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Articles after 2013
Why Kosovo?
Were the Serbs truly innocent?
Finally, Serbia has an international hero
Kosovo: Has the West blundered again?
A settlement for Serbia: give Serbia to the Serbs.
Are all Serbs guilty of ethnic cleansing?
How Serbia won the war
Bomb Serbia and forget Kurds, Palestinians, Tibetans, etc
Why must Serbs live under Bosnian and Croatian rule?

  • (february 2008) Why Kosovo? Kosovo and Palestine are set to become independent. Kosovo's independence has never even been doubted by the Western powers. Kosovo is the homeland of the Serbs, later invaded by the Turks and settled by the Muslims that the Turkish Empire left behind. The USA and Western Europe were right in intervening to prevent a genocide of Muslims by the dictator of Serbia, Milosevic. But there is little legal precedents to justify Kosovo's independence. If the Mormons of Utah decided to split from the USA, would the USA gladly concede? Has Spain granted independence to the Basques? Has France granted independence to Corsica?
    The logic that applies is the perverse double standard of the Islamic world: Muslims are always right. If they are the oppressed, the oppressor is wrong. But if they are the oppressors, the oppressor is right. Therefore Morocco, Iraq, Turkey, Sudan, Senegal, etc are right to oppress their minorities (respectively the Saharawis, the Kurds, Darfur, Casamanche, etc) and no major power concedes that those minorities should get their state. On the other hand, Kosovo and Palestine (whose oppressors are not Islamic countries, namely Jewish Israel and Christian Serbia) are entitled to a state. This logic dates back to Mohammed: Islam can never lose a piece of land, it can only acquire new ones.
    It is unthinkable that an Islamic people would surrender its homeland (Kosovo is the homeland of the Serbs). But it sounds normal for Muslims who are used to the idea of occupying other people's homelands and holy places (the ancient Jewish cities of Palestine, the ancient Christian cities of Palestine, Byzantium/Istanbul, the Indus Valley in Pakistan, etc).
    What is odd is that the West accepts this logic. By the same token some day in the future France will be forced to grant independence to Marseilles and Britain to half of London. By granting Kosovo independence, the West has legitimized the Muslim double standard that Muslim minorities in the non-Muslim world are entitled to independence whereas non-Muslim minorities in the Islamic world are encouraged to move somewhere else.
    The West should instead enforce some kind of consistent thinking to the self-determination of peoples. If Kosovo deserves to be independent from Serbia, then there is no reason why the Kurds should not secede from Turkey and Iraq, why the Sahrawis should not get back Western Sahara annexed by Morocco, why Darfur and southern Sudan should be forced to be part of Sudan, why Casamanche should not declare independence from Senegal, etc. Alas, this may also imply that the Basques and Catalunia should become independent from Spain, and the Hungarian minority from Romania, not to mention the many states that are forced to remain in the Russian federation and the territories that have been annexed by mainland China against their will. Both Russia and China also have Kosovo-like republics/provinces of Muslims (Chechnya and East Turkestan). Not surprisingly Russia, mainland China, Spain and Romania are refusing to recognize Kosovo's independence. At least their position is consistent.
    It would be nice if the Western powers set the example by applying the same rule everywhere. If Kosovo is to be independent, so should all minorities in the world, whether Muslim or not.
    Last but not least, the Lakota Sioux of the USA have declared independence (see this article). Nobody took them seriously in the USA. But if the Palestinians and the Kosovars are entitled to their independent state, why not the Lakota Sioux?
    It would also be nice if the Western powers realized the consequences of their actions. If Kosovo declares independence, why shouldn't the separatist self-declared republics that threaten to secede from Moldova and Georgia (Abkhazia and South Ossetia)? These are pro-Russian enclaves that have the same rights as the people of Kosovo, don't they? What will the USA and Europe do if Russia encourages these enclaves to follow Kosovo's example?
    It would not be the first time that the Western powers underestimate the explosive politics of the small Balkan states. World War I started in Serbia...
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (December 2003) Were the Serbs truly innocent? For years, the world has assumed that the Serbs were good people driven by a mad dictator, Milosevic, to commit heinous crimes. The december elections tell a different story. Now that they are free to choose their leaders, the Serbs chose Vojislav Seselj, a man widely held to be responsible for massacres of civilians and (without any doubt) a close associate of Milosevic. His party, the ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS), is now Serbia's largest party. Milosevic's own Socialist Party won more than 10% of the votes, and Milosevic himself has been elected to the Parliament. Sure, the democratic parties (if one groups them together) still won the majority of votes, but it is a disturbing sign that so many Serbs think mass murder is not so important after all. Every commentator in Serbia admits that the two winners from this election are Seselj and Milosevic, both of whom are under trial for war crimes.
    One suspects that Serbs never really faced their responsibilities. Milosevic and his stooges may have directed the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo, but it was the sons of ordinary Serbs who carried out the executions.
    I remember reading a 1999 article by Timothy Garton Ash (in the New York Review of Books) who, on a trip to Serbia, found had forgiven the West for bombing them but "no notion that Serbs might themselves need to ask for forgiveness..."
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  • (June 2001) Finally, Serbia has an international hero It has been centuries since the last time Serbia had an international hero. Now Serbians can hail a new hero: Zoran Djindjic, the prime minister of Serbia who first jailed and then extradited mass murderer Slobodan Milosevic. Overcoming the coward behavior of Yugoslavia's president Kostunica and risking his own life, Djindjic is the true liberator of Serbia. Hopefully, the farce of Yugoslavia will soon come to an end with the resignation of Kostunica, the declaration of independence of Montenegro and the renegotiation of international borders (let Bosnian Serbians live with Serbians, let Albanians live with Albanians).
    The role of Kostunica is Pilate at best, an accomplice at worst. If he were truly opposed to it, Kostunica could have stopped the extradition of Milosevic in many ways. Instead, he preferred to let Dindjic do the dirty job and take the blame (and maybe the bullets) from Milosevis' fans. Also, note that Kostunica has not yet fully recognized the extent of Serbian atrocities over the last ten years, thereby feeding the myth that the Serbs were merely victims of western aggression. Serbs have not yet faced their collective guilt the way Germans did after World War II, and this obviously represents the biggest danger for peace in the Balkans. (Would a French sleep comfortably if the Germans thought they had been unjustly punished after World War II?)
    Kostunica claimed that Milosevic should be tried in Serbia: would anybody trust a jury of Serbs (who still refuse to admit they are responsible for thousands of tortures, rapes and killings)? Would anybody trust a jury of former nazists to try Hitler? When the crimes have been committed mainly against other countries and peoples, it is ridiculous to think that the country responsible for those crimes is the best place to carry out the trial. Just about the opposite.
    (Feb 2002: While Kostunica remains Serbia's most popular politician, which is not a compliment to the Serbs, Djindjic has been making all the difficult decisions, and is close to admitting that the inhabitants of Kosovo quite simply do not want to be ruled by Belgrade, a concept that should not take a degree in political science. Serbs accuse Djindjic of being too "compromising" with the West, but he may be one of the few Serbs who has finally accepted the horrible truths about his country. He may also be the only Serb who stands a chance to truly create a "greater" Serbia: why not give Kosovo in return for the Serb piece of Bosnia?)
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  • (November 2000) Kosovo: Has the West blundered again? Albanian gangs have been terrorizing Serbian civilians in Kosovo and even Serbia itself for months now, without NATO arresting a single individual. Hundreds of innocent Serbs have been murdered by Albanian terrorists. By now, it is not clear if Milosevic killed more Albanians or Albanian terrorists killed more Serbs. The Albanian terrorists are waging an ethnic cleansing that compares with Milosevic's. The difference is that they do so with the indirect complicity of NATO. While one cannot blame the entire population of Kosovo for the violence of a few, it is obvious that neither NATO nor the Kosovo authorities are capable of controlling these Albanian gangsters. The problem is that these gangsters are indirectly protected by NATO's presence in Kosovo, that keeps Serbian police from doing its job. Basically, NATO rewards a campaign of ethnic cleansing after fighting a war against a campaign of ethnic cleansing. Isn't it time that NATO withdraws from ungrateful Kosovo and leaves democratic Serbia (which is becoming far more democratic than Kosovo) to restore order in its legitimate province of Kosovo?
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  • Are all Serbs guilty of ethnic cleansing? (June 1999). Probably not. I am sure that many Serbs are honest people, just powerless against Milosevic's folly. Nonetheless we keep witnessing disturbing behavior in Serbia by more or less ordinary citizens. Recently, the Serbian orthodox church condemned Milosevic; but not for the crimes he has committed: the church condemned Milosevic for not succeeding in the goal of greating a greater Serbia. In other words: for not succeeding in ethnic cleansing. Many Serbs have no excuse for supporting Milosevic. First of all, it is not true that they "don't" know what has been happening in Kosovo. They view CNN (not to mention Italian, Hungarian and German tv) just like everybody else. Second, seven years later even the dumbest Serb must have learned the 1992 massacres committed in Bosnia by Ratko Mladic, and must have understood what happened throughout ex Yugoslavia. Serbs know exactly what Milosevic is doing: they know of the killings, of the rapes, of the forced deportation, of the destruction of entire cities. Serbs also know very well that NATO is not killing them, not raping their women, not destroying their cities. But we keep hearing Serbs claim all the opposite: many Serbs claim that the Serbian army and police are protecting the country from bandits and that NATO is illegally destroying their cities and voluntarily killing them. (Addition of August: Serbs are outraged that so many Serbs have been killed since the NATO invasion, but the truth is that 73 Serbs and 72 Albanians have been killed between June 12 and July 26: why only the 73 Serbs matter?) We have seen thousands of Serbs protesting against NATO bombings with a TARGET sign around their neck, but how many Serbs have protested against Milosevic's massacres in Bosnia and Kosovo? Serbs consider meaningless the lives of thousands of Kosovars, as if they were animals, while expressing outrage at the killings of a handful of Serbs. More Serbs died last year of car accident than this year of NATO bombs. How can the average Serb not be considered as guilty of atrocities and war crimes and ethnic cleansing as Milosevic? Unlike Iraqis, who don't believe a word of what Saddam says and would gladly be invaded by NATO, Serbs are united behind their little (very little) Hitler. Unless they overthrow this crazy butcherer, there is no way they can claim to be innocent. The sad truth is that too many Serbs favor exactly what Milosevic is doing: cleaning up their country of all groups that refuse to accept the rule of Serbia. Somehow Serbs developed the idea that they are a superior race, far superior to Albanians, Hungarians, Bosnians, etc. Therein lies the real danger of the Balkans. We can defeat and remove a crazy dictator, but we may not be able to change the belief of many Serbs that they are superior to their neighbors. A Serb teacher living Kosovo said "We Serbs forgot that we used to be nice people".
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  • A settlement for Serbia (May 1999): give Serbia to the Serbs. The Balkan wars (the Bosnia civil war, the war between Croatia and Serbia, the civil war of Kosovo) have been created by the Western powers. The Western powers insisted in recognizing the fictitious borders invented by dictator Tito during his reign. The West recognized the borders of Croatia as defined in the Yugoslav federation by Tito. The West recognized the existence of a country called Bosnia simply because Tito had invented such a region inside the Yugoslav federation. Serbs who were living in Croatia simply wanted to remain Serb, but the Western powers told them they had to become citizens of Croatia (most of them were later expelled by Croatia). Serbs in Macedonia are now Macedonians. Croats and Serbs living in Bosnia have been forced to live in a country called Bosnia, instead of Croatia and Serbia. Naturally, Serbs have become more and more defensive, as they see themselves cornered by Western powers which are determined to seize their historical and natural territories and hand them over to new, fictitious entities. Milosevic may be a crazy dictator, but he has the support of most Serbs (unlike, say, Saddam). Why can't the West accept the very simple principle that Serbs should live in a country called Serbia, while Croats should live in Croatia and Albanians in Albania? This would require redrawing the borders of these countries (something that has been anathema so far to the West): a piece of Croatia would pass to Serbia, two thirds of Bosnia would pass to Croatia and Serbia, most of Kosovo would pass to Albania, a piece of Macedonia would pass to Serbia and another piece to Albania (and possibly a piece of Serbia would pass to Hungary). Yugoslavia would be dismantled once and forever. This would also prove which countries make sense (Croatia, Serbia, Albania) and which countries are demented inventions of the Western powers (Bosnia, Macedonia) that never existed before. The latter would still be free to retain independence, if the majority so desires, although it is hard to see why Macedonians (if they are truly Macedonians) cannot become a region of Greece and why Bosnians (if they are truly of Turkish descent) cannot federate with Turkey: it would benefit both ethnic groups to recognize their ethnic origins, rather than claim a right to independence. If the West were fair to the Balkan people, it is likely that the Balkan people would be fair to each other. Instead of financing militias and bandits to massacre each other, they would set up cultural and trade organizations to create a powerful and prosperous Balkan region. And dictators like Milosevic would disappear not because of a bombing campaign but because they would become pathetic anachronisms.
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  • (April 1999) How Serbia won the war. NATO air attacks have had the following consequences so far:
    1. The displacement of hundreds of thousands of Kosovans (precisely the ethnic cleansing that NATO wanted to prevent), probably many more than would have left the country without NATO intervention
    2. A humanitarian disaster that could reach catastrophic dimensions
    3. The impoverishment and isolation of Serbia, a country with noble (and pro-western) traditions, which fought Hitler and always represented the Christian pillar of the Balkans. Serbia, doomed to become one of Europe's pariahs, will have no choice but to ally with the only countries that have been sympathetic to its cause: Russia, China and a score of rogue states around the world.
    4. The hatred of Serbia's population, which has been entirely abandoned to Milosevic's propaganda.
    5. The legitimation of Milosevic as the leader of Serbia and Yugoslavia, now that he represents patriotic resistance to foreign aggression, the same way that Tito represented resistance against Hitler's forces. Milosevic had already been rehabilitated and elevated to the ranks of negotiating party by the Clinton administration, after being dismissed by the world as a criminal. Now NATO has promoted him to national hero.
    6. Establishing a dangerous precedent, as rogue states around the world are witnessing how ineffective NATO arms are against a small, poorly armed country like Serbia. Imagine what lesson a large, well-armed country like China is drawing from the Kosovan war.
    7. Degrading NATO to the level of world terrorist. If NATO is entitled to blow up government buildings and bridges in Yugoslavia, why shouldn't a Palestinian or Kurd terrorist, also fighting for humanitarian causes, be entitled to blow up government buildings and bridges in the countries that caused that humanitarian problem (the U.S. among them)?
    8. Exposing dramatic United States' military weaknesses, including the fact that mildly bad weather is enough to protect the enemies' troops from the highly publicized billion-dollar U.S. warplanes and the fact that the United States does not have in stock enough Cruise missiles to attack Serbia (one wonders what would happen if tomorrow morning Iraq attacked the United States). Not to mention the "deadly" Apache helicopters, who took seven days to fly from Germany to Albania (with a good bycicle you can do it in three days), and then one crashed even before getting to the front.
    9. Exacerbating anti-NATO sentiments in Russia, uniting Russian politicians in condemning the West, and convincing the Russian population that NATO is still the enemy, only months from the elections that will decide the course of Russia in the next millennium.
    10. Disrupting the fragile, neighboring economies of Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania, that relied on trade over the Danub and on ever dwindling foreign investment, thereby increasing the chances of further unrest in the Balkans.
    11. Dimishing the gravity of genocide, as the word "genocide" has been abused to describe the kosovar's ordeal when in fact the Serbian forces were mostly expelling, not killing, ethnic Albanians. This is an insult to the victims of real genocide (as in Rwanda, where NATO did nothing, or Cambodia, where NATO did nothing, or East Timor, where NATO did nothing) and will make it more difficult in the future to convince voters that "genocide" is a crime worth of intervention (Note: only 2.400 bodies of kosovar civilians killed during the Kosovo war had been counted by NATO as of December 1999, and 300 of them had been killed by NATO bombings, to which one must add about 300 Serbian civilians also killed by NATO in Serbia, so one can hardly argue that the Serbs committed genocide and NATO only performed "surgical" strikes, as the difference in killings is very close).
    12. Destroying the credibility of the West, the very credibility that communism's lies had created and that is now exposed by the West's contradictions (NATO did not bomb Croatia when Tudjman expelled hundreds of thousands of Serbs from Krajina, The United States started a bloody civil war a century ago when the southern states tried to secede but now defends Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and even Kosovo when they try to secede from Yugoslavia, nobody ever bombed Turkey to protect the Kurds, and so forth).
    Although these were all likely, easily predictable, outcomes of a bombing campaign, NATO was totally unprepared to deal with:
    • Milosevic's internal propaganda machine (which, for the first time ever, has created a situation in which the people side with their dictator not with the forces who are putatively trying to "free" them from such dictator).
    • Serbia's ground troops (which have been absolutely free to move around Kosovo and have managed to displace a record 800.000 people in two weeks without suffering a single casualty).
    • Refugees (which have increased exponentially since the beginning of the bombing campaign).
    NATO failed to achieve any meaningful objective. It has only compromised its credibility and completely lost the battle on the ground. Serbia has virtually won the war.
    This is the direct consequence of the West's irrational and unjust politics in the Balkans, which has rewarded arrogance rather than law (starting with Bosnia's comic declaration of independence) and has legitimized the partitioning of the region along unrealistic borders: why in heaven do Serbs have to live under Bosnian domination in southeastern Bosnia? why in heaven do Serbs have to live under Croatian domination in Krajna? why in heaven do Croats have to live under Bosnian domination in northern Bosnia? why in heaven do Albanians have to live under Serbian domination in Kosovo? why in heaven is the West so opposed to people living peacefully together with the people they want to live peacefully with? why in heaven is the West so obsessed with the borders created artifically by communist regimes? why in heaven can't Serbs live under Serbian rule and Albanians under Albanian rule and Croats under Croatian rule?
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  • (March 1999) Bomb Serbia and forget Kurds, Palestinians, Tibetans, Chechens, etc. Serbia is being bombed for not signing a peace agreement that would have guaranteed some autonomy to one of its territories. Why Serbia? Israel has still to implement what it signed in Washington in front of the president of the United States. Russia carpet bombed the separatist republic of Chechnya when it tried to secede, causing several thousands of deaths. Indonesia has been occupying for twenty years East Timor, notwithstanding a formal condemnation by the United Nations, and more than 600.000 catholics have been killed by the Indonesian army and militias. Turkey has been persecuting Kurds since the beginning of the century. Tibet has been occupied by China since the 1950's. Afghans have been subjected to atrocities comparable to the ones committed by Serbians in Kosovo. China is still occupying Tibet, which invaded in the 1950's, destroying thousands of monasteries and killing 100,000 people. India has never allowed a referendum in Kashmir so people can decide whether they want to be Pakistani or Indian. And who ever thought of bombing the Hutus when they were massacring 500,000 Tutsis in Rwanda just a few years ago? If we think that Kosovo's humanitarian situation required NATO intervention, may be we forgot that a far worse humanitarian catastrophe is taking place in North Korea. And where was NATO when 200.000 ethnic Serbs were "cleansed" from Croatia? Why is Serbia's behavior the only one that deserves punishment?
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  • (January 1998) Why must Serbs live under Bosnian and Croatian rule? One of the biggest mysteries of our age is why the western powers felt so strong about punishing the Serbs. The U.S. has no excuse for this policy since it even established the opposite precedent: remember what happened when the southern states tried to secede the way Bosnia and Croatia did...? They were annihilated by the Union army! From a humanitarian viewpoint, it really makes no sense that we force a big population of Serbs to live with Bosnians and Croatians rather than with Serbs. From a legal viewpoint, the U.S. certainly would not allow any Bosnia-style secession on its territory. So, what was the reason for the carnage? If the western power had not recognized Bosnia and Croatia, the serbs would have not started the war and there would simply be croatian and bosnian minorities in Yugoslavia (the way it has been for centuries). If they really wanted, those minorities could have applied for independence of the territory they actually occupied, which is far less than the entire Croatia and the entire Bosnia. Bosnia is really a nonsense in the nonsense: the western powers granted independence to a territory in which the majority of the people did not want to be independent (ethnic Bosnians account for less than 50% of the population of Bosnia). The current borders of Bosnia were invented by Tito, probably to reduce Serbian dominance of Yugoslavia and appease the other minorities. Bosnian leaders were smart enough to realize that they could cheat the international community into believing they have a legal right to independence of the whole Bosnia. For how long are we going to force millions of Croats and Serbs to live under unwanted Bosnian rule?
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2007 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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