Sunday, April 13, 2008

Back in the Saddle

I'm back from overseas, and trying to catch up; before regular posts resume, I'll try and answer some questions posed in my absence.

lassejohansson wants to know:
As a libertarian, what is your view of the radical party in Serbia? They seem to have wind in their sails right now. Do you think this is good for Serbia? And if they win, what will it mean for Kosovo? Finally, what do you think it will mean for the cooperation between Serbia and Russia?

I've written about my mixed feelings concerning the Radicals before. I still think their greatest shortcoming is that they essentially subscribe to the same exact model of governance as the demoncrats and Jacobins. Yes, patriotism is and should be a major issue, but one can't neglect the importance of putting food on the table, either. Look, economics ain't hard; less taxation means more capital for investments, more profit, higher wages and better living. A gargantuan bureaucracy regulating every aspect of life, from the price of rapsberries to banking, is going to require confiscatory taxation even if none of its employees were corrupt in any way. The solution is clear - but the Radicals and Kostunica are yet to grasp it. Surely I'm not the only one pointing this out... am I?

This doesn't mean any sort of "wild capitalism" or "neoliberalism" or what have you; it merely means that the government has become so obsessed with plunder, it's abandoned its ostensible main reason for existence: protection.

Now, the Radicals are Russophiles, while the demoncrats are EUrophiles, so it's to be expected that a Radical government would have better relations with Moscow. There's lessons to be learned from Russia. In 1998 it was a wasteland, ruled by a corrupt puppet of the Empire and lorded over by oligarchs and organized crime. In just a decade, it's turned itself around almost completely, just because the government was business-friendly and cracked down hard on both oligarchs and criminals. For all that the West is criticizing Putin, he has neither sent tanks to bomb the parliament (like Yeltsin) or invaded anyone (like Bush the Lesser).

What any of this may mean for Kosovo, it's hard to tell. The Empire seems convinced that the Serbs will roll over and give up, accepting the Albanian usurpers. I don't think that's going to happen, well, ever. Still, it would not hurt the Serbs to make that known rather explicitly. Just so there's no misunderstanding.

Speaking of which, eudaemonism has a good question:

I'm doing some background research on the term "Merciful Angel" as metaphor for NATO's 1999 Operation Allied Force, and wondered if you could help me identify the origin - if not specific originator - of the term.

Honestly, I have no idea. It's always been clear to me that NATO's 1999 attack was named "Allied Force" - they weren't even pretending to have humanitarian motives, it was just naked aggression, pure and simple. Judging by how widespread the misconception about the operation's name being "Merciful Angel" is in Serbia, I'd hazard a guess it originated from the Serbian television at some point. I know that's not very helpful, but that's the best I've got.

Ok, now back to catching up with emails and news; My latest column about the Balkans contains most of my observations from Bosnia. I'll post some more thoughts later.