michael.benson on Wed, 31 Mar 1999 07:31:14 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Open response to Vesna Novakovic

Vesna, you wrote:

> Obviously you, for whatever reason, do not wish to see things as
> they are.

Well, I'm familiar with this locution, "for whatever reason", which is
very effective at conjuring up subliminal implications of dark
conspiracies, collaborationist tendencies, etc. Sorry to disappoint
you, but what I see comes from well-documented evidence amassed over a
decade of Serbian state-sponsored terror directed at the non-Serbian
nations of the former Yugoslavia. By now there is more than enough
evidence, from many, many sources, including very independent ones,
about Serbian behavior in Bosnia, mass executions, rape camps, and
massive crimes, all of it enabling very informed suppositions about
what is going on in Kosovo. These are not fabrications, they are
simply the objective, well-documented truth, backed by many survivors'
reports, forensic evidence, satellite photographs, etc. I refer you
also to war crimes transcripts at the International Human Rights
Tribunal at The Hague. These sources are more than enough to establish
a very clear pattern of behavior on the part of the Serbian fascist --
I'll say it again: fascist; that's what it is -- regime. 

This does not mean I am an apologist for the disgusting and corrupt
Croatian regime, which is also fascist, nor does it mean I'm working 
for anybody; sorry!  

>Your point that the JNA used to be compraised of young men drafted
>from all corners of the former Yugoslavia absolutely stands. But do
>you, now, actually believe that the Serbs "stole" all of them, or
>don't you think the lads from Slovenia, Croatia, ect. went "home"
>taking with them what they hadn't destroyed ?

You completely misunderstand me. My point had nothing to do with the
JNA being "comprised of young men drafted...." etc. I wasn't talking
about the soldiers. The JNA is and was also a massive collection of
armaments, artillary pieces, thousands of tanks, some Mig-29s, and
millions of bombs of every description and shape. It's airfields, arms
depots, radars, and telecommunications equipment. It's buildings,
infrastructure, fuel tanks, ships, and submarines. These things cost
real money -- huge amounts of money. THAT is what I was talking
about, and THAT is what was stolen. My point was: who paid for it? It
wasn't just Serbia; in fact, if you look at the published GDP figures
of the former Yugoslavia, you can say almost exactly what proportion
was paid for by Serbia. Substantially less than half.  

>But there is, nor will be, no room 
>for the KLA in Kosovo, with or without Slobodan Milosevic.

Well, we'll see about that, won't we? What do you expect the Kosovars
to have done, after a decade of repression and humiliation, to which
they responded with admirable restraint and pacifism, under 
Rugova's leadership, until in the aftermath of Dayton -- where they 
were totally excluded -- they realized that, as far as the rest of 
the world was concerned, they would simply be left as slaves in a 
kind of South African-style apartheid repression for ever, unless 
they fought for their rights to live like human beings. Human beings 
who, with 90 percent of the population, should be allowed to run 
their own affairs. Tell me Vesna, why do you think Tito made sure 
that the Kosovar Albanians had self-government? Was it out of the 
goodness of his shrewd little heart, or was it precisely to avoid 
such a situation as Serbia -- and now all of Europe -- faces today? 
If Serbia had been smarter about its tactics, Kosovo could be a 
peaceful part of the FRY right now. Unfortunately, "mutual respect 
and tolerance" is a concept alien to the current Serbian regime, and 
speculating about smarter behaviour shows a willingness to 
believe in things like parallel universes -- you know, places where 
people like Milosovic stayed as bankers, for example, and watched 
wrestling matches on TV on Friday night to purge their blood-lust. 
Rather than sacrificing an entire generation of people who should 
have been allowed to live their lives in peace.

>Milosevic is of no relevance at this point in time.

This is an absolutely outstandingly incomprehensible statement. What
could you possibly mean by such a statement? I don't want to insult
you, so I won't characterise the depth of thinking behind such an
incredible statement. However, it certainly makes my point about your
message much better than I possibly could. 

>The Serbs, Albanians and Kosovars are but the mere instruments in the
>game by which the USA wish to expand their dominance in the 
> world.

Do you really believe that the people running the Washington 
establishment were falling all over themselves in their eagerness to 
get involved in this miserable, bloody Balkan quagmire? Look, I'll 
believe a lot about the foolishness, corruption, power-hunger, etc of 
the Washington establishment. I'm not a cheerleader for those people. 
But please don't fool yourself into thinking that they were eager to 
jump into this explosive situation. Look at the years of inaction in 
the face of Vukovar and Sarajevo, and the Clinton administration's 
generally spineless, safe-as-milk foreign policy over the last seven 
years. Actually, I'm very surprised they came up with the spine and 
muscle to finally at least TRY to put a stop to all the blood being 
spilled in the name of Serbia. I think it has to do with finally 
being totally fed up by the endless succession of crises that 
Milosevic generates as an engine to keep his miserable, increasingly 
impoverished, endlessly manipulable people rallied around him. 

>Now after the Croats ethnically cleansed their country of the Serbs,
>and after they were expelled from Bosnia, and now with NATO kicking
>them out of Kosovo, where do you, Michael, suggest the Serbs should
>live ?  

Don't try to get me to defend Croatia's actions. Personally I think
that Tudjman is a war criminal entirely co-responsible for the Bosnian
disaster. As for NATO kicking the Serbs out of Kosovo (and I assume by
"Serbs" here you include the JNA, and Arkan, and all the other war
criminal "irregulars" who are clearly killing everything that moves),
how can NATO kick the Serbs out if they don't put ground troops in?
Which they clearly don't intend to? By chasing them with airplanes?
If the Serbs are kicked out, it will be by the KLA. And after what the
Albanian Kosovars had to suffer over the last decade, and especially
the last year, and now this last week, at the hands of Serbian power, 
who could blame them? Vesna, I find it hard to see how you think 
Serbia could sustain an apartheid regime in which less than ten 
percent of the population controlled the entire place, insisted that 
all schools be in the Serbian language, disallowed any participation 
by the substandard race in the local government, and 
terrorized the vast majority of the people living there with rampant 
police oppression, executions, etc. Obviously, Mr "no relevance" 
Milosevic shares that view -- only his solution is to kill much 
of the population, and expel the rest. Where do you suggest *they* 

Stay safe, and best from Ljubljana.

Michael Benson  <michael.benson@pristop.si>
Michael Benson  <michael.benson@pristop.si>

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