Thursday, November 29, 2007

Just wait for them to die off, really

Reuters quotes the present KFOR commander, Lt. Gen. Xavier de Marnhac, from a briefing he gave in Washington yesterday (emphasis added):

In his briefing, de Marnhac also noted the average age of Kosovo's Albanians was 28, while the figure for Serbs was 54.

"In the mid to long term there will be some kind of biological end to the problem here because, you know, one of the population(s) will simply disappear," he said.

No people - no problem. Simple as that. It used to be called genocide, or "ethnic cleansing" (a term first used by a Kosovo Albanian official in a 1987 New York Times story). Now it's "biological end."

Want to take over a bit of territory? Easy! Breed like mad - a dozen kids per family, or more - then when you become a majority, launch a rebellion. If you plead genocide, you may get lucky and the Empire will fight an illegal war of aggression on your behalf, and give you the territory on a silver platter. Bonus points if you've managed to soak the host country for welfare benefits for five decades so you can support your breeding program, making sure all those kids had schools, hospitals, government-subsidized jobs, etc. Anything else would be a violation of their human rights, you know... Once you have the territory, all you have to do is abuse the natives to the point of "biological solution," and there you go.

Seriously, though, de Marnhac's remarks should not come as a surprise. This cold-hearted, bigoted thinking explains how KFOR has "protected" Serbs in the province since 1999 - basically by putting them in ghettos and waiting for them to die off. One must remember, KFOR's function was never to protect non-Albanians from the KLA, but to protect the KLA from the Serbian army and police. They looked the other way as KLA burned, looted, murdered, threatened, extorted, besieged, stole and otherwise abused Serbs, Roma, Turks, Gorani, and other communities in the occupied province, only stepping in when abuses became bad enough to warrant unwanted media attention.

But he is right, you know. Serbs cannot hope to hold Kosovo if they are not willing to live there. They cannot hope to hold Serbia itself, if they don't start having babies. That's one way to make sure de Marnhac's prediction never comes to pass.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Tragedy of Errors

Đorđe Vukadinović of NSPM had an interesting take on the Kosovo crisis in his latest column in the Belgrade daily Politika. He sees the issue as an outcome of a series of mistakes, on part of Serbs, Albanians, the West... mistakes compounded by errors, compounded by misjudgments. Sure seems that way.

In the piece that I'm extensively quoting below (the translation is my own), Vukadinović lines up the trees, and a forest begins to emerge:

What this is about is a series of erroneous estimates and decisions, on part of many factors and over a lengthy period of time. First of all, the Serbs have generally underestimated the demographic problem of Kosovo, i.e. the skyrocketing growth of Albanian families, that - combined with pogroms during the Nazi occupation and systematic pressures in the half-century that followed - made the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija an absolute minority. Likewise, just before and immediately after WW2, Serbian authorities wrongly believed the problem of Kosovo could be solved through police repression; the Communist regime, starting in the late 1960s, went to the other extreme and attempted to pacify Albanians by giving them broad autonomy and quasi-statehood. Milošević wrongly believed that after reducing the autonomy and establishing a semi-police regimen in the province in the early 1990s he had solved the problem, leaving Kosovo in the hands of inept and corrupt local officials...

On the other hand, the West (that is, the U.S.) wrongly believed - assuming they did believe - that Kosovo was primarily a humanitarian problem, rather than a conflict of two irreconcilable claims, two ethnic groups and two nation-building interests (as well as several regional interests). They erred in bombing Serbia (FRY) because of Kosovo, in the absence of UN Security Council approval, and lacking any legal or sufficiently moral justification. They erred even further when they tried to cover up that error with a claim of "genocide against the Albanians" and their "Gandhi-like resistance", systematically covering up the facts about crimes, atrocities and inhumane treatment of the remaining Serbs in Kosovo.

Additionally, seduced by misinformation coming from their envoys in the field, the West miscalculated the degree of Serb interest in Kosovo, wrongly believed that "Koštunica is just bluffing“, that Tadić would agree to independence, and that Kosovo is "number five or six on the Serbian national priority list“. They miscalculated the Russian position and possible role in the Kosovo crisis, constantly telling Belgrade that Serbia cannot count on a Russian veto in the Security Council, that Putin would make a deal with Bush and that "the Russians will sell you out in the end." Worst of all, this sort of policy and the promises - direct and indirect - that they will get independence as "reward for their suffering under Milošević“, have made the Albanians so entrenched, they reject any offer that falls short of this, no matter how favorable, as unjust.

Finally, a portion of the anti-Milošević opposition took their propaganda about "Kosovo as primarily a democratic issue" too seriously, and contrary to experience and common sense began believing that the problem of Kosovo began with Slobodan Milošević and that it would end with his departure. Part of this opposition corps that came to power after October 5, 2000, saw Kosovo as ballast to be discarded as soon as possible, believing - erroneously - that this would be met with support, or at least acquiescence, by most Serbians, as they become dazzled with European stars and supermarkets. They were mistaken.

Everyone, therefore, erred, and now everyone stands to lose. Serbs most of all, but also the U.S., the Albanians, Western interests as well as the "European agenda" in Serbia itself; let alone the international law and order. I think many now see the status quo ante [2006] as a less-bad outcome for everyone. The question now is if anyone is at the controls, and if there is time for anyone to slow down or change the course.

(From "Is there a pilot on board?!" by Đorđe Vukadinović, 20 November 2007.)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Apples and Inflation

Why yes, it is cider season in Virginia, funny you should ask.

But no, this post isn't about them apples. It's about Apple computers and their price in Canada.

Wired magazine - which seems to have a grudge against Steve Jobs and Apple, for some reason - reports how Macs are still more expensive in Canada than in the U.S. (by $150 or so). Considering how the Canadian dollar is now actually stronger than its American counterpart, that's adding insult to injury.

However, they also mention a pretty credible speculation that Apple adjusts its international prices annually, sometimes winning and other times losing on currency fluctuations. And remember, the U.S. dollar is "doing a post-modernist impression of the last minutes of the Titanic" (as the GeekCulture forum poster put it so aptly). That's got to be the best visual description of inflation I've ever come across, by the way.

Canadians have a solution to this conundrum; they can head south of the border and load up on cheaper Apple stuff. If only Americans had a similarly simple way of compensating for the depredations of Empire...

Friday, November 02, 2007

Another Long War?!

In a sea of articles, commentaries and editorials I peruse daily, anything by William S. Lind always catches my eye. Unlike most imperial bureaucrats and their laptop-bombardier enablers, this man actually knows what he's talking about when it comes to war and strategy.

Today he offers a way to evaluate potential candidates for the next Emperor: "How do you propose to avoid a long war?"

What's wrong with a "long war"? Says Lind:

Sun Tzu said it succinctly: "There is no instance of a nation benefiting from prolonged warfare." Acceptance by any Presidential candidate of a "long war" or "persistent conflict" is an admission of grand strategic imbecility. Which, just possibly, ought not be the highest qualification for public office, all appearances notwithstanding.
Worse yet, America has already been through a long war - from its 1917 intervention in Europe to the 1990 "victory" against Communism (see here for why I put that in quotes). And the fruits of that?

In 1914, America was a republic with a small federal government, a self-reliant citizenry, growing industry, an expanding middle class, an uplifting culture and exemplary morals. By 1990 and the end of that long war, we had become a tawdry and increasingly resented world empire with a vast, endlessly intrusive federal government, a population of willingly manipulated consumers, shrinking industry, a vanishing middle class, a debauched culture and morals that would shame a self-respecting stoat.

Where will another long war leave us? What's left of America won't be worth a bucket of warm spit, or however you say that in Spanish.
Yet every "mainstream" candidate for the Throne of St. Abraham promises more war, more Empire, more of the same.

Of course, given the acceleration of history as evidenced by the 20th century alone, it won't take another 70 years for the said spitbucket transformation, but probably much, much less.