Falling Towards Entropy

Stubborn Balkans Realities

“The more things change, the more they stay the same,” wrote a French columnist back in 1849 – but the witticism applies just as well in 2012. Recall, for example, that Barack Obama became Emperor in 2008 by promising Hope and Change, only to embrace continuity instead. His challenger this year campaigned against Obama’s domestic policies, but on matters foreign he was strangely in sync with the incumbent.

Obama’s easy re-election has, predictably, been termed a mandate to continue the present policies – including, no doubt, the “humanitarian” interventions and social engineering (called “nation-building” when done abroad). The trouble with Empire, however, is that it’s not only bleeding the U.S. dry, but that it manifestly doesn’t work.

Consider, as Gordon Bardos did earlier this week, the situation in the Balkans. Twenty-odd years of Imperial meddling later, and the region has come back to where it was in the early 1990s – though some roles may have been reshuffled in the process:

“…some of the most well-funded international efforts in nation- and state-building in history have in many ways gotten us right back to where we started from two decades ago. Perhaps even further back.”

Ramush Returns

Take, for example, the ICTY, an ad hoc “tribunal” allegedly established – under dubious circumstances – to foster reconciliation by prosecuting those responsible for wartime atrocities. It has manifestly done nothing of the sort, instead serving as a tool of the Empire to eliminate inconvenient politicians, bolster favorites, and rewrite the region’s history, both recent and distant.

Having recently released two Croatian generals it originally convicted of taking part in a campaign to murder and expel ethnic Serbs, the “Tribunal” did the same with Ramush Haradinaj. One of the leaders of the terrorist KLA, Haradinaj became a favorite client of Empire and “prime minister” of the Albanian provisional government in the occupied Serbian province of Kosovo. Then, in 2005, he was charged by the “Tribunal” and much was made of his orderly surrender. Just as the generals’ indictment cleared the way for Croatia to join the EU, Haradinaj’s indictment helped the Albanians declare independence. Having served the purpose, they were set free, leaving the “court” to return to its business of railroading Serbs.

This Time, It’s Personal

Haradinaj’s release came just a day after the centennial celebration of Albania’s independence, and was rightly seen as a gift to the Albanians from their patrons in the West. Its implications were obvious: “I’m happy that international justice has confirmed that our road to freedom was clean and just,” Haradinaj declared (Reuters), just as Croat leadership had done two weeks prior.

A day earlier, at the ceremony in Tirana, Albania’s president Sali Berisha gave an exuberant speech, among other things laying claim to parts of Greece, Montenegro and Macedonia, in addition to Kosovo and more of Serbia. Athens and Skopje both protested. Belgrade, predictably, did not.

Berisha claimed he was misinterpreted, and that the promised union of all Albanians would be the EU. But just days earlier, he had joined “Kosovo PM” Hashim Thaci at the massive celebration organized in Skopje. Having ceremonies in Tirana and even occupied Pristina is one thing, but staging one in the capital of a neighboring country, where Albanians are a minority (however privileged), suggests an arrogance of people who believe they can do anything, since the Empire is personally invested in their cause. Not for the first time, either.

Appeasement Now

That impression is certainly shared by the current government in Serbia. Prime Minister Ivica Dacic simply took the appeasement policy of the previous government – in which his Socialists were a key, but junior, partner to Boris Tadic’s Democrats – and cranked it up to eleven. No matter what happens, he keeps repeating that the “EU has no alternative.” He has now been to at least two meetings with “fellow Prime Minister” Hashim Thaci in Brussels, organized by the EU.

Deputy PM Aleksandar Vucic, recently elected leader of the Progressive Party, has even said that the government would “continue its path to the EU… because it is the best thing for Serbia’s citizens, whether they agree or not.”

As a result, Dacic’s government is setting up border controls on what they euphemistically call the “administrative line” with Kosovo – and the EU, the Albanians and the actual documents signed properly term a border. As a reminder, Thaci’s failed attempt to do just that in July 2011 resulted in a yearlong standoff between the local Serbs and NATO’s occupation force. The crisis never really ended, it merely subsided after the Empire decided it would be easier to break Belgrade than the locals.

Now the Serb civilians are on the barricades once again, facing not NATO tanks (yet) but Serbia’s own gendarmerie, who have orders to secure the construction sites – or else. Whether the gendarmes fire upon their own people, or refuse the orders and turn against the government, the situation has a lot of potential to become extremely unpleasant.

Bitter Fruits of EUrope

It is unclear whether the regime in Belgrade serves the Empire with such desperate eagerness because they honestly believe in its might, or if they simply fear it more than the wrath of their own populace. In any case, their devotion to the EU blinds them to events in immediate vicinity. It’s one thing to ignore Greece’s less than stellar EU experience, but what about Slovenia?

The first “republic” to separate from Yugoslavia, claiming the rest of the country was dragging its prosperous economy down, Slovenia had actually been the privileged recipient of subsidies and raw materials from the rest of Yugoslavia, while also benefitting from trade with the West. The wealth thus accumulated enabled it to coast for years – until it joined the EU, and discovered that Brussels was a far less forgiving master than Belgrade.

Now there are riots throughout the country, as resentment of corrupt politicians spills over into the streets. Even if somehow they got better politicians, though, it’s hard to see what else the Slovenians could do, trapped in the EU’s unworkable model of death-by-overregulation and welfare statism.


This is the deadly embrace the replacement quislings in Serbia obsessively work towards. Their obsession, however, blinds them to a lesson from their own past.

In October 2000, the Empire engineered the fall of the Milosevic government by stoking the feelings of discontent among the people, while lavishly funding the media and the opposition. What is forgotten is that the opposition had used a catchy slogan accusing Milosevic of “betraying Kosovo” by surrendering it to NATO and the Albanians.

Yet it was the surrender of Kosovo to NATO and the Albanians that the opposition was installed to accomplish – and they’ve been trying for twelve years, while doing far more damage to the Serbian society, security, economy and dignity than Milosevic ever had. Now they are rushing to “finish the job”, convinced the people will meekly follow their lead.

Perhaps they believe that without a shadow apparatus run by the National Endowment for Democracy, popular discontent cannot be properly channeled and can therefore be safely ignored.

But if the cycle of Balkans history is anything to go by, they are very much mistaken.

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.