Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sic Transit 2008

As I wrote last week on, this was a year in which the Empire won a victory in the Balkans, but lost just about everywhere else. And though I understand the argument for "the worse, the better" in theory, I certainly took no joy in watching everything that's good and decent, both in the Balkans and here in America, sink ever lower into the cesspit of politics and violence.

The economic meltdown isn't over. The Empire wants to escalate the Afghan war, and is preparing to go back to the Balkans, probably figuring it the most likely venue for a short, victorious butt-kicking that would improve morale at home and divert attention from widespread system failure. Provided it's a victory - which is by no means guaranteed.

I have no doubt that things will continue to get worse in 2009. Perhaps at some point it will get so bad that things will turn around and both the Imperialists and their local quislings will get their comeuppance. I have no illusions that this will be without painful consequences for everyone else trapped in this malignant matrix. Whether we want to snap out of it or not, however, entropy will have its own. There is only so much denial and wishful thinking can do, and we're long past the point of diminishing returns on both.

I won't wish you a happy 2009, as that would be a lie. The best I can do is wish we all live through it. And God help us.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Irrelevant Roots

As soon as I heard that Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich was indicted on corruption charges, I knew that the media would inevitably bring up his Serbian roots. I'm just surprised it took days, as opposed to hours, or minutes.

In this era of political correctness and mandatory "diversity," there are still groups (entire nations, really) one is allowed, supposed, or even required to hate. Serbs are one of those groups.

As M. Pejakovich of SerbBlog points out, did anyone make a fuss over ex-governor Ryan's Irish ancestry? Of course not.

Yet, the media just can't seem to get enough of rubbing everyone's nose in Rod Blagojevich's "ethnic roots" -- even going so far as to publish quotes from the Blagojevic family in Europe for their reaction to the cousin that they've never met, and quoting headlines from German and Soros owned newspapers from Eastern Europe.

Others went to his local boyhood church for reactions from parishioners. Rod Blagojevich is 52 years old and hasn't gone there in 30 years. What's this got to do with anything?

Although some people in Serbia may have felt a misplaced sense of national pride that one of "their own" made it to the Illinois governor's mansion, what the hack journalists and tabloids that harp on this neglect to mention is that Blagojevich renounced his heritage decades ago.

Perhaps he felt he had to; being a Serb, or even half-Serb, is a liability in American politics. Ohio Senator George Voinovich has also denied his Serbian roots (he actually claimed to be Slovenian at one time). Rep. Melissa Bean (D-Ill.), who never hid her Serbian roots, was viciously attacked by a Republican candidate because she opposed the "independence" of the Albanian-occupied Kosovo. Steve Greenberg claimed that Bean favored "interests of radical foreign nations above the interests of freedom and democracy," a travesty of logic if ever there was one.

Yet for all this, somehow I don't think there was anything reluctant in Blagojevich's rejection of his Serbian heritage. Everything known about him indicates that he did it consciously, deliberately, in pursuit of power and money. He isn't the first man who did so, nor will he be the last, sadly. Which brings us to Pejakovich's second point:

Rod Blagojevich's "ethnicity" is American and his religion is "corrupt politician". That should have been plain for all to see when back in 1999, he supported the twisted and corrupt NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, using the same hateful anti-Serb rhetoric as the rest of his twisted fellow corrupt politicians.

The man not only abandoned his heritage, he betrayed it. To try and blame his Serbian roots for his American behavior is disingenuous, and perhaps even deliberately misleading.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Missing the Point, Again

It has been almost ten years since I started publishing commentary on-line, and it never ceases to amaze me that people seem to possess a remarkable capacity of completely missing the point of entire articles to zero in on one particular sentence or phrase and make a huge deal of it.

My piece on last week was inspired by a posting here, in which I challenged Pat Buchanan's interpretation of the 1914 Sarajevo assassination. In the column, titled "Triumph of Tragedy," I wrote:

In the Yugoslavian pot, the Serbian identity had melted away, while people who used to consider themselves Serbs (or Turks, Croats, or Bulgarians) became "Montenegrins" or "Macedonians" or "Bosnians." When all the consequences of Yugoslavia's creation are added up, it is easily a worse historical disaster for the Serbs than the Ottoman conquest.

This was obviously toned down from what I said in "Missing the Point":

Furthermore, in 1918 there was no such nation as "Bosnians," or Montenegrins, or Macedonians. People in what are today Bosnia, Montenegro and Macedonia considered themselves Serbs, Croats, Turks, even Bulgarians. It was Communist social engineering and propaganda that manufactured them into distinct "nations" - while destroying the Serbian sense of nationhood in general.

Now, I may have oversimplified things somewhat. Certainly there were at least some who considered themselves other things. However, even a cursory glance at contemporary sources would reveal that my claim here is factual.

The Montenegrin identity had been inseparable from Serbian until the end of the Great War, when some supporters of the Petrovic dynasty resented the merger with Serbia. Communists exploited this divide and worked for decades to create a "Montenegrin nation"; the pinnacle of this project is today's independent Montenegro, whose rulers are building a national identity on a foundation of Serbophobia.

Austria-Hungary attempted to create a "Bosniak" nation during its occupation mandate, without much success. Bosnian Muslims identified themselves as Turks, or - following the Great War - as Serbs or Croats with a distinct religion. It was Tito's Yugoslavia that incubated their nationhood, trying to use them as a counterbalance to Serbs and Croats. And a fine job that turned out to be, if the 100,000 dead and the smoldering ruins of Bosnia are anything to judge by.

Now as for Macedonia... Google "" and "Macedonia" and see how many hits you get for my columns on the subject, and what I wrote therein. At the time when damn near no one in the West objected to the KLA's butchering of that country, I wrote about the murder of Macedonia and the futile surrender of its leaders to Imperial demands. But I dare argue that only under Tito did the Macedonian national movement actually succeed in creating a nation, and all of a sudden I'm a villain?

Look, I'm routinely attacked by Albanians because I'm a Serb (it doesn't matter what I say, really - unless I endorse the KLA somehow; then I'm a poster child for what needs to be done). I get grief from Greeks, because I dare say "Macedonia" instead of FYROM or what have you (look, Alexander was a barbarian, OK? Just because he embraced the culture of Hellas and spread it around the known world doesn't make him any more Greek than my Orthodox faith makes me one).

And now I'm marked for malice by Macedonians for daring to point out that hey, today's Macedonia exists within the boundaries of the territory liberated from the Ottoman Empire by the Kingdom of Serbia. What about the areas controlled by Bulgaria and Greece? How come we never hear about them? Also, am I wrong in saying that most people in that area at that time considered themselves Serbs, Greeks, Bulgarians or even Turks, since the whole concept of the Macedonian nation was in its infancy? I doubt it. Find me some contemporary sources that argue otherwise and I'd be willing to change my mind.

While you're at it, can you give me a publication date for the first dictionary and grammar of the distinct Macedonian language? Also, please explain how come that many residents of northern Macedonia have distinctly Serbian names, except they've been "Macedonized"? And finally, that whole talk about modern Macedonians being descendants of Alexander's folk? About as plausible as the "bogomil Bosnians" or "Albanians as Illyrians" arguments. Spare me.

Bulgarians and Greeks spend decades denying that Macedonians even exist. As a result, they get to keep the territories gained in the Balkans Wars. Serbs go along with emancipating Macedonians as a nation, and they lose the territories, and get accused of being hostile to Macedonia and Macedonians! Not exactly an argument for tolerance or open-mindedness, is it?

I've told my Macedonian friends before, and I'll say it again: the real danger to your continued existence, let alone prosperity, isn't from the north. The Serbs have accepted Macedonia and Macedonians, and all the questions that I raise here are merely historical nitpicking. An attempt to teach my own people an important lesson, as the case may be. Meanwhile, Bulgarians are issuing dual citizenships, Greeks insist there is no such country, and Albanians are taking the land. And this Serb is one of the few people in the world pointing that out and disagreeing with it.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Down to One Question

One can write a dozen essays and argue oneself hoarse over the merits of market economy and still get the ignorant response typical of most people, that governments need to "regulate" the market else it "fails."

I can't count the number of such situations I've found myself in over the past decade or so, and I wish I had this pearl from William Norman Grigg (Pro Libertate), published today on LRC:

Obama is a reasonably bright fellow. Somebody he respects – assuming there is any great enough to command his attention and rebuke his errors – needs to ask him this question, and compel him to answer:

"If the key to prosperity is a centrally planned economy fueled by fiat currency, why isn’t Zimbabwe the wealthiest nation in history?"

Yes, indeed, why not?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Missing the Point

Pat Buchanan opens his analysis of the Mumbai attacks today by describing the 1914 Sarajevo assassination as "arguably the most successful act of revolutionary terror."

I don't disagree with Buchanan's main argument - that the goal of the Mumbai terrorists was to provoke a war between India and Pakistan - as much as his callous characterization of Princip, and putting him in the same category as the Mumbai attackers and the 9/11 jihadists.

Was Princip really a terrorist? Take just this common-sense definition of terrorism from Wikipedia:

Most common definitions of terrorism include only those acts which are intended to create fear (terror), are perpetrated for an ideological goal (as opposed to a lone attack), and deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatants.

By these standards, the Sarajevo attack was terrorism only if we stretch the definition. Its purpose was to influence policy through violence, yes - Austria had been occupying Bosnia-Herzegovina against the will of most of its population for almost 40 years at that point, and had illegally annexed it in 1908. But fear didn't enter the picture. The group Princip belonged to ("Young Bosnia") wasn't firebombing schools or buses or marketplaces; they targeted the Austrian military, in the persons of its inspector-general, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and Bosnia's military governor, Oskar Potiorek, who rode in the car with him. The civilian death - Ferdinand's wife, Countess Sophie Chotek - was entirely accidental; Princip was aiming for Potiorek, but he was a lousy shot.

Murderer he may be, but Princip is not a terrorist.

Buchanan also errs by claiming that, by provoking the war that destroyed Austria-Hungary, the assassination "succeeded beyond the wildest dreams" of its plotters. But all evidence points to this being a completely unintended consequence.

First a little historical background here. Bosnia and Herzegovina were two provinces of the Ottoman Empire (with a majority Christian population) that were placed under Austro-Hungarian occupation at the 1878 Congress of Berlin. Contrary to the provisions of that Congress and against commonly accepted law of nations at the time, Austria annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1908, and administered them directly as crown lands. Obviously, this was not well received by a large Serb population, which wanted to unite with the independent kingdom of Serbia to the east.

"Young Bosnia," the organization to which Gavrilo Princip belonged, was a revolutionary society dedicated to freeing Bosnia-Herzegovina from Austrian rule and the unification of South Slavs with Serbia into a common state (following the models of Germany and Italy from the latter part of the 19th century). One of their sponsors was the "Black Hand", also known as "Union or Death," a secret society of Serbian army officers first involved in assassinating the last Obrenović king in 1903. As is obvious from their name, they also wanted the unification of South Slavs.

Now, there's a clear difference between advocating national liberation and wishing to destroy the empire that's holding one's compatriots in thralldom. The Balkans Alliance (Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria and Greece) that successfully defeated the Ottoman Empire in 1912 did not seek to destroy the said empire - merely to liberate the lands and peoples in the Balkans they claimed as their own. Similarly, the Black Hand or Young Bosnia - and especially the Serbian government - never thought of destroying Austria-Hungary. They were certainly interested in liberating the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes who lived under its rule. Whether the Croats and Slovenes actually wanted to be liberated is another story.

Considering that Serbia has just emerged from two years of war, it is downright foolish to assume its government was eager to fight Austria. On the other hand, elements of Austrian establishment (such Conrad von Hoetzendorf) wanted a war with Serbia rather badly, and were prepared to seize upon any pretext. They found the death of Ferdinand, who had actually kept them in check, extremely useful.

Citing Buchanan again:

"While Serbia suffered per capita losses as great as any other nation, she ended the Great War as the lead nation in a Kingdom of the South Slavs embracing Slovenes, Croats, Bosnians, Albanians, Montenegrins, Macedonians, and Hungarians. The Habsburg Empire at which Princip had struck had vanished."

Serbia lost over half of its male population to the war. One might even argue its losses per capita were greater than any other participant in the war. And while it emerged as the dominant force in the new kingdom (soon renamed Yugoslavia) after the war, that was far from a triumph. Within just a few years, Croats began to resent being removed from the Habsburg orbit. This resentment resulted in a crippling political conflict within Yugoslavia, and led to the horrific genocide perpetrated by the pro-Nazi regime of Ante Pavelić between 1941 and 1945.

Furthermore, in 1918 there was no such nation as "Bosnians," or Montenegrins, or Macedonians. People in what are today Bosnia, Montenegro and Macedonia considered themselves Serbs, Croats, Turks, even Bulgarians. It was Communist social engineering and propaganda that manufactured them into distinct "nations" - while destroying the Serbian sense of nationhood in general. I've argued elsewhere that the creation of Yugoslavia was the greatest disaster that befell the Serbs in their history, worse even than the Ottoman conquest. I shan't elaborate on that here and now, but it needs to be noted for the sake of context.

So, the event that Mr. Buchanan claims was in the same category as the 9/11 or the Mumbai attacks wasn't actually terrorism; its consequences were unintended; and it did not profit its organizers anywhere near what is commonly believed. For what it's worth, I'd appreciate historians and commentators like Buchanan not to mislabel and misinterpret it.