PERSPECTIVErng^^an^K^g^S^B^O^^^ii^^^rn”‘ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^rn^r JSMIBS&U^’^WBUErn** / A^VuHB^^^alnt?’^^rnXi^-v. VN^wrrn*• • ‘H-^t^y^rn•. “v. ‘^•’.s*’;^s.> ^ / ^ ^ ^ lrn^. ^’ *,if*’;.^?^5^»*’»^-fcM’ ‘ ^ ^rn>- ‘ ‘ • – ( ^ : ^ t ^rn’:^’ .• ‘^””^^I^ A^Esrn•*'”3k. -vJiUHirn• JL.J^’^^ • 7rn . t j – -rrn^ t e ^ ‘ â„¢rn”T t–i !i *rn1 ^•rn- V ^S(y -*•(«rn”^^^X ‘ ^ ^rn^rnNATO’s Dark Agernby Thomas FlemingrnYou have seen them on the eening news, the long wearyrnHnes of Christian refugees: Serbs streaming from the Krajina,rnBosnia, Kosoo; Russians from Cheehma, Dagestan, andrnKazakhstan. These arc not the vichms of some short and bitterrnwar that strews exiles across the map of Europe for several yearsrnuntil they can make their way back home. Vlany are the symptomsrnof wliolesale transmigrations and displacements, isiblernauguries of the bumpy slide from one era to another.rnThe Dark Ages have returned, in fact; though not the brilliantrnperiod of medie al civilization, but the eariier centuries ofrnmass dislocations and depopulations, when the old Romanrnroads from Constantinople to Sardika (Sofija) to Naissus (Nis)rnwere so deserted that the bandits patrolling them might havernstarved for lack of business.rnAs Roman power collapsed in Europe, tribes of barbariansrnswept tiirough the once-civilized provinces, enslaving the citizensrntiiey could catch and driving the rest into exile. Over here,rnwe know best the stories of the Franks, Lombards, and Anglo-rnSaxons who terrorized the western side of the Roman wodd, butrnfarther the Greeks and the Romanized Dacians and lllyriansrnsuffered the onslaught of the Mongol and Turkish peoplesrnwho drove the Slavic tribes before them like so many deer runningrnfrom a forest fire. The Bulgars and Avars, Patzinaks andrnCumans were a more terrible and enduring scourge of the EastrnRoman (and later the Slavic) populations than Attila had beenrnto Gaul and Italy.rnIn riie Balkans, tiie land-hungr)- and disorderly Slavs settledrndown to farming, and the Bulgars. who adopted Slavic languagernand customs and the religion of Constantinople, succeeded inrnforming a state that rialed East Rome. But the Byzantine, Bulgar,rnancl Serb states were all prey to tiie hordes of savage invadersrnfrom the steppes until the most savage of them all, tire Seljukrnand Ottoman Turks, finally destro’ed the Christian civilizationrnof the East and subjugated the Balkans.rnLike the Celts in the West, Slas were difficult to organize.rnThe East Roman Emperor Maurice described them as incapablernof accepting a unif) ing authority. Apart from religiousrndifferences —Moravians and Croats were “Latin,” while Serbs,rnBulgars, and Russians were “Greek” —the unih’ of the Slavs wasrnmade impossible by the Magyar wedge driven into their heart,rnand although the Hungarians, drawing upon all the culhiral influencesrnof the region, became one of the great European peoples,rndrey cffectivelv blocked die emergence of a larger Slavicrnkingdom tiiat might have resisted the savage invaders who, inrnadopting Islam, added a religious dimension to their pillaging.rnEnduring miser’ and servitude that was scarccU’ less disgustingrnthan the dominion of the Turks to which their Balkanrncousins were subjected, Russians and Ukrainians, Lithuaniansrnand Poles were attacked periodically by slave-raiding Tartarsrnwho clogged the old roads with mile after brutal mile of Chri.stianrnslaves. All tiiese Eastern peoples and states —Byzantine,rnSerb, Hungarian, Polish, Russian —received the brunt of thernTurk and Tartar in’asions, protecting flic ungratefid West. Wernno longer even remember their names—Emperor Leo III, KingrnJohn Sobieski, the roval humanist Mathias Corxinus, PrincernLazar HrebljanoNic —or when we do, in the ease of the Tran-rn.svhanian dad or Russian Ivan, we transfonn them into nightmarerndemons, Draeula and Ivan the Terrible.rnThe Russian saga is a story so filled with miraeidous recrsalsrnof fortune that it might hae been scripted by Euripides in a perverseRrnoptimistic mood. In one generation, they are being oppressedrnand brutalized by Tartars, and in the next dicy arernlO/CHRONICLESrnrnrn