Tuesday, May 31, 2005

A Pyrrhic Victory

The French have spoken. Chances are they objected to the EU not because it was a liberty-crushing bureaucratic Leviathan, but because it wasn't giving them enough tax loot. Still, that distinction - while crucial in principle - doesn't matter much right now. The obtuse, 300-page-plus EU Constitution has always been a waste of paper; the French voters just made it official.

Or did they? When the people fail to dance to the government's tune, the government hardly ever changes the tune. It changes the people instead. In Britain, Tony Blair is trying to weasel out of calling a referendum of their own, and will most likely try to sneak the Constitution past the Brits via the Parliament. Other EU tributaries, even France, may choose to do so rather than face the prospect of public embarrassment that comes with a "No" vote. They could keep calling votes till the desired result is achieved, but there is always the risk of failure.

A couple of years back, the residents of Northern Virginia, on the outskirts of Washington, DC, rejected overwhelmingly their government's proposal for a sales tax increase. The tax hike was supposed to fund roads and rapid transit (a problem particularly affecting the area, with tens of thousands of government drones heading to work and back to their hives every day), and was supported heavily by big business interests and the media. Yet the end result was well over 55% against.

Less than a year later, the Virginia legislature passed a slate of unprecedented tax hikes, including a sales tax increase.

Anyone still thinks democracy works? I pity you.

Friday, May 27, 2005

How Liberty Dies

Inspired by a truly great line from "Revenge of the Sith," Steven LaTulippe at LRC writes "So This Is How Liberty Dies." The ending is so beautifully written, it simply begs to be quoted at length:
Truly, we are seeing the visions of Yeats [see here] come to life before our very eyes.

"The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity."

A glance at the structure of our government in this late era of republican governance demonstrates a variety of oddities and ironies. The most interesting is the observation that each branch of our government is now ignoring those areas where its actual responsibilities lie while simultaneously intruding into areas where it was once explicitly forbidden. [...]

Thus, we have a judiciary that wants to be a legislature, a legislature that wants to be a sugar daddy, and a president who wants to be an emperor.

It is a sorry sight to behold, and one that will probably make for a great tragic adventure series someday.

Unfortunately, we are all cast in the role of the "innocent bystanders."

And everyone knows what usually happens to them.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Going Upstream

Gary North at LewRockwell.com writes that "mainstream" media (MSM) are being replaced by "upstream" media:
Issue by issue, readers are concluding, "We’ve been lied to." They are correct. The Establishment at some point will face the implications of widespread disbelief in everything it says. At some point, people will not voluntarily do what they are told when they perceive their leaders as liars. When that day comes, political consensus will disintegrate. So will the mainstream Establishment’s control systems.

Let's hope this happens sooner, rather than later.

More Balkan Lies

I don't read The Guardian much. It's a bastion of "humanitarian imperialism" in the UK, which had enthusiastically cheered the NATO aggression of 1999 and continued to cheer for the occupation since. To be fair, they have also featured commentaries by Neil Clark, whose Marxist criticism of the occupation has been surprisingly well-argued, and a splendid article by Kate Hudson (the historian, not the actress) about the parallels between Kosovo and Iraq. One of their columnists, Julie Burchill, also made a good case against the Kosovo war in her own inimitable style. And, of course, they publish commentaries by John Laughland of the BHHRG, whose analyses have been proven true repeatedly.

But none of that can excuse Jonathan Steele.

As one of the many journalists who profited from channeling Imperial propaganda during the 1990s Balkans crisis, Steele threw himself passionately into the cause of "independent Kosova" this spring, first arguing that anything else would be a "victory for Milosevic," and now producing a disgusting "analysis" of the "Balkan question," so unashamedly pro-Albanian it would have embarrassed even Enver Hoxha.

For Steele, Albanians can do no wrong, and they are ever and only victims. To hear him say it, the war in Kosovo was a Serbian "campaign of ethnic cleansing and the guerrillas of the Kosovo Liberation Army sought to defend the majority Albanian community." The 2004 pogrom was "clashes and shooting between Serbs and Albanians," in which - he points out with relish - most of the 19 killed were Albanian. (Why yes, Jonathan, Albanians do get killed when they attack KFOR and KFOR shoots back.) He also repeats the deliberate lie about Serbs drowning Albanian children, without mentioning that no one had ever found so much as an indication (much less evidence) that it was anything but a malicious fabrication.

For Steele, the only good Serbs are the meek, forgiveness-begging, groveling apologists for "multi-ethnic hopes," who claim Albanians have every right to kill them if they so desire and show "great sensitivity to the much worse suffering of the Albanian community." The only good Macedonians are those who appease Albanian demands ("most Macedonian politicians saw the value of making appropriate concessions to the other community rather than going to war").

Steele laments Albanian poverty, but sees nothing wrong with KLA memorials sprouting everywhere, lavishly funded by diaspora money (and "voluntary contributions" to KLA "tax collectors", surely). A gigantic black eagle Albanians intend to erect above Tetovo will cost 40,000 Euros - about $50,000, give or take. I wonder (and Steele does not), how come the people supposedly mired in poverty, frustration and despair have all this money to throw on monuments to the KLA and provocative nationalist iconography? Steele calls it "patriotic," but he'd describe a Macedonian or Serbian monument as "ultranationalist."

Even Steele acknowledges that had 9/11 been an 8/11, the Ohrid Accords would have never happened - Ali Ahmeti's KLA spinoff, the "National Liberation Arrmy," would have been classified as terrorists. But since that didn't happen - and isn't that a relief for the Kosova-lovers of the West? - the murder of Macedonia was OK.

This facetious and execrable commentary reveals all the arrogance, ignorance, stupidity and bigotry of people who label themselves the "international community" as they traipse across the globe spreading the gospel of Empire. It was their meddling that brought the war to the Balkans in the first place, made "peace" a fraud and justice a mockery.

Now that Bush II has decided to officially embrace the Clintonist line on the Balkans, Steele and his ilk are no doubt delirious with joy. But they should not be too proud of this virtual reality they've constructed. The power to deceive the Earth is no match for the power of truth.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Walking on the Dark Side

Perhaps it was a mistake to go see the Revenge of the Sith.

The film is not bad - no, it's actually quite good, if somewhat squeaky in places. No, the problem was that the films' tragic pathos, the depiction of the downfall of good and the triumph of evil, came at a time when this actually appears to be happening.

This isn't a dig at Bush II per se. I've seen some people offended by the ham-handed references to the swelling Bushian empire in the film ("You are either with me, or you are my enemy"? I mean, really...), but I don't think they - or even the filmmakers - understand that the message of Sith transcends this particular moment.

Emperor Palpatine is not just Bush II - he is also Abraham Lincoln ("Grand Army of the Republic"), and Woodrow Wilson ("I love democracy"), and FDR ("Justice, peace, security"), all rolled into one disfigured ghoul. He represents imperial power, which - despite moral-relativist arguments to the contrary - is Satanic in nature. The ghoulish Palpatine, disfigured by the evil he unleashes, is a metaphoric distillation of evil known to man for millennia, under many names and faces. It is an evil we seem to have forgotten, having replaced God with the State and abandoned reason in favor of relativistic logic.

For while Palpatine is the one plotting and scheming to take over the galaxy, it is his willing servants and unwilling pawns that make it possible. The special interests (Trade Federation, Banking Clan, Commerce Guild, Techno Union) and their greed, the Jedi whose arrogance and stupidity blind them to the truth, the Senators who keep on voting more and more power to the Chancellor and applaud even as he declares the Republic dead... all of them paving the road to Empire with good intentions.

And then, of course, there is Anakin/Vader: a tragic character in every respect, a boy who wanted to do good so much, he ended up being the very hand of evil. His desire to gain and use power to help the people he loved destroyed both him, and those people. While a lot of people don't desire power, all too many do. And of those who don't, how many would refuse it were it offered to them? Too few. There is a kernel of evil, a bit of Darth Vader, in every one of us. We should be mindful of this.

When I saw Der Untergang earlier this year, I stumbled out of the theater with a better understanding of the Nazis than I ever got from any history book. They were human beings, just like us, who in their worship of power and violence created a value system that encouraged the very worst in people. This is the "Dark Side" Lucas speaks of, an inseparable portion of human nature that, in order to become and stay civilized, we must keep under control. It is a source of great power, but that power can only destroy.

I've said it before, but I'll say it again: we are living the revenge of the Sith. George Lucas may have forgotten how to show and not tell, but that makes his clumsy allegory no less apt. This is how liberty dies; this is how things fall apart, civilization crumbles, and lights go out all over.

I don't regret seeing Sith. I just wish it had only happened a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...

Friday, May 20, 2005

Wages of Servitude

John Laughland's piece in yesterday's Guardian, quoted by Daniel McAdams on the LRC blog, warns that reports in Uzbekistan are to be taken with a grain of salt. After all, the chief source of "information" from the Ferghana valley is IWPR (enough said).

But he also shares another bit of wisdom that ought to be self-evident to anyone harboring delusions of "partnership" and "friendship" with the Empire:
"Washington is unforgiving towards people who think loyalty is a two-way street, and the Uzbek president is about to learn the lesson learned by Manuel Noriega, Saddam Hussein, Eduard Shevardnadze and scores of others: that it is better to be an enemy of the Americans than their friend. If you are their enemy, they might try to buy you; but if you are their friend they will definitely sell you."

To which I would add, for the benefit of people in the testing-chamber of the first "people power" revolution: the next time a politician talks about "working together with the international community" or other such imperialist agitprop nonsense, remember: whether they are selling or being bought, you get stuck with the bill.

Empire Takes Charge

Daniel McAdams writes on the LRC blog:

At an address to the Vanguard of the Demintern, the International Republican Institute, George W. Bush announced a bold new initiative to expropriate another $100 million (out of a total of $1.3 billion to “promote democracy”) from the American taxpayer for a new “Conflict Response Fund” to help consolidate the people power revolutions...

No more can these glorious “people’s power” revolutions be trusted in the hands of US-funded locals—too risky. Now, as John Laughland writes, the US controls both the government and the opposition movements within these countries so as to assure that no matter what happens, Washington’s interests will come out on top.

It may just be the spirit of Star Wars coming out this week, but the first thought I had upon reading this is, "Why, that's precisely the way of the Sith." People think they are fighting for worthy causes, but they are being manipulated by a sinister power all along. So much for the old Republic...

Of course, the Sith are but a metaphor. Says McAdams:
"Of course all of this will fail. History teaches us this and history is no liar. But it is the lives that will be ruined in the process, the lives lost, the economies ruined, the sorrow sown, that colors the imposition of ideology by force a deep black. The color of Satan smiling and reveling in this playground of the damned."

Monday, May 16, 2005

The Slippery Slope of Police "Reform"

For some time now, the Imperial overlords of Bosnia have been trying to bypass the Dayton Peace Agreement and the constitutional order it established in the torn-up quasi-country. Every single "reform" since 1996 has been in the direction of centralization. The most recent push to reform Bosnia's police force is no exception.

According to a proposal drawn up by international commissars, Bosnia ought to be reorganized into nine regional police districts, ultimately responsible to the central government. And though everyone from the EU to viceroy Ashdown claims that this would not in any way threaten the existing entities, that is simply not the case. Writing in the Banja Luka magazine Patriot (issue 168, 9 May 2005) - a publication generally favoring the EU and the Empire - commentator Slobodan Vaskovic says:
"Serb Republic politicians will no doubt be singled out as prime culprits for the evident failure of this important reform, as they almost unanimously oppose the internationals' intentions to erase not just the entity police ministries, but the entity borders as well. The intent is to continue this process of erasure through further reforms that would become necessary after this one, since police regions would no longer match the judicial districts. After that, the road to abolishing both entities and regionalizing Bosnia-Herzegovina would be both wide open and inevitable; the restructuring of police and the judiciary would have to be accompanied by a radical reform of the administration as well."

Vaskovic mentions a crucial detail: There are now 12 existing police administrations (11 in the Federation, one in the Republic); under the new plan, there would be 10. While a reduction in bureaucracy is a welcome thing on principle, this is hardly a reduction worth all the trouble. Much like the "administrative rationalization" proposals to abolish the Republic but not the ten times more complex Federation, this "reform" is a centralization push disguised as cutting bureaucracy.

All the ethnic, religious and historical animosities between Bosnia's communities are but manifestations of a simple clash of two principles - centralized state vs. ethnic autonomy. The deal in Dayton found a way to end the war by creating a common context for the two existing entities, the Serb Republic and the Muslim-Croat Federation ("Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina"). Serb leaders thought this protected ethnic autonomy. Apparently, Muslim leaders saw it as a way of achieving centralization through subterfuge rather than the force of arms, as Croats have discovered to their detriment. The behavior of Imperial viceroys and various agencies and NGOs engaged in the country also supports the Muslim position. If Serbs or Croats object, they are beaten over the head with "war crimes" or "corruption" charges, and blamed for "Bosnia's failure" to move closer to the EU.

Though ethnic autonomy is not exactly libertarian, it does at least offer potential for re-establishing a free society - unlike the centralized state, which is its most bitter enemy. Attempts to centralize Bosnia against the wishes of the majority of its population can only lead to more conflict in a land that desperately needs not EU and NATO membership, not Imperial occupation, not more politics, but peace.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Kosovo Returns Pathetic

From beograd.com, Friday, 13 May 2005, 1500 hrs:
Between 2000 and December 2004, 12,218 people have returned to Kosovo-Metohija, according to the UNHCR office in Priština. As related by the chairman of the Kosovo-Metohija Coordination Center Nebojsa Čović at the regular weekly press conference, the UNHCR made a summary of "accomplished returns based on information from the field."

UNHCR has information about the municipalities of Dragaš, Prizren, Orahovac, Suva Reka, Gnjilane, Novo Brdo, Vitina, Kosovska Kamenica, Štrpce, Uroševac, Gnjilane, Leposavić, Vučitrn, Kosovska Mitrovica, Srbica, Dečani, Đakovica, Peć, Istok, Klina, Obilić, Lipljan, Podujevo, Priština and Kosovo Polje.

The spreadsheets provided indicate that the bulk of the returns - 9,916 - occurred between 2000 and 2003, while only 2,500 returns took place last year.

Let me get this straight: UNHCR has documented only 12,000 or so returns in four years, out of 200-something thousand who were forced out during and after the war? If we take 250,000 as the displaced total, than this is somewhat less than 5%. And that is assuming these people actually returned - that is, actually live in their homes, and haven't been either:

  • burned out of them during the 2004 pogrom
  • killed, or
  • coerced into selling them to Albanians and leaving again.

In short, UNHCR's numbers - no doubt intended to show "progress" and provide another paper-thin excuse for the sham "standards" review about to take place - make it obvious that the expelled non-Albanians are not returning to the occupied territories. And why would they? To live in fear, risk injury and death, and - since they would be denied the right to self-defense - exist solely at the mercy of the KLA and the NATO occupiers? Please!

Serbs may be naive, gullible and even masochistic, but not that much.

Friday, May 13, 2005

BBC’s Propaganda Beat

Matt Prodger's most recent report from Kosovo for the BBC has to be read to be believed. In around 500 words, he spins, fudges and contradicts every bit of the ghastly reality of Albanian/NATO occupation, and smears the Serbian Orthodox Church in the process.

To Prodger and the BBC, there are no Serbian churches, only "heritage of Kosovo" and "Kosovo monuments." He blames the lack of reconstruction squarely on the Church, and Bishop Atremije in particular (the "biggest obstacle"):
"Raising the money for the Orthodox heritage is one thing, but getting the Serbian clergy to co-operate with the Kosovo government in the reconstruction has been much more difficult."

The clear insinuation is that the "Kosovo government" (provisional and Albanian) is falling all over itself to help, but the evil churchmen are sabotaging its goodwill. Prodger reinforces this by uncritically quoting "senior sources in the Kosovo government" (i.e. Albanians again), who have
"told the BBC that they believe the Serbian Orthodox Church has tried to keep the monuments in ruins for as long as possible - as a visual reminder to the international community of what Albanian extremists are capable of."

But the "international community" (as the Imperial occupiers of Kosovo and Bosnia pretentiously call themselves) already knows exactly what Albanians are capable of. Remember the 2004 pogrom? Actually, if you'd been enthralled by these presstitutes, you wouldn't; they've endeavored to cover it up and spin it away ever since.

In fact, Prodger's BBC was one of the media who lied shamelessly during the pogrom, repeating the Albanian blood libel that "Serbs drowned Albanian boys" even after being shown it was a lie. So it should not shock that Prodger still seeks to deny Serb suffering. This is how he describes the systematic destruction of Serbian culture after the Albanian occupation in 1999:
"The Serbian Orthodox Church says more than 80 of its monuments have been damaged since the war in 1999, but the figures are disputed."

Actually, the Church has documented almost 150 churches, chapels and monasteries – living temples, not “monuments” - destroyed, not “damaged” by Albanian terror since 1999. Only Albanian separatists dispute these numbers – well, they and people like Prodger, who serve as their useful idiots.

There have been many brazen lies launched by the Albanians to counter the reality of Kosovo since the NATO/KLA occupation began. They’ve claimed Serbs were destroying their own homes and churches, killing their own civilians, and even using “loyalist” Albanians to stage terrorist attacks against in Kosovo, simply to make Albanians look bad. These lies are as transparent as they are vicious. But the Prodgers of this world are either willfully blind, or too stupid to see them as such.

During the pogrom, distinguished Canadian peacekeeper in retirement, General Lewis McKenzie, famously commented, “The [Albanians] have played us like a Stradivarius.” Given the vulgar nature of KLA propaganda in Prodger’s piece, I’d rather compare the BBC with a worn-out drum capable of striking only one note: Serbs bad, Serbs bad, Serbs bad, Serbs bad…

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Our Arrakis

A resource-rich desert, easily seized from its previous owner by a military operation that was the result of a devious scheme; but the expected flow of riches is being thwarted by the ignored and underestimated desert-dwelling religious fanatics, who strike at will and melt away into the shadows; efforts of the occupying force to subjugate the fanatics, despite overwhelming firepower, are futile.

Sounds like Iraq? It is. But I was actually walking about the setting of Frank Herbert's Dune. The parallels are eerie, aren't they?

Someone better get the White House and the Pentagon some copies of Herbert's masterpiece, before any more Sardaukar get slaughtered. Now that would be supporting the troops!

Monday, May 09, 2005

Victory Day

Abdulhakim Ismailov, planting the Soviet flag on the Reichstag
Photo: Yevgeny Khaldei, May 1945
Today is the 60th anniversary of the capitulation of Nazi Germany, which ended World War Two. Americans call it "V-E day" (Victory in Europe), because they don't consider the war ended till September, with the surrender of Japan; but it would be much more accurate to say that Europe and the Pacific were actually two separate wars, sharing the U.S. as one of the principal belligerents.

Anyway, there is a ceremony in Moscow today to mark the anniversary, given that the bulk of casualties against the Reich were sustained by the Red Army and Soviet civilians; I believe the figures featured recently were 150,000 Americans vs. 11 million Soviet soldiers alone. The Red Army lost tens of thousands of men street-fighting into Berlin, before its troops could hoist the hammer-and-sickle on the ruins of the Reichstag.

But sixty years after the defeat of Hitler, there ought to be some soul-searching as to whose victory it was. The USSR was devastated. The British Empire was shattered. And to the real detriment of its people, America stopped being a republic and became a full-fledged, big-government, military-industrial Empire.

After 45 years of fearing a nuclear holocaust, the collapse of Communism scrambled the map of Europe again, to the point where today's reach of EU and NATO resembles the reach of the Reich in 1942. Further, the collapse of the USSR left the American Empire without a counterweight, and gave the world the "benevolent global hegemony" of Uncle Sam's cruise missiles. Between the democide, nuclear madness and a comprehensive assault on human liberty and dignity, that's hardly a victory.

One could argue that defeat would have looked like a global Auschwitz, but that's hardly appropriate. First, because anything would be better (so that's hardly an argument in favor of the present condition), and second, because the war wasn't fought over the Holocaust, regardless what today's propaganda tends to say.

The 60th anniversary of Nazi surrender is marred by arrogant American pontification about modern Russia's lack of atonement for the sins of Communism. The Baltic republics, Poland, and other nations formerly annexed or allied with the USSR don't seem to regard 1945 as a moment of liberation. And that's their right - though it would be vastly less hypocritical if those same countries weren't staunch satellites of Washington now. Or if they hadn't been allied with the Nazis back then. Or if the "Atlantic Empire" wasn't so obsessed with establishing a hostile perimeter around Russia, which is hurting badly from 70 years of Communist misrule. As Justin Raimondo puts it:
"That Moscow now finds itself in a circle of steel, surrounded by enemies armed and brought to power by the West, should disabuse Putin of any notion that he can successfully appease the West and avoid being targeted as the latest "dictator" to fall. They will come for him, or they will come for his successor. They are already on the way."

Stalin's reasoning for invading eastern Poland and annexing the Baltic republics in 1939 was to create a buffer between him and the Nazis (they may have signed a non-aggression pact, but only a fool could not see that a war between them was inevitable). Those extra miles - along with Hitler's two-month delay to attack Yugoslavia - may well have meant the difference between Barbarossa succeeding, and its eventual miserable failure in the mud and ice just short of Moscow. Stalin employed the same reasoning when at the end of the war, he claimed everything east of the Oder-Neisse line as a buffer against the Western Allies. Now the Empire's investment of Russia appears to be vindicating Stalin. How's that for irony on Victory Day?

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Vuk Draskovic's Private Politics

It wasn't enough for the maverick Foreign Minister of Serbia-Montenegro to attack Serbia's security service in a Financial Times interview back in April. Now he's gone and asked NATO to intervene and "overhaul" Serbian security. Here's the leader of a Reuters article from May 2:
Serbia and Montenegro called on NATO to help overhaul Belgrade’s security services on Monday, saying this would boost efforts to transfer top war crimes fugitives like Ratko Mladic to The Hague tribunal.

The agency presumes Draskovic is Serbia, since foreign ministers usually represent their countries in foreign media. But for a long time now, Draskovic has represented only himself. Driven by a pathological obsession with secret services, and convinced that a grand conspiracy of spies tried to kill him twice, he continued to focus on his personal agenda, rather than his job.

Remember, back in April he told told Financial Times that the Serbian security service (BIA) knew the whereabouts of Ratko Mladic:
"It is only logical that the security services know where Mladic is. They know if he is in Serbia, and they know if he is not. They are paid to know …"

The Hague Inquisition and its partisans rejoiced. BIA chief Rade Bulatovic rejected the insinuation, calling the FM irresponsible and his claim "not based on evidence." And that was that. In any other country in the world, Draskovic would have faced at least censure, and certainly a parliamentary inquiry. Government officials throughout the world have been forced to resign over far more innocuous remarks. Yet official Belgrade didn't even give him the proverbial slap on the wrist. Emboldened by this kind of impunity, Draskovic took it to the next level with this recent statement to Reuters.

Fortunately, an Alliance spokesman rightly dismissed Draskovic's logorrhea, saying that Serbia-Montenegro "already has a programme of cooperation which offers quite a lot of what PfP offers to partner nations." While this means NATO is far more involved in Serbia than it should be, it also means Draskovic's sycophantic rants are recognized as such.

It appears that Draskovic is following closely in the footsteps of his Dossie predecessor, the treacherous Goran Svilanovic, whose most recent initiative involved agitation for an independent, Albanian Kosovo as part of the "Independent commission on the Balkans." He, too, pursued private agendas as Belgrade's foreign minister, and never got called to account for it. In any case, Draskovic ought to be sacked. Even a Montenegrin separatist - something Podgorica proposed just recently - could hardly do worse as his replacement.

Horrifying and embarrassing as they are, Draskovic's antics are just the tip of the iceberg. At this point, one has to wonder what goes through the mind of Serbian PM Vojislav Kostunica, who was behind the appointments of both Svilanovic and Draskovic, and whose government currently survives thanks in no small part to support from Draskovic's party. His other major coalition partner, Miroljub Labus of the G-17 Plus, is also known for usurping government authority for the sake of personal agendas. As a matter of fact, it seems every two-bit politician associated with the current government has a greater role in policy-making than Kostunica, who is hardly ever heard from. A year later, it's come down to "meet the new DOS, same as the old DOS."

UPDATE: I remain convinced Draskovic is clinically insane, but if so, he must be bipolar. I just heard reports that on Sunday, he said that a good model for Kosovo would be South Tyrol (here's the interview in question). In that part of Italy, the "Austrian majority has practical sovereignty, while the Italian minority has special rights." Now, the Albanians have rejected this proposal (they say they won't accept anything short of independence), but it still makes a surprising amount of sense. This leads me to believe that when he isn't ranting about the secret police, Draskovic may have a thought or two worth listening to. And that makes all this so much more tragic, doesn't it?

Help fund Antiwar.com

I should have said something sooner, but I've just realized Antiwar.com seems to be falling short of its fundraising goal for the next quarter. Which comes as a surprise.

I thought people were sick of war and the Empire, of the arrogance, hubris, posturing, lies and deceit we are forced to listen to every day in the mainstream, "legacy" media that are dedicating to serving the Imperial idea. That if maybe half the people who visited Antiwar.com for news and commentary would part with the price of a couple of lattes (or a couple of beers) in exchange for continuing to read something meaningful. Maybe I've judged wrong.

But if I haven't, if I'm right about everyone who's been reading Balkan Express and liking it, then all of you out there will find a minute today to stop by Antiwar.com and donate. It will help keep alive not just Balkan Express, but an entire realm of alternative thought in a world that desperately needs it.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Remembering Tito

Twenty-five years ago, on May 4, 1980, Yugoslavia died.

Technically, it was Josip Broz "Tito," the Beloved Leader, who had passed away at the age of 88. But though few could see it back then, the country he created would not live much longer, either. There is a compelling argument to say it could not. Tito was Yugoslavia, an apotheosis of the Leader Cult that was in itself a logical extreme of the State-as-God idea that cut a bloody swath through the 20th century.

Tito died as Yugoslavia reached its zenith. Then the years of bad economics, foreign loans, repressed or deliberately engineered ethnic tensions came home to roost. Having purged everyone who could have threatened his grip on power, Tito left no successor; the bureaucrats and committees that took over after him could not cope with the Dear Leader's legacy. Only Slobodan Milosevic, who ascended the political stage seven years after Tito's demise, had anything similar to Old Man's flair.

But he was a Serb, and Tito's Yugoslavia was kept together in no small part through the constant harping about the "threat of Greater Serbian hegemonism." The bureaucrats used to power and privilege since 1974 (when Tito's right hand, Edvard Kardelj, redefined Yugoslavia into a de facto confederation) feared Milosevic both as a Serb, and as a potential centralizer. Having just buried Tito, they did not want another. So they either became nationalists, or allowed the nationalists to win. When the League of Yugoslav Communists began fracturing in 1990, Yugoslavia itself wasn't far behind.

Fifteen years of wars, blockades, ethnic cleansing, death, destruction and an ocean of lies have reduced the once-proud Yugoslavia to a patchwork of impoverished, semi-barbaric successor states under various degrees of domination by the Euro-Atlantic Empire. The tyranny of witless bureaucrats has been replaced by the tyranny of vicious thugs, kleptocrats and Imperial satraps; both have understandably spawned nostalgia for the days of Tito's "benign dictatorship," its harsher edges softened by the passage of time.

People now remember Tito as a "symbol of a better life, of social justice and freedom" (AFP). They don't really know what freedom is - they didn't have much under Tito, and they have even less now. Nor do they really understand the concept of "social justice," which is meaningless outside the self-referential, arbitrary Marxist logic. But at least they remember living better in Tito's times. Maybe because those were simpler times just about everywhere.

But those who have read beyond the grade-school textbooks, and even the supplemental volumes used in "Tito's Paths of Revolution" academic contests, can see that Tito's most important legacy surely is the creation of Yugoslavia, and sowing the seed of its destruction. Using the cult of personality developed around him (along the Stalinist pattern) during the 1941-45 war, Tito and his aides reinvented the country that had probably been erroneously established to begin with. Following the Soviet model, they carved up the country into "socialist republics," drawing borders any which way they pleased. Instead of a common Yugoslav identity, they nurtured particularism: republics were mostly ethnic; in addition to Serbs, Croats and Slovenes of the old kingdom, Macedonians, Montenegrins and Muslims were elevated to nationhood. Ethnic politics was also behind the subdivision of Serbia, with two "autonomous provinces" of Vojvodina and Kosovo. The reinvention of Muslims as "Bosniaks" and Albanians as "Kosovars" that took place in the 1990s owes much to Tito's ethnic politics.

Paradoxically, prior to World War Two the Yugoslav Communists advocated the destruction of Yugoslavia and its partition along ethnic lines, "freedom" for "captive nations" from the "Greater Serbian bourgeois imperialists." They backed a slew of ethnic separatist movements, from Croat Ustasha to Albanian kachaks in Kosovo and the pro-Bulgarian VMRO in what is today Macedonia. The Nazi invasion in April 1941 was a godsend: here was the ally of the Soviet Union, doing to the wicked Serbian hegemonists exactly what the Communist party always wanted. Only when the Reich turned on the Socialist Motherland three months later, Tito and the comrades changed the tune. And made damned sure no one ever brought that up. History began in July 1941; everything prior was the "darkness of oppression." Whoever disagreed was shot.

After the war, when Yugoslavia was all theirs, they were less willing to smash it up. Tito liked being a Beloved Leader himself, rather than a sock puppet of Comrade Dzhugashvili in Moscow. So he built a country - but never a nation - along the pre-war political blueprint for its destruction. The only thing that held it together was the Beloved Leader, Tito himself, whose word was law. Keeping the peace between the constantly frictious Yugoslav ethnics may seem like a praiseworthy deed, but for two things: Tito created the frictious system himself, and he had apprently given no thought whatsoever as to what would happen after his passing. Surely someone so politically astute would have at least tried to look ahead?

Unless he did. Unless what came to pass in the 1990s is precisely what he wanted to happen anyway. Could he have thought, like Madame de Pompadour, Apres moi, le deluge? It is not something the Tito- and Yugo-nostalgics want to hear. So in the dreary aftermath of Yugoslavia's death they remember Tito and his legacy fondly, oblivious to the fact that the Old Man from Kumrovec, the Sutla Boy who rose from a humble metalworker to incredible power, riches and fame, only cared for Yugoslavia as long as he was around to enjoy it. After all, Communists don't believe in Heaven.

Devil's Sacrament

In today's article, titled "The Glory of War," Lew Rockwell writes:

War is the devil's sacrament. It promises to bind us not with God but with the nation state. It grants not life but death. It provides not liberty but slavery. It lives not on truth but on lies, and these lies are themselves said to be worthy of defense. It exalts evil and puts down the good. It is promiscuous in encouraging an orgy of sin, not self-restraint and thought. It is irrational and bloody and vicious and appalling. And it claims to be the highest achievement of man.

It is worse than mass insanity. It is mass wallowing in evil.

And then it is over. People oddly forget what took place. The rose wilts and the thorns grow but people go on with their lives. War no longer inspires. War news becomes uninteresting. All those arguments with friends and family – what were they about anyway? All that killing and expense and death – let's just avert our eyes from it all. Maybe in a few years, once the war is out of the news forever and the country we smashed recovers some modicum of civilization, we can revisit the event and proclaim it glorious. But for now, let's just say it never happened.

Of course, being a country that fights wars exclusively overseas, Americans have the luxury of being able to forget. People who've fought at home, or close to it, have to live with the consequences of war every day. They can't forget, even if they want to. The only people who call war glorious are those who profited from it - or whose lives have been so shattered, they would have no meaning unless the war was good, just, and necessary. And this is what breeds new war, time and again.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Col. David Hackworth (1930-2005)

Yesterday, I lost a friend.

Col. David H. Hackworth passed away from cancer, at the age of 75. A legend within the U.S. military for his combat exploits, and later among the media for his intrepid reporting on every field of battle the U.S. troops saw since Vietnam, "Hack" journeyed to Bosnia in the winter of 1995, which is where we met.

I worked as his translator for several weeks, as NATO troops deployed to police the Dayton Peace Accords. He taught me many things about journalism, and not a few about life in general. And when I was leaving Sarajevo, it was Hack's military and press connections that got me safely out aboard a plane. That may have well saved my life.

I've kept in touch sporadically over the past nine years. I've read many of his columns, and I remember seeing him during the Kosovo War on Fox News, wearing a helmet in the studio after the bombing of Serbian Television. He was making a point: if NATO bombed the RTS because it challenged its propaganda, then Fox News could be a legitimate target as well.

And though later he endorsed the presidential candidacy of Wesley Clark, the Bomber of Belgrade, I chalked it up to a honest mistake of a man who has always cared for the well-being of his country and the honor of his troops.

My condolences go out to his family - but also to the American troops, for they have lost a great friend. There will never be another like him.

Goodbye, Hack. And thank you.


Chris Deliso over on Balkanalysis likes the new Balkan Express and points out a few more things:

"there are still other problems that emerge from the UN's failure to perform adequate passport checking from the start. Under UNMIK, Kosovo is where the war on terror went to die. [...] you have a situation whereby Osama himself could merrily motor into Kosovo without any problems. Sorry to say, this sort of thing has and does happen, if not with the big chief himself, at least with others of his ilk."

Deliso further argues that:
The UN in Kosovo has been playing 'I'm OK, you're OK' for far too long. It failed in the beginning to show a firm hand, and its cowardice has been noted and abused ever since. There's little chance that this belated attempt to bravely impose law and order will do anything of the sort. There may still be a golden future for UNMIKistan yet.

Could be because I'm a bit more cynical, but I've been skeptical of UNMIK and KFOR's bona fides from the start. They came into existence as a result of an illegla war of aggression and as agents of an illegal occupation. KFOR's job has been to "protect" Kosovo from Serbia, not anyone in Kosovo from the KLA and other terrorists. Similarly, UNMIK's job has never been to get the war-interrupted (Serbian) government up and running, but to build a new, Albanian government as a replacement. That in the midst of those perverted priorities they have paid as much attention to controlling the borders as to the KLA terror should not be surprising.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Patrick Moore's Putrid Fiction

The April 28 issue of Balkans Report by Radio Free Europe/Radio Libety (a US propaganda outfit with a HQ in Prague) features another piece by analyst Patrick Moore, Bota Sot's 2003 Person of the Year (notorious for his exclusive use of "Kosova" as the name for the occupied Serbian province). Moore is trying to describe the legacy of WW2 in what used to be Yugoslavia. But in attempting to describe the numerous crimes against humanity that had ravaged the region, he commits many crimes against reality.

One could raise many issues with Moore's history, but the most egregious has got to be his deliberate downplaying of the role, extent and atrocities of the Croatian Ustasha, first claiming the Pavelic regime was reluctantly accepted by the Germans "as the next best alternative" when Croat populist Vlatko Macek refused to become a quisling, then by claiming the Germans (i.e. not Pavelic) "lost little time in implementing their racial policies" in the NDH, and that German murders of Serbs "by the tens of thousands" were "assisted by Ustasha zealots." He also claims that Ustasha - an official government - had "command-and-control problems over their often widely scattered followers." This isn't history - it's pulp fiction!

The history of Yugoslavia is obscured by many dark shadows and deliberate distortions, and it is hard to distinguish between truth and fabrication. But I do think it is safe to say Moore's perspective is firmly tilted to the latter.