A Gathering Storm

Having learned nothing from the fallout of its actions in 2011, the Atlantic Empire and the EUSSR continued to sink ever deeper into the quagmire throughout 2012. Nothing seems to penetrate their bunker mentality, and worse yet, every crisis only seems to be an excuse to grab even more power, and do even more harm. That’s been standard government practice for decades, to be sure, yet in the internet age of near-instant ability to verify or debunk propaganda, the establishment still thinks it possible to fool all of the people, all of the time.

The Long March to Damascus

Once more, the focus of Empire’s efforts has been the Middle East. The uncivil war of jihadist militias and Western-backed "rebels" against the Syrian government has been escalating steadily throughout the year, but without crossing into overt intervention Libya-style. Even the fact that Libya has not worked out at all doesn’t seem to throw off the plans of Washington, London, Ankara and Paris regarding Damascus.

Quite possibly not wanting to risk an unpredictable war during the election year, Washington has held off on escalating the Syrian jihad just yet. But the Empire has been laying down the groundwork. In May, the "Atrocity Prevention Board" was set up to justify the tyranny of good intentions. Propaganda outlets have been recycling every excuse used in the past two decades, from Bosnia and Kosovo to Iraq and Libya. It is only a matter of time before open war begins; very likely sometime in March.

Pussy Riot Politics

The so-called color revolutions have been established as a much cheaper and, if successful, far more effective way of "regime change" than overt invasion. They also fail less often – but they do fail. One example this year has been the "White Revolution," where NED-backed "activists" tried to oust Russia’s Vladimir Putin. When the revolutionaries failed, the Empire deployed provocateurs: a "punk rock" group of public nuisances with a vulgar name. Their jailing over the "performance" desecrating an Orthodox cathedral provided an opportunity for the Western press to pillory Moscow. The Kremlin retaliated by adopting a law on foreign agents copied from the U.S., hoisting the NED by its own petard.

While the Empire’s actions showed it was guided by a rather Leninist “logic” of "who-whom," the campaign for Emperor confirmed that imperialism was a bipartisan value. In the end, the predictions of a tight race ended up being entirely a product of media hype. The political circus was as authentic as televised wrestling – but even if the American masses somehow managed to realize this, their coastal "elite" would still continue ignoring them and living in a bubble of self-deception.

Even the blowback in Libya and the rise of a new Pharaoh in Egypt did nothing to change the thinking in Washington. They could always point to the Balkans as a place where Imperial "order" persisted.

Hunger Games

For all the posturing to the contrary, though, even the Empire’s "allies" in the region weren’t prospering in 2012. EU’s annexation of Croatia was approved in January, and expected to take place in early 2013. Yet Croatians are mostly eager to return to the fold because they believe the EU may save them from economic ruin. That, however, is one thing the EU cannot do. Just ask the Slovenians.

In Bosnia, more and more people are going hungry. But while the Imperial officialdom continues to blame the Serbs, the real culprit is the political free-for-all in the Muslim-Croat half of the country, exacerbated by the Syrian crisis. This is rich with irony, because the march to war on Syria bears an uncanny resemblance to the process of dragging the American public into Bosnia.

Life isn’t any better in "Kosovo," a Serbian province occupied by ethnic Albanians and recognized by the Empire as an independent state. Sure, Hillary Clinton called it her family’s "personal” matter, and many former U.S. officials are rushing to "invest" in its dubious economy, but the very real social problems are being channeled into expansionist chauvinism.

New Cast, Same Show

Things have not gone smoothly in Serbia, either. By March, the quisling government of Democrats and Socialists had exhausted its ability to bend reality at Empire’s insistence, so a new general election was called. Precautions were taken against any chance that the electorate could turn away from the Empire, though. After an outpouring of protests over the attempt by the Democrats to rig the vote, the Progressive candidate won the presidency. The Socialists then defected from the ruling coalition and set up a new cabinet with the Progressives. Within weeks, however, the "new" government turned out to be even worse than the old.

For a while, their behavior seemed baffling, deflecting Imperial demands through apparent incompetence. They were even handed a magnificent opportunity when Berlin framed the issue of Serbia’s EU accession in such a way that no sane person could accept it. But there was no method in the madness. Soon after a Halloween visitation from Brussels and Washington, the New Quislings began acting like remote-controlled drones, setting up the region for a winter of discontent. Meanwhile, the project of rewriting Balkans history to make the Empire a knight in shining armor continues to require increasingly absurd contortions.

Reaping the Whirlwind

While it may appear that the Empire is successful in imposing its will on the Balkans, its impatience suggests a certain sense of desperation, as if attempting to stave off entropy.

Someone once said the Balkans produced more history than could be consumed locally. External powers have constantly tried to assert themselves in the region, from the 1878 Congress of Berlin to the Dayton Accords – with only limited success. Those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. A century after the Great War, the ghosts of Yugoslavia continue to haunt the EU and the Empire.

2012 has been the year of sowing the wind. What whirlwinds shall be reaped in 2013, those that survive will tell.

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.