Michael Benson on 11 Oct 2000 11:54:20 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Re: <nettime> re: No Nazis

A relatively brief response, as real life inevitably takes over, taking
large amounts of time...

My point, in a nutshell, was not that everything can be blamed on one man,
but that the criminalization of an entire society starts at the top with a
lead criminal. Hartman, who is clearly a keen analyst, suggests checking out
"the command structures within the Serbian army" Several points:

1. There is no Serbian army, though there is a Serbian police force and
there was a network of particularly vicious Serbian paramilitaries who were
at the vanguard of Serbian ethnic cleansing activities. What Hartman calls a
Serbian army continues to be the army of Federal Yugoslavia. It's conscript
based, and contains many Montenegrins, Hungarians and terrorized
cannon-fodder ethnic Albanians.

2. As for the command structures of _that_ army, it's instructive to trace
in detail the specific ways in which Milosevic co-opted those structures --
particularly since it only confirms my thesis. The JNA only gradually became
a tool in Milosevic's hands, as he engineered the replacement of
independent-minded generals. The JNA's unwillingness, as recently as in '99,
to contemplate taking on NATO necessitated purges of the general staff. This
is all well documented.

I remember very accurately the Serbia of 1987, as well as before, and it
wasn't a criminalized society, nor was it particularily nationalistic. It
existed, yes, under the soft totalitarianism of late Yugo socialism, but it
was _not_ a criminalized society. (Just as Weimar Germany was not a place
where gangs of killers went around burning Jewish shops.) What it took was
the creation of a criminal junta lead by one lead criminal dedicated to
bringing out the worst in the nation. This does not excuse the actions of
that nation, its just an observation.

One of Milosevic's early actions -- which as I said in my not so "elaborate"
mail last week, was incredibly helpful to the advocates of Slovenian
secession -- was to engineer a weekend bank heist during which most of
five-republic old Yugoslavia's federal budget for that year was stolen by
the Serbian republic. So on Friday, the sovereign nation of Yugoslavia had
its annual budget safely banked, but on Monday it was all in the hands of
Serbia. This was, I believe, in 1990, but it may have been as late as '91.
At that point, even Slovenians who thought it was too risky to become an
independent state threw up their hands and saw that there was no longer any
choice, as long as criminals were running Serbia.

Now we discover that, late last week, bankers sympathetic to the opposition
had to crash the state bank's main computer to prevent Milosevic and his
group from moving Serbia's financial reserves abroad. In other words, from a
bank heist to a bank heist, with much blood spilled in-between.

This is what I meant by saying that much of what happened can be traced back
to one man's criminality.

>though he tries to be very elaborate

I try to be as clear as possible, if you can't figure out how to understand
things, well it's specifically your problem. But don't try to cleanse this
or any other list of my "pollution", since you don't have that right.

>it is quite dangerous: it supports that moralistic view assuming it would
>change anything to hand someone to the war tribunal.

Serbia and the rest of the republics of the former Yugoslavia will never,
repeat never, be able to achieve a sense of closure and go back to being
'normal' societies if war criminals responsible for hundreds of thousands of
deaths are walking freely around unpunished. Croatia is also going through a
society-wide upheaval as its new leadership proceeds on that basis. It's
beyond stupid to argue anything else, in fact it verges on being complicit.

Over and out,
Michael Benson

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