What’s Wrong with the World

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What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

In Saecula Saeculorum, Amen.

Recent arrests of (qualifiedly) indigenous jihadists, four of whom are Muslims from the former Yugoslavia, and three of whom are illegal immigrants, have failed to stimulate even a simulation of the sort of discussion America must have if it is to secure itself from the depredations of such men. Such a discussion would, of necessity, be liberal in scope, encompassing interrogations of everything from immigration policy to the squalor of a foreign policy which issues in the creation of sharia states along the underbelly of Europe, and brings to power sharia regimes further to the east.

First, regarding several of the jihadists arrested in New Jersey, it is imperative to note that


“ethnic Albanian” plus “Muslim from the former Yugoslavia” equals “Kosovo,”..

And that

The Administration knows it cannot keep the Albanian identity of four “Yugoslav” suspects concealed for ever, but it wants to pre-empt any suspicion that an independent KosovA would be a black hole of jihad-terrorism in the heart of Europe. Hastily denying the group’s link to al-Qaeda and other global networks is a political necessity for the proponents of Kosovo’s independence, not necessarily the reality.

We may wish to indulge the idle fantasy that our involvement in the Balkans on behalf of certain Muslim populations has not abetted the jihad; but like all fantasies confused with reality, this one is self-destructive. Perhaps, however, it is not quite a fantasy, but simply a piece of agitprop, as Dr. Trifkovic continues:

It is now essential to unmask the web of lies and distortions that has guided U.S. policy in the Balkans for years. The first step is to demand an explanation why and how Muslim Albanian terrorists from Kosovo were able to plan an operation here in the U.S. Why indeed: didn’t the U.S. military fight the Serbs for 78 days in 1999 so that they could have their ethnically clrean, Serbenfrei statelet? As a Washingtonian insider points out,

For almost a decade the U.S. government (or more precisely a handful of State Department bureaucrats and a few Congressmen) have placed the U.S. firmly on the side of the KLA and have helped created a haven for their operations. Even worse, KLA supporters in the United States have operated with virtual impunity, collecting money and weapons to support KLA operations not only in Kosovo, but in neighboring areas of southern Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, and northern Greece.

He reminds us that in 2004 Dutch television broadcast a documentary of Kosovo Albanian Muslims legally buying weapons in the U.S. and shipping them to Kosovo is support of their “liberation war” in violation of numerous U.S. laws, including the Neutrality Act: “The documentary then showed the same Albanians at a fundraiser in New York writing hefty checks to American politicians of both parties. There is no public indication that any action was taken by federal or state law enforcement agencies.”

Leave to the side for the time being the vexing questions this all raises, such as, "When does jihad become not-jihad?", and, "Why would the United States wink at certain jihads, in Albania, Kosovo, and Chechnya, for example, while execrating other jihads?" The answers to these and similar questions are found in a particular set of circumstances and ambitions that resolve the mystery of the American equation of Russian Democracy with the rule of the billionaire kleptocrats who looted the nation during the roaring Nineties under Yeltsin. There is a more profound level of ideological inebriation to be explored, one which ties together both events in Southeastern Europe, Near Eastern foreign policy decisions, and the 'failure' of our immigration policy. Once this peculiar intoxication is understood, even the odd dualities and vacillations of American establishment opinion concerning Islam become comprehensible. But let us allow the estimable Tom Lantos to explain for us:

“Just a reminder to the predominantly Muslim-led governments in this world that here is yet another example that the United States leads the way for the creation of a predominantly Muslim country in the very heart of Europe. This should be noted by both responsible leaders of Islamic governments, such as Indonesia, and also for jihadists of all color and hue. [sic!] The United States’ principles are universal, and in this instance, the United States stands foursquare for the creation of an overwhelmingly Muslim country in the very heart of Europe.”

The United States’ principles are universal. Because the principles of the United States - democracy, capitalism, free markets, etc., or was that Democracy! Whiskey! Sexy!? - are universal in scope and application, it is unthinkable that we should permit the status quo of the Muslim world to continue, for by its very particularity and unassimilability it mocks our pretensions to universality and thwarts them. Because those principles are universal, we must take upon ourselves the Universalists' Burden, that of the dissemination of democracy and markets to the benighted particularists of the world. Because those principles are universal, we are presented with but three 'options' for our dealings with the Muslim world: doing nothing, which we are told will ensure more violence; waging war on Islam itself, which would entail something amounting to genocide, and would be unthinkable (though some hold this thought in reserve, as if to say that if the ingrates will not accept our benefactions, they may have it coming to them); and democratization, the reform of Islam, its culture, its political institutions. Because our principles are universal, we oscillate between attempts to placate Islamic opinion with bromides about the "Religion of Peace" and concessions on matters of ritual and culture - which we wrongly interpret as peculiarities akin to Irish dancing or Russians eating borscht - instead of the political acts that they are, acts of the implementation of an Islamic social order, and dyspeptic splutterings over the failure of, say, Iraqi Muslims to take to a Western tradition that interests them about as much as Tribe, Religion, and Whatever interest us.

And because our principles are universal, we are adamant that political reality all over this terrestrial orb shall reflect that universality, meaning that European cultural particularity is a scandal; hence, the creation of a majority Islamic state along the underbelly of Europe, even if that state should be nothing more than a tent-covering for jihadists, flesh-smugglers, and ethnic-cleansers. Hence, a Russian state bent upon the preservation of something of the tatters of its historical identity from the dessicating forces of political and economic globalization is to be discussed as though, contrary to what everyone knows, the Cold War had not ended between 1989 and 1991. And, finally, to bring this world-tour of universalist folderol back to where it began - with the subject of immigration, even that of jihadists - because our principles are universal, even the historic American identity is an affront, and so immigration, even to the point of the elevation of nondiscrimination over life itself, even to the point of the obliteration of our historic identity (for otherwise, our identity, and the invidious comparison to other cultures, will denigrate The Idea), must be embraced. The Idea cannot wend its way through the thickets of the historical dialectic unless the hedges are cut down, and differentiation abolished, or resolved into the higher synthesis of abstractions such as money and markets on the one hand, and culture-as-commodity-not-identity on the other - which, come to think of it, is merely the incoherent notion of identity as an idea.

Our ideas are universal. Our love for mankind is unexcelled, this is to say; so also is our hatred for men in their particularity and finitude. We become death, the destroyer of worlds. In Saecula Saeculorum, Amen.

Comments (22)

Great stuff, Jeff. This really hit home: "the elevation of nondiscrimination over life itself, even to the point of the obliteration of our historic identity"

This may be the end point of the Liberalism this site despises.

I hope this is on topic: I read occasionally the Israeli cartoon blog, Dry Bones. I like Jewish humor. They had one a few days ago where a guy is listening to someone else read the paper about the EU telling the Turkish army that they mustn't stop Turkey from becoming an Islamic theocracy. The guy says something like, "I remember when the worry about Turkey's joining the EU was that it might make the EU Muslim. Turns out it's the other way around."

I sometimes think people are all crazy on this subject. Why can't we just say, "Islam is bad"? There, doesn't that feel better?

I too like that insight, but I'm not sure about the overall thesis. A lot of factors were historically specific. Already the U.S. foreign policy of the 1990s looks incoherent, if not foolish.

We were still thinking in Communist/anti-Communist terms, and saw the Serbs as Communists and the Bosnians as anti-Communists on analogy with Afghanistan. We were in the throes of the Soviet Union's breakup and championed self-determination on analogy with Poland, the Czech Republic, the Baltic States, etc. We saw human rights abuses taking place and stepped in on the side of the victims. All this made intervention on behalf of the independence of Kosovo seem like the thing to do.

After September 11, these analogies seem beside the point. We were thinking in terms of the last war-- the Cold War--rather than the one that had been declared on us in 1979 but that we had been too busy to notice. We were rightly shocked by Milosevic's abuses and didn't yet realize that we and the Serbs were fighting on the same side in that war. We ignored the fact that the Bosnian Serbs had lived under Muslim domination for 500 years and weren't about to resubmit to it quietly.

Though our insistence in universality undoubtedly played a role, I think the persistence of old ways of thinking, coupled with denial concerning the new conflict in which we were already engaged--a denial still very much in evidence on the left--played even larger roles.

I would object to the notion that in our Balkan misadventures of the 90's and beyond we were still locked in the Cold War dualism of communism and anticommunism. While old reflexes do not simply atrophy with the passage of their utility, the actual public rhetoric of the time compared the Serbian government with a certain German dictator of the 30's and 40's, and invoked his genocide as justification for the intervention on behalf of those poor oppressed Muslims, whose own atrocities and provocations were whitewashed by the very deployment of the argumentum ad Hitlerum.

In fact, the invocation of the Holocaust as justification for intervention on behalf of Balkan Muslims really betrays the animating passion of the undertaking, inasmuch as the Holocaust is now much more than an actual historical genocide, but a symbol of unwillingness to dwell in multicultural, multiconfessional, multi-ethnic comity. And, to strengthen the point, much of the treacly rhetoric of Clinton and Albright either made this argument explicitly - that our intervention was an integral part of a new world order in which multiculturalism was a "fact on the ground" from which there was to be no declension - and celebrated our "humanitarian bombing" on behalf of the Idea, or performed a pretty graphic striptease without, nonetheless, going all the way.

Slavophobia - more properly, pravoslavophobia, a fear and loathing of the cultural and political differences of the historically Orthodox nations - is a long-ingrained Western reflex, tragically; but the efficient and material causes of such foreign policy lunacies as aiding a nascent haven of jihadists and mafia lay in Western multiculturalism, a sickness-unto-death of the Postwar era, and that saccharine universalism which cannot abide difference unless it is reducible to commodities and preferences. Of course, that universalism is anything but, pragmatically speaking, as it, in the case of the Balkans, meant that the Serbs would have their cities bombed, their churches razed, and their patrimony taken from them, and the Muslims the land; but this is a consequence of the inevitable reality that universalism, which requires openness and tolerance, assumes of the form of abnegation for the party making the gesture.

Gee you people have short memories.

I come from a Croatian background and I knew a fair few Muslims from the former Yugoslavia. They were the most secularised and western Muslims you could have found. In fact I would go as far as to say they were nomimal muslims. They drank, fornicated, blasphemed and intermarried as well as any other Yugosalv. Next to the Serbs they were the strongest proponenets of an idea of Yugoslavia.

How did they get radicalised? Well lets see.

1) Could it have something to do with the Owen-Vance plan which banned all weapon sales to Yugoslavia and thereby cementing the proponderance of firepower to Serbs?

2) Could it be that when they appealled to help from the West, most of the West did nothing to help them except call for more meetings, delaying tactics and political posturing?

3) Could it be when their people were being murdered and butchered by the Serbs, which was plain for all to see on television every night they would turn to whom ever would help them?

4)Could it be that when the empty rhetoric of the West's committments to human rights was found to be hollow that they would turn to people who were acturally prepared to help them with weapons, arms and men.

The Muslims turned to the West first and it turned them down. They prayed to Allah and he answered their prayer.

I cannot believe the revisionism that is going on this site. I am a Catholic and I sure as hell don't have any sympathies to Islam, but the truth is the truth, these guys were screwed by the West in thier hour of need--just like the Shiites in the First Gulf War--these people were radicalised because when the chips were down they found out who their real friends were. Before the Serbenfrei state existed, the Muslimfrei state policy was being vigourously persued by the radical Serbs. Western sympathy and action--too little and too late--only came after the Serbs moved onto Kosovo en masse. Western action was forced by public opinion which had seen enough of Serb ethnic cleansing to know what was in store for the Muslims of kosovo.

In terms of body count, churches destroyed, cities bombed and patrimony taken from them, them Muslims fared far worse than the Serbs.

The Serbs lost the war: It was God's justice. The fact that we now have a radicalised Muslim element that hates the West, we must blame on ourselves. The Sins of the Fathers are being visited on their sons.

...these guys were screwed by the West in thier hour of need--just like the Shiites in the First Gulf War--these people were radicalised because when the chips were down they found out who their real friends were.

I tend to agree with this. The factual background is that we are not friends. The expectation problem arises at least in part because we foolishly project the idea that we will police other peoples' conflicts for moral reasons. And we did equivocate in the first Gulf War: if our objective was to eject Hussein from Kuwait and trash his military and then do nothing else, then we shouldn't have projected that we would do more. Lies have consequences.

And it is a lie that the West and Islam are friends; neighbors perhaps, but not friends. At best we can coexist to the extent they keep their bloody Jihad to themselves, inside their own fences. Which presupposes fences: fences, neighbors, and all that.

Excellent comments, everyone.

In attempting to comprehend the morass of atrocities, both actual and fabricated - for there is surely no shortage of either in the recent round of Balkan wars - it is imperative to understand at least something of what preceded the collapse of Yugoslavia, an incoherent attempt to transcend nationality and identity if ever there was one.

The Muslim populations of the Balkans are the legacy of the Ottoman occupation, an admixture of Turks and converted Slavs; the depravities of that occupation ought never be forgotten, for while seemingly nationalist considerations often were foregrounded in the wars of secession, it was the religious diversity of the region which engendered the later nationalist divisions - which is to say that Croatian national identity was intertwined with the differences between Catholicism and Orthodoxy, even if most public identification with the Churches remained cultural and not devotional, and that Bosnian and Albanian identities remained intertwined with Islam as a cultural reference, even if most Muslims fornicated with the same vigorous abandon as secular Serbs.

The significance of the religious divisions ought to be obvious, particularly in the case of the Muslim populations, so I'll not belabour the point further. Moreover, during the long tenure of the Yugoslav federal state, there seemed to be a conscious policy of diminishing and diluting Serbian power and influence, political and economic, both by structural measures, and by inducements offered to other nationalities to transfer to formerly Serb-majority regions. The Serbs, as the erstwhile majority population and historically dominant national group of the region, was regarded as something of a threat to the stability of the unitary state. Hence, Serb resentment over the fact that Bosniaks and Albanians were encouraged to transfer to formerly Serbian-majority districts and then granted substantial autonomy under the Yugoslav divide and rule policy.

In light of this background, partial though it may be, we ought to try to understand the warranted fears of the Serbian populations in Croatia, for example, when under the proposed constitution of an independent Croatia, the language referring to the Serbs was of a "nation within the Nation" sort - language redolent of a status no one can be faulted for confusing with a type of subordination, even if it be merely cultural. The point is that, given the historical background, Serbs believed that they had no reason not to expect more of the same. Now, what came might well have been nothing more than some analogue of the petty stupidities that an independent Ukraine inflicts on ethnic Russians, such as my wife: Ukrainianizing her Russian name, Alexandra, to Oleksandra. But this is all counterfactual; no one really knows, and neither did the participants at the time, which means that the Serbs had every incentive to resist the dissolution of the unitary state which, after moves toward succession on the part of Slovenes and Croats, afforded them more power, and then to resist when independence became a fact on the ground.

With this as the animating logic of the emerging conflict, what the Western powers then did was nothing short of irresponsible, even criminal. Instead of offering to serve as honest brokers of thorny political disputes, they publicly sought to discourage the dissolution of Yugoslavia by the ineffectual means of the arms embargo, yet quietly recognized each new state as independence was declared. And then, when they finally did opt to interject themselves into a series of dirty little wars, with war crimes all around (I'm not going to accept the proposition that crimes were perpetrated solely or primarily by the Serbs; Serbs were massacred and ethnically cleansed just as were members of other nationalities.), they did so either openly on behalf of Bosniaks and Albanians, or tacitly so through the medium of palaver about multicultural societies and interconfessional harmony - in other words, by attempting to conjure away, as if by magic incantations, the very real sources of the conflicts. Even the attempts to prosecute war crimes at the international level have been both ineffectual and tendentious, which is revealing of both the utility of such tribunals and the motives of those who staff them.

As for the particular matter of Muslim sympathies, even during a period of ostensible secularization and dampening of Islamic sentiment properly so-called, Alija Izetbegovic, author of the Islamic declaration, a call for the institution of sharia in lands controlled, and to be controlled, by Muslims of the Balkans, became the dominant political figure in Bosnia - and that with the substantial support of that fornicating population of legacy Muslims. The impetus for Islamic unpleasantries was already present; it was awakened by the release of nationalist and identitarian sentiments from the somnambulism of the federal state; it was thus already primed to reach out to wilder forces and movements beyond. Even had the Western nations acted as impartial arbiters - on the assumption that involvement was both desirable and likely to issue in durable solutions to the regional conflicts, which is eminently debatable - obviating the perceived 'necessity' of the embargo, the inclination to align with nonindigenous jihadists had already awakened from latency.

Finally, as regards the matter of Kosovo, while I do not expect everyone to concur in my formulation of the significance of Kosovo to the Serbs, I think that, for reasons of history and myth - and I use myth purely descriptively, for myth is always a constituent element of identity - Kosovo is to the Serbs what Moscow is to Russians, Jamestown once was to Americans, and Israel is to the Jews. It is inconceivable that the Serbs would concede Kosovo to the descendants of their oppressors save under the severest duress, or after some dark chicanery. If nothing else, Western involvement in the Balkans has demonstrated three things: first, the abiding relevance of nonintervention as a foreign policy default, with the corollary that intervention, or the rumour of intervention, on behalf of Muslims will not redound to our benefit, whatever the bromides of our universalist ideologies; second, national and religious identities are a near inextirpable substrate of political affairs; and third, an hypothetical, internationally-supervised, peaceful exchange of populations would be infinitely preferable to any of the policies that have been implemented. Since it is difficult to envision such a policy being undertaken at all, let alone without substantial intercommunal violence, it would appear that abstention from the irresolvable remains the better part of wisdom.

Whether all of this amounts to 'revisionist history', I leave to others to decide, inasmuch as, within the context of Western reporting on the Balkans, the official history was already pre-emptively revisionist.

Maximos, I'm much interested in your analysis of all of this. I'm trying to understand what sort of advice conservatives are getting from self-styled paleocons. Would you say that non-intervention (with which I have a lot of sympathy) is only uneasily yoked with the idea of playing off factions against each other? I'm not by any means an expert on foreign policy, but I can't for the life of me see how we can go about the world playing off this faction (Muslim, for example) against the other to try to keep them fighting amongst themselves instead of against us _without_, well, helping one group--through talk, arms sales, or something. And isn't that already intervention? I realize I'm sort of pulling together your thread with Larison's here, and I'm not by any means attributing his opinions to you. On the contrary, I'm trying to figure out what non-intervention would mean in your book.

Former Confederate general Pickett (he of Pickett's charge) was once asked which Confederate mistake caused the defeat of the CSA at Gettysburg.

He replied that he thought the Yankees had something to do with it, too.

Likewise, it is unwise to attribute anything, and especially everything, that happens in the House of Islam to American or Western policy. We are not, to put it midly, the sole actors there.

Nor can we disengage. I realize it would be nice if we could draw a line and say "them over there, us over here", but it's just not on.

The fact of the matter is that Islam is, by its founding documents and its history, a highly aggressive ideology of conquest and domination. That doesn't mean every Muslim is 'out to get us', of course.

But it does mean that a substantial _percentage_ of them will be out to get us whenever it looks like they can -- and the easier it looks, the larger the percentage. Because it's very hard to argue, from within the Islamic belief system, that it's not a good thing to attack, conquer and dominate non-Muslim lands and peoples when there's an opportunity to do so.

Christians can be aggressive, too, of course... but the New Testament and the early history of the religion doesn't enjoin it on them.

This means that the only time they're not going to cause us significant grief is when it's demonstrated that they have no hope of winning any conflict. Unfortunately, this lesson will probably have to be re-administered at intervals.

Maximos, let's not flatter Serb paranoia, self-pity and nationalist _sacro egoismo_. A bucket of cold water is more appropriate.

They've been a pain in the arse to everyone else far and near for better than a century (one Gavrilo Princip comes to mind, for some reason) and they're still causing trouble, and then they get all weepy about how everyone hates them and conspires against them. Is it any wonder?

Their stubborn lack of realism and pechant for fanatical maximalism has led them into endless self-inflicted misery. They keep picking fights they can't win and then ranting at the universe about the intolerable unfairness of things when they lose.

Life isn't fair and they _really_ need to absorb this lesson. And while the battle isn't always to the strong, it's usually the way to bet -- another thing they need to grasp right down at the cellular level.

In 1918, the Croats joined them voluntarily and on the whole with good will. By 1941, a substantial proportion of Croats wanted nothing more than to kill every Serb man, woman and child in the universe.

This is not an accident.

Nor is the fact that most of the other ethnic groups which constituted Yugoslavia shared the sentiment. Nor is the utter unwillingness of all the other groups, from Slovenians to Macedonians, to be ruled by Serbs after the breakup of Yugoslavia.

It's the fruit of bitter experience.

That the Serbs have lots of emotional links to Kosovo and nice monasteries and monuments there is an interesting historical phenomenon but gives them no particular rights there now, any more than Mexico has a right to go into epileptic fits about Mission San Juan Capistrano in California. They fought; they lost; loser pays. Defeat means accepting the unacceptable and enduring the unendurable -- that's why it has rather negative connotations.

If there are Islamic fanatics in Kosovo and Bosnia, we have the Serbs to thank for it -- until the breakup of Yugoslavia, the Bosniaks were "Moslem" in the same sense that the Danes are "Christian". Most of them still are, but some aren't... yet another gift of Serb nationalism to the rest of us.

Basta.

Maximos, I'm not sure if you and I live on the same planet.

Firstly no one the ethnic groups involved in the war acquitted themselves honorably during the conflict. But to assert the moral equivalence of the Muslims and Croats with the Serb's is like asserting the moral equivalence of the Allies and Nazi's during the Second World War. Dude, check out the body count, especially the civilian body count.

“…during the long tenure of the Yugoslav federal state, there seemed to be a conscious policy of diminishing and diluting Serbian power and influence, political and economic”

That’s why they had all the tanks, guns and artillery. It’s also why most of the military, police, treasury, secret services etc were manned by Serbs.

“Hence, Serb resentment over the fact that Bosniaks and Albanians were encouraged to transfer to formerly Serbian-majority districts and then granted substantial autonomy under the Yugoslav divide and rule policy.”

There was actually a policy of resettlement of Muslims out of Kosovo.

“the Serbs had every incentive to resist the dissolution of the unitary state which, after moves toward succession on the part of Slovenes and Croats, afforded them more power, and then to resist when independence became a fact on the ground”

That’s why they’re complaining to EU about not being let back in. Why do you want to go back to a country that is going to threaten you?

Pravoslavophobia comes from Pravoslavo-experience. Poles may have differing opinions on politics but they all hate the Russians. The Serbians are their mini me’s. Agreed on this matter are Finns, Estonians, Lithuanians, Romanians, Czech’s, Slovaks, Croatians and Slovenes. When all your neighbors think you’re an idiot, there usually pretty close to the mark. From the Baltic to Trieste the cultural dialogue has been rather one sided usually to the detriment of the westerners particularly the Catholics. The Poles don’t celebrate their “liberation” by Russians: It was the exchange of one thug for another. The Orthodox Slavs not only want you to worship their God but to worship their Caesar: There’s the rub.

What sticks in my craw is amongst paleo-conservatives in particular, is the re-interpretation of the Yugoslav civil war from a racist expansion of Liebensraum by the dominant ethnic group in Yugoslavia, into a Christian crusade against the Jihadis. Towards the end of the Second World War many Nazi's tried to repostion themselves as anti-communists. I can hear the sounds of history repeating.

If Kosovo were populated by the Quakers, they would have been put to the torch.

Alright, gentlemen:

The tone of this thread from the last two commenters is wholly unacceptable. Knock it off.


Maximos, let's not flatter Serb paranoia, self-pity and nationalist _sacro egoismo_. A bucket of cold water is more appropriate.

Mr. Stirling,

It was scarcely my intention to proffer an apologetic for Serbian maximalism, or some such thing, but only to sketch the outlines of a situation incomaprably more complex than the tired, tendentious Western trope of the "Big bad Serbian monster, at once both communist and fascist, and implacable in its hostility to its neighbours"


Their stubborn lack of realism and pechant for fanatical maximalism has led them into endless self-inflicted misery. They keep picking fights they can't win and then ranting at the universe about the intolerable unfairness of things when they lose.

Ought they have accepted their conquest and subordination to the Turks, who conscripted the best and brightest of their young men, only to so indoctrinate and reduce them as to make them a most formidable engine of oppression? Ought they have accepted, merely because "they lost", the routine humiliations of dhimmitude? Ought they have accepted Habsburg rule, which, though incomparably more enlightened than the Ottoman, was nevertheless not in accordance with their own traditions and aspirations? There are many dubious judgments coiled within this counsel.

Moreover, this counsel of resignation is a double-edged sword: should the Serbs have succeeded in their campaigns against the Bosniaks and Albanians, these latter groups, by an identical logic, ought have 'sucked it up', conceded their defeat, and accepted the possibility of re-absorption by some other part of the Umma.


In 1918, the Croats joined them voluntarily and on the whole with good will.

Conceded.


By 1941, a substantial proportion of Croats wanted nothing more than to kill every Serb man, woman and child in the universe.

Perhaps this is one of the paramount reasons why certain sectors - a passionate minority - of Serbian opinion might have been earnestly desirous of returning the favours of the Ustashe - by which I mean only that Balkan history is more complicated than the myth of the Big Bad Serbian wolf.


That the Serbs have lots of emotional links to Kosovo and nice monasteries and monuments there is an interesting historical phenomenon but gives them no particular rights there now, any more than Mexico has a right to go into epileptic fits about Mission San Juan Capistrano in California. They fought; they lost; loser pays. Defeat means accepting the unacceptable and enduring the unendurable -- that's why it has rather negative connotations.

Curiously, almost no defeated group, save those which were confronted by the stark realities of possible annihilation (Japan), forced cultural reconstruction (Germany), literal genocide (Armenia), or cultural and demographic genocide (Tibet) ever actually honours this natural law of conquest and defeat. This, to my mind, suggests that it is not so much a law as a circumstantial preference, occasionally an interested or even prudential one, on account of those possessing vested interests in the status quo. The expectation that peoples not confronted by circumstances which, in point of fact, no one ever really possesses a natural law right to impose upon them, will acquiesce in their dispossession and defeat is, I think, naive. History is nothing if it is not a tangled skein.


What sticks in my craw is amongst paleo-conservatives in particular, is the re-interpretation of the Yugoslav civil war from a racist expansion of Liebensraum by the dominant ethnic group in Yugoslavia, into a Christian crusade against the Jihadis.

The Serbian campaigns were no more, no less tinged by racist and invidious nationalist sentiment than any of the other campaigns, with the exception of the peaceful departure of the Slovenes. And I should think this a testament to the prescience of certain paleoconservatives, insofar as the evidence of nascent Islamism actually antedates the wars of Yugoslav secession.


Social Pathologist,


Dude, check out the body count, especially the civilian body count

That’s why they had all the tanks, guns and artillery. It’s also why most of the military, police, treasury, secret services etc were manned by Serbs.


Well, this is on account of the fact that the Federal military forces in the regions which initially made overtures towards independence, and later declared that independence de jure, were dissolved by the remaining authorities of the Federal state once the secessionist intentions had been revealed. This was quite a natural decision, inasmuch as it is not really in the nature of central governments to permit seceding regions to incorporate portions and percentages of federal forces. Now, it is quite debatable, given the initial outworking of the hostilities; but more than anything else, this is a demonstration of the necessity of Western powers serving as honest brokers in such circumstances, as opposed to the odd combination of dithering and partiality they exhibited.


There was actually a policy of resettlement of Muslims out of Kosovo.

Not really. The Muslim population of Kosovo increased from roughly 75% of the total at the inception of the postwar period to over 90% by the end of the Seventies. Anti-Serbian agitations within the province were dealt with rather leniently, and Serbian counter-demonstrations suppressed, in accordance with Tito's dictum, "A weak Serbia equals a strong Yugoslavia." It was this very cauldron of inequity to which Milosevic, a cunning and intelligent man devoid of moral scruples, was able to appeal to facilitate his rise to prominence and power.


That’s why they’re complaining to EU about not being let back in. Why do you want to go back to a country that is going to threaten you?

Ancestral ties, mystic chords of memory, etc. The very reasons Mexican irredentists still harbour designs on the American Southwest, Palestinians still cherish a futile dream of a "right of return", and the Jews never abandoned their own dreams of a return to the Holy Land. These desires are intertwined with a sense of identity and rootedness, and cannot be quenched by the mere threat of violence, or even the supposition that one's neighbours may be culturally incompatible. History is not a theater in which actors, working out the logic of rational self-interest, enact their dramas.


Pravoslavophobia comes from Pravoslavo-experience.

I'm Polish; I grasp this.


The Orthodox Slavs not only want you to worship their God but to worship their Caesar: There’s the rub.

This could be turned around, given the tendentiousness of Western policy in Eastern Europe over the course of the past 15 years. The Russians were assured that there would occur no expansion of NATO; it occurred anyway. The Russians were assured that Western economic counsel would liberate the productive forces and energies of their people, advancing their prosperity; instead, the "Shock Therapy" neoliberalism obliterated the tenuous prosperity of the majority of the population, precipitated an era of insider dealings and gangland-style expropriations that resulted in rule by a network of kleptocrats, mislabeled "Democracy" by a West interested - as disclosed by a host of neoconservative foreign policy declarations and strategy assessments - in marginalizing Russia geopolitically and incorporating the carcass into a globalized economy on manifestly subordinate, imperial terms (resources extracted, profits and development shipped overseas). Western involvement in the Balkans has aimed at stabilizing the foundations of a multicultural, globalist economic order - hence, all of the fulsome declarations on the part of American politicians that Balkan Muslims ought to evince gratitude for the universalist dispensation afforded them. The West, too, wishes its adversaries to bow before its god, who is quite a jealous and vengeful deity.

Finally, my sincere apologies for including a response to your penultimate paragraph in the preceding post.

"this natural law of conquest and defeat."

-- the traditional Western law of war enjoined the defeated to acknowledge it and ask for terms.

The armies fought until one side had a clear advantage; a province or colony changed hands, or a throne was disposed of; the minister of the victorious state got a decoration, the minister of the defeated state retired to his country house; we all changed partners and danced.

Conversely, the traditional punishment for those who tried to "cheat" the victor out of the political gains of victory (by guerilla warfare, terrorism, etc) was extermination and ethnic cleansing. Which were also used on those enemies "outside the pale" of Christendom, of course.

It's precisely the willingness to accept defeat that keeps all wars from turning into wars of massacre and genocide.

In other words, refusing to give up when beaten is not only stupid, not only an invitation to slaughter, it's morally bad.

It makes war, which is a grisly business at the best of times, far worse.

If you chose to fight a war, you have to keep in mind the possibility that you will lose -- and that if you lose, you _lose_. And if there's any universal constant, it's _vae victis_.

So before you fight, carefully calculate the balance of forces and consider the alternatives with a cold and unemotional eye.

Don't just leap in confident that the Justice Of Our Holy Cause will ensure the Triumph of Right and Goodness.

It doesn't work that way. War isn't about right and wrong; it's about power and weakness, victory and defeat.

Oh, and don't _whine_ about it.

War isn't about right and wrong

Then none are worth fighting.

Hello Maximos,

Firstly, if I have caused you any grief I apologise, sincerely. I didn’t think I was being that rowdy. I’ll polish up my manners.

Secondly; No problem about the comment.

If my memory serves me correctly, western foreign policy towards Yugoslavia at the onset of the civil war was to maintain the Yugoslav state so as not to encourage by example, the break up of the collapsing Soviet Union. Its policy was designed to placate Russia. The neo-liberal economic policies fostered on the former Soviet Union were the same boneheaded policies that were being fostering at home in the West. Russia was getting the same speculative, debt driven, welfare free, large corporation model that people in most of West were getting as well. The problem was that Russia did not have the same financial culture/infrastructure of the West and therefore the predictable outcomes occurred: another missed opportunity. I do not think that there was a conceived policy of hurting Russia, if anything there was a policy of trying to stabilize Russia by people who could only bring neo-liberal solutions to the table.

Whatever their motivations or fears, the Serbian policy was aimed at producing an ethnically pure expanded state at the expense of people who had a just as legitimate claim to that territory. They were just as prepared to put the hurt on Christians as well as Muslims in order to achieve their policy objectives. Therefore the reappraisal of that war as a sort of Christian crusade against the Muslims is at odds with the facts. The war was not a war of self sacrifice but a war of self interest and it does unfortunately have analogies with other wars in the 20th Century which aimed at territorial expansion and ethnic purity. If you cannot see this, then I’m afraid we will have to respectfully disagree.

What concerns me more, is this whiff of an attitude amongst many conservatives particularly paleo-conservatives that no matter what your villainy is, you can be redeemed--in fact esteemed--if the target of your malice were Muslims. I am no friend of Islam and I do not think that the West and Islam can peacefully coexist but I do object to torture, terror, territorial dispossession, arbitrary imprisonment, etc… of Muslims on the same ground that I would object to happening to Christians: They are human beings. The mistreatment of the Muslims during that war is now being is now being paraded around as a sort of badge of honor amongst conservatives, while NATO’s bombing of Serbia—which did stop the ethnic cleansing—was seen as evil. Where has our moral compass gone?

The war in Yugoslavia was a mean, dirty, nasty war. I will repeat again, that no side acquitted themselves completely honorably during that conflict. Yugoslavia’s failure as state is great example of the failure of idealism over reality. The failure of multiculturalism, the importance of demographic conquest, race and culture as the foundation of common solidarity, the radicalization of peoples when put under enormous pressure are all present in the disintegration of Yugoslavia. Conservatives who study its breakdown do well to carefully measure their words and thoughts in regard to the matter lest they become apologists for evil.

Once again my comments are made respectfully and without malice.


The armies fought until one side had a clear advantage; a province or colony changed hands, or a throne was disposed of; the minister of the victorious state got a decoration, the minister of the defeated state retired to his country house; we all changed partners and danced.

Conversely, the traditional punishment for those who tried to "cheat" the victor out of the political gains of victory (by guerilla warfare, terrorism, etc) was extermination and ethnic cleansing. Which were also used on those enemies "outside the pale" of Christendom, of course.

The former logic characterized primarily the medieval period, and became progressively more attenuated as the modern age unfolded. Feudal social orders are uniquely suited to such transitions, for without the expectation of political interference in the settled way of life of the commoners, most could regard with equanimity a simple change in the allegiances of the lord to whom feudal rents were paid.

However, in the modern era, the logic changed, largely for ill, and given the requirement of cultural uniformity, or at least conformance within a narrower range of types, for the stability of nation-states, the expectation that losers would simply submit to cultural dispossession along with the territorial kind became progressively less realistic. Americans in the Southwest may choose to assimilate to the emerging Mexifornian reality, or they may choose to depart, since there is an abundance of space in other regions of the nation. But were there no place for them to go, I doubt that they would supinely and servilely acquiesce in their own dispossession. If anything, the looser natural law imperative of self-preservation on the social level would ensure that they did not.

And whining is perfectly appropriate in certain circumstances; the British never really had any reasons more substantial than, "Well the Irish are Catholic, and the French are Catholic; and France is our adversary and rival, so we'd better subdue the Irish pre-emptively to preclude an alliance" to justify their depredations on the Emerald Isle. It isn't merely about strength and weakness; it is also about the perception of justice and injustice, of the love of hearth and home, kith and kin, and that these are greater than the mere rule of the stronger.


If my memory serves me correctly, western foreign policy towards Yugoslavia at the onset of the civil war was to maintain the Yugoslav state so as not to encourage by example, the break up of the collapsing Soviet Union. Its policy was designed to placate Russia. The neo-liberal economic policies fostered on the former Soviet Union were the same boneheaded policies that were being fostering at home in the West. Russia was getting the same speculative, debt driven, welfare free, large corporation model that people in most of West were getting as well. The problem was that Russia did not have the same financial culture/infrastructure of the West and therefore the predictable outcomes occurred: another missed opportunity. I do not think that there was a conceived policy of hurting Russia, if anything there was a policy of trying to stabilize Russia by people who could only bring neo-liberal solutions to the table.

This reluctance to encourage a dissolution that might have established a poor precedent for the Soviet transition may have been an element of the strategy, but it was either incoherent, inconstant, or duplicitous (take your pick), inasmuch as Western nations were quick to recognize the seceding statelets once it seemed that Yugoslavia was dissolving into its constituents. I'm not convinced, however, that the Soviet angle was all that important, given the absurdity of imagining the welter of nationalities incorporated within the Soviet Union remaining in some unitary state.

As for the matter of stabilizing post-Soviet Russia, there are too many odd foreign-policy papers and unguarded statements floating around for me to disbelieve that one of the aims of American policy was to integrate Russia into the global economy in such a way as to eliminate the possibility of her ever constituting a strategic rival. Hence the grotesquely self-serving celebration of mafiya kleptocrats such as Berezovsky as heralds of democracy, and the Chechen jihad that is not a jihad, provided one is speaking to a member of the Committee for Peace in Chechnya.


Whatever their motivations or fears, the Serbian policy was aimed at producing an ethnically pure expanded state at the expense of people who had a just as legitimate claim to that territory.

I don't deny this; what I deny is that this is the interpretive key to all aspects of Serbian policy. Rather, certain Serbs in certain situations aimed at this objective; in the main, the objective was to achieve ethnic dominance, by forcible population transfers if necessary, within certain territories historically Serbian - an objective scarcely to be distinguished from those of other parties to the conflict. No one wants to be the cultural minority in an officially monocultural modern nation-state.

What concerns me more, is this whiff of an attitude amongst many conservatives particularly paleo-conservatives that no matter what your villainy is, you can be redeemed--in fact esteemed--if the target of your malice were Muslims.

This is an argument against which I must remonstrate most forcefully. War crimes are not legitimized by their commission against the followers of Mahomet, and no paleocon is actually arguing anything to the contrary. What is being argued is that history is irreducibly complex, unamenable to any wholly just sorting and weighing of competing claims, and any final settlement of claims as divergent and incompatible as those of, say, Serbs and Albanians. Therefore, if nothing else, we ought to involve ourselves, if at all, on the side of civilizational allies, and act to minimize their own propensity towards injustice, even atrocity, as they endeavour to arrive at their own, inescapably imperfect resolution of the situation. I trust that the difference is manifest.

The only long-term solutions for the Islam problem of the Balkans will be a containment that renders quiescent, or perhaps some combination of measures that encourages them to leave - which I mean literally and not as a euphemism for atrocity. There is something incorrigible within Islam, and it is futile to indulge the rosy illusion that by showering them with kindness they will relinquish the more sanguinary tenets of their creed. Has this not been confirmed for us even this very week?


Conservatives who study its breakdown do well to carefully measure their words and thoughts in regard to the matter lest they become apologists for evil.

I trust that it is understood that I have not proffered an apology for evil; unfortunately, such is the partiality of the Western apprehension of Balkan realities that to attempt to amend the historical record is to be cast as such an apologist for evil. No side acquitted itself honourably, save for the early-out Slovenes, and some still are not, as witness the Albanians and their Western patrons. At least the Serbs are docile for the moment.

And I've no hard feelings; while the tone was a little sharp, I've been a recipient of genuine malice, and know well the difference.

Lydia,

All apologies for being so tardy in responding to your comments concerning nonintervention.

My views on the subject are as yet only partially formed; I would maintain that nonintervention is compatible with some modes of involvement, contingent upon the nature of the involvement and the nature of the interests we are striving to secure. My views, that is to say, are primarily negative at this point: it ought to be evident that crusades for democracy and global capitalism, multicultural amity and moral status-seeking, involving invocations of the Good War, are not in the national interest. And while I believe that the jihadist threat can be mitigated somewhat by a policy of separationism and surveillance, the potential threat to international stability will occasionally warrant some degree of "playing them off against one another".

I suppose that the difference is that the interventionism that has proven so detrimental to our real interests, and so injurious to our international standing, is positive in character, aiming to alter the world in some way, usually with some dubious (morally or otherwise) end in mind, while what I would countenance would be largely negative, aimed at preventing some bad thing from spiraling out of control. Defense, as opposed to offense.

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