Hubris, Heretics, and Hermits
The real Balkans madness
absolute power and inherent goodness have been asserted most
vigorously over the past decade, often through cluster-bombing
anyone who dared stand in its way. To ensure a worldwide understanding
that its rulers and legions can do no wrong, it has gone to
great lengths to demonize, murder or otherwise destroy any
heretics who claimed otherwise, no matter the cost in lives
of "collateral damage" which was, of course, always "regrettable"
and "unintentional." Because the Empire said so.
the most famous heretic of the moment sits in the dock at
the Hague Inquisition, fighting a massive quasi-legal, media
and political machinery with nothing more than sharp wit and
a sharper tongue.
All Else Fails, Omit
successful he has been
is best illustrated by the deafening silence from the media
jackals who had spent the last two weeks howling about the
"triumph of justice" and "a new era in international law."
Incensed at first that Milosevic even dared challenge their
claim to Official Truth, and confounded by his quick demolition
of the first two prosecution witnesses, the masters of mendacity decided
to cut their losses and run.
the first two days of cross-examination, reports from the
"tribunal" became comparatively scarce, reduced largely to
regurgitations of accusations
made by various witnesses and the charges leveled against
Milosevic. Conveniently omitted was any mention of Milosevic's
cross-examination skills, which have already managed to exclude
one major witness, utterly
demolish three more, and cast doubt on the veracity of
others. Having already
convicted Milosevic in the court of public relations,
they are determined not to allow inconvenient facts to interfere
and confuse their populace.
Whatever We Say
protected by this wall of ignorance, the Inquisition can focus
on its appointed task: to rewrite Balkans history. And while
the Inquisition is just getting started, its patrons are hard
at work on the ground, making sure the reality created there
closely matches their desires, and no heretics question the
Bosnia, laws mean exactly what the occupiers say they mean
no more, no less. In Macedonia, borders and international
treaties must bow before omnipotent Imperial generals. In
Kosovo, murders of Albanians most often by other Albanians
are heinous crimes, while murders of Serbs are merely "incidents."
And in Serbia, saying things that make the government look
bad are close to being blamed on the "axis of evil."
Such rampant madness leaves one few choices: pretend everything
is fine and accept whatever the Truth of the Day might be;
become a heretic and speak out, risking the Empire's towering
might; or leave the place, physically or mentally, and seek
a more normal universe elsewhere.
For the Hills
who go for the last option choose to remove themselves physically,
abandoning the Balkans for a life of immigrant laborers in
Empire's more prosperous holdings or even the Empire itself.
One man, however, did it in a different, most peculiar way.
Panicic was found by British peacekeepers in the forested
mountains of western Bosnia last week, having spent six years
in the wild with berries for food and only a mountain bear
for company. The former shepherd thought the war was still
Bosnia's state of affairs no pun intended Panicic
sounds positively rational. Fact is, in the mind of most Bosnian
citizens, the war really isn't over. Most Bosnian politics
is focused on building a stronger state
squandering what few resources can be plundered from the
impoverished populace and guaranteeing years of plunder and
poverty to come. Protection of property, as beneficial and
essential to normal life as state is hostile and detrimental, is
the last thing on anyone's mind. Laws that might help that
protection are routinely
violated, overruled or abused, often by the occupation
authorities themselves. Suddenly, berries, bears and harsh
winters in Bosnian mountains don't sound so bad.
On What You Mean By "Murder"
new viceroy no doubt appeared regal by berating
the Albanians for dragging their feet on electing a puppet
government. Yet while Herr Steiner was garnering media
points, life in Kosovo continued pretty much as normal. Serbs
solemnly marked the anniversary
of the terrorist attack on a refugee bus. Of three Albanians
suspected of the attack, two were released by occupation courts,
while one "escaped" from the US fortress-base of Camp Bondsteel.
authorities in Kosovo are also obsessed with building a State
albeit one in which they hold absolute power. Already there
are moves to abolish the self-governing Serbian enclaves and
put them under the authority of "elected" Albanian
officials, so as to eliminate "parallel government structures."
Though parallel structures are praised when Albanians use
them to challenge Serbia, they are anathema to Kosovo's current
rulers. Any challenge to their supreme power, however symbolic,
becomes instantly intolerable.
destroying the last remnants of Serbian political organization,
though, they are continuing to overlook the rampant trafficking
in drugs, arms and sex slaves, or the equally rampant violent
crime. This past Friday, an elderly Serb woman was gunned
down on the street, her assailant expending the entire
ammo clip of an AK-47 assault rifle. A Serb church in Mitrovica
was set on fire the preceding
Sunday. The perpetrators remain at large, as usual.
arrests do occur, they are usually for crimes against Albanians.
Two Serbs were arrested in Mitrovica last Thursday morning,
on suspicion of killing an Albanian in riots two years ago.
The arrest drew
protests from the embattled Serb community. Similar protests
took place in Pristina a week before, but this time Albanians
the arrest of two Albanians, charged with killing other
Albanians in 1998. Go figure.
do troubles in Kosovo stay confined to that wretched stretch
of territory. An American general commanding the eastern occupation
zone recently incensed
Macedonian authorities by dismissing
the treaty between Skopje and Belgrade on regulating their
border which included Kosovo. Apparently, since the treaty
would complicate the lives of a few Albanian farmers in the
good general's jurisdiction and since the Empire's might
trumps any action by lowly vassals anyway the border between
Macedonia and Kosovo should be wherever the good generals
say it is.
all honesty, the Empire has been ignoring Macedonia's northern
and western border ever since it descended on the peninsula
in late 1998 in preparation for the attack on Yugoslavia.
NATO troops in Macedonia are absolutely immune to local laws.
So, in effect, are most Albanians, who practically control
the border with Albania and Kosovo (which is, consequently,
not much of a border).
the Macedonian government complains too loudly, it will be
accused of "obstructing peace" as the Treaty of Ohrid is called
in official-speak. On the first anniversary of the Albanian
rebellion, February 25, Reuters chose to air the insidious suggestions
of the who else? - ICG,
that a new war depends on whether a conflict serves the interest
of "those in power." That is, the Macedonian government. At
the same time, a report in the British press
claims the Albanians have rearmed thanks to Afghan heroin
profits, and are ready to go.
is traditionally the beginning of campaign season in the Balkans.
We will find out soon enough.
Many Cooks in the Kitchen
report on Balkans madness would be complete without the mention
of current government in Serbia. Its eighteen components and
countless appendages continue to flail about incoherently,
singing praises to themselves while the country sinks into
the mire largely of their making.
mind that unemployment is close to 50%, or that
the new EU proposal for a joint state with Montenegro (which
both sides find loathsome) might be a back
door for a protectorate. What really matters is that The Economist
celebrates Zoran Djindjic's politically correct, "tidy Teutonic
mind," presenting him as some sort of "good German" for the
21st century; or that The New York Times is
enchanted with the charms of "liberated"
Belgrade, whose bombing into the Stone Age it vigorously advocated
just three years ago. The ultimate ironic twist might just
be that Germany is lending
Serbia money to repair and upgrade a power grid devastated
by NATO, and used by the current regime to rob the people
blind with outrageous and often fraudulent bills.
almost wishes for the Serbian equivalent of western Bosnia
mountains bears, berries and all.