July 19, 2001

Empire’s Willing Servants


Ten years ago, the mental fabric of the Balkans began to rip and unravel. Wars, massacres, sanctions, bombings and separatism have all taken their toll not just in lives and property destruction, but in sanity and reason. Few principles could have survived those unprincipled wars, and fewer still could stand in their aftermath. Just as nothing grows in the shade of the great oak, little can thrive in the dark shadow of unbridled imperial power that now holds sway over once-prosperous Balkan lands.

However told, histories of the last decade abound with betrayals, underhanded deals, broken promises, lies and more lies, and often senseless slaughter and sacrifice for as little as some fleeting political gain. I almost think a medieval scholar would understand current events in the Balkans better than anyone in modern academia. What used to be Yugoslavia is today much more akin to Machiavellian descriptions of European princedoms than to Locke's (and Jefferson's) vision of modern statehood.


Concepts such as limited government, national sovereignty and individual liberty have no meaning. Governments of ex-Yugoslav states are subordinate in all matters to foreign masters, and compensate for it with near-unlimited power over their citizens. In such a climate, individual liberty is as likely to survive as mountain dew in the desert.

In order to seize and retain power, leaders of these vassal satrapies are all too eager to give up everything their people have ever held dear. In that they are aided by an unscrupulous Empire, whose only principles are order and obedience – or, in Newspeak, "stability" and "compliance." Conversely, understanding, responsibility and liberty are dangerous concepts, to be routinely and brutally repressed.

Just one look at this nightmarish social laboratory is enough: this is how people are broken, and how slaves are made. For future reference.


Much has been said here about Zoran Djindjic's treacherous actions, almost more than paper can bear. Those who have rejoiced in his betrayal smugly pointed out that it was motivated by American blackmail and joint Euro-American promises of splendid riches. The price of Slobodan Milosevic's head was estimated at almost $1.3 billion. Eager to lay his paws on that pot of gold, Djindjic shattered the fragile shell of laws that held his country in a semblance of order, abducted Milosevic from prison and delivered him to the Empire's Hague Inquisition.

But the money never came.

Indeed, most of it never will. In a macabre twist of international politics, the EU and the U.S. froze Yugoslavia's foreign assets during the nine years of international sanctions, yet the exorbitant interest on its foreign debt (held by the US and EU governments) grew unimpeded. The debt thus grew from $4.7 billion in 1992 to some $12 billion today. Of the 300 million euros Djindjic was to receive from the EU, for example, 225 million will go to service the debt. The other 75 million in new loans might reach Belgrade by November.

Thus double-crossed, the irritated Prime Minister vented his spleen to the German magazine Der Spiegel, calling the promised aid a "farce" that "shocked" him. He also added, in exasperation, that the fall of his government could cost the "international community" some "$10 billion."

Whether the Euro-American "international community" really invested that much money into Djindjic's regime, or this figure represents the potential spoils resulting from its continued existence, is yet unclear. Other numbers, cited by every player on the Balkans' stage, are equally confusing; nine-figure amounts in dollars, euros and German marks plundered from the citizens of the US and EU countries are being invoked as if they were petty change. But, so far, not a dime has actually materialized, from the 3 million German marks in cash Djindjic claims the EU promised him for toppling Milosevic last October, to the $40 billion in war damages from NATO's 1999 aggression against Yugoslavia.

The money is simply not there.

Even Judas drove a better bargain. At least he got paid.


Though more efficient than brute force, bribes are still a rather expensive way of enslaving nations – even when they fail to materialize. When it bombed Yugoslavia in 1999, the Empire demonstrated that its military arm can pulverize any country in the Balkans with near-absolute impunity. The Empire can now bank on the terror this act induced in other denizens of the region, to the point where neither bribes nor force are necessary to achieve the conqueror's ends. Mere fear will do.

After it was openly defied by Milosevic at his arraignment on July 3, the Hague Inquisition moved to improve the illusion of its legitimacy by demanding the heads of two Croatian generals. Firmly convinced of the absolute rectitude of its soldiers, Croatians nearly toppled their coalition government. By Saturday, though, the government received a strong vote of confidence in the parliament. One party leader opposed the extradition; his party colleagues forced him to resign, then rejoined the coalition government.

Now, the two generals indicted by the Inquisition have been involved in atrocities. Many Serbs were killed in both the 1993 Medak offensive, in which Croatians even clashed with Canadian peacekeepers, and the 1995 "Operation Storm" – which, incidentally, resulted in almost complete eradication of Serbs from Croatia's present territory. By indicting people supposedly in charge of these massacres, the Inquisition is hoping to assure the Serbs of its impartiality.

Of course, it is plain as day that the two men are scapegoats, indicted not for what they allegedly did, but for who they are. General Gotovina, reported to be one of the indicted, was high up in the Croatian Army's command during the 1995 ethnic cleansing spree in Krajina. General Ademi, who led the 1993 Medak operation, is a Kosovo Albanian.

Their indictment is in fact a test for all those who oppose the Inquisition. Would they stand on principle and contend that whatever Gotovina and Ademi might have done, the Inquisition has no legitimate right to put them on trial, or will they accept this token of imperial "justice" in exchange for recognizing the ICTY "court" and its main goal – pinning the blame for the 1990s Balkans wars squarely on the Serbs?

The principles involved don't concern the regime of Ivica Racan. His government has already decided that fear of imperial retribution was reason enough to violate the Constitution and sacrifice the two generals. Also, Croatia's state coffers are perennially empty, despite (or because of?) the heavy taxes levied on just about everything. Perhaps its leaders thought they could benefit from some fictitious aid, too.


No analysis of the deepening darkness across the Balkans would be complete without the events in Macedonia. For almost six months, that country – a paragon of obedience, yet also an oasis of relative freedom – has been racked by a lethal infestation of separatist violence. For months, Imperial envoys have threatened, persuaded, ordered and cajoled the government of Macedonia not to resist this peril. Right now, they are concocting a ghoulish plan to "resolve" the crisis, by having the Macedonians give in to demands of Albanian racists.

Imperial diplomacy in Macedonia looks more like a rerun of its 1990s Greatest Balkans Hits. The new "peace plan" was authored by Robert Badinter, the same lawyer who, in an instant of cosmic wisdom, decided that self-determination in the old Yugoslavia was reserved not for peoples, but federal states. Since the subsequent secession wars were fought not over the principle of secession, but over those states' borders, Badinter bears grave responsibility for them.

He is joined by Francois Leotard, a veteran of "peacemaking" in Bosnia, and the Kosovo veterans: James Pardew, Javier Solana and George Robertson. Just a cursory look at these people's biographies ought to be enough to convince the Macedonians to keep them away from peacemaking with sharpened stakes.

Little wonder, then, that the "negotiations" conducted in Skopje are between the Macedonian government and the political wing of the Albanian separatists. Why else would the UCK bandits lay down their weapons, if not because their demands had already been fulfilled in a treaty with Albanian political parties? Indeed, the talks focus not on whether Macedonia should capitulate to the UCK/PDP-DPA, surrendering its nationhood and sovereignty, but to what extent.

The Macedonian people sense this betrayal, and are voicing their discontent. Unfortunately, their leaders are either unable or unwilling to resist, likely gripped by fear and despair in the face of overbearing imperial pressure.

Text-only printable version of this article

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 had contributed to the Independent. As a historian who specialized in international relations and the Balkans, Malic has written numerous essays on the Kosovo War, Bosnia and Serbian politics, which were published by the Serbian Unity Congress. His exclusive column for Antiwar.com appears every Thursday.


Past Articles

Empire’s Willing Servants

Kostunica’s Choice

Betrayal in Belgrade

The Empire Shows Its Hand

The Return of Kings

Meditations On The Edge Of The Abyss


Terms of Betrayal

Presevo – A False Victory

The Balkans: Land of Delusions

Enemies at the Gates

ICG’s Blueprint for Destruction

Kosovo: Between Death and Taxes

Madness in the Mountains: Montenegro's Looming Secession

A House Divided


Empire at the Gates

Macedonian Maelstrom

Pax Americana

The Fourth Balkan War

Mayhem in Macedonia

Surreal Realm

Santayana’s Curse

The Croatian Conundrum

March of the Black Eagle

Showdown in Belgrade

Out of the Shadows

With a Grain of Salt

Crusade's End

The Worst of Times

Moments of Transition

Déja Vu

The Crucible

Bandits on the Border

It's the Spelling, Stupid

Zoran Djindjic: Serbia's Richard III

Wheels of Injustice

The Tragedy of Bosnia

The Suspended Castle

Hand Of The Empire: Decision in Kosovo

Introduction: The Balkans Babylon

ITN: Case Closed


Though demonstrably powerful motivators, neither greed, nor fear, nor despair alone, could successfully turn the Balkans' leaders into the Empire's eager servants. Underlining all that has taken place in the region for the past decade is a climate of incessant brainwashing, manipulation with not so much facts as perceptions, to the point where everything and anything can and will be used by imperial propagandists to support their version(s) of history.

From the "death camps" and "rape camps" of Bosnia to the "genocide" in Kosovo, millions of words written by Western propagandists and apologists have coalesced into a sinister and twisted image of the Balkans, one that is near-impossible to rip out of people's minds and throw in the toxic waste dump of history. In order to bring about the submission of the Balkans, the Empire first had to enslave its supposed watchdogs. Once that task is fully accomplished, what fate could possibly be in store for the citizens of the Empire itself?


Speaking before the Croatian parliament on Monday, Prime Minister Racan argued for obeying the Empire by saying that their decision would "show whether we shall continue as a democratic country which wants to integrate with Europe or be pushed back into the darkness of the Balkans."

It is cruel and ironic that Racan, and other self-abasing servants of the Empire, are so eager to leave the "darkness" of the Balkans that they plunge even deeper into the darkness of servitude to the "international community," embodied in the American Empire and the EU superstate.

One of the favorite metaphors embraced by the Empire’s willing servants in the Balkans is that of a carrot and a stick. Reading the local press, one is bound to encounter the carrot-and-stick image with nauseating repetitiveness. Usually, it is articulated into a call for the Empire to apply the "carrot" to one's own people or country, while employing the "stick" against its rivals. They either do not know, or do not want their people to know, that the origin of the phrase goes back to the methods of dealing with donkeys – the lowliest beast of burden known to man.

That says it all, really.

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