Following a tour in Belgrade, Banja Luka, Bijeljina and Toronto, the Lord Byron Foundation for Balkans Studies held a conference in Washington, DC on Wednesday (May 27). In cooperation with the American Council for Kosovo, the five-hour conference on Capitol Hill featured presentations by a series of experts on the current situation in the Balkans and the alarming announcement of U.S. intent to re-ignite the region's powder keg.
In the opening remarks, columnist (and my colleague from Antiwar.com) Doug Bandow argued that a colonial project in the Balkans is absolutely against American national interests, and that Washington would do best to leave the Balkans to the Balkans. Bandow termed the U.S. and EU policy in the region as "destructive hypocrisy," where the only consistent "principle" is that the Serbs always lose.
Gregory Davis, author of a documentary on Islam, was of the opinion that Washington was practicing "imperial democracy," using the jihad to break any nation that refuses to submit to U.S. hegemony, for whatever reason. However conflicting the interests of the Empire and the jihadists, when it comes to places like Serbia, or Russia, their purposes align.
Ronald Hatchett (Center for Global Studies) took up the inconsistency of Western policy in the Balkans, explaining that it lacked any principle but force. He cited examples of how Serb readiness to negotiate in Bosnia (both before and during the conflict) and Kosovo was interpreted as weakness, thus encouraging a more aggressive approach by Washington. The Serb peace initiative from late 1994 was spurned by Washington, and thousands more died over the following year before a similar compromise was reached at Dayton.
As for the current situation in Bosnia, Hatchett pointed out that centralization was not a standard EU condition for accession. Many EU members are federated or complex states (e.g. Spain, Germany) while Belgium - the seat of EU power - is on the verge of breakup. Why such insistence to centralize Bosnia?
Prof. Steven Meyer noted that calls for amending Dayton go as far back as 1996. Dayton itself, he explained, is founded on a paradigm of Western control, akin to the 1878 Congress of Berlin. The Balkans is seen as a playground of great powers, and though that age of hegemony is over, all too many in the Balkans - Serbia in particular - still accept the paradigm. What the West has tried to create in the Balkans, the quasi-states of Bosnia and Kosovo, has little grounding in reality.
Meyer rejected the claim put forth by the "new" foreign policy establishment (resurrected from the Clinton era) that the Balkans policy was on track till 2006, when "nationalists" in Bosnia derailed it, and President Bush did not react. In reality, the failed Bosnian reform was sunk by a Muslim protege of Washington, and Bush had already accepted the Clintonite agenda on Bosnia and Kosovo by then. The real cause of failure was the flawed 1990s policies of the people who are now back in charge. They are blinded by smugness and self-convition, and won't accept failure, so they are trying to "finish the job."
Rounding out the first panel was William S. Lind, of the Free Congress Foundation, who spoke of the Balkans in the context of 4th generation warfare. The so-called "international community," he explained, was really a transnational, globalist "new class" seeking to establish a soft totalitarianism (a la Huxley's Brave New World). If that is understood, then the seemingly random policies of Washington become perfectly consistent and predictable. Globalist ideology, nothing more than warmed-up Cultural Marxism of the Frankfurt School, seeks to dismantle the Western civilization in order to create a post-modern, multi-cultural, post-historical society on its ruins. It uses radical Islam as a tool of destruction, and considers Russia one of the greatest threats to this endeavor.
The reaction to globalization has manifested itself in the "4th generation warfare," which isn't so much a revolution in the way war is fought, as a challenge to the entire political and military system established in 1648 with the Peace of Westphalia. The state faces a crisis of legitimacy. By establishing weak quasi-states in the Balkans and weakening the Serbian state, the globalists have made the Balkans fertile soil for 4th generation institutions, from jihadists to organized crime. At best, these institutions come to inhabit the hollow shells of states (such as in western Africa, Iraq or Afghanistan), at worst things devolve into Somalia-type anarchy. Paradoxically, the globalists are sawing of the branch they are sitting on, as the "new class" relies precisely on the nation-state system to achieve its objectives.
What does that mean for the Balkans? Lind speculated that further pressure to recognize the seizure of Kosovo and abolish the Bosnian Serb Republic would lead to such a crisis of legitimacy for the government in Serbia, that it could result in the rise of 4th-gen elements eager to seek solutions outside the accepted political framework. There are precedents in Serbian history for this: the Black Hand, for example.
In the second half of the conference, we heard from James Bissett, former Canadian Ambassador to Belgrade, who recalled the role of his colleague and neighbor Warren Zimmerman in igniting the Bosnian war. Bissett is convinced that Zimmerman, as a career diplomat, did not act on his own, but rather followed instructions from above.
Srdja Trifkovic, of the Lord Byron Foundation, expressed apprehension that the current regime in Belgrade was unwilling to resist American demands, while at the same time there was no real political opposition to threaten its dominance. American policymakers have returned to the 1990s, and are trying to use the Balkans to recover the power and prestige dented by the failures in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as reassert the hegemony in Europe.
James Jatras, of the American Council for Kosovo, noted that it was no longer 1999, and that the U.S. now lacked resources to impose reality. It could not really do so even in the 1990s.
The conclusion I took from the conference is that the whole Imperial "re-engagement" hinges on Belgrade and Banja Luka surrendering yet again. And while such thinking may make some sense when it comes to Belgrade, where the ruling coalition was created by the U.S. and is "afraid of its own shadow" (Meyer), it seems less likely in the case of the Bosnian Serbs.
So it seems that the "international community" is running out of time. The age of its hegemony is over, and as a result of globalist policies the West is crumbling economically and morally. This is why Washington is in such a hurry to "finish the job" in the Balkans. If the Serbs manage to hold on, they may yet see the colonial model end up in the dustbin of history.