March 19, 2001
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"Ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant."
Once upon a time
In May 1940, after months of the "phony war," the German military attacked both Holland and Belgium. From there, the mechanized Blitzkrieg bypassed the supposedly impregnable Maginot Line behind which the French army waited passively. Within one month, on June 13, 1940, the Germans had entered the French capital, Paris. During that short period reigned a state of chaotic confusion. The civilian population was fleeing by rail and road toward the South. Hordes of refugees with the few belongings they could gather were haggardly moving slowly along the roads; masses of humanity, having lost everything, fleeing for their lives, impeding the military convoys that were driving north to attempt to stop the German blitz, hoarded any available means of transportation, trains, trucks, buses, cars, tractors with trailers, even carts drawn by oxen. Abandoned cars, out of petrol, were ditched in the roads trenches, vandalized; people were hand fighting to get aboard a passing trailer. Many, many were just walking aimlessly with no food, no water. Masses of humanity It was mayhem. It was war.
Fast forward, sixty or so years later
The day after the beginning of the NATO bombing in the undeclared and illegal war against Serbia in March 1999 tens of thousands civilians started fleeing their homes, also by any available means of transportation. Just as many were walking toward relative safety in Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic (FYR) of Macedonia, Montenegro and even Serbia proper (100,000 in the latter). We were told these masses of humanity -- hundreds of thousands -- were not just refugees, they were not just enmeshed in the midst of chaotic confusion where planes were dropping their ordnances from 15,000 feet or more, where an ethnocentric insurgency was raging on the ground and turmoil reigned. No, this humanity, according to the authorities and their carpetbaggers, was being expulsed, hunted, killed, raped. These worn-down masses were being ethnically cleansed -- an expression that did not exist sixty years earlier -- by a demonic people led by the Hitler-like Milosevich. So we were told by the like of Christiane Amanpour of CNN, Steven Erlanger of The New York Times and the entire power-elite apparatus of our end-of-ideology baby-boomer modernity. They were Internally Displaced People by ethnic cleansing, not by fear, not by war.
Thus, with serene resolve and good conscience, we kept bombing for 78 days and we prevailed. Then, KFOR moved into Kosovo, installed a new pro-consul for its latest protectorate, Amanpour left for London to be reunited with her husband, Erlanger moved on to greener pastures, and the cameras went home. Left behind were a small country, Serbia, in a state of utter disrepair, and countless Egyptians, Goranis, Jews, Montenegrins, Roma, Serbs, Turks, etc. -- all minorities in Kosovo -- that were being hunted down, killed, expelled or had to flee for their lives under the nose of KFOR. Our great humanitarians were chagrined by the distasteful spectacle. They regretted the violence and suggested it was unavoidable after all the terrible things the Albanians had been subjected to for so long. It was not just retribution, we were told when the news transpired; it was inevitable retribution; and certainly not ethnic cleansing. The cameras stayed home. Life went on; it was football season.
We placed a $5 million bounty on the head of the criminal Milosevich, the bloody dictator of the Balkans without whom, of course, peace and stability would never have been endangered. We went on to finance an election coup in Belgrade that brought to power a born-again democratic administration under the leadership of President Vojislav Kostunica and thanks to the administration of pro-consul Kouchner and the help of 38,000 soldiers Kosovo started the long and turbulent journey toward rejuvenation. Absent the non-Albanian minorities reduced to living into ghetto-like communities or, for the most part, having left the province to save their lives and barely surviving in refugee camps inside Serbia we could now direct our attention to more pressing issues such as low-level warfare in Colombia, weekly target bombings in Iraq, Supreme Court sanctioned election coup in the USA, missile defense shield, higher defense spending, oil prices, slowdown of the economy, stock-market meltdown, tax cut redemption, faith-based placebo, school shootings, and sports and the Mall. Indeed, America and the news cycles were back to normalcy.
Real slow forward
Normalcy was back in Kosovo too. March 17, 2001 - The New York Times, page A4, prints a black and white picture depicting people boarding a train. The caption reads: "Residents of the Albanian-dominated town of Tetovo in Macedonia climbed aboard a train bound for Skopje yesterday to escape heavy fighting between Albanian rebels and Macedonian security forces." So there is fighting and there are refugees, people fleeing from the area where violence has erupted. What a surprise! People are fleeing and yet there are no Serbs in sight. Still, they are fleeing; a sad but typical -- and predictable -- happenstance in this kind of circumstance, whether in 1940, in 1999, or in 2001.
Forward in a circle
The Times sends Erlanger back to the region in a hurry. The brave foot soldier is befuddled. Yes, he finds out with Carlotta Gall, there is violence and the West is very disappointed and alarmed by this renewed Albanian insurgency. But at least, there is no ethnic cleansing in these latest developments. We all know that for ethnic cleansing to occur Serbs must be involved. But Serbs are nowhere to be seen. This is not Bosnia; nor is it Kosovo. This is the FYR of Macedonia. Serbs are encaged in the misery we have placed them in and long forgotten about; and they have to confront a rebellion by CIA-funded Albanian "rebels" (they are not called freedom-fighters anymore) in the Presevo Valley that NATO refuses to handle for fear of the dreaded body bags.
Two years have gone by since the mayhem thrust upon Serbia. Serbs are on their knees in many ways. Adding insult to severe injury we are blackmailing their new government. Deliver Milosevich to La Hague by March 31 or we will deny the $100 million loan in "reconstruction" help we have promised after having caused billions in damage. Kostunica, hailed as the democratic David who single-handedly defeated the tyrannical Goliath, has become a "man of the past" according to the chief prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, because he dares questioning the legitimacy of this USA-made kangaroo court. We want Milosevich, at all cost, at any cost.
Meantime, the destabilization of the Balkans is carrying on as planned, one piece at a time. Serbs are out of the picture and yet it goes on. Serbs are out of the picture and war goes on. Serbs are out of the picture and people keep fleeing or being killed in the name not of an invented Greater Serbia but of a very real Greater Albania, of Albanian nationalism, possibly, as one correspondent put it, "one of the most virulent and intractable strains of ethnocentrism in the world today."
Forward to a standstill. . . .before the storm
"I feel that after this war, things will never be the same. We have opened Pandora's Box and no one knows what we will end up finding," wrote an old friend in May 1999. If Michael Parenti's assessment is correct -- "Top policy makers are intelligent, resourceful, and generally more aware of what they are doing than those who see them as foolish and bungling." -- then we can expect to see an independent Albanian Kosovo in the near future augmented with parts of Macedonia, Montenegro and Northern Greece. Then Montenegro will become independent, too. This will take care of Kostunica, "the man of the past." Whether Bulgaria will swallow the remaining of the FYR of Macedonia and Hungary will gobble Vojvodina are anyone's guess.
But, if the law of unintended consequences prevails, what we will really find is a desert of our own creation in the name of peace and stability as we pragmatically focus as always on acquiring more resources to fulfill our insatiable greed. We will keep fomenting unrest around the world to better divide and conquer in order to further possess the earth's bounties. We will lie and cheat. We will bribe and co-opt. We will blackmail and rattle our sabers. We will kill and destroy. To reach our integral reality we will become the master race, taking over all matters; and we will walk serenely into a beatified state of barbarity.
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