Franklin’s Choice

History in the Making

“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

It’s a well-known dictum, attributed to Benjamin Franklin. He was only the publisher of the book in which it appeared; what he actually wrote, some time earlier, was “Sell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor Liberty to purchase power.” Either way, Franklin was talking about the core issue in the affairs of men: the constant struggle between freedom and “security,” the latter being the chief promise of the state.

Franklin’s descendants seem to have made their choice long ago; even as every politician pays lip service to liberty, and the current Emperor actually wages wars of conquest across the globe in the name of “freedom” (what a perversion of the very idea!), American politics these days is all about “security.”

On the other hand, “Franklin’s choice” is still available to the people of Serbia – a country whose history in the past two decades has been affected by the American Empire as much as that of Iraq or Afghanistan. For the past seven years, Serbia has been ruled by parties and personalities set in power by the U.S.-sponsored “democratic revolution” of October 2000. It was neither a revolution nor particularly democratic – indeed, one of the first things the “revolutionaries” did was burn the parliament and the ballots from the recent presidential election. Nor did the victorious “democratic reformers” pay any heed to such insignificant details as the law, the constitution, or parliamentary procedure, bulldozing over anything that found itself in the way of their ambition: to make Serbia into a “normal” country by joining the EU and NATO, and taking its rightful place at the Empire’s feet.

Selling a Pipe Dream

For seven years, Empire’s willing executioners have run Serbia, promising progress and prosperity. They delivered on none of those promises, instead bringing debt, plunder, and humiliation.

To fully chronicle the abuses heaped upon Serbia by the sycophants and bootlickers of those who sought the End of History and sneered at the “reality-based community” would take more time and space than is available here. This column has noted but a few things over the years, from the blatant and unrepentant trampling of any legal order, to the wholesale plunder of the country, ending with what in any “normal” state would be considered high treason: acquiescence in the illegal seizure of Serbia’s territory that was the “declaration of independence” by rebel Albanians in the occupied province of Kosovo.

In exchange for giving up their land, identity, culture, faith, history, and property – such trifles! – the Serbs are being offered a golden future in the European Union. Set aside for now the question whether a modern-day USSR is really the paradise they make it out to be; there is one tiny problem standing in the way of this utopian dream. Namely, the Empire has explicitly ruled out Serbia’s “integration.” Even when the EU pretends to make deals with Serbia, they are dead on arrival at best.

Passing the Blame

Even the “reformers” are aware that their promises of prosperity have worn thin. They have long since stopped promising hope – except in the most abstract sense – and turned to fear. If Serbia votes for the “nationalists” both they and their Imperial masters despise and demonize, it will “return to the 1990s” of blockade, isolation, and even bombing (they imply, and sometimes flat-out say). How odd, then, that the majority of those “liberals” and “democrats” and “reformers” have roots in the old Communist regime…

Confronted with the devastating reality of their rule, the “reformers” try to shift the blame on Slobodan Milosevic. But Milosevic has been dead since 2005, and he was arrested and extradited in 2001. His supporters have been marginalized since the October 2000 coup. And seven years is ample time to at least start repairing the damage done during Milosevic’s rule. How come that hasn’t happened?

Well, they say again, Vojislav Kostunica has been prime minister since 2004, after the “true believers” were ousted in the polls (ah, that pesky democracy!). Everything was just peachy while Zoran Djindjic was in power, and even after he got killed and the self-proclaimed Jacobins declared martial law… Except that nothing was going well even in Djindjic’s time, and the very same people – “expert economists” from G17 Plus – were in charge of Serbia’s economy since October 2000 regardless of who was prime minister or president.

In worshipping the Empire, the “reformers” went as far as to design the symbols of government after those found in Washington. Yet so different is the America many Serbs once knew and loved that Vojislav Kostunica, who once translated the Federalist Papers, is now being labeled a “hardline nationalist,” while corrupt neo-Bolshevik Ceda Jovanovic is praised as a “pro-Western reformer.”

Patriots and Reformers

If Kostunica is to be blamed for something, it is that his presence and involvement lent credibility to DOS and the quisling apparatus that emerged from it. In the end, it was not law, or reforms, or the economy that shattered the false peace between Kostunica and President Tadic and his henchmen, but the latter’s insouciant reaction to the secession of occupied Kosovo. On Feb. 17, all the cards were on the table, and all the masks came off.

Now the battle lines have been drawn. On one side stand the “Patriots” – Kostunica, the Radical Party, and the Socialists, all committed to preserving Serbia’s sovereignty and rights. On the other are the “Reformers” –Tadic’s Democrats and G17 Plus, leading a motley coalition of separatists, ethnic minorities, neo-Jacobins and “non-governmental” activists amply financed by involuntary “donations” of American taxpayers.

The “Reformers” constantly invoke the Radicals as a specter of Milosevic’s return. Yes, it is true that at one point in time the Radicals were allied with Milosevic (after years of being his bitter enemies). The same is true of Vuk Draskovic. The difference? Draskovic has recently been reanimated from his political grave to join the Democrats, as they desperately seek any allies that might give them a fighting chance.

The Devil’s Own Bargain

In just about every respect, Serbia is in rotten shape. Its economy has never recovered from the 1990s blockade and bombing, followed by the destructive “transition” overseen by the G17. Its airwaves and newsprint are dominated by foreign corporations, foundations, and even governments. Even the people’s cultural identity is endangered, as the very language and alphabet – not to mention the religion or traditions – are targets of a propaganda onslaught by the “reformers.”

The so-called democrats, liberals, and reformers who seek the continuation of their seven-year dominance argue thus: everything that’s wrong is the fault of Milosevic, or the nationalists, or the traditionalists. Both the EU and the U.S. wish Serbia nothing but the best, and everything they’ve done – from the blockades to the bombing – has been for the Serbs’ own good. Only the ungrateful, the primitive, and the stupid cannot see that. All the Serbs need to do is give up their identity, faith, honor, and dignity. Is that really so much?

Echoes of the Past

It is not the first time such a choice has been presented. Consider this:

“Being in the situation we are in, having no choice, we must admit that we have lost a great deal of our sovereignty due to the careless and fatal policies of the previous government, and that we must obey the decisions of foreign powers. The best we can do for Serbia is to look the truth in the eye. We cannot afford further defiance, which would lead the country and the people into oblivion. We must obey international law and join the family of nations that surround us, a family of which we are a natural part.”

These are not the words of today’s “democratic reformers” in Empire’s service, much as they resemble them. It is rather an excerpt from a speech by fascist politician Dimitrije Ljotic, given in April 1941 (after Nazi Germany destroyed the old Kingdom of Yugoslavia), urging the Serbs to submit to the inevitability of Nazi domination and integrate into the European “family of nations.”

Ljotic’s message fell on deaf ears. The Serbs revolted, either through the Royalist resistance or favoring the Soviet-backed Communists. The Communists eventually won, bringing their own inevitabilities.

May 11

Before Iraq, before Afghanistan, the American Empire showed its true colors by intervening in the Balkans. From stoking the fires of separatism to blockades and bombing, those who claimed to uphold international law have been its foremost violators. It is hard to expect anything different from those who make a desert and call it peace.

It is anybody’s guess whether the American people will ever wake up to the monstrosity that’s been created at their expense. Perhaps not, until the realities of economics, physics, and entropy catch up with the Empire. But Serbia has a chance, maybe one last chance, to refuse to be a part of the nightmarish world of transnational tyranny masquerading as peace, democracy, and freedom. Its people have a choice between liberty – with all the hardships it entails – and an illusion of safety in the suffocating bosom of the Empire. They should weigh the choice well, for it will be with them forever.

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.