Allies and Vassals

Laboring to Please the Empire

The blistering August heat has but little to do with the constantly rising temperature of the boiling cauldron that is Balkans politics. Ever since the court of Bush II announced a “new” Balkans policy in May, the region has seen furious jockeying for Empire’s favor in the run-up to the “final solution” for the occupied Serbian province of Kosovo.

For the Albanian separatists, who came into effective control of the province after NATO’s 1999 invasion and have since ethnically cleansed all the Serbs, Roma, Jews, Turks, and other unfortunate non-Albanians they could lay their hands on, only independence is acceptable. Serbian authorities are opposed, of course, but the political scene in Belgrade is painfully fractured and heavily influenced by the vocal minority that supports the Empire, loathes everything Serbian, and actually supports the independence of an Albanian Kosovo. Whether under their influence or out of delusional gullibility, the confused souls running Serbia believe they can prevent the amputation of Kosovo through an “alliance” with the United States and NATO.

Truth be told, every successor state of the former Yugoslavia, as well as those aspiring to statehood, has hitched its horse to the Imperial wagon in hopes of using Washington’s power to achieve their goals. Without exception – however successful things may have appeared at one point or another – they have found those goals just out of reach. Both Serbs and Albanians now believe that Washington is on their side. So do the Bosnian Muslims, the Macedonians, the Croats, the separatist regime in Montenegro… Mordor-on-the-Potomac is always careful to nurture that perception, but in truth, it has always been on only one side: its own.

“Every Drugged Bandit”

In the Imperial media, the issue of Kosovo is always framed in the terms of an overwhelming Albanian majority demanding “freedom” from Serbia, after NATO bombed it in 1999 to “end ethnic cleansing” conducted by Slobodan Milosevic – who, as they never fail to mention, is on trial for war crimes. That Albanians only became a hypermajority thanks to their ethnic cleansing of Serbs and others; that NATO’s pretext for invasion was as credible as the claim of “Iraqi WMD;” or that Milosevic was put on trial by the same people who bombed his country with impunity, is of course deliberately ignored.

Attempts to point out the terrorist nature of the “Kosova Liberation Army,” its drug-running, gun-smuggling, money-laundering, and slaving, or its connections to militant Islam, are derided, dismissed, and denounced as “Serbian propaganda.”

Certainly no mainstream reporter or analyst dares make a connection between Kosovo and the events in Macedonia, where an Albanian “rebellion” in 2001 resulted in the Empire imposing a “settlement” that gave Albanians in Macedonia a plethora of entitlements and privileges (falsely dubbed “rights”). Macedonians, however, aren’t the least bit hesitant. Thus an editorial in the Skopje daily Makedonija Denes (Macedonia Today), published last Thursday, analyzed the possible implications of Albanian violence in Kosovo for Macedonia and the region in general.

The Albanians, writes commentator Straso Angelovski, are threatening the UN (whom they view as an obstacle to independence), blame the Serbs and Belgrade for the abysmal failure of their provisional government to implement any “standards” set forth as prerequisites for discussing the final status, and are using the bloody feuds among various Albanian political parties as a cover to continue their attacks on Serbs. As a consequence of the occupation of Kosovo and the Ohrid “agreement,” says Angelovski, “every drugged bandit” can “blackmail the entire state and all its institutions” and get away with it. Greater Albania is truly a land of opportunity, a twilight zone where today’s terrorists become tomorrow’s prime ministers.

Unfortunately, Angelovski concludes his commentary by calling for the enforcement of UNSCR 1244, the “only verified international solution to the Kosovo problem.” In truth, 1244 is worthless piece of paper, concocted to ex post facto justify NATO’s occupation of Kosovo, which the UN and NATO have repeatedly violated from day one.

A Steaming Pile of… Compost

Meanwhile, the occupied and ravaged Kosovo is “administered” (the favored euphemism for occupation) by people so utterly clueless, self-absorbed, and just plain rotten, it boggles the mind. After six years of violence motivated by pure, unadulterated ethnic, religious, and even racial hatred, global bureaucrats are still pretending Kosovo is an idyll.

Visiting Kosovo last Friday, the new secretary-general of the OSCE boasted how the organization has “seen clear progress achieved … over the last six years” and helped “build the elements of the institutions that serve all members of society.” He should really tell that to the Serbs who need the protection of armored vehicles just to go buy groceries. Honestly, how dare they not see the “clear progress” so obvious to the OSCE chief from just a couple of hours around Albanian politicians?

Part of the reason the occupiers are keeping their heads firmly in the sand is their knowledge that they live in a sea of Albanians who can turn on their “liberators” any minute. Albanians themselves make no effort to hide it; Florin Krasniqi, the KLA’s chief arms smuggler/fundraiser in the U.S., recently threatened the UN in Kosovo with a “team of trained snipers” if they refused to leave when Albanians decided their time was up. Krasniqi, an illegal immigrant who raised funds and smuggled high-caliber sniper rifles and other weapons to the KLA, has done so with absolute impunity. American authorities are yet to investigate him, let alone detain him, for any of his confessed felonies. In fact, he’s a bit of a media star, having a book written about his “struggle” and appearing on national television to advocate gun control(!). But the KLA does not only receive funds through Krasniqi; it also sends donations, to American politicians.

Meanwhile, the U.S. “peacekeepers” in the province have so thoroughly eliminated terrorism, drug-running, weapons-smuggling and ethnic persecution that they are focusing on inventing new composting methods. Truly, a steaming pile of refuse is an apt metaphor for the UN and NATO role in occupied Kosovo.

A Fictitious Alliance

One of the reasons the occupation is proceeding unchallenged, however, surely must be the readiness of Serbian authorities to accept it – and everything else the Empire thinks of throwing at them – with sickening eagerness. A month ago, Serbia-Montenegro signed a treaty with NATO giving Alliance troops the right of passage across its territory. Celebrating the occasion in downtown Belgrade, NATO’s secretary-general boasted about the righteousness of the 1999 bombing, surrounded by fawning Serbian officials.

Shortly thereafter, Belgrade announced it was negotiating two treaties with the U.S., a Security Cooperation Agreement and Status of Forces Agreement. Well, not so much “negotiating” as unconditionally accepting the standard form that Washington demands of all vassal countries.

According to the Belgrade daily Blic, the agreements will “open possibility [sic] for Serbia and Montenegro to get significant security, economic, and political benefits.” Their signing would be a “signal to the international community” that Serbia-Montenegro “is serious in its intentions to become a part of Euro-Atlantic integration processes and that it is moving toward larger political stability.” Would that mean that the constant demonization, pressure, and extortion by that “international community” would stop? Think again.

Despite the years of nothing but malice, lies, and deceit aimed at Serbia by the U.S. Department of State, it appears that some in Serbia believe they can be “friends” with the Empire, if only they do everything that is demanded of them – and then some. Realpolitik, they insist, clearly makes a case for embracing Serbia as an ally. But any student of realpolitik would have said in 1990 that the U.S. could have achieved dominance in the Balkans by favoring the Serbs, rather than every other combatant in the Yugoslav Succession Wars; yet what happened was just the opposite.

And with the Serbian leadership willing to give Washington everything, often before it is even asked, what possible incentive would the Empire have not to antagonize Belgrade? Upsetting the Muslims of Bosnia or the Albanians would be far more costly, both in terms of potential violence as well as the public-relations damage stemming from the Empire’s unrestrained propaganda favoring their causes during the 1990s. One ought to remember that during the negotiations in Dayton, almost 10 years ago, it was Alija Izetbegovic who held the Americans hostage, not the other way around; even the Emperor did not dared be seen as pressuring the “noble victim” his propaganda helped create.

Servants and Victims

It is tempting to think that the Empire is playing favorites in the Balkans morass, especially since there is evidence aplenty to support that thesis; and while it may not be clear who the biggest favorite is, it is abundantly clear who isn’t. And yet, even those seemingly and actually favored by the Empire have reasons to be frustrated. Once their horse is hitched to Empire’s cart, it’s the driver who holds the reins – and the whip.

Croatia, Empire’s “junkyard dog” who harbored delusions of grandeur after its summer blitzkrieg of 1995, now plaintively insists it was working in conjunction with Washington, and that its atrocities were all officially sanctioned. Washington remains silent, Brussels and the Hague Inquisition unimpressed. The “Patriotic War” has become a mortgage on Croatian politics.

In Bosnia, the promised “reintegration” under a Muslim-dominated central government may be proceeding, but it is also very, very slow. The separatist regime in Montenegro, funded lavishly by the United States as “opposition” to Slobodan Milosevic’s Yugoslavia, finds itself constantly short of support to declare independence – though its funding, apparently, has not dried up. For Kosovo Albanians, the independence promised by Madeleine Albright in 1999 may be almost within reach, but still exceeds their grasp. Macedonians, who have made a point of collaborating with the Empire as a way to survive the wars that destroyed Yugoslavia, eventually found themselves abused by that same Empire, which rewarded Albanian terrorism and is constantly shoving Skopje around.

Tempting as it may be to believe getting in Empire’s good graces might resolve all sorts of admittedly difficult problems, the empirical, observable experience over the past 15 years or so in the Balkans – and longer elsewhere – yields the same result as an a priori, principled argument: that approach simply does not work. The Empire – whether this one, or any other – has no friends, only servants or victims.

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.