Two Simple Rules

One of the (few) articles of faith of those calling themselves “progressives” is that the changes they seek to impose are inevitable and irreversible, and that opposition to them is but a futile attempt to “turn back the clock.” Yet more often than not, this is precisely what their own actions amount to, and the brave new future they claim to seek looks more like the not-so-glorious past. For example, the Atlantic Empire’s efforts in the Balkans – promoted repeatedly as the model of successful intervention – have focused on sending the region back to 1913, via the 1990s.

This isn’t solely a “liberal” fixation, either. Recall that Bush II adopted the Democrats’ Balkans agenda in his second term, and presided over the “Kosovian” declaration of independence in 2008. Then again, he was about as “conservative” as Brezhnev. In any case, by the time of the Clinton Restoration, a fully bipartisan consensus on the Balkans was firmly in place.

This consensus is founded on myths, idols, fetishes and fantasies, and is thus entirely impervious to principle, argument or actual reality – so long as the Imperial policymakers believe they create their own reality through sheer willpower, anyway.

Two Simple Rules

At first glance, the Balkans mythology defies explanation. Empire’s actions appear entirely arbitrary, completely devoid of any actual principle except power. The obsession with Bosnia can be partly explained by a conjured narrative of white-knighting, but that doesn’t help much to explain Kosovo. And while Doug Bandow is correct to offer “the Serbs always lose” as a general rule, that’s not quite the whole picture either.

Long-time Balkans observer, James George Jatras recently offered a solution to the apparent enigma. Namely, there are two rules at work:

Rule One: The Serbs are always wrong, and all claims and interests they might have must be thwarted.

Rule Two: Muslims are always right, and all claims and interests they might have must be facilitated.

The Corollary: Deriving from the two rules, the claims and interests of non-Serbs, non-Muslims – notably Croats – are dependent on their relationship to Serbs or Muslims respectively. So Croats are right when in conflict with Serbs (who are always wrong), for example in the former Krajina; but Croats are wrong when in conflict with Muslims (who are always right), for example on the former Herceg-Bosna.

The Sandbox State

Since Jatras bases his theory not on wishful thinking but on empirical evidence and observation, it isn’t too difficult to test it. Consider the case of Bosnia-Herzegovina, a country with a fundamental problem exacerbated, rather than resolved, by European or American intervention.

Having supported Muslim leader Alija Izetbegovic to reject a power-sharing agreement in 1992 and unilaterally declare independence – which set off the civil war – Washington intervened directly in 1994, forcing the Muslims and Croats into an alliance of convenience against the Serbs, in order to bring about the Dayton Peace. Thus was born the “Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

Nineteen years later, Washington is meddling again, this time to “reform” the Federation. Though the Serbs have been blamed for all of Bosnia’s ills over the years, even the Empire can’t ignore the structural failings of its client statelet any longer. However, the proposed changes are not going to improve the lot of the increasingly marginalized Croats, while they won’t go far enough to please the Muslims. It appears that no one in Washington has learned the lesson of 2006, when Muslim politicians torpedoed the U.S.-proposed constitutional reform. Instead, rumors suggest the Empire is seeking to oust the Bosnian Serb leadership in a “color revolution.”

Other evidence suggests Jatras is correct as well. Consider the disparate treatment of Croat officers by the Hague Inquisition: acquitted so long as their victims were Serbs, yet convicted harshly whenever their victims were Muslim.

Last, but not least, the census in Bosnia has been repeatedly delayed due to Muslim concerns, but the blame is always carefully placed on abstractions like “ethnic divisions.”

Marching Towards Infamy

Another example was on display last week, following a concert at the UN organized by the current General Assembly chairman, former Serbian FM Vuk Jeremic. The concert’s finale featured a choir singing the “Drina March,” a WW1 tune celebrating a Serb victory over the invading Austro-Hungarian army in 1914.

Bosnian Muslim grievance groups in the U.S. and Canada immediately sent angry notes to the UN, denouncing the march as “nationalist” and deeming it an “insult to victims of genocide” (i.e. themselves). The UN spokesman expressed regret if anyone got offended – in diplomatic terms very much a non-apology – but that’s not how the mainstream Western press reported it. Indeed, they almost competed who would libel the tune more, some going so far as to call it “genocide song“. Not surprisingly, the prize went to the New York Times, whose reporter actually described the 1914 battle of Cer as "infamous."

Because the Serbs are always wrong and the Muslims are always right, we now get Great War revisionism on top of the regular distortions about the Balkans. And that particular distortion trend is just getting started


Jatras’s theory also helps explain Kosovo. Occupied by the overwhelmingly Muslim Albanians – whose Islam is mentioned only when convenient and downplayed at other times – this Serbian province has enjoyed unqualified support of Washington from the 1996 establishment of the terrorist “liberation army”, through the 1999 war to seize it from Serbia, the anti-Serb pogroms that followed, up to and beyond the 2008 declaration of independence.

Currently the Empire is pushing its client regime in Belgrade to recognize the occupied province as a separate state – since Washington considers “Kosovian” independence irreversible and unquestionable. The government has been dutifully capitulating, serving the Empire even when it pretended to pursue national interests. For example, when it finally dismantled the monument to Albanian terrorists in southern Serbia, it did so in a manner that bolstered Albanian claims. Predictably, the Western media focused on Albanian protests, while completely ignoring the ensuing destruction of Serb cemeteries.

Meanwhile, the blundering Serbian PM Ivica Dacic took a break from appeasing “Kosovian” leader Hashim Thaci to give a TV interview, which turned out to be an elaborate prank: the interviewer replayed the notorious scene from “Basic Instinct“, flashing the hapless Prime Minister. The video of his continued rambling through a lecherous smirk quickly went viral, though the episode itself was banned. Yet because the Serbian media have been so thoroughly corrupted, the prank was more likely a simple act of nihilism than an act of resistance to the PM’s policy of treason.

Serbia, Unchained?

That it is treason, however, is becoming increasingly evident to the Serbian public, which is showing signs of slipping the Empire’s media chains. The mainstream media are reacting to criticism with shrill personal denunciations of critics, manufacturing scandals, and spinning fantasies about the EU and a better future just around the corner, but they are fooling fewer people each day.

Once enough people realize that submitting to the Empire will not solve their problems, only make them worse, it won’t take much to make the whole edifice of manufactured consent collapse. And without it, Empire’s conjured Balkans narrative will be what it always was: mere wishful thinking.

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.