June 23, 2008

The Road to Kosovo, Part I

Destroyed House and Fence Bosnia.jpg

A gigantic poster of genocidal Bosnian Serb war criminal Radovan Karadzic hung on the outside wall of a hideous communist-style apartment block.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at June 23, 2008 2:26 AM
Comments
Before all the fun starts! Hrvatksa does sound an awful lot like a cheese from Denmark but short a few vowels.
Posted by: Pat Patterson at June 23, 2008 5:08 am
Nice road story. I liked old Belgrade as well, as I visited it last month, and found the new city rather attractive, for its long living socialist style.
But have an objection though: You can exchange dinars outside Serbia. At least, I did so in Greece. Plus, I thing you were a bit biased against Serbs. At least it seemed so, especially as you described the story of the Scruffy Guy.
In any case, I wish you a good trip.
Posted by: ch.ntzani at June 23, 2008 6:33 am
Wow. I have been to Dubrovnik both before and after the war and just love the city and it's people.
I had forgotten how beautiful Bosnia is, from what little I saw of it.
Thanks for the pictures.
Posted by: Marc at June 23, 2008 8:01 am
'Hrvat' (a Croatian, who lives in Hrvatska) is also the origin of the word Cravat, for a part of the military uniform that some of them wore in a 19th century western European army whose nationality I forget.
Posted by: Insufficiently Sensitive at June 23, 2008 8:20 am
What a beautiful place!
It sounds like it might be a good idea to rent a local car (with local and appropriate license plates) every time you go to an area that's hostile to the neighboring ethnic and/or political group. But the question is, how often would you have to rent a new car?
About "Come Back Alive" - that sounds like a handy source for people who travel to interesting and weird places. Did you find their information was generally accurate?
Posted by: maryatexitzero at June 23, 2008 10:40 am
Mary: About
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 23, 2008 10:45 am
No, what is posted about Albania is now out of the date.
I know, but I was just wondering if you found that other information about other places was generally accurate.
Even if it's not completely accurate, I've got to give them credit for a great title. Really to-the-point.
Posted by: maryatexitzero at June 23, 2008 11:03 am
Mary: I was just wondering if you found that other information about other places was generally accurate.
Hmm, I don't know, I'll have to look.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 23, 2008 11:06 am
The Road to Kosovo Part 1 was both smug and insulting to Serbian people. It appears by your own words that you went through Serbian with preconceived ideas. Did you ever think to ask someone to translate what the "Scruffy Guy" was saying instead of pretending your were clairvoyant?
You cleverly or intentionally ignore the fact that today, June 23rd, 2008, there are 1.2 million Serbian refugees in Belgrade from Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. That represents twice the combined number of Croat, Muslim and Albanian refugees. Over 95% of these Serbian refugees have been denied a right to return to their homes.
Did it ever occur to you that some of those bombed-out houses in Bosnia once belonged to some of these Serbian refugees? Apparently you were willing to be hoodwinked into believing that every destroyed house you saw was a Muslim property? A mosque in a village does not automatically mean the village is Muslim, there were many villages throughout Serbia and Bosnia with mosque, churches and even Jewish synagogues.
Bosnia and Serbia had 8 distinct ethnic populations speaking 11 languages. Bosnia and Serbia were the most multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious spots on earth. Since World War I Serbs have become a minority in their own country. Apparently you did not read Rebecca West very thoroughly? After the Holocaust in the Balkans in which 1.5 million Serbs, 80,000 Roma and 60,000 Jews were liquidated the Serbs ranked in 4th place in government positions under 50 years of communism.
When the war was declared on Croatia in 1991, Milosevich was not even in office. Prime Minister Markovic, a Croatian, was the one who ordered Serbian troops to attack Croatia. He then resigned and fled to Croatia knowing full well what he had unleashed.
Your remarks about Dubrovnik were astonishingly arrogant and somewhat ignorant. It is a well known fact the Croats burned old auto tires throughout the walled city and photographed Dubrovnik with telephoto lenses to compress the range. The world was lied into believing that Dubrovnik was burning...it was only smoking. Imagine you actually believe that in the middle of a war with the Serbs when food and medicine could not get into Dubrovnik that marble, mortar and roofing tiles were getting in and that the Croats were able to match 15th century construction so perfectly that you could not detect the damage done? Is there no end to your self-serving ignorance?
Dr. Peter Maher, a linguistic professor from Chicago went to Dubrovnik 6 weeks after its apparent destruction. Being a Roman Catholic they did not bar his entry. He reported on Chicago Pubic Television that Dubrovnik was "barely scratched" and that the only damage done was to the home of the Serbian priest, the Serbian church, and the Serbian Icon museum that was blown up from within.
I also note that not a single word was mentioned in your travel log that 91 Serbian churches were destroyed in Croatia in 1991, that 285 Serbian churches were destroyed in Bosnia from 1992-95 or that since the end of the war in Kosovo 170 ancient Serbian churches, many listed with UNESCO as World Treasures have been razed right under the noses of 17,000 NATO troops. There were entire Serbian villages razed in this war and during the bombing in which more than 170 Serbian schools were destroyed, dozens of Serbian hospitals and nursing homes were bombed and $60 billion in infrastructure damage was done to Serbia, yet you did not see any of this evidence?
Spinning a tale to imply that the Serbs are to blame for all of the ills in the Balkans was bigoted at best, and racists to the core.
Shame on you for having such a closed mind. I suggest the old adage: "There is none so blind as those who refuse to see."
William Dorich
Los Angeles
The writer is the author of 5 books on Balkan history and music including the 1992 book, Kosovo.
Posted by: wdoric at June 23, 2008 11:42 am
One of the disadvantages of visiting Dubrovnik and Venice as a child is how long it to me to realize that the rest of the world would almost entirely fail to be that great.
Of course it also means that when you confront arrogant Californians who believe their collection of strip malls is the acme of civilization, you can shut them down with less effort than stepping on an ant. I used to think I did this public service of humiliating poseurs from the Bear state so easily because of living in Oregon.
Thanks for reminding me of the wonder of Dubrovnik and its salutary effects on personal development.
Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at June 23, 2008 11:46 am
--William Dorich
Los Angeles
--The writer is the author of 5 books on Balkan history and music including the 1992 book, Kosovo.
---After the Holocaust in the Balkans in which 1.5 million Serbs
an OBVIOUS lie as only about 1 Million Yugoslavs were killed in WWII, but what's new. Bill Dorich makign things up. How many of those Jews were killed by ZBOR, Serbian State Guard or by the Chetniks?
The writer wrote 5 books to blame everyone but the Serbs.
Posted by: nameless-fool at June 23, 2008 11:54 am
William Doric: the author of 5 books on Balkan history and music including the 1992 book, Kosovo.
You claim to have written five books, but your name only gets 86 hits on Google and zero on Amazon.com. Have you actually published any books, or do you just type them? How about a single article in a reputable publication?
Either clarify your remarks in your bullshit bio or you will not be welcome to post comments on my Web site. Lots of people lie about who they are on the Internet, but you aren't welcome to do so here if I catch you.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 23, 2008 12:10 pm
William Doric: I also note that not a single word was mentioned in your travel log that 91 Serbian churches were destroyed in Croatia in 1991, that 285 Serbian churches were destroyed in Bosnia from 1992-95 or that since the end of the war in Kosovo 170 ancient Serbian churches, many listed with UNESCO as World Treasures have been razed right under the noses of 17,000 NATO troops.
You know what, buddy? There are lots of things I didn't write about in this piece. I also did not write about the massacres and exterminations campaign at Srebenica and Vukovar. I could have, but it doesn't mean I'm "pro-Serb" for neglecting to mention these particularly barbaric war crimes from your side.
This is a travel article.
You aren't my editor. You will never be my editor. Write your own goddamn blog. This one is mine.
You're done here. I'm tired of you and your bullshit already.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 23, 2008 12:15 pm
It's always nice for someone to come in and make my rude comments about Californians look sedate by way of comparison.
Sorry you had to clean out the trash again, Michael.
Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at June 23, 2008 12:20 pm
Reading your latest makes me wish I'd had two or four extra days around Dubrovnik, since then I would have gone to Mostar and Sarajevo. Also, although you said, "More tourists poked around Dubrovnik than I had seen in Sarajevo or Belgrade," that really doesn't do the situation justice. In the summer, it's packed, even at the decidedly nondescript beach of which the sign was the most entertaining aspect.
The European low-fare airlines, combined with the still-inexpensive private rooms, make it so that an extended weekend for a German or a Londoner in Croatia is even more financially feasible than an extended weekend for a Oregonian in Vancouver or a Missourian in New Orleans.
(I've posted the best of my 2007 Croatian trip - Zagreb, Plitvice, Split, and Dubrovnik - at slide.com for anyone curious to see what things would have looked like had Michael had come to Dubrovnik from the north rather than the east.)
Posted by: calbear at June 23, 2008 12:26 pm
---You cleverly or intentionally ignore the fact that today, June 23rd, 2008, there are 1.2 million Serbian refugees in Belgrade from Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo.
and another lie by William "Serbs were setup /forced to kill, destroy and rape" Dorich:
First. Serbs have 49% of the territory with 32% or so of population and every trace of Bosniak identity from schools to houses to mosques has been wiped out in Republika Sprska.
They can't even place flowers at cemeteries as Arkan wannabes threaten them. So who is stopping whom in Bosnia if Serbs were really throw out? Seems like there were enough Muslim land for those angels.
In Kosova: There were only about 200,000 Serbs or 10%, give or take a few. Now they are about 130,000 there between Mitrovica and the "concentration camps" so do the math.
In Croatia: How many Serbs were in Krajina to begin with? Less than 300,000 and I am being generous.
Lastly, Serb sources disagree with you:
"International Refugee Day is being marked today, with Serbia home to some 100,000 refugees from Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia, the highest figure in Europe.
There are about 75 collective refugee centers in Serbia sheltering some 6,000 people, while the rest live in private accommodation or with family members.
The number of people with refugee status was 550,000 in 1996. With many receiving Serbian citizenship in the meantime, that figure has since fallen to about 100,000."
(Google a sentence to see the source)
Even in 1996, 12 years ago, the number was 6-700,000 less than you claimed. Now it's only 100,000 so how do you know 95% of them are being denied a right to return?
So Bill, did you pull the number out the books you bragged about and why should we trust anything else you say ?
Posted by: nameless-fool at June 23, 2008 12:27 pm
Patrick: Sorry you had to clean out the trash again, Michael.
Eh, it happens.
Arguing with Serbian Nationalists on the Internet is about as useful as arguing with Hezbollah partisans -- the key difference being that Serbian Nationalists killed a hell of a lot more people and actually provoked a military confrontation with the United States.
I will say that the overwhelming majority of Serbs I met in the real world are a lot more pleasant and reasonable than those who troll blogs.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 23, 2008 12:31 pm
Nameless-fool: So Bill, did you pull the number out the books you bragged about and why should we trust anything else you say ?
Don't bother. Bill is banned. I'm not letting this thread be hijacked by some asshole who lies about who he is and pulls numbers out of thin air. I have better things to do than sit here all day debunking his crap.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 23, 2008 12:35 pm
Bashing Los Angeles, the city or county, is perfectly acceptable. As a resident of Orange County I'd like to remind that most of us escaped from LA and sometimes view it as an alien growth.
Posted by: Pat Patterson at June 23, 2008 1:28 pm
"I have to say, I like your idea of a
Posted by: Joe at June 23, 2008 1:37 pm
I like Los Angeles a lot more than I used to. I hated it for most of my life, but my wife is from Southern California and I "get it" now after having visited the city with her for the past eight years.
You know what's the best treatment for a hatred of Los Angeles? A trip to Baghdad. Tijuana works, too, and it's a lot closer.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 23, 2008 1:38 pm
Good guess Michael. William Dorich and his wife own a self-publishing company. His parents or father was a Serb and the son is currently involved in a lawsuit against the Vatican claiming that the Holy See helped Croatian fascists escape from Yugoslavia in 1944-1945.
Posted by: Pat Patterson at June 23, 2008 1:45 pm
As a resident of Orange County I'd like to remind that most of us escaped from LA and sometimes view it as an alien growth.

That is an exceedingly (and seemingly unintentionally) ironic thing to say. Orange County's generically bad architecture has spread throughout the suburbs of this country like a real alien growth, one that isn't restricted to L.A. County. Now Orange County has plenty to recommend it, but so does Los Angeles; you just have to know where to look. There's a reason why L.A. is the location for so much of the television that's inspired envy of Americans by those living elsewhere. Orange County has The O.C. and Arrested Development, which represent the place pretty well.
Posted by: calbear at June 23, 2008 2:39 pm
Pat Patterson and Michael,
I've dealt with Californians who attempted to metastasize in other parts of the country. The one who tried to promote his cultural superiority in Savannah, Georgia was the worst of a bad lot. The core of the problem is ignoring the value of what's been accomplished where you are in favor of what is fashionable in LA at the moment.
The last time I was in LA even briefly it was in LAX, which I flew to from the marvels of PDX. The juxtaposition was intense.
Prior to that, I attended a convention at the Burbank Airport Hilton. Because I didn't have a car, there was no place to go. I threw a small room party and had to travel for miles to find a decent liquor store. Friends walked for more than a half hour to find the nearest restaurant through miserably inhospitable terrain.
I've lived in LA. I remember school being canceled because the air was too toxic to allow children out of their houses. Nobody forces me to live there, and I take care to arrange my life to avoid the possibility. There are good reasons to live in LA, but quality of life or superiority of culture are not any of them.
Because people from LA are prone to imagine that their choice of compromises are the natural laws of the universe, I feel compelled to provide them with alternative perspectives. In my experience, the only way Californians amend their arrogance is through an experience that engenders future humility.
Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at June 23, 2008 2:51 pm
Wow, what a nice fresh thread, one that will assuredly not end up with Limbic (or other Serbian nationalists) hijacking it and having the last word?? What a bright future lying ahead for this thread!
I had no idea that Dubrovnik was such hot shit. My family started traveling everywhere in Europe for work and pleasure only after I moved out of the house/country. What a shame!
They didn't report it to be so great, but then again, they are somewhat desensitized to European beauty--they mostly take it for granted. I want to visit Croatia someday soon, but as far as coastal scenery in the Balkans goes, the Ionian coast is just a level above that of the Adriatic.
Great article, Michael. It read like a nice novel, and I was pissed the narration ended so soon (especially since you were venturing into There-lie-dragons North-Albanian territory).
You know, that area you are just about to tell us next (well, not Shkoder, but the rest of the highlands) is almost just as mysterious and mythologized to us urban Albanians as it is to foreigners. Traveling up north is a taboo of sorts, one which I have vowed to break this year.
Everyone in Albania raves about the south, the valleys, the beaches; the Alps are the ghetto of Albania. The area is supposed to be breath-taking, and I plan to more than quadruple the amount of information and number of pictures available on the net on my next trip.
I am curious whether you drove inside the Rozafa castle while in Shkoder, but I guess I'll find out soon (probably not, since you only went for breakfast).
Posted by: medaura at June 23, 2008 3:31 pm
calbear-The OC, filmed in Manhattan, Redondo and Hermosa Beach. Arrested Development filmed in Culver City and Marina Del Rey. Both cancelled. We have Pablo Neutra and you have that carbuncle on Grand. Scratch a resident of OC and he'll regale you with smog stories, like Patrick's (and which I endured as well}, the total loss of blue collar jobs inside the city, monumental traffic jams and a tendency among the residents to riot and try to burn down the city every decade or so.
Most of us have been calling for a fortified zone using the San Gabriel River for years but reuniting families from those unfortunates still on the other side of the Orange Curtain is still popular with those who got out years ago.
Posted by: Pat Patterson at June 23, 2008 3:55 pm
I honestly am not familiar enough to speak authoritatively about parts of the country other than coastal California, and possibly Boston and Seattle. Los Angeles has a lot of culture; it
Posted by: calbear at June 23, 2008 4:03 pm
There are some parts of Los Angeles that were built before my grandmother was an adult. But not many.
Dubrovnik was culturally secure in its identity before Vasco de Gama learned to sail. (That Vasco de Gama learned to sail was a bad thing for Dubrovnik, but they didn't find out about it until the Galleon entered serial production.)
Los Angeles absorbs and abstracts culture to a much greater extent than it produces. It is possible that they can overcome this limitation in their identity, but the chances are not looking good. Their burn rate is furious, and the supply of cultural fuel is getting limited. Exacerbating this problem is an addiction to fashion that rivals the destructive worst of their addictions to psychoactive substances. The need to be in the now and the inability to create the interesting reality they so desperately crave causes some ludicrous extremes.
All I do to abuse California Cultural Imperialists is show the silliness of their contentions. A decade ago CCI was showing off his latest pair of CDI (Chick's Dig It) shoes. They were military issue pattern black oxfords, with slightly better leather than what is passed out at boot camp. This guy was wearing as the latest thing a pair of shoes that would have been readily identified as geek shoes twenty years previously. This happens all the time in LA because they have the cultural anchoring of jetsam.
Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at June 23, 2008 10:40 pm
What immigrant population? Wasn't California part of Mexico before it was part of the US? :)
Posted by: Lindsey at June 23, 2008 10:56 pm
> 86 hits on Google and zero on Amazon.com.
Here is a hit on Amazon.
http://www.amazon.com/Kosovo-William-Dorich/dp/0317050745
Posted by: Onslo at June 23, 2008 11:02 pm
Ok, not to hijack a thread or anything... but what Michael missed out on telling you about the early pit stop in Serbia was interesting to me...
I left Michael with the keys to the car and permission to drive around the block if need be. Meanwhile, I used him as a distraction to march a couple hundred dollars in cash into the local bank.
Once I walked based the armed guard into the bank office I felt like I had walked into a Swiss travel agency. It was an otherworldly switch from the rather Midwest feeling farm town (with just a hint of Mexico) that was the street outside.
Within these (bullet proof) glass doors a pretty blonde girl completed the task of changing my money with out even a hint of ripping me off. And I WAS aware that neither the Dakotas nor Kansas could have offered me a better banking experience.
Then I got back to the car and saw Michael smoking a cigarette and looking pissed off. I had no idea what he had just been through with the old drunk and no idea that he had not heard my directions to drive off if he got in trouble when I bailed from the car.
At any rate it was a rather slim taste of Serbia, but an experience that one could well predict for travelers on the major highway from Serbia's capitol into Croatia. Meanwhile my experience with a sliver of very Western seeming office workers was also probably indicative of that class selection.
The thing about this part of the world is that you can find east and west, high and low, safe and dangerous all mixed together, all suggestive of the nation as a whole. It leaves the tourist or other visitor wondering if you ever have stumbled upon the REAL Balkans or only just one absurd niche.
Posted by: sean at June 24, 2008 12:05 am
Sean: It leaves the tourist or other visitor wondering if you ever have stumbled upon the REAL Balkans or only just one absurd niche.
Yes, it's always like that when I blow through a place quickly. There is no getting around it.
The peril in writing about experiences like these is that perpetually outraged ethnic chauvenists like William above deliberately misinterpret everything on the page. (If this happened in Bosnia or Kosovo or Montenegro or Albania or Croatia I still would have written about it.) Oh well. It comes with the territory, and I can ban trolls with a single click of the mouse.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 24, 2008 12:15 am
Michael:Oh well. It comes with the territory, and I can ban trolls with a single click of the mouse.
Amen.
Below are just some snippets from the customer reviews of Mr.Dorich's book (keep a gag-bag handy):
1)
I thank you William Dorich for bringing your personal eye-witness testimony on the truth behind the conflict in Kosovo to the world. It IS a matter of attempted subjugation of the Serbian Orthodox by the Albanian Muslims.
2)
I don't recall when I purchased this magnificent 1992, William Dorich volume, published by the Kosovo Charity Fund and Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Alhambra, Ca. (interesting)
This book is an important reminder to would-be ambassadors of "good will"--like the misguided International Crisis Group--that recognizing an "independent" Kosovo will bring no "peace" to the Balkans, but only encouragement for a vastly expanded international jihad.
The only reason that the Balkans were ever a "powder keg" was their repression for hundreds of years by Ottoman Muslim invaders.
3)
Thank you kind sir for helping to educate us and show the the truth behind the new Jihad being waged in eastern europe.
...It is worse then the holocaust because the media now knows the truth about the cleansing of serbs but ignores it because the media is pro Muslim and hates christians, expecially christians who stand up for themselves
...and this book tells the truth, that one day we shall reclaim our ethnic land and force the foreign monster back to from whence he came.
4)
Everybody who still argues about such chauvinistic thesis as "illyrian descent of albanians","late settling of Slavs" and other hypothesis set by german nazional-socialistic historians(Gustaff Kossina),should contemplate the facts in this book
The theory that Slavs were indigenious to Balkan peninsula,is gaining more and more suport amoung certain scientist.The fact is that Serbians are idigenious people for at least several millenia-anthropologicaly-and language is second class category when ethnicity is in question-and it is more and more plausible that illyrians were actualy Slavs
Fact is that Illyrians inhabited entire Balkan,but there is not a single enclave of Albanians outside the south-western part of it.The truth is that Albanians have no ties with Illyrians-they call themselves Shiptars and are actually two peoples-Tosks and Ghegs.
That they are recent settlers in kosovo is proven by fact that in albania there is ratio Christian vs. Muslims 60:40,while in kosovo ratio is 2:98-because Turks collonised only Muslims.By reading this book,reader will get first-class knowledge about authochtonity of Serbs in kosovo and how this teritory was settled by Albanians only in last 300 years-and how their numerical predominance is for only last few decades.
This book proves that Kosovo was,is,and will be Serbian-by the virtue of historical logic-regardless of the fact that world is turned upside-down since march 24,1999-simply because of Serbs ancient mentality-not to put themselves volontarily to slavery-as many Eastern Europians gladly did.
errrr, so you get the drift. So Serbian ultra-nationalists troll blogs, and some of the more enlightened ones also write books.
How nice!
What makes me sick is that this little fascist was seemingly raised in California. You would think that not having to breathe in poison everyday in your isolated country whose media is controlled by its semi-fascist regime, would make one a happy lad.
I have noticed this of second-generation conservative Muslims in Canada, and I guess it goes for others as well: Distance from the old country can further radicalize people. Talk about poor integration.
Posted by: medaura at June 24, 2008 7:28 am
I support allowing the Republic of Srpska to join Servia for the same reason I support allowing Kosovo (excepting its Serb-majority provinces) to join Albania: Monoethnic states, or states with an overwhelming majority of one ethnic group, are more stable, unified and pleasant places to live. Why do you recommend forcing Bosniaks and Croats to live in the same country with their previous Serb tormentors? It is just a recipe for further strife and civil unrest.
Posted by: markus at June 24, 2008 8:45 am
==Why do you recommend forcing Bosniaks and Croats to live in the same country with their previous Serb tormentors? It is just a recipe for further strife and civil unrest.
Marcus,
the idea is that as economy picks up and the new generation gets educated people will start living with each. And that EU /US will keep an eye for future Slobodans. But I agree. Letting people live with their own might be best in these times, at least it solves that problem, but then:
--Bosniaks deserve a better split of what's left since Croatia has Croats living in the Bosniak half (Now Serbs alone, thanks to Mladic and Karadzic tactics has half).
--A chunk of Vojvodina would have to go with the Hungarians inside.
--Montenegro would get Decani (and some near the border monasteries in Kosovo) in return for Ulcinj (100% Albanian), Plave, Guci that were given to Montengro in 1912-18. Montengro would gain one more tourism spots and the Serbs anyway.
--Kosova would get Presheva and 100% Alb cities near the Serb border in return for Serbs getting the north, free and clear.
--FYROM seems like a loser since it would have to be split, but they are already split. Albanians don't care about "Alexander the Great" or the Macedonian name. In return, they will have a more or less homogenous nation, avoid a potential uprising like in 2001 if things (rights as well as $$) do not improve, and some EU help.
Put Kosova and Fyrom Albanians in one confederate which will join Albania in 10-15 year anyway and there you have it. Peace. Of course every nation will start to grumble and want more, but it can be done if the powers just stay firm. They can even mention it un-offically and guage its interest. Serbia's Kosovo is replaced with what will be left of Republika Sprska and Northern Mitrovica.
Lastly, arm everyone equally with old US /EU weapons (they are still very good for the Balkans;-)) and peace is guaranteed. Serbia's kryptonite is well armed men, and they started the 4 wars only because they had full control of the Yugoslav army, while the rest were stuck with looted chinese AK-47s. Despite the bravado, they don't well without partners doing their bidding if the other side is armed, plus they will have Croatia and Albania right there.
Posted by: nameless-fool at June 24, 2008 9:27 am
Medaura,
Good Lord. Thanks for posting that.
You know, I've thought Serbian Nationalist propaganda was as bad as that of Hamas and Hezbollah, but actually I think it is worse. Serbian writer Filip David was absolutely right when he said it is a totalitarian ideology. It amazes me that anyone in the United States would believe that crap.
If it were true I'd be writing the same thing. I'm pretty sure that just about everyone who has followed my work over the years can see that.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 24, 2008 9:40 am
Markus: Why do you recommend forcing Bosniaks and Croats to live in the same country with their previous Serb tormentors? It is just a recipe for further strife and civil unrest.
Well, I almost agree with you. The only trouble is that most of the Republica Srpska is territory won by war and ethnic cleansing only. Kosovo isn't like that. Kosovo had a 90 percent ethnic majority without war and ethnic cleansing and genocide, so it's a much cleaner break. See the maps I published here.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 24, 2008 9:44 am
Monoethnic states, or states with an overwhelming majority of one ethnic group, are more stable, unified and pleasant places to live
Are Canada, the USA, Australia, Brazil and most of the western hemisphere unpleasant places to live? I didn't know that.
Many people from the old world believe that monoethnic states are more stable and pleasant, and they've waged many wars and killed millions of people to prove it, but in the west, we've proved that this theory is wrong.
Still, people in the old world judge other people for what they are (or what they were born as) not what they do, and they're still alarmingly willing to kill and maim in the name of ethnic 'purity'. It's not clear if anything will change that.
Posted by: maryatexitzero at June 24, 2008 11:04 am
"Many people from the old world believe that monoethnic states are more stable and pleasant, and they've waged many wars and killed millions of people to prove it, but in the west, we've proved that this theory is wrong."
Like in Paris now?
I think Steyn is onto something when he distinguishes between multicultural and bicultural. A situation approaching the latter encourages bad rivalrous instincts.
Posted by: someone at June 24, 2008 11:56 am
Michael: You know, I've thought Serbian Nationalist propaganda was as bad as that of Hamas and Hezbollah, but actually I think it is worse. Serbian writer Filip David was absolutely right when he said it is a totalitarian ideology. It amazes me that anyone in the United States would believe that crap.
Hamas and Hezbollah cannot weave a thick web of bullshit around their 'cause' before the laser-bright spotlight of scrutiny pierces through it. They operate in a region of the world on which all eyes have been turned for a while now. Even with (I find) a largely crypto-sympathetic media on their side, they can't get away with their crap.
Serbian propaganda is more outrageous because it runs largely unchecked and unchallenged, therefore it 'sticks' better.
It is a totalitarian ideology that fills the void in many people's lives, curiously now, the lives of many second-generation poorly-assimilated immigrants in Western countries. When you can't grasp or relate to the new, you hold on to the old for dear life, and regress to a scary state of 'hard-coreness'.
I met a Serbian guy at university in Canada, who seemed to have just recently overcome (perhaps not even entirely) that mindset. When he told me of the many Serbian nationalist centers for the youth in an area as boring and docile as Kitchener, Ontario,... I knew the whole thing was screwed up.
Anyway, I have personally noticed that aside from the paleocon fascist variety in the US (an understandable allegiance), Serbian nationalists have managed to garner a lot of sympathy from flaming Jews (like Goran). I find it interesting and I don't know exactly why it is the case.
Part of it must be the culturally narcissistic and myopic tendency to see Palestinian terrorists in any remotely Muslim side of any conflict (they relate to what they don't know through what is familiar to them).
But part of it, I think is the offshoot of a tentative ideological coalition among fundamentalist Jews and Christians. These are the people who equate Western Civilization with Judeo-Christianity and who feel like they are on a holy war (counter-jihad) against Muslims everywhere. One of the Amazon customers of that sick book who was raving about it was (apparently) a Jew from Israel.
It takes all kinds...
If it weren't for people like you who are genuinely interested in the Balkans, travel there, and report what they see without any compulsive need to re-write history from any perspective, I think the Serbian propaganda machine would have succeeded in painting the entire conflict in Yugoslavia (especially against Bosniacs and Albanians) as a religious war.
Don't let the haters get you down Michael. It's not the first time some idiot comes around here to vent his irrational frustration at the fact that you didn't merely write another appendix in their make-belief history-cookbooks.
Cognitive dissonance is a bitch!
Posted by: medaura at June 24, 2008 12:23 pm
> Kosovo isn't like that. Kosovo had a 90 percent
> ethnic majority without war and ethnic cleansing
> and genocide
First Kosovo is a 100% christian country and next its a 90% muslim country. I call that conquest and genocide.
Posted by: Onslo at June 24, 2008 12:34 pm
> Serbian propaganda is more outrageous because
> it runs largely unchecked and unchallenged,
> therefore it 'sticks' better.
Banning people is not a way to check their ideas.
Yet you applaud banning.
Posted by: Onslo at June 24, 2008 12:41 pm
> Part of it must be the culturally narcissistic
> and myopic tendency to see Palestinian terrorists
> in any remotely Muslim side of any conflict
Notice that 1,500 al-Qaida fought against the Serbs.
(The Taliban spring offensive of 2006 was maybe 800 Taliban).
http://www.southeasteurope.org/subpage.php?sub_site=2&id=17400&head=if&site=2
Posted by: Onslo at June 24, 2008 12:51 pm
First Kosovo is a 100% christian country and next its a 90% muslim country. I call that conquest and genocide.

I'm not an expert, so please educate me on when Kosovo was 100% Christian. If the answer is what I think, why should something that happened centuries ago be reason to have two wrongs "making a right"? 2000 years ago, there were no Christians there and, if I'm not mistaken, no Turks or Slavs. Everyone living there is a "recent migrant," so we'd better get used to it.
Posted by: calbear at June 24, 2008 12:52 pm
Onslo: Banning people is not a way to check their ideas. Yet you applaud banning.
First of all, I did not applaud anything.
Banning is not a way to 'check' anyone's ideas. "Their" ideas can be checked independently. Banning is one (out of a few) sensible way to react to "their" insane ideas, which have a tendency to degenerate threads into bullshitfests.
I don't understand why people like you come and take a dump on other bloggers' websites. Start your own, where you can write all the make-belief reports of 'genocide' that you wish, to your heart's content!
No one's stopping you.
Posted by: medaura at June 24, 2008 12:54 pm
Notice that 1,500 al-Qaida fought against the Serbs.

You know whom bin Laden originally fought against? The Soviets. Next he wanted to fight Saddam Hussein. The enemy of one's enemy is not necessarily one's friend, whether it's al-Qaida and us, al-Qaida and Balkan Muslims, or Serbia and us.
By the way, the link you give does not back up your claim. The "1,500 people" are foreigners who fought on Bosnia's side in the early 90s, not necessarily al-Qaida, which likely didn't have that many members back then. There are several circumstantial links to al-Qaida from individuals and organizations mentioned, but even these unproven links total in the single digits, not 1,500.
Nice try though. I can see why 24 likes Serbians to play bad guys when they need to give Islamists a break.
Posted by: calbear at June 24, 2008 1:01 pm
Onslo: First Kosovo is a 100% christian country and next its a 90% muslim country. I call that conquest and genocide.
Kosovo was Christian before the Ottoman Empire expanded into Europe. The conquest there was done by Turks, not by Albanians. The Albanians are those who were conquered.
The Albanian and Kosovo flag today is the symbol of Skanderberg's Catholic anti-Turkish resistance.
I don't mind explaining these things to readers who know little about the history of the region, but you need to tone down the attitude or I'm throwing you out.
Banning people is not a way to check their ideas.
My Web site will not be used as a platform to promote racism, fascism, or terrorism. Engaging in any of these behaviors is a banning offense. I will also throw someone out for being an asshole, and I don't give a damn whether you approve of this policy or not. There is only so much crap I'm willing to put up with on my own Web site. Complain one more time and you're done here.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 24, 2008 1:15 pm
calbear: I can see why 24 likes Serbians to play bad guys when they need to give Islamists a break.
That is hilarious.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 24, 2008 1:17 pm
Damn, Michael.
Limbic wouldn't have lasted beyond the first few comments under your new zero-tolerance-for-bullshit attitude. Seriously, you know you must be doing something right when you attract the rage of so many crazies.
The propagandists are evangelizers of their doctrine. When/if engaged, they have a compulsive need to have the last word, which is why it's smart to keep their comments under control to begin with, before the thread turns batshit crazy.
Posted by: medaura at June 24, 2008 1:31 pm
Michael,
you probably know better than me when and how Kosovo came to have so many Albanians and so few Serbians. My understanding is that there was hatred and injustice between the two peoples -- you might even call it low-level civil war -- for years upon years, prior to 1999. No matter how things got that way, once both sides were big and powerful enough to really cause intractable problems with one another, they should have been separated, which is finally what is happening now. I don't understand why foreign policy elites in particular cling to the idea that ethnic groups in a conflict-ridden region or country, utterly incompatible with each other and killing each other, must be made to live together, particular if one of the conflicting sides can be shown to have been the bigger aggressor. Who wants to live with a bully?
Mary -- yes, by and large the less ethnically and racially diverse a place is, the more pleasant of place it is to live in. Not all of Canada, United States, and Brazil are diverse, but the parts that ARE, tend to be the unsafe and unpleasant places to live. This is perhaps not so much the case if one is rich, and can enjoy the benefits of diversity (interesting restaurants, cheap menial labor, etc.), while being relatively free to ignore the downsides (high taxes, unsafe neighborhoods, public schools where no one can learn).
There has recently been a lot of literature on this. The sociologist Robert Putnam (author of "Bowling Alone") did an intensive study and found that the more ethnically and racially diverse a metro area is, the lower the quality of life is, as are the levels of other positive factors such as social trust, community and civic involvement, being pleased with local services, etc. There was a good article on his findings (which upset him so much that he refused to release the data for several years) in the City Journal.
And there is another very interesting article by Hanna Rosin in the current issue of the Atlantic, entitled "The Murder Mystery", showing how the great liberal plan to eliminate poverty in the 1990's by tearing down the huge inner city public housing complexes and giving the residents Section 8 vouchers, with which they largely moved into older suburbs succeeded in diversifying those suburbs and bringing in the whole host of social ills associated with ghetto life.
Also, see: Turks in Germany, Algerians in France, Pakistanis in England, Somalis in Finland, Syrians in Lebanon, etc. Good fences make good neighbors.
Posted by: markus at June 24, 2008 1:34 pm
yes, by and large the less ethnically and racially diverse a place is, the more pleasant of place it is to live in. Not all of Canada, United States, and Brazil are diverse, but the parts that ARE, tend to be the unsafe and unpleasant places to live.
So, we should try to live only among people who look like us, and avoid funny looking foreigners with their weird customs and smelly food? Because life is just so much more pleasant that way? This really doesn't sound like progress.
It's also not true. Yes, there are a few new studies 'proving' that people are happier when they avoid anyone who is different from themselves, but there are many studies proving that the mingling of culture and races is good for a society. There are millions of people living in the west who prove that it's true every day. I live in an ethnically diverse city, and I love it.
I've lived in Europe, and I was shocked by the racism there. Germans in Germany are biased against Italians - they're definitely not tolerant of blacks, Hindus, Muslims, Hispanics or the French. German Americans, though, behave pretty much the same way other Americans do.
In America, we integrate newcomers into the general society. Everyone has a chance to be an American. In Europe, newcomers are isolated. Muslims, Italians, Germans, Americans and Hindus are allowed to move to France, but they can never really be 'French'. You don't need a study to see whether immigrant groups in Europe are more alienated, violent and angry than immigrants in America.
You also don't need a sociological study to see the effect that ethnic-based hatreds have had on world history.
We should also acknowledge that social science studies are not, in any way, scientific. Our knowledge about human behavior is still in the dark ages stage. We can't even figure out why one person reacts differently to depression medication than another. If we can't figure out why individuals behave the way they do, forget about trying to scientifically understand the interworkings of millions of individuals in a society through sociological polls and 'research'.
Posted by: maryatexitzero at June 24, 2008 2:29 pm
Nice travel post, like always. I believe in traveling with my kids so my 14-year-old daughter saw Dubrovnik with us. The concerts in the square in front of the church are nice. A tour guide showed us where newborns could be deposited by the mother so the church would rear them. It was a revolving panel so the person inside would not see who was leaving the infant. Beautiful place but they haven't forgiven the Serbs. I also took a picture of that map of the damage just inside the gate.
About the Albanians, they were the original residents who were pushed west and south by the Slavs as they invaded around 500 AD. I have a nice history of the Byzantine Empire with the story. Also Black Lamb and Grey Falcon is indispensable to understand the place. A surgeon friend of mine was asked by a Serb doctor to help him find a job. This was about 1970. He asked around and found the VA hospital in West LA was hiring. He told the Serb doc (I think American citizen by then) about it and suggested he go over for an interview. A few weeks later, he saw the fellow and asked him how it went. The guy replied. "I didn't even talk to him !"
"Why", he asked. The Serb-American replied "He was a Grick !" Meaning of course, Greek.
Serbs are haters; even after they've been here for 20 years.
Posted by: Mike K at June 24, 2008 3:11 pm
Mary,
I'm against ethnic based hatred too. And I think the best way to minimize such conflict is to give each group of people there own little (or big) slice of territory, where they can live and develop without being lorded over by a bigger group, and where they lack the opportunity to lord over others. Even in our great cosmopolitan cities, you generally have neighborhoods that are ethnic or minority enclaves, black or gay or Italian or Irish or whatnot. Yes, people feel safer amongst their own kind.
BTW, I hope you can admit that Israel is an aggressively ethnonationalist state, down to and including separate schools for Israeli Arabs, limitations on where they can live, and whom they can marry. I also think that if the Israeli Arab demographic continues to increase, up to a point at which they can politically dominate Israeli politics, perhaps in coalition with leftist parties, there would be serious talk across the Israeli political spectrum about redrawing boundaries to exclude some Arab citizens. I would support consideration of such changes, in the interest of civil peace and stability. Would you?
Posted by: markus at June 24, 2008 3:28 pm
Markus and Mary, I think you're talking past each other.
Of course I agree with Mary that multi-ethnic societies like the U.S. are wonderful places when it works out, and it seems Markus does too. But when two groups live right on top of each other and at least one seethes with violent hatred, it is better if they are separated. Partitioning countries is a nasty business, but it's better than genocide. The only thing worse is partition and genocide together, which is what happened in the Republica Srpska.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 24, 2008 3:37 pm
Michael,
Did you check with DPU and get a license to call people fascists? Apparently he's regulating that now.
Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at June 24, 2008 4:34 pm
Patrick,
My "fascist" license in this context comes from Robert D. Kaplan who wrote the following:
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 24, 2008 4:49 pm
And if Milosevic's totalitarian Serbian Nationalism doesn't match fascism in every last detail, I don't really care. The point stands. Hurling "fascist" at a genocidal warmonger really isn't like using it just against political opponents whom I do not like.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 24, 2008 4:51 pm
Michael, please keep tossing out the comment trash -- it makes your comments so much more readable than elsewhere.
It's your fantastic articles which attract the readers! and commenters.
(Consider writing Cherna Gora so as to help pronounce it better, Č or č is like with an h, as is
Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at June 24, 2008 7:36 pm
"My Web site will not be used as a platform to promote racism, fascism, or terrorism" the author said some time ago but he forgot to add that his website also will not be used to promote different ideas then his own, at least not more then once.
I read this post and all the comments carefully. It was really interesting to see Balkan from authors perspective. I especially liked the scene at the car mechanic, saying "Hi" in oppose to BG plates which might have gotten him into trouble.
I'm not surprised by the slightly biased stance of the author when talking about Serbs (especially being that this point of view is generally excepted nowadays, mostly in the western world) but, in order to fit the stereotype, he would have to be rather tolerant to other ideas, which, if are different then his own are called "insane".
To promote his own ideas i think that the author ought to be more tolerant of other people's opinions. This is based on the comments, the post it self was very interesting, easy stile, very nice and pretty objective unlike the comments.
Posted by: Rastko at June 25, 2008 3:56 am
Partitioning countries is a nasty business, but it's better than genocide.
That's true, and we may wind up doing a lot of partitioning. According to this essay be Jerry Muller, The Enduring Power of Ethnic Nationalism, in the old world, racism is just a way of life:
Projecting their own experience onto the rest of the world, Americans generally belittle the role of ethnic nationalism in politics. After all, in the United States people of varying ethnic origins live cheek by jowl in relative peace. Within two or three generations of immigration, their ethnic identities are attenuated by cultural assimilation and intermarriage. Surely, things cannot be so different elsewhere.
Americans also find ethnonationalism discomfiting both intellectually and morally. Social scientists go to great lengths to demonstrate that it is a product not of nature but of culture, often deliberately constructed. And ethicists scorn value systems based on narrow group identities rather than cosmopolitanism.
But none of this will make ethnonationalism go away. Immigrants to the United States usually arrive with a willingness to fit into their new country and reshape their identities accordingly. But for those who remain behind in lands where their ancestors have lived for generations, if not centuries, political identities often take ethnic form, producing competing communal claims to political power. The creation of a peaceful regional order of nation-states has usually been the product of a violent process of ethnic separation. In areas where that separation has not yet occurred, politics is apt to remain ugly....
..Far from having been superannuated in 1945, in many respects ethnonationalism was at its apogee in the years immediately after World War II. European stability during the Cold War era was in fact due partly to the widespread fulfillment of the ethnonationalist project. And since the end of the Cold War, ethnonationalism has continued to reshape European borders...
According to Muller, people in Europe are just as racist (or ethnonationalist) as the people in the Balkans. Europe only seems more civilized now because their ethnic cleansing project was so successful. However, if you get a European talking about large groups of Jews or Muslims living in their country, the old hatreds come pouring out.
Americans and other immigrant-settled nations, like Canada, Brazil, Australia call this racism. In Europe and in much of the Middle East, they call it life.
There are some throwback ethnonationalists in America - they usually settle in the extremes of left and right. Many are too intelligent to openly criticize immigrant nations for mingling ethnic groups, so they condemn us for our 'imperialism', and our efforts to "lord over" people who just want to live in small, self-governed pure states, with their own kind.
Ethnonationalism explains why the Middle East is likely to be a problem for a very long time, and why Europeans sympathize with Palestinian and other Arab efforts to ethnically cleanse the Middle East. It also explains why people like Pat Buchanan and Noam Chomsky agree about so many things.
Posted by: maryatexitzero at June 25, 2008 8:05 am
"
Posted by: Fat Man at June 25, 2008 9:24 am
Fat Man:
Actually, it was named Alexandria by the Greeks. Shkodra is just the mangled version that is left after a few changes in local language. The same can be said of places like Iskander and Kandahar.
Actually, with all due respect, that happens to be bullshit. Unlike the Albanian cities of Durres (Epidamnus) or Fier(Apollonia), Shkodra was never at any point a Hellenic colony. It was an Illyrian settlement all the way from the beginning (around the 4th century B.C) until it was conquered by the Romans.
I had no idea that Greeks made up names for foreign polises they were unrelated to, and a cursory search reveals no connection between Shkoder and Alexandria.
The etymology of Shkoder is not settled, but it probably comes from "Shko Drin" (in modern Albanian: where Drin goes) since the river Drin makes a delta right by the castle of Rozafa (Shkodra's symbol)
Posted by: medaura at June 25, 2008 9:53 am
Hi Michael,
I see you have started banning. Sheesh. Pro-Serbs really do make you mad! Oh well :-)
I am going to avoid getting bogged down by the snidery of some of our resident sock-puppets and shills, and respect you wishes about commenting on the content of your post (although enforcing this policy on those cooking off on myself and other would be appreciated).
Karadic Poster
Regarding the Karadic poster, can I ask where you saw this? I travel that highway regularly and I am am frequently in New Belgrade but I have never seen it. There is nothing on Flickr, the local news, any of the Belgrade photography sites or other blogs. Are you sure it was not someone else? An advert perhaps?
If I can locate it I can have it removed. Seriously, that sort of idiot gesture lets down the whole city and is almost certainly illegal. The worst I hve ever seen is illegal hawkers selling small posters.
Nice words about Belgrade
Thanks for the kind(er) words about Belgrade. It was good to see you praising the city this time.
Currency in the Balkans
You are right about Dinars. Whilst it is possible to convert them in some places outside Serbia, generally it is best to carry Euros. Even in Serbia many people use Euros which are pretty much accepted everywhere.
Primitive anti-Americanism
Regarding Serbia's "primitive anti-Americanism" which I would say is no more primitive than any other variety of prejudice, I think you will find that even in the countryside people will treat all foreigners extremely well.
There are exceptions, sure, but as a rule of thumb we foreigners find rural Serbia to be as welcoming and kind as Belgrade, which is bend-over-backwards nice to us.
I have personally seen much worse anti-Americanism in rural Ireland than Serbia, with much less justification.
It was nice to hear about the Albanian woman who comes to Belgrade regularly. It says to me that an Albanian woman from Kosovo can be welcomed amongst Serbs and have a great time in Belgrade. I know of similar tales from the thousands of Croats and Slovenians that also come to party in Belgrade. They generally feel welcome and safe and love the place. It seem that the Albanian woman was the only one with a problem, the one never forgetting she was in the company of Serbs. Even her choice of words was suspect. Describing someone as a "Chetnick guy" is ethnic slur around he. It is like a Serb calling an Albanian a "Shiptar" or using the N-word to describe an African-American. The Wikipedia article you link to confirms this.
That said, very occasionally one can come across a look, an under the breath comment, some "atmosphere" but it is very rare and Serbs will not tolerate it.
I cannot go on enough about how good it is to be a foreigner in Serbia, even an American.
The incident in the sticks
Regarding your experience in noname town, I am not sure why you devoted so much time to the strange inciden.
How did you know the man was a Serb? How did you know he was asking for money? How did you know he insulted you in Serbian, or later yelled something awful?
This looks like just another "dramatic" incident that tells me plenty about the village loon but nothing about anything else, except perhaps to underscore that Serbia is full of nasty aggressive money obsessed people. Was that your point?
Roadsigns in Republika Srpska
I completely understand your frustration with road signs in Serbia and RS. They are very bad generally and the policy of Cyrillic only signs in RS is monumentally idiotic. Signs are for people who do not know where they need to go, almost by definition people not from that locality.
Interestingly, you note that you saw no road sign anywhere in Republica Srpska that pointed toward Sarajevo. If you ever try and get to Belgrade from Croatia you will find the same thing.
Belgrade and Serbia do not exist. The first signs for Belgrade on the Zagreb - Belgrade highway start about 40km from the border. Serbs to their credit, have signs to every major town in the region even in the center of Belgrade.
Coldly sized up by brutes
It seems you luck with Serbs really is very bad.
Even the nice guy who helps you navigate is cancelled out by Mr Cold Sizeup who is plotting to steal your watch. I am struggling to understand how I, and every other foreigner I know who lives here, seems to have just about the opposite impression.
Bosnian scars
I saw war scars everywhere in Bosnia, so again I am surprised to see you did not spot any damage in Serb towns. Maybe they use the money from stolen American watches to pay for teams of repairmen to patch up their bullet holes? :-)
Encounter with Mr Frown-at-Serbs
Your encounter with the kind Bosnian in the village was weird. He displays the casual anti-Serb prejudice Serbs have come to expect almost everywhere in the region and then all is well when he discovers you are not those bastard Serbs the ones who "shot up [their] houses" that you are "from a country that kinda sorta helped [them] a little during the war".
Imagine for a minute you were not an American, but you were a Serb, would you approve of his reaction?
Perhaps you might not, but simply file it as "understandable"?
If that is so, then how can you be alarmed and seemingly upset by the "primitive" anti-Americanism of people whose houses you DID
Posted by: Limbic at June 25, 2008 9:53 am
When you only have 3 comments to work with, you gotta stuff them up as much as possible.
Makes sense.
Posted by: medaura at June 25, 2008 9:57 am
Limbic: I see you have started banning. Sheesh. Pro-Serbs really do make you mad!
It depends, Limbic. You aren't banned. There is a line that shall not be crossed. If any Albanian shows up and starts writing like William Doric, he or she will be out -- and I did meet one person in Kosovo who was like that. "Pro-Serb" has nothing do with it. I'm not tribal about this stuff. I am not from any of the places I write about. I am American, and if I have an "ethnicity" beyond that, it is English. My wife's "ethnicity" is Irish. We don't care one whit about what trouble our marriage might cause if we lived in the old world, say, Northern Ireland. I find ethnic tribal thinking of all varieties repulsive. It leads to war and must be resisted.
Regarding the Karadic poster, can I ask where you saw this?
I don't know the name of the street, but I know where it is. It has four lanes and a median strip in the middle. Go out to the Europcar office in New Belgrade, turn left on that main street in front of the offic that leads out toward the countryside and toward northern Bosnia and Vukovar, and look to your left after a kilometer or so. If I remember right, it's on the left side of the building facing the street. It's on the same street that I took that picture of the weird Zepter building.
Thanks for the kind(er) words about Belgrade. It was good to see you praising the city this time.
I did before, too. It just got lost in all the negative politics. My opinion of the city is entirely independent of my opinion of Serbian Nationalism. You see that I also praised Istanbul in this piece, and I detest Turkish Nationalism as much as I detest Serbian Nationalism, and for similar reasons. (I have seen Turkish Kurdistan, and it is horrendous.)
Thanks for quoting Rebacca West. I was oddly honoured that you saw fit to use the quote from our last discussion.
Well, it's a great quote. Lots of people use it, and I had it underlined in my copy of the book before you quoted it here. I was slightly pleased that you saw fit to use it.
Describing someone as a
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 25, 2008 11:56 am
It seem that the Albanian woman was the only one with a problem, the one never forgetting she was in the company of Serbs. Even her choice of words was suspect. Describing someone as a
Posted by: medaura at June 25, 2008 1:42 pm
Fascinating, Medaura. Yes, you are completely right.
And the so-called "Chetnik guy" really did say he killed Albanians during the war. The Albanian woman who made this comment is the type of hyper-liberal individual who would vote for Dennis Kucinich is she were American.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 25, 2008 1:53 pm
The Albanian woman who made this comment is the type of hyper-liberal individual who would vote for Dennis Kucinich is she were American.
Errr,.. don't put me in the same room with her. I might do her more harm than any Chetnik ever could (kidding!).
Seriously though, UFO Kucinich? She must be smoking something fierce! Then again, US politics are very filtered out and dumbed down in Albania/Kosovo. I myself cheered for the Democrats before I moved to the US myself.
Posted by: medaura at June 25, 2008 2:04 pm
"Unlike the Albanian cities of Durres (Epidamnus) or Fier(Apollonia), Shkodra was never at any point a Hellenic colony. It was an Illyrian settlement all the way from the beginning (around the 4th century B.C) until it was conquered by the Romans."
Alexander's mother, Olympias, was Illyrian and he had Illyrian levies in his army but I agree the name isn't Greek in origin.
I once encountered a scruffy guy in Ireland who sounds just like the one you met, Michael. It was in 1977 and he spoke English, after a fashion, but the exchange sounds similar. Since everybody n Ireland (especially priests) seemed to be visiting Long Beach, CA in those days, I suggested maybe he should visit the relatives he mentioned. That was highly insulting to him (He informed me he'd never been on a boat or a plane) and he stalked off.
Probably village curmudgeon.
Posted by: Mike K at June 25, 2008 3:44 pm
Joe said (a ways up) regarding my comment on the Zohan post--
"I'll take it one step farther and add that this feels more confusing because a good chunk of us (that Kain describes there) still remember our Conservative roots (namely, our parents), and so can't seem to understand why those of the Conservative movement are suddenly not so willing to be in a coalition party GOP (let's face it, both parties are essentially coalition parties with some factions more clearly marked than others)."
This is so true. It's tricky when you sit to the left and right of the fence on various issues. Gets you feeling a bit schizophrenic at times (or paranoid). But I think that sometimes unpopular politics can be a sign of a principled position.
I've read some pretty virulent attacks on the "neocons" from "true conservatives" lately, which is what got me thinking about neo-centrism as an alternative to aligning with the conservative coalition...
Then, too, the religious right has me nervous as they are displaying tendencies that would seem more at home in the Mid-East than America.
But the doves on the left seem totally incapable of dispensing with the moral relativism, and so here we are, "stuck in the middle with you" as the refrain goes (once again).
Cheers,
E.D.
Posted by: E.D. Kain at June 25, 2008 3:53 pm
Sorry, I was side-tracked running into that reference to my comment.
Thanks for the article, Michael. Brilliant, engaging piece. Lovely photographs. I bet you wish you'd picked up a little Serbian prior to the trip, eh?
In any case, I wholeheartedly support your banning of trolls and racists. Meryl Yourish has a similar policy on her blog when it comes to the anti-Zionist crowd. It's one thing to be sensible, to present alternate points of view, and another wholly to bring a bunch of propaganda and virulence to a site.
Posted by: E.D. Kain at June 25, 2008 3:55 pm
Hello Michael,
First, I want to say I truly enjoy your articles and look forward to each new one. I spent 2 years living and working in Bosnia, training the local police for the UN IPTF mission. I was posted up North, near the Croatian border and where the Federation and Republica Serbska came together. I lived in a Moslem area, trained Croat police, and spent a fair amount of time in the RS.
While I did find this particular article to be somewhat biased against the Serbs, I think you yourself provided the key. As you said, you wrote about what you saw and experienced. I have a fairly good idea of the route you took; there's just not that many ways to go from Belgrade to Tuzla, to Sarejevo and Mostar. Given you spent a fair amount of time in the RS, it stands to reason in that area, it was the Serbs driving out the Muslims and Croats.
Other areas are different. One thing I found was that victim and victimizer in Bosnia really depends not so much on your ethnicity/religion, but whether you were a minority in the area/village you lived in. All three groups were pretty enthusiastic about ethnic cleansing if they weren't the victims.
I travelled a lot throughout the Balkans while I was there, and it's an incredibly complex area and situation. I think you've done a great job of capuring that sense of unreality that exists in the region. We used to joke about "just another surreal moment in Bosnia" when we lived there.
The big problem I see with Kosovo is the precedent it sets by being recognized as an independent country. As a bit of an analogy, suppose 25 years from now, one of the states in the Southwest is 75% hispanic. Does the state have the right to secede from the US and declare itself independent, or decide to become part of Mexico? According to what's happened in Kosovo, it would appear that way. I don't have an answer to what to do about Kosovo, but I do think what we've done will come back to haunt us. If the US, the UN, the EU and NATO can disregard the soverignity of Serbia, they theoretically can disregard any country's soverignity.
Finally, reading your posts about the area has convinced me I need to go back for a visit. I made a lot of friends there, and it would be great to see them again. Thanks for the article, and I look forward to the next one.
Dan
Posted by: Dan859 at June 25, 2008 4:24 pm
Dan859: As a bit of an analogy, suppose 25
years from now, one of the states in the Southwest is 75% hispanic. Does the state have the right to secede from the US and declare itself independent, or decide to become part of Mexico?

If they suffered wholesale ethnic cleansing by officially sanctioned American armed forces, I'd say yes. Otherwise, no.
What happened in Kosovo will never happen in the United States. We will never elect the likes of Slobodan Milosevic to power here. And if we did, Congress would break him in half.
I'm not worried about the precedent. China is, regarding Tibet, but that's a feature, not a bug, as far as I am concerned. Some places need and deserve to break away.
Montenegro broke away from Serbia two years ago, and no one seems to worry about that precedent even though a huge percentage of people who live in Montenegro are Serbs.
Kosovo didn't start a new precedent. Kosovo came after the precedents set by Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Macedonia, and Montenegro.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 25, 2008 4:37 pm
Michael,
I agree with the need to have done something about what was going in Kosovo. For that matter, I'm pretty appalled by what's going on in Dafur, and the unwillingness of anyone to do anthing about it. I think we handled Kosovo poorly.
I don't see how Slovenia, Macedonia and Montenegro apply. These were peaceful transitions agreed upon between the parties involved. Even Croatia gained independence with a minimal amount of fighting.
Take the example I gave above, and assume that this state has a referendum of some sort and declares its independence. Are we as a nation willing to use force if necessary? If we are, and we do, how is that substantially different from what happened in Kosovo? I doubt that in this situation, if they've declared independence, they're going to agree to stop just because we said so.
I agree that it's unlikely we'd ever elect anybody like Milosevic. That doesn't negate the precedent that's been set. As far as China goes, I doubt they're too concerned about Tibet declaring independence. They'll crush whatever revolt may occur, the world and the UN will issue strong statements of condemnation, and then everyone will just move on. We all saw how Russia dealt with Chechnya, I don't think Tibet will be much different.
Feel fre to email me, as i really don't want to monopolize your comment section.
Thanks,
Dan
Posted by: Dan859 at June 25, 2008 5:23 pm
Alexander's mother, Olympias, was Illyrian and he had Illyrian levies in his army but I agree the name isn't Greek in origin.
Not only that, but lest anyone head's explodes here, I will throw a monkey wrench into the machinery of the much more well-established and successful Greek propaganda, and add the following:
Those ancient Macedonians were not Hellenic people either. They spoke a different language similar to that of the tribes of Epirus and Illyria. This is well-documented. All indicators and historical records point toward Macedons being just another Thraco-Illyrian tribe, speaking a different dialect, like the Albanian Ghegs (descendants of Illyria) and Tosks (descendants of Epirus) speaking different but mutually intelligible dialects. It's not a coincidence that today Macedonia's greatest ethnic minority are Albanians.
I don't feel at all like the progeny of a superior race for being remotely related to the ancestors of Alexander the Great (on both sides of his family, not just his mother, which is all Greeks concede, if at all) like the Greek propagandists do (only after they re-write history to fit with their wishful 'diary'). Alexander was a brute and an asshole (quite possibly literally), and in any event, I am not tribal and I don't care.
But Greece's pretenses over Macedonia are ridiculous and unfounded. First of all, regardless of the racial lineage of whoever lived in the area 2000 years ago, now its ethnic makeup is what it is.
Greece is vetoing Macedonia's integration into European institutions because they supposedly are stealing away grandeur rightfully belonging to Greece by appropriating the name 'Macedonia' (Greeks claim Macedons were Hellenic).
This shit is so ridiculous and I couldn't even make it up!
Greece has been much more successful at re-writing its own history than Serbia has. Now people don't even question it. Greece also has entirely ethnically cleansed the hundreds of thousands of Albanians who used to live in its northern territories, so now there is no problematic ethnic minority sticking out as a sore thorn.
Another piece of trivia: Did anyone know here that Greece has maintained the state of war with Albania since WW2 (Italy invaded Albania in 1939 and used its southern territories to launch an attack against Greece, in which Albania itself did not even participate) all the way until, supposedly, 2004???
Why? Well they used the pretext that Albania 'had attacked Greece during WW2' to kick off the last remaining Albanian communities and expropriate those Albanians from their lands. Those lands have not been returned to their rightful owners and now after 2004 it's too late for any properties to change hands again.
I don't want to talk about Greek propaganda and chauvinism here though, lest we get sidetracked.
Posted by: medaura at June 25, 2008 5:23 pm
Michael,
Well, I just spent quite some time writing a reply, only to have it lost in electric heaven when i tried to post it. If you'd like, email me and we can continue. I don't want to monopolize your site.
Thanks,
Dan
Posted by: Dan859 at June 25, 2008 5:26 pm
The necktie originated with Croatian mercenary cavalry in the service of Louis XIII (or XIV). That is why it is also called a "cravat". Not from "Croat" wrongly pronounced "krote", but from "hravat", which the French rendered as "Croate" pronounced "kruh-wat".
Posted by: Rich Rostrom at June 25, 2008 5:34 pm
I don't see how Slovenia, Macedonia and Montenegro apply. These were peaceful transitions agreed upon between the parties involved. Even Croatia gained independence with a minimal amount of fighting.
With all respect, since you have been very polite, that is absolute bullshit! The only reason Macedonia and Slovenia were able to escape unscathed from the abusive polygamous marriage that Yugoslavia was, is that the Serbian government was too exhausted by then to send in troops to butcher Macedons and Slovens. Croatia got away with a 'minimal amount' of fighting? So?
What is minimal amount of fighting? Is there a threshold 'amount' of fighting that makes secession unacceptable by itself?
This whole attitude is very myopic and historically insensitive; it takes the status-quo of the world's political map to be the rigid structure of the universe for as far back as we can remember, with any future changes being considered fundamentally disruptive to this perfect and stable order.
Did you forget how Yugoslavia was created in the first place?
By your same reasoning, the US missed the boat on the whole setting-dangerous-precedents department by allowing the partitioning of Austro-Hungaria way back when it recognized Yugoslavia as a new state/federation, to be carved out of Austro-Hungaria's then (before WW1) sovereign territory.
If such idiotic analogies were enough to justify any provinces/states' right to secede or lack thereof, said South-Western states can already use the creation of Yugoslavia for a 'precedent' as a fig-leaf to the dreaded sectarian ambitions you attribute them.
Or,.. how about the creation of Ireland? Carving its insolent political self so shamelessly out of the sovereign territory of Great Britain!
Oh, but wait!
The United States of America itself was just the child of a bloody revolution! The birth of the US set the needed 'precedent' for the future secession of its states! Boo hoo... looks like the union is doomed!
There is no such thing as a 'precedent' setting a standard procedure in stone for resolving ethnic/political conflicts in all times and places. Human history is a mosaic or empires, tribes, political coalitions, that rose and fell through the ages, with new mutant states/entities rising from the ashes of the old ones.
Punishing innocent people in the Balkans for the sake of establishing a false consistency to appease your paranoid fear over 'Latino heavy' states seceding from the Union is logically unsound, not to say morally vacuous.
The moral arguments for supporting the secession of a people from the grasp of its tyrannical government are articulately laid out in the Declaration of Independence, and as such, they are universal principles. It sounds to me like you don't fully understand the ideals behind the founding of your own nation. By the way, individual states have a almost indisputably a constitutional right to secede.
Posted by: medaura at June 25, 2008 6:19 pm
Medaura,
First, I don't know the limits to discourse on this site, so I'll refrain from answering your "bullshit" comment in kind. I'm not really sure where to start. In no particular order, let's look at this. Slovenia was the first of the former republics to secede. So much for the Yugoslav army being "too exhausted". There was, compared to Bosnia, minimal fighting in Croatia. I never said there was a threshold. I was comparing two situations which had very different circumstances. In the cases I mentioned, there was an agreement among the parties involved which led to a peaceful resolution. That's very different from what happened in Kosovo, where an internal problem was solved by the forcible imposition of an outside solution.
As far as the polygamous marraige that was Yugoslavia, I lived there for 2 years. I learned the language and spent a lot of time talking to people there, trying to understand what had happened, and why. It's a whole lot more complicated and a lot less black and white than you seem to be implying.
Sarcasm doesn't become you or the point you're trying to make. My attitude is myopic and historically insensitive? Idiotic analogies? Boo hoo, the union is doomed? My paranoid fear? That one's my personal favorite. Do you have any professional qualifications to judge my paranoia or lack thereof? Logically unsound and morally vacuous. You don't address the issues, but attack me. If I recall correctly, there's a word for that.
My example is hypothetical. I used a state because I was trying to put the question in a context that would apply to us. If I somehow offended you, that was not my intent.
As far as states having an almost indisputable right to secede, I beg to differ. The Civil War answered that question.
For precedent in general, yes, I think it's a good thing. And yes, I think in some cases, I think the victors in a war have missed the boat. You mentioned WW1. I agree, we messed that up. Just look at the Middle East right now. Many of the current problems in Africa have a lot to do with the arbitrary way borders were established there after WW2.
Again, My issue is with how the problem in Kosovo was resolved. I don't object to the fact that we stepped in to stop the fighting, I object to the imposition of an outside solution. Even in Bosnia, the parties involved settled it themselves through the Dayton Accord. Yes, we were involved, but they were the ones that that solved it.
If you'd like to have an intelligent discussion, let's continue. If all you want to do is to hurl insults and spew invective, please, spare all of us.
Dan
Posted by: Dan859 at June 26, 2008 12:53 am
Hi Medaura,
Juts a quick note about your post where to invoked me, the demon Limbic, and now have to pay for your sins.
First off, let me say that I thought this was mostly a very good comment with a sound analysis of the nature of slurs and come great insights into the use of offensive language.
I have a few things I though ought to be cleared up though, but I do not think we are on course for another thread hogging bust-up even if I were not limited to a few posts.
About the Albanian woman in Belgrade, I was addressing Michael in my comments, and since he wrote the article and recounted the anecdote, there was no need for me to quote him to himself or unnecessarily duplicate content for people fresh from reading the article.
I should also like to point out that I did not say that the woman's words were "manifestations of her irrational Serbophobia" nor did I say they were "not grounded in any reality whatsoever". You dreamt that.
The irony here is that I am nearly certain that woman in question is a friend of mine and she is one the "Albanians I have spoken to" that I referred to in previous discussions.
As bizarre as this might sound to you, far from being a Serb nationalist, I mix in the same LDP/Women In Black circles as Michael's contacts in Belgrade and am on record in my blogs and other writings as being strongly against all forms of Ethnic Nationalism, including Serbian.
If this Albanian woman is who I suspect it is, then Michael's descriptions of her are dead on. This is no nationalist, she is indeed a very liberal, highly intelligent, well informed forward thinking woman. She also appears at least to be having a great time when she is here.
The thing that worried me was this statement:
She said, "
Posted by: Limbic at June 26, 2008 1:58 am
Dan,
I apologize if I have offended you. It was not my intent to hurl any personal insults your way, though I can understand how you would take it personally given my strong language.
Yours is an argument I hear all the time, and is one which happens to particularly irk me. When referring to it as an idiotic analogy, historically insensitive, morally callous and logically unsound, I am speaking of this wildy parroted argument in itself and not addressing you in any way personally.
I called 'bullshit!' with all due respect, because you have been very polite and civil, yet I find the argument absolutely ludicrous and worthy of the flashing 'bullshit' stamp!
But I will tone it down for the sake of hopefully getting through to each-other:
Slovenia was the first of the former republics to secede. So much for the Yugoslav army being
Posted by: medaura at June 26, 2008 8:10 am
Kedja,
I'm a little pressed for time, so this will be breif. First, congratulations on your upcoming American citizenship!! For now, here's a quote from UN resolution 1244: "Reaffirming the commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the other States of the region, as set out in the Helsinki Final Act and annex 2,
Posted by: Dan859 at June 26, 2008 10:14 am
Croatia was much more important to Serbia than Slovenia because of its coast (and because of fresh ethnic hatred from WW2).

True, but also don't forget how many Serbs lived in Croatia versus in Slovenia.
The reason it didn't go after Slovenia and Macedonia is because it was either exhausted (in the case of Macedonia) or overwhelmed by impending future developments(in the case of Slovenia).

The spirit of that is true, but technically they did go after Slovenia. The West may forget tiny, short wars, but when a ten-day war results in independence, you can bet Slovenes don't. There is some lingering resentment from Croatia over the fact that Slovenia won its independence so easily due to the Serbian war against Croatia (and against Croats in Bosnia), but that mostly plays itself out in peaceful maritime border disputes, not ethnic violence.
Yugoslavia was founded in the chaos during and after World War I as a necessary balance against much larger and more threatening powers. After the fall of Communism, those peoples who had previously united suddenly needed no defense from outside peoples and plenty defense from one another, resulting in succession. Unfortunately for Kosovo, it had not been independent during WWI and was not a republic within Yugoslavia, so, from what I understand of the vague and often illogical standards of international "law," had less of a claim to independence than the prior nations that seceded. However, in the world that Milosevic created, one could not expect Kosovo to remain content as an autonomous region in Serbia, no more than one might expect post-WWII Korea to fall under the sphere of control of Japan, for example, just because it had for so many years prior.
Sooner or later, the two sides are going to come to an agreement.

Unfortunately, history is not on the side of this assumption.
Posted by: calbear at June 26, 2008 10:32 am
calbear,
I agree completely with everything you said.
Kosovo's status and its degree of autonomy have changed many times within the Yugoslavian federation.
Of course, Slovenia was attacked also, but I conceded the point for the sake of the argument, that it got off relatively unscathed. Dan seemed to employ a vague metric of 'severity of fighting' as a proxy for the legitimacy of secession, so I needed to address that line of reasoning.
All I cared to debunk was the far-fetched and paranoid argument of Kosovo's secession setting a precedent by analogy to the secession of South-Western latino-heavy American states.
US sates joined the union peacefully (for the most part) and out of self-interest. Kosovo was invaded and annexed by Serbia in 1912.
No single US state has any major legitimate overriding beef with the federal government. Kosovo's population was attacked, killed off, or driven out by 'its own government'.
All US states have equal proportional representative power (within the convoluted House vs Senate structure), and the federal government's reach is limited by the constitution. Kosovo had third class province status within Serbia, not even Yugoslavia, and no political means for its people to address their problems.
If any renegade state gets the idea to secede out of genuine or imaginary grievances, the speech will not go anything like "Well, we ought to be able to sneak away, just like that obscure tiny mini-state in the Balkans did after all", but more like "Just as our forefathers cut their ties with Great Britain over this this and this, we too shall seek a better form of government for ourselves and break our ties with the Union over that and that and that"
The truth is that only dictatorial repressive regimes are scared of Kosovo's secession. A cursory look at the countries who have not yet recognized Kosovo's independence bears self-evident testimony to this fact.
There is no way the two sides would have reached an agreement 'sooner or later'. The options on the table here were not of a continuous sliding-scale nature where mutual give-and-take can lead to an agreeable balance.
The alternatives are only two, and they are discrete: Either this province remains part of Serbia, or it doesn't. Serbia has almost institutionalized this myth of Kosovo being the cradle of its 'civilization' and won't compromise on its stance. Kosovars want their own country and don't see any way or reason to re-join Serbia. It's either one or the other, there can't be both. I don't see how further negotiations would have made any party more sympathetic to concede to the other party's ambitions over the region.
Independence was the right move and it was overdue. KFOR will not be in the province for the next 100 years. Stability must be achieved and the final status resolved within our lifetimes and even better, within our attention spans.
UN resolutions don't mean anything to anybody; we just barely pretend they do. The UN didn't get its hands dirty to fix this slaughterhouse situation right in the middle of Europe; NATO did, led by the US. The UN didn't intervene in Iraq; the US and its allies did. The UN is just a global secular wishy-washy 'church' sprinkling 'holy water' on the done-deals of its powerful member states.
Posted by: medaura at June 26, 2008 12:02 pm
Kejda,
So, my analogy is back to being far fatched and paranoid. Again, your qualifications to make a medical diagnosis are what? You stated Kosovo was invaded and annexed by Serbia in 1912. True enough, but Serbs had been there in greater or lesser numbers for about 1500 years before then as well. It was the Serbs who fought the Ottoman Turks at Kosovo Polje in 1389, and the Nemanjic dynasty had an established empire there for 200 years prior to that. Throughout the next several centuries, right up until present, Serbs lived there. To imply, as you seem to be doing, that the Serbs have no legitmate or longstanding attachment to Kosovo simply isn't true. Now, I'm not saying Kosovo doesn't have legitimate aspirations for independence. What I'm saying is that you seem to favor black and white, while I maintain it's more complicated than that.
Your stating opinions doesn't make them facts. Independence was the right move and it was over due. Opinion.
KFOR won't be there for the next 100 years. Opinion. For what it's worth, in the area I worked in Bosnia, there was graffiti on an abandoned house that said "Happy New Year 2001 SFOR. You'll be here for the next 100 years". Since it was written in Serbo-Croat, I'm guessing it was a local who wrote it. He or she would seem to have a diffent opinion on the subject.
Stability must be achieved and the final status resolved within our lifetimes and even better, within our attention spans. Opinion, and more importantly, why the necessity it be resolved right now?
If you want stability, I don't think the outside imposition of a solution is the best way to achieve it.
In the long run, neither my opinions or yours make any difference to what will happen. I do hope everything works out in Kosovo, I just would have been more optimistic if they had reached an agreement amongst themselves. As it stands now, I'm not optimistic. I just hope I'm wrong.
Dan
Posted by: Dan859 at June 26, 2008 4:28 pm
Dan: It was the Serbs who fought the Ottoman Turks at Kosovo Polje in 1389
I should point out that Serbs fought on both sides of that battle, as did Albanians. See Noel Malcolm's Kosovo: A Short History.
I just would have been more optimistic if they had reached an agreement amongst themselves.
I think we can all agree with that. Whether an agreement was possible is another matter. The difference between the two sides are as irreconcilable as those between Israel and Hamas. Hamas wants to conquer Israel, Israel says no, so they fight. Serbia wants to conquer Kosovo (again), Kosovars say no, so they either fight or have an external solution imposed upon them.
The fact that some Serbs live and have lived in Kosovo gives Serbia no more right (in my view) to reconquer that territory as the existence of Israeli Arabs give Hamas the rights to Tel Aviv.
Anyway, the Bush Administration will not rescind its recognition of Kosovo, nor will a McCain or Obama Administration. None of our opinions will change that.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 26, 2008 4:39 pm
Anyway, the Bush Administration will not rescind its recognition of Kosovo, nor will a McCain or Obama Administration. None of our opinions will change that.
Amen.
Given the latent strand of insanity lurking in so many of the popular opinions on this topic, I am damn grateful that our opinions are irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.
Posted by: medaura at June 26, 2008 4:54 pm
Hi Michael,
I personally do not think the Serbs want to really "reconquer" Kosovo.
Despite what Serbian politicians say publicly, it is an open secret that many of them are glad to be rid of the place. As they see it, Kosovo was a financial, military and political burden which is now the UN's problem.
My personal suspicion, and this is backed by discussions with diplomats and locals, is that they are paying lip service to an unyielding position on Kosovo whilst they hold out for partitioning and perhaps better "inducements" from the EU.
Everyone knows it would be utterly impossible to reintegrate 1.5 million unwilling Kosovar Albanians into Serbia after what happened in 1999 (and years of abuse at the hands of the Milosevic regime).
Even the Radical Party supporters are stumped when I point out to them that id miraculously Kosovar Albanians decided all was forgiven and that they would love to be back in the folds of mother Serbia's skirts, the Radicals would never get anywhere near power. Those ethnic Albanian voters would provide just the swing voted needed to keep the Liberal and Democratic parties in power without so much as a nod at the Socialists or Radicals.
So what now?
It may very well be true that neither this nor any (near) future US administration will rescind its recognition of Kosovo, but as long as the EU is stuck in its impasse over Kosovo, and the Russia/China axis is against set against it, we have a frozen conflict.
I am starting to think that partition is the fairest and most pragmatic solution. If it happens, and its looking increasingly likely, it should be followed by speedy EU membership for Kosovo, Serbia, Albania and the rest of former Yugoslav states not yet in the EU.
This should help boost regional economies and the Irish model has shown us that this goes a long way to helping solve seemingly intractable ethnic conflict.
Posted by: Limbic at June 27, 2008 1:37 am
Kejda,
You're obviously well educated. Why do you insist on labelling others as insane, paranoid, etc.? It doesn't help the points you're trying to make, it weakens them. What's the problem with having a civil discussion, and allowing for people to disagree reasonably? It seems all you want to do is shout down those with whom you disagree. The worst part is, you and I share a lot of common ground. I fully support what the UN/NATO did. I support Kosovo being independent. Reread what I've written. I object to the way the situation was handled. That's all. Yet, apparently that difference is enough for you to feel justified to make all kinds of ad hominem attacks against me. Be my guest. Maybe next time, you'll use facts and logic to support your position. We can only hope.
Dan
Posted by: Dan859 at June 27, 2008 1:47 am
Dan,
If you choose to identify your positions as insane, that is your problem, not mine.
Your skin is paper-thin. Give me a break! You do sound paranoid right now, and note that I never called you that before.
I don't feel a need to respond to your other 'points' as it looks like you willingly misinterpret my words and you are more apprehensive than you seem to realize.
Posted by: medaura at June 27, 2008 9:53 am
Kedja,
Where did I say my positions were insane? Please, point that out to me, I can't find it. I do object to YOU repeatedly characterizing my opinions as paranoid, vacuous, idiotic, bullshit, etc. You then say I'm thin-skinned and I should give you a break. Why should I give you a break? So you can simply continue in the same vein? I don't think so. Because it's just the way you speak? Maybe you could reevaluate your choice of words. You tell me why I should give you a break.
Next, you say I sound paranoid. You make a point of emphasizing that you haven't said it directly to/about me before, but now it's specifically directed at me. It's still an ad hominem statement.
How am I willingly misinterpreting your words?Twice you said Serbia invaded and annexed Kosovo in 1912. Both times it was a stand alone statement. At least implicit in that is the idea that that was the first time Serbia had held that territory, especially since you said "not before 1912". You had previously told me that if I thought I had any relevant historical points, to please bring them up, so I brought up the Battle of Kosovo Polje to disprove your statement. Apparently, that's one of my points, or 'points' as you wrote, that you don't care to respond to. And yes, I do understand the use of quotation marks in that context.
I quoted UN res. 1244. You didn't respond to the resolution, you threw the UN under the bus. Now, I'm not always a big fan of the UN. I disagree with much of what the UN has done, and hasn't done, but that resolution does specifically address the question of sovereignity. I do think that concepts like rule of law, sovereignity, and precedent have some relevance here and a place in the discussion. You close by saying I'm more apprehensive than I realize. Ad hominem again.
Let me be blunt. I'm pissed!! I'm tired of the slurs, the snide remarks and the supercilious attitude. You want to talk the talk, let's see if you can walk the walk. Put together a factual, logical position without resorting to name calling. Or not. Either way, without an express request from you, I'll not respond, so feel free to say what you want.
Dan
Posted by: Dan859 at June 27, 2008 2:25 pm
Dan:
Where did I say my positions were insane? Please, point that out to me, I can't find it.
So were you speaking for yourself below or what?
Why do you insist on labelling others as insane, paranoid, etc.? ...
The worst part is, you and I share a lot of common ground. ...Yet, apparently that difference is enough for you to feel justified to make all kinds of ad hominem attacks against me.
You interpret my broad statement about many opinions on the Kosovo topic being rather insane, as directed-at/applying-to you specifically. Why does it itch so bad?
You confound my opinion regarding an analogy which you are not the first nor the last to utter (Kosovo's secession vs. Latino-heavy US states seceding from the Union) with an ad hominem against you personally.
Intelligent and well-meaning people can be caught all the time uttering idiotic or even implicitly racist arguments like the one you are so over-sensitive about, but it doesn't at all necessarily make them idiots or racists. Note, that I didn't just call you intelligent and well-meaning right now either. I made no personal statement about you whatsoever.
The fact that you have chosen to take everything personally makes you sound paranoid,-- an observation arising from your reactions. If you can appreciate the irony of it, I am calling you paranoid for thinking that I ever called you paranoid-- among attributing me other 'insults' such as 'callous', 'insane', etc.
I didn't think your 'points' were worth addressing, and yes, the choice of quotations was deliberate, because I wasn't sure whether you were even sure what you were talking about: "Opinion, not fact. Opinion, not fact". What were you even talking about? Most of us know the facts rather well: reaching sensible conclusions from them is what's interesting and what discussions such as these are all about.
Actually, perhaps you don't even know your facts all that well though. The battle in 1389? Is that your ace? Really? The 'relevant historic fact' that throws a monkey wrench in my argument?
Michael just corrected you on your blanket statement: It was the Serbs who fought the Ottoman Turks at Kosovo Polje in 1389
It was not just the Serbs. It was a coalition of Serbs and Albanians, among other Balkans nations. The coalition happened to be led by a Serbian prince. It was actually an Albanian warrior who managed to sneak into the Sultan's tent and kill him, though the battle was nevertheless lost. The fight took place on the field of Kosovo because it was a good spot to have a medieval battle, so what?
It doesn't mean Serbs have a claim to Kosovo because of that battle, any more than the other nations part of the anti-Ottoman coalition like Bulgaria, who sent troops in the battle, have a claim to that land. For you to think otherwise suggests that you have either been fooled by, or are a shill for Serbian propaganda.
Anyway, there were Serbs and Albanians fighting on both sides of that war, like Michael pointed out.
Like Filip David said, even then in the 1300s, Kosovo was mostly Albanian in demographics.
That's not just his opinion or mine, by the way. It is a fact.
Besides, why pick this arbitrary point in the time-line as year zero for considering Serbs' claim to the land? Why not go back further in time when Southern Slavs invaded the native Albanians and expelled them from their lands in the 6th century A.D.?
I call bullshit on your arguments even louder than before. One question: Do you think Albanians are recent immigrants in Kosovo?
People sympathetic to that inane 'latino heavy South-Western states' pseudo analogy always seem to think so.
As for the UN resolution:
As usual the reference to UN Resolution 1244 that you used is merely in the intro as the ideal solution, that Yugoslavia not be dismembered. But from that point on the UN and NATO make it quite clear that this doesn't seem possible and they lay out a number of solutions that will ultimately lead to an independent Kosovo.
The very next line is that they, the UN and NATO are, "Reaffirming the call in previous resolutions for substantial autonomy and meaningful self-administration for Kosovo." And to paraphrase that there had been no compliance and that the violence was continuing against the people of Kosovo. Unnamed but obviously referring to the continued attacks and population removal by the Serbs,
The reference to Annex 2 is even more damaging to the Serbian position in that is based on the original Rambouillet Accord, which Serbia rejected, that, "...while establishing and over seeing the development of provisional self-governing institutions to insure conditions for a peaceful and normal life for all inhabitants in Kosovo." The fact is that on at least two different occasions the Serbs had a chance to maintain full or partial control of Kosovo but simply chose a different path. Much like the murderer offered a life sentence, rejects that and then is condemned to death. Of course now he wants the original offer to be binding over the verdict, the facts on the ground in that the KLA and NATO kicked Serbia out of Kosovo.
http://www.nato.int/kosovo/docu/u990610a.htm
By the way, it does not surprise me at the slightest that you seem to think Michael is biased against Serbs, because you seem to be pretty biased in their favor.
Posted by: medaura at June 27, 2008 4:09 pm
>> To call someone a Chetnik in Serbia is to label them a fascist. Only self-identified fascist, Radicals would not insulted by this.
I swear I have seen many of them with Chetnik hats and flags during marches. that does not mean much, but if it was a swastika, people would mind it more. Those radicals did get 40% of the vote, and that is because the economy is in horrible shape. They are the single most powerful party in Serbia. Yes or no?
When Serbs accuse everyone being Nazis but they opposed the Germans, who is mentioned? Not Nedic, Zbor, Serbian Guard etc etc but Draza Mihailovic, the Chetnik. Kosta Pecanac was another Chetnik but at least he was honest and didn't hide the Nazi ties. So if Serbs adore Draza, the Chetnik, why would you be upset?
Regarding Serbs fighting in 1389: many fought for the Turks as well in the same battle. Plus, it was the Serbs who betrayed John Hunyadi by telling the Turks' his position and also delayed Albania's Gjergj Kastrioti from reaching him with 20,000 Albanian mountaineers. He was late and the rest is history. That was the "Second Kosovo Battle"
It was also the Serbs, the good ottoman vassals (the Church didn't mind it either as they were getting rich) that also fought against Christians in Nicolisa and many other battles. (Stefan Lazarevic to be exact) In the same filed, Serbs worked against us and for the Turks after 1900's so we could get weak enough for you to exterminate us. Your hero was Kralj Marko, the ottoman vassal, sent to kill Musa, the Albanian renegade that rebelled against the Sultan. it's in your songs
Here's a summary of your glorious contribution to Christianity: youtube*com/watch?v=YwXsKaLIblQ don't get me started. yes, Albanians fought for the Turks, just as we fought against them, protected the Pope before the Swiss Guard, fought the Russians, for the Spaniards, for the Kingdom of Naples, for Napoleon...and so on.
A man's job, in a mountainous area, was fighting and that's what they did:
"The story of the Albanians deserves a study in itself. Attracted by the 'sword, the gold trappings, and the honors, they left their mountains chiefly in order to become soldiers. In the sixteenth century they were to be found in Cyprus, in Venice, in Mantua, in Rome, in Naples, and Sicily, and as far abroad as Madrid, where they went to present their projects and their grievances, to ask for barrels of gunpowder or years of pension, arrogant, imperious, always ready for a fight."
- Nicholas Pappas
Encyclopedia Catolica: "The force of circumstances has driven the Albanian into fierce espousal of one or other of the causes which are being periodically fought out between antagonists whose success or defeat leaves his own condition almost unchanged. It was an Albanian who led the Greeks in the War of Independence, and again an Albanian who commanded the Turkish troops sent to quell the rebellion. The Kings of Naples kept an Albanian regiment styled the Royal Macedonian, and the famous resistance of Silistria in 1854 is due to dogged Albanian bravery. "
Albania in 1920 looks like it was in 1500 because no one really conquered it, they just let it be: no roads, no commerce, no taxes, nothing. Religion does mean nationhood to us like it does to Serbs and Greeks so it's important.
"The Albanians, these tigers of mountain wars ... have as their religion rebellion. Even their worst warrior is one of the strongest and bravest on the battle-field, just as if he was a knight on the legendary horse. But he has no horse, nor proper weapons for battle. Instead of the horse, he has a lance which strikes as lightning, he has spears who's points are full of posion as the sting of hornets, he has also a wooden bow with some arrows. Furthermore, he is stronger than iron ... "
- Ibn Kemal, Historian of the Turkish court during Skanderbeg's war against the Turks.
There was a reason why Albanian schools were not allowed: The Serbian and Greek churches were one, but unity was the major one. The Sultan feared Albanian unity as he got screwed by Ali Pasha and Mehemet Ali (Egypt's Albanian founder)
Posted by: nameless-fool at June 27, 2008 5:25 pm
Well well. It seems both nameless-fool and Kejda have "decloaked" as a Trekkie might say. It only took another non-Serb gently defending Serbs to bring out the demon in both of you.
Michael,
It seems that hereabouts people like Dan and I - non-Serbs who speak up for Serbs - can be routinely accused of being "Serbian nationalists" and subjected to a string of ad hominum insults by two Albanians, who seem to be able to get away with hijacking threads, going waaaaaay off-topic, insulting individuals (or or entire ethnic groups) and reposting hate propaganda.
For responding to their constant anti-Serb attacks or insinuations, I was cautioned with 3 post limit and Dan got a torrent of abuse. The one Ethnic Serb who showed up here, William Dorich, whose original post was no worse that nameless-fool's excretion above, got banned.
I think its time to applied your new policy a bit more evenly.
Nameless-fool,
Any chump can go and harvest the sort of material you posted here from the many Albanian Serb-hate sites and empty it on our eyeballs. The very same chump can go to the many Serbian anti-Albanian hate sites and do exactly the same thing in reverse.
Don't subject us to this nonsense. There is enough of it in MySpace forums from people who write "I h8 Alboz 'n Chetniks".
Albanians and Serbs have way more in common that perhaps they both like to admit, and that includes valiant resistance against Turkish and German occupations, but also the shame of collaboration. In that sense Albanians and Serbs are like every occupied people in history. Pointing out each others historical wrong-doings is both bad mannered and hypocritical.
Kejda,
Maybe it is time to take a hint? You are ruining what would otherwise be good arguments and interesting observations with your aggressiveness and sometimes grossly unfair anti-Serb swipes.
One could say exactly the same thing about me and Albanians, and I am now making sure I do not misrepresent myself
Posted by: Limbic at June 28, 2008 2:33 am
Limbic,
It is clear that you will not let the expressed wishes of this web site's owner to limit your rants to three per thread, get in the way of your compulsive need to have the last word.
No one has been addressing you, and you are already over your limit of three posts per thread. What do you want? Besides insinuating that nameless_fool and myself be banned, of course?
You have made a number of manipulative, dishonest and highly annoying remarks in your comment #2, which I didn't address because attention is all you crave and live off of.
Enough with the moral equivalence, already. You are the last person qualified to tell us how much Serbia and Albania have in common, or the shared blame/shame of collaboration. The mere fact that you think nameless_fool's posts bear any resemblance to those of the freak Dorich, just shows how corrupt and/or clueless you are.
Nameless_fool provided quotes with authors, as well as easily verifiable facts. If you want to challenge anything in specific, you are more than welcome to do so, on your blog, since you already had your 3 posts here. Speculating that the information supposedly came from Albanian nationalist sites (btw, name me a few, I don't know of any) will not get you very far. By the way, how mighty hypocritical of someone who in another thread linked to an 'article' from Islam-Watch, which had actually been fished out from Serbiana.
If you are trying to fool yourself that you are not an Albanian hating bigot, don't. You ought to either try much harder than that to not sound anti-Albanian, or don't bother hiding it at all. I could fill an entire page with your outrageous quotes, including minute-marks from your pseudo-intellectual YouTube rants, which show your true colors bright and clear.
What now? Will you take another dump on Michael's blog and fire off your 5th post on this thread? You got a fresh one that will give you new chances to seethe. Check out the homepage.
Posted by: medaura at June 28, 2008 5:50 pm
You warn someone that their bigotry diaper is leaking and the "thanks' you get is taking it off completely!
http://www.limbicnutrition.com/blog/michael-totten-again-this-time-on-the-road-to-kosovo/
Posted by: Limbic at June 29, 2008 5:21 am
I counted five posts from Limbic so my suggestion is either cut our all the vowels or if that is too difficult then excise the two posts that resemble Kerouac's original manuscript for On the Road.
Posted by: Pat Patterson at June 29, 2008 7:22 am
Rereading nameless-fool I was struck by how similar the Albanians are to the Scots and Scots-Irish of Ulster. Willing to fight generally for anybody but never trusted by those they fought for either in the Balkans or Tennessee.
Posted by: Pat Patterson at June 29, 2008 9:22 pm
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