Srdja Trifkovic – Articles 2004

December 30, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

Susan Sontag died of leukaemia in New York on December 29 at the age of 71. The obituarists described her as “one of America’s most influential intellectuals, internationally renowned for the passionate engagement and breadth of her critical intelligence and her ardent activism in the cause of human rights.” (The Financial Times, Dec. 30) Her essays “expanded the universe of subjects it was ‘all right’ for intellectuals to take seriously,” such as drugs, porn, and pop, ensuring that we’d “get used to these as intellectual topics.”

All of which is one way of saying that Ms. Sontag has made a solid contribution to the degrading of our cultural and intellectual standards over the past four decades. But unlike some other purveyors of bad ideas, such as Voltaire, who could present them in eloquent prose, Sontag was unable to write a decent sentence. Take this gem for style and contents:

“The truth is that Mozart, Pascal, Boolean algebra, Shakespeare, parliamentary government, baroque churches, Newton, the emancipation of women, Kant, Marx, Balanchine ballet et al., don’t redeem what this particular civilization has wrought upon the world. The white race is the cancer of human history. It is the white race and it alone-its ideologies and inventions-which eradicates autonomous civilizations wherever it spreads, which has upset the ecological balance of the planet, which now threatens the very existence of life itself” (Partisan Review, winter 1967, p. 57).

A week after the non-whites struck at the cancer’s epicenter on September 11, 2001, Ms. Sontag asserted in The New Yorker, that this “monstrous dose of reality” was squarely a consequence of specific American actions, and paid tribute to the courage of those willing to sacrifice their lives in order to kill others: “In the matter of courage (a morally neutral virtue): whatever may be said of the perpetrators of Tuesday’s slaughter, they were not cowards.”

Courage means doing the right thing in the face of fear. Ms. Sontag’s standard of “courage,” based on an actor’s readiness to die in pursuit of his objectives, makes sense only in the universe of an atheistic adorer of the self who cannot face the thought of self-annihilation. On that form she would have to admit that, “whatever may be said of their activities in Eastern Europe, the Waffen SS were not cowards.” She was equally unaware that the word “coward” also designates a person who attacks defenseless victims, as in “Bringing the murderous coward to the stake” (Gloucester in King Lear, Act II, Scene 1). Ergo the terrorists were brave and therefore virtuous men, but Sontag’s oxymoronic claim that courage is a “morally neutral virtue” was supposed to make that assertion less unpalatable.

More seriously, in the immediate aftermath of 9-11 and thereafter Ms. Sontag was reluctant to address the phenomenon of Islam in general and, in particular, to note the difference between “secular” terrorism-which may be closely correlated to the intended target’s “specific actions”-and the Islamic variety of the phenomenon. Her reluctance was understandable: a hater of Western Civilization could not but feel the corresponding urge to justify those attacking it, especially if the attackers can be depicted as victims of the victim. Hence her enthusiastic support for the Muslim side in the Bosnian war. Hence her attempt to remove moral authority from the terrorists’ “courage” and at the same time to make their motives understandable strictly through the prism of the target’s “specific actions.”

That Ms. Sontag felt no sympathy for the victims of 9-11, for those thousands of her fellow citizens on whose tax dollars, philanthropic largesse, and buying habits her own existence had depended for most of her life, or for the city of her birth which she called home, goes without saying. The gap between Ms. Sontag’s heart and mind was total, reflecting the soul of a rootless purveyor of self-hate. The leading advocate of “human rights” was not only a hypocrite and a fraud to boot, she was also a moral degenerate terminally devoid of human compassion and common decency.

Ms. Sontag’s absence of sympathy for the “wrong” victims of any crime was on full display a generation earlier, two years after the fall of Saigon, when she wrote that “one can only be glad about the victory of the DRV [i.e. the “Democratic Republic of Vietnam”] and the PRG [Viet Cong], but there seems little taste for rejoicing.” Such melancholy note was not due to the Communist reign of terror unleashed on South Vietnam, exemplified in tens of thousands of ad-hoc executions, the unspeakable “re-education camps,” or the plight of hundreds of thousands of perfectly innocent and ordinary “boat people.” No, Ms. Sontag’s sole reason for lamentation was the loss of vigor of the anti-war crowd here in the United States: “For while ‘they’ won, ‘we’ did not. The ‘we’ who wanted ‘us’ to lose had long since been disbanded. The domestic convulsion set off by the Vietnam War had subsided long before the peoples of Indochina were liberated from the American murder machine.”

Ms. Sontag’s qualities were on full display during the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. She supported the Muslim side and was a leading purveyor of the Muslim-fabricated myth of the Serbian “rape camps” where she asserted that “tens of thousands of women” were raped “by military order.” Writing in the Nation on Christmas Day 1995 she likened her trips to Sarajevo-comfortable, safe, and well-publicized-to the struggle of the Lincoln Brigade in Spain. Ms. Sontag’s a-priori assumptions, that the Serbs were Fascist monsters, the Muslims innocent victims of a brutal aggression, were beyond dispute. Her smug self-depiction as a brave voice of intellectual and moral integrity in a cynical world was laughable.

Ms. Sontag was an enthusiastic supporter of Clinton’s war against the Serbs in 1999. She ridiculed the objection that the war is (“wonderful word”) illegal” with the usual reductio ad Hitlerum: “Imagine that Nazi Germany had had no expansionist ambitions but had simply made it a policy in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s to slaughter all the German Jews. Do we think a government has the right to do whatever it wants on its own territory? Maybe the governments of Europe would have said that 60 years ago. But would we approve now of their decision?” Writing in The New York Times in May 1999 she reasserted the lie of the Kosovo genocide, then repeated the already discredited claim that its prevention was the reason for Clinton’s war, and finally dehumanized the victims of that war:

“it is grotesque to equate the casualties inflicted by the NATO bombing with the mayhem inflicted on hundreds of thousands of people in the last eight years by the Serb programs of ethnic cleansing. Not all violence is equally reprehensible; not all wars are equally unjust . . . There is radical evil in the world, which is why there are just wars. And this is a just war . . . The Milosevic Government has finally brought on Serbia a small portion of the suffering it has inflicted on neighboring peoples.”

Sontag’s view of the Balkans provides an apt summary of her opus. As The New York Times obituarist has noted, she championed style over content: “She was concerned, in short, with sensation, in both meanings of the term.” In short she was not concerned with the truth. She dabbled in ideas but she could not think. Her lies, dishonesty, absence of moral sense and self-deceptions amounted to a sustained exercise in counter-realism, which is the essence of post-modernism.

In the post-modernist vein Susan Sontag was also a plagiarist who routinely stole words written by other people and presented them as her own. She inserted 12 segments totaling four pages written by others into her 387-page historical novel “In America,” and did so without credit or attribution. The New York Times-a sympathetic source that has given Ms. Sontag thousands of column-inches over the years-wrote that “in some passages the language itself is taken almost verbatim from other authors.” But Ms. Sontag blithely responded that the historical novel is an evolving new genre that does not require the rigor of footnotes and attributions: “All of us who deal with real characters in history transcribe and adopt original sources in the original domain? I’ve used these sources and I’ve completely transformed them? There’s a larger argument to be made that all of literature is a series of references and allusions.”

It defies belief that someone of Susan Sontag’s talent, literacy, integrity, education, moral sense, and beliefs could be taken seriously by any segment of any country’s educated public for any period of time. That this was so in America is as sad as the fact that Bernard-Henri Lйvy is widely regarded as France’s foremost contemporary philosopher. But “BHL” is Sontag’s twin brother in almost every field imaginable: a media personality, an “intellectual,” a hater of Western civilization, a Christophobe, an “essayist,” an enthusiastic promoter of homosexuality, an admirer of Sartre, an outspoken advocate of the Muslim side in the Bosnian war and in Kosovo. In Sontag’s and Levy’s lunatic account of world affairs the Christians are always at fault and their enemies are always innocent of any wrongdoing. For both of them the “siege” of Sarajevo became a stage for countless self-serving media appearances, as well as the symbol of their decisive move beyond truth and reality and beyond the limits of the aesthetic.

Thanks to Susan Sontag and Bernard-Henri Lйvy and their ilk, New York and Paris-until not so long ago two intellectual capitals of the world-have succumbed to the culture of depravity, victimology and self-hate. Financed by George Soros, the MacArthur Foundation & Co., lionized by the likes of the New Yorker and Liberation, they have done the best to destroy the civilization they hate while feeding the minds of future suicide bombers with a political pap that nourishes their hate and legitimizes their rage.

Susan Sontag’s death at 71 was at least four decades overdue.

December 28, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

The assertion that some 250,000 people were killed during the Bosnian war in the 1990s is an obligatory part of the postmodern media ritual dealing with the Balkans. Over the past 12 years the claim has been repeated ad nauseam in countless outlets, and still continues to be repeated. It is routinely inserted into wire reports that are carried by thousands of dailies. It is repeated by the electronic media and by editorialists as a fact, not as an estimate that is open to doubt or can be legitimately disputed. It is presented as fact by the U.S. Government, and in particular by its authoritative Country Report on Human Rights Practices, published by the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. President “Bill” Clinton, addressing the nation on November 27 1995, repeated the figure of 250,000. His Defense Secretary, William Perry, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee on June 7, 1995, declared that “there were, by our best estimate, about 130,000 civilian casualties”-and that in 1992 alone! Similar claims have been made on the Left and on the Right, by Gentiles, Jews, and Muslims propagandists alike.

On December 10 we were finally told by a “mainstream” media outlet that the facts of the Bosnian case may not be quite as clear cut as we had been led to believe. “The death toll from Bosnia’s 1992-95 war, widely estimated at being at least 200,000, was considerably lower,” a Reuters report announced on that day. According to Reuters, a Bosnian Muslim investigator by the name of Mirsad Tokaea, head of a team of researchers working on a Norwegian government grant, has established that the true number is closer to 100,000; but even that figure is yet to be verified: “After cross-referencing, we have whittled down the number of those killed to about 80,000 right now.”

A similar assessment had come some months earlier from an unexpected source. According to the research done by The Hague Tribunal (International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY), “the number of people killed in the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina was around 102,000.” Since the Tribunal’s continued existence is critically dependent on the continued exaggeration of all Yugoslav war crimes, even that figure should be taken with a grain of salt. The research project was conducted by the two population experts, Ewa Tabeau and Jacub Bijak, who work for the Office of the Prosecutor at The Hague. They were nevertheless deemed so explosive that the findings were presented at a conference for demographers in Norway a year ago “but they have not been revealed to the wider public.”

This extremely interesting report has been ignored by all English-language media outlets that have embraced and propagated the myth of “250,000 dead in Bosnia.”

Chronicles readers do not need to depend on the good will of The Hague Tribunal to make its politically sensitive findings widely known, however, or on the willingness of the media to report such news even if they are released. Eight years ago I published an article in the magazine (“The Hague Tribunal: Bad Justice, Worse Politics,” Chronicles No. 8, August 1996, pp. 15-19) that dealt with the number of dead in Bosnia on the basis of facts readily available to the curious even at that time. The article noted that, compared to the horrors of Afro-Asian postcolonial killing fields, the war in the Balkans was no worse than a regular “medium-sized local conflict”:

“The ‘Bosnian Holocaust’ story was fabricated by the Muslim side as part of a wide-ranging and effective PR campaign. In December 1992, the Izetbegovic authorities first claimed that there were 128,444 dead on the ‘Bosnian’ side (including Croats and “Serbs loyal to the Bosnian Government”). According to [ex-State Department official george] Kenney, this figure was cooked by adding together the 17,466 confirmed dead until that time, and the 111,000 that the Muslims had already claimed as missing.”

Kenney recalled the precise moment-on June 28, 1993-when Izetbegovic’s deputy minister of information, Senada Kreso, told journalists that “200,000 had died.” He regarded that assertion as “an outburst of naive zeal,” and was taken aback when “the major newspapers and wire services quickly began using these numbers, unsourced and unsupported.” The figure eventually grew to 250,000 fatalities by 1994, and has been peddled ever since without serious challenge.

In reality, after an initial bout of heavy fighting (summer-fall 1992), from 1993 to mid-1995 there was a period of relative calm on most fronts in Bosnia, interrupted by brief outbursts in isolated localities (Gorazde, Bihac). Stories of mass murder and grand-scale atrocities, such as “Srebrenica,” have never been independently substantiated. On the basis of different sources (ICRC, British military intelligence etc), my conclusion back in 1996 was that “the war in Bosnia is unlikely to have resulted in more than 70,000 deaths. Including Croatia/Krajina, the Yugoslav wars of 1991-95 have killed up to, but not more than, 100,000 people.”

Over the past nine years I’ve had no reason to make any radical alteration to this overall assessment. Even if Mr. Tokaca’s current figure of 80,000 “verified” names of individual victims is accurate, after almost a decade I stand corrected by 14 percent. President Clinton et al were wrong by more than 300 percent. If the lie of the “Bosnian genocide” is eventually unmasked in the coming year or two, by the same token we can expect the lie of the “Kosovo genocide” to follow suit not too long thereafter (and if you need a reminder of what a whopper that was, you can find it here). The truth will out eventually, even if the political consequences of the lie-such as dozens of destroyed Christian shrines, and hundreds of thousands of Christians expelled or murdered by Muslims-are irreversible. The truth exists; it is the lie that needs inventing.

December 18, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

Bobby Fischer may stay out of Uncle Sam’s reach after all. He is currently in Japanese detention on a U.S. arrest warrant for violating sanctions against Yugoslavia in 1992, for which he faces a $250,000 fine, ten years in prison, or both. His supporters are optimistic that the former world chess champion will be spared further tribulations, however, thanks to Iceland’s unexpected offer of asylum. This is the latest twist in a bizarre saga that mixes international diplomacy, Balkan intrigue, Cold War memories, NationalSecurityState vindictiveness, and the vagaries of a genius bordering on madness.

The offer is the result of a campaign by a group of Icelanders who feel that Fischer put their isolated island nation on the map and deserves to be repaid for the favor. “When Fischer came here in 1972 to play chess with Soviet Boris Spassky, it was the biggest international event to take place in Iceland in the then 28-year history of the republic,” says Hrafn Jokulsson, chairman of the chess club Hrokurinn (“The Rook”). In the following year President Richard Nixon and French President Georges Pompidou both visited Iceland, and Jokulsson says that the 1986 Reagan-Gorbachev Reykyavik summit would not have taken place had it not been for Fischer: “He put Iceland on the map, and we don’t forget our friends.”

Fischer was arrested at Tokyo’s Narita airport on July 15 as he tried to leave for the Philippines. He was traveling on a passport that the State Department says had been invalidated a year ago (a contention disputed by Fischer and his supporters). The news echoed across the globe. “It was as if a forgotten film star, someone long assumed dead because they hadn’t been seen on television in ages, had suddenly and quite unexpectedly materialized,” noted Rene Chun in “It’s the type of twisted American tragedy that? Billy Wilder would have savored.”

On several occasions over the past five months Fischer appeared to be on the verge of extradition but each time the end-game was prolonged by a legal technicality. At the same time an international lobbying campaign for his release was gathering steam. It was spearheaded by Iceland’s Chess Association, which pointed out that “not a single person involved in the 1992 Fischer-Spassky Match has been indicted or even criticized for their participation” or faced any reproach for their participation—except Fischer.

On December 15 the authorities in Reykyavik approved a residency permit for him. A Foreign Ministry official said the decision was “due to the special connection Bobby Fischer has to Iceland as being part of one of the major events” in its history. “We’re in a happy mood,” says John Bosnitch, head of the Committee to Free Bobby Fischer. If he has “a passport in hand and a country invitation, then we expect the Japanese government to release him, to drop this procedure against him and to allow him to go to Iceland.” With characteristic reticence (“the possibility is not zero”), Japanese immigration bureau spokesman Shoichiro Okabe confirmed that Fischer might in the end leave for Iceland. But the decision by a tiny country to risk American displeasure for the sake of gratitude to an eccentric has-been appeared foolhardy to some “mainstream” commentators. “Extending the hand of friendship to a man viewed as a paranoid recluse with extreme views may seem a puzzling move,” commented the BBC, adding that it “becomes even more inexplicable when to do so could earn you the disapproval of the US.” The American ambassador in Iceland confirmed this possibility by declaring that since Fischer broke U.S. law the case belongs to the Justice Department.

Fischer’s legal troubles started in 1992 when he emerged from two decades of seclusion. In the early years of Yugoslavia’s violent disintegration a shady Serbian businessman and chess aficionado, Jezdimir Vasiljevic, had the strange notion of staging a replay of the Reykjavik match in the Montenegrin seaside resort of Sveti Stefan. Aswe reported last September, he persuaded Fischer to re-emerge for the occasion. Spassky, a French citizen by that time, was also willing, and the second match was duly staged.

It proved in many ways more odd than the first. The war in Bosnia (a mere hour’s drive from the Montenegrin coast) was in full swing, and rump Yugoslavia was under U.N. sanctions. Yet Mr. Vasiljevic (known at that time as “Jezda the Boss” in his native country) went ahead and staged a world-class media spectacle in Montenegro’s once-glamorous prime resort. He was throwing down a gauntlet for the “international community,” and the whole spectacle smacked of inat, that proudly stubborn spite typical of many Serbs. Bobby Fischer just loved it. At a press conference upon arrival in Yugoslavia he pulled out an order from the U.S. Treasury Department, warning him that he would be violating sanctions if he went ahead with the match, and spat on it.

The match went ahead, and Fischer won again, with 10 wins, 5 losses, and 15 draws. That was the only time in the last 32 years that he has played chess in public. Ever since 1992 has been theoretically under the threat of up to ten years in prison, a fine, and the forfeiture of three million dollars in prize money if he ever comes to the United States. It is noteworthy that the French authorities did not regard Spassky’s participation as a violation of the sanctions, however, and Fischer is the only person ever to have been criminally charged with violating sanctions against Yugoslavia on the basis of the presidential Executive Order. Another U.S. citizen, former ICN Chairman and CEO Milan Panic, went to Belgrade a month earlier to become the country’s Prime Minister (under Milosevic’s presidency, at that), but that was not deemed to be a transgression in Washington which duly granted him a license to assume his new post.

The affair was soon forgotten and as the years went by, it appeared that the United States would let the matter quietly rest. Serbian grandmaster Svetozar Gligoric, one of the few people who know Fischer and enjoy his trust, told me last summer that he was under the impression that “an arrangement” had been reached. Such impression was apparently confirmed by Fischer’s ability to live for years more or less unhindered. Solvent again thanks to Vasiljevic’s prize of $3 million, he divided his time between Europe and the Far East. His passport was renewed in 1997 by the U.S. embassy in Berne without a glitch. When he arrived in Tokyo last April, the Japanese immigration authorities did not get a “flag” as his passport was swiped through the computer. Furthermore, for years he has traveled unhindered to countries that maintain extradition treaties with the United States. Asked in a radio interview in 2002 if he feared arrest, Fischer laughed it off and said, “the U.S. hasn’t got the guts to catch me.” Following his arrest Fischer has repeatedly denounced the U.S. deportation order as politically motivated. He has also renounced his U.S. citizenship, but his desire to leave Japan is complicated by the fact that he lacks a valid passport of any country. Iceland will let him enter with a one-way travel document but Japanese officials have indicated that he could go to a third country only if the United States refuses to take him.

L’affaire Fischer may prove that being paranoid does not mean “they” are not out to get you. It started 61 years ago, when a boy, Robert James, was born out of wedlock to a Jewish-American woman whose communist sympathies took her to the Soviet Union on the eve of World War II. Two of the few people who knew Fischer well, Gligoric and another Serbian grandmasters, Ljubomir Ljubojevic, point out that he first attracted the authorities’ attention even before his birth because his father was a prominent Hungarian atomic physicist, Pal Nemenyi, who was involved with the Manhattan Project. Nemenyi died soon thereafter, in 1952; “Bobby” never got to know him. The security implications of the affair were nevertheless obvious. A suspicion of links with the Soviet secret service surrounded the mother, and eventually the boy, for years to come.

His mother was hard working but poor. Young Bobby wore shoes patched with scraps of leather, and his sister Joan could not attend her nursing school graduation ceremony because the cap and gown rental was deemed a luxury the family budget could not absorb. At the age of six, Fischer learned to play chess and declared that he did not want to do anything else for the rest of his life. By 15, he was the youngest grandmaster in history, and, a year later, he quit school, calling it a waste of time. A classic Wunderkind with an IQ of 180, he had an astonishing memory that enabled him to recall every move of all his championship games.

Throughout his early decades Fischer remained very close to his mother, even though his political views were developing in the opposite direction. His anticommunism provided him with a double motive to try to deprive the Soviets of the world title they had held for decades: to prove that he was the best, and to deprive them of a propaganda weapon (“to teach them some humility,” as he put it). His moment of glory finally came in 1972, when he won the famous Fischer-Spassky world-championship match in Reykjavik.

The event was filled with Cold War drama. Soviet officials accused the United States of trying to throw off Spassky by using secret electronic devices pointed at their player. Fischer’s chair and the whole playing area were subjected to a thorough examination. All light fixtures were removed from the ceiling, but only two dead flies were found. A member of the Soviet delegation was finally rebuked for demanding that an autopsy be performed on the insects. Not to be outdone, Fischer had all fillings in his teeth replaced on the eve of the match, fearing the presence of Soviet implants that could be activated to distract him at crucial moments. On September 1, 1972, Fischer became world champion after Spassky conceded a match in which Fischer won 7 games, drew 11, and lost 3.

In April of the following year, the World Chess Federation (FIDE) demanded that Fischer accept Anatoly Karpov’s challenge, which he refused, claiming that he needed more time to prepare for the match. FIDE insisted, and his title was taken away in what Gligoric calls a dishonest setup designed to remove a troublesome and increasingly unconventional genius from the chess throne. At this time, Fischer’s latent eccentricities became more strongly pronounced. He felt hurt that President Nixon had not received him after the Spassky match and suspected that the odium of the officialdom was connected to his anti-establishmentarian and increasingly anti-Jewish views. He once asked Gligoric to visit him incognito in Los Angeles and spoke of his woes and fears. “As we were parting, he gave me a two-way radio of the kind used by seamen, which he used to communicate with the outside world,” Gligoric remembers. “He spent the last $50 he had on him at that time on that gift.”

Fischer’s current problems may be linked to his reappearance in public in the immediate aftermath 9/11, when he verily gloated over the attacks in an interview to a Filipino radio station and to his increasinglystrident anti-Semitic remarks. Such statements, damaging to Fischer’s reputation and reprehensible as they are, are no worse than thousands of remarks heard in mosques and Islamic centers all over the United States every Friday. Fischer’s original alleged sin, violating the U.N. sanctions, was not deemed a crime by France, also a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, and it would be strange indeed if the United States under George W. Bush were to prove more internationalist-minded today than France under Franзois Mitterand a decade ago. Fischer may be unpleasant, spoiled, solipsistic hellion, his former second G.M. Evans said on CNN (July 19), but he is not a criminal. We should be fighting to help Bobby not for his sake but for our sake.

The State has grabbed a man who played chess. It is not charging him under the internal revenue code, but it is charging him under laws that in another time would have automatically been ruled unconstitutional because they transfer legislative authority to the president… [H]e remains the only person in the world charged with having violated an executive order re the embargo against Serbia. It is a political act by our government. There was once an idea that criminality… was based on norms rather than the convenience of the State or the will of legislators who decide to declare a given act, which was perfectly legal on Monday, to be illegal on Tuesday, though it may become legal again next year on a Wednesday. This is a dialectical, Bolshevik understanding of law that denies the existence of norms.

We are all criminals if one defines this status as having broken some portion of the federal codex, Evans warns, and “not one of us would survive a search of the codex; not one of us would serve less than 20 years if a bureaucrat looked for something to nab us.”
If Fischer is nevertheless extradited and tried for the “crime” of playing chess in circumstances that did not suit the president of the United States, some commentators predict that he will be deemed mentally unstable and confined to an institution. The parallel between Fischer in 2004 and Ezra Pound in 1944 would then become obvious, and the underlying message to those deemed guilty of thought crimes would remain the same.

December 14, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

As the jihadist threat looms ever larger, “the West” appears hell-bent on destroying the only traditionally Eastern Christian power of consequence, the one that could and should be its partner in the joint war against Islamic terror. Often at loggerheads among themselves, various Western players gang up, with malevolent gusto, to exploit that power’s weakness. In the name of lofty ideals, but in truth roused by avarice, blinkered by ideology, and driven by cultural prejudice, they are endangering themselves by forcing a key potential ally into resentful irrelevance.

We could be talking about Russia in 2004 here, or about Byzantium in 1204. The tragedy of eight centuries ago is being repeated, not as a farce but as an even greater tragedy.

Back then the endeavor was conducted under the cover of the Fourth Crusade. In the name of Christendom and with the stated goal of liberating the Holy Land from the Muslim yoke, the Frankoi embarked on an expedition that had the conquest and sack of Christian Constantinople as its end result. Today the hypocrisy is no less audacious:

First, in the name of “democracy” a massive joint Euro-American disinformation and electoral manipulation campaign is under way to force the whole of the Ukraine into a mirror image of its westernmost third, a Russophobic condominium of Washington’s global hegemonists and the European Union’s post-national Christophobes .

Second, in the name of “human rights” the West is supporting the jihadists terrorists in Chechnya, ridiculing Russia’s claim to be battling the same enemy that caused 9-11, and demanding “dialogue” with the separatists (capitulation).

Third, in the name of a common “war against terror,” in the aftermath of 9-11 the U.S. talked Russia into sanctioning American military presence in Central Asia and the Caucasus-a presence that is growing permanent, and is being used as a tool of policy directed against Russia’s legitimate regional interests.

In all three areas the policy-making and media class in Europe and America displays a surprising identity of cultural assumptions and ideological preferences. The tone and substance of lies and subterfuges have been replicated at both ends of the political spectrum here at home and abroad. But how does this all happen without conservative Christian Republican America noticing? As a seasoned Washingtonian noted recently,

“Everybody identifies with ‘the U.S.’ overseas; nobody notices that ‘the U.S.’ means the Clinton appointees in the State Department whom Bush appointees not only kept on but promoted (e.g., Dan Fried, promoted by Condi Rice from Balkan commissar to Eastern European commissar). And for reasons known only to God, everybody believes everything the media says about the world beyond our borders, even while believing that the same media are lying scumbags when reporting on events at home.”

If a typical American journalist thinks that social conservatives are evil and stupid in America, would he think differently of them in Eastern Europe? And anyway, why force us into a new Cold War over who is in charge in Kiev? Don’t we have enough to worry about? Rep. Ron Paul was a rare public figure to try and figure the answer. He condones President Bush’s demand that Ukrainian elections “ought to be free from any foreign influence,” but points out that millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars are being spent in order to influence the outcome. We were indignant when it became known that the Chinese government was trying to funnel campaign funding to a U.S. presidential campaign, and foreign funding of American elections is rightly illegal-yet that that is exactly what we are doing abroad. Fore that reason “we urgently need an investigation by the Government Accounting Office into how much U.S. government money was spent in Ukraine and exactly how it was spent.”

And to what end it was spent, and who initiated and authorized the spending. Can we not tolerate independent spheres of power, where people live differently than we do? The intended “Western” outcome in the Ukraine provides the answer. Under Yushchenko and his paymasters that country “would not so much be a dagger poised at the heart of Russia as it would be a jackhammer in constant operation.” But the sledgehammer is dressed in a cloak of rainbowy velvet. “Waging revolution has rarely been such fun,” a once-serious newspaper reported from Kiev “Young people enveloped in orange scarves, hats and ribbons alternately chant slogans for freedom, boogie to rock music, eat oranges, warm up and flirt at McDonald’s and disappear into their downtown ‘tent city’ to make love, not war.” Over the past three weeks this adoring image of “democracy” as an endless rave of rock, Big Macs, and random fornication has been replicated in every organ of our non-state-controlled media. It is condescending and insulting to a self-respecting Ukrainian, but it is accurate in depicting the level of intellectual, moral, and gastronomic development of the street campers. It is among their ranks that the post-modernity will seek its Janissaries for the job of creating a new, improved Ukraine.

If the “orange” Ukraine is to be the sledgehammer, an Islamic caliphate of Chechnya will provide the dagger. Some of the most vocal friends of Chechnya’s child-killing “freedom fighters” are to be found in theAmerican Committee for Peace in Chechnya (ACPC). The list of “distinguished Americans representing both major political parties” in this Committee reads like a “Who is Who” of the neoconservative movement, and includes Richard Perle, Elliott Abrams, Kenneth Adelman, Midge Decter, Frank Gaffney, Michael Ledeen, Norman Podhoretz, Joshua Muravchik, Morton Abramowitz, Richard Pipes, Robert Kagan, and William Kristol. They all promote the theory that the Chechen conflict

is a movement of national liberation worthy of support;
is not terrorist in nature, even though some “extremists” resort to terrorism;
is not Islamist in character and does not cultivate links with foreign Jihadist groups;
is continuing because of Russian intransigence; and
demonstrates the undemocratic nature of Putin’s regime.

Through an array of “NGOs” (some of which are are currently especially active in the Ukraine) the ACPC and its members are providing support to the Russian critics of Putin’s handling of the Chechen dispute. As John Laughland has noted in The Guardian recently, their Russian proteges include politicians Boris Nemtsov and Vladimir Ryzhkov, who are associated with the extreme neoliberal market reforms which devastated the Russian economy under Boris Yeltsin, and the Carnegie Endowment’s MoscowCenter. The Center’s Russian clientelle has been vocal in blaming Putin for the Beslan tragedy and in arguing against Russian claims that there is a link between the Chechens and al-Qaida.

The ACPC is chaired by Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, whose view of the Chechen conflict indicates that over the years he has learnt nothing and forgotten nothing. In 1999 he wrote, “the U.S. should not fall for Russia’s entreaty that ‘we are allies against Osama bin Laden’ . . . Terrorism is neither the geopolitical nor moral challenge [in Chechnya].” A year earlier, in his now famous interview with Le Nouvel Observateur, Dr. Brzezinski described how the Carter Administration had instigated Islamic resistance to the pro-Soviet government in Afghanistan and thus maneuvered Moscow into military intervention. Asked if he had any regrets about the consequences of that operation, Brzezinski was indignant:

B: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? [?]

Q: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic fundamentalism, giving arms and advice to future terrorists?

B: What matters more to world history, the Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

Q: Some stirred-up Moslems? But isn’t Islamic fundamentalism a world menace today?

B: Nonsense! There is no global Islam.

The result is history. A change of mood was taking place in the Islamic world thanks to the success in Afghanistan. By 1989, the jihadists thought that they had destroyed the Soviet Union and that they could therefore triumph everywhere. The genie released by Dr. Brzezinski’s “excellent idea” could not be controlled, but few Westerners saw the essence of the problem before it got out of hand. But judging by the reaction in much of the West to the events surrounding Chechnya today, one could be forgiven for assuming that the Cold War was still going on, and that the Afghan blowback had not taken place. (And yes, it is noteworthy that all of the members of the ACPC have supported the Muslim side in Bosnia and Kosovo, and urged American interventions in the Balkans. Back in the 90s they also claimed that Izetbegovic was not an Islamist, that everything was the Serbs’ fault, that no foreign Jihadists were involved in Bosnia or Kosovo, etc. They have made the Balkans safe for jihad.)

Let us not forget the avarice. The tangible “fruits” of the plunder of Constantinople were enormous, the methods barbarian, the consequences devastating. The sack of post-communist Eastern Europe was different in manifestations but not in kind. The “fire sale for foreigners,” as a perceptive observer once called it, soon became a free market in stolen goods, as all that property and capital-including labor-had belonged to the locals before being stolen by the communists. The Jeffrey Sachs-George Soros blueprint for postcommunist “shock therapy” has devastated poor but viable societies. Within a year of Russia’s “reformist” leaders Anatoly Chubais and Yegor Gaidar applying the blueprint dictated by their Harvard guru Sachs, hyperinflation had wiped out Russians’ savings and the long-suffering middle class with it. Pensioners were literally starving. The parallel “privatization” of Russia’s huge resources-timber, oil, gas, chemicals, media-created the robber oligarchs allied to Soros and his ilk. Russia’s effective deindustrialization reduced it to neocolonial dependence: a supplier of energy and raw materials and an importer of high technology and manufactured goods. But the process is far from complete in the Ukraine. Its coal, steel, chemical plants, hydroelectric power, and millions of acres of fertile topsoil are aluring quite apart from what controlling them does to Russia.

The reshaping of Russia’s soul is the final stop. Its people are largely socially conservative and many are deeply Christian. A decade ago Christianity was enjoying a rebirth after years of state atheism. But the oligarchs and their Western mentors are radical advocates of postmodernity hostile to Christianity. George Soros is only the most visible proponent of the deconstruction of nations and states as Europe has known them for centuries, with Russia always the main prize.

Morality apart, in reducing Russia to a land-locked Muscovy from without and subverting it from within, “the West” is acting irrationally and to its own detriment. Pat Buchanan rightly warns that this is no way to conduct our “most critical relationship on earth”with a nuclear power suffering depopulation, loss of empire, threatened breakup, and a terror war:

“That relationship is far more important to us than who rules in Kiev. For us to imperil it by using our perfected technique of the ‘post-modern coup’-as we did in Serbia and Georgia and failed to do in Belarus-to elect American vassals in Russia’s backyard, even in former Soviet republics, seems an act of imperial arrogance and blind stupidity.”

It appears like it cannot help doing so, as if Samuel Huntington’s notion of ‘civilizational blocks’ determines Western attitudes to the Orthodox East. Michael Stenton has called it ‘Frankish blinkers’: Huntington wrote of ‘the West,’ but if he had written ‘the Franks’ the term would have supplied more historical depth. When the western crusaders came into the Byzantine world,

Just like their contemporary descendents, they had superb military technology, immense self-confidence and a good nose for profit and plunder. They waved their swords in the name of God but they acted as though there was something wrong and inferior about the Orthodox Christians. When they murdered Rhineland Jews in 1096, when they massacred Muslims in Jerusalem in 1099, this was all very new; when they sacked Constantonople in 1204 it was a trend. By the time the kings of the Latin West calmly watched the Turks take Constantinople in 1453, it was engrained.

Of these crimes only the first two seem worthy of an apology today, the rest being merely a matter of murmured regret. The identity of the East European Christians came to be deemed irrelevant at best, and an obstacle at worst. Those peoples lost so much-under the Ottomans and the Communists-that their survival, let alone revival, is scarcely imagined today except on Western terms, as faithful imitation of, and absorption in, the West. In 1204 the English, French, Germans, Italians. . . were all “Frankoi” who demanded compliance. Likewise in the ongoing replay any gap between the Sorosite Left and imperialist Right, the United States and Europe, and between Europe “old” and “new,” disappears almost completely.

This is the only crusade that the Muslims can support with glee. It is worse than a crime, it is a mistake.

December 6, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

Imagine a “multi-ethnic” Palestine, administered by the United Nations, in which a Hamas leader notorious for terrorist attacks on Jewish civilians is certified as the Authority’s “democratically” elected chief executive. Imagine Abu Musab al-Zarqawi being approved by a future UN governor as Iraq’s prime minister. Imagine that in Kosovo a KLA murderer . . . but then in Kosovo you don’t have to imagine anything. On December 3 the provincial parliament in Pristina voted to elect Ramush Haradinaj as prime minister. This 36-year-old former commander of the “Kosovo Liberation Army” has been indicted in Serbia on 108 detailed counts of murder, rape, and other crimes. He is also under investigation by The Hague War Crimes Tribunal, which is usually reluctant to take an interest in non-Serbs unless the case is particularly egregious. The chief prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, has implied that an indictment could be issued for him by the end of the year. The nation-building farce reached surreal proportions as Soren Jessen-Petersen, the UN/EU governor of Kosovo, described Haradinaj’s election as an example of “democracy at work . . . in full conformity with democratic and constitutional principles.”

The appointment followed a coalition agreement between Ibrahim Rugova, whose party won most votes at the province’s general elections, and the much smaller Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, led by Haradinaj, which came in third. Petersen’s posture reflects the desire of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) to keep an illusion of order at any price. Two years ago UNMIK arrested Haradinaj and his KLA colleague ‘Remi’ Mustafa, but the event sparked violent protests demanding “freedom for the freedom fighters.”

Haradinaj returned from Switzerland-where he worked as a night club bouncer-to Kosovo in early 1998, joined the KLA, and soon acquired reputation for brutality. In April the KLA commander Hashim Thaci appointed Haradinaj commander of the Metohija region. His HQ was located in the village of Glodjane, where he was born. At that time the KLA was still on the State Department list of terrorist organizations and Haradinaj’s behavior amply justified such designation. Haradinaj established a special unit called the Black Eagles, which under Haradinaj’s command kidnapped and brutally murdered dozens of civilians, mostly but not exclusively Serbs. In the vicinity of Glodjane 39 bodies of civilians were discovered in three mass graves in September 1998. Later that month 13 unidentified bodies of civilians of both sexes and various ages were discovered in the canal supplying a nearby lake, and 21 bodies were recovered elsewhere in the district. According to the forensic experts’ report,

“Due to various stages of decomposition, it was not possible to establish the cause of death solely on the basis of the autopsy. In 19 cases bone fractures indicated wounds made by bullets fired from small caliber weapons. In 24 cases signs of heavy objects were found; in two cases there were traces of sharp mechanical weapons, while in three instances the victims were exposed to high temperatures (bodies found in Dasinovac). Several objects on and near the bodies (metal wire and adhesive tape) suggest that some of the victims were first tied up and tortured.”

Over 70 pounds of documents and testimonies submitted to The Hague indicate that during the 1998-99 KLA insurgency Haradinaj was responsible for those and other atrocities not only against local Serbs, but also against Romanies, Slav Muslims, and Albanians who were not supporting the KLA. Some of the documents include specific instances of crimes committed under Haradinaj’s direct orders.

In 2001 Haradinaj extended his “zone of operations” to Macedonia, this time under the label of the ANA (Albanian National Army). According to the Macedonian Defense Ministry, its goal was to fight for new territories and to keep the dream of creating the greater Albania alive.

In Kosovo itself, Haradinaj has masterminded a highly developed network that threatens and intimidates those UNMIK police and administrative officers who are reluctant to accept his “lobbying contributions” (bribery). It is common knowledge that Albanian leaders in the Kosovo Police Service obey Haradinaj, and not their nominal UN masters. His men have been appointed municipal mayors and, paradoxically, are also members of negotiating groups for displaced persons from Kosovo and Metohija, which gives them, and him, access to confidential Serbian and UNMIK plans. As an astutecommentator has noted, it was not enough for the UN to whitewash NATO’s illegal invasion and occupation of Kosovo, to sit idly by and even justify the ethnic cleansing and barbaric destruction of Serbs and their cultural treasures, or even to stage sham elections designed to give a veneer of legitimacy to the abomination they have created-no, they had to go all the way and allow the appointment of a gangster, murderer, and terrorist as “prime minister” of the occupied province:

“It’s not that the UN and NATO and EU and the U.S. don’t know who Ramush Haradinaj is. After all, they made him: sponsored his terrorist army, promoted him from a local thug into a politician, covered up his murderous activities, and even patched him up when his victims shot back. So, his appointment is deliberate, and the limp protestations of EU’s foreign policy commissar are likely just a smokescreen.”

With such a man at the helm it is to be feared that Kosovo will continue to be the worst-administered corner of Europe by far, a terminally dysfunctional polity plagued by crime, violence, and degrading inhumanity. Haradinaj’s promise that his government “will be engaged in the realization of the demands of the international community for the implementation of democratic standards in Kosovo” has chilling connotations, especially in view of Petersen’s earlier explanation why hecould not reject Haradinaj’s candidacy for Prime Ministership: “If I say no to this candidate, I would be saying no to democracy.”

If the new PM and his UN mentor follow the model of “democratic standards” Haradinaj first perfected in his fiefdom at Glodjane back in 1998, before too long we’ll witness yet another outbreak of mob violence like the one last March 17. That episode was described by a senior UN official as the “Kristallnacht”: thousands of armed Albanian extremists torched Serb houses and medieval churches, clashed with UN police and NATO-led peacekeepers, and forced thousands of Serbs and other minorities to flee.

More seriously for American interests, Haradinaj’s external links are not limited to the network of pimps and dope traffickers in Brooklyn, Milan, or Zurich. Interpol now believes that Osama bin Laden is linked to Kosovo-Albanian gangs who have taken over a growing web of crimeacross Europe. According to The Independent, “The investigations into organized crime links with his terrorist network also show that bin Laden supplied one of his top military commanders for an elite KLA unit during the Kosovo conflict.” The Black Eagles, perhaps? It is a fair bet that the recipient of bin Laden’s assistance is now the prime minister of a self-designated republic in the heart of Europe. With friends like the UN/EU administrators in Kosovo and the illustrious Mr. Haradinaj himself, the United States needs no enemies.

December 1, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

Judging by European press reports, Colin Powell’s departure from the Department of State is a calamity on par with President Bush’s re-election four weeks ago. “EU governments will lose a respected interlocutor who was willing to listen,” lamented Corriere della Sera. In Berlin, Der Tagesspiegel was close to tears: “Powell embodied hope. He epitomized the longing for a better America. His resignation hurts.” In reality this part-Metternich-part-Mandela of foreign editorialists’ imagination is a flawed man, an opportunistic politician, and a failed diplomat.

The image of Powell as an internationalist who fought a good fight within the Bush team in the name of Wilsonian ideals is simply untrue. He wanted to have it both ways, towing the line dictated to him by more influential men in public, and agonizing over those same policies in off-the-record briefings. (A similar dilemma cost Albert Speer twenty years of his life.) When he felt powerless to influence policy formulation, Colin Powell was prone to bitching about his colleagues-an unsoldierly, feminine trait-to the point of describing Vice-President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz, as“f—ing crazies” during a telephone conversation with the British foreign secretary, Jack Straw. (The story was predictably denied by Powell, but no legal action was taken over the publication of the incident as fact in a book by BBC broadcaster James Naughtie last September.)

Even if we leave taste and manners aside, this outburst is indicative of Powell’s poor judgment. People like Dr. Wolfowitz and his usual cabal of Likudniks (Perle, Feith. . .) are mendacious, deeply duplicitous, and generally rather despicable, but crazy they are most assuredly not, at least not in the usual sense of madness or incoherence rooted in insanity. Those people know what they are doing-whether it is using the U.S. Army and Marines as a substitute for the IDF in particular, or using the United States as a pliable and gullible host-organism in general-and they are pretty good at it.

Powell hated them not because of what they were doing, which would have been understandable and even commendable, but because of how they dominated him. He was excluded from the inner decision-making sanctum and yet he agreed to try and sell their goods to the world. His performance at the United Nations on February 5, 2003, dismayed those who had respected him but bought him no brownie points with the “crazies.” The “multilateralist” opponent of the Iraqi war presented some very dubious intelligence as fact in an attempt to convince the Security Council that Iraq had an arsenal of WMDs and was actively deceiving weapons inspectors. It was almost embarrassing to watch Powell showing computer-generated drawings and murky satellite photos that, as he put it, indicated the presence of “active chemical munitions bunkers” that had been disguised, or the facilities that had been allegedly “sanitized” before U.N. inspectors arrived. He further asserted that Iraq was actively pursuing a nuclear weapons program. He implied that Saddam had hidden four tons of a nerve gas of which a single drop can kill a man. He gave details of “links” between Baghdad and Al Qaeda.

It was all bunk. After the show Powell told European diplomats that the U.S. was not ready to go to war right away and that Washington was interested in hearing proposals to strengthen weapons inspections. That was another lie that he either foolishly believed or dishonestly peddled: the forthcoming war was on automatic pilot by that time. “I cannot tell you everything that we know,” Powell told the UNSC. After the war he was compelled to admit that what he thought he knew was untrue. “Now it appears not to be the case that it was that solid,” he said lamely of his “intelligence.”

This was not the only occasion when Powell suppressed his judgment and moral sense in favor of expedience and career. In Vietnam in 1963, Captain Powell and the men under his command routinely burned down the thatched huts in villages suspected of Vitecong sympathies, “starting the blaze with Ronson and Zippo lighters.” As he recalled in his memoir, My American Journey,

“Why were we torching houses and destroying crops? Ho Chi Minh had said the people were like the sea in which his guerrillas swam . . . We tried to solve the problem by making the whole sea uninhabitable. In the hard logic of war, what difference did it make if you shot your enemy or starved him to death?”

My American Journey contains a further chilling passage in which Powell explained the routine practice of murdering unarmed male Vietnamese:

“I recall a phrase we used in the field, MAM, for military-age male. If a helo spotted a peasant in black pajamas who looked remotely suspicious, a possible MAM, the pilot would circle and fire in front of him. If he moved, his movement was judged evidence of hostile intent, and the next burst was not in front, but at him. Brutal? Maybe so? The kill-or-be-killed nature of combat tends to dull fine perceptions of right and wrong.”

Combat is brutal indeed, but machine-gunning unarmed civilians from the air is no combat. Had the Serbs done this same thing to some “Bosniaks” or “Kosovars,” Powell would have been the first to call it murder and war crime.

Other questions remain. What was Powell’s role in the Iran-contra scandal? How exactly did a poor black immigrant rise so smoothly and so rapidly in the Republican national security establishment? Were his “victories” in Panama and Iraq utterly unconcerned with civilian lives? The media pretended that such questions did not exist. Powell was charming, black, and liberal. The New York Times’s Maureen Dowd summed up the sentiment by calling him a “graceful, hard male animal who did nothing overtly to dominate us yet dominated us completely, in the exact way we wanted that to happen, like a fine leopard on the veld.” The Washington Post dismissed any attempt “to deconstruct the image of Colin Powell” as despicable revisionism.

In Washington, however, Powell dominated nothing. He lacked the close relationship with the President. He lost control of foreign policy either to the Pentagon or to his own staffers-such as John Bolton-who were dismissive of him personally and disdainful of his meekly pursued “multilateralist” vision.

Powell’s image of a “reluctant warrior” was deeply deceptive. These past four years have proven that there is not much to choose between Powell the “multilateralist” and his neoconservative detractors, as both belong to the interventionist, radical camp. “I believe peacekeeping and humanitarian operations are a given,” Powell wrote in Foreign Affairsin 1992. In a subsequent book he declared that he did not want any clearly defined criteria for the deployment of U.S. troops abroadbecause it would destroy “the ambiguity we might want to exist in our enemy’s mind regarding our intentions.” He stressed the importance of clear political objectives of military intervention, which is fair enough, but he completely avoided the question how those objectives should be defined. There is no mention of American national interests in Powell’s “doctrine.” He was opposed to Clinton’s intervention in the Balkans at first. His support of the Kosovo intervention may be interpreted as a soldier’s reflex reaction that once you are in you have to get the job done, but the volte-face also reflected Powell’s fundamental lack of intellectual and moral rigor, his confusion of ends and means in foreign policy making.

Even his current lame-duck phase had to be marred by blunders that reflect this mindset. His highly unusual statement that the US would not accept as legitimate Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych’s victory in the second round of the election has painted American policy into a very tight corner. It is hard to see how American policy so framed can “succeed” unless the Ukrainians consent to de-certify the winner and, in effect, vitiate their constitutional processes in the face of foreign demands. (Compare: “On November 7 American officials agreed to demands from Paris, Berlin, and Moscow that George Bush be decertified as President-elect and, based on exit polls, Senator John Kerry recognized as the real winner.)

As our invariably well informed Washington sources warn, Mr. Powell’s latest misstep is the inevitable result of the lack of politically responsible adult supervision over the working levels of the career Foreign Service bureaucracy:

“It’s all well and good for European Bureau officers to promote candidates in the former Soviet Bloc whom they believe will display the same lickspittle obedience towards Washington as their predecessors once did towards Moscow-all in the name of ‘democracy,’ of course. But where’s the perspective of Washington’s larger global priorities? Whatever one thinks of the Iraq operation, it can hardly be a help to have the 1600 Ukrainians pulled out, as Yushchenko has promised to do two weeks after taking office. Polish government officials are already jittery over their sector’s stability, which would become entirely untenable if the Ukrainians follow the Spaniards and Hungarians out of Dodge. The deficit would have to be made up with Yanks, who are already stretched thin.”

We wrote four years ago, “It is to be feared that Colin Powell will be a weak Secretary of State, whose lack of strong principles and firm convictions will be used by his colleagues with very strong views, albeit wrong ones-Wolfowitz and friends-to tailor a straightjacket for Powell and set the agenda.”

The verdict stands. For the next decade or so Powell may be remembered as an once-prominent soldier whose stature was diminished by his undistinguished record at Foggy Bottom. Beyond that time he will be as forgotten as William Rodgers is today.

November 24, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

The media myth: An East European “pro-Western, reformist democrat” is cheated of a clear election victory by an old-timer commie apparatchik. A wave of popular protest may yet ensure another Triumph of Democracy a la Belgrade and Tbilisi, however. The fact: neither the winner of the presidential election in the Ukraine, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, nor his Western-supported ultranationalist rival Viktor Yushchenko, are “democrats” or “reformers” in any accepted sense. They differ, however, on the issue of the Ukrainian identity and destiny in what is a deeply divided country. Ukraine is like a large Montenegro, split between its Russian-leaning half (the south, the east) and a strongly nationalist west and north-west that defines its identity in an unyielding animosity to Moscow. The prediction: “The West”-the United States, the European Union, and an array of Sorosite “NGOs”-will fail to rig this crisis in favor of Yushchenko: the critical mass that worked in Serbia in October 2000, and in Georgia in 2003-the complicity of the security services and mafia money-is simply not present.

The myth is virulently Russophobic. It implicitly recognizes the reality of Ukraine’s divisions but asserts that those Ukrainians who want to maintain strong links with Russia are either stupid or manipulated. This view has nothing to do with the well-being or democratic will of 50 million Ukrainians. It is strictly geopolitical, in that it sees Moscow as a foe and its enemies (Chechen Jihadists included) as friends. Radek Sikorski of the American Enterprise Institute even hinted that Washington may have to take up arms to face the threat from a reconstituted empire. Three days before the election Georgie Ann Geyer asserted that the Ukrainian vote “will decide whether Vladimir Putin’s Russia can again be a formalized, or informalized, empire,” and demanded action to prevent such outcome. Complaining that America is too “obsessively sidetracked” by Iraq to pay attention to this momentous election, Ms. Geyer stated the alleged options. The Ukrainians “have a clear choice. They can vote for Viktor Yuschenko, the reformist candidate who stands for joining the European Union, the World Trade Organization, and NATO as soon as possible, for strengthening Ukrainian nationalism, and for the interests of Western Ukrainian Christians and the Ukrainian diaspora in the West. His people [are] mirroring the idea of the ‘Velvet Revolution’ that freed the Czech Republic from its Soviet era. Or they can vote for Viktor Yanukovych, the candidate of the Eastern Ukraine, where many Ukrainians speak a language called Surzhik, a bastardized combination of Ukrainian and Russian. Here, the huge Soviet-era enterprises like Donetz steel still dominate the economic state, and Moscow still dominates the mind-set? Putin’s dreams of a renewed Russian empire cannot be fulfilled without the Ukraine. It’s the pivotal piece in that puzzle of nations, the linchpin between East and West-and it could be the revolt of the borderlands against the metropole, should Yuschenko win.”

This theme was replicated a thousand-fold on both sides of the Atlantic: Yushchenko good, Yanukovich bad. It is telling that later in the article Ms. Geyer referred to “the progressive Ukrainians,” implying that there are those who are on the side of History in its forward march, and the rest. (Her reference to the southern Russian dialect widely spoken in the southern and eastern half of Ukraine as “a bastardized combination of Ukrainian and Russian” was scandalous, on par with calling Sicilianu a bastardized combination of Italian and Arabic, or Yiddish a bastardized variety of German.) Propaganda disguised as fact was rampant. Votes in the heavily pro-Russian Donetsk and other eastern regions were deemed “probably falsified” but we were not informed of equally credible claims that vote-rigging was rampant in Yushchenko’s western Ukrainian strongholds, including turnouts in excess of 100 percent of registered voters, total local media control, and multiple voting by persons in possession of numerous IDs belonging to Ukrainians residing in western Europe.

The attempted technique was well rehearsed. Yushchenko has rejected Yanukovich’s victory and claims fraud, pointing to exit polls by his supporters as evidence. He even proclaimed himself president, and tens of thousands of his followers have taken to the streets of Kiev in support of his claim. Their campaign of civil disobedience relies on expectation of support from Washington and the EU. The White House declared that Ukrainian authorities should not certify results “until investigations of organized fraud are resolved.” Jan Peter Balkenende, the Dutch Prime Minister, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, called outgoing President Leonid Kuchma to express the EU’s “serious concerns.” NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer summoned the Ukrainian ambassador to express the alliance’s “disappointment” with the way the election was handled. The German Chancellor, Gerhard Schroder, declared that the election showed massive fraud. Vaclav Havel, the former Czech president and leader of the 1989 “Velvet Revolution,” urged Ukrainians to keep up their protests.

Strong Western bias in Yushchenko’s favor has been evident throughout the campaign. The monitoring of election abuses has focused exclusively in areas favorable to Yanukovych but it has ignored or even suppressed documented abuses in pro-Yuschchenko areas. A seasoned Western analyst who visited western Ukraine reported that the news media “is all under Yushenko’s control, even state TV”:

“During our three days in Transcarpathia we never saw Mr. Yanukovich once on the TV! They showed Yushenko, Kuchma voting but …not him!! Completely out of order programme on Saturday night (during the so-called election silence) with ‘experts’ talking about the likelihood of fraud interspersed with stars, rock singers, beards etc. wearing orange ribbons and rooting for Yushenko. In fact, Yushenko and the mob control Kiev and all points West.”

Reports like this one are so unpopular with those who control Western media and NGO purse strings that we have to protect our source with anonymity. USAID’s grant for election monitors went only to activists known for their hostility to Yanukovych; they delivered predictable results. It is ironic that some of those activists are also funded by billionaire George Soros-President Bush’s arch-enemy-whose investment in Yushchenko’s victory is said to be $75 million. “Two generations ago we had the Comintern,” says a Western analyst familiar with the situation. “Now we have the Demintern and its related NGOs which have an increasing global reach.”

The “Community of Democracies” illustrates the point. According to the State Department, “The United States is a strong supporter of The Community of Democracies (CD), a unique forum that brings together those nations committed to promoting and strengthening democracy worldwide.” It has a symbiotic relationship with a number of NGOs through which the U.S. Government promotes “democracy” in foreign countries-meaning political candidates favored by the U.S. government. These NGOs (see this list) include the Open Society Institute that in a domestic context are anything but supportive of the Bush administration. Some are creatures of the National Endowment for Democracy (e.g., while others had begun as projects of the Open Society Institute, e.g., It also should be noted that CD is itself handing out U.S. government money to these NGOs, and even had advertised a current solicitation. Bogus NGOs, such as the Committee of Ukrainian Voters, use Western funds to employ presentable, educated English speakers. As John Laughlandnoted in the Spectator,

“Because they speak English, the political activists in such organisations can easily nobble Anglophone Western reporters. Contrary allegations-such as those of fraud committed by Yushchenko-supporting local authorities in western Ukraine, carefully detailed by Russian election observers but available only in Russian-go unreported. So too does evidence of crude intimidation made by Yushchenko supporters against election officials.”

All facts which contradict this morality tale were suppressed, says Laughland. Thus a story had been widely circulated that Yushchenko was poisoned during the electoral campaign, allegedly because the government wanted to kill him, but no English language outlet has carried the interview by the chief physician of the Vienna clinic which treated Yushchenko for his mystery illness: “The clinic released a report declaring there to be no evidence of poisoning, after which, said the chief physician, he was subjected to such intimidation by Yushchenko’s entourage-who wanted him to change the report-that he was forced to seek police protection.

“You see the whole apparat,” says our source, “a conclave of governments, friendly (and government funded) NGOs, and contract opportunities. Something for everybody-and all for ‘democracy.’ Y’gotta love it!”

The reality is that the apparat will fail on this occasion. A Serbian or Georgian scenario cannot work in a country in which the key elements of power-the police, the army, and the business community-have not decided to support the opposition. The key to Milosevic’s downfall was a secret deal between his political enemies and Serbia’s key security chiefs in advance of public protest. Even if the authorities in Kiev accede to Western demands and investigate fraud or conduct a recount, the results are unlikely to change because they reflect a political landscape too complex to be reduced to the NGO black and white paradigm. It includes the unreported fact that Yushchenko’s supporters included notoriously anti-Semitic skinheads from the “Ukrainian National Self-Defense” (Unso), a semi-paramilitary movement whose members enjoy posing for the cameras carrying rifles and wearing fatigues and balaclava helmets.

The influence of UNA-UNSO among Yushchenko’s supporters is well documented. In June 2004,

“400 members of UNA paraded through Kiev dressed in Nazi-like uniforms and carrying flags with SS-style inscriptions. UNA leader Eduard Kovalenko reportedly called for an end to ‘the dominance of Yids in key positions of the government.’ The UNA also came out strongly in support of Our Ukraine and Yushchenko.”

These youths rely on a rich tradition. Tens of thousands of western Ukrainians collaborated enthusiastically with the Nazis, supplying volunteers for the “Nightingale” Police Battalion and the Ukrainian Waffen SS Division “Galizien.” Useless as a fighting force against the Red Army, these volunteers were highly effective in terrorizing Jews, Poles, and “unreliable” Ukrainians. Many were deemed reliable enough to serve as auxiliaries in key extermination camps such as Sobibor and Treblinka. Today the UNA-UNSO members use their grandfathers’ insignia. Their former leader Andry Shkil was elected to the Ukrainian parliament in a single ticket election in the Lvov region with the support of Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine. A Jewish organization points out that at the time elections were held he had been in jail for a year, accused of organizing mass anti-government riots. Having been elected, however, “Shkil was granted immunity to criminal prosecution.”

As John Laughland notes, “Were nutters like this to be politically active in any country other than Ukraine or the Baltic states, there would be instant outcry in the US and British media; but in former Soviet republics, such bogus nationalism is considered anti-Russian and therefore democratic.”

About a half of all Ukrainians who voted for Yanukovych did not do so solely on the grounds of his pro-Russian outlook, however. As the Financial Times noted on November 19, strong economic growth of 13 percent has helped his campaign of “peace and stability.” This year’s grain harvest will reach 45m tones, the highest since Ukraine gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Increasing social spending, including payment of pensions and state salaries, are attributed to the Prime Minister’s policies. By contrast Yushchenko’s stronghold in western Ukraine is an economic wasteland. Nikolas Gvosdev was a rare Western commentator to point out that for many in central and eastern Ukraine increased links with Russia translate into greater prosperity: trade turnover in goods and services between the two countries is expected to reach $20 billion in 2004, one-half of Ukraine’s current GNP. By contrast, its trade with the EU accounts for only a fifth of the total. “Many Western observers lament Ukraine’s continuing economic and political ties to Russia,” Gvosdev says, “but U.S. and European governments have done little to provide more concrete economic incentives for change.” Yushchenko’s campaign was not helped by a statement earlier this year by the president of the European Commission Romano Prodi that Ukraine will “never” be a member of the EU. Despite all the rhetoric supporting a “European” the scenario of Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration was not seriously entertained in any important Western capital. It was unrealistic to expect the Ukrainians to make a plunge without any concrete promises of what they’d get in return.

Washington would be well advised to accept the result with equanimity. As Doug Bandow of CATO Institute says, the United States and Europe aren’t going to “lose” Ukraine: it will continue to expand its commercial and political ties with the West regardless of outcome. On the other hand, excessive insistence on the preordained outcome would unnecessarily alienate Russia at a time when her cooperation is sorely needed in the war against Jihad.

November 6, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

The post-Arafat era has started. It opens some possibility of progress on the stalled issue of Israel-Palestine by removing Israel’s ever-present excuse for not talking to the Palestinians. For years Arafat’s inept, self-serving and corrupt leadership has been an obstacle to the quest for peace. His personal authority has been eroded since his disastrous choice at Camp David of an armed Intifada over Clinton’s peace package. He has been long devoid of any power to direct the Palestinian-Israeli crisis, or of imagination and courage to help resolve it. This has suited Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who was able to pursue his short-term objectives, the “wall of separation” and the consolidation of Israel’s hold on the West Bank.

As France’s Le Figaro noted in an editorial, “Everyone was so eager to be in the post-Arafat days, that now that they are upon us the world seems to be unprepared.” This is Arafat’s fault: like all autocrats he was loath to prepare an orderly succession to his allegedly indispensable self. Like most Arab leaders he will leave the seat of power only in a coffin. Because of his apres moi le deluge there may be a scramble for power on the Palestinian side and no single successor may be able to establish authority in the short term. It is not only a matter of power but also of money: no single leader appears to be able to control the bodies that are in control of finances. Arafat may have been inept in many other ways, but he appears to have been the only one to know where Palestinian money is.

One possible approach to the problem of succession would be to establish an interim leadership of national unity and to hold elections in which all groups would be allowed to participate, including Hamas. As Berlin’s Tageszeitung commented, the international community could not ignore such an elected leadership and the talks could not be torpedoed by the claim that it lacks legitimacy: ?The precondition would be that Israel is interested in serious negotiations about a Palestinian state and the withdrawal from occupied territories. But the indications are that Sharon’s government is just hoping that Arafat’s death would further weaken Palestinians.?

Furthermore, it is possible that groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad would do too well in an election, which would bring us to square one: to the intransigence on the Palestinian side and the refusal of the Israelis to talk to terrorists. The Islamists would then feel free to mount an open challenge to Al Fatah, especially in the Gaza Strip which is already controlled by an array of armed gangs.

It is therefore safer for the United States to try and influence the succession process within the Palestinian camp and leave “democracy” for later. The former PA prime minister Mahmud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen) and his successor Ahmed Qorei are the front runners. Abbas has a strong power base in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and its dominant Fatah faction, while Qorei has been in charge of the Palestinian Authority (PA) for over a year.

Washington can do business with both men, but Abbas is a safer bet. American interests in the region demand peace and stability, which means a Palestinian state, which means a decent Palestinian leadership that one can do business with, and that Mr. Sharon cannot discount as corrupt or tainted by terrorism. The U.S. therefore must indicate to Mr. Sharon that he will no longer have the monopoly of deciding who is the acceptable interlocutor on the Palestinian side. As the Ha’aretz noted in an editorial on November 1,

“The Bush administration’s welcome and unreserved support for Israel in the face of Palestinian terror was frequently also perceived as permission to reject every diplomatic initiative until the baseline conditions of the region had changed… It is possible that this conflict, which has known more disappointments than hopes, is once again on the brink of a turning point. Such a junction would necessitate the mobilization of a determined U.S. government, which will want to reexamine the policy of shrugging its shoulders that has characterized it for the last four years.”

The U.S. should display determination by providing discrete support to Abbas, a moderate who is willing to settle for the two-state solution broadly in line with Mr. Bush’s 2003 Roadmap. He was defeated later that year by the unholy alliance of Arafat’s old guard, the young Islamic radicals who reject compromise of any kind with Israel, and the unyielding government of Mr. Sharon that claimed to support him but hever gave him any real breaks. Abbas is not a very popular figure at the moment but he can emerge as the most influential PA leader if he can produce speedy and tangible results that will alleviate the living conditions and economic prospects of ordinary Palestinians.

It is in Washington’s power to grant him that. This would be in the interest of all parties. It is in the interest of Israel to have on the Palestinian side a credible and firmly entrenched leader after Arafat, and Sharon should make modest early concessions to that end. With Abbas in charge it will be possible to make progress on the issue of terrorism and security, the overriding concern of most ordinary Israelis. It is also in the interest of the United States to restart the peace process in order to improve its regional standing and to encourage the ‘winds of change’ in the Arab world. Last but not least, it is in the interest of the Palestinian population to have a leader who is not discredited by corruption, nepotism, and links with terrorism.

Building Abbas up is only a short-term objective. It is not sufficient to resolve the most important issues that still remain open-the right of return, the status of Jerusalem, and the final borders-but it is a necessary prerequisite for the tackling of these issues at a later stage. Conversely, helping Abbas is meaningless unless those final status issues are always kept in mind as the only real purpose of any American involvement in the “peace process.” When the two sides resume their path toward a permanent agreement, as they will eventually, the Bush administration should invoke the memory of Camp David with the sobering wisdom of an opportunity missed by all. Courage, skill and imagination of Arafat’s successors, coupled with a more even-handed U.S. policy in the region, will be needed to correct that blunder.

November 3, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

Theo van Gogh (47), a Dutch filmmaker who had made a movie critical of some aspects of Islamic society and culture, has been shot dead in an Amsterdam street on November 2. The late great-grand-nephew of famous Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh had received many death threats after releasing Submission last August, a short film detailing the treatment of Muslim women. He shrug off the threats, saying there was nothing offensive in his movie. The killer, a 26-year-old Moroccan residing in Holland, was wearing a long beard and Islamic garb when he shot and stabbed van Gogh in broad daylight. He was arrested after a shootout with the police.

Van Gogh’s murder brings to mind the killing of Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn who advocated curbs on Islamic immigration. He was gunned down in 2002, only days before an election in which he was expected to do well. Both men supported Holland’s permissive social climate-Fortuyn was a homosexual who supported “women’s rights” euthanasia, and legalization of drugs-and both came to see Islam and rampant Muslim immigration as the greatest threat to the kind of liberal, secular society in which they felt comfortable.

The threats on van Gogh’s life started ten weeks ago, after the premiere of his film. It was scripted by a Somali-born woman, Hirsi Ali (34), who grew up as a Muslim but has denounced the cult. She is now a Dutch national assembly deputy, and vociferous in her criticism of Islamic obscurantism and violence. She says the goal of the film was to draw attention to rampant but concealed violence against Muslim women, including those living in Europe, who are routinely subjected to rape, incest, forced marriages, and the suicides. “Muslims deny it,” she says, “and many Dutch are afraid of taking it on, of causing religious tension, of being called racists.”

Van Gogh insisted that he could not see why so many Muslims expressed outrage with his movie. It opens with a Muslim prayer; the narrator then tells stories of four women who ask for Allah’s help to lighten their suffering. One was forced to marry a man she hates, one was raped and made pregnant by her uncle, one was whipped after she had sex with her boyfriend, and one is repeatedly beaten by her husband. The women feel abandoned by Allah despite their devotion to him. As a close-up shot of a battered and bruised face appears, the narrator says:

“Oh, Allah, most high. You say that men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because you have given one more strength than the other. Yet I feel at least once a week the strength of my husband’s fist on my face.”

In addition to his film, van Gogh also wrote columns about Islam that were published on his website and in the Dutch newspaper Metro.

All that appears to have sufficed for a fatwa, a death sentence, and an execution-style murder, in broad daylight, deep inside the Western world. There but for the grace of God go I. Lord have mercy.

In a display of suicidal idiocy be expected from a supine European Social Democrat, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende hastened to declare that “nothing is known about the motive” of the assassin, and called on the nation “not to jump to far-reaching conclusions.” (Only hours later the police in The Hague arrested two-dozen Dutch youths, who seem to have jumped to their own conclusions, for “inciting hatred” and shouting “discriminatory and racist” chants.) The Prime Minister also referred to van Gogh’s “outspoken opinions”-with at least a hint of the possibility that he had it coming-and boldly declared that it would be “unacceptable if a difference of opinion led to this brutal murder.”

Mijnheer Balkenende seems to be implying that “this brutal murder” will be deemed less “unacceptable” if it turns out to have been caused not by “a difference of opinion” but by some more profound reason-by the sense of pain and grievance in the Muslim community, perhaps, caused by the late filmmaker’s insensitive and inappropriate words and actions. His reference to Van Gogh’s “outspoken opinions” is already echoed in a hundred obituaries describing the victim as “controversial.” This brings to mind a Dutch journalist’s New York Times obituary of Pim Fortuyn, which called his views “a curious mixture of right, center and left.” In today’s Holland, no less than in America, it is obvious that notions described as “outspoken,” “controversial,” and “curious” denote thoughts, as opposed to programmed responses.

As for the Muslims? they are merely doing their thing, in the footsteps of their prophet. There were no turbulent filmmakers in Muhammad’s time, but there were poets, and some of them gave him as much grief as van Gogh apparently did to the young Moroccan. After the battle of Badr, as Muhammad scrutinized his prisoners, his eye fell fiercely on one al-Nadr whom he had never forgiven for captivating the audiences in Mecca with more entertaining tales. He was beheaded on the spot. In Medina Muhammad ordered the murder of Asma bint Marwan, a poetess who made fun of him in verse. Anticipating Henry II’s outburst, Muhammad exclaimed, “Will no one rid me of this daughter of Marwan?” One of his followers duly did, that same night, stabbing her as she nursed her youngest child. One Abu Afak, supposedly over a hundred years old, criticized Muhammad in verse. The latter simply commented, “Who will deal with this rascal for me?” Abu Afak did not see the morning. The hatred of artistically inspired detractors was obsessive with Muhammad, and reflected in the Kuranic verdict that poets are inspired by Satan and have gone astray, possessed and no better than soothsayers.

That was the man who is explicitly upheld by all Muslims everywhere-from Mecca to Milan, from Amsterdam to Agadir-as the paragon of godly, morally impeccable behavior, to be admired and emulated until the end of time. His followers in the Western world are ready and willing to kill the native-born infidels who dare say things that are not to their liking. They feel justified by the divine sanction offered by their prophet. And kill they most assuredly will.

Short of a belated, massive, and unexpected recovery of its spiritual and moral strength-impossible under Prime Minister Balkenende and his ilk-Europe faces submission to Muhammad and eventual acceptance of sacred Arab places as its own. It can be saved, maybe, if it rises against its rulers, against the Balkenendes, Blairs, and a thousand clones who facilitate the advance of Islam by destroying every trace of the sense of community of European nations based on kinship, faith, and culture. If it does, if the youths arrested in The Hague provide an example and a lead for a million others, Theo van Gogh will not have died in vain.

October 28, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

“Turkey’s European Union accession process has ceased to be an ambiguous process for the EU and has taken an irreversible direction,” says Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Prime Minister of Turkey. The “post-Islamist” leader of his anything-but-post-Islamic country has ample reason to feel cocky: Some European leaders treat Turkey’s EU membership as a fait accompli that should be supported if it cannot be resisted. Others are far more enthusiastic, and claim that Turkey’s membership would be a blessing for the Old Continent.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, thus declared earlier this month that Turkey had fulfilled the required democracy norms, and recommended the inauguration of talks. While European leaders are yet to decide on December 17 whether to accept the Commission’s recommendation and set an agenda for talks on Turkey’s admission, many of those leaders are already outbidding each other in supporting its membership. The German, French and Turkish leaders are holding a special three-way meeting in Berlin this week, but since both French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder are known to support Turkey’s EU ambitions, the talks are likely to focus on the technicalities rather than substance of the issue. In Britain Tony Blair’s Labor government is “profoundly and absolutely committed” to Turkey’s bid, as Foreign Secretary Jack Straw put it last month, and London also opposes curbs on Turkish workers migrating to the rest of the EU. Austrian President Heinz Fischer said on October 25 that the EU should start membership negotiations with Ankara right away, “under the condition that a date for its possible full-fledged membership in the bloc be clearly indicated.” New EU commissioner Olli Rehnn said on Oct. 20 that “Turkey’s EU membership will open new horizons for both Turkey and the Union and bring forth new challenges.” On the same day Germany’s foreign minister Joschka Fischer went a step further and declared that Turkish entry to the EU would be as important for Europe as the D-Day invasion 60 years ago – a key way to liberate Europe from the threat of insecurity from the Middle East and “terrorist ideas.”

All this provides further evidence that today’s European leaders are either mad or supine. They are also anti-democratic to boot. In France the opposition to Turkey’s membership is 56:36, with the rest undecided.,12700,1315254,00.html In Austria, whose people are even better equipped to make this judgment as the country has many times more Turks than France, three-quarters of respondents adamantly oppose Turkey’s EU membership. The Dutch also oppose it by two-to-one. If there was to be a pan-European referendum on the issue, Turkey would never join.

But join it will: for ideological reasons EU leaders need to maintain the pretense that a Muslim country can and will become democratic, tolerant, modern, and nice. They have eagerly accepted at face value Erdogan’s assurances that he has given up on political Islam. Before reinventing himself as a “post-Islamist” a couple of years ago, he was prone to declaring that “the mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers.” Of course he abolished the death penalty and army-dominated security courts, as demanded by his EU mentors. He has also repealed curbs on free speech, brought the military budget under civilian control, authorized Kurdish-language broadcasting, and eased Greek-Turkish tensions.

There is far less than meets the eye, however. Erdogan’s party still condones violence against women, and last summer its deputies were persuaded only with difficulty to remove jailing adulterers from the statute books. Some fifteen million Kurds have a royal 30 minutes of programming in their own language a day on state TV (the Serbs in Chicago have twice that long), and there are Kurdish school classes in three cities. But the pretense is accepted because Blair, Fischer et al want to be deceived. Erdogan has perfected the art of subtle blackmail: if Turkey is not accepted into the EU, he is suggesting to his European interlocutors, he’ll be discredited and removed, and the hard-core Muslim faction within his Justice and Development Party will take over. In a word, if it does not join the EU Turkey will go Islamic.

The problem is that Turkey IS Islamic already. Although it has managed to hold onto a small piece of Europe’s southeastern corner in the aftermath of the Balkan wars almost a century ago, its recent history validates Samuel Huntington’s verdict that modern Turkey is a “torn country.” To the discomfort of its small Westernized secular elite, it stubbornly remains Asian and Muslim, not only in the bulk of its land mass but more importantly in its common people’s culture, religion, and way of life. The Army, the guardian of the Kemalist tradition, suspects duplicity in Erdogan but is unlikely to exert pressure. In June 1997 Turkish generals forced the resignation of Necmettin Erbakan-another Islamist who was democratically elected as Turkey’s prime minister-because they received a quiet nod from Washington. Today the military is in the unenviable position of being told by the United States (a key factor in lobbying for Turkey’s EU membership) to pretend that Erdogan’s metamorphosis is genuine.

The denial of Turkey’s contemporary political and social reality goes hand in hand with an ongoing attempt by some Western scribes to rehabilitate the Ottoman Empire, and to present it as almost a precursor of Europe’s contemporary multiethnic, multicultural tolerance and diversity. A good example of the genre is provided by a British journalist by the name of Noel Malcolm, whose pamphlets on the Balkans present the sordid and cruel Ottoman overlordship in southeast Europe as almost enlightened. Such attempts are as intellectually dishonest as they are factually insupportable. They deserve closer scrutiny and demand debunking.

Pre-1914 empires were impressive endeavors. Vast lands were administered by carefully trained mandarins, from the Whitehall to the Forbidden City. Empires promoted order: a law-abiding Roman citizen could expect his life and property be protected by the state (unless he belonged to the senatorial class under a bad emperor), and Justinian’s code made Byzantium the first fully-fledged Rechtstaat. They produced cultures capable of outliving them, notably in the eastern Mediterranean after Alexander the Great, and in today’s English-speaking India. They facilitated efficient economies. They commanded personal loyalties, as evidenced in St. Paul’s proud invocation of his citizenship. They built impressive capital cities, by cladding brick with marble like Augustus, or by starting from scratch like Peter the Great.

The Ottoman Empire was different. Its capital-one of the most magnificent cities the world has known-was not built by the Turks. It was seized ready-made in 1453 and eventually reduced to a chaotic, insanitary shantytown. The Ottomans’ greatest architectural achievment, the Blue Mosque, is but an inferior copy of the Hagia Sophia. It was built a thousand years after the Christian masterpiece mainly to prove that the Turks were capable of equalling it. The attempt failed utterly: ensnared as it is by four ugly minarets and badly decayed, the Great Church still radiates serenity and beauty, while its would-be rival is marred by hints of pomposity and vulgarity.

Four salient features of the Ottoman state were institutionalized discrimination of non-Muslims, total personal insecurity of all its subjects, an unfriendly coexistence of its many races and creeds, and the absence of unifying state ideology. It was a Hobbesian borderland with mosques. An “Ottoman culture,” defined by Constantinople and largely limited to its walls, did eventually emerge through the reluctant mixing of Turkish, Greek, Slavic, Jewish and other Levantine lifestyles and practices, each at its worst. The mix was impermanent, unattractive, unable to forge distinct identities or to command loyalties.

To understand the hollowness of the Ottoman edifice it is necessary to trace its development. When Baghdad fell to the Tatars it seemed that the end of Islam was nigh, but a sturdy race of converted barbarians saved the day. Arab historian Ibn Khaldoun hailed the rise of the Turks as the manifestation of Allah’s mercy “when the Abbasid state was drowned in decadence and luxury,” and overthrown by the heathen Tatars “because the people of the faith had become deficient in energy.” At that moment Allah “rescued the faith” by sending the Turks, who “enter the Muslim religion with the firm resolve of true believers and yet with nomadic virtues unsullied by debased nature, unadulterated by the filth of pleasure, undefiled by ways of civilized living, and with their ardor unbroken by the profusion of luxury.”

The new bearers of the Prophet’s standard were horsemen who had come to Anatolia from the central Asian steppe as mercenary soldiers. Osman I, from whom the name Osmanli (“Ottoman”) is derived, proclaimed an independent principality in Sogut, near Bursa, on the border of the declining Byzantine Empire, in the early thirteenth century, and attracted other tribal leaders to his banner. Within a century, the Osman Dynasty had extended its domains into a large state stretching from the Balkans to Mesopotamia. Its growth was disrupted by the Tatar invasion of 1402, but the Turks sprang back and conquered an impoverished Constantinople in 1453.

For three days the conquerors indulged in an orgy of murder, rape, and pillage. The city was partly ruined, emptied of inhabitants, and eerily silent. Churches had been desecrated and stripped; houses were no longer habitable; shops and stores were battered and bare. The Sultan himself, as he rode through the streets, is said to have been moved to tears by the melancholy spectacle. That is how the Ottoman Empire came into being, on the smouldering ruins of Byzantium. Some decades later it also succeeded the Arab Caliphate, the mantle of descent from Muhammad, after the conquest of Egypt in 1517.

Islam may have rejoiced, as Ibn Khaldoun wrote, but there was no rejoicing in the Balkans as the materially and culturally rich Christian civilization of Byzantium and its dynamic and creative Slavic offspring in Serbia and Bulgaria were destroyed. Like the expanding Arab Empire of earlier times, the Turks applied “the rule of slavery” by conquest and great numbers of Balkan Christians were sold. The rest were subjected to the practice of devshirme, a periodic “blood levy” of Christian boys to be converted to Islam and trained as janissaries. The Ottoman economic system was based on the model of institutionalized exploitation of non-Muslims developed in the seventh century by Umar, the second Caliph after Muhammad. The principal taxes exacted from the “infidel” rayyah were the kharaj, a land tax of indeterminate amount (unlike the tithe, a fixed tax on lands owned by Muslims) and the jizya, a punishing poll-tax to which only the “infidels” were subjected.

The act that resonates with modern Ottoman apologists was the invitation to the Jews of Spain to resettle in the Sultan’s lands after expulsion under Ferdinand and Isabella. They were invited not because of the Turks’ “tolerance,” however, but primarily because it was necessary to replace the vast numbers of Christians who had been killed, expelled, or reduced to penury, and thus to maintain the Sultan’s tax base. The fact that the Ottoman Jews held a more favored status within the Empire than the giaours (infidel Christian dogs) is as much a reason for celebration of the Ottoman “tolerance” as is the fact that the Nazis were somewhat more “tolerant” of occupied Slavs than of the Jews the reason to exonerate them for their many crimes.

For as long as the Ottoman domain expanded, bringing new slaves and fresh tax revenue into the system, it could maintain the pretense of imperial glamor. Its zenith was reached in the first half of the sixteenth century, when the Turks controlled Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia, and the Arabian Peninsula; held Persia at bay, and pushed deep into central Europe after defeating the Hungarians at Mohacs. After the death of Suleyman “the Magnificent” that expansion was finally checked-in Malta, at Lepanto, and on Austria’s southeastern borders-and the decline started almost immediately. It was rapid, and most visible in the corruption and degeneracy of the sultans and their entourage.

A generation after Suleyman, the influence of the favored women of the harem over Murad III was inordinate. When he died in 1595, his son Muhammad had his 19 brothers murdered to prevent them from usurping his throne, and seven of his father’s pregnant concubines sewn into sacks and thrown into the Marmara. In the next century the throne came to Ibrahim, a drunk who had not stepped out of the “Cage” since the age of two. He executed his grand vizier who dared mutter some remarks about his excesses, and in anger threw his baby son into a cistern. One morning after a debauch, feeling jaded with his harem, Ibrahim had all three hundred women put into sacks and thrown into the Bosphorus. Even when he was finally strangled, the devshirme class was split into many political parties and fought for power, manipulated sultans, and used the government for their own benefit. Corruption, nepotism, inefficiency, and misrule spread. The Turks’ nomadic virtues proved all too vulnerable to debasement and “the filth of pleasure.”

The Roman Empire could survive a string of cruel, inept or insane emperors because its bureaucratic and military machines were well developed and capable of functioning even when there was confusion at the core. The Ottoman state lacked such mechanisms. It was under the direct personal control of the sultan, who was himself a temporal autocrat and the spiritual head of Islam. Its shortcomings were aleviated by the application of limited toleration of chosen minorities co-opted into the system. Devoid of administrative talent, the Turks invited and used the services of educated Greeks and Jews and awarded them certain privileges. Greek tax collectors and administrators were particularly resented by other Christians, nowhere more so than in the Danubian principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia which they ran as autonomous fiefdoms. The safety and long-term status of these Phanariots were nevertheless not guaranteed by the Turk, as witnessed by the hanging of their Patriarch on Easter Day 1822.

To survive and prosper these favored Greeks and Jews had to learn how to be obsequious to their masters, insencere with each other, and cruel or at least unfeeling to their less fortunate co-religionists. They, and a legion of Armenian merchants, South Slav bodyguards, Albanian dragomans, speculators with Italian sounding names, Russian spies, Sultan’s informers, European engineers, teachers, doctors and diplomats-all of them multilingual and multi-faced-formed the core of the “Ottoman culture” in the final century of the Khalifate. It was interesting up to a point, in the way today’s Los Angeles may be “interesting” to a fleeting visitor.

At the same time the status of most non-Muslims, nominally regulated through the Millet system of self-governance, continued deteriorating with the decline of the Empire. Ottoman provincial governors and warlords-often the descendents of local converts to Islam, with a suppressed guilty grudge against their former co-religionists-grew stronger and asserted their rebellious independence vis-а-vis the Porte. In the Balkans, this process was accompanied by far harsher treatment of the Christian rayyah than was either mandated or normally practiced from the Bosphorus. It caused the Serbian Revolution of 1804, the precursor of the Greek uprising of 1821, and prompted attempts to reform the decaying Ottoman edifice.

The reformers faced a problem of making the system work without changing its character. They attempted to treat knowledge as a commodity that could be imported and used regardless of the cultural context. Western engineers and military officers-mostly from Napoleon’s France, Turkey’s ally in the early years of the 19th century-were brought to train their Turkish disciples, but the problem facing the reform-minded Sultan Selim III (strangled in 1807) was insoluble: the Sublime Porte wanted the fruits of Western science, but not the ethos that made science possible. Getting the results-modern weapons, disciplined officers, efficient administrators-but avoiding the undesirable trappings of the spirit of critical inquiry and debate, has been the impossible task of would-be reformers all over the Muslim world ever since.

The weakening of Turkey that proceeded apace throughout the 19th century enabled ascendant European powers first to take an interest in the destiny of the Christian communities under Ottoman rule, and then to try and alleviate their deplorable condition. The effort was conducted through bilateral agreements between the Turks and their main European adversaries, Russia and Austria; or through voluntary contracts with two more distant and more favorably disposed European powers, Britain and France. Some improvements were supposed to result from the granting of a Western-style constitution in 1839 and the introduction of at least nominal equality of rights between the three main religious communities, Muslims, Christians, and Jews. Such novelties did not have much effect on the ground, however, especially in those outlaying provinces where, throughout the 19th century, the hold of the central authority was growing tenuous. In Bosnia, in northern Epirus, in Bulgaria and elsewhere the local Islamized landlords ultimately preferred open defiance of the Sultan to the granting of any codified rights to their Christian subjects.

As the “Eastern Question” entered the European diplomatic agenda, some Western powers-and Great Britain in particular-supported the continuing Turkish rule in the Balkans on the grounds that the Ottoman Empire was a “stabilizing force.” Such Realpolitik clashed with the outrage elicited by the “Bulgarian Atrocities” in the 1870s. Looking at the Ottoman record in the Balkans William Gladstone memorably concluded that “no government ever has so sinned, none has proved itself so incorrigible in sin, or which is the same, so impotent in reformation” as the Sublime Porte. But Disraeli’s desire to thwart alleged Russian ambitions prompted the unprecedented propagandistic depiction of Turkey as tolerant and humane, and the myth lingers on even today in some quarters. (Some years later, speaking of Disraeli, Gladstone wrote that “he is not such a Turk as I thought. What he hates is Christian liberty and reconstruction.” To this day the problem of Islamophilia in the West is not love of “the Turk” but hatred of the West.)

In a speech at Blackheath in 1876, Gladstone told the Ottomans: “You shall retain your titular sovereignty, your empire shall not be invaded, but never again, as the years roll in their course, so far as it is in our power to determine, never again shall the hand of violence be raised by you, never again shall the flood gates of lust be opened to you.” This was not to be. Slaughters of Armenians in Bayazid (1877), Alashgurd (1879), Sassun (1894), Constantinople (1896), Adana (1909) and Armenia itself (1895–1896) claimed a total of 200,000 lives, but they were only rehearsals for the Armenian horrors of 1915-1916, a prototype of the mass murder of Jews in Europe. (“Who remembers the Armenians?” Hitler asked those members of his inner circle who feared that Germany’s reputation would suffer because of its persecution of the Jews.)

Further south, the slaughter of Christians in Alexandria in 1881 was only a rehearsal for the artificial famine induced by the Turks in 1915–1916 that killed over 100,000 Maronite Christians in Lebanon and Syria. So imminent and ever-present was the peril, and so fresh the memory of these events in the minds of the non-Muslims, that illiterate Christian mothers dated events as so many years before or after “such and such a massacre.” Across the Middle East, the bloodshed of 1915–1922 finally destroyed ancient Christian communities and cultures that had survived since Roman times-groups like the Jacobites, Nestorians, and Chaldaeans. The tragedy of Christian communities under Turkish rule, as Gladstone put it, was not “a question of Mohammedanism simply, but of Mohammedanism compounded with the peculiar character of a race”: “They were, upon the whole, from the black day when they first entered Europe, the one great anti-human specimen of humanity. Wherever they went, a broad line of blood marked the track behind them, and, as far as their dominion reached, civilization disappeared from view. They represented everywhere government by force as opposed to government by law.”

It is ironic but unsurprising that the persecution of Christians culminated in their final expulsion not under a Sultan but under the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal, the same man who also abolished the caliphate and separated the mosque and state. That this carnage was carried out under the banner of resurgent Turkish nationalism, rather than Ottoman imperialism or Islamic intolerance, mattered but little to the victims. The end result was the same: churches demolished, and communities that used to worship in them dispersed or dead. The burning of Smyrna and the massacre and scattering of its 300,000 Christian inhabitants in 1921 is one of the great crimes of all times, on par with the sack of Constantinople in 1453. Those two events marked the beginning of the end and the final end of the Greek civilization in Asia Minor, which at its height had also given the world the great cities of Pergamus, Philadelphia, and Ephesus.

* * *

The Ottoman Empire gave up the ghost right after the Great War, but long before that it had little interesting to say, or do, at least measured against the enormous cultural melting pot it had inherited and its splendid opportunities between East and West. Not even a prime location at the crossroads of the world could prompt creativity that was not there. The contrast between the Ottoman Empire after the Crimean War and Japan in the period of Meiji Restoration is startling. The Ottomans failed and the Japanese made the transition with flying colors because even without “democracy” they possessed a culture inured to discipline, approving of delayed gratification and self-restraint.

By contrast the Sick Man of Europe, fatalistic, lazy, hypersensual, still fanatically Islamist and therefore still puzzled by his own failures, was struggling even to limp along. The degeneracy of the ruling class, blended with Islam’s inherent tendency to the closing of the mind, proved insurmountable. In the Crimea Turkish regiments acquired field guns, steamboats plied the Bosphorus, and one could travel by rail from Istanbul to all corners of Europe, but there was no creative spark from within that could use foreign novelties to transform the society and jumpstart it into modernity.

A century later the Turkish Republic enters the 21st century as a populous, relatively prosperous and self-assertive nation-state. Discarding the burden of the Ottoman state enabled the Turkish nation to develop a culture based on a blend of European-style nationalism, which is very un-Ottoman, and an underlying Islamic ethos inherited from the Empire. Ataturk hoped to impose a strictly secular concept of nationhood, but political Islam has reasserted itself. Popular Islamic political movements of the past three decades have produced a “Turkish-Islamic synthesis” whose “post-Islamist” upholders are now in power in Ankara. Their success is due to the fact that most Turks remain Muslim in their beliefs, values, and world outlook. The Kemalist dream of secularism has never penetrated beyond the military and a narrow stratum of urban elite centered in Istanbul, and today it is in retreat.

The near-impossible task facing Turkey’s Westernized intelligentsia is to break away from the lure of irredentism abroad, and at home to reform Islam into a matter of personal choice separated from the State and distinct from the society. Until this is done the Kemalist edifice, uneasily perched atop the simmering Islamic volcano, will remain tentative at best. The re-emergence of an empire centered on the Bosphorus is unlikely, for now, but less so than the integration into the European Union of a democratic, secular and stable Turkey.

October 14, 2004

Srdja Trifkovic interview with Al Kresta on Ave Maria Radio

by Srdja Trifkovic

Al Kresta is a broadcaster, journalist and author who runs one of the liveliest and most popular Catholic talk shows in the country. Currently heard on some thirty stations, Kresta in the Afternoon looks at current affairs through the lens of Scripture. Its guests have included Mother Angelica, William Bennett, Pat Buchanan, Michael Novak, Judge Robert Bork, Jerry Falwell, Steve Allen, Cal Thomas, Avery Cardinal Dulles, Chuck Colson, Ken Starr, James Earl Ray, Mary Higgins Clark, C. Everett Koop, and Ollie North. Last month (Sept. 9) Mr. Kresta interviewed Dr. Trifkovic on the nature of Islam and its impact on the West and the rest. Here is the transcript of that program.

KRESTA: What is the relationship between traditional, historic Islam, and people like Osama bin Laden? Is there danger inherent in the spread of Islam, just like there was danger inherent in the spread of communism and nazism? Is this just a small bunch of politically motivated Islamist or are they in fact the faithful cutting edge? Who defines the soul of Islam? Joining us now is Serge Trifkovic. He is the author of The Sword of the Prophet-Islam: History, Theology, Impact on the World. He is foreign affairs editor of Chronicles . . . Is Islam inherently violent, imperialistic, and must it dominate the world?

TRIFKOVIC: The answer is “yes.” It is unpleasant having to say so, since one is naturally inclined in today’s liberal, multicultural West to award each creed and each world outlook the equality of esteem in a mutual celebration of our beautiful diversity. But since you put the question as starkly as you did, the answer is “yes.”

KRESTA: Does this go back to its founding, or is it a tradition that developed over time. The canonical material that the Muslims have to deal with-the Koran, the Hadith, the life of the Prophet and early Muslim communities-is it that material which encourages imperialism, the use of the sword, and eventually world expansion and domination?

TRIFKOVIC: The terms of the relationship between Muhammad, the founder of the cult, and his followers with the “infidels” were clearly set in his lifetime, particularly with the destruction of three Jewish tribes in the city of Medina, where Muhammad had established a theocratic statelet. The first two tribes he expelled and simply sequestered their property. That was a prime example of ethnic cleansing, to use contemporary terminology. To the third tribe, Banu Quraiza, he offered conversion or death. Obviously, well versed in the Old Testament theology and faithful to the Torah, these Jews were somewhat reluctant to submit themselves to the mumbo-jumbo that this illiterate Arabian shepherd was offering to them. The result was decapitation of nine hundred grown-up men followed by mass rape of women that same night. Muhammad chose as his concubine one of them, whose husband and father were killed hours earlier before her own eyes. The children were enslaved.

It is important to remember that in all primary texts-the Koran, the Traditions of the Prophet (the Hadith), or the example of the so-called “Four Rightly-Guided Caliphs”-the early successors to Muhammad-we have a certain pattern that has been replicated for thirteen hundred years. The world is divided into the world of faith, where Islam is triumphant, and Dar-ul-Harb, the world of war, where it is not. It is the Allah-ordained destiny of the Muslims to fight until the entire world succumbs to the faith and the entire planet bows to Allah, kisses the carpet. As you’ve mentioned in the intro, the similarity with the mindset of communism, with its insistence on the global triumph of the proletariat as the precondition for the end of history-the secular parousia of the classless society where state and money will cease to exist-is remarkable. Furthermore, if we are looking for historical parallels, the one with Nazism is even more apt because German National Socialism had found a willing ally in Islam, in the person of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem who not only went to Berlin in 1941 and raised the banner of Jihad against the British, but also materially helped in the recruitment of Chechens, Kosovo Albanians and Bosnian Muslims into the SS, where they committed all the usual, to-be-expected atrocities against their Orthodox Christian neighbors.

KRESTA: Let’s leap from to the Muslim next door. If what you describe is endemic to Islam, it is part of its basic standards, part of its history, why is it that in, say, Dearborn, Michigan, Muslims that I know do not seem as though they like Osama bin Laden?

TRIFKOVIC: This is a difficult question, especially for a Christian who should and does have the natural tendency to take his neighbors at face value and seeks to discover their humanity. From Muhammad’s time onwards, taqiyya-duplicity-is openly preached in Islam as the preferred and condoned tactic of softening resistance of non-Muslims to Muslim encroachment. When their numbers are low, with single-digit percentages, when they are only establishing themselves in an area, they will project an acceptable face. One may compare that to the early Muhammad, in Mecca: spirituality, tolerance, and all those Kuranic verses that were to be abrogated later on when he moved to Medina.

For a Christian the real task is to help our fellow humans who are trapped in Islam and to help them become free. But the more pressing task than that is to help our fellows former Christians, or post-Christians, to become aware of who they are and to become proud of their civilizational and spiritual legacy, because that’s the only defense we have. If we fall into the pattern of post-Christian hedonistic and functionally nihilistic post-modern West as we have it today, our goose is cooked-demographically, spiritually, materially, and politically. One can almost not blame Muslims for doing what they are doing, immigrating into the West, procreating at five times the rates of Western nations, because, to paraphrase Martin Luther, they kann nicht anders, they cannot do otherwise. But we do have ourselves to blame for having fallen victim to the putrid, horrible, lukewarm ideology of multiculturalism that cannot be the basis of defense of anything at all. It is a form of anti-culturalism that opens the floodgates of hell.

KRESTA: But can Muslims work together across national boundaries? There’s this pan-Islamic ideal, but if it wasn’t for the issue of Israel in the Middle East, wouldn’t the Muslim nations be fighting one another?

TRIFKOVIC: The Muslim nations have been fighting one another ever since the earliest days. If you look at the birth of the Shiite sect of Islam, it is rooted in the intra-Islamic civil war that was raging in the second half of the seventh century. But at the same time when it comes to the perception of the outside world as the Great Satan, the enemy, the World of War, the infidels, with whom according to the Koran a Muslim must not be friends or else he becomes worse than they, we have to realize that this mindset unites the Muslims regardless of whether they are in Indonesia, or immigrants into Dearborn or Buffalo or west London. What unites them is the abhorrence of the Other. Since Islam is a violent cult [characterized] by the fundamental lack of love, agape, it will always find the uniting sources of common sentiment and belonging, the glue that bonds that group together, in the way that the members of a gang in west L.A. find their common bond: through animosity vis-а-vis the outside group that defines the insiders. They do not have a true identity because there is no real content: Islam is a totalitarian ideology based on hate and violence. Therefore, the only way it can find adherents willing to sacrifice their lives in what they perceive as a higher cause is to have the Enemy, and that Enemy is the Christian, the European, the more successful civilization that has given us the cathedrals, the cantatas, the icons, the Shakespeares and Goethes. None of that can be produced in the Islamic world. It has always been good only at producing arid deserts.

KRESTA: I thought that there was a “golden age” for Islam?

TRIFKOVIC: We keep hearing from the apologists, the Karen Armstrongs and John Espositos of this world, that Cordoba, or Granada, or Baghdad at a certain point were eminently capable of producing civilization and were fit for a civilized person to live in. Well, this happened in spite of Islam, not because of it. Most of their prominent names in philosophy, mathematics, and speculative thought were in fact Persians, Jews, and Christians. Claiming that the “golden age of Islam” was due to Islam is just like saying that the fact that scholarship on Pushkin, Dostoevsky and Tolstoy survived in Stalin’s Russia was due to Bolshevism.

KRESTA: Let me ask a few geopolitical questions. What do you make of the United States’ continued friendly relations with Saudi Arabia, given the fact that the Wahabi sect of Islam dominates the Kingdom and tremendous amount of Saudi money goes to create these schools where kids are indoctrinated so that we end up producing more Islamic warriors? What is the U.S. to do?

TRIFKOVIC: The nature of the regime in Saudi Arabia is inherently unstable. The pressure on the admittedly unpleasant and kleptocratic royal family to reform and become more democratic is likely to result in the Teheran syndrome: the revolution of rising expectations among the populus, the toppling of the regime, and the coming to power of people who’d look upon Osama bin Laden as their model. So it’s the lesser of two evils. While I hold no brief for the eminently ugly Saudi Wahabis who run the show, I have to warn that any attempt at democratization of the Middle East-the neoconservatives’ favorite phrase-will mean further Islamization of the Middle East. There isn’t a single traditionally Muslim country in the world where, if you had real democracy, political Islam would not triumph. The Jihadists of different shapes and colors, the Muslim Brotehrood in Egypt, or Ayatollah al-Sistani in Iraq, or al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, would be elected by democratic means. Then we’d have a similar situation to that in Germany after January 30, 1933: the will of the people produces an unpleasant political result, bringing people who want to fight you to power.

The United States should treat the Middle East as just another spot on the map. It is strategically damaging to be obsessive about the Middle East, to treat it as particularly important to the American psyche. We should treat it as an unpleasant part of the world where people have long-standing disputes over land, resources, and various metaphysical claims. We should treat those claims strictly on their merits. The identification of the American interest with a single country in the region-and the country that has been discriminating not only against the Muslims but against the Christians as well for the 50-plus years of its existence-is unhealthy. I support the survival of the state of Israel on geopolitical grounds, but not on some heretical grounds of confusion of the modern state of Israel, secular as it is, with the Israel of the Old Testament. To any Christian traditionalist the zany, insane mumbo-jumbo of some of our more excitable Protestant brethren is offensive. It is also damaging in terms of the political impact.

KRESTA: It has been said that the Eastern Orthodox were better off under Muslim rule than they were under Catholic crusaders. What’s the story there?

TRIFKOVIC: It is indeed remarkable that this year we are remembering the 800th anniversary of one of the great crimes in Christendom-and by the way, as an Eastern Orthodox I believe we are talking about one civilization. The folly of the West is 800 years old this year: the sack of Constantinople during the infamous Fourth Crusade. The Franks did not understand that New Rome, the Orthodox Constantinople, was the guardian and protector of the West. The treachery of the Crusaders in 1204 opened the way for the Ottoman onslaught against Europe that did not stop until it reached Vienna in 1683. And today, the rampant Serbophobia-and let me declare my interest, I am Serbian by birth and an American by naturalization-the Serbophobia reflects the same folly on a much larger scale. The consequence, the price of the emerging post-national global empire, is the obliteration of Christendom, first of all; but secondly, the obliteration of the ethnic identity of peoples, of their special color and uniqueness, and the loss of diversity of the European civilization, both in its North American offshoot and in its heartland. It will result, ultimately, in the demographic replacement of Europeans by North African and Middle Eastern immigrants, and the obliteration of America as we know it into a kind of post-modern Blade Runner-L.A. writ large.

KRESTA: You mention demographics, and they say “demographics is destiny.” Are Muslims reproducing significantly more than the allegedly Christian Europe?

TRIFKOVIC: Oh, absolutely, and let us not even pretend that Europe is still Christian. Today there are more Muslims at prayer on Fridays in Britain, France, or Germany than there are Christians at mass or liturgy in those countries on Sundays. To change this, Christian traditionalists belonging to different denominations should forge anti-ecumenical unity. . . .

September 1, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

There is a bloc of voters that may easily decide the forthcoming election. A little over a million Serbian-Americans-their exact number is uncertain but this is a conservative estimate-are likely to vote this year in greater numbers than ever before. The significance of this group becomes obvious if we look at its geographic distribution. After Chicago, the main Serbian-American centers are Pittsburgh, PA; Cleveland, OH; and Milwaukee, WI. There are thousands of retirees in Florida and sizeable pockets in St. Louis (MO) and suburban New Jersey. In each of those states the size of the community exceeds the likely margin of victory for either candidate on November 2.

In the past this was not a homogenous voting bloc. The old Serbian diaspora in the Rust Belt-third and fourth-generation, often unionized-was sympathetic to the Democrats, while most post-1945 anti-Tito emigres and their descendents tended to support the GOP on the account of its more solid anti-communist credentials. This time, however, both these groups will be united against Senator John Kerry. As explains, “Serbian Americans believe a Bush administration will have the integrity and wisdom to pursue even-handed and objective policies with respect to their ancestral homeland.” As individuals many Serbian-Americans-steel mill retirees and yuppies alike-disagree with some aspects of President Bush’s policies, but as members of the community they take note of the fact that John Kerry’s foreign policy is being molded by Clinton’s veterans whose zeal for anti-Serb interventions has been abundantly proven.

On his web site Senator Kerry says of the Balkans, “We will continue to support the ethnic re-integration of Bosnia” and “The people of Kosovo must be able to determine their own future.” “Re-integration of Bosnia” is the code for the revision of the Dayton Agreement and the liquidation of the Republika Srpska demanded by the Muslims. “Self-determination” is the code for Kosovo’s independence.

Candidate Kerry declared last month, “Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who deserves his own special place in hell, but that was not, in itself, a reason to go to war.” Six years earlier, however, Senator John Forbes Kerry voted Yes to S Con Res 21 (introduced by Biden, D-DE, the “Kosovo Resolution”) to authorize the war against Yugoslavia, which was adopted 58-41 on March 23, 1999.

Last summer Mr. Kerry sent a vacuous note to the Serbian National Federation in Pittsburgh, ending it in Serbian with “Ziveli i mnogaja ljeta!” (“Long life and many years,” a traditional Serbian greeting). One week later, however, he addressed a much longer and politically binding message to the Albanian-American community (July 23, 2004) in which he said he was proud to receive support from Albanians, promised to takcle the final status of Kosovo immediately, and attacked the Bush administration for “turning its back” on the region:

“The people of Kosovo must be able to determine their own future, including how they want to be governed . . . Continued delay-which is all the Bush administration has offered-hardens the positions of extremists on all sides . . . I will need your help in building the support we will need in Congress and with the American people to carry out this historic task . . . I am proud that we will, together, help make real the dream of Albanians, of Americans, of our allies.”

The KLA chief Hashim Thaci was subsequently invited to the Democratic National Convention, which in itself was scandalous. On his return to Pristina declared: “It was confirmed once again that a Democratic administration would recognize and respect the will of the people of Kosova [sic!] for self-determination.”

“People are policy,” they say in Washington, and history suggests that ‘range of opinion’ will shape a new president’s foreign policy as much as the specific ideas the candidate advances during the campaign. Richard Holbrooke, who infamously called Serbs “murderous assholes” (in an interview with Ted Koppel, Nov. 6, 1995), is slated for a top diplomatic post if Kerry is elected. Another candidate for Powell’s office is Senator Joseph Biden, who sponsored the Senate resolution (March 23, 1999) authorizing Clinton to bomb Serbia. James Rubin, Albright’s chief propagandist during the Kosovo war, is Kerry’s senior foreign policy advisor. General Wesley Clark is also an advisor to Kerry, and tipped to be a likely successor to Donald Rumsfeld. While commanding the military campaign against Serbia he bombed civilian targets and presided over the massive use of depeleted uranium weapons. “He would rise out of his seat and slap the table. ‘I’ve got to get the maximum violence out of this campaign-now!'” (The Washington Post, 21 September 1999)

Then there’s Dr. Ronald D. Asmus, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs under Albright and now Kerry’s foreign policy advisor, who says that the “unfinished business in the Balkans” is the most pressing foreign policy issue and who hailed the decision “to wage a war to stop Serbian aggression in Kosovo” as the defining moment for NATO. There’s Will Marshall, also Kerry’s foreign policy advisor, who enthuses over “the exemplary nature of the 1999 U.S.-led intervention in Kosovo”-a policy that, he says, was “consciously based on a mix of moral values and security interests with the parallel goals of halting a humanitarian tragedy and ensuring NATO’s credibility.” There’s Philip James, former senior Democratic Party strategist, who says that Abu Ghriab was “sickeningly reminiscent of the darkest days of Serbian supremacy in the Balkans.” The list is long, but the quotes are all alike. As The New York Times noted (April 11, 2004) Kerry’s foreign policy advisors are more hawkish than most Democrats: “He routinely consults [with] Biden, Berger and Holbrooke… Potential secretaries of State Biden and Holbrooke, for instance, were leading advocates of military intervention against Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic during the 1990s… Many of the key figures around Kerry staunchly supported the Kosovo war.”

In brief, Serbian-American voters are aware that an incoming Kerry regime would seek to “finish the job” in the Balkans by dismembering Serbia, recognizing Kosovo’s “independence”, encouraging Montenegro’s secession, destroying Republika Srpska, and “internationalizing” the crisis (non-existent for now, but certain to be duly procured) in Vojvodina and the Sanjak.

Kerry’s proposed Balkan policy is reckless in the extreme, and it should be a matter of concern not only to the ethnic group most adversely affected, but also to all Americans who are sick and tired of foreign adventures-by either party-that are not related to this country’s security interests. Kerry wants to unleash a chain reaction he won’t be able to control. If Kosovo is granted independence on the grounds that a geographically compact ethnic minority is entitled to secession, will the Albanians in Macedonia not demand the same right, based on the same model? Theoretically, the Hungarians in Rumania, who are more numerous than Kosovo’s Albanians, could also invoke it. What will stop the Russians in the Ukraine (Crimea), in Moldova, in Estonia, and in northern Kazakhstan from following suit? What about the Turks in Thrace, and the chronically unstable and unviable Dayton-Bosnia, to mention but some of the European dominos that may fall in the wake of Kosovo’s evolution under NATO? And finally, will the same apply when the Mexicans in southern California, New Mexico, Arizona, or Texas eventually outnumber their Anglo neighbors and start demanding bilingual statehood, leading to reunification with Mexico?

Kerry’s advocacy of Kosovo’s independence would reward mass ethnic cleansing and murder, carried out on a massive scale by the Albanians ever since the beginning of the NATO occupation four years ago. It would condone the principle that an ethnic minority’s plurality in a given locale or region provides grounds for that region’s secession-a precedent that may yet come to haunt America in the increasingly mono-ethnic and mono-lingual Southwest. It would terminally alienate the Serbs, whose cooperation is crucial to making the Balkans finally stable and peaceful, at a time when American energy, money and manpower is more pressingly needed further east. It would create an inherently unstable polity that will be an even safer haven for assorted criminals and Islamic extremists than it is today. It would re-ignite the war in neighboring Macedonia, where the current semblance of peace is absolutely predicated upon the continuing status quo in Kosovo. Last but not least, it would commit the United States to continuing the Clinton-Gore “nation-building” Balkan obsession that culminated with the bombing of Serbia in 1999-an illogical, immoral, and utterly untenable rearrangement of the regional architecture which it would be in America’s interest to reverse, not ratify and make semi-permanent.

The Serbian-American community is determined to deny Senator Kerry an opportunity to pursue policies that would be destablizing to peace and stability in the Balkans, catastrophic to the interests of their ancestral land, deeply detrimental to the reputation of the United States, and contrary to all American ideals.

October 5, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

In Afghanistan’s first-ever direct presidential election, scheduled for next Saturday October 9, its interim president Hamid Karzai will win and become a “democratically elected leader.” This will be the first test of President George W. Bush’s heralded objective of bringing democracy to the Middle East, or-to be precise in this particular case-to a much-troubled spot half-way between Mesopotamia and the Sub-Continent.

It is absurd but true that an election in a dirt-poor country of mostly illiterate tribesmen on the other side of the world may have an impact on the presidential race in the United States. In the first debate with John Kerry last Thursday President Bush repeated twice that “ten million citizens have registered to vote” in Afghanistan, calling this “a phenomenal statistic” that heralds the country’s democratic transformation: “They’re given a chance to be free, and they will show up at the polls,” he said, pointing out that “forty-one percent of those 10 million are women.”

The first problem with this statement concerns facts: the statistic is truly “phenomenal” since Afghanistan’s estimated eligible voting population is less than ten million. Such extremely high registration figures suggest that many Afghans are registering multiple times, raising concerns for the validity of the election. Human Rights Watch estimates that as many as half of the 10 million have registered more than once,and ballot cards are openly offered for sale in open-air markets. In some provinces more people are registered to vote than are known to live there. In a country that issues neither birth certificates nor identity cards there will be a bare handful of international poll observers. Most of the poll monitoring will be entrusted to local police-many of whom are either former Taliban, or members of the militias fielded by warlords, or both.

These and other fraudulent practices are encouraged by local warlords who continue to control substantial swaths of Afghanistan’s roadless outback, where ballots are delivered on donkeys’ backs. They are intimidating voters into supporting their chosen candidates. Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, warns that the militias have already told people in the rural areas how to vote, while activists and political organizers who oppose the warlords fear for their lives. Ordinary Afghans have no confidence in the secrecy of the process and they will have to obey the people with guns: on election day there will be 28,000 U.S. and NATO forces and 13,500 Afghan soldiers to keep the peace, but four-fifths of the country will remain unprotected.

The warlords are unexpectedly eager to support Afghanistan’s “democratic transformation” because they are the only ones able to buy enough votes and to apply enough local intimidation to give their power a veneer of legality at home and some legitimacy in foreign eyes. A typical example is provided by General Abdul Rashid Dostum. A former communist general known to have ordered enemy captives crushed under a Russian tank, Dostum is trying to transform himself from warlord into smiling presidential candidate:

“Dostum’s idea of campaigning is to sit on a thronelike chair in his rose garden and scowl at a line of deferential tribal elders, officials and militia commanders who will be expected to deliver votes from among the Uzbeks. Those who don’t obey suffer-such as one Uzbek man whose wife was kidnapped when he refused to rejoin Dostum’s forces.

Karzai’s main rival, Yunus Qanooni, is a former resistance leader who still commands loyalty from Tajik fighters in the north. Qanooni’s men will provide “security” in the polling stations in the Tajik region, raising the prospect of intimidation. Karzai himself is not above similar shinenigans-his supporters ahve threatened to burn the homes of those who vote against him-but unlike his rivals he enjoys open American support. He wants to win in the first round, beating all other 17 candidates outright and consolidating his still tenuous hold on power. That hope seems to be shared by the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad:

“Senior Afghan officials, U.N. representatives and Western diplomats all claim that Khalilzad, an energetic Afghan American, is trying to induce several candidates to drop out and throw their support behind Karzai. The ambassador denies that, even though one candidate, Mohammed Mohaqiq, went public with such an accusation. Khalilzad and Karzai dine together at least three times a week, palace insiders say, and many Afghans, by nature conspiratorially minded, are convinced that the election’s outcome is rigged to favor Karzai.

Khalilzad denies bias or interference, but then goes on to say that “President Karzai has represented Afghanistan very well? We have a good working relationship with him. He deserves credit for what has been achieved here.” He has also declared that “we are breaking the backbone of the warlords” which is simply not the case-unless we assume that a warlord “democratically” elected to high office or given a ministerial rank thus ceases to be a warlord.

Karzai controls the media and has received over 75 percent of all state TV and radio coverage since the campaign’s start in early September, with the other candidates complaining that they are being ignored. He is soliciting warlords’ support-notably that of the powerful mujahideen leader Ismail Khan from Herat-by offering them ministerial posts. But with the Administration eager to present a rosy picture of Afghanistan’s “democratic transformation,” the forthcoming electoral irregularities and behind-the-scenes deals will be duly overlooked. “There will be an election in Afghanistan,” says a Western analyst familiar with the region, “and in its aftermath we’ll have a continuing glut of narcotics abroad, and continued lawlessness, extortion, robbery, and murder inside the country.”

Three years after the Afghan war the endeavor’s most tangible effect in the U.S. has been the rising availability and falling price of heroin. Whereas the former Taliban regime proved brutally effective in curtailing the production of opium, output has skyrocketed under its U.S.-sponsored successors and provides three-quarters of the world’s supply. Much of it is being processed into morphine and heroin inside Afghanistan-a rare example of profitable industrial activity in the country. The magnitude of the problem is becoming comparable to that created by Columbian cartels two decades ago.

American troops are unable to target the producers’ bosses, whose identities are well known to all, because opium cultivation and trade are controlled by local warlords who are nominally allied with Karzai. He cannot afford to alienate local strongmen so he is sending them personal appeals instead. He is reduced to seeking the support of former Taliban officials, “in an effort to stabilize the democratic process.” Karzai’s own authority does not extend much beyond Kabul, and only by appeasing the warlords can he maintain the appearance of the country’s coherence. In return, these disagreeable and violent men are granted impunity in their strongholds.

To make matters worse, the Taleban is making a comeback. The deaths of three Afghan soldiers and two pro-Taleban guerrillas over the weekend brought to almost a thousand the number of people reported killed in political violence this year, with the actual figure almost certainly far higher. Such attacks occur almost daily, and the magnitude of the problem is seen in the ability of Islamic diehards to field substantial units: Afghan intelligence officials in the southern city of Kandahar say more than 2,000 Taliban fighters are roaming the desert outskirts of the city.

The Islamists’ resurgence is partly fuelled by the nationalist sentiment of the Pashtuns who inhabit the eastern and southern parts of the country. They resent the monopoly on power that the Tajiks of the north enjoy in Karzai’s regime. Karzai, a Pashtun himself, is despised by many of his kinsmen as a traitor. Although they are hardly more Islamic or more anti-Western than any “Northern Alliance” warlord, many Pashtuns support the Taliban because it is the tool available to fight their traditional enemies. The proximity of the Pashtuns’ kinsmen across the border in Pakistan enables the guerrillas to evade pursuers and to enjoy the safety of bases inside Pakistan’s tribal areas. The situation is comparable to when the Taliban seized power in the mid-1990s: a weak government in the center, autonomous warlords in the north and the west, and Pashtun guerrillas in the east and south.

The role of Pakistan is adding to the uncertainty. The government of General Perwez Musharraf-and notably its powerful military intelligence service, the ISI-is suspected by some U.S. officers in Afghanistan of providing the Taliban with sanctuary and weapons after a period of hands-off caution in the aftermath of 9-11. President. Bush’s pretense that Musharraf-a possessor and proliferator of nuclear WMD-is an ally in the War on Terror can be understood as a political expedient, but the reality is very different. He has not clamped down on madrassas and other Islamic institutions that breed terrorists, and he has not purged the Pakistani army of officers implicated in previous dealings with the Taliban. They allow Taliban fighters to slip across the border and to stay out of the U.S. military’s reach, and they may be sheltering Osama bin Laden himself.

If there is an undisputed victory for Karzai, that election will be invoked by Mr. Bush to support his claim that the Afghan alleged success can be replicated in Iraq. The reality behind that “success” is complex and unsavory, and the U.S. would do well to disengage soon. With all the talk about “democracy” it is often overlooked that the purpose of the Afghan operation was to capture Usama bin Laden. A military operation prompted by the reasonable desire to punish and neutralize the culprits for 9-11 did not have the stated objective of “bringing democracy to Afghanistan,” and should not be retroactively turned into an open-ended nation-building project. What America needs after Karzai’s inauguration next week is to declare victory, wrap things up, and get out of Afghanistan. Karzai may not last long on his own, which may be regrettable, but it is of no consequence as long as the Taliban don’t return to power. That can be prevented more effectively by putting pressure on Pakistan-there is ample leverage-than by maintaining NATO peacekeepers in Kabul and GI’s in the provinces.

September 28, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

Switzerland has the toughest naturalization rules in Europe. If you want to become Swiss you must live in the country legally for at least 12 years-and pay taxes, and have no criminal record-before you can apply for citizenship. It still does not mean that your wish will be granted, however, and the fact that you were born in Zurich or Lugano does not make any difference. There are no “amnesties” and illegals are deported if caught. Even if an applicant satisfies all other conditions, the local community in which he resides has the final say: it can interview the applicant and hold a public vote before naturalization is approved. If rejected he can apply again, but only after ten years.

All this is intolerable to the country’s enlightened bien-pensants who run the federal government in Berne. They want citizenship applications to be processed centrally, “along national guidelines,” taking the decision out of the hands of local communities. They insist that resident aliens, a fifth of the country’s 7.5 million people, need to be “fully integrated” and that the natives must accept the “reality” of multiculturalism.

For the second time in a decade such proposals were defeated in a nation-wide referendum last Sunday (September 26). Swiss voters rejected a government initiative to grant automatic citizenship to third-generation Swiss-born aliens and to simplify naturalization for the second generation. Most French-speakers (18 percent) supported the proposals, but they were heavily outvoted by the country’s German-speaking cantons which account for two-thirds of the population, and by the Italian-speaking Ticino (6 percent).

The successful “no” campaign was orchestrated by the populist Swiss People’s Party (SVP), one of the four parties in the ruling coalition, led by maverick millionaire Christoph Blocher. He first achieved prominence 18 years ago when he founded a lobby group, the Campaign for an Independent and Neutral Switzerland (CINS). Blocher (64) is a strong opponent of the European Union who successfully fought a proposal to take Switzerland into the European Economic Area in 1992. He has also successfully campaigned against the abolition of the Swiss army (1989), against involving Swiss troops in UN peacekeeping operations (1994), and against the country’s EU membership (2001). He also campaigned against UN membership in 2002, but in what appears to have been an untypical fit of absent-mindedness the Swiss decided otherwise. A year ago the SVP won the plurality of the vote in parliamentary elections after an aggressive campaign in which the SVP blamed immigrants-specifically mentioning black Africans and Albanians-for the country’s rising crime rate. Last December, to the chagrin of Brussels, he joined the seven-member Federal Cabinet in which his party has two seats.

The result of the Swiss referendum should regale the heart of every true conservative for three reasons.

It is, first of all, a victory for local democratic institutions of very long standing over the tendency of state bureaucracy to centralize all power. Except for a few years of centralized government of the “Helvetic Republic” during Napoleon’s occupation, Switzerland has been a confederation of local communities as established in the Pact of 1291, with most responsibility for public affairs in the hands of the local authorities and its 20 cantons and 6 half-cantons. In other words, Switzerland is still today what the United States had been before 1861. It is a little-known fact that the Swiss Constitution of 1848 wasmodeled on the U.S. constitution of 1787. Its adoption was preceded by a brief civil war between Protestant liberals seeking a centralized national state and Catholic conservatives clinging on to the old order. The decentralizing Catholics won, and adopted the American constitutional model as the one best suited to their country’s traditions. The Swiss have preserved that model ever since, while America has moved on.

Secondly, the referendum reflects the ability of a Western electorate to make an accurate assessment of the implications of granting citizenship to Muslims. The SVP warned that Muslims would eventually become a majority in Switzerland if the citizenship rules were eased, and this, it is widely believed, tipped the balance. SVP’s Ulrich Schlьer said their impact showed that the government had tried to conceal and important issue from voters. In the canton of Valais the SVP further drove the multiculturalists wild with a poster featuring Osama bin Laden on a Swiss identity card and the caption, “Don’t let yourself be bullied.” As it happens the warning was based on a sound precedent: one of the al-Qa’ida leader’s half-brothers, Yeslam, lives in Switzerland-and holds a Swiss passport! Another advertisement that appeared in newspapers across the country had the banner headline “Will Muslims soon be in the majority?” It warned that “the birth rate in Islamic families is substantially higher than in other families,” that at present rates of growth Muslims would outnumber Christians within 20 years, and that “Muslims place their religion above our laws.” All three claims were true, but nevertheless they were termed “racist” and “xenophobic” by the press all over Europe. Had Switzerland joined the EU in 2002 such ads would have been illegal.

Last but by no means least the Swiss result is encouraging because at least one civilized country in the world will continue to uphold the right of local communities to decide who will qualify for naturalization. Unique in today’s Western world, this healthy sense of Swiss citizenship reminds us of the Greek polis. It reflects an underlying assumption of kinship among citizens that cannot be fulfilled by mere residence and observance of the rules. Naturalization in Athens was possible but difficult; it was a rare privilege and anything but a right. Likewise in today’s Switzerland if you want to belong, but do not belong by blood, you have to prove a high degree of cultural and civilizational kinship with the host-society. Like in Athens, in today’s Switzerland citizenship includes the right and duty to fulfill certain functions, among which military service is very important. It is remarkable that to this day every Swiss male over 18 must be prepared to serve in the country’s citizen-army; after completing their basic training they keep their weapons at home, and refusal to perform military service is a criminal offence. The thought must have crossed the mind of a few Swiss reservists that all too many aspiring foreigners could never be trusted with those weapons. The Swiss understand, even when they do not know, that the collective striving embodied in “We the People” makes no sense unless there is a definable “people” to support it. They sense that many immigrants have no kinship with the striving and no connection to the “people,” except for the unsurprising desire to partake in its wealth.

This sense is light years away from the “multicultural” understanding of citizenship promoted in the European Union and in North America. A recent feature by Radio Netherlands International illustrates the gap. It complained that the Swiss are not “quite ready to accept the reality of a multi-cultural society.” It bewailed the fate of one Fatma Karademir, 23, who was born in Switzerland and has never lived anywhere else but under Swiss law she is Turkish just like her parents. The Dutch radio was indignant that Fatma’s recent application for citizenship was rejected by her village and she’ll be able to reapply in ten years:

And when she finally does come before the citizenship committee, Fatma knows the fact that she has lived all her life in Switzerland will count less than the answers she gives to the committee’s questions. “They ask if I can imagine marrying a Swiss boy, or do you know the Swiss national anthem, or which team I would support if the Swiss have a soccer game with Turkey. They ask such stupid questions.”

The fact that Fatma calls such questions “stupid” illustrates (1) that she was quite properly denied naturalization; and (2) that the village (town, commune), and not some enlightened bureaucrat in Berne, should continue to have the final say in the matter.

And talking of soccer, let us recall that match in Los Angeles between Mexico and the United States in February 1998. The stands were full of Mexican flags. The fans booed The Star-Spangled Banner, and a few brave souls who dared wave American flags were pelted with beer cans and food debris-as were the American soccer players. No doubt many of the offenders were U.S. citizens. One can only wish that they, and people like them, were subjected to the test of a Swiss village naturalization board.

September 22, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

On September 19 the Sunday edition of the Chicago Tribune published an article entitled Struggle for the Soul of Islam: A rare look at secretive Brotherhood in America. This 5,000-word feature sought to reveal the existence, methods and ultimate goals of the American offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, “the world’s most influential Islamic fundamentalist group.” The Tribune story is important for revealing the magnitude of the threat America faces no less than for revealing the underlying misunderstanding of that threat by the American elite class in general and the media in particular.

The Brotherhood’s slogan, ever since it was founded in Egypt in 1928, has been unambiguous: “Allah is our goal; the Messenger [Muhammad] is our model; the Koran is our constitution; jihad is our means; and martyrdom in the way of Allah is our aspiration.” It has had a major impact on Islam in America by establishing mosques, Islamic schools, summer youth camps and Muslim organizations. Since 1993 it has operated under the name of Muslim American Society (MAS), a “charitable, religious, social, cultural and educational not-for-profit organization” with 10,000 members in 53 chapters nationwide.

The article claims that “because of its hard-line beliefs, the U.S. Brotherhood has been an increasingly divisive force within Islam in America, fueling the often bitter struggle between moderate and conservative Muslims.” While separation of church and state is a bedrock principle of American democracy, the article says, “the international Brotherhood preaches that religion and politics cannot be separated and that governments eventually should be Islamic.”

Other facts of the case concerning the Brotherhood, as revealed by the Tribune, can be summarized in seven key points:

1. Its long-term goal is the establishment of a world-wide Islamic state.

2. It does not seek “the overthrow of the U.S. government” but wants to convert the nation to Islam so that one day Americans will choose to be governed by Islamic law.

3. It endeavors to “save” the younger generations of Muslims in the United States from “melting into the American lifestyle.”

4. Its ideologues believe “the Koran justified violence to overthrow un-Islamic governments.”

5. Its current leaders praise Palestinian and Iraqi suicide bombers, call for the destruction of Israel and assert that the U.S. has no proof that Al Qaeda was to blame for 9-11.

6. Its leaders scout mosques, Islamic classes and Muslim organizations for those “with orthodox religious beliefs consistent with Brotherhood views.”

7. Its proselytizing in the U.S. is backed financially by the Saudi Arabian government, “which shares the Brotherhood’s fundamentalist goals.”

The problem with the Tribune story is not faulty research but flawed editorial paradigm. “Muslims [are] divided on Brotherhood,” the sub-headline asserts, and the story itself suggests that the group’s goals are “controversial” and that its “hard-line views” have “alienated many moderate Muslims.” The claim that the Brotherhood is in tension or even conflict with the Islamic “mainstream” is a figment of the liberal mind, however. In reality the tenets of the Muslim Brotherhood, its methods and its goals-as enumerated by the Tribune-are in full accordance with standard Islamic teaching and practice. Such editorial slant reflects a structural problem: the refusal of the American opinion-forming elite to accept that Islam as such poses a threat, and not some allegedly aberrant variety of it.

The failure to come to grips with the message and implications of Islam, its sacred texts and teaching, its historical record and its contemporary political ambitions, is not limited to the media. It is endemic to the American elite class, which is prone to interpret the world by “Americanizing” reality. All religions are supposedly equally peaceful and tolerant, Islam is a religion, ergo it is also peaceful and tolerant. A blatant casuistic fallacy has become establishmentarian orthodoxy.

The most serious security implication of such mindset is manifest in the failure of the elite to examine the implications of Muslim immigration in the United States. It is evident that the existence of that multi-million-strong Muslim presence in the Western world is essential in providing the terrorists with the recruits, the infrastructure, the mobility, and the relative invisibility without which they would not be able to operate. Terrorist plots involving Muslim immigrants and their children or native-born converts are on the notable increase both in the United States and in Western Europe. That there is a correlation between the presence of a Muslim population in a country and the danger that it or some other Western country will be subjected to a terrorist attack is a demonstrable fact. Muslims are the only group, in Western Europe or North America, that harbors a substantial segment of individuals who share the key objectives with the terrorists, even if they do not all approve of all of their methods.

The Tribune asserts that the Brotherhood is in tension with the Muslim mainstream in America, but that claim is at odds with recent studies. In a survey of newly naturalized citizens, 90 percent of Muslim immigrants said that if there were a conflict between the United States and their country of origin, they would be inclined to support their country of origin. In Detroit 81 percent of Muslims “strongly agree” or “somewhat agree” that Shari’a should be the law of the land. This internal threat to America is increasing. Between 1987 and 1997 8 percent of all immigrants-two million-came from Muslim countries, but that proportion is rapidly increasing. While overall immigration (legal and illegal) has grown by 300 percent since 1970, growth of immigration from the Middle East has gone up 700 percent, from under 200,000 in 1970 to 1.5 million in 2000. Expected number of immigrants from the Middle East in 2010 will be 2,500,000. These figures are matched and likely to be exceeded by the number of Muslim immigrants from the Indian Sub-Continent (Pakistan, India, Bangladesh). Currently Muslims account for close to one-tenth of all naturalizations, and their birth rates exceed those of any other significant immigrant group. Even a conservative estimate of their number of three million, or one-percent of the population, has alarming security implications and the potential for disproportionate growth. A coherent long-term counter-terrorist strategy therefore must entail denying Islam the foothold inside the United States. The application of ideological and political criteria in determining the eligibility of prospective visitors or immigrants has been and remains an essential ingredient of any anti-terrorist strategy, whereby Islamic activism would be treated as eminently political rather than “religious” activity.

The problem of Muslim influx is inseparable from the phenomenon of Islam itself, and in particular from that faith’s impact on its adherents as a political ideology and a program of action. The notion that terrorism is an aberration of Islam, and not a predictable consequence of the ideology of Jihad that is inseparable from it, reflects an elite consensus that is ideological in nature and dogmatic in application. That elite consensus is flawed, and it costs lives and treasure. Three years after the worst terrorist outrage in history the “war against terror” needs to be rethought before it is effectively lost. As it is currently conceived it cannot be won.

The enemy is well aware of the opportunity. The Tribune article quotes the MAS Chicago chapter’s Web site as saying that Western secularism and materialism are evil and that Muslims should “pursue this evil force to its own lands” and “invade its Western heartland.” Ultimately the outcome of the war against terrorists will depend on our ability to halt this ongoing invasion. That will demand a more acute understanding of the nature of the threat-that the violent message of the Kuran is the problem, and not the Brotherhood’s reinterpretation of Muhammad’s “revelations.” That message is a huge problem for all Muslims. We cannot solve it for them, and we should not be asked to pretend that the Kuran is a pacifist tract. Those who submit to that faith must solve the problem they set themselves.

Muslim immigrants to America may draw very different things from their religion, its scripture and traditions, but anti-infidel violence is a hardy perennial. The challenge is how to prevent theocratic terror from sheltering behind secular-liberal toleration. While it is too much to hope that our elites will become pro-Christian any time soon, for the sake of survival they should rethink the refusal to legislate the practice of any religion in any way. Islam should be treated as a special case because it is, on its own admission, much more than “just a religion.” It needs to be understood as, and subjected to the same supervision and legal restrains that apply to other cults prone to violence, and to violent political hate groups whose avowed aim is the destruction of our order of life.

Muslim activists in non-Muslim countries invoke those institutions when they clamor for every kind of indulgence for their own beliefs and customs. They demand full democratic privileges to organize and propagate their views, while acknowledging to each other that, given the power to do so, they would impose their own beliefs and customs, and eliminate all others. Once it is accepted that “true Islam” does not recognize a priori the right of any other religion or world outlook to exist-least of all the atheistic secular humanism-a serious anti-terrorist strategy will finally become possible.

September 13, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

The media in the United States have been oddly fastidious in failing to report one aspect of last week’s horror in Beslan: that several Russian girls were raped by Muslim terrorists in front of their parents and classmates. The failure to report rapes in the Russian school was at odds with the eagerness of American journalists, a decade ago, to report ad nauseam on the entirely fictitious “rape camps” supposedly run by Bosnian Serbs in which Muslim women were allegedly subjected to similar degradation.

That Muslim propagandists and their Western abettors should have resorted to this particular whopper is especially galling in view of Islam’s encouragement of violence against women in general, and its explicit blessing of rape of captive non-Muslim women by Muslims in particular. The behavior of Chechen terrorists in Beslan, disgusting in every gory detail by the standards of civilized humanity, was justified by the tenets of Islam and by the personal example of the cult’s inventor, Muhammad.

Having established himself as the ruler of Medina, Muhammad attacked the Jewish tribe of Banu-‘l-Mustaliq in December of A.D. 626. His followers slaughtered many Jewish tribesmen and looted thousands of their camels and sheep. They also kidnapped 500 of their women. The night after the battle Muhammad and his brigands staged an orgy of rape. As one of the brigands, Abu Sa’id Khudri, later remembered, a legal problem needed to be resolved first: In order to obtain ransom from the surviving Jews for the captive women, Muslims had pledged not to violate them:

We were lusting after women and chastity had become too hard for us, but we wanted to get the ransom money for our prisoners. So we wanted to use the Azl [coitus interruptus]. We asked the Prophet about it and he said: “You are not under any obligation not to do it like that.”

Having ethnically cleansed and robbed of property all but one of three Jewish clans in Medina, in A.D. 627 Muhammad decided to deal with the last, Banu Qurayzah. He offered the men conversion as an alternative to death. Upon their unsurprising refusal, some 900-exact numbers are unknown-were decapitated, one by one, in a ditch surrounding their encampment, in front of their women and children. Muhammad’s Einsatzgruppen worked hard: Torches had to be lit so that the slaughter could be accomplished in one day. The women, thus widowed or orphaned, were raped that same night. Muhammad chose as his concubine one Raihana bint Amr, whose father and husband were both slaughtered before her eyes only hours earlier. (Such treatment of the victims had been duly sanctioned by a prophetic revelation in the Kuran.)

In his early years, as a powerless and often ridiculed outsider in Mecca, Muhammad had enumerated the series of temptations which could enslave human beings: The passion for women, the desire for male children, the thirst for gold and silver, spirited horses, and the possession of cattle and land (Kuran, 3:12). Once enthroned in Medina as the head of a theocratic statelet, he wanted to possess them all. Muhammad freely admitted that two things in the world, women and perfume, attracted him-so much so that he departed from his own laws in pursuit of both. Contrary to his own regulations he had at least 15 wives (some sources claim up to 25). The youngest was Aisha, who was seven years old when Muhammad-44 years her senior-“married” her. Two years later, 53-year-old Muhammad consummated this liaison and raped the girl of nine left under his control.

The sordid story of Muhammad’s “marriage” to Aisha reflected a mind-set and a lifestyle. Rape of enslaved women came naturally to Muhammad. A Christian slave woman by the name of Maryah aroused his passion for nights on end, which provoked a rebellion in his harem. Divine assistance was, in the end, needed to restore order in the household, with the Kuranic verse duly advising Muhammad not to restrain himself from “that which Allah has made lawful” (66:1–3).

Even more scandalous was the case of Zeinab, the wife of Zayd, Muhammad’s adopted son. Lusting after her, Muhammad ordered Zayd to divorce her and took Zeinab as yet another wife. The deal was soon sanctioned by another revelation from Allah: “there should not be any fault in the believers, touching the wives of their adopted sons, when they have accomplished what they would of them” (36:37).

These examples indicate that the status of women in Islam is comparable to that of the human rights in Cuba: theoretically exalted, deplorable in practice. The sources of true Islam-the Kuran and Hadith-provide the basis for theory and subsequent Shari’a practice regarding the role of women. When a judge in Pakistan recently sentenced a young woman to death for “adultery” by stoning after she had been raped by her husband’s brother, he had merely followed the Kuranic law. The fact the woman, Zafran Bibi, was raped was of no consequence: She was still guilty of “having intercourse outside of marriage.”

Violence against women is also condoned, even mandated, in Islam. Allah mandates that the disobedient wives are to be beaten (4:34). As the authoritative Azhar University scholars in Cairo explain, “the Qur’an bestows on man the right to straighten her out by way of punishment and beating, provided he does not break her bones nor shed blood.” Physical violence against one’s wife is divinely ordained and practically advised in Islam. In Muhammad’s rendering of the story of the righteous Job, Allah ordered him to beat his wife: “Take in thine hand a branch and smite therewith and break not thine oath” (38:44).

Some Muslim apologists claim that the Islamic teaching and practice is in line with the findings of clinical psychology. Beating is beneficial to them, we are told, because “women’s rebelliousness (nushuz) is a medical condition” based either on her masochistic delight in being beaten and tortured or sadistic desire to hurt and dominate her husband. Either way,

beating is her remedy. So the Qur’anic command: ‘banish them to their couches, and beat them’ agrees with the latest psychological findings in understanding the rebellious woman. This is one of the scientific miracles of the Qur’an, because it sums up volumes of the science of psychology about rebellious women (The Australian Minaret, Australian Federation of the Islamic Councils, November 1980, p.10).

Islam stands or falls with the person of Muhammad, a flawed man by the standards of his own society, as well as those of the Old and New Testaments (both of which he acknowledged as divine revelation). He was flawed even by his new law, of which he claimed to be the divinely appointed medium and custodian. The horror unleashed by Chechen terrorists on Russian children in Beslan, and the rape of adolescent girls in particular, is the fruit of Muhammad’s example.

The problem of Islam, and the problem of the rest of the world with Islam, is in its claim that the words and acts of Muhammad provide the universally valid standard of morality and behavior for all time. Islam, in Muhammad’s texts and its codification, discriminates against women. It is extremely offensive. Those who submit to that faith must solve the problem they set themselves. Islam further discriminates against all “unbelievers.” Until the petrodollars support a Kuranic revisionism that does not, we must go for it with whips and scorpions, hammer and tongs.

September 9, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

By “common heritage” we mean the underlying unity of the Eastern and Western wings of the Christian civilization-long split by the tragedy of the Great Schism, and now threatened by the rot of disbelief, Christophobic norms and functional nihilism rampant throughout the Western world, but still one.

This beautiful part of the world is an especially apt spot from which to contemplate such unity. Here in Northern California the expansion of the West, the Latin Church-embodied in the conquistadors and missionaries from Spain-achieved its maximum geographic outreach some 250 years ago near San Francisco. Not long thereafter, the eastward expansion of the Orthodox Church, embodied in Russian monks, hunters, traders and sea-farers, stopped at the same location, Marin Headlands. The meeting point of the Catholic move northward along the Pacific coastline by the Spanish and the Orthodox move southward along the same coastline by the Russians, marked the termination of the expansion of the Western and Eastern wings of the Christian Civilization. (I would not go so far as to claim that this meeting point between the East and the West qualifies San Francisco for the title of The New Byzantium-some would say that New Sodom is more apt-but let us not exclude the possibility: miracles can and do happen.) It is therefore apt to ask, from this of all locations, what those two wings of one civilization can offer to each other today.

That the heritage needs defending is obvious. The present technological, military, and financial might of the Western world are a mere faзade. They conceal an underlying moral and spiritual weakness that may yet undermine the entire edifice. The symptoms of that malaise start with the loss of religious impulse, manifest in the fact that, in today’s Britain, France, Belgium, and Germany, more people pray in mosques on Fridays than in churches on Sundays. Unbelief and unconventional sects that are “Christian” in name only are on the rise in America. The loss of a sense of place and history experienced by millions of Westerners goes hand-in-hand with the emergence of the European Union, a transnational hyper-state in Europe, and the quest for global dominance by the political duopoly in the United States. Both share the same distaste for traditional societies and cultures. Globalism destroys the remnants of the old order, and causes drastic demographic change within the West. Europe is dying. North Americans of European descent are reproducing below replacement levels and, within a decade, will start the precipitous decline that has already taken place in Europe. By allowing vast Third World immigrant subcultures to emerge within their societies, the Western nations have permitted the emergence of an alternative social and political structure, of which Islamic terrorism is but one consequence. In both America and Europe, multiculturalism has ensured that Western nations have lost the capacity to define and defend themselves vis-а-vis other civilizations. Muslims, in particular, have profited. Their utter disdain for the secular-democratic institutions of their host countries notwithstanding, they gladly invoke those institutions and demand democratic privileges to organize and propagate their views, while knowing that-given the power to do so-they would impose their own beliefs and customs and eliminate all others, on pain of death.

All of these symptoms of Western decay are compounded by the visceral antipathy that some segments of the post-Christian elites in the Western world feel for the Orthodox tradition, culture, and spirituality. The geopolitical context of the Yugoslav crisis of the 1990s, in particular, cannot be understood without some grasp of the cultural context that has made the all-pervasive Serbophobia-the hallmark of the Western policy in the Balkans for over a decade-both legitimate and attractive.

This cultural context is mainly in the perception, on the part of the elites, that nations shaped by Orthodox Christianity belong to a tradition that is different, alien and possibly sinister. Writing in “Chronicles” seven years ago, James Jatras noted that the “odd consistency” of the reaction of the West to Orthodoxy and Orthodox cultures is a kind of prejudice based on ignorance, fear, an unreasoning phobia that goes beyond mere anti-Serbian, anti-Russian, anti-Greek sentiment. Pravoslavophobia, he called it, putting the emphasis squarely on the distinctive difference created by the incarnation of the Orthodox faith in human cultures.

But is it not possible, one may ask, that the hostile reactions to Orthodoxy by the Western elite class are not necessarily “prejudices,” in other words that they are not caused by their misunderstanding of that tradition but, quite the contrary, that such reactions are due to their accurate assessment that that tradition is an obstacle to the realization of their political, economic, and cultural preferences in the modern world? Is it not the case that the forces of modernity regard any attempt to bridge the gap between heart and mind as inherently subversive? Indeed, the heart of the matter, as my friend Vincent Rossi has said, is a matter of the heart, or, more precisely, a matter of a schism in the soul of modern man:

“The key to the problem of Orthodoxy and Orthodox cultures like Serbia, Greece or Russia being heard, understood and respected in the modern world lies above all in the fact of schism. But this schism is not primarily that of church organizations, such as the Roman Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church, or of cultural, political and historical entities, such as the “Greek East” and the “Latin West.” The primary schism, however, the schism as it exists today in its most acute form, is a schism of the mind from the heart and the heart from the mind.”

When magnified across time and history, and multiplied in generations and cultures, Rossi points out, this schism is a vast shaper of souls, creating impenetrability and fear and hostility. The modern world, called “Western” because its genesis lay in the “emancipation” of the West from traditional religious restraints through the rationalism, humanism and secularism of the Enlightenment, has created a culture whose values are dominated by a rationalist-humanist-secularist world-view that alienates mind from heart, and gives priority to mind over heart. The Orthodox world, by contrast, is not shaped by the values and patterns of modernity, much less post-modernity, but rather by traditional cultures that resist rationalistic humanism. That resistance is perceived, by the Western elite class, as subversive and dangerous. They hate Orthodoxy because it has at least the potential of fanning the dormant embers of revival and resistance in their own societies, which must not be allowed.

That sentiment can explain the reluctance of American and West European officialdom, even in these post-9-11 times, to call Chechen child-murdering terrorists just that, terrorists. It is along these tracks that the decision-makers in Western capitals have acquired a bias in Balkan affairs that by now goes way beyond any one piece of policy, and falls totally outside the parameters of rational debate. That is why in Serbia five years ago they carried out a premeditated aggression on par with anything engineered from Berlin in 1939 or 1941, and in Kosovo they criminally aided and abetted destruction of Orthodox Christian shrines, and the illegal secession by a lawless minority that, once completed, will render many European borders tentative. That is why in Croatia they assisted the most monumental ethnic cleansing operation in post-1945 Europe, and in Bosnia-Herzegovina they opened the floodgates of Jihad to the heart of Europe.

“Rational” reasons are insufficient to explain such premeditatedly duplicitous policy. The answer is in the desire of the ruling elite to use the Balkans as a testing ground for the emerging global empire. They are repeating the folly of the West that is exactly 800 years old this year-the sack of Constantinople during the infamous Fourth Crusade-and this is one of the many important anniversaries in 2004 that are passing almost unnoticed. The Franks did not understand that New Rome was the guardian and protector of the West. The treachery of the Crusaders opened the way for the Ottoman onslaught against Europe that did not stop until it reached Vienna.

Today, the same confrontation continues on a much larger scale. Its consequence, the price of the emerging post-modern global empire, is the obliteration of the ethnic identity of peoples, their special color and uniqueness, in the loss of diversity of social evolution that goes side by side with the diminishing diversity of nature. At home the ultimate price of empire is the death of the very people and civilization of the society that is cajoled onto the self-destructive path of imperial over-reach. As Sam Francis has warned,

“not only the destruction of self-government and republican liberty, not only the absorption of independent institutions by organizations no longer under the control of those whose lives they regulate, not only the transference of loyalties and commitments to strange peoples and places with whom we have no connection, and not only perpetual war for perpetual peace are the prices of the imperial path but also the eventual extinction of the very people on whose backs and bones the empire was constructed.”

The alternative is enlightened nationalism, consistent with Christianity. Some wars may have to be fought, but only those that are just and touch us personally. Reality is always more complex than we think, and the more distant it is from our own experience the less we can understand it. This is the moral basis for nonintervention, for staying out of other peoples’ problems: because we are aware of our limitations, of our inability to know what is best.

A non-interventionist foreign policy would facilitate the switch from the pernicious notion of progress to the maintenance of tradition, from the neurotically endless becoming back to being. It needs to be expressed in defending the values of a real, historical America in the teeth of its progressivist reduction to technology and intellect. In the struggle for the eternal against the temporary the Orthodox need to avoid the temptation to cocoon themselves. They should be willing to reach out to their natural allies among other Christian denominations. Of course the schism of over nine centuries is real. It involves many doctrinal and liturgical differences that cannot be eliminated by a hasty compromise, let alone by accepting the possibility of “multiple truths.” But dialogue and mutual help among Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant traditionalists is both possible and desirable. Taken separately, they are utterly powerless to fight the modernizing, relativizing cancer.

All Christians need to retain an awareness of their own fallibility when using human fallibility as an argument against the errors of the modern world. But they should also have faith that all is not lost, not yet: anti-Christian beliefs and assumptions of the elites are at odds with the majority of the people in every traditionally Christian country in Europe and America. But this majority is embattled. It is being steadily and deliberately whittled away by the continuing onslaught on “conventional morality” in schools and the media, and by the attack on the demographic structure of our societies by immigration.

The problem is compounded by an ongoing betrayal from within the Christian camp, and the conquest of many churches by Marxists, sexual perverts, and radical feminists. These people have their secular agendas, their political and social objectives; that they have no serious faith of any kind goes almost without saying.

The true Christian tradition has saved and sheltered many Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant traditionalists from the arrogant belief that people can solve all the mysteries of the universe by their own unaided intellects. Those traditionalists are our natural allies on the side of common decency, traditional values, and Truth. They should be prepared to endure sacrifices. Instead of being thrown to the lions, they may be subjected-by some judicial mechanism dictated by bureaucrats-to mandatory “sexual diversity orientation sessions,” or feminist-led pro-abortionist “right-to-choose education workshops,” after which the refusal to recant could lead to “therapy” and forced medication. This scenario is not farfetched on either side of the Atlantic. Be prepared for martyrdom.

Is a political theory of Christian resistance possible? Perhaps; the key is to draw the distinction between “liberal democracy” that promises freedom “from” things, and Christian liberty that upholds freedom “for” things. This model should be broad enough to provide the consensual platform for different Christian traditions. To regain the war-ravaged remnants of “Christendom,” its embattled majority of manipulated citizens needs help to become conscious of the power that it still possesses, but to that end it should be admitted by every Christian that others-people outside his particular tradition-may share Christian virtues and lead good lives. They need to hang together, in these trying times, or else they will most assuredly hang separately.

Dr. Trifkovic gave a longer version of this piece in a speech at Jackson, CA, on September 7, 2004.

September 1, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

General Alu Alkhanov, Chechen leader who supports his republic’s autonomy within Russia, won a presidential election held last Sunday with over 73 percent of ballots cast. He will succeed Akhmad Kadyrov, another Kremlin loyalist who was assassinated in May. Alkhanov’s closest rival, Movsur Khamidov-who also opposes separatists-received just under 9 percent of the vote.

The government’s claim that the turnout was 85 percent appeared exaggerated, but the fact that the election passed peacefully-in spite of earlier warnings by Islamist separatists that they would disrupt the proceedings-represents a success for President Vladimir Putin’s policy of passing authority to trusted local officials and gradually withdrawing Russian security forces. He will now find it easier than before to resist calls from Russian nationalist circles and figures linked to the military to abolish Chechen autonomy and appoint a “governor-general” to run the province instead.

Chechen separatists predictably dismissed the election as fraudulent, but international monitors and independent analysts concede that there was no overt evidence of ballot rigging or voter intimidation. “It was not an election to make an EU country proud,” a Moscow-based European diplomat commented, “but considering the climate of fear in this war-ravaged land, it was a success.” The election was monitored by representatives from the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Arab League, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Alkhanov has promised to improve the republic’s human rights record and suggested that he might consider a pardon for rebels who put down their arms and denounce the separatist cause. He made clear, however, that he is not negotiating with separatist rebels now and has no intention of doin so in the future: “We will finish the rebels,” he said, “we will eradicate them forever.” To their leader Aslan Maskhadov the message from Alkhanov was uncompromizing: he should “apologize to the people whom he plunged into war and face a court.”

Alkhanov’s confident tone reflects a major shift on the ground in Chechnya since Russian forces re-entered the republic five years ago, following a Chechen incursion into the neighboring republic of Dagestan and a series of bomb attacks on apartment buildings in Russia that killed 300 people. His position was strengthened recently when Moscow agreed to a key request Alkhanov had made before the election: to give the Chechen government control over oil extraction, enabling it to use substantial revenues to fund local economic development. Alkhanov says that within three to four years oil extraction will rise from today’s two million tons per year to 5 million tons, which would increase the budget of the Grozny authorities by $100 million. In addition Russia’s central government will allocate $200 million annually to boost Chechnya’s development.

Alkhanov’s life will be in danger, and separatists have pledged to kill him just as they had killed Khadyrov. This they may well achieve, but their increased reliance on terrorism as a substitute for military activity reflects the fact that the war in Chechnya is effectively over-and the Jihadist side has lost. The rebel movement has been split and turned against itself. Many former fighters have accepted amnesty and denounced their former comrades-in-arms. Russian forces are down to 75,000 and decreasing.

That a Jihadist-infested hotspot in a sensitive area is on the road to political solution should be considered good news for the U.S. administration. That observers from the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference have accepted the Chechen election as legitimate should have been welcomed in Washington as a sign that they also see the war as effectively over. The Bush administration was nevertheless quick to criticize the election, claiming it had “serious flaws.” State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said in Washington that it “did not meet international standards for a democratic election,” and warned that “Mr. Alkhanov now faces the difficult task of broadening support among the people of Chechnya, of bringing pluralism into the political process.” He also called for “an end to human rights abuses in Chechnya by all parties,” and urged that “those who committed such abuses be held accountable.”

The Bush administration’s attitude is at odds with the realist position taken by our European allies. Meeting with Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Tuesday, French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schrцder voiced their support for his policies. Chechnya would always remain a part of Russia, Putin told his guests, and pointed out that the people have made their choice: “If the Chechen people came out to vote, that means they wanted to decide their republic’s future. No one dragged them by the scruff of their necks or their hair to the voting stations.” Schrцder responded by saying that “the Chechen conflict must be resolved politically, the way that Putin has said it would.” Chirac went even further by declaring that he supported Putin in seeking a political solution that will preserve Russia’s territorial integrity.

The American attitude is flawed, bizarre, and detrimental to U.S. interests.Mr. Boucher’s hint that greater “pluralism in the political process” demands the inclusion of those who pursue violence in that process is something the United States quite rightly refuses to allow in Iraq. His righteous insistence that all those who committed human rights abuses should be held accountable sounds hollow in the aftermath of the Iraqi prison scandal. If the Administration is so concerned about “serious flaws” in foreign elections and insists on “international standards for a democratic election,” it should have declared invalid the referendum in April 2002 that gave Pakistan’s ruler and self-appointed president, General Pervez Musharraf, an extension of his “mandate” for a further five years. If Washington thinks that 73 percent of votes for Alkhanov last Sunday was suspiciously high, it is curious that Musharraf’s “victory” with over 97 percent of the vote was accepted at face value. (Of that referendum the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan declared that irregularities “exceeded its worst fears.”)

Musharraf was forgiven because the United States still looks upon him as the ally in the war against terror. By any token Vladimir Putin should be seen as a much more important and reliable ally in the same struggle. His constant complaint that the U.S. is reluctant to call Chechen terrorists by their right name is valid and needs to be addressed in the spirit of appreciation of Russia’s importance to the global struggle we all face. The problem has acquired new urgency with the terrorist bombing in Moscow on Tuesday evening and simultaneous crashes of two Russian airliners last week that Putin says is indicative of a connection between Chechen rebels and international terrorism.

Putin’s complaint of American hypocrisy over Chechnya is not new. The Clinton Administration effectively supported the separatists in the late 1990s, even to the extent of blocking a proposed $500 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Export-Import Bank to a Russian oil company that was going to be used to purchase American-made equipment.

The proponents of a tough line on Moscow in Washington-notably Deputy Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld Paul Wolfowitz-were able to establish the continuity of such policy under Bush. They rejected any strategic paradigm shift in the light of terrorist attacks. In the immediate aftermath of 9-11 the U.S. ambassador in Moscow, Alexander Vershbow, stated that the U.S. has “long recognized that Osama bin Laden and other international networks have been fueling the flames in Chechnya.” Only weeks later, however, he was instructed to declare that the U.S. would continue opposing Russian policies in Chechnya. The ubiquitous Mr. Boucher commented that “the lack of a political solution and the number of credible reports of massive human rights violations, we believe, contribute to an environment that is favorable toward terrorism.”

Such rhetoric did abate towards the end of of 2001, while Moscow’s full cooperation was needed in getting the Central Asian republics on board for the Afghan war. A diplomatic concession was made to Moscow with the State Department’s public admission that Chechen “freedom fighters” were linked to the Osama’s group. It seemed that the U.S. finally realized that it is impossible to fight Osama and be soft on Basayev. As soon as the first phase of the war in Afghanistan was over, however, the old ambiguity was back. Exactly four months after 9-11, the same Mr. Boucher accused the Russian forces in Chechnya of “disproportionate use of force against civilian facilities” and “further human rights violations.” Furthermore, State Department officials received Ilyas Akhmadov, self-styled foreign minister in Chechnya’s separatist leadership. The Russians expressed “amazement” that the officials would meet with the people “whose direct links with Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda are being proven with constantly emerging, irrefutable evidence,” but to no avail.

When in November 2001 President Bush reiterated his call on European officials to help fight the “dark threat” represented by Al-Qaeda, Putin warned that “double standards” in the international fight against terrorism could split the global coalition and warned that “there cannot be good and bad terrorists, our terrorists and others.”

Terrorist attacks in the U.S. have stopped after 9-11 but in Russia they have continued to claim a steady toll over the years. In May 2002 a bomb blast killed at least 41 people, including 17 children, in the southwestern town of Kaspiisk near the Chechen border. In October 2002 over 700 hostages were seized by Chechen attackers in a Moscow theater and 120 died in the rescue operation. In December 2002 a dual suicide bombing attack on the government building in the Chechen capital, Grozny, killed 83 people.

On May 14, 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell’s trip to Moscow was accompanied by a suicide bombing in the Chechen capital that killed 20 people, only days after a similar attack killed 59 in northern Chechnya. The parallel with three suicide bombings in Riyadh (May 12) that killed at least 29 people, including seven Americans, was obvious. “The signature in both places is absolutely identical,” President Putin declared, but Mr. Powell refused to accept that Moscow was engaged in the same global anti-terror campaign as the U.S. Only weeks later, on August 1, 2003, a hospital in the city of Mozdok was destroyed in a suicide attack killing 42 people.

The Russians are particularly irritated by the willingness of the United States to offer asylum to top Chechen leaders thay accuse of masterminding terrorist attacks, most recently on August 5 of this year when the U.S. granted asylum to the aforementioned Mr. Akhmadov, foreign minister in the separatist government of Aslan Maskhadov from 1997 to 1999. Moscow reiterated its claim that Akhmadov is a terrorist and again accused the U.S. of “double standards.” Akhmadov himself fled to the US two years earlier and was also granted asylum here.

People like Maskhadov and Akhmadov are a danger to the national security of this country. Under them and their ilk, gangsterism and radical Islam went arm-in-arm in Chechnya just as they did in Bosnia and Kosovo. While they were in power, following Russian withdrawal in 1996, hundreds of Westerners and Russians-including women and children-had been taken hostage. Ransom was extracted through the use of videos that record torture and dismemberment. The Chechen leaders, like their Bosnian Muslim and Kosovo Albanian counterparts, enjoyed the support of Islamic militants from abroad, including Osama bin Laden’s network.

The harmful ambiguity of U.S. policy on Chechnya needs to be ended immediately. It compromizes the “war against terror,” jeopardizes national security, and gains nothing at all-least of all any brownie points for the U.S. in the Muslim world. It is high time for the U.S. government to accept that people like Maskhadov, Akhmadov, and their supporters in Russia and abroad are not just “separatists” nor “militants.” They are terrorists, and should be treated accordingly.

August 28, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

The term “Jewish settlements in the West Bank” evokes images of prefabricated houses and trailers, of bearded men with yamulkas and Uzis, of treacherous access roads surrounded by barbed wire, roadblocks and heavily armed Israeli soldiers.

Maale Adumim has none of that. It is a “settlement” only in the legal-technical sense, because it is situated five miles east of Jerusalem and therefore falls outside the “green line” (Israel’s pre-1967 borders).

Originally founded by a tiny group of settlers in 1976 it expanded significantly after 1982, when the Israeli government declared the area to be “state land” although it was legally owned by the Palestinian residents of the neighboring village of Abu Dis. From 1982 onwards, as the colony expanded, the Jahalin Bedouin who had been living there were transferred to another, greatly inferior site which was declared as unfit for human habitation by Israeli environmentalists.

When I visited Maale Adumim with David Hartman and Tom Fleming last year it looked and felt like a well established city of 30,000. Its middle and lower-middle-class residents were living in townhouses and single family homes more solidly built than most new subdivisions in the U.S. Many commute to office jobs in West Jerusalem on a secure four-lane highway, while others work on a massive industrial estate and office park next to the “settlement.” The family we visited and their neighbors had landscaped gardens, two-car garages, and a great deal of confidence that they were there to stay for ever.

Their community was in the news recently when the government of Ariel Sharon announced plans to expand Maale Adumim and a few other West Bank locations by building a thousand new housing units for Jewish settlers. On August 17 the Israeli government published formal tenders for the contract, and a week later bulldozers were already in action north of Adumim. Needless to say, the decision violated Israel’s undertaking under President George W. Bush’s “Roadmap” not to do any such thing; the document mandated freezing of all construction in all settlements, regardless of size.

The expansion of settlements fits in with Mr. Sharon controversial plan to withdraw unilaterally from the Gaza strip and the northern tip of the West Bank (“northern Samaria”), but at the same time to strengthen Israel’s hold on the choicest pieces of real estate in the West Bank. His plan makes a lot of geopolitical sense if his goal is to create a Greater Israel-expanded well beyond the Green Line-and to carve up the Palestinian remnant into unconnected enclaves. He loses nothing by giving up Gaza-overpopulated, poor, and violent-while his design in the West Bank may have historic significance.

The narrow belt of territory between East Jerusalem and the Jordan, where Adumim stands, is strategically the most important piece of land in the entire region. It may easily cut the West Bank in two, severing a territorial link between Bethlehem and Ramallah essential for the establishment of a Palestinian state. Adumim and neighboring settlements of Gilo, Efrata and Beitar already separate Arab East Jerusalem from its natural hinterland and, coupled with the emerging Fence of Separation, will seal it off hermetically from the West Bank. Its natural expansion has already stopped, and the dream of its ever becoming the capital of a Palestinian state will become an impossibility even if that state comes into being one day. Sharon’s current bid for a non-negotiable preemptive outcome may well make the two-state solution impossible in any event.

Predictably the Israeli announcement caused fury in the Arab world and widespread criticism in Europe. It encountered no serious opposition from Washington, however; its statement that it was “withholding judgment” echoed around the Middle East like a rifle shot. American envoy Elliot Abrams, who visited Israel earlier this month, said that a confrontation with Sharon on settlement expansion would not be in the Administration’s “best interests.”

The lack of serious American response was especially remarkable since Sharon’s willingness to remove unauthorized settlements, and not to expand any existing ones, used to be cited in Washington as a key test of his credibility. Last June Sharon declared that ?the rule of law and order reigns in Israel, and we are immediately beginning the evacuation of the unauthorized outposts,? but now he thinks that he can do pretty much as he pleases under the cover of the U.S. presidential election-and he is right. Israeli commentator Uri Avnery summed it up recently when he called the months before the American presidential election as “a kind of open season for Israel”:

Israeli governments naturally time their most controversial moves to coincide with the American elections. The more closely fought the elections, the more attractive it is for Israeli planners and adventurers . . . [Sharon] is basing his present policy on the same calculation. President George W. Bush is fighting for his political life. He will not dare to provoke a quarrel with Israel at this juncture. So from now until November, Sharon can do much as he pleases.

No less outspoken was a column by Aluf Benn in Ha’aretz on August 22. Noting that the New York Times reported that the U.S. would support Sharon’s position on settlement expansion, Benn wondered if the Times report “was ‘ordered’ by Sharon’s aides, to show the administration’s support for him after the defeat in the Likud”: “The newspaper is no less reliable than an official statement and spares the administration the need to explain itself to its Arab and European friends.”

(Voicing opinions such as Benn’s and Avnery’s here at home can be somewhat tricky, but on these issues Israel is a haven of free speech compared to the United States.)

On the domestic front Mr. Sharon hopes that by expanding West Bank settlements and proceeding with the construction of the security fence he will appease his critics on the Israeli Right who object to his plan to evacuate settlers from the Gaza strip. Having received American support for the fence and assurances that he can keep parts of the West Bank during his visit to Washington last spring, he looks well poised to effect a new reality on the ground well before the winner of the presidential race gets round to the problem of Israel-Palestine-about a year from now.

The strength of Sharon’s position is reflected in the fact that his only political obstacles of any consequence right now are members of his own Likud party who accuse him of being too soft on the Palestinians. He would like to offer a grand coalition to Labor, even though the majority of his party’s general assembly reject the proposal. He now hopes to obtain their support, because such government would enjoy clear confidence of the Israeli electorate and enhance Sharon’s negotiating legitimacy. Labor would probably demand a more moderate platform for the future new round of “peace talks,” but it would be neither able or willing to dismantle the fence or to return the enhanced West Bank settlements to their original condition.

The gloom and despair on the Arab side were summed up by Beirut’s moderate English-language The Daily Star (August 18), which said that Palestinians and Arabs have lost all hope in the road map concept, and in the underlying idea that the United States can be a credible diplomatic interlocutor:

The continued American-Israeli dance over Israel’s settlements and continued colonization of the occupied Palestinian territories is a central reason why tens of millions of people in the Middle East so vigorously reject any dealings with Israel and angrily oppose American Mideast policies . . . It is impossibly unrealistic for Washington to expect to engage Arab governments and people on issues like reform, weapons proliferation and anti-terror policies while it plays deception games with the world when it comes to Israel’s settlements and colonies.

What is happening in Israel-Palestine now needs to be seen in the context of the radical reversal of previous U.S. policies performed by Mr. Bush last April, when he endorsed Sharon’s intention to maintain major Jewish settlements in the West Bank in perpetuity, and when he ruled out the Palestinians’ right of return to lands lost to Israel when it was created in 1948.

That Washington will accept his fait accompli regardless of the outcome of next November’s election should not be doubted. In doing so it will not serve the best interest of the United States, and-by making the two-state solution even less likely than before-it will not enhance Israel’s prospects for long-term survival. Sharon is drunk on his own hubris, but friends don’t let friends drink and drive.

August 27, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

Looking at the stand-off in Najaf last week, we concluded that Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani-who was in London undergoing medical treatment at that time-remains the key both to resolving the immediate problem posed by Moqtada al-Sadr and to the long-term task of establishing a stable political structure in Baghdad that would allow the United States to exit Iraq in the foreseeable future.

Sistani’s spectacular return to Najaf at the head of a convoy with thousands of supporters and his promise to end three weeks of fighting centering on the Imam Ali shrine prove that he has accepted the challenge of statesmanship. Even the killing of a number of Sistani’s supporters on Thursday afternoon, in Najaf and in Kufa, may additionally enhance his standing: the blood of martyrs, in Shia Islam, has always been the cement that helped bond the community.

The elderly cleric may soon be able to demand from Washington the terms of a settlement in Iraq, based on the principle of majority rule, that will be strongly advantageous to his Shia followers.

Everyone was relieved by Sistani’s arrival. The Iraqi government was beginning to look foolish by threatening decisive action against al-Sadr for days and failing to deliver. Sistani’s promised attempt to find a political solution offers a welcome fudge. The governor of Najaf, Adnan al-Zurufi, said that government forces would halt operations, while Prime Minister Ayad Allawi promised that al-Sadr will be given safe passage and confirmed that a 24-hour truce would be observed by the Government “to reinforce our commitment to peace.”

Al-Sadr also sees the wisdom of cooperating. His spokesman told al-Jazeera TV that his “Mahdi Army” militia would suspend fighting, and he has called on his supporters to join Sistani’s. He is now seeking to act as a legitimate part of the broader Shia mainstream. His position until yesterday was tricky: his followers were suffering casualties from U.S. air attacks, and suffering martyrdom amidst the ruins of the mosque was not part of his plans for the future. To emerge undefeated is a victory in itself and likely to strengthen his position among the poor, young, and pious in Baghdad’s and Basra’s Shia neighborhoods.

Sistani’s first step was to demand that Najaf and Kufa be declared weapons-free cities. He wants all foreign forces and the Iraqi army withdrawn from them, leaving security to the police. If the U.S. and Baghdad comply, as they probably will, he will become the master of the Shia heartland, with those two key cities being off-limits to the U.S. military and the Iraqi National Guard alike.

Washington and the Iraqi government are in no position to refuse. Sistani can treat every half-reasonable offer he makes from now on as an implicit take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum. He knows that President Bush and his team need peace and quiet on the Iraqi front at almost any price, now that the election campaign promises to be as tight as that four years ago.

He also knows that Allawi is loath to be forced into a military showdown. His forces are still not up to the task, a bloodshed would terminally alienate Iraq’s Shia majority, and a debacle would be the end of him and his team. In any event, the events in Najaf have shown that Allawi and his government are not the masters of their country any more than the Provisional Authority had been prior to June 25. The escalation in Najaf that has taken place earlier this week was likely to have been a strictly American decision, made for military reasons by the Marine command on the ground and politically supported by the U.S. Ambassador in Baghdad John Negroponte.

The Iranian-born Sistani is one of only five living grand ayatollahs and the most senior Shia cleric in Iraq, with the coveted title of a marja, akin to that of a Patriarch in Eastern Christianity. He had adopted a cautious approach in the aftermath of Iraq’s occupation, and his calls on the Shias not to resist the occupation forces was rightly seen as essential to the ability of the U.S. to keep insurrection from spreading out of control. But he has grown impatient by Washington’s attempts to promote unelected bodies as a substitute for direct elections, and his ultimate price to be exacted from Washington is likely to be “free elections and not appointments,” as he put it last June.

After this week’s events it is certain that Sistani will not allow Iraq’s majority Shiites to be disenfranchised again, as they had been under the British in the 1920s, and under Saddam. Since the Kurds and Sunni Arabs are likely to reject any constitutional formula that would give control of the central authority in Baghdad to a Shiite cleric or his trustees, the optimal solution for the United States is to stop insisting on a united Iraq. It should promote extensive decentralization based on three self-governing entities-Kurdish in the north, Shiite in the south, Sunni in the middle-within a loose framework of Iraq’s external borders. That would be a more elegant and more viable solution than any other scenario currently on offer. Since Ayatollah Sistani may not settle for less anyway, after Najaf it may also be the only possible solution.

August 20, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

In the European Union there are currently 25 member-countries. As the growth and maturing of the Brussels-based superstate proceed more or less unimpeded, all of those countries still have national governments. There are over three hundred ministers serving in those governments, belonging to some fifty political parties that exercise power on their own or in coalitions. Only one of those ministers-one third of one percent of the total-and only one of those political parties have taken action to protest the recent sentencing of a Swedish Protestant pastor, Ake Green, to one month in jail for allegedly offending “gays” by quoting the Bible on the subject of sodomy.

The case itself is outrageous. In a sermon delivered in Stockholm last year Rev. Green described homosexuality as “abnormal, a horrible cancerous tumour on the body of society,” which was enough to ensure his conviction before a Swedish court for inciting hatred against a minority group. The charges were based on Sweden’s hate crimes law (“National Law Against Incitement and Unfavorable Speech”) based on the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union’s Constitution, and specifically not allowing any exclusions for “church sermons.” The prosecutor in the case, Kjell Yngvesson, stated matter-of-factly that “collecting Bible cites on this topic . . . does makes this hate speech.” During the trial he played a tape of the sermon apparently made by “gay” activists with the intention of prosecuting Green. The defentant’s attempt to point out the contradiction between religious freedom and freedom of speech on the one hand, and the rights of homosexuals to be protected against discrimination on the other, was not accepted.

In matters of “lifestyle” and public morals Sweden is Europe’s California: what happens in Malmц today will be the norm in Milan or Madrid tomorrow. Yet the matter attracted no attention of a myriad of bureaucrats in Brussels and Strassbourg supposedly charged with protecting “human rights.” Its implications were either ignored or not commented upon by the officials of member-countries old and new. They appeared unconcerned that the Swedish law clearly violates the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights and placed Sweden on level with China, with the state defining which theology is permissible.

Slovakia’s Interior Minister Vladimir Palko provided the only dissenting voice among Europe’s politicians of note and influence. He raised the matter in a meeting with the Swedish Ambassador in Bratislava, Cecilia Julin, on July 13. “I object to such a verdict,” Palko told the press after the meeting. “I explained to Ms. Julin that my position was like that of Martin Luther when he said: ‘Here I stand, I can do no other.'” He suggested that the case of Rev. Green was an example of how “a left wing liberal ideology was trying to introduce tyranny and misuse the EU for this purpose.” Palko also said that the Swedish trial demonstrated why his party was justified in opposing the recent adoption of an anti-discrimination law in Slovakia. “In Europe people are starting to be put behind bars for saying what they think,” he said, thanks to such legislation.

Palko belongs to the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), a conservative member of Slovakia’s four-party ruling coalition that enjoys the support of about ten percent of the country’s voters. When I met him at a conference in Prague three months ago, everything he had to say-mainly on foreign affairs, on modern Europe, or on the future of our civilization-could have been said at a meeting of The John Randolph Club, or at a Rockford Institute conference. It was therefore unsurprising but gratifying to find out that he is a regular reader of, well familiar with the names and ideas of its regular contributors. His party colleagues are cut from the same sturdy cloth. At a press conference organized by the KDH to protest the Swedish court case the party’s chairman, Pavol Hrusovsky, stated that this was “a breach of human rights, the right to religious freedom, and the right of expression.” An open letter to the Swedish Prime Minister accompanied the statement, bearing signatures of several dozen prominent Slovak intellectuals and public figures. It stated that the Green case was “an expression of intolerant thinking, infringement of religious freedom, of freedom of speech and discrimination of the Christian identity.” The letter pointed out that Christians do not impose their worldview to anyone, homosexuals included, but insist on their right and their highest obligation to be faithful to their faith:

They expect that the societies they live in will create for them conditions for a free practising of it, including speaking of it in the public . . . The verb “to tolerate” means to respect different opinions not to agree with them. Imprisoning a Christian for his/her simple faithfulness to his/her faith will not build tolerance but may provoke pitiful acts of enmity between Christians and homosexuals. And that will not bring peace or development to the human society.

As was to be expected, Palko’s and the Christian Democrats’ protests caused a first-class political furore in Bratislava. Jozef Banбs, a member of the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union that belongs to the ruling coalition, said that Palko’s and Hrusovsky’s activities are damaging to Slovakia’s reputation and make Slovaks look “like total idiots.” Katarнna Gloncбkovб-Golev, deputy chairwoman of another ruling coalition member, the New Citizen’s Alliance, said that “all expressions of discrimination should be condemned” and especially those coming from “a representative of the Church that is an institution that should spread reconciliation and good coexistence among people.” A parliamentary deputy, Ladislav Polka, alleged that Palko’s activities exceeded the brief of this ministry, and condemned Palko’s remark that while he is Interior Minister no Slovak citizen would be prosecuted in the same manner as the Swedish preacher. Mariбn Vojtek, head of a Slovak “gay rights” group Ganymedes, joined the fray by saying that the Swedish decision should be a precedent for Slovakia as well.

The reaction from the country’s Roman Catholic establishment was restrained but firm, reflecting the Slovak bishops’ 1999 position that differentiated between those who keep their homosexual proclivities in check and those who do not. Mariбn Gavenda, spokesman of the Slovak Conference of Bishops (KBS), said that “if a priest directly offends a person, laws apply to him just like to any other person” but added that a civilian authority should not stop the Church from “calling things the right names.” He refrained from an outright condemnation of the Swedish sentence, saying that media reports about Rev. Green’s case were insufficient for him to make a considered judgment, but noted that in an oppressive atmosphere was being created by the media and by the European Union legislation: “A misuse of antidiscrimination laws can be observed, so that topics tabooed by liberal groups cannot be freely touched upon. In this sense it can be seen as a velvet tyranny.”

That tyranny is well advanced all over Europe, but the Slovak example shows that political, as well as cultural resistance is neither impossible nor futile. In the summer of 2000, Jбn Carnogursky, then chairman of the KDH and Justice Minister, advocated a clampdown on prostitution that was resisted by his more liberal colleagues. He further infuriated them by declaring that homosexuals should receive medical treatment, and that as long as he was justice minister “there would be no registered partnerships of homosexuals in Slovakia.” Another KDH official, former health minister Alojz Rakъs and head of the psychiatric ward at one of Bratislava’s largest hospitals, supported CarnogurskyД’s statement by saying that homosexuality is a curable disease and that the success rate of therapy could exceed 50 percent. In May 2001 a group of MPs acting on the KDH initiative filed a motion with Slovakia’s Constitutional Court, claiming that existing legislation allowing abortions violated Slovakia’s law on basic rights, and that case is still continuing. A month later Vladimir Palko presented a “declaration on the sovereignty of EU member states in cultural and ethical issues” to the Slovak parliament on behalf of the KDH. “After entry into the EU we want to retain the right to decide about the protection of life, family, marriage, and health,” he said. That summer the KDH successfully demanded that the Education Ministry-then run by leftist Milan Ftбcnik-stop introduction of yoga as a course in Slovak schools, claiming that the project was yet another attempt to liquidate Christianity. In July 2002 the party protested the European Parliament’s adoption of the Report on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, saying it was trying to force current and future member countries of the EU to legalize abortions and make available abortive anti-conception alternatives. As a result of such efforts Slovakia is one of the few EU countries where abortion is still an open issue.

By invoking Luther’s “Ich kann nicht anders,” Vladimir Palko reminded us of the looming martyrdom facing every self-respecting man, and Christian in particular, here in America and in Europe alike. We are at war. Its outcome will determine the future of our civilization. Its victims are millions of immortal human souls and further millions of slaughtered unborn babies. The dominant elites are ordering our society after their own image, turning it into a titillating stream of electronically generated “inputs” in which nothing is real and nothing sacred. Christians of Central and Eastern Europe understand this better than most Westerners. After their appalling experiences under Communism, they realize that each of us needs to retain an awareness of his own fallibility when using human fallibility as an argument against the errors of the modern world.

Mr. Palko and his friends show that all is not lost, not yet: anti-Christian beliefs and assumptions of the European Union, as embodied in the forward-looking Sweden, are at odds with the majority of the people in every traditionally Christian country. But this majority is embattled. It is being steadily and deliberately whittled away by the continuing onslaught in schools and the media, and most insiduously by immigration. The problem is compounded by an ongoing betrayal from within the “Christian” camp, and the conquest of many churches by anorak-wearing guitarists, sexual perverts and radical feminists on the Left, or zany Zionists on the Right. These people have their secular agendas, their political and social objectives; that they have no serious faith of any kind goes almost without saying.

Mr. Palko, let us hope, heralds the era of awakening, of realization among those of us still not tranquilized into submission that-instead of being thrown to the lions for not burning a pinch of incense-we WILL be subjected, by the EU, the UN, or the Kerry administration, to mandatory sexual diversity orientation sessions and to pro-abortionist “right-to-choose” workshops. And yes, the refusal to recant WILL lead to “therapy” and forced medication for some, jail for others. Mr. Palko reminds us that in what promises to be the awful century ahead of us, Christians should prepare for martyrdom. He also shows that Christian traditionalism CAN offer a modern, practical political theory, a contemporary model of a harmonious polity that includes free, willing obedience. Slovakia is a small country most Americans can’t show on the map (they’ll confuse it with Slovenia at best), but the model of resistance to the coming “velvet tyranny” currently being developed by its Christian Democrats promises to be broad enough to provide the consensual platform for a coalition of traditionalists from different Christian traditions.

August 18, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

Iraqi Defense Minister Hazem Shaalan has said that Iraqi troops may raid Imam Ali Shrine in Najaf in a final push to expel Shiite militants hiding there. That announcement came a day after a delegation sent to Najaf by Iraq’s ongoing National Conference failed to negotiate an end to the uprising by militants loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Shaalan said Iraqi forces were fully trained to carry out the raid and stressed that U.S. forces would not enter the shrine, which would cause an uproar among the country’s majority Shiites.

The stakes are high, and rising. Having failed to find weapons of mass destruction the Bush administration has seized gratefully on the explanation that the war was fought in order to introduce democracy to Iraq and the Arab world. But as The Daily Telegraph commented on August 16, “That excuse will crumble into dust if it turns out that all they have succeeded in doing is to introduce yet another dictator to the region.” Le Monde’s editorialist concluded that by chasing away the journalists from Najaf , the Iraqi provisional government showed that it was no better than other regimes in the region.”

Europe’s conservative commentators warn that allowing Moqtada al-Sadr to keep his hold over Najaf would discredit the government in Baghdad, and would force the United States to prolong an occupation that has already come at a high price. Italy’s leading daily Il Giornale points out that American military commanders dislike “this strange way of conducting a war, which, among uncertainties, ceasefires, negotiations and clashes, only favors the enemy . . . while U.S. soldiers continue to be killed.” Germany’s Nuernberger Zeitung concluded on Aug. 17 that Moqtada al-Sadr is a preacher of hate “who has made a fool of the transition government and the U.S. protective power more than once-but this should now be over. Prime Minister Iyad Allawi can no longer afford to be fooled by al-Sadr.” Frankfurter Allgemeine praised Allawi for calling the national conference and starting “a representative process no Arab country has ever seen.” But if Allawi does not want to be downgraded to the mayor of Baghdad, he has to deal with al-Sadr resolutely and without delay.

Liberal commentators disagree. Germany’s national radio Deutschlandfunk commented on August 16 that “Iraq needs peace and order to create democracy, it needs a government of national unity and not a provisional one with faked legitimacy. The Iraqi democracy, if there will ever be one, will be based on guns and bombs.” Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich commented in a similar vein on Aug. 15 that the foundation of interim government under Allawi is far too small, and old exiles still dominate: “They were installed by Americans and, therefore, enjoy little confidence among Iraqis. A broad spectrum of political, religious, ethnic groups, lords and representatives must be established,” but “what could be won in Baghdad is being destroyed in Najaf and Samara.”

Most analysts agree that the administration can still regain the support of the mainstream Shia establishment by “Iraqi-izing” the standoff in Najaf and at the same time avering that elections for the constitutional assembly and the national government will be held next year come what may. As has been pointed out in these pages, that government is likely to be Islamist in outlook and friendly to Iran-but that cannot be changed. There is no hope that a more secular, Western-friendly political forcea Baath with a human facewill emerge any time soon. It is therefore preferable to cultivate the devil one knows, such as Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani, than to risk the rise of violent radicals such as al-Sadr.

July 2, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

It was 90 years ago this week that a young Serb nationalist, Gavrilo Princip, assassinated Austrian-Hungarian heir to the throne, Archduke Francis Ferdinand, and his morganatic wife Sophie, during their state visit to Sarajevo. This event triggered off a diplomatic chain reaction known as the July Crisis that culminated in the outbreak of the Great War, the most tragic event in the history of mankind. That war destroyed an imperfect but on the whole decent and well-ordered world, and opened the floodgates of hell. Bolshevism, Fascism, Nazism, the second round of 1939-1945, the Holocaust, and the ruins of civilization we now live in, are all the fruits of the summer of 1914.

It is fairly common for educated non-historians who think about such matters-a dying breed-to assume that the July crisis was the result of a series of blunders and miscalculations in various Great Power courts, foreign offices, and chancelleries. Nobody wanted the war, this view goes, but like in a Greek drama forces beyond their control and understanding drove everyone into it. Implicit in this description is that the European system was so inherently unstable that a single terrorist act could fatally disrupt it.

This view is wrong. As one of the most prominent German historians of the 20th century, Fritz Fischer, demonstrated in his Griff nach der Weltmacht, the Wilhelmine establishment welcomed the prospect of war as an opportunity to make Germany the undisputed master of Europe by defeating Russia and France, expanding its colonial empire, and achieving parity with Britain as a global power. To that end Germany encouraged Austria-Hungary to issue an impossible ultimatum to Serbia blaming it for the attentat and then to attack it, with both Central Powers knowing full well that this would lead to an all-out war unless Russia climbed down at the last minute and abdicated its role as a great power.

Austria’s policy, in the aftermath of the Balkan Wars (1912-1913), lacked coherence. It reflected Vienna’s inability to devise a strategy of legitimist defense against the pressures of nationalism. To try and contain Serbia, to curtail its potential to act as a would-be Piedmont for seven million South Slav subjects of the Dual Monarchy, was a rational objective; but to do so at the risk of causing an all-European war was not. It was assumed in Vienna that ultimately the only way to eliminate the threat from Belgrade was to defeat the troublesome little neighbor in a limited preventive war, and either incorporate Serbia into the Monarchy or else reduce it to the status of a semi-autonomous vassal principality in its pre-1912 boundaries. The policy of resolving nationalist tensions within the decaying Monarchy by absorbing ever more restless Slavs into it was self-defeating in the extreme.

Even Francis Ferdinand’s trip to Sarajevo was an act of deliberate provocation. It was scheduled for St. Vitus’ Day (June 28), the anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo commemorated by all Serbs as the day of prayerful remembrance and pride. For the Hapsburg heir to the throne to come to the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina-only recently annexed to the Dual Monarchy and predominantly Serb-inhabited at that time-was as reckless as it would have been for the Prince of Wales to parade through Dublin in all state pomp on St. Patrick’s Day of that same year.

The Archduke’s death was a boon to the war party; within days the dead couple were seen as useful collateral damage in the broader design pursued by the Chief of the Imperial General Staff Konrad von Hoetzendorff, who claimed that the war against Serbia would amount to no more than “a punitive stroll to Nish.” Serbien muss sterbien became the favorite Viennese jingle. Teaching the Serbs a lesson would restore the monarchy’s shaken prestige-it had not fought a victorious war since 1815-and postpone the need for any internal re-alignment, of the “trialist” or any other variety. The Hapsburgs’ challenge was to bait the Serbs without provoking the Russians, until and unless Germany’s backing was assured.

It was not possible for German politicians and soldiers to declare the European system created by Bismarck null and void. They could not admit that they wanted to revise it by force in favor of an extended Mitteleuropa, dominated by Germany, with an emaciated France to its left and a humbled Russia-minus the Ukraine and the Baltic provinces-to its right. The Prussian elite needed a seemingly righteous cause, the latter-day Ems Telegram, to unite the nation and, in particular, to persuade its millions of Social Democrats and Roman Catholics that the coming war was just, its cause worth dying for. The scenario was simple, mendacious, and effective: encourage Austria to present Serbia with an outrageous ultimatum that had to be rejected; let Russia threaten Austria in Serbia’s defense; present Germany’s subsequent move against Russia as a gallant and selfless rescue of Germany’s aggrieved Danubian ally; and wait for France to join the fray as Russia’s ally.

The military strategy was to strike against France first by marching through neutral Belgium in a massive flanking movement (the Schlieffen Plan), take Paris and the Channel ports, then shift forces against Russia’s slowly-mobilizing army and defeat it by means of a series of offensives relying on rapid movement and concentration of vastly superior firepower in chosen locations. The plan also demanded wanton violation of Belgian neutrality that carried the risk of British intervention-Britain invariably went to war in order to prevent domination of any single power of the Continent in general, and its control of the Channel ports in particular-but it was believed in Berlin that this danger could be somehow averted, and that in any event the British could not field an army capable of affecting the outcome until it was too late.

Both military planning and the political rationale behind it reflected Berlin’s establishment’s obsession with the notion of “encirclement.” Just as the political paradigm was unduly pessimistic, its military “solution” was based on an optimistic scenario that had many elements that could, and did, go wrong. Dermined to break out of this self-imposed, intellectually wanting and largely imagined “encirclement” the Second Reich discarded Bismarck’s flexibility of external liaisons in favor of an implacable hostility to France, a sense of looming danger from Russia, and-perhaps worst of all-an alliance with Austria that was dangerous in its implications.

The Iron Chancellor would never have allowed the worn-out Viennese tail to wag the dynamic German dog, and in the 1880s and 90s he repeatedly warned that the Balkans must never be allowed to release its potential as Europe’s proverbial powder keg. His successors of 1914 disregarded that advice on both counts, and on July 6 told Austria to deal with Serbia as it deemed fit. In this they encountered no effective opposition, and even the seemingly middle-of-the-road Chancellor, Bethmann-Hollweg, joined the fray with an air of fatalistic determination, only once or twice interrupted by pangs of fearful lucidity. He belonged to an educated elite whose purpose in life should have been to contemplate, with seriousness and detachment, what action should be taken in pursuit of Germany’s state and national interest. But by 1914 the ruling stratum’s understanding of the State reason was fatally corrupted by ideological mantras of the Wilhelmine Germany’s equivalent of neoconservatives: the naval lobby, the colonial lobby, the annexationist lobby, the Voelkisch lobby, all beat the same drum. Like American neoconservatives today, they branded all moderation treason, and all doubt-treason. In Fischer’s assessment, Bethman could no more have resisted the war party than the Pope could have converted himself to Protestantism’ Germany’s criminal blunder of 1914 is a sinister precursor of its crime of 1939. As per Fischer, these are the “ideologies, values, and ambitions that led our country to destruction in the space of two generations.”

In addition to being gripped by a self-fulfilling Weltanschauung that demanded aggressively proactive policies, the Central Powers’ political elites were unable and unwilling to question the dictates of military planning. As per Fisher’s old foe Gerhard Ritter, a foolhardy and desperate gamble, “va-banque-Spiel,” replaced policy making: in Vienna Conrad presented the Cabinet with a rosy and unrealistic assessment of Austria’s military capabilities that were soon demolished in a series of humiliating defeats in Serbia, while the German plan of campaign-which relied on the great Austrian offensive in the East-suffered from an over-estimation of German capability. Mobilization schedules and railway timetables took over. The lights went out all over Europe, never to be lit again.

Four awful years later President Wilson’s Fourteen Points-the device that was allegedly meant to end the war-espoused the principle of self-determination. It threw a revolutionary doctrine thrown at an already exhausted Europe, a doctrine almost on par with Bolshevism in its destabilizing effect. It unleashed competing aspirations among the smaller nations of Central Europe and the Balkans that not only hastened the collapse of transnational empires, but also gave rise to a host of intractable ethnic conflicts and territorial disputes that remain unresolved to this day. Wilson’s notions of an “enlarging democracy” and “collective security” signaled the birth of a view of America’s role in world affairs which has created-and is still creating-endless problems for both America and the world. It is Wilson speaking through President George W. Bush who declared that America not only “created the conditions in which new democracies could flourish” but “also provided inspiration for oppressed peoples.”

Two decades after Wilson, burdened by Clemenceau’s untenable revenge of Versailles, Europe staggered into a belated Round Two of self-destruction. After 1918 it was badly wounded; after 1945 mortally so. The result is a civilization that is aborting and birth-controlling itself to death, that is morally bankrupt, culturally spent, and spiritually comatose. We are living-if life it is-with the consequences, and in the ruins, of Somme and Verdun. To have a hint of the human cost it is essential to visit the hecatombs of northern France and the Dolomites. To understand its cultural cost it is only necessary to look around us. As an Islamic deluge threatens to replace rapidly dying Europeans within a century, as America continues its futile quest for dominance abroad and its cultural self-destruction at home, the causes and meaning of the civilizational suicide of 1914 are more relevant to our present and to our future than at any time since Sarajevo.

June 18, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (“9-11 Commission”) has found “no credible evidence” of a meaningful link between Iraq and al-Qaida. Its findings contradict claims by the Bush administration that such a connection justified the war against Iraq. In a preliminary report released on June 16, the commission further said that Osama bin Laden had long opposed the Iraqi leader’s secular regime and that his subsequent attempts to obtain help from Saddam were rebuffed by the Iraqi dictator.

The 9-11 Commission is an imperfect body. As has been pointed out in these pages recently, it is guilty of not asking many questions that are essential to understanding the nature of the threat facing us. The bipartisan ten-member panel never examined the basic tenets and historical record of Islam that could help explain the problem of “terrorism.” It never probed the rationale for an insane immigration policy that allows the Muslim fifth column to establish itself in the U.S. and all over the Western world. It accepted the U.S. strategy of global dominance as a given fact of life.

While its failure to focus on these and other strategic issues is lamentable, the Commission’s experts appear to have been thorough and professional in dealing with those specific aspects of 9-11 that they were instructed to examine. The report’s conclusion that there is no credible evidence “that Iraq and al-Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States” reflects the consensus of the intelligence community. Those findings were strongly supported by CIA and FBI officials who had been under intense political pressure before the war to establish such link. A CIA counterterrorism analyst told the Commission that his agency was in “full agreement” with the report which did “an excellent job” in presenting information about relations between Iraq and al-Qaeda prior to September 11. The FBI’s assistant director for counterterrorism John Pistole supported this assessment.

The Commission’s report is embarrassing for President Bush and his administration. It came only two days after Vice President Dick Cheney made the latest in a series of assertions that a link between Saddam and Osama did exist. Speaking in Florida on June 14 he said that the two had “long-established ties” “He was a patron of terrorism,” Cheney said of Hussein during a speech before The James Madison Institute, a conservative think-tank based in Orlando. The following day, while meeting the Afghan president in the White House, President Bush explicitly backed up Cheney’s assertions. These statements reflect the Administration’s renewed insistence that the war against Iraq was inseparable from its “war on terrorism,” and its conspicuous omission of previous assertions that Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction” justified military action.

Both justifications are not based on facts, and it is noteworthy that both lies originally emanated from the same source. The Project for a New American Century (PNAC), founded in Washington in 1997, began advocating the overthrow of Saddam Hussein as soon as it came into being, citing WMDs as the reason. In its open January 26, 1998 letter to President Clinton it said that, given the magnitude of the Iraqi threat, “The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use, or threaten to use, weapons of mass destruction.” The letter was said to have been drafted by Paul Wolfowitz, who was among its 18 signaturies; others included Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Perle, Richard Armitage, and William Kristol. Testifying to the House National Security Committee eight months later (September 17, 1998) Wolfowitz declared that Saddam Hussein “now finds himself free to reconstitute his prohibited weapons capabilities without fear of intrusive inspections.” He suggested “a serious policy in Iraq” that would “free Iraq’s neighbors from Saddam’s murderous threats.”

Terrorist attacks of 9-11 provided these people and their allies with a new theme, and within days they launched rumors that Iraq may have been involved in providing travel documents for one or more of the hijackers. They also revived old assertions of Iraq’s attempts to develop germ warfare weapons, trying to link them to the anthrax scare. They claimed that Iraqi diplomats and al-Qa’eda operatives had met in Prague some years previously. Within the Administartion Paul Wolfowitz, in his powerful position of Donald Rumsfeld’s deputy, argued that the attacks offered an opportunity to settle the score with Saddam once and for all. Two days after 9-11 William Saffire demanded war on Iraq in the New York Times. The Wall Street Journal had two major editorials and one op-ed piece advocating invasion of Iraq in the space of three days.

On September 20, 2001, PNAC sent a letter to President Bush stating that “even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.” The letter, signed by Bill Kristol and two-dozen leading neocons-including Richard Perle, Robert Kagan, Charles Krauthammer, Martin Peretz, and Norman Podhoretz-argued that “failure to undertake such an effort will constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism.”

Each of the letter’s signatories went on to repeat the allegation of Saddam’s terrorist connection in literally hundreds of op-eds, interviews, and speeches. Examples abound. In a fact-free editorial (“The Iraq-al Qaeda Connection”) William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, declared that “the coming war to remove Saddam is part of the overall war on terrorism.” () “What risk do we run if Saddam remains in power and continues to build his arsenal of chemical and biological weapons?” asked Richard Perle, and asserted, point blank, “We know that he harbours terrorists, about which more evidence will emerge in due course. Will he share his most lethal weapons with them, knowing his perfidy would be unprovable?” [emphasis added] Norman Podhoretz declared that the U.S. waged “a war to liberate 25 million people and rout Islamic extremists, terrorists and those who thirst for the mass murder of Americans.”

The mendacity of such systematic misrepresentations of the Iraqi issue to the American people helped push the nation into the virtual-reality world of non-debates. The contentious issue was how to wage war, not whether and why. The claim of Saddam’s link with terrorism was adopted by the Bush administration as a key justification for war. Donald Rumsfeld thus warned on November 14, 2002, that “Within a week, or a month, Saddam could give his WMD to al-Qa’ida.” The discredited former CIA Director george Tenet, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, went much further when he claimed that “Baghdad has a long history of supporting terrorism, altering its targets to reflect changing priorities and goals. It has also had contacts with al-Qaeda.” He added that “there is no doubt there have been contacts and linkages to the al-Qaeda organization” [emphasis added]. The theme was picked up by Mr. Bush himself. “Imagine those 19 hijackers with other weapons and other plans-this time armed by Saddam,” the President said in his 2003 State of the Union address. Once the war was over, on 1 May 2003, Mr. Bush declared that “the liberation of Iraq removed . . . an ally of al-Qa’ida.”

The lie gained credence through repetition: in September of last year more than two-thirds of Americans expressed a belief last year that Saddam was personally involved in the attacks. Mr. Cheney approvingly commented that it was “not surprising people make that connection.” Last fall he spoke of a “credible but unconfirmed” intelligence report that Mohamed Atta, leader of the 9-11 hijackers, had met at least once in Prague with a senior Iraqi intelligence official a few months before the attacks. (The 9-11 Commission now says that meeting never happened.) A few months earlier, on 22 January 2004, Cheney declared that there was “overwhelming evidence . . . of a connection between al-Qa’ida and Iraq.”

How will the advocates of war deal with the latest blow to their credibility? Some will claim that the war was meant to remove a potential terrorist threat from Saddam. As one Joel Mowbray says in FrontPageMag (June 17), “Quite simply, war was waged in Iraq to prevent another 9/11.” He also makes the remarkable claim that the Administration never claimed there was a link between Saddam and al-Qa’eda. Others, the majority, will do with the terrorist link precisely what they have already done with the non-existant WMDs: pretend that the issue did not exist.

We may expect the war party to focus exclusively on “human rights” and “democracy” as the real reason for the Iraqi war. They will take their cue from the neocon capo di tutti capi Wolfowitz, whose testimony before the Armed Services Committee on April 20 did not mention any “weapons of mass destruction” but focused entirely on the brutality of Saddam’s dictatorship. They have known all along that Iraq was not connected to al-Qaeda or to the 9-11 attacks and it had no WMDs. They wanted their war because their primary objective has never been to enhance this country’s geopolitical position. A small foreign country’s interests were mendaciously but effectively presented by the neoconservative clique within the American decision-making structure, and by the mainstream media elite, as those of the United States.

There had other reasons for the war, of course, in addition to the “passionate attachment,” chiefly to satisfy the hubristic longings of various PNAC types for global dominance. These people are far greater threat to the constitutional order, identity, and way of life of the United States than Iraq under Saddam had ever been. They are plotting new missions as we speak. If they are allowed to go on like this, America’s misused power will generate countervailing power sooner than we think-after the world has become a poorer, nastier, and far less populous place.

June 13, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

While it may be true that great powers have no permanent friends and only permanent interests, they differ considerably in their treatment of those friends and clients who come into their orbit. In this respect the Germans tend to be more trustworthy than most other powerful nations. Their single-minded support of Croatia in the wars of Yugoslav succession was not based merely on a traditional Mitteleuropaeisch geopolitical design, but also on a traditional sense of affinity with a nation of loyal allies from two world wars. Neither side would readily admit that this lingering memory played a role, of course, but both know it to be a factor.

American leaders, by contrast, have a long record of betraying those who trust their word, honor and loyalty. Filipino nationalists after 1898, Vietnam-s Montagnards after 1975, Angola-s Jonas Savimbi, Ahmed Shah Masood (the “Lion of Panjsher”), Enrique Bermudez of the Nicaraguan Contras… have all paid their trust with their lives.

Most of the time betrayal does not pay. Kennedy-s decision in 1963 to sanction the coup against South Vietnam-s President Diem-a difficult ally hated by the liberal establishment, but an ally nonetheless-started a long slide that ended with the evacuation of the U.S. embassy in Saigon 12 years later. Carter-s decision to exert pressure on the Shah-another bete noire of America-s liberals-to “democratize” Iran paved the way for Khomeini and his successors. Clinton-s support of the Muslim side in Bosnia against the Serbs, America-s allies in both world wars, provided hundreds of Jihadists from all over the Middle East with the first solid toehold in Europe-s heartland.

The latest act of betrayal is the decision of the Bush administration to reject requests by Iraqi Kurds to have the United Nations Security Council approve the country-s interim constitution-known as the Transitional Administrative Law-in its recent resolution on Iraqi sovereignty. The interim constitution is very important to the Kurds because it contains reference to their autonomy. The inclusion of that document in a Security Council resolution would have been the first time in history that the concept of self-rule for the Kurdish people had received international legal sanction. This has not happened, however: the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1546 on June 8, but the Americans stayed quiet and the document contained no reference to the interim constitution.

The Kurds were dismayed. As the only element in the Iraqi equation openly supportive of the US occupation force they expected Washington to support the inclusion of the document in the Resolution. They now suspect that the Administration wanted to appease Iraq-s Arab majority, and to reassure Turkey which remains adamantly opposed for any Kurdish autonomy anywhere in the region, by leaving Kurds in the lurch. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher has not reassured them by saying that “the Kurds have been great friends of the United States” and that “they obviously have a role, a very important role, to play in a strong, united and democratic Iraq.” Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi did even worse by promising that his cabinet would respect the interim constitution “until next year-s elections.” To many Kurds the implication of Allawi-s statement is that Iraq-s future constiution, to be enacted after the general election early next year, may abrogate the provisional document altogether.

Both their leading parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) led by Massoud Barzani the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) of Jalal Talabani, fear that if the three Kurdish-dominated northern provinces of Iraq lose the right of effective veto they now enjoy under the Transitional Administrative Law, Iraq-s Shiite majority may try to impose Islamic law through the new constitution. The veto provision was a key ingredient in the formula devised three months ago that persuaded the Kurds to agree to the interim constitution and to affirm their overall commitment to the Iraqi state. But now some top Kurdish officials complain, according to The New York Times, that they have been misled by the Americans, who “change their position day to day without any focus on real strategy in Iraq. There-s a level of mismanagement and incompetence that is shocking.”

The Kurds have a trump card of their own: a 75,000-strong peshmerga, a well trained and armed militia that was supposed to be disbanded under a nine-party agreement reached by the new government in Baghdad on June 7. If the Kurds now stay armed, as they will, other party militias will be unlikely to observe the terms of the agreement and a key prerequisite for Iraq-s gradual normalization-the monopoly of armed power by the state-will be absent.

The dispute over Iraq-s future constitutional arrangements is as old as ethnically mixed states: the Shi-ites have a 60 percent majority of Iraq-s 26 million people and claim that giving any minority group veto power is undemocratic. The Kurds-18 percent-insist on minority rights, and say that after many years of oppression, bloodshed and suffering they have the right to unambiguous legal and constitutional guarantees of their status. The Shi-ites are centralists, the Kurds federalists.

The omission of the interim constitution in the Security Council resolution came at the insistence of Iraq-s top Shi-ite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. Boucher-s claim that the failure to include the transitional law in the UN resolution was insignificant-supposedly because the resolution endorsed the law-s principles of pluralism and minority rights in general-was a diplomatic way of saying that the U.S. had caved in to Sistani-s demands. But why should the U.S. government support a Shi-ite cleric, whose self-avowed objective is to create an Islamic state, against its only friends in the region? The answer is simple: because it is afraid of Sistani. It needs his good will to sustain the fragile ceasefire in Najaf and to keep the political process alive. Sistani is the most powerful man in today-s Iraq.

The United States- optimal strategy for reducing his power, and making the region more easily manageable, is to stop insisting on a united Iraq. It should promote extensive decentralization based on three self-governing entities-Kurdish in the north, Shi-ite in the south, Sunni in the middle-within a loose framework of Iraq-s external borders. As has been said in these pages exactly a year ago,
By now it should be obvious that the goals, challenges, and expectations of different ethnic and religious groups within Iraq are not reducible to a common denominator. Three different Ottoman provinces of old have not forged a sense of common destiny or common nationhood over the past eight decades. Being an ‘Iraqi- does not come before one-s Sh-ia, or Kurdish, or even local, tribal-clannish identity.

Pragmatic recognition of this reality is even more urgently needed today, six hundred American lives and a hundred billion dollars later. A decentralized, even confederal Iraq is the pragmatic solution for the political and military challenge the United States faces in the region, and the just solution for America’s only local friends.

June 11, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

A Los Angeles Times poll released June 10 gave John Kerry a seven-point nationwide lead over President Bush. A Gallup poll released three days earlier also puts Kerry in the lead, albeit with a far smaller margin. By contrast a Christian Science Monitor/TIPP poll, conducted June 1-6, shows Bush leading Kerry 45 to 44 percent.

On closer scrutiny it appears more probable today than at any time since the beginning of this year-s race that George W. Bush will be re-elected on November 2. There are five reasons for this assessment:

1. May was a particularly bad month for the President, with multiple negatives overlapping, and yet Kerry was unable to develop a substantial lead or momentum;

2. Bush has scored several successes recently, at home and abroad, that are yet to be reflected in his ratings;

3. The race in most important swing states that will decide the outcome remains even tighter than nationwide;

4. The economy is improving steadily and the effects of this improvement will be more visible in four months than they are today; and

5. John Kerry is proving to be a lackluster candidate.

Last month was particularly bad for Bush. The prisoner-abuse scandal, a daily toll on American lives in Iraq, and gas prices in excess of two dollars for a gallon, dominated the headlines simultaneously, or in quick succession. Latest opinion poll figures reflect the lingering bad taste of that mensis horribilis, and should have been much better for Kerry if he is to develop a sustainable lead.

Over the past week there has been a Bush recovery on all fronts. His European trip, to Rome and to commemorate D-Day-s 60th anniversary, went well. The evident healing of the trans-Atlantic rift was crowned by a 15-0 vote for Security Council Resolution 1546. It gave unanimous support to the upcoming transfer of sovereignty to Iraq-s new caretaker government. The UN seal of approval gives that government the degree of legitimacy and autonomy that the old Governing Council could never hope for. The G-8 summit in Georgia was on the whole forgettable but successful in furthering the image of bonhomie and rapport between Bush and his European guests. In the aftermath of these events it will be increasingly difficult for Kerry to attack Bush for unilateralist disregard for our America-s partners.

While nationwide figures remain volatile, it is significant that most polls show that Kerry is not doing well in vitally important swing states. Florida, which remains a key battleground this year, is evenly divided. In Michigan Kerry-s lead of two percentage points was less than the EPIC/MRA poll-s margin of error. In Missouri, the state that has picked the eventual winner in all elections but one since 1900, Bush leads Kerry by 48 to 42 percent in a two-way race, and even more convincingly-by 48 to 37 percent-in a three-way contest with Nader. Ohio is perhaps the most critical of the dozen or so so-called “purple states” and the one where job losses over the past four years have been particularly severe, but even there we have a virtual dead heat: Kerry has 46 percent to Bush-s 45. In Wisconsin, Kerry and Bush are even at 44 percent each; with Nader in the race, the President is two points ahead.

Bush-s improved foreign stature matters less to most Americans than the economy. Latest figures show continuing steady growth, wages are rising, and the labor market-depressed for the last three years-is finally picking up: employers have added more than 1.4 million jobs to their payrolls in the past nine months. A quarter of a million new jobs in May exceeded forecasts, and growth estimates for March and April had to be revised upward, to 353,000 and 346,000 jobs respectively. Now that OPEC has increased its production quota, bringing the price of crude down to a six-week low of just over $36, it looks like only a major terrorist outrage may disrupt the recovery. Its pace is just right for Bush, with the fruits-measured in paychecks, consumer confidence, and job security-becoming more apparent with each passing month.

No less visible will be the Kerry campaign-s underlying limitations. George W. Bush has many limitations himself, but at least he comes across as someone comfortable with who he is. John Kerry does not. Even by his ardent supporters he is at best respected rather than liked, and his awkwardness will become more obvious as he comes under increasing strain in the campaign-s finale. His Vietnam record and subsequent antiwar activities alienate America-s veterans, who prefer Bush by almost two-to-one. On Iraq Kerry lacks a clear message: he voted for the war; then he voted against appropriations for the reconstruction. When he says, “we must stay the course” he turns off the Left, but he will not dare attack the President nearly as stridently as Gore lest he loses the middle. Kerry-s insistence on “involving our friends and allies” and the United Nations-a position never especially popular outside the Democrats- liberal constituency to start with-may start sounding hollow in the aftermath of UNSC 1546.

The American voters will face an uninspiring choice next November, a choice summarized by Chris Deliso, an astute commentator of Balkan affairs:

Will they go with the Republican incumbent, whose administration manufactured lies and wild exaggerations to start an illegal war in Iraq, building a huge national debt in the process, or should they go with a Democratic challenger who has vowed to stay the course in Iraq while maintaining big government and increasing troop numbers, a challenger whose old-guard allies also used cunning and deceit to start an illegal war in Kosovo?

On balance, he concludes, Bush is the lesser evil; and I reluctantly concur. It is tempting to declare plague on both houses, but even an unpleasant choice-between TB and cancer, say, or between Zsa-Zsa and Barbra-may be worth making. While candidate Bush at least paid lip service to the concept of realism and enlightened nationalism and humility in world affairs, Kerry unambiguously rejects such notions in favor of one variety or another of the Clinton Doctrine.

Kerry is not opposed to foreign military interventions, but wants them approved by the UN and conducted in pursuit of liberal ideals, not national interests. He insists that “those ideals and interests in this globalized world are consistent with the peace, prosperity, and self-determination of every country on earth.” This is a staggering agenda: for as long as there is a single country anywhere in the world that does not enjoy peace, prosperity and self-determination, President Kerry could feel justified to seek U.N. authorization to send the Marines to effect yet another regime change. This is not to be done in order to protect America-s security interests in any traditionally defined sense, however, but because, he says, “America must be challenged to live up to its values. America has taken a rare step in human history in arguing that its interests and the world-s are one.” That is pure insanity, a blueprint potentially far more dangerous than the looming Iraqi quagmire itself.

June 4, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

“Like the Second World War, our present conflict began with a ruthless surprise attack on the United States,” President George W. Bush told graduates of the Air Force Academy in Colorado last Wednesday (June 2) on the eve of his trip to Europe to mark the 60th anniversary of Normandy landings. “We will not forget that treachery, and we will accept nothing less than victory over the enemy,” he went on; “Like the murderous ideologies of the 20th century, the ideology of terrorism reaches across borders and seeks recruits in every country.”

Establishing peace and democracy throughout the greater Middle East was a key tenet of the war against terrorism worldwide, Mr. Bush said:

Some who call themselves “realists” question whether the spread of democracy in the Middle East should be any concern of ours. But the realists in this case have lost contact with a fundamental reality . . . If that region is abandoned to dictators and terrorists, it will be a constant source of violence and alarm . . . (but) if that region grows in democracy and prosperity and hope, the terrorist movement will lose its sponsors, lose its recruits, and lose the festering grievances that keep terrorists in business.

Mr. Bush-s Air Force Academy comencement speech displays with clarity two fundamental flaws in his thinking about “our present conflict.” The first is the confusion of the unnamed enemy with the method-terrorism-that enemy uses to achieve his objectives. The second is his explicit rejection of a realist paradigm in favor of the notion of “democratizing the Middle East,” which, even if attainable, would result in a Middle East ruled by various shades of Islamists and Arab nationalists. If Mr. Bush persists in these two errors, “our present conflict” is doomed to fail and his presidency will probably be over by next January.

Compared to those two conceptuar errors, the incongruity of the President-s strained parallel between Iraq and World War II was clearly of secondary importance. Nevertheless, Saddam-s continued reductio ad Hitlerum is tasteless and boring. Iraq did not attack the United States, it had no intention of doing so, it did not possess the “weapons of mass destruction,” and its armed forces had never recovered from Gulf War One. Its rough equivalent in 1941, in terms of political and military weight, would have been Rumania rather than Nazi Germany. In addition, Iraq was not connected to al-Qaeda or to the 9-11 attacks, the President-s renewed allusion to that link notwithstanding. As we had suspected long before March 2003, and as we now know with near-certainty, that war was fought by the U.S. military but the primary objective of its promoters was to enhance Israel-s geopolitical position. A small foreign country-s interests were mendaciously but effectively presented by the neoconservative clique within the American decision-making structure as those of the United States. The war was also fought in pursuit of global hegemony, and Pentagon planners are intent on building permanent military bases there. Last but not least, the impact of the oil industry is yet to be fully assessed-but lest we forget, when asked about the cost of post-war occupation Vice-President Cheney did say that “in Iraq you-ve got a nation that-s got the second-largest oil reserves in the world.”

Mr. Bush was on the right track when he compared today-s enemy with the “murderous ideologies of the 20th century.” He was wrong not to admit that the enemy is Jihad, rather than “terror,” which is merely Jihad-s current weapon of choice. It is as if the Allies declared, six decades ago, that they were fighting “the ideology of Blitzkrieg,” rather than Nazism. But had Mr. Bush called the foe by his real name, his parallel with secular totalitarianism of the last century would have been entirely apt. As I wrote in Chronicles more than five years ago (February 1999), Islam is akin to fascism and bolshevism in that each explicitly denied the legitimacy of any form of social, political, or cultural organization other than itself:

Stalin-s forma mentis was different from that of Khomeini only in quantity, not in quality. The latter-s statement that the Muslims have no choice but to wage “holy war against profane governments” until the conquest of the world has been accomplished was Khrushchev-s “We shall bury you” wrapped in green instead of red. “Peaceful coexistence” was but jihad under another name. Islam, communism, and Nazism sought an eschatological shortcut that would enable the initiated to bypass the predicament of a seemingly aimless existence, while explicitly replacing Christian grace with the gnostic mantras of “surrender” (“Islam”), “dialectical materialism,” Volksgemeinschaft.

Indeed, Marxist, fascist and Islamist projects all shared the lust for other people-s lives and property, and the desire to exercise complete control over their subjects- lives. All three have been justified by a self-referential system of thought and belief that perverts meanings of words and stunts the sense of moral distinctions. But for as long as Mr. Bush persists in comparing and contrasting red and black ideologies with the green practice (“terror”), and avoids the issue of Islam-s true character, his error will lead to the confusion of ends and means in America-s response to the current challenge.

Mr. Bush-s squeamishness on this subject goes so far that in his Colorado speech he misquoted the famous D-Day words of Gen. Dwight Eisenhower by omitting one of them, “crusade,” presumably in order to avoid controversy in the Muslim world. Eisenhower-s message went: “Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Forces: You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of a liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.” Speaking at the U.S. Air Force Academy commencement, Bush quoted the initial salutation and the second and third sentences but left out the part about embarking on a great crusade.

Mr. Bush-s continuing insistence on effecting the democratic transformation of the Middle East, starting with Iraq, is particularly alarming in the light of recent events that have rendered America less likely to succeed in that role-even if it were in her interest to perform it. His vision is unattainable in practice and counter-productive in principle.

In practical terms, the prisoner abuse scandal and Mr. Bush-s de facto unconditional support of Ariel Sharon make the United States more thoroughly disliked, in Iraq and throughout the Arab world, than at any time in living memory. For that reason the classic Catch-22 of nation-building in general applies even more drastically to America-s position in the Middle East today: whatever its wishes, the locals will want more of the opposite. Whoever its candidate or political force of choice, the “street” will reject them the moment it becomes aware of the connection.

In principle, notions of exporting democracy are problematic and often counter-productive. Even if they could be developed into a workable scenario in the Middle East, the end result would be detrimental to U.S. security. Instead of the degenerate and scared royal kleptocrats, Usama-s followers would run Saudi Arabia. Iraq would be ruled by Shi-ite clerics. Mubaraq would be swept from power and the Muslim Brotherhood would turn Egypt into an Islamic Republic. In Algeria immediately, Morocco after a while, and eventually even Turkey, the survival of moderate and pro-Western regimes would be undermined. Mr. Bush-s desire that the Middle East grows in democracy would benefit those who would never thank him for making their rise to power possible.

As a self-professed Christian, Mr. Bush should know the reason traditionally Christian societies have been able to develop democratic institutions, while traditionally Muslim ones have not. Contrary to the Christian concept of governmental legitimacy (Romans 13:1), Islam condemns as rebellion against Allah-s supremacy the submission to any other form of law. Muslims believe that Shari-a should be used as a standard test of validity of all positive laws, a standard of values to which all laws must compily. Christ, by contrast, recognized the realm of human government as legitimate when he said, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar-s, and to God the things that are God-s” (Matthew 22:21). In Islam there is no such distinction, and therefore any desire to separate mosque and state is inherently sinful.

Mr. Bush cannot “democratize” the Middle East in line with his presumable preferences without reforming or somehow removing Islam from the equation. Short of that unattainable goal, the real question he should ask is not “how shall we bring them democracy” but “how shall we defend ourselves against jihad.” As global threats, Nazism and Communism are dead, and while vigilance is called for against future resurgence, ghosts do not threaten anyone. Jihad, by contrast, is still with us and threatens us. Through jihad, Islam has emerged as a quasi-religious ideology of cultural and political imperialism that knows no natural limits to itself. Unlike the “just war” theory originated in Christian thinking, which has evolved into a secular concept instituted in international laws and codes, including the Geneva Conventions, jihad is inherently religious as well as political: Islamic normative thinking does not separate the two. It has emerged from the desert, and it perpetually creates new mental, psychic, spiritual, and literal deserts of whatever it touches.

Mr. Bush told Air Force cadets that the Middle east is part of the storm in which we fly. The storm is there, but the pilot needs much better understanding of its nature and a better flight plan to take us through it.

May 29, 2004

Letter from Germany: A DISCRETE LITTLE DRANG

by Srdja Trifkovic

I happened to be in Berlin on the day eight Central-East European (CEE) countries-Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania-joined the European Union, as well as Cyprus and Malta. There was no outward sign that, literally overnight, the capital of Germany had made a major step to becoming the geographic, political, and economic center of the E.U. There was equally no doubt that this has happened. “A discrete little Drang,” commented a veteran English journalist, “but a Drang nonetheless.”

Expansion has increased the Union-s population by a fifth to 450 million, and the size of the internal market by a quarter. And yet GDP in the expanded E.U. will rise by barely 5 percent. The combined GNP of all ten accession countries corresponds to that of The Netherlands, which has one-fifth of their population. The benefits of membership are more uncertain for the new members than used to be assumed. The old belief that “Europe” meant the removal of barriers, economic, physical and cultural, is now mixed with the alarm at bureaucratic meddling from an over-centralized Brussels. It is feared that the imposition of a myriad of E.U. regulations will prove detrimental to the cash-starved, low-cost, lower-tech producers east of the Oder-Neisse. Standards of food production, for example, reflect stringent E.U. rules in the “core” countries, such as Benelux, France and Germany, because manufacturers can absorb the cost of those regulations in the price their home customers are able to pay. Central and East European consumers, on the other hand, cannot afford higher prices that would include the cost of introducing and maintaining those standards. According to E.U. estimates, only 100,000 of Poland-s two million private farmers will remain on their farms once the country is absorbed into the E.U. In Slovakia 3,000 employees in the dairy industry have already lost their jobs because their employers lacked the capital necessary to meet the E.U. standards of production. Furthermore, new members are subjected to stringent production quotas. The end result may lead to German-processed foodstuffs on East European supermarket shelves.

The survival of many small and medium-sized industrial companies in CEE is also uncertain as they struggle to comply with the Union-s environmental and safety regulations that will cost the new members some 12 billion dollars this year alone. As thousands of Central and Eastern Europeans lose their jobs, they will continue to be denied access to the job market of the old E.U. “core” for years to come. Their prospects will be grim, if the former East Germany is an indicator. The German government-s annual transfers to the former GDR, with its 17 million inhabitants are in the region of 60 billion dollars, and yet unemployment in eastern Germany remains twice as high as in the West. Some 75 million people in the E.U.-s new members cannot hope for a tenth of that level of support from Brussels.

Cui bono, then? Germany, of course. Its Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, as a leftist, sees the enlargement primarily as a means of “overcoming nationalist ideologies and confrontations” in the East which, if left to their own devices, could threaten the stability of Western Europe itself. But Germany-s business community is primarily interested in the more tangible benefits. Since the fall of the Wall the Federal Republic has become the largest trading partner in Central-East Europe, accounting for an astonishing 45 percent of the trade volume between the E.U. and its 10 new members. The German Economic Institute in Cologne estimates that the share of German exports to CEE (9.2 percent) has now almost equalled the country-s exports to the United States (9.3 percent). Its direct investment in the eight new members are 36 billion dollars, with half of the capital going to the processing sectors such as automobile and chemical industries. The Volskwagen-owned Skoda thus accounts for ten percent of the Czech Republic-s exports, while a single VW plant in Bratislava accounts for over a fifth of Slovakia-s foreign trade. VW, Siemens and other German concerns are taking advantage of labor costs for a skilled worker in CEE that are just one eighth of the equivalent figure for a worker in Germany.

As the historian Hannes Hofbauer notes in his new book (Vom Drang nach Osten zur peripheren E.U.-Integration-“From the push to the East to peripheral E.U. integration”) German businesses will continue to benefit disproportionately from the combination of big outlet markets and cheap labor in the “new” E.U. as they are already well established in the region. Hofbauer detects in the latest E.U. enlargement a degree of continuity with previous attempts to unite Europe and notably with the German attempts to expand since 1871. “A break after 1945,” Hofbauer says, “did not take place, either regarding the persons or the content of the project.”

If looking for continuities, we may detect in contemporary German thinking the old fashioned notion of “three rings of control” that is reminiscent of the late 1930s. In its modern form the concept entails an inner ring of not-quite-equal E.U. members (Poland, Bohemia, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia), followed by the middle ring of more distant new and future members (the Baltics, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia) and an outer ring of “intermediate” non-E.U. members providing a cordon sanitaire around Russia (Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus).

Such views are not limited to the old-fashioned German Right. The deputy chairman of the largest parliamentary group, Gernot Erler of the ruling Social-Democratic Party (SPD), thus declared on May 5 that Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova needed to “solidify” their relations with Europe. To gain acceptance as partners (albeit not as E.U. members) the countries of “this region of intermediate states between Russia and the expanded European Union” should display willingness to follow “recommendations” from the E.U. He singled out Ukraine-s President Kuchma as a leader who needs to do better. Polish authorities are well suited to keep order along the border of the intermediate states, Erler added, in view of their “ethnic proximity” to the intermediate region, “which could and should be utilized in the organization of the E.U.-s external frontier.”

Bismarck would approve of Herr Erler-s concept; so would the Kaiser, and a few less pleasant figures from Germany-s more recent past. His old-fashionedly frank blueprint for a clearly German (rather than “European”) Ostpolitik illustrates Lord Acton-s clichй that nations have neither permanent friends nor permanent enemies, but only permanent interests. Continuities in geopolitical ambitions, cultural preferences and economic apetites of the great powers exist, and guide their actions.

Germany-s behavior in the Mitteleuropa, the Danubian basin and points further east is not based on a conspiratorial grand design (although its policy in the Balkans has been mendacious for years) but on those continuities. Germany is an economic powerhouse that would dominate its weaker eastern neighbors regardless of its leaders- intentions or planning. Even in the early 1940s, post-World War Two planning was a major theme in various elements of the Nazi power structure, but in the end all they had in common was only a vague notion of the “rings” of control radiating from Berlin and extending eastwards and southeastwards. It is reassuring in principle, and somewhat discomforting in this particular case, to know that some things never change.

May 28, 2004

Letter From London: TORIES IN RECOVERY

by Srdja Trifkovic

For almost two decades (1979-1997) the Conservatives looked, and acted, like Britain-s natural governing party. In the 1980s Mrs. Thatcher earned her spurs by tackling Argentine generals, powerful public sector trade unions, and her fellow European leaders. In 1992 her successor John Major unexpectedly won a general election against an overconfident Neil Kinnock and laid the ground for a sustained economic recovery that is still continuing.

In the ensuing five years the party-s latent divisions over Europe turned into a Tory civil war-to the delight of Tony Blair and his “New Labour.” Ineptly led by William Hague and Iain Duncan-Smith, and demoralized by a string of electoral defeats starting with the general election of 1997, the Tories lacked a focused message and a leader capable of outperforming Blair in the Commons and on TV.

All that has changed over the past few months. Blair-s support of the war in Iraq, which is deeply unpopular in Britain, and the perception that he is a powerless junior partner in Mr. Bush-s open-ended adventure have caused a rapid fall in the Prime Minister-s personal ratrings. The Tories have finally come up with a leader, Michael Howard, who is capable of inspiring confidence among the faithful and-unlike his two immediate predecessors-looks prime-ministerial. Opinion polls now put Howard ahead of Blair-the first time a Tory leader is ahead of Blair in seven years!-and for some weeks the Conservatives have maintained a lead over Labour of between one and five percentage points.

Many Labour Party backbenchers and constituency party activists now see Blair as a liability and would like to replace him well ahead of the next general election. Even Blair-s Cabinet colleagues are making ambivalent statements. Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott raised fresh doubts about his leadership when he compared Blair to Harold Wilson in the days before he stepped down. Prescott referred to Labour-s prospects “if” Blair leads the party into the next general election, and refused to confirm that the Prime Minister would serve a full third term in office if Labour is victorious at the polls. In the words of a Scottish commentator, Blair-s dominance was based on his ability to deliver the voters of Middle England, “but the day Tony fails to deliver the voters is the day his political epitaph will be written. That day could well be 10 June,” when elections for the European Parliament will be held.

The Tories expect to do well at those elections, while the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) with its stridently anti-EU platform is likely to attract many working-class voters from Labour. Among UKIP-s candidates is a prominent former Labour MP and popular broadcaster, Robert Kilroy-Silk, whose demands for Britain to leave the “corrupt, bureaucratic, dictatorial” EU will find a responsive audience in the industrial heartland that feels left behind by Blair-s “New Labour.”

Aware that much of the UKIP-s natural appeal is to Conservatives who dislike “Brussels” and all it stands for, Howard is resorting to mildly Eurosceptic rhetoric and now says that he would renegotiate Britain-s European Union membership. He is also cashing in on the perception of Blair-s subservience to Washington, saying that the Anglo-American alliance should remain the anchor of British foreign policy, but adding that “the partnership between the United Kingdom and the United States should always be a candid one.”

A sustained Tory recovery is possible, but in order to win at the next general election-and it has to be held by next spring-Howard would need to develop a message more openly critical of the looming threat to British sovereignty and institutions. According to Sir Alfred Sherman, a key architect of Margaret Thatcher-s 1979 electoral triumph, the European Constitution-a deeply flawed document-offers Howard an opportunity to rekindle the patriotic spirit traditionally associated with Toryism. The veteran Tory strategist thinks that the key to victory is an unambiguous rejection of subordination of British to EU law. By challenging Blair to hold a referendum on the Constitution and the euro Michael Howard would improve his electoral prospects-and also do the right thing. Britain urgently needs real alternatives to Blair-on Europe and on the relationship with the United States-and Howard should grab the day.

May 14, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

Exactly a year after President Bush announced the end of “major combat operations” in Iraq the U.S. mission is in serious trouble and needs to be terminated as soon as possible. The ongoing prisoner abuse scandal has only aggravated an already untenable situation. Keeping an occupation force to “promote democracy” is unjustified, it breeds resentment and anger, and provides recruits for the resistance. Iraq cannot be stabilized unless its people are given a sense of ownership of their country and control over their future; “staying the course” is self-defeating if the destination and timetable remain unclear. There is no clear exit strategy.

It is still possible for the U.S. to disengage and to claim that the mission was successful. The U.S. should willingly, not grudgingly, “Iraqi-ise” political, economic and administrative structures and the security forces, including prison authorities. It should accept that in the long run Washington will not be able to dictate the shape of post-occupation government in Baghdad. The UN may be an odious institution, but its involvement should be encouraged if the goal is to save American lives, treasure, and reputation. Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN special envoy for Iraq, should be supported in his attempts to set up a caretaker executive branch by June 30. When starting his mission the veteran Algerian diplomat had spoken of his suspicion that the US would never hand over enough power to make a truly independent UN intervention possible. He should be proven wrong.

Brahimi-s current blueprint needs to be modified, however, as it emphasizes technical expertise of the future 25-member Cabinet and does not give an adequate role to politicians. The U.S.-appointed Governing Council members are calling for another body in the interim government that would be composed of representatives of various political groups. The U.S. should accept this demand and avoid a confrontation with its Iraqi political allies whose support is essential to the success of the handover of power. That may entail acceptance that Iraq-s Shia majority will eventually control the government, but that prospect is less unpleasant than any available alternative. The Administration can still regain the support of the mainstream Shia establishment by avering that elections for the constitutional assembly and the national government will be held next year come what may, and will no longer be subject to delays and extensions. That government is likely to be Islamist in outlook and friendly to Iran, but that cannot be changed. There is no hope that a more secular, Western-friendly political force-a Baath with a human face-will emerge any time soon. It is therefore preferable to cultivate the devil one knows, such as Ayatollah al-Sistani, than to risk the rise of violent radicals such as al-Sadr.

In the interim it would be desirable to share the burden of occupation, but “engaging” the UN and encouraging other countries to provide more troops and money is unrealistic without assurances from the US that it would share substantive decision-making. If that does not happen Brahimi will advise Annan to reject any transfer of responsibility to the UN. Washington should accept that it needs to make concessions in order to obtain support of the Security Council. The forthcoming SC resolution should define the framework for the political reconstruction of Iraq and a real transfer of sovereignty. This cannot be achieved without conceding Iraqi control over the country-s police and the army.

The neoconservative cabal in Washington will try to prevent all of this, of course, but in view of its disastrous record on Iraq so far it should not be allowed to prevail yet again. It is in the interest of the United States to to withdraw. All contracts for the building of “enduring” US bases should be cancelled. American forces should avoid confrontations, and whenever possible follow the presedent established in Falluja, which was handed over to a new force of old Iraqi soldiers. The democratic credentials and ideology of those who will control the country after next year-s elections are immaterial. As we enter what promises to be a long, hot summer of Arab discontent, the mission in Iraq must not be subjected-yet again-to the manipulative shinengigans by special-interest groups within and around the Bush Administration. The Administration should dispel suspicions and state that it does not have a secret agenda, that it does not want to keep American troops in Iraq indefinitely, and that it does not intend to control Iraqi oil fields.

May 6, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

Excerpts from the introductory remarks at The Rockford Institute’s conference on the future of Kosovo, held in Chicago on Friday, April 23, 2004.

Most Western visitors to the USSR, until the mid-1980s at least, were subjected to a barrage of “facts” and figures from their hosts designed to prove that the Soviet Union was an efficient, highly developed economy, and a stable and happy society. Moscow’s diplomatic and trade representatives abroad and Intourist guides at home were well versed in the technique of conjuring data to prove that the reality was vastly superior to the evidence of one’s own senses. But in the end they could not conceal the crumbling blocks of flats, empty stores, long lines for scarce commodities such as sausages and shoes, and a sullen populace steeped in quiet desperation or stupefying drunkenness. Around 1986 it finally became acceptable to talk of the “problems,” and to discard the pretense that had become as embarrassing to the hosts as it was useless in fooling the guests.

After visiting Kosovo in the second week of April I can report that some officials of the “international community” there are also finally on the verge of discovering the virtues of Glasnost, and may be even ready for the Perestroika.

Judged by any rational standard, after five years the NATO-UN mission in Kosovo is an unmitigated disaster-but until the Kristallnacht of March 17, 2004, one was not allowed to say so. Under a string of Euro-leftist Gauleiters-Kouchner, Haekkerup, Steiner, Holkeri-the pretense of progress was maintained, amidst murders (“revenge killings”) and ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of non-Albanians, the destruction of over a hundred Christian Orthodox churches and shrines, rampant crime, prostitution, drug-smuggling, and general dysfunctionality of a thoroughly failed polity. The visitor is nevertheless greeted after the first checkpoint with a huge billboard proclaiming the sanctity of the “standards.” The artist could have come from Comrade Zhdanov’s art academy: only on UNMIK’s posters does one see smiling Serbs and Albanians in friendly discourse.

The “international community’s” pretense of “progress” in Kosovo, as sordidly dishonest as it was insulting to the victims of Albanian terror, finally collapsed on March 17. It is now legitimate to be unkind to the “Kosovars,” and to allow for the possibility that this time their fury was not justified by the lust for revenge. NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer thus said on April 22 he was “disappointed” with the failure of Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian leaders to stop last month’s violence. Wishy-washy and weak words, but light years away from anything uttered in Pristina by any official of equivalent rank over the past five years.

On the same day, Britain’s minister for European Affairs, Denis MacShane, rebuffed Albanians’ claim to independence, and lectured them that European politics was based on interdependence. Speaking after talks with Belgrade officials he also brushed aside calls for the United Nations to decide quickly on its political future. “There is just one final status and that is when we are all dead,” he said, invoking Keynes. Admiral Gregory Johnson, the overall NATO commander, started the new trend by stating that the latest violence was “orchestrated and well-planned ethnic cleansing.”

All that is a breath of fresh air after years of pro-Albanian Agitprop, but off-the-record, many Westerners are far more outspoken. On April 17 I attended a party at the Arts Centre in Toronto at which the former commander of UN forces in Bosnia, Gen. Lewis McKenzie, mentioned many messages of support he has received from active duty officers serving with K-FOR after he published an op-ed in The National Post on April 6 with the self-explanatory title “We Bombed the Wrong Side in Kosovo.”

In his piece the General noted that, back in 1999, “those of us who warned that the West was being sucked in on the side of an extremist, militant, Kosovo-Albanian independence movement were dismissed as appeasers.” The fact that the KLA was universally designated a terrorist organization and known to be receiving support from Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda was conveniently ignored. Since the NATO/UN intervention in 1999, Kosovo has become the crime capital of Europe, McKenzie further noted, the sex slave trade and smuggling of drugs to Europe and North America are flourishing, with the KLA running the show. McKenzie went on to give a grim but accurate summary of Kosovo’s recent history. The objective of the Albanians, he says,

is to purge all non-Albanians, including the international community’s representatives, from Kosovo and ultimately link up with mother Albania thereby achieving the goal of “Greater Albania.” The campaign started with their attacks on Serbian security forces in the early 1990s and they were successful in turning Milosevic’s heavy-handed response into worldwide sympathy for their cause. There was no genocide as claimed by the West-the 100,000 allegedly buried in mass graves turned out to be around 2,000, of all ethnic origins, including those killed in combat during the war itself. The Kosovo-Albanians have played us like a Stradivarius. We have subsidized and indirectly supported their violent campaign for an ethnically pure and independent Kosovo. We have never blamed them for being the perpetrators of the violence in the early ’90s and we continue to portray them as the designated victim today in spite of evidence to the contrary.

When the Albanians achieve their independence with the help of our tax dollars combined with those of bin Laden and al-Qaeda, McKenzie concluded, “just consider the message of encouragement this sends to other terrorist-supported independence movements around the world.”

That, indeed, is the story of Western intervention in a nutshell. So what are we to do about Kosovo, before it is too late? And it may be too late soon: let us remember that, until around 1690, the Serbs were over 90% of Kosovo’s population, now they are less than 5%. On March 17 we’ve witnessed only the latest episode in a continuum of anti-Serb and anti-Christian violence and ethnic cleansing that have been the hallmark of life in the Province for centuries.

The near-terminal Serb exodus of 1999, under NATO-led occupation and UN administration, was followed by almost four years of carefully administered Albanian violence against the remaining Serbs, and-especially-against those who dared come back. That violence was lethal enough to deter the Serbs from returning, and sufficiently low-lever to escape any serious condemnation from the “international community” whose representatives were only interested in building a “multiethnic” Potemkin’s village anyway, even with no Serbs left in it.

By 2003 it looked as if the independence of Kosovo was a done deal, that the combined pressure of Albanian-paid advocates and their media cohorts would yield the ultimate dividend. In Washington a dozen or so KLA friends, apologists, and lobbyists acting in the guise of think-tanks experts and policy specialists-the names of Bugajski, Serwer, Dobbins, Kupchan, Abramowitz, Holbrooke, come to mind-clamored for Kosovo’s independence in near-unison. Their points that were similar in their distortion of reality and the absence of logic, honesty, and truthfulness.

It is curious that most of these people are Democrats, Clintonites and one-world multilateralists, yet they support unilateral violation of UNSC Resolution 1244 and the presenting of a fait accompli to America’s European friends and partners. Especially galling is their claim that independence is “inevitable”; in any other respect the disciples of Messrs. Soros and Popper would dismiss any claim of inevitability as historicist rubbish. Even after March 17 they have a creative explanation for the violence: it was rooted in the Albanians’ justified frustration over the failure of the “international community” to give them their independence. This time, however, they are encountering a harder sell than ever before.

This time the “realists” have ample arguments against Cilnton’s model of the new Balkan order that seeks to satisfy the aspirations of all ethnic groups in former Yugoslavia, all except those of the Serbs. A Carthaginian peace imposed on Serbia today will cause chronic regional imbalance and strife for decades to come. That is not in America’s, or Europe’s interest, and therefore should not be condoned.

The short-to-medium-term model for Kosovo’s future may follow the Cyprus precedent; if it’s OK for an ethnically divided Cyprus to join the EU, if its de facto ethnic partition into two self-governing entities has been additionally condoned by the UN and the US, then it should be an acceptable model for Kosovo, too. The status of religious shrines surrounded by Albanian-controlled territory-Decani, Prizren, Gracanica-could follow the Vatican model.

And finally, the status of Kosovo vis-а-vis Belgrade could be based on the status of the Еland Islands vis-а-vis Finland. Helsinki’s claim to these Swedish-inhabited islands in 1919 was far weaker than Serbia’s right to retain Kosovo, yet in June 1921 the Council of the League decided that Finland should receive sovereignty over the Еlands in order to maintain the integrity of international frontiers. Finland undertook, however, to guarantee the inhabitants their Swedish language, culture and customs. A treaty between Finland and Sweden on how the guarantees were to be effected is still in force. Today, the Aland Landskapsstyrelsen (Government) has responsibility for all domestic affairs, with only defense and foreign policy remaining with the Government in Helsinki.

The precedents exist, and the problem of Kosovo is neither so unique nor so intractable as to warrant a solution outside the parameters of established practices in other places where different ethnic and religious communities vie for the same space.

If the Serbs don’t sign on the dotted line under pressure now, they will retain a valid title and they may get Kosovo back one day, when the geopolitical environment improves. Perseverance, unity of purpose, patience, and skill are the key. There had been no Jews in Jerusalem for centuries until Balfour, and now Ariel Sharon dictates the terms of pax Israelianna-in the Holy Land and in Washington, D.C. France lost Alsace and Lorraine in 1870 but for almost 50 years kept them in its heart-not on its lips-and got them back in 1919. A century ago Poland did not exist on the political map, and now it reaches almost to Berlin’s eastern suburbs, on the other side of the Oder.

The outcome will be ultimately a matter of spirit; and I would not exclude the possibility that even in Washington-after the War on Terror escalates into a global crusade against Jihad, perhaps-the Serbs’ claim to Kosovo will be finally accepted as a righteous one, in line with America’s interests, and in accordance with the time-honored principles of law and justice that it had once respected.

April 23, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

Testifying before the Armed Services Committee on the war in Iraq last Tuesday (April 20), Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz declared that Saddam Hussein was a “brutal dictator” and that Iraq is better off without him. In stating the case for war Dr. Wolfowitz did not mention any “weapons of mass destruction.” This prompted an interruption from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who called Wolwfowitz’s testimony “somewhat disingenuous” for avoiding the one issue he had previously cited as the main justification for war.

Kennedy is hardly the paragon of straightforwardness but his accusation is just, and the evidence to support the accusation against Wolfowitz overwhelming. It is interesting to revisit the evolution of his arguments before and after the war he had wanted so badly.

Wolfowitz was a founding member of the Project for a New American century (PNAC) established in 1997 on principles that included “American global leadership” and “national leadership that accepts the United States’ global responsibilities.” PNAC began advocating the overthrow of Saddam Hussein almost immediately. In its open January 26, 1998 letter to President Clinton it said that, given the magnitude of the Iraqi threat, “The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use, or threaten to use, weapons of mass destruction. In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy.” The letter was said to have been drafted by Wolfowitz, who was among its 18 signaturies; others included Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Perle, Richard Armitage, and William Kristol.

Testifying to the House National Security Committee eight months later (September 17, 1998) Wolfowitz declared that Saddam Hussein “now finds himself free to reconstitute his prohibited weapons capabilities without fear of intrusive inspections.” He suggested “a serious policy in Iraq” that would “free Iraq’s neighbors from Saddam’s murderous threats.”

This theme was to be a mainstay of Wolfowitz’s public speaking and private policy advocacy for years to come. On September 20, 2001, just nine days after the 9/11 attacks, PNAC sent another letter, this time to President George W, Bush, stating: “But even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.”

A year before the Iraq war, on February 17, 2002, Wolfowitz upped the ante when he told Fox News Sunday that weapons of mass destruction possessed by the “axis of evil,” including Iraq, were not merely a threat to Iraq’s neighbors: they posed “a real threat to the world.” He criticized some European leaders who had accused the United States of unnecessarily trying to expand the war against terrorism to include Iraq.

On the eve of the war Wolfowitz treated Iraq’s possession of WMDs as a given. On February 17, 2003, he told London’s ITN that Saddam was “more dangerous now than he was five years ago, and he’ll be even more dangerous if we leave him armed five years from now.” In an ABC television interview the following week (February 28, 2003) he said, “It’s not about Saddam Hussein dribbling out the weapons that he claimed he did’t have when he’s caught holding them. What is needed, the only thing that would solve this, is a full disclosure of all of his weapons of mass terror so that they can all be destroyed.” “We’re dealing with a dictator who had weapons of mass terror, who continues to hold on to them at great cost to his country and to his own regime.” He added that the danger from Saddam’s weapons “only grows the longer we wait.”

Once the war was over and it became evident that U.S. troops occupying Iraq were unlikely to find any banned weapons, Wolfowitz calmly changed his tune and took to calling the WMDs a “secondary issue.” Returning from a visit to Iraq last July he thus said “I’m not concerned about weapons of mass destruction, I’m concerned about getting Iraq on its feet.” He further claimed that Iraqis themselves had little concern about the “historical” issue of weapons.

Then came Wolfowitz’s now famous admission (see Vanity Fair, July 2003) that for bureaucratic reasons “we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on.” This was a bombshell that had the refreshing quality of truthfulness. Wolfowitz’s debonair arrogance was breathtaking, and, at the level of pragmatic policy-making, apparently irrational: By admitting that he and his colleagues had taken everyone for a ride he ensured that the exercise could not be repeated as easily.

In the light of such record, Wolfowitz’s latest attempt to apply the same sleight-of-hand to the missing WMDs in a congressional testimony was either naпve or arrogant. Indeed, one puzzling aspect of the story surrounding Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction” is not the failure to find them, as they did not exist to start with. It is the administration’s handling of the situation that should have been anticipated over a year ago, when the “bureaucratic” decision was initially made to opt for the WMDs as casus belli.

Morality and common decency apart, from the purely pragmatic point of view Mr. Bush’s team did not do well in following up pre-war WMD lies with convincing post-war justifications and rationalizations. The haughtiness of its leading figures-and most notably Dr. Wolfowitz-who now have the effrontery to pretend that the issue of WMDs did not exist, is irritating and insulting to millions of Americans. To many it shows the extent to which the President is a hostage of the neoconservative cabal around him. That this realization may yet contribute to his defeat in November is clear. It is far less certain whether Mr. Bush is able or willing to face the facts and deal with these poeople effectively in order to change that outcome.

April 23, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

Just as we thought that this Administration could not possibly get more pro-Likud George W. Bush proved us wrong again. During their meeting in the White House on April 14, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and President Bush exchanged letters that effectively ended any lingering hope for the renewal of a “peace process” in Israel-Palestine in the foreseeable future.

Bush’s points were blunt and unambiguous. He welcomed Sharon’s unilateral “disengagement plan,” under which Israel would withdraw from Gaza and parts of the West Bank, as “a real contribution toward peace.” He told the Palestinians that they “must undertake an immediate cessation of armed activity and all acts of violence against Israelis anywhere,” that “all official Palestinian institutions must end incitement against Israel,” and that the Palestinian leadership “must act decisively against terror, including sustained, targeted, and effective operations to stop terrorism and dismantle terrorist capabilities and infrastructure.” Bush also said that “Palestinians must undertake a comprehensive and fundamental political reform that includes a strong parliamentary democracy and an empowered prime minister.” He reiterated America’s “steadfast commitment” to Israel’s security, including Israel’s “capability to deter and defend itself, by itself, against any threat or possible combination of threats.” In a key passage Bush stated that a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue “will need to be found through the establishment of a Palestinian state, and the settling of Palestinian refugees there, rather than in Israel” (emphasis added) and that “in light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949.”

In a radical reversal of previous U.S. policies, Bush thus endorsed Sharon’s intention to maintain major Jewish settlements in the West Bank in perpetuity and ruled out the Palestinians’ right of return to lands lost to Israel when it was created in 1948. Except for Israel itself, the United States is the only country in the world that takes this position.

Bush’s letter is a remarkable document, unique in modern diplomatic history. There are no comparable instances of a major power so comprehensively adopting the agenda of a third party in a dispute in which it is not directly involved. That position, considered hard-line even by many Israelis, and outrageous by the rest of the world, will not change if there is a Democrat in the White House come next January. In his Meet the Press appearance on Sunday, April 18, John Kerry unequivocally backed Bush’s support for Sharon. As Walter Cronkite has commented, “his apparent unconcern for the rights of the Palestinians seems remarkable” and “seemed to foreclose a Kerry administration role as a Mideast peacemaker.”

Sharon is the clear winner, and Islamic extremists came close second: Hamas’ spokesman Mohammed al Hindi was quick to expressed satisfaction that Bush had ‘delivered the final blow to the roadmap’ and that he showed the extent of hostility of the U.S. administration to the Palestinian cause. It is hard to see what “American” interest was served by the President’s action, however. The “roadmap” is now dead as a dodo, America’s partners in the “Quartet”-especially the EU-feel let down and cheated, Washington has been terminally compromised as an honest broker in the Middle East, anti-U.S. sentiment in the wider Muslim and Arab world will be inflamed even further, it will become more difficult if not impossible for the President’s few remaining friends in the Middle East-like Egyptian President Mubarak and Jordan King Abdallah-to support him on any issue, let alone to help in restoring order in Iraq.

The reaction around the world was fairly uniform, regardless of geography and politics. As The Times of London’s columnist noted (April 15), it was Bush who has accepted Ariel Sharon’s version of peace plan, not the other way around:

“Two years ago Mr. Bush’s Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, had to be quickly slapped down by the State Department when he rewrote decades of US foreign policy on the hoof and referred to settlements in the ‘so-called occupied territories”… Mr. Rumsfeld’s boss went much further, embracing some of the Jewish settlements regarded by virtually everyone as illegal under international law and by successive US administrations as ‘obstacles to peace’… And the reverberations will echo around the Middle East, from Gaza to Beirut, and from Fallujah to Najaf.”

The leading organ of the British left agreed: the Guardian noted on the same day that 15 years after the President’s father established the idea under the Madrid accords that peace in the Middle East was impossible unless the Palestinians were brought into the equation, his son abandoned the idea of a negotiated peace.

The reaction in continental Europe was even more sanguine. Bush “has granted nothing to the Palestinians as a counterpart to the advantage given to Sharon,” said Le monde (April 16), and his position “makes it very difficult for talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians to resume.” Die Welt of Berlin holds that, to Bush, “the Israeli government will be the only negotiation partner in the future, which is “fatal diplomacy.” The Sueddeutsche Zeitung condemned Bush for betraying moderate Arabs and noted that any initiative for the greater Middle East that excludes the Israeli-Palestinian problem is utopian. Germany’s ARD-TV (national channel one) warned that the triumph of “Sharon’s chutzpa, his obstinacy” is the ultimate humiliation for the Arabs and detrimental to Bush’s war on terror. Italy’s Il Giornale said that the ‘Road Map’ was now part of a grid drawn up by Jerusalem. In Vienna Die Presse wondered what on earth had gotten into Bush-“did he suffer a political blackout” does he have disastrous advisors?”-and concluded that Bush’s commitment to a Palestinian state now sounds like mockery:

“And does anyone really believe that this one-sided partisanship of the U.S. with Israel is not going to affront the Arab world? In view of the precarious situation in Iraq, the U.S. needs moderate Arab partners more than ever. But instead of strengthening the moderate camp, U.S. politics seem set to create even more anger and to motivate the radical forces…. Instead of fighting injustices, Bush is paving the way for more terror. Instead of calling Sharon to reason, Bush has put himself entirely at the mercy of the brawny general by sanctioning Israel’s settlement policy.”

Mr. Bush might even be right when he says that it would be “unrealistic” to have millions of Palestinians move to what today is Israel, but he should have said so only after negotiating with both Israelis and Palestinians, and offering fair compensation in lieu of the right of return. The Palestinians were excluded, however, and the denial of that right was settled between the U.S. president and the Israeli prime minister.

On that form nothing can be built on the ruins of the Road Map, now and for years to come. Sharon will “disengage” from the fenced-in areas of the West Bank and solidify his hold on the rest, with a discredited Arafat and a helpless Arab world seething with anger. The Palestinians will fight, and fanatical Islamists will impose the banner of the Prophet ever more starkly on what had been a nationalist cause. Fresh violence will accompany each new stage of Sharon’s design. There will be no peace and no security-and a docile duopoly in Washington will go on supporting Likud’s hubristic leader, regardless of the outcome next November.

It may be enough to make one cry; but contempt and controlled anger are more constructive sentiments.

April 8, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

The best way to determine the course of a war is to look at the offensive potential of the warring parties. After Stalingrad it was obvious that Germany was doomed: having lost the strategic initiative a year earlier at the gates of Moscow, for the remaining two years of bloodshed the Reich was on a downward slide that ended in the ruins of Berlin. After the debacle at Vienna in 1683 the Ottoman Empire rapidly declined and, for the last century of its existence, depended on the good will of a cynical Great Britain for survival; for three subsequent centuries the West was safe from Islam. After Gettysburg the Confederacy bravely fought on for 20 months but it could no longer hope to take the war to the Union’s heartland.

No such luck with Islamic terrorists. Two and a half years after 9-11 their backbone is far from broken. That they are more numerous, more successful in attracting scores of fresh (and mostly very young) recruits, more widely spread, and generally more dangerous today than in the immediate aftermath of terrorist attacks, cannot be seriously denied. A brief survey of the events of the past four weeks alone reveals a very grim picture.


March 11: almost 200 commuters were killed and 1,400 others wounded on Madrid’s trains in a simultaneous attack on three separate targets now known to have been the work of Jihadists.

March 14: An unexpected Socialist victory in Spain’s general election provided the first instance of a Jihadist terror attack materially affecting political process in a major Western country.

March 15: The mayor of London, Ken Livingstone said “it would be a miracle” if London escaped terrorist attacks. Sir John Stevens, Metropolitan Police Commissioner and Britain’s most senior police officer, said that a major terrorist attack in the UK is “inevitable.”

March 16: A group calling itself “Servants of Allah, the Powerful and Wise One” threatened to attack targets in France unless its government repealed a law banning the Islamic headscarf in state schools. In a letter to Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin the group declared that it would “sow the seeds of terror in the hearts of the French.” Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said the letter pledged to reverse the victory of Charles Martel over the Muslims at Poitiers in A.D. 732.

March 18: Simon Clegg, the chief executive of the British Olympic Association, raised the possibility of withdrawing the British team from the Olympic Games in Athens this summer because of terrorist threats.

March 19: Security sources in the U.S. express concern that the Olympic village, on the coast outside Athens, could be vulnerable to attack. There is widespread disquiet on both sides of the Atlantic about the readiness of the Greeks to deal with terrorist threat.

March 20: Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf said that a “high value” target was believed trapped near the Afghan border, and senior Pakistani officials indicated it was Osama bin Laden’s first deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

March 24: An audio tape, calling for the overthrow of Musharraf and attributed to al-Zawahiri, is broadcast by Al-Jazeera TV.

March 25: The CIA concluded that the audiotape was probably authentic. The Pakistani army’s offensive is bogged down and suspected terrorists escape to Afghanistan.

March 26: FBI chief Robert Mueller says he is concerned about terrorist attacks this summer on one or even both of the forthcoming political conventions, the Democrats’ in Boston in late July and the Republicans’ in New York a month later. Alluding to the Madrid bombings three days before the Spanish elections, Mueller said terrorists may “wish to influence events.”

March 28-31: Forty-seven people are killed in a spate of suicide bombings and gun-battles between the police and Islamic militants in Uzbekistan. Foreign terrorist groups were said to be involved. In 2001 Uzbekistan became a key ally in Mr. Bush’s “war on terror,” giving U.S. forces the use of a major airbase for the war in neighboring Afghanistan.

March 29: Canadian police arrested Mohammad Momin Khawaja, a 24-year-old Canadian citizen from Ottawa, for allegedly “enhancing the ability of a terrorist group to facilitate or carry out” terrorist attacks. Khawaja was subsequently linked to raids in London a day later that led to the seizure of bomb-making chemicals.

March 30: British police arrested eight young men of Pakistani origin-all of them UK-born British citizens ranging in age from 17 to 32-and seized more than half a ton of fertilizer that is used to make explosives from a self-storage unit near Heathrow Airport. Iqbal Secranie, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Great Britain, said the arrests did not necessarily mean police had uncovered a genuine terrorist plot.

March 31: As preparations for the NATO summit in Istanbul on June 28-29 get under way, U.S. authorities reportedly asked Turkey to pass command of the city’s air, land, and sea traffic to the U.S. during the summit. (It is noteworthy that two weeks before NATO, Istanbul will host the top-level meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference).

April 1: Italian police arrested 161 people related to Islamic extremist groups in a nationwide raid in 12 of Italy’s 20 regions. Interior Minister Giuseppe Pisanu said that the police received “accurate information” about possible attacks on Rome under the orders from al-Qaeda.

April 2: Spanish police found a 24-pound bomb under a high-speed rail line between Madrid and Seville. A railway maintenance worker spotted the device connected to a detonator by a 500-foot cable. Spain’s super-fast trains that travel at almost 200 miles per hour regularly use the line.

On the same day the United States announced that it would start fingerprinting travelers from a further 27 countries, including the European Union and Australia, who had been allowed to travel within the US without visas for up to 90 days. The new rule is understood to be due to the fact that many potential Islamic terrorists-such as the London Eight-are immigrants from the Muslim world or their European-born descendants who hold EU passports.

Also on April 2 the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security issued a warning to law enforcement agencies, local governments and the transportation industry that bombs hidden in luggage could be used in a plot to attack buses and railways in major American cities this summer: “Al Qaeda and other groups have demonstrated the intent and capability to attack public transportation with conventional explosives, vehicle-borne bombs and suicide bombers.”

April 3: Four suspected Islamic terrorists and a Spanish policeman die in a raid on an apartment in a Madrid suburb. On the same day British Home Secretary David Blunkett said that a booklet instructing people what to do in a terrorist attack would be sent by the UK government to every household in the country. The decision reflects the heightened risk of an attack on British soil.

April 4: 20 Iraqis and 4 Salvadorean soldiers died as Spanish-led troops in the Iraqi city of Najaf fought the “Mehdi Army,” an Islamic militia loyal to radical Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Sadr’s comment: “Terrorize your enemy, God will reward you well for what pleases him.”


A month from now a similar list will be compiled, with new names, new locations, and new victims. Some plots are uncovered and will continue to be foiled, others are anticipated, and a few will succeed. It is a safe bet that for every Jihadist in custody there are a few more at large, and that we’ll see more Madrids in the months and years to come.

On this form the Western world cannot afford to continue “winning” the war on terror for long. The global reach and operational capability of Islamist terror cells is growing. Jihad is alive and well, it is capable of simultaneous attacks in different countries, and it presents a growing threat to the United States. Al-Qaeda and its loosely linked offshoots are fielding a second generation of terrorists, many of them born to the Muslim diaspora in the Western world. The decentralized pattern of new threats makes counter-terrorist measures exceedingly difficult. There is no command and control system to disrupt: just self-motivated groups of young men (and women) deeply embedded in Western host-societies and ready to die so that the infidel may die.

And yet top Bush Administration officials and the President himself remain upbeat about winning the War on Terror. Administration officials may be right when they claim that most of al Qaeda’s senior operatives have been captured or killed, but the claim is essentially meaningless. Well over one-half Viet Cong’s activist core of 1965 were dead by the end of the war in Vietnam, but fresh recruits from an inexhaustible pool quickly replenished their ranks and ensured eventual victory.

The “War on Terror” is not going well because its fundamentals have not been properly considered. The ongoing proceedings before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States-the “9-11 Commission”-demonstrate much that is wrong with its basic assumptions. The bipartisan ten-member commission has asked all kinds of supposedly hard and probing questions of top officials past and present: Colin Powell and his predecessor Madeleine Albright; Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz; Clinton’s defense secretary William Cohen and national security adviser Samuel Berger; and the former White House counter-terrorism expert Richard Clarke who-two days before his testimony-published a book taking Bush to task for his alleged failure to deal adequately with the terrorist threat. It will soon question Bush’s national security advisor Condoleeza Rice, which the White House had long tried to prevent.

In all those hundreds of hours of testimony the Commission never probed the basis of policy and history that could help explain the problem of terrorism and thus help prevent new tragedies in the future. Three primary and at least five secondary areas of major concern remained unexplored. The primary ones were this country’s immigration policy, the nature of Islam, and the strategy of global dominance. The secondary ones concerned the shortcomings and terrorism-related nuances of U.S. policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in the Balkans, vis-а-vis Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, and on the issue of NATO enlargement.


Testifying before the Commission the widow of one of 9-11 victims criticized the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) for granting visas to 15 of the 19 hijackers who were “single, idle young adults with no specific destination in the United States,” the “classic overstay candidates” whose visa application forms were incomplete and incorrect. Other witnesses have criticized the lack of coordination between the INS and other agencies and suggested certain improvements in operational procedures. Their focus was invariably on the “failures” of the system’s functioning, not on the possible flaws of its ideological tenets.

The existence of a large Muslim diaspora in the United States and elsewhere in the Western world was treated as a given. One testimony specifically addressing this issue came from Dr. Abou El Fadl, a devout Muslim and UCLA professor described as “one of the leading authorities in Islamic law in the United States.” El Fadl asserted that, “as with all of the immigrant groups, many American Muslims bring with them dreams of liberty and justice” and he insisted that the war against terrorism demanded “actively resisting and guarding against the alienation of any part of our citizenry.” His assertions, that the “citizenry” was legitimately Muslim in part, and that it should be drafted into the common effort in defense of the United States against terrorism, were not challenged. The underlying multiculturalist assumptions of the immigration policy that had allowed the establishment and growth of this particular segment of “our citizenry” were not critically scrutinized.

In reality the existence of the multi-million-strong Muslim diaspora in the U.S. and elsewhere in the Western world-from Madrid to Montreal, from Buffalo to Berlin-provides the terrorists with the recruits, the infrastructure, and the relative invisibility without which they would not be able to operate. This is the only immigrant group that harbors a substantial segment of individuals who share the key objectives with the terrorists, even if they do not all approve of their methods. A sizeable minority of them wishes to transform the United States of America into a Caliphate and to replace the Constitution with the Sharia by whatever means. A coherent long-term counter-terrorist strategy, therefore, must entail denying Islam the foothold inside the West. But the notion of cultural and religious criteria in determining the eligibility of prospective immigrants is ideologically unacceptable to the ruling American establishment-to the Commission’s panelists and witnesses alike.


Closely related was the Commission’s failure to address the phenomenon of Islam, and in particular to examine Islam’s impact on its adherents as a political ideology and a program of action. The notion that terrorism is an aberration of Mohammedanism, and not a predictable consequence of the ideology of Jihad, reflected a firmly-rooted bipartisan consensus. The Commission’s behavior again appeared ideological in nature and dogmatic in application. Were it no so, former President Clinton would have been asked to explain his statement to the U.N. General Assembly, made almost exactly three years before 9-11, that “there is no inherent clash between Islam and America.” Were it not so, President George W. Bush would have been asked to explain his often repeated assertion that Islam is a “religion of peace,” that “we know [sic!] that Islam is fully compatible with liberty and tolerance and progress” and that “terrorists who claim Islam as their inspiration defile one of the world’s great faiths.”

There are two possibilities here: either Presidents Clinton and Bush and others knew the truth about Islam but pretended otherwise for political reasons, and the Commission quietly understood their need for diplomatic prudence and made the pragmatic decision not to dwell on the issue; or they meant what they said, and the Commission regarded their statements as unremarkable and therefore unworthy of scrutiny.

The former could have been the case in another era, when Western decision-making elites shared an instinctive understanding of who they were and what they were defending. Had they striven to draw the distinction between the “moderate, mainstream” Communists and the “extreme” subversive fringe in the 1950s the Cold War would have been lost. But such robust sense of the self no longer applies in the bipartisan multiculturalist paradigm, and for that reason neither the present Administration nor its immediate predecessors could develop a coherent conceptual image of the adversary without which there could be no viable anti-terrorist strategy. Clinton’s hope to co-opt Islam into a consumerist post-national global village is indistinguishable from Bush’s hope to domesticate Islam under the aegis of a nondenominational deism. Both attempts will continue to fail, but this failure has not been admitted by the Commission.

The third key problem that remained unexamined concerned the link between terrorism and the commitment of the United States to the unrestrained projection of her power everywhere in the world. That commitment, asserted with Bill Clinton’s Kosovo war in 1999, was made official in the National Security Strategy unveiled in September 2002. In a forum supposedly devoted to asking hard questions and “grilling” the respondents it was at least worth asking Mr. Rumsfeld’s or Dr. Wolfowitz’s opinion whether the terrorist threat to America is in any way correlated to the policy of global hegemony implicit in that Strategy, which is largely their brainchild. But on this important issue the Commission was blinkered by the ideology of American exceptionalism-an eminently bipartisan delusion, both in its Clintonian form of “humanitarian interventionism” and in its neoconservative form of global hegemonism. Having internalized such assumptions the Commission was as likely to offer useful insights on the war against terror as Ptolemaic astronomy was able to explain the motions of planetary bodies.


When it came to the secondary issues of specific policies, the most important of all-Israel-was strangely absent from the Commission’s deliberations. Different aspects of the U.S. policy in the Middle East were mentioned in various testimonies, but nobody asked the one question that is the mother of all others: is America’s “special relationship” with Israel in any way connected to the terrorist threat? The bipartisan assumption was unstated but clear: the United States should continue to provide open-ended and near-unconditional support to Israel because our unsinkable aircraft carrier is at war with the same terrorists as us.

This may well be true, but an open-minded Commission should not assume a priori that it is true. It should look, without prejudice, into the possibility that a different, less passionate relationship would be beneficial to a long-term anti-terrorist strategy, by reducing the perception of a permanent American bias in Middle Eastern affairs that breeds rage that fuels terrorism. But just as it had failed to look into the option of denying Islamic fifth columnists a foothold at home, the Commission did not explore the ways to stop alienating over one billion Muslims abroad. The possibility that U.S. foreign policy should be reassessed in order to avoid creating conditions for specifically anti-American Islamic hostility was left untouched.

It is perhaps less significant but equally noteworthy that the entire Clinton team was allowed to go through hours of testimony without a single question being asked about the assumptions and objectives of the administration’s policy in the Balkans in 1993-2001. The policy of single-minded support for Bosnian and Albanian Muslims had turned the Balkans from a protectorate of the New World Order into an Islamic threat to Western interests; the evidence is overwhelming and familiar to the readers of Chronicles. Clinton’s intervention in the Balkans resulted in the strengthening of an already aggressive Islamic base in the heart of Europe that is by now all but permanent. He was still in the White House back in 2000 when a highly classified State Department report-released in the aftermath of 9-11-warned that the Muslim-controlled areas of Bosnia had become a safe haven for Islamic terrorists who threaten Europe and the U.S., and who were protected by the Muslim government in Sarajevo. Not a single major terrorist outrage of recent years, most recently in Madrid, was devoid of a Bosnian connection.

The culpability is not only Clinton’s: the problem of collusion between U.S. administrations and Islamic radicals harks back to the support Bin Laden and other fundamentalist Muslims received from Washington following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979. Admittedly, at the height of the Cold War, Carter’s and Reagan’s advisors could argue that the “blowback” was a risk at least arguably worth taking. A quarter of a century later, however, it is essential to spell out and to rectify more recent blunders of a similar nature. If the War Against Terror is to have any meaning at all, the 9-11 Commission should have investigated the fact that throughout the 1990’s, the U.S. government aided and abetted al-Qa’eda operations in the Balkans, long after it was recognized as a major security threat to the United States. That this did not happen is largely due to both parties having been guilty of providing effective support for Islamic ambitions in pursuit of short-term political or military objectives.


The moving spirit behind the spread of militant Islam throughout the Western world is in Muhammad’s homeland, Saudi Arabia, the home to the Muslim World League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Both organizations, and a myriad of ostensibly private charities devoted to Islamic proselytism, are richly endowed by petrodollars from Saudi Arabia’s narrow, ultra-rich ruling kleptocracy.

American politicians have lied about Saudi Arabia for too long. Even Mr. Rumsfeld, normally not a mealy-mouthed man, on a visit to Saudi Arabia in the aftermath of 9-11 appeared strangely evasive on the issue of Saudi funds for Islamic terror. And yet as far back as 1996 a CIA report found that a third of the 50 Saudi-backed charities it studied were tied to terrorist groups. Two years later, according to a feature in U.S. News & World Report (December 15, 2003), the National Security Council pointed at the Saudi government as “the epicenter” of terrorist financing, becoming “the single greatest force in spreading Islamic fundamentalism” and “funneling hundreds of millions of dollars to jihad groups and al Qaeda cells around the world.”

The practice of appeasement of the desert kingdom is inexplicably continuing. Last summer, while congressional committees were gathering evidence for a bipartisan report on terrorist attacks in September 2001, the Administration acted rapidly and decisively to classify a section of the report that covered the delicate subject of Saudi Arabia’s links to 9-11. It was reported at the time that secret parts of the congressional report looked into certain Saudi businessmen and members of the royal family who may have aided and abetted al-Qaida or the suicide hijackers. According to a leaked CIA memorandum, there was “incontrovertible evidence that there is support for these terrorists” at the highest places in Riyyadh. Addressing a joint House-Senate intelligence inquiry in a closed hearing in October 2002, FBI Director Robert Mueller acknowledged that he had learned from Congress about new evidence: “some facts came to light here and to me, frankly, that had not come to light before.”

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is not only the most intolerant Islamic regime in the world; it is also the most powerful and explicit anti-Christian nation on the face of the earth. On both counts it must be brought to heel, now, or else its degenerate ruling clique will be swept away by the likes of Bin Laden.

With Pakistan the score is even more alarming. What was the greater threat to this country’s national security, one may legitimately ask: Iraq’s alleged intention to make plans for eventual development of certain illegal weapons, or a long-term pattern of widespread nuclear technology proliferation by Pakistan-a nuclear power in its own right-from which the main beneficiaries have been three nations (North Kore, Iran, and Libya) singled out by President Bush and his team as members of an “axis of evil” and active promoters of terrorism?

President Bush’s long-standing pretense that the government of General Musharraf is an essential ally in the “War on Terror” and a key non-NATO ally is a dangerous self-delusion. In the same spirit of denial, two years ago Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld declared that the United States was not concerned about the potential for misuse of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. In another context such claims could be acceptable as a political expedient vis-а-vis a major Muslim power, but in view of recent revelations concerning Dr. Khan’s proliferation network it would be dangerous for the U.S. Administration to continue believing its own propaganda.

Mr. Bush’s stated objective of seeing Pakistan develop into a “moderate” Islamic state cannot be advanced if Washington continues to turn a blind eye to the transgressions of the regime in Islamabad. Pakistan’s establishment is steeped in Islamic ideology. The army is commanded by officers whose loyalties are divided at best and inimical to Western interests, as was apparent in the fiasco the army suffered in the tribal areas along the Afghan border in recent weeks. Some cooperation with Pakistan in anti-terrorist campaign is perhaps inevitable, just as various Cold War alliances with nasty Third World regimes were sometimes necessary, but the relationship should not go beyond the pragmatic, give-and-take link based on limited objectives.

The facts surrounding Saudi and Pakistani transgressions continue to be clouded by American denials and the feigned optimism that have characterized Washington’s relations with the Muslim world for decades. As long as those two countries’ Islamic character is explicitly upheld, they cannot develop an efficient economy or build a civilized polity. They will remain to be an unstable burden, not an asset, to the United States.

The Bush administration strategy of using military means and dubious power alliances to fight the widespread hatred against the West has failed, including support for “friendly” Islamic regimes such as those in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Those regimes are unsustainable and their change should be either actively managed now, or observed with powerless chagrin later. Continuing appeasement of royal kleptocrats in Riyyadh and duplicitous Islamists in uniform in Islamabad does nothing to help the Muslim world come out of its state of deep denial about its responsibility for its own condition, the denial as irrational as the culture that breeds it.


The establishment of a national commission to investigate terrorist attacks upon the United States was a good idea. It could have been the forum for thinking the unthinkable and making America safer in the process. The decision to appoint to its panel ten political insiders who belong to different parties but share the same culture, values, and prejudices with the prospective witnesses reflected the determination of the Duopoly to prevent any such boldness. The Commission has avoided key issues, and failed America. Its report is yet to be issued, but its tone can be predicted. It will apportion blame for the details, there will be a lot of partisan haggling and horse-trading in the course of its drafting, the Democrats may even issue a minority report blaming Bush. As for the real questions and meaningful survival strategies, there will be none.

It is to be feared that in the aftermath of the worst terrorist outrage in history the duopoly in Washington has learnt nothing and forgot nothing. The war against terror needs to be rethought before it is effectively lost. As it is currently conceived it can never be won.

April 2, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

Richard A. Clarke, the former top White House counter-terrorism official under Presidents Bill Clinton and (briefly) George W. Bush, caused a stir on March 22 with the publication of his book Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror. The book can best be characterized as a strongly partisan all-out attack on Bush for his alleged failure to take the terrorist threat seriously in the seven months before 9-11, and for diverting American resources after the attacks in the wrong direction by waging war against Iraq. It is also an attempt to exonerate Bill Clinton and his national security team from much of the blame for the failure of the United States to act decisively in the preceding eight years to properly diagnose and treat the terrorist menace.

Two days after the book’s launch Clarke was a featured witness before the bipartisan National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. The key part of his testimony was the assertion that the Clinton administration had had “no higher priority” than combatting terrorists, while the Bush administration had made it “an important issue but not an urgent issue” in the months before September 11.

With his well-timed book and subsequent testimony Clarke and his publicists ensured that he was on every flickering screen and front page in the land for days on end. In an interview with Larry King he claimed that his motive for writing the book was twofold: to explain what happened on 9/11, and to examine “why we had failed to stop it.”

Clarke forgot to mention two more motives, money and vengeance.

Money was the reason the book was published not a year earlier, when he retired from government, but on the eve of his appearance before the 9-11 Commission. In the event a mere three days after publication, and one day after his testimony, the book went into its fifth run with half a million copies in print. While the media supported the blitz for reasons mainly ideological-Clarke appeared as Kerry’s manna from heaven-in at least one instance the motive may have been pecuniary: on March 21 CBS’ 60 Minutes devoted two whole segments to Clarke’s magnum opus but the viewers were not told that the book’s publisher, Free Press, and CBS are both owned by the same media conglomerate, Viacom.

As for the revenge, having enjoyed the top White House position on counterterrorism under Clinton, Clarke was demoted to the position of “Cyberterrorism Coordinator” by Rice and Tenet. Bush’s refusal to meet personally with Clarke or to keep his position cabinet level was deeply hurtful to civil servant with an inflated ego and a chip on the shoulder, both traits obligatory for a member of the Clinton inner team. Whereas Clarke had been a Democrat for years, as Federal Election Commission (FEC) records of his political contributions show, since his demotion he has been a Bush hater. In addition to making a lot of money he wants to bring the President down. This “mission” fits in with the obsessive tendency of many other disgruntled ex-government employees to claim that America would have been a better, safer and happier place only if their superior wisdom had been heeded.

The main shortcoming of Bill Clinton’s, according to Clarke’s book, his 9-11 Commission testimony, and his numerous subsequent media appearances, was to have bombed the al-Qaida training camps only once. On the whole, he maintained, Clinton was better at managing the threat than Bush because-as he put it on CNN-“35 Americans were killed by al Qaeda over eight years [of Clinton] and 3,000 were killed on 9/11.”

In protecting Clinton Clarke engages in subterfuge, sins of commission and omission, and outright misrepresentation of reality. The usual litmus test is the Balkans. On pp. 136-140 of the book he thus claims, “[t]he predominantly Muslim province Bosnia had long been discriminated against by the Christian center, and Bosnia’s attempt at independence in 1991 was brutally countered by the Serb-dominated Belgrade government.” The administration of George H.W. Bush had done little to stop the slaughter, Clarke says, and the “hard-pressed Bosnians” reluctantly accepted help from foreign Islamic radicals who had been former Afghan mujahedeen. The “muj” engaged in “ghastly torture, murder, and mutilation that seemed excessive even by Balkan standards,” but “Bosnian president Alija Izetbegovic decided to take aid where he could.” A whole host of extremist groups and individuals duly gravoitated from Bosnia, including many participants in subsequent terrorist plots and attacks. The Clinton Administration acted to counter the threat by hammering out the Dayton Accord, which “took the dedicated and diligent labor of Clinton, Lake, Berger, Albright, Ambassador Dick Holbrook, and General Wes Clark.” In the end, despite Izetbegovic’s lapses in expelling the “muj,” Bosnia was largely a failure for al Qaeda:

“They invested men and money, but were unable to establish a major, permanent base… For the United States, Bosnia was largely a success. Although late to address the issue, the U.S. was the major reason that the Islamic government in Bosnia survived. The U.S. also blocked Iranian and al Qaeda influence in the country.”

These four pages reveal a mix of Clarke’s mendacity and ignorance. To start with, Bosnia and Herzegovina was not a “predominantly Muslim province” but a multi-ethnic republic of the Yugoslav federation in which the Muslims had the plurality of 43 percent but its two Christian constitutent nations, Serbs and Croats, had the simple majority. The Republic had not “long been discriminated against by the Christian center” because, in Tito’s Communist Yugoslavia, the “Center” had been eminently anti-Christian. Bosnia’s Communist nomenklatura had enjoyed a disproportionate share of top political posts in the last two decades of Communism and a large cut from the federal fund for underdeveloped regions.

“Bosnia’s attempt at independence” did not occur in 1991 but in 1992. The attempt itself amounted to an illegal bid by Izetbegovic, in February-March 1992, to obtain statehood by outvoting the Serbs in a referendum, in clear violation of Bosnia’s constitution that postulated unanimity of the three constituent nations as the only possible method of changing the status of the Republic. His ploy was not “brutally countered by the Serb-dominated Belgrade government”-the Yugoslav Army withdrew in May 1992-but by one-third of Bosnia’s indigenous population, the Serbs. Before the war Izetbegovic had declared that he would “sacrifice peace for a sovereign Bosnia-Herzegovina, but for that peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina I would not sacrifice sovereignty.” The civil war was the predictable outcome of his course.

Far from being a reluctant recepient of the “muj” assistance, Izetbegovic was an ethusiastic proponent of pan-Islamic solidarity his whole life. He wrote in his Islamic Declaration that “the Islamic movement must, and can, take over power as soon as it is morally and numerically so strong that it can not only destroy the existing non-Islamic power, but also build up a new Islamic one.” He asserted the incompatibility between Islam and the rest: “There is no peace or coexistence between the Islamic faith and non-Islamic social and political institutions.” His goal was umma, the creation of a single Muslim polity, “religious, cultural and political, since “Islam is not a nationality, but it is the supra-nationality of this community.” This “united Islamic community” will rang “from Morocco to Indonesia.”

Clarke’s failure to mention any of that, and his ability to claim with a straight face that saving “the Islamic government in Bosnia” was for the United States “largely a success” is remarkable; but his assertion that the U.S. blocked Iranian influence in Bosnia simply defies belief. The Clinton Administration’s complicity in the delivery of weapons from Iran to the Muslim government in Sarajevo-a covert operation that enabled the government in Tehran to establish a strong power base in Sarajevo-is by now well documented. According to a detailed report by the U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee (“Clinton-Approved Iranian Arms Transfers Help Turn Bosnia into Militant Islamic Base”), that policy, personally approved by Bill Clinton, had played a key role in the dramatic increase in Iranian influence in Bosnia. The report warned that it was “irresponsible in the extreme for the Clinton Administration to gloss over the extent” to which such policies have put Americans at risk. Its findings remain as valid today as they were seven years ago:

1. In April 1994, President Clinton gave the government of Croatia what has been described by Congressional committees as a “green light” for shipments of weapons from Iran and other Muslim countries to the Muslim-led government of Bosnia. The policy was approved at the urging of NSC chief Anthony Lake. The CIA and the Departments of State and Defense were kept in the dark until after the decision was made.

2. Along with the weapons, Iranian Revolutionary Guards and VEVAK intelligence operatives entered Bosnia in large numbers, as well as thousands of mujahedin. The Clinton Administration’s “hands-on” involvement with the Islamic network’s arms pipeline included inspections of missiles from Iran by U.S. government officials.

3. Underlying the Clinton Administration’s misguided green light policy was a complete misreading of its main beneficiary, the Bosnian Muslim government of Izetbegovic. Rather than being the tolerant, multiethnic democratic government it pretends to be, it had long been guided by the principles of radical Islam.

“To state that the Clinton Administration erred in facilitating the penetration of the Iranians and other radical elements into Europe,” the report concluded, “would be a breathtaking understatement. A thorough reexamination of U.S. policy and goals in the region is essential.”

Clarke does not address any of that. His bland assertion that “Bosnia was largely a failure for al Qaeda” is dangerously untrue. It is flatly contradicted by the U.S. Ambassador in Sarajevo, Clifford Bond, who declared on December 17 that there is a terrorist threat in Bosnia because of foreigners who arrived there during the war and stayed on. In that same week Greece announced that its national security interests were threatened by Al Qaida-aligned agents in Bosnia, and the former Socialist government of Prime Minister Costas Simitis expressed concern over the threat from Bosnia to the Olympic Games in August 2004. On December 29, 2003, the UN added the name of a Bosnian Islamic “charity” director to a list of 300 individuals whose assets should be frozen due to suspected ties to Osama bin Laden or his al Qaeda network. In the same week European media reported that the King Fahd mosque in Sarajevo-the largest in Europe, on which the desert kingdom had spent a total of $20 million-was considered a terrorist threat. “Western security experts” were quoted in the leading German news magazine Spiegel as saying that Bosnia could become “a hotbed of extremists ready to use force-and would thus carry the fight of the Islamic terror syndicates against the ‘godless West’ to the southeast of Europe.” “We are extremely concerned,” German intelligence chief August Hanning admitted: “in some mosques preachers are already openly inciting against the West.”

Similar statements made over the past few months are too numerous to mention. The Bosnian problem of Islamic terrorism exists, it is freely admitted that it exists by Western policy analysts and government officials alike, it has acquired massive proportions, and may not be easily resolved any longer. Contrary to Clarke’s wishful thinking, that threat is not limited to a few elusive extremists: the ruling establishment in Sarajevo has had a symbiotic relationship with the sources of Islamic radicalism for over a decade.

In the aftermath of 9-11 no effective anti-terrorist strategy is possible without recognizing past mistakes of U.S. policy that have helped breed terrorism. Eight years of the Clinton-Albright Administration’s covert and overt support for the Islamist camp in the balkans have been a foreign policy debacle of the first order, and a major contribution to the world-wide threat America faces today. Its beneficiaries were Osama bin Laden-since 1993 a Bosnian citizen, compliments of then-President Izetbegovic-and his co-religionists in Sarajevo, Tirana, and Pristina. If we are to take the War on Terrorism seriously, such blunders need to be recognized and rectified. Far from making a contribution to that objective, Richard Clarke’s book muddies the waters and misrepresents the past. It is contemptible in the author’s intent and dangerous in its consequences.

April 2, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

Richard A. Clarke, the former top White House counter-terrorism official under Presidents Bill Clinton and (briefly) George W. Bush, caused a stir on March 22 with the publication of his book Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror. The book can best be characterized as a strongly partisan all-out attack on Bush for his alleged failure to take the terrorist threat seriously in the seven months before 9-11, and for diverting American resources after the attacks in the wrong direction by waging war against Iraq. It is also an attempt to exonerate Bill Clinton and his national security team from much of the blame for the failure of the United States to act decisively in the preceding eight years to properly diagnose and treat the terrorist menace.

Two days after the book’s launch Clarke was a featured witness before the bipartisan National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. The key part of his testimony was the assertion that the Clinton administration had had “no higher priority” than combatting terrorists, while the Bush administration had made it “an important issue but not an urgent issue” in the months before September 11.

With his well-timed book and subsequent testimony Clarke and his publicists ensured that he was on every flickering screen and front page in the land for days on end. In an interview with Larry King he claimed that his motive for writing the book was twofold: to explain what happened on 9/11, and to examine “why we had failed to stop it.”

Clarke forgot to mention two more motives, money and vengeance.

Money was the reason the book was published not a year earlier, when he retired from government, but on the eve of his appearance before the 9-11 Commission. In the event a mere three days after publication, and one day after his testimony, the book went into its fifth run with half a million copies in print. While the media supported the blitz for reasons mainly ideological-Clarke appeared as Kerry’s manna from heaven-in at least one instance the motive may have been pecuniary: on March 21 CBS’ 60 Minutes devoted two whole segments to Clarke’s magnum opus but the viewers were not told that the book’s publisher, Free Press, and CBS are both owned by the same media conglomerate, Viacom.

As for the revenge, having enjoyed the top White House position on counterterrorism under Clinton, Clarke was demoted to the position of “Cyberterrorism Coordinator” by Rice and Tenet. Bush’s refusal to meet personally with Clarke or to keep his position cabinet level was deeply hurtful to civil servant with an inflated ego and a chip on the shoulder, both traits obligatory for a member of the Clinton inner team. Whereas Clarke had been a Democrat for years, as Federal Election Commission (FEC) records of his political contributions show, since his demotion he has been a Bush hater. In addition to making a lot of money he wants to bring the President down. This “mission” fits in with the obsessive tendency of many other disgruntled ex-government employees to claim that America would have been a better, safer and happier place only if their superior wisdom had been heeded.

The main shortcoming of Bill Clinton’s, according to Clarke’s book, his 9-11 Commission testimony, and his numerous subsequent media appearances, was to have bombed the al-Qaida training camps only once. On the whole, he maintained, Clinton was better at managing the threat than Bush because-as he put it on CNN-“35 Americans were killed by al Qaeda over eight years [of Clinton] and 3,000 were killed on 9/11.”

In protecting Clinton Clarke engages in subterfuge, sins of commission and omission, and outright misrepresentation of reality. The usual litmus test is the Balkans. On pp. 136-140 of the book he thus claims, “[t]he predominantly Muslim province Bosnia had long been discriminated against by the Christian center, and Bosnia’s attempt at independence in 1991 was brutally countered by the Serb-dominated Belgrade government.” The administration of George H.W. Bush had done little to stop the slaughter, Clarke says, and the “hard-pressed Bosnians” reluctantly accepted help from foreign Islamic radicals who had been former Afghan mujahedeen. The “muj” engaged in “ghastly torture, murder, and mutilation that seemed excessive even by Balkan standards,” but “Bosnian president Alija Izetbegovic decided to take aid where he could.” A whole host of extremist groups and individuals duly gravoitated from Bosnia, including many participants in subsequent terrorist plots and attacks. The Clinton Administration acted to counter the threat by hammering out the Dayton Accord, which “took the dedicated and diligent labor of Clinton, Lake, Berger, Albright, Ambassador Dick Holbrook, and General Wes Clark.” In the end, despite Izetbegovic’s lapses in expelling the “muj,” Bosnia was largely a failure for al Qaeda:

“They invested men and money, but were unable to establish a major, permanent base… For the United States, Bosnia was largely a success. Although late to address the issue, the U.S. was the major reason that the Islamic government in Bosnia survived. The U.S. also blocked Iranian and al Qaeda influence in the country.”

These four pages reveal a mix of Clarke’s mendacity and ignorance. To start with, Bosnia and Herzegovina was not a “predominantly Muslim province” but a multi-ethnic republic of the Yugoslav federation in which the Muslims had the plurality of 43 percent but its two Christian constitutent nations, Serbs and Croats, had the simple majority. The Republic had not “long been discriminated against by the Christian center” because, in Tito’s Communist Yugoslavia, the “Center” had been eminently anti-Christian. Bosnia’s Communist nomenklatura had enjoyed a disproportionate share of top political posts in the last two decades of Communism and a large cut from the federal fund for underdeveloped regions.

“Bosnia’s attempt at independence” did not occur in 1991 but in 1992. The attempt itself amounted to an illegal bid by Izetbegovic, in February-March 1992, to obtain statehood by outvoting the Serbs in a referendum, in clear violation of Bosnia’s constitution that postulated unanimity of the three constituent nations as the only possible method of changing the status of the Republic. His ploy was not “brutally countered by the Serb-dominated Belgrade government”-the Yugoslav Army withdrew in May 1992-but by one-third of Bosnia’s indigenous population, the Serbs. Before the war Izetbegovic had declared that he would “sacrifice peace for a sovereign Bosnia-Herzegovina, but for that peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina I would not sacrifice sovereignty.” The civil war was the predictable outcome of his course.

Far from being a reluctant recepient of the “muj” assistance, Izetbegovic was an ethusiastic proponent of pan-Islamic solidarity his whole life. He wrote in his Islamic Declaration that “the Islamic movement must, and can, take over power as soon as it is morally and numerically so strong that it can not only destroy the existing non-Islamic power, but also build up a new Islamic one.” He asserted the incompatibility between Islam and the rest: “There is no peace or coexistence between the Islamic faith and non-Islamic social and political institutions.” His goal was umma, the creation of a single Muslim polity, “religious, cultural and political, since “Islam is not a nationality, but it is the supra-nationality of this community.” This “united Islamic community” will rang “from Morocco to Indonesia.”

Clarke’s failure to mention any of that, and his ability to claim with a straight face that saving “the Islamic government in Bosnia” was for the United States “largely a success” is remarkable; but his assertion that the U.S. blocked Iranian influence in Bosnia simply defies belief. The Clinton Administration’s complicity in the delivery of weapons from Iran to the Muslim government in Sarajevo-a covert operation that enabled the government in Tehran to establish a strong power base in Sarajevo-is by now well documented. According to a detailed report by the U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee (“Clinton-Approved Iranian Arms Transfers Help Turn Bosnia into Militant Islamic Base”), that policy, personally approved by Bill Clinton, had played a key role in the dramatic increase in Iranian influence in Bosnia. The report warned that it was “irresponsible in the extreme for the Clinton Administration to gloss over the extent” to which such policies have put Americans at risk. Its findings remain as valid today as they were seven years ago:

1. In April 1994, President Clinton gave the government of Croatia what has been described by Congressional committees as a “green light” for shipments of weapons from Iran and other Muslim countries to the Muslim-led government of Bosnia. The policy was approved at the urging of NSC chief Anthony Lake. The CIA and the Departments of State and Defense were kept in the dark until after the decision was made.

2. Along with the weapons, Iranian Revolutionary Guards and VEVAK intelligence operatives entered Bosnia in large numbers, as well as thousands of mujahedin. The Clinton Administration’s “hands-on” involvement with the Islamic network’s arms pipeline included inspections of missiles from Iran by U.S. government officials.

3. Underlying the Clinton Administration’s misguided green light policy was a complete misreading of its main beneficiary, the Bosnian Muslim government of Izetbegovic. Rather than being the tolerant, multiethnic democratic government it pretends to be, it had long been guided by the principles of radical Islam.

“To state that the Clinton Administration erred in facilitating the penetration of the Iranians and other radical elements into Europe,” the report concluded, “would be a breathtaking understatement. A thorough reexamination of U.S. policy and goals in the region is essential.”

Clarke does not address any of that. His bland assertion that “Bosnia was largely a failure for al Qaeda” is dangerously untrue. It is flatly contradicted by the U.S. Ambassador in Sarajevo, Clifford Bond, who declared on December 17 that there is a terrorist threat in Bosnia because of foreigners who arrived there during the war and stayed on. In that same week Greece announced that its national security interests were threatened by Al Qaida-aligned agents in Bosnia, and the former Socialist government of Prime Minister Costas Simitis expressed concern over the threat from Bosnia to the Olympic Games in August 2004. On December 29, 2003, the UN added the name of a Bosnian Islamic “charity” director to a list of 300 individuals whose assets should be frozen due to suspected ties to Osama bin Laden or his al Qaeda network. In the same week European media reported that the King Fahd mosque in Sarajevo-the largest in Europe, on which the desert kingdom had spent a total of $20 million-was considered a terrorist threat. “Western security experts” were quoted in the leading German news magazine Spiegel as saying that Bosnia could become “a hotbed of extremists ready to use force-and would thus carry the fight of the Islamic terror syndicates against the ‘godless West’ to the southeast of Europe.” “We are extremely concerned,” German intelligence chief August Hanning admitted: “in some mosques preachers are already openly inciting against the West.”

Similar statements made over the past few months are too numerous to mention. The Bosnian problem of Islamic terrorism exists, it is freely admitted that it exists by Western policy analysts and government officials alike, it has acquired massive proportions, and may not be easily resolved any longer. Contrary to Clarke’s wishful thinking, that threat is not limited to a few elusive extremists: the ruling establishment in Sarajevo has had a symbiotic relationship with the sources of Islamic radicalism for over a decade.

In the aftermath of 9-11 no effective anti-terrorist strategy is possible without recognizing past mistakes of U.S. policy that have helped breed terrorism. Eight years of the Clinton-Albright Administration’s covert and overt support for the Islamist camp in the balkans have been a foreign policy debacle of the first order, and a major contribution to the world-wide threat America faces today. Its beneficiaries were Osama bin Laden-since 1993 a Bosnian citizen, compliments of then-President Izetbegovic-and his co-religionists in Sarajevo, Tirana, and Pristina. If we are to take the War on Terrorism seriously, such blunders need to be recognized and rectified. Far from making a contribution to that objective, Richard Clarke’s book muddies the waters and misrepresents the past. It is contemptible in the author’s intent and dangerous in its consequences.

March 31, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

It’s been almost a year since the United States, the European Union, the United Nations, and Russia-a group known as the Quartet-published its proposal for the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict known as “the Road Map” (April 30, 2003). It is also a year since the Palestinian Assembly elected a moderate prime minister, Mahmud Abbas (a.k.a. Abou Mazen) amidst hopes that a new generation of leaders would take over the Palestinian National Authority (PNA).

The seven-page Road Map envisaged the establishment of provisional borders for the budding Palestinian polity by the end of 2003 and the resolution of most underlying disputes within three years, including an acceptance of Israel by Arab nations and the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state. The document was flawed in that it left the borders of the future Palestinian state undefined and it did not provide for the enforcement of deadlines for its three phases. It was nevertheless a step forward in that it accepted Palestinian statehood as a desirable outcome.

President Bush declared that he was “personally committed” to the peace plan and to the establishment of a Palestinian state within three years. “The end of Saddam’s regime,” he declared, “will remove a source of violence and instability in the Middle East.” That was not the first time we were told that, as soon as an ongoing regional crisis was out of the way, the United States would seriously devote itself to the Israeli-Palestinian problem. Bush-senior made that same promise during the first Gulf War 13 years ago, and his son made the same promise at the beginning of the Afghan intervention in the fall of 2001. Over the past year, however, Mr. Bush’s “personal commitment” proved to be less than enduring. He has not acted even-handedly and in the election year he is less willing than ever to take any political risks.


On the Israeli side Bush encountered the most intransigent government coalition in decades. The Sharon government never seriously intended to evacuate all the occupied territories in the West Bank and dismantle all of the settlements. (It does not care for Gaza, for as long as it is fenced in and left leaderless.) It ostensibly accepted the concept of a “road map” but left it open to subsequent Israeli conditions, provisos and amendments. Within weeks the Bush administration backed down and announced that it would address Israel’s “significant concerns” over the Road Map. That was the first victory for Mr. Sharon over a plan had been presented as non-negotiable.

That early American climb-down was seen in Europe and elsewhere as a fresh indicator of Washington’s customary inability to exert pressure on Israel. As the Financial Times noted at that time, the Bush administration “can dutifully echo Mr. Sharon, as it has done since this hard-line champion of Greater Israel came to power… or it can state forthrightly that this peace process-unlike the ultimately abortive Oslo accords of the 1990s-is not subject to veto by extremists on either side. If Washington is serious, that means the road map it has underwritten cannot be negotiable and that both sides have to move along it simultaneously, irrespective of the bumps they will hit on the way.”

Sharon further upped the ante when he stated in Aqaba, after a meeting with Abbas (June 4, 2003) that “we can also reassure our Palestinian partners that we understand the importance of territorial contiguity in the West Bank for a viable Palestinian state.” By making this statement he was essentially ruling out a full Israeli withdrawal: “contiguity” could be an issue only in the context of a continued Israeli presence on Palestinian land. Barely a month after the formal launching of the Road Map it was evident that Sharon wanted a Palestinian “state” based on an arrangement in which Palestinians are given limited self-government within a greater Israel.

Even in its original form the Road Map contained an imbalance between the obligations on the two parties. The Palestinians were to stop the Intifada, establish security cooperation with the Israelis, and recognize Israel’s right to exist in peace and security more or less immediately, while the Israelis only needed to give Palestinian officials their freedom of movement, improve the humanitarian situation, and stop attacks on civilians. With the provisos demanded by Sharon and accepted by Bush it was up to Israel to decide if a single bomb would halt or reverse the process, however it developed. The diehards on the Arab side obliged the Israeli prime minister by staging terrorist acts to which he retaliated with gusto. The innovative formula devised by former Israeli prime minister Rabin-“negotiate as if terrorism didn’t exist, and fight terrorism as if negotiations didn’t exist”-was discarded by Sharon in favor of using terrorist attacks as a pretext for redrawing beyond recognition a “map” that he had never seriously intended to follow.


By early summer Abbas was in a bind. His commitment to the Road Map was based on the promise that it would not be open to revision and he could not continue promoting it without appearing as a foreign stooge or, worse, a fool. He was under pressure on three fronts: from Arafat’s old guard of the Fatah movement, from the young Islamic radicals who rejected compromise of any kind with Israel, and from the unyielding government of Ariel Sharon that claimed to support him but did not give him any real breaks. The only way he could survive was to develop a security force loyal to him personally and to produce speedy and tangible results that would alleviate the living conditions and economic prospects of ordinary Palestinians. His repeated threats to resign were not a theatrical gesture. He knew that if those two conditions remained unfulfilled, not only his political but also his physical survival would be in doubt.

At an acrimonious meeting (July 20, 2003) Israel demanded permanent security guarantees from Abbas and a determined crackdown by the Palestinian Authority on militant groups such as Hamas. Palestinians demand Israeli withdrawals in the West Bank, a halt on the construction of Jewish settlements, and the release of thousands of Palestinian prisoners. Abbas flew to Washington to seek Bush’s support, but got only vague promises. The Bush administration could have helped Abbas by providing him with substantial funds for a security force that would be under his control and by exerting pressure on Sharon to deliver immediately on the pledge to withdraw to the positions before 28 September 2000, to curtail the humiliation of Palestinians at Israeli checkpoints in the territories, and to release a significant number of Palestinian prisoners. Those measures would have given Abbas an opportunity to become a player in his own right, rather than a reactive figure perpetually squeezed between Arafat’s rock and Sharon’s hard place. Washington proved unwilling, however, to confront an Israel that remained committed to the settlements and opposed to a genuinely independent Palestinian state; Abbas duly resigned on September 6 of last year.

Had Abbas survived it would have been to the benefit of all parties, not least the Israelis who would have finally encountered on the Palestinian side a credible leader other than Arafat, under whom there could be no progress on the issue of terrorism and security. The long-suffering Palestinian people would have gained a leader who was not discredited by corruption, nepotism, and links with terrorism. With Abbas’ departure, however, the U.S.-sponsored Roadmap was finally stalled.


The main beneficiary of Abbas’ defeat was the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) President Yasser Arafat. Often dismissed as an odious has-been whose political days were numbered, in the aftermath of Abbas’ departure he bounced back with a vengeance. Like his predecessor, the newly-appointed prime minister, Ahmed Qureia, faced Arafat’s customary unwillingness to relinquish control over the security services, the key lever of real power in the PNA. Queria, the former Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) speaker, was in the paradoxical position of having Arafat’s mandate to form the government and at the same time having its key members, notably security service chiefs, imposed by the ageing Chairman’s fiat.

Arafat’s primary objective in creating a government in his own image was to enhance his power regardless of consequences for the position of his people. This suited Sharon, who was primarily interested in pursuing his short-term objectives unhindered. By the end of 2003 one of those objectives was the construction of the controversial “separation fence” that was to be situated largely within the West Bank, and not along the 1967 border. The plan envisaged a wall of separation 400 miles long that would run into the heart of the West Bank to protect large Jewish settlements such as Ariel, ensuring Israel’s total control over Palestinian movement. It would come to the suburbs of Ramallah in the central part of the West Bank, and cut into the outskirts of Bethlehem, south of Jerusalem.

With Arafat’s return to the center stage of Palestinian politics Sharon hoped that the United States would not act upon its earlier threat to reduce loan guarantees to Israel if the fence cut too deeply into Palestinian territory. He was right: after publicly criticizing the fence, the Bush administration negotiated with the Israelis merely some minor changes in the route of the barrier. Yet again Sharon had demonstrated supreme self-confidence in managing his relationship with the U.S. Administration by turning a hugely controversial project into a non-issue inside the Beltway. Having Arafat back in charge of the PNA was a welcome alibi for the intransigence to which he had always inclined.

The deadlock, ironically, suited Arafat just fine. He continued to be president of the PNA one day, the populist demagogue of old the next. Far from really intending to exile or kill the PNA President, Sharon liked Arafat being his old self: as powerless to stop terrorist attacks as he was unable to resist Israeli retaliation The dilemma whether he is unwilling to control terrorists (as Sharon accused him), or unable to do so (as his apologists contended) was false: Arafat could no longer stop the violence even if he wanted to.


By the year’s end (December 18, 2003) Sharon delivered an important speech in which he announced a set of measures that would not only “shape Israel’s character during the next few years,” as he put it, but promised to shape the Middle East for years to come. Robbed of rhetoric the speech made five key points:

First, Sharon would seek to impose his solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict unilaterally.

Second, he would stay committed to the “Roadmap”-“based on President George Bush’s June 2002 speech”-but “the achievement of full security” had to come first: the Palestinians must “uproot the terrorist groups,” “create a law-abiding society which fights against violence and incitement,” and “transform the Palestinian Authority into a different authority” before progress in the political process can be made.

Third, if the Palestinians failed to do so in a few months, “Israel will initiate the unilateral security step of disengagement from the Palestinians.”

Fourth, the Plan would include the redeployment of the Israeli Army (IDF) along the security fence and “a change in the deployment of settlements” that would seek to remove Jewish settlements from the areas beyond the fence.

And fifth, the fence “will not constitute the permanent border of the State of Israel” but “as long as implementation of the Roadmap is not resumed, the IDF will be deployed along that line.” The “Disengagement Plan” will be “realized,” however, if the Palestinians continue to postpone implementation of the Roadmap, and “they will receive much less than they would have received through direct negotiations as set out in the Roadmap.”

That Sharon has already made up his mind to proceed unilaterally was clear. His insistence on President Bush’s June 2002 speech as the alleged basis of the “Roadmap” was especially significant. In that speech Mr. Bush made harshly critical remarks about the Palestinian Authority, saying that “peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership… not compromised by terrorism.” As the London Times commented at the time, his speech “was so pro-Israel that it might have been written by Ariel Sharon.” Mr. Sharon invoked that speech knowing that the post set up by Bush was so high that no current or likely future Palestinian leader could hope to cross it. His scenario was greatly helped by Arafat’s return, providing the Israeli prime minister an alibi for the intransigence to which he had always inclined.

Sharon’s intentions could not be understood separately from the geography of the security fence and the pace of its construction. By the time of its scheduled completion, later this year, Sharon will declare that the Palestinians’ failure to eradicate terrorism and carry out other reforms justify Israel’s unilateral disengagement; in February of 2004 he already announced that intention vis-а-vis Gaza. He will proclaim that the “Road Map” is sadly no longer a viable blueprint for peace, and proceed with de facto partition of the occupied territories. The areas under Palestinian control-barely one-tenth of the pre-partition Palestine-will be surrounded by the fence itself, and by a string of relocated Jewish settlements and Israeli military outposts behind it. Those areas will be de facto annexed to Israel. Palestinian enclaves will be nominally contiguous but easily cut into a dozen mutually unconnected enclaves at a moment’s notice by the IDF.


The death knell for the Road Map was sounded with Israel’s assassination of Sheik Ahmad Yassin, founder of the Hamas militant group in the Gaza Strip (March 22). His funeral in Gaza City, attended by more than 100,000 people, reflected a new tide of militancy throughout the region. New Hamas leader Abdelaziz Rantissi immediately ruled out any ceasefire with Israel until it ends its occupation of the Palestinian territories. The leader of the Lebanese group Hezbollah, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, vowed that his fighters would “take the harshest revenge.” Several other groups, including Islamic Jihad, have threatened to target Sharon, who is reported to have personally approved the killing.

In Europe the media of different shades of political opinion were quick to warn that Yassin’s killing would not make Israel any more secure. The left-of-center Guardian declared that Israelis themselves would pay the price, becoming the targets of a fierce and bloody revenge: “Israelis may feel better leaving Gaza having crushed the enemy (though heaven knows what fury they would have unleashed),” but Hamas will still brag, with some justification, that their three years of ‘armed struggle’ achieved more than years of negotiation by Arafat’s secularist Palestinian Authority: “Once again Sharon has strengthened the extremists, empowering not the makers of peace, but the bringers of war.” The conservative Daily Telegraph contended that whatever Yassin’s death was meant to achieve, its symbolism is disastrous for Israel: “Sharon’s decision to execute Yassin is worse than a crime: it is a blunder.” In the same spirit the Financial Times called the assassination “an extremely stupid action”: “While there is no Israeli-Palestinian ‘peace process’ worth the name currently being pursued, this killing is a big escalation in the conflict, which in addition will now probably spill over into the international arena.”

So far, so conventional. What most commentators here and abroad have failed to note, however, is that the killing of Yassin has cemented even further the alliance between Palestinian nationalism and Islamic fundamentalism that he has devoted his life to fostering. Until a generation ago political Islam was an almost unknown phenomenon among Palestinians. The Arab Nationalist Movement founded in 1950 by Georges Habache, the Fatah started by Yasser Arafat eight years later, and the PLO which came into being in 1964, were all secular-nationalist organizations with strongly Marxist overtones. Their slogans were largely devoid of a religious component and they were treated with some mistrust by Muslim traditionalists.

The great realignment came with the collapse of the Soviet Union. In the absence of the failed secular god, many young Palestinians turned to Allah. Sheikh Ahmad Yassin successfully offered them a blend of the nationalist slogans of the secularists and political Islam. In line with the Islamic teaching he declared that when the infidels usurp a Muslim land, Jihad becomes fard-u-‘ayn (compulsory) upon every single Muslim. To confront the Jews was, in Yassin’s view, not only a matter of national pride and patriotic duty but also a religious obligation. He had succeeded in shifting the struggle against Israel from a “war of national liberation” to an act of worship for which Allah rewards those who sacrifice themselves.

Such religious contextualization of the Arab-Israeli dispute has made its resolution more difficult. For all its complexities it had been somewhat easier to look for a solution while the conflict remained stated in the secular, “rational” terms of power, territory, resources, and guarantees. Yassin has done more than any other man to effect a change in the internal Arab discourse: from the point of view of his followers, no permanent peace is possible because it would be against Allah’s will to grant any piece of land once controlled by the faithful to non-Muslims. Even if Israel is eventually recognized by all of its Arab neighbors as part of a peace package imposed by the outside world-an unlikely prospect at this time-the lasting legacy of Yassin will be that a large segment of the Palestinian opinion, especially among the young who are in the majority today and the leaders of tomorrow, will reject the legitimacy of the Jewish state’s existence, and will refuse to regard its existence as a permanent feature of the Middle Eastern political landscape.

It should be noted that a mirror-image of this view is the claim of some Israelis-embraced by many in the American evangelical movement-that the modern state of Israel is the embodiment of a biblical covenant. Even the secularist, socialist former Prime Minister, the late Golda Meir, once declared that “this country exists as the accomplishment of a promise made by God Himself and it would be absurd to call its legitimacy into account.”

Theological claims of both sides notwithstanding, the conflict in the Middle East is neither incomprehensible outside its own terms of reference, nor unique. It is structurally comparable to that between Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo, or between Orangemen and Nationalists in Ulster. It is a zero-sum dispute, with one side’s gain seen and felt as another’s loss. In all cases the parties vie for power and for territory that each side claims as its own. Many are willing to fight and die to take it or to preserve it. Their claims are often accompanied by the religously based “narratives” that are rooted in history, myth, and tradition.

The US should treat such claims with polite respect, but it must not co-opt it or internalize any of them as a relevant factor in America’s own security calculation. It should be aware of the historical record of political Islam and harbor no illusions about the ultimate objective of Sheikh Yassin’s heirs, which is to destroy Israel. At the same time, de-mystifying the relationship between America and Israel, and redefining it in terms of mutual interests devoid of metaphysical or emotional mists, would help it mature into a “normal” nation-state and make a settlement more likely.


The continued existence of Israel is in the interest of the United States, on geopolitical, rather than moral, or Biblical grounds. The U.S. should promote a fair, genuinely even-handed settlement-based on the fundamentally sound principle of “land for peace”-that would remove the threat to Israel’s existence and that would include specific renunciation of any religious injunctions that forbid permanent peace. The alternative, in the long run, is the fulfillment of Sheikh Ahmad Yassin’s ugly dream.

What, if anything, can be built on the ruins of the Road Map in the near future? Nothing, it is certain, until after the U.S. presidential election next November. In the short term Sharon is the winner. He will “disengage” from the fenced-in areas of the West Bank and solidify his hold on the rest, with a discredited Arafat and a helpless Arab world seething with anger, and a docile duopoly in Washington pretending that it is not happening.

Sharon’s “disengagement” will present ever more starkly Israel’s true long-term choices: it will either reach a compromise based on the withdrawal from all occupied territories, evacuation of most settlements, and acceptance of truly sovereign Palestinian statehood, or else it will have to “remove” the Arabs inhabiting those territories to Jordan, and bring millions of fresh Jewish settlers from around the world.

In the long run time is not on Israel’s side, demographically and psychologically. As the Israeli commentator Uri Avnery has noted, with Sharon’s current strategy a new chapter in the 100-year old Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be opened. The Palestinians will fight and their struggle will intensify the more Sharon’s design progresses. There will be no peace and no security. While this should be a matter of regret for Israel’s friends, the willingness of the U.S. Administration to go along with Sharon’s ultimately self-defeating design-and to pretend that the Israeli prime minister is being constructive-is pathetic. It serves no definable American interest and it is not conducive to Israel’s long-term, peaceful, and prosperous survival.

March 23, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

Since March 17 over thirty Serbs were killed in Kosovo by rioting Albanians, hundreds were wounded, and thousands expelled from their homes. In many cases their homes were set on fire, their livestock killed, and their property looted. Two-dozen Christian churches and monasteries were also gutted or dynamited, thus nearly completing the work started in the immediate aftermath of NATO’s occupation in 1999 when over a hundred shrines were destroyed.

“Kristallnacht is under way in Kosovo,” an official of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission to Kosovo (UNMIK) says, “a pogrom against Serbs: churches are on fire and people are being attacked for no other reason than their ethnic background.” Things must be out of control if even UN administrators and NATO officers, who usually deny or minimize Albanian crimes, now admit that we are witnessing a coordinated, premeditated campaign of ethnic cleansing.

The campaign has a simple objective: to expel the remaining Serbs from the province, in addition to a quarter of a million already expelled since the end of the war five years ago. It was no longer possible for the “international community” to remain in denial because its own personnel have been attacked by Albanian mobs forcing their way through UNMIK checkpoints into enclaves inhabited by the few remaining Serbs.

As Christian churches burn in the heart of Europe, as Christians are being martyred by their Muslim neighbors for the mere fact of being what they are, it is time to re-visit the history of the Kosovo conflict. Western media consumers may be forgiven for thinking that the history of that conflict starts in 1989, when the Serbs supposedly abolished the autonomy of that hitherto happy and harmonious multicultural province. This is not true, and a truthful account of the problem’s background is needed for an informed debate, lest the claims of the Albanian lobbies succeed yet again in imposing a Balkan agenda in Washington that is as offensive to decency as it is inimical to American interests.

Though few English and even fewer American history books tell us much about her, in the 300 years which lie between the Norman conquest of England and the death of Edward III, Serbia was one of the strongest and most culturally and economically advanced states in Europe. The Serbian kingdom and its autocephalous church provided the framework for the flowering of an authentically national culture and arts inspired by the Byzantine legacy. It has given Europe some of the most notable examples of medieval architecture and painting, as evidenced in the monasteries of Gracanica, Decani, Studenica, Zica, Mileseva, Sopocani, and many others.

Serbia’s physical and spiritual heart was in Kosovo, a bucolic valley of fertile fields and vineyards surrounded by misty hills. A mere 4,200 square miles in size (with an additional 2,000 square miles of adjacent Metohija), this cradle of the Serbian nation was inhabited, since the early medieval times, by a homogenous Serbian population. The old toponims, names of mountains, rivers, and most towns and villages are all of Slav origin. The very name of the region-Kosovo and Metohija-is derived from the Serbian word kos (“the field of the blackbird”) and metoh (“church estate”).

Kosovo has been a battlefield dozens of times. Various nations-Byzantines, Bulgars, Serbs, Magyars, Austrians, Albanians, Turks-and various faiths, Christian, Bogomil, Muslim, and more recently Marxist, have fought there at different times; but of all Kosovo battles the one that stands out happened on Vidovdan (St. Vitus’ Day), June 28, 1389. The Turks had already been on the European continent for some time, seemingly unstoppable and intoxicated by easy victories over the rival and disunited infidels. The Serbs, led by Prince Lazar, tried to stop them and perished; that much is certain. The lore has it that before going into battle Lazar made the famous statement that generations of Serbs have treasured and which is the essence of the Gospel message: “The EarthlyKingdom is short-lived, but the Heavenly One is forever.” His mutilated body, and Kosovo itself, became a symbol of steadfast courage and Christian sacrifice, much as the Alamo was for the Americans once.


The battle of Kosovo was one of the most decisive events in the whole history of South Eastern Europe. It meant not merely the fall of the medieval Serbian empire and the conquest of the whole Balkan Peninsula by a barbarous Asiatic invader, but also an important stepping stone in the struggle of Islam against Christianity. From 1459 to 1804 Serbia ceased to exist as a state and a self-governing nation. In all those years the Serbs have celebrated the great battle, not only as a day of mourning but as an event to be remembered and avenged.

The Balkan peninsula became a two-realm society, Muslim and Christian, one privileged and the other discriminated against. It was up to each individual to decide whether he wanted to live and die as an exploited non-person, or make a compromise with his conscience, embrace Islam, and lead a more favored existence. Islamization was swift among the Albanians, who lived in the hills to the south of Kosovo and who did not have an autocephalousChurch. Islamization produced a new stratification of the society under Ottoman rule, and a new power balance among national groups. The balance was shifting, and as far as the Albanians and Serbs were concerned; it was shifting drastically in favor of the Albanians, to the detriment of good relations between them. The emergence of a significant number of Islamized Albanians holding high posts at the Porte was reflected in Kosovo and Metohija. Albanians started appearing, at first as officials and tax collectors in local administration, acting as the pillar of Ottoman authority. Being divided at first by language and culture, and subsequently by religion, Serbs and Albanians gradually became members of two fundamentally opposed social and political groups.

As warriors, fascinated by swords and guns, used to discipline and obeying when ruled by a strong hand, many Albanians saw Islam as an opportunity that they could not let pass. The latent Serbian-Albanian conflict came into the open during the Holy League’s war against the Ottoman Empire (1683-1690). Many Serbs joined the Habsburg troops. The Albanians reacted in accordance with their new Islamic identity. Following the Habsburgs’ defeat a considerable number of local Serbs, fearing Muslim vengeance and reprisals, left Kosovo led by their Patriarch. On their way they were joined by many people from other parts of southern Serbia and moved to the neighboring Habsburg Empire, today’s Vojvodina. Two generations later yet another Austro-Ottoman war provoked further Serb migrations (1739), led by another Patriarch.

Fertile farmlands thus abandoned by the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija were gradually settled by the neighboring Muslim Albanian nomads. This settlement proceeded at a slow pace at first, as the number of Serbs who had stayed put was still considerable. The pattern of Albanian settlement developed in uneven waves, but typically, upon the seizure of a plot of Serb-owned land, fellow tribesmen were brought in from the mountains to protect the acquisition and to help expand the space needed for the herds. Migrant herdsmen (Albanians) were in constant conflict with the settled farmers (Serbs). This pattern of social conflict was enhanced by the religious dimension. As a Muslim, an Albanian herdsman could persecute and rob a Christian Serb with complete impunity. To the former Islam was a means for social promotion, but his ethnic identity, derived from the common tribal and patriarchal tradition, engendered far stronger loyalties and collective identities. It was only by the mid-1800s, however, that the Albanians achieved numerical parity with the Serbs in the province. By that time the Serbs’ work of national liberation was in full swing. By the end of the century the Albanians realized that the Ottoman Empire could no longer offer them protection and advancement.

As the Serbian state was growing in size and political importance in Balkan affairs, Albanian fears and animosity grew apace. In the Kingdom of Serbia (1912-1914), during the Great War (1914-1918), in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1918-1941), under the Axis occupation (1941-1945), and under Tito’s communists, those conflicts were transferred into new rivalries, this time involving a strong international component related to the changed roles. Serbian historian Dusan Batakovic has noted that uneven levels of national integration among Serbs and Albanians gave fresh impetus to the old religious tensions:

The Albanians, similarly to other belated nations (verspдtete nation), when confronted with rival nationalisms, sought foreign support and advocated radical solutions. In Kosovo-Metohija and in western Macedonia, where the Serbs and the Albanians were intermingled, with the system falling apart and with the growing social stagnation, it was anarchy that reigned: there the Christians were the principal victims and the Muslims were their persecutors.

The process was supposedly justified by the “Illyrian theory” about the Albanians’ origin. According to this theory, for which no reliable scientific evidence has ever been found, the Albanians are the oldest nation in Europe created through a mixture of pre-Roman Illyrian and Pelasgian tribes. A questionable scientific thesis was turned into the mythological basis for national integration, which-in the fullness of time-became the main pillar of the Albanians’ modern national identity and the basis for their territorial aspirations. Those aspirations needed an external source of support, however. With Turkey’s decline it was initially offered in Hapsburg Vienna, but Austria’s defeat in 1918 and the establishment of the Yugoslav state meant that Mussolini provided the only hope. The dream of a Great Albania became a reality with the fall of Yugoslavia in 1941, albeit under Italian tutelage. An immediate consequence of the Axis occupation was the expulsion of some 100,000 Serbs from Kosovo. It is estimated that by 1944 around ten thousand Serbs had been murdered by various Albanian militias. Their homes and lands were taken over by fresh settlers from Albania. In 1943-44 thousands of young Albanians enthusiastically enlisted in the SS Skenderbey division and embarked on a new wave of violence against the remaining Serbian civilian population.


In the aftermath of the war the communist regime attempted to sweep the bloody legacy of World War II under the carpet. Expelled Serbs were prevented from returning and for the first time the Albanians achieved simple numerical majority. Tito’s federalism granted the Albanian-dominated Party nomenklatura in Kosovo the status of a de facto republic. This “federalism” was but a misnomer for his game of divide et impera, in which the salient objective was to carve up the Serbs-40 percent of the population-into as many different units as possible. This created a cauldron that depended on Tito himself as the ultimate arbiter. The communist experiment in Kosovo created a permanent mechanism of keeping the old passions and animosities on the slow burner, and thus providing the ruling clique with legitimacy. When the clique disintegrated, in the absence of the dictator who died in 1980, the threat turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Those borders, allegedly “administrative,” increasingly resembled the frontiers of covertly rival nation-states, linked only by the authority of the departed leader. Kosovo’s competencies were hardly any different from those of the federal republics. Albanian apparatchiks in Pristina ensured that the shift was reflected in demography: in 1946 the Albanians made up about 50 percent of the population of Kosovo, but by 1981 it was 77.5 percent. The corresponding percentage for Serbs had dropped to 15 percent. Thus, as the Albanian goal of an ethnically pure Kosovo almost turned into a reality, that reality became increasingly unbearable for those who could not pack up and leave.

By 1969 Kosovo had a supreme court and the Albanian flag. Pristina had an independent university focused on Tirana, which sent to Kosovo 240 university teachers, together with Albanian textbooks. Then came the aggressive folklore: Albanian movies, TV and radio, sports and cultural exchanges. With 8 percent of the Yugoslav population, Kosovo got 30 percent of the country’s Federal Development Fund. The Kosovo authorities sometimes used these funds to buy up land from Serbs and give it to Albanians. The Serbs resented being forced to learn Albanian and to attend schools with instruction in Albanian. They feared the escalation of Albanian expectations, primarily among the burgeoning ranks of the younger generation.

The demand for the creation of a “Republic of Kosovo”-with the right to secession-was advanced in 1981, only a year after Tito’s death. The attempt to hush up the Albanian question, together with visible attempts to minimize the problem of the forced emigration of the Kosovo Serbs, resulted in the deep frustration of the whole Serbian nation. That frustration was skillfully used by Slobodan Milosevic. In 1987 he uttered the famous phrase to the Kosovo Serbs-“No one will beat you again”-but his aim in the late 1980s was to renew the Party by using patriotic slogans, not to revive the nation. This was the opposite to the rest of Eastern Europe, where communism’s demise by means of genuine nationalism was under way.

Many Albanians responded to Milosevic’s rise with strikes and demonstrations. Their actions strengthened Milosevic’s position. The results were the limitation of autonomy, unrest and police repression in Kosovo (1989). Serbia, thanks to Milosevic, acquired the image of “the last bastion of communism in Europe” while the Albanian separatist movement obtained the halo of Western-approved victimhood in its supposed search for “democracy and human rights.” Democracy in Serbia was blocked by the unresolved national question.

The secessionist movement of the Albanians in Kosovo, derived from the logic of the Titoist order and based on ethnic intolerance, led to the homogenization of the Serbs in Yugoslavia. It created Milosevic, the neo-communist quasi-nationalist, and resulted in the homogenization of the other Yugoslav nations. Due to the inability of the communist and post-communist leaderships to place democratic principles above narrow national interests, ethnic mobilization directly led to the civil war.


In 1989 Kosovo’s autonomy was not revoked but was downgraded-at the federal level-to what it had been before 1974. Most Albanians refused to accept Belgrade’s reassertion of authority, however, and many were fired from their state jobs. The resulting standoff-of boycott and the creation of alternative institutions on the Albanian side and of increasingly severe police repression on the Serbian side-continued for most of the 1990s.

While after 1989 there was a tense stand off in Kosovo, there was no warfare. That changed in early 1998, as the result of the KLA’s deliberate strategy to turn a political confrontation into a military confrontation. Attacks directed against Serbian police and officials, Serb civilians and insufficiently militant Albanians were calculated to trigger a response by Serbian forces. The growing cycle of violence led to the possibility of NATO military involvement. NATO intervention was the KLA’s real goal rather than any realistic expectation of victory on the battlefield. Some atrocities were committed in Kosovo, by Milosevic’s forces as well as the KLA, in the months before the bombing. The extent and specifics of the reports that the media often treated as fact were open to question, however. Then the “massacre” at Racak happened.

Let it be recalled that in February 1994 the Bosnian Muslim government staged the infamous “marketplace massacre” in Sarajevo, killing scores of its own people. Ballistic, forensic and circumstantial evidence notwithstanding, the U.S. government promptly blamed the Serbs for the carnage. The U.N. on the ground knew the score, so did everybody else involved in this sordid matter, but Washington used Markale as a pretext for the first bombing raids against the Serbs.

The prelude to NATO’s war against Serbia in 1999 was yet another stage-managed “massacre,” in January 1999. This time the venue was the village of Racak, in Kosovo. The principals were all Albanians: the victims, the stage-managers, and the ultimate political benefactors. The media went into a fit of rage over the discovery of 45 dead Albanians there, allegedly “civilians butchered in cold blood” by the Serbs. The head of the OSCE observer mission in Kosovo, American “diplomat” William Walker, immediately asserted that the Serbs were to blame. Belgrade’s claim that the bodies were in fact KLA guerillas fallen during the fight in the surrounding areas was scornfully rejected as “Serbian propaganda.” But according to Le Monde (January 21, 1999), Walker and the Albanians “gave the version which does not give answer to many questions”:

“Isn’t the massacre of Racak too perfect? . . . How the Serb police could gather a group of men and quietly take them to the place of execution, while they were constantly under the KLA fire? How the ditch at the edge of Racak could escape the glance of the inhabitants, familiar of the places, present before the night? And how come that the observers present for more than two hours in this very small village failed to see the ditch too? Why are there only a few cartridge cases around the corpses, and little blood in this sunken lane where 23 people were supposedly shot several times in the head? Weren’t the bodies of the Albanians killed in the combat by the Serb police, and joined together in the ditch to create a scene of horror, in order to initiate the predictable wrath of the public opinion?”

Part of the answer was provided in 2003 by retired Swedish Brigadier General Bo Pellnas, who was head of U.N. Military Observers (UNMO’s) in Croatia, and-later-in charge of a monitoring mission to Yugoslavia sponsored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). He claims that the U.S. “fabricated evidence” against the Serbs both in Bosnia and Kosovo. Writing in the leading Swedish daily Aftonbladet, he warned that his experiences in the Balkans make him weary of American claims: “if the US were to present evidence of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, the countries of the Western world would have no way to substantiate these reports due to the technical superiority of the US.”

The conclusive answer was given by Finnish pathologist Helena Ranta who headed the forensic team the European Union sent to Racak in January 1999 to investigate the alleged massacre. In an interview with the Berliner Zeitung she criticized The Hague Tribunal for not following up the evidence that there was heavy fighting between Serb soldiers and the Albanian fighters during the night of January 15-16, 1999 in the Racak-region. She said she knew that at that time a number of KLA fighters were killed in Racak as well as several Serb soldiers; it would be appropriate “to ask the tribunal why they are not interested in that number.” Ranta demanded that the tribunal looks at the pictures taken several hours prior to the arrival of OCSE-observers. They show that at least one of the bodies was moved afterwards. She concluded that several governments “were interested in a version of Racak that blamed only the Serb side, but I could not provide that version.”


The meaning of The Massacre That Never Was of January 1999 became clear at Rambouillet a month later. It was a necessary massacre, a prelude to a premeditated war. The primary justification for NATO attack against Yugoslavia was not the “human tragedy” but its refusal to sign the Kosovo peace agreement put forward by the United States and some of its allies at Rambouillet. President Clinton claimed at that time that the Albanians “chose peace” by eventually signing the agreement, even though “they did not get everything they wanted.” The Serbs, he claimed, refused to negotiate, even though the deal left Kosovo as part of Yugoslavia.

Clinton was taking his customary liberties with the truth. Few journalists and fewer commentators had taken the time to look at the actual agreement. The “peace plan” actually gave the Albanians what they wanted: de facto independence immediately, with guaranteed de jure independence in three years. For the Serbs, signing the Rambouillet agreement would actually be signing away all Serbian sovereignty over Kosovo immediately. It was not even a “take it or leave it” proposition, as Secretary of State Albright said back in February 1999, but “sign it or get bombed.” There were, in fact, no negotiations at all, save those between the U.S. and the KLA. No sovereign, independent and self-respecting state could have signed the Rambouillet agreement, which-inter alia-postulated that:

“Kosovo will have a president, prime minister and government, an assembly, its own Supreme Court, constitutional court and other courts and prosecutors.”
“Kosovo will have the authority to make laws not subject to revision by Serbia or Yugoslavia, including levying taxes, instituting programs of economic, scientific, technological, regional and social development, conducting foreign relations in the same manner as a Republic.”
“Yugoslav army forces will withdraw completely from Kosovo, except for a limited border guard force (active only within a 5 km border zone)”; the same was to apply to all Serb police forces.
“The parties invite NATO to deploy a military force (KFOR), which will be authorized to use necessary force to ensure compliance with the accords.”
“The international community will ensure that these provisions are carried out through a Civilian Implementation Mission appointed by NATO.”
The Chief of the CIM may issue “binding directives to the Parties on all matters he sees fit, including appointing and removing officials and curtailing institutions.”
“Three years after the implementation of the Accords, an international meeting will be convened to determine a final settlement for Kosovo on the basis of the will of the people.”
So much for the political stipulations of the “peace” deal. But the Rambouillet accord had a remarkable military annex, too. That annex-besides turning Kosovo into a NATO colony in every respect-would have subjected all of Yugoslavia to its military occupation. It revived the hated colonial concept of “extraterritoriality,” under which the colonizers were immune from the courts of the colonized country, even if they committed rape or murder. Remarkably,

“NATO personnel shall enjoy, together with their vehicles, vessels, aircraft, and equipment, free and unrestricted passage and unimpeded access throughout the FRY including associated airspace and territorial waters. This shall include, but not be limited to, the right of bivouac, maneuver, billet and utilization of any areas or facilities as required for support, training, and operations.”
“NATO is granted the use of airports, roads, rails, and ports without payment of fees, duties, dues, tolls, or charges occasioned by mere use.”
Yugoslavia shall “grant all telecommunications services, including broadcast services, needed for the Operation, as determined by NATO. This shall include the right to utilize such means and services as required to assure full ability to communicate and the right to use all of the electromagnetic spectrum for this purpose, free of cost.”
“NATO may . . . make improvements or modifications to certain infrastructure in the FRY, such as roads, bridges, tunnels, buildings, and utility systems.”
“NATO shall be immune from all legal process, whether civil, administrative, or criminal.”
“NATO personnel shall be immune from any form of arrest, investigation, or detention by the authorities in the FRY. NATO personnel, under all circumstances and at all times, shall be immune from the Parties, jurisdiction in respect of any civil, administrative, criminal or disciplinary offenses which may be committed by them in the FRY.”
The arrival of NATO troops in Kosovo would have been, by itself, a violation of Serbia’s sovereignty. But this proposal demanded unfettered NATO access to any and all parts of the FRY, with all costs to be borne by it! This violated Yugoslavia’s sovereignty in so provocative a manner that it could not have been accidental. It is not difficult to imagine a working group in Washington charged with the task of thinking up the most intrusive and insulting clauses possible to insert. Clearly, U.S. policymakers never intended the Serbs to sign this document. It was meant to be unacceptable. The “Rambouillet Peace Accord” was, in truth, a declaration of war disguised as a peace agreement. Belgrade was ready to grant Albanians a wide autonomy, including religious, education and health care systems, and local government operations. But their negotiating efforts were summarily dismissed and they were told they had only two choices: sign the agreement as written, or face NATO bombing.

The war could have been easily avoided. As Le Monde Diplomatique pointed out (“Behind the Rambouillet talks,” May 1999), the Serbs had accepted its main provisions. The only outstanding issue was the nature of the force to be deployed in Kosovo. It was only when the United States unilaterally introduced the provision of a three-year transition to Kosovo’s independence, and added the amazing military protocol, that the Serbs had no choice but to refuse.


On 19 March 1999 the “Kosovo Liberation Army,” previously dismissed as terrorists, signed the “accords.” The Serbs had been nicely stitched up. By that time, after the U.S. Administration’s decision to bomb had turned Kosovo from a crisis into a disaster, Washington no longer had a “Kosovo policy”-it only had a KLA policy. That group’s true colors have become all too apparent when it unleashed an orgy of anti-Serbs violence in the aftermath of the Yugoslav Army’s withdrawal in June 1999. The U.S. has promoted, as the legitimate representative of the Kosovo Albanians, a terrorist group steeped in criminal activities-particularly the drug trade-and with strong links with radical Islamic groups.

The KLA made its military debut in February 1996 with the bombing of several camps housing Serbian refugees from wars in Croatia and Bosnia. The group expanded its operations through 1996 but was given a major boost with the collapse of neighboring Albania into chaos in 1997. This facilitated a huge influx of arms into Kosovo from the areas of northern Albania no longer controlled from Tirana. From its inception, the KLA has targeted not only Serbian security forces but Serbian and Albanian civilians as well. In view of such tactics, the Clinton Administration’s then-special envoy for Kosovo, Robert Gelbard, had little difficulty in condemning the KLA (also known by its Albanian initials, UCK) in terms comparable to those he used for Serbian police repression: “The violence we have seen growing is incredibly dangerous,” Gelbard said. He condemned the actions of [the] Kosovo Liberation Army . . . “We condemn very strongly terrorist actions in Kosovo. The UCK is, without any questions, a terrorist group,” Gelbard said.

In the ensuing year the KLA’s strategy was to escalate the level of violence to the point where outside intervention would become inevitable, and it worked. Given the military imbalance it is clear that the KLA had always expected to achieve its goals less because of its own prospects for military success than because of a hoped-for outside intervention. As one KLA activists openly put it, “We hope that NATO will intervene, like it did in Bosnia, to save us” (New York Times, June 22, 1998). At the time of Rambouillet, cultivating the goodwill of the KLA became an imperative for the U.S. Administration.

In the months leading up to the beginning of the Kosovo war the KLA escalated its guerilla campaign. It constantly urged NATO to bomb the Serbs-even if this meant that hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians might perish or be driven from their homes once the war began in earnest. When KLA officials were warned that NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia would trigger retaliatory violence by Serb forces in Kosovo, one KLA leader replied: “We don’t care. Four hundred thousand Kosovars can be sacrificed for our independence.”

By the time the NATO air strikes began, the Clinton administration’s partnership with the KLA was unambiguous. Its effusive embrace of an organization that only a year ago its own officials labeled as “terrorist” was startling. Among the most troubling aspects of the Clinton Administration’s effective alliance with the KLA are numerous reports from reputable unofficial sources that the KLA is closely involved with the extensive Albanian crime network throughout Europe and into North America. A major portion of the KLA finances were derived from that network, mainly proceeds from drug trafficking. In addition, it was connected to terrorist organizations motivated by the ideology of radical Islam, including assets of Iran and of the Osama bin Laden.


“The Kosovo Genocide” is now known to be one of the most outrageous lies of the 1990’s, on par with the “Bosnian Genocide” and “I did not have sex with that woman.” It was debunked even before the year of the war, 1999, was out; the details remain unknown in the United States, however.

The setup at Rambouillet notwithstanding, the U.S. media-transmitted justification for Clinton’s war against the Serbs was the alleged genocide against the Albanians. The administration subsequently went out of its way to conceal the fact that to proof of any “genocide” was found in situ in the aftermath of NATO’s intervention and occupation. Some Europeans let the cat out of the bag and questioned the rationale of Clinton’s policy as early as the second half of 1999 (unlike the Gray Lady and your local Gannett subsidiary who’d never do any such thing). In September, only three months after NATO occupied Kosovo, El Pais of Madrid published a report on the findings of the Spanish police and forensic experts who had just returned from the southern Serbian province. The first line of Pablo Ordaz’s article sent a clear message: “Crimes of war-yes; genocide-no.”

Even next door in Canada mainstream outlets were allowed to voice doubt about the Clintonian version of events. For instance the Toronto Star (November 3, 1999) carried Richard Gwyn’s commentary “No genocide, no justification for war on Kosovo” in which the author comprehensively debunked repeated U.S./NATO claims, made during the bombing, that the genocidal Serb forces had dumped some of the countless thousands of slaughtered Albanian civilians into the Trepca mine by trucks under the cover of darkness.

That mine story was very big for a while: “Trepca-the name will live alongside those of Belsen, Auschwitz and Treblinka,” verily chortled the Daily Mirror of London. Giving it an aura of authenticity the New York Times claimed at the time that the residents on the edge of the mine reported an “unusual, pungent bittersweet smell, which they assumed to be burning bodies.” The corpses were supposedly thrown down the shafts, or were disposed of entirely in the mine’s huge vats of hydrochloric acid. On October 12 1999, however, Kelly Moore-a spokeswoman for The Hague War Crimes Tribunal-was compelled to admit that the investigators had found “absolutely nothing” at Trepca. There were not 1,000 bodies down the mine shafts, there were none at all; and the vats had never been used to dispose of human remains.

The “humanitarian” justification for the Kosovo war-the contention that this is about returning Albanian refugees to their homes-was rank hypocrisy. The Clinton administration was not bothered by ethnic cleansing: It had not only turned a blind eye to the cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Serbs from the Krajina, it had actively abetted the Croatian Army.


In his article “A Just and Necessary War” (NYT, May 23, 1999) President Clinton elaborated on his “vision,” arguing that, had it not bombed Serbia, NATO itself would have been discredited for failing to defend the very values that give it meaning. The war was in fact unjust and unnecessary, but the significance of Clinton’s statement is that the international system in existence ever since the Peace of Westphalia (1648) was openly declared null and void. It was an imperfect and often violated system, but nevertheless it provided the basis for international discourse from which only the assorted red and black totalitarians have openly, brazenly deviated. Since 24 March 1999, this was replaced by the Clinton Doctrine, a carbon copy of the Brezhnev doctrine of limited sovereignty that supposedly justified the Soviet-led occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968.

Like his Soviet predecessor, Clinton used an abstract and ideologically loaded notion-that of universal “human rights”-as the pretext to violate the law and tradition. The Clinton Doctrine was rooted in the bipartisan hubris in Washington. Legal formalities are considered passй by the neocons and Clintonites alike, and moral imperatives-never sacrosanct in international affairs-are replaced by a cynical exercise in situational morality, dependent on an actor’s position within the superpower’s value system.

Humanitarian argument has been invoked. But what about Kashmir, Sudan, Uganda, Angola, Congo, Sierra Leone, Chiapas, Sri Lanka, Algeria . . . ? Properly videotaped and Amanpourized, each would be good for a dozen “Kosovos.” Compared to the killing fields of the Third World, Kosovo before the bombing was a brutal but unremarkable low-intensity campaign, uglier than Northern Ireland ten years ago, but much less so than Kurdistan. A total of 2,108 fatalities on all sides in Kosovo until June 1999, in a province of over two million, favorably compares to the annual homicide tally of 450 in Washington, D.C., (population 600,000). Bearing in mind the many brutalities, aggressions and “ethnic cleansing” ignored by the Western alliance-or even condoned, notably in Croatia, or in eastern Turkey-it is clear that “Kosovo” is not about universal principles.

What was it about, then? “Regional stability”, we were told next: if we didn’t stop it, it would engulf Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, the whole of the Balkans in fact, with much of Europe to follow. But the “cure”-bombing Serbia into effectively detaching Kosovo to the KLA under NATO’s benevolent eye-has engendered new hotbeds of instability. Its first victim was the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia.

The demand for Serbia’s submission that had preceded the war was an act of self-betrayal by the West, incompatible with the logic of a system of sovereign states which for the past 350 years has formed the basis of Western politics and the rule of law. The problem is that the notion of “human rights” can never provide a basis for either the rule of law or morality. “Universal human rights,” detached from any rootedness in time or place, will be open to the latest whim of outrage or the latest fad for victimhood.


By 2003 it looked as if the independence of Kosovo was a done deal, that the combined pressure of Albanian-paid advocates and their media cohorts would yield the ultimate divident. In Washington a dozen or so KLA apologists and lobbyists parading as think-tanks experts started simultaneously clamoring for Kosovo’s independence, making identical or similar statements in a ten-day period.

The pursuit of Kosovo’s independence from Serbia provided “the only prospect for long-term stability in the Balkans” and should not be postponed, claimed Paul Williams and Janusz Bugajski in a report (“Achieving a Final Status Settlement for Kosovo”) published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Bugajski, until not too long previously a lavishly-paid consultant for Milo Djukanovic’s kleptocratic little fiefdom in Montenegro, applied the same “analysis” vis-а-vis Kosovo: “the only way” to achieve peace and stability was to cut another slice from the depleted Serbian salami. Until and unless this is done, Bugajski and his somewhat obscure co-author claimed, the ethnic tensions in the region and political and economic stagnation in the Balkans would continue. The authors argued that a “freely elected” government in Kosovo would reduce the potential for social unrest and promote the rule of law and pluralism.

Only days earlier, on May 21, the House of Representatives Committee on International Relations held an open hearing (“The Future of Kosovo”) and heard Daniel Serwer of the United States Institute of Peace declare that the “specific problems” of Kosovo included “failure of the Serbs to participate consistently in the Kosovo Assembly and continuing Serb control in the north.” Almost simultaneously James Dobbins, director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the Rand Corporation and a key advocate of the war against Serbia in the Clinton administration, joined the chorus by saying that the unresolved nature of Kosovo’s status as potential independent state continues to be an obstacle to reconciliation between the ethnic groups in the region: “I always believed that the only result that would satisfy a majority of the people is some form of independence.” Charles A. Kupchan, director of European studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, bewailed that “the Balkans as a whole have slipped off the radar screen” and insisted that the formal separation of Kosovo from Serbia would be a welcome opportunity to put the region back on the map.

What some of these people have in common is that they are supported, directly or indirectly, by the billionaire self-styled “philantropist” and speculator-extraordinaire George Soros, who even went to Belgrade (May 27, 2003) to tell the Serbs that it was in their interest to support the independence of Kosovo. He said that Serbia could be put into the “fast-lane to European integration” in exchange for Kosovo’s independence. Only days before his trip Soros wrote an article in London’s Financial Times (May 22) saying that Kosovo’s independence would be the logical end of Yugoslavia’s disintegration and that Macedonia in particular should be given some assurance that Kosovo’s independence does not herald any further fracturing of Balkan states.

In Washington the consensus among political analysts, including those who oppose any change in Kosovo’s status, was that these pro-Albanian lobbyists intended to package Kosovo’s independence in “realpolitical” terms in their pitch to the Bush administration: that doing a big favor to a Muslim community-the Albanians-could be subsequently presented as a counterweight to the post-Iraq slump of America’s standing in the Muslim world.
The precedent already existed in Donald Rumsfeld’s pointed invocation, during the war in Afghanistan, of America’s intereventions in Bosnia and Kosovo as the conclusive proof that the United States is not a priori anti-Muslim. The KLA’s Washingtonian friends claimed that strip-mining Serbia cost nothing-the heirs of Zoran Djindjic in Belgrade would do exactly as told, whatever was demanded of them-and may yield rich rewards in giving America leverage in appeasing enraged Muslim opinion around the world.


If Kosovo is granted independence, will the same model not be demanded by the Hungarians in Rumania (more numerous than Kosovo’s Albanians) and in southern Slovakia? What will stop the Russians in the Ukraine (Crimea), in Moldova, in Estonia, and in northern Kazakhstan from following suit? What about the Turks in Thrace, and the chronically unstable and unviable Dayton-Bosnia, to mention but some of the European dominos that may fall in the wake of Kosovo’s evolution under NATO? And finally, will the same apply when the Mexicans in southern California, New Mexico, Arizona, or Texas eventually outnumber their Anglo neighbors and start demanding bilingual statehood, leading to reunification with Mexico? Are Russia and China to threaten the United States with bombing if Washington does not comply?

The Bush administration must not allow the spirit of Clinton to prevail and Kosovo to become independent for seven main reasons:

1. It will reward mass ethnic cleansing and murder, carried out on a massive scale by the Albanians ever since the beginning of the NATO occupation four years ago;

2. It will condone the principle that an ethnic minority’s plurality in a given locale or region provides grounds for that region’s secession-a precedent that may yet come to haunt America in the increasingly mono-ethnic and mono-lingual Southwest;

3. It will terminally alienate the Serbs, whose cooperation is crucial to making the Balkans finally stable and peaceful, at a time when American energy, money and manpower is more pressingly needed further east;

4. It will create an inherently unstable polity that will be an even safer haven for assorted criminals and Islamic extremists than it is today;

5. It will reignite the war in neighboring Macedonia, where the current semblance of peace is absolutely predicated upon the continuing status quo in Kosovo;

6. It will contribute to further deterioration of relations with the Europeans and Russians with no tangible benefit to the United States;

7. It will commit itself to continuing the Clinton-Gore “nation-building project” in Kosovo that culminated with the bombing of Serbia in 1999-an illogical, immoral, and utterly untenable rearrangement of the Balkan architecture which it would be in America’s interest to reverse, not ratify and make semi-permanent.

This time the “realists” have ample arguments against Cilnton’s model of the new Balkan order that seeks to satisfy the aspirations of all ethnic groups in former Yugoslavia-except the Serbs. Whatever is imposed on them in this moment of weakness, the Serbs shall have no stake in the ensuing order of things. Sooner or later they will fight to recover Kosovo, whatever its “status.” The Carthaginian peace imposed on them today will cause chronic regional imbalance and strife for decades to come. That is not in America’s interest, and therefore should not be condoned.

March 17, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

Five days after a series of bombs exploded on Madrid’s commuter trains killing over 200 people Spanish investigators and Western intelligence agencies are said to be almost certain that Islamic terrorists were to blame for the attacks-and not the Basque separatist group ETA, as the Spanish premier and his interior minister had initially declared.

If the attack was indeed the work of al-Qaida or one of its many affiliates, it was singularly successful in achieving its presumed political objectives. Until the morning of March 11 the Popular Party (PP) government of the outgoing prime minister Josй Maria Aznar looked poised to win the general election scheduled for March 14. The ruling party’s candidate Mariano Rajoy led most polls and the PP had been projected to win the most seats in the 350-member Congress of Deputies (Cortes), and maybe retain its outright majority.

As soon as the suspected Islamic connection became known, however, the mood of the nation turned violently against Aznar, whose support for President George W. Bush in the war against Iraq-hugely unpopular to start with-came to be seen as the cause of the attack. He was accused not only of having unnecessarily exposed the country to danger but also of cynically accusing ETA and minimizing the Islamic connection-exactly in order to avoid that kind of blame. Demonstrations initially staged to protest the attacks soon turned into anti-government rallies, with protesters in Madrid chanting “Aznar, terrorist.” In Barcelona they carried posters of Aznar flanked by Mr. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair with the caption “We pay the price!”

The mood swing was reflected on March 14 in the greatest electoral upset since Spain returned to multi-party system in the aftermath of General Franco’s death almost three decades ago. The Socialist Workers’ Party and its radical allies easily won a majority of seats in the Cortes with 43 percent of the vote, to the PP’s 38 percent. El Pais gleefully noted that “voters have savaged the politics of Jose Maria Aznar and his successor Mariano Rajoy has paid the price… the decision to take Spain into the Iraq war [has] been soundly rejected by the electorate.” El Mundo called the outcome “an electoral debacle” for the PP, whose “precipitate action” in blaming the ETA caused many Spaniards to doubt its judgement: “The growing likelihood of al-Qaeda involvement renewed the mistrust over Aznar’s grave error in placing himself under the banner of Bush.” Even the conservative press conceded that a decisive factor in the socialist victory was the perception among many voters that Aznar “compromised us in an unjust war in Iraq in close alliance with the US.”


The clues implicating Islamic terrorists date back to a videotaped message, apparently from Osama bin Laden and released last October, in which Spain was singled out-together with Britain, Australia, Poland, and Italy-as one of the countries that would be attacked “at the appropriate time and place.” (The CIA says that the tape was probably authentic.) In a subsequent wave of deadly bombings in Morocco the Spanish cultural center in Casablanca was hit with particular ferocity: “there are body parts all over the place,” an eyewitness reported from the scene.

A document in Arabic attributed to al Qaeda, prepared last December and subsequently obtained by El Pais, suggested that the network was planning an attack just before the elections with specific political expectations. The 50-page booklet, Iraq al-Jihad, singled out Spain as the weakest link” in the US-led coalition in Iraq, and claimed that it “could not tolerate more than two or three attacks without having to withdraw its troops from Iraq.”

A day after the Madrid attack an al-Qaida affiliate, the “Brigade of Abu Hafs al-Masri,” claimed responsibility in an e-mail message to the radical London-based weekly Al-Quds al-Arabi. It boasted that the brigade’s “death squad” had penetrated “one of the pillars of the crusader alliance” and carried out what it called Operation Death Trains: “This is part of settling old accounts with Spain, the crusader, and America’s ally in its war against Islam.”

The first official admission of an Islamic angle came last Friday, when Aznar’s Interior Minister Angel Acebes announced that police had found detonators and an Arabic-language audiotape with Quranic verses in a van near a railway station on the outskirts of Madrid.The following day, on the eve of the election, came a video statement claiming to be from al-Qa’eda. It described the Madrid massacre as “a response for your collaboration with the criminals Bush and his allies” and demanded an end to “crimes” in Iraq and Afghanistan. The speaker then called on Spaniards to change their policies: “If you don’t stop your injustices there will be more.”


In the past al-Qaeda attacks have not been linked to any obvious short-term political objectives. If the carnage in Madrid was a new departure it has worked: the Socialists are in power now, they were harshly critical of Aznar’s strongly pro-American policy, and they have pledged to withdraw the Spansih contingent of 1,400 soldiers from Iraq. The incoming prime minister, Socialist leader Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, addressing reporters on March 15 left no doubt that Aznar’s “special relationship” with Washington was dead: “My government will maintain cordial relations with all the governments of the world, and of course with the United States,” Zapatero said and reiterated his campaign promise to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq unless the UN takes charge of the country. Earlier, in a radio interview, Zapatero was scathing about Bush, saying he and Tony Blair should do some “reflection and self-criticism” for the “lies” that led to the Iraq war.

As soon as the news of the Socialist victory reached Washington the Administration warned Spain and other European countries that to waver in the fight against global terrorism would be a “catastrophe,” but Zapatero so far seems unimpressed. Secretary of State Colin Powell said he hoped that Spain’s new leaders would not shrink from our “collective responsibility to go after terrorists wherever they surface.” National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice went a step further by saying that to back down from the fight against terrorism after the Madrid bombs would be to play into the hands of terrorists. She told NBC’s Meet the Press that the world should never fall for “the notion that we would be better off just to sit back” and let the terrorists grow.

The Bush Administration’s fears in this instance are justified: Islamic militants will see the defeat of the Popular Party and the Socialists’ intended withdrawal from Iraq as a victory for their cause that may prompt them to launch more attacks with a short-term political agenda in mind. As a security risk analyst quoted by Reuters pointed out the election upset in Spain will be seen as the first time Islamic militants have toppled a Western government by killing civilians, and that may give them a lot of succour for the future as they plan more attacks.

That the incoming Spanish government has not taken much notice of Washington’s rhetoric was further confirmed by Miguel Angel Moratinos, a former EU Middle East envoy widely expected to be the country’s new foreign minister. On March 15 he declared that Spain’s new priorities will be to restore relations with core Euro-partners, rethink its role in Iraq and leave strategic dialogue with the United States to the EU. He outlined an approach vastly different to the U.S.-centred policy of Aznar. Moratinos told Reuters the international community must acknowledge that the U.S.-led coalition’s policy in Iraq had failed and must change: “We have been very clear about the risk and the threat that we were all facing with this illegal war in Iraq, and unfortunately Spain has paid the price.” Moratinos belittled the idea of a special relationship with the United States, suggesting it had been an illusion. He disputed a suggestion by Polish Prime Minister Leszek Miller that to talk of pulling troops out of Iraq after the train bombings was tantamount to admitting that terrorists were stronger and were right: “We’re not going
to surrender but we want to be much more clever, more sophisticated and more efficient in order to defeat them,” he said.

In other words they’ll surrender. The war in Iraq may have been fought on false pretenses and for all the wrong reasons, but Sr. Moratinos’ Euro-defeatism and Gramscian wishy-washiness is surely not a coherent alternative to Aznar’s silly posturing.

But instead of using the language of warnings and threats the Bush administration would be well advised to use the apparent success of the attacks as the basis for a subtle argument to try and persuade the new Spanish government to remain in Iraq. Rather than advocate the continuity of Aznar’s policy and uphold the demand with the rhetoric of the “Coalition of the Willing”-that would only alienate the Socialists and most ordinary Spaniards alike-Mr. Bush should appeal on Sr. Zapatero to leave the Spanish contingent in Iraq strictly in order to diminish the perception that al-Qaeda has scored a great triumph. That approach admittedly smacks of humility, but a dose of it is exactly what this Administration has lacked so far in its attempts to forge alliances in the “War on Terror.”


Of the two key prerequisites for successful attacks by Islamic terrorists in Spain, the motive-Aznar’s strong support of the U.S. policy-was only one. The other is the existence of a huge and largely unsupervised community of Muslim immigrants in Spain, many of them illegal, their numbers estimated at over a million and growing. The presence of these people is essential in providing the complex infrastructure for the attacks.

While General Franco was in power Spain enjoyed high birth rates and was a net exporter of labor. A catastrophic drop in fertility rates has taken place over the past two decades, however. Today’s democratic, liberal Spain is fully integrated into “Europe”-and dying with it. It vies with Italy for the lowest birth rate in the world, and on this form Spaniards will disappear within a century. This has already created a growing labour shortage that is being filled by North African Arab immigrants, mostly from Morocco and Algeria. Many migrate on a seasonal basis, making homes in Andalucнa during the summer tourist and agricultural season. Others live in Spain permanently and have created their own kazbah-like neighborhoods, mainly in greater Madrid and in the north, in Catalon industrial cities. They are estimated to account for three percent of Spain’s 40 million people, and may exceed ten percent within a generation.

Twelve centuries ago Spain was the first European Christian country to be invaded by the Arab Islamic armies. The outcome was in considerable doubt at first, and it fought for the ensuing eight hundred years to liberate itself from the invaders. The process was complete in 1492, but the finality of the Reconquista has never been accepted by orthodox Muslims who subscribe to the Kuranic tenet that no land once controlled by the faithful can ever revert to infidel rule. The reversal of the Reconquista has been and remains their long-term objective. Spain’s present experience demonstrates that exactly the same problem is present in every Western country that has allowed mass immigration from the Muslim world. The newcomers have no respect for nor desire to adopt Spain’s culture as their own. They create self-sustained communities that are not only separate from the host-society but also hostile to it. North African Muslims in particular use demography as a political weapon, and export millions of their surplus population to France, Spain and Italy, aware that the bigger the diaspora, the greater the political influence it will exert, and the more concessions they will be able to extort.

Spanish authorities are trying to keep tabs on dozens of Islamic terrorists believed to operate in the country, but they generally face a wall of uncooperative silence within the Muslim community. It was with considerable difficulty and expense that State Prosecutor Balthazar Garzon, known locally as “Superjudge,” compiled a 700-page indictment of Muslim extremists living in Spain and their foreign masterminds. His investigation, and the report published last year, followed allegations that some of the planning for the 9-11 attacks in New York and Washington took place in Spain. Investigators have established that the country was used as a location for laundering money, forging documents, assembling material for attacks-and recruiting helpers from within the immigrant Muslim community. The lead hijacker of 9-11, Mohamed Atta, made two trips to Spain, the second shortly before the 2001 attacks, to meet with al-Qaeda leaders.

One of the 14 suspects arrested shortly after the attacks in New York and Washington was Syrian-born Edin Barakat Yarkas-better known by his alias Abu Dahdah-who was allegedly the head of al-Qaeda in Spain, and the network’s key contact with other cells in Europe. Dahdah and several other al-Qaeda suspects regularly came to pray at Madrid’s main mosque. But the mosque’s chief administrator, Mohammed Sali, set the tone for the reaction of Spain’s Muslim establishment: “We were very surprised when we heard about it. We never would have imagined that there could be terrorist cells here in Spain.”


Garzуn’s indictment against Dahdah alleged that he had raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Jihad credit card fraud and armed robberies, and sent a host of young Muslims “to terror training camps in Bosnia, Chechnya and Afghanistan.” In the context of the Balkan connection it is interesting to see who commited the bulk of armed robberies in Spain prior to 9/11. According to a major article in El Pais (“KLA-Linked Gangs Commit 2,000 Robberies in Spain” by Luis Gomez, May 7, 2000) over the past decade Spain has been the scene of thousands of robberies by a group of Albanians connected with the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), and providing it with money:

“They assault business establishments across the country. They carefully plan the strike; they act at night; they take the money from the safe; they depart without leaving tracks and with virtually no witnesses. What is more, they leave their signature: a hole in the ceiling and the implements of robbery left behind, because they do not intend to use the same tools more than once. While there were ten holdups in 1995 and 25 in 1996, there were 160 in 1997, 626 in 1998 and no less than 918 [in 1999]. So far [in 2000] they have already surpassed 2000 robberies.”

It is curious that no references to the Bosnian training camps and KLA robberies, singled out in Spanish reports over the years, have been made in the English-language press coverage of the Madrid bombings thus far.

Regardless of the outcome of Spain’s ongoing investigation, the tragedy on March 11 in Madrid should be a wake-up call to all Spaniards, regardless of political affiliation, that a new approach to the problem of Muslim immigration and the causes of terrorism is urgently needed. Current terrorist threat to most European countries-including Spain-comes overwhelmingly from the members of the Muslim community. Critical to reducing the chance of a future attack are an immediate moratorium on all immigration from the risk-nations such as Morocco and Algeria, much improved and more rigorous maritime patrols in the Mediterranean, and the sweeping program of deportation of illegal aliens who have done so much to reduce the quality of life in some of the most attractive cities of Europe.

Once it is accepted that “true Islam” does not recognize a priori the right of any other outlook to exist, and that any further Western pandering to the Jihadist ambitions in Bosnia and Kosovo is utterly self-defeating, a pan-European anti-terrorist strategy advocated by Judge Garzon will finally become possible.

March 12, 2004

Poisoned chalice of a synthetic nationalism

by Srdja Trifkovic

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar has said his country would not bend in the face of terrorism after bomb blasts killed at least 173 people in Madrid. The “mass murderers” would be totally defeated, he promised. Co-ordinated blasts hit trains at three rail stations in the capital. No group has admitted responsibility but the government blames Basque terrorist group ETA for the attacks which come three days before a general election next Sunday. Aznar did not mention ETA by name but his interior minister, Angel Acebes, said there was no doubt the separatist group was responsible. “Eta had been looking for a massacre in Spain,” he declared. “Unfortunately, today it achieved its goal.”

The “Homeland and Freedom”-in Basque Euskadi Ta Azkatasuna, ETA-came into being in 1959 as an obscure network of leftist students and language activists devoted to proletarian revolution and Basque independence. It gained prominence a decade later as a terrorist organization whose first victim was Meliton Manzanas, Franco’s secret police chief in San Sebastian, who was gunned down in 1968.

ETA promoted a leftist-secular version the “Black Legend,” a distortion of history that presents Spaniards as oppressive conquerors-allegedly prone to cruelty due to their “tainted,” partly-Moorish blood-and “pure Indo-European Basques” as their freedom-seeking victims. It demanded “a free Basque homeland, a land which they have inhabited long before the other tribes of Europe arrived.”

The myth has its intellectual roots in the separatist wing of the Catholic Church in the Basque country, traditionally dominated by Jesuits. In the early 20th century Fr. Josй Miguel de Barandiarбn, a Jesuit historian of religions, developed a theory that the pre-Christian Basques were the only racially pure Aryans to be found anywhere in Europe. His disciples allied themselves with the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV, founded in 1895) and the Republic during the Civil War of 1936-39.

ETA’s most spectacular attack came in December 1973, when Basque separatists killed Franco’s heir-apparent, Prime Minister Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco, in a massive bomb explosion in Madrid. His armor-plated Dodge Dart GT 3700 was thrown 115 ft high, over the roof of a nearby monastery, and fell in the interior garden of the building. (The car, amazingly, did not disintegrate and can be seen at the Army Museum in Madrid.)

The separatists’ campaign of violence did not end with Franco’s death and Spain’s transition to democracy. Quite the contrary: the granting of autonomny to the Basque Region of two million (“the Statute of Moncloa”) and the lack of enthusiasm of its inhabitants for full independence-only a fifth unconditionally favor it-prompted ETA to start targeting civilians in the hope of inviting backlash from Madrid and the disruption of new institutions. 1980 was the bloodiest year until that time, with 118 victims of individual attacks and bombings all over the country. Such indiscriminate violence failed to yield political results and caused a crisis within the organization, however, and between 1982 and 1986 some 250 ETA activists accepted a government amnesty.

The outcry after a bomb killed 21 shoppers in Barcelona in June 1987 brought an ETA apology for the “mistake” but not an end to violence. In 1995 a car bomb almost killed Jose Maria Aznar, then leader of the conservative Popular Party and now Spain’s prime minister. A plot to assassinate King Juan Carlos was uncovered later that year, as well as the conspiracy to blow up the famed Picasso Tower in Madrid (designed, as it happens, by Minoru Yamasaki, the architect of New York’s WTC).

In March 1996 the Popular Party won a general election, patrly helped by its promise to deal decisively with terrorism.. ETA described the party as “heir to Franco’s dictatorship” and pledged fresh violence. In July 1997 it kidnapped and killed a popular 29-year-old Basque Assembly deputy, Miguel Angel Blanco, sparking national outrage and bringing millions of Spaniards onto the streets. The massive public condemnation of ETA was the beginning of its end as a viable force: the protests were reminiscent of the marches for democracy in the final year’s of Franco’s rule, and even in its heartland ETA came to be perceived as an anachronistic relic of those years. For the first time some of its own supporters publicly condemned the killing.

Finding itself in deep crisis, and following the lead of the Irish Republican Army with which it maintains close ties through their respective political wings, ETA declared a ceasefire in September 1998. During the ensuing 14 months it tried to establish itself as a political force. But while the Provisionals were able to score some points and obtain concessions in Northern Ireland’s peace process, ETA’s political wing Herri Batasuna (HB)-trained by Sinn Fein in negotiating techniques-was unable to make any headway. Many Basques favor greater autonomy but by the late-1990s they proved even less willing to ebrace separatism than in the years following Franco’s death in 1975.

The regional premier, Juan Josй Ibarretxe, is a proponent of “shared sovereignty” with Spain and increased Basque control of the region’s economy and judiciary, but within the framework of Spain’s constitution and the rules of its political process. In January 1990 Ibarretxe’s Basque Nationalist Party effectively discarded its separartists roots by pledging respect to the constitution and, for the first time, publicly condemned ETA violence. By that time the PNV was no longer in any danger of losing support to ETA’s political wing: Spain’s swiftly developing democratic institutions, impressive economic prosperity, and membership of the EU had changed the political landscape. The HB could not garner more than 10 percent of the local vote and its disenchanted diehards started advocating return to violence.

In January and February 2000 car bombs exploded in Madrid and the Basque capital Vitoria, marking a new cycle of violence. In December 2001 the European Union declared ETA a terrorist organization, in a significant diplomatic victory for the Spanish Government. In May 2003 the United States followed suit. At the same time Spain’s Supreme Court banned Batasuna permanently.

As today’s explosions in Madrid may indicate, ETA is restarting a cycle already familiar from Ulster: when politics fail, the Armalite is on hand. The terrorists-for that is what they are-accuse the PNV of being a tool of a bourgeois Basque establishment that has no real intention of altering the status quo. The claim is essentially correct: PNV has become a “normal” Basque party. It is no longer interested in advocating separatism centered on a manufactured identity, and that is a good thing for the Basque Country and for Spain.

Your responses:

Dr. Trifkovic,

I am glad that your last two editorials have question marks after the titles.

Chris Hewlett
Clinton, MS

Mr. Hewlett:

“ETA?” was written on the morning of the explosion, under the impression of Aznar’s and his Interior Minister’s early statements. I am as guilty of treating their initial accusations seriously as are the Times, the Indy, Le Monde, etc. As for the “Swing to the Right?”-as you must be aware it would have held true in Spain, too, were it not for the distorting consequences of the tragic event itself.


March 11, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

It may be too early to declare that a conservative counter-revolution is imminent in Europe, but recent events in three small nations indicate that a swing to the right is under way and that it is gaining momentum. In Greece, Austria, and Switzerland, millions of voters have declared their disenchantment with socialism and multiculturalism, possibly heralding a mood swing in the bastions of the Third Way in Britain and Germany.

The conservative New Democracy party won a stunning victory in Greece’s general election last Sunday, March 8, ending more than a decade of continuous Socialist rule. The Panhellenic Socialist Movement, PASOK-in power for 19 of the past 22 years-had grown corrupt and complacent. It was soft on Cyprus, subservient to Brussels, and unable (or unwilling) to stem the tide of illegal immigration from Albania. As a despondent editorialist for the London Guardian put it the following day, “No one, least of all the conservative victor New Democracy, believed it would win by such a convincing five-point margin in a land where rightwing politics had long been considered a minority sport.”

The Greeks faced the choice between two political dynasties that have dominated the country’s politics for decades. The winner, Costas Karamanlis, is a nephew of Konstantine Karamanlis, the country’s first democratically elected prime minister after the end of the military rule in 1974. The loser, George Papandreou, is the son of Karamanlis’ successor and long-time rival Andreas (d. 1996), a Trotskyite in his youth and a third-way Gramscian for the rest of his life.

Costas Karamanlis is taking over less than a fortnight before the March 22 deadline set by Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, for reaching a Cyprus settlement. Many Greeks are unhappy with the way the Socialists had handled the talks, and suspect the UN of pressuring Greece to accept a deal that would effectively reward three decades of Turkish aggression, ethnic cleansing, and illegal occupation of the northern third of the island. The “international community” had counted on PASOK to deliver Nicosia (just as it had counted on Milosevic to deliver the Bosnian Serbs in the early 1990s) and the new government in Athens will be under pressure to sign on the dotted line. Karamanlis will not be as pliant as his predecessor Costas Simis, however. He is careful not to advocate Enosis but he refuses to accept the notion that Greek Cypriots are foreigners.

Another pressing task for the new government is to speed up preparations for the Olympic Games in Athens, scheduled for next July. The games are seen as a possible target of Islamic terrorists but IOC officials are said to be concerned that the outgoing government was reluctant to confront the logistic and security challenges connected with the project.

One Greek politician to watch in the years to come is Giorgos Karatzaferis, who founded the LAOS party in September 2000 following his expulstion from the New Democracy. Karatzaferis may be described as Greece’s Pat Buchanan, with one important difference: he is a good organizer and has an efficient party machine that has given him parliamentary representation. Karatzaferis is pround to stress his party’s Orthodox Christian and “Greek-centric” philosophy. He advocates zero tolerance of illegal immigration and a major role for the Church in education and culture. Othon Floratos, the party’s director-general, says that George Papandreou lost because “he has no idea how Greeks tick”: “He thinks and speaks like an American, which is what he is,” he told The Guardian. “Did you know that when he was Education Minister his senior adviser was openly homosexual? We have nothing against homosexuals, but such peculiarities are unacceptable.” He was alluding to the fact that Papandreou was a US citizen until the age of 26 and that he still speaks better English than Greek.

Also on Sunday, a thousand miles to the north, Joerg Haider brought his Freedom Party a spectacular victory in his home province of Carinthia, increasing the odds for a national comeback. His Freedom Party polled 42.4 percent of the vote, compared to 38 percent for the rival Socialists. His return “from the political dead” confounded the pollsters who had persistently predicted his defeat, and presents a major threat to the national government of Chancellor Wolfgang Schьssel. His People’s Party, senior coalition partners of the Freedom Party in the federal government, polled a mere 12 percent in Carinthia.

The mass circulation Kronenzeitung now predicts that “Haider’s glorious return cannot be prevented after this staggering victory.” Haider stepped down as party leader in 2000 to ease the diplomatic pressure from Brussels on Austria, but the European Union nevertheless imposed temporary sanctions to protest his party’s participation in government. “It’s a great feeling to be back,” he said. “This is the climax of my political career.” His strong anti-immigration policy is likely to have an impact on national politics as several central European countries on Austria’s borders prepare to join the EU later this year.

Next door to Austria, in Switzerland, a major swing to the right came last October, when the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) led by the “Swiss Haider” Christoph Blocher came in first in the national election for the first time. Blocher is a 63 year old billionaire who first came to national prominence in 1986 with his staunch anti-UN membership campaign. In recent years he has campaigned successfully against the abolition of the Swiss Army, against Switzerland’s participation in UN peacekeeping missions, and against the country’s membership in the European Union. He has successfully transformed the SVP into a “hard-right” political force that confounds the transnational elite that controls the country’s media.

The new spirit of patriotism from which Blocher has benefited was reflected in a major new opinion poll released on March 5: two-thirds of Swiss are “proud of their nationality,” according to a study by the GfS research institute in Zurich, and willing to pay more for Swiss-made products The GfS, which interviewed 1,006 people, says the findings point to a “new patriotism” among the Swiss. Less than a quarter of over a thousand people questioned said they could imagine living in another country.

All this is rather good news. European nations still survive, in spite of the attempts of their ruling elites to destroy them, and families, and all other communities bonded by kinship, language, faith, and myth. The world cannot be completely globalized as long as there are people who see themselves as members of a real nation, a distinct people with shared blood and faith. They are natural allies of all true Americans who are loath to belong to the new global imperium advocated by the Weekly Standard and the CFR alike.

March 2, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

Address to Legatus of Chicago, Thursday, February 26, 2004 (excerpts)

There are many lessons of September 11. The most important one, which has yet to be fully grasped by many Americans, is that Islam as such poses a threat, not some allegedly aberrant variety of it. This fact creates a serious conceptual problem for them. They find it hard to grasp that the “tolerant” and “peaceful” Islam we hear about in the media is, for the most part, something like the unicorn: no matter how detailed is our description of it, and now matter how much of an imaginative effort we make, the thing simply does not exist.

It is somewhat disconcerting that reasonable, patriotic, and well-informed citizens still deem it necessary, today, to debate whether Islam is “peaceful” or not. That debate should have been over by now. Thank God they did not debate whether Soviet Communism was “peaceful” after the Berlin Blockade of 1949, or the aggression in Korea a year later, but acted effectively to contain it by whatever means necessary and available. Had they not done so the history of the world could have been very different indeed.

Of course back then we did have a legion of Moscow’s apologists, character witnesses, moles and fellow-travelers, assuring us that the Comrades want nothing but social justice at home and peaceful coexistence abroad.

They held tenured chairs, staffed the New York Times’ Moscow bureaus, controlled many Hollywood studios, and dominated all smart parties on both coasts.

They explained away and justified the inconsistencies and horrifyingly violent implications of the source texts, Marx’s and Lenin’s writings.

They explained away and justified the appalling fruits: the bloodbath of the Revolution itself, the genocidal crime of the great famine, the show trials and purges, the killing machine that destroyed millions of innocents known as the Gulag, the pact with Hitler, the works.

Today their spiritual heirs in the academy and the liberal media establishment act as Islam’s mostly unpaid apologists, character witnesses and fellow travelers. They explain away, with identical scholastic sophistry and moral depravity, the dark and violent implications of the source texts, the Koran and the Hadith.

They explain away and seek to justify the deeply unnerving career of The Man, Prophet Muhammad, as conveyed by the Muslim tradition itself. That career, in addition to revelations of varying coherence, consisted of armed robberies, of dozens of individual murders, and ultimately of genocide and ethnic cleansing, on a scale limited only by the technology of its time, not by intent.

They explain away and seek to justify 14 centuries of conquests, wars, slaughters, subjugation, decline without fall, spiritual and material misery, and murderous fanaticism. Now that Marx has failed- a fact reluctantly conceded even by a few tenured professors at Boulder-it is Islam that offers an alternative, and a helping hand, to those who want to subvert the tradition of the West.

Apologists for communism and apologists for Islam share the same circular, self-fulfilling and self-justifying world outlook, part-religion, and part-totalitarian ideology. In both cases, brainwashed propagandists work tirelessly to square the ciricle, and prove that black is white and that up is down. In both cases it is the lie that needs to be invented and defended, while the truth exists and only needs to be presented.

The ridiculous claim that jihad should be understood in the “spiritual” sense is a lie. The truth is that generation after generation of Muslim warriors applied a very literal and very physical definition of jihad when they attacked, conquered, and subjugated much of the world.

The “Peace” of Kuran is only attainable under Islamic lordship, once the Jihadists defeat all non-Muslims and conquer their lands, kill the men, take their women, and enslave their children. This is exactly the same definition of “peace” that was used by the Soviet empire in the period of its external expansion, from 1944 to 1979: yes, “peace” is the goal, but it is fully attainable only after the defeat of “imperialism as the final stage of capitalism” and the triumph of the vanguard of the proletariat in the whole world.

The Islamic tradition is surprisingly modern when it describes wars of global conquests, slaughter and enslavement of countless millions as an activity with a moral function, undertaken in the interest of the humanity. Never are people killed more easily, and in greater numbers, than when it is done for their own good. The jihadi campaigns fought by the Muslims in Spain, France, India, Iran, throughout the Balkans, or at the very gates of Vienna, were as defensive as Stalin’s winter war with Finland, or the ‘counterattack’ against Poland by Hitler.

The only distinction between Islamic terror through the centuries-against the Jews of Medina, Arabian pagans, Greeks, Serbs, Persians, Hindus, Armenians, African blacks, and countless others-and its twentieth century totalitarian counterparts, as practiced in the workhouses of the Final Solution and the Gulag, concerned methods.

Unlike Arabs, Turks, and their local practitioners of dhimmitude through the centuries, communist and nazi mass murderers adopted the “style” of a developed industrial state. Their terror relied on complex equipment and intricate administrative network, while Islamic terror was “primitive” and “traditional.” Nazis and Stalinists relied on coordinated plans, orders, reports, invoices, lists, cost-benefit calculations and statistics.

On the other hand, from Muhammad and Usman to Abdul Hamid and the modern Sudanese Army, the orders have been mostly oral, the apparatus of terror arbitrary, the selection of targets and methods of killing sometimes random. The terror of the Reichkommissars and Politkommissars, with its somberness, discipline, and bureaucratic pedantry, was “puritanical”; while the Muslims in all ages and locations indulge literally in orgies of violence. The Malaysian Islamist leader Anwar Ibrahim was unintentionally frank when he declared “We are not socialist, we are not capitalist, we are Islamic.” The differentiation is vis-а-vis rival political systems and ideologies, not religions. Marxist-Fascist and Islamist projects have in common the lust for other people’s lives and property, and the desire to exercise complete control over their subjects’ lives. All three have been justified by a self-referential system of thought and belief that perverts meanings of words, stunts the sense of moral distinctions, and destroys souls.

The devout Muslims in the immigrant population within North America and the rest of the West constitute the weak link in the War on Terror. It is the only immigrant group that harbors a substantial segment of individuals who share the key objectives with the terrorists, even if they do not all approve of their methods. It would be idle even for ardent Islamic apologists to pretend that many Muslim immigrants do not despise the West in general and the United States in particular, its institutions and all it stands for. Some of them see the host country as a mine to be stripped, used, and converted-or else destroyed.

This was not what other newcomers to America had in mind as they flocked here to enjoy the unique opportunities of freedom. As is evident in the actions and words of many American Muslims a sizeable minority of them wishes to transform their host country into a Muslim country-by whatever means, violent or otherwise, justified by the supposed sanctity of the goal and a corresponding Kuranic injunction.

Let me qualify this description on three points.

First, it is important to note that most Middle Eastern or Arabic immigrants into the US are not Muslims but Christians who fled from Islamic persecution. Ironically, many of these refugees were subjected to threats of violence after September 11.

Secondly, many nominal Muslims take their religion very casually–as all too many Christians do. From them, the only danger-and it is a serious one-is that they will go back to the roots of their religion. As one commentator put it recently, when Christians rediscover their roots, they find the prince of peace; when Moslems go back to their first principles they find Mohammed, prince of terrorism.

Third, Americans are a civilized people, and must abide by the provisions of due process in our Constitution and by the principles of decency and fairness that are part of this country’s character and legacy.

Having made those qualifications, it is time for us to decide: WHAT ARE WE TO DO ABOUT IT? … The totalitarian nature of Islam, akin to Communism and Nazism, makes the threat different in degree to that faced during the Cold War, but not in kind. It demands a similar response. Managing the communist risk 50 years ago entailed denying entry visas (let alone permanent residences, or passports!) to self-avowed Party members. Doing the same now, with Bin Laden’s potential recruits, is the key to any meaningful anti-terrorist strategy.

It is time to pay attention to the fact well known to INS officials: that all too often the attitudes of Muslims who want to live in the United States change rapidly once their status in America is secure. When applying for admission and while awaiting green cards, in interviews with U.S. officials they complain about the lack of freedom in their native country, citing specific instances in the area of human rights and politics. But as soon as they gain permanent residence, let alone citizenship, they suddenly turn against their host nation and begin to praise the virtues of an Islamic state, forgetting their pleadings with immigration officials to accept their application.

Current precautions at the ports of entry are a welcome, necessary and useful first step in protecting America, but they must not be the last. A thorough and systematic background check of each applicant, coupled with psychological tests and one-on-one in-depth interviews with specialists qualified to detect any “dual personality” traits in potential immigrants, need to be introduced for all newcomers from the countries at risk, as well as for Muslims from non-Muslim countries, like the “Frenchman” Zacarias Moussaoui and the “Briton” Richard Reid.

The alternative is a non-targeted, sweeping clampdown on civil liberties that will be as ineffective in curbing Islamic extremism as it will be undoubtedly successful in making life less pleasant and less dignified for the peoples of the West. It is a matter of balance based on clearly defined strategy: those infringements of civil rights that are essential to anti-terrorist strategy should be open to scrutiny and considered a painful sacrifice or a purely tactical retreat, not as the mere brushing aside of irritating legal technicalities. A coherent long-term counterterrorist strategy, therefore, must entail denying Islam the foothold inside the West. . . .

Before 1914, both the West and the Muslim world could define themselves against each other in a cultural sense. What secularism has done, since replacing Christianity as the guiding light of “the West,” is to cast aside any idea of a Western social, geographic, and cultural space that should be protected. Islam, “extreme” or “moderate,” has not softened, however. The consequences will be very serious unless Muslims are either “westernized”-that is to say, made as willing as Christians and Jews to see their religion first relativized, then mocked, and its commandments misrepresented or ignored.

Otherwise the West faces two clear alternatives: defense, or submission and acceptance of sacred Arab places as its own. Western political leaders, including President Bush, have every right to pay compliments to Muslim piety and good works, but they should be as wary of believing their own theological reassurances as they would be of facile insults. Islamic populations and individuals draw very different things from their religion, its scripture and traditions, but anti-infidel violence is a hardy perennial.

The challenge in the War on Terror is how to prevent theocratic terror from winning support, and how to prevent it sheltering behind secular-liberal toleration. While it is proper for democratic government to refrain from legislating the practice of religion in any way, Islam should be treated as a special case because it is, on its own admission, much more than “just a religion.” It needs to be understood and subjected to the same supervision and legal restrains that apply to other cults prone to violence, and to violent political hate groups whose avowed aim is the destruction of our order of life. . .

Muslim activists in non-Muslim countries invoke those institutions when they clamor for every kind of indulgence for their own beliefs and customs. They demand full democratic privileges to organize and propagate their views, while acknowledging to each other that, given the power to do so, they would impose their own beliefs and customs, and eliminate all others. Once it is accepted that “true Islam” does not recognize a priori the right of any other religion or world outlook to exist-least of all the atheistic secular humanism-a serious anti-terrorist strategy will become possible.

Critical to reducing the chance of a major terrorist attack in the future are:

-an immediate moratorium on all immigration from the risk-nations;

-an expansion of the Border Patrol to the point of zero-porosity;

-a radical reduction of visas issued to nationals of states that harbor or produce terrorists;

-abandonment of amnesty debate; and

-swift and rigorous deportation of all illegal aliens, and especially those from rogue nations that threaten America.

We are being indoctrinated into the dogma that the trend is inevitable, that economically motivated, unceasing immigration on a vast scale is unstoppable because it is due to inexorable global market forces. This is not true. Free citizens must not submit their destiny, and that of their progeny, to a historicist fallacy. Immigration from Islamic nations, and indeed all others, can, and should, be subject to the democratic will of the American people. They have every right to defend themselves and their way of life.

The struggle against terrorism starts with knowing thy enemy. A new paradigm on Islam, immigration, and Western identity are needed. Then, and only then, will human intelligence assets be usefully deployed to identify, target, and then destroy the individuals and networks dedicated to our destruction. All will be in vain unless murderous Islamic extremism, manifested on September 11, spells the end of another kind of extremism: the stubborn insistence of the ruling liberal establishment on treating each and every newcomer as equally meltable in the pot. Reducing and gradually ending unnecessary and harmful dependence on Middle Eastern oil is probably the easiest to achieve of all prerequisites for the policy of survival.

From September 11 on, designating “threats to national security” should finally start to follow some clear determination of America’s national interests. In longer-term strategy, a wider paradigm shift is needed, based on the need for a genuine Northern Alliance of Russia, Europe, and North America. Russia should be the West’s bulwark against the real threat to our common security stretching along the West’s vulnerable eastern flank from the Caucasus to the Pacific as we enter the century that will see a new assault of militant Islam on an enfeebled Europe.

Yes, Islam has an inherent advantage over the tepid ideology of multicultural mediocrity in that it offers Allah in the place of nothing. Its adherents should not be condemned for maintaining their traditions. We should blame ourselves for refusing to acknowledge the facts of the case and failing to take stock of our options. People did not take Mein Kampf seriously, at their own peril. The Kuran’s exhortations to the believers to annihilate the non-believers, to confiscate their land and property, to take their women and enslave their children are equally frank, and the fruits visible through the centuries. We have no obligation to “respect other cultures” and ideas when those cultures and ideas lead to human suffering, misery, and servitude. We have every right to protect our ideas and way of life by openly proclaiming the superiority of our principles.

Some critics may object that my account does not pay much attention to Islamic moderation, to the everyday wish of everyday Muslims for a quiet life. This is not because such moderates are rare, but because they are rarely important. Religions, like political ideologies, are pushed along by money, power, and tiny vocal minorities. Within Islam, the money and the power are all pushing the wrong way. So are the most active minorities. The urgent need is to recognize this. Our problem is not prejudice about Islam, but folly in the face of its violence and cruelty. In any case the willingness of moderates to be what are objectively bad Muslims because they reject key teachings of historical Islam, may be laudable in human terms but does nothing to modify Islam as a doctrine.

There is a huge problem for all Muslims-the violent message of the Kuran. We cannot solve it for them, and we should not be asked to deem the problem solved by pretending that the Kuran is a pacifist tract. Humans are perfectly capable of reinterpreting scripture when absolutely necessary, but until the petrol dollars support a line of Islamic exegesis that can renounce the ideals of jihad, terror, poll tax, and subjugation, we must have the guts to call a religion of war by its right name.

“As a man thinketh, so is he.” The real problem of the Muslim world is not that of natural resources or political systems. Ernest Renan, who started his study of Islam by praising its ability to manifest “what was divine in human nature,” ended it by concluding that “Muslims are the first victims of Islam” and that “to liberate the Muslim from his religion is the best service that one can render him.”

Islam is a collective psychosis seeking to become global, and any attempt to compromise with madness leads to becoming part of the madness oneself. No one who believes that jihad is the right or duty of all Muslims, or who promotes adoption of Shari’a law or reestablishment of the caliphate, should be allowed to set foot in any Western country, and every applicant should be asked, explicitly. The passport of anyone preaching jihad should be revoked. This is not “discrthis is survival.

Islam, in Muhammad’s texts and its codification, discriminates against us. It is extremely offensive. It discriminates against all “unbelievers.” Until the petrodollars support a Kuranic revisionism that does not, we should go for it with whips and scorpions, hammer and tongs. Christians, Eastern and Western, must act together before it is too late.

February 29, 2004

by Srdja Trifkovic

Western leaders have been paying handsome tributes to the President of Macedonia, Boris Trajkovski, following his death in a plane crash in southwestern Bosnia-Herzegovina on February 26. They describe him as a “brave leader” whose moderation helped avert a civil war between ethnic Albanians and Slav Macedonians. The AP claimed he helped unite his ethnically divided country “after its mostly Muslim ethnic Albanian minority took up arms in 2001 in a fight for greater rights.” According to the agency, Trajkovski “had called for a greater inclusion of ethnic Albanians in state bodies and institutions, and had been widely hailed for his efforts to get both sides to live together in peace.”

All that is complete nonsense. The truth of the matter is that Boris Trajkovski was a pawn of “the international community” without a single original or interesting idea in his head. His supine and self-defeating acceptance of Western tutelage during the ethnic crisis of 2001 doomed the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia to a precarious, unhappy, and temporary existence. That existence will continue only for as long as the EU and the US take sufficient interest in keeping the Skopje polity together to devote money and soldiers to the task.

On the eve of the War in Kosovo, I wrote in The Times of London that NATO support of ethnic Albanian separatists in Kosovo would unleash a chain reaction whose first victim would be Macedonia, because “once KLA veterans acting as policemen start to patrol Kosovo, the rising expectations of Macedonia’s Albanians will be impossible to contain.” “Nonsense,” a State Department official snapped at a conference in Washington a few days later. “The problem in Kosovo is Milosevic. In Macedonia the Albanians don’t need to make trouble because their rights are respected.” The issue was that of “human rights,” he said, and not that of nationalism: the notion of a Greater Albania was a Serb paranoid invention.

Now we know better. Far from being “brave,” three years ago Boris Trajkovski played it safe by following American advice, rewarding Albanian violence, and undermining the sovereignty, security, and well-being of his country along the way. He was a “moderate” in exactly the same way as Vidkun Quisling and Walter Ulbricht were “moderates.”

Trajkovski’s biography is fairly conventional for a “pro-Western, reformist” political figure in a former communist country. In the “moderately nationalist” VMRO-DPMNE Party he headed its foreign relations department. In 1998 he became foreign affairs advisor to the former prime minister, Ljubco Georgievski, and as Georgievski’s man he won the party’s candidacy, and the presidential election, in 1999. Trajkovski’s membership of a dozen or so NGOs, including “the Pan-European Movement for the Republic of Macedonia,” and-as his official biography says-his “participation at numerous international conferences involving conflict resolution, religious tolerance [and] religious freedom,” soon earned him enough brownie points to warrant invitations to the World Economic Summit in Davos and the Council of Europe.

Under Trajkovski Macedonia continued to be the model Western protectorate in the Balkans, as it had first become under his predecessor, Kiro Gligorov. It supported the US-inspired, draconian UN sanctions against Serbia in 1992; as a consequence it suffered huge uncompensated losses over the next eight years. It supported the US-led NATO war over Kosovo in 1999, and within weeks had to deal with hundreds of thousands of Kosovo-Albanian refugees that the war produced.

Such cooperativeness did not buy security, however. When in March 2001 the “Albanian National Liberation Army” (NLA, an offshoot of Kosovo’s KLA, and in Albanian known by the same initials UЗK) suddenly took up arms and started killing Macedonian policemen, without even bothering to stage-manage a massacre or two beforehand, the reaction in the West was muted at best. The assertion that the Albanians in Macedonia enjoyed equal rights was quickly forgotten. The Western media, particularly in Britain, carried fact-free stories of Macedonian “brutality” and “discrimination” that invariably portrayed the Albanians as the victims reluctantly provoked into action. While condemning “violence” (but without naming its perpetrators) European and American diplomats pressed Trajkovski to let the Albanians-about 30 percent of Macedonia’s population-have whatever they were asking for.

Their initial demand was for the Albanian language to be accepted as the second constitutional language of Macedonia, to be represented proportionately to their numbers at all levels of legislature and government, and for the municipal police to be controlled by Albanians in areas where they form a majority. Their next demand was for the Republic to be re-defined as a multi-ethnic polity of all its citizens, with no mention of any nation. All along the real agenda of the Albanians in Macedonia, like those in Kosovo, had been to split up the country along ethnic lines, to achieve de facto autonomy in areas where they have a majority, and ultimately to unite parts of Macedonia with Kosovo and Albania.

By early 2001, the largest Albanian-dominated city in Macedonia, Tetovo, effectively came under Albanian control. The symptoms were clear: the exodus of its few remaining Orthodox Slav inhabitants was in full swing; luxury cars stolen in Western Europe could be had for a fraction of their real value. From the melancholy sight of Moldovan sex-slave prostitutes in its seedy bars to the presence of unshaved armed thugs in the streets, Albanian-controlled Macedonia was becoming rapidly Kosovized, which also meant that it was becoming a hotbed of drug trade and Islamic extremism. As The Washington Times reported (June 22, 2001) the NLA was largely financed by the smuggling of narcotics from Turkey and further east. In addition to drug money, however, “the NLA also has another prominent venture capitalist: Osama bin Laden.” The sum supplied by Al-Qaeda to the NLA was estimated at between six and seven million dollars over six months.

Aware of the threat-and having seen what had happened to the Serbs in Kosovo – Trajkovski’s party colleagues, prime minister Ljubco Georgievski and interior minister Ljube Boskovski, opposed the concessions he suggested at the urging of his western advisors. “The introduction of another official language and ethnically-based local police are totally unacceptable means that Macedonia should surrender,” Georgievski said, and immediately earned himself the label of a “hard-line” leader in the Western press. Minister of Interior Affairs Ljube Boskovski fared even worse because during the negotiations he resigned from the commission overseeing the peace plan in protest over concessions to unreasonable Albanian demands. “As the head of the Ministry I cannot accept this policy of capitulation which is being imposed by the coordinating body,” he declared and was promptly demonized by the Western media.

President Trajkovski overruled them, however, and it was thanks to his efforts that, on June 8, a five-point peace plan was announced. Skopje capitulated on all fronts:

-Macedonian security forces were to be withdrawn to barracks;

-Proportional representation of ethnic Albanians in government would be secured at both republic and local levels;

-The Albanian language would be used in official dealings;

-Amnesty for UЗK fighters

-Further unspecified “confidence-building measures” would be implemented.

To ensure control, Trajkovski aslo established a joint command of the army and police, bringing the police under his own direct control and thus neutralizing the Interior Ministry headed by Boskovski.

Once the “hard-liners” were out of the way Trajkovski was the key figure in what an astute American commentator called “the mugging of a nation”: as the US and its NATO allies hemmed in the Macedonians on every side, the Albanians, armed to the teeth by their American sponsors, moved in for the kill. Albanian ministers were included in the coalition “government of national unity” (May 1991), and within weeks they reached an agreement with their NLA compatriots in secret talks arranged by an American diplomat-although when they joined the government they had pledged not to talk to the rebels unless they denounced violence. President Trajkovski urged them to denounce the deal, but nobody reacted to his protests. Trajkovski himself changed his tune when he realized that the secret intra-Albanian deal was brokered by the U.S. diplomat Robert Frowick, at that time the special envoy of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Macedonia.

Frowick’s antics, hardly imaginable without an approval from Washington, epitomized the standard modus operandi of the U.S. policy in the Balkans over the previous decade: aggravate a problem in order to enable Washington to impose a solution to its own liking. As Jan Oberg of the Transnational Institute in Lund, Sweden, pointed out at that time,

“If we had a free press, you would know that the United States arms and trains BOTH sides in Macedonia. While we are told that ‘suddenly’ Macedonians and Albanians have started fighting each other, the larger truth is that ten years of Western confused policies combined with the NATO bombing and the failure of the NATO/KFOR and UN mission in Kosovo have destabilized the region beyond repair.”

Throughout that summer Western policymakers had continued to place much of the blame for the unrest on Macedonia’s allegedly insufficient accommodation of Albanian demands. Skopje surrendered in the end: in August both parties signed the final peace agreement. In exchange of disarmament of the NLA, Albanians were granted use of their own language in the councils of municipalities where they form more than 20 percent of the population. The police was “reformed” in accordance with Albanian demands.

Instead of looking for a new Trajkovski, it is time for the United States to disengage from the Balkans. During the 2000 presidential campaign, Mr. Bush did say that it was time to turn over the task of policing the Balkans to the Europeans. He should act accordingly, even after some delay. He should let Chirac and Schroeder handle it. Perhaps the Europeans will have the sense to decline this gift. Ultimately the Albanians may even have to face their long-abused neighbors without foreign cover. That will present them with an unexpected problem, but the resolution of that problem should be left to the nations of the Balkans.

February 11, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

The announcement from the American Embassy in Belgrade on January 22 was bland: “U.S. Ambassador to Serbia and Montenegro, William D. Montgomery, will retire from the U.S. Foreign Service at the end of February after a 30 years career.” The story behind Mr. Montgomery’s premature departure from the key Balkan post is interesting in a rather scandalous way, and-so far-unfit to print in the U.S. (the cat is out of the bag in Europe). It combines power, greed, sex, jealousy, corruption and violence.

William Montgomery (58) was a very powerful man in Serbia, to which he came after several tours of duty elsewhere in the region (Zagreb, Sofia, Budapest). His views of the Balkans were formed during this period in the late 1990s, when he served in the region during Mrs. Albright’s tenure at the Department of State. As a prominent Serbian political commentator noted recently, those views “bear a permanent imprint of the enitre Clinton team’s prejudices and mistakes in ex-Yugoslavia to this day.” He supported the interventions in Bosnia and Croatia (1995) and the war against the Serbs over Kosovo (1999).

Afetr Milosevic’s fall (October 2000) Montgomery was able to ensure the continuity of the previous Administration’s policies by relying on the compliance of Milosevic’s successors. This compliance was forthcoming because the late prime minister Zoran Djindjic and the rest of the “pro-Western, reformist” DOS coalition-who used Vojislav Kostunica to come to power but then marginalized him-went out of their way to earn brownie-points with the Ambassador by being “cooperative” and “moderate.” “They vied for Montgomery’s approval as a means of improving their rating in Washington,” our source says, and to that end they accepted his “line” on The Hague war crimes tribunal, on Kosovo, Bosnia, and a host of other issues. The U.S. Ambassador also became a key arbiter in domestic politics, most recently by threatening Kostunica (in his current role of prime minister-designate) with a host of unspecified sanctions if he were to include the nationalist Radical Party in a future government coalition.

In the words of a Western diplomat who was posted to Belgrade until recently and who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Montgomery managed to “impose himself on Serbia as in imperial proconsul” because the local politicians were willing to treat him as one. “He was a very big fish in a rather small tank.” The power, status, and attention, so disproportionate to a middle-level bureaucrat’s experience and personal mindset, proved to be too much for Montgomery, more than he-and, far more damagingly, his wife-could handle.

Lynne Montgomery is a vivacious woman fond of partying and media attention. She was born in Norfolk (England) 45 years ago to a family of modest means and social standing. Her lifestyle in Belgrade reflected her refusal to come to terms with either her middle age or her status as a diplomatic wife. As the Sunday Times of London put it fairly tactfully on February 8,

“She has been a popular figure on the Belgrade cocktail circuit, but her penchant for low-cut dresses and late-night carousing has caused as much comment as her charity balls for children’s cancer units… [T]he platinum blonde raised eyebrows by writing a controversial column in a local newspaper in which she described dancing on tables in restaurants.”

In one of those columns the diplomat’s wife regaled her Serbian readers with the story of her husband beating time on her bottom with a spoon as she danced to a Gypsy band on a barge on the Danube.

Mrs. Montgomery may have been born in Norfolk but she is a quintessential Essex Girl. She was a married junior staffer at the British embassy in Dar-es-Salaam (Tanzania) when she met the up-and-coming American diplomat, Bill Montgomery. It was in the summer of 1986, just as he was expecting the arrival of his fiancee from the United States. A steamy affair apparently ensued, with Montgomery calling off the wedding and Lynne leaving her husband.

She could have continued with her lording over Belgrade’s social scene for another year at least, had it not been for an ugly incident in the first week of July last year when she was involved in a violent fracas with her husband’s personal secretary, Biljana Jovic (38). The ensuing scene is believed to be the main reason for Montgomery’s premature retirement. As the embassy made arrangements for its Independence Day celebrations-a key date in Belgrade’s social calendar-Mrs. Montgomery unexpectedly came back from the Croatian coast where she was enjoying a break at the family summer home. She called her husband’s cell phone number from the Belgrade airport; to her surprise and chagrin the call was answered by Miss Jovic, who cut her off. Mrs. Montgomery ordered the driver to take her to the embassy instead of the family residence in the leafy suburb of Dedinje, marched through the front office, and allegedly attacked Jovic, whereupon Marine guards had to be called to separate the women. The Sunday Times says that Montgomery bit Jovic and continued her tantrum in her husband’s office, scattering papers. When it was all over, Ms. Jovic-an American citizen-flew to Washington to lodge a formal complaint. State Department investigators went to Belgrade to and their findings are said to have been extremely detrimental to Mrs. Montgomery. She was told to stay away from her husband’s assistant, which effectively barred her from the Embassy. As the gossip spread through Belgrade Montgomery’s position grew untenable.

Lynne Montgomery is said to be shattered at the thought of her high-profile life ending. She enjoyed herself tremendously in the Balkans: when her husband was posted to Croatia, she gained a doctorate in philosophy from Zagreb University. Her thesis, “The Philosophy of Marriage,” remains described as a “work in progress,” but it nevertheless enabled her to obtain the position of a part-time lecturer at the private Brothers Karic University in Belgrade at a salary of $ 2,500 (roughly five times the salary of a full-time tenured professor at the University of Belgrade). The proprietor of the university is Bogoljub Karic, Serbia’s wealthiest oligarch, who made his fortune-measured in hundreds of millions, if not billions-during the reign of Slobodan Milosevic.

These shinenigans end the career of a diplomat whose activities proved to be deeply detrimental to the stability and lasting peace in Southeastern Europe. That region is not an inherently important part of the world, but it is significant because American policies there throughout the 1990s have come to embody all that is wrong with the fundamental assumptions, values, and modus operandi of the decision-making community in Washington. With the fall of Slobodan Milosevic a thorough revision of those policies became possible. William Montgomery, more than any other individual, has contributed to the maintenance of a negative continuity of the Clintonian-Albrightesque Balkan mindset on the Bush Administration. In particular it was his fervent insistence on Serbia’s compliance with the demands of The Hague war crimes tribunal that proved to be counterproductive. It undercut the legitimacy of the “reformist” government in Belgrade, which played right into the hands of the nationalist opposition: the Radical Party is now the most powerful political force in the country.

Montgomery’s successor should try to make a fresh start. With the focus of the Administration’s attention on the Middle East, the Caspian basin, the Korean peninsula, and the war against terror, the United States should pursue pragmatic policies in the Balkans that will make further disengagement possible, at no cost and with least risk of fresh instability. The only obstacle to such policy is the maintenance of a regional pax Americana-until now doggedly pursued by Montgomery-that entailed Serbia’s submission to The Hague, support for Montenegro’s secessionist cleptocracy embodied in Milo Djukanovic, Bosnia’s ever-tighter centralization favored by its Muslim plurality, and the treatment of Kosovo’s eventual independence as an inevitability.

By the time the new ambassador arrives there will be a new government in Belgrade, less likely to follow “suggestions” from the U.S. Embassy at No. 50, Kneza Milosa Street. By standing firm on the key issues that affect its own national interest, that government will also help promote a new Balkan policy in Washington. If it refuses to be drawn into another round of Montgomery’s combinazioni, Belgrade will best defend its own interests while at the same time contributing to the long-overdue review of the U.S. policy in the Balkans.

February 9, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

On February 5, in a major speech at Washington’s Georgetown University, Director-General of the Central Intelligence Agency George Tenet effectively admitted that there was no proof that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. He nevertheless justified the war by insisting that Iraq had intended to develop them, and that-had it done so-it would have been able to threaten its neighbors, as well as U.S. interests in the region and America itself.

Mr. Tenet could have taken his cue from last year’s blockbuster Minority Report: that an allegedly credible forewarning of criminal intent by a potential wrongdoer can justify immediate punitive action against him. On that form the Marines should have been on their way to occupy Karachi months ago. One day before Tenet’s speech the architect of Pakistan’s nuclear program, Abdul Qadeer Khan, stunned the world when he confessed on television to leaking nuclear weapons secrets to-among others-North Korea, Libya, and Iran.

Dr. Khan-widely considered a national hero in Pakistan for his role in developing the country’s nuclear arsenal-made his “confession” on February 4 after a meeting with President Pervez Musharraf. In a televized appearance he told his countrymen that in all his foreign endeavors he had acted “without authorization” from Gen. Musharraf’s government, and asked for forgiveneess. The proceedings could be reminiscent of Moscow, 1936, except that the supposed culprit held all the cards. Straight-facedly he insisted that Musharraf himself, and other Pakistani civilian and military officials, were entirely blameless: “There was never ever any kind of authorization for these activities by the government. I take full responsibility for my actions and seek your pardon,” he said.

The decision to grant “clemency” to Dr. Khan was taken in a cabinet session that followed a meeting of the National Command Authority-responsible for Pakistan’s nuclear program-both of which were chaired by Gen. Musharraf. After the meeting Pakistani officials asserted that Dr. Khan ran an “unauthorized” network that smuggled nuclear equipment to these countries using chartered planes. They admit that his network shared secret designs for centrifuges capable of producing weapons-grade uranium. Dr Khan, they acknowledge, also secretly travelled abroad to instruct his Iranian, Libyan and North Korean disciples how to make nuclear bombs.

A spokesman for Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry, Masood Khan, subsequently declared that the admission proved Pakistan to be a “responsible nuclear weapons state.” This was at odds with Musharraf’s declaration that no documents would be handed over to the international agency, nor would members of the agency be allowed into Pakistan to make inspections:

“There are Europeans involved, have you gone and asked them? This is a sovereign country, no document will be given, no independent investigation will take place here and we will not submit to any United Nations coming inside here. It can never be done.”

Dr. Khan’s admission is not the whole story and it is not the end of the story. His revelations are just the “tip of the iceberg” of illegal nuclear secrets trafficking, according to the UN’s Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Dr. Mohammad El Baradei, the head of the Agency, told reporters Mr Khan was “not working alone; he was openly alluding to the government of Pakistan. Agency spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said that the investigation was only beginning: “There were middlemen, manufacturers in various countries, and there were those who delivered the goods to the end user.” The potential magnitude of the problem is staggering: it is yet to be established whether Khan’s direct or indirect contacts have included Islamic terrorist groups, or organizations or persons connected with them, and what technological blueprints, materials, or hardware may have exchanged hands.

The proceedings in Islamabad were farcical, the statements by all key players mendacious. It is inconceivable that one man, however well placed, could have maintained a long-term illicit nuclear proliferation network with some of the most dangerous regimes in the world without his own government’s knowledge, participation, and active encouragement. The BBC’s security correspondent Frank Gardner pointed out that the authorities’ protested ignorance of what he described as “an international plot of staggering proportions” is not believed even in Pakistan. Nevertheless, U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said that the Administration welcomed the Pakistani announcement:

“It marks the sign of how seriously the government takes the commitments that President Musharraf has made to make sure that his nation is not a source of prohibited technologies for other countries. Pakistan, in this process, has been working very closely with the IAEA and with other governments, as they investigate and as they look at the information that is coming out of, especially, the IAEA on what’s been going on. So we welcome President Musharraf’s actions, as do other members of the international community.”

The administration’s decision to minimize the significance of Khan’s actions is puzzling. The assertion that Pakistan’s proliferation activities are all “in the past” fails to address the fact that all the Pakistani scientists associated with the country’s nuclear program, including Dr. Khan, had been subjected to a strict 24-hour military surveillance all through the years since the program was started. In his Georgetown speech Mr. Tenet disclosed that the CIA had an inside track of Pakistan’s proliferation activities for several years. In a rare insight into the working of the agency, made primarily in order to defend its performance over Iraq front, he disclosed that the CIA had tagged Khan and his network across four continents as they offered nuclear wares to North Korea and Iran.

What was the greater threat to this country’s national security, one may legitimately ask: Was it Iraq’s alleged intention to make plans for eventual development of certain illegal weapons? Or was it a long-term pattern of widespread nuclear technology proliferation by Pakistan-a nuclear power in its own right-from which the main beneficiaries have been three unfriendly nations singled out by President Bush and his team as “rogue states,” as members of an “axis of evil,” or as active promoters of terrorism?

Boucher’s statement fits in with President Bush’s long-standing pretense that the government of General Musharraf is an essential ally in the “War on Terror.” In the same spirit of denial, two years ago Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld declared that the United States was not concerned about the potential for misuse of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons: “I do not personally believe that there is a risk.” In another context such claims could be acceptable as a political expedient vis-а-vis a major Muslim power, but in view of the latest revelations concerning Dr. Khan it would be very dangerous for the U.S. Administration to continue believing its own propaganda.

Mr. Bush’s stated objective of seeing Pakistan develop into a “moderate” Islamic state cannot be advanced if Washington continues to turn a blind eye to the transgressions of the regime in Islamabad. Its soft-pedalling over Pakistan’s role as a nuclear proliferator is counter-productive. Musharraf is a dangerous man, too deeply steeped in Pakistan’s version of Islamic ideology to change course. His army is commanded by officers whose loyalties are divided at best, and inimical to Western interests at all times. They have allowed countless Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters to slip across the border from Afghanistan into Pakistan and to stay out of the U.S. military’s reach. Musharraf’s government has ordered the release of many Islamic militants detained after September 11, and it has backtracked on its promise to control the Islamic schools that are breeding new terrorists.

A degree of cooperation with Pakistan in Mr. Bush’s anti-terrorist campaign is perhaps inevitable, just as various Cold War alliances with nasty Third World regimes were sometimes necessary, but the relationship should not go beyond the pragmatic, give-and-take link based on limited objectives. Far from being a latter-day Mustafa Kemal, General Musharraf fits in with the political tradition of Pakistan since her earliest days.

It is unfortunate that the facts surrounding Pakistan’s proliferation of nuclear secrets to some of the least pleasant regimes on earth continue to be clouded by American denials and the feigned optimism that have characterized Washington’s relations with the Muslim world for decades. As long as the country’s Islamic character is explicitly upheld, Pakistan cannot develop an efficient economy or build a civilized polity. It will remain an unstable burden, not an asset, to the United States.

February 6, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

Warren Zimmermann, the last U.S. ambassador to Yugoslavia before its breakup and civil war, died on February 3 of pancreatic cancer at the age of 69. Zimmermann, a career Foreign Service officer, was named ambassador to Yugoslavia in 1989 by the first President Bush. Zimmermann was recalled from Belgrade in 1992 when U.N. sanctions were imposed on what remained of Yugoslavia, and two years later he resigned from the Foreign Service over what he felt was President Clinton’s reluctance to intervene forcefully enough on the Muslim side in the Bosnian war. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Zimmermann ranked among the finest U.S. career ambassadors and described him as an eloquent defender of human rights: “Ambassador Zimmermann’s passing is a great loss to American diplomacy and to our State Department family.”

What the obituaries do not state, however, is that in March 1992 Warren Zimmermann materially contributed-probably more than any other single man-to the outbreak of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The facts of the case have been established beyond reasonable doubt and are no longer dosputed by experts.

Nine months earlier, in June 1991, Slovenia and Croatia declared independence, a move that triggered off a short war in Slovenia and a sustained conflict in Croatia where the Serbs refused to accept Tudjman’s fait accompli. These events had profound consequences on Bosnia and Herzegovina, that “Yugoslavia in miniature.” The Serbs adamantly opposed the idea of Bosnian independence. The Croats predictably rejected any suggestion that Bosnia and Herzegovina remains within a Serb-dominated rump Yugoslavia. Alija Izetbegovic, the Muslim leader, had decided as early as September 1990 he argued that Bosnia-Herzegovina should also declare independence if Slovenia and Croatia secede. On 27 February 1991 he went a step further by declaring in the Assembly: “I would sacrifice peace for a sovereign Bosnia-Herzegovina, but for that peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina I would not sacrifice sovereignty.” The process culminated with the referendum on independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina (29 February 1992). The Serbs duly boycotted it, determined not to become a minority in a Muslim-dominated Bosnia-Herzegovina. In the end just over 62 percent of voters opted for independence, overwhelmingly Muslims and Croats; but even this figure was short of the two-thirds majority required by the constitution. This did not stop the rump government of Izetbegovic from declaring independence on 3 March.

Simultaneously one last attempt was under way to save peace. The Portuguese foreign minister Josй Cutileiro-Portugal holding at that time the EC Presidency-organized a conference in Lisbon attended by the three communities’ leaders, Izetbegovic, Radovan Karadzic, and the Croat leader Mate Boban. The EU mediators persuaded the three sides that Bosnia-Herzegovina should be independent but internally organized on the basis of ethnic regions or “cantons.”

The breakthrough was due to the Bosnian Serbs’ acceptance of an independent and internationally recognized state, provided that the Muslims give up their ambition of a centralized, unitary one. Izetbegovic appeared to accept that this was the best deal he could make-but soon he was to change his mind, thanks to Warren Zimmermann. When Izetbegovic returned from Lisbon, Zimmermann flew post haste from Belgrade to Sarajevo to tell him that the U.S. did not stand behind the Cutileiro plan. He saw it as a means to “a Serbian power grab” that could be prevented only by internationalizing the problem. When Izetbegovic said that he did not like the Lisbon agreement, Zimmerrmann remembered later, “I told him, if he didn’t like it, why sign it?” A high-ranking State Department official subsequently admitted that the US policy “was to encourage Izetbegovic to break with the partition plan.” The New York Times (August 29, 1993) brought a revealing quote from the key player himself:

The embassy [in Belgrade] was for recognition of Bosnia and Herzegovina from sometime in February on,” Mr. Zimmermann said of his policy recommendation from Belgrade. “Meaning me.” … Immediately after Mr. Izetbegovic returned from Lisbon, Mr. Zimmermann called on him in Sarajevo… “He said he didn’t like it; I told him, if he didn’t like it, why sign it?”

After that moment Izetbegovic had no motive to take the ongoing EC-brokered talks seriously. Only had Washington and Brussels jointly insisted on an agreement on the confederal-cantonal blueprint as a precondition for recognition, he could have been induced to support the Cutileiro plan. But after his encounter with Zimmermann Izetbegovic felt authorized to renege on tripartite accord, and he believed that the U.S. administration would come to his assistance to enforce the independence of a unitary Bosnian state.

The motives of Zimmermann and his political bosses in Washington were not rooted in the concern for the Muslims of Bosnia as such, or indeed any higher moral principle. Their policy had no basis in the law of nations, or in the notions of truth or justice. It was the end-result of the interaction of pressure groups within the American power structure: Saudis and other Muslims, neocons, Turks, One-World Nation Builders, Russophobes… all had their field day. Thus the war in the Balkans evolved from a Yugoslav disaster and a European inconvenience into a major test of “U.S. leadership.” This was made possible by a bogus consensus which passed for Europe’s Balkan policy. This consensus, amplified in the media, limited the scope for meningful debate. “Europe” was thus unable to resist the new thrust of Bosnian policy coming from Washington.

While Europe resorted to the lowest common denominator in lieu of coherent policy, Zimmermann was giving finishing touches to a virulently anti-Serb, agenda-driven form of Realpolitik that was to dominate America’s Bosnian policy. Just as Germany sought to paint its Maastricht Diktat on Croatia’s recognition in December 1991 as an expression of the “European consensus,” after Zimmermann’s intervention in Sarajevo Washington’s fait accomplis were straightfacedly labeled as “the will of the international community.” Just as the EU has lived with the consequences of its acquiescence to Herr Genscher’s fist-banging in Maastricht, Europe has felt the brunt of the new American agenda in foreign policy. It was resentful but helpless when the United States resorted to covert action-with the support of Turkey and Germany-to smuggle arms into Croatia and Bosnia in violation of U.N. resolutions. Zimmermann’s torpedoing of the EU Lisbon formula in 1992 started a trend that frustrated the Europeans, but they were helpless.

Cutileiro was embittered by the US action and accused Izetbegovic of reneging on the agreement. Had the Muslims not done so, he recalled in 1995, “the Bosnian question might have been settled earlier, with less loss of life and land.” Cutileiro also noted that the decision to renege on the signed agreement was not only Izetbegovic’s, as he was encouraged to scupper that deal and to fight for a unitary Bosnian state by foreign mediators.” This was echoed by Ambassador Bissett, who has opined that the United States undermined every peace initiative that might have prevented the killing: “It appeared that the United States was determined to pursue a policy that prevented a resolution of the conflict by other than violent means.”

More than a decade after the event it cannot be denied that Warren Zimmermann’s role in Bosnia’s descent to war was crucial. In early 1992 most Muslims were prepared to accept a compromise that would fall short of full independence-especially if full independence risked war-but he encouraged Izetbegovic to take a leap in the dark.

Zimmermann’s subsequent role as an advocate of a military intervention on the side of the Muslims was seedy but predictable; ditto the lies, half-truths and distortions contained in his book on the Yugoslav conflict (Origins of a Catastrophe: Yugoslavia and its Destroyers). The Washington Times was wrong when it claimed in an otherwise insightful piece that the Lisbon agreement “was scuttled by hapless Mr. Zimmermann, who encouraged [Izetbegovic] … to reverse himself and withdraw.” In reality there was nothing “hapless” about Zimmermann’s action. It was as coldly premeditated, and as tragic in its consequences, as Bismarck’s game with the Ems telegram in 1870, or William Walker’s stage-managed “massacre” at Racak in January 1999, or Albright’s cynical setup at Rambouillet a month later. No doubt when these two “eloquent defenders of human rights” meet their maker the Secretary of State of the day will also assure us that their passing is “a great loss to American diplomacy and to our State Department family.”

February 4, 2004



by Srdja Trifkovic

Five weeks of negotiations over the establishment of a coalition government in Serbia have not been successful thus far. The three likely coalition partners-the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) led by the former Yugoslav president and current Prime Minister-designate Vojislav Kostunica, the G17-plus of Miroljub Labus, and the Serbian Renewal Movement-New Serbia (SPO-NS) alliance-blame the Democratic Party (DS) of the outgoing Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic for the impasse. Those three parties won 109 seats in the 250-seat parliament in the general election on December 28 and need the backing of one other parliamentary group to have a majority. They had hoped to get the support of the DS (37 seats) as they were loath to seek the backing of the Serbian Radical Party of Vojislav Seselj (SRS, 83 seats) or the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS, 22) of Slobodan Milosevic.

The DS originally proved willing but later insisted that it would not support any government in which it did not fully participate. On January 29 Kostunica reluctantly agreed to include the DS in the governing coalition, but a day later Zivkovic’s party escalated its demands, refused to vote for Kostunica’s candidate for the speaker of the national assembly, and now stands accused of obstructing the establishment of a new government. “It is now clear that we have on one side those who are in favor of building institutions in Serbia, and on the other a party, the DS, which is in favor of crippling these institutions,” was Kostunica’s comment. He now regards any previous accord with the DS a null and void, and does not exclude the possibility of seeking support from the Socialists for the tripartite minority government.

When I spoke to Dr. Kostunica at his Belgrade office on the eve of the latest round of negotiations, the issue of disunity among the “democratic, reformist” parties was naturally foremost in his mind. He insists that the success of the nationalist Radical Party in the election-with 27 percent of the votes cast and 82 deputies-was not primarily due to its fiery nationalist rhetoric, but to the widespread dissatisfaction of voters with the previous government’s policies and the attitude of the Western powers-that-be. The usually soft-spoken leader of the Democratic Party of Serbia sounded a note of bitterness over the failure of most foreign commentators to grasp the causes of the Radicals’ upsurge:

Kostunica: In great degree the Radicals’ success was the result of the policy of the Serbian government, and of the Democratic Party that controlled that government. We have witnessed a lot of protest voting. Social and economic situation in Serbia is close to being unbearable. The economy is not functioning, unemployment has increased, foreign debt has increased, people in some enterprises are getting their salaries with two years’ delay; that applies also to the dependents of many farmers. Some industrial urban centers in Serbia, thanks to the mismanagement of the economy, look like ghost cities. Of course their predicament is partly due to the effect of NATO bombs in 1999, and some seven years of sanctions preceding the Kosovo war, but in over three years after Milosevic the DOS coalition government has not alleviated the situation. The second most obvious legacy of that government is corruption. On top of all that we have witnessed the unprecedented arrogance of power. Had it not been for this third factor the situation would have been easier. We had a government unable to manage the economy that bred corruption, and grew arrogant at the same time. Subsequently a large segment of the electorate turned to the Radical Party that combined an uncompromising critique of the government with a degree of demagoguery. Once again the Serbs voted out of protest, not unlike the protest vote against Milosevic just over three years ago. In addition, we have had continuous, Western, foreign threats, demands and dictates. People were offended by the wrong approach of the “international community” to the Kosovo problem embodied in the “standards implementation plan” and the insistence that the final status of Kosovo must be resolved within one year. Last but by no means least, we have the never-ending saga of The Hague Tribunal [for war crimes in the former Yugoslavia]. Only weeks before the election The Hague Tribunal indicted four high-ranking officers-two army generals and two police generals-on the grounds of ‘command responsibility.’ These factors explain the outcome of the election in Serbia.

Trifkovic: Before the fall of Milosevic there had been extravagant promises by certain opposition leaders-especially the late Zoran Djindjic-about the imminent influx of foreign capital, Western aid and investment if and when the regime were to change. Why has this not materialized?

Kostunica: The main reason is the lack of the rule of law. The West has not supported us in the establishment of that essential prerequisite for foreign investors. The “international community” has failed to support the struggle against corruption and organized crime. In the name of supporting “reforms” it has allowed the government to manipulate the judiciary and to carry out highly suspect privatization deals. By overlooking countless misdeeds of the so-called reformists in Serbia, the West has de-motivated foreign investors. The same leniency applied to another Western protйgй, Milo Djukanovic in Montenegro, who has not been openly criticized, let alone penalized, for rampant corruption and criminalization of the society. All that has made both Serbia and Montenegro unattractive to foreign investors. The misguided support of the wrong people, coupled with the wrong policy, have diminished any hope of reviving the Serbian economy by attracting badly needed foreign investment.

Trifkovic: The second mistake of the “international community” you’ve mentioned is Kosovo, with constant pressures on the Serb side to accept “final status” negotiations that presuppose the province’s ultimate independence. Who exactly is driving this agenda, who is setting all these deadlines, and insisting on a speedy resolution of its final status?

Kostunica: It is in the interest of the current U.S. administration to disengage from the Balkans, to free its forces currently posted to both Bosnia and Kosovo, because Washington is focused on the war against terror-but does not appreciate the danger of the Balkans as a terrorist base. Washington is trying to get an agreement [on Kosovo’s final status] within one year-something that could not be achieved in many previous years. We need an agreement that will take account of many different demands that will bring the necessary stability. This cannot be done on present form. If we look at the numbers, it is evident that less than one percent of IDPs [“Internally Displaced Persons” i.e. Serbs and other non-Albanians ethnically cleansed from Kosovo] have returned, and their freedom of movement is curtailed. It is obvious that no solution is possible within such an artificial deadline, if no solution had been found in years and decades before this time. The Europeans, on the whole, have a better understanding of the Kosovo problem than the US administration. They realize that a new institutional arrangement is needed. And yet there is no joint approach, there is no common policy. It is more than clear that the Serbs in Kosovo need autonomy, a sort of Serbian entity that would give them the sense of security and self-reliance that has been lacking thus far. At one moment, at the end of 2002, the Council of Europe did propose some sort of decentralization of Kosovo, but later on this idea fell victim to bureaucratic inertia and that’s where we are now.

Trifkovic: In general, though, is it possible for the Serbs to project themselves as part of the solution, rather than the perennial part of the problem? Can they present themselves in Washington as a pillar of stability in the Balkans, as partners in the war against terror?

Kostunica: With the political situation in Serbia such as it is, with the present state of mind, it is very difficult to change much in the short run. Just as it is impossible to resolve the problem of Kosovo within one year, it is not possible to obtain a better representation of our interests in Washington overnight. What the Serbs are missing right now, and that problem is reflected in the intellectual and political circles, is the very idea of the state and its institutions. The behavior and attitudes of the largest part of the elite in Serbia create the impression that we are a stateless nation. The moment you concentrate on some of those important issues of statehood, you are criticized by a large segment of the elite opinion. Why is it so important, they ask, to focus on the adoption of the new constitution? Isn’t it more important to improve the economy?

Trifkovic: The third problematic aspect of Western policy that you’ve mentioned relates to The Hague Tribunal.

Kostunica: The Hague is an unnecessary problem, and, just like Kosovo and Bosnia, it is a problem that the Americans appear to find somewhat boring at this moment. The Europeans, on the whole, take a more nuanced approach. The U.S. is dealing with these issues in a bureaucratic manner, which was reflected in the Congressional act that defined conditions that Serbia needed to satisfy in order to be “certified” [for normal trading relations]. There one finds just one name [that of General Ratko Mladic] and some old phrases about minority rights and the freeing of all political prisoners, issues that no longer posed a problem as we had already implemented them. In fact there were some political prisoners in Serbia last year, when thousands of people were arrested under the state of emergency in the aftermath of the assassination of Zoran Djindjic, but that was something that Washington did not mind. But our main problem remains The Hague, it is the rope around our neck, and one must try and make that rope at least less tight than it is now.

Trifkovic: In view of most recent events do you still believe that you will be able to form a stable government, or do you see a new election within months?

Kostunica: When we contemplate various options for the governing coalition, one complicating aspect is that for foreign as well as domestic policy reasons one cannot count on one political party [the Radicals] that enjoys broad support and has many deputies. This situation reminds us of Italy after the Second World War, when the Communist Party maintained a significant parliamentary presence but for various reasons could not be included in a governing coalition. The balance is therefore unstable, and although an early election is not what the people want that may be an outcome that we may not be able to avoid.

Trifkovic: The exclusion of Italian communists from government ended with the reformist course of Enrico Berlinguer. Can the Serbian Radical Party re-invent itself accordingly?

Kostunica: We already see some signs of a new approach within the Radical Party. One should hope that it will continue to develop that way, because we need to be able to count on all parties represented in parliament as potential partners. That would be the normal situation in a normal democratic country, where all combinations should be possible. The Radicals, for their part, have a choice: to become a party of the mainstream, or to be marginalized like the party of Zhirinovsky in Russia. They need to discard careless rhetoric and demagoguery, and act like a responsible force.

Trifkovic: As far as your own party is concerned, what are the causes for its declining electoral support? Is it the price of trying to strike a middle course between the Radicals’ nationalist rhetoric and the subservience of “pro-Western reformists”?

Kostunica: From the very beginning we have been aware of the risks of that policy, between two extremes, between those who want to confront the international community and those who want to serve it unreservedly. We have been trying to follow a “Third Way”-please do not confuse this with Tony Blair’s “third way”-and it is very difficult to attract great support with that sort of policy: it opens us to attacks from both sides. Before this latest election some Westerners treated the DSS not as a democratic, reformist party but as a nationalist party closer to the Radicals. Now all of a sudden that attitude has changed and the DSS is assumed to belong to a “democratic reformist bloc,” and on top of that we are told that among these “democrats” there should be no quarrels, that we should be united. All differences between us and the DS are assumed to be personal, which they are not: they are political, they are conceptual. We, the DSS, insist on the rule of law, on an independent judiciary, on the separation of powers, on upholding the dignity of parliament. Other parties, and the DS in particular, have behaved in a sort of revolutionary way, disregarding the rule of law, not making the state institutions strong and respected, allowing corruption, and even treating it as a necessary means to the achievement of its goals. These differences between us are real, and important-and that is completely misunderstood in the West. If I were to rank the misunderstandings of Serbia’s internal politics that are still prevalent in the Western world, this claim that there are no fundamental differences among the “democrats” would top the list.

January 21, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

According to the figures released on January 20, last year China’s economy grew at its fastest pace since 1997, adding over nine percent to gross domestic product. The growth rate in the last quarter of 2003 was even more impressive at 9.9%. Such strong performance makes China the fastest growing among the world’s major economies, and on per capita basis its growth was probably the highest in the world. Its trade, foreign investment, and consumer spending all grew, and its industrial production rose by a whopping 17%.

Over the past quarter-century China has been successfully transformed from a poor agricultural economy into a global manufacturing base. At the same time the Communist Party has managed to preserve the monopoly of political power. The result is a variety of authoritarian capitalism-successfully tested decades ago in Taiwan, South Korea, and Singapore-under which a selective degree of economic freedom and private property rights is combined with unyielding control over political life by the ruling establishment. In China’s case the Party-long devoid of Marxist ideological zeal or any serious attempt to indoctrinate “the masses”-provides conditions for a liberal capitalist economy, but does not allow its monopoly of power to be questioned, let alone challenged.

This system is the legacy of Deng Xiaoping, China’s de facto ruler for two decades until his death in 1997. Deng seldom initiated economic reforms, preferring to allow them to be introduced by local leaders, sometimes in violation of central government directives. If successful they would then be adopted in other regions and ultimately introduced nationally as a feature of his “socialist market economy”; if not, the blame was limited to the loical officialdom. Deng’s reforms are said to have produced the biggest single improvement in human welfare anywhere at any time, affecting hundreds of millions of people.

This bottom-up approach to economic reform proved to be vastly more successful than the Soviet Union’s top-down shakeup in the late 1980s known as perestroika. On the political front Deng avoided Gorbachev’s failed attempt to introduce political liberalization (glasnost) simultaneously with economic reform. The crisis of Tienanmen Square proved temporary; almost fifteen years later China’s nouveau riche enterpreneurs calmly comment that “democracy should not get in the way of making money.” The tension between modernizing reformists and the Maoist old guard that characterized Deng’s early years in power is gone.

The policy of asserting the primacy of pragmatism over communitarian Maoist values, while maintaining the rule of the Communist Party, is nevertheless prone to tension and foreign Sinologists endlessly speculate whether that tension be absorbed within the formula of authoritarian capitalism. There are encouraging precedents. Harnessing market-based development to one-party control has worked very well in Spain under Franco, in Chile under Pinochet, in South Korea during many of its boom years, and-perhaps most pertinently-in Taiwan under Chiang Kai-shek and his successors. By the early 1960s Chiang’s Kuomintang (KMT) had ceased to be a Leninist party, just as the Chinese Communist Party is no longer “Marxist-Leninist” today.

Chiang’s KMT did not conceive of itself as representing the interest of any particular class and sought to represent the nation as a whole, just as China’s communists neglect the “proletariat” while wooing the capitalists into their ranks. And finally, both realize that a vibrant private sector is the key to prosperity. If the Communist Party of China continues to transform itself into a Red Kuomintang, a guided democracy will eventually emerge, social disparities will become less glaring, and economic growth will continue on a stable footing. In that case a peaceful reunification of the Mainland and Taiwan will be only a matter of time.

China’s phenomenal growth also begs the question of its future role in the world. By 2025 it will be a great power of the first order. Its population will reach 1.5 billion, its GDP will be in the $7 trillion range-on par with that of the United States or the European Union a decade ago-and it will have access to the most advanced technologies. In foreign affairs its leaders will continue to attach little importance to international organizations and alliances, trusting China’s wealth and power as a means of achieving diplomatic objectives and treating a strong defense as an outgrowth of a strong economy.

China’s wealth and power will make it the dominant power in Southeast Asia, and the nations of the region will be hard pressed to negotiate the terms and conditions of an acceptable relationship with Peking that would fall short of China’s outright hegemony. All along the reunification with Taiwan will remain Peking’s top priority. The country’s growing energy needs, impossible to satisfy from its limited domestic resources, will turn it into a player of growing importance on the international energy stage. Its leaders see access to the largely untapped reserves of oil and natural gas in Central Asia as a cornerstone of China’s economic policy for the next two decades. They also may harbor long-term geopolitical designs in Siberia, underpopulated and rich in energy and minerals. If on the other hand China opts for a cooperative relationship with Russia, their partnership could reshape the Asian architecture and turn China into a distribution hub for oil and gas exports to South Korea and Japan, two of the largest energy importing states in the world. This in turn may result in Japan’s strategic realignment. Ikuro Sugawara, an analyst with the Japan National Oil Corporation, says that “Japan, which is an integral part of the Asian market and is as dependent as its neighbours on the Middle East for oil, will not be able to follow the US line as closely as it has in the past.”

None of these long-term objectives and policies likely to be pursued by China are necessarily detrimental to the interests of the United States. And yet four years ago a Pentagon report, “Asia 2025,” used similar premises to outline alarming scenarios of an unstable Asia dominated by an increasingly self-assertive China. The report’s authors, led by the veteran futurist Andrew W. Marshall, contended that the world’s most populous nation cannot be anything but a “persistent competitor to the United States,” regardless of its strength: “A stable and powerful China will be constantly challenging the status quo in Asia. An unstable and relatively weak China could be dangerous because its leaders might try to bolster their power with foreign military adventures.”

The underlying premise of such thinking, that any change of the status quo in Asia would be detrimental to American interests, is flawed. No vital interest of the United States is involved in the question who rules Taiwan-but for China this is a vital issue over which it would be prepared to fight. If it is seen to waver over the status of Taiwan, its hold over Sinkiang, Tibet, or even Manchuria may become tenuous. By disentangling itself from its many security commitments around the globe the United States may regain its ability to define a strategic doctrine based on its genuine national interests, and rediscover a foreign policy attuned to a balance between rational objectives and limited resources.

Such balance would dictate a more stringent and self-interested U.S. trade policy, however. America’s massive trade deficit with China goes hand in hand with the tendency of multinational companies to move their production facilities to Canton or Shanghai. Cheap labor, almost non-existent environmental controls, absence of unions and low taxes make China an ideal relocation site. As American manufacturing jobs disappear, companies like General Electric, Kodak, Dow Chemical and Ingersoll-Rand supply the U.S. domestic market and markets in other countries with exports from their Chinese factories. Supporters of free trade typically assert that jobs lost to China trade threaten only low-skill, low-wage jobs here, while expanded exports to China will create high-wage U.S. jobs. But China is moving beyond labor-intensive goods. American market is now flooded with higher-tech Chinese goods, from computers and IT components to applications software and aerospace engine parts.

As China continues to transform itself into a global economic power, it should be accepted that it has legitimate regional interests, security concerns and aspirations. The task of U.S. policy in East Asia should be to consider whether, and to what extent, those aspirations are compatible with American interests. Contemplating a consensual, jointly managed and internationally agreed reunification of China with Taiwan would be a constructive first step.

January 20, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

“The problem with Dean’s vision of the Democratic Party is more than electoral; it is intellectual and moral,” says The New Republic in a recent editorial (January 7), and concludes that “the candidate who offers the clearest, bravest alternative is Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman.” It praises Lieberman’s “brave, consistent foreign policy record” and in particular his support for the war in Iraq, which, the magazine says, “falls within a hawkish liberal tradition” that stretches through the Balkan wars:

“Lieberman is not the only candidate who stands in that tradition-Wesley Clark promoted it courageously in Kosovo, as did Richard Gephardt when he defied the polls to vote for $87 billion to rebuild Iraq. But Lieberman is its most steadfast advocate, not only in the current field but in the entire Democratic Party.”

On domestic issues liberals may resent Lieberman’s moralism, TNR adds, “but what they see as sanctimony, many ordinary Americans see as overdue concern about the toxic influences that saturate their children’s lives.” Similarly, according to TNR, many liberals mocked Lieberman as self-righteous for denouncing Clinton on the Senate floor at the height of the Lewinsky affair; but, “given the then-pervasive fear in the Democratic Party about crossing the Clintons, Lieberman’s speech took courage.” Only Lieberman, TNR concludes, is challenging his party “to articulate a different, better vision of what it means to be a Democrat”: one day, Lieberman’s warnings in this campaign will look prophetic and “the principles he has espoused will once again guide the Democratic Party.” It will be the work of this magazine, the editorial promises, to hasten that day.

Behind the rhetoric, the reason for TNR’s endorsement today is the same as the theory behind Al Gore’s choice of Lieberman as his running mate four years ago: let’s find someone who is not perceived as a raging leftie and a moral degenerate. The Party itself may pander to every zany, far-left interest group in sight, from radical feminists and “gays” to serial abortionists and open immigration enthusiasts; but in a general election it needs a mainstream “New Democrat” who flaunts his self-avowed religiousity and morality. In order to examine the validity of the claim, and the appropriatness of Lieberman as the choice for moderate Democrats, it is necessary to examine TNR’s key claims in order of appearance.


Lieberman’s foreign policy record, while far from “brave”-his positions are invariably establishmentarian-seems consistent in that he has never seen an intervention he didn’t like.

This was particularly true of Kosovo. Well before the KLA escalated its terrorist campaign in early 1998, instigating the crisis that culminated in the bombing campaign a year later, Albanian separatists were active purchasing political influence in Washington. Their key backer was Bob Dole, but Lieberman soon became one of their assets; he is known to have received at least $10,000 from the National Albanian-American PAC in 1994 alone. He duly performed on cue: already in October 1998 he went on national television to advocate bombing Serbia. It was not only a matter of U.S. “credibility” but also of “morality” to stop a broader war in the Balkans and to be true to “our humanitarian values to prevent the kind of starvation of women and children and freezing to death of women and children and older people.”

Once thed bombing was under way Lieberman abandoned any pretense of “humanitarian values.” He urged an unlimited escalation of the war with ground troops, and actively advocated war crimes against Serb civilians. He expressed hope that the air campaign would “devastate” Serbia’s economy, “ruin” the lives of its people, and thus force them to turn against Milosevic. On May 23, 1999, Lieberman repeated his call for indiscriminate terrorist bombing of civilian targets in Serbia on Fox News. When the presenter said, “But wait, I thought we weren’t trying to make life miserable for regular, every day Serbs,” Lieberman’s answer was unambiguous:

“Oh, we are. I mean that’s what we’ve been doing for the last couple of months. We’re not only hitting military targets, otherwise why would we be cutting off the water supply and knocking out the power stations-turning the lights out. We’re trying through the air campaign to break the will of the Serbian people so they will force their leader to break his will to then order the troops out of Kosovo.”

Had a Serb urged something similar as a means of breaking the will of Bosnia’s Muslims or Kosovo’s Albanians, he’d be in The Hague by now, charged with instigating war crimes. But Lieberman went on to additionally repay his Albanian benefactors by sponsoring – along with Sen. John McCain-the infamous “Kosovo Self-Defense Act” that would have provided $25 million of U.S. taxpayers’ money to equip 10,000 KLA “fighters” with arms and anti-tank weapons. In the event Lieberman’s friends did not need the arms: within weeks they were given a free hand to kill and expel non-Albanians under the benevolent gaze of NATO occupiers.

Lieberman’s support of interventionist policies is reflected in his membership of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). He is also one of the best friends of the military-industrial complex in the Senate. Back in April 1993 he warned against any attempt to reap the “peace dividend.” Contrary to the basic adage of strategy-that designating “threats to national security” must follow the clear determination of a country’s national interests-Lieberman relentlessly advocates military spending for its own sake. According to his own web site he “succeeded in preserving support for a number of weapons programs that are critical to Connecticut’s industrial base and to America’s national security,” including the controversial Defense Authorization (S. 1059) and Appropriations bills that continued funding for aircraft programs powered by Pratt and Whitney engines. He has secured funding for Sikorsky helicopters beyond the level requested by the DoD itself, and mobilized Senate support for a whole host of military expenditure bills that had been in trouble in the House. The payback for such hard work is substantial: over 80 percent of Lieberman’s campaign financing comes from outside his state.


Another self-styled moral crusader, Bill Bennett, once said of Lieberman, “He has his feet much more planted in the Talmud than in focus groups.” Lieberman himself declared on January 11 in Des Moines that he is very pleased because “morality” is back on the Democrats’ agenda: “If we remain silent on this subject, we will lose a bond with the American people that the Republicans will exploit. If we just get programmatic and bureaucratic, we’re not using a language people use every day.”

In reality, however, on any number of issues he has sided with bad people and bad ideas, he has said bad things and voted for bad laws. He is one of the most enthusiastic pro-abortionists on the Hill. In 1997-1998, on the votes that the National Right to Life Committee considered to be the most important, he voted their way 7 percent of the time. And conversely, on the votes that the National Abortion Reproductive Rights Action League considered to be the most important, he voted their preferred position 94 percent of the time. On the votes that Planned Parenthood considered to be the most important in the previous three years (1993-1996), Lieberman voted their preferred position a whopping 97 percent of the time. In one of the most highly charged issues of the 104th Congress, both the House and the Senate approved legislation to ban late-term abortion. President Clinton vetoed the legislation, however.

In previous months Lieberman had spoken about his opposition to partial birth abortion. “Partial-birth abortion is horrifying,” he said. “It’s horrific, yet the more I focused on it, the more I had to face my own personal conclusion that any abortion is unacceptable, any abortion is horrific When he had the opportunity to vote against this monstrosity, however, Lieberman again showed his true colors and sided with his President. His vote made a difference: 67 votes were needed to override the expected Clinton veto; the final vote was 64 to ban and 36 against the ban, just three votes short of the needed override.

In early 1999 Senator Lieberman was a co-sponsor of the “Hate Crimes Bill” that sought to criminalize any statement critical of the militant homosexuals’ objectives, practices and “lifestyle.” He sought to explain his position by saying, “Those who are homosexual are also God’s children. One does not have to accept homosexuality, one does not have to accept its morality to support this legislation.” The most vehement reaction to this came from within the Jewish community. In an open letter to Lieberman dated March 30, 1999 Rabbi Isaac Levy, President of Jews for Morality, said that the Torah clearly labeled homosexuality was an abomination hateful to God. Is God guilty of “Hate Speech?”-he wondered, and asked if all of the members of Jews for Morality were also guilty of hate speech when they proclaim the authentic word of God on this issue.”

It is ironic that Lieberman’s criticism of Clinton during the Lewinsky affair, once embarrassing to the Administration, is suddenly deemed by TNR to be an asset. In reality, however, that criticism was meant to save Clinton. He condemned President Clinton’s sexual behavior as “reprehensible,” “immoral” and “harmful,” but voted against the impeachment as “unjust and unwise.” He further helped Clinton by calling for an expedited conclusion of the trial with a “stinging censure.” Lieberman thus joined the ranks of Clinton’s followers who fitted in with Aristotle’s account of youngsters unready for politics because they saw life as “a succession of unrelated emotional experiences” or disconnected episodes. It is noteworthy that Lieberman-an experienced lawyer-carefully focused his “condemnation” of Clinton, while ignoring the truly impeachable part, such as lying under oath. And yet it is this performance during the impeachment debate, manipulative and immoral, that TNR now invokes as the proof of his integrity and courage.
* * *

Lieberman’s Senate votes, his flawed judgment, his public statements, the sources of his money, and his overall hypocrisy are Lieberman’s record. “It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government,” George Washington said in his farewell address. Senator Joseph Lieberman is a living reminder of what happens when that spring is twisted and turned by special interests, evil ideologies, and money.

January 16, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

The revelation that in 1995 Democratic presidential front-runner Howard Dean urged President Clinton to enter the war in Bosnia on the Muslim side, and to do so unilaterally, exposes him as a warmonger and a hypocrite.

One of the pillars of Dean’s campaign has been his severe criticism of what he calls President Bush’s unilateralism: “This unilateral approach to foreign policy is a disaster,” he declared in April last year, referring to Iraq. “All of the challenges facing the United States-from winning the war on terror and containing weapons of mass destruction to building an open world economy and protecting the global environment-can only be met by working with our allies,” he added, and warned that a “renegade, go-it-alone approach will be doomed to failure, because these challenges know no boundaries.”

Now compare this with the letter Dean wrote-on his official stationery as Vermont’s Governor-to President Clinton on July 19, 1995:

After long and careful thought, and after several years of watching the gross atrocities committed by the Bosnian Serbs, I have reluctantly concluded that the efforts of the United Nations and NATO in Bosnia are a complete failure . . . It is evident that the cost in human lives in allowing this policy to continue is too great. In addition, and perhaps more importantly for the United States, we are now in a position of ignoring, as many did in the 1940s, one of the worst crimes committed in history. If we ignore these behaviors, no matter where they occur, our moral fiber as a people becomes weakened. As the Catholic Church and others lost credibility during the Holocaust for not speaking out, so will the United States lose credibility and our people lose confidence in themselves as moral beings if the United States does not take action.

Since it is clearly no longer possible to take action in conjunction with NATO and the United Nations, I have reluctantly concluded that we must take unilateral action . . . First, lift the arms embargo as it applies to the Bosnian government. Second, enforce a full embargo . . . on the Bosnian Serbs and upon Yugoslavia. Third, break off diplomatic relations with Yugoslavia. Fourth, commit American air power to support the Bosnian government . . . I understand the risks of this policy and their implications for the NATO Alliance and the future success of the United Nations. Surely, however, as you watch and read about the huge amount of unwarranted human suffering, particularly of children, you would agree that our current course must now be changed . . .

Such unilateral belligerence is worthy of a Weekly Standard editorial. The same letter, with a few minor changes, could have been written by Bill Kristol about Iraq a year ago, and addressed to President Bush. But before evaluating Dean’s logic and moral principles, let us briefly examine his command of facts on which he based his policy recommendations.

The claim that the enormity of recent crimes in the Balkans sets them apart, that they are “one of the worst crimes committed in history” comparable only to those committed in the 1940s, is not originally Dean’s. It had been repeated ad nauseam in previous years, and it is devoid of substance. Between the end of World War II and the outbreak of the war in Yugoslavia in 1991 there had been over one hundred million human fatalities due to war, genocide, democide, politicide, and mass murder-by Pol Pot, Mao, Idi Amin, Kim Il Sung, and other lesser-known butchers from Rwanda to Bengal to Sudan. Compared to various Afro-Asian post-colonial killing fields, the war in Bosnia was a medium-sized local conflict. Bill Clinton claimed 250,000 dead in his speech in November 1995, but there was no empirical basis for that figure. According to George Kenney, former chief of the Yugoslav desk at the State Department, “Bosnia isn’t the Holocaust or Rwanda; it’s Lebanon” (The New York Times Magazine, April 23, 1995). He put the number of fatalities at up to 60,000 on all sides. Kenney and others have proven that the “Bosnian Holocaust” story was fabricated by the Muslim side as part of a wide-ranging, effective PR campaign. Had there been a slaughter on the alleged scale, there would have been fewer rather than more voters-especially on the Muslim side-on the electoral roll in 1996 than in 1990. Including Croatia/Krajina, and Bosnia, and Kosovo, the Yugoslav wars of 1991-99 have killed up to, but not more than, one hundred thousand people.

Dean’s assertion that the Catholic Church “lost credibility during the Holocaust for not speaking out” is another charge that belongs to Virtual Truth category: a lie repeated so often that it is almost impossible to try to debunk it. Dean’s Christophobia surfaces here, as visceral as Daniel Jonah Goldhagen’s. It is ironic that the main victims of one crime of which the Catholic Church was guilty during World War II-its failure to condemn and prevent the horrendous Ustasa atrocities in “Independent” Croatia-were none other than those dastardly Serbs.

Dean’s claim that America would “lose credibility and our people lose confidence in themselves as moral beings if the United States does not take action” was false and nonsensical. He invokes an abstract and ideologically based notion-the doctrine subsequently came to be called “humanitarian intervention”-as the pretext to violate the law of nations and disregard the principle of national interest. His assertion of America’s duty “to take unilateral action” is open to the latest whim of outrage or the latest fad for victimhood. His moral absolutism is used as a substitute for rational argument. The more arrogant his doctrine, the greater is his willingness to lie for the truth: even today, Dean justifies his letter to Clinton by repeating all of the old clichйs about the Bosnian Holocaust, and claims that his demand for intervention on the side of the Muslims was justified.

Such obstinacy in a presidential hopeful is dangerous because it effectively encourages Islamic terrorism. Clinton’s intervention in the Balkans, of which Dean had been a leading advocate, had for its end result the strengthening of an already aggressive Islamic base in the heart of Europe. Dean’s present posture continues to enhance the Muslim sense of victimhood, notably with the myth of the “genocide” in Bosnia that he still propagates, thus feeding the minds of Muslims with a political drivel that nourishes their hate. Dean is an obstacle to long-overdue revision of Western policies in the Balkans. He personifies the apologetics and the tradition of pro-Muslim appeasement of the Clinton decade. His effective pandering to Islam’s geopolitical designs is not only immoral and illogical, it is self-defeating and detrimental to this country’s national security.

Howard Dean wants to lead the mightiest country in history and yet he misunderstands both morality and foreign policy. He does not grasp that only a realistic attachment to the national interest-the art of the diplomatically possible-has the potential to realize moral purposes, while the mantle of “humanitarianism” leads to the moral collapse of Western and American values that we have witnessed with Clinton’s interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo-both strongly supported by Dean. He is an utopian at heart whose epistemological hubris makes him blind to the fact that only God knows; man only thinks he knows, and knows far less than he thinks. When he thinks he can play god, as Dean thinks, he does abominable things.

Dean is not different from the neoconservatives he criticizes for “unilateralism” in his desire to place American power and prestige in the hands of men who want to go around the world in search of dragons to slay. His advocacy of humanitarian unilateralism is not different from Kristol’s and Kagan’s “benevolent global hegemony,” and both end up in an eternal war for eternal peace. Neither Dean nor the neocons can tell us how their brands of global interventionism help the United States preserve the traditional moral fabric, social structure and economic interests of its own people, what most Americans still mean by “national interest.”

Some years ago Brian Mitchell diagnosed the “twin faults” of this mindset. The first is “a gnostic belief in our own anointing as a nation, a belief without any foundation in scripture or tradition, chosen merely because it flatters us.” The second is an undeserved confidence in our ability to know and reason, which makes it easy to pass judgment on others and bear the sword against them, accounting ourselves blameless for the destruction we cause: “We all know how well men rationalize their nonrational preferences, yet after doing our just-war calculations and obtaining an answer in favor of war, we then proceed with a clear conscience to commit ghastly acts.”

It is futile to try to explain this to Dean, to tell him that reality, in the Balkans and elsewhere, is always more complicated than he thinks, and the farther that reality is from his own experience the less he can understand it. This is the moral basis for nonintervention, for staying out of other peoples’ wars. Dean wouldn’t understand because his notion of “our moral fiber as a people” reflects Madeleine Albright’s memorable phrase that “the United States stands taller than other nations, and therefore sees further.” Both Dean’s letter to Clinton and Albright’s utterance imply that America is not only wise but also virtuous, and that its foreign policy is influenced by values and not by prejudices. This idiocy makes both real Americans and foreigners livid.

When it comes to world affairs the Democratic Party has a problem not only with Dean but also with the most likely alternative to Dean. If the former Governor of Vermont is a neo-Wilsonian grandomaniac and a hypocrite guided by situational morality, retired General Wesley Clark-the great white hope of the Clintonian wing of the party opposed to Dean-is an outright liar and a war criminal. His attempt to boost his chances by testifying against Slobodan Milosevic at The Hague war crimes tribunal last month misfired badly-the former Rhodes Scholar proved no match for the wily former Serbian strongman-but the facts of the case have been largely ignored by the media.

Clark’s volte-face on Iraq was stunning. The General is currently presenting himself as a multilateralist critical of the war, but on September 26, 2002, he delared before the Committee on Armed Services of the House of Representatives that “[t]here’s no requirement to have any doctrine” in Iraq because “this is simply a longstanding right of the United States and other nations to take the actions they deem necessary in their self defense”:

Every president has deployed forces as necessary to take action. He’s done so without multilateral support if necessary. He’s done so in advance of conflict if necessary. In my experience, I was the commander of the European forces in NATO. When we took action in Kosovo, we did not have United Nations approval to do this and we did so in a way that was designed to preempt Serb ethnic cleansing and regional destabilization there. There were some people who didn’t agree with that decision. The United Nations was not able to agree to support it with a resolution.

Clark differs from Dean mainly in that Dean believes that Bosnia was worthy of the U.S. intervention whereas Iraq was not, while it is Clark’s present view that the Kosovo intervention was justified while that in Iraq was not. As The Spectator noted (June 14, 2003), in all cases the government’s war strategy seems to have been threefold:

1. In order to whip up public support for war, tell lies so outrageous that most people will believe that no one would have dared to make them up. 2. When the conflict is over, dismiss questions about the continued lack of evidence as ‘irrelevant’ and stress alternative ‘benefits’ from the military action, e.g., ‘liberation’ of the people. 3. Much later on, when the truth is finally revealed, rely on the fact that most people have lost interest and are now concentrating on the threat posed by the next new Hitler.

Wesley Clark liked all those wars, and his Congressional testimony on Iraq served the first stage of this three-step approach. Having presented one lie-that NATO’s bombing campaign was caused by “Serb ethnic cleansing” -Clark proceeded to another:

There’s no question that Saddam Hussein is a threat . . . Yes, he has chemical and biological weapons. He’s had those for a long time . . . He is, as far as we know, actively pursuing nuclear capabilities, though he doesn’t have nuclear warheads yet. If he were to acquire nuclear weapons, I think our friends in the region would face greatly increased risks as would we . . . As Richard Perle so eloquently pointed out, this is a problem that’s longstanding. It’s been a decade in the making. It needs to be dealt with and the clock is ticking on this.

If anyone ever doubted that there is precious little to choose between Democrat one-world globalist “multilateralists” and neoconservative unilateral global interventionist, Clark’s quote provides the proof. He could be a Republican candidate indeed, as Dean’s supporters allege, and the Weekly Standard would have no reason not to endorse him. For true soldiers who value truthfulness and honesty this is a huge problem. Retired Gen. H. Hugh Shelton, Clark’s former boss as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, gave a damning verdict:

I’ve known Wes for a long time. I will tell you the reason he came out of Europe early had to do with integrity and character issues, things that are very near and dear to my heart. I’m not going to say whether I’m a Republican or a Democrat. I’ll just say Wes won’t get my vote.

In a debate with Al Gore in October 2000 candidate George W. Bush warned the Vice President that it is not America’s role to patrol the planet and arrange other peoples’ lives in its own image:

One way for us to end up being viewed as the ugly American is for us to go around the world saying, we do it this way, so should you . . . The United States must be humble and must be proud and confident of our values, but humble in how we treat nations that are figuring out how to chart their own course.

That was a breath of fresh air after eight years of Mr. Clinton team’s triumphalist ravings about the “Indispensable Nation.” It is unfortunate that over the past four years Mr. Bush seems to have forgotten his own words, but at least one may retain some hope that he will remember them at some point in the future. To hope for a similar enlightenment from Howard Dean or Wesley Clark is futile.

January 10, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

For years we have been warning that flawed pro-Muslim Western policies would turn the Balkans from a “protectorate of the New World Order into an Islamic threat to Western interests” (Chronicles, December 2001). This has already happened, according to a spate of media reports and statements by Western governments and top diplomats over the past few weeks.

“US to build Balkan anti-terrorism center in Bulgaria,” news agencies reported on January 6, to monitor and detect terrorist threats to the United States and Balkan countries. In addition to the CIA-staffed center, Bulgarian media reported that the FBI also plans to set up an office in Sofia working with the center. US intelligence experts are quoted as saying that al-Qaida has a training base in the Balkans and uses the region as a terror route to West

Two days earlier, on January 4, Associated Press warned that efforts to tighten security for seaborne containers won’t lessen the risk that terrorists could sneak a nuclear weapon into Europe by land through the Balkans. Tom Sanderson of the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Chris Wright of the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London were quoted as saying that smuggling routes through southeastern Europe were well established and said there was “a lot of scope” for collusion between terrorist groups and criminal gangs.

Germany’s news magazine Der Spiegel reported a month earlier (December 8, 2003) that the “monstrous” King Fahd mosque in Sarajevo-the largest in Europe, on which the desert kingdom spent a total of $20 million-is a terrorist threat. “Western security experts” are quoted as saying that Bosnia could become “a hotbed of extremists ready to use force-and would thus carry the fight of the Islamic terror syndicates against the ‘godless West’ to the southeast of Europe.” This creeping infiltration is increasingly suspect to Western observers, the magazine says: “We are extremely concerned,” it quotes a German intelligence chief, August Hanning, as saying; in some mosques preachers are already openly inciting against the West, against Israel and the godless United States. During the war Bosnia become a training camp for Islamist activists from all over the world, the magazine quotes a French expert as saying, with up to 5,000 foreign volunteers fighting with Izetbegovic’s troops. Many remained behind, “too many to be safe,” according to George Friedman, director of Stratfor. The Balkans are “of strategic importance” to Al-Qa’ida, he says; the organization can use the region for its objectives at any time.

Such concerns are now reflected in statements by some U.S. diplomats and Western governments. A remarkable example was provided by the U.S. Ambassador in Sarajevo, Clifford Bond, who declared on December 17 that there is a terrorist threat in Bosnia because of foreigners who arrived there during the war and stayed on. In the same week Greece announced that its national security interests were threatened by Al Qaida-aligned agents in Bosnia. The Cabinet of Prime Minister Costas Simitis is concerned by the threat from Bosnia to the Olympic Games in August 2004.

“UN Adds Bosnian Charity Director to Al Qaeda List,” Reuters reported ten days later (December 29). The name of Safet Durguti, an Albanian born in Kosovo, was added to the list of 300 individuals whose assets should be frozen due to suspected ties to Osama bin Laden or his al Qaeda network. Durguti-apparently the key link between Islamic fundamentalists in Kosovo and Bosnia-is the director of a charity called Vazir, based in the Bosnian city of Travnik. According to the U.S. Treasury Department Vazir was simply another name for the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, a Saudi charity that was placed on the U.N. list in March 2002. It was formed in May 2003 as an association for sports, culture and education but was based in the same premises as Al-Haramain.

Dozens of similar statements and articles can be quoted from different Western sources over the past month alone. In short, the problem exists, it is freely admitted that it exists by policy analysts and government officials alike, it has acquired massive proportions, and may not be easily resolved any longer. As far back as 2000 a highly classified State Department report-released in the aftermath of 9-11-warned that the Muslim-controlled portions of Bosnia had become a safe haven for Islamic terrorists who present a major threat to Europe and the United States, and who were protected by the Muslim government in Sarajevo. The findings were summarized in the words of a former State Department official: Bosnia-Herzegovina is “a staging area” for Islamic terrorists.

The threat is not limited to a few elusive extremists: the ruling establishment in Sarajevo has had a symbiotic relationship with the sources of Islamic radicalism for over a decade. “Iran, Bosnia to Exapnd Ties,” reported IRIB (Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting) on December 21 on a meeting of the Bosnian ambassador to Tehran Ibrahim Efendic and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. The latter said that “the Jihad (holy war) of the the Bosnian and Palestinian nations is praiseworthy and a source of honor for Muslims”:

The resistance and faith of these nations will be registered in the history of Islam, he added… Highlighting the geographical status of the Balkans, Rafsanjani said Iran attaches great importance to Bosnia and Herzegovina and expressed the hope to witness further expansion of bilateral ties between the two countries. The outgoing Bosnian ambassador lauded the humanitarian aid rendered by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The meaning of this unjustly overlooked news item is (1) that the “Bosnian nation” is equated with its Muslim component only, all others being by implication enemy aliens; (2) that Bosnian Muslim government officials are received and treated in Teheran as allies in a jihad; (3) that Islamists see Bosnia as no less important than Palestine to their strategic design (“geographic status”); and (4) that Iran’s “humanitarian aid”-the label used during the war as a cover for illegal arms shipments is still appreciated in Sarajevo. Iran had already obtained a foothold in Bosnia, when the Clinton Administration asked for-and obtained-Teheran’s help in supplying the Muslim army with weapons (“Clinton-Approved Iranian Arms Transfers Help Turn Bosnia into Militant Islamic Base,” U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee, January 16, 1997. This was done in violation of the arms embargo initially demanded by the U.S. and behind the back of its European allies (See “Fingerprints: Arms to Bosnia, the real story,” The New Republic, October 28, 1996). The CIA and the Departments of State and Defense were kept in the dark until after the decision was made (“U.S. Had Options to Let Bosnia Get Arms, Avoid Iran,” The Los Angeles Times, July 1, 1996). Along with the weapons, Iranian Revolutionary Guards and VEVAK intelligence agents entered Bosnia in large numbers.

The problem of collusion between American governments and Islamic radicals antedates the wars of Yugoslav succession. Its roots hark back to the support Bin Laden and other fundamentalist Muslims received from the United States following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979. According to former CIA director Robert Gates, the U.S. intelligence services began to arm the mujahideen even before the Soviet intervention. Mistaken and shortsighted as this strategy turned out to be, it was conceivably justified by the dictates of the Cold War: one’s enemy’s enemy is one’s de facto ally, if not a trusted friend. Blowback was a risk, but one at least arguably worth taking. A quarter of a century later, it is necessary to rectify more recent mistakes of a similar nature. If the War Against Terror is to be meaningful, the Bush administration should investigate the biggest unknown scandal of the Clinton years: that throughout the 1990’s, the U.S. government aided and abetted al-Qa’eda operations in the Balkans, long after he was recognized as a major security threat to the United States.

There are foreign policy strategists in Washington who have sought for decades to turn militant Islam into a tool of policy. This is not a flight of critical fancy: it is a well documented fact; it is not challenged as an accusation, but it is not unduly admitted either. In the beginning those strategists, or their predecessors, may have underestimated the danger of “blowback,” but over the years they have bound good men to bad policy, and they have reinforced failure with gold. “Blowback” is the apt metaphor: poison gas blowing back from its intended victims to choke one’s own soldiers in their trenches. The strategy of effective support for Islamic ambitions in pursuit of short-term political or military objectives has helped turn Islamic radicalism into a truly global phenomenon.

The underlying assumption was that militant Muslims could be used and eventually discarded-like Diem, Noriega, the Shah, and the Contras: CIA’s “Operation Cyclone” poured over $4 billion into setting up training centers where young fanatics were sent to learn terrorist skills. The assumption all along has been that the Islamic genie could be controlled. For the ensuing two decades, in the conflicts that inevitably define the line between Islam and its neighbors, Washington almost invariably supported the Muslims-most notably in Bosnia and Kosovo. By January 1996, Jacob Heilbrunn and Michael Lind of The New Republic approvingly wrote of the U.S. role as the leader of Muslim nations from the Persian Gulf to the Balkans, with the Ottoman lands becoming “the heart of a third American empire” (Jacob Heilbrunn and Michael Lind, “The Third American Empire,” The New York Times, January 2, 1996).

The Bosnian crisis started when Alija Izetbegovic, the Muslim leader, reneged on an agreement brokered by the European Union that provided for continued power-sharing in Sarajevo. He opted for an unilateral declaration of independence; in making this decision, he was supported by the U.S. Ambassador in Belgrade, Warren Zimmerman. He was acting in line with the Acting Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, who made it clear that a goal was to mollify the Muslim world and to counter any perception of an anti-Muslim bias regarding American policies in Iraq (Eagleburger’s MacNeil/Lehrer PBS NewsHour interview on October 6, 1992). The subsequent portrayal in the media of the Muslims as innocent martyrs in the cause of multicultural tolerance concealed the fact that the war was primarily religious in nature. Before the first shots were fired, Alija Izetbegovic, proudly proclaimed in his “Islamic Declaration” (1974; republished 1990) that “there can be no peace or coexistence between the Islamic faith and non-Islamic societies and political institutions”: “The Islamic movement should and must start taking power as soon as it is morally and numerically strong enough not only to overthrow the existing non-Islamic power structure, but also to build a great Islamic federation spreading from Morocco to Indonesia, from tropical Africa to Central Asia.”

This is hardly an unusual viewpoint for a sincere and dedicated Islamist, and Izetbegovic should have been commended for his frankness. Nevertheless, it should have been obvious in the West that the Bosnian-Muslims did not want to establish a multiethnic liberal democratic society. The U.S. Army Foreign Military Studies Office saw the situation more clearly than the politicians: “President Izethbegovic and his cabal appear to harbor much different private intentions and goals” (“Selling the Bosnia Myth to America: Buyer Beware,” Lieutenant Colonel John E. Sray, USA, U.S. Army Foreign Military Studies Office, Fort Leavenworth, KS, October 1995). Now that Bosnia is a terrorist hotbed we know that this assessment was entirely correct.

The core of Bin Laden’s Balkan network are the veterans of El Moujahed brigade of the Bosnian-Muslim army. It was established in 1992 and included volunteers from all over the Islamic world whose passage to Bosnia was facilitated by Al-Qaeda. The unit was distinguished by its spectacular cruelty to Christians, including decapitation of prisoners to the chants of Allahu-akbar. El Moujahed was the nursery from which an international terrorist network spread to Europe and North America. After the end of the Bosnian war, many Muslim volunteers remained (“Foreign Muslims Fighting in Bosnia Considered ‘Threat’ to U.S. Troops,” The Washington Post, November 30, 1995).

The potential threat persuaded the U.S. and other Western nations to oppose the presence of foreign mujahedeen in Bosnia as part of the November 1995 Dayton peace agreements, which specifically called for the expulsion of all foreign fighters. But the Muslim-controlled Bosnian government circumvented the rule by granting Bosnian citizenship to several hundred Arab and other Islamist volunteers-eliminating their “foreign” status before the accord took effect. Many of them had taken over the former Serbian village of Bocinja Donja, near the city of Zenica in central Bosnia; elsewhere they took over properties and married local women, sometimes by force ( “Mujaheddin Remaining in Bosnia: Islamic Militants Strongarm Civilians, Defy Dayton Plan,” The Washington Post, July 8, 1996). The results followed swiftly, in the form of a dozen executed or planned attacks-from a shootout Lille in France to a terrorist cell Montreal, from the Y2K LAX conspiracy to a wave of recent bombings in Istanbul-that can be traced to the Bosnian Connection.

While an intricate Islamic terror network was maturing in Bosnia, Osama bin Laden was busy looking for fresh opportunities in the Balkans. He found it in Kosovo. European and Israeli sources warned that after Bosnia, Kosovo promised to be the second Islamic bastion. The Clinton Administration ignored the warnings (The Jerusalem Post, September 14, 1998). The KLA earned its spurs in the eyes of its Islamist partners by blowing up Christian Orthodox churches. The relationship was cemented by the zeal of some KLA veterans who joined Bin Laden’s network in Afghanistan:

Perhaps most telling about the minds of those who trained here is a document found at the [Al-Qaeda] camp. “I am interested in suicide operations,”‘ wrote Damir Bajrami, 24, an ethnic Albanian from Kosovo, on his entry application in April. “‘I have Kosovo Liberation Army combat experience against Serb and American forces. I need no further training. I recommend (suicide) operations against (amusement) parks like Disney” (USA Today, November 26, 2001, on documents found at an Al-Qaeda training camp).

Iranian Revolutionary Guards had joined forces with Osama bin Laden to support the Albanian insurgency in Kosovo, hoping “to turn the region into their main base for Islamic armed activity in Europe” (The Sunday Times of London March 22, 1998). By the end of 1998, when Bin Laden’s terrorist network in Albania started sending units to fight the Serbs in Kosovo, the U.S. drug officials complained that the transformation of the KLA from terrorists into freedom fighters hampered their ability to stem the flow of Albanian-peddled heroin into America (The Washington Times, May 4, 1999). By that time the NATO bombing of Serbia was in full swing, however, and the mujaheddin were once again American allies: “Al-Qaeda has both trained and financially supported the KLA. Many border crossings into Kosovo by ‘foreign fighters’ also have been documented and include veterans of the militant group Islamic Jihad from Bosnia, Chechnya, and Afghanistan” (Ibid.).

All along, the Clinton Administration was positively elated about the shift in alliances and attitudes displayed by the Kosovo intervention:

Insofar as Kosovo emerged as a unique case of U.S. support for a Muslim population against an avowed Christian state and led to an alliance with a Muslim guerilla army, it is something of a watershed event. The breakthrough in Kosovo also came about at the tail end of major changes in the international and domestic politics of Muslim societies over the course of the preceding decade. Policymakers are challenged to respond to those changes in order to bring American foreign policy in line with the reality of Islam’s place in domestic, regional, and international politics. Given the importance of Islam to international affairs and the sheer number of Muslims who live in areas that affect Western and U.S. interests, rethinking America’s foreign policy on Islam may be a welcome development (Georgetown Journal of International Affairs).

Where does more than a decade of U.S. involvement leave the Balkans? “The small jihad is now finished and we have-some of us-survived the war. The Bosnian state is intact. But now we have to fight a bigger, second jihad,” says Mustafa Ceric, the Reis-ul-Ulema in Bosnia-Herzegovina-educated, incidentally, at Al-Azhar in Cairo and the University of Chicago. Clinton’s intervention in the Balkans had for its end result the strengthening of an already aggressive Islamic base in the heart of Europe that will not go away. The unspoken assumption of the architects of such policies, that generosity would be rewarded by loyalty, is mistaken: loyalty to unbelievers is not a Muslim trait; pragmatism is-and, as Yohanan Ramati has remarked, “pragmatism prescribes that when dealing with fools, one milks them for all one can get, demoralizes them until they are incapable of protecting their interests, and then deprives them of any influence they have left.”

A generation ago it was understandable, even excusable, for bone-headed CIA bosses to work up a hatred of atheism and enjoy dealing with believers. They used Muslims in just the way they used the Church of Rome in the early 1950s in their fight against the Communists. But appeasement by their feeble successors in our own time only breeds the contempt and arrogance of the radicals and fuels their ambition. Changing the self-defeating trend demands recognition that the West is in a war of religion, whether it wants that or not, and however much it hates the fact.

On the Islamic side this war is being fought with the deep and unshakeable belief that the West is on its last legs. The success of the demographic deluge is reinforced by the evidence from history that a civilization that loses the urge for biological self-perpetuation is indeed finished. Falling birthrates in Europe and the need to support European welfare entitlements with a host of “guest-workers” and immigrants seem to make it inevitable that the colonization of Europe by Islamic peoples will continue. Some leaders such as President Bush may have been hoping to domesticate Islam under the aegis of the nondenominational deism that is professed in their rhetoric. The attempt will continue to fail. So far this failure has not been admitted. Hence the enduring fantasy of an American-Islamic alliance against extremism.

Of course, it would be preferable to have a reformed Islam as our global neighbor, rather than the grim variations on the same theme that currently prevail in Iran, Pakistan, Sudan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere, but Islam’s ability to reform itself is undermined by the appeasement of Islamism that continues in the Balkans. Such appeasement will only enhance a downward spiral of hate and spite, rage and self-pity, poverty and oppression that may culminate sooner or later in yet another bout of alien domination.

Muslims, as Christians once did, tend to sympathize with each other in a familiar and more or less nationalist fashion. If this tendency goes unchecked it produces a lunatic account of world affairs in which Muslim societies are always victims of the West and always innocent. It is not just the extremists who believe that in Palestine, Chechnya, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Kashmir, the Muslims are entirely in the right: at present, almost every Muslim thinks so. The “politically correct” Westerners accept the Muslim judgment. But this is extremely dangerous, as the West cannot afford to concede such a large measure of moral approval to so self-conscious and agitated a force in world affairs.

Western policy in the Balkans should be reappraised because to continue encouraging the Muslim sense of pure victimhood-notably with the myth of the “genocide” in Srebrenica, and the accompanying US-financed Muslim shrine-is to feed the minds of would-be suicide bombers in Sarajevo and Pristina with a political pap that nourishes their hate. The obstacle to doing so is often the apologetics and the tradition of pro-Muslim appeasement of the Clinton decade; but that appeasement must stop. Pandering to Islam’s geopolitical designs-in the Balkans, or anywhere else-and sacrificing smaller Christian nations in the process, is counterproductive: the morsels will only whet the Islamic appetite, paving the way to a major confrontation some time in this century.

January 6, 2004


by Srdja Trifkovic

The result of Serbia’s parliamentary election held on December 28 was depressingly unsurprising. It will bring neither political stability nor economic recovery to the long-suffering Balkan nation. The nationalist Radical Party led by Vojislav Seselj is now the largest single political force (81 deputies in the 250-seat assembly), followed by Vojislav Kostunica’s Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS, 53 mandates), the Democratic Party of the late Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic now led by Boris Tadic (DS, 37 seats), the G17 Plus led by Miroljub Labus (34 seats), the Serbian Renewal Movement of Vuk Draskovic (SPO, 23 seats) and the Socialist Party headed by the country’s former President Slobodan Milosevic (SPS, 22 seats).

The good news is that the parties of Milosevic and his one-time junior partner Seselj-both incarcerated at the “international community’s” pleasure in The Hague-remain well short of 126 deputies and therefore cannot return to power. Their electoral success was largely a vote of protest built on three factors: general disappointment with the scandals and corruption that plagued the old government dominated by the Democratic Party; an even more widely spread disgust at the continuing pressure on Serbia to surrender the remnants of its dignity to the Hague war crimes tribunal; and the failure of economic reforms carried out thus far to improve living standards. Both Milosevic and Seselj have been out of power long enough to make their own record of misrule and corruption less vivid in people’s memory. Sickened by DOS, many Serbs saw the vote for the Radicals as the clearest way to voice their disapproval of the past three years. Not for the first time they voted less “for” a party and its program, and primarily against their present rulers.

In addition Milosevic’s spirited (albeit doomed) defense at the Tribunal has won him grudging respect even among those who took to the streets in October 2000 to bring him down. As Mark Steyn noted in The Washington Times, back then he was a discredited figure, a reviled pariah, but after two years of legal hair-splitting at The Hague, he is all but fully rehabilitated: “True, Mr. Milosevic, conducting his own defense, has been a shameless showboater, but not half as shameless as the absurd prosecutor Carla del Ponte. It’s received wisdom among battered Serbian democrats that every indictment of Mrs. Ponte’s drove Mr. Milosevic’s vote numbers higher. Had Serbs prosecuted Mr. Milosevic, that would have been one thing. But once it became Euro-preeners prosecuting Serbs, an understandable resentment set in.”

The bad news is that an alliance capable of commanding a simple parliamentary majority may in the end look very much like the old, discredited DOS coalition that has ruled Serbia for the past three years. That would be a government that would include Kostunica’s center-right “moderate nationalists,” Draskovic’s monarchists, Tadic’s mafioso-style “pro-Western reformers,” and Labus’s G-17 post-nationalist technocrats. This is the scenario strongly advocated by both Washington and Brussels, but it would be inherently unstable. The four parties would be united only in the desire to keep the old Radical-Socialist tandem out of power. They represent very different visions of the nation’s future and are unlikely to agree on a common economic, social, and foreign policy platform.

Kostunica is the key player in the ongoing negotiations because he is the only lider with whom all others are willing to create a coalition. He now faces a dilemma: to try and create a broadly based government that would include all parliamentary parties, to give in to Western pressure and include the DS in a “reformist” coalition (which he had pledged not to do), or to try to form a minority government with the G-17 and Draskovic, a government that may include one DS minister (probably Tadic himself) but keep the Democrats out of power. That would also be an unstable formula but the new parliament should not be seen as a four-year solution anyway. A new election before the year’s end that would further narrow the field is preferable to a coalition paralyzed by internal dissent.

If Kostunica succumbs to pressure and agrees to a reformist coalition that would include the DS, he would repeat the mistake from December 2000 when his popularity and authority enabled the rest of DOS to come to power thanks to his votes. That mistake has already reduced his support from over a half of Serbia’s voters in those heady days three years ago to under a fifth today.

Kostunica may know better this time: on January 5 he declared that the country is in such grave crisis that it needs a “government of national consensus” that would include all parliamentary parties-Socialists and Radicals included. This is a nifty move. The anticipated refusal of “pro-Western” parties to enter any government that would include Milosevic’s and Seselj’s supporters would make them vulnerable to the charge that they follow not Serbia’s interests but foreign instructions. Furthermore, if the Radicals were to share power, they would be forced to control their language and emotions-fiery rhetoric is cheap without the burden of shared responsibility-and could eventually reinvent themselves as a more internationally accepted party of the Right. Last but not least, a broad coalition that would include all parliamentary parties would be the easiest way to draft a new constitution; the inability of the DOS-dominated parliament to do so over the past three years has resulted in the paradox that Serbia still operates under Milosevic’s constitution that was tailor-made to his political requirements.

The real trouble for Serbia is that, even if Kostunica does the right thing and creates a broad coalition, even if he is subsequently elected Serbia’s president, he may be unable to reverse the effective collapse of its economy and society which had been well under way before Milosevic’s fall on October 5, 2000. The country’s woes may be incurable without strong ledership that could inspire the nation, reconsolidate the state, and confront the kleptocrats unleashed by Djindjic and his heirs. Kostunica has lacked that much needed strong leadership thus far, his good intentions and personal integrity notwithstanding. In the next few weeks he will have one last opportunity to correct that failure.


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