Montenegro: Over and Out

It looks like Europe has a new country.

As of 6:00 am this morning, with over 99% of the ballots counted, it appears that the “out” votes have just barely won in Montenegro. Secession from Serbia required a 55% supermajority; the unofficial, not-quite-final count has 55.2% of the voters approving.

Now, in a jurisdiction the size of Montenegro, 0.2% of the total is a few hundred votes. Literally a couple of hatfuls. So we can pretty much guarantee that the count will be contested. Still, at this point it appears that the secessionists have won the day.

Anyone who’s been reading this blog regularly knows my thoughts on this; I see no need to repeat myself. I wish the Montenegrins good luck with their new endeavour.

Some thoughts on Serbia below the fold.

This is a huge blow for PM Kostunica. He staked a great deal on opposing the referendum, up to and including making vague but ominous threats as to what his government would do if it passed. Now it has. And while the departure of Montenegro won’t have much effect on the ground — the two countries have been de facto separate for a while now — psychologically, it’s a blow.

And it doesn’t end here. This is just the second of what will probably be three painful blows. The first came last month, when Brussels suspended membership talks because of Serbia’s inability-or-unwillingness to turn over General Mladic. The third will come later this year, when Kosovo will probably gain its independence. Arguably these things are not connected. But, if you’re a Serb in Serbia, that may be hard to believe.

About the only good thing here is that it doesn’t seem to be leading — yet; so far — to a resurgence of right-wing Serb nationalism. The obnoxious Serbian Radical Party seems to be holding steady at about 35-40% support. Which is dangerously high, to be sure, but not quite enough to form a government.

My best guess? Apathy, disillusionment. No elections this year. The Kostunica government staggers on, wounded and increasingly ineffective, but better than any plausible alternative.

And, really, the political alignment in Serbia is such that there isn’t really an alternative. The Radicals remain loathsome pariahs, thank goodness, so nobody will form a government; but they’re big enough that any Serbian government has to consist of almost every party but the Radicals, in coalition. That’s what happened in 2004 — the elections produced a government that included liberals, monarchists, socialists, technocrats, conservatives, mystical nationalists… you name it. Not a recipe for efficiency or stability.

Anyway. The next thing to watch out for: will Kostunica follow up on his pre-election threat to treat Montenegrins in Serbia as foreigners? This would be vindictive and stupid, so let’s hope not. There are something like a couple of hundred thousand Montenegrins living in Serbia; they’re perfectly well integrated into Serbian society, and they send a lot of money home to Montenegro. Kicking them around would poison relations between the two states, while serving no purpose other than to vent nationalist frustration. Of course, nationalist frustration is often a major driver of policy in the former Yugoslavia… but still: I can hope that he won’t be that damn dumb.

Watch this space.

[Update, one day later]

From B92:
“Serbian Labour Minister Slobodan Lalović said that there will be many changes if Montenegro is confirmed to be independent. For instance, the legal basis for paying pensions in Montenegro will be lost, and Montenegrin citizens in Serbia will receive the status of foreigners, Lalović said.

“This means that they will be subjected to the law regarding the employment of foreigners, which calls for the issuing of ‘a number of licences, paperwork, and documents regarding residence in Serbia.’ Minister Lalović said.”

The bit about paying pensions is probably a lie. But there’s no question that the Serbian government could hassle the heck out of Montenegrins in Serbia, if it so chose.

Will Kostunica really be this dumb? He’s making his first statement on the referendum tonight (Tuesday, 5/23).

48 thoughts on “Montenegro: Over and Out

  1. The first came last month, when Brussels suspended membership talks because of Serbia’s inability-or-unwillingness to turn over General Mladic.

    At 0.4% or so, how can there be any doubt that that determined the outcome of the referendum?

  2. The loss of Montenegro ain’t going to be the most painful blow to the boys in Belgrade. Though today’s vote might sting, it won’t sting nearly as much as if the UNMIK administrators urge their UN counterparts to move forward with secession for Kosovo. Though unprecedented in the history of the UN, anything is possible. Even more painful than the loss of Kosovo (with significant religious importance) would be the loss of Voyvodina (with significant economic importance).

    The lemmings in the press keep referring to Montenegro as the last piece in the dismantling of Yugoslavia… but I count two more pieces that might be sliced off in the future.

    P.S. ain’t “6:00 am this morning” redundant? Morning and AM are, after all, synonymous.

  3. Sadly, Kostunica is no Adenauer.

    Here’s an unsettling proposition, far less than half-baked and also not original: What if the reason that the Radicals are still getting 35-40% support is that NATO was not aggressive enough back in ’99? Germany was cowed after the war because it had been pounded for years, lastly having the red-hot rake of the Soviet Army dragged across its eastern half all the way to the country’s capital. With those fruits of rabid nationalism visible around them every day, is it any wonder that Germans repudiated it? Whereas the precise destruction meted out by NATO was small enough that the Radicals can peddle their related myths of stabs in the back, anti-Serb conspiracies and Serbia the Christ among nations. Hmm.

  4. Lots of people have doubts about the viability of Kosovo as a country, until you make the point that it is the same size as Slovenia or Estonia, though somewhat different in economic output.

    But Montenegro is about the same size as Nottingham (approx 700,000). Best integrate it into the EU as soon as possible. It’s bigger than Luxembourg and Malta, and about the same size as a (united) Cyprus.

  5. @ Oliver: “At 0.4% or so, how can there be any doubt that that determined the outcome of the referendum?”

    I didn’t express an opinion on this one way or the other. But, since you bring it up… I suspect it did affect the outcome, but that this was accidental or unintentional. Brussels didn’t really want the “yes” vote to win. But they didn’t check with Del Ponte & Co. first. This really looks like a classic example of one hand not knowing what the other was doing. (Though, again, I don’t expect a lot of Serbs will believe that.)

    @ Cletus: Serb nationalists like to whip up the scare-image of Vojvodina secessionism and Hungarian irredentism. It’s bullshit. Vojvodina isn’t going anywhere. Serbs are over 60% of the population, while Hungarians are only about 20%. (Slovaks, Romanians and other odds and ends make up the rest.) And the Hungarians are relatively well treated and mostly middle class (by Serbian standards). Very different from, say, Kosovo, where the Albanians were poor, backwards, and the subjects of vicious discrimination once Belgrade took over.

    With a few goofy exceptions, everyone in Vojvodina realizes this. So Hungarians and Serbs have managed to get along tolerably well. (Again, completely unlike Kosovo, where the two groups never did like each other much.)

    Note also that Hungary has zero interest in irredentism here. Though of course, there are always a few obnoxious whack fringe Hungarian nationalists to say otherwise, and so feed the paranoid fantasies of their obnoxious whack fringe Serbian counterparts.

    @ Doug: Remember Clinton saying, just before the bombing, that NATO would not commit ground troops?

    On the other hand, the Kosovo campaign was accomplished without the loss of a single life on the NATO side. Incomplete victory, sure, but still. How much blood would a more complete one have cost?

    There is a school of thought among some Serbian liberals that a brief period of Radical government might not be so bad, because the Radicals are such idiots. They’d make Serbia an international pariah again while running the economy into the ground, and would thus discredit whackjob nationalism for years to come.

    This sounds sort of plausible, but I don’t believe it. If a dozen years of Milosevic didn’t discredit extreme nationalism… well, that beast dies hard, my friend. It dies very hard indeed.

    Doug M.

  6. “@ Doug: Remember Clinton saying, just before the bombing, that NATO would not commit ground troops?”

    Indeed I do, and I also remember the howls from the Republican Congress about open-ended commitments, lack of a national interest, lack of an exit strategy, the necessity of using overwhelming force and the importance of not committing the US armed forces without a clear strategy of what to do with them there and when to bring them home. Which, given the Republicans’ foreign policy positions since say mid-2002, is all sorta funny. Though not in a ha-ha sort of way.

    I just read Dana Priest’s book The Mission, and apparently she got some good interviews with General Clark and many others involved with Kosovo, both at the top and on the ground. I may manage a review here soon-ish.

    I think the West got a good deal out of the Kosovo intervention, all things considered. (And one of the things to consider is that an earlier, more forceful intervention in Bosnia might have made it entirely unnecessary.)

    And I’d agree about the sub-optimality of winning-by-losing. Winning by winning seems much the better way to go.

  7. @Doug: What about Vojvod separatism of the non-ethnic kind? The kind that says that the government in Belgrade is ineffective, has no prospects for improvement, and small size or no, we could do better on our own. Especially if Serbian EU accession talks suffer further delays. A common language need keep no one on board, if they believe the ship is sinking.

    One could make a case that the Montenegrin independence movement was this sort of separatism, with a distinct regional identity being elevated to a distinct ethnicity to serve the purpose.

  8. I think ALL (or say 90%) europeons should be able to name and locate all current 25 members on a map before adding an new members. This is just a political power grab with no regard for the stardards of living in the funding/founding original Benelux countries.

  9. Well,

    you could of course argue that the extension to 25 was an error. But it is a done deal.

    There is a cost to having an impoverished smugglers’ den right on the Adriatic. Given a very small population it is possible that it would soon equal the costs of yet another member.

  10. Tuesday’s WSJ editorialises

    The Death of Yugoslavia
    May 23, 2006

    The people of Montenegro (pop. 620,000) on Sunday chose to break up their union with Serbia — all that was left of Yugoslavia — and give birth to the Continent’s 24th and 25th new nation-states since the end of the Cold War. As long as these decisions are freely, peacefully and constitutionally made, we say the more the merrier.

    The break-up party will continue in Kosovo (pop. 2 million), which wants to part ways with Serbia as well. Once that happens the Serbs can at last celebrate their independence from Titoist delusions of grandeur. Elsewhere in Europe, Flanders and Wallonia may follow suit to put Belgium down; Catalonia and the Basque country might split from Spain. Compared to Europe’s old but thriving city-states of Liechtenstein, Monaco, Liechtenstein, San Marino and Andorra — whose populations range from 28,000 to 67,000 — these possible new arrivals are veritable giants.

    Balkanization doesn’t deserve its bad name. Throughout history, Europe’s microstates have tended to be less bellicose (shrimps don’t pick fights), more democratic (government can’t be closer to the people) and, with fewer resources to waste, economically savvier. To thrive the Tiny Tims need open trade borders — thank the EU for that today — and peace, which now comes courtesy of a U.S.-led NATO.

    Montenegro’s leaders talk grandly of taking full advantage of this ideal environment for small states. The plan is to join the EU as soon as possible and attract investors with policies inspired by slightly larger Estonia. Seven years ago, when Slobodan Milosevic misruled the rump Yugoslavia, Montenegro’s leaders dropped the Serbian dinar and unilaterally adopted an Estonian-style currency board using the deutsch mark, now the euro.

    Whether Montenegro’s experiment in independence works will be determined by the success of its economy and political governance, not by some wooly notion of Montenegrinism founded on the country’s brief monarchy (1878-1918) or its heroic resistance to Ottoman rule. The new country could usefully shed its reputation as a haven for cigarette smugglers and regional Mafiosi vacationing along its idyllic coast.

    The mushrooming of new states in Europe has tended, especially after the wars of the early 1990s, to coincide with the spread of freedom on the Continent. May it continue.

  11. The EU’s blatent interference in the referendum underscores once again the mistreatment of Serbia by the Western powers.

    The EU knew full well that Serbia could not politically provide them with a trophy Mladic, because two of their trophies happened to die mysteriously; Milan Babic, former President of Republika Srpska Krajina, and of course the former Yugoslav President himself.

    Moreover, the rumours of Mladic in Serbia are about as frequent as those of Karadzic being in Montenegro, only Djukanovic was not being threatened all the time over it. No, they chose to deliberately interfere to break up this country.

    Most of the damage was already done when Zoran Djindjic let Solana arrange the surrender of the unionists to the secessionists by creating the infamous Solania or S&M. This secession is the fault not of Milosevic but of Zoran Djindjic and his people.

    There’s no such thing as a Montenegrin nation. Montenegro is Serbia and always was. That’s how its kings defined it. Milosevic’s family is from Montenegro and so is Karadzic; if anything, the so-called evil comes from there. This idea of a Montenegrin nation was an invention of the half-Croat, half-Slovene Tito and has now come to represent a sort of mishmash of self-hating Serb who buys the hate campaign, worships the EU for its potential subsidies, and of course decisive votes for Albanians and Bosnian Muslims, the former of which make no secret of their desire for incorporation into Greater Albania.

    These elements are united also by a regime that is in fact a gaggle of gangsters, who were caught buying votes and trading in sex slaves. One Western media report gleefully went on about how such things did not hurt Djukanovic’s campaign.

    Serbia’s most famous poet was a Montenegrin and its kings were of his family. His work is of course banned in Bosnia by the so-called High Representative as being offensive to the Bosniaks.

    It’s also interesting to note that almost 100% of media in Montenegro is run by Djukanovic’s people. In Belarus, they made similar claims to claim the elections to be invalid, that it was “unfair access to media”. In the case of Montenegro, they express thanks for such unfairness.

    Moreover, the head of an opposition newspaper was murdered a year ago or so and the killer is being protected by Djukanovic. Not a peep from the usual busybodies who still like to bring up the case of the former secret policeman Curuvija.

    Let’s not forget the rule that said that Montenegrins living in Serbia could not vote but those in the US could, the so-called Podgorica Airlift as so gleefully one media outlet put it.

    I could go on all day if I want to.

  12. The EU’s blatent interference in the referendum underscores once again the mistreatment of Serbia by the Western powers.

    Um. Ricardus, the EU was /against/ Montenegrin secession. That’s why they insisted on the 55% supermajority.

    This secession is the fault not of Milosevic but of Zoran Djindjic and his people.

    Yes, we all remember Djukanovic’s dramatic rebellion against Djindjic, back in 1997.

    Dude. The customs posts at the border went up in early 2001.

    Doug Merrill: cf. your point on stabs in the back, anti-Serb conspiracies and Serbia, Christ among nations. These people are not going to give up their cherished paranoia. If Montenegro quit, it can’t be because it sucked to be part of Serbia. No, it must be a conspiracy! by the West! in favor of the Muslims!

    [shrug] What can you do.

    Doug M.

  13. @Robert: “What about Vojvod separatism of the non-ethnic kind? The kind that says that the government in Belgrade is ineffective, has no prospects for improvement, and small size or no, we could do better on our own.”

    Yes and no.

    Remember way back in 1989, when Milosevic revoked Kosovo’s special status as an autonomous province? Well, everybody has forgotten, but he did the same thing to Vojvodina. And the Vojvodinans — both Serb and Hungarian — still remember, and resent it. They’ve been demanding their autonomy back ever since DOS came to power in 2001.

    This is a trans-ethnic issue, because here is indeed a regional identity in Vojvodina. Albeit one that consists of looking down on the rest of Serbia as poor, uncultured and backwards.

    However, AFAICT this doesn’t go beyond wanting the old autonomy back. There seems to be zero desire for independence. The Serbs are loyal to Serbia, and the Hungarians and other minorities are simply not numerous enough — and they know it. Also, having seen a bout of fairly efficient ethnic cleansing up close (when most of the Croats were driven out in 1991-2), no minority wants to pick a hopeless fight.

    Unfortunately, “autonomy” is now firmly associated in Belgrade’s mind with “eventual independence”. So it’s very unlikely that any Serb government will give Vojvodina what it wants.

    This does not mean that Vojvodina will become independent. It won’t. It does mean that there’ll be a lot of ill temper and hot air. But this won’t have any effect outside of Serbia (and not all that much within, really).

    Doug M.

  14. There is indeed a regional identity in Vojvodina. Albeit one that consists of looking down on the rest of Serbia as poor, uncultured and backwards

    Serbia has a Yorkshire. Who knew?

  15. Zoran Djindjic chose to destroy the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia under Solana’s tutelage, not Milosevic. It didn’t have to happen.

    It would have been far easier to defend the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia or even Greater Serbia than it would have been to defend that S&M abomination.

    The 55% demand means less than people think. They did not want a 51% result because people would question its legitimacy. A 55%+ vote would have more international legitimacy. So the question becomes that of how to get it up to 55%.

    The answer; allow Djukanovic to make the rules banning all Montenegrins in Serbia from voting while letting them be flown in from the US. Have Djukanovic control the media almost totally and have the OSCE on the ground to endorse any vote padding he may choose to do.

    In 1997, Djukanovic lost round 1 to Momir Bulatovic in what was a shock to him. He whined to the OSCE that it wasn’t fair and he demanded to out 60,000 extra names to the rolls. Guess what; these were decisive in winning him round 2, and with OSCE approval.

    The Mladic gambit was dirty and uncalled for but completely typical.

    Media reports indicate blanket control by Djukanovic. The capital was completely decked up in the old flag that Djukanovic chose to adopt for his country in a bid to de-neutralise the national symbol. That is a bit like what happened in Georgia when Saakashvili made his party’s flag the national flag. Thus, those not with the party became anti-national. In this case, he could feign innocence and say that he was merely flying national flags when in fact they were political.

    All Montenegrin campaigns under Djukanovic’s dictatorship have featured ostentatiously one-sided media coverage favouring him and one-sided campaigning, with his side having far more resources. Remember the situation in Belarus where the mere “unfair media” was deemed enough to delegitimise the process.

    Let’s also not forget his protecting the murderer of the editor of Montenegro’s only opposition newspaper. I see the Reporters Without Borders and other groups are very loud with their protests (yes, I’m being sarcastic).

    Djukanovic is a gangster and a white slaver and a tobacco smuggler. You people who defend his new private state are defending these activities.

    As for the customs posts, 2001 was during the regime of one Zoran Djindjic. Djukanovic was in trouble in 2000, having lost recent local elections. The coup in Belgrade put in power in Serbia people devoted to appeasing him. As expected, the anti-Serbian rhetoric became even more vitriolic, with Kostunica becoming far worse than Milosevic according to the Djukanovites.

    This business with the Montenegrin illegal activities promoted by the US could have been stopped in 1999 but for the interference of NATO and its threats that Yugoslavian authorities not enforce its laws, just as was done in the case of Kosovo.

  16. This business with the Montenegrin illegal activities promoted by the US could have been stopped in 1999 but for the interference of NATO and its threats that Yugoslavian authorities not enforce its laws, just as was done in the case of Kosovo.

    Yeah, I think I know how you’d have gone about stopping it. I think big holes in the ground and machine guns are involved. And, of course, corruption and criminality in The Christ Among Nations were unknown. It was like Switzerland with British civil servants. Uh, except for Arkan..

  17. Any use of machine guns would have been the result of the aggressive policies of NATO. Imagine for a moment if the US decided to give a separatist Scottish government more per-capita aid than they give to Israel and put Scotland and its separatist government under a security guarantee. In the Montenegro case, any fighting would have happened because of the US and UK training and arming the Montenegrin Ministry of the Interior Police.

    (Of course Scotland is more different from England than Montenegro is to Serbia, by the way. Remember that the major Serb stock villains, from Karadzic to Milosevic to Arkan, were and are Montenegrin.)

    Policies such as these are aggression, as simple as that. The truth of the matter is this; Milo Djukanovic was prime minister in 1991 and was part of the pro-Yugoslav government reflecting the popular mood there. He was there when a referendum on staying in Yugoslavia passed overwhelmingly (over 80% at least).

    Meanwhile, you had the Italian government trying to bribe Montenegro into leaving Yugoslavia and endorsing the Carrington Plan. Macedonia was induced to leave mainly because of it being made plain that association with Serbia and Yugoslavia would be punished. It is this that ultimately was used to bolster separatism in Montenegro, to tell people there that punishments will continue unless they end their association with Serbia.

    (that didn’t help Macedonia by the way as it was invaded in 2001 by the KLA under US military protection and support from allegedly UN-run Kosovo. Not one KLA man is in the Hague over that, but the Macedonian Interior Minister of the time is imprisonned there for defending his country from attack)

    In 1997, Djukanovic, who was always a rank opportunist, was made to turn coat, reportedly by the CIA, as Biljana Plavsic did simultaneously in Republika Srpska. He hijacked the former Communists, the Party of Democratic Socialists, who still rule today. Indeed, they are the only former Communist Party to rule without interruption in the region since World War II.

    Djukanovic was bribed into making an alliance with Albanian gangsters and the State Department. He always was involved in smuggling and gangsterism as, thanks to the UN sanctions on Serbia, it was required for sanctions busting. The UN and the major powers can be thanked for promoting gangsterism in this way, for advancing the careers of folk such as Zeljko Raznjatovic, aka Arkan. They became indispensible.

    Usefully, Yugoslavia was also kicked out of Interpol. A fine and constructive act that was.

    Now the US and EU openly back a slave trading smuggling gangster and are helping him set up a private state to spite Serbia, that demonstrated its obedience with the infamous October 5 coup in 2000. It seems that obeying orders only brings more and more punishment.

  18. The UN and the major powers can be thanked for promoting gangsterism in this way, for advancing the careers of folk such as Zeljko Raznjatovic, aka Arkan. They became indispensible.

    “It wasn’t our fault, none of it! They made us into bad people!”

    Please.

  19. One more note.

    Any use of machine guns would have been the result of the aggressive policies of NATO.

    Whenever you can only resolve your political problems by massacring civilians, you’ve got fundamental existential problems.

  20. (that didn’t help Macedonia by the way

    Actually, getting out of Yugoslavia worked out pretty well for Macedonia.

    They’re now comfortably richer than Serbia. And they’re a full candidate for EU membership — which Serbia isn’t, and won’t be for years.

    Not one KLA man is in the Hague

    Haradin Bala (sentenced to 13 years)
    Idriz Balaj
    Beqe Beqaj
    Lahi Brahimaj
    Ramush Haradinaj (Kosovo Prime Minister, out on bail)
    Fatmir Limaj (acquitted)
    Isak Musliu (acquitted)

    Seven indicted. Two acquitted, one found guilty, the other four cases still pending.

    but the Macedonian Interior Minister of the time is imprisonned there for defending his country from attack

    Well, if you define murdering seven unarmed, helpless civilians as “defending his country from attack”… okay.

    Note that Boskovski is also under indictment in Croatia and Macedonia. On totally separate charges, BTW. In addition to the war crimes, he’s also charged with the murder of a group of Pakistanis, who were framed to look like “Al Qaeda terrorists”.

    demonstrated its obedience with the infamous October 5 coup in 2000. It seems that obeying orders only brings more and more punishment.

    If you read my other articles, you’ll know that I’m generally sympathetic to Serbia. My last article before this one was a strong condemnation of the referendum. I dislike Djukanovic and I think that Montenegrin independence is a deeply stupid idea.

    That said, I think that Serb nationalism, in the last twenty years, has been even more stupid. (And far more destructive.) I don’t think the “yes” vote was a good idea, but I can understand why many Montenegrins want to get out of union with Serbia.

    Montenegro isn’t seceding because of some sinister conspiracy of NATO, the EU, and Albanian gangsters. Montenegro is seceding because (1) Djukanovic thinks he can do better, mostly for himself, but also for his country; and (2) Serbia has become the ugly kid that nobody wants to play with.

    There’s no conspiracy. Serbia’s not important enough to conspire against. You’re a small country with few resources and no strategic significance at all. No offense, but nobody cares about Serbia any more.

    Montenegro seceded because of internal Montenegrin reasons. Sure, a big part of this was Djukanovic being a rancid opportunist. I can’t stand the man. But he could never have made a successful bid for secession if Serbs — particularly nationalist dopes like you — hadn’t made Serbia an unpopular, isolated semi-pariah state.

    Some commentators expressed hope that the referendum would have a positive effect on Serbia, by inspiring some national soul-searching and self examination. I doubt it. You, and people like you, will continue to see conspiracy in everything that happens. Nothing will ever be your fault, so you’ll never have to change your ways.

    Apparently you want your children to be dish washers and bar girls for the Croats and Hungarians. I’m not sure why, but there it is. Because that is the predictable end result of your actions: Serbia will stay poor, isolated, and backwards.

    It makes me sad, because I have friends in Belgrade. But you guys will have to work out your own destiny. I wish you luck.

    Doug M.

  21. Actually, getting out of Yugoslavia worked out pretty well for Macedonia.

    They’re now comfortably richer than Serbia.

    If they are so well off then why are people still going abroad to work? There was a fatal bus crash in Serbia a few months ago – it was Macedonians who’d been working in Slovenia and were on their way home.

    The economy also gets an artificial boost from the occupation in Kosovo and all the international forces there. Much of the goods are supplied and transported through Macedonia to Kosovo.

    There is heavy business of trafficked women – the Germans and U.S. soldiers are feeding the Albanian-run brothels and money for them.

    You also never mentioned Macedonia’s loss of territory to the Albanians. Is Macedonia happy about that? Do you consider that as something that worked out favorably.

    Kosovo Albanians were involved in launching attacks on Macedonia in 2001 and now Macedonians have been ethnically cleansed from portions in the northwest and can’t get back to their homes to this day.

    A lot of those KLA you list who went to the Hague are free now and back in politics – Haradinaj, for instance.

    The few convicted were convicted of kidnapping, torturing and killing fellow Albanians. The KLA was involved in killing Albanians, including witnesses to their crimes.

    Those Albanians tried for killing other Albanians were often involved in murdering Serbs to, but aren’t generally tried for that.

    The U.S. has definitely been involved in lies and and anti-Serb bias.

    They kept 3 Kosovo Serbs – the Momcilovic’s – for killing an Albanian who’d been shot by a U.S. soldier during a firefight outside their garage.

    Only because the U.S. soldier involved, who said he’s shot and killed the Albanian himself – struck him “center mass” – read about the case a year later, while he was in Germany, and spoke to the press about it – were the Serbs finally cleared.

    It got too obvious that the U.S. military was wrongly jailing the Serbs is why they let them out.

    The U.S. soldier said he gave his full report of what happened at the time – yet they were still held in a shack for a year by the U.S. military which had to know they were innocent.

    Further, they had a camera at their garage which showed how armed Albanians came up to the gate and threatened them on the intercom and started shooting.

    Evidence was clearly available and known the Serbs were innocent.

    The Albanians had been going on and on about how the Serbs did the killing and they witnessed it, etc.

    But after he spoke out they went silent. This shows the evil liars wouldn’t dare contradict a U.S. soldier, but lying and falsely blaming about Serbs they do easily. And the U.S. supports their propaganda.

    Thank goodness for a few honest individuals.

  22. If they are so well off then why are people still going abroad to work?

    Um. Did I say they were rich? Because they’re not. They’re poor.

    But Serbia is even poorer. (And, no surprise, Serbia exports a lot more workers than Macedonia.)

    The few convicted were convicted of kidnapping, torturing and killing fellow Albanians.

    Haradin Balaj was convicted of the torture and murder of both Serbs and Albanians.

    [Momcilovic case]

    Yes, that was a bad one. The Momcilovics were wrongly arrested and indicted. The videotape clearly showed that they didn’t shoot the victim.

    On the other hand, it happened in 1999 — nearly seven years ago — during the chaotic early days of the NATO occupation. And the Momcilovics were eventually released.

    So, I have trouble seeing this as part of a broad pattern of American conspiracy against Serbia.

    You also never mentioned Macedonia’s loss of territory to the Albanians.

    Last time I looked, Macedonia’s borders hadn’t changed since 1992. I assume you meant to say, “the Slav Macedonians’ loss of territory to the Albanian Macedonians”.

    Or, on second thought, maybe not. Hey, Albanians aren’t real Macedonians. They can never be anything but an alien, intrusive threat.

    — Are there areas in western Macedonia that have been ethnically cleansed of Slavs? Yes. Do I support that? Hell no.

    But my original point stands. Macedonians generally — Albanians and Slavs alike — are much better off than Serbs. They had one wet-firecracker not-quite-war in 2001-2. Some dozens of people died, several thousand got driven out of their homes. Now they live in sullen but reasonably stable peace.

    This isn’t perfect; but by quitting Serbia in ’92, the Macedonians avoided three disastrous lost wars and an economic catastrophe. And while Slavs and Albanians don’t love each other, they can at least form joint governments and work together. Which is more than can be said for Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo, or Serbs and Bosniaks in Bosnia.

    I don’t point to Macedonia as a happy shiny example of Balkan peace. I do say, they’re much better off than the Serbs, Kosovars, or Bosnians.

    Key fact: per capita income in Macedonia is about 1/3 higher than in Serbia. And because they never had Slobo and his gangsters in charge, the Gini coefficient (inequality) is lower. So the average, middle income Macedonian is probably more like 50% richer than his cousin in Serbia.

    N.B., most Serbs are used to thinking of Macedonians as dumb country cousins, so they tend to be strongly in denial about this. They can sullenly accept that Croats are richer and will join the EU sooner. But Macedonia? *bzt* Does Not Compute — talk about something else. They may be peaceful now, but it’s not real! The Albanians are going to take that country over! Just watch!

    Doug M.

  23. McDonald, when I said no KLA men at the Hague, I said no KLA men in the Hague for invading Macedonia. Gangsters become indispensible under sanctions, no matter where you are. The machine guns would be fired on both sides, first by the separatists as happened at Fort Sumter and Slovenia. Why is Serbia the “ugly child”? Because the NATO gang has mobilised people against it. NATO has also propped up leaders in allied countries like Montenegro to oppose Serbia and created anti-Serbian coalitions and others simply never liked Serbia. The Muslim-Croat alliance of World War II’s NDH for instance, as well as Croatia itself. People also fear being shut out of the EU market, others want to leave their country and get into Western Europe and live there through EU membership for their own country. This of course means depopulation as is taking place right now in the new EU member countries in the east. They are all headed to France, and particularly Britain and Ireland.

    Macedonia had part of its country torn apart in 2001-02, villages are still depopulated and the KLA won’t let people return. They had a war, you know, a war where people died, a war caused by a KLA invasion, by aggression if you will. The Macedonians were forced to surrender to the KLA; a priceless photo of the Macedonian leader with a look of horror on his face next to the gleeful mug of his KLA counterpart was published back then at the surrender ceremony.

    Serbia’s greatest economic troubles started when DOS took power in the coup of 2000. Skyrocketing electricity bills and power outages the likes of which never happened during NATO bombing soon followed. Zoran Djindjic is the worst leader that country ever had, and he with his gangster connections (Stanko Subotic Kane) died an appropriate and some would say overdue death. He who lives by the sword shall perish by the sword.

  24. Ricardus, one, you’re replying to me, not Randy McDonald.

    Two, you got so upset that you triple-posted. Yes, I know it’s hard to control the anger. Still: try.

    Why is Serbia the “ugly child”? Because the NATO gang has mobilised people against it.

    No. NATO doesn’t care about Serbia. Nobody cares about Serbia.

    There’s no conspiracy. Your neighbors dislike you because of you, dude. “You” here meaing you, personally.

    Doug M.

  25. McDonald, when I said no KLA men at the Hague, I said no KLA men in the Hague for invading Macedonia. Gangsters become indispensible under sanctions, no matter where you are. The machine guns would be fired on both sides, first by the separatists as happened at Fort Sumter and Slovenia. Why is Serbia the “ugly child”? Because the NATO gang has mobilised people against it. NATO has also propped up leaders in allied countries like Montenegro to oppose Serbia and created anti-Serbian coalitions and others simply never liked Serbia. The Muslim-Croat alliance of World War II’s NDH for instance, as well as Croatia itself. People also fear being shut out of the EU market, others want to leave their country and get into Western Europe and live there through EU membership for their own country. This of course means depopulation as is taking place right now in the new EU member countries in the east. They are all headed to France, and particularly Britain and Ireland.

    Macedonia had part of its country torn apart in 2001-02, villages are still depopulated and the KLA won’t let people return. They had a war, you know, a war where people died, a war caused by a KLA invasion, by aggression if you will. The Macedonians were forced to surrender to the KLA; a priceless photo of the Macedonian leader with a look of horror on his face next to the gleeful mug of his KLA counterpart was published back then at the surrender ceremony.

    Serbia’s greatest economic troubles started when DOS took power in the coup of 2000. Skyrocketing electricity bills and power outages the likes of which never happened during NATO bombing soon followed. Zoran Djindjic is the worst leader that country ever had, and he with his gangster connections (Stanko Subotic Kane) died an appropriate and some would say overdue death. He who lives by the sword shall perish by the sword.

  26. Any triple-posting was not anger, it was non-response by the server (or so it seemed).

    I assure you it was not intended.

  27. If no one cared about Serbia, why did NATO drop bombs on it? Is it because they love Albanians? Hardly. They want to deport as many of them as they can get their hands on. Where was the gnashing of teeth when Albania imploded in 1997?

    Let’s think back to the fall of the Aztec Empire for a moment. If you know your history, the Aztecs were brought down by Cortes and a handful of men. What was essential however was that Cortes could not have done this without help. Thus, he made alliances with all the pipsqueak jealous rivals of the Aztecs who could not possibly overthrow Aztec power themselves.

    This is the major lesson of all imperialism. One big core country surrounded by smaller countries in a region to conquer means rounding up the smaller countries to destroy the core countries. It was the only way to conquer the Balkans. What for? Bases, certainly. Power-projection. Make NATO relevent in the future. To help surround Russia, to intimidate Russia, to deny it allies with seacoast.

    Let’s also not forget historical hang-ups. For years, certain powers were obsessed with Serbia, trying to prevent it from ruling any lands west of the river Drina, despite its Serb majority populations, obsessed with keeping it away from the coast, giving the Turks the land between Serbia and Montenegro to divide them following the Berlin arrangement.

    It seems that these things have resurfaced. Remember that these hang-ups led to World War I and certain people are determined to claim the Serbs to be to blame for that war.

    Of course these hang-ups were rooted in imperial ambition. Powers wanted to dominate the Balkans and a strong Serbia was a no-no when you want to build a railway from Berlin to Baghdad and dominate the intervening real-estate. Today bases are wanted to dominate the Middle East and to threaten Russia and to command new pipeline projects.

  28. If no one cared about Serbia, why did NATO drop bombs on it? Is it because they love Albanians? Hardly. They want to deport as many of them as they can get their hands on. Where was the gnashing of teeth when Albania imploded in 1997?

    The Albanian state failed and, you might recall, the Italians sent military forces to bolster an interim authority.

    True, this was a small expedition by the standards of 1999. Mind, the Albanian state did not go mad, massacring and expelling its citizens by the hundreds of thousands. The Serbian state did. Hence the bombing campaign.

    This is the major lesson of all imperialism. One big core country surrounded by smaller countries in a region to conquer means rounding up the smaller countries to destroy the core countries. It was the only way to conquer the Balkans.

    You’re assuming that someone wanted to so thoroughly conquer and dominate the Balkans.

    In the context of the decade of the 1990s, when West Germans were complaining about the cost of absorbing their conationals in the east and western Europeans generally were hoping to enjoy a surge of economic growth based on their own reunification of central and eastern Europe, the idea that western Europeans–never mind Germans or Austrians–were willing to so thoroughly destroy the arguably most Westernized and easily-assimilable Communist state in Europe is profoundly silly. If anything, those countries that I suspect you blame for Yugoslavia’s self-destruction–Germany, Austria, perhaps Italy–suffered the most, between the disruption of established trading relations and the influx of millions of refugees.

  29. Why is Serbia the “ugly child”? Because the NATO gang has mobilised people against it.

    It’s easy to do that when a country willingly associates itself with ethnic cleansers for the space of a decade.

    NATO has also propped up leaders in allied countries like Montenegro to oppose Serbia and created anti-Serbian coalitions and others simply never liked Serbia. The Muslim-Croat alliance of World War II’s NDH for instance, as well as Croatia itself.

    Wait. I thought that you were saying elsewhere that Yugoslavia was destroyed by external intervention, that the internal tensions were played upon and magnified. Which is it? You can’t have

    People also fear being shut out of the EU market, others want to leave their country and get into Western Europe and live there through EU membership for their own country.

    This is different from the gastarbeitar migration of the 1960s and 1970s from, among other places, the SFRY how?

    Macedonia had part of its country torn apart in 2001-02, villages are still depopulated and the KLA won’t let people return. They had a war, you know, a war where people died, a war caused by a KLA invasion, by aggression if you will.

    They did have a war. As it happened, they stopped well short of committing crimes against humanity like those committed to Macedonia’s north. The peace isn’t perfect, but it’s a sight better than what they might have had a right to expect.

    Serbia’s greatest economic troubles started when DOS took power in the coup of 2000.

    The hyperinflation of the early 1990s was, I presume, a minor detail of history?

  30. This is the major lesson of all imperialism. One big core country surrounded by smaller countries in a region to conquer means rounding up the smaller countries to destroy the core countries.

    The very absence of imperialism allows the rise of mini states and separatism. Had an Italian politician made a statement about “border corrections” in 1990, Jugoslavija would still exist.

    In fact these days seeing news from Timor it seems to me that our support for ever more independent countries has a masochistic touch to it.

  31. Usually, regions are focused around a regional power and states in its sphere of influence. If that regional power has its own industrial and scientific base, its own agricultural base, etc, this could mean a region where greater empires with global ambitions can feel thwarted.

    So in order to absorb such a region into the global empire’s sphere of influence, smash the regional power. Simple, isn’t it. That’s exactly what happened here.

    Say what you want about hyperinflation in 1993 (caused by the UN sanctions triggered by an Izetbegovic government snuff video), but this period was not marked by blackouts and deindustrialisations and major industries being sold to US corporations for less money than those corporations’ CEOs make a year.

    The pro-Serbia camp in Montenegro has much evidence of vote theft by the separatists, yet the EU calls them “irresponsible” for talking about such things. So much for EU support for the joint state.

    More people were killed in the 1997 meltdown in Albania than were killed in 1998 in Kosovo. The in mid November 1998 UN estimated 700 deaths in Kosovo in that conflict. At that moment, Kosovo was being subjected to William Walker’s KVM regime under which the KLA began a campaign of cafe shootings, bombings and the like, highway abductions, shootings and murders and provocations, most notably its blocking the Pristina-Podujevo road by occupying bunkers dominating it.

  32. Usually, regions are focused around a regional power and states in its sphere of influence. If that regional power has its own industrial and scientific base, its own agricultural base, etc, this could mean a region where greater empires with global ambitions can feel thwarted.

    Seen through the lens of selfinterest the 1990es were pure folly. The diverse FOR missions were (and are) expensive and a heavy drain on the professional cores of the European armies. Long bombardements with precision amuninition are very expensive. Fixing a part of what we bombed into rubble costs yet more money. Added to that are the losses of exports as purchasing power in ex-YU has crashed.

    From the economic viewpoint we should have told Milošević to take what is reasonable and be quick and discreet.

    From an emotional viewpoint it is of course better to be a victim of malice rather than incompetency, selfishness and emotional politics by CNN, but the latter is the unfortunate truth. Western Europe is incapable of imperialism, probably even if it were in its own interest.

  33. If that regional power has its own industrial and scientific base, its own agricultural base, etc, this could mean a region where greater empires with global ambitions can feel thwarted.

    So in order to absorb such a region into the global empire’s sphere of influence, smash the regional power. Simple, isn’t it. That’s exactly what happened here.

    Um. Yugoslavia was already part of the western European sphere of influence, distanced it is true by its Communist government but just as much a component of the western European system as Franco’s Spain. The country even tried to lodge an application for EC membership in the 1980s, but was refused on the grounds of the Communist monopoly of power.

    The western European powers had no motive to destroy Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia had made remarkable strides in the 1950-1980 period, moving from being an impoverished agrarian country to being an industrial power with standards of living comparable to those enjoyed by Spaniards, East Germans, and Czechoslovaks. Yugoslavia had become a useful partner of western European nations, and its failure to remain such stems from its internal dynamics. If the Yugoslav federation had survived, by now it would have joined the European Union along with its other neighbours and be well advanced down the path towards First World status.

    Say what you want about hyperinflation in 1993 (caused by the UN sanctions triggered by an Izetbegovic government snuff video)

    Actually, the hyperinflation was caused in no small part by the Serbian government’s continuation of the SFRY’s inflationary practices (printing money so you can spend it is always stupid). The sharpest decline came in the early 1990s.

    http://www.transparentnost.org.yu/dokumenti/d012.html

    “Per capita income in Serbia started to decline from 1989 when it was 3,240 US$. In 1993, it reached the bottom with 1,390 US$ recovering slightly after that to 1,450 in 1999. Experts estimated that 10 years of war and sanctions accounted for loss in Serbia’s GDP of 165 billion US$.”

    [T]his period was not marked by blackouts and deindustrialisations and major industries being sold to US corporations for less money than those corporations’ CEOs make a year.

    It was, actually.

    The pro-Serbia camp in Montenegro has much evidence of vote theft by the separatists, yet the EU calls them “irresponsible” for talking about such things.

    I tend to think that the Montenegrin referendum results show that half of the country’s population wanted independence. Is my sympathy for small nations leading me to discount the structural inequities against the pro-union factor? Perhaps, but not that much.

    More people were killed in the 1997 meltdown in Albania than were killed in 1998 in Kosovo.

    In 1999 in Kosovo?

  34. A correction:

    There were, of course, no sellouts of local firms to American or other interests in the 1990s in Serbia. There were blackouts and deindustrializations enough, mind.

  35. Between January and March 1999, in Kosovo, the KLA killed scores of people. Bombs exploded in restaurants in the cities, people were kidnapped and dead bodies found every other day on the highways. There was the famous Panda Bar Massacre in December 1998, the massacre that caused Richard Holbrooke to threaten to rain bombs on Serbia and proclaimed that he would find those who did the shooting and tell them that “this is unacceptable”.

    Of course NATO chose to begin bombing on 24 March 1999, which caused a quick campaign by Yugoslavian forces to clear the KLA out of strategic areas. They had to do this before the NATO planes could have the chance to fly lower missions as a result of attacks on the air-defence system. They also had to ensure that they could hold their positions on the border without the KLA massing behind them, leaving them between NATO and KLA forces in Albania and the KLA behind them.

    Any responsibility for the fallout from that is the fault of NATO and NATO alone. None of this would have happened if not for the decision to attack Yugoslavia.

  36. The economic crisis in Serbia dates back to the coming to power of Ante Markovic, the former president of Croatia. He, who was ostentatiously backed by the Bush the Elder administration, and administered the usual shock therapy, with the usual results.

    Hyperinflation results when you cause rapid deindustrialisation (claiming that all your businesses are uncompetitive internationally and must die) while maintaining obligations to workers, particularly government workers. That started under Markovic.

    There was a lot of desire to kill Yugoslavia from Germany and Austria, in particular. They argued that Ljubljana, for instance, had more in common with Vienna than with Belgrade. Moreover, you had the United States who saw a non-aligned independent country that they wanted fully absorbed into the western bloc. The core of that country was not so quick to surrender its independence and non-aligned stance as they wanted.

    The claims that the Western powers wanted to keep Yugoslavia was really their desire to prop up Markovic, whom they believed could possibly force the whole Yugoslavia to surrender to the western bloc.

    The crisis caused by the sanctions coupled with the cutting of ties between Serbia and republics other than Montenegro, Srpska and Srpska Krajina, was in the end well handled by Milosevic. He restored stability. The economic dislocations that Serbia underwent were dramatic and unusual. It shows that it pays to produce snuff videos, as Izetbegovic did.

    One more point. In 2000 there were howls of outrage in Serbia from the G17+, one of the governing parties who advocated Montenegro independence and surrender to the Hague, etc, about the fact that Serbia was rebuilding infastructure destroyed by NATO. You’d think that supposed patriotic Serbs would be pleased at that but no, they were vitriolic in their outrage over it. They insisted that they would need foreign capital to rebuild and that archfiend Milosevic was proving them wrong. Worse than that was the way in which they were doing it; quoting Seselj, one of them said that they were “printing money” to rebuild things. Heresy!

  37. Any responsibility for the fallout from that is the fault of NATO and NATO alone. None of this would have happened if not for the decision to attack Yugoslavia.

    NATO is at fault for the fact that Serbia decided to deal with the KLA insurgency by expelling the Kosovar population? That, I grant, is true; NATO should have had ground forces ready to intervene in order to prevent the catastrophe.

    The economic crisis in Serbia dates back to the coming to power of Ante Markovic, the former president of Croatia. He, who was ostentatiously backed by the Bush the Elder administration, and administered the usual shock therapy, with the usual results.

    Actually no.

    http://www.photius.com/countries/croatia/economy/yugoslavia_former_economy_managing_the_crisis_~11886.html

    “Between 1975 and 1980, the Yugoslav social product fell and inflation reached an annual rate of 50 percent. When the international oil shock of 1979 hit, policy makers realized they could not continue an economic development strategy based on heavy foreign borrowing and inefficient investment at home. In 1982 the Long-Term Economic Stabilization Program was released by the Krajgher Commission for Economic Stabilization. The commission reexamined Yugoslavia’s development priorities and formulated a revised strategy for the 1980s. Self-management would remain at the center of the system, but substantial reorientation would occur. Important elements were coordination of investment between industrial and agricultural sectors, diversification of energy resources, greater investment in technical development, and improved incentives for the private sector, now recognized as the most efficient part of the national economy. Workers, whose wages had increased faster than their productivity under the self-management system, would be subject to wage austerity programs to restore the balance.

    Although the party overwhelmingly endorsed the long-term program, influential conservatives blocked practical application of Krajgher Commission programs. In 1983 the Federal Assembly (Skupstina) passed only eight of twenty-five major legislative proposals; it postponed decision on the remainder, many of which would have activated parts of the long-term program. The events of 1983 set a precedent for a new round of economic bickering and regional finger pointing that delayed meaningful reform another seven years.”

    There was a lot of desire to kill Yugoslavia from Germany and Austria, in particular. They argued that Ljubljana, for instance, had more in common with Vienna than with Belgrade.

    There was a lot in the early 1990s, when it became apparent that Yugoslavia was simply incapable of functioning and heading towards a catastrophe. An independent Slovenia is a better neighbour to Austria and Italy than a Slovenia under Yugoslavian military occupation ever would be.

    That said, Austria and Slovenia do have quite a few cultural traits in common. This makes sense since they were united in a common state for a millennium. Slovenia had and still has many traits in common with the rest of the former Yugoslavia, but the recognition of commonality has faded.

    Moreover, you had the United States who saw a non-aligned independent country that they wanted fully absorbed into the western bloc. The core of that country was not so quick to surrender its independence and non-aligned stance as they wanted.

    Let’s leave aside the fact that we’ve established that Yugoslavia, in fact, already was deeply integrated into Western structures, and simply note that the United States chilled towards Yugoslavia only after the suspension of Vojvodinan and Kosovar autonomy and the military occupation of that province. What you’re saying, when you define Serbia and Serbs as the “core” of Yugoslavia and the nation truest to Yugoslavian ideologies, you’re in fact stating that Yugoslavia was a Serbian sockpuppet.

    The claims that the Western powers wanted to keep Yugoslavia was really their desire to prop up Markovic, whom they believed could possibly force the whole Yugoslavia to surrender to the western bloc.

    Do you think that Lech Walesa was forced to surrender Poland to the western bloc in 1989? Come now.

    One more point. In 2000 there were howls of outrage in Serbia from the G17+, one of the governing parties who advocated Montenegro independence

    http://www.g17plus.org.yu/english/files/active/es/G17_Program.pdf

    Only because G17+ didn’t believe that Serbia had an interest at keeping Montenegro at any price. Check their website.

    and surrender to the Hague, etc,

    Yes; Serbia’s legal system inspires such confidence.

    about the fact that Serbia was rebuilding infastructure destroyed by NATO. You’d think that supposed patriotic Serbs would be pleased at that but no, they were vitriolic in their outrage over it. They insisted that they would need foreign capital to rebuild and that archfiend Milosevic was proving them wrong. Worse than that was the way in which they were doing it; quoting Seselj, one of them said that they were “printing money” to rebuild things. Heresy!

    Yes, because printing the money that you need to spend doesn’t lead to hyperinflation, and hasn’t led to hyperinflation either in the SFRY or in later Serbia.

    In light of your apparently complete ignorance of what actually happened in the former Yugoslavia and in Serbia, I have to ask you why you feel at all competent in making any judgements on this subject.

  38. There were, of course, no sellouts of local firms to American or other interests in the 1990s in Serbia.

    Almost right. There was quite a lot privatization in Milosevic’s Serbia, especially after 1995.

    But it was Slobo-style privatization. Which meant the sale of state assets to his cronies, or to foreigners who had paid suitably large bribes. (It’s amazing how many supporters of Milosevic seem blissfully unaware of this. I’m thinking in particular of Neil Clark, who still extols Milosevic as a martyred saint of Socialism. But he’s far from alone.)

    Quite a lot of Slobo’s klepto-cronies are still around, and still prominent in Serbia business and politics. The Karic brothers are the most famous, but there are many, many more. And this goes a long way towards explaining what’s still wrong with Serbia today.

    Blaming hyperinflation on Markovic: this fits with the general pattern that nothing can ever be the Serbs’ fault. (Markovic was a Croat. Still around, living quietly somewhere in Dalmatia IMS.) It does somewhat fail to explain why, say, Slovenia didn’t suffer from it.

    Note that inflation was exploding in Serbia before the sanctions were imposed. There was an initial wave in 1990, with prices more than quadrupling in less than a year. Then a lull in 1991. Then it began to take off like a rocket in the spring of 1992. By March ’92 it was running at 45% per month, which is an annual rate of about 7500%.

    Then sanctions were imposed in May ’92. Sanctions helped transform very bad inflation into hyperinflation; but the Milosevic government had already determined to print money on demand. So it would have been bad anyway.

    Blaming the rise of Arkan on sanctions: Ha. Arkan started his activities in 1990. By the time sanctions were imposed, he had already been active for nearly two years in Croatia, Slavonia and Bosnia. He was already rich from loot and incredibly popular among the Serb public, who saw only a media-constructed image of him as a heroic defender.

    “a quick campaign by Yugoslavian forces to clear the KLA out of strategic areas.”

    No, that’s just false.

    I’ve been to Kosovo.

    JNA and Serbian security forces didn’t “clear the KLA”. They pushed everyone, every civilian, out of huge areas of Kosovo. Hundreds of thousands of people just shoved to the border at gunpoint.

    I have a Kosovar acquaintance who spent eight days waiting to cross the border. He was a taxi driver, married, with a new baby. They had only what they could carry. They went days without food, sleeping rough, huddled together to keep warm — Kosovo is still plenty cold in March. Their three biggest worries were finding water, keeping warm, and the fear that the Serbs would just come along and kill them.

    Eventually they got across the border — half-starved, sick, and stinking. Whereupon the Macedonians popped them in a squalid camp and proceeded to treat them like dirt for the next three months. Which goes a long way towards explaining what happened in Macedonia a bit later, but that’s another story.

    It’s hard to believe that, at this late date, anyone can claim with a straight face that Operation Horseshoe was “a quick campaign to clear the KLA out of strategic areas”. No, it was a massive, carefully planned campaign of ethnic cleansing, deliberately undertaken against civilians, with the clear goal of destabilizing the region.

    Doug M.

  39. They say that guerrilla armies are fish swimming in the sea that is the population.

    If the way to clear the KLA out was to clear that population during the war, then it was a legitimate act of self-defence.

    The truth of course was more complex than that. The KLA, for instance, moved large numbers of people. Others escaped the bombs. This situation was the result of NATO’s decision to drop bombs and nothing else.

    I know that aggressors and rapists are determined to deny their victims the right to self-defence, but that right exists nonetheless.

    As for hyperinflation in 1999-2000, there was none, despite the doomsaying out of the G17 Plus claiming that it was imminent. There was greater inflation after they put their hands around the economy’s neck following the coup of October 5 2000.

    In fact, G17 Plus went out of its way in its attempts to undermine confidence in the Serbian economy for years prior to its destructive reign.

  40. There was no Operation Horseshoe. Even the Germans were forced to admit to it. They even called it Operation “Potkova” when this is a Croatian word; Serbs would call it “Potkovica”.

    As for Arkan’s activities, he began as a bank robber and gangster and was recruited to the Yugoslav secret police, that relied on these kinds of people to get things done. This was a product of the Tito system.

    The power of people such as Arkan expanded when sanctions were applied. He was also willing to make alliances with anyone. It is even claimed that he was killed because he made a deal with Djindjic. He was known for working with Albanian gangsters, showing that Arkan was really a believer in multiethnic cooperation.

    The Hague tribunal’s standards are the pits. For instance, Vojislav Seselj gave himself to them in February 2003 and his trial has yet to start over three years later. (Moroever, Vuk Draskovic did the same things Seselj did and he’s not indicted) Milan Milutinovic gave himself up even sooner and his trial also has yet to start. The Milosevic trial was a bad joke. Worst of all is the fact that the Tribunal was intended as a political weapon and nothing more, and is illegal under the UN Charter.

    Saying that the crisis in Yugoslavia came sooner than Markovic is a matter of defining what is a crisis. Economic troubles or malaise can set in way before a crisis situation emerges.

    By the way, Markovic was accused of stealing money and funnelling it to Croatia during his rule. This happened during former President Borislav Jovic’s testimony at the Milosevic trial.

  41. If the way to clear the KLA out was to clear that population during the war, then it was a legitimate act of self-defence.

    So, you’re fine with the punitive massacre of civilians in occupied areas by invading military forces? Good to know. Serbia was a national(ist)-socialist regime, after all. It’s only fair that its acolytes feel free to apply standards established earlier in the 20th century by kindred regimes.

    Saying that the crisis in Yugoslavia came sooner than Markovic is a matter of defining what is a crisis. Economic troubles or malaise can set in way before a crisis situation emerges.

    For fifteen years before Markovic’s accession, the Yugoslavian economy had been suffered from the same sorts of problems that ended up precipitating the country’s economic collapse. It’s positively mendacious to claim that Markovic was responsible.

    In any case, as Michael Habib wrote in his paper “The FRY Economy One Year after the Kosovo War” , even before the Kosovo war in 1999 the Serbian economy was entering into a recession, as the country’s domestic capital stock was steadily being depleted, to the detriment of capital-intensive sectors of the economy like industry. The reconstruction that occurred was flashy, concentrated on things like transport infrastructure, but didn’t touch capital-intensive sectors of the economy. In the SFRY, Serbia had an upper-middle-income economy; under Milosevic, Serbia was fast agrarianizing.

    G17+ was quite right to point out that this model was failing, catastrophically; disdevelopment is always nasty. There was no reason at all to have confidence in the Serbian economy.

  42. Well, under the old model, bombed-out infrastructure was being rebuilt. Under the new model, the rebuilding stopped. If the preservation of bombed-out buildings and infrastructure is your idea of a successful model, then that’s a very strange idea.

    I suppose that there are those who consider that the US rebuilding plans in Iraq are better than those that Saddam led post 1991. That of course is nonsense as the US is using so-called rebuilding to finance those who donate to the Republican Party and is replacing perfectly good infrastructure with expensive projects that only American companies could maintain and these projects are half-finished only.

    Then there is the sorry state of Kosovo rebuilding. In 2000, articles were even published contrasting the sorry state of Kosovo rebuilding when compared with that in the rest of Serbia.

    My point about Kosovo and movements of people is that it was not punitive, it was required by military necessity for self-defence purposes. Naturally, some Serbs wanted to punish these people because some of them held rallies calling on bombs to fall. Considering the fate of Iraq under bombings, one could understand anger at such rallies.

    Still, official Serbia did not act out of anger and according to evidence provided at the Milosevic trial, did what it could to protect civilians and to punish those who took it upon themselves to be “punitive” with civilians.

  43. Well, under the old model, bombed-out infrastructure was being rebuilt.

    Only a fraction of the infrastructure.

    Under the new model, the rebuilding stopped. If the preservation of bombed-out buildings and infrastructure is your idea of a successful model, then that’s a very strange idea.

    I’ll tell you what. I’ve provided links and cites, while you haven’t. Why don’t you do this?

    Then there is the sorry state of Kosovo rebuilding. In 2000, articles were even published contrasting the sorry state of Kosovo rebuilding when compared with that in the rest of Serbia.

    Considering that Serbia, unlike Kosovo, hadn’t been devastated by a rampaging army that drove half of the population to Hungary while burning down their homes and workplaces, and that Serbia was better off than Kosovo to start with, this isn’t too surprising.

    My point about Kosovo and movements of people is that it was not punitive, it was required by military necessity for self-defence purposes. Naturally, some Serbs wanted to punish these people because some of them held rallies calling on bombs to fall. Considering the fate of Iraq under bombings, one could understand anger at such rallies.

    “My point about Poland and movements of people is that it was not punitive, it was required by military necessity for self-defence purposes. Naturally, some Germans wanted to punish these people because some of them called on bombs to fall. Considering the fate of Germany under bombings, one could understand anger at such rallies.”

  44. Between Poland and the German army was something called an international border. Between the territory of the province of Kosovo and the captial of Yugoslavia and Serbia, Belgrade, there were and are no international borders. The Yugoslav army fought to protect its own borders as is its legal right and indeed, its obligation. Not only was Kosovo an integral part of Yugoslavia, it was and is an integral part of Serbia.

    At Nurenberg, the major principle set out was that the greatest crime by the Nazis was that of aggression. This makes sense as if you establish the principle of say, atrocities, the Germans could say “What about Dresden”, “What about Katyn”, and the Japanese can say “What about Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Tokyo”, and down the line, the Germans could mention the wholesale expulsions from Prussia and other German lands to make way for an expanded Poland.

    What’s interesting by the way about the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was that it specifically prohibited any prosecutions for aggression. The cardinal sin according to the Nurenberg process became legalised and accepted by the ICTY. It shows that the powers who created the ICTY planned to use it as an instrument of aggression along with military aggression. Its founders have admitted to it themselves.

    The Rwanda tribunal is equally guilty in this regard. Paul Kagame is responsible for war atrocities as a Ugandan rebel commander, two presidential assassinations, one invasion of Rwanda from Uganda, two invasions of the Congo from Rwanda, the deaths of 3 million people and the looting of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of minerals, and yet the Rwanda Tribunal knows that it cannot do a thing without his cooperation, just as the ICTY knows that NATO is its police and is above its law.

    By the way, 800,000 Iraqis have fled “liberated” Iraq, most of them having gone to Syria. This is more than those “Kosovars” yet their displacement is seen as a necessary part of the war. “You can’t make omelets without breaking eggs”, and of course “War is Hell” is always said when the US and its allies displace people but if people flee before an army of an Official Enemy, how they sing a different tune.

  45. Between Poland and the German army was something called an international border. Between the territory of the province of Kosovo and the captial of Yugoslavia and Serbia, Belgrade, there were and are no international borders.

    So it’s all right if you do it to your own. That’s what they used to say about Ronnie Kray. Article 51 of the UN Charter states that war is legitimate in self-defence – it doesn’t strike out the Hague Regulations on Land Warfare, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Geneva Conventions, the Genocide Convention, the Convention against Torture, the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, the Bio&Toxin Convention, the Chem Convention etc.

    The Yugoslav army fought to protect its own borders as is its legal right and indeed, its obligation. Not only was Kosovo an integral part of Yugoslavia, it was and is an integral part of Serbia. Indeed it is. So it’s OK if you can get results, right?

    At Nurenberg, the major principle set out was that the greatest crime by the Nazis was that of aggression. This makes sense as if you establish the principle of say, atrocities, the Germans could say “What about Dresden”, “What about Katyn”, and the Japanese can say “What about Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Tokyo”, and down the line, the Germans could mention the wholesale expulsions from Prussia and other German lands to make way for an expanded Poland. At Nuremberg, and after, people were indeed prosecuted for the crimes of genocide, enslavement, mass murder under the criminal law of Germany, not to mention breaches of the laws of war – like General Alexander Löhr of the 4th Air Fleet, executed in Belgrade for bombing that city. Yes, “atrocities” were indeed prosecuted.

    What’s interesting by the way about the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was that it specifically prohibited any prosecutions for aggression. The cardinal sin according to the Nurenberg process became legalised and accepted by the ICTY. It shows that the powers who created the ICTY planned to use it as an instrument of aggression along with military aggression.

    The crime of aggression in international law, as defined at Nuremburg, is an international crime in that it can only be committed by a state against another state, and only the supreme political leadership of that state can have individual responsibility. As I’m sure you’re aware, there is no international border between Belgrade and Kosovo.

    Its founders have admitted to it themselves.

    Really? When? Who? To whom? Links!

    By the way, 800,000 Iraqis have fled “liberated” Iraq, most of them having gone to Syria. This is more than those “Kosovars” yet their displacement is seen as a necessary part of the war. “You can’t make omelets without breaking eggs”, and of course “War is Hell” is always said when the US and its allies displace people but if people flee before an army of an Official Enemy, how they sing a different tune.

    Ah. The KLA lets off a bomb in Kosovo, you invade, the civilian population run like hell, it’s the KLA’s fault. The Americans invade Iraq, the New-Old Iraqi Army lets off several bombs a day in Baghdad, the civilian population run like hell, it’s the Americans’ fault. Clearly, the NOIA are legitimate resistants, the KLA are evil Islamist terrorists. Rugova=Evil, Zarqawi=Good. The US Army is an evil occupier, the JNA in Kosovo was a liberator. And presumably, the Iraqi government, which seems to me to be responsible for a lot of people fleeing Iraq, can’t be an eeevil foreign occupier because it’s, well, Iraqi.

    Whatever. What remains is the fact that the dead are equally dead, whoever killed them and for whatever bullshit ideology, and they don’t come back.

  46. Between Poland and the German army was something called an international border. Between the territory of the province of Kosovo and the captial of Yugoslavia and Serbia, Belgrade, there were and are no international borders. The Yugoslav army fought to protect its own borders as is its legal right and indeed, its obligation. Not only was Kosovo an integral part of Yugoslavia, it was and is an integral part of Serbia.

    Ah. So, leaving aside the whole question of whether or not Serbia was doing good things in Kosovo as irrelevant, you’re claiming that anything that goes inside a country’s sovereign borders should remain inside that state’s frontiers, that no misgovernment should prompt foreign intervention.

    It’s mildly hypocritical for a partisan of Serbia to claim this, considering that Serbia became an independent state in the first place only after foreign-sponsored mediation led to the recognition of a Serbian state founded by insurgents. Would you have favoured, if you were an Ottoman, the expulsion and/or massacre of the Serbian population? Alas, we can deduce that answer.

    You’re not really interested in any progressive vision of the future, are you? You’re just interested in maintaining the right of the state to abuse the people it doesn’t like.

    By the way, 800,000 Iraqis have fled “liberated” Iraq, most of them having gone to Syria. This is more than those “Kosovars” yet their displacement is seen as a necessary part of the war.

    Seen by who? I certainly haven’t said anything of the kind. Why are you bringing up a completely unrelated issue?

  47. Hm, a week old and coming up on 50 posts. Time to start another thread, I think.

    Just a couple of points.

    First it was “a quick campaign by Yugoslavian forces to clear the KLA out of strategic areas.” Then, when it was pointed out that this was nonsense, immediate fallback: “If the way to clear the KLA out was to clear… population during the war, then it was a legitimate act of self-defence.”

    Ah, the classic Balkan nationalist pattern of argument. Start with “nothing bad happened” and then flip to “they deserved it”. Boring and predictable, but by now so familiar as to almost be comforting.

    Anyway. If you’re cool with ethnic cleansing of the Albanians because they were the sea the KLA swam in, then you must support the ethnic cleansing of Serbs out of Krajina just a few years earlier. After all, they were a clear threat to the Croat state — even more so than the KLA to Serbia. The Serbs of Krajina had already set up their own state and expelled the Croats! So, obviously Zagreb was completely within its rights.

    “My point about Kosovo and movements of people is that it was not punitive, it was required by military necessity for self-defence purposes.”

    It’s not clear how many Albanians were killed by Operation Horseshoe, but a low-end estimate is “at least a couple of thousand”. The Albanians claim 10,000, but this is clearly much too high. On the other hand, there are about 2,200 people confirmed missing, and that number is probably low. Certainly hundreds of people were massacred and then put into freezer trucks to be dumped in the Danube or incinerated.

    “The KLA, for instance, moved large numbers of people. Others escaped the bombs. This situation was the result of NATO’s decision to drop bombs and nothing else.”

    Man, you’ll believe anything, won’t you.

    The KLA didn’t “move large numbers of people”. They had no reason to move anyone, and anyhow they were busy fighting for their lives.

    No Albanians left to escape the NATO bombs. As in, none, zero. I’ve talked to plenty of Albanians, and they all said the same thing: they had faith in NATO’s aim, and wanted to stay. Some said they wanted to stay and watch the Serbs get pounded; others said they didn’t want to leave their homes to be looted. But nobody left voluntarily. Everybody who fled, did so for fear of JNA and the Serb police — not NATO.

    Minor historical note: the Post Office in Pristina was hit by a cruise missile quite early in the bombing campaign — second or third day IMS. The missile completely destroyed the Post Office but didn’t touch anything around it. Now, NATO was not always this accurate (ask a staffer at the Chinese Embassy, if you can find one who survived), but in this case the strike was very surgical — and several hundred thousand Albanians saw it happen.

    Seven years later, they still remember it vividly. It was tremendously heartening for them, because the Post Office had been a government headquarters and a Serb stronghold — a place the Albanians feared and avoided. Seeing it simply removed like that was a huge boost to civilian Albanian morale.

    But it’s still an article of Serb nationalist faith: Albanians fled to escape the NATO bombs.

    Amazing.

    Doug M.

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