Bruce Sterling on Tue, 6 Apr 1999 22:00:58 +0100

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Syndicate: <nettime> open letter to insomnia

[this was posted in response to a series of personal diary entries posted
to the nettime-list (check nettime archive); put it next to melentie's
statement about a future Balkan Union; -abroeck]

>From insomnia@EUnet.yu

"If any of you would approve of this, i am ready
to end my diary, to fall silent, because if anybody approves of this, my
voice is worth nothing."

*Dear Insomnia:

*Your voice is not worth nothing.    Please don't dictate morality to me by
threatening online suicide.

     *I scarcely approve of even a single thing that *you* say, but that
doesn't mean that *I* am going to fall silent.  On the contrary, I feel a
powerful urge to speak up, now that you have proposed this vow of silence if
anyone in the world somehow dares to disagree with your military

      *For heaven's sake, do not walk out on the  surviving bridges of Novi
Sad.  I don't care how pretty  the bridges are, how much they mean to you
sentimentally and culturally, or how long they have been there.    You are
not going to have any bridges.   Also, no trains, no fuel, no running water,
no electricity, and probably, sooner or later, no food.  Unless NATO decides
to drop some food on you.

     *Although your leadership is very bold and ruthless, you are fighting
against two continental superpowers.   This is not your country's favorite
kind of war.   NATO is not going to send in ground troops.  They do not have
to do this.  They don't want any casualties among their own forces.  They
are going to systematically cut the sinews of your economy by dropping
laser-guided explosives.   You will never see a NATO soldier, because NATO
can reduce you to poverty and savagery by remote control.

       *You are drifting into a  Masada situation here.  Your regime is like
a scorpion in a bottle.   If you want to die,  you don't need to stand on a
NATO-targeted bridge.   Because Arkan will happily kill you.   As the
domestic situation in Serbia becomes more septic, crazy, and extreme, he is
very likely to purge the Serbian "traitors," just to keep himself busy.
This means, basically, a scorched-earth, heroic, Serbian purge of everyone
--  except for himself, and his girlfriend the pop star (and I'm sure she
hides the kitchen knives when her husband is at home).

       *In pursuit of some phantom of ethnic purity, your nation is likely
to exterminate itself in a frenzy of despair.   Even if Arkan does you the
favor of dying in heroic combat with Turks, you still face a very grim
situation.    If NATO accepts defeat and goes away, you will still be
surrounded by many small, vicious, Balkan nations which have learned to hate
and fear you.   Unlike Serbia, they have not been subjected to a NATO
bombing, so they still have many bridges and unburned Interior Ministries.
Plus thriving, newly trained armies, tanks, aircraft and artillery.   So if
the great powers abandon your region, your regional enemies will have a
profound new opportunities to do you deadly harm.  No one  will be left to
restrain them.   They will do unto you as you have done unto others.

       *The very *best* military scenario (from the Serbian point of view)
leaves you as a minor regional power, totally militarized, drenched in
blood, and ruled by psychotic war criminals.  At best, you'll be a shunned,
crazy, corrupt, bunker state.  You'll become the new Albania, the locked
closet of Europe.   While the old Albania becomes everybody's favorite
victim of your oppression.

      *No matter how exciting it is to write your daily diary, you should be
thinking ahead.   Stop making melodramatic gestures that are obvious
rehearsals of martyrdom and your own death.   You should plan to join the
Serbs who are going to survive this very dark period in Serbian history.

Your faithful reader,

Bruce Sterling (

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