Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy 2010

I'm well aware that things won't magically change with the turning of a new calendar page, but we all like to pretend they will. Hope springs eternal, and all that. So in that spirit, I wish you all a happy 2010, a better year than the one behind us.

If you are a believer, may God bless you and keep you. If you are a non-believer, may randomness favor you. And may everyone get what they wished for, if they truly deserve it.

Happy new year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dear Santa...

In today's Financial Times there was an unusual op-ed about the Empire and its protectorate otherwise known as Bosnia-Herzegovina. Signed by two authors and three co-authors, it is a call for renewed intervention by the "international community" in "broken" Bosnia, where everything they've fought for over the past two decades is (allegedly) endangered by the evil Serbs.

Everything here rings fake, from the concern for Bosnia's well-being to fears for EU and US credibility. Even the choice of who gets credited is calculated: since FT is a British paper, let's put the two Brits as the primary authors. The only authentic thing is the Serbophobia that permeates the piece. And the hypocrisy, of course.

Next to the undersigned Ashdown (ex-viceroy of Bosnia and disgraced politician at home) and Hague (Tory Shadow Foreign Secretary), the rest of the committee that put the piece together is American. There's Morton Abramowitz, founder of the ICG and the eminence grise of American foreign policy. Jim O'Brien was Madeleine Albright's right hand in the Balkans. And Jim Hopper used to head the Washington, DC office of ICG, as well as the rabidly interventionist Balkans Action Council prior to that.

Knowing where the authors are coming from, the content of the commentary is neither new nor surprising. Except for one thing - a clear articulation of their vision for Bosnia:

A robust international approach should focus on a single goal: a central government in Bosnia effective enough to meet the responsibilities of EU and Nato membership. Each Bosnian leader should have to stand for, or against, that simple idea – and face consequences for his or her answer.

Uhh, no. This was what caused the war, remember? And now they want to remake Bosnia to fit the vision of "Ein Land, Ein Volk, Ein Führer"? Do they also have the One Leader in mind? Pity that Alija Izetbegovic, "father of his nation" (as Ashdown wept at his funeral), has departed from this world. But Bosnia is not one land, nor is it inhabited by only one people, so it cannot have one government, no matter how much the authors of this op-ed wish it. Or their proteges in Bosnia itself.

Nothing else ought to be expected from people obsessed with safeguarding the political and other capital gained over the past two decades of their involvement in Blame the Serbs for Everything, LLC. However, their wishes remain just that - wishes. The Empire has no means to make them reality. The U.S. government debt is many times the GDP, while all its troops are either in Iraq, Af-Pak, or counseling after coming back from there. How dare they publish this in a financial publication, amidst the news of bankruptcies and the free-falling pound and dollar?

Ah, now I get it! It wasn't really a wish-list intended for the ailing Empire, but rather a letter to Santa Claus! But this is what happens when things are done in committee... Christmas was five days ago. Financial Times' op-ed page isn't quite the North Pole mailroom. And the "multiethnic, multicultural Bosnians" have outlawed Santa Claus anyway.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Domination and Discrimination

My column last week dealt with the decision at the European Court of Human Rights that the Dayton Constitution discriminates against minorities in Bosnia, and I also had a live guest appearance on RT about the story as well.

Not surprisingly, I said the same thing in both venues: yes, the Constitution shortchanges Bosnians that do not belong to the three constituent communities - Serbs, Croats and Muslims ("Bosniaks"), and that obviously ought to be fixed. However, this should not be used as an excuse to tear down what little is left of the Dayton accords, because there exists no viable alternative to the 1995 armistice. The fundamental problem of Bosnia - the fact that its three main ethnic communities disagree whether the country should exist in the first place, let alone how it ought to be organized, and that there is little trust between them, if any - remains just as acute today as it was in April 1992 when it spiraled into bloody ethnic warfare.

This doesn't mean I endorse second-class citizen status for Jews, Roma, or anyone else. But there has to be a better way to ensure one's civil rights than playing into the hands of people like Haris Silajdzic, who hide their agenda of making everyone a second-class citizen behind the rhetoric of "citizen state" and multiethnic multiculturalism. One way or another, the three principal communities in the country have to agree to live together - or separately, if it comes to that - in a way that doesn't trample the rights of anyone, including minorities. If there's a better way to do so than Dayton, by all means let's hear it.

But the real problem for Jews in Bosnia isn't that Jakub Finci can't run for President. Once there was a vibrant Jewish community in Sarajevo. Then came the Independent State of Croatia, with its ideas about "Serbs, Jews, Gypsies and dogs" and support of the "community of European nations" led by Nazi Germany. The descendants of those that survived packed up and left when the civil war broke out in 1992, and never came back. Sarajevo is now over 90% Muslim. There's barely a handful of Jews left, so few that a rabbi has to fly in from Israel to hold services at major holidays.

Somehow I doubt that's the fault of the Dayton agreement.

Friday, December 11, 2009

KLA chic

Having more pressing and important business, I have paid little attention to the scandal over golfer celebrity Tiger Woods' adventures in blondeland. Suffice to say I was feeling somewhat sorry for the people involved, as their behavior would have hardly occasioned a reaction had it not involved a celebrity.

Until I saw a photo of alleged Tiger squeeze, Rachel Uchitel, in a National Enquirer article (spotted by one of Julia Gorin's readers), sporting atrocity headwear:

For the uninitiated, the emblem on the hat is the patch of the "Kosovo Liberation Army," the ethnic Albanian terrorist outfit that fought for "human rights and American values" by massacring Serb and Albanian civilians. Due to their usefulness to Washington's Balkans plans, they morphed from terrorists to "freedom fighters" within mere weeks, courtesy of PR agencies and a pliant press corps. In March 1999, NATO launched its first war of aggression on their behalf. When Serbia allowed NATO to occupy the Kosovo province, in June 1999, the KLA was allowed to run rampant - murdering and expelling people, pillaging and burning their possessions. Over the next eight years, it has "governed" the province, orchestrating a campaign of murder, destruction and intimidation aimed not only at the surviving non-Albanians, but at any Albanians who refused to submit. These paragons of tolerance, humanitarianism and democracy have also laid waste to some 150 Serbian Orthodox churches, chapels and monasteries, with nary a peep from Christians in the West.

But wait, there's more! Going by the same acronym was the "National Liberation Army" of Albanians in the country known by some as Macedonia. In the summer of 2001, this other KLA terrorized the Macedonian countryside until its Western sponsors could put enough pressure on the government in Skopje to surrender. Now they are guaranteed government jobs and subsidies.

Previously one could only find KLA "gear" among the ethnic Albanians in the U.S. (one of their strongest supporters - money, guns, volunteers and all). But Rachel Uchitel isn't Albanian, leastways not that I know of. I'm of the same mind here as Julia Gorin: if KLAwear has become the new street chick, joining other totalitarian brands like Che T-shirts, there ought be no more doubt whether their values are American; they clearly aren't the values of the America that exists on paper, that people still swear allegiance to, and fight for.

About the Imperial America, the one that goes forth to kill and conquer on behalf of terrorists, liars and philanderers... I'm not so sure.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Some Thoughts on Language

Back in June, I expressed my reservations about the official story concerning the "Twitter revolution" in Iran. Several other people noted how events surrounding the presidential election had a distinctly familiar flavor - that of "color revolutions," a soft coup technique pioneered by the U.S. government in 2000 to overthrow the government in Serbia.

This morning I read this on the LRC blog:

It turns out that .027% of Iranians are on Twitter, and–surprise–the whole thing was foreign-funded war propaganda.

Rockwell also quotes a comment on the main story (see the link above), calling the while thing a NED-backed "astroturf campaign."

Here's the thing about the modern state: though it has set itself up as God, it is lacking in the creation department. It is really good at destruction, but about the only thing it can create is a false reality.

So what it does instead is twist - corrupt, bend, deform - things beyond recognition. Few people today know how to define capitalism, communism, fascism, democracy, human rights or freedom. These words are tossed around freely, but their meaning (what little of it remains) has almost nothing to do with the concepts they originally described. While it is true that languages evolve, this is not a case of such evolution. These terms have been stripped of meaning deliberately, so that they could come to mean whatever the state says they mean.

War is thus peace, ignorance is strength, and slavery is freedom: Orwellian dystopia made flesh, in which criticizing the "democratic revolutions" in Iran or Serbia makes one a "hardline ultranationalist" and "enemy of freedom." But that's "freedom" in terms of Statespeak, not the genuine article. How does one make the distinction in communicating this?

That's precisely why language was corrupted in the first place, you know. So even if we decide to oppose what is going on, we would lack the means to articulate our thoughts and ideas.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Resurrecting the Caliphate

Due to some scheduling and technical difficulties, my regular Friday column on appeared today.

In it I touch on the recently begun - and adjourned - show trial of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić in light of the disturbing initiative by the Turkish government to engage in neo-Ottoman foreign policy aiming to "reintegrate" the Balkans, the Caucasus, and the Middle East. I understand why many in Ankara may wax nostalgic for the times of Mehmet II or Suleiman, but there is much less enthusiasm for this in either of those three areas.

Unlike Turkey's FM Ahmet Davutoglu, I think it's precisely Ottoman rule that is to blame for many conflicts and hatreds in these regions over the past century or so. Even if we take that out of consideration, any sort of Ottoman revival clashes directly with the Kemalist ideology that underpins the modern Turkish republic.

Finally, making Davutoglu's vision a reality is impossible without the force of arms. But if he believes that modern Turks are the military equivalent of the Ottomans, he's sorely mistaken. And if the neo-Ottomans honestly think that Turkey can fill the vacuum that is likely to appear with the withdrawal of the American Empire, they are putting the cart before the proverbial horse, and forgetting where their own power and influence came from.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Jihad at Fort Hood

The story of the murders at Fort Hood is still developing.

Base commander, Lt. Gen Bob Cone, told CBS (video) that there are "unconfirmed reports" that Major Hasan, the Ft. Hood shooter, was saying "Allah Akbar" during his methodical killing spree yesterday.

Fox News spoke to Hasan's cousin, who said that Hasan wanted to get out of the Army before being deployed (whether to Iraq or Afghanistan remains unclear).

Now, mind you, this is the mainstream media. After years and years of seeing them lie about the Balkans, if they said the sky was blue I'd have to verify it myself . So far, the spin is directed at talking up the soldiers' courage under fire. The fact that Major Hasan was a disgruntled Muslim is grudgingly noted, but not really dwelt upon. Watch the CBS reporter sigh when Gen. Cone mentions "Allah Akbar," then change the subject.

Another segment of the Fox News story was intriguing to me. Here's a quote from Hasan's former colleague, retired Colonel Terry Lee:

"He said maybe Muslims should stand up and fight against the aggressor... At first we thought he meant help the armed forces, but apparently that wasn't the case. Other times he would make comments we shouldn't be in the war in the first place."

The very fact that Col. Lee thought that "standing up and fighting against the aggressor" could even possibly translate into "help[ing] the armed forces" reveals a disconnect from reality within the U.S. military. Was everyone in Ft. Hood oblivious to the fact that some Muslims view them as aggressors?

It boggles the mind.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

How is this not terrorism?


A U.S. soldier opened fire Thursday at Fort Hood, Texas, killing at least 11 people and wounding 31 others, military officials said. The gunman was shot to death, and two others were in custody.

Lt. Gen. Robert W. Cone, commanding general of the Army’s III Corps, who confirmed the shootings, said the gunman used two handguns. NBC News’ Pete Williams reported that a U.S. official identified the gunman as Maj. Malik Nadal Hasan, who was 39 or 40.

Took them a while to ID the gunman, too. NBC doesn't spell it out, so it's up to me to point out the obvious: Maj. Hasan is a Muslim.

So, a Muslim opens fire at soldiers in one of the busiest Army bases, two other officers are in custody (no names, no explanation as to why), and yet a "senior Obama administration official told NBC News that the shootings could have been a criminal matter rather than a terrorism-related attack and that there was no intelligence to suggest a plot against Fort Hood." (details as of 1800 hrs Eastern time, all emphasis added)

Sure, it could be something else, theoretically, but this just screams jihad. And if there is no "plot," how come two people are in custody? Lone nuts are usually, well, alone.

Now, I understand why the government would try and claim this wasn't terrorism. It's one thing to have a bunch of "roofers" from the "former Yugoslavia" plot an attack on Ft. Dix. But an Army Major going postal in Ft. Hood? How embarrassing.

How about the Trolley Square massacre in Salt Lake City, on Valentine's Day 2007? The investigators refused to even consider jihad as the possible motive, and the case was closed with "motive unknown." The shooter was buried in Bosnia at the expense of Salt Lake City residents who donated money to show they were sufficiently "multicultural" and "tolerant."

How many people remember the June 2009 attack on the recruiting office in Little Rock, Ark. by a certain Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad? It was hardly mentioned, amid the uproar about the shooting of an abortion doctor in Kansas. And when it did get mentioned, it was spun by the New York Times as no big deal ("bomb threats and vandalism against recruiting offices are not uncommon").

If we ignore it, it doesn't happen, right?


What Turkey Wants

(Excerpts from the article originally published by the Sarajevo weekly BH Dani, on October 23, 2009. This speech and its implications received nearly no coverage in the West.
Full transcript of the original available
here. Any errors in translation are my own, all emphasis added is mine - Gray Falcon)

"Yesterday, after a long day in Iraq, we came home at three o'clock, and only three hours later I set out for Sarajevo. Many were surprised and asked if I weren't tired. When I came to Sarajevo, to Bascarsija, I felt filled with energy. The spirit of Sarajevo, the spirit of Bascarsija, is the spirit of our common history. Sarajevo is no ordinary city. Without understanding Sarajevo one cannot understand the history of the Balkans, nor the culture of the Balkans," said [prof. Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey's foreign minister] on Friday evening, October 16, at the opening of the conference "Ottoman Heritage and Muslim Communities in the Balkans Today."

Came on Horseback

Minister Davutoglu isn't a professional politician or diplomat but a scholar, who taught international relations in Malaysia and Turkey until the victory of Recep Erdogan and the AK in the November 2002 elections. He became the key foreign policy advisor of the Turkish PM, creating Ankara's new foreign policy. He became the FM only recently, on May 1, 2009. To understand the basis on which he formulated Turkey's foreign policy, approved by the AK party and the last two cabinets of PM Erdogan, one must turn to his scholarly work, such as the book Strategic Depth (2001), a new look at Turkey's international position...

He was greeted by an ex-student from Malaysia, Prof. Ahmet Alibašić and more than 200 guests, including the feuding factions of the [Muslim] SDA party. Davutoglu has cultivated an image of a mediator and conciliator; earlier this year he traveled to Novi Pazar [in Serbia], to publicly reconcile former SDA leaders Sulejman Ugljanin and Rasim Ljajić.

His decision to visit Bosnia during a Turkish diplomatic offensive elsewhere has puzzled the dipomats in Sarajevo. Why did the scholar-diplomat drop in, they asked?

"One diplomat asked me today, I cannot reveal where he was from, why did we intensify our efforts in Bosnia when we have all these other issues to deal with? When I met Hillary Clinton in Zurich concerning the Armenian question, I asked her about the Bosnian question, and we spent more time discussing Bosnia than Armenia. And when President Silajdžić visited Ankara, I changed my plans and decided to visit Sarajevo and then proceed to Albania. I told the diplomat that we didn't 'drop in', we came to Bosnia on horseback," answered Davutoglu.

Historical Depth

This return to the traditional, historical connections of Turkey with numerous nations and states in three different regions is the "historical depth" that prof. Davutoglu is building the new Turkish foreign policy around. His Sarajevo lecture was basically the summary of this policy's underpinnings. Davutoglu first asked what were the things particular to the Balkans, and what was the role of the Ottoman state in the history of the Balkans and the world:

"There are three identifiable characteristics of the Balkans. One is that this region is a geopolitical buffer zone, a crossing between Europe and Asia, Baltics and the Mediterranean, and Europe to Africa. Why is this important? How did this influence the region's history?" he asked.

"The other characteristic is geo-economic. Balkans is a region of commerce, since the ancient times. Balkans is a region of cultural interaction as well. Several cultures intermingle and influence each other in the Balkans. Many people migrate and encounter others and mingle with them. If you have a region with these three characteristics - geopolitical buffer, economic and cultural interaction - you have two possible destinies in history. One is to be the center of world history, and the other to be a victim of global conflict and controlled by alien powers," Davutoglu explains.

"Because of this, when we speak of the Balkans, we say it's the periphery of Europe. But is the Balkans really a periphery? No. It is the heartland of Africa-Eurasia. Where does this perception of periphery come from? If you asked Mehmet-Pasha Sokolović, he wouldn't have said that Sarajevo or Salonica were the periphery, whether of Europe or the Ottoman state. Look at history. The only exception in history is the Ottoman state. During the Ottoman times, in the 16th century, the Balkans was at the center of world politics. That was the golden age of the Balkans. This is a historical fact."

"Who created world policy in the 16th century? Your ancestors! They weren't all Turks. Some were of Albanian origina, others were Greek converts. Mehmet-pasha Sokolović is a good example. Were it not for the Ottoman Empire, he would have been a poor Serb peasant with a small farm or whatever, because they didn't have developed farming in this part of the world then. Thanks to the Ottoman state, he became a leader in world politics. Ottoman history is Balkans history, in which the Balkans held special importance in the history of the world."

..."In the 14th century Belgrade was a village, maybe a small town. During the Ottoman era Belgrade became the capital of the Danube, the heart of Europe at the time. Culturally, there were hundreds of mosques and churches. (…) Sarajevo is a miniature of Ottoman heritage. If you don't understand Sarajevo, you cannot understand Ottoman history. Sarajevo is the prototype of Ottoman civilization, the template for Balkans ascendant."

Center of victims: Then he noted an example from the 19th century of an Albanian who established modern Egypt. "Kavalali Mehmet Ali-Pasha was Albanian. He didn't become just a key Ottoman figure at the time, he's also the founder of modern Egypt. Were it not for the Ottoman state, he would have amounted to at most a smart but petty nobleman somewhere in the Balkans. What can we learn from this? The Balkans has a geopolitical, geocultural and geoeconomic destiny, and it will either be the center of the world or a victim of the world," said Davutoglu.

The key issue in his reinterpretation of Balkans history is the division of the region after the 19th century and the history of ethnic conflict since then. "Without cultural interaction, cultures come in conflict. Without economic interaction, commerce, there is economic stagnation. Without political authority, this becomes a buffer zone for conflicts," Davutoglu explains."

"Now is the time for reunification. Then we will rediscover the spirit of the Balkans. We need to create a new feeling of unity in the region. We need to strengthen regional ownership, a common regional conscience. We are not angels, but we are not beasts either. It is up to us to do something. It all depends on which part of history you look to. From the 15th to the 20th century, the history of the Balkans was a history of success. We can have this success again. Through reestablishing ownership in the region, through reestablishing multicultural coexistencde, and through establishing a new economic zone," Davutoglu argued.

A New Balkans

According to him, "multicultural coexistence is very important because the life of civilizations can only be understood through analyzing the structure of cities and cultural life in the cities. All Balkans cities are multicultural. We lived together. And this cultural integration is what produced such strong cultural heritage. Those who organized the massacres in Srebrenice in the 1990s are barbarians who did not want to tolerate diversity. The spirit of Sarajevo is the spirit of coexistence and living together."

"We desire a new Balkans, based on political values, economic interdependence and cultural harmony. That was the Ottoman Balkans. We will restore this Balkans. People call this 'neo-Ottoman'. I don't point to the Ottoman state as a foreign policy issue. I emphasize the Ottoman heritage. The Ottoman era in the Balkans is a success story. Now it needs to come back," says Davutoglu.


"Turkey is partly a Balkans country, partly a Caucasus country, and partly a Middle Eastern country. There are more Bosnians living in Turkey than in Bosnia! There are more Albanians in Turkey than in Albania, more Chechens than in Chechnya, more Abkhaz than in Abkhazia. Why? Because of the Ottoman heritage. For all these different nations in the Balkans, the Caucasus, the Middle East, Turkey is a safe haven, their homeland. You are welcome! Anadolia belongs to you, our brothers and sisters! And we are confident that Sarajevo belongs to us! If you wish to come, come! But we want you to be secure here, as owners of Sarajevo and Bosnia-Herzegovina. What is happening in Bosnia is our responsibility."

"We have a common history, a common destiny, a common future. Like in the 16th century, when the Ottoman Balkans was ascendant, we will once again make the Balkans, the Caucasus and the Middle East - together with Turkey - the center of world politics in the future. That is the goal of Turkish foreign policy, and we will achieve it. We will reintegrate the Balkans, we will reintegrate the Middle East, and we will reintegrate the Caucasus on these principles of regional and world peace, not just for us, but for all of humanity."


"For diplomats from elsewhere in the world, Bosnia is a technical matter. To us it is a matter of life and death. That's how important it is. For us the integrity of Bosnia is just as important as the integrity of Turkey. For Turkey, the security of Sarajevo is equally important as the security and prosperity of Istanbul. This is not just the mood of the Turkish government, but a feeling of every individual Turk, no matter where in Turkey he resides. There were two great spontaneous gatherings of Turks that I remember. One was in 1993, when news came that the Serbs used chemical weapons against Goražde. This was broadcast around seven or eight in the evening, and within two hours there were hundreds of thousands of people in the streets. Spontaneously. Had someone asked of them to march on Bosnia, they would have marched. We had that feeling. That shows how much we love each other."

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

No Justice There, Move Along

Over the past ten years as a commentator, columnist and Balkans-watcher, I've given many interviews - radio, TV and print - but I've never been a guest on a talk show. Until this morning, that is, when RT had me on Crosstalk (now available online).

Host Peter Lavelle talked with ICTY spokeswoman Nerma Jelačić, John Laughland (at the Institute for Democracy and Cooperation in Paris), Milenko Bodin from the Belgrade University, and yours truly, about whether Radovan Karadžić could get a fair trial.

Readers of this blog and my columns at can already guess what I said: No, never in a million years, the ICTY isn't a place anyone can get a fair trial. The theory of "joint criminal enterprise" used to prosecute the Serbs is proof that the ICTY isn't prosecuting individuals for specific things (as they continue to claim), but an entire nation - for something that's abstract, alleged, assumed and asserted (i.e. the "genocide" in Bosnia).

I recommend the show, however, not for my appearance on it (which could have been better, but I'm still new to this, eh?) but for the outlandish statements made by Jelačić and the way Laughland simply destroyed them.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Another Show Trial

On Monday, I was at the Russia Today studio in Washington, as part of their extensive coverage of the Karadžić trial. They've transcribed some key points of my interview, and the video is available on the site as well.

Now, whether Radovan Karadžić can get a fair trial at the ICTY is really the wrong question to ask. Nobody can. The ICTY is a political institution, established illegitimately, with the sole purpose of manufacturing a "war crimes" justification for American military involvement in the civil wars that broke out following the EU "murder by recognition" of Yugoslavia.

Everything at the ICTY - which I call the Hague Inquisition - is subordinated to the goal of proving the existence of a great conspiracy ("joint criminal enterprise") involving the entire Serb political and military leadership. There is no evidence such a conspiracy ever existed - in fact, there's much evidence proving it did not. However, to justify its own existence and expense, the Tribunal needs to conjure this conspiracy into being.

They tried doing this with Milošević, and failed. When he destroyed their indictment, they tried to sideline him with imposed counsel. He thwarted that too. Just as they were in a completely untenable position to convict him based on nothing more than the necessity of convicting him for political reasons, Milošević died under mysterious circumstances. The ICTY poured many a crocodile tear, but in fact was relieved that their botched show trial ended in such a manner. This way, they could act as if Milošević had actually been convicted, but for the actual formality of the verdict. Now they are trying the same thing with Karadžić.

Note that no one gets a fair trial at the Tribunal. Both Naser Orić, the warlord of Srebrenica, and KLA terrorist Ramush Haradinaj got show trials, after which they were acquitted and greeted as heroes by the Bosnian Muslims and Kosovo Albanians respectively. Was this justice for the people they killed? Hardly. Did it promote reconciliation, as the ICTY supposedly claims to be doing? Not in the least. Their trials and acquittals were a seal of approval on the policies they represented, which even today fuel the hatred and violence in Bosnia and the occupied Serbian province of Kosovo.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Sublimely Ridiculous

Look, this isn't exactly a travesty. Martti "Kosova" Ahtisaari winning last year, now that was a travesty. He actually hurt the cause of peace. Barack Hussein Obama hasn't done, well, anything.

And that's rather the point, isn't it? Until today, one at least had to have done something - however twisted or misinterpreted - to merit a peace Nobel. I'm not aware of any prior occasion that someone got this award for accomplishing nothing.

This is beyond strange, it's downright silly.

O tempora, o mores.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Scheduled interruption

I'll be traveling for a bit for the next two weeks. While it is possible I might post something within that time frame, it isn't very likely. Regular (ha!) blog service should resume the second week of October. Till then, enjoy these interesting times...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

This is why I am not a journalist

For ten years now, I've been writing about the Balkans. Among other things, this has involved parsing through media reports, identifying the catchphrases and "editorial guidance". For a year, back in 1995, I had the firsthand experience of how the "news" were made, and it bears an uncanny resemblance to sausage-making. Even so, there are days when I look at what passes for news reporting and go "... what?"

Today, for example, I saw a headline from AFP, "Balkan hopefuls trip over past on way to EU." I open the story, and what do I see? A lazy journalist, a story cobbled together from snippets of local gossip, and some busy editors peddling propaganda talking points. No wonder the news media are dying.

First of all, saying that "the past still bedevils ties between Balkan neighbours" is not news. It's an observation on par with "the water is wet". In other words, superfluous and pointless.

The occasion for this piece of non-news was the visit by Serbian president Boris Tadic to Pale, in the Serb part of Bosnia (RS), where he opened an elementary school. The AFP dutifully reported that this "infuriated" Muslim and Croat officials, who saw in this "an obvious show of special relations" between Belgrade and the RS. According to the AFP writer, it also "stirred up suspicions regarding Belgrade's respect of the Dayton accords."

Earth to AFP: the "special relations" provision is in the Dayton Agreement. It's all perfectly legal and aboveboard.

Now, it is true that Tadic didn't bother coming to Sarajevo, and that this may well be considered a diplomatic faux pas. At the same time, the Bosnian Muslim top cleric, Mustafa Ceric, visited Serbia recently, stirring up the Muslims in Raska region and openly supporting the "independence" of the occupied Kosovo. He also called for incorporating the Sharia (Islamic law) into the Bosnian Constitution (!). That, by the way, went almost entirely unreported in the Western press.

No, the real "news" is AFP quoting Srecko Latal, a rumor-monger working for the IWPR (BIRN, whatever they call themselves these days), who offered up the "fact" that "the idea of Greater Serbia... is still alive" among Serbian nationalist voters.

Latal's name pops up with alarming frequency in Balkans reports of major newspapers and agencies. Why bother doing the legwork, or even copying government press releases (I sympathize; they are boring and poorly written) when you can just call up the BIRN office and have Latal provide some meaty quotes about how Bosnia is on the verge of a new war, or something similarly sensational?

The AFP reporter also includes two quotes by Tadic taken from the media, and another quote from a Serbian daily (with close links to Tadic's party), containing some nonsense about EU being the only hope for the fractious Balkans. I mean, come on! This passes for reporting these days? Call up the usual source, paste in a couple quotes from the press, offer up a speculative and truth-free account of what happened... This can all be done from a laptop at a Starbucks in Paris. AFP hardly needs to pay a reporter to sit in Belgrade, if this is all they are going to get.

To recap a non-story: Serbian president Boris Tadic, an Imperial boot-licker who could hardly in a million years be called a "nationalist" by anyone with half a brain, visits the Bosnian Serb Republic and opens a Serbian-sponsored school. Muslim leader Haris Silajdzic gets worked up and issues a hysterical statement. AFP doesn't actually quote the statement, because there's nothing worthwhile in it, but puts together a story from press clippings and editorial guidance, in line with Silajdzic's claim - and similarly unrelated to the truth.

This is why I refuse to be called a journalist. I actually work for a living.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Ghosts of 1939

Seventy years ago today, German armies crossed into Poland, introducing the world to "Blitzkrieg." The British and French declarations of war turned a local conflict into a continental one. Soon another war was on in the Pacific, and by 1941 both the USSR and the U.S. had become involved as well.

The physical consequences of the war were horrific: up to seventy million dead; Europe, China and Japan in ruins; many Jewish communities completely extinct as a result of Nazi genocide (a word coined after the war to describe the systematic murder of an entire people); atomic weapons unleashed.

I would argue the ideological consequences were just as bad. On one hand, there is no denying that national-socialism was evil; it was oppressive at home and aggressive abroad. On the other hand, the war against Nazism was a shot in the arm for both Communism and "progressivism."

By 1939, Lenin and Stalin's revolutionary executioners had already killed far more people than Hitler, with a song in their hearts. Stalin ignored the warnings of the impending Nazi invasion, and when it finally came bungled the war so badly that millions of people died as a result. Faced with a life-and-death struggle, a "holy war" against an enemy bent on their annihilation, the Soviet people (Russians as well as others, it needs be said) put in a superhuman effort to win the war. And what thanks did they get? None. Stalin took all the credit for victory, and none of the blame for the mistakes. Victorious generals were sacked or purged. POWs liberated from German camps were sent to the Gulag, to cover up the embarrassing fact that they got captured thanks to Stalin's own orders. And the people in what was once Russia got to "enjoy" another 45 years of Workers' Paradise. Only this time they "shared" their "joy" with the Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Hungarians, Romanians, Bulgarians, the Baltic nations, and even some Germans.

Something similar happened in the West. For all the talk of "democracy" triumphing over "fascism", the war cemented FDR's social revolution that created an American brand of fascism in all but name. Big government, business cartels, a military-industrial complex, income tax withholding - all these are legacies of the war. The British fought to save their Empire, and ended up losing it. They also turned to "war socialism" that became socialism in peacetime as well. Politicians who brought about these changes have resisted criticism because hey, they "defeated Hitler and freed the world," right? Britain today is a surveillance state to a degree worse than anything Orwell imagined in 1984, while Americans shout that they are "free" but have no idea what freedom means anymore.

My own country was occupied by the Nazis and their allies, partitioned, and subjected to terror and genocide. Resistance drew brutal reprisals (100 civilians shot for every German soldier killed, 50 for every injured). The royalist resistance trusted the Western Allies, only to be betrayed and sold out to the Communists. The Yugoslavia established in 1945 was free of Nazi occupation (and ethnically cleansed of Germans, I might add), but all it had in common with its predecessor was the name. And for the next 45 years, we all had to share the "joy" of Communism as well.

None of this is to dispute the evil of national-socialism, or excuse anything the Nazis and their servants have done. But I'm sick of the whole "We defeated Hitler, therefore everything we do, everything we've done, and everything we intend to do still is right and beyond reproach" nonsense. This kind of "logic" is at the root of modern morality: when we do it, that's heroic, but when they do it, it's reprehensible. Let me point out the inconvenient fact that this is precisely the way the Nazis used to "reason"!

Since 1945, both the American and the Soviet empires used this "mythic authority" of war victors to do as they pleased around the globe. In the 1990s, when Communism collapsed and Yugoslavia imploded in a series of ethnic wars, the Western interventionists invoked the imagery of WW2 and imagined new Hitlers that had to be defeated at all costs. Hitler was invoked both times the Americans invaded Iraq. The disingenuous "war on terror" was helped along by the invocation of "Islamofascism."

Yet the map of Europe today looks suspiciously like the one from 1942, and it is Hitler's former allies that are the staunchest supporters of the American Empire. German troops are back in the Balkans (to show that they've gotten over the original Hitler, right?) and the Luftwaffe has bombed civilians again. The world whose foundations were laid down in the Atlantic Charter, and at the conferences in Bretton Woods, Tehran and Yalta, is no more. That order was ultimately dismantled by its own creators and guardians, who found it too inconvenient and restrictive. So, continuing to invoke Hitler as a justification is cynical at best.

It is time to give up the myth of the Great Good War and let it become proper history, in which defeating the Nazis did not give the victors the right to act like them, or be exempt from rules of civilization. Only then will Hitler truly be defeated.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Balkans Belgium

I initially wanted to post my take on Marcus Tanner's peculiar piece (insofar as it was surprisingly common-sense from someone who's spent years promoting the Official Truth) for The Independent, but it turned into a regular column, which can be found today at

Now that the Empire has come full circle, from Clinton's "humanitarian interventionism" through Bush's "war on terror" to Obama's "we're here because I say so," it may be time to look beyond the bogus labels of left and right, and realize that has been among only a few organizations that has consistently opposed the Empire on principled grounds.

If you, too, oppose the perversion of true American values that is the Empire, if you are against murder, theft and enslavement, your choices at the ballot box are next to nonexistent. However, you can still vote with your wallet. I suggest you do so.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Most Outlandish Charges

Wow, this is rich.

The New York Times ran a story yesterday about last year's Russo-Georgian spat, titled "How Russia Defines Genocide Down." Here is how NYT's Clifford Levy characterizes Moscow's charges of genocide in Ossetia:

"It was as if senior Russian officials pulled out a dog-eared Soviet propaganda playbook that called for hurling the most outlandish charge, without recognizing that in the modern global media climate, their credibility would quickly suffer if the facts proved otherwise."

If this weren't coming from the newspaper of Walter Duranty, Jayson Blair and Judith Miller, I'd be less inclined to laugh hysterically. Not to mention that I find it comical in the extreme that any American newspaper dares criticize anyone else for outlandish propaganda, after the "WMDs in Iraq" or the "genocides" in Bosnia and Kosovo. Why, it was the war crimes "tribunal" established by the American Empire that defined "genocide" so it could mean anything at all! Would the NYT say its own credibility, or that of the White House or the ICTY, has been in any way impugned when facts got in the way of these ridiculous claims?

No, because when Imperial propaganda is exposed as lies, those doing the exposing are branded kooks, deniers, conspiracy theorists, delusional ultra-mega-super-hyper-nationalists, people with a victim complex, etc. Mistakes were made, nothing to see here, pay no attention to the naked Emperor, move along.

Levy even drags Kosovo into the discussion. You see, Russians were just peeved the NATO-occupied province "won its freedom" (his words) from those dastardly Serbs, so they decided to retaliate. But of course, Kosovo was an entirely legitimate, legal, proper and praiseworthy intervention-occupation-separation, a completely unique case and nothing like anything the Russians did, because it was supported by America, you see. Now where have we heard that before?

Ahh, yes. Fourteen years ago, the Croatian government launched a "police action" aimed to "re-establish the legal and constitutional order." Croatian troops were trained and equipped by the U.S., in direct contravention of the UN arms embargo. Their "policing" involved the displacement of 15o,000 people, complete destruction of their towns, villages and farms, and the murder of some 2,000 people who did not manage to get out in time. At the end of the operation, the Serb population resident in the area since the XVII century had ceased to exist. The American ambassador in Zagreb defended Croatia's actions, saying they could not be classified as "ethnic cleansing" since that is something only the Serbs do!

Fast-forward to 2008. Georgian troops, trained and equipped by Washington, launch an attack on South Ossetia for the purpose of "re-establishing the constitutional order." They attack peacekeepers and civilians and leave behind a trail of destruction. The parallels are uncanny, really.

There is no way of knowing for sure what would have happened had the Russians not reacted, but odds are it would not have been much different than the Croatian "police action" 13 years prior: Ossetians displaced, their homes and farms destroyed, and Saakashvili declaring a public holiday of thanksgiving. And the New York Times would not have considered it genocide, just as didn't qualify the destruction of the Krajina Serbs as such.

So much for the Gray Lady's "credibility," then.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Speaking in Tongues

Commenting on my post about linguistic idiocy, reader "Kris" asked a perfectly reasonable question:

Do you consider Croatian, Bosnian and Serbian separate but mutually intelligible languages or dialects of one South Slavic language? An example would be the Scandinavian languages of Danish, Swedish and Norwegian on one hand (mutually intelligible) or the numerous dialects of Italian on the other? Being interested in different languages I wondered if learning say Serbian would mean I could pick up Croatian easily.

I knew someone who was Croat by nationality (he called himself a Yugoslav since one parent was a Serb and the other a Croat) who would roll his eyes whenever I mentioned Bosnian as a language and tell me there is no such language. Yet I see dictionaries, textbooks and a wiki about the Bosnian language (and now I see there is a Montenegrin language?) so I'm confused and yet curious about your thoughts.

Also, for those of you who lived the former Yugoslavia, did you also have to learn Slovene and Macedonian in school (and they learn Serbo-Croatian)? Sorry for the length but I'm really interested in this topic. Coming from Canada French is mandatory learning for us in elementary school.

I'll start from the end, since that's the easiest part. Most inhabitants of Yugoslavia did not learn Slovenian or Macedonian; those were official languages in those respective republics (as was Albanian in Kosovo, and Hungarian in parts of Vojvodina, by the way), but Serbo-Croatian was the official language of the country and everyone was expected to be proficient in it, or at least capable of understanding it. The Canadian comparison is interesting, because I don't know if the Quebecois are required to learn English.

As for the matter of languages being related... It is absolutely not politically correct to point out that they are in fact as closely related as Italian dialects. Everything in the Balkans is political, including the language. If one tries to point out that even today the official languages in Croatia and Bosnia have about 80% (if not more) in common with Serbian, that's an automatic accusation of "Greater Serbian nationalism and imperialist chauvinism" with charges of "aggression" and "genocide" soon to follow. Kind of like that idiotic Daily Kos post I was referring to.

The truth is, linguists who worked in the early 1800s to modernize and codify the alphabet and grammar rules of what are today Serbian, Croatian and Slovenian often worked together and accepted the basic premise that would eventually lead to Yugoslavia, of "one nation, three tribes." In retrospect, the premise was flawed - there was just not enough shared historical experience for Croats, Slavonians, Dalmatians, Istrians and Carinthians to live in a common state with the Serbs (not to mention the Muslims) - but in the XIX century the Yugoslav idea was all the rage.

There is no question that Vuk Karadžić and Đuro Daničić were strongly influenced in their reform of Serbian by the work of Ljudevit Gaj and Jernej Kopitar, not to mention the political and cultural influence of Vienna. This is why Vuk's Cyrillic is interchangeable with Gajevica (the modern Latin script used in Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia), for example, and why modern Serbian sounds nothing like Russian.

There are further differences in regional dialects; for example, an Istrian or a Slavonian has issues with understanding Dalmatians, and none of them can understand the peasants of Zagorje (or people from nearby Zagreb) quite right. Differences in Bosnia, Herzegovina and Serbia are far less pronounced.

Modern Croatian - as well as "Bosnian" and "Montenegrin" - are products of political engineering in a reverse direction from the XIX century Yugoslav linguistics. They've been deliberately modified starting in the 1990s to be as different from Serbian as possible, in order to underpin the political independence of Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro.

Modern Croatian has a dual purpose: to unify the regions which have historically been under different rulers (Dalmatia and Istria were Venetian for centuries, then passed to Austria, while Zagorje and Slavonia were dominated by Hungary and Dubrovnik was independent), and as a result have developed distinct regional dialects; and to establish an identity different from and opposite to Serbian. No one actually speaks the official Croatian yet, it's a sort of "newspeak" being adopted slowly. This incongruity was best described by Miljenko Jergovic, a Sarajevo Croat (who writes beautifully, whatever one may call the language he uses) a few years ago, in a piece about how the Croatian movie distributors subtitled a Serbian film.

Identity politics was behind the establishment of "Bosnian" and "Montenegrin" as well; in both cases, the ruling regimes in Sarajevo and Podgorica embraced the Croatian newspeak as a foundation, then added Turkish/Persian/Arabic words and expressions (Bosnia) or added a couple letters and enshrined a regional dialect as a distinct language (Montenegro). In what I thought was especially hilarious, last year a group of Muslim linguists actually protested the "increasing Croatization of the Bosnian language," apparently unaware of the irony. Ivo Andrić, Meša Selimović and Njegoš are spinning in their graves.

Mind you, only the Bosnian Muslims (renamed "Bosniaks" in the 1990s, the better to stake their claim to the entire country) say they speak "Bosnian," and take offense when Bosnian Serbs or Croats call that language "Bosniak".

I usually have no problem getting across to people if I use my native Sarajevo dialect of Serbo-Croatian (and remember to enunciate the vowels properly); barring that, I can speak official Serbian with little difficulty. For the life of me, I can't get a hang of the Croatian newspeak, or "Bosnian" (let alone "Montenegrin"), which results in hostile stares when I travel to Croatia or Bosnia. So I speak English instead.

That's what I advise to all foreigners interested in the region as well; trying to learn any of the local languages is not only fiendishly difficult (the grammar is almost completely irrational, even if spelling is a non-issue), but you risk annoying people by speaking the "wrong" language, and making things worse when you insist they are "all the same, anyway." Especially since, down on the basic level, they really are.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Linguistic Idiocy

Not being a follower of the Daily Kos, I didn't notice a post that appeared on that site on July 8 until very recently. Apparently, someone named Robert Ullmann (an American who lives in Kenya; see here) flew into self-righteous rage over the "linguistic genocide" allegedly perpetrated by "a small number of Serbian nationalists."

You see, there's a debate on Wiktionary whether to consider Serbian, Croatian and "Bosnian" as separate languages, or to keep the old Serbo-Croatian listing. And to Ullmann, the fact that some people are advocating keeping the old listing is a surefire sign of intent to create a "Greater Serbia"!

To call this a steaming pile of excrement is probably too charitable. Ullmann himself notes that, under this proposal, Serbian would not be recognized as a proper language. I'm not sure which universe he lives in, but in this one, denying one's own language is hardly a sign of "nationalism" - let alone "genocide."

Ironically enough, Serbo-Croatian is the farthest thing possible from some "Greater Serbian language" Ullmann is hallucinating about. Rather, it was a social experiment aiming to further undermine the inconvenient Serb national identity (which, as I explained elsewhere, was considered dangerous to the survival of Communist Yugoslavia). That way no one would have to actually speak Serbian - not even the Serbs themselves.

In fact, this went so far that in today's Serbia, 20 years after Yugoslavia's demise, the adapted Latin alphabet used in Serbo-Croatian has almost entirely displaced the native Cyrillic in public life. Spoken Serbian, meanwhile, abounds in imported Croatian phrases, both new and those dating to the "happy days of brotherhood and unity." If anything, this can be classified as Croat linguistic colonialism (though to be fair, not by modern Croatia). It's certainly the polar opposite of "linguistic genocide" that Ullmann alleges.

One commenter to Ullmann's post called it a "load of rubbish", and said he'd contacted the instigator of the Wiktionary vote: "he told me that he isn't even a Serb let alone a Serb Nationalist and is in fact a Croat."


As the old adage goes, better to keep one's mouth shut and be thought a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt. There are so many people, telling so many lies, inaccuracies and myths about the Serbs, Yugoslavia, and the Balkans wars of the 1990s that trying to refute, correct or condemn all of them would be a full-time job. Not being a "professional Serb," I try to catch the most egregious, when I can. So the reason I singled out this particular demonstration of idiocy is its inexcusable abuse of the term "genocide."

It is an insult to the victims of actual genocides (Armenians and Greeks in the Ottoman Empire, Serbs in the "Independent State of Croatia", Jews in the Nazi death camps) when this word is used so lightly. There is a whole industry dedicated to the claim that what happened in Srebrenica in 1995 was genocide on par with the Holocaust - a claim that defies logic as well as piety. And now there are idiots seeing "linguistic genocide" in online polls. What's next?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

On Victims and Visas

On July 15, the EU proposed the lifting of visa restrictions on Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia (FYROM).

The quisling regime in Belgrade has been promising its manipulated subjects the so-called "White Schengen" for years. Never mind that, thanks to the government's slavish obedience to the Empire, the people don't have jobs or can't afford food, and their country is being slowly dismembered - they'll be able to travel again! This is essentially a "let them eat cake" policy.

It is also a way to recognize the "independent state of Kosova" in a roundabout way, since the new visa regime won't apply to "Kosovians." Those Brussels commissars sure are clever, aren't they?

As for Montenegro and Macedonia (FYROM), they are EU protectorates in all but name. And I have a hunch the latter was included to provide a loophole for the Albanians, who have been moving freely between Albania, "Kosovia" and FYROM since oh, 2001 or so.

None of this matters overmuch to the Bosnian Muslims, or their partisans in Brussels and Strasbourg. They met the EU's decision with howls of protest and cries of "unfair", claiming it was discrimination against "victims of genocide" (themselves) and the "executioners" (the Serbs).

One typical example of this was an article in Turkey's daily Zaman, which accused the EU of "discriminating" against countries "with a Muslim-majority population" such as Bosnia (!), Albania and "newly independent Kosovo."

Though I'm sure the Turks - and many "Bosniaks" - love to believe Bosnia is a Muslim-majority country, that wasn't true in 1991 (Muslims were less than 50% of the population), and is probably not true today, either (because the Muslims are blocking a census to check the actual population numbers).

Wishful thinking is one thing; deliberate distortions of reality, though, are quite another. In its diatribe against the EU, Zaman reaches for the old myth about how "heavily armed Serbs butchered almost 250,000 Bosniaks" and the "EU refused to intervene to stop the massacre."

Reality check: the total number of war dead was estimated at 100,000,, and the final officially recognized figure was 97,000. Of that, some 29,000 were Serbs. That doesn't quite sound like a "massacre" of the innocent unarmed. Also, the EU (just established) was involved from the get-go, recognizing the jihadist regime of Alija Izetbegovic and saving it from defeat repeatedly. It's just that they refused to provide unconditional political and military support to Izetbegovic's jihad. That's apparently equal to "standing idly by" for militant Muslims; no surprise there.

Here's another bit of fiction posing as fact. Zaman claims that the EU is "punishing Bosnians [sic] because of the Bosnian Serbs and Croats' refusal to grant the right of issuing passports to the federal government."

By "federal" I assume they mean "state" here (in Bosnia, the Federation is one of the components of the joint state, in case you weren't sufficiently confused already). Either way, for a while after the peace agreement it was the entities, the Federation and the Serb Republic, that issued passports. But this has not been the case for years now.

I would venture a guess that the real problem with putting Bosnia on the "White Schengen" list is that many Bosnian passports are in the hands of... interesting people, for example, some of Osama Bin Laden's followers. Check any report about a captured Islamic terrorist, and odds are he will have the "Bosnian jihad" on his resume.

Most of the grist for Zaman's mill was provided ever so helpfully by Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a French "Green" (known as "Danny the Red" not so long ago) member of the European Parliament and an outspoken champion of intervention in Bosnia in the 1990s. What a shock. Somehow I think this visa fuss has less to do with the "poor victimized Bosnians" and more with Mr. Cohn-Bendit's shameless self-promotion - and the wishful thinking of some Turks to see the Ottoman times make a comeback.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Moments of Transition: Overload

New column over at

At a meeting in March 2009, Secretary Clinton presented her Russian counterpart with a red button that was supposed to read "Reset" in Russian. Instead, it read "Overload." It seemed like an innocent mistake, a syllable lost in translation. But was it, really?

During his Moscow visit, Obama said he wants Russia as a "partner". Somehow, I don't think that word means what he thinks it means...

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Why Karl Malden Stayed Silent

When Karl Malden passed away on June 30, I tried - without much success - to write up a short obituary paying tribute to an unusual Hollywood career. Here was a man who won an Academy Award (1951, A Streetcar Named Desire) and an Emmy (1984, Fatal Vision), lived to the ripe old age of 97, and was married to the same woman for over seventy years. It's hard to find a bigger contrast to today's world of celebrities, where looks and money substitute for talent, and everyone tries to "live fast, die young, and leave a good-looking corpse."

Perhaps Malden's anomalous life may be explained by his origins; son of a Serb immigrant from Herzegovina, born Mladen Sekulovich, he never forgot his roots. He talked a fair bit about being an American Serb in a 2003 interview, which is worth reading. But in the days after his passing, I've heard many Serbs wonder why he hadn't done more during the 1990s to counter the widespread demonization of the Serbian people in the West.

Now, it is true that he didn't speak out. But neither did many others. There's a large number of Serbs in America, and most have stayed just as silent. Malden lived through the blacklists and purges in Hollywood during the McCarthy era. I'm willing to wager he didn't care to go through such an experience again.

And let's not kid ourselves, speaking out for the Serbs, challenging the Official Truth in even the smallest way, brings upon one the full wrath of the political and media establishment - not to mention the lunatic fringe. For most people, this is an unpleasantness they'd rather not deal with. And the fate of their nation is something quite abstract compared to the real and immediate threat to one's own career and family prospects, were one to deviate from the party line.

This isn't to say Malden couldn't have, or shouldn't have done more. But speaking out for the Serbs has been a risky proposition. The fact that even Malden did not dare publicly stand up for his people doesn't tell us much about what went through his mind - but tells us a lot about the extent and intensity of the demonization campaign. Originating from the land of Free Speech, no less.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Character Assassination

I'm a firm believer in freedom of speech. But there's freedom of speech, and then there is calumny. A debate, however heated, is one thing - an anonymous, ad hominem screed, quite another.

Back in April I wrote a couple pieces about a surprise spike in propaganda appearing on an otherwise innocuous-looking website named Palluxo. For all its claims to be a news portal, it turned out that every single article in Palluxo's "International" and "Special Reports" sections was unrestrained Serbophobic propaganda. From pronouncements by Bosnia's top Islamic cleric about the "joint experience" of genocide with the Jews (even though it was Muslims who helped the Croat Ustasha exterminate the Bosnian Jewry in WW2) to the latest article titled "Albanian Kosovo Marks Another Victory Over Serbia". Well, at least they are straightforward, right?

Having eventually tracked down these uncredited pieces to the "Srebrenica Genocide Blog," the "Congress of North American Bosniaks" and professional Serbophobe Marko Attilla Hoare, I dismissed Palluxo as an attempt to smuggle crass propaganda as news, and paid them no mind since. That is, until someone sent me a link today to an article calling me a "disgraced Srebrenica genocide denier."

The entire piece is an ad hominem attack on yours truly. But it gets better. Apparently, I'm not to be trusted not only because I'm a Serb, but because I do "not have any PhD qualification in history, [have] never held an academic post, published his work in an academic journal, or even visited an archive."

This here leads me to believe the author of the invective in question is Hoare, since he routinely boasts about his academic background and links to respectable government institutions.

So I don't have a PhD. Many people who do have embraced the worst kind of lies about the Balkans, and some - like Hoare, for example - are peddling them enthusiastically. I happen to have a Bachelor's in history, an analytical mind, and a lot of experience in the region (and the Empire) that various hacks championing Official Truth could only dream of. I have even visited archives - but they must not count, because Hoare wasn't there to check?

The mystery author claims his "sources in Sarajevo" could not confirm my diplomatic and media connections. He should find better sources. Should I list the ambassadors, charges d'affaires, political officers and other officials I've met during the Bosnian War? Or the journalists who hired me to translate for them? I could, but I won't. Because unlike certain people, who draw their legitimacy and credibility from their names and people they know, I let my arguments speak for themselves. It's much easier to ignore the arguments and focus on the person making them, dismissing him or her because they don't belong to the ranks of those allowed to have an opinion.

The Palluxo piece doesn't attack just me. It goes after John Laughland, Germinal Civikov, and pretty much anyone who dares challenge the Official Truth as handed down by the Hague Inquisition and its willing executioners. Anonymous appeals to the authority of ICTY verdicts, and dismisses those who challenge them on purely ad hominem grounds. Oh, this guy is a Milosevic supporter. This one's "obscure." That one's a Marxist, did you know? And this Nebojsa character, why he's a Serb!

Ultimately, the worst Anonymous could come up with was that a "long time Jewish friend of ours described Nebojsa Malic as 'insensitive pig'."

Oh wow. Anonymous has a Jewish friend. And he called me insensitive! I am crushed! My life is over!

Or not. Honestly, I couldn't care less. Whoever wrote this garbage - and given the source of Palluxo's features, I've got a couple of decent guesses - deserves pity and contempt. Maybe not in that order. After all, they don't even dare sign their words with a fake name. By contrast, everything I've written over the past decade has my actual name on it. I don't even hide it on this blog, though I don't throw it into my readers' faces either.

In today's world, information is cheap. It's credibility that's expensive. And it takes a lot more to impugn my credibility than the anonymous rant of a character assassin.

Nice try, dirtbag.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Above the Law

On June 24, Bulgarian authorities arrested Agim Ceku, formerly a general in the Croatian Army and the terrorist KLA. They did so pursuant to an Interpol warrant, based on the charges filed against Ceku in Serbia in 1999. For a moment, it looked like the Bulgarians might actually abide by international law and extradite Ceku to Belgrade for a trial. Not for long, though.

Bulgaria is, after all, a loyal client of the Empire. It is a member of the EUSSR and NATO. It recognized the "Independent State of Kosovo" when told to do so. Why arrest Ceku, then? Most likely the Bulgarian law enforcement decided to follow the regulations and honor the Interpol warrant, and let the politicians sort it out. Which they did - in the same exact fashion as the Slovenians in 2003 and Hungarians in 2004. After some Imperial officials made some phone calls, Ceku was released.

The authorities in Serbia made noises of protest, but it was abundantly clear they didn't really want Ceku to be extradited. Putting Ceku on trial would have forced them to actually do something about the fact that the Empire was behind the occupation and separation of Kosovo. The Belgrade quislings are walking the tightrope between serving their foreign masters and avoiding a potential popular revolt. Talking tough on Kosovo but doing Empire's bidding in practice is a recipe that seems to be working for them, for now. Ceku in court would have upended that applecart.

This, by the way, is also the reason they can't rescind the warrants for Ceku, Thaci and other KLA leaders, issued a decade ago. They need them to maintain appearances, but God forbid they actually act on them. As one Serbian commentator put it, "our government is about as responsible as the Bulgarians are principled."

At least Colombia was honest, deporting Ceku last month when he dared show his face there for an international conference.

Next thing you know, Bulgaria will actually apologize to the KLA regime in occupied Pristina for "insulting" them by obeying the law. I'm sure Bulgarian officials have already abased themselves before an Imperial legate for creating such an annoyance in the first place. So, Ceku walks, Belgrade breathes a sigh of relief, and the sordid tragedy continues to play out, until the Serbs perish or the Empire runs out of reality. Whatever comes first.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Whose Hatred, Really?

Last month I wrote about the Skull Tower, a unique monument to the Ottoman legacy in the Balkans. To recap briefly, it is a structure made of stone, mortar and skulls of nearly 1000 Serbs who died in battle against the Turks in May 1809, outside Niš. The Turks won the battle, but with heavy losses. Their commander, Hurşid Ahmed Pasha, had the Serbs' heads skinned, stuffed and sent to the Sultan as trophies. The skulls were built into a tower 15 feet tall, intended to strike fear into any other Ottoman subject contemplating rebellion.

The Serbs kept on fighting, though, and eventually won their freedom. In 1878, when Niš was liberated, the crumbling tower was enclosed in a chapel, and stands there today as a monument to both the Ottoman cruelty and the Serbs' determination to be free.

But that is not what you'll read in this July's National Geographic. In a story about Serbia so typical of everything the Western mainstream media has made up and repeated over the past oh, two decades or so, the photo of the Skull Tower describes it as a "shrine to the Serbs' hatred of foreign domination."

Not the love of liberty. Not the cruelty of the Ottomans. Not the bitter legacy of Islamic conquest. It doesn't matter that any and all of these would be true, because none of them are politically correct. Liberty is verboten these days. Ottomans must always be described only as tolerant, multi-cultural and "diverse." And Islam is a "religion of peace." Therefore, it follows that the Skull Tower must be a monument to Serb "hatred."

What rubbish.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Persian Puzzle

Normally I wouldn't comment on Iran; what happens there is none of my business. But the whole post-election mess there has me wondering.

You see, it looks very much like a "color revolution" scenario: the US-favored candidate contests election results, claims victory, and his supporters riot till the government caves in. But then, couldn't the incumbent actually steal the election knowing full well that he can paint the resulting opposition protests as a CIA/NED coup attempt, whether that is actually true or not?

I freely admit that I haven't a clue what's actually true in the reports coming from Iran, whether Ahmadinejad or Mousavi actually won the vote, who stole what (or not). Given the track record of the mainstream Western media when it comes to the Balkans (as a rule, their reports are almost entirely false), why should I believe anything they say about Iran? Especially since the Empire is so determined to have a war with Tehran, one way or another.

The fact remains, however, that the technique of "democratic coup" pioneered by the Empire in Serbia - and applied elsewhere since - has made it effectively impossible to judge whether any election, anywhere, is actually legitimate. Even if we somehow possessed the knowledge to make an informed decision, there is still the matter of the Empire insisting that democracy is whatever it says it is. As a consequence, "democracy" has become just about meaningless. And that, regardless of what happens in Iran, is something definitely worth thinking about...

Update: Daniel Larison at AmCon offers some thoughts in a similar vein. Worth reading.

Update II: (6/19/2009) And here is Daniel McAdams at the LRC blog, confirming that the NED is involved, after all...

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Why so Hasty?

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 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.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Medium is the Message

Russia Today interviewed me about Biden's visit, earlier this morning (link):

The very fact that Biden, hero of the "Bosniaks" and about to be decorated by the KLA, was sent to do the Balkans is a message.

Obama's foreign policy establishment, resurrected from the Clinton era, decided that finishing off the Serbs and cementing their "nation-building" enterprise in the Balkans would be the perfect easy victory to salvage the sinking ship of the Empire.

But will the Serbs surrender? Will the Empire's plan succeed? We'll find out soon enough.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Pirates of Piran

I'm old enough to recall the last Congress of the Yugoslav League of Communists (SKJ), in January 1990. After their demands (to scrap the unified Party structure in favor of more power to the republics) were rejected, the Slovenian delegation walked out. The Croatian delegation joined them. Thus began the collapse of Yugoslavia.

In Slovenia, the Communists re-branded themselves as democrats; the first "democratic" president was the very same Milan Kucan who led the Communist walkout. His Croat colleague, Ivica Racan, was less lucky; he would play second fiddle in Croatia's independence drive to chauvinist Franjo Tudjman. But throughout 1991, Slovenia and Croatia were allies in the fight to assert independence and dismantle Yugoslavia.

So I have to admit a certain sense of schadenfreude when I read about the ongoing border feud between Slovenia and Croatia, which is interfering with Croatia's bid to join the EUSSR. Having disposed of Yugoslavia and either "erased" (Slovenia) or ethnically cleansed (Croatia) their unwanted inhabitants, Zagreb and Ljubljana are now tearing at each other with hatred previously reserved only for the Serbs.

The heart of the dispute is Croatia's assertion of maritime borders that would deny Slovenia access to the open sea in the Bay of Piran. On one hand, it is hard to be sympathetic to Zagreb; Croatia already controls most of the eastern Adriatic, from Istria to Dubrovnik, some 1000km of coastline. Slovenia has about 50km, Bosnia has less (and even that on paper only), and Montenegro has the rest. On the other hand, Slovenia is clearly using its position of EU membership to strong-arm Croatia on the issue.

Not surprisingly, the commissars in Brussels see the entire affair as horribly embarrassing. Not only does it interfere with their plans to annex Croatia, it undermines the whole 1990s narrative of "democratic" Croats and Slovenes fighting together against the evil Serbs.

Personally, I think Slovenia is doing the Croats a favor, albeit unwittingly. If they thought Yugoslavia was "violating their rights," wait till they get a taste of the EUSSR! At least the Croats had a fair bit of power and influence in Belgrade, making the break from Yugoslavia that much easier; breaking away from Brussels will be quite different. And given the whole animosity for the Slovenians, which appears to be mutual, one wonders why they'd want to be in the same polity with each other again. Ah, but logic and EUSSR seldom mix.

Croatia and Slovenia became bedfellows in order to kill off Yugoslavia (which benefited them both enormously, by the way). That marriage of convenience is long over. Yet I find it hard to feel sorry for either.

You wanted "independence"? There you go. Have fun.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

No Accident

On May 7, 1999, during the NATO offensive against Yugoslavia, an American bomber dropped a precision bomb into a corner office of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade. NATO claimed it had been a "mistake" and the CIA even concocted an implausible story about "old maps" used to plan the attack.

In November 1999, however, the Observer (UK) - a paper that supported the NATO bombing, be it noted - revealed that it had not been an accident:

But the midnight strike was so precise the embassy's north end was untouched, leaving the marble and glass of the front entrance and the ambassador's Mercedes and four flower pots unscathed.

Why do I believe this, even though the officialdom on both sides of the Atlantic has repeatedly dismissed the Observer's claims? Very simple: because the Observer story introduced a perfect red herring. Namely (emphasis added):

The Chinese Embassy in Belgrade was deliberately targeted by the most precise weapons in the US arsenal because it was being used by Zeljko Raznatovic, the indicted war criminal better known as Arkan, to transmit messages to his `Tigers' - Serb death squads - in Kosovo.

Say what? Well, admits the Observer, Arkan's "precise role in Kosovo is still not clear." But hey, the ICTY "had good reasons to suspect" that Arkan and his men were "playing a murderous role in Operation Horseshoe, Milosevic's plan to ethnically cleanse Kosovo of its majority Albanian population."

You know, the fictitious plan conjured by the Bulgarian intelligence and furnished to the Germans? The plan that didn't actually exist? That plan.

And the Chinese personnel killed on the occasion? Must have been intelligence officers, obviously, says the Observer. The Chinese must have been helping the Evil Milosevic (why? Because NATO says so!), and the bombing was a message to them both.

It's blindingly obvious that the Chinese Embassy attack could not have been accidental. Most likely it was a message: to Beijing not to interfere, and to Belgrade to abandon all hope of resisting. The "death squads" and "Horseshoe" angle is horse-hockey, of course, but some sort of moralistic cover was needed for a naked show of force. That's how that entire war was justified, after all.

Observer's report smells like a "yes, but" defense leaked from NATO (or rather, Foreign Office and the State Department), seeking to accept the blame for the bombing but justify it by the necessity of stopping the Evil Serbs. It all adds up, really. It's certainly a lot more plausible than a threadbare story about "old maps."

With a quisling regime in Belgrade getting ready to welcome Deputy Emperor Biden - one of Washington's most outspoken Serbophobes - it may appear that the Serbs have forgotten 1999. I'm willing to wager the Chinese have not.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Skull Tower

If there was just one thing I could show someone seeking to understand the Serbs, I would take them to a hill northeast of Niš (Ниш), and show them the Skull Tower.

Skull Tower, Nis, Serbia
Though Serbian medieval statehood was mortally wounded in the battle of Kosovo (1389), its last embers were smothered in 1459, as the conquering Ottoman Turks swept into Europe again following their conquest of Constantinople. For the next three centuries, Serbs lived under the Ottoman yoke. Some converted to save their lives and property. Some sough refuge in remote areas, or the Austrian and Hungarian borderlands. Others trudged on, bowed but not broken, all the while hoping for freedom.

Though there were previous attempts to liberate Serbia, none lasted very long until the rebellion led by Karađorđe (Карађорђе, Black George) in 1804, known as the First Serbian Uprising. Not until 1813 were the Turks able to end the rebellion - in blood, as usual.

In May 1809, at the height of the uprising, a force of Serb fighters was advancing on Niš, then an Ottoman stronghold. Told of the approach of a Turkish relief force, they dug in on the hills northeast of town. On May 31, the Turks attacked the redoubt on Čegar Hill and broke the Serb line. In the last desperate act of defiance, Serb commander Stevan Sinđelić (Стеван Синђелић) shot at the gunpowder barrels in the redoubt, blowing up himself and the rearguard but also the advancing Turks. This enabled the remaining Serbs to withdraw.

The Ottoman commander of Niš, serasker Hurşid Ahmed Pasha (a Christian from the Caucasus, enslaved as a child and sent into the Janissaries), offered a prize on the rebel heads, then had them skinned, stuffed, and sent to the sultan as trophies. Then he built a tower of brick and mortar, and mounted the flayed skulls in windows made for that purpose. The result was Skull Tower (Ћеле-кула), intended to strike fear into the Serbs.

Fifteen feet (4.65 m) tall, and about 13 feet long and wide, there were 56 rows of skulls on all four faces of the tower, 17 skulls in a row (for a total of 952). Initially the Turks guarded the tower closely, to prevent relatives from giving the skulls a Christian burial. Later on, however, they abandoned it to neglect and elements. It is said that between 1861 and 1864, Midhat-pasha wanted to dismantle the tower, but the local Turks thwarted him.

When Niš became a part of Serbia in 1878, construction began on the chapel that was to protect the tower from further erosion. The chapel was finalized in 1938, and restored in 1989. Of the skulls originally built into the tower, only 58 remain. A skull said to belong to Sinđelić is preserved separately, in a glass case.

Famous French poet, statesman and traveler Alphonse de Lamartine had passed through Niš in the early 1830s, and left this description of the tower:
"The sun was scorching. When I was about a league from the town, I saw a large tower rising in the midst of the plain, as white as Parian marble. I took the path which led to it... I sat down under the shade of the tower to enjoy a few moments' repose. No sooner was I seated than, raising my eyes to the monument, I discovered that the walls, which I supposed to be built of marble or white stone, were composed of regular rows of human skulls; these skulls bleached by the rain and sun, and cemented by a little sand and lime, formed entirely the triumphal arch which now sheltered me from the heat of the sun... In some places portions of hair were still hanging and waved, like lichen or moss, with every breath of wind. The mountain breeze, which was then blowing fresh, penetrated the innumerable cavities of the skulls, and sounded like mournful and plaintive sighs...
"My eyes and my heart greeted the remains of those brave men whose cut-off heads made the cornerstone of the independence of their homeland. May the Serbs keep this monument! It will always teach their children the value of the independence of a people, showing them the real price their fathers had to pay for it."
(from "A Pilgrimage to the Holy Land... Made during a Tour in the East in 1832-1833" Published in London, 1835, vol. 3, pp 105-106).

But as time went on, the world changed, and many things that should not have been forgotten were lost. Today, their own government tells the Serbs they should value comfort over freedom, material goods over dignity, pleasure over honor. In just the last twenty years, over a million Serbs have been forced from their homes and dispossessed. First forced into Communist-imposed borders, Serbia itself is now being partitioned anew, as its province of Kosovo was occupied by NATO in 1999 and declared an "independent" Albanian state in 2008. The very real suffering of Serbs in Ottoman times, during two German occupations in the 20th century, and in the wars of the 1990s, is routinely dismissed or minimized, even as Serbs are accused of committing wholly fabricated "genocides" against their neighbors, who somehow always happened to serve the conquering outsiders.

The Skull Tower is not just a reminder of the steep but necessary price of freedom. It is also a monument to the brutality of the supposedly "tolerant" and "multicultural" Ottoman Empire, and the horrific institution of devşirme that produced psychopaths like Hurshid Ahmed Pasha.

Those who seek to conquer the Serbs ought to take a long, hard look at this monument. The Turks once believed their dominion would last forever. But in 1815, another uprising began. By 1830, Serbia was an autonomous principality. In 1878 it was recognized as independent. And in 1912, the Ottoman Empire was chased out of the Balkans at long last.

So long as a people value freedom, they can either prevail or perish, but can never be conquered.