Things Fall Apart

The Empire Is Crumbling

"Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand."
W. B. Yeats, "The Second Coming"

For the past month, the eyes of the world were mostly directed at Lebanon, where a vicious confrontation between Israel and Hezbollah left hundreds of people dead and swaths of charred ruins across the countryside. What Israel intended to be a short, victorious war ended up as a strategic disaster: after 34 days of destruction Hezbollah was still standing, more powerful and popular than ever.

His Elevated Majesty hastened to claim it wasn’t so, but his bravado was transparent even to the American media. The "New Middle East" the Imperial policymakers fantasized about was not going to be born after all.

The full extent of the political and military fallout from the war is yet to be established. But it should be painfully obvious in Washington – and in all likelihood, it’s what prompted the Emperor’s blustering statement – that Israel was defeated even though it used American tactics and weaponry. The vulnerability of Imperial legions was already demonstrated in the protracted and bloody occupation of Iraq, but Hezbollah’s humiliation of the Israeli military took only a month.

One of the pillars of Imperial dominion, the pseudo-religion of democracy, has already been judged a sham throughout the former Communist world, as "democrats" are routinely defined as whoever cozies up to Washington most. Now the other pillar, unquestioned American military superiority, has been damaged as well.

Standing Firm

In the Balkans, the Empire’s edifice of lies is showing signs of faltering under the pressure of reality. Backed into the corner and tired of repeated humiliation, Serbia is standing unusually firm in refusing to accept the independence of occupied Kosovo. Western media were all too eager to interpret the musings of its Kosovo commissioner as willingness to partition the province, but the prime minister’s spokesman quickly clarified that the statement pertained to the autonomy of Serbs from Albanian self-rule, with Kosovo still a part of Serbia.

That sort of language is infuriating to independence advocates in the so-called "international community," but there is little they can do. To retain a pretense of legality, they must have Serbia’s approval for carving off a chunk of its territory. And for now, they simply won’t get it.

Three years ago, two Serb youths were killed and four injured when "unknown attackers" machine-gunned them as they were swimming in a river near Gorazdevac. True to form, neither the local Albanian authorities nor the province’s UN and NATO occupiers ever found the perpetrators. Serbian President Boris Tadic pointed to the fact on the event’s anniversary this Sunday, saying that Serbs in Kosovo "live in fear" and that those whose job it was were "doing nothing to solve the murder of the children."

Perhaps Tadic was still smarting from the rejection of his overtures to Washington, spelled out in a Washington Post editorial last month. But it does appear as if there is among Tadic, Prime Minister Kostunica, and other leading politicians in Serbia – who normally can only agree that they hate each others’ guts – some sort of basic consensus on not giving up Kosovo.

Echoes of "Storm"

Tadic and Kostunica also condemned another bit of the American legacy in the Balkans: the 1995 Croatian offensive that obliterated the centuries-old Serb presence in several parts of today’s Croatia, accompanied by wanton killing and destruction of property. Operation Storm was undertaken with full U.S. blessing, and is to the present day commemorated in Croatia as a day of victory and thanksgiving.

But in his comments on the anniversary of the exodus, Prime Minister Kostunica called the massive ethnic cleansing that took place an "unpunished crime." The statement came in the wake of video clips showing Croat and Bosnian Muslim units murdering Serb civilians and captives during the operation and its aftermath. Some of the footage was not new; it had just never been shown in context. Other images, such as the one showing Gen. Atif Dudakovic telling his troops to "burn it all" – referring to nearby Serb villages – have not been seen before.

After the footage surfaced, Belgrade demanded the arrest of Dudakovic as a war criminal. Zagreb and Sarajevo immediately denounced the recordings as "Serb propaganda" aiming to absolve the "aggressor." But it’s telling that the footage was first shown on the globalist, pro-Imperial B92 television, which had also led the media frenzy last year with the footage of a Serb militia unit executing Muslims.

Bosnia Boiling

One of the reasons the video and the statements from Belgrade provoked such fury in Bosnia is that the cobbled-together country is in the midst of an ugly electoral campaign. A coalition of motley political forces uniting around the concept of a centralized, Muslim-dominated Bosnia and dubbing itself the "Patriotic bloc" is hoping to come to power. It has already scored a major triumph this spring, scuttling the passage of constitutional amendments sponsored by Washington and Brussels without suffering any consequences for defying the Empire. But the bellicose rhetoric of the "Patriots" has caused an upsurge of defiance in the Bosnian Serb Republic, where opinion polls indicate strong support for secession if forced centralization continues (and if Kosovo is forcibly separated from Serbia).

In this volatile mix came the explosion in the early morning hours of Friday, Aug. 11, damaging the tomb of Alija Izetbegovic, wartime leader of the Bosnian Muslims. Muslim politicians, religious leaders, and the media howled in fury at the act, quickly pointing fingers at Serbs. But while there are plenty of Serbs and Croats who hated Izetbegovic and would not be beyond a barbaric attack on his grave, the only beneficiaries of this are clearly the "Patriots," all of whom had at some point crossed political swords with "The First Bosniak" and lost.

The October elections will once again be a referendum on ethnic allegiance, with Serbs and Croats rejecting the Empire’s vision of a "single unitary state" and Muslims embracing it. How long before it becomes obvious that the Empire can no longer impose its will, if people are determined to oppose it? What happens then is anybody’s guess.

Death Throes

Having destroyed the pretense of law and order in world affairs in favor of unrestrained power, the Empire is now facing the grim reality of a world beginning to realize this power is neither as invincible nor as terrifying as its wielders made it sound. From the Middle East to Latin America, Central Asia to the Balkans, a realization is dawning that one can defy the Empire and win, if one dares. And more will dare.

The American Empire arose from Washington’s interventions in the Balkans. Perhaps future historians will claim that it came to an end in the sands of the Middle East. As Justin Raimondo put it,

"What we are witnessing in the Middle East is the sad spectacle of a once great nation dissipating its resources on a futile crusade to implant ‘democracy’ in inhospitable soil. These aren’t the ‘birth pangs’ of a new, U.S.-Israeli regional hegemon, but the death throes of an American Empire that is expiring before it is even properly born."

Now it’s just a matter of surviving the fall.

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.