Balkans and the Big Picture

Hollywood did it again last weekend, as the Chris Rock-Anthony Hopkins feature Bad Company revolved around preventing "Yugoslav" terrorists from blowing up New York City with a nuclear weapon. Even the film critics saw through such a pathetic plot setup. But it must have been rather embarrassing when a most unlikely suspect was arrested Monday for allegedly plotting to detonate a "dirty bomb" in Washington, DC. Not only was he not "Yugoslav" or "neo-Nazi" (as the politically correct Sum of All Fears would have it these days), he was an American Muslim of Hispanic origin.

That’s one movie option no one is going to touch with a ten-foot pole, though. Tinseltown finds it a lot easier to pin the "terrorist" tag onto Serbs or Russians even as real terrorists are nothing of the sort. As mentioned before, there must be something more at work here than simple ignorance, or a poor excuse of trying to "promote tolerance." How does labeling a nation that has nothing to do with terrorism – while avoiding those who have – "promote tolerance"?

Make-Believe Terrorists

Hollywood obviously prefers to invent fake terrorists for the sake of vapid plots, though real life offers far more interesting – and incredulous – fare. But is that any better than what the Empire is doing?

If one asks the Hague Inquisition, Slobodan Milosevic is a far worse threat to world peace than Usama bin Ladin. First he is accused of "terrorizing" the court by not letting the prosecution crucify him. Then he is alleged to have created the world’s greatest offshore financing structure. There is also the cardinal sin of not reading Human Rights Watch e-mails. Besides, no one’s ever accused Al-Qaeda of genocide, while Milosevic’s guilt in that matter is already widely assumed.

The War Crimes Scam

To hear the Inquisition’s witnesses, even when the real terrorists plot assassinations of their supporters, everything is Milosevic’s fault. Darth Sidious, eat your heart out: the real Dark Lord of the Sith sits in the docket in The Hague – or so they’d have us all believe. So while Al-Qaeda is out of reach, but ever-so-conveniently "out there somewhere," Milosevic and the entire Serbian people are made to bear the brunt of Empire’s exercise in vital powers.

The most recent victim of the Inquisition was "K12," supposedly a truck driver who was supposed to testify about truckloads of Albanian bodies allegedly reburied in Serbia even as NATO pulverized its road network. After refusing to testify and complaining about psychological pressure, "K12" was found "in contempt of court" and threatened with fines and imprisonment. So, though legions of previous witnesses have freely perjured themselves – an act of contempt if there was ever any – lying for the prosecution, only the one witness who refused to do so is actually punished.

On top of all that, news that the prosecution commissioned a report by a reputable Harvard scholar about "Serb nationalism in the 20th century" makes it clear what the entire "trial" is about. All the slick PR talk about "individual guilt" and "command responsibility" were really a cover for an effort to put the entire country – through its leader – on trial, and impose on them a burden of collective guilt. Like the futile hunt for ephemeral Al-Qaeda through the picturesque Afghan caves, the trial of Slobodan Milosevic is all show, no substance.

Fiddling At The Fire

One would expect the people who overthrew Milosevic to at least defend the Serbian state – as their current fief – if not its people. Instead, Zoran Djindjic persists in his quest for power, and Vojislav Kostunica persists in opposing him. Statements in Serbian media regarding the Budding Report (to call it by its author, Prof. Audrey Helfant-Budding) are pathetic to the point of being shocking. Kostunica was "surprised" by the Inquisition’s claims of collective guilt. A leading government international law expert was "disappointed." And Foreign Minister Svilanovic, Djindjic’s lapdog if there ever was one, quickly commented that judging evidence was "not the government’s job," but that of the Inquisition.

No wonder the Inquisition and the Empire dare so much. There’s no one to resist them any more.

The Phantom Menace

Meanwhile, in Washington, a disturbing, although entirely expected, pattern emerges. The horrendous attacks of Black Tuesday are ultimately used by unscrupulous politicians. Their perpetrators, alleged or confirmed, are largely ignored. It is as if the Al-Qaeda is the Phantom Menace, whose mythical omnipotence justifies everything. This "jihad construct" also masks the existence of a very real jihad movement, one few are aware of, and even fewer are ready to face.

The agenda seems to be to escalate the paranoia and expand both the government and the reach of Imperial power. Distracted by the daily terror warnings, fake movie terrorists, and show trials of "war criminals" who’d have been seen as heroes had they by any chance been American Presidents, few seem to notice the growing shadow of the Empire as it boldly asserts itself with such "defense" doctrines as "first strike."

Why the Balkans Still Matters

When Balkan Express started out as a column, it was supposed to cast light on the widespread ignorance about the peninsula – and the former Yugoslav federation in particular – because it was such an important piece of the Big Picture. Almost two years hence, it appears ignorance is but a part of the problem, standing right next to bald lies and deliberate malice. And the Big Picture has only become clearer.

Particulars of the Balkans conflict never really mattered to those who run the Empire, but only the ways in which they could advance the imperial agenda. Slovenia and Croatia were a pretext for recognizing Bosnia, intervention in Bosnia paved the way for Kosovo, Kosovo made possible what happened in Macedonia, and so on. It had very little to do with the Balkans or its inhabitants, whose quarrels and feuds were merely a vehicle. Since everyone was being manipulated, it never mattered who "won" – the only real winner was the Empire, at everyone else’s expense.

That’s the hidden meaning, if you will, of what happened in the past ten years.

As show trials and make-believe terrorists show, the Balkans is still used as a prop in Empire’s great game of power. To be sure, it has become a part of something much more complex and sinister. That only means, though, that what the Empire does in the Balkans – and what the Balkans does to either serve or oppose the Empire – is still very much important.

Author: Nebojsa Malic

Nebojsa Malic left his home in Bosnia after the Dayton Accords and currently resides in the United States. During the Bosnian War he had exposure to diplomatic and media affairs in Sarajevo. As a historian who specializes in international relations and the Balkans, Malic has written numerous essays on the Kosovo War, Bosnia, and Serbian politics. His exclusive column for debuted in November 2000.