“He [John McCain] did everything that we
asked of him, including arming the KLA.”
—Albanian lobbyist Joe DioGuardi
When I hear the word Belgrade pronounced, I can almost smell the soft coal smoke tainting the chilly air of early spring. Waking in the Palace Hotel on Toplicin Venac, the slightly sour smell has filled the room, which I have vainly tried to cool by opening a window, and mixed with the musty carpet and the broad palette of odors coming up from the coffee shop: tobacco smoke, barbecued and roasted meats, and coffee, which back then I did not dare call by its proper name, Turska kafa, but Srpska kafa and now, less patriotically, domaca kafa (domestic coffee). Stepping out onto the street in the early 90’s, the first impression was of something missing—traffic. Only the police and the mafia (sometimes a distinction without a difference) could find a supply of gas or afford the price, if they could. I remember visiting Blazo Perovic’s office repeatedly in hopes of getting both a car and a driver to take me to Kosovo, but he would offer only one or the other, and I ended up taking the train. What cars there were, as gas became more available, were the detritus of the communist world: Rumanian Ladas, East German Wartburgs, Czechoslovak Skodas, Volkswagen Golfs made in Yugoslavia, and, of course, Yugos. Out in the countryside, the only traffic problem was presented by the many horse-drawn wagons that had been dragged out of sheds and put back in service.
In just the 15 years I have been going to Serbia, Belgrade has changed, superficially, a good deal, and I perhaps have changed a good deal more. The Palace has installed new carpeting and upgraded the rooms. Besides I am now staying in the luxurious Admiral Club Hotel on Venizelosova. Although there are still even older communist junkers on the street, there are also many newer cars from France, Germany, Italy, and the United States. One friend even imported a Plymouth Voyager in which I have traveled many a happy mile across much of the former Yugoslavia. In the early 90’s many of the shops on Knez Mihajlova were closed, and those that were open had few foreign goods on sale, though there were plenty of books. I remember getting dinner for three, including two courses, rakija, and wine, at a nice place near the National Theater for about $20. Today the same dinner would be about $75.
The comparatively high prices in Belgrade are a sign of a gradual economic improvement that is beginning to lift many Serbs out of the abject poverty imposed by the United States and her satellites, but they are also an indication of the success of Western NGOs—George Soros’s Open Society Institute, in particular—in luring young Serbs away from their Orthodox and patriotic roots and into the transnational cash nexus. Tempted by the promise of nice cars, comfortable apartments, and long vacations, the quarrelsome little peoples of Europe are one by one surrendering their ability to make trouble for the world-controllers.
For the Serbs, the issue was and is and will be, so long as there are Serbs, Kosovo. At the DSS rally in Trg Republike (Square of the Republic) on May 9, Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica’s supporters were sporting T-shirts declaring “Kosovo je Srbija” (“Kosovo is Serbia”), but Belgrade is home territory to the Europhile young professionals who would like nothing better than to forget the past, forget their defeat in 1389, forget five centuries of Turkish oppression, forget the genocide inflicted on their people living in Croatia and Bosnia during the first independent state of Croatia during the 1940’s, forget the dirty part played by the United States in supporting Slavic Muslims in Bosnia and terrorist Albanian Muslims in Kosovo.
On a brief jaunt down to Kosovo, my colleagues (Srdja Trifkovic, Doug Bandow, Jim Jatras, Sunil Ram, Egor Engelhardt, and Raphael Israeli) and I visited Bishop Artemije at the crudely restored Banjska Monastery (destroyed by the Muslims ages ago). The bishop, who has come to symbolize the Serb resistance, was leaving for the beautiful monastery of Gracanica and had to have an armed guard provided by UNMIK (United Nations Mission in Kosovo). The small detail of “soldiers” included Danes and Turks. “They’re back,” quipped one of the Americans. The soldiers attempted a few pleasantries, but I could not be polite. In themselves, they may be as innocent as a virtuous guard at Auschwitz, but I cannot help hating everything they represent: a global empire that is willing to sacrifice Christians to the savagery of the Muslim Albanian narcoterrorists whom John McCain armed.
When the Democrats accuse John McCain of wanting to continue the failed policies of the Bush administration, they are wide of the mark. George W. Bush, before taking office, represented himself as a fiscal conservative and a noninterventionist. McCain has always been a tax-and-spend leftist, but in recent years he has become a quick-on-the-trigger cowboy looking for any excuse to send Americans into battle. Today Iraq, tomorrow Iran, next week Serbia and Russia. When he is elected, many of his supporters will dream of those golden years of Bush when moderates (by comparison) such as Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz were running our wars.
Raphi Israeli is, as his name might suggest, an Israeli, and he cannot help advising Bishop Artemije to imitate Israel’s example. Why not begin planting colonies of Serbs within the Serb-dominated “northern triangle” of Kosovo and then begin to expand the borders of the Serbian pockets? In fact, as he knows too well, it has been the Albanians who have been expanding. Even on the Serbian side of Mitrovica, on the northern bank of the Ibar River, the Albanians (with international help, naturally) are building housing complexes that will someday surround the Serbs and make it impossible for them to defend themselves. Our tax dollars at work.
In the days leading up to the election on May 11, observers were predicting a significant win for the Radical Party led by Toma Nikolic. If the Radicals could form a government, they would quickly proceed to reject the offers of the European Union and embrace Russia in a close alliance. Many Serbs who watched on television the military display in Moscow on the anniversary of their victory in World War II must have been wondering how and when the Russians could flex some of their restored military muscle on behalf of Kosovo Serbs. In the event, the Radicals’ vote was a disappointing second place to the Westernizing Democratic Party led by Boris Tadic. The Western press reported the election results as a glorious victory for Tadic and a final rejection of Serb nationalism, but it is a little more complicated than that.
Tadic’s Democrats were, indeed, the big winner, gaining 102 seats in parliament, while Nikolic’s Radicals are expected to have only 78. But since Nikolic campaigned in coalition with Kostunica, whose DSS party will hold 30, the “nationalists” will have 108 seats as opposed to Tadic’s 102. The balance of power is held by the Socialists, Slobodan Milosevic’s old party, whose 20 seats would give either side a victory.
The Socialists have grudges against both Kostunica and Tadic, who were in the coalition that ousted Milosevic, but the Radicals present fewer problems. Their party’s real leader, Vojislav Seselj, joined Milosevic’s government and is being tried at the infamous Hague Tribunal. The Socialists, it is certainly true, have tried to distance themselves from Milosevic’s “nationalism,” but to serve under a party that illegally arrested their leader and sent him to the Hague should be a pill too bitter for men to swallow.
We shall see. As of today (May 19) no decision has been made. The Socialist leader Ivca Dacic has been in meetings with Nikolic and Kostunica, but the meetings have been interrupted by Dacic’s mysterious trip to Moscow.
In conversations with former members of Milosevic’s government, I could detect little affection for Kostunica and scant respect for Nikolic. On the other hand, they were dead set against capitulation to the United States, which is what a Tadic government, whatever lies they might tell the voters, will represent. In fact, not all the Serbs who voted for Tadic believed they were casting a vote for surrender. Several younger Belgraders I spoke with believe Tadic when he insists he will never give up Serbia’s claim to Kosovo—though it is hard to believe he will do anything to assert such a claim—and many of them find the Radicals’ nationalist rhetoric far too extreme. When they open up with mouths blazing, the Radicals are certainly their own worst enemy, though in a meeting with Radical leaders I had a year or so ago, they seemed quite charming. I was a bit surprised that they did not moderate the virulence of their anti-Catholic rhetoric in the presence of two Catholic journalists, but I found their candor, as they say, refreshing.
Tadic, meanwhile, is already claiming that as president he will prevent any attempt to include the Radicals. This is not only a threat but a clearly illegal threat. The younger Belgraders also said they were disappointed in Kostunica’s leadership. When I suggested that a Nikolic-Kostunica coalition would provide both a strong executive and a judicious moderation, they agreed. They probably still voted for Tadic, but the cleavage is not so clear-cut as the media is claiming.
George Soros and George Bush would both like us to believe that the future of Kosovo as an Albanian state is absolutely certain. By some mystic and irreversible law, U.S. satellites are a fixed star in the political galaxy, and, in the decades to come, the United States will expand her sphere of influence first over the globe and then over the entire universe. As any student of history knows, this rhetoric of universal sovereignty is only the usual self-serving myth put forward by failing empires. No human institution is immortal, and in the history of nations, there are no certainties.
On the face of it, resistance would appear to be futile. Although the lyrics of a patriotic song declare that only a liar would say Serbia is a small nation, a country of eight million people could not for long hold against France, much less the United States. Whatever government is formed in the coming weeks, its leaders should be aware that neither open resistance (as advocated by some unbalanced American supporters of Serbia) nor capitulation can restore Kosovo or defend Serbia.
There is an Aesop fable that teaches this lesson directly:
Two Pots, one of earthenware, the other of brass, were carried down a river in a flood. The Brazen Pot begged his companion to keep by his side, and he would protect him. “Thank you for your offer,” said the Earthen Pot, but that is just what I am afraid of; if you will only keep at a distance, I may float down in safety; but should we come in contact, I am sure to be the sufferer.”
The moral of the tale is simple: “Avoid too powerful neighbors; for should there be a collision, the weakest goes to the wall.” While Serbia will naturally have to seek alliances and make bargains with powerful states, she should always, like any small state, beware of close contacts in which she may be damaged or even destroyed. This warning is especially relevant to Serbia’s relations with the United States. Open enmity with Washington could easily lead to complete disaster, while a naive and trusting friendship could cost the Serbian people not just their territory but their very soul.
The list of American allies who have been betrayed and destroyed is a long one and includes Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines, the Somozas in Nicaragua, the shah of Iran, and, more recently, Saddam Hussein. One of Slobodan Milosevic’s many serious mistakes was to believe the Americans would keep the promises they had made or stick to the terms of formal treaties.
Few foreigners appear to realize that the United States is not a unified nation with a common will. In addition to the usual distinctions of race, region, and religion, we are divided ideologically between an anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Western elite class that panders to racial minorities and uses multiculturalism as a weapon to destroy our heritage, and a naive and patriotic majority that would gladly support the Serbs in their struggle with Islamic neighbors, if only they were properly informed. The leadership of the Democratic Party, which entirely belongs to the former group, would like to destroy or at least corrupt Serbia, whose traditions represent everything they hate: patriotism, Christianity, and self-reliance.
Rank-and-file conservative Republicans (if not their leaders) are willing to hold their nose and vote for John McCain, a man of decidedly modest attainments and integrity, because of his war record and his lip-service support for the so-called “War on Terror,” a “war” that includes arming and paying Islamic terrorists in Bosnia and Kosovo, as long as their friends in America come up with the cash.
The unfortunate truth is that in the Balkans the two sides of the divided America come together. The anti-American left hates the Serbs as a rooted people who cling to their traditions and cherish the memory of their defeat in 1389. The simple equation is that Serbs equal Confederate Southerners who equal Nazis. Every manufactured report about so-called mass graves is a reflection of this propaganda. On the other hand, patriotic Americans, once they have been indoctrinated in the idea that Serbs are the enemy of the United States, are even more eager to go to war to punish the enemies of their country. Since American education has made sure that not one American in twenty knows that Belgrade is the capital of Serbia, much less that Kosovo is part of the Serbian heartland, one can hardly blame ignorant Americans for believing the lies concocted in the media and taught in the public schools.
This brings us to the central problem in Serbia’s relations with the United States. While patriotic Christians in the United States might someday wake up to realize they have been backing the wrong side in the Balkans, the multiculturalist left will always hate any Serb who refuses to hate himself and his country. In other words, the agenda of the “Open Society” Institute and other multiculturalist groups in Serbia is a program for suicide. As difficult as the task may seem, Serbian leaders must attempt to arrive at a common understanding with Americans who fear Islamic jihad and can be made to understand that the Serbs are, once again, a bulwark against the Islamic hordes who threaten our civilization.
There is nothing in American multiculturalism that can help the Serbian people. It is a religion of amnesia, which American leftists wish to export around the world. When a small nation with an historical sense of identity complains about past wrongs, the response of American political leaders and their spokesmen in the media is always the same: Forget the past and concentrate on the future, which always means forget about American aggression as the price of receiving American money.
Whoever is elected president in November will undoubtedly be the worst president in American history. All three candidates give off a strong odor of corruption. If Obama has his Tony Rezco, McCain has his Joe DioGuardi and Joe Bananas. The Republicans gave us an irresponsible and unwinnable war in Iraq, while the previous Democratic administration (with strong support from Bob Dole and John McCain) has the distinction of being the first to bomb a European city since the end of World War II. And for what? To assist Albanian narcoterrorists in their hundred-year-long campaign of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. McCain, combining the wicked nuttiness of Madeleine Albright with the nutty wickedness of Paul Wolfowitz, will be able to tell the Americans and Europeans what the power-hungry, gold-greedy son of Solomon told the Israelites: My predecessor “hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.”