That Sinking Feeling

Of Omnipotent Government

More than lives and property was drowned by the fetid waters that deluged New Orleans and the media-forsaken coastlines of Mississippi and Alabama in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Any credibility that the Imperial government may have had left also perished with the floods. Hundreds of thousands of people were told they could depend on the government, and the government – predictably, one might say, even without the benefit of hindsight – failed them, utterly and completely.

Ironically, the one place where the Empire is still feared – if not necessarily respected – is the Balkans, which has been drowning in metaphorical sludge for over 15 years already. Leaders of the banana republics that replaced Yugoslavia have tied their fates to the Empire in many ways, and they are watching Washington’s stumbling with great apprehension.

A "Generous" Donation

Hoping to score political points with its chief patron, the Albanian "provisional government" of the occupied Serbian province of Kosovo pledged 400,000 euros in aid to the United States from its budget this week. News agencies that reported the story conveniently forgot to note that the provisional government’s budget is funded almost entirely by U.S. and EU donations; nor have they noted, as they had in the aftermath of the March 2004 pogrom, as an excuse, that most residents of the province live in abject poverty.

Of course, all governments are generous with other people’s money, but those other people are usually their own taxpayers. In the case of Kosovo Albanians, they are the same American taxpayers that have now fallen victim to nature’s wrath. How generous, indeed.

Economics of Destruction

Surprisingly, the sycophantic leadership of Serbia and Montenegro did not imitate the Albanians’ offer of help; perhaps because it would never occur to them to use a natural disaster to score political points, or maybe because they have been preoccupied with internal feuds. One official who could be counted on some over-the-top statement was off in Vienna, making a fool of himself yet again. Vuk Draskovic, the psychotic foreign minister, told the OSCE assembly in Vienna that Serbia stood for "unconditional dialogue" and "compromise" regarding the fate of occupied Kosovo. And Serbians then wonder why the Empire is so willing to carve it off…

To be honest, news about Katrina and Draskovic’s latest stupidity has been overshadowed by a man-made disaster: the ongoing feud between federal Defense Minister Prvoslav Davinic and Serbian Finance Minister Mladjan Dinkic. Dinkic, responsible for Serbia’s disastrous economic policies since the October 2000 coup and now in near-total control of all money and finance in Serbia, has accused his party colleague Davinic of corruption and embezzlement regarding the procurement of military equipment. The Associated Press reports insinuated that Davinic was part of the "military establishment long used to writing its own ticket with political consent," while Dinkic was one of the "reformists trying to repair an economy warped by communism while paying off the impoverished country’s debts."

The truth, as usual, is somewhat different. Davinic, a former UN bureaucrat and NATO lobbyist, has indeed spent millions of euros purchasing equipment from a company run by fellow Atlantic Council board member Mile Dragic. However, as another AP story indicates, the military of Serbia-Montenegro has been "plagued by … equipment shortages and obsolete and outdated weapons." Frivolous as it is to spend almost $400 million on new equipment, one could argue that Davinic at least did provide for his troops, unlike his Imperial counterpart. Furthermore, the contract did go to domestic enterprises; over the past five years, Dinkic’s G17 has conducted a massive sell-off of Serbian government property (expropriated from rightful owners by the Communists in 1944) to mostly German and American conglomerates.

Davinic is hardly a saint. Between him and his predecessor Boris Tadic – now Serbian president – the once-proud military that defied NATO and emerged undefeated from 78 days of ferocious bombing has just about been dismantled. So it is ironic that Dinkic and the G17 – rapacious Keynesian plunderers and embezzlers of billions – come down on him for actually trying to build military capacity, and declare he had "disqualified himself as a person capable of carrying out any duty in a serious and democratic state." Or perhaps they are serious, and in a G17-run Serbia, only the economics of destruction enjoy the government’s blessing…

"Reform," Again

Meanwhile, in Bosnia, the International Crisis Group has issued yet another proclamation to the glories of Imperial centralization. Titled "Bosnia’s Stalled Police Reform: No Progress, No EU," ICG’s latest report claims that the proposal to centralize the country’s police is essential for its EU aspirations, and that Serbs are to blame for its failure to pass.

There has yet to be something for which the ICG hasn’t blamed the Serbs. But leaving that aside, their core claim is complete nonsense. First of all, this has nothing to do with Bosnia joining the EU. No matter how many centralizing, unconstitutional, Dayton-violating "reforms" are imposed on the communities of Bosnia, there is always another "obstacle to integration" ahead, used to impose yet more centralization. Besides, Brussels has made it clear that only when the Hague Inquisition receives the head of Radovan Karadzic would Bosnia even remotely qualify for consideration. And even though Imperial forces are holding his family hostage, Karadzic is showing no signs of surrender.

Bosnia’s highly hypothetical EU membership is entirely insignificant here, except as a crude propaganda device. What is really at stake is another attempt to centralize the country against the wishes of its people, and in clear violation of the treaty that ended the war. A decade of such behavior has definitely failed to bring real peace. Some people openly say they are "waiting for the next war."

Aiming for the Sinking Ship

Every single governmental abuse perpetrated on the unfortunate survivors of Yugoslavia’s collapse in the past decade or so has been justified as necessary for joining the "Euro-Atlantic integrations," meaning the EU and NATO. Having just destroyed a common state of their own, ex-Yugoslavs seem unnaturally eager to enter a mega-state in which they would be the provincial periphery at best.

After the referenda in France and Holland, and the increasingly obvious string of disasters under the reign of Bush II, the Euro-Atlantic Empire that Balkans puppet regimes swear by is slowly being revealed as a titanic sinking ship. All of the posturing from Washington and Brussels is but a game of rearranging the deck chairs, in vain hope that the passengers won’t panic. Yet the ragged rafts that are Balkans fiefdoms are seeking to latch onto that foundering vessel, believing it to be salvation, instead of staying clear of the impending disaster and its potentially deadly wake.

Fortunately, it appears the passengers of those rafts, most of whom never actually voted for the puppets set above them, aren’t so eager to perish beneath the waves of hubris. Reportedly, nostalgia is on the rise for the times of Communism. People claim their lives were better back then. That may be arguable, as it is a matter of perception. One can certainly argue that they were not free then, and are not free now. However, the undisputed fact is that under Tito, Yugoslavs had dignity. In today’s brave new world of Pax Americana and pure democracy, they have none. And that makes all the difference.

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.