in "conditional independence," Bosnia must be forcibly centralized against the wishes of the overwhelming majority of its people. "The logical end-point for reform of the Dayton structure would appear to be a strengthened central government, with reduced or no roles for the two present ‘entities’." The ‘entities’ would be both the artificial Muslim-Croat Federation and the Bosnian Serb Republic, both guaranteed by the Dayton agreement. A bigger percentage of Bosnians rejects a centralized, Muslim-dominated state than Montenegro secessionists won votes. But that’s suddenly irrelevant.
Where does Serbia fit into all this? Well, a "range of policies still supported by Belgrade are unacceptable," says ICG, as "the struggle between liberal European-style policies and holdover nationalist policies continues." The former are presumably embodied in Zoran Djindjic, while the latter are laid at the feet of Vojislav Kostunica. So as long as Kostunica is in power, Serbia "should be held to the same high standards demanded of other Balkans countries."
While berating Europe for opposing any further butchering of the Balkans, ICG sings praises to its largest financier and the ultimate enforcer of its plan – the United States. Consider this: "More vigorous U.S. diplomatic and military leadership proved essential in transforming the disastrous international community policies of the early- and mid-1990s into the far more effective approaches of the last several years."
Furthermore, "NATO’s military muscle made peace possible on the ground in Bosnia and Kosovo, and has been essential in keeping Macedonia from descending into wider conflict. One can also make the argument that the successful NATO military intervention in Kosovo during 1999, for all the controversy it generated, helped speed the demise of former Yugoslav President Milosevic, and put Serbia on a much faster track to normalisation."
Aside from everything else that has been said in this document, these two passages lie at the very heart of ICG’s recommendation. A simple, elegant theory stated matter-of-factly: Not only is the US responsible for bringing peace to the Balkans, it was NATO’s bombs that brought democracy to Serbia.
The former US administration agreed with both these claims wholeheartedly. Given the level of publicity and support ICG enjoys among Washington’s political elite, it is likely its recommendations will be accepted and implemented to some extent. If the Imperial government also accepts the underlying philosophy in ICG’s report, the Balkans can look forward to more Imperial intervention; more terrorism, separatism, irredentism and maybe even bombing all in the holy name of "human rights," of course.
Only this time, the script has been written and published in advance.
The interventionists are back. But were they ever away?
It seems the paranoid have it again.
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