Review: The Balkan Wars

One reviewer described this book as “Not sufficiently anti-Serb for the Ministry of Truth.” That’s more profound than he realized. Gerolymatos argues that the Kosovo myth functions as a prism through which Serbia would forever understand its struggles with outsiders (Gerolymatos 8). He makes the neat argument that even after the Battle of Kosovo and the death of Holy Prince Lazar, Serbs and Greeks had numerous opportunities to annihilate the Ottomans. Not simply win battles, but to eradicate them from the planet. When Timur the Lane destroyed most of the Ottoman empire, the creme of officials and army were trapped at the Straits. Greeks and Serbs rallied them across. Even Timurlane couldn’t imagine why they let that chance slip by. That wouldn’t be true if Kosovo were indeed the final point of medieval Serbian independence.

lazar

Ottoman Era: Creating a Mythology

The sack of Constantinople ended a “universal Hellenism” and began to create a specifically Greek consciousness (69-70).

He argues that the Ottoman rule actually made the Greek Church (better called the Phanariot Church) more powerful. Other Orthodox jurisdictions temporarily disappeared, leaving the Phanariot Patriarch as Patriarch over all the East (Russia excluded). Indeed, the Patriarch assumed the role of a vizier. Of course, it also made the Patriarchate dependent on the Sultan for its survival (sort of throws a new light on the “Caesaropapism” charge).

Most importantly, no matter how brutal the Ottomans were (and he doesn’t pull punches), there was always collusion between between Muslim and Christian (81). This is best illustrated in the person of Ali Pasha, the Ottoman strongman who was by far the most interesting persona in the book. Pasha’s life represents the problem of the Balkans: he exploited divisions and weaknesses to make himself more powerful. This meant, ironically, defending and strengthening some Christian communities (if only to weaken his Ottoman rivals).

Modern Failures

Among the many reasons modern Western politicians fail to understand the Balkan crisis is the critical role of “land” (167). Men die and identify themselves for what they believe in, who they are, and where they are–and not for pious platitudes chanted on CNN.

One key failure, perhaps earlier than the “Modern” period, was the Great Powers’ ignoring of Macedonia. According to the author, “Macedonia was a microcosm of the Balkans” and a strategic pathway for all cardinal directions (207). The Powers gave it back to the Ottoman Empire without regard for future upheavals.

He sees economic success as the only way to combat the fatigue of war (245). Time will tell.

Conclusions

I enjoyed the endnotes almost as much as anything else in the book. They were a veritable bibliographic feast. If you read this book you will know infinitely more political science than the news anchors on CNN.

Criticisms:

Some of these criticisms might seem overly nitpicky, but that’s only because this book is so good and well-written.
*He notes that the Koran said a city that did not surrender would be subject to three days of pillaging (253 n2). I don’t dispute that, but where is that referenced?
*He is more or less fair in his handling of Kosovo. He acknowledges Milosevic engaged in cruelties but points out America’s own role in intervening: a) establishing an anti-Russian, anti-Serb state in the heart of the Balkans, b) conveniently allowing transit to Western and Central Asia. Serbia had to be destroyed for the Neo-Con/Neo-Lib world order to flourish.

Unholy Terror

Schindler’s argument is simple: If Western intervention in Afghanistan in the 1980s created the modern mujahidin, Western intervention in the Balkans in the 1990s globalized it (Schindler, 316). While it is logically impossible to be a consistent Muslim and a consistent secularist (The Koran, Surah 9:5), post-Communist Bosnia was something close to it.[1] The Western Anglo-American elite wanted to believe that an Islamic Bosnia would be a beacon of multi-cultural European values: democracy, women’s rights, and tolerance. While the regime under Alija Izetbegovic never achieved anything similar to that, the tragic irony is that if left alone, Bosnia would have remained nominally Islam and relatively secular: something the Western elites wanted.

unholy terror

In the following essay I will advance several theses: 1) The Clinton Administration (hereafter known as the “Clintonistas”) facilitated the rise of al-Qai’da as a global network; 2) The Clintonistas established a radically Islamic state in the heart of Europe; and 3) the tragedy of the Serbo-Croat-Bosnian war demonstrates a fundamental (and ultimately fatal) dialectic within the heart of the Western mind, whether “conservative” or “liberal.”

Other authors have documented the US’s facilitating the mujahidin against the Soviet Union in the 1980s. It is becoming clear that such a move proved not only disastrous but also unnecessary (Primakov, Russia and the Arabs), as the Soviet Union had already fallen economically and would soon fall politically. Granted, hindsight is 20-20 and one cannot fault the Carter Administration too much for not knowing what radical Muslims would do with advanced NATO weaponry. Unfortunately, Carter’s mistake was repeated with glee by the Clintonistas, with the ultimate effects seen in the falling of the twin towers.

Schindler gives a brief, but fine overview of recent Balkan history from the 19th century until the post-World War 2 era. He sheds helpful light on an area few Westerners understand. To understand the problems in the Balkans, one must realize that religion and nationality are never far apart, contra recent works (Glenny, The Balkans: Nationalism, War, and the Great Powers: 1804-1999).[2] In short, Croatia is Roman Catholic and has political affiliations with Germany. Serbia is Eastern Orthodox and looks to Russia for protection. Bosnia and Albania are Muslim and look to the Middle East for culture and religion. This much could be found in any encyclopedia. Schindler points out the obvious elephant in the room: the reason that Bosnia is Muslim is because the Ottoman Empire enslaved the Balkans and implicitly pressured many Slavs to convert.

Schindler notes that during World War 2 Croatia and parts of Bosnia joined sides with the Nazis while the Serbs (divided between the Chetniks and Tito’s Partisans) fought alongside the Allies. While he only notes it briefly, one must point out that Churchill and Co., abandoned the Chetnik monarchists to the Communists, whom the Communists subsequently executed (with Allied complicity).

Alija Itzebegovic’s Goal

Izetbegovic pulled one of the more incredible stunts in modern political history. He was able to tell Western media outlets and governments that he stood for democracy and pluralism while simultaneously ethnically-cleansing Christians, Jews, and secular Muslims from Bosnia. This makes one wonder whether the West was hypocritical or simply stupid (obviously, the answer is “both”). The result is that Western media outlets would report Serb atrocities but deliberately look the other way at Bosniak atrocities.

The U.S.-Iranian Connection

For reasons that defy common sense, the U.S. government facilitated not only the arrival of jihadist mujahidin into Bosnia, but also Iranian arms, intel networks, and soldiers into Bosnia. While other European forces had no love for the Serbs, the French and Germans were increasingly worried about the U.S. allowing armed Iranians into the heart of Europe. Indeed, as many Europeans noted, the numerous C-130s landing in Bosnia (violating the UN arms embargo) could only have been US planes or US-allowed planes.

The Srebenica “Massacre”

The one area of the war that always gets mentioned is the final Serb assault on the town of Srebenica, with the alleged slaughter of 7,000 Muslim men and boys. Several things must be noted: 1) it is acknowledged that 7,000 men of the Bosnian Muslim infantry were executed in military fashion; 2) Muslims recruit boys to fight for them;[3] 3) the town was not surrounded by the Serbs, thus allowing noncombatants to leave the city; 4) given that the city was controlled by Muslims gang leaders, many Muslims actually deserted to the Serb camp—this fact alone demonstrates how untenable the Hague narrative is: if the Serbs simply wanted to ethnically-cleanse the entire town, they would have done a better job of surrounding it and killing those leaving the city; 5) Alija Izetbegovic knew that he could never defeat the Serbian army alone and had to find a way to enlist outside help. The Clintonistas knew they couldn’t actually start attacking the Serbs without provocation. A deal was made: Izetbegovic would abandon his own people to be slaughtered, provoking international outcry and response.

The Dialectic Breaks Down Neo-Liberalism

Part of my thesis is that the Bosnian war of 1993-1995 (and the Kosovar War of 1999) destroys the way the Beltway Regime (along with the media puppets) views the world. The Clintonistas wanted to see a multi-cultural, tolerant but largely Islamic center in the heart of Europe. The problem is that Izetbegovic acted just like a good, Koranic Muslim. He promised tolerance to the West and marginalized those inside his country who did not share his Islamic vision. Therefore, the neo-liberals are presented with a dilemma: on one hand there is dynamic of multi-cultural, yet fully Koranic Islam (which has been demonstrated to collapse simply into radical Islam) and nationalism on the other hand (e.g., by nationalism I mean local and ethnically geographic communities deciding their own fates). Yet, both of these options are unacceptable for the neo-liberals. The only way the neo-liberal paradigm can function is by forcibly asserting its own narrative. Therefore, the neo-liberal paradigm is reduced to violence.

The Dialectic Breaks Down Neo-Conservatism

The contrasts are more stark in this case. Neocons do not want to identify with neo-liberal paradigms, yet I maintain they ultimately do. Neo-conservatives hate Islam (or only when Islam threatens Israel), thus it seems counter-intuitive that neo-conservatives would back radically Islamic leaders like Hashim Thaci and Alija Izetbegovic, men whose regimes openly state their enemies are Jews and Christians, and who openly state they will kill Jews and Christians. But the problem is deeper for neocons: they cannot oppose Islam in this case because identifying with the Serbs would identify them with a non-communist, yet fully nationalist Russia (Huntingdon, Clash of Civilizations).

Therefore, the neo-conservative paradigm is forced to choose between radical Islam on one hand and a Serbo-Russian identification on the other hand. Both choices are anathema to the neo-conservatives, but given that foreign interventionism is in the essence of the neo-conservative paradigm, a choice has to be made. But any choice that is made will contradict (and ultimately deconstruct) one of the (stated) tenets of neo-conservatism (anti-Islamic, anti-Russian). Therefore, the neo-conservative must choose between the deconstruction of his paradigm or opt out for the violence option. Of course, it goes without saying that neo-conservatism is reduced to violence. The only way the neo-conservative can escape the dialectic is to acknowledge another premise: as evil as radical Islam is, Russia is worse. The American involvement in the Balkans, therefore, must be seen as a miniature war against Russia (Norris, Collision Course: Nato, Russia, and Kosovo).[4]

Final Thoughts on the Book

Schindler’s book deserves widest possible dissemination. He openly exposes the Clintonistas as criminals who are in cohorts with the most odious criminals in the world. There are a few lapses in Schindler’s reading, though. He mentions that Slobodan Milosevic wanted to create a “Greater Serbia.” Perhaps Milosevic stated as much, but even as Schindler’s own reading demonstrates, Milosevic did a poor job of creating a “Greater Serbia.” Indeed, if such were his goal would he not have aided Karadvic and Mladic more? It’s irrelevant that the two leaders were at odds with Belgrade. Both sides would have certainly realized that a combined effort would have easily and quickly won the war—yet this effort never came.

Schindler’s proposal for defeating radical Islam is commendable, but ultimately flawed. It is simply a continuation of the “War on Terror.” To be fair to Schindler, it’s different from the neo-con/neo-lib definition of the War on Terror. Schindler identifies the enemy as a consistently Koranic Islam. However, Schindler’s proposal for “more intel, more arms” against the Muslims will not work. Until the West regains its Christian moral vision, and decides to not cast another vote of “no-confidence” in itself, arms will never defeat Islam.

Practically, this means recognizing that Europe’s cultural and moral roots can never be divorced from the Christian vision (Trifkovic, Defeating Jihad). Europe is faced with two practical options: Nihilism or the Nazarene. Corollaries to this vision: recognize Russia and Serbia as fighting the same enemy (and obviously, to stop funding jihadists in the Balkans, Cyprus, and Chechnya), put a moratorium on immigration from the Middle East, and place the leaders of the Hague on trial for treason against the European and American people.

Sadly, Americans paid the price for the Clinton error, also. By assistinig al-Qai’da in Bosnia, the Clintonistas provided bin-Laden with a competent network from which he would later launch his strikes against the United States.

Works Cited

F. William Engdahl, Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order. Baton Rouge, LA: Third Millennium Press, 2009.

Demons, The Koran. Jihadist Press.

Glenny, Misha. The Balkans: Nationalism, War, and the Great Powers: 1804-1999. New York: Penguin Books, 1999.

Huntingdon, Samuel. The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. New York: Simon & Schuster Papebacks, 1996.

Norris, John. Collision Course: NATO, Russia, and Kosovo. Westport, CT. Praeger Publishers, 2005

Primakov, Yevgeny. Russia and the Arabs: Behind the Scenes in the Middle East From the Cold War to the Present. New York: Basic Books, 2009.

Schindler, John. Unholy Terror: Bosnia, Al-Qai’da, and the Rise of Global Jihad. St. Paul, MN: Zenith Press, 2007.

Trifkovic, Serge. Defeating Jihad: How the War on Terror May be Won in Spite of Ourselves. Boston, MA: Regina Orthodox Press, 2006