Friday, March 28, 2008

On the Road Again

I'm in Europe for the next two weeks, doing some research and getting some (in my opinion) well-deserved R&R. I may post some observations while traveling, but then again, I might not. Reliable broadband 'net access is still a pipe dream in some places. We'll see.

Meanwhile, chew on the notion that Europeans tend to look at Americans with a mixture of pity , sympathy, condescension and smugness. Sure, the EUSSR is destroying itself from within as well - but that self-implosion is far less obvious than the teetering dollar, the Iraq fiasco, and the circus that is the presidential election.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Six Little Reasons

On the anniversary of NATO's bombing of Serbia, March 24, 1999 - March 24, 2008

By Slobodan Antonić

(translated by GrayFalcon; all flaws and mistakes mine. Original at NSPM)

Serbia is the only European country that was bombed by NATO. The bombing was illegal, without UN Security Council authorization. While bombing Serbia, NATO committed atrocities against civilians. This is why Serbia cannot just join NATO. That might be possible only when Serbia receives a clear apology from NATO leaders, even if only for the “collateral damage” it suffered in 1999.

Such an apology has not come. Quite the contrary, NATO and U.S. officials incessantly repeat that the 1999 aggression was “necessary,” and don’t mention atrocities at all. Numerous NGOs in Serbia, receiving a steady stream of funding from the U.S. and other NATO countries, keep telling the Serbian public that all Serbs must atone for crimes. Meanwhile, NATO is not only not atoning for its misdeeds, but considers it somehow rude of Serbia to even mention them.

This made it possible to have a welcoming ceremony for an U.S. Air Force Major in Belgrade on July 13, 2006. As a member of the 555th Squadron, Maj. Andrew Wiles took part in the NATO attack on Serbia; some Serbian media even claimed that it was his plane that cluster-bombed downtown Nis. That did not bother the Serbian Minister of Defense, who greeted Maj. Wiles and welcomed him to Serbia. It seems like the “Euro-reformers” in Serbia agree with U.S. Ambassador Cameron Munter, who told the weekly Evropa (November 22, 2007): “We believe that [the bombing of Serbia] was hard, but also necessary. It was needed to depose Milošević.”

Due to this belief, the “Euro-reformers” in Serbia have systematically endeavored to repress the memories of NATO’s crimes. Today we remember only the bombing of the Serbian Television – and that not as a crime committed by NATO, but something for which a Milošević official was blamed. Even the memory of crimes has been subject to spin and political manipulation.

Serbia must clearly recall six “little” crimes of NATO, become aware of them, and challenge NATO to recognize them. Only after there is an explanation, Serbia and NATO can talk again. These six “little” NATO crimes are the six “little” reasons that Serbia, under current circumstances, should not join NATO.

The first “little” reason is the 2-year-old Marko Simić. He went for a walk with his father Vladan, on May 31, 1999 at noon, in his hometown of Novi Pazar. When they reached the apartment building at Stefana Nemanje 74, there was an explosion. The building was struck by a missile probably intended for the nearby bus station. (Why the civilian bus station was targeted still remains a mystery.) Besides Marko and Vladan, nine more civilians were killed. Shortly after this tragedy, Marko’s mother gave birth to a girl. When she grows up, maybe she will read the monograph “NATO Crimes in Yugoslavia” and find a photograph of her little brother, on a hospital bedsheet, his face bloody and his left leg gone.

The mother of 11-month-old Bojana Tošović, another “little” witness of NATO’s un-atoned crimes, was six months pregnant. Then her house in the village of Merdare (near Kuršumlija) was hit by a bomb on April 10. Her husband Božin was holding Bojana when the ceiling caved in. Mother Marija could only watch helplessly as her husband, crushed by the concrete ceiling plate, died slowly with their daughter in his arms.

Three-year-old Milica Rakić, of Batajnica, is our (and God’s) third “little” witness. On April 17, around 9:30 PM, she told her mother Dušica she needed to go potty. Dušica took her to the bathroom, put her on the chamber pot, and went to make the bed. They felt safe, because their house was four kilometers away from the military airfield. Then a bomb hit near the building. Right away, father Žarko ran into the bathroom. Milica lay there in a pool of blood, hit by a shrapnel from the bomb. They took her to a nearby emergency room, but she was beyond help. She, too, was photographed on the hospital bedsheet. The photo shows her bandaged left leg, and her deathly pale face, beautiful and gentle. The angelic face of a murdered child.

There is no picture of the dead Branimir Stanijanović, age six, of Aleksinac. With his father Vidosav and mother Divna, he was on a train that found itself on a bridge at Grdelica on April 12, twenty minutes before noon. The pilot, NATO officials later said, had the mission to destroy the bridge, but he saw the train too late. I guess that’s why he came back a few minutes later and hit the train again. Not the bridge – the train. And in the same spot, cars number two and three. The entire Stanijanović family perished, along with another fifteen or so passengers. There is no exact count of the dead, since their charred bodies fell into the depths of south Morava River. Branimir’s body was one of them. If the pilot who did this, and NATO spokesman Jamie Shea – who disavowed any blame for these deliberate murders – are interested in knowing whom they’ve killed, there is a picture of Branimir in existence. It shows him at a school pageant, serious, smartly dressed, with a bow tie. Maybe that is what he is wearing that now, walking in God’s garden?

Eight-year-old Stefan and his sister, five-year-old Dejana Pavlović are in that garden now as well. They were asleep in their family home, in Ralja near Belgrade, when it was hit by a bomb on May 26. It remains unclear what target of any military importance could have possibly been nearby. Father Vladimir died with his children. Mother Branislava survived. Her only memory of her family, snuffed out in the blink of an eye, is a photograph. It shows the children in colorful pajamas, laid out on the blue bedsheet. Dejana’s nose is slightly bloodied. Stefan looks untouched.

Those are the six “little” witnesses of NATO crimes, six “little” reasons why Serbia has to demand an explanation from NATO leaders. The explanation is simple. At the Tašmajdan park, there is a monument to children killed in the NATO bombing. (It is falling apart – of a statue of a girl with butterfly wings, only the wings remain. Perhaps some day the Belgrade authorities will set aside some funds to restore the monument; if they don’t have enough, they should say something – the people will pitch in.) So, NATO Secretary-General Jap de Hoop Scheffer, or another NATO official, needs to come before this monument and clearly say, “Forgive us.” We don’t need him to kneel, or light a candle. All he has to do is bring one flower and ask forgiveness. And Serbia will forgive.

Until then, there’s nothing to talk about. Not in Belgrade, not in Brussels, not in Ohio. One flower at Tašmajdan – that’s the condition for any further talks. One flower at Tašmajdan – and only then can both we and you be human again.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A symbol of something else, now

It is nothing short of incongruous that the government of Serbia and the Serb Republic in Bosnia (RS) have both adopted a design for their press rooms copied from the USA. The outline of the government building, the font, the colors - it's more than a homage to the U.S. government, it's outright mimicry.

Belgrade adopted the "American look" during the rule of Zoran Đinđić (2000-2003), who was ideologically closer to European socialists. Vojislav Koštunica, who at the time presided over Yugoslavia, was a scholar of American politics and philosophy; he had translated the "Federalist Papers," published a study on De Tocqueville's "Democracy in America," and praised Hannah Arendt's "On Revolution," a paean to the American revolution and republican spirit.

Many other Serbian politicians, philosophers and intellectuals have been fascinated by American values and ideals. However...

Everything changed with February 17. The majority of the Serbian political class and intelligentsia now thinks ill of the USA. Having any sympathy for American policy is considered a sign of feeble-mindedness (or lack or morals). Even classic American values, from liberty to rule of law, are seen as having been betrayed by the Americans themselves. The minority voices that advise the Serbs to stop opposing U.S. policy invoke "pragmatism" and "realism" - i.e. the argument of force – rather than some moral or political superiority of the American position.

After everything that happened in 1995, 1999 and 2008, the United States have no true friends in Serbia. There are spokesmen and followers, yes, but no friends - no one left who believes we share the same values. Once, American friends in Serbia shared the ideals of freedom and democracy. Today, American "friends" in Serbia mostly share American money. That's symbolic, in a way. The eager translator of the "Federalist Papers" and the commentator on "Democracy in America" is today dismissed by the American government as a "hardline Serb nationalist." Meanwhile, Washington praises the politician who restored the notion of the "iron broom" into domestic political discourse as a "young and dynamic pro-Western leader." Again, that's symbolic."

(Slobodan Antonić, writing in Politika, March 20, 2008)

Something will have to change, Antonić concludes: either the sign, or the U.S. policy towards Serbia. His bet is that after the May 11 elections, there will be a new symbol in the Serbian government's press room. I would not be surprised.

The one people in the Balkans that actually believed in American values, that actually admired America, whose community in America has always proudly served in the military (leading the way in Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, for example) and took pride in being the ally of America in two world wars... and that's the people Washington picked to demonize, embargo, besiege, bomb and occupy? It almost beggars belief.

This - rather than oil prices, or deficits, or the falling dollar - is why America won't be a great power much longer. It has betrayed its own principles and values in pursuit of power.

I notice that no one in Washington is asking "Who lost Serbia?" they way they asked about China, Korea, or Vietnam. Maybe because they know the answer. And maybe because the question isn't who lost Serbia, but who lost America?

They know the answer to that, too.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


(Update 2: corrected for Canadian FM's gender)

The roll of shame has several new additions this week: Canada and Japan both recognized the "independence" of Kosovo, followed by Croatia, Hungary and Bulgaria.

Canada's FM Maxime Bernier demonstrated his mastery of wishful thinking when he said that "unique circumstances which have led to Kosovo's independence mean it does not constitute any kind of precedent."

Hey, whatever you tell yourself to be able to sleep at night, Max. But how many are willing to wager that the Quebecois will also claim to be "unique" (hey, isn't everybody?) and go on their merry way?

Japan - which is still under U.S. occupation, following the 1941-45 war - expressed hope that recognition will "contribute to long-term stability in the region" (IHT/Reuters). Right. Because seizing a part of a country's territory is stabilizing. Remember Manchuria?

Japanese FM Masahiko Komura said, "Our country has traditionally been on friendly terms with Serbia, and by this recognition of Kosovo it is not our intention to disturb our relations with Serbia."

Just like it wasn't the Americans' intention to disturb their traditional feelings of friendship for the people of Japan by nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I guess. What's a little tough love among friends?

If Komura-san had any honor, he'd be polishing a sword with his guts right about now.

Canada's Bernier also claimed that recognizing the Albanian quasi-state meant joining "the international community". What community - some 30-odd countries? And all they have in common is that, when Washington says "Jump!" they answer with "How high?" More than anything else, a country's recognition of the Kosovo monstrosity is an indicator of whether it is truly independent, or a satellite of the Empire.

Canada and Japan have just made their choice.

As for Hungary, Croatia and Bulgaria, I'm not wasting words. All of a sudden the "satellite" comment is more apt than ever; these three countries were also on the side of "European integrations" at the Serbs' expense back when a certain Austrian corporal was behind the endeavor.

Monday, March 17, 2008


Four years ago, the terrorist KLA demonstrated precisely how it envisions the future of Serbs in Kosovo. Hashim Thaci, Agim Ceku, Ramush Haradinaj and the like can make all the proclamations of democracy, tolerance and human rights they want. By their deeds you shall know them:


Monday, March 10, 2008

"It has no drive..."

One of Arthur C. Clarke's "laws of prediction" is that "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

For some reason, it's the opening scenes of Clarke and Kubrick's 2001:A Space Odyssey that first come to mind reading this account of stumped TSA agents hassling a traveler because they could not grasp the existence of a MacBook Air:

"There's no drive," one says. "And no ports on the back. It has a couple of lines where the drive should be," she continues.

A younger agent, joins the crew. I must now be occupying ten, perhaps twenty, percent of the security force. At this checkpoint anyway. There are three score more at the other five checkpoints. The new arrival looks at the printouts from x-ray, looks at my laptop sitting small and alone. He tells the others that it is a real laptop, not a "device". That it has a solid-state drive instead of a hard disc. They don't know what he means. He tries again, "Instead of a spinning disc, it keeps everything in flash memory." Still no good. "Like the memory card in a digital camera." He points to the x-ray, "Here. That's what it uses instead of a hard drive."

The senior agent hasn't been trained for technological change. New products on the market? They haven't been TSA approved. Probably shouldn't be permitted. He requires me to open the "device" and run a program. I do, and despite his inclination, the lead agent decides to release me and my troublesome laptop. My flight is long gone now, so I head for the service center to get rebooked.

Here's the tragic part. The author of this post has surrendered so much of his humanity, having to deal with TSA (and hotels and other trappings of frequent travel) so often, that he titled his post "Steve Jobs made me miss my flight."

How is the appalling behavior of TSA goons (or do I repeat myself) Steve Jobs' fault? Did Apple force this traveler to purchase their product? Is it somehow their responsibility to educate government troglodytes that computers don't need a hard drive any more? Or could it be, just possibly, that the real problem here are the TSA agents who enjoy near-absolute power over the helpless travelers? Just a thought, there.

(hat tip to Manuel Lora at the LRC Blog)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Kosovo Catastrophe

Conservative magazine Human Events published a piece by UPI editor Martin Sieff yesterda, criticizing (well, more like blasting) the Empire's idiotic policy in Kosovo. Sieff's piece is good, with one exception: he seems to believe that the Russian mafia and security services will organize a wave of attacks against EU and U.S. interests in retaliation to the recognition of Kosovo; I think this is extremely unlikely.

For some reason, I looked at the comments posted under Sieff's article. As of the time of this posting, there are about three pages of comments, ranging from isolationists who don't care and Albanians who shower Sieff with ad hominems, to those who claim Serbs should be given a free hand to fight against the jihad.

One comment, on the bottom of the first page, caught my eye. I reproduce it here, because there is no direct link to it. It is from PaulAndrewKirk of Redmond, Wa.:

I have served two tours in Kosovo with the US Military and I can tell you the following as factual:

1. Almost all facets and levels of the provisional government in Kosovo are corrupt. In fact its the worst I've ever seen and I've had to deal with some pretty corrupt governments during my career.

2. Supervised independence or even full independence will not improve the miserable lives of the ordinary people of Kosovo. Partly because of what I've listed as fact "1"., and partly because it will take decades of imense amounts of foreign aid throughout economy in order to bring Kosovo into a functioning state that wouldn't need foreign assistance for its survival.

3. Ethnic cleansing is still a common occurence in Kosovo but, this time its the ethnic Albanians ethnically cleansing the Serbs, Roma, Ashkali, Croatians, and Turk minorities through intimidation and at times outright force. I have personally witnessed this on many occasions.

4. No amount of foreign investment will provide enough jobs for the amount of unemployed people in Kosovo. The only way for Kosovo to maintain stability is for the EU to open its borders for an influx of foreign workers from Kosovo.

5. Islamic extremism is on the rise in Kosovo. KFOR soldiers have been attacked in Gjilan [sic: Gnjilane], Ferizaj, [sic: Urosevac] and Prizren when I was there. You just won't see or hear about it in the news. More Mosques have been built in Kosovo in the last five years than schools, roads, health clinics, and all other santitation project combined. Compliments of Muslim charities from the Middle East.

6. Mass graves of Kosovo Serbs and Roma have been found during my rotation and reported to the UN. Yet nothing has been done. Why? When we posed the question to our UN contacts in Pristina they replied: "During the transitional stage of Kosovo this would be destablizing. We'll wait until there is a final resolution before we proceed." All those journalists interested in a real story...start looking in around Novo Brdo.

7. The US Government along with key EU allies never had any intention of allowing Serbia a fair opportunity to negotiate with the Kosovar provisional government on the possibilities of a workable settlement that might have been permanent. I was party to a couple of meetings where US Government officials point blank told the Kosovar representatives that no matter what, the US will support independence and that going to these conferences in Vienna were just to give a favorable impression on the world opinion.

These are the facts. Some people might be outraged and some might be supprised [sic] however it really doesn't matter in the final analysis of all things considered. Superpowers will do what they want.

Kosovo independence will do nothing for stability of the region, in fact, the opposite will occur.

The Kosovar Albanians are now joyous they will have a new nation but, when all the partying ends and the dust clears, all that will exist is another backward, poverty stricken, underdeveloped, internationally protected country in an area of hostile neighbors thats todays news story and tomorrows breeding ground for extremism and resentment.

There you have it. The Empire-sponsored "Republic of Kosovo" is a crime, but also a mistake.