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by Dhimitrios Gheorghiou

Chronicles, April 1995, pp. 26-29

[Dhimitrios Gheorghiou writes from Washington, D.C.]

For fair use only
Published under the provision of
U.S. Code, Title 17, section 107.


Whenever you hear the New World Order crowd whining ahout the obligation of the "international community" to come to the rescue of a "multiethnic democracy" threatened by "nationalism," get ready for Uncle Sam to be dragged off on a fool's errand. This term, "multiethnic democracy," the prime exemplar of which is supposedly the United States, is state-of-the-art New World Order lingo for the new type of state designed to supplant the old nation-state, which is based on retrograde "nationalism." "Nationalism" is pejorative, referring to the aspiration, heretofore considered natural and honorable, of any people to live in its own homeland, contingent upon that people's ability and willingness to fight for it and sustain it. In their untiring vigilance against any holdouts, current or potential, aginst the homogenized, deracinated world government in the making, all lovers of progress oppose ethnically-based nationalism at home and abroad. Exibit A of this phenomenon is the hatred of the Bad Old South Africa, particularly Afrikaner nationalism, and the wild enthusiasm for the Good New South Africa, an aspiring "multiethnic democracy" labeled a "rainbow nation" by French President Francois Mitterrand. The new African National Congress-dominated regime, with the rest of the world's approval, is determined to stamp out any remnant of autonomy for the Afrikaners and Zulus, the genuine nations in South Africa with the strongest sense of identity and cohesion. Incidentally, that stamping out may yet involve slapping blue halmets on the United States Army's 82nd Airborne.

The endangered "multiethnic democracy" of the moment is, of course, Bosnia-Hercegovina. According to proponents of intervention in the Balkans, Bosnia was once a dreamland where Catholic Croat, Orthodox Serb, Muslim, and Jew lived in peace and harmony, frequently intermarried (a big selling point), and respected and tolerated each other until, inexplicably, the Serbs, incited by the Hitler-of-the-Month, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, suffered an atavistic fit of nationalism. The only decent response, in the New World Order, is to stage a Studs Turkelesque "Good War" to restore Bosnia to its pristine state.

In pursuit of this goal, the entire apparat of the West has cranked into action. Atrocity stories, war crimes, even genocide. Grim footage of -- yes! -- DEATH CAMPS, in the heart of Europe, back after 50 years! Mortar bombs raining down upon civilians in bread lines and marketplaces (never mind who the real perpetrators were, or how Muslims cameras just happened to be ready at the scene). The shelling of hospitals (omitting little details like guns mounted on hospital roofs). Evil Serb snipers shooting Muslim children in a bus (the fact that the murdered children were actually Orthodox Christians -- i.e. Serbs -- somehow getting lost in the shuffle). Elie Wiesel wailing on opening day at the United States Holocoust Memorial Museum. Zubin Metha leading the Sarajevo Symhony Orchestra in a performance of Mozart's REQUIEM in the shelled-out ruins of the National Library, broadcast to 26 countries worldwide. Peter Jennings in an hour-long nationally televised pout. Patricia Ireland and the National Organization for Women demonstrating against the elusive "rape hotels."

Somehow, though, America "just didn't get it." Despite a sustained, three-year propaganda symphony not equiled since the Spanish Civil War in its comprehensiveness, striking imagery, and nearly undetectable smothering of dissent -- plus assurances of no American ground troops, just surgical air strikes, which do not count as real war -- Americans, in a shocking manifestation of niggardliness and blighted global consciousness, remain unwilling to send their sons (and daughters) into this particular abattoir. Maybe they felt gypped by the outcome of the crusade against the previous Hitler-of-the-month, Saadam Hussein. Or maybe, in his own spasm of tribalism A LA SERBE, Joe Sixpack done figured out that the United States military, if it survives feminization and sodomization by our Philanderer-in-Chief, would have its hands full taking care of our borders (assuming they are ever set to that task) without trotting them off as janissaries to save every "multiethnic democracy" that hoists a flag at the United Nations. Or maybe, despite a Made in America historical memory normally good for about two weeks of the Latest O.J. Simpson developments, our typical fellow citizen has evolved an inarticulate but usually accurate political sense that tells him when he is being force-fed an uncommonly ripe batch of swill by the reigning pseudoaristrocracy, representing both entrenched parties (from Bob Dole and Newt Gingrich to Joe Liberman and Joe Biden), the news media (the networks CNN, National Socialist Public Radio, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Washington Times), the opinion magazines (from the New Republic to National Review, from the American Spectator to the Nation), organized religion (Protestant, Roman Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim), the off-the-shelf scribblers and blabbermouths (from William Safire to Anthony Lewis and Susan Sontag), and a bevy of neoconservative pinups (Jeane Kirkpatrik, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Natan Scharansky, George Soros, Norman Podhoretz, Teddy Kollek, Albert Shanker, Richard Perle, Albert Wohlsetter, Joseph Brodsky, and Czeslaw Milosz, plus numerous others, demanding in the Wall Street Journal that the United States bomb not only the Bosnian Serbs but Serbia proper).

And on this one, our typical fellow citizen has got it right. Bosnia -- in fact, the entire Balkans -- is not "the heart a Europe": it is the charred, bone-paved gateway to the Middle East. It was never a tolerance, but an arena of fierce and bloody struggle for supremacy and survival between Christians (in two mutually antagonistic varieties, Roman Catholic and Orthodox, not counting the now-extinct Bogomils) and Muslims; among communist, royalist, republicans, and irationalists of various hues; and among Serbs, Croats, Greeks, Bulgarians, Albanians, Germans, Italians, Magyars, Romanians, and Turks. If at any time a semblence of order existed in a given locale, it was only because one group or another was on top, and depending on the specifies, the oth- er just had to live, or die, with the consequences. Rule Number One is this: you want your enemies to live as a minority in YOUR state; you do not want to be a minority in their state. In the Balkans, the hazards of minority status can range from the fairly comfortable buy-out of their ill-gotten gains "suffered" by the Muslims under what amounted to Serb rule in pre-World War II Yugoslavia, to the horrendous oppression of Christians under five centuries of rule by these same Muslims, featuring such niceties as the Blood Tax (a periodic levy on the infidel's children), not to mention occasional bouts of pillage, and massacre to remind them who rules in Dar-ul-Islam.

As has been widely observed, the collapse of communism has led not to the end of history but to its reappearance. Perhaps the problem in the Balkans is that the place just has a lot more undigested history than most other regions. Seemingly one cue, starting in 1991, the natives took up their long knives and went after roughly the same throats as during the First and Second Balkan Wars (which occurred just before World War I), with encore performances during The War to End All Wars and its Sequel. Particularly striking is the degree to which the nearby regional powers have gravitated to the support of their traditional clients, setting up, in this Bosnia Round of the Third Balkan War, a semi-overt proxy war among Germany, Russia, and Turkey. Of course, there are always new -- meaning, in the Balkans, reemerging -- wrinkles. Last year, so-called neofascists, included for the first time in a post-war Itailan government, raised the issue of whether certain parts of the Dalmatian coast should go to -- they would say, be returned to Italy. These areas encompass the major towns of Dubrovnik, Zadar, and Split, a.k.a., Rausa, Zara, and Spo- leto. The Serbs, who have their own republic in a nearby part of Dalmatia, think this is a dandy idea and have conferred honorary citizenship on a right-wing Italian senator. Meanwhile, NATO air strikes against the Serbs are launched from Italian bases. Croatia is a German satellite. Russia is as pro-Serb as it can afford to be, with Yeltsin government tacking between appeasement of its Western benefactors and the outrage of domestic critics across the political spectrum: support for the Serbs is one of the few areas of policy where "democrats" pretty much agree with what they otherwise refer to as the "red-brown conspiracy." Britain and France, officially com- mitted via NATO and the European Union to "the Western policy," i.e., a generaly pro-Croat/German and pro-Muslim/Turkish orientation, favor a solution that leaves the Serbs with most of their current holdings, a manifestation of their traditional Germanophobia. The only really unprecedented element is the emergence of the United States as a zealous partisan of Muslim regional interests, along with Turkey, Iran, and pretty much the same lineup as in the anti-Iraq coalition in the Persian Gulf War.

    The United States, by virtue not only of its tripwire in FYRM but its overall regional network of political and military assets, would be deeply committed to the Albanian/Turkish side in the Third Balkan War. Besides the local consequences, we would then have the makings of a sharp American/Russian confrontation.

More about America's metarphosis into Uncle Salaam in a moment, but first back to the Balkan War. As noted above, the Bosnia Round, despite a lot of effort by the usual suspects, has not done the trick: the United States has not taken the bait. But, luckily for the progressives everywhere, there happens to be another "multiethnic democracy" in the neighborhood that seems to be just what the spin doctor ordered, lurking under the improbable moniker of "The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" (FYROM).

Modern Macedonia is much like Kashmir or Israel/Palestine or the Falklands/Malvinas Islands, in the sense that hardly anyone really understands it, and most of those who do generally lie, or at least adhere to such astoundingly discordant versions of what passes for the truth that they might as well be lying. Formerly the southern-most federal republic of Titoist Yugoslavia, FYROM is the home of over two million people, most of whom speak a Slavic language with features similar to Bulgarian and Serbian. These Slavic-speakers are, by tradition, Orthodox Christians. In addition, there is a Muslim minority, mostly Albanian, plus some Turks and Gypsies, located mostly in FYROM's northwest, bordering Albania and Kosovo. FYROM is landlocked (surrounded by Greece, Albania, Serbia, and Bulgaria), poor, and mountainous. Its capital city is Skopje.

Apart from the meager data in the foregoing paragraph, there is next to nothing to he said about FYROM and its inhabitants that would not be subject to dispute. As an alternative to a blow-by-blow account of Macedonian events since Alexander rode Boukephalos off toward the sunrise, suffice it to say that topical questions include, but are certainly not lim- ited to, the following: Are FYROM's Slavs really Serbs? (Even before annexing the region in 1912, Belgrade said yes, but during World War II, Tito, who was half-Slovene and half-Croat and all communist, decreed otherwise.) Are they Bulgarians? (Sofia, in two Balkan wars and as many world wars, has staked everything on the proposition that they are.) Or are they a distinct Macedonian nationality? (The relation of ethnonyms to toponyms can he very troublesome. By way of comparison, Engishmen, Welshmen, and Scots live in Britain, and are therefore called "Britons," but the previous Celtic inhabitants of the same land, also known as "Britons," were displaced or exterminated by the Germanic ancestors of today's Englishmen, with contemporary Welshmen and Scots constituting, in part anyway, survivors.) Are the Muslims a minor minority (under 20 percent, as FYROM Slavs say they are) or a major minority (over 40 percent, as FYROM Muslims themselves claim)? If the Slavs do constitute a nation, do the people of Bulgaria's Pirin region, who speak an identical form of Bulgarian or M acedonian or whatever it is, count as "Macedonians," with the obvious irredentist implications? (This is not an idle question. Relations between Sofia and Skopje almost broke down last year over the statement, in reference to a trade pact, that it was executed in "the Bulgarian and Macedonian languages," the latter of which Sofia rejects but Skopje insists upon.) What about the undetermined number of speakers of the same language in northern Greece, who, despite decades of relentless and sometimes brutal Hellenizatin, only by quite a stretch of the imagination meet Athens' surreal description of them as "Slavic-speaking Greeks"? Where does "Macedonia" end? (FYROM constitutes only about one-third of the region traditionally designated by the toponym "Macedonia," with most of the rest lying in Greece, including a lot of waterfront property and Greece's seeond-largest city, Thessaloniki.) An why do the answers to any of these questions matter, anyway?

Because FYROM is likely to he the place where the regional Balkan war, having misfired in Bosnia, finally goes off, pulling Serbia, Albania, Greece, Turkey, and probably Bulgaria, maybe even Romania and Hungary, into the melee, with each receiving the patronage of the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Italy, and doubtless many others. Moreover, in addition to its lack of internal ethnic cohesion and identity, FYROM occupies, as Misha Glenny has pointed out, a unique strategic position: "Control of Bosnia guarantees strategic superiority in the northern Balkans. And Macedonia (the Vardar Plain) is the only territory where the Balkan mountains can be traversed north to south and east to west. Thus, those who control Macedonia (i.e. FYROM) control the economy of the southern Balkans. The question is which traffic route will prevail." Actually, Glenny understates the issue: this is not a question of which way trucks will carry fish or rutabagas. It is one of regional dominance, which will run either along an axis from Constantinopole west via Adrianopole, Sofia, and Skopje, terminating at the Adriatic port of Dures, or along an exis from Thessaloniki through Skopje to Belgrade and points north. Or to put it another way, if, on the one hand, the North/South orientation prevails, the Balkan Peninsula and all Central Europe, right down to the traditional entranceway into Hades (sp?) where Cape Tainaron sinks into the sea, is firmly glued politically, economically, and culturally to the rest of the continent, with any serious Muslim influence continued to Turkey's vestigal hold on East Thrace (and even that, some still hope, might slip too). In such a case the main political task in the region is a rational apportionment of German and Russian spheres of influence (a decidedly Old World Order term that ought to be revived), a formidable but by no means impossible task.

On the other hand, if the East/West orientation prevails, the Turks are back at the gates of Vienna. (Figuratively speaking, since we are talking about the forceful reentry into European affairs of not just Turkey but the Islamic world in a broader sense. Of course, the Bihac "pocket" is still some 200 miles from Vienna, or 40 miles from Zagreb, but it amounts to the same thing). FYROM is the keystone that joins, on the east, the heavily Muslim Greek-majority border region extending to European Turkey, and, on the west, Albania, Kosovo (a province in Serbia with a 90 percent Albanian Muslim population), and Bosnia-Hercegovina. The Bosnian Muslim settlement from the Turkish border to north of Sarajevo. Cutting that "road" has been one of the Bosnian Serbs' principal, and thus far successful, war aim. During the April 1994 Gorazde crisis, which saw the first application of American military force in the war, few observers took note of the real Muslim objective to break out of Gorazde accross the nearby Bosnian/Yugoslav border to Sandzak. If they had been successful, the Muslims would not only have restored an important lifeline to the east, but the Yugoslav army would have been forced to react, perhaps triggering the long-sought-after American intervention, the Muslims' only hope of victory.

As it turned out, despite massive preparations, the Muslims suffered another humiliating defeat. The American intervention, consisting of a couple of air strikes, was politically significant but far short of what many observes hoped for. Still, for reasons that are not entirely clear, the United States is unambiguously and consistently aiding the Muslim effort all along "Allah's Road." The Istanbul publication Avdinlik reported on May 21, 1994, that hundreds of Muslim youths from Sandzak are being secretly brought into Turkey via FYROM, for commando training. "The project of training the Sandzak Muslims," it states, "is part of a plan to create a Muslim state in parts of Serbia nd Montenegro." This also complies with the views of (Bosnia's Muslim President Alija) Izetbegovic's party, which is active in Sandzak. It was the United States that put forward the plan to establish a Muslim state in Europe. Saudi Arabia is openly supporting it. Besides, Turkey's secret diplomacy in the Balkans is being financed by Saudi Arabia."

On February 14, 1994, the Sofia publication Duma reported on a visit by two American diplomats to the Bulgarian border region with Greece. According to Duma, their purpose was to help "draw together" Muslim communities and political movements on both sides of the border between the two predominantly Christian states, as part of the formation of a "Turkish axis between Bulgaria and Greece," connecting Turkey to FYROM. On May 31, the Sofia publication Kontinent discussed "the strong U.S. military presence in the Balkans during the last two years and the unconcealed and increasing appetites of the United States in the peninsula." Among the specifics are a buildup of American military assets in Albania; additions to "the U.S. `blue helmet' contingent" in FYROM and their "gradual replacement of Scandinavian troops" (this is a reference to the 300 Americans sent there, ostensibly as U.N. peacekeepers, actually as a tripwire, by our Razorbaek Rommel in 1993; their number has quietly doubled): suspicious violations of Bulgaria's airspace; and political manipulations within Bulgaria. "If those of our statesmen who still nurture pro-American feeling hase not yet realized our geostrategic situation," warns the Kontinet observer, "I advise them to spend an hour or two perusing the map. The Balkans are not yet the (Persian) Gulf, although some people are very keen on their becoming so. One thing, we have no oil, and another, not all of us are yet inclined to become Muslims."

The respected and well-informed London publication Defense and Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy points in its October/November 1993 issue to many of the same developments:

    Despite the lack of any clear agreement on Balkan policy between the competing U.S. foreign policy power centers ... the United States appears to be establishing economic, political and military advisers and bases throughout the Southern Balkans. The U.S. clearly sees this region as within its sphere of influence. In Albania, U.S. economic advisers are positioned in most, if not all, government departments, and there is a large number of military training officers. U.S. warships enforcing U.N. sanctions (against Serbia) are based at Viore. Following an extensive visit to Albania last month, a British journalist commented that "Albania has come to resemble an American training academy. The poorest country in Europe is fast becoming an American colony." The same picture holds true for Bulgaria and, under the pretext iii peacekeepers, hun- dreds of U.S. troops have moved into (FYROM). They are equipped with sophisticated weapons systems which exceed those necessary for a normal peacekeeping role.

The massive pressure of American policy on the states of the south Balkans is unmistakable; the only thing ruining is a coherent explanation for it. Bulgaria and FYROM, two states with every reason to oppose increased Muslins influence, have seen little choice but to cooperate. Bulgaria, burned badly by past attempts to annex FYROM, has today sought refuge in its image as a Good International Citizen, which in practice means doing everything the "international community" demands of it. The Greeks entirely missing the point (as usual), have chosen to represent their legitimate concerns about FYROM's eventual revanchist designs on Greek territory as an ethnic copyright dispute concerning the name "Macedonia" and FYROM a Hellenistic flag. Consequently, Greece has been almost entirely unable to contain the growing Muslim power that seeks to cut it off from Serbia, Bulgaria, and the rest of Europe, and has alienated potential allies among FYROM's Slavs. This confused orientation reflects modern Greece's perennial perplexity about its identity: whether it is, at its core, Byzantine, Orthodox Christian, and Romaikos or European, neopagan, and Ellinikos; the Greece of Constantine Porphyrogenitos or of Pericles, of icons or of statuary. At the same time, Athens' stock in Washington steadily slides, as ominious warnings are increasingly heard about the undue influence on America's foreign policy exerted by the "Greek Lobby" -- from quarters with a selective sense of outrage on behalf of the United State's wounded sovereignty. Finally, the health of the aging socialist Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou, Greece's answer to Ted Kennedy, is not expected to hold out much longer, with governmental collapse and a possible "Evita Peron" problem involving his trophy wife, former Olympic Airways hostess "Mimi," certain to follow his departure.

For its part, the only line Bulgaria absolutely will not cross would be a demand to let Turkish troops enter its territory or airspace. FYROM is in an even weaker position, sailing between the Seylla of "multiethnic democracy" and Charybdis of Macedonian nationalism. The government of Kiro Gligorov, past communist apparatchik and current FYROM president, has chosen Seylla, which has meant not only utter subservience to the American/Turkish, East/West axis but constant and unsuccessful attempts to appease the Muslim minority domestically. This appeasement has reached the point that he Gligorov government all but ignored a plot uncovered last year by Muslim organizations to import arms from Alba- nia in preparation for a secessionist revolt. "If a binational Macedonia isn't created, we Albanians have two choises: Either we can accept assimilation or go to war," says the leader of the group. Islamic community leaders long demanded a census in FYROM, but most Muslims boycotted the one conducted in mid-1994, possibly not trusting the Slavs to count them fairly, or perhaps out of a desire not to tip their demographic hand too soon. Outbreaks of violence between Slav and Muslim youths have become increasingly common, and there are fears that in the event of large-scale disturbances Skopje could not cope.

Here, in an ethnic implosion that ends FYROM's efforts to manage a model state in the New World Order, is how the United States could get into Balkans for real. Mob violence between the FYROM communities would trigger an Albanian insurgency, and Albania and Turkey would support it. FYROM's Slav would have no choice but to ask for Serbian backing, leading to an Albanian-Serbian war that would center on Kosovo. From there, Greece's participation would be all but ineviatble, in support of longtime ally Serbia and predictable ethnic Greek revolt in sothern Albania/northern Epirus. Turkey would take action against Greece, possibly including direct moves in the Aegean and Cyprus. Bulgaria would try, but probably fail, to stay out of it, ultimately deciding to help FYROM's Slav and maybe chase out some of its own Turks. Russia would provide political and military support to Athens and Belgrade. The United States, by virtue not only of its tripwire in FYROM but its overall regional network of political and military assets, would be deeply committed to the Albanian/Turkish side in the Third Balkan War. Besides the local consequences, we would then have the makings of a sharp American/Russian confrontation. It is no accident that the groups in the United States most keen on American military involvement in the Balkans are, if possible. even more Russophobic than Serbophobic.

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