As I mentioned Thursday, the extradition of two Croatian generals to the Hague Inquisition has occasioned comments in the media about how Serbia now needs to arrest and extradite its own “indictees” in order to remain in the Empire’s good graces. In the words of Associated Press, “The country risks losing badly needed financial support from the United States and the European Union if it fails to bring suspects to justice.”
The sort of “justice” the Inquisition metes out aside, what exactly does Serbia stand to lose?
Most often mentioned is a figure of $100 million in direct foreign aid. As was the case with previous deadlines, there is a question of whether this is money yet to be disbursed, or originally earmarked for aid (in which case, only a portion remains withheld). Even if it is the full $100 million, what good would it do?
First of all, only a fraction of the sum would end up in Serbia (after all the intermediary NGOs and contractors take their share), and that with the government, which by definition consumes some of the money before it is given to whatever welfare program recipient it might be intended for. There are indications this money goes to fund the “independent” media, which so eagerly goose-stepped along with the government during the martial law last year. What exactly entitles these people to American taxpayers’ money? Or anyone else’s, for that matter?
Secondly, even if the entire sum by some miracle made it to the people of Serbia, what good would it do? The country is running a combined government debt of almost $14 billion, which it cannot hope to repay at the rate the economy is currently going (i.e. almost not at all). Ah, but the aid the US and EU threaten to withhold is not just the $100 million-odd in donations, but also the approval for new loans from the IMF and the World Bank.
Wonderful! That’s the best thing that could possibly happen under the circumstances. Given that the Serbian government cannot afford many of its existing social programs (which I consider wasteful by definition, but that’s a topic for another time) without going into debt, it would either have to finance them from whatever bonds it can persuade the reluctant public to purchase, raise taxes (which it said it would not do), or abolish the programs altogether. Government debt is basically a tax on the future generations, which will have to pay it off. It is a mortgage on a country’s future. Worst thing is, the government spends money from those loans on things that not only do not promote wealth-creation (and hence would help pay them off), but actively discourage it (by interfering with the market). This debt, for which the government is never held responsible, has much the same effect as crack cocaine: it renders one incapable of ever settling the bill.
So, what exactly does Serbia stand to lose by refusing to submit to the Hague Inquisition? A chance to waste some money plundered from honest Americans that would end up in the pockets of crooked government officials on both sides of the Atlantic, and to mortgage the future of the entire nation’s grandchildren (less of whom are being born each day, it’s worth noting) for the sake of instant gratification of the select few.
Doesn’t sound like a bad bargain to me.