Monday, June 26, 2006

At Last We Understand

Ever since the "October revolution" of 2000, the majority of people in Serbia - and at the very least, the deafeningly vocal minority that controls the media-political space - has maintained the dangerous delusion about Serbia's "democratic partnership" with the Empire. Both Vojislav Kostunica (currently the prime minister) and Boris Tadic (currently the president) have on many occasions called for "partnership" and "reciprocity" in the treatment of Serbia by the soi-disant "international community."

But that delusion has grown more difficult to maintain with the ever-increasing onslaught of demands and threats from Washington and Brussels, which in their supreme arrogance the Imperialists haven't even bothered to disguise with so much as a pretense of propriety. Having established early on that Serbia was not only bending its knee, but prostrate, they've considered only natural to do with it as they wished.

Now that even the weak, sniveling protests of Serbia's "democratic" rulers have met with nothing but scorn in the Imperial capitals, perhaps the delusion will finally be broken beyond mending, and the Serbs will realize their "partnership" with the West was but a different name for slavery. Them as who have eyes can now see clearly.

Nova Srpska Politicka Misao, June 26, 2006

Nikola Malbaški

Complete Defeat!

That analogies between politics and sports are definitely becoming fashionable can be seen from the "football exchange" between Olli Rehn the Government. More important than figuring out whether the "EU is to blame for the loss against Argentina" or if "some countries didn't even qualify, after all" is that we've just suffered a coincidental humiliation in both politics and sports. It is finally clear that our ideas about being a "football nation" and "partners to EU and the U.S." have been delusions. No offense to football, but the defeat of Serbia's policy towards the West, and the West's policy towards Serbia, is the more significant of the two.

Whether speaking for himself or on behalf of the entire society, Prime Minister Koštunica has said what we more or less knew. The Fifth-Octobrist illusion about the West that "supported democratic processes in Serbia" has finally come to an end. That disappontment with the West that euphemistically terms its incessant demands a "partner relationship" is a source of apathy in the Serbian public, especially those in the "democratic forces." The dogma that "Europe has no alternative" is no longer valid, to the joy of some and the sorrow of others. Even the domestic supporters of the "international community" admit that we are being extorted, even if it is for "educational purposes." It's not that the small nations should have the same rights as the great powers, as that's never happened in history, but that even the small nations would have the right to a place under the sun. The incessant barrage of pressure reminds us that we are still on the "vanquished list," and nurtures the Weimar Syndrome.

After all the actual defeats of Serbia, as well as those perceived as such - independent Montenegro, pressure from The Hague and what seems to be in store regarding Kosovo - the least we need are unnecessary humiliations. One can only hope that we've hit rock bottom with the arrival of two U.S. F-16s from the same squadron that bombed Serbia in 1999, piloted by the same people. Between the symbolic football disaster and the "welcome to American heroes" who bombed us, our feelings and frustrations have been confirmed. We must admit to ourselves that we are a nation defeated, that our country is ruined, and tha we need renewal.

One could ask, with good reason, whether we had to lose 0:6 to Argentina, or if those very planes and those very pilots had to land on Serbian soil. Of course that it could have been different. Our defeats in both football and politics could have been more dignified. We could have scored a couple times against Argentina, and made a couple more saves, just as we could have asked not to be "visited" by those very "veterans of humanitarian intervention". They could have sent some other pilots, some other planes from another squadron, maybe even another NATO country that hadn't been so zealous in bombing us. The humiliation would have been lessened, the the taste of defeat less bitter.

Yet that indicates that someone, both here and in the West, does not care much for such "details," and sent whoever was sent to specifically remind us who won and who lost. Football-wise, the Argentines only did their job; we failed completely. But what about the "welcome to our American allies," besides the bitterness of the military so visible on the faces of our airmen and those who consider this an insult to the remnants of our national dignity? Were we fans of conspiracy theories, we'd say that someone is deliberately acting in the fashion calculated to bring the Radicals to power.

While everything looks bleak, however, we ought to consider if there is anything positive in all this. If there is, it would be the end of some illusions, first and foremost the "partnership with Europe," and the naive belief in "quick entry into the EU. " Once a man or a society finally understand the cruel reality surrounding them, they face a choice. Either they will fall into depressing defeatism, or they will snap back and try to improve their precarious position by doing better. Alas, the former now appears more likely.

I haven't been to Serbia in a while, so I don't really know the feeling there. From the media, one would conclude that indeed, defeatism is inevitable and resistance to the Empire is completely unlikely. But the media lie - it is both their job and their pleasure. And maybe those who have forgotten their history, their faith and their identity in order to become "progressive" postmodernists obsessed with material wealth, status and "rights" (i.e. entitlements) of the welfare state are at this point likely to despair that the masters whose boots they've faithfully licked for years are still kicking them. Perhaps they will rail in anger at those who protest the kicking, and advocate an even harder kicking, so the Great Unwashed would finally understand the glory of being Empire's whipping boy. After all, they could have chosen anyone out there, and they chose us! We are not worthy!

But there are those who know better, those who still remember, those who are not yet corrupted, or can be redeemed. Those who should stand up and declare that enough is enough - and has been enough for quite some time. Slavery is not freedom, humiliation is not partnership, occupation is not liberty, and entitlements are not rights. That obedience to the Empire and slavish following of orders are not values to live by. That the causes for which several million of our people have perished - liberty, independence, dignity, freedom, honor - are worth more than all the paper money thrown out of helicopters and stuffed in suitcases for the use of mercenary missionaries.

The world has lied about us enough. We should stop lying to ourselves as well. That alone will not solve our problems. But it's a start.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Peace at last!

UPI reports that, after over 100 years, Montenegro and Japan are about to conclude a peace treaty.

Back in 1904, the Principality of Montenegro declared war on Japan as an act of solidarity with Russia. The Russo-Japanese war ended in 1905 through the mediation of Theodore Roosevelt, but Montenegro never signed a peace treaty with the Japanese Empire. The most likely reason is that no one, including the Japanese, knew that Montenegro had declared war - and even if they did, would have thought it a joke.

I wonder if the Vujanovic-Djukanovic regime will now teach the children in Montenegro how their brave, absolutely non-Serb-related ancestors preemptively stood up to Japanese aggression decades before Pearl Harbor, and how the Japanese finally sued for peace out of fear of Montenegrin military might. Or something.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Voluntary Rape

The drama over Montenegro's separation from Serbia that has taken place over the past two weeks has been but an interlude in the much bigger play - or ploy? - by the Empire in the Balkans. Montenegro was a sideshow, albeit and important one, designed to further the main event: separation of Kosovo from Serbia. Just look at the names of those supporting the "independence" of Montenegro in Washington, and you'll see the same snouts promoting the independence of "Kosova."

In February, when former ICG board member Martti Ahtisaari opened the "negotiations" between Belgrade and the Albanian separatists in Vienna, Stanko Cerovic of the RFI ran a commentary which I've translated below. He described - with all too much sympathy for the poor little Powers That Be in the West - the quandary with Kosovo, and the likely thrust of Imperial policy. While I disagree with several of his assertions, as far as Imperial policy is concerned he has been right so far. That makes this commentary worth revisiting.

Concerning the Kosovo Negotiations

Stanko Cerovic, Radio France Internationale, 20 February 2006

Such as they are, the talks between Pristina and Belgrade that began in Vienna today have no real importance for the future of Kosovo. Even so, they indicate the difficulty of the problem facing not only the Serbs and the Albanians, but also the international diplomacy

This problem is so difficult, complicated and important, that literally nothing can be left up to the Serbs and the Albanians themselves. It is said they would negotiate only the internal arrangements in Kosovo, i.e. the rights of the remaining Serbs, but even those technical details are meaningless until there is a decision on Kosovo's actual official status.

Obviously, there is no point discussing internal arrangements of a state before it is actually a state. International diplomats sponsoring these so-called talks know this very well. The talks are needed to create an impression the Serbs and the Albanians are talking, so the Contact Group could then step in and cut the Gordian knot between them, since they are unable to reach an agreement. That way the Contact Group can feign neutrality and claim it was forced to step in because the Serbs and the Albanians could not find the solution themselves. The “solution” imposed by the Contact Group, after what it would claim was long and neutral deliberation, would be independence.

Arguments for such a decision are familiar already. As Kosovo governor Jessen-Petersen has said, “After all, you have to heed the will of the majority.” This is a sort of a democratic argument. Another is the economic argument, mentioned in every report from Kosovo: that the province is backwards, with over 60% unemployment, and that only independence could fix that. There’s also the strategic argument: so long as there is no security in Kosovo, this would feed Albanian extremism that destabilizes the region – Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro. Resolving the status of Kosovo is the key to regional stability – this is suggested by today’s Financial Times.

There is even a security argument, albeit unrelated to moral and human concerns. According to this, Albanians will be violent towards the Serbs for as long as their desire for independence goes unmet – but would be open to tolerance once independence is achieved. This argument appeared after the great anti-Serb pogrom of March 2004. The pogrom was condemned by the international community, which then promptly concluded it was grounds for fulfilling Albanian demands...

This sort of logic – showcasing just about all the corruption and hypocrisy politics is capable of – isn’t actually as rotten as it appears to its victims, in this case the Serbs and Serbia. International diplomacy is no longer especially partial to the Albanians; unofficially, many admit that NATO’s war was probably a mistake – but such is reality right now that none of those diplomats sees any other choice. Western troops in Kosovo can’t fight the Albanians, and why would they? Even if everyone wanted it, it’s unrealistic to imagine Kosovo in Serbia.

It is obvious that the diplomats are also aware that giving Kosovo independence would create tremendous problems not only in Serbia, but elsewhere in the region and in international relations in general. However much one twists the diplomatic tongue, the brutal truth is that Kosovo is an ancient Serb territory occupied by foreign troops, and if that is how one achieves independence, then any borders of any country are not subject to revision, as it only depends on who does the revising. However, when they weigh the negative consequences of their plan to Kosovo, Western diplomats still think it’s a little easier to impose independence on Belgrade than enter a permanent war with Kosovo Albanians. And they may not be wrong.

The trouble is that only one people and only one state are being violated here: the Serbs and Serbia. Belgrade has the grounds to wonder “Why us?” The answer is, because it is easy. Western diplomacy is trying to soften this injustice through various incentives. The recent visit of the European Commission chairman Barroso to Belgrade was intended to communicate that while taking away Kosovo, Europe is opening a door to integration. There is hope this could assuage the bitterness of Serbs that could bring the Radical Party to power, although no one knows how. The Radicals claim they would defend Kosovo better than the current government.

Concerning this policy, Le Figaro quotes one high UN official, who said:

Serbia will be “voluntarily raped”– namely, Belgrade will be required to declare the rape consensual after the fact, and then be given hush money by the rich playboy responsible for the act, in this case the EU.

Unpleasant, yes, and certainly not even the Western diplomats enjoy such open injustice and brutality, but no one sees another way of untangling the Kosovo knot.

An additional problem is that the various incentives the diplomats offer are far from convincing. Opening the perspective of European integrations to Serbia in return for its acceptance of independence is hardly credible. The Union is not open to further enlargement, and even if it were, only the entire region from Bosnia to Macedonia would be considered as a bloc. No one could even begin to guess when the entire region could satisfy even the minimal criteria for entry. Furthermore, none of the supposed conditions of Kosovo’s independence sound convincing, either. No conditional independence could restrain the Albanian extremiss. For, if the international community could not force them into moderation so far, it’s hard to see how it could do so in the future. The proposed ban on unification of Kosovo and Albania does not sound convincing either. Who could deny the Albanians the right to abolish the border separating them, and why would anyone try?

Under such circumstances, hardly any government in Serbia could accept the Western scenario of voluntary rape, even if it wanted to. But if Belgrade rejects this imposition and declares Kosovo occupied, as has been rumored, the consequences would be harsh and impossible to predict. Both for the Serbian people, in Kosovo and elsewhere, who would need tremendous strength to resist their own extremism as well as international political and economic pressure, and for the entire Balkans – as well as the international community, which would then have to face the consequences of its violation of basic rules governing the affairs between nations.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Together Longer

A joke I heard this morning:

A Montenegrin asks a Serb, "So, where are you going this summer?"
"Turkey," answers the Serb.
"Why?!" asks the Montenegrin in surprise, and a little insulted.
"The sea is cleaner, the beaches are nicer, the prices are better - and we had been in the same country a lot longer..." comes the response.

(thanks to Jelena)