Thursday, September 12, 2019

The Day (& 18 Years) After

From Intersections of Fate (Antiwar.com, September 13, 2001):
America is now emerging from the shock of Black Tuesday with an understandable desire to avenge its dead. Many suggestions on how to do that are outlandish, and some border on insanity. If the most vocal warmongers get their way, this country would become embroiled in an endless war against the entire world, destroying entire cities at a whim. Any effort to make the world safe for America while making the world less safe for everyone else is ultimately both futile and paradoxical.
Opposing all terrorism as a principle is a truly noble endeavor, one which the author of these lines would eagerly join. Experiences in the Balkans point to a different reality, though. One cannot fight terrorism and use it at the same time. (emphasis added)
From War Without End (September 27, 2001):
Far from the eyes of the American public, still intently focused on a scorched patch of mountains in central Asia, the first battle of "Operation Enduring Freedom" ("Supreme Irony" having been too obvious) has already been fought. No shots were fired. No lives were lost, not yet. But the battle – and with it, perhaps the entire war – was lost.
[...]
This week’s events in the Balkans clearly show that the war on terrorism is anything but, and that the only benefactor of Black Tuesday will be the apocalyptic vision of American Empire, now finally able to assert itself in a war without end.
From The Day Nothing Changed (September 12, 2002):
The time was right to re-examine America's Balkans policies of the past decade, and possibly even extricate itself from an Imperial commitment in the peninsula that seemed irrelevant and wasteful in the light of the new "War on Terror." Was this done? No.
[...]
The aftermath of Black Tuesday was a golden opportunity to redefine America as a Republic, not an Empire. It was missed.
From The Lost Terror War (September 11, 2003)
George [W.] Bush's claim that America was after terrorists everywhere was seriously undermined from the very beginning by its continued support for terrorists in the Balkans...
Those familiar with events in Kosovo and Macedonia, and certain personalities in Bosnia, were forced to conclude that terrorism was considered "evil" only when it targeted Americans. Others were fair game, especially when the terrorists were American "allies."
[...]
Americans desperately need to decide whether to support a policy that aims to create a global Balkans, where US power and hypocrisy rule supreme. They should know that in the real Balkans, where US power is unchallenged, terrorism thrives...
From Eppur si muove (Gray Falcon, September 11, 2014),
I've said everything I've cared to say over the past thirteen years - how one cannot fight terrorism and support it at the same time, how there are no "good" terrorists just because they currently serve one's agenda, how it's madness to appease jihadists in hopes of earning their gratitude, etc. etc. Go through the posts tagged 9/11 if you wish, and see for yourselves whether the questions I've posed are not just as relevant today as a year ago, or five, or ten.
And I stand by my contention that there was never any war on terror(ism): the grand crusade was all about power.
Memory eternal to those who perished on 9/11. Maybe some day we can actually make sure their deaths have not been in vain. 

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Some thoughts on guns

(another collection of takes from Twitter, rearranged and slightly expanded for your convenience in this medium)

Before you endorse a ban on "assault weapons," take a deep breath. There is no such thing.

The term "assault rifle" is literally a translation of Sturmgewehr, a name bestowed by Adolf Hitler himself on a strange hybrid of a rifle and an automatic pistol that Nazi weaponmakers had developed behind his back.

The "AR" in AR-15 does not stand for "assault rifle" but for "ArmaLite Rifle," its maker.

Military - i.e. fully automatic - weapons in civilian hands have been illegal in the US since 1938. The so-called "assault weapons ban" of 1994 relied on arbitrary COSMETIC features of weapons. It was easily circumvented, and did nothing to prevent the massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado.

A ban on "semi-automatic" weapons would leave only revolvers, bolt-action rifles and some shotguns legal. Good luck with that.

American founders understood that "certain inalienable rights" made the difference between a citizen and a subject: freedom of speech, due process, and the "right to keep and bear arms." That is why they are in the Constitution, via the Bill of Rights. If you can't understand that this is fundamental to America, and why, then this might not be the country for you - whether you were born here or not.

Friday, September 06, 2019

Decoding US politics

(or, a collection of takes from Twitter, rearranged and slightly expanded for your convenience in this medium)

There are two "filters" that make it possible to accurately decode approximately 97% of US politics. One is projection - the tendency to project one's own misdeeds on someone else, preferably the designated evildoer. The other is "who/whom," named after V.I. Lenin's famous distillation of politics.

To the who/whom crowd, it doesn't matter what you say or do. It's all about WHO YOU ARE. If they've designated you as virtuous, you can do no wrong, and if they've designated you as villainous, you can do no right. And there is no persuading them otherwise.

"Everyone that disagrees with me is racist, everything I disagree with is a conspiracy theory, and anything that challenges my current feelings is dangerous hate speech that should be banned and its authors deplatformed. This is called liberal democracy."

If you are screaming about something when X does it to Y, but not when Y does it to X, you're not principled, you're a hypocrite.

Semantic word games and slaying straw men aren't "fact-checking," but gaslighting.

US President Donald Trump’s tactic has been the same all along: condemn something that's obviously deserving of condemnation, then watch his critics go nuts trying to defend the indefensible. It keeps working in his favor every time, yet his enemies keep taking the bait over and over. Remarkable.

Trump's "superpower" (whether you consider him a hero or a villain) is to reveal reality that has long been obfuscated by both pretty and ugly lies.

You're welcome.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

RIP Justin Raimondo

I am old enough to remember the dawn of the now-bygone Blog Age, when the internet was new and full of promise. A time that offered a choice to ignore the mainstream media and its "facts" (or rather, fantasies) about the wars half the world away - or in my case, on my doorstep - because there were people posting their first-hand accounts online. 

One of those places was Antiwar.com, where I checked in daily during the Kosovo War of 1999 (a formative experience for me, in many ways), and kept returning to in the sordid aftermath. Justin Raimondo's "Behind the Headlines" column was a breath of fresh air in the fetid swamp or mainstream media garbage, which all followed the same talking points that I knew were lies from just a few years prior, when I lived all that and more in Bosnia.

I had poured my frustration with the lies, propaganda, fake news and atrocity porn out in "letters to the editor" format essays that ended up being posted on a couple of websites. Somehow - I don't remember exactly how - one of those texts made it to Antiwar.com. It was late 2000 by that point, and the "color revolution" was about to happen in Serbia. So imagine my shock when Justin himself reached out to me and asked if I would be the Balkans columnist for Antiwar.com.

Would I ever! And so I did. 

Over the next 14 years, I learned a lot from Justin - about writing, about liberty, about perseverance. I am what I am today in great part thanks to writing hundreds of essays and blog posts published by Antiwar.com.

When he announced he had cancer, but was responding well to treatment, I was hopeful. When he stopped writing and tweeting, I feared the worst. He passed away on June 27.

The cause of liberty - and of America's redemption from Empire to the republic it was meant to be - has lost one of its greatest champions. I have lost a dear colleague and a mentor. But Justin's legacy will endure so long as people remember him, and carry on the torch of freedom, non-aggression and peace that he held forth for so long. 

Now his watch has ended. May he rest in peace. But Antiwar.com is still around. And its current writers and editors - as well as alumni like me, who have moved on to other things but still believe in its mission - still have a war against war to fight, and win. 

Let's be about it.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Some recent writings

Just because I've neglected posting here for a while doesn't mean I haven't been busy at work. We live in interesting times, after all.

Of the things I'd like to point out here, I've written on the drumbeat of war with Iran, and the possibility Justin Raimondo's theory is correct and all this inept imperialism is a feature, not a bug.

I have also touched on the finale of 'Game of Thrones' and the very real lesson about the power of narratives, however poorly it was communicated in the show.

Closer to home, I touched on the embarrassing idolatry of "Kosovarianians" for their imperial overlords, and the self-serving lies they continue to tell to justify their crime.

I've also touched on the Culture War currently affecting the Empire itself, an ongoing conflict between the mainstream media and Big Tech, and the dissidents caught in the crossfire.

So if you're still hanging around these parts, give these a read. I promise I'll write more soon. 

Friday, January 18, 2019

Putin in Serbia: what means?

What better occasion for my first post here in 2019 than President Vladimir Putin's first foreign trip this year!

The one-day visit to the last holdout against NATO’s ambitions in the Balkans may have been somewhat short on substance, but was certainly loaded with symbolism.

Even before he landed, the Russian leader was given an honor guard by Serbian air force MiGs, a 2017 gift from Moscow to replace those destroyed by NATO during the 1999 air campaign that ended with the occupation of Serbia’s province of Kosovo. Russia has refused to recognize Kosovo’s US-backed declaration of independence, while the US and EU have insisted on it.

Upon landing, Putin began his first official trip of 2019 by paying respects to the Soviet soldiers who died liberating Belgrade from Nazi occupation in 1944. While most Serbians haven’t forgotten their historical brotherhood in arms with Russia, it did not hurt to remind the West just who did the bulk of the fighting against Nazi Germany back in World War II.

(Read the rest on RT.com)

A couple things left on the editing room floor: Yes, Bosnia-Herzegovina is technically not in NATO either, but it's basically still a EU/NATO protectorate, so it doesn't count. It was also blatantly obvious that Vucic sought to use Putin to bolster his credibility in Serbia, but Putin deftly sidestepped that by saying only "Thank you for your friendship" to the crowd gathered outside the church and carrying on with his visit.

The point a lot of people miss is that Russia can definitely tell the difference between Serbia and whoever rules it, which is a distinction lost on not just the West, but many of its acolytes and cultists on the ground.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Obsession, hubris and downfall: Austria-Hungary and the Great War

Folly and Malice: The Hapsburg Empire, the Balkans, and the Start of World War One by John Zametica
Shepheard-Walwyn, London, 2017

The centenary of the Great War has occasioned many historical retrospectives of the event that fundamentally changed the world, with not a few historians attempting to retroactively reshape the narrative to suit the current political and ideological climate.

Simply put, the 21st-century revisionists are seeking to project the blame for the war onto their once and future favorite bogeymen, Russia - and Serbia, on whose behalf Nicholas II entered the war - going so far as describing the 1903 May Coup as the root cause of all ills that befell European empires in 1914-18.

I've referred to this phenomenon before, and written not a few essays about WW1 myself, before work diverted my time and resources from further dwelling on the matter. The short answer is that the above-referenced argument is entirely bogus. For the long answer, I urge you all to read an exhaustively researched tome by John Zametica, "Folly and Malice."

And I do mean exhaustively: of the book's 766 pages, over 100 are taken up by endnotes and bibliographical references. The hardcover edition is a doorstop, no getting around it. My running criticism of Serbian historians is that they tend to produce hefty academic volumes, suitable for scholars and university libraries but at best impractical for the masses - leaving them at the mercy of fake pulp "histories" penned by the ilk of Noel Malcolm instead. Yet to level the same criticism of Zametica's book would be both folly and malice; he had to go into great detail in order to not only rebut the modern mainstream "scholarship," but also show the extent to which Austria-Hungary and its obsession with the Serbs are at the root of the Great War.

The title itself pays homage to a quote from Anton Mayr-Harting's 1988 tome "Der Untergang: Österreich-Ungarn, 1848-1922" (Downfall: Austria-Hungary, 1848-1922), which actually clocks in at a whopping 932 pages and as far as I can tell is only available in German. Zametica's bibliography includes many German sources, as well as English, French and Serbian (or Serbo-Croatian, if you prefer), to paint a comprehensive picture of relations between Vienna and Belgrade that led to the 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the subsequent declaration of war.

Rather than the centenary revisionist narrative blaming post-1903 Serbia for supposedly provoking Austria-Hungary, in the 18 chapters of 'Folly and Malice' Zametica walks us through the Hapsburg monarchy's crisis of identity and existence that led Vienna to regard Serbia as an existential threat.

Zametica looks not just at the Viennese court, but at the politics behind the occupation and annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Austrian-backed Croat nationalism seen as a counterweight to the allure of a free Serbia, the Austro-German relations that led Vienna to believe it had a carte blanche in the Balkans, and the "red herring" of blaming the June 28 Sarajevo assassination on the Serbian secret society "Black Hand" - among other things. It would be doing his volume an immense injustice to try and distill those chapters here.

If you consider yourself a scholar of history, or if your heritage goes back to these troubled lands, or if you merely wish to learn more about a region systematically and deliberately misrepresented for the past century, this book is for you. And while Zametica did not set out to create a parable about the madness of empires, the clear takeaway from 'Folly and Malice' is that obsession with a perceived adversary can quickly turn into self-fulfilling prophecy, and that the war seen as the only way to salvation can instead become the instrument of one's demise.