June 2, 2008

A Dark Corner of Europe, Part I

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“If Yugoslavia was the laboratory of Communism, then Communism would breathe its last dying breath here in Belgrade. And to judge by what [Slobodan] Milosevic was turning into by early 1989, Communism would exit the world stage revealed for what it truly was: fascism, without fascism's ability to make the trains run on time.” - Robert D. Kaplan

“You bombed my country.” These were the nearly first words I heard after clearing passport control on arrival in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, from a taxi driver who flagged me down inside the airport. “Fifteen countries bombed my country.”

I didn't know what to say. Neither did my American friend and traveling companion Sean LaFreniere.

“Why are you here in Serbia?” the driver said.

“We're tourists,” I lied. I didn't want to say I was an American journalist on a trip through the former Yugoslavia with an end destination in Kosovo. Serbia's last war of ethnic-cleansing was fought there, and it only ended when NATO, led by the United States, bombed Belgrade's tyrant Slobodan Milosevic into submission. That was nine years ago, but just three months ago Kosovo declared independence from Serbia. A mob of Serbian nationalists answered by fire-bombing the American embassy. The U.S. responded by evacuating its non-essential employees.

“If people ask what two tourists are doing here,” the driver said, “where you are from, you say you're from Holland.”

From a distance, the latest news out of Belgrade made the place look like a reactionary Middle East capital on a bad day, but this was still Europe. How dangerous could Serbia possibly be? Tensions are higher now than at any time since the 1999 war, but I wasn't going to lie about where I'm from. Whatever ails the country right now, it hardly compares to Iraq.

Sean and I tossed our bags in the trunk of the taxi and collapsed into the back seat. It was midnight and there was no traffic. I figured the ride into town should cost around 20 dollars, and I expected the driver would rip us off and charge something like 40. We had no idea what the exchange rate was, so I just pulled out a wad of bills from an ATM. I knew better than that, but was too exhausted to care. We paid 4000 Serbian dinars, and only later found out that meant 80 dollars for a fifteen minute cab ride.

“I cannot go to America,” our driver said as he hurtled us at top speed down the freeway while driving half in and half out of his lane. “America will not give visa. America closed to us in Serbia.”

“Sorry,” I said. “It’s probably because of the war. Thank God that's over.” Firebombing our embassy didn't help either, but I wasn't going to antagonize a man who almost certainly wasn't one of the arsonists.

He was a Serb, but he looked like a Turk. Ethnicity in the Balkans, as in the Middle East, has nothing to do with biological characteristics. Expanding and contracting empires of both the East and the West have mixed up the gene pools everywhere in those regions. American-style racial categories make even less sense there than they do in the U.S. An Orthodox Christian in the former Yugoslavia who speaks Serbo-Croatian as a first language is a Serb no matter where his ancestors may have lived hundreds of years ago. That's true whether he attends church or not. Religious belief as such is no more relevant to ethnicity in the Balkans than it is inside Israel. Dark-eyed or dark-skinned Slavs are even more common in Serbia than white-skinned or blue-eyed Arabs in North Africa and the Levant.

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The view of New Belgrade from Old Belgrade

Most of the city's hotels are in so-called New Belgrade. They are overpriced, far from the city center, and surrounded by communist-era monstrosity architecture. Downtown is better. It looks and feels like a proper European environment. So instead of staying in a five-star hotel in a communist-era neighborhood, we stayed in a communist-era hotel in a five-star neighborhood.

The Hotel Royal was established in 1886, but you wouldn't know it from the look of the place. It couldn't have been upgraded much, if at all, since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

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My room in the Hotel Royal, formerly the Hotel Toplice

The red carpets were badly stained. Sean kept banging his head on the poorly affixed reading lamp next to his bed. Shower curtains were missing half their rings, and only stretched half-way across the tub in any case. An ankle-busting open drain threatened bare feet at all times. Beds were too hard, too short, and too narrow, yet still the stiff sheets barely fit. The screen on the TV was smaller than the one on my laptop, there was no cable or satellite, and there were only two volume control settings: too quiet to hear, or loud enough to disturb the neighbors even at noon. Towels were hardly more absorbent than rubber sheets. Everyone should stay in a hotel like this once in a while to gain a little appreciation for Motel 6.

We walked the streets of old Belgrade after midnight and searched for whatever cafes or bars were still open. Sean said at once the city reminded him of his trips to cities in Russia, though it's a bit more prosperous and less sketchy.

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Belgrade after midnight

The karaoke bar on a corner might not have been our first choice during the early evening, but it was one of the few places still open after midnight on a holiday weekend. We stepped inside. Beautiful and fashionably dressed young Serbian women and men sang songs in their native language with their arms around each other, empty shot glasses and crumpled packages of cigarettes before them on the tables. Except for the bartender whom we spoke to in English, no one in the establishment could tell we weren't Serbs. The atmosphere in the bar was one of energetic and joyous camaraderie. I was happy to be there. Serbia didn't feel remotely sinister, and I chuckled to myself as I remembered our taxi driver's warning.

“I could live here,” Sean said. I was tempted to agree as I took a swallow of my locally brewed Serbian beer. Belgrade was my kind of place – intriguing and troubled, yet attractive, cultured, and fun.

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Belgrade during the day

Then we found a Turkish-themed bar in a basement, and I reconsidered somewhat.

This place was quiet. Two young men brooded over beers in a corner, and two young women at the bar laughed at the bartender's jokes. The other tables were empty. I was surprised to find an Istanbul-like establishment in a country so violently anti-Islamic, but old Turkish style is warm and sophisticated, and Serbs do have good taste.

“We should order some of their plum brandy,” Sean loudly said as we leaned against the bar.

“You mean slivovitz?” I said.

Everyone heard us, dropped their conversation in mid-sentence, and stared. Their looks weren't hostile, exactly, but they weren't friendly either.

“Can we get some slivovitz?” Sean said to the bartender.

“I'd also like a beer, please,” I said.

The Balkan Stare abated, and the bartender smiled. He seemed happy that we knew of their national drink and wanted to have some. The handful of Serbian patrons switched to talking about us instead of staring at us.

Not until we sat down with our drinks did I remember an obvious and very important fact for the first time since we landed. Americans are not only the ones who bombed Belgrade. American soldiers in Kosovo are currently occupying part of what Serbs insist is their country. Most of Yugoslavia dismembered itself, but from the Serbian point of view, Americans were instrumental in the dismemberment of Serbia, which is something else.

It was a strange twilight zone feeling, and it didn't seem real. The only places I've seen American soldiers are in the U.S. and in Iraq. Europe is often thought of as a post-historical paradise, yet a place that looks like a banged-up version of Vienna if you squint at it hard enough in the dark got what was basically the Saddam Hussein treatment.

I sipped from my shot glass of slivovitz. It tasted of sweet plums and fire, but mostly of fire.

*

Sean is my oldest friend, and we're accustomed to taking road trips together that our friends and family tend to think are ill-advised. Our most infamous was a trip I wrote about a few years ago that we took on a lark from Istanbul, diagonally across Anatolia in a rented car, and into Iraq. There's no “beating” that, but we've wanted to road-trip across Yugoslavia together ever since Bosnia came apart at the seams. It is one of the most important, and historically violent, civilizational crossroads in the world.

The medieval Kingdom of Serbia lost its sovereignty to the Turks when Tsar Lazar’s army was defeated on the Field of Blackbirds, near the town of Kosovo Polje, in 1389. The tragic dissolution of Serbia, and it annexation by the world of Islam, was deeply traumatizing to the Serbian national psyche. The recent crimes of Slobodan Milosevic and his band of like-minded war criminals shouldn’t obscure that, even though they were not justified by it.

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Old Belgrade

Serbia may be mostly Christian, but it’s no less Eastern than Turkey. (Christianity is itself a Middle Eastern religion by origin.) Serbia did not belong to the Western half of the Roman Empire with Rome as its capital. It belonged, instead, to the Eastern half of the empire whose capital is now Istanbul.

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The Western and Eastern halves of the Roman Empire with their capitals in Rome and Constantinople-Istanbul

Most of the Balkan Peninsula was part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire for hundreds of years. It did not belong to the West. It was the northern-most region of the political entity that included much of the Arab world, and it was anchored there for longer than the United States has existed as a country. The region of the South Slavs is European by geography and in some ways by culture, but for the last half-millennium much of it has been ruled by Easterners and Muslims more often than not. Belgrade belonged to the same political entity as Mecca, Medina, Jerusalem, Cairo, and Baghdad.

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The Turkish Ottoman Empire, which included Serbia as well as much of the Arab world

Serbia did not take part in the Renaissance, which spread from Italy to much of Europe, but not to Ottoman lands.

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Italy during the Renaissance, when Serbia belonged to the Turks

Serbia was beyond the reach of Napoleon and his code, which strongly influenced the rule of law.

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Napoleon’s Empire did not penetrate the Balkans beyond the Dalmatian coast

Serbia likewise missed the Western European Enlightenment, subsumed as it was in the world of the East and Islam at the time.

The Ottoman Empire disintegrated at the end of World War I, but many of its unstable former pieces – from Israel and Cyprus to Lebanon and Iraq – are still at war with themselves and with each other. The unraveling of Yugoslavia has more in common with patterns of post-Ottoman crackup elsewhere than many people outside the region have stopped to consider.

The Kurds of Iraq, I discovered, provide a useful and instructive foil for Arabs. So do the Turks, Serbs, Bosnians, and Albanians in that strange region between the Middle East and Western Europe where civilizations overlap in bizarre and often counter-intuitive ways. The former Yugoslavia is not the Middle East, but it’s an eye-opening crossroads where East and West meet and bleed into each other like artifacts in a painting by Salvador Dali.

Sean and I met one of Belgrade's most famous writers, Filip David, at a cafe downtown across the street from a small park. You may know him as the writer of the award-winning film Cabaret Balkan (or, The Powder Keg in its original Serbo-Croatian), a disturbing Altman-esque kaleidoscope of intertwined stories set in Belgrade on the eve of Yugoslavia's violent unraveling.

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He wanted to get one thing out of the way before Sean or I asked him anything.

“I must say that I opposed from the first moment the Milosevic regime,” he said, “from the beginning of the 1990s. I was in non-government groups and organizations that were opposed to Milosevic and the nationalistic policies of Serbian power.”

“Did you spend time in prison?” I said.

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Filip David

“No,” he said, “because Milosevic was very clever. He let dissidents stay free so he could always say to people outside Serbia, here is democracy. You could see these small groups, but they were without any real influence. But when he saw that it could be dangerous, he stopped the TV and radio stations. He stopped newspapers, and so on. I did lose my job, though. For 25 years I was the head of the drama department at TV Belgrade.”

TV Belgrade, at the time, was the only Serbian channel. It was Slobodan Milosevic's very own Pravda. Now, though, Serbia has many channels. And even during the Communist era under Josip Broz (Marshall) Tito, Western newspapers and magazines were available.

“The political situation is not okay,” David said. “It has not changed from the time of Milosevic, you know.”

“Really?” I said. I was slightly surprised to hear this, and I'm not sure he's right. Serbia's election a few weeks ago produced a better result than either David or I expected when we met. Boris Tadic's pro-European Democratic Party got less than 50 percent of the vote, but still garnered a bigger share than any of the individual nationalist parties. Serbian Nationalists outnumber internationalists overall, but they're somewhat disorganized and they certainly are not starting wars anymore.

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A Democratic Party billboard

“Milosevic is dead,” David said, “but his ideas and Serbian Nationalism is still very strong.”

That much at least is true. Serbia's full-blown nationalist parties – the Radicals led by Vojislav Šešelj, currently in the dock in the Hague for war crimes and genocide – and Milosevic's old Socialist party, are supported by roughly half the population. A smaller base of support for Vojislav Kostunica's more moderate party, which is still nationalist and anti-European, place Serbia's supporters of Westernization and liberalism in the minority.

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Posters for the Serbian Radical Party, Tomislav Nikolic (left) and Vojislav Šešelj (right)

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Radical Party leader Vojislav Šešelj before his imprisonment in The Hague

The Communist era's Marshall Tito was awfully liberal as far as Marxist dictators go, but Serbia's nationalists are more extreme than any others in Europe. As Paul Berman put it, “the best communism led to the worst post-communism.” The French National Front, led by Jean Marie Le Pen, may wax nostalgic for the extremist actors of yesteryear, but the head of the Radical Party is headed by present day war criminals who plotted and carried out genocide against both Muslims and Catholics.

“What put Yugoslavia together was communism,” David said. “There was an ideological base, there were communist parties in Serbia, Croatia, everywhere. But after the fall of communism, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, they lost their ideological base. Milosevic was a real communist, but also a pragmatist. He knew what to do to keep his power. At first he was against nationalism.”

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Former Communist Party Headquarters

“You mean after Tito?” I said.

“After the fall of the Berlin Wall,” he said. “But communists in Serbia had to fall also. So very soon Milosevic became a Serbian Nationalist. You must understand that Serbian Nationalism is also a totalitarian ideology.”

“So it's not that hard to go from one totalitarianism to the other,” Sean said.

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Sean LaFreniere

“He was not really a nationalist,” David said, “but he had to do this to keep his power. The problem with Serbs then was that Serbs controlled the Yugoslav Army. At that moment he went all over Yugoslavia and raised the issue of nationalism. He was sure that because the Serbs in the Yugoslav Army controlled everything, he could control Yugoslavia. And he then began to attack Croatia, Bosnia. The army was already there, everywhere were people opposed to his regime. That was the beginning of the end of Yugoslavia.”

The dénouement was a long one. The end of the end of Yugoslavia only came to pass three months ago when Kosovo declared its independence.

“I'm on the political committee of a small party,” David said, “the Liberal Democratic Party. In the opinion of some people, especially outside Serbia, this is the only party that's based on the real situation. We say Kosovo has separated, it is now a new state, and we should have good relations with them.”

“You recognize this?” I said.

“Yes,” he said. “100,000 Serbs still live there, so we have to have good relations with Albanians.” 90 percent of Kosovo's people are ethnic Albanians. “But we're only a minority here in Serbia. Maybe six, seven, or eight percent of people agree with this. The rhetoric here is very high in the media that Kosovo is Serbia. Of course they say they will defend it with diplomacy. We have no strength to fight for it. But who knows, they say. Maybe one day in the future.”

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“The people in Kosovo,” David said, “the Albanians don't want to live in Serbia. Before the Milosevic regime we had no connection to Kosovo. They had their own parallel institutions. They were already outside Serbia. I am sure that some of our politicians are happy that it has separated, but officially they speak differently.”

“You mean, privately they're happy?” I said.

“Yes,” David said.

“They've removed the problem,” Sean said. “It's been cut loose.”

“Kosovo was only part of Serbia after the First World War,” David said. “It was not forever even though they say it was forever.”

Many Serbian Nationalists are fixated on the battle near Kosovo Polje when Tsar Lasar's forces were defeated by the Turks on the Field of Blackbirds in 1389. But Kosovo was mostly Albanian then, as it is now.

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The city center is full of Communist architecture

“And when you have myths,” David continued, “they are based on emotions, not on facts. Hitler has in Mein Kampf one very important sentence. He said his National Socialist movement was not based on facts, but on emotions, and that no facts can destroy it. And if you base your power on emotion, people will stay there and it will be forever. I asked myself, how did things change in Nazi Germany? With a complete catastrophe. We haven't had one. And I don't want one because I live here.”

NATO's bombing of Serbia and Montenegro in 1999 was a catastrophe of a sort, but of course it hardly compares to what happened to Germany and Japan in the 1940s.

“I can't say, yes, that's the solution,” David said. “But in some way you must begin from zero.”

*

A large number of Europeans, contrary to conventional wisdom, have been anti-American for most of America's history. The problem, however, is confined, to an extent, to Western European elitists. Eastern Europe is different, as Donald Rumsfeld bluntly pointed out with his now infamous quip about New Europe and Old. Serbia, though, is different from both. Anti-Americanism runs much deeper there, and it’s partly based on recent and current grievances as well as the usual conspiracy theories and phantasmagoria. It is much more vicious than what you'll find in the cafes of Paris.

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An outdoor cafe in Belgrade in front of the Hotel Moscow

“What do most Serbs think of Americans now?” I asked Filip David.

“Very bad!” he said and laughed. “There is very messy propaganda, you know. Here there is no private opinion, only public opinion. During Milosevic they said for four years that there was no alternative to war. And after Dayton, the next day, they said that peace has no alternative. Everyone changed their mind overnight. The influence of the media is very very strong. And now they say Americans are our enemies.”

“They actually use the word enemies?” I said.

“Yes,” he said. “You also have some kind of stereotypes. The first is that there is an international conspiracy against Serbia, and that behind that are Americans and Jews with the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

“Oh, you're kidding,” Sean said. He spent six months in Denmark while I was in Lebanon, and he never heard that kind of thing there.

“Really,” David said. “They say Jews control America.”

Sean couldn't help but laugh at the absurdity.

“And the second,” David said, “is that all independent journalists and non-government members are traitors who are paid by the West. These two stereotypes exist now, in this moment. I am against this, you know, because I am Jewish.”

“Is that a problem for you here?” I said.

“It's an attack on international Jews,” he said, “not Jews here, because, you know, in Serbia there are only 2,000 Jews. A lot of people who attack Jews and are anti-Semites, they have never seen in their lives any Jews. In this moment, we have over 100 anti-Semitic books. A lot of them are reprinted books that were written during the Nazi occupation of Serbia during the Second World War. They are trying to explain how it's possible that Serbia lost all its wars. They are saying that it's an international conspiracy. And people believe it. You know, the bombing of Belgrade. It's true that in the American administration you have lots of Jews. But they are Americans, they act like Americans, not like Jews. I think so.”

“And the honest truth,” Sean said, “is there aren't that many.”

“Most are Christians,” I said.

“Henry Kissinger,” David said. “Hal Holbrook, Wesley Clark.”

“Wesley Clark isn't Jewish,” I said. “He's Christian.”

“He's not a Jew,” Sean said.

General Wesley Clark was NATO's Supreme Allied Commander of Europe when the U.S. went to war against Yugoslavia – which was really just a war against Serbia since what was left of Yugoslavia at the time might be better described as the Serbian Empire. (Yugoslavia was derisively described by many of its citizens as Serboslavia even long before the rise of Milosevic.) It wouldn't be reasonable to expect many Serbs to admire Wesley Clark, but accusing him of being a Jew seemed a bit much.

“Yes,” David said, “but he was born a Jew and adopted by some family. It's not important whether it's true or not. People here say someone is a Jew when they don't like him.”

I decided to fact-check this just in case I was wrong. And according to Wikipedia, Wesley Clark has a Jewish great-grandfather. That doesn't make him Jewish according to Jewish law, but it does make him Jewish according to Hitler's definition and, apparently, according to the Serbian definition as well. When General Clark ran for president in the Democratic primary in 2004, the American media let this factoid languish in relative obscurity because hardly anyone in the United States would find it interesting or relevant.

I assumed it was nonsense because Belgrade's propaganda industry has been manufacturing lies about its enemies for a long time. Republican Senator Bob Dole was widely accused in Serbia of being secretly an Albanian Muslim, for instance. Kosovo's current prime minister Hashim Thaci, who really is a bit sketchy, was recently and absurdly accused of harvesting and selling Serb body parts. When you throw The Protocols of the Elders of Zion into the mix, it’s a good idea to fact-check what you hear – which is frankly good advice in the Balkans in general, not just in Serbia.

“Everybody tries to make their identification with Palestine or with Jews to explain what happens here in Serbia,” David said. “People very often can't understand what happens here. We who live here can't always understand. During Tito's regime there wasn't any kind of anti-Semitism. Tito had good relations with Israel. But with the rise of nationalism everywhere we have the rise of anti-Semitism everywhere. In Slovenia they have maybe 50 Jews, but they have problems with anti-Semitism when there are problems with the economy.”

“So basically,” Sean said, “anti-Semitism is used here, right now, in the exact same way it was used in Nazi Germany.”

“That's the problem,” David said.

“What do Serbs think of Israel?” I said.

“It's mixed,” he said. “Sometimes they praise Israel and say we too must defend ourselves with arms. But other times they say We are like Palestinians, and that Israel is an extension of the United States.”

“So sometimes Serbs identify with Palestinians,” I said. That comes across just from walking around. I saw three Serbs wearing Palestinian keffiyehs downtown just that morning. At the same time, Serbia is the most violently anti-Islamic country in Europe.

“But it's also not so simple,” he said, “because Palestinians are Arabs. And they don't like Arabs because Arabs are Muslims. That's why I say there is so much confusion here about political life, cultural life, and economic life. You can be very surprised by what people say here, and the next day they will say the exact opposite.”

Not everyone in Serbia hates Americans, though.

“I supported Americans from the first moment here,” David said. “I mean, you can criticize Bush or some aspects of his politics, but without the United States we couldn't have resolved any of the problems in the former Yugoslavia. Because European countries have no strength. When the United States came, all the problems were resolved. It stopped. It stopped the fight. Yes, the United States is some kind of policeman, but you must have some kind of policeman in the world who is ready to stop, to intervene. We had that kind of situation in the Second World War, too. When Americans came, it was finished.”

“But we're very conflicted about it,” Sean said. “We don't want to be the world's policeman, but we keep having to do it.”

“It would be very dangerous for the entire world if there was complete isolation of America,” David said. “If Americans said they were no longer interested in Europe, it would be a catastrophe here.”

“You think?” Sean said.

“Yes,” David said, “because Europe can't stop anything.”

“Is there any talk that if you joined the EU that the economy would take off?” Sean said.

“Yes,” David said, “but these are facts. These are facts. People in the Democratic Party are saying so, but others are saying they would rather us be very poor and have our dignity.”

“That's very much like the Arabs,” I said.

“Yes,” David said. “In some ways.”

“I don't mean to be offensive when I say that,” I said.

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Serbia likes to show off its military hardware in public. “They're just like Russians,” Sean said and laughed when he saw this. “And Arabs,” I said.

“If you have no facts, you play on dignity,” David said.

“But you know what?” Sean said. “Cash buys a lot of dignity.”

“Without cash you have no dignity,” David said. “Yes, that's normal. You know, when we were under sanctions we had so much inflation. You can't imagine. If I didn't send a letter to my friends in the morning, in the afternoon it cost in the millions. It was the highest inflation in the world during Milosevic. In shops you couldn't buy anything. They were completely empty. But because we are an agricultural country, we could eat. Pensions were less than one deutschmark per month. Less than one. Money completely lost its value. If I had my pockets full of money, I couldn't even buy cigarettes. Nothing. You can't imagine that kind of situation. It's like living in some absurd galaxy.”

*

Neither Sean nor I had been to Belgrade before, and Filip David offered to take us on a bit of a walking tour. We set out from our downtown cafe and walked toward Belgrade TV, David's old employer before Milosevic fired him and before the headquarters was bombed by the Americans.

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Sean LaFreniere (left) and Filip David (right) in front of Serbia's Parliament

David showed us the Serbian parliament building, orthodox churches, the old Marx and Engels square from the communist days, and other various landmarks. I saw virtually no evidence that Belgrade had ever been bombed. Serbs suffered much more in Croatia, where they were ethnically-cleansed from the Krajina region in one of the most under-reported atrocities of the war.

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“During the bombing here,” Sean said, “how bad was it?”

“I have very contradictory feelings,” David said. “On one side, I knew, I was sure, that Milosevic wouldn't resign without bombing. The resignation of Milosevic was a result of the bombing. On the other side, I was with my family here, my boy, my girl, you know, and they were afraid. My son lived 100 meters from Belgrade TV, which was bombed, and I lived 200 meters, and I begged him to stay with me because we knew it would be bombed that night. He said no, that he passed all these buildings that were bombed and he saw that the Americans were very precise.”

“But it's still dangerous,” I said.

“Sometimes they bombed the wrong thing,” he said, “but here in Belgrade they were very precise. It was not the kind of bombing as in the Second World War where they were bombing everything.”

“We will never do that again,” Sean said.

“You could see,” David said, “you could predict, they said what they were going to hit before they hit it. But it became very dangerous because they bombed all the official buildings and then they didn't know what to do next if Milosevic wouldn't resign. But Milosevic stopped at the right time.”

The bombed-out Belgrade TV station building wasn't far from our starting point. It stood out as one of the few remaining demolished buildings from the air campaign. It seems to be left as a showpiece. It's hard to say, though, if this building was left in its condition to wave the bloody shirt against Americans or against the Milosevic regime.

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Belgrade TV, bombed by Americans in 1999

“We predicted it would be bombed because it was a massive propaganda mission,” David said. “And I was very sorry because 16 people who were innocent in that building were killed.”

“People chose to stay in it?” Sean said.

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“No,” David said. “It was not by choice. The conclusion was that if people were killed, we would have an argument against the West. The man who was the general director at that moment is in prison because of it, because he gave orders to put people there.”

A memorial to the dead is placed across the street from the vertical rubble. All sixteen names are engraved in the stone. Above the list of names is written one simple question: Why?

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But the truth is, everybody knows why. Civilians killed by Americans make for great propaganda. Journalists like Robert Fisk predictably complied and blamed NATO. It didn't matter at the time that Americans hit the building at 2:00 in the morning when no one should have been in there. It occurred to few that Serbian authorities might want to cynically parade the corpses of their own innocents in front of the cameras, though an old Middle East hand like Fisk should have known it was at least possible.

General Manager Dragoljub Milanovic was handed a ten year prison sentence in 2002 for forcing these sixteen employees to remain behind and get killed.

“He knew it would be bombed,” David said. “That's how this government thought.”

There's a lot of that going around. I've seen it in Lebanon, too.

“Hezbollah thinks that way,” I said.

“Yes,” David said. “In some ways.”

It's tempting to think that Serbia has changed, especially now that Milosevic is dead and the pro-European Democratic Party won more votes than the Radicals in the recent election.

“What do people here think of Milosevic now?” I said.

“He isn't so popular now because he lost all the wars,” he said, “not because of his politics. He didn't fulfill what he promised. But all these parties now say what he said about Kosovo, about the United States, about Russia. The rhetoric didn't change. But he lost, and he lost the support of the people because of it...We are afraid of the Radicals because we know what they did. They were in a coalition with Milosevic, you know. They did awful things. Their rhetoric is still war rhetoric.”

“I was very critical of Milosevic,” Radical Party leader Tomislav Nikolic said just a few weeks ago. “He had stopped short all Serbian actions, which benefited our enemies. I would have done many things differently. I would have gone all the way.”

How Nikolic would have gone further than Milosevic, whose ethnic-cleansing campaign turned 90 percent of Kosovar Albanians into refugees, isn't clear. There wasn't much more that could have been done short of defeating the United States and NATO in battle, or killing the Albanians outright so they could never go home.

The Radicals aren't gearing up for yet a fifth Serbian war. They can’t. Nikolic is trying to rhetorically out-Slobo Slobo as a way to make up for his own party’s impotence on the Kosovo question. A huge chunk of Serbia’s population hasn’t moderated their views an iota. “After 11 September 2001 the world seemed to forget about the Balkans,” Asne Seierstad writes in her excellent book With Their Backs to the World: Portraits from Serbia. “The reporters who used to cover the region left for other, bloodier parts of the world, but all the while Serbia stayed on its crooked course.” Only their behavior has mellowed, but in the end that is what matters most.

“I feel like we're safe here,” I said to David. “Is that true?”

“Yes,” he said. “Generally. But sometimes you will have somebody say they don't like you if they hear you speak English.”

I'd seen some looks of surprise and the occasional uncomfortable stare, but no one had been verbally rude to either Sean or me yet.

“Our taxi driver from the airport told us not to say we're Americans,” Sean said, “but to say we're from Holland.”

“That seems paranoid,” I said.

“Maybe that was his impression,” David said. “Or maybe he didn't want to say directly that he doesn't like Americans, but in that indirect way he said you are not welcome here. You may meet some people who say, fine, you're Americans, and others who say they hate Americans. But you could say you support the Radicals, that you came here to support Šešelj and Milosevic.”

Sean and I laughed.

“What if we say we support Kosovo?” I said.

“That would be dangerous,” David said.

To be continued...

Coming up: a visit to war-shattered Bosnia, a road trip to Kosovo, Albanians who rescued Jews from the Nazis, activists for the eviction of the United Nations, American soldiers hailed as liberators by Kosovo’s Albanians and as protectors by Kosovo’s Serbs, Israelis who live among Muslims, and victims of the Bin Ladens of the Balkans.

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Posted by Michael J. Totten at June 2, 2008 12:09 AM
Comments

Even if there was never a direct flood of Western cultural change washing over Serbia, there was osmotic infiltration. The same kind of osmosis went both ways, of course, but after 1683 it looks like the West came out far ahead of the exchange, if for no other reason that nothing new was coming out of the East.

Serbia was lashed to a rotting corpse after the lifting of the siege of Vienna. The effects of necrotic poisons are what we are seeing in a lot of ways.

The artillery pictured is WWI vintage, not current issue.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell Author Profile Page at June 2, 2008 10:11 AM

It's interesting to see that the "Protocols" anti-semitism nonsense is alive and well in this corner of Europe. It's amazing to see how little things have changed.

Michael- do you get the feeling that there is a generational split in attitudes towards Americans? Does one generation appear to hate us more than the other?

Thanks again for your insight.

Posted by: Tman Author Profile Page at June 2, 2008 10:35 AM

Patrick: Even if there was never a direct flood of Western cultural change washing over Serbia, there was osmotic infiltration.

Yes, of course. Serbia looks and feels Western to an extent if you don't scratch the surface. And either way it is, of course, European.

Still, Serbia is non-Western even on the surface in ways that are hard to articulate. Perhaps I could figure out why if I spent more time there.

It was startling to go from Serbia to Croatia. Croatia is much more Western, and I was surprised by how in-my-face that abrupt change hit me upon arrival in Dubrovnik. It's hard to articulate why because I spent less than a day in Croatia, but the West is home for me, and I know home when I see it.

The real mind-blowing place in the region is Albania. That country turns just about every assumption about all this stuff on its head.

Tman: do you get the feeling that there is a generational split in attitudes towards Americans? Does one generation appear to hate us more than the other?

I could guess, but I shouldn't because I would only be guessing. The real answer is, I don't know.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 2, 2008 10:43 AM

One very important difference is envy -- is the local dream to do better than a fortunate neighbor? or is the dream that neighbor's prize cow dies?

Great, great stuff. Sounds different than Bratislava, which is more like Croatian Zagreb.

The nationalism is likely to seep away only slowly, as the economy improves and as people travel out and tourists travel in.

How lucky to meet David -- or had you had prior contacts and a plan?

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad Author Profile Page at June 2, 2008 10:54 AM

Tom: How lucky to meet David — or had you had prior contacts and a plan?

We had prior arrangements. Sean finagled David's email address from science-fiction writer Bruce Sterling's ex-wife and her current husband, who are from Belgrade.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 2, 2008 10:57 AM

Michael, Thanks for writting an article on Serbia and the Balkans.

In 2006 I went on leave from Iraq and toured around the Balkans, Eastern, and Central Europe. We had to lie to get leave status granted because they heard we were going through Serbia and weren't going to grant it. The only part we were nervous about was the border crossing because we had our military uniforms packed in the back of our rental car in bags; went through without a hitch.

We made it through and made various stops-Belgrade is an interesting city. My partner in crime split and spent a few nights in Serbia, he said he encountered no problems. I took a train through Serbia on my way back to Sofia, Bulgaria. On the train I was in a cabin with a Serb (a sleepy drunk), and a Turkish man who spoke English. The Turk was a police officer who worked investigating war crimes for the UN in Kosovo, the police on the train looked at him and his passport for 20 minutes; mine for around a minute with quizzical looks on their faces because I was American. You could feel the animosity the police had for the man, I felt sorry for him. I asked him how he felt about it and he just brushed it off. The funny thing about this whole situation now, is back when I was traveling through Serbia, the United States was in the process of setting up a Status of Forces Agreement with Serbia-it was to the point that National Guard Units and Regular Army Units were working with the Serb Army in Serbia. I also was able to see various structures that were hit during the 1999 bombing campaign.

The National Guard Unit that I am with now was in Bosnia in from 2003-2004, I asked them if the Problem will ever go away (it was for a paper for school on the very problem you are examining)-one Sgt had a sobering response. He said they gave us their old weapons and hid the good ones from us when we searched, we found caches of good weapons buried in the ground (many mortars, rockets, AKs, etc.) to be used if America left, and one man told him that if or when the Americans leave he would go down and kill his neighbor for raping his sister during the war. How is that for a peaceful resolution to the conflict?

The Balkans is a unique area and is the crossroads between Europe and the Middle East. The music, food, dress, culture, and peoples have much been influenced by Turkey and the Middle East. You are right to draw parallels between Iraq and the Balkans; I found the same things happening somewhat between the two. Cultures, when mixed together, can create tension and warfare. When doing research for the project I found that the reason for the Serbs in Kosovo was because the government (I can’t remember when exactly) pursued a policy of ethnic relocation within Kosovo-like the Chinese did successfully with Tibet. It is sad that myth of Kosovo being Serbia’s homeland has led to so much bloodshed and pain. A good book on the various histories of the Balkan Countries is called: The Balkans: A Post Communist History by Robert Bideleux; Ian Jeffries. They also wrote a book about Eastern Europe, but I have to look at that one. I hope to travel there again and live there someday. I can’t wait to read the next article or articles. With everything happening in the Middle East these days, it is refreshing that someone is covering, “The Dark Corner of Europe”. There is also a documentary on Balkan Soccer fans and their bloody nationalism. I forgot what it was called-it's pretty crazy.

Posted by: josh Author Profile Page at June 2, 2008 11:13 AM

Michael, the taxi who took you for €80, is one of the "unofficial" taxis in Belgrade. The official taxis are not allowed to "flagged ... down inside the airport". You can find the official upstairs outside with a little blue sign on top. Trip to the center of town is ~€20.

You should have more pictures of the bombing downtown. There are many more buildings which have not been repaired. Very shocking to see the massive destruction in the middle of a big modern European city.

Posted by: cswilly Author Profile Page at June 2, 2008 11:17 AM

cswilly: You should have more pictures of the bombing downtown.

I only saw the one. I know there are others, but I couldn't find them. If I made a big enough point of it, I could have, but I was interested in other things, also, and had a strictly limited amount of time. I spent most of my time on this trip in Kosovo.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 2, 2008 12:01 PM

I was in Belgrade about a year and half ago on business[don't ask]. I got no anti-American vibes at all. Many people spoke English and everyone was quite friendly when I walked into a store or restaurant. I even met a few who were big fans of American football. The food was excellent, quite reminiscent of Turkish food. The women were gorgeous and very tall.

I'm surprised about the anti-semitism that you encountered. There is a large building at the end of the main bridge across the Danube that was built by Israelis on the site of one of the bombed buildings. This was pointed out to me several times but never with any hostility.

My hosts had my driver give me a tour of the city one day. The most shocking thing that I saw was an Army headquarters in a very wealthy residential neighborhood. It had been hit by a JDAM or cruise missile and was nothing but some walls and twisted re-bar. The villas on either side and across the street were completely untouched. There couldn't have been more than 100 feet separation yet they were just fine. It's stunning how precise the weapons are. The notorious Arkin had lived nearby before going to his just reward. Maybe they were looking for him.

Posted by: paul Author Profile Page at June 2, 2008 12:52 PM

Sorry Michael, I think your post is misleading, I'm not sure if intentionally so.

In the last year I have been to Belgrade a half dozen times and all over Serbia. The people there overwhelmingly like Americans, I never heard anyone complain "you bombed my country" or even treat me or anyone I know rudely. I also found them to be scrupulously honest, especially about money.

Most Serbs I met thought Milosovic was a jerk and want nothing more than closer ties to the west. They do feel they have been needlessly humiliated by Western Europe and the US, but I find they do not hold it against Americans they meet.

Here are more pictures of the place including the results of our bombing:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/krlooney/52781065/in/set-1124992/

Overall after visiting Serbia, I find myself much more skeptical of the "official" narrative we get in the media.

Posted by: krell Author Profile Page at June 2, 2008 1:06 PM

You laugh away the allegations about the selling of Serb body parts by Hashim Thaçi. But the (Belgian) newspapers I read were pretty serious about those allegations. They wrote it was pretty certain the uçk sold organs of Serb prisoners and that high ranking uçk members like Hashim Thaçi at least should have known about it. Carla Del Ponte also supports these allegations and last April, Human Rights Watch called for an investigation into the matter. That doesn't mean it is true, but at least it seems to be based on more serious indications than mysterious conspiracy theories like that of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Posted by: Tijl Author Profile Page at June 2, 2008 1:15 PM

Krell: The people there overwhelmingly like Americans, I never heard anyone complain “you bombed my country” or even treat me or anyone I know rudely.

What can I say, Krell? I wrote what I saw and heard. If you didn't hear anyone say "you bombed my country," that's great. I did, instantly upon arrival. He wasn't rude about it, necessarily, he just said it. He was otherwise perfectly pleasant, aside from the fact that he charged me four times too much money. If he was a jerk about it, I wouldn't have gotten into his car.

Yes, people overwhelmingly were friendly in my (brief) experience in Serbia. Only a small number of exceptions, one in a Belgrade church, and one in a village.

Most people are friendly, or at least civil, everywhere in the world. Arabs are quite a lot friendlier than Serbs, but that doesn't mean they aren't often extremely anti-American at the same time. You have to look beyond surface level politeness, which is pleasant and civilized, but not indicative of what people actually think and feel.

Most Serbs I met thought Milosovic was a jerk and want nothing more than closer ties to the west.

Far more Serbs want closer ties to Russia. Just look at the election and polling data. Tadic's pro-Western party got the biggest share of the vote, but still less than 40 percent. All the other parties (except David's tiny party) are anti-American, anti-European, and pro-Russian.

The Serbs you met aren't typical. The Serbs I met aren't typical either. All those I spoke to want closer ties with the West, but they belong to the liberal and cosmopolitan minority faction, and they know it.

I met a Lebanese guy a few years ago who said he thought George W. Bush rigged the election because every single person he met on his vacation to America voted for John Kerry. I don't think I have to explain what the fallacy in his thinking was. I suggest being careful with that when you travel abroad, as well. It's easy to be mislead on this stuff.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 2, 2008 1:21 PM

Tijl: You laugh away the allegations about the selling of Serb body parts by Hashim Thaçi.

Yes, I do. Not because I'm a fan of Thaci (I most certainly am not), but because that accusation doesn't even pass the sniff test. How would he have had the logistical infratstructure and access to sophisticated medical facilities to pull off a stunt like that even if he wanted to?

Look, I met lots of Kosovar Albanians who can't stand the guy, but all of them laugh this one off just as I do. I haven't yet read anything that convinces me, although I obviously haven't read everything. The burden of proof is on the accuser here, not the accused.

I wouldn't believe it if this was said about Milosevic either, and I dislike him a great deal more than I dislike Thaci.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 2, 2008 1:31 PM

Michael,

You apparently haven't been checking eBay's "Serbian Body Parts" market carefully enough. All these years I thought you were practicing responsible journalism and you don't even do a google search that clearly shows a number of the most reputable herbal viagra vendors also do a thriving body part business from the remnants of alien abductions of Serbs.

Seriously, the body part urban legend predicates that people with sufficient money to have that level of surgery accept large numbers of replacement parts from wildly disreputable vendors. I accept that a lot of wealthy people are unwilling to accept the decline of their health and eventual death. I do not believe that the mortality rates disreputable suppliers generate are considered acceptable by wealthy people. People rich enough to organize massive conspiracies do not invest in people slimy enough to steal body parts when their own lives are on the line.

When people have all the money they can spend on medical relief, they come to the US for care, not back-alley chop-shops in the former Soviet Bloc. The business plan of atrocity medical supplies just does not ring true.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell Author Profile Page at June 2, 2008 3:15 PM

Patrick: When people have all the money they can spend on medical relief, they come to the US for care, not back-alley chop-shops in the former Soviet Bloc.

Indeed.

But some people will believe anything, especially about strange regions of the world like Kosovo where precious little information ever gets out.

You might as well slap "Here There Be Dragons" over Kosovo on the map as far as most of the world is concerned.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 2, 2008 3:21 PM

Michael,

My point was that I spent much more time in Serbia than you and had a completely different experience.

But then I went there with no real pre-conceived notions. I've read other stuff by you that was very one-sided against the Serbs and I am wondering if you saw in Belgrade what you wanted to see.

Here is a proper "Fisking" of your article from a friend that lives in Belgrade.

http://www.limbicnutrition.com/blog/michael-trotten-on-belgrade/

Sorry about the name misspelling, I'm sure my friend was a bit agitated by your commentary.

Posted by: krell Author Profile Page at June 2, 2008 5:47 PM

krell: I am wondering if you saw in Belgrade what you wanted to see.

Such as what, exactly? The driver saying "you bombed my country"? I didn't see that because I wanted to see it, I saw it because it happened in front of me. It also happened in front of my traveling companion. He was there, too.

That sort of thing has nothing whatsoever to do with pre-conceived notions.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 2, 2008 5:54 PM

Sorry about the name misspelling, I'm sure my friend was a bit agitated by your commentary

krell - Your friend also says "...thanks to Mr Clinton’s illegal war in support of terrorists and Croatian ethnic cleansers"

Well, hey, you can't get any more unbiased than that.

This statement:

“And when you have myths,” David continued, “they are based on emotions, not on facts. Hitler has in Mein Kampf one very important sentence. He said his National Socialist movement was not based on facts, but on emotions, and that no facts can destroy it. And if you base your power on emotion, people will stay there and it will be forever."

...sums up the mess that results from judging people according to extreme nationalistic or religious tradition. There is no logic in those judgments.

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at June 2, 2008 6:56 PM

krell: Here is a proper “Fisking” of your article from a friend that lives in Belgrade.

I'm not really sure what to make of this "fisking."

The tone of what your friend wrote sounds pretty angry, and it reminds me of the kind of chastising Michael gets once in awhile from locals or long-term residents when they feel he's misunderstood their area of the world.

Give him a break. I mean, he's traveling to and writing about many radically different parts of the world. He may not have got the full (or if you like, true) picture of Serbia, but I have no doubt he reported what he saw honestly. If he interpreted what he saw improperly, I'm sure he can accept constructive criticism. Nobody knows everything, after all.

I especially don't think he saw what he "wanted to see." Why? Because there's no reason for him to paint Serbs as the bad guys (unless, I suppose, he's planning to present the Albanians as the moderate-Muslim-pro-American-good guys in his next article). If anything, Mike is biased positively towards the people he meets; he wants to find folks who are sane and pro-American.

Posted by: Edgar Author Profile Page at June 2, 2008 8:06 PM

Hi Michael,

My mother wishes she could have met you, but she’ll at least read these articles, which I am sure she will find extremely interesting. I happened to ask her about Belgrade just a few days ago when we were actually talking about you (she has visited the city several times).

Randomly, the first thing she had to say was that cabbies systematically rip you off, and not just as an American, which she obviously isn’t, nor even as an Albanian, nor as a Jew, which she didn’t advertise herself to be, but merely as a foreigner. With that respect, perhaps you shouldn’t take it very personally.

I am curious whether you got ripped off on the ride from Tirana. I have second-handedly read of European journalists specifically saying that Greek, Serbian, and Bulgarian taxi drivers ought to take some lessons in common decency from their Albanian counterparts, but perhaps that’s just an Albanian urban legend.

I am curious of what you thought of Albania proper, and I could have only wished to have been there myself to show you around Tirana a bit. Only over the last couple of years have I realized how alien Albania is compared to the average Western scene. Growing up I have taken all its weirdness for granted.

Thank you for articulating a point I keep bringing up in discussions, but which keeps getting dismissed since I am supposedly so obviously biased from being Albanian.

Serbia likewise missed the Western European Enlightenment, subsumed at it was in the world of the East and Islam at the time.

Yes.

Serbia did not take part in the Renaissance, which spread from Italy to much of Europe, but not to Ottoman lands.

And yes.

The same holds true for Albanians, but they had far less to lose by comparison from the non adoption of these classic reformatory ideological measures, because Albanians had few religious flames in their midst, less fanaticism to overcome.

The use of Judeo-Christianity as a proxy for Western Civilization infuriates me even in the subtle context of American politics, but the absurdity of such a stubborn analogy becomes even more evident when applied to a situation such as that of the Serbs versus the Albanians.

It was the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the return to Greek and Roman philosophical roots, which made Western Civilization “Western” at all. Its essence prevailed and persisted despite Christiandom, not because of it.

Serbia has always been and regretfully largely still is a dogmatic ultra chauvinistic collective societal hallucination centered around a delusion of Slavic grandeur, and around universal bitterness with the entire world. Something rotten that way lies, and I hope that they realize soon that nothing good can come out of looking up to Russia.

Anyway, I had no idea that Serbia was still as rotten as David makes it sound. I believe the prevalence of crazy anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. If you track any Serb related video on YouTube, the attitudinal patterns become pretty clear.

Indeed myths are based on emotions, not on facts. And facts never get in the way of people who are motivated by supra rational (read irrational) motives. The fact that their nation is poorer and paralyzed by their obsession with a romanticized fictionalized past, will not get in the way of the Serbs. They need a more urgent reality check, and I can’t think of what, since bombing Belgrade obviously didn’t do the job.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 2, 2008 8:31 PM

Edgar: The tone of what your friend wrote sounds pretty angry

Yes.

And he would probably be surprised to learn that I agree with some of what he said. He just assumes I don't, he assumes the worst, because he's mad.

I liked Belgrade a lot more than he thinks. I'm sorry that didn't come across, but I'm not writing a guidebook here or trying to sell the place as a hot nightclub destination -- though it is great for that, if that's what you want in a trip to Eastern Europe.

I'm not a fan of Serbian Nationalism -- especially not the war criminals and their supporters -- and why on earth should I be? If my intention was solely to beat up on the Serbs, I would have written a very different article. I know how to wave the bloody shirt, too.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 2, 2008 9:17 PM

Edgar: Because there's no reason for him to paint Serbs as the bad guys (unless, I suppose, he's planning to present the Albanians as the moderate-Muslim-pro-American-good guys in his next article).

The next article isn't about Albanians, but they are moderate Muslims and pro-American. (Most of them are actually not religious at all.)

Anyway, I am not going to paint "Serbs" as the bad guys. Milosevic was a bad guy, as were the other Serbian leaders who massacred people in the Balkans, as were the Croatians, Bosnians, Albanians, and everyone else who killed innocents, burned houses, etc. Serbia produced more war criminals than any other country in the area lately, but none of these peoples are angels. It's a rough part of the world, and it always has been.

I refuse to think of this group or that group per se as The Bad Guys. I am not from the Balkans and am not wrapped up in the ethnic tribalism that still afflicts that region.

I am occasionally accused of being "anti-Shia" when I criticize Hezbollah. Why the hell would I be anti-Shia? What would I care about such categorical thinking? Where would I have learned to have an axe to grind against Shias? I'm not a chauvenist Sunni, for God's sake. I'm an American, and I couldn't give two shits about that kind of crap.

But because I'm American, it means something to me when our flag is flown in one place and burned in another. I won't apologize for that. I'm sure even Dennis Kucinich would rather our flag be respected than burned in other countries.

That doesn't mean I'm going to go hatin' on an entire nation because of the politics of its worst actors. I'd seriously hate Lebanon and Iraq if that were the case, but I think it's pretty obvious by now that I don't.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 2, 2008 9:36 PM

medura,

You piqued my interest so I checked. From the Wiki:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serbia
Belgrade is believed to have been leveled to the ground by 30 different armies in recorded history.
[...]
No less than 17 Roman Emperors were born in Serbia.

They've got imperial deficit disorder, they want to be kings of the world. Since the fall of Rome, they've not had a chance to put an emperor on the throne.

Also, they haven't been razed lately. They might well think that nobody is sufficiently resisting their imperial impulses because so many stones in Belgrad are standing one on top of the other. The picture of devastation of a building isn't just telling the Serbs that people are opposed to them, it is also saying that the opposition is incompetent because so much of the city is left.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell Author Profile Page at June 2, 2008 10:40 PM

Patrick: They've got imperial deficit disorder

Yes, that is an issue in Serbia, although it's rooted a bit more recently than the Roman Empire. The Serbs lost their imperial kingdom to the Turks in 1389, and many of them are still pissed about it.

Want to know a really creepy Web address?

1389.org.yu

It is exactly what you'd expect that to be.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 2, 2008 10:52 PM

Dear Limbic - I am Michael's travel companion from this trip, Sean LaFreniere. Please be aware that the title of this post is borrowed from myself. A Dark Corner of Europe is taken from my report to him of my time in Cyprus two years ago.

A few years back I was the guest of the rebel government in Northern Cyprus on the anniversary of Turkey's invasion. I shared my time on the island with several Serb journalists (among over 80 nationalities of journalists represented, but no other Americans).

While Michael and I went through our college years with a vague worry of being drafted to go to the Balkans to stop televised, UN overseen murder... I spent part of my grad school years with Serbs who "adopted me" and helped train me in photography and journalism.

At the end of that trip I was to meet Michael in Lebanon... however, the IDF blew up the Beirut runway and I was then informed by Turkish Airlines that I would be rerouted to either Pristina or Tunis. I asked my Serb friends what to do and they replied that Kosovo was "a dark part of Europe". They suggested that I chase the sunlight and relax in beautiful Tunis (about which Michael had also spoken well). So I went "soft" that summer and chose Tunis... and I always wondered if I should have seen Kosovo.

In part, our recent trip to the Balkans by Michael and myself was to redress my oversight, fill in the missing part of the world from our college years, and answer a burning question that I had ever since Cyprus... If the Serbs I met were so kind and educated, so utterly decent, how did the wars of the the 1990's even happen?

After a few days in Belgrade Michael and I had definitely seen "Silicone Valley". We ate dinner at the cafe "Dorian Gray" and then wandered down the lane to find the Hooka Bar, the Karaoke Bar, and a strip of Lebanese-worthy night spots.

In fact, we knew in advance about Belgrade's night life and the "party barges", Lonely Planet has covered the "scene" quite well, so great night life was not noteworthy per se. However, everywhere we went the waiters were very polite and friendly, even after hearing that were Yankees, and even after our embassy was burned. Many happening nightspots let us sit down, sip brandy, and speak English loudly (over the music and conversation) and even oggle the ladies. Never, not once, were we made to feel unwelcome, as Americans, in Belgrade.

However, after several good nights out we were still left perplexed by the question of how such utterly decent people could have engaged in the wars that we knew were just completely awful.

The writer we met, Fllip David, offered one explanation... "When we Serbs are good, we are very good, when we are bad, we are very bad."

And so it seemed, an honest waiter who saved my smokes and lighter was balanced by a taxi driver who robbed us blind, the same waiter who glossed over public opinion of Americans was balanced by a cabbie who advised us to say we were from Holland.

BTW, Michael's portrayal oft the Taxi driver at the airport was dead on... his first words really were "You bombed my country..." It happened just as Michael said. And there really was no other choice of cabbie at midnight at the Belgrade airport (quite small and lonely).

Honestly, we later decided that this fellow had grossly over-reacted, we did not need to be from Holland. On the other hand, we DID have many experiences of the "Balkan stare", people scrutinizing our license plates, and being shaken down for bribes and pay offs. The Balkans may be safe overall, and Belgrade felt extremely safe from pick pockets, but it also felt right on the knife's edge of safety (as much from police as from criminals), which was very similar to my visit to Russia).

As for the military hardware... I was also partly responsible for Michael commenting on the display of guns at the Belgrade citadel... I had previously recounted the Russian war memorial in Moscow, (very Klingon-esque) where I climbed a tank with some children and "invaded Moscow". This park seemed typical of a nation that once (and now again) paraded tanks and nuclear hardware through the streets of the capital (by the way, so did Turkish Cyprus in 2006).

Yes, the US has a few memorials and war museums... the sunken hulk of the USS Arizona and the old aircraft carrier, the USS Intrepid, in NY City. However, those ships represented the efforts of the United States to liberate the world during WWII and the Cold War. Those ships suffered numerous attacks by Japanese Kamikazes and the deaths of many thousands of US sailors. Those memorials serve to remind Americans of the high cost of freedom and the terrible loss of lives that war brings.

The memorials in Moscow and Belgrade might well be just as cautionary as those in Hawaii and NY. On the other hand... the American memorials are very formal, children are hushed and vets walk through with tears in their eyes, meanwhile the tanks and howitzers in Moscow and Belgrade were crawling with kids (and myself).

The emphasis in Moscow and Belgrade was on the greatness and power of old regimes, not on the 'horrors of war' (as far as we could tell). Perhaps the dark side of war is presumed in Russia and Serbia... but what we saw were weapons used as playthings in an open air park that was the focal point of the daily social promenade - the mood was quite different.

Michael also noted that Arab countries, such as Iraq, also treat their old military hardware as a source of pride and of daily amusement, not as self-critical, naval-gazing such as in America. While Americans today are afraid of their own shadow and the opinion of the vanquished, nations such as China and Russia have no such conflict with their own use of force (and money) to influence the world.

I realize that it can be quite frustrating to have one's adoped home city "reviewed" by a foreign journalist. When a dark side is exposed we want to point out all the good times that we had there ourselves. But Michael is not a travel adviser or an academic researcher... his task is rather unusual and difficult... he is trying to help other Americans, who cannot or would not travel to the "dark corners" of the world, to understand the more subtle and broad nature of these places and their history.

BTW, Michael and I are both well known for NOT having prejudices about people or places. If no one is on hand to defend a point of view either of us will argue on the other side of an issue to make sure that we are coming to an accurate conclusion. Please do not hesitate to engage us if you are truly interested in dialog.

Sincerely, Sean LaFreniere

Posted by: sean Author Profile Page at June 3, 2008 12:57 AM

Wow, Sean -- fantastic comment.
Michael, please consider promoting it ("A Dark Corner, 1b"?) to its own post.

The thing is, a foreign visitor to Trinity Church in Chicago would NOT get a good view on America, although it would be a strong representative view of a significant faction.

Americans probably can never understand the "nation state" in the way Europeans do, and thus the difference between patriotism and nationalism.

Also, just as many Austrians nurse memories of the great Habsburg Empire, and many (most?) French are proud of Napolean's Empire, most nationalities want to be part of a "great" country/ empire/ ?Union? The Chinese are showing their desire to show how "great" they are.

Americans seem to take American greatness for granted. Seldom is there serious criticism against America with a full comparison to other countries. I would not be surprised if EVERY country on earth has more of its citizens living in the US, than there are (non-military working) US citizens living in that country.

America, imperfect, is still great. By most accounts the greatest.

But every nationality wants to be great, too. Military victory shows greatness.

One way of getting a lot of that "greatness" feeling is for your team to win -- like the Iraqi Futbal team won last year, and there is some doubt about their playing this year in some controversy I'm not following.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad Author Profile Page at June 3, 2008 3:12 AM

Thanks for your comments Sean. Just to be clear, both myself and Limbic are speaking as Michael Totten fans. Giving people a picture of what has to be some of the most misunderstood places in the world is a real service and damn interesting reading.

That is why it was jarring to read an account so at odds with my own recent experience in the same place. My initial reaction was to start to doubt Michael's credibility in general. As I think about it more it just sounds like you guys had a bad experience getting to your hotel from the airport that seemed to color the whole visit. You should hear my Bucharest story in this regard, yet on balance I'd be eager to go back there as well.

There is plenty to criticize about Serbia, some of which has been chronicled on this thread, but the real unending source of criticism is the Serb's themselves. Their history is "not for the weak of stomach" and the recent war is another in a long list of calamities that Serb's tell me they bring upon themselves.

Sean, your story of the kind and educated Serbs match's my experience and the real story here is the one you posit: how did these things happen?

krl

Posted by: krell Author Profile Page at June 3, 2008 5:59 AM

Thanks for another fascinating article, and comments.

The gist of many of these comments, though, leave me with a basic question:

Just how do those Serbs who, on the one hand, wanted Milosovic to just disappear, and, on the other, resent/despise/hate the US/NATO for bombing him out of power, believe that Milosovic would have otherwise relinquished his grip on the Serbian political landscape? How otherwise was he supposed to have been coaxed/convinced/persuaded to stop the concerted campaigns of murder in various regions of the Former Yugoslavia?

(It's not as though he was a committed democrat....)

There seems to be no small contradiction here. (So what else is new, eh?....)

Posted by: Barry Meislin Author Profile Page at June 3, 2008 6:18 AM

Very interesting differences in culture with respect to public cooperation / freeloading / punishement.

online.wsj.com/article Science_Journal

Serbia is likely far more Russian than American.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad Author Profile Page at June 3, 2008 8:19 AM

No less than 17 Roman Emperors were born in Serbia.

I doubt that has anything to do with their fallen empire syndrome. Albanians have given at least 13 emperors to Rome, but the average Albanian doesn't even know that, let alone have his/her sense of national self-worth depend on it. Serbs on the other hand, have a saying: wherever there is a Serbian grave, that is Serbian land. What’s with that attitude?

I'm trying to objectively assess what's common between Serbia and Albania, and what the truly relevant particulars are.

Both nations have a poignant inferiority complex. Eastern European countries in general were history's rejects, almost always finding themselves as pawns in bigger international conflicts among super powers, brutalized by their powerful regional neighbors.

This is one of the reasons that Communist self-victimization (the ideological obsession with the exploitation of the proletariat) appealed to Eastern European nations on an intimate level.

This mass-scale self-deprecation is expressed in Albania by overall self bashing and self satire (Albanians' jokes about themselves are often worse than whatever racist joke I have heard in the West). By joking about their perceived backwardness, by acknowledging it, Albanians as individuals feel like they are rising above it. They staple it to the collective, but present company is always excluded. By pointing it out in others, they feel like they are personally absolved from it.

There is both a strong historic sense of national pride in Albania, ironically coupled by general mistrust of Albanians (often to an undeserved degree) and shame over fellow Albanians' reputation or purported actions.

This makes Albanians uniquely ambivalent about their national identity, and also very individualistic as a side effect. The Albanian collective, the popular current, the public opinion, is seen as ignorant and worthy of derision by default, no matter what the issue of the day is.

Albanians don't trust their institutions (and have thus been on the fringes of anarchy for a long while now), don't trust their politicians, don't even trust the new generations. Most Albanians cannot function optimally until they leave Albania and immigrate somewhere they can work in peace and don't have to deal with nonsense.

There is a perceived fall from grace in Albania, but no one can even pinpoint when the good old days even existed. So historic self-deprecation stretches back as far as the eye can see. The psychological way of overcoming it, is to look up to the West, and particularly to America, as a great concept they can be part of if they insinuate themselves vigorously enough on it.

I mean, look at this: http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid=-5478982673332912184

As someone who has lived in Ontario for 4 years, I can assure you that the waiving of American flags is very un-Canadian behavior right there. But the US is the average Albanian’s least-common-denominational aspiration. It’s how they conceive of overcoming their perceived backwardness. Enver Hoxha set things on stone, and it turned out whatever he said was good, was actually the worst, and whatever he said was bad, was actually the best. Albanians see America as the anti evil of their dictatorship, the polar opposite of what they have been through, and toward which they aspire.

There exists Albanian propaganda out there, and there are some Albanian ultra nationalist sentiments especially with respect to Serbia’s and Greece’s territories, but these are extremely isolated, and in large part a simple reaction to the similar aggressive advances put forth by the Greeks and the Serbs regarding Albanian’s territories. Albanians are simply not collectivist enough to create a make-believe alternate reality based on propaganda and revisionism. Plus there is no reason to resort to revisionism when history is actually on their side.

Whereas the Serbs, from my understanding, also suffer from an inferiority complex, but their way of dealing with it is by having something stubborn to prove and thus asserting/restoring their superiority by proving it. Instead of aspiring on an individual basis to some concept/mission of redeeming greatness (like the Albanians look up to the West/America) they generally fall back on collectivist delusions of Slavic Brotherhood (looking up to Russia as part of their Slavic identity for some borrowed “greatness”), they stick to self-victimizing positions which blame their neighbor countries, the West, the Jews, America, the whole world for their own societal failures (Albanians by contrast, seem to like to blame almost exclusively themselves), and plotting for a righteous strike back against the entire world to set things right in the future and restore their respectful place in the world.

The problem is that most Serb’s notion of greatness is very tribal and primitive. It revolves around the ability to dictate military submission to other countries, hence the collective bragging with old military hardware.

The good old days they recollect, were the period during which Slavs were expanding in Europe by killing, raping, assimilating native populations.

I have seen what self-victimization, blaming others for your own failures, passive aggressiveness, and deluded paranoia, can do to someone’s personality. That’s why I am not a Democrat and why I hate Leftist strife. It is simply not healthy and represents one of the darkest sides of human nature.

I don’t know what it will take for Serbs to give up craziness. When everyone around you breathes the same poison throughout their lives, it is hard to develop a perspective on things. Nothing fails like success. The craziest events in history stem from one or more of the participants’ irrational exuberance fueled by past successes. Napoleon’s early successes fed his insane plan of attacking Russia, Japan’s early expansionary uncontested successes in Indochina gave it the bright idea of attacking Pearl Harbor. Rising stock prices fueled by easy money from the Fed fueled the dot com bubble. Sometimes, meeting cold failure in your first attempt at something crazy is the best thing that could happen to you. You give up, pack your bags and go home, and take up something more productive. The thing is that Serbia’s history is so full of crazy enterprises and bitter consequences that the nation seems to have developed a tolerance to the punitive effects from history. Grandiose failure and the romantic attachment to them seem to be part of the national identity, so I don’t know what could possibly serve as a reality check.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 3, 2008 9:31 AM

krell: it just sounds like you guys had a bad experience getting to your hotel from the airport that seemed to color the whole visit.

It didn't color the visit. We enjoyed our time in Belgrade. Random friendly encounters with strangers aren't interesting to read about or dramatize, so they didn't get dramatized.

I am accustomed to having a horrible taxi driver experience everywhere I go. I expect it and don't hold it against a place.

As far as the hotel goes, we knew it would be bad before we got there. We wanted it for the price and the location. We thought it was amusing, and my descriptions of it were not meant as a serious complaint, and certainly not as a complaint against the entire country.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 3, 2008 9:37 AM

Patrick,

You piqued my interest too, especially since the math didn't really add up.

No less than 17 Roman Emperors were born in Serbia.

Thinking about it, the Slavs (Serbs included) did not show up in the Balkans until the 6th and 7th centuries A.D

Here is the deceptive list of emperors:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Emperors_from_modern_Serbia

Ha! Even Wikipedia is a tool for revisionist idle hands.

Modern day Serbia was part of ancient day Illyria. It was not the Serbs, who were nowhere to be found on the continent until at least 300 years since the death of the last emperor on that list, who gave Rome leaders. It was the Illyrians, aka ancient Albanians.

How was that for deceptive? Wouldn't it make more sense for that article to be named "Roman Emperors of Thraco-Illyrian descent" rather than "Roman Emperors from modern Serbia"?

And this is really nothing. There is so much worse going on in Wikipedia.

They've got imperial deficit disorder, they want to be kings of the world. Since the fall of Rome, they've not had a chance to put an emperor on the throne.

So no, they wish they had ever been kings of the world. Revisionism going backward, and wishful delusional thinking going forward.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 3, 2008 11:52 AM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Roman_Emperors#Illyrian_Emperors

Overlap, much?

Not that it is all that important, but I think it is telling.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 3, 2008 11:58 AM

Michael, sorry for the rat-dropping like consistency of my last comments, but I keep finding interesting little things to add.

Below the list of Illyrian emperors, you see the Tetrarchy and Constantinian dynasty. All the birth places of the emperors, when known, are referenced in their ancient names, today mostly inexistent.

All, that is, except for those born in territories which today fall (or used to: Kosovo/Dardania) within today's Serbia. Those places are called Serbia, as if Serbia was an entity back then.

Talk about need for borrowed "glory"?

Many if not most of those emperors belong in the list of Illyrian emperors: Look up the ancient name of their birthplaces, and they are almost all Illyrian cities.

What is the need for Serbs to pull such stunts on Wikipedia? Why shouldn't these emperors be added to the list of the Illyrian ones, just because those illyrian territories are now part of Serbia?

It's really pathetic.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 3, 2008 12:12 PM

No need to apologize, Medaura. It's interesting stuff that I didn't know about.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 3, 2008 12:22 PM

Michael, I cannot understand why you have refused publish my comments. It is not as if they were spam or abusive.

After Sean mailed and talked about "dialogue" I thought we were all set for nice discussion.

Oh well.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 3, 2008 1:48 PM

Jeez! The one post that gets through is the one moaning about the ones that did not! :-)

Murphy's Law.

Do you have an IP filter? That might explain it as I am posting from a different location now.

Anyway, can you perhaps rescue my other posts from the limbo and authorize them?

Thanks in advance.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 3, 2008 1:52 PM

Limbic,

Whoah, I didn't censor yours or anyone else's comments. Occasionally they don't get through for some mysterious reason. I'm sorry about that, but I promise you it isn't on purpose.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 3, 2008 1:56 PM

I think that sometimes comments with too many urls get bounced. I don't think it's possible for me to rescue them. My comments system is flawed, sorry.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 3, 2008 1:57 PM

I was in Belgrade two years ago and I can sympathize with most of what you're saying. I definitely got the impression that they had some disdain with the concept of Americans, but were much more receptive of them on a personal basis. I also found their subliminal Anti-Americanism slightly hypocritical because there are many aspects of their culture that is quite Westernized.

In no part of their culture was it more apparent in the Serbians' love of Basketball. I didn't notice the fact that next to every playground in Belgrade was a full Basketball court because it just felt so akin to an American city. Once I realized that there were more Basketball courts than Soccer fields in Belgrade, I couldn't help but notice that it stuck out from every other city in Europe. I feel like this aspect of their culture is a great example of their confusion about their national identity and their feelings toward America/Europe.

Posted by: Baggs Author Profile Page at June 3, 2008 2:07 PM

>> I think that sometimes comments with too many urls get bounced

so that's what happened to my comment ;) ?

Posted by: nameless-fool Author Profile Page at June 3, 2008 4:37 PM

You can tell that (average) Serbs are brainwashed based on the
arguments they use in discussion boards. They are almost identical and come in waves, depending on what
was on TV the night before or what their Academy of Arts decided to publich ;):

Serbs always on the right side of history
Serbs resisted the Nazis, everyone else was a Nazi
Serbs fought the Turks, no one else did (oh the irony)
Serbs blah blah blah others = with no culture, barbarians.
Serbs have suffered, everyone had a great life in this millenia, thus we deserve x, y and z.

Regarding the anti-Semitism: The State Dept states the same thing, down to the books, in their 2006 report and mentions this too (google the sentence) :
"Teaching of the Holocaust is incorporated into the Serbian school curriculum, and the role of the Serbian government during that period is also discussed. However, there was a tendency among some commentators to minimize and reinterpret the role of Serbian leaders during the Holocaust, casting them as victims of foreign occupiers when in fact many leaders of that time collaborated with the Nazis and began campaigns against the Jewish population even before the Nazis invaded Yugoslavia.." Serbia also has their own Stormfront section...demand meets supply.

As for the rest: he went, he saw, he wrote. Taking him on trips to show a "different" side beats the purpose, we might as well turn the Serbian TV on. They don''t hate only US, the hate Albanians much much more (long before 1999.) Sesejl advocated throwing Albanians out, giving their houses to Serbs AND infecting Albanians with the AIDS virus as he was campaigning for the parliament. http://books.google.com/books?um=1&q=Seselj+aids+virus+Albanian&btnG=Search+Books He won.
His party is the most popular one right now and Velika Sbrja is still their aim. They can spin however they want, but they still consulted Sesejl in Hague last month and "Great Serbia" policy hasn't changed.

No Roman emperor was a Serb, in the land that Serbs live today maybe, but they love to rewrite history. Serb's problem is that they think they're special, they buy their own propaganda that they are great fighters (well, we've seen that without the Russian support) and that they deserve the empire 1389 supposedly destroyed--"unfairly" of course. And, yes, they want to become the Russia of the Balkans. Too bad they keep getting smaller each time they meet armed people :)

Organs: IMO it is mainly to tar with something you cannot disprove, even an exoneration is horrible publicity (imagine "Investigation shows that Albanians did not chop up human beings for to get their livers ") and for domestic consumption, to keep the masses angry and rally. They also included all their enemies there, from Kouchner , to CIA to Nato and every Albanian leader:

"She also said the healthiest of Serbian men up to the age of 45 were taken to army bases in Germany and Italy. She is not sure what exactly happened to them, but she says there are indications they served as guinea pigs. Whoever tried to escape would end up under a knife. Former and current Albanian prime ministers Sali Berisa and Fatos Nano were involved, with the blessing of Bernard Kouchner, French Foreign Affairs Minister and former UNMIK head. Other involved parties included Hashim Thaqi, Halim Omer Osmani and Ramus Haradini – Mitrovic counted. She claimed that politicians, mostly of the Serbian opposition, tried to raise funds to find abducted Serbs in 2001 and 2002 and the money was handed over to a Kosovo Albanian through a CIA colonel. The Albanian was killed in the end."
www-javno--com/en/world/clanak.php?id=144108

Judge for yourself, that's Ponte's source.

(I edited the links for the spam filter)

Posted by: nameless-fool Author Profile Page at June 3, 2008 4:39 PM

The accusation that the French foreign minister was also involved in organ harvesting is exactly the kind of propaganda I warned about in the article.

Kouchner founded Doctors Without Borders. The idea that he was involved in organ harvesting from live Serb prisoners is outrageous.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 3, 2008 4:54 PM

Michael,

The rules to the Big Lie is that the facts cannot matter; emotion is the only consideration. Organ harvesting is scary, which is why it is an urban legend in the first place.

Big name + big scare = too good to check.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell Author Profile Page at June 3, 2008 9:13 PM

"Kouchner founded Doctors Without Borders. The idea that he was involved in organ harvesting from live Serb prisoners is outrageous."

Yeah, well, maybe he has a tail and lives in a tree too. :)

Posted by: Lindsey Author Profile Page at June 4, 2008 12:05 AM

You guys attacking the Organ Farming miss the point: Well over 400 non-Albanians have been "disappeared" in Kosovo in recent years and 200,000 non-Albanians ethnically cleansed.

That all happened since 1999, and the worst of it since 2004, long after Serbia was a liberated democracy AND crucially, the Kosovo "government" took charge.

In a recent ICTY case against a former KLA commander Ramush Haradinaj (accused of rape and mass murder), 9 witnesses involved in the prosecution case were murdered resulting in the charges against him being dropped. It was reported in the West that he was "innocent". The ICTY yet again failed Serb victims, citing procedural problems in the witness protection scheme.

Serbs continue to be brutally oppressed in the province right now (you have been there Michael, you saw it right?) . Drive by shootings, rapes, abductions, desecrations. It is a daily log of ethnic warfare. Michael, had you gone to the south of the province, to towns like Orahovac or villages like Velika Hoca, you would have seen it first hand, met the victims, stared at the ruins.

For the nameless fool touting the Serbs as anti-Semites slander, I would assert that there is far less Antisemitism in Serbia than in most countries.

As I noted elsewhere, Serbs were awarded the “The Righteous Among the Nations” title last year. It is the highest honor the state of Israel awards non-Jews, for helping save Jewish lives during the Holocaust. The Israeli Ambassador to Serbia, Arthur Koll, made the award. You might also wonder why Israel is such a massive investor in Serbia? It is because they Israelis know full well who did what in WW2 and the Serbs are acknowledged paragons anti-fascist virtue and that contemporary Serbia is LESS Antisemitic than most countries.

If we pay minute attention to the record of any peoples, of course we will reveal shameful episodes and the ranting of madman, bigots, xenophobes, racists and extremists. This tells us nothing about the country in general or the Serb people.

How would Americans feel if I flew in to Detroit, interviewed Michale Moore & Noam Chomsky then focussed on the politics of the ACLU, Nation of Islam and KKK to present a portrait of 21st Century America? Do you think a post about collapsing cities and violent racists, Antisemites and homophobes fighting a culture was in the declining remnants a genocidal empire would sit well with you patriots?

That is pretty much what Michael's post was from a Serbian/pro-Serb perspective. The irony of having an ultra-liberal luridly recount the excesses of the ultr-Radicals whilst the real moderate voices of Serbia were ignored (as usual).

Now in the comments festival of Serbophobia continues.

I have summarized many of my points about all this in a recent article.

I invite those here with open minds to risk some cognitive dissonance read it:

http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/kosovo_and_the_myth_of_serbian/

As for you Michael, I appreciate that you meant no harm and that you harbor no ill will or biases. Its just that a relentless tide of slightly negative publicity about Serbia is death by a thousand slanders for this country.

You noted that the good things about Serbs and Serbia do not lend themselves to "dramatization", so forgive we friends of Serbia for being fed up with "dramatic" portrayals that distort the reality of situation here (however mildly) .

You are right that Serbian politics stinks, and it is the people that are its first victims.

I am trying to speak for them. Please try and listen.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 4, 2008 6:47 AM

Great article.

I spent a few weeks here and there in the area from 1998-2000, but I never got to see much.

I'd love to go back on pleasure, not work, and see the country and more of the people.

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at June 4, 2008 7:53 AM

Michael,

and everyone else here:

I invite you to actually read Limbic's article, and especially the comments section, for they are truly instructive.

When someone challenges me with cognitive dissonance, of course I will read his little rant.

I am a bit perplexed that PJM let him fly away with such a despicable rag of an article, but I am glad they did. The insight readers can gain is invaluable.

I will wait and see if Michael or anyone else wants to address that article, and if not, I will do the honors later today.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 4, 2008 8:35 AM

Limbic (Jonathan?), I'm sorry for the 200 000 moderate Serbs who were praying, while a few radicals were burning embassies and giving the rest of Serbia a bad name.

The PJ article fails to mention Srebrenica, so fails the smell test for fairness.

I'm very very sorry that the Serbian police were unable/ unwilling to stop the rioters -- although, having lived near the 1964 Watts riots in LA, I understand how hard riots are to stop.

I'm sorry but loss of Kosovo is part of the price for not being more moral, sooner. Most of the Sudetenland Germans, whose ancestors had lived for many generations there and, if they had been allowed, would have chosen Germany rather than Czechoslovakia after WW I. But they weren't asked.

The people of Kosovo WERE asked, and they chose to leave.

If they are not militarily attacked by neighbors, nor have terrorists supported by neighbors, their little country will be big enough to survive, like Monaco.

Borders are not permanent.

After WW II, sub-Carpathian Ruthenia was taken out of Slovakia, and became Ukraine. WW II Slovak leader Tiso, who opposed the death penalty and kept Slovak Slovak deaths to among the lowest in Europe, is demonised for allowing the exile of 90 000 Slovak Jews to camps -- just as FDR (Michael's favorite president) sent thousands of Japanese to camps. The US camps weren't death camps, the Nazi camps were (altho Hitler lied about them before).

Slovak Jews very very seldom would marry Slovak Slovaks -- they were racist. But that's not a good reason to murder them; and Tiso didn't, but Hitler's killers did.

It might be best for Serbia to demand that the Serb majority part of Kosovo be allowed to split, and rejoin Serbia. There might also be an interesting issue about Serbs in Bosnia, were they to begin demanding separation -- it would be interesting to see the hypocrisy of the UN on separation.

Michael, I meant to just add that the maps were a wonderful, and important, valuable, and very relevant addition to the article.

But I get sidetracked on Justice issues, because while it's often easy to agree on something being unjust, it's much more difficult to agree on the proper justice resolution after the injustice. That's one of the main ways that wars are promoted -- for justice.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad Author Profile Page at June 4, 2008 8:54 AM

Limbic,

I appreciate that you're tired of negative press about Serbia and that this piece isn't what you hoped to read right now.

Question, though. Do you have a source for the claim that 200,000 Serbs were ethnically cleansed from Kosovo since the war? I'm going to compare that number with the data from American soldiers and other internationals who were there and during that time period.

Also, the Radical Party is hardly as unpopular as the KKK in the US. The Radicals are about as popular in Serbia as the Republicans are in the US. They were expected to win the election a few weeks ago, and they almost did. There is no way the KKK would be expected to win anything in the US.

And Filip David is a heck of a lot more honest observer of politics than Michael Moore. He is a real intellectual and a real writer. Moore is neither. David may be as out of Serbia's mainstream as Moore is, but that isn't quite the same thing. Didn't you say on your blog that you yourself support David's Liberal Democratic Party?

I wish I could have stayed longer and met a more diverse crowd (including yourself), but my budget and schedule didn't allow it. The real focus of this trip was Kosovo.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 4, 2008 10:33 AM

Hi Tom (Grey),

You seem to think that I am against Kosovo's independence - I am not.

It is not so black and white here.

I object to ongoing slanders against Serbs and Serbia, ongoing violence against Kosovo's minorities and I want the truth about the NATO bombing to be revealed.

None of that makes me support a Kosovo slaved to Serbia against the will of its people.

Many Serbs share my opinion. It is just the politicians who are too afraid to publicly acknowledge that Kosovo and its two million Albanians was and never will be successfully integrated into modern Serbia.

I believe Kosovo an non-viable ethno-state. Its is economy based on organised crime (human slavery, drugs) and hand outs from the west. It is Europe's own little Somalia.

Its best option is to merge with Albania, but as our resident Albanian Kedja might confirm (if she is honest), Kosovars are loathed in Albania proper, blamed for ruining the reputation of Albanians word-wide.

This post explains my position on Kosovo:

http://www.limbicnutrition.com/blog/kosovo-shmosovo/

Thanks for you thoughtful response.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 4, 2008 10:36 AM

Michael, did you notice what site you deep linked to for the Fisk article? That's probably not the greatest site to be giving hits to, even if the page itself is useful.

Posted by: jasonholliston Author Profile Page at June 4, 2008 10:41 AM

Jason,

Yikes, no I hadn't noticed. Link removed. (I couldn't find a better complete version of the article.) Thanks for that heads-up.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 4, 2008 10:51 AM

Perhaps it would be useful to let Michael get past publishing 'Part 1' before accusations and attacks begin. I daresay there is more to come and perhaps some questions will be answered.

Posted by: Lindsey Author Profile Page at June 4, 2008 11:02 AM

Limbic,

I will address your articles on PJM and on your blog a bit later on as now I have no time.

But I will make just a bit of time now to respond to your solicitation to confirm a belief of yours, which, according to you, should I not agree with, I would not be honest.

First of all, I resent the very arrogant manner in which you pose the issue to me.

But my annoyed sensitivities aside, and your contingent label of dishonesty be damned, as someone who has lived in Albania for 17 years, I can tell you that Kosovars are not loathed nor despised in any region of Albania that I am familiar with.

My own family, Jewish on one side, and Orthodox Christian on the other (just like your beloved Serbs), hosted in its then tiny 2-bedroom/1-living-room/1-bathroom apartment (which was shared by 6 people, myself, my sister, my parents, and my one set of grandparents) part of a Kosovar family, the members of which were strangers to us. We hosted them and fed them as our guests for over 3 months back in 1999.

What my family did was hardly an exceptional singular act of generosity, because many Albanian families (I recall those of about 1/3 of my friends at school) did just the same.

Those that did not have the means to host actual people in their often tiny and poor houses, were usually active in at least providing supplies (food, clothes, toys for children) in the refugee camps in Tirana (aka the soccer stadium).

You seem to make a lot of insinuations about things you have no idea about.

And for your information, I am opposed to a fusion of Kosovo with Albania proper because I think Albanian civil society/governmental institutions are deplorable, and would drag Kosovo down, when it in fact has a good chance of starting from scratch and progress much further than Albania.

There is absolutely no particular animosity toward Kosovar Albanians in Albania proper; though to be fair, many Albanians (especially outside of the capital) do from time to time fall into provincialist attitudes. This is not synonymous to, nor a precursor of, loathing and shame of any dialect/group of Albanians, and I am curious as to where you got such idea, but merely a mild, often subliminal scorn toward anyone outside of their little isolated province.

Is that too dishonest for you?

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 4, 2008 11:03 AM

>> I believe Kosovo an non-viable ethno-state. Its is economy based on organised crime (human slavery, drugs) and hand outs from the west. It is Europe's own little Somalia.

Give us some stats on the crime. Kosovars aren't "loathed" and any divide is less than that of Bosnian Serb "hicks" /'Real Serbs' and the Belgrade crowds /'traitors to Serbdom.' But tell us about crime in Kosovo. Stats will do. Mention Serbia as well if you want to compare.

Posted by: nameless-fool Author Profile Page at June 4, 2008 11:08 AM

Limbic,

In your presumptuous article on PJM which made me gag just from its title (The Myth of Serbian Depravity----if you had any chance of making any sense or coming across as remotely unbiased, which one can be even in the overall defense of Serbia, you completely blew it by minimizing/airbrushing well-documented Serbian atrocities) you take it upon yourself to represent all of Serbs, what they think, what their frigging problem with the world supposedly is.

I speak only for myself. The only thing I, as an Albanian, am remotely ashamed of Kosovars over, is their atrocious rap music. It is embarrasing. No other beefs I have with Kosovars whatsoever.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 4, 2008 11:16 AM

Dear Kedja (Medaura),

Thank you for taking the time to read my post.

I am not surprised to see that you are furious with me, I am your absolute worst nightmare: A non-Serb rationally defending the modern democratic and increasingly liberal Serbia that I live in.

I am working to try and help rehabilitate Serbia and region. I operate at a business, social and media level with that intention. That is why I am here now.

What are you up to?

That About section of yours tells me a thing or two.

You state, amongst other things, that you are "Pro-NATO Bombing of Serbia (For the average North-American: Your reaction to this point is a preliminary test on whether you are a rational critic of Islamism or a hysterical Islamophobe)"

How cute. The certaintly with which you wite. I envy it. Has your powerful Islamophobe detector smoked out many crypto-Islamophobes?

I am glad you came to my attention, because you reminded me of how unashamed people are of their utterly predictable (and chauvinistic) inherited affinities:

The Irish farm boy weeping over "Ewl Oirland", cursing immigration into "white Ireland" whilst dropping a few shillings into the collection box for "The Boys".

The Serb bigot who denies Srebrenica, exonerates Slobo, declares "Kosovo is Serbia", thinks Serbia is the greatest country in the world and spends his weekends chanting ""Shiptari je dadno".

The Jewish Albanian immigrant who loves America, Albania and Israel, supports the mass murder of Serbs and (surprise surprise ) immigration.

There are different manifestations of a common ailment: A form of limited thinking based on coded biases, chauvinism and blind ethnic affiliation.

Kedja, please try and break out of your identity and actually see the world as it is. Dare to be more than the sum of your putative allegiances.

If you want to talk to me, feel free to comment on my blog, write to me directly or invite me to comment on yours.

If you plan to issue torrent student-level insults, I would rather troll for insults in a competent arena.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 4, 2008 11:24 AM

Its best option is to merge with Albania, but as our resident Albanian Kedja might confirm (if she is honest), Kosovars are loathed in Albania proper, blamed for ruining the reputation of Albanians word-wide.

I am also noy an Albanian resident, and I was not aware that Albanians' reputation was collectively ruined world wide, much less that there was anyone Albanians blamed for this purported ruin I had no clue about.

Albania has no dark pages in its history that I am aware of. Being a poor post-communist country is not something to be ashamed of, and Serbia is on the same boat.

Tell me please, why/how/when has Albanians' reputation been ruined world wide? I might learn something new today.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 4, 2008 11:30 AM

Dear Kedja,

My post overlapped with yours.

You mention Kosovar refugees that your family took in, which is kind and commendable.

They went home right? Before the end of that year.

Well, there are still Serbian refugees living in camps, farm-houses and other emergency shelters after they were ethnically cleansed from Kosovo in 2004.

The UN cannot help them as they are Internally Displaced People (IDPs) not officially refugees, so only the destitute government of Serbia can help them and they are left to rot - the enduring shame of the corrupt politicians here.

I based my comments about Kosovars on discussions with Albanian journalists and friends.

My point was that Albania does not want Kosovo, and as such I believe the country is in deep trouble.

Ironically, the best solution all round would be for an enlightened Serbian government to engage its fledgling neighbour with full support (investment, electricity, trade) after all they have to live together forever.

I said as much in my post linked above.

For the record, I did not choose the title "The Myth of Serbian Depravity". It was PJM editors.

Additionally, that article was an answer to a previous article by Mr Schwartz in which Serbian wrongdoings were exaggerated. My purpose was to counter the stereotype and lies, not to cover well worn territory like Srebrenica.

The entire planet know about Serb crimes, it is the crimes AGAINST Serbs that need to be highlighted now to end this cartoonish depiction of Serbs as universal baddies.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 4, 2008 11:38 AM

Nameless-Fool,

You asked about crime. I cannot post too many links or my post will not get through.

Simply Google "Kosovo Crime" or "Kosovo Trafficking" and you will feat on examples.

What is worrying is that the organised crime is essentially part of government:

Corruption and Organized Crime in Kosovo: An Interview with Avni Zogiani
http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/Article.aspx?id=1559

UN: Kosovo heart of Balkan drug route
http://www.b92.net/eng/news/crimes-article.php?yyyy=2008&mm=03&dd=26&nav_id=48825

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 4, 2008 12:00 PM

Limb ic

You made a serious accusation: you stated that she said that Kosovars are loathed by Albanians for ruining Albania's rep in the world. That is a hit and run, below the belt Serbia tactic, just as saying "Thaci is a criminal" because Serbs have indicted him or Serbs say so.

I will not get into who had a better reputation, the Albanians or the Serbs today, but I would still like you to tell me how Albanians are criminals, in stats. As I said before, compare us with the civilized Serbs. It's OK, make us feel bad.

I have to warn you though that claims that "Whereas other human beings had lost their simian tails in the course of evolution,
it seemed that the Albanians had their tails well into the nineteenth century" have proven to be false. http://books.google.com/books?um=1&spell=1&q=albanians+tails+serb+dehumanization

And Skenderbeg was not a Serb.

Do you still think Serbs are in US bases being used for Mengele-like experiments as Del Ponte's Serbian 'source' stated?

Albania does not want them because no one wants to give it to them. Albania, that nation Serbs ridicule, will surpass Serbia in 5 years. The GDP /PPP is close enough, and Albania hasn't even solved the energy problem yet (1-3 more years.) Of course then comes the coast so Albania would be 20 times better even economically for Kosovo--if that's what really worries Serbs.

Serbs have shown their "enlightenment" over the past 96 years: from outright extermination to land confiscation to shipping Albanians to Turkey and forced colonizations. And that is before Rankovic and Slobodan. Their refusal to fully admit what they have done (denials and half-@ssed 'apologies' where they highlight their suffering do not count; we're not that stupid) shows that they are mad they got caught and will try again. Good fences and armed neighbors are Serbia's worst enemy.

They emptied prisons of rapists to unleash them on women and children so panic woudl help them clear "their" land faster. They burned every other house, robbed Albanians of money, jewelry and every thing of value, burned their documents hoping to keep them out completely, and still expected Albanians to bring flowers for those Serbs who didn't leave with the Serb troops. Yeah, we really believe Serbs like us now and Serbs have suffered.

Posted by: nameless-fool Author Profile Page at June 4, 2008 12:00 PM

Lindsey: Perhaps it would be useful to let Michael get past publishing 'Part 1' before accusations and attacks begin.

Considering that we're talking about the Balkans, accusations and attacks are inevitable. It's impossible to discuss this topic without them. Every place I write about is like that no matter how many pieces I publish.

In any case, the focus of my Balkans project is not Serbs or Serbia. My "beat," so to speak, is the Middle East and the Islamic world more broadly, of which Kosovo is a part and Serbia is not. The only reason Serbia made an appearance on this site at all is because the country has a still-hostile relationship with Kosovo.

If I were to write a "Travel and Leisure" type of article about Serbia, it would have been very different and, I'm sure, much more appreciated by Limbic and others who like the place. I can honestly say I recommend Belgrade if you're interested in Eastern European tourism. It's pleasant, people are friendly regardless of politics, restaurants and clubs are terrific, etc. But I'm not a "Travel and Leisure" writer, and covering Serbia at all, even briefly, is fairly peripheral to my real subject matter.

Rest assured for those who love controversy, Kosovo and Albanians are just as controversial. The accusations and attacks aren't likely to end any time soon in my comments section or in the region.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 4, 2008 12:24 PM

nameless-fool,

Since you are so big on stats and evidence, why are you so light on support for your own claims?

I suspect the reason is that your sources are the Albanian version of 1389.org.yu .

Your Serb-hatred is leaking out. You repeat the old lies and then the old excuse: Those Serbs has it coming to them. It is a "just" revenge.

You have revealed yourself my anonymous friend.

As for the economy of Serbia, you should know that it is poised for double digit growth next year (8% by some estimate this year despite political turmoil).

I am delighted to see Albania is also thriving. It is good for everyone when the region prospers.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 4, 2008 12:58 PM

The problem with searching is the gazillion of Serb sites mentioning what they want, that "Albanians are criminals".

Propaganda, make way for facts:

-----------
"30 May 2008 Pristina _ Murder rates in Kosovo have dropped by 75 percent in the last five years, the United Nations says in a report.

Murder rates in Kosovo have been in steady decline, dropping by 75 percent since 2003 with the current recorded rate today under three per 100,000 people, the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime, UNODC, said in a report released Thursday."
www*balkaninsight*com/en/main/news/10585/

It's 3 more per 100,000 that it should be but it's safer than US and people have murdered each other since...well you get the point. This rate is a miracle considering the number of AK's and poverty. I hope it stays this way, but economy will have to pick up.

Was it a mess before? Yes. Was the entire Balkans full of contraband guns, drugs, cigarettes, smuggled oil...yes. We know why.

---------
Kosovo and drugs:
"The vicious circle of political instability leading to crime, and vice versa, that plagued the Balkans in the 1990s has been broken",

"The smuggling of drugs, guns and human beings through the region is in decline, although the Balkans remain the premier transit zone for heroin destined for Western Europe (about 100 tons each year). " From UNDOC 2008 report
www*unodc*org/unodc/en/frontpage/greater-stability-in-the-balkans-is-lowering-crime.html

Albanian drug market has gone down to....10%-20% from 70%.

"...perhaps 10% to 20% of the heroin supply to Western Europe. This figure is considerably less than some previous estimates, suggesting
a declining role for ethnic Albanian heroin traffickers in Europe, a decline supported by the downward trend in both ethnic Albanian arrests and seizure totals in many key heroin markets."

Still too high, but considering. How are these drugs and human smuggling moved? Through the border! Kosovo has no port, it is illegal to own a boat in Albania (cut down smuggling) so they move through Serbia, Montenegro etc. Also by the time it reached Kosovo it has gone throw a few 'civilized' countries. Kosovo is the location, just as XX% of Canada's drugs probably come from US.

---------
Apples to Apples
Despite all that "genocide" Serb claim in the 1980's, Kosovo had a LOWER crime rate than Serbia.
"For example, despite the claims that Serbian women were being systematically raped in Kosovo, Kosovo actually had the lowest level of rape of any of the of the Yugoslav republic, reflecting it's generally lower crime rate"
http://books.google.com/books?id=Y8ni5uLZtFkC&pg=PA182&dq=kosovo+crime+genocide+SANU+lower+crime&sig=U7tzAHhQ_ixQpGiHkML8kPSaBaU

That year that this "genocide" supposedly started, out of 5 murders: 3 Albanians were killed by Serbs and 2 Serbs by Albanians (not necessarily ethnic; probably have been common crime but still) These are POLICE statistics, not David Binder or SANU.

------
Albania has a corruption problem (more than other countries) and they have arrested quite a few people lately. Give them 1-3 years.

Now, will you use these new statistics I just posted next time Limbic and correct others for outdated ones? THANK YOU!

------------------------
Oh and Serbs:
"The overlap between Serbia's criminal underworld and its security forces is one of Mr Milosevic's long-lasting legacies. During the time of the wars in the former Yugoslavia the two worked together in dispatching paramilitary forces to the war zones, and in sanction-busting operations against the United Nations trade embargo. "

The public outrage over 2003 PM killing did make the Serbs crack down, Albanians are too. When it comes to crime, the land of heroes like Arkan and Legija has nothing to brag about.

Posted by: nameless-fool Author Profile Page at June 4, 2008 1:08 PM

Full UNDOC report here:
unodc*org/documents/data-and-analysis/Balkan_study.pdf

I am sorry Limbic. Albanians raped their own sisters, murdered their own brothers, burned their own houses, passports, land titles, drivers licenses, birth certificates etc to blame the Serbs for identity and ethnic cleansing when they just went on a 3-4 month picnic. Apparently they took a page from those Srebrenica guys that killed themselves and then got up only to be buried in mass graves to frame the angelic Serbs.

You think US is holding Serbs for human experiments in army bases so do you honestly think i care what you think of me?

Here's a summary of what Serbs did since 1912 (with book citations) and why Serbia can no longer rule it...their post 1999 behavior is a major part of it: http://www.seep.ceu.hu/archives/issue61/herbert.pdf
----------
The Possibility of Repair: An Empirical Assessment

"The modern history of Belgrade’s rule in Kosovo is grim. Its
twentieth-century span is book-ended by extended episodes of official violent
repression, from 1912 to 1919 and from 1998 to 1999; marked by elaborate
colonization programs aimed at restoring the Serbs’ medieval majority status;
and institutionalized by a series of flawed constitutions that implicitly
identified Kosovo’s majority as second class citizens. Serbia founded its
modern state on a decision to treat its Albanian community as more worthy
of alienation than integration. Belgrade’s governance of Kosovo from 1912
to 1999 and its current Kosovo policies show in both word and deed that it
has not, up to the present day, reversed this basic decision.
Serbian forces occupied the territory of Kosovo in 1912, burning
Albanian villages from the Kosovo border to Pristina (Malcolm 1999: 251)
and failing to notice, as Banac (1984: 292) has drolly put it, that there were
hardly any Serbs left in the land they called “Old Serbia.”

The liberation was actually a horrific military occupation, (296) in which the Serbian army
punished Kosovo’s Albanians for having sided with the Ottomans (Vickers
1998: 78). The Serbs’ attempt to subdue Kosovo’s Albanians between 1912
and 1919 resulted in a wave of Albanian militancy and protracted lowintensity
conflict that ebbed and flowed throughout the 20th century. The
early violence reached a peak in the winter of 1918-1919, when the Serbian
army rampaged through several villages of western Kosovo, laying waste to
more than 900 houses and killing hundreds of civilians (Banac 1984: 298).
The military campaigns in Kosovo were augmented and followed by
elaborate attempts at colonization, which together advanced the official
Serbian policy of assimilating or expelling Kosovo’s Albanians (Banac
1984:298). Far from keeping such dark intentions secret, Serbian officials
and intellectuals went on the public record often and at length to articulate
the state’s desire to alienate its Albanian minority (Malcolm 1999: 268, 280,
283; Banac 1984: 298).

An official Serbian report on the agrarian reform of
the mid-1930s states plainly that the policy of limiting Albanian landholdings
was aimed at reducing their demographic presence: “This [maximum
Albanian land parcel] is below the minimum needed for survival. But that
was precisely what we wanted; that is, to prevent them from living and
thereby force them to emigrate” (Banac 1984: 301). The architects of
colonization wrote detailed memoirs of their efforts at anti-Albanian
demographic engineering (Vickers 1998: 107, 116),13 and two official
decrees on colonization stand as eminent subjects of the public record.14
In all, Serbia attempted two, arguably three, colonization programs
in Kosovo between 1912 and 1999.

The first, which spanned the years from
1918 to 1928 (105), achieved mixed success from Belgrade’s perspective.
Tax and property incentives for Serbs to move to Kosovo produced a
measurable demographic change in Kosovo’s cities by 1929, but the
province’s overall ethnic balance remained roughly 60% Albanian, 35%
Serb. Vasa Cubrilovic, the architect the second Kosovo colonization
program, concluded from the first program’s shortfalls that a passive
schedule of incentives for Serbs and disincentives for Albanians was not
sufficient to effect the desired shift in demographics. Serbia’s new objective
would be the active, organized “mass emigration” of Albanians from Kosovo
(Malcolm 1999: 284). During the second program, from 1929 to 1941,
Belgrade pursued twin policies of “Turkifying” its Albanian citizens through
language education and encouraging their mass transfer to what was defined
as their “natural” homeland, Turkey.

Although the plan fell well short of its
targets, the 1935 Belgrade-Istanbul agreement to transfer 200,000 Albanians
is a lasting testament to its ambitious nationalist goals. The FRY
government’s Yugoslav Program on Kosovo, which lasted from 1990 until
Serbia’s pullout in 1999, arguably constituted a third colonization effort,
although unlike its predecessors, it was not named as such by official decree.
Under the Yugoslav Program’s terms, Serbs were given new apartments and
tax benefits and unduly compensated for administrative jobs in Kosovo. The
Miloševic “crisis administration” of the 1990s eased this effort along by
summarily relieving several thousand Albanians of jobs subsequently filled
by Serbs (Vickers 1998: 245)."

There is much more, a great summary of everything.

Posted by: nameless-fool Author Profile Page at June 4, 2008 1:32 PM

Hi Nameless,

The organised crime problem in Serbia is similar to Kosovo, but in some ways worse. That said the problem is being tackled VERY hard by institution builders and the liberal element of the government

Kosovo has a big and growing problem with Human Trafficking and other mafias taking advantage of political cover and a new inexperienced police force. There is also plenty of sectarian violence. I

In Serbia, is not nearly as bad but it is getting worse (see: http://www.limbicnutrition.com/blog/sobering-report-from-europol-on-trafficking-in-western-balkans/ )

You must read this article about the core problem with crime (and politics) here in Serbia:

http://www.esiweb.org/index.php?lang=en&id=310

I trust you will use this in good faith for constructive discussion.

I suspect that you will find similar problem in Russia and Albania (and Kosovo).

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 4, 2008 1:45 PM

Oh, I just read the tirade, and I am finally free to answer (had to finish a time sensitive task).Too much to address at once here, and I must groom my response out of respect for Michael’s blog.

First, the personal insults: I found your article to be a presumptuous, pretentious and despicable rag, not just because of its content but also due to its tone, and the way you directed the comment section on PJM. This is just my take on your article, and not a personal ‘ad-hominem’ attack on you, at a “student level” or otherwise. I noticed that you are very keen on pointing out what you think are logical fallacies left and right, although your posts are swarming with them. It must make one feel deliciously complacent to have a ‘logical’ tool to prick others with, but I know for a fact that over reliance on formal critical thinking labels is often a shield to exempt oneself from the rigors of genuine critical thinking.

Here is the vitriol you spewed my way, addressed sentence per sentence:

Its best option is to merge with Albania, but as our resident Albanian Kedja might confirm (if she is honest), Kosovars are loathed in Albania proper, blamed for ruining the reputation of Albanians word-wide.

Presumptuous, pompous much? If I don’t agree with something pulled out of your ass (which I didn’t), I am revealing myself to be dishonest now? What an interesting standard of honesty: honest is whomever agrees with you on whatever.

I am not surprised to see that you are furious with me, I am your absolute worst nightmare: A non-Serb rationally defending the modern democratic and increasingly liberal Serbia that I live in.

More self-important pomposity. You think you, of all people and things, really are my absolute worst nightmare? That high up the list? There are countless tools of all nationalities shilling for the Serbs, and I have encountered my share of such Americans on a site I largely respect (LGF)---people for whose overall decency I still have a higher opinion than for yours. I don’t lose sleep over it. In fact, I don’t care much what people with an obvious axe to grind think regarding the entire issue.

Kosovo is independent now no matter what you or anyone else thinks/wants/seethes-over, and Kosovars are getting a chance to live free from chauvinistic second-class-citizenry servitude and be the masters of their own destiny. That’s what I care for. Serbs can burn buildings up in Serbia proper until they go blue in the face for all I care (so long as they don’t touch US embassies, my beloved adoptive country). My sense of self-worth doesn't depend on any of these developments, I own no land in Kosovo and I have no tribal collectivistic pretenses of any attachment to it. All I care is for the people who live there to have good lives as dignified free men and women.

You really think that your “analysis”, just because you fancy yourself to be a “westerner” who is ‘rationally’ defending the Serbia he lives in, is a cause of fury in me? What a high opinion you have of yourself, and of the feelings you can elicit in others! Truth is truth is truth, and falsehood is falsehood is falsehood. I don’t care about non-Serb versus Serb, Muslim versus Christian versus Jewish Truth, for truth requires no special pedigree. Do not project on my world view such a racialist understanding of truth.

The fact that you are not a Serb is irrelevant to the validity of your arguments or truthfulness of your claims, just as the fact that Mr. Schwartz is not an Albanian is irrelevant to his article’s truthfulness or lack thereof with regard to anything he may have to say about Albania.

How cute. The certaintly with which you wite. I envy it. Has your powerful Islamophobe detector smoked out many crypto-Islamophobes?

Most highly ironic! The pomposity and arrogance with which you write are at such levels my scribblings can hardly aspire to. My bullshit detector has not smoked out any crypto-Islamophobes, because the ones I have interacted with had nothing cryptic about them. They were full-fledged Islamophobes, and the only thing I discovered, after many conversations gone berserk, is that there even is such a thing as Islamophobia, or at least that the ‘phobia’ part does have some validity as a construct.

Because the Islamist extremists and their apologists have used the term as a straw-man dead-end hammer to shut up legitimate and rational avenues for criticizing Islamism, (in a manner, I must say, remarkably akin to how you label everyone a Serbophobe when they don’t buy into Serb propaganda/make-believe history, a label you even smacked on Michael in your blog post http://www.limbicnutrition.com/blog/michael-trotten-on-belgrade/) I had become convinced that there was no such thing as ‘Islamophobia’.

But alas, I have been proven wrong, and the Serbs have astutely cultivated and subverted this sentiment for their own means, just like various Neo-Fascist European sects are trying to do in many places across Western Europe).

I am glad you came to my attention, because you reminded me of how unashamed people are of their utterly predictable (and chauvinistic) inherited affinities.

I am humbled that your glorious attention ever momentarily shone on my miserable self, I am not worthy! You have been putting forth some interesting claims, of Albanians’ world-wide shame and ruined reputation without any reference as to what you are talking about. Now what is it that you say I should personally be ashamed of?
So utterly predictable, chauvinistic, and racially inherited of me to not buy into Serbian propaganda.

What do you think Michael’s excuse is though? And weren’t the sentiments of the average Serbs which you proclaimed to speak for in your PJM article, very predictable, utterly chauvinistic, and culturally inherited of them?

Or could it be that being from Albania, I may know the issues, conflicts, and their history from a bit further up close than you fancy yourself to, and perhaps I may have had the chance to witness first-hand the aftermath of the atrocities you shamelessly claim to have been orchestrated by the KLA?

So being raised in Albania automatically precludes me from being able to objectively and rationally analyze events involving Albania. Hmm… interesting… and you fancy yourself as the only possible objective party, being an Irishman, whose judgment and motives are indisputable. Even more interesting…

The Irish farm boy weeping over “Ewl Oirland”, cursing immigration into “white Ireland” whilst dropping a few shillings into the collection box for “The Boys”.

The Serb bigot who denies Srebrenica, exonerates Slobo, declares “Kosovo is Serbia”, thinks Serbia is the greatest country in the world and spends his weekends chanting “”Shiptari je dadno”.

The Jewish Albanian immigrant who loves America, Albania and Israel, supports the mass murder of Serbs and (surprise surprise) immigration.

Sorry, I don’t get the Irish references. I don’t know enough of the subtle socio-cultural nuances of your country to pass judgments or synthesize worthy deliberations from them, as you think you know Albania, or even Serbia, enough to talk nonsense about them with an utmost sense of unjustified authority.

“White Ireland” doesn’t sound good at face value, so if you are trying to smear me with any racist “white power” connotations, shame on you. If there are no racialist connotations, then please explain just what do you mean.

So the Jewish Albanian immigrant who loves America and Israel and supports the NATO intervention in Serbia among other things, is on par with the average Serb who denies genocide, exonerates Slobo, thinks Serbia is the greatest country on Earth and seethes “Shiptari je dadno”.

Interesting sense of equivalence. First of all, let me correct a factual error. I never said that I love Albania. In the “about-me” page you scoured so haphazardly as to miss the spelling of my name (it’s Kejda, not Kedja), I list the USA and Israel to be my favorite countries. Albania is not even on the list. You would be surprised of my private opinion of Albania and Albanians if you ever discussed it with me (as much as an opinion of a people can legitimately be expressed in collective terms, of which I am not generally a fan of).

I don’t buy into the ideas of fabricated greatness of my own mother country (and very few Albanians do, in stark contrast to the Serbs), and I am an Albanian by merely birth, but an American by choice. It is my choices I am proud or ashamed of, and not my background circumstances. Just because I don’t believe in romanticized air brushed delusions about my own country (and to be fair, there aren't even that many), it doesn’t mean I will buy into other countries’ chauvinistic delusions and their institutionalized rewritings of history instead. Much less so.

As for my inherited affinities, perhaps you should read the comment section of my “about-me” page also, and focus on my interaction with Artan: http://kejda.net/about-me/#comment-482 ---starting from that comment and down.

For being such a big fan of logical fallacies, you stumbled on a big fat one yourself way too sheepishly. It is called Straw-Man Argument. Look it up. Since when does support of a military intervention in any country equate support of mass murder? NATO’s intervention in Serbia was not mass murder by any conceivable metrics, and neither I nor any sane person could ever consider it such. Am I just a supporter of mass murder/genocide because of my support of NATO’s operation in Serbia, or also because I support the war in Iraq? Which one is more genocidal than the other, according to you? As far as I know, Michael here is a supporter of the surge.

Do you equate the invasion of Iraq with mass murder also (It has been a far more violent operation claming the lives of many many more Iraqis than the NATO intervention in 1999 resulted in the deaths of any Serbs)? If so, you are far closer to Naom Chomsky and Michael Moore than Filip David could ever conceivably be, even as per your tarring and feathering associations.
Oh by the way, that is also a logical fallacy, by improper analogy (as Michael debunked it in his comment addressed to you). See, any monkey can flaunt ‘logical fallacies’.

Do I have to get into factual details with you? “Flat-Earth-news” people like you will discard facts if they don’t fit with their smug puzzle. I will throw you a bone anyway: NATO forces announced in advance which buildings they would target. They were all governmental buildings. Civilians were never targeted and NATO forces took great pains to avoid civilian killings. All that Serbia had to do to stop/prevent the bombing was to cease the mass slaughtering, raping, and looting of Albanians down in Kosovo. Notable cases of civilians being killed by the NATO bombings are just blood on Serb officials’ hands, as Michael reported about the TV station victims.

So excuse me for thinking you to be a scumbag for such liberal use of the term “mass slaughter” on the one hand, while minimizing or casting ridiculous doubts on the historic authenticity of actual mass slaughter/exodus committed/caused directly by Serbs.

Oh, and what’s that “surprise, surprise” about my pro-immigration stance? I would appreciate it if you made yourself a bit clearer.

There are different manifestations of a common ailment: A form of limited thinking based on coded biases, chauvinism and blind ethnic affiliation.
Kedja, please try and break out of your identity and actually see the world as it is. Dare to be more than the sum of your putative allegiances.
If you want to talk to me, feel free to comment on my blog, write to me directly or invite me to comment on yours.

If you plan to issue torrent student-level insults, I would rather troll for insults in a competent arena.

Well you have figured me out just too well. Spot on. All my mental ailments and coded biases are just bursting at the seams here. I will comment on your blog, or email you, or rush to the “London of the Balkans” and meet you over for coffee as soon as I manage to break free from my identity and chauvinistic limitations. There we will engage in vigorous intellectual interactions of such radiance that they will elevate us both from any left-over debris of earthly ethnic/social/cultural/philosophical affiliations. In the meanwhile, people do not need a written invitation to comment on my blog.

Michael, I don’t want to vandalize your blog. Is it OK if I address the points in Limbic’s PJM article on the comment sections here? I don’t want to clutter too much, but some things I thought are definitely worth the attention of all readers interested in the topic.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 4, 2008 1:48 PM

Kejda/Medaura,

You and Limbic are both welcome to post here all you want. It's good to air this stuff.

I only ask that both of you try to please keep the ad hominems to a minimum and be as civil to each other as possible. You'll do all of us a favor that way, and you're likely to make more progress with each other, as well.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 4, 2008 2:03 PM

By the way, Kejda, thanks again for offering to connect me with your family in Tirana. I was only there very briefly, even more briefly than I expected to be, and unfortunately Albania will only make a token appearance here on this site just as Serbia did, and for the same reason. I didn't get to meet nearly as many people in either country as I had hoped, but, again, Kosovo was the focus for this project, not Serbia or Albania. If I had an unlimited budget this would be different, but alas I do not.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 4, 2008 2:06 PM

Nameless,

You can quote historical reports all night and I can counter with my own torrent. I will not be drawn into that game.

It is an old sport here in the Balkans.

I will leave you with a great quote by Rebecca West, who wrote the definitive Balkan masterpiece "Black Lamb and Gray Falcon":

"each people [of the Balkan] was perpetually making charges of inhumanity against all its neighbours. The Serb, for example, raised his bitterest complaint against the Turk, but was also ready to accuse the Greeks, the Bulgarians, the Vlachs, and the Albanians of every crime under the sun. English persons, therefore, of humanitarian and reformist disposition constantly went out to the Balkan Peninsula to see who was in fact ill-treating whom, and, being by the very nature of their perfectionist faith unable to accept that everybody was ill-treating everybody else, all came back with a pet Balkan people established in their hearts as suffering and innocent, eternally the massacree and never the massacrer"

This sums up the Balkan diaspora too. Albanians predictably Albanian chauvinists, Serbs predictably Serbian chauvinists, Croats predictably Croatian chauvinists and so on.

Luckily for me I can see things much more soberly.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 4, 2008 2:31 PM

Limbic, I appreciate that quote from Rebecca West, too. But be honest. It's obviously to everyone here that you're taking the Serb side against Albanians. You yourself said Kosovo's economy is based on slavery, which is outrageous. You would flay me alive if I said something like that about Serbia.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 4, 2008 2:37 PM

Dear Kejda,

I hope your effort was worth it and brought you some satisfaction.

I can see by your reaction you understood some of my points. That is good. I hope it prompts some reflection.

You completely failed to grasp the more important ones, confusing Kejda (you) with my stereotype. I did not have real people in mind for the Irishman or Serb either. In that sense you really did fall for a straw man - attacking examples attributed to a non-person, an example, a thought experiment. talk about pointing at the moon and looking at the finger.

We agree on so much (I nodded in approval at most of your about page) but is a genuine pity you seem to have a big problem with Serbs. Maybe one day I can introduce you to Belgrade? Exposure to Serbs in Belgrade seems to cure Serbophobia.

Or we can meet when I am in Tirana?

These last few days I have broken an old rule about "Internet Arguing". I see absolutely no more benefit from talking to you or your countryman, no-name. You might see value in appealing to the audience, but they are almost certainly bored with this too.

I feel that my objections to this article are now addressed and my points adequately made.

I thank Michael for his graciousness and explanations.

If you, Kejda, want to address my pajama's media post, you can spare yourself another few hours of pointless work and simply reprint the article it was debunking. I suspect it may caters to your prejudices.

Perhaps we can enter into a happy loop of my debunking your reposting of what I debunked already.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 4, 2008 2:53 PM

Hi Michael,

My point was that I do not believe Kosovo is a viable state.

It is not that the economy is based on slavery, but that organised crime (which is mostly drug and people smuggling) are huge revenue sources in the Kosovo economy which is in tatters. Additionally, without massive investment from the EU/UN, the state could not function.

As for my position, I am of course pro-Serb. I am not however anti-Albanian as a consequence. One does not require the other.

The situation in Serbia/Kosovo is not Manichean and mine is not a binary "with us or against us" world-view.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 4, 2008 3:05 PM

Michael,

I perfectly understand the logistical constraints under which you are working during your trips. If you ever make it back to the region for journalistic purposes or for mere pleasure, my parents would always be glad to host you in their apartment (it's bigger now than when we had the Kosovars staying over, so you'll be comfortable). Hotels can be expensive, so I mean it, even a few years from now on, don't hesitate to contact me if you need a place to stay for a few days up to a few weeks.

I had instructed my mother to not indoctrinate you with Albanian crap should you have met this time around, and promised to be good. ;)

Albania is a cheap tourist destination, so keep the offer in mind. I don't care about promoting it left and right to foreigners, but it is really such an unexplored corner even compared to the rest of Eastern Europe, that I am sure you would enjoy a leisurely stay there, just as you would in Belgrade.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 4, 2008 3:18 PM

I had instructed my mother to not indoctrinate you with Albanian crap should you have met this time around, and she promised to be good.***

typo corrected.

Jonathan,

I will address your post in a bit nevertheless. I don't know if you are bored already, but I think hardly anyone else is. That's why they come and read articles like this, long as they may be. Even if no one but Michael took my points to consideration, I would consider my efforts well spent.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 4, 2008 3:21 PM

Michael:

I only ask that both of you try to please keep the ad hominems to a minimum and be as civil to each other as possible. You'll do all of us a favor that way, and you're likely to make more progress with each other, as well.

You are right. Such attitudes have a tendency of
degenerating into incoherent babble. Perhaps I started it by calling Limbic’s article a despicable pompous rag. I can understand how that would rightfully get under his skin and I should have just addressed the points rather than call them despicable or any such or other thing. But I feel like I was more on the receiving end of ad-hominems. In any case, the noble thing to do is just ignore them for the sake of making headway, and focusing on to the civilly debatable portions of the arguments.

So I want to discuss the article found on this link --http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/kosovo_and_the_myth_of_serbian/ -- which Limbic/Jonathan offered us for our musing.

Jonathan,

I found the article entertaining and enlightening for the main reason that, I thought, it reflected a foreigner’s absorption by osmosis of the public opinion of Serbs in Belgrade.

The embassy attacks were rightly greeted with condemnation, especially in Serbia itself. The following morning the air of Belgrade was blue with curses of ordinary Serbs damning those who had attacked the embassies and brought shame to Serbia.

The people of Belgrade were particularly hurt by the events of that night. Belgrade’s growing reputation as “Europe’s best-kept secret” was in tatters. The jewel of Eastern Europe, the London of the Balkans, a Mecca for clubbers and in-the-know travelers, was now just another Balkan trouble spot.

I don’t know if it was meant to read this way, probably not, but to me it seems that the common cited motive for Serbs denunciating the attacks on the embassies was not genuine condemnation of the barbarous act in itself, but rather a consequentialist/utilitarian concern over the possible toll on Serbia’s reputation or attraction as a tourist destination.

I appreciate the purported condemnation of the attacks by Serbs at face value, although I have no reliable sources as to the intensity/extent with which any meaningful condemnation in the public opinion occurred (sorry Jonathan, I don’t consider you a reliable source due to other bombastic and highly charged statements you have made) though no one is giving me any indications that it happened for the right reasons.

That violent night was a grim micro-history of post-Cold War Yugoslavia. Yet again the wrongful acts of an unrepresentative minority of Serbs had commanded the attention of the entire world and generated undeserving condemnation of the people of Serbia. Serbophobia — a virulent, truth-resistant strain of racist chauvinism and bigotry that riddles the American and European body politic — was given a powerful boost that night.

I do not believe in collective blame, but things are not as black and white either. Just what is a representative sample of the attitudes of the Serbian majority? Since they have universal suffrage, should their elected political forces be held accountable as representatives of the Serbian people? The block of radical parties holds a deep majority, and Serb political leaders have defended the riots as a "legitimate" form of protest over Kosovo's independence declaration, which the U.S. enthusiastically supported. Not every Serb is to blame for the riots, but they seem very representative by every indicator of the general attitudinal current of the country.

But your incendiary and demagogic definition of “Serbophobia” and your application of this sloppy term so liberally to anyone with an anti-Serb outlook on the Kosovo issue is ridiculous. You don’t end up establishing a parallel between the decent Serbs and the decent silent Muslims, but rather between the chauvinistic seething Serbs’ newspeak tools of discrediting legitimate criticism, and the radical Islamists’ (or their Western useful idiots’) contortion of language to discredit legitimate concerns/criticism/analysis.
The ‘phobia’ part is the problem, implying an irrational obsessive hatred for the target group. Kosovar Albanians have many good rational reasons to hate Serbs, because some generalizations are impossible to avoid in matters of life and death, and the survivor instinct will dictate some rule-of-thumb collective categories. Serbs have tried to exterminate Albanians for centuries, since their first appearance in the Balkans in the 6th and 7th century A.D. I cannot blame Kosovars if history has taught them aversion, although I think it is far from the optimal attitude for Albanians to have toward Serbs in general. I have met Serbs in Canada with which I had pleasant interactions and who were smart well-meaning youngsters who didn’t care all that much about mother-country-related bullshit anyway, although most of them would end up screeching like parrots when their nationalistic buttons were pushed.

Your definition and application of the term Serbophobe is ridiculous though, to the point that you even applied it to Michael on your blog. (“Unfortunately I think it tells us plenty about Michael’s lack of research, poor planning, paucity of diverse contacts on the ground and his previously revealed touch of Serbophobia”). Listen to yourself, you sound ridiculous. An improvised trip without much research and deliberations such as the one Michael sounds to have embarked on, is actually the best chance of eliciting random and thus statistically representative interactions with the locals.

True, he talked to an “ultra liberal” like David, whose views are unfortunately not mainstream in Serbia, but he seem to have taken his ideas with a grain of salt when needed (although I did not find anything in what David said that countered my own perceptions from past experience), and he trusted him as an intellectual of integrity. If groomed by motivated pockets of Belgrade and shown only the side they fancied as truthful, Michael might have come out of Belgrade with a far more distorted view of the country.

Both the Serbs and moderate Muslims are expected to take the blame for acts committed by maniacs claiming to represent them. Jews are also very familiar with this problem. Since 1948 anti-Semitism has been given extra impetus by the situation in Israel and Palestine. The alleged crimes of Israel, often fabricated and exaggerated beyond recognition, are attributed to Jews everywhere. Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and Serbophobia are all thriving together, powered by the same type of myths, simplifications, ignorance, and falsehoods that animate all bigotry.

You have got it backward. First of all, I take offense that you lump the defensive actions of the Jewish state with the random mass-murdering suicidal acts of Muslim extremists, and with the deliberate acts of ethnic cleansing committed by Serbs. Also, Muslims are a loose religious group of many sects, scattered across various countries/continents with no representative central authority. None of them can reasonably claim to be acting on behalf of all fellow Muslims, whereas bloody acts committed by Serbs in their role of government officials/soldiers/paramilitias are damn well worthy of being stapled to the entire Serbian state, and to a more diluted degree, to the Serbian people who elected those government functionaries to power.

Secondly, no one becomes an Anti-Semite because of the purported (easily proven false) atrocities of the Jewish states. Anti Jewish/Israel conspiracy theories and slander are produced and resorted to as a result of pre-existent feelings of Anti-Semitism. That’s why the Protcols of the Elders of Zion never die, no matter how many times proven false, because those who resort to them don’t want to know it. They hate Jews for the sake of hating Jews, and will use anything to justify their hatred.

The fact that all sides committed atrocities during the Balkan wars, and that the Serbs also suffered terribly, is obscured by the West’s unbalanced focus on Serbian war crimes in both the media and the ICTY, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The Western media have consistently under-represented or ignored crimes against Serbs, while uncritically reporting even the most ludicrous of anti-Serb allegations.

There is a saying in the Balkans, “Us poor suffering Serbs”. Just that. The context is that it’s what a Serb will tell you as he is slitting your throat.

What are these most ludicrous anti-Serb allegations being uncritically reported in the mass media? I am actually curious.
No one doubts that people of all ethnicities involved have greatly suffered in Balkan wars/insanities, Serbs included, but every Balkan massacre to date has been initiated by the Serbs and they have been by far the greatest afflicters of pain.

Ironic of you to quote Rebecca West in this context, about how obsessed the people of the Balkans are with their own ethnic group’s suffering, just for you to rush into the ‘misery competition’ in your article, trying to outdo all other nations’ suffering compared to how much the poor Serbs have suffered.

That is what you could top it all off with, instead of a rational analysis of what really happened? You sound like you see things far less soberly than you seem to think. Here is your personal indulgence in the “Serbs have suffered more than though” parody:
I would estimate that more Serbs have been permanently ethnically cleansed in the former Yugoslavia than all the other ethnic groups put together.

There you have it… poor suffering Serbs are the biggest victims of them all. Your estimation is delusional and quite the exact opposite of the truth. Who needs your estimations anyway when numbers and historic documents speak for themselves? You dismissed no-name-fool’s sources as material you could just as easily find “counter-sources” to at the bat of an eye, but you never did. There are no sources to support your unhinged estimation.

You are pro-Serb, good for you. It was not hard to figure out. You even call anyone who doesn’t share your levels of Serbophilia a Serbophobe. But not being Serbophicial is not the same as being Serbophobic. It’s a logical fallacy of negation (wink wink). And being pro-Serb does make you anti-Albanian. It also makes you anti-Bosniac, anti-Croatian, and anti-Slovenian. I am not anti-Serb. I am pro-Truth, and pro human liberty.

I am a classical liberal, and I call it as I see it. The moment I start backing Albanians no matter their actions or merits, I become anti-Truth, anti-Objectivity, and anti-anyone-Albanians-might-be-having-problems-with. You can’t have your cake and eat it. Aim for some consistency, please. The only nationality I can positively declare myself as being “pro” to, is America.

I am pro-American because America is not just a nation state, but it symbolizes a certain body of political philosophy which I happen to think provides the optimal environment for human flourishing.

Being pro-Serb qua Serb is just a chauvinistic attitude affirming your soft spot for your chosen Balkans people.

Take for example the U.S.-planned and supported “Operation Storm,” where in 1995 around 200,000 Serbs were ethnically cleansed from Croatia.
This is flat out untrue, and falls under deliberate propaganda. The Serbs who left were urged to do so by their Serb leaders, and did not suffer any direct violence from Operation Storm because they were not there when it happened.

This is akin to the Arab leaders urging the Arab population to flee Israel in 1948, and they have since claimed that the Israelis expelled them. These Serbs were not even barred from returning. Orders were given by Serb leaders themselves for the Krajina Serbs to leave Croatia before the Croatian army got there. There is massive video evidence of these orders. To call what happened under Operation Storm ethnic cleansing, is such a cheapening disrespectful use of the somber term that it angers my humanitarian sensitivities.

I believe that most Serbophobia and the myth of Serbian guilt is based on what British journalist Nick Davies calls “flat earth news.” In a new eponymous book on the subject he defines flat earth news as a story that appears to be true and is widely accepted as true, such that eventually it becomes a heresy to suggest that it is not true — even if it is riddled with falsehood, distortion, and propaganda.

Well you have everything figured out. Serbian guilt is a myth? Well in one sense yes, because it is largely nonexistent in the conscience of Serbs. Their political machine has been remarkably efficient, mostly because it has found a highly receptive populace, at whitewashing all its crimes against their neighbors and projecting guilt onto others, for the great injustices afflicted on the Serbs. They have done no wrongs, Serbs are the VICTIMS!! This kind of escapist collective delusion is what you are promoting with your writings. Serbs need to come to terms with their past, with their history, face their demons before they can move forward.

You are denying them the reality check they most urgently need with your attempts at airbrushing their well-documented crimes and inflating/exaggerating/condoning their disgusting attitude of perpetual victimhood.
Nations, just like individuals, cannot move forward by blaming the world for their problems, bragging about their perceived victimhood, and hysterically demanding for wrongs to be righted from the outside, or to be excused from their irresponsible behavior because of the alleged suffering they have been through. They need to acknowledge their past, take responsibility for their actions, past and future, and move on with life in concordance with reality.

Justifications for the bombing of Serbia in 1999, the consequential annexation of part of its sovereign territory, and the unilateral granting of recognition to Kosovo are all rooted in the myth of Serbia as the Balkan panmalefic. They are all based on falsehoods, distortion, and propaganda — in other words, flat earth news.

Well wait, you are spinning in so many directions. Didn’t you just say on a comment above that you are actually in favor of Kosovo’s independence? That territory was not annexed by anybody; it merely broke off. What are these great falsehoods, distortions, and “flat earth news” you talk about, which are used to justify Kosovo’s independence? The right of a people to self-determination? The triumph of private property?

They want to know how NATO, a defensive organization, came to carry out an offensive war against a civilian population based almost entirely on the allegations of a terrorist organization. They also want to know why the wrongs of 1999, now established as wrongs, have not been acknowledged and righted.

I stated in one of my previous comments the commonly known truth that NATO only targeted government buildings of strategic importance, and announced its targets well in advance. You never addressed that point. So how were the bombings targeted against a civilian population, as you allege? So the allegations of the “terrorist organization” were untrue, you say? Which allegations? That Albanians were being killed in droves, their houses looted and burned, women raped, jewels stolen, passports torn, and driven off the border to walk to safety? Walk on foot! An exodus if there ever was any, televised and documented by all angles. Is that the allegation you refer to?

I can tell you what the majority of Serbs believe, even if I cannot present the evidence of their case in one article.
The Serbs believe that Kosovo independence is part of a “Greater Albania” project, which is nearly identical and at least as dangerous as Milosevic’s ill-fated “Greater Serbia” project, which was responsible for so much suffering in the former Yugoslavia. They believe that Kosovo is just the start of this project and that the Albanians of Macedonia and Montenegro will eventually seek to join a Greater Albania too, using Kosovo as a precedent.

Really, I thought you just said Albanians hated Kosovars so there would never be a Greater Albania. If that is what Serbs think, they are projecting their own ill-fated chauvinistic attempts at a Greater Serbia (as if YugoSerbia wasn’t enough already) onto other neighbors. There may be a day when Kosovo and Albania unite, but it is far from certain, and even further from having been plotted/orchestrated at any macro level. It is not in the interest of neither Kosovar nor Albanian politicians to fuse the two countries.
They believe that the terrible reputation of Serbs generated by the acts of Serbian war criminals and aggravated by Western media bias (flat earth news) gifted the KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army) their grand strategy for creating this Greater Albania, namely: fool NATO into attacking the Serbs to force them out of Kosovo and do this by convincing the world that the war crimes of Bosnia are being repeated in Kosovo.
So were crimes being committed in Kosovo or not? What’s your final stance? NATO was just duped, right? And why would the KLA give a flying f**k about creating a Greater Albania? Its leadership would just be expelled and lose any political influence should there be a Greater Albania. KLA fell from relevance exactly when its goals were met, aka to put an end to Serbian abuse in Kosovo. If anything, it would have been in KLA’s interest for Kosovo never to break off, so they could be the powerful underdogs in a sectarian province. They had no room in real open politics.
Serbs believe that the KLA, in combination with the U.S. Albanian lobby, teamed up with the Clinton administration and set about convincing the world of this lie. It was a successful strategy.

Ha! This reeks of a Zionist conspiracy! The Jewish lobby, pulling the strings of the US government, forcing the US to fight Israel’s wars for them. Blah blah… Now the Albanian lobby? Albania barely has an embassy in the US, never mind a lobby which could pull the strings of American foreign policy! How paranoid and deluded do you have to be to believe such nonsense. And here comes the great transition, from what “Serbs think” to “And it is all true what they think, and this conspiratorial strategy was successful. You said it was a successful strategy; you are not merely reporting what deluded Serbs think, but asserting the truthfulness of their stated delusions.

Serbs consider NATO’s justifications for the bombing to be not only baseless, but in some cases absurd. Serbs believe the disinformation machine we saw operating so effectively over the second Iraq war was also deployed against the Serbs to support an illegal war also based on pretexts and lies.

And sane Americans believe that there was no such thing as a propagandistic misinformation machine to spread deliberate falsehoods to prime the nation for the Iraq war. This thing you take for granted is not that undisputed. It is actually a classical moonbat position.

Today a consensus is emerging that the putative crimes against Kosovo Albanians were indeed grossly and deliberately exaggerated by the KLA, probably to dupe NATO into attacking Serbia. In the light of history, the justifications for NATO’s war against Serbia do indeed seem as baseless as the WMD case against Iraq.

Even the mass exodus of Albanian refugees — a sight that symbolized the conflict — is now suspected of being a KLA-orchestrated media stunt (although I have yet to see proper evidence of this).

A consensus is emerging? Really? Please elaborate. There may have well been WMDs in Iraq, by the way. But nice job at trying to pander to the moonbat base. So even the exodus was orchestrated? Now you said it. Interestingly, you say you have no evidence of this. Yes on your article in your blog directed to Michael, you say:

The typical story starts with genocidal Serbs picking on poor defenceless Albanians and ends with trains of Albanian civilians pouring out of Kosovo terrified for their lives, the survivors of ethnic cleansing and genocide.

Cut!

That is the KLA/Western Media version and has no bearing on reality. It was all media warfare.
So please shut up about the temporary, propaganda-driven KLA-orchestrated media stunt and pay some attention to the real outrage of Kosovo

A lot more convinced here, aren’t you, though where is your proof? You are an absolutely disgusting human being!
Those poor defenseless Albanian refugees did not just disappear and turn back to their homes when the spotlight was off! They poured into Albania proper and Macedonia by the hundreds of thousands. 500K alone in Albania (a country of 3.5 million), completely paralyzing its infrastructure, thrown in stadiums, children crying, broken/split families, of mothers not knowing where their sons were, or whether they were alive at all! The child in my house would wake up screaming in the middle of the night, hysterically, about his sister’s throat being slit! Ads running 24 hours on every station, super-imposed on every program, of people looking for their dispersed family members! Wounded, sick people! Old people who had walked for days with barely any food or water!
You are despicable!

Yes, Michael should shut up about it (he didn’t even speak of it, but your dirty conscience was itching) and we should all focus on the overwhelmingly imaginary suffering of the poor Serbs.

Michael, if you read this, please get in touch with me next time you are in Belgrade. I am a fellow writer on Pajama’s Media, a fan and an ideological fellow traveler.

I will introduce you to ideas that you have not explored, for example how it was the KLA who mastered Hizbollah-style media warfare and used it to dupe the West into unnecessary and illegal aggression against Serbia. I will give you Western conservative’s account of what happened here. I guarantee that there is a vast and nuanced complexity to the situation here that you are missing right now, a complexity that I can help explain.

See what I meant by arrogant pomposity? You seem incapable of writing without condescension. You will give Michael a conservative western perspective of what really happened. Please tell us, what is a conservative western? You buy into the “Bush lied people died” hysterics, you seem clueless of what a free enterprise system is (for thinking Serbia is such hot shit).

Why should Michael, or anyone for that matter, explore your demented genocide denying revisionist ideas if you yourself admit to not having a scratch of proof for them? These allegations are no more worthy of consideration than “9/11 was an inside job”. Everyone saw what happened. It was no “Albawood”. The refugees, almost a million of them, were stranded for months in Albania and Macedonia.

You make many more insane claims, but my response is already running way too long, so I will stick to the most comment-worthy instances:
The Kurds suffered terribly under Saddam Hussein’s regime. He even used nerve gas against them as part of his brutal oppression. When Saddam was forced out of northern Iraq in 1991, Iraqi Kurds enjoyed 12 years of full autonomy protected in their no-fly zone, until they were reintegrated into the national government after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. They remain very much part of Iraq and no one is even considering giving them their own country, even though they want it.

But the Irish suffered terribly under the British, and they got their state, which they wanted. No one handed it to them, they declared independence and fought to keep it. The Kurds have not felt themselves ready to proclaim and defend an independent state of their own. Does Ireland belong to GB? Does the US, India, yet, belong to GB?

I thought so.

In 2000, when the Serbs liberated themselves from Milosevic after nearly 10 years of mass protests and resistance, they immediately set about establishing a stable liberal democracy, which is an exemplar of pluralist democratic governance. Serbia has some of the most forward-thinking and enlightened policies on human rights, legal reform, sustainable economic development, and the environment. In Serbia today minorities are protected and safe — ask the Roma refugees from Kosovo. Foreigners are both welcomed and treated extremely well by ordinary Serbs. Extremist parties are remarkably unpopular, especially considering the political climate. For the last five years the economy has been thriving and Serbia has been marching steadily towards hard-earned EU membership.

When I read such obviously biased promotional garbage, I have to wonder whether you are on payroll. Such voluntary useful idiocy is more than I can rationalize. The tone of that paragraph alone is ridiculous. Sounds like a Stalinist hymn tailored for post-communist Serbia.

What has been the Serb’s “reward” for reforms, compliance, and liberation from tyranny? It is to be treated exactly the same way that they have been treated since the end of the Cold War: slandered by hypocrites, bullied by superpowers, judged by a double standard, and blamed unfairly even when they are the victims.

It is no wonder the Serbs are exasperated, angry, and emotionally exhausted. Given the scale of the wrongs against them, the embassy protests were tame. Those riots took place in front of bombed-out ruins of government buildings destroyed by NATO’s unjust bombardment. The rioters were the children of people ethnically cleansed from Kosovo when the armed forces protecting them were forced out. How harshly would the world judge America if a few hundred people (out of 200,000 protesters) attacked the Saudi embassy across the road from Ground Zero?

The Serb expect to be rewarded for their reforms from the outside? It is their way of bribing the EU to get concessions? Are reforms such grudging degrading measures which Serbia needs to adopt in spite of itself? That is the prevailing attitude? Candy in return for reforms? Wow. Reforms are their own reward, and Serbia ought to adopt them whether anything external/EU-related is at stake or not. It should adopt them in order to march toward Western Civilization.

No American has torched a Saudi embassy, and none would be forgiven if they had. Another completely false analogy, but even going along with it… you are justifying the attacks on the embassy! Shame on you! If any Americans had a beef with the Saudis, they know the proper channels: political pressure for the interruption of diplomatic relations. Attacking an embassy, a sovereign territory of that country, is barbarism, and more specifically, an act of war.

The decent people of Serbia, the people who have struggled to build a modern inclusive democratic Serbia, remain trapped between the fury of a lost generation at home and a hostile world beyond. They are a people powerless to change their painful past, unable to accept the injustices of the present and facing what appears to be a grim future as either Russia’s vassal or Europe’s whipping boy.

More disgusting victimization. Powerless here, humiliated there, unable to change the past (no shit), unable to accept the injustices of the present (being? Oh, toughen up already!), and facing what appears to be a grim future as either Russia’s vassal or Europe’s whipping boy (boo hoo, what a false self-imposed dilemma). Don’t you see that it is the delusional paranoid self-victimizing attitude of your beloved Serbs which is paralyzing them and doing them much more harm than any territorial loss they are moaning over? You are exacerbating that attitude. You sound like a corrupt racist black preacher, or your run-of-the-mill Leftist, full of strife and excuses for misery.

A symbol of the Serbian predicament is the 19-year-old who died in the U.S. embassy fire started by the rioters. He was one of the attackers, sure, but he was also one of the hundreds of thousands of Serbian refugees from Kosovo, ethnically cleansed by Albanian violence and now living in poverty in Serbia.
Your stats are all out of whack. Hundreds of thousands… sure. And excuses for the 19 year old hater.

Michael, Jonathan even had a beautiful justification for your taxi driver:
The Taxi Mafia are criminal scum, and as you would expect they represent the worst of the country. It comes as no surprise that the cab driver took his opportunity to berate Michael and Sean. He may well be one of the 500,000 Serb refugees that flooded into Belgrade thanks to the Clinton administration’s illegal war in support of terrorists (in the care of the KLA in Kosovo) and Croatian ethnic cleansers (in the case of Operation Storm in Croatia, the largest Ethnic Cleansing outrage of the Yugoslav wars).
Yes, that attitude will get you very far.
I rest my case.


Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 4, 2008 5:13 PM

One last thing, Jonathan, and this is it (I am not insensitive to the absurdity of trying to engage Flat-Earthers through reason).

I just wanted to point out one of the most obviously insane stats of yours. 500,000 Serbs refugees leaving Kosovo after the NATO bombings?

Kosovo's population at the time was a rough 2 million, of which more than 90% were Albanian. The 10% Serb portion must have been roughly 200,000 then.

Yet 500,000 left?

That's interesting.

My advise is that if you are going to be a good useful idiot and spread Serbian propaganda, at least cook some reasonable/plausible numbers.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 4, 2008 5:37 PM

Dear Kejda,

Thank you taking the time to "analyse" my previous article in your penultimate post above.

It does not however meet my criteria for a full response. Lines like "You are an absolutely disgusting human being!" help me to remember that I would not waste my extremely precious time with a street corner loon or trying to convince a Stormfront foot-soldier to see reason. So it is with you.

As I noted before, your particular suite allegiances leads you into very strange intellectual territory, namely the Land of The Absurd. One day you may find yourself as an example in a textbook on biases.

I may, if I get time, gently correct the worst of your nonsense, just to help your "case" rest in peace.

As for your last comment above, in your anger you failed to read what I had written:

My 500,000 figure refers to the Serb refugees from Kosovo AND those Ethnically Cleansed from the Krajina. In the case of the former, the Clinton Administration bombed Serbia, in the case of the later, the Clinton Administration was an active supporter (via MPRI and the CIA):

http://cryptome.org/us-op-storm.htm

You might also note, that in my article it is you who represent the flat-earth viewpoint. You a re a role model, I am promoting you as a poster girl example.

I suspect that you have spent much time arguing with your Serb counter-parts in the diaspora, and since you are indeed all of a similar type, you are in a way arguing with yourself.

I, however, have better thing to be doing (like going to work!)

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 4, 2008 11:35 PM

Kejda,

Since I found no real arguments in your screed above, a detailed response would read like a social psychology lecture on biases and (un)critical thinking.

One cannot "correct" name-calling and an outpouring of vituperation.

Additionally you have mixed up what I have written with your commentary (I cringe at the possibility of someone confusing us), plus you have conflated two separate articles into the commentary.

The net effect is that of the free association of someone with a split personality: on the one had a sober reasoned analyst, on the other a furious child spitting bile.

I am sure you can guess which of us I have cast in the role of furious child.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 5, 2008 12:27 AM

Jonathan,

Dropped the "dear" prefixed to my name?

I did away with personal attacks, of which there is hardly ever any reason, up to the point when I freshly read your lines of arrogant genocide denying.

I don't hesitate to call Holocaust Deniers disgusting human beings when confronted with their ideas.

It doesn't add anything to my point, but I am only flesh and bones and I cringe in front of genocide deniers.

Even more disgusting was your smooth comfortable transition from "But I am yet to see any proper proof of this (KLA 'orchestrated' exodus)" to "Shut up about the (certainly) KLA orchestrated media stunt".

You sound so desperately pedantic with your made up terms Serbophobe and Flat-Earther, thinking you are really something for making me or anyone a postergirl of your grandiose invented psychological categories.

Sure,

You never responded to any of the actual points I made!

And your 500,000-fled-Serbs figure is still absurd even when inflated with Krajina.

Approximately 150,000 to 200,0007 Serbs fled approaching Croat forces to Serb-held parts of Bosnia and Serbia. (source http://www.un.org/icty/indictment/english/got-ii010608e.htm)

Not more than 200,000 Serbs lived in Kosovo to begin with, and less than half have permanently left since 1999.

So the total number can add up to 300,000 at the very most! Why the need for unrealistically inflating the numbers/intensity of Serb "victims"/victimhood?

And whatever that exact number is, it doesn't change the fact that your excuse of the taxi driver who had the indecency to rip Michael and Sean off, was a ridiculous blanket statement: "He may as well have been one of the 500,000 victims"

You are full of hot air, Jonathan.

And one other thing struck me about your PJM article: In the comment section, you took great pains at hammering every way you could anyone who would calmly and politely provide a contrary perspective on your alleged "facts" (like the ethnic cleansing of Krajina).

But you never challenged or so much as said a single word to correct or express disagreement with the attitudes of those Serb commentators who were seething with unspeakable hatred of anything Albanian or even American.

Examples:

You should all ignore the comments made by “Yokes” and “GK.” They are obviously Serb-haters - probably nationalist Croats or Bosnian Muslims - just like Stephen Schwartz, whose virulent polemic was nothing less than pure libel. Replace the word “Serbs” with “Muslims” or “Americans” in his seething, scornful diatribe and it would rightfully be dismissed.

Thank God for Jonathan Davis, a Westerner who truly knows and understands the situation. As he stated, “more Serbs have been permanently ethnically cleansed in the former Yugoslavia than all the other ethnic groups put together.” You should all believe in him.

All hail Jonathan Davis and his minions. What a strike to the ego. GK and Yokes were the commentators who provided facts and sources to counter some of Mr. Davis' absurd claims.

I am signing up this, and one more addition - never liked Russia, but now I despite USA, UK and … similar.

And for the end, I will never accept “democratic lesions” from the “nation” who is responsible for destroying old cultures like Iraqi’s, Indians, Afghan… Thanks a lot, but no thanks. (from Aleksandra)

It is quite curios that almost anyone who have visited Serbia has a very different opinion about the people and the country, compared with a nasty image usually presented by the official media…

Subscribe!!!

Moonbat convergence.

Steve:

It does not matter what is driving Yokes prolific posting. The general style and of-the-hip fired references are reminiscent of the professional propagandists from the CNN/BBC message board during the bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999. There is nothing that can be said that will make him change her philipiques against Serbs. Logically, should anyone in the West try to deport their Muslim immigrants for the sake of survival of their own country, or a part thereof then they should never be allowed to ever control the area again. It is stunning how far some people would go in imposing their view on everybody, only to feel good about their own views and attitudes. Arguing with their kind is literally a headache.

My real reward came some 5 years after the Yugoslavian war, at an air show in Omaha. A recogniscance helicopter pilot asked me about my home country, and then told me that he was stationed in Kosovo for a couple of years. I did not express any opinion about his mission, we only talked about flying in the Balkans - weather, terrain etc. Than, at the end he added: “As for the war, I think Miloshevic was right.” Yes it is just one opinion of one Midwestern guy, it was not official, not recorded, may be or may not be the opinion of the other soldiers stationed there etc., etc.

Thus a million Yokes or pro-Albanian supporters postings can not change it.

Genocide sympathizers! Milosevic was right! Damn... You didn't have a single thing to say to this person? All your attacks were directed at the people who dared challange you with facts?

Why did you not denounce this?

You off-handedly condone Milosevic's actions, and claim all the slaughtering of Albanians was smoke and mirrors. These are real people! My family has sacrificed to tend to their real suffering. I do think you are a disgusting human being for denying genocide.

Comment on your blog:

Andrew wrote:

A well written piece. Totten has his mind made up. I’m sorry to say this but he’s a stereotypical American abroad - hyper-moralistic and ignorant.

Unfortunately, the US public will not hear the Serb side as they have no interest in details from abroad. They seem to pick sides in overseas conflicts based on US domestic politics.

The Left that loves to talk about the missing WMD could not care less about the missing attempted ‘genocide’ in Kosovo that every international human rights investigation has failed to find evidence of. Meanwhile the the same conservatives who opposed Clinton’s ‘wag the dog’ war now use its ’success’ to buttress their own arguments about Iraq. Finding out the truth does not appear to be as comforting as the conventional MSM wisdom.

To which you felt the need to reply:

Limbic here: Thanks for this excellent comment Andrew. Great points.

Yeah, Michael Totten is just an average idiot American. He couldn't tell the difference between a dick and a thumb. Because the average American abroad is so stereotypical in his/her hyper-morality and ignorance.

Keep living your life in a shell and smugly assume everyone who disagrees with you a Serbophobe, a Flat Earther, or a stereotypical hyper-moral ignorant American.

You seem to be in the right place and among the right company for feeding off of collective misery, something you sound like you have a fetish for.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 5, 2008 7:40 AM

Dear Kejda,

Calling someone a Genocide Denier is the nuclear option. Here in Europe that is a criminal offence. Are you sure you want that claim to stand in public? Do you have proof?

I am genuinely surprised to see you stoop to that. For a person of Jewish decent too. You ought to be deeply ashamed.

Show us where I have ever denied genocide. If you cannot (and believe me, you cannot), I invite you to withdraw your comment, and request that Michael deletes that incendiary claim.

As for the rest of your increasingly incoherent and invective laced bunk, I will just point out the deep irony of your quibbling with me about the number of Serbs ethnically cleansed.

"the total number can add up to 300,000 at the very most!" you wrote breathlessly.

I equate this with those who quibble about how many Jews dies in Nazi death camps "6 million! Hell no, it was 5.2 million".

What makes it worse is that you are factually wrong:

At least 200,000 Serbs were ethnically cleansed from Krajina (that is the BBC's statement, Serbs dispute that as being less than half) and at least 227,800 Serbs had been cleansed from Kosovo.

500,000 is a conservative figure!

Hey, don't believe me.

http://www.icrc.org/Web/eng/siteeng0.nsf/html/5QSGUR

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4510542.stm

I am genuinely disgusted by your increasing aggression.

If I were Michael I would shut this discussion down. It has descended into irredeemable meanness, and in parts, into very serious slanders.

And you calling Michael, "just an average idiot American" is really not very nice*.

I know I have really riled you, and I am glad.

I think it is salutary that the anti-Serb position, so long accepted and approved without question, is now under furious assault as the truth about recent history emerges.

The Serbs desperately need to account for the real crimes committed in their name but they are blocked from that crucial step in their development by the lies and exaggerations about what they did.

Serb-haters have had an easy ride so far, but their time is up. I represent the growing numbers of fair minded foreigners intolerant of the old anti-Serb lies, and we are coming to discussion board or blog comment section near you.

I suspect that you will think a bit more carefully before you mindlessly attack Serbs in future. That is a victory for fairness and justice.

From sunny Belgrade, goodbye.

  • I am pointing out the unfairness of your use of misquotation and false context by subjecting you to your own tactics.
Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 5, 2008 8:25 AM

Can't we all just get along?

Posted by: Edgar Author Profile Page at June 5, 2008 8:41 AM

Limbic,

From sunny New York City, I extend to you my sincere middle finger.

"There in Europe" genocide denial is a crime? Then I can understand you are nervous. You may want to pull down your blog and request for PJM to withdraw your article.

I already gave quotations from your website/article as to where your mask slipped off. Perhaps you should re-read what I wrote when you are done seething and you will find the information you are looking for.

Here in America, we have freedom of speech anyway.

And don't you dare bring in the Holocaust into this because you are just further disgracing yourself.

As a Jew, if you want to talk to me as a Jew, I am deeply offended and revolted when someone minimizes the Holocaust by association with far lesser of qualitatively different issues for the mere sake of scoring a cheap sympathy point.

I gave you a source for the number of dissplaced Serbs in Krajina coming from the UN. http://www.un.org/icty/indictment/english/got-ii010608e.htm

Why is BBC any more legitimate? I have seen its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian/Hizbullah conflicts and I have not been impressed.

200,000 is the upper bound. Of course the Serbs may claim 10 fold that number.

Now let's see, Mr. Holocaust Trivializer,

how do you think your analogy will fly?

No one displaced the 150,000-200,000 Serbs in Krajina. They left because their leaders urged them to. You claim there was at least 300,000 people who voluntarily left (you have never once challenged my assertion that they were not ethnically cleaned or brutalized, but merely left following their Serb leaders' orders). Even if your number was more accurate, which it stands no claim to be (the BBC is just a state news outlet, whereas the UN conducted reports on the ground with direct sources)where is the similarity?

The Jews were not forcibly expelled from European countries. They would wish that their leaders had told them to pack their bags and leave, and the Europeans had left them. The Jews were dying to leave! But they were forced into concentration camps instead.

Likewise, Serbs from Kosovo were not displaced or ethnically cleansed. KFOR took over Kosovo right after the 1999 bombings, and though the situation was tense, KFOR has protected people of all ethnicities from any mass repercussion. Many Serbs chose to leave as the situation didn't look promising. So what?

How does that compare to the Jews who were exterminated with no chance of even fleeing for their lives?

Holocaust Trivializer!

Oh, but is that no crime in Europe?

You are the one who complimented someone for calling Michael an ignorant stereotypical hyper-moralistic American in your website. Projecting much onto others?

The reason I brought your blog posts into my analysis of your PJM article, is because you reveal your true colors in your eco-chamber of a blog, where no one is scrutinizing you.

On the PJM article, you insinuated that the exodus could have been orchestrated by the KLA as a media stunt, but you admitted to not having any proof of that.

On your blog, you let go of any logical inhibitions and present the despicable fantasy of the mass slaughtering and exodus of Kosovar Albanians as indisputable fact!

Now that I exposed you through your own writings, you ask for Michael to shut down the comments thread. You don't feel safe without censoring? You need to have the last word?

I asked Michael in advance whether it was OK to analyze your articles here, and he gave me the go-ahead. I kept the personal attacks down to a minimum, like he asked for, and only called you a disgusting human being for flagrantly denying gennocide and ethnic cleansing.

It's the lives and deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, Jonathan. This is stuff you never want to be wrong about. For you to go admittedly without any proof, screeching that it was all a media stunt, is jarringly callous.

You might also note, that in my article it is you who represent the flat-earth viewpoint. You a re a role model, I am promoting you as a poster girl example. I suspect that you have spent much time arguing with your Serb counter-parts in the diaspora, and since you are indeed all of a similar type, you are in a way arguing with yourself.

Really? Is that all you suspect of me? From someone with as vivid and unhinged an imagination as to believe that the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo was just a KLA-orchestrated media stunt, I would expect something more bombastic.

Perhaps I am with the Albanian lobby.. woooo... Or a spy from the State Department, spreading insidious Albanian propaganda. Or with Mossad perhaps. Those devious Jews are always out there to get the Serbs.

No Edgar, unfortunately we cannot just get along. I wish I had the luxury of spouting political commentary from my couch as a disinterested bystander. I have seen the aftermath of the horrors of 1999 with my own eyes, as a 12 year old. I will never forget what I witnessed. And I will not let anyone get away with denying it.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 5, 2008 9:22 AM

Kejda,

You have become a self-advertising loon in this discussion, ranting about holocausts and conspiracies.

I was going to ask you again to post proof that I denied any holocaust and I have ever "flagrantly [denied] gennocide and ethnic cleansing" (SIC), but we both know you cannot because it does not exist.

It is now time to put up or shut up.

You know well that by accusing me of Holocaust Denial you are invoking the widespread opprobrium of Nazi Holocaust Denial as a cheap stunt to try and slander me.

As a Jew you ought to be deeply disgusted and offended by yourself. It is you who cheapens and trivialises the gravest crime in history by comparing it to events in Kosovo.

I am utterly disgusted that you would trade the trivialization of that enormity in a misguided attempt to score a few points in an online discussion.

I hope you were not considering a career in politics! This will haunt you one day.

I for one could not be bothered with you any more than I am with your counterparts in the Radical party. Fanatics and bigots are only good for goading, and even that stops being fun when it saps valuable time.

I would ask Michael to remove your slanders, but they are obviously the product of an hysterical and fevered mind.

A more fitting fate is to let Google archive them into permanent record.

Well done, kid. Well done.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 5, 2008 10:54 AM

Limbic,

Yadda yadda...

At this point it is in your best interest to degenerate the discussion. You want the last word? Have it, keep it. I would be doing you a favor if I kept going after your bullshit.

You don't have even a pretense of objectivity, and ultimately you just preach to the converted. Keep the last word. Savor it.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 5, 2008 1:06 PM

medaura: Keep the last word

No way.

I want it.

Posted by: Edgar Author Profile Page at June 5, 2008 1:10 PM
No way.

I want it.

Fail.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at June 5, 2008 4:29 PM

A smart and interesting piece, Mike.

But the truth is, everybody knows why. Civilians killed by Americans make for great propaganda. Journalists like Robert Fisk predictably complied and blamed NATO. It didn't matter at the time that Americans hit the building at 2:00 in the morning when no one should have been in there. It occurred to few that Serbian authorities might want to cynically parade the corpses of their own innocents in front of the cameras, though an old Middle East hand like Fisk should have known it was at least possible.

General Manager Dragoljub Milanovic was handed a ten year prison sentence in 2002 for forcing these sixteen employees to remain behind and get killed.

I'm not saying that it's morally right that the Serbian leaders did that thing. But I think it's also right to blame NATO. I encounter this theme among American militarists that when US actors drop US weaponry on foreign soil, it's some other country's fault, because they manipulated events to increase the odds of that happening.

Perhaps Milanovic deserves a share of the blame, but we are the ones who killed those sixteen civilians. To exonerate us for it is ridiculous. We may have hoped it would be empty, but we undoubtedly understand that these people do these kinds of things, and we bomb anyway. We blow things up and we accept that civilians will be killed, people with families, people who are not necessarily evil men.

This doesn't mean, to fend off the brigade of crazy, that I think America is evil or even that military action in Kosovo was wrong. I uneasily supported NATO action in Kosovo. Not waving an American flag, but because I figure it saved more innocent people than it killed.

Nevertheless, in any honest accounting, we are never blameless when people die from bombs we drop on them. Period. End of story.

I believe that to exonerate us for it is fundamentally morally corrupt. It's fair to point out Serbian complicity. It may even make the point that they're no better than we are, or worse than we are. But we're still responsible for the people we kill.

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at June 5, 2008 4:40 PM

Glasnost,

Hamas is notorious for the use of civilians as human shields in Gaza. Do you think the IDF/Israel are responsible for the ensuing deaths of any such civilians from IDF's pursuit of terrorists?

I don't think so, though much of the anti-Israeli/Semitic media takes this position of unequivocally blaming Israel for granted.

If NATO planes missed their targets and hit the wrong building,--an unannounced building, then yes, they would bear the responsibility for the deaths of people in that building, however incidental and unintentional the killing of those civilians would have been.

But the targeted buildings were announced way in advance, for the very purpose of preventing civilian casualties, whereas elements in the Serb government ordered civilians to stay in, for the very purpose of causing their deaths. Who is the party to blame for their deaths?

I encounter this theme among American militarists that when US actors drop US weaponry on foreign soil, it's some other country's fault, because they manipulated events to increase the odds of that happening.

It’s not about it being another country’s government’s fault for possibly manipulating events to increase the odds of bombs raining in their cities. It’s about those countries’ governments manipulating events so as to increase, in fact, secure the chances of more civilians of their own being killed.

What NATO did by announcing the targeted buildings in advance was similar to a demolition company announcing the demolition of a building. If people, despite hearing the announcements, nevertheless stayed in, their deaths are not the demolition company’s responsibility. If they stayed into the building because their boss had ordered them to, and if the boss very well knew about the impending demolition, their deaths are on their boss’ hands.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 5, 2008 7:05 PM

If people, despite hearing the announcements, nevertheless stayed in, their deaths are not the demolition company’s responsibility.

Bull*hit. Fundamentally self-serving moral double bookeeping. You can say it's worth it that you killed those people. You can say your behavior was typical and socially accepted. You can have no legal liability. You can even claim - in situations that never apply when bombing buildings from the air - that you genuinely didn't expect people to die from what you did.

Nevertheless, in any honest accounting, we are never blameless when people die from bombs we drop on them.

There are no exceptions to the rule of being responsible for what you kill. It is a corollary for always being personally responsible for all negative consequences of one's own actions. People who fail to accept it have failed to understand the application of morality to the real world.

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at June 5, 2008 9:05 PM

Glasnost, you'll get a lot farther with your argument if you acknowledge that the guy who put those civilians there on purpose in order to be killed gets more blame than NATO.

There is a reason he is in jail while Wesley Clark isn't, you know.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 5, 2008 9:31 PM

Nevertheless, in any honest accounting, we are never blameless when people die from bombs we drop on them.

Pfff...

OK, how about I give you (and the rest of the world) the exact coordinates of a spot on Earth where I will shoot a bullet in two days. I have a good reason to shoot that bullet, and I am making sure everyone in the area knowns exactly when and where I will shoot, so no one gets hurt.

If you however choose to find yourself in the exact spot I am warning people about, at the exact time of the announced shooting, I have not committed homicide. You would be committing suicide.

The morality you are universally applying to the rest of the world sounds like a very fatalistic one where intentions do not matter. That's not how morality works.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 5, 2008 10:36 PM

Or how about a more plausible example.

A commercial plane is flying at high altitude. Its route is known and pre-announced to all other flights from the air traffic control tower.

Another small plane however chooses to get into the route of the first one, ignoring all warnings from the traffic control tower.

They collide, the small plane is blown up and all its passengers die. Whose fault is it?

Who intentionally and irrationally put themselves in harm's way?

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 5, 2008 10:42 PM

Hi. I've made a few comments over at the
http://www.limbicnutrition.com/blog/michael-trotten-on-belgrade/ in regard to this travelogue. Since I addressed a particularly important subject from this piece, I guess it would be fair to re-post the comment here. Here it is:

I just wandered onto Michael Totten’s blog and this response. Since it is next to impossible to reply to all the Mr. Totten’s outrageously racist views and holier-than-thou-ignorant-Serbs presumptions expressed there (and, unfortunately, here, some of them), I’ll try to address an especially ugly label, the anti-Semitic one. Which you seem to be supporting, sadly.

Now, this (NOTE: a quote is from from the LimbicBlog comment, supporting Mr. Totten'theses):

“It is true that the lunatic fringe and the Radical Party peddle absurd anti-Semitic and anti-American conspiracy theories”

is a shameful lie. And you know it. I mean, c’mon. “Radicals peddle the anti-Semitic garbage”. When and where? I might not be particularly delighted with the Radicals (or any other of Serbia’s conservative/patriotic organizations) for a whole bulk of reasons, but discrediting any of them in such a dishonest manner is simply a dastardly little prank. The truth is (as can be checked easily in ANY of their views expressed on the subject) that the Radicals (as well as Kostunica’s DSS, or any of the smaller nationalist NGOs, such as “1389″, or “Dveri”, “Miletic” et al) STRONGLY OPPOSED AND CONDEMNED any attempt made by a lunatic fringe (mostly, US-style, be they self-loathing ‘white nationalists’ or conspiracy freaks) to inject the anti-Semitic crap into the mainstream Serbian ideology.

Having said all that, it is almost too obvious that the conspiracy fringe and the Sorosite NGO and media scene act almost in a brotherly harmony on that attempt. There is no more than a handful of lunatics, present almost entirely on the Internet and boycotted by ANY self-respecting Serbian organization or individual, and there are TV B92 and Soros/NED-funded NGOs (along with Mr. David’s party, LDP) to popularize their abominations by constantly reporting about their shameful activities. And that is the whole truth. And you know it, if you live in Serbia. And I can offer the tons of stuff to support my claims, and I’m asking you to back up yours with one (ONE!) relevant source. If there is such, please, share it with me. So I can join the ranks of fighting fascist crap peddled and expressed by the Radicals. If not, please, stop slandering them with such heavy accusations. See, it’s a very emotional question to us Serbs. Serbs and Jews (along with Roma population) suffered TOGETHER in the the most brutal genocide during the WW2 committed by German, Croat, Hungarian and Albanian Nazi units who occupied our country.

And yes, like it or not, the Serbian nationalism of the 1990’s variety is the ONLY Balkan nationalism COMPLETELY founded on the grounds of “1941, never again” sentiment. Esp. among the Serbs in Bosnia and Croatia. While the neighboring groups had their ways in REVIVING the old traits of waving the fascist flags their fathers used to fight under. Esp. in Croatia, whose ruling party, the HDZ, seized the power in 1990 with the OPENLY Nazi Ustasha agenda, and an outrightly stated anti-Serbianist and anti-Semitic sentiment. Not to mention the current Western darlings, Kosoovo Albanians, who name their “army” units with the SS-Skanderbeg names and open the bizzare restaurants designed in Hitlerite fashion. Or de-Serbicized Sarajevo, where one can buy the “heroic” DVDs of the “brave” mujahedeen mutilating the captured Serbs, along with Nazi SS-Hanjar paraphernalia being sold on every downtown corner.

Posted by: Sunchaser Author Profile Page at June 6, 2008 4:54 AM

Fascist flags... OPENLY Nazi... anti-Serbianist and anti-Semitic sentiment...SS-Skanderbeg names...Hitlerite fashion...DVDs of the “brave” mujahedeen mutilating the captured Serbs... Nazi SS-Hanjar paraphernalia

But it's a good place for a vacation, right?

Posted by: Edgar Author Profile Page at June 6, 2008 5:40 AM

Hi Michael,

You point out that Glasnost would "get a lot farther with [his argument] if [he] acknowledge[d] that the guy who put those civilians there on purpose in order to be killed gets more blame than NATO."

It is not quite as clear cut s that. Not even the prosecutor alleged he put those people there deliberately.

he was charged and found guilty of manslaughter after disobeying a government decree to transfer the station's staff and equipment to a secure location even though he had been explicitly warned of the consequences of disregarding the order, including the death of employees.

If one considers the NATO bombing as unjustified, immoral and illegal (which I do) then one can agree with Glasnost about the wrongfulness of the bombing and NATO's direct responsibility for civilian deaths but simultaneously agree that Milanovic was guilty of negligence and manslaughter for his refusal to evacuate.

The prosecutor made the same point.

This amnesty report is pretty interesting on this topic.

http://asiapacific.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGEUR700182000?open&of=ENG-366

Kejda, do you really think that NATO kindly issued warnings and announced targets in advance?

I think you will find that is simply not true.

The target lists were so secret that not even all members of the Coalition were party to them:

"NATO officials said that, in some cases, not all NATO members (even those participating in an attack in a support capacity) would be informed about what the target or the means and method of attack may be. " [Source: See Amnesty link above].

The NATO bombing was not a big boys version of the Three Little Pigs, with a the NATO wolf saying "come out or I will blow your house down" and those stubborn Serbian pigs deserving to die in the rubble for not coming out.

Remaining at at kindergarten level, one has to ask "Was the wolf justified in his act of violence", the answer to all subsequent questions depend on that answer. I say no, Kejda says yes, but I detect that the tide is turning in favour of the no camp.

Maybe is is just anti-Americanism or cynicism after Iraq or the view through jaundiced eye of the mass media being replaced by the clear 20 20 hindsight of history. Whatever the reason, I am glad to see it.

As Serbs increasingly face up to and deal with the shames of their recent history, it is critical that crimes against them are also fairly denounced and accounted for. That is happening.

One can see from the comments here the challenge for moderates in Serbia. Serb-haters call you a holocaust denier for pointing out that Serbs suffered crimes against them too (not entirely a controversial position) and that the recent history of Kosovo as recounted in the West is biased against Serbs. On the other one is accused of being a liar for pointing out that extremists in Serbia sometimes resort to conspiracy theories".

It looks like an unwinnable position, but actually things are getting better every day as they have done for the last three years.

The extremists are shrinking in number, power and influence. The economy is booming. Relations with neighbours are normalising (I will be taking the first direct flight between Belgrade and Croatia next month) and the mood in the country is ebullient.

The tide of relentless anti-Serb propaganda is ebbing and and Serb-haters everywhere are finding, their bigotry is no longer acceptable.

The same is true for those pillorying Albanians, Croats and Bosnians. Bigotry in the region is in full retreat.

Things are really looking up here in the Balkans.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 6, 2008 5:50 AM

PS. Kejda, please do tell us how morality works :-)

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 6, 2008 6:17 AM

Now, Limbic, you're being simply a liar ('scuse my French). See, saying THIS:

"On the other one is accused of being a liar for pointing out that extremists in Serbia sometimes resort to conspiracy theories"

is just outrageous. I've NEVER denied the bizarre fact that there ARE some ignorant Serbian conspiracy loons (although one might question the use of pointing to them, since they have a far lesser, virtually non-existent, presence in Serbian politics, unlike ANY Western country...don't get me started with the racist, Jim Crow-ish, friar Coughlin-ish, Robert Byrd-ish, Dixiecrat-ish, and KKK-ish traditions of your very recent mainstream politics... boy, it feels great, belonging to a culture that has NEVER done such a shameful things as your Brave Anglosphere... see, these labels tend to get kinda catchy :)). I just challenged your notion that the Serbian Radical Party (so far, one of the two most influential Serbia's political groups) is peddling the anti-Semitic crap. And asked you to confirm your claims. Since I'm unaware of them, having spent all my life in Serbia. And I offered a (easily checkable) counter-claim, that the SRS, along with ALL other Serbian mainstream nationalists, have ALWAYS held the pro-Nazis and anti-Semites in contempt. Moreover, THEY are the ones to use the "nazi" as the worst term thinkable (for example, the Euroskeptic part of Serbia tend to point to the EU as a "Hitler's project"). And now you're ducking down from the claims you made, attempting to generalize with the "extremists". Answer me, WHEN AND WHERE DID THE SERBIAN RADICAL PARTY PEDDLE THE ANTI-SEMITIC VIEW ON ANYTHING? Or admit the you just got carried away. And stop lying. It's impolite, you know. And costs the money at the US courts, when one falsely labels someone else so gruesomely. What gives you the right to act like that in Serbia?

Posted by: Sunchaser Author Profile Page at June 6, 2008 6:36 AM

PS

I've just seen the previous comments by Limbic, esp. the ones counter the kill-your-Serb-today Albanian crowd here. You were spot on there, Limbic. I just had to react to your unfair treatment of one of the biggest political groups in Serbia. There are a tons of stuff to be criticized about the Radicals, but labeling them as anti-Semites is just unfair. Don't get me wrong, I tend to take that kind of stuff seriously, because the Nazi and Ustasha genocide of Serbs and Jews and Roma is perhaps the greatest trauma in my nation's history.

Posted by: Sunchaser Author Profile Page at June 6, 2008 6:45 AM

Fascist flags… OPENLY Nazi… anti-Serbianist and anti-Semitic sentiment…SS-Skanderbeg names…Hitlerite fashion…DVDs of the “brave” mujahedeen mutilating the captured Serbs… Nazi SS-Hanjar paraphernalia

But it's a good place for a vacation, right?
Posted by: Edgar

--

Yes. And if you're enjoying a beachwalks by the unmarked graves of executed Serbs, renting a vacation house stolen from them, and cheering the football victories at the local taverns with the guys who are just out for a beer after painting the swastika at the Serbian church, right after beating to death some elderly, recently returned Serbian refugee, you'll get the time of your life, in sunny Croatia,I'm sure.

Posted by: Sunchaser Author Profile Page at June 6, 2008 6:51 AM

Sunchaser:

Kejda, do you really think that NATO kindly issued warnings and announced targets in advance?

I think you will find that is simply not true.

I don't know what sources you think you have, or what your recollection of the facts is, but I clearly remember watching the news in 1999 (my entire family was glued to the TV) and we would hear the list of buildings next to be bombed. So nothing you say can compare with my direct experience.

Plus, what do you think David was talking about in the article, if NATO never announced the buildings?

”You could see,” David said, “you could predict, they said what they were going to hit before they hit it. But it became very dangerous because they bombed all the official buildings and then they didn't know what to do next if Milosevic wouldn't resign. But Milosevic stopped at the right time.
Or

My son lived 100 meters from Belgrade TV, which was bombed, and I lived 200 meters, and I begged him to stay with me because we knew it would be bombed that night. He said no, that he passed all these buildings that were bombed and he saw that the Americans were very precise.

Is he part of the conspiracy to make the world believe what had already been televized the world over, i.e that the targets were pre-announced?

Oh, but you did imply David's party was sponsored by Soros to spread crack-pot conspiracies, didn't you?

Having said all that, it is almost too obvious that the conspiracy fringe and the Sorosite NGO and media scene act almost in a brotherly harmony on that attempt. There is no more than a handful of lunatics, present almost entirely on the Internet and boycotted by ANY self-respecting Serbian organization or individual, and there are TV B92 and Soros/NED-funded NGOs (along with Mr. David’s party, LDP) to popularize their abominations by constantly reporting about their shameful activities.

Hmmm… What is your party affiliation, Sunchaser, if I may ask?

The Liberals are Soros-funded conspiracy-disseminating stooges, yet you said you don’t like the Radicals? It doesn’t really sound like that to me. I think you represent a new evolutionary level of finesse and subtlety in Serbian propaganda: you pretend to not be a flaming Radical, in the hope of sounding more credible when you defend the Radical Party from people who are exposing it.

Your true colors are pretty vivid though, to anyone with a keen eye. Indeed, if you are a Moderate/Liberal, yet you have the views/attitude you revealed, I can only shudder at the thought of what a Radical must sound like.
How about, if I may ask, David’s claims about Kosovo? Do you have anything you can/want to challenge?

“Kosovo was only part of Serbia after the First World War,” David said. “It was not forever even though they say it was forever.”

Many Serbian Nationalists are fixated on the battle near Kosovo Polje when Tsar Lasar's forces were defeated by the Turks on the Field of Blackbirds in 1389. But Kosovo was mostly Albanian then, as it is now.

“And when you have myths,” David continued, “they are based on emotions, not on facts. Hitler has in Mein Kampf one very important sentence. He said his National Socialist movement was not based on facts, but on emotions, and that no facts can destroy it. And if you base your power on emotion, people will stay there and it will be forever. I asked myself, how did things change in Nazi Germany? With a complete catastrophe. We haven't had one. And I don't want one because I live here.”

I am surprised no one had anything to say about that, or is it that you can’t counter any of it?

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 6, 2008 7:32 AM

Dear Sunchaser,

I have argued in public against the Serbs-are-Antisemites slander. It is rubbish, I know. This is one of the least Antisemitic places in Europe, just as French Jews how thing are these days.

You can read about it here:

http://www.limbicnutrition.com/blog/open-serb-hatred-must-be-answered/

My point about the Radical wing (by that I mean the nationalist far-right like Nacionalni stroj, Obraz) are in my experience racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic.

They are Serbia's KKK and Nation of Islam. To deny they exist is pointless and counter-productive.

As for the Radical Party, I admit I have no evidence Antisemitism from them, but I have tangled with a few members who have voiced the sort of conspiracy theories under discussion.

It should be noted that these ideas are extremely widespread everywhere (unfortunately).

Just go to a group like uk.politics.misc on Usenet to see what the British are saying and it will become clear that even the Serbian extremists are relatively tame in this area.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 6, 2008 7:33 AM

Limbic,

Your tactics are also very interesting, though not all that original in an internet forum.
PS. Kejda, please do tell us how morality works :-)

How about you, instead, start telling us some more relevant things?

You keep moving goalposts around: whenever I’ve caught you with your pants down, revealed you through your own writings to be either flat-out lying, logically retarded, or manipulative, you never address my conclusions or my key questions.

What you do is you either twist my words, willingly misinterpret my position, or you go into full blown seething and personal attacks. You do this hoping that I will go after your twists of my own words, and that the conversation will diverge tward hair splitting or more personal attacks, so that readers can forget or lose interest in the issues at hand, regarding which your claims/positions don’t have an ass to sit on.

For instance, no one called you a Holocaust Denier, but I called you a Holocaust Trivializer. They are not the same thing. More grotesque straw-men you are erecting in this comments thread.

“the total number can add up to 300,000 at the very most!” you wrote breathlessly. I equate this with those who quibble about how many Jews dies in Nazi death camps “6 million! Hell no, it was 5.2 million”.

If that’s how your equations work, math must not be your strongest subject.

That is trivializing the Holocaust on many levels. First you directly trivialize the Holocaust by comparing the brutal extermination of 6 million Jews who were never given the luxury of fleeing to safety to America or elsewhere, with the voluntary act of about 150-200K Serbs leaving the region they lived in because their leaders urged/commanded them to.

Secondly, you are trivializing the phenomenon of Holocaust Denial, which does not revolve around the exact number (I highly doubt it was a round 6 million), whether it was 5.2 or 6.2 (a hair-splitting census issue), but rather on whether it happened at all, or instead was just a media-orchestrated stunt (does the terminology sound familiar? wink wink) where a very small number Jews suffered and died, if any at all.
Your inappropriate analogies are offensive to every Jew, and perhaps you learned a lesson in Holocaust sensitivity here.

As a Jew you ought to be deeply disgusted and offended by yourself. It is you who cheapens and trivialises the gravest crime in history by comparing it to events in Kosovo. I am utterly disgusted that you would trade the trivialization of that enormity in a misguided attempt to score a few points in an online discussion.

Oh, brother! As a Jew, I don’t like to be told by smarmy gentiles how I ought to feel as a Jew. Most importantly, I never compared the Holocaust to the events in Kosovo. I merely pointed out the offensiveness and inappropriateness of you comparing it to the displacement of the Krajina Serbs during Operation Storm!!

Unlike you, I don’t like to bring the Holocaust into any such discussions. Although, it would make much more sense to compare Holocaust Denial to your own deliberations about the exodus/massacres of Albanian Kosovars being all a media stunt. I nevertheless didn’t go there.

Can I expect you to eat your words?

Why didn’t you actually address all the relevant issues instead of twisting my words or even putting new words in my mouth?

That the UN is a far better source that the BBC, that the Serbs of Krajina left voluntarily, that you yourself admitted that you had no proof of the exodus being a KLA-orchestrated media stunt, but nevertheless assumed it to be? ---by the way, that is obviously the genocide denial I accused you of.
How about all the points I raised in my rebuttal to your article?

How about your hypocrisy in addressing Michael with so much sycophancy in these comments, yet writing with condescension towards him in your blog and calling excellent a comment which referred to him as an “ignorant hyper-moralistic stereotypical American”?

You are not worth engaging. Plus I thought you had work to do in sunny Belgrade.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 6, 2008 7:58 AM

Medaura, yes, the LDP is heavily Western-funded. Which they don't hide themselves. Soros is a key player in funding the groups which express some of the most loathosome self-hating agenda. It is hardly a conspiracy to point that. As for Mr. Soros himself, I haven't added up any conspiracy theory to him, as you would like me to look like. I've just mentioned him as the most recognizable player in financing the shady groups, worldwide. It doesn't take a conspiracy theorist to criticize Soros. In fact, the most I've learned about his misdeeds came from the (conservative, I admit) Israeli/US Jewish activists, some of whom I happen to admire as being respectable and truth-telling persons. Don Feder, for example. The Western left (whose part Soros aspires to be) is heavily critical towards his ways of funding as well.

As for Mr. David, I just did some additional skim-through this ugly article (hopefully, Mr. Totten will be given the chance to explain his appallingly insulting dismissal of Albanian atrocities of dismembering the captured Serbs as simply "the Serb propaganda".. yeah, Serbs and their propaganda which have flooded the CNN in the 1990's). Plus, Totten, that evidence was presented by the CHIEF HAGUE PROSECUTOR, for cryin' out loud! Anyway, I won't be posting here anymore, I'm too disgusted after reading this filthy piece of apology that Totten offers to the monstrous mass-murderers. Just one observation on the absurdly foolish views of Mr. David, who pointed:

"People very often can't understand what happens here. We who live here can't always understand. During Tito's regime there wasn't any kind of anti-Semitism. Tito had good relations with Israel."

A man of his age should know better. Not only that Tito's Yugoslavia HAD NOT HAD "good relations" with Israel, it virtually had NONE over the decades of Cold War. Tito's Third-worldish "non-allied" agenda made him a champion of the Arab world in Europe. So Yugoslavia was a place where Yasir Arafat and his ilk felt more then welcomed. The only opposition to that concept came from Serbian communists (esp. Aleksandar Rankovic, who had been impeached in one of Tito's purges during the 1960's). And (surprise, surprise), the most enthusiasm for "Palestinian cause" against "the evil Israelis" came from Tito himself,along with the Croatian , Bosnian Muslim and Kosovo Albanian Communist leadership. As for Serbia and Serbs, the anti-Semitism was entirely unknown these years. Many prominent Serbian intellectuals (of both Serbian nationalist or leftist varieties) were (and are!) Jewish; in fact, the new-born enthusiasm for Serbian-Israeli relations FLOURISHED during the late 1980's and early 1990's, with Milosevic's advance to power. One of the reasons the old-style Commies disliked him was exactly his turn from their Titoist party line in regard to the foreign policy. And that is the truth. And the Serbian Jews stood by their country proudly during all the predicaments that 1990's brought upon us all. Check, if you don't believe me. It is shameful that Mr. David peddles such a loathsome rants and slanders to his own country. C'mon, "Elders of Zion" and such bizarre pieces are UNKNOWN to the most of Serbs. And he paints the cartoonish picture of some Jew-hating, Hitler-loving sentiment of Serbia, which is outrageous. And insulting. To all our victims (Serb, Jewish...) who gave their lives resisting the Nazis, under Royalist or Communist flag, no matter. Or simply having been imprisoned r killed by the Nazis (all the concentration camps in Yugoslavia, in German-occupied Belgrade or in Nazi Croatia, were filled with Serbs and Jews alike)

The most bizarre thing is that it's actually the party that Mr. David belongs to, the LDP, and its leader, Cedomir Jovanovic, the ones who are being the most commonly compared to Nazis. Their arrogant approach to ANYONE they disagree with, their SA-style party youth, their scandalous verbal auto-racism (some of their officials describe THEIR OWN Serbian nation as a "genetic garbage", "toothless trash" and in other familiar terms that Nazis and Ustasha used against us as well). And if there is ONE party in the mainstream Serbian politics whose official rhetorics threateningly resembles to the one used by Stormfront-loonies, it's the LDP.

Posted by: Sunchaser Author Profile Page at June 6, 2008 8:22 AM

Thanks, Limbic, for your clear-up. It seems that we had some kind of a semantic confusion here, because you've used the "Radical" term. Since one of the key current political forces in Serbia bears that name (which is historical title of a ruling pre-WW2 and pre-Yugoslav party in Aerbia, as is the case with the Democrat one, as well.. kinda like Democrats vs. Republicans in the US, or the Labours vs. Tories in the UK). And calling them anti-Semites is absurd (since Seselj himself was a leading pro-Israeli-advocating dissident in 1980's... later, he tended to criticize some Israeli politics and favor the Arabs at some questions, but, far from any anti-Semitic remarks or attitudes). I happened to watch some of his sessions at the Hague trial, where he openly and repeatedly underlined his politics as an OPPOSITON to the "tide of anti-Serb and anti-Semite neo-Ustashe fascism" in Croatia and Bosnia). Radicals' voters do happen to dislike American policy (if I'm permitted, I'll say that there might be a tiny little reason for that) and if they use some conspiracy-like argument, it contains a Washington-Vatican connection or something like that. But no anti-Semitism. Not that I'm aware of, and I know several Radicals, from a different generations and various professional backgrounds.

As for Obraz, they are a kind of wacko right, maybe inadvertantly, 'cause they seem to reject racist, pro-Nazi and similar labels. However, they do sound and act like some inter-war fringe group (more familiar in Western Europe) rather than a mainstream Serbian patriots. Often annoying and counter-productive 100%, I agree. But, I would say, wrong and outdated rhetorics and a stubbornly anachronistic and cartoonishly conservative nationalism is their key problem.

That "nacionalni stroj" loonies are, in fact, a handful of American History X-style wannabes. Which doesn't make them less gruesome, that's for sure. I'm not sure that the modern pop culture is to be completely omitted as a cause. Esp. in this age of Internet. You're right, those groups can be found everywhere (even Israel has its share). I'm aware that there must be zero tolerance (as it is) and that those kids must be cured from that madness. But, what bugs me here is that relentless tide of distorting the facts, by the pseudo-liberal crowd in Serbia. That neo-Nazi fringe is how numerous? Two dozen? You remember the "march" they attempted to organize, which has been condemned by ALL parties, Radicals among the first ones. But gathered how many of fringe kids? Fifty maybe (and half of it from abroad, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria.). But still, there are B92s and LDPs of this world, eager and ready to paint the Hitler's portrait over Serbia. Plus, advertising the fringe ad nauseam.

If I were a foreigner, reading this interview by Mr. David, I would say "bomb the bastards immediately". And that is the problem. Addressing the problems is always useful. But pointing to the anomalies as the STANDARDS of this society is just outrageous...

If there is something else, I'll reply at your blog later. I won't be posting here any longer. Not until Mr. Totten apologizes for mocking the victims in those houses of horror in Albania.

Posted by: Sunchaser Author Profile Page at June 6, 2008 9:12 AM

Sunchaser: Not until Mr. Totten apologizes for mocking the victims in those houses of horror in Albania.

Don't hold your breath.

Come on, dude. Just look at the picture in the top left corner of your screen. Does that look like the kind of guy who's about to say sorry to anyone?

Anyway, can you keep this organ-harvesting business on the down-low, please? I'm going to need a new liver in a few months and I'm hoping to score one in one of those anti-semitic Balkan countries you were mentioning. Last thing I need is someone broadcasting that fact as widely as possible.

Posted by: Edgar Author Profile Page at June 6, 2008 10:23 AM

Kejda,

You cite the recollections of a 12 year old (or perhaps the imaginings of a 21 year old?) as evidence that NATO gave some sort of pre-warning. Do you seriously expect me to accept this?

I suggest you look up the word confabulation, people like you are the reason it exists.

You called me (scroll up and see) a "Genocide Denier" then a "Holocaust Trivializer". You played the Jewish version of the race card, the Denier Card, just like your co-religionist and Serb-hating fellow Stephen Schwartz did in the article I debunked.

Allow me to quote myself:

"Schwartz castigates the saner voices in US politics for their pro-Serbian stance. He accuses them of being “deniers”, cunningly invoking the idea of Holocaust Deniers and all the opprobrium wearers of that label rightly deserve. He claims that they (pro-Serbs) deny the reality of Srebrenica and Racak. That is not true. Srebrenica is undeniable and a horror that must neevr be repeated. Racak is hotly disputed and for good reason, the evidence is contradictory.

What pro-Serbs find galling is that all we ever hear is about Srebrenica and Racak, yet we never hear about the hundreds of massacres of Serbs in Bosnia and Croatia and Kosovo. How many Americans know about the massacre of Serbs in and around Srebrenica in 1992-1993? Go and read the UN document “Memorandum on War Crimes and Crimes of Genocide in Eastern Bosnia (communes of Bratunac, Skelani and Srebrenica) committed against the Serbian population from April 1992 to April 1993.” That and other documents detail the massive scale of crimes against Serbs by Bosnians and Croats in Bosnian. Schwartz does not see fit to mention the genocide of Serbs by Croatian Ustase in WW2 nor Operation Storm - the largest ethnic cleaning of the Yugoslav Wars - where 500,000 Serbs were deracinated. Mr Schwartz, like so many Serb haters, only every discusses one side and draws attention on to the crimes of the Serbs never the equally vile crimes AGAINST the Serbs."

You have abused the charge of denier by attempting to slander me and I repeat, that is shameful.

You say Holocaust Denial does not revolve around numbers yet people like David Irving have gone to prison for Holocaust Denial and real Holocaust Trivializing for suggesting the number of Jews killed in death camps was vastly less than the figures accepted by most.

How can you, a Jewish woman, seriously compare of the events in Kosovo with the Jewish Holocaust? Show me the death camps of Kosovo. I can direct you to where 200,000 Serbs, Jews and Roma were killed in Nazi death camps run by Croat Ustase in WW2 but nothing in Kosovo.

I would mow like to introduce you to someone who is going to blow your mind. A fellow and Jew, an Israeli and an historian: Francisco Gil-White .

Go and read as he debunks the nonsense about massacres in Kosovo, NATOs hoaxes and the real history of Kosovo. Make sure you read "Should Jews support an independent Kosovo?".

http://www.hirhome.com/yugo/guide-yugo.htm

This should kick-off a battle royal between your Albanian and Jewish sides!

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 6, 2008 1:00 PM

One more thing Kejda,

For the record, I said the exodus of Albanian Kosovars was based of lies told to the populace by the KLA about massacres that had not happened and a gullible Western media that acted as a mere meme repeater for the KLA.

Crimes were committed in Kosovo by Serbian forces, but the vast majority happened after the bombing started (mostly as disciple collapsed in some units and revenge was wrought on the innocent).

Even though there were crimes and murders, they were nothing like of the scale claimed by the KLA/Western media. The pretexts for the bombing given by NATO were almost all based lies.

Need I remind you of some of the laughable nonsense coming out of the US propaganda machine at the time?

"Up to 100,000 ethnic Albanian men in Kosovo of fighting age have vanished and may have been killed by Serbian forces, Defense Secretary William Cohen said on Sunday. " [ Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/inatl/longterm/balkans/stories/cohen051699.htm ]

"At the daily Nato briefing, Mr Shea said refugees reported that Serb forces were holding 700 ethnic Albanian boys prisoner, using them as "blood banks" for their injured troops. " [Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/324612.stm ]

And you guys mock organ farming as an urban legend!

I think the KLA and the Krajina Serbs played exactly the same game. They told their people to evacuate because they would be murdered. There is one crucial difference though. The Serbs that remained were murdered, and unlike the temporarily displaced Kosovar Albanians, the Serbs of Eastern Croatia and Kosovo have been permanently expelled.

There is no dispute that the Serbs were Ethnically Cleansed from the Krajina . Please note the definition of “Ethnic Cleansing” below and the fact that the Ethnic Cleansing of the Krajina Serbs is a listed instance:

“Ethnic cleansing defies easy definition. At one end it is virtually indistinguishable from forced emigration and population exchange while at the other it merges with deportation and genocide. At the most general level, however, ethnic cleansing can be understood as the expulsion of a population from a given territory. (See : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnic_cleansing#Definitions )

So there you have it Kejda, I am very interested to see what you think of Mr Gil-White and his demolition of your cherished prejudices. Try labelling him a Genocide Denier and seeing how far it gets you.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 6, 2008 1:02 PM

"The Untold Holocaust of Jews in Serbia during WWII, based on the research of Prof. Ljubica Stefan, historian and recipient of the medal of the Righteous Among the Nations:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=536994724131610421&q=Serbia+Jews&ei=PFpJSMOpIYWyrgL6toiNDA

That is the video link of the documentary, for the history buffs.

I invite everyone to watch it, since misinformation is so rampant that even the most erudite of commenters here fell for the "17-Roman-Emperors-from Serbia" Wikipedia hoax.

Compare that information to the following, for some good old fashioned cognitive dissonance (of which Limbic is a fan and tried labored really hard though unsuccessfully to produce with his "article"):

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 6, 2008 1:32 PM

Albania is unique in that it is the only European country occupied by the Nazis that ended World War II with a larger Jewish population than before the War.

(source: Sarner. Rescue in Albania: One Hundred Percent of Jews in Albania Rescued from the Holocaust, 1997.)

The Albanian response to the Holocaust is especially notable because it was Europe's only largely Muslim country. (another source says, and I guess this was true back in the 1940s, though not today)

Even so only a Jewish family of six was deported and killed during the Nazi occupation of Albania.

(source: Shoah Research Center http://www1.yadvashem.org/odot_pdf/Microsoft%20Word%20-%205725.pdf)

This is something that's largely due to my great great great uncle Lef Nosi, actually.

(reference: http://kejda.net/about-me/#comment-446)

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 6, 2008 1:34 PM

Not only did the Albanians protect their own Jews, but they provided refuge for Jews from neighboring countries. The Albanians refused to comply and hand over lists of Jews. Instead they provided the Jewish families with forged documents and helped them disperse in the Albanian population.

(source: http://www1.yadvashem.org/about_yad/what_new/gershman/temp_index_whats_new_Gershman.html)

These are not Albanian sources, but Jewish ones.

Note in the documentary that Serbia had numerous "incidents" of expelling/exterminating its Jews long before the Nazi occupation.

Balkans nations are similar to one another, Limbic says, and in many aspects they are, yet they have acted very differently when confronted with similar situations.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 6, 2008 1:35 PM

Limbic,

You are scroll over material and I have no time or interest to check any links you have provided, at least two of which seemed to be sources supporting claims of atrocities committed by Serbs against Kosovar Albanians. Funny how all you provide are sources for the very thing you dismiss (without any sources) as ridiculous as your own fantasies of organ harvesting. When you provide sources for a claim, they don't usually helo prove or support the opposite of that claim.

A course in reading comprehension would overall do you a lot of good. It is obvious that you either have not read what I wrote or are willingly and selectively turning illiterate. I never once compared the Jewish Holocaust with the massacres in Kosovo, yet you challenge me to prove the validity of an analogy I never uttered. That's just off the top of my head. There were many more instances of you sounding like you didn't read a word I wrote.

Everything else you said is ridiculous bullshit not worth my time debunking, certainly not when you have not had the decency to address almost any of the relevant questions/points I directed at you.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 6, 2008 1:48 PM

Come on Kejda, you know that pre-war anti-Semitism was a massive problem throughout Europe and Serbia is distinguished in that it was so comparatively pro-Jewish.

I mean, it was the only occupied country in the region that did NOT have an SS Division mad up of locals (like your Albanian Skanderbeg SS Division or Bosnia's Handzar SS Division).

But don't listen to this goy, why not get your information from a trusted Jewish source:

http://www.hirhome.com/yugo/guide-yugo.htm/

Specifically, "Should Jews Support an Independent Kosovo" - http://www.hirhome.com/yugo/suicide.htm

Warning: It will sting, but it is basically very good for you.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 6, 2008 2:00 PM

Oh, and I commend Albanians AND Serbs for their kindness to Jews during the Holocaust and their courage against the Nazis.

Serbs are, after all, your fellow victims of Nazi holocaust.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 6, 2008 2:02 PM

Hahahahah!

Scroll-over material is who scroll-over-worthy behaves.

Limbic,

The personal opinion of some random Jew on whether all Jews should support Kosovo's independence does not count as a "source" for anything. Or is it that you are at a lack of actual sources regarding your factual claims?

You seem to think that all Jews are supposed to feel/think the same and that there is a Jewish Pope out there pulling the strings of our thoughts.

But just because I have some Jewish blood in me, that doesn't say jack about me. It is racist of you to assume otherwise.

You thought your garbage article on PJM would create cognitive dissonance.

Now you think that some opinion piece by a Jewish guy who concludes that Kosovo's independence should not be supported will sting so bad.

Boo hoo.

How bad did it sting you?

Limbic said up-thread: "You seem to think that I am against Kosovo's independence - I am not."

So?

I know that it might make some sense to a deluded "activist" with an agenda and plenty time to kill to lie about his own positions so as to sound more objective/credible, but it requires a high level of intelligence and a very strong memory to keep track of your own lies and bullshit so as to not be outed.

I advise you to stick to lies you can remember.

Thoroughness and consistency are qualities I aspire to in my thoughts and writings. I hate to even have to ration the amount of bullshit to debunk. If I analyzed and responded to everything you have thrown around on this thread so far, it would take up books.

So I will stop addressing your idiotic rants from here onward. I got what I was looking for anyway: get your little mask to slip so as to reveal your true glowing colors.

Enjoy the seethfest!

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 6, 2008 4:07 PM

I wasn't really going to comment but I saw the need when the Memorandum on War Crimes and Crimes of Genocide in Eastern Bosnia was presented as a "...UN document." When it was merely an argument presented to the UN War Crimes office in defense of the Serbian forces by a Serbian think tank in Belgrade. The document is in no way the result of any UN investigation.

In fact the Office of the Chief United Nations War Crimes Prosecutor specifically rejected the 3,000 figure, which only had recently appeared in the memorandum but no where else, when questioned and instead argued that only 1/10th that number could be proven and many of those who had been claimed to be civilians turned out to be armed combatants. Human Rights Watch went even further and noted that the memorandum was merely part of the ongoing attempt by Milosevic to bolster his defense and to appeal to the revanchist and unsatisfied irredentist elements in Serbia.

This document is no more proof of the existence of Bosnian war crimes then the scene in the courtroom of The Miracle on 34th Street proves the existence of Santa Claus merely because the Post Office delivered all of the Santa Claus letters to the defendant. But unfortunately Serb apologists have chose the fabulist defense and then poisoned any curiousity outsiders might have to study the issue from the Serb point of view. Murdering fellow citizens, covering up the crime and then lying about the dead seems to simply destroy trust not create it.

Posted by: Pat Patterson Author Profile Page at June 6, 2008 5:09 PM

Pat Patterson:

I agree with your overall point, though I couldn't find a better source off the top of my head. Limbic here claimed absurdly that there had been at the very least, a minimum of 300,000 Serbian civilians "ethnically cleansed" from Krajina.

My point was that Limbic is a liar who constantly and deliberately inflates purported Serbian "suffering" out of proportion.

Even though the accusations are thoroughly inflated from the Serbian point of view, they didn't dare report more than 200,000 displaced people as an upper bound.

Between 4 August 1995 and 15 November 1995, those who remained in, or returned to, their homes in the weeks after the offensive were ultimately forced to flee the area as a result of continued killing, arson, looting, harassment, terror and threats of physical harm to person and property committed by Croatian forces. The cumulative effect of these unlawful acts was a large-scale deportation and/or displacement of an estimated 150,000 - 200,000 Krajina Serbs to Bosnia Herzegovina and Serbia.

See, the point in question was the exact number: 300K as the very bare minimum as Limbic pulled out of his ass, or 150-200K maximum, as sources claim.

But this portion of the Memorandum on War Crimes and Crimes of Genocide in Eastern Bosnia conveniently neglects to mention that these 150-200K people were not even forced to go anywhere. They left before any arson, loot, killing ever could have taken place, following the orders of their Serbian leaders (which Limbic eventually admits, albeit grudgingly).

Just as they lie about what caused these people to be displaced, they could be lying about the exact number as well, which then would be lower than 150K (less than half of the number Limbic claims to have been the absolute bare minimum).

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 6, 2008 7:43 PM

Medaura-If I repeated something you had previously stated then I apologize as I will admit I may have accidentally skimmed over some of the responses to Limbic assuming they were part of his comments. I didn't really want to address the issue of refugees but I seem to remember that the UNHCR did address that issue in a brief to the ICT and, operating on memory here did refute the higher claim but I can't remember what the agreed figure seemed to be. I am going to find that report eventually from both UN Office of War Crimes (took some liberties here) and that of the UNHCR.

Posted by: Pat Patterson Author Profile Page at June 6, 2008 8:54 PM

Thanks Pat,

Can you please also look for sources to confirm that NATO pre-announced the buildings to be targeted in the bombing of Belgrade?

I am reading a lot of allusions and second-hand references but so far no direct sources (I haven't looked very hard though)

Limic is not convinced that the target buildings were announced.

He must getting some sleep now in Belgrade. I predict he will be found seething here at 8 AM Belgrade time.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 6, 2008 9:55 PM

Medaura-A quick look and I came up with two sources one reliable and the other I can't find the original press conference where targets were announced. It appears that according to a Rand study a French Major, Pierre-Henri Bunel, leaked bombing targets to the Serb agents in late March or April of 1999. But that really wasn't an announcement but did provide the Serbs plenty of propaganda opportunities. And considering the dispersal of armour, supplies and troops to areas not targeted until Gen. Clark's tactically futile targeting of tanks it would appear that the Serbs had much prior warning which they ignored when it came to the safety of their own citizens.

http://rand.org/pubs/monograph_reports/MR1351.ch3.pdf

The other is from April 9th, 1999 when the NATO spokesman, a RAF Air Commodore named David Wilby announced that that starting that bombing of communication systems would go forward because, "...Serb radio and TV is an instrument of propaganda and repression. It is therefore a legitimate target in this campaign." From the Morning Star of April 9th. And since the station wasn't bombed until the 23rd then it does indeed appear that Milosevic had plenty of warning and chose to put the stations employees at risk. What's interesting that I found this on Morning Star which describes itself as "Britain's only socialist daily". Link not available and their search function is a joke.

Posted by: Pat Patterson Author Profile Page at June 6, 2008 10:52 PM

That link is wrong;

http://www.rand.org/pubs/monograph_reports/MR1351.ch3.pdf

Posted by: Pat Patterson Author Profile Page at June 6, 2008 10:54 PM

Thank you Pat,

and my compliments on your research skills (that was quick!)

I remember watching on TV that some French functionary at NATO had leaked the list of buildings to Milosevich way ahead.

NATO was pissed because the buildings were to be announced not long before the strike, so that the Serb regime wouldn't have enough time to remove valuable materials from those buildings.

I remember being glued to the TV and hearing every few days the list of buildings targeted next.

Filip David, the author interviewed in this article, makes it very clear that the buildings were pre-announced, yet Limbic and Sunchaser would claim that David is a conspirator whereas I was hallucinating in front of the TV when I thought I heard the target lists.

>>>Rolls eyes.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 6, 2008 11:10 PM

I don't think they pre-announced military targets though, but industrial/economic targets were a different story, when there was a good chance of civilians being involved.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 6, 2008 11:24 PM

Sigh. Try as I might, my eyes glaze over and I start to nod off when the topic is the Balkans.

Lots of vitriol and "how many Angels Can Dance On A Pin" from those who have some level of personal interest in the area though.

Excellent use of maps MJT, would like to see more use of them in the future.

Posted by: rsnyder Author Profile Page at June 7, 2008 3:52 AM

Dear Pat,

Here is the problem for we pro-Serbs. People uncritically accept media reports and KLA claims about Serb atrocities in Kosovo, but vehemently attack Serbian submissions about crimes against Serbs.

Setting aside your unreferenced sources and their rejection of that particular document, do you dispute my core claim, namely that Serbs were also victimized in the Bosnian war?

I very much doubt you are, so I see no point in spending time presenting you with proof of crimes against Serbs in Bosnia . They are on record for anyone who want to see them.

This discussion is (or was) about Kosovo, anti-Serbian propaganda, the abuse of labels like "Holocaust Denier", amongst other things.

Regarding your collaboration with Kejda, I think it would be prudent to keep a few things in mind if we are going to have a fruitful discussion.

Firstly, please only quote my supposed statement from my own posts or blog.

Kejda keeps mixing my words with those of random people who have commented on my blog (and even her own rantings) in a manner that makes it impossible to distinguish who really said what.

Secondly, Kedja has a habit of (deliberately ?) misquoting me even though what is being quoted is in thread.

For example, Kejda has asked you to help her argue with me, saying that I said that:

"300,000 Serbian civilians [were] “ethnically cleansed” from Krajina...[her] point [being] that I am] a liar who constantly and deliberately inflates purported Serbian “suffering” out of proportion...See, the point in question was the exact number: 300K as the very bare minimum as Limbic pulled out of his ass, or 150-200K maximum, as sources claim.".

What I ACTUALLY wrote (scroll up and see for yourself) is:

"At least 200,000 Serbs were ethnically cleansed from Krajina (that is the BBC's statement, Serbs dispute that as being less than half) and at least 227,800 Serbs had been cleansed from Kosovo. "

Let that stand as a warning to about the sort of person you are now acting a researcher for.

One of your tasks was to "look for sources to confirm that NATO pre-announced the buildings to be targeted in the bombing of Belgrade".

This stems from a discussion up-thread where Kejda asserted that NATO pre-announced the target lists, then "supported" that claiming that she "clearly remember[ed] watching the news in 1999....and we would hear the list of buildings next to be bombed. So nothing you say can compare with my direct experience."

I called this as bullshit and it is.

There is absolutely no evidence that the target lists were released and if Albanian TV was reading of the targets in advance, they must have borrowed some psychics from the CIA's MKULTRA program.

Obviously the Yugoslav military (and citizens) had their suspicions about likely targets, that is why they ordered them to be evacuated! That is NOT the same as NATO kindly pre-warning the Yugoslav government via its proposed target list.

Kejda in her shame, busted as a confabulist, it trying to get you to save her from the same of admitting she made it all up.

Funny how those Chinese diplomats ignored the pre-announcement of their embassy being bombed. If only they had been watching Albanian TV.

As for those refugees blasted near Prizren - let me guess, the Serbs deliberately sent them down that road knowing - thanks to their copy of that days precise bombing and target list, - that 500kg bomb was due there that day.

I look forward to seeing what nonsense Team Kejda dreams up next.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 7, 2008 6:00 AM

PS. Kejda,

Friday night and you spend it arguing online? Time to get a life young lady.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 7, 2008 6:01 AM

The Rand report stands on its own while Morning Star does not have an archive though Wilby's press conference has been quoted here;

http://www.marxist.com/Europe/yugoTV.htm

I'm only going to respond to one point in that the bombing of the Chinese Embassy, considering that NATO denied it was deliberate and that China eventually accepted that explanation ,is that it was an accident and hardly likely to have been announced as a target before hand. Serbia did know the targets, either through its own spy network and the NATO leak or the daily NATO press briefings where the type of target was announced in advance. If someone knows by announcement what type of target is next and then knows by observation when the bombing takes place the only explanation I can come up with is either stupidity or venality when civilians are put into those likely targets.

Posted by: Pat Patterson Author Profile Page at June 7, 2008 6:28 AM

Hi Pat,

My point was simply that NATO did not pre-announce the targets as Kejda claimed.

The Rand report does not claim that either, not to mention support it.

Did the Yugoslav government know that RTS was a target? Definitely. They ordered the staff to evacuate and the station chief is in jail for refusing to follow that order.

Does this make him responsible for murder? No. It makes him negligent and therefore guilty of manslaughter.

There are many - and not just Serbs - who consider the NATO bombing as illegal and immoral. Those that do hold NATO ultimately responsible for all deaths as a consequence of the campaign, even where there was contributory negligence on the part of local authorities.

Milosevic was voted out of power in 2000. It would have happened sooner if the bombing had not been inflicted on the civilians of Serbia.

Since then a democratic and pluralist Serbia has been relentlessly bullied and maligned (based on former wrongdoings) whilst contemporary outrages against Serbs in Kosovo are largely ignored.

Since genuine democracy was established in 2000, the state of Serbia has been a model of pluralist values. No war, no aggression, no ethnic violence. Next door, in the pseudo-state of Kosovo however, since 2000, over 200,000 Serbs and other non-Albanians have been ethncially cleansed and hundreds murdered or abducted.

What do you think is more pressing and important: The fate of Kosovo's under siege minorities today or the grossly exaggerated wrong-doings of a dictator nearly a decade ago?

Comparing like for like - democratic Serbia vs democratic Kosovo, Kosovo is to be found desperately wanting compared to Serbia.

That is the true irony.

Whatever you say about Serbia's past, its present is VERY different. They are confiscating a province from a democratic state and giving its rule to people with blood on their hands, running a "country" where sectarian violence against the remaining minorities is rife.

It is like handing over Northern Ireland to a government made up of former UDA men whilst Catholics are under daily sectarian attack and then expecting the people of southern Ireland to accept the situation gracefully.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 7, 2008 7:29 AM

"The first is that there is an international conspiracy against Serbia, and that behind that are Americans and Jews with the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

I wonder.

Would that make Albanian Muslims the worst Jews?

Posted by: Leauki Author Profile Page at June 7, 2008 9:50 AM

This is getting to be "how many angles can dance on a pin"-type bullshit.

When hairs are split and the real issues are dodged it tends to get there.

Limbic cannot keep track of his bullshit, like his changing position on Kosovo's independence

He says somewhere

At least 200,000 Serbs were ethnically cleansed from Krajina (that is the BBC's statement, Serbs dispute that as being less than half) and at least 227,800 Serbs had been cleansed from Kosovo.

This is absurd still because the number is 200,000K at most not at least and the BBC is a bullshit source, whereas in Kosovo the initial number of Serbs living there before 1999 was likely less than 227,000 (more likely around 200,000) so not more could have left than there had lived there to begin with. Today about 100,000 Serbs live in Kosovo, so probably around 100,000 left (from the initial 200,000).

But somewhere else he also writes, up-thread:

Schwartz does not see fit to mention the genocide of Serbs by Croatian Ustase in WW2 nor Operation Storm - the largest ethnic cleaning of the Yugoslav Wars - where 500,000 Serbs were deracinated.

So what was the number of those "ethnically cleansed" in Krajina during Operation Storm, 200K at most (or at least, according to his beloved BBC) or 500,000?

If he can't keep track of his bullshit numbers, can I be blamed for not keeping track of them either?

Oh and yeah, as if the Chinese Embassy or the hospital were intentional targets to be pre-announced!

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 7, 2008 9:53 AM

Hi Leauki!

Question to those who claim there was no indication or pre-announcement of any useful sort of the bombing targets:

How did Filip David know of the TV station being next to be bombed?

Did he make it up after the fact? That he told his son to sleep over at his place and whatnot?

Other question: if there was no pre-announcement or knowledge of the industrial/economic targets, why did high officials order the director to evacuate the TV station building to begin with?

Also, there is a difference between mere negligence and criminal negligence or involuntary manslaughter.

Some cannot help but compulsively minimize every crime any Serb commits, even those against his/her own citizens.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 7, 2008 10:03 AM

From the same author, on the same thread:

Whatever you say about Serbia's past, its present is VERY different. They are confiscating a province from a democratic state and giving its rule to people with blood on their hands, running a “country” where sectarian violence against the remaining minorities is rife. It is like handing over Northern Ireland to a government made up of former UDA men whilst Catholics are under daily sectarian attack and then expecting the people of southern Ireland to accept the situation gracefully.

You seem to think that I am against Kosovo's independence - I am not.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 7, 2008 10:06 AM

Dear Kejda,

You have made a fool of yourself with this NATO pre-warned of targets bunk and are grasping at straws.

You ask "How did Filip David know of the TV station being next to be bombed?"

He did not "know" it was "next to be bombed". As he said in the very interview you are quoting above, “We PREDICTED it would be bombed because it was a massive propaganda mission”.

See that Kejda, PREDICTED. Just like the Serbian military PREDICTED that certain other buildings would be targets and evacuated them. Not "knew", not "told" but PREDICTED.

As for my position on Kosovo, I think that Serbia should be delighted to be rid of it. It was burden for Serbia and will be a burden for whatever bodies will have to support it in future. It is just another Palestinian Authority, this time in the middle Europe.

That said, I completely understand Serb's fury at being unjustly and illegally bombed and bullied into compliance against their sovereign rights and democratic wishes.

Since you are incapable of nuanced thinking, I do not expect you to understand how I can both support secession of Kosovo but denounce the methods, means and illegal violence used to achieve that end.

I also am now deeply concerned for the remaining minorities in Kosovo and the growing threat of Greater Albania Ethnic Nationalism. It will of course go the same way as Great Serbia and Greater Croatia.

The hope is that Albanians (like Kejda) will not permit this madness to engulf ethnic Albanians, the idea being they are historically separated from Yugoslav Albanians (see http://mondediplo.com/2006/07/14albania ).

After my discussion with you Kejda I think this is a vain hope. If you are representative of the Albanian mainstream, then we can look forward increasing Albanian Ethnic Nationalist aggression and expansionism, culminating in...what?...NATO kindly releasing their target list as they bomb Pristina and Tirana.

Don't be too smug Kejda. It is Albanian's who are now carrying the torch lit by Milosevic. You might want to turn your attention to that instead of honing your Serbophobia.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 7, 2008 11:20 AM

Limbic, I'd sympathize a bit more with your attempts to dial down what you call "Serbophobia" if you didn't wallow in extreme Albaphobia, or whatever we ought to call it.

I don't know about you, but I have been to both the Palestinian territories and Kosovo, and your comparing the two as you just did is ridiculous.

Why don't you spend a few days in Kosovo and see what it's really like beyond what you read in the Belgrade media? The West Bank and Gaza may be difficult for you to reach, but you can get to Prishtina by noon if you leave in the morning. You know that since you're an American everyone will be nice to you -- as long as you do not insult them by saying crap like "the economy is based on slavery," etc, as you did here. Just go down there and listen to a few people for two days. It won't kill you.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 7, 2008 11:45 AM

Glasnost, you'll get a lot farther with your argument if you acknowledge that the guy who put those civilians there on purpose in order to be killed gets more blame than NATO.

To the extent that's true, which I'm agnostic on and ignorant about - yeah, people who put people somewhere for the purpose of having someone else kill them can share the blame.

As for who gets more or less, I think that's a question too subjective - at least when the other guy is bombing buildings, rather than driving a car - to be answered definitively.

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at June 7, 2008 1:35 PM

Oh, and I already acknowledged that previously. :-D

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at June 7, 2008 1:37 PM

Hi Michael,

I am not an American.

Did you make it to the Serb enclaves I advised you to visit in the South?

I suppose I will have to wait until Part II before I find out if you visited the parts I was referring to with my Palestinian territories analogy.

Until then, less on what you think you know about me please.

As for my putative "extreme Albaphobia' let me set you straight.

I have absolutely no problem with Albanians at all. Those I have met are in my experience incredibly charming and hospitable people.

I make a distinction between that tiny unrepresentative minority of Albanians that committed the wrongs I have referred to here, and Albanians as a whole.

This is exactly what I am asking people to do when it comes to Serbs.

My gripe is that it is just Serbs who get the rap for events in this region. It is a simplistic and distorted view of events that hinders real progress and healing.

On of the challenges facing modern, democratic Serbia is that of coming to terms with its past and repudiating what was done in its name.

That process is retarded by people who exaggerate or fabricate Serb wrongdoings, thereby lending fuel to denialist elements in Serbia who point to such exaggerations and fabrications as evidence that ALL allegations are false.

By balancing up and being honest about crimes committed against Serbs, I can silence both external Serbophobes and radical elements within the country who are are robbed of their grievance engine.

I will leave you with a quote:

"Very soon it dawned upon me that the major obstacle to my work would be the myths created over four decades about the number of victims, myths by now deeply implanted in the soul of the people of all religions, political beliefs and nationality; myths which, by repetition became a 'reality'. There will be many who will reject my study because it does not conform to their beliefs...Many of them are looking for spiritual food to ignite their hatred...." -Bogoljub Kocovic

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 7, 2008 2:55 PM

Limbic: I am not an American.

Sorry, my mistake.

Did you make it to the Serb enclaves I advised you to visit in the South?

I don't know. Which ones specifically do you mean?

I suppose I will have to wait until Part II before I find out if you visited the parts I was referring to with my Palestinian territories analogy.

I didn't go anywhere that resemble the Palestinian territories. Which places do you mean? Anyway, you wouldn't find the answer in Part II in any case. Part II isn't about this.

I make a distinction between that tiny unrepresentative minority of Albanians that committed the wrongs I have referred to here, and Albanians as a whole.

Great, glad to hear it. I don't blame every random Serb in the world for what Slobo did either. I've been raised from birth not to think that way, and I'm not going to make an exception for any group or country on Earth. I haven't met a huge number of Serbs in my life, but I have yet to meet a single one who actually defended in my presence what Milosevic did. I could meet such people if I wanted to, but I'm frankly not interested.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 7, 2008 3:05 PM

To whom it may concern:

The first link acknowledges that NATO was "...listing targets," but doesn't attest to the level of specificity.

http://partners.nytimes.com/library/world/europe/041999kosovo-targets.html

While an archived article in the Washington Post acknowledges that not only targets listed but states that many were named rather than described as a target that could justifiably be attacked.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/inat/longterm/blakans/stories/military042499.htm

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 7, 2008 6:21 PM

More selective blindness/illiteracy?

Limbic says:

You ask “How did Filip David know of the TV station being next to be bombed?”

He did not “know” it was “next to be bombed”. As he said in the very interview you are quoting above, “We PREDICTED it would be bombed because it was a massive propaganda mission”.

See that Kejda, PREDICTED. Just like the Serbian military PREDICTED that certain other buildings would be targets and evacuated them. Not “knew”, not “told” but PREDICTED.

Filip David also said, just a couple of sentences further down:

My son lived 100 meters from Belgrade TV, which was bombed, and I lived 200 meters, and I begged him to stay with me because we knew it would be bombed that night.

Some people are blind to what they don't want to hear or see.

People predicted that building would be bombed before they KNEW that it was targeted.

My observations and conclusions so far:

In what seems to be a particularly Serbian habit on websites, Limbic tries to argue one point while the responses shift to another.

Goalposts and constantly being moved around so as to never address the substantiative counter-claims presented but rather change the subject, raise the bar, or obfuscate getting caught being wrong or lying.

I think the strategy of people like Limbic is to clutter the comments section with so much garbage that readers like for example, Pat Peterson, lose interest in the discussion and/or find it worthwhile to only parse through the comments.

I don't know what twisted psychological needs he fulfills with his little stunts, and I am glad people like him are largely irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, as far as Kosovo goes at least.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 7, 2008 6:31 PM

Oh Kejda,

If your primary argument that NATO was pre-releasing target lists has gone from the absurd (Recollections of a 12 year Kejda) to the ridiculous, namely the recollections Igor David, seems to think 8 years later that he "knew" the TV station would be bombed on that particular night, then it is time to give up.

Has it not occurred to you Kejda, that Mr David "knew" it would be bombed because, like the TV station staff, he was warned by the Yugoslav military?

We know for a fact that such warnings were issued by the Yugoslav government, whereas there is not one shred of evidence that NATO pre-released their target lists. Nothing.

NATO issued "warnings" the way that Hamas and Al Qaeda issue "warnings", confirming they were going to attack and naming what they considered legitimate targets.

The people of Serbia were warned the way people of the United States and Israel are warned, namely by their government who through their intelligence and military assessed likely targets and issued orders to try and minimise the impact of the attacks they knew were coming.

Do such "warnings" somehow legitimise the bombings? Do they now make an illegal attack on civilians compliant with the Geneva Conventions?

You tell me Kejda.

If a Tube Station manager in London on 7/7 had refused to evacuate a station after being ordered by the police, and then a terrorist bomb killed 16 people, he would be guilty of manslaughter even though the bombers were ultimately responsible for the mass murder because their actions were illegal and unjust.

So it is with the bombing of the RTS TV station and the NATO bombardment.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 8, 2008 1:18 AM

Hi Michael,

The Serb enclaves are the ones I mentioned above, towns like Orahovac or nearby villages like Velika Hoca. These are extremely isolated communities and in a sense represent the worst case scenario, but if one wants to gain insight into the plight of minorities in Kosovo today, I think one really needs to try and visit such places.

As you have now seen, Kosovars of all groups are kind and welcoming people. And it is refreshing to come across pro-Americans in the heart of Europe. Believe it or not I am unashamedly pro-American, despite my not agreeing with the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.

I think the Kosovo government is genuinely trying to do the right thing (e.g. attract Kosovo Serbs home) and their rhetoric is now spot on, as is their new constitution.

My hope is that the EU will fast track Kosovo, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania and FYRM Macedonia into the EU.

Ireland has shown even the most intractable ethnic wars can be solved through negotiation and open borders.

It would also solve the very real problem of Ethnic Albanian vs Greater Albania (and its Serbian and Croatian analogues).

All these three groups span several national borders and naturally feel some ethnic affinity which in past has led to war as some have tried to redraw borders around those population groupings.

Within the EU the ethno-cultural links between groups can be satisfied without igniting nationalist ambitions.

I am strongly in favour of Balkan normalisation and rapprochement between all the Balkan peoples.

Next month I will personally be on the first flight between Serbia and Croatia since the 90s.

I would love nothing more than for a Serbian government, with the backing of the people, to accept an independent Kosovo they way they did Montenegro and get on with trying to help and foster their Southern Neighbour.

Mixed in with that I would love a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to get to the truth about what really happened in the former Yugoslavia the 90s.

South Africa has shown us that forgiveness and progress is possible, but the truth must come out (neither exaggerations nor trivializations) and everyone should accept their share of the guilt.

Certain ideas were behind the mayhem, and those ideas are not completely dead in this region. The priority is to exorcise the demon of Balkan Ethnic Nationalism and in my view only the EU has the holy water to do it.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 8, 2008 2:19 AM

Alright, Limbic, that's much better. We aren't so far apart in the end. Getting into a pissing match about who did worse to whom isn't productive.

As PJ O'Rourke once said: those who forget history are doomed to repeat it...and that goes double for those who can't remember anything else.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at June 8, 2008 2:31 AM

Limbic:

The thing that immediately grabbed me while reading this comment thread, as well as the thread accompanying a PJM article linked way back near the top, is language like this: "Your Serb-hatred is leaking out. You repeat the old lies and then the old excuse: Those Serbs has it coming to them. It is a “just” revenge.

You have revealed yourself my anonymous friend."

It's hard to take your arguments, or your seemingly earnest claim to be a moderate, seriously when you crouch your arguments in the language of nationalism. Your opponents aren't simply mistaken, they are "Anti-Serb." The "Pro-Serb" view is the correct view, and is furthermore being suppressed by the Kosovars, by the Albanians, by the Western Media, by NATO, by Western Governments, and-- most egregiously, it seems-- by independently funded journo's such as Totten. Can you not see that this is the very same frame of mind that the radicals in Serbia suffer from? As I mentioned above, the PJM article (which I believe you linked) is rife with this bile as well. If the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail-- if the only way in which you can view the world is that everyone hates your people, then it is little wonder your people finds itself in conflicts.

Finally, I'd like to add that I find it absolutely preposterous, and completely telling, that the first step in your "solution" to the the Kosovo situation is for NATO-members to repay Serbia for the "illegal bombings."

Posted by: capital L Author Profile Page at June 9, 2008 7:48 PM

capital L:

Limbic claims to not even be Serbian, but rather Irish/South-African. But no one would guess that he isn't a Serb from the nationalistically charged way he in which he talks both on this thread and in the PJM article.

Quoting Limbic from up-thread:

I mean, it was the only occupied country in the region that did NOT have an SS Division mad up of locals (like your Albanian Skanderbeg SS Division or Bosnia's Handzar SS Division).

My Albanians? I could only imagine a Serb addressing me this way in such a context.

Anyway, whoever he is or claims to be, I am glad that people like you are taking the time to read the entire thread.

It is actually pretty interesting stuff, and the devil is in the details.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at June 9, 2008 9:18 PM

medaura,

I braved the course, and came away with a very similar note as capital L: the Jekyll/Hyde personalities between here and his own blog, an insincerity that taints whatever he writes.

Posted by: deesine Author Profile Page at June 10, 2008 2:51 PM

Kejda,

I see you have now resorted to registering fake profiles to add supporters to cheerlead your rantings :-)

Since you want to dispute my nationality, are you prepared to bet?

Name the amount and a neutral referee (say Michael, even though we are rowing elsewhere) and lets settle this.

Are you game?

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 11, 2008 2:45 AM

Capital L (or is that you Kejda?),

You say I couch my arguments in the language of Nationalism but your quote language which is nothing of the sort?

The opponents I am dealing with in the forums in question are not simply mistaken. There are plenty of people who are simply mistaken who I gently correct.

They - and I mean Stephen Schwartz and to a much lesser extent, Kejda - are openly “Anti-Serb”.

The pro-Serb view tends not to be a forgiving view, or an exculpatory view, but simply a fair one.

Merely defending Serbs against the more outrageous slanders and lies gets one labelled a pro-Serb, with connotations of bias and "going native".

As for Michael Totten, I had my discussion with him and he revealed why his piece sounded as it did (conceding that it was not a rounded portrait): Nice things do not make for good drama.

My response to Schwartz's racist diatribe was to point out that the "dramatic" view of Serbia, and an over focus on extremists marginalises the moderate voices here.

Part of the problem is the ongoing slandering of Serbia based on nothing by its enemies propaganda and the media's uncritical repeating of convenient memes for mass consumption.

As for your finding preposterous (and telling) my proposal for NATO-members to repay Serbia for the illegal bombings. It serves me in exactly the same way.

You are fixed in your ideas and nothing I write will sway you.

Funny thing is that the massive EU and UN funded rebuilding and infrastructure projects underlay are a de facto form of what I proposed and they are having exactly the sort of positive effect one would expect.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 11, 2008 3:03 AM

Wow, another absolutely classic tactic: now I apparently don't even exist! I eagerly await the next method of marginalizing those who don't fall over backwards agreeing with you.

Posted by: capital L Author Profile Page at June 12, 2008 3:06 PM

From Limbic's comment above:

"As for Michael Totten, I had my discussion with him and he revealed why his piece sounded as it did (conceding that it was not a rounded portrait): Nice things do not make for good drama."

I'm wondering: is it possible Limbic knows so much about Serbia and is so deeply involved in its development, that he imagined the piece to be some sort of well rounded portrait? That's a kind of predictable imagination I guess.

-

Posted by: deesine Author Profile Page at June 12, 2008 5:09 PM

Often times, the person who adopts a new religion becomes overly fervent in practicing it (becoming a fundamentalist). This happens out of an emotional need to fit in with a group and/or gain acceptance from those around them. This is why many young converts to Islam are so radical.

This is also what has happened to Limbic. He's adopted Serb nationalism so fervently he doesn't even know better (debunked stats be damned - and anyone who disagrees is a bigot hater). Because of his western "objective" background, he feels superior to those around him even in Serbia (and of course he looks down his nose at those idiot "Serbophobes" outside who just don't get it).

It all eventually turns into a sad spectacle as the fundamentalist is presented with indisputable facts that debunk the faith -- and the faith powers the soul into overdrive to shut up those painful voices from outside saying "you've made a mistake." Such voices are absolutely unacceptable to a man of fundamentalist faith.

Posted by: popcontest Author Profile Page at June 13, 2008 6:49 AM

"Merely defending Serbs against the more outrageous slanders and lies"

Well, try doing that.

Wikipedia claims in

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Kosovo

that 400,000 Kosovars fled to Albania and 240,000 to Serbia and Montenegro. Another 200,000 fled to Macedonia.

I assume that those that fled to Albania and Macedonia were Albanians while those that fled to Serbia and Montenegro were Serbs.

According to the same article, the Serbian population of Kosovo was about 200,000 before the war.

I believe there are more than -40,000 Serbs living in Kosovo now.

Go ahead, defend the Serbs against those lies and see if anybody hates you for it.

My bet is that nobody will say a thing when you defend the Serbs. It is when you pretend that more Serbs left Kosovo than ever lived there in order to accuse Albanians of ethnic cleansing that people will speak up.

Let's try it out!

Posted by: Leauki Author Profile Page at June 15, 2008 5:22 PM

Leauki,

"Wikipedia claims" versus....

UNHCR

Internal Displacement Monitoring Center

So we have registered IDPs versus bogus data from a wartime census.

I personally think the number of real IDPs is between 100,000 and 200,000 but you could be forgiven for seeing why so many believe it is over 200,000. Those are the official figures after all.

Posted by: Limbic Author Profile Page at June 18, 2008 2:43 AM

I spent my summer in Serbia and I am American. I never experienced any of what the beginning of your article claims. I was greated with friendliness and people were excited to see Americans coming to visit Serbia. They were modest and down played the beauty of their land. I was open about being American and was never asked to hide that. I was there between when the embassy was set on fire until last week. I never once was ripped off and was often helped by people that could speak some english. I went to games where their fans were and was around government locations. Visas were being given to Serbs to visit American and while some were upset over the recognition of Kosovo, they made sure not to discuss this with me so as to not bring negative experiences to my trip. As for those who claim one group and wrong and you are right I have some news for you...THE TRUTH IS IN THE MIDDLE! I am not defending any party in what happened because it is not my place to comment. But what I am willing to come out and say is that my trip was pleasent and I would have no problem going back there. While walking through downtown there were more tourists then ever before and they all said they loved Belgrade and would visit again.

Posted by: Soccerkid Author Profile Page at July 28, 2008 10:15 AM

although it has some true to it, this website portrays a typical american view of serbia on several issues.
first of all, defining serbia as Eastern Europe is not true. Serbia is a South and East-Central European country.
secondly, Serbia was part of the both Eastern and the Western halves of the Roman Empire. Not that it matters taking that both were Christian and that the founder of the East, Constantine the Great, has introduced Christianity to the entire Roman Empire. Eastern Roman Empire was Greek, not Middle Eastern.
Thirdly, Serbs have not missed the Enlightment nor Romanticism because one half of them have lived in the Austrian Empire and the Venetian Republic. Also, Serbia has become a recognized state in 1817, when it became semi-independent from Turkey, meaning that it had a significant cultural autonomy unlike other parts of the Empire, which at the time also included the cradle of the Western world, Greece. It also had the first Constitution in South Europe, as a result of the French Revolution and its impact on the ongoing Serbian revolution, which coencided with it.
Forth point: the article is based on bio-racial discriminative aspects. Saying that Serbs are dark-skinned is like saying that Britain or America is dark skinned. The immigrant communities in these countries form big part of the non Caucasian population.
There are many more inconsistencies in this article but they all derive from the same missconception about Serbia: that it is Middle Eastern and `somewhat European` (quote). I guess someone has to actually live in Europe to know what this continent is all about. Serbia is an extremely diverse place, and cannot be classified like other countries of the region, taking that it has been on the periphery of the both worlds since its very existance.

Posted by: mikepat Author Profile Page at November 5, 2008 7:49 AM
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