The Irrational Empire

It is not necessary to examine Iraq or Afghanistan to realize that much of what makes up the United States’ foreign policy makes very little sense. Washington’s 14-year record in the Balkans reveals as much upon even a cursory examination.

For example, the US demands extradition of Balkans leaders to its illegally created puppet “tribunal” in The Hague, while insisting that American troops are granted blanket immunity from charges before the International Criminal Court, an admittedly misguided institution that is nonetheless perfectly legitimate.

Washington cold-bloodedly invades a country halfway across the world, justifying the aggression with intelligence that turns out to be deliberately fabricated, and cloaking it in the “War on Terror.” Yet Serbia and Macedonia are not allowed to put down terrorist activity inside their own borders, as this would be a violation of the terrorists’ “human rights.” And since the terrorists in this case are US allies, they cannot even be labeled as such.

If a religious shrine in the United States was deliberately destroyed, the perpetrator would likely be prosecuted for a “hate crime.” In the US-occupied Serbian province of Kosovo, destruction of over 120 Orthodox churches and countless other monuments of culture is deliberately ignored, and the only “hate-criminals” are Serbs who refuse to accept Albanian occupation.

These are but three examples; the list goes on. To say this constitutes double standards is not enough. All this goes far beyond, into the realm of logic-defying and reality-bending that’s maintained with an iron fist of violence clothed in a velvet glove of lies.

Democracy, But…

Serbia ended its political deadlock last week, finally constituting a parliament and preparing to inaugurate a government dominated by pro-American parties. However, this was made possible by the support of the Socialists, formerly led by Slobodan Milosevic, and not the US-favored Democratic Party. Was Washington, or Brussels for that matter, pleased that Serbia has finally embraced democratic power-sharing, or that the Socialists came to support the parties that had taken power in a US-sponsored coup? Not exactly. As Reuters explains:

“The West had hoped Serbia’s feuding reformers would overcome their differences and form a majority government that could push ahead with stalled reform, denying any influence for the Socialist Party and resurgent ultranationalists in the Radical Party.”

But the Socialists and Radicals account for 104 of the 250 seats in the Serbian Skupshtina. Would a 41% congressional minority be “denied any influence” in the United States?

UN and World Bank representatives followed the cue from Washington, “warning” the new Serbian government it would be denied new credits and donations unless it continued to implement sham reforms pursued by its DOS predecessor. Chances for that are actually high, because one of the major partners in the new coalition is G-17, a collection of neo-Keynesian managerial economists responsible for most of DOS’s economic policies. However, the purpose of the warnings was to make sure the Socialists would not interfere with policies such as government sell-offs of nationalized industries to Western speculators and domestic cronies for pennies on the dollar.

As for the Radicals, any proposal they submit seems destined for condemnation by the Empire, no matter what it actually advocates. For example, on Monday they requested the abolition of the old proviso that over 50% of registered voters must participate in order to validate a presidential election. Because of the proviso – kept by the Djindjic regime as a political ploy to hurt rival Kostunica – three presidential elections have failed so far, at enormous cost to the impoverished nation. The Radicals’ proposal was immediately branded suspicious and self-serving. But which political proposal isn’t? Anyway, they were merely echoing the opinion of the OSCE mission from October 2002, after the first failed vote. Yet no one is suggesting the OSCE has a hidden “ultranationalist” agenda.

Exercises of Absolute Power

Echoing the threats about “reforms” in Serbia, the Bosnian viceroy Paddy Ashdown complained recently that his protectorate wasn’t doing enough to fulfill European diktat. Apparently, the EU demands the creation of 25 new government agencies and 48 new laws, meaning further centralization. Ashdown blamed the Bosnian Serbs for allegedly obstructing the process, even though the specific hold-ups he mentioned were the joint intelligence services and defense ministry, both stalled by Muslim politicians.

That seems to be the order of things in Bosnia. When Muslims opposed the unification of Croat-majority city of Mostar, Ashdown ordered the arrest of three notable Croats on charges of corruption and “obstructing the peace.” Now that Muslims are in a tizzy over controlling the intelligence and military, Ashdown blacklisted 10 Bosnian Serbs on allegations of corruption and aiding suspected war criminals. As a reminder, the viceroy of Bosnia needs no proof to pronounce judgment, or even justification; his word is law, and there is no appeal. Adding insult to injury, the US blacklisted the same 10 individuals on suspicion of “having terrorist ties,” along with three very real Albanian terrorists from Macedonia.

That having someone pronounced guilty in the court of public opinion, stripped of property and civil rights, and banned from traveling is a display of most loathsome tyranny doesn’t bother Ashdown or Washington much. It is nice to have absolute power, even if only over people too confused and demoralized to resist.

A Paladin of Hypocrisy

Speaking of Bosnia, the man who was perhaps the second most responsible for its four-year violent ordeal died last week. Warren Zimmerman, the last US ambassador in Yugoslavia, exemplified the sort of irrational, hypocritical, and purposefully destructive policy that has transformed the United States into the American Empire.

One of those things “everyone knows,” having digested truckloads of propaganda over the past dozen years, is that Europe stood idly by while Serbs attacked the innocent, peaceful Bosnians and committed countless atrocities upon them, until the United States intervened to save the day. Facts of the matter are significantly different.

Namely, Europeans tried to negotiate the end to the Bosnian conflict from the very beginning, recognizing it as a civil war in which Croatia, Serbia and the Islamic countries backed particular factions. In fact, EU mediation had the Bosnian crisis resolved before any of the serious fighting broke out. The Cutilheiro Plan satisfied the publicly stated aims of Serbs, Croats and Muslims in that it envisioned an independent Bosnia, but with powers divided between ethnic cantons in a way to make any one people’s domination impossible. That Muslim leader Alija Izetbegovic disliked this arrangement indicates that he aimed for just such domination. That was the cue for the US government, in the persona of Zimmerman, eager to sabotage European diplomacy and reassert its status of “indispensable nation” on the continent – nearly rendered obsolete by the abrupt ending of the Cold War – and promised Izetbegovic support if he reneged on the agreement. Knowing full well it would mean war, Izetbegovic did just that.

Twelve years hence, both Izetbegovic and Zimmerman are facing much harsher judgment than that of history, while here on earth the Bosnian war is being blamed on Slobodan Milosevic, and another US diplomat, Richard Holbrooke, takes credit for ending it. Implausible enough as fiction, as history it beggars belief.

Political Dadaism

Santayana’s dictum about the forgetful repeating history came true in record time when American forces attacked Iraq just four years after attacking Serbia. It seems only the powerful had learned any of the lessons of the Kosovo War, notably that people will believe just about anything if it sounds outrageous enough, and that afterwards, no one would care they were lied to. Yet evidence of lies is everywhere, for those willing to see it.

Those who question Imperial propaganda and offer explanations of possible true motivations for creating a global Balkans are often derided as “paranoid” and “conspiracy theorists.” Maybe the charge is true, insofar as there doesn’t seem to be some great conspiracy driving Empire’s actions. They are not consistent in any regard, except for their violence and the resulting accumulation of both power and problems. Perhaps a recent analysis was right, and the ideology of Imperial leaders is simply that of political Dadaism, in which language, truth, logic and morality only get in the way of power. That certainly explains the absurdities of today’s western Balkans, and quite a few other things as well.

Read more by Nebojsa Malic

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 Antiwar.com debuted in November 2000.