Thursday, November 12, 2009

Some Thoughts on Language

Back in June, I expressed my reservations about the official story concerning the "Twitter revolution" in Iran. Several other people noted how events surrounding the presidential election had a distinctly familiar flavor - that of "color revolutions," a soft coup technique pioneered by the U.S. government in 2000 to overthrow the government in Serbia.

This morning I read this on the LRC blog:

It turns out that .027% of Iranians are on Twitter, and–surprise–the whole thing was foreign-funded war propaganda.

Rockwell also quotes a comment on the main story (see the link above), calling the while thing a NED-backed "astroturf campaign."

Here's the thing about the modern state: though it has set itself up as God, it is lacking in the creation department. It is really good at destruction, but about the only thing it can create is a false reality.

So what it does instead is twist - corrupt, bend, deform - things beyond recognition. Few people today know how to define capitalism, communism, fascism, democracy, human rights or freedom. These words are tossed around freely, but their meaning (what little of it remains) has almost nothing to do with the concepts they originally described. While it is true that languages evolve, this is not a case of such evolution. These terms have been stripped of meaning deliberately, so that they could come to mean whatever the state says they mean.

War is thus peace, ignorance is strength, and slavery is freedom: Orwellian dystopia made flesh, in which criticizing the "democratic revolutions" in Iran or Serbia makes one a "hardline ultranationalist" and "enemy of freedom." But that's "freedom" in terms of Statespeak, not the genuine article. How does one make the distinction in communicating this?

That's precisely why language was corrupted in the first place, you know. So even if we decide to oppose what is going on, we would lack the means to articulate our thoughts and ideas.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Resurrecting the Caliphate

Due to some scheduling and technical difficulties, my regular Friday column on appeared today.

In it I touch on the recently begun - and adjourned - show trial of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić in light of the disturbing initiative by the Turkish government to engage in neo-Ottoman foreign policy aiming to "reintegrate" the Balkans, the Caucasus, and the Middle East. I understand why many in Ankara may wax nostalgic for the times of Mehmet II or Suleiman, but there is much less enthusiasm for this in either of those three areas.

Unlike Turkey's FM Ahmet Davutoglu, I think it's precisely Ottoman rule that is to blame for many conflicts and hatreds in these regions over the past century or so. Even if we take that out of consideration, any sort of Ottoman revival clashes directly with the Kemalist ideology that underpins the modern Turkish republic.

Finally, making Davutoglu's vision a reality is impossible without the force of arms. But if he believes that modern Turks are the military equivalent of the Ottomans, he's sorely mistaken. And if the neo-Ottomans honestly think that Turkey can fill the vacuum that is likely to appear with the withdrawal of the American Empire, they are putting the cart before the proverbial horse, and forgetting where their own power and influence came from.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Jihad at Fort Hood

The story of the murders at Fort Hood is still developing.

Base commander, Lt. Gen Bob Cone, told CBS (video) that there are "unconfirmed reports" that Major Hasan, the Ft. Hood shooter, was saying "Allah Akbar" during his methodical killing spree yesterday.

Fox News spoke to Hasan's cousin, who said that Hasan wanted to get out of the Army before being deployed (whether to Iraq or Afghanistan remains unclear).

Now, mind you, this is the mainstream media. After years and years of seeing them lie about the Balkans, if they said the sky was blue I'd have to verify it myself . So far, the spin is directed at talking up the soldiers' courage under fire. The fact that Major Hasan was a disgruntled Muslim is grudgingly noted, but not really dwelt upon. Watch the CBS reporter sigh when Gen. Cone mentions "Allah Akbar," then change the subject.

Another segment of the Fox News story was intriguing to me. Here's a quote from Hasan's former colleague, retired Colonel Terry Lee:

"He said maybe Muslims should stand up and fight against the aggressor... At first we thought he meant help the armed forces, but apparently that wasn't the case. Other times he would make comments we shouldn't be in the war in the first place."

The very fact that Col. Lee thought that "standing up and fighting against the aggressor" could even possibly translate into "help[ing] the armed forces" reveals a disconnect from reality within the U.S. military. Was everyone in Ft. Hood oblivious to the fact that some Muslims view them as aggressors?

It boggles the mind.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

How is this not terrorism?


A U.S. soldier opened fire Thursday at Fort Hood, Texas, killing at least 11 people and wounding 31 others, military officials said. The gunman was shot to death, and two others were in custody.

Lt. Gen. Robert W. Cone, commanding general of the Army’s III Corps, who confirmed the shootings, said the gunman used two handguns. NBC News’ Pete Williams reported that a U.S. official identified the gunman as Maj. Malik Nadal Hasan, who was 39 or 40.

Took them a while to ID the gunman, too. NBC doesn't spell it out, so it's up to me to point out the obvious: Maj. Hasan is a Muslim.

So, a Muslim opens fire at soldiers in one of the busiest Army bases, two other officers are in custody (no names, no explanation as to why), and yet a "senior Obama administration official told NBC News that the shootings could have been a criminal matter rather than a terrorism-related attack and that there was no intelligence to suggest a plot against Fort Hood." (details as of 1800 hrs Eastern time, all emphasis added)

Sure, it could be something else, theoretically, but this just screams jihad. And if there is no "plot," how come two people are in custody? Lone nuts are usually, well, alone.

Now, I understand why the government would try and claim this wasn't terrorism. It's one thing to have a bunch of "roofers" from the "former Yugoslavia" plot an attack on Ft. Dix. But an Army Major going postal in Ft. Hood? How embarrassing.

How about the Trolley Square massacre in Salt Lake City, on Valentine's Day 2007? The investigators refused to even consider jihad as the possible motive, and the case was closed with "motive unknown." The shooter was buried in Bosnia at the expense of Salt Lake City residents who donated money to show they were sufficiently "multicultural" and "tolerant."

How many people remember the June 2009 attack on the recruiting office in Little Rock, Ark. by a certain Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad? It was hardly mentioned, amid the uproar about the shooting of an abortion doctor in Kansas. And when it did get mentioned, it was spun by the New York Times as no big deal ("bomb threats and vandalism against recruiting offices are not uncommon").

If we ignore it, it doesn't happen, right?


What Turkey Wants

(Excerpts from the article originally published by the Sarajevo weekly BH Dani, on October 23, 2009. This speech and its implications received nearly no coverage in the West.
Full transcript of the original available
here. Any errors in translation are my own, all emphasis added is mine - Gray Falcon)

"Yesterday, after a long day in Iraq, we came home at three o'clock, and only three hours later I set out for Sarajevo. Many were surprised and asked if I weren't tired. When I came to Sarajevo, to Bascarsija, I felt filled with energy. The spirit of Sarajevo, the spirit of Bascarsija, is the spirit of our common history. Sarajevo is no ordinary city. Without understanding Sarajevo one cannot understand the history of the Balkans, nor the culture of the Balkans," said [prof. Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey's foreign minister] on Friday evening, October 16, at the opening of the conference "Ottoman Heritage and Muslim Communities in the Balkans Today."

Came on Horseback

Minister Davutoglu isn't a professional politician or diplomat but a scholar, who taught international relations in Malaysia and Turkey until the victory of Recep Erdogan and the AK in the November 2002 elections. He became the key foreign policy advisor of the Turkish PM, creating Ankara's new foreign policy. He became the FM only recently, on May 1, 2009. To understand the basis on which he formulated Turkey's foreign policy, approved by the AK party and the last two cabinets of PM Erdogan, one must turn to his scholarly work, such as the book Strategic Depth (2001), a new look at Turkey's international position...

He was greeted by an ex-student from Malaysia, Prof. Ahmet Alibašić and more than 200 guests, including the feuding factions of the [Muslim] SDA party. Davutoglu has cultivated an image of a mediator and conciliator; earlier this year he traveled to Novi Pazar [in Serbia], to publicly reconcile former SDA leaders Sulejman Ugljanin and Rasim Ljajić.

His decision to visit Bosnia during a Turkish diplomatic offensive elsewhere has puzzled the dipomats in Sarajevo. Why did the scholar-diplomat drop in, they asked?

"One diplomat asked me today, I cannot reveal where he was from, why did we intensify our efforts in Bosnia when we have all these other issues to deal with? When I met Hillary Clinton in Zurich concerning the Armenian question, I asked her about the Bosnian question, and we spent more time discussing Bosnia than Armenia. And when President Silajdžić visited Ankara, I changed my plans and decided to visit Sarajevo and then proceed to Albania. I told the diplomat that we didn't 'drop in', we came to Bosnia on horseback," answered Davutoglu.

Historical Depth

This return to the traditional, historical connections of Turkey with numerous nations and states in three different regions is the "historical depth" that prof. Davutoglu is building the new Turkish foreign policy around. His Sarajevo lecture was basically the summary of this policy's underpinnings. Davutoglu first asked what were the things particular to the Balkans, and what was the role of the Ottoman state in the history of the Balkans and the world:

"There are three identifiable characteristics of the Balkans. One is that this region is a geopolitical buffer zone, a crossing between Europe and Asia, Baltics and the Mediterranean, and Europe to Africa. Why is this important? How did this influence the region's history?" he asked.

"The other characteristic is geo-economic. Balkans is a region of commerce, since the ancient times. Balkans is a region of cultural interaction as well. Several cultures intermingle and influence each other in the Balkans. Many people migrate and encounter others and mingle with them. If you have a region with these three characteristics - geopolitical buffer, economic and cultural interaction - you have two possible destinies in history. One is to be the center of world history, and the other to be a victim of global conflict and controlled by alien powers," Davutoglu explains.

"Because of this, when we speak of the Balkans, we say it's the periphery of Europe. But is the Balkans really a periphery? No. It is the heartland of Africa-Eurasia. Where does this perception of periphery come from? If you asked Mehmet-Pasha Sokolović, he wouldn't have said that Sarajevo or Salonica were the periphery, whether of Europe or the Ottoman state. Look at history. The only exception in history is the Ottoman state. During the Ottoman times, in the 16th century, the Balkans was at the center of world politics. That was the golden age of the Balkans. This is a historical fact."

"Who created world policy in the 16th century? Your ancestors! They weren't all Turks. Some were of Albanian origina, others were Greek converts. Mehmet-pasha Sokolović is a good example. Were it not for the Ottoman Empire, he would have been a poor Serb peasant with a small farm or whatever, because they didn't have developed farming in this part of the world then. Thanks to the Ottoman state, he became a leader in world politics. Ottoman history is Balkans history, in which the Balkans held special importance in the history of the world."

..."In the 14th century Belgrade was a village, maybe a small town. During the Ottoman era Belgrade became the capital of the Danube, the heart of Europe at the time. Culturally, there were hundreds of mosques and churches. (…) Sarajevo is a miniature of Ottoman heritage. If you don't understand Sarajevo, you cannot understand Ottoman history. Sarajevo is the prototype of Ottoman civilization, the template for Balkans ascendant."

Center of victims: Then he noted an example from the 19th century of an Albanian who established modern Egypt. "Kavalali Mehmet Ali-Pasha was Albanian. He didn't become just a key Ottoman figure at the time, he's also the founder of modern Egypt. Were it not for the Ottoman state, he would have amounted to at most a smart but petty nobleman somewhere in the Balkans. What can we learn from this? The Balkans has a geopolitical, geocultural and geoeconomic destiny, and it will either be the center of the world or a victim of the world," said Davutoglu.

The key issue in his reinterpretation of Balkans history is the division of the region after the 19th century and the history of ethnic conflict since then. "Without cultural interaction, cultures come in conflict. Without economic interaction, commerce, there is economic stagnation. Without political authority, this becomes a buffer zone for conflicts," Davutoglu explains."

"Now is the time for reunification. Then we will rediscover the spirit of the Balkans. We need to create a new feeling of unity in the region. We need to strengthen regional ownership, a common regional conscience. We are not angels, but we are not beasts either. It is up to us to do something. It all depends on which part of history you look to. From the 15th to the 20th century, the history of the Balkans was a history of success. We can have this success again. Through reestablishing ownership in the region, through reestablishing multicultural coexistencde, and through establishing a new economic zone," Davutoglu argued.

A New Balkans

According to him, "multicultural coexistence is very important because the life of civilizations can only be understood through analyzing the structure of cities and cultural life in the cities. All Balkans cities are multicultural. We lived together. And this cultural integration is what produced such strong cultural heritage. Those who organized the massacres in Srebrenice in the 1990s are barbarians who did not want to tolerate diversity. The spirit of Sarajevo is the spirit of coexistence and living together."

"We desire a new Balkans, based on political values, economic interdependence and cultural harmony. That was the Ottoman Balkans. We will restore this Balkans. People call this 'neo-Ottoman'. I don't point to the Ottoman state as a foreign policy issue. I emphasize the Ottoman heritage. The Ottoman era in the Balkans is a success story. Now it needs to come back," says Davutoglu.


"Turkey is partly a Balkans country, partly a Caucasus country, and partly a Middle Eastern country. There are more Bosnians living in Turkey than in Bosnia! There are more Albanians in Turkey than in Albania, more Chechens than in Chechnya, more Abkhaz than in Abkhazia. Why? Because of the Ottoman heritage. For all these different nations in the Balkans, the Caucasus, the Middle East, Turkey is a safe haven, their homeland. You are welcome! Anadolia belongs to you, our brothers and sisters! And we are confident that Sarajevo belongs to us! If you wish to come, come! But we want you to be secure here, as owners of Sarajevo and Bosnia-Herzegovina. What is happening in Bosnia is our responsibility."

"We have a common history, a common destiny, a common future. Like in the 16th century, when the Ottoman Balkans was ascendant, we will once again make the Balkans, the Caucasus and the Middle East - together with Turkey - the center of world politics in the future. That is the goal of Turkish foreign policy, and we will achieve it. We will reintegrate the Balkans, we will reintegrate the Middle East, and we will reintegrate the Caucasus on these principles of regional and world peace, not just for us, but for all of humanity."


"For diplomats from elsewhere in the world, Bosnia is a technical matter. To us it is a matter of life and death. That's how important it is. For us the integrity of Bosnia is just as important as the integrity of Turkey. For Turkey, the security of Sarajevo is equally important as the security and prosperity of Istanbul. This is not just the mood of the Turkish government, but a feeling of every individual Turk, no matter where in Turkey he resides. There were two great spontaneous gatherings of Turks that I remember. One was in 1993, when news came that the Serbs used chemical weapons against Goražde. This was broadcast around seven or eight in the evening, and within two hours there were hundreds of thousands of people in the streets. Spontaneously. Had someone asked of them to march on Bosnia, they would have marched. We had that feeling. That shows how much we love each other."

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

No Justice There, Move Along

Over the past ten years as a commentator, columnist and Balkans-watcher, I've given many interviews - radio, TV and print - but I've never been a guest on a talk show. Until this morning, that is, when RT had me on Crosstalk (now available online).

Host Peter Lavelle talked with ICTY spokeswoman Nerma Jelačić, John Laughland (at the Institute for Democracy and Cooperation in Paris), Milenko Bodin from the Belgrade University, and yours truly, about whether Radovan Karadžić could get a fair trial.

Readers of this blog and my columns at can already guess what I said: No, never in a million years, the ICTY isn't a place anyone can get a fair trial. The theory of "joint criminal enterprise" used to prosecute the Serbs is proof that the ICTY isn't prosecuting individuals for specific things (as they continue to claim), but an entire nation - for something that's abstract, alleged, assumed and asserted (i.e. the "genocide" in Bosnia).

I recommend the show, however, not for my appearance on it (which could have been better, but I'm still new to this, eh?) but for the outlandish statements made by Jelačić and the way Laughland simply destroyed them.