29 December 2011

Why RJ Rummel Shouldn't Be Taken Seriously

RJ Rummel is a political scientist best known for his contribution to the "democratic peace theory". He is also the author of the book Death by Government where he claims that states in the 20th century were responsible for killing around 174 million people. Interestingly this figure is frequently quoted by libertarians who are dismissive of the rest of his output; his "democratic peace" and his advocacy of aggressive foreign policy. It can be quickly shown his work on "calculating" the number of victims of governments calls for the same treatment.

We can ignore the fact his "most probable estimate" of deaths the responsibility of the Soviet Union presupposes 40 million deaths in the gulag, which happens to be twice the number of people who passed through the camps. We can also ignore his "high estimate" of the number of people killed by the USSR presupposes the murder of a fantastic 115 million Soviet citizens — a number of deaths sufficient to demographically break a far more populous nation than the Soviet Union (148 million people in 1926). Ignore also his having "calculated" that Soviet Union extinguished 2.38 million lives in the gulag between 1961 and 1982, and an additional 200,000 lives between 1983 and 1987. Ignore, because there is an even better way to showcase the level of his scholarship than debunking any of these. Better because it is made by Rummel himself.

In Death by Government Rummel claimed 174 million killed by government, but has since revised the figure to 262 million. This is partly the outcome of his changing his estimate of the number of people killed by colonial regimes from 870,000 to 50,870,000! Rummel explains this revision became necessary when, having read a book on Belgian colonialism in Congo, he realized he had been ignorant of a huge state-caused loss of life in that African territory. That seems like an honest explanation, but should he really be left of the hook this easily?

To begin with, the enormous loss of life in colonial Congo is hardly new (or obscure) information that was not available before. Rummel himself gives examples of sources (including Encyclopedia Britannica) that speak about it and were published well before Death by Government:
  • "Britannica, 'Congo Free State' claims that the population declined from 20 or 30 million to 8 million."
  • "A 1904 report by Roger Casement’s estimated that as many as 3 million Congolese died since 1888 (cited in Gilbert’s History of the Twentieth Century; also in Colin Legum, Congo Disaster (1972)."
  • "Peter Forbath (The River Congo (1977) claims that at least 5 million killed."
  • "John Gunther (Inside Africa (1953) estimates 5-8 million deaths."
  • "Fredric Wertham, A Sign For Cain: A Exploration of Human Violence (1966) estimates that the population of the Congo dropped from 30M to 8.5M, a loss of 21.5 million."
    Also, it is not the case Rummel found 50 million victims he was not previously aware of in Congo. No, it is the case that having read a book on one specific colonial experience he became aware of the level of atrocity colonialism rested on and so he now figures the number of victims in Congo and elsewhere could add up to something like 50,870,000. This means he could have easily picked up a study on any number of brutal colonial regimes besides the one in Belgian Congo and it could have had the same effect of convincing him his figure of deaths caused by Western colonialism was off.

    In other words, Rummel admits that at the time of writing Death by Government he was ignorant of the true nature of colonialism, but in a manner of a dilettante gave the 870,000 figure anyway. Professor Rummel can be commended that having learned something new he admitted to his delusion and revised his claim. However, if an author is going to make errors of this magnitude he probably should not be merely "reevaluating" estimates, he should be reevaluating whether he has any business writing books on the topic.

    14 December 2011

    Going Home at Last: Say Farewell to Ramadi, Nasiriya, and Balad

    American withdrawal from Iraq is proceeding on schedule and it seems likely that come December 31st US military will have completed its retreat from that tortured country giving us the closest thing to the end of American war in Iraq that, in an age of never ending wars, we were ever likely to get. This being the case it would be a good time to examine if United States is coming home victorious having achieved its war goals, or defeated having failed to meet them.

    It is no easy thing to determine what the war aims of the United States in the Iraq War were. In large part this is because United States leadership itself did not have a clear picture of what the purpose of the war they were launching was. What time the Bush administration devoted to envisioning a post-invasion Iraq consisted mainly of daydreaming with little concrete planning to go with. Nonetheless, it is possible to glean the gist of their vision from the rhetoric of the time and their conduct immediately after the invasion, when they still believed they would have everything they had fantasized about.

    Post-invasion Iraq, home to permanent US military bases housing thousands of American troops, would serve as an American military outpost in the world's richest oil region. But more than that Iraq would end up a grateful, exemplary, pro-American democracy in the heart of the Arab World able to inspire millions toiling under tyranny to cry out for similar American benevolence.

    To make sure this actually happened the United States would put off turning over Iraq to the Iraqis essentially for as long as possible — presumably a very long time. This would work, because somehow the same Iraqis who could not be trusted to be USA-adoring enough to erect a pro-American democracy right away, could nonetheless be counted on to be sufficiently grateful, or awestruck, they would not put forth meaningful pressure for the handover of power for a very long time.

    In other words, behind the stated goal of "spreading democracy", USA was actually getting ready to apply in Iraq a variant of the recognizably colonialist model of "democratization" we know from Bosnia. A model under which a country is subject to foreign tutelage and governance by an unelected authority for the expressed purpose of making it ready for democracy, which however never seems to actually arrive.

    05 December 2011

    One Chain

    1. 14.11.2011, Catherine Ashton states she has faith in the "leadership abilities" of Boris Tadić adding that the Serbian president "knows there are things we must do together".
    2. 29.11.2011, Boris Tadić calls on Kosovo Serbs to dismantle the roadblocks in the north of Kosovo they have defended against repeated KFOR assault.
    3. 5.12.2011, Tadić complains it is always being expected of Serbian politicians to make decisions for which there does not exist majority support.
    That's right, not only is the Serbian public saddled with a president who will not take his marching orders from them, but will instead stuff down their throats whatever directives from abroad, they have to listen to him feel sorry for himself as he does it.

    And yes, for European officials to manifest leadership abilities means to obey, specifically to obey European officials in place of speaking for the people. Leadership is obedience. Who knew?

    29 November 2011

    Serbian Public and the EU

    Level of support for EU membership in Serbia, October 2007 - October 2011

    A survey of public opinion that was recently conducted in Serbia revealed support for EU membership in the country has finally tanked. As late as June this year the level of support stood at 60.8%, but has since dropped to 47.4%. Even so, with 37.5% opposed, supporters of membership in the EU still claim a ten point lead over those opposed. So then the Serbs, nonetheless, remain pro-EU and all is good in the world for Brussels? Well, not really.

    Asked if they would support Serbia establishing the closest ties with Russia possible 59.3% answer in the affirmative, while 21.2% are opposed. That means those in favor of stronger links with Russia claim a thirty-eight point lead over those opposed. EU membership may be popular, but links with Russia are more popular still.

    82% of Serbs think of Russia as a country friendly to Serbia, while 5.1% claim it is a country hostile to Serbia. 27.7% see the European Union as an entity friendly to Serbia and 42.1% see it as an entity hostile to Serbia. 20.7% see Germany as a friendly power and 55.7% as a hostile power. 11.5% see Great Britain as a friendly power and 65.9% as a hostile power. In other words, sympathy for Russia is wider than the number of those who see the benefit in close political ties with Moscow. Meanwhile support for EU membership does not imply that Serbs believe Western European powers, or even the EU, wish Serbia well.

    What is more citizens of Serbia are skeptical EU membership would benefit Serbia to any great extent. 45.4% express agreement (23.2% agree strongly) with the statement that EU membership would bring Serbia more harm than gain while 43.2 percent disagree (18.6% disagree strongly). So then, what explains the situation where the people of Serbia continue to support associating with hostile states in a possibly hostile supranational entity they are no longer willing to automatically assume is tantamount to a better life? The reason is the influence of argument of appeasement.

    Many in Serbia believe they have been and continue to be punished for the fact their political leadership in the 1990s did not show sufficient eagerness to join Euro-Atlantic integrations. Some of them believe that if Serbia were an EU member — and thus a nominal member of the club of western states  — it would be less likely that Americans and Western Europeans would act against it. Both because they would be less inclined to do so and because they would have less room to act in such a way.

    Naturally, that one part of support for EU membership comes from people who desire it just because they believe Serbia in the EU could breathe more freely, means support for making concessions in order to join the EU is nowhere as strong as the figure of people in favor of membership could lead one to believe. 9.2% would be fine with Serbia "ceasing to support" the Serbs in the north of Kosovo if it meant getting EU candidate status in December — 75.5% want none of that.

    28 November 2011

    What Worth Kosovo?

    Army of Yugoslavia in orderly withdrawal from Kosovo, 1999

    In Serbia there is a thesis that Kosovo was lost in 1999. The point of the thesis being the province should be written under losses and forgotten about so that Serbia may turn to transforming itself according to the wishes of Brussels and Washington in the territory it still controls.

    It is not an openly stated thesis of the government, which claims to be in pursuit of mutually exclusive goals of defending Kosovo and moving towards Euro-Atlantic integrations simultaneously. It is a thesis of a junior government party, the NGO crowd and a coterie of commentators who are tasked with moving the dialectic and tend to say what the government only thinks.

    It is a curious thesis considering that the Kosovo War ended with Washington legally binding itself to respect Serbia's sovereignty in Kosovo by voting in UNSCR 1244. It is true that the Americans could not be expected to intend to abide by the 1999 settlement, but then it was up to Belgrade to do all it it could to nonetheless preserve as much of it as possible. This is exactly what the current regime in power in Serbia never intended. If Kosovo should be lost for Serbia it will not be because it was lost in 1999, but because after 2000 Serbia was largely run by people who wished it had been lost then.

    It is plausible that just remaining a state capable of autonomous action may have proved sufficient for Serbia to deter the occupiers from assaulting the original settlement, as this would have carried a risk of unwanted incidents with potential for escalation. Certainly KFOR would be more reluctant to undertake actions like the current assault against the four municipalities in the north of Kosovo if Serbia were known to be ready to issue a demand for KFOR to desist and to dispatch hundreds of Serbian police (something envisioned by the UNSCR 1244) to the north if its calls were not heeded. Particularly if it had not dismantled and purged away much of its army after 2000 so that it still had something to potentially back the police with.

    Counter-intuitively as this may sound in one critical aspect the NATO occupation of Kosovo actually enhanced Serbian position vis-a-vis the alliance. During the bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 NATO faced a problem of how to hurt an enemy whose army was camouflaged, had dug in, and had no need to conduct large scale troop movements or concentrate its forces. It resolved the problem by going after civilian targets instead. Serbian forces faced the opposite problem of how to hurt an enemy that is content to bomb civilian infrastructure and will not drop bellow 15,000 feet. After it was conclusively shown that the Army of Yugoslavia would not be able to protect the civilian population from a redoubled effort of NATO against their livelihoods, or even to exact a price on NATO for conducting it, Yugoslavia negotiated an armistice. NATO occupation of Kosovo that followed, however, gifted Serbia the capacity to inflict damage on NATO and should have resolved the basic strategic problem Serbia had faced in 1999.

    27 November 2011

    State Serbia

    USAF F-16 and crew on a 'goodwill visit' to Serbia military base (2006)

    Last month, days before KFOR would launch its most ambitious string of attacks against the roadblocks in the north of Kosovo, the president of Serbia told the embattled communities in the north that "Belgrade was firmly at their side, but that a solution must be found to allow KFOR to pass past the barricades". What can be made of a head of state who, at the height of a crisis involving his citizens and an occupying army, has as his driving objective to ensure privilege for the latter?

    What has happened to make such an unnatural state of affairs a reality? Did some years prior American tanks roll into downtown Belgrade and install a pliant regime? Well, not quite. Serbia was subjugated, but not by force. It was defeated by subterfuge, without having fired a shot in its defense.

    How in turn was it possible for a people as freedom-minded as any to lose it so easily? It turns out because they have a state set above themselves that can be used against them they can be checkmated with little expense. A people that could not be broken in war in 1999 were brought under Imperial domination a year later with suitcases of cash. Since 2000 the Empire has been able to make sure successive governments of Serbia would be, in whole or in part, made up of its clients.

    What is more, Empire's position in Belgrade has never been more assured. Impressed with the ability of Washington to see patriotic parties thwarted — election results be damned — a part of oppositionists have sought its favor, so that now the Empire has in its pocket not just the government parties, but also the largest opposition party. Where 2008 elections were anticipated as an event that would finally rid Serbian government of Imperial influence — which they would have, but for US Embassy engineered defection of the Socialist Party of Serbia from the ranks of patriotic parties to the ranks of State Department clientele — it is apparent in advance the 2012 elections will change nothing.

    What best illustrates just how far gone official Serbia is, is how utopian the eminently reasonable calls of the Serbs under occupation for the Serbian police and army to make a return to Kosovo sound in the present climate. With Serbia in the grip of collaborationists it would be beyond absurd to hope for it to deliver on the central promise of the nation-state — to defend its people against foreign threats.

    21 November 2011

    Stateless Serbia

    Stateless in Serbia

    I would like to provide more of a background to my statement in the last post that the north of Kosovo is among the freest places on the world, particularly since an area which is effectively stateless must be of interest to libertarians.

    There are two state-like entities which lay claim to the area in question, however, neither of them is able to exercise power in it. Washington keeps out the police and the military of the Republic of Serbia and the locals keep out every single institution of the quasi-state governed from Priština. That leaves the area with a number of civilian state institutions of Republic of Serbia, but seeing the organs of compulsion of Republic of Serbia are out of the picture, the cooperation with the former is de facto voluntary. In other words while Republic of Serbia has a presence in occupied Kosovo, it is not the presence of a coercive state.

    Looking to change this condition of statelessness of the four northern municipalities are the occupying forces. This July KFOR and EULEX moved to install Kosovo Albanian police to the crossings to unoccupied Serbia in the north and to enforce there the sort of border regime the government in Priština wants. There is no doubt this would have been just the first step in a larger effort to hoist an unwanted state upon the north had things gone according to plan.

    They did not, however, go according to plan. The Serbs rose up and KFOR and EULEX proved utterly and totally incapable of extracting compliance by force. As there is not the slightest bit of compliance there is neither a state, merely the presence of dangerous, armed goons in government-issued costumes. Absolute resolution of the people of the four northern municipalities not to give way defines the danger the occupying forces represent. Since no one will bow down before them the occupiers' potential for violence presents a great risk for injury and tragedy, but poses no threat to freedom. The locals having determined they will take any injury before they will see NATO impose an unwanted state upon them have eliminated the possibility the occupying forces can act as an organ of state compulsion.

    19 November 2011

    No Surrender by Government

    In the last two months in Kosovo there have been three ethnically motivated attacks that have resulted in a fatality. October 2nd father (51) and son (24) were gunned down leaving the son wounded and the father dead. October 20th three men were gunned down, with one of them killed. November 9th a group of young men rushing to the aid of their colleague who was being savagely beaten was sprayed with automatic fire leaving two of them wounded with one of the pair later dying.

    What all three attacks had in common was Albanian assailants and Serb targets. The two attacks in October occurred in territories under the sway of the government in Priština and targeted Serbs who had shown signs of objecting to their property being usurped by Albanian neighbors. The last attack occurred in a mixed neighborhood in divided Kosovska Mitrovica. All told more than one thousand Serbs have been killed in occupied Serbia since the onset of NATO occupation, most of them immediately after its onset.

    Clearly the remaining Serbs in Kosovo are in a truly unenviable position. Those in the part of Kosovo under control of Western-backed Albanian government in Priština live in tiny, scattered ghettos and are frequently harassed and tormented by the Kosovo Albanian police and many of their ordinary Albanian neighbors as well. Those in the north of Kosovo have so far escaped this fate, but are under assault of Western occupiers to extend their dependency in Kosovo northwards, presumably so that they too may experience the fate of Serbs in the rest of Kosovo — the inauguration of KLA rule in the form of mass expulsions followed by an extended agony of vandalism, extortion, and beatings for those who stay.

    Nevertheless, at least the less unfortunate Serbs in Kosovo, those in the compactly Serb-populated north can also be envied. They can be envied their spirit and the freedom they have established for themselves in resisting all that would have them subdued by force — or by treachery. In an unlikely outcome the north of Kosovo in spite of all the force aligned against itself nonetheless finds itself among the freest places in the world. Its defiant inhabitants are subject to no state authority except that which they embrace willingly.

    Attempted imposition of institutions of the Kosovo protectorate by NATO forces is being successfully fought off. Despite efforts of the occupiers to forcefully dismantle the barricades protecting the locals from the encroachment of an unwanted quasi-state they remain, as sturdy as ever. In the few instances where people guarding the improvised roadblocks were overpowered and the obstacles cleared, new barricades quickly replaced the barriers yielded. Effective peaceful resistance against the occupiers quite literally leaves them in control of no more than the soil under their boots and wheels.

    13 November 2011

    Paper Money Famine

    Churchill's Secret War: The British Empire and the Ravaging of India during World War II is a book by a science journalist Madhusree Mukerjee. It tells of British policy toward India in the Second World War and how it relates to the Bengal Famine of 1943.

    Mukerjee reminds the reader that before the British conquest India was a rich land. Certainly the conquerors drawn to Bengal in the 18th century were of the opinion they were adding a magnificently wealthy possession to their empire. Under colonial rule, however, India and Bengal soon became synonymous for poverty and a frequent setting of famine.

    During the Second World War the colony was made to contribute heavily to the British war effort. India's industries, manpower, and foodstuffs were made to serve requirements of the war the empire had involved itself in. This was merely the latest escalation in a long lasting exploitation of the colony. The British deemed their unwanted presence in India a service and therefore extracted "payment" for it from the colony in the form of the Home Charge. As the British obstructed the expansion of manufacturing in India lest it provide competition for their domestic industry, the export of agricultural produce presented the only way of realizing this transfer. Finally, since the empire set the transfer so high so much grain was extracted for export that the colony — which continued to produce more food than its need through the 19th century — was maintained in a condition of chronic malnutrition.

    Unsurprisingly there was strong resistance to colonial rule that could only be overcome by large scale repression. As part of the August 1942 crackdown against the Quit India Movement alone more than 90,000 people were locked up and up to 10,000 were killed. Short on manpower the British at times resorted to attacking crowds with aircraft. In particularly rebellious districts authorities burned down homes and destroyed rice supplies. British India was not unlike an occupied land.

    The book exposes the manifold causes of the Bengal Famine. To begin with mortality rate in Bengal under British rule was atrocious even in a normal year with some of that attributable to malnutrition. The immediate reasons why conditions deteriorated beyond this "normal" state of semi-famine was the catastrophic Midnapore Cyclone and the Japanese capture of Burma. The Cyclone storm and subsequent floods disrupted life and ruined crops and the loss of Burma severed links with an important source of rice imports to India. These two factors, outside British control, were probably enough for a disaster on their own, however, subsequent British policies made the crisis far worse than it needed to be.

    Anticipating the possibility the Japanese could advance further, the British carried out a scorched earth policy in coastal Bengal, seizing rice stocks, motor vehicles, bicycles and boats. Seizure of boats was particularly disruptive as they normally represented the primary means of transportation and therefore of getting rice crops to the markets.

    The loss of Burmese rice imports to India was not made up by imports from elsewhere, nor was India's obligation to supply British Indian troops abroad lessened. Instead, India was made to cover the loss of Burmese rice imports to Ceylon, Arabia and South Africa even though these territories were already better provisioned with food than India. Although in the years before the war India had become a net importer of food, importing at least one million tons of cereal per year — a figure that was not actually sufficient to cover its needs, but represented what it could afford to import after paying the Home Charge — the British now undertook to export food from India.

    Anticipating food shortages that were certain to follow colonial administration moved to protect the strata of society most useful to the British Empire — administrators, soldiers and industrial workers. The way in which they supposed to do so was to buy up huge quantities of grain and store it for their use. It would acquire these stocks in the same way it acquired supplies for the war effort — by printing money.

    15 October 2011

    US Embassy: "Dodik as Croat Hero"

    A section from a US Sarajevo embassy wire dated February 12th, 2010 published by Wikileaks states:
    "Many Croats -- particularly the overwhelming majority who support a third entity, and including those who do not oppose Tihic as strongly as HDZ-BiH does -- have a great admiration for Dodik, some even regarding him as a 'hero,' because of his defiance of the international community and his disdain for the 'imposition' of the BiH state. Many Croats wish their own leaders would be as outspoken and carry as much bravado as Dodik. The Croats also appreciate Dodik's public expressions of support for a third entity, despite his insistence that the territory for such an entity come exclusively from the Federation."
    The passage is instructive because it shows US sponsorship of "multi-ethnic" SDP, right up to using OHR to neuter Central Election Commission that had rightfully ruled SDP's entity government extralegal, is built around something the Empire knows perfectly well is a lie. US officials are perfectly aware their favorite political party in Bosnia can not speak for Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    As the wire states, Bosnian-Herzegovinan Croats overwhelmingly support a third entity, a policy goal of HDZ BiH, which is the exact opposite of a unitary BiH — the policy goal of SDP. If Croats have an objection against their political leaders it is that they are too timid to stand against the foreigners pushing for centralization as boldly as Dodik does.

    Foreigners stood behind the coalition gathered by SDP as it filled the nationality quota that sets aside government posts for Croats with its appointees, feigning bewilderment when HDZ BiH insisted SDP and the parties around it can not possibly represent Bosnian-Herzegovian Croats, who after all, overwhelmingly did not vote for them. The bit in this cable shows it is not the case Americans do not know they are supporting effective disenfranchisement of Dodik-appreciating Croats, they do — that's the point.

    08 October 2011

    Erhard after Erhard, Pinocchio after Pinocchio

    Generalmajor des Heeres der Bundeswehr

    Though it has been unmasked as infirm and impotent NATO Kosovo Force continues to maintain a nasty, repugnant facade. Just as its predecessors who had developed the Nazi counter-insurgency doctrine of Bandenbekämpfung, KFOR continues to maintain it is being paired against criminal gangs. It continues to threaten to use force to achieve its goals albeit it is plain it is not capable of doing so. It claims it is reluctant to use force because of its concern for civilians, but is in fact reluctant because of its concerned for itself.

    Unlawful Non-Combatants

    Generalmajor Erhard Drews, who recently replaced generalissimo Erhard Bühler as the commander of the occupying forces, has stated at a press conference yesterday that the Jarinje incident of September 27th when American and German troops opened fire on unarmed protesters, wounding six of them, was the fault of "criminal groups from the north of Kosovo". Drews added the Serb counter-blockade of KFOR control points does not count as peaceful protest and is unlawful.

    Attempts of KFOR to scapegoat some mythical, ever-present criminal bands for its violence and repression in the north of Kosovo are perfectly see-through seeing the pronouncements KFOR has made about the nature of the barricades. If the roadblocks put up by the blockaded communities are outside the law then anyone defying KFOR by standing vigil at them is a criminal regardless of what he, or she, does for a living. A less repulsive occupier would drop the pretense it believes Serb communities of northern Kosovo to be animated by some unseen "criminal structures" and just go with the part of the story where anyone engaging in an act of resistance is an outlaw by the virtue of not lying down.

    We Could Win if We Wanted To

    Drews engaged in further dishonesty when he implied KFOR could resolve the stand off in its favor by using force, if only it chose to do so. He threatened that KFOR "retains the right" to remove the barricades at any moment it deems appropriate and added the present situation "which pushes KFOR troops into small pockets around the crossings" could not be tolerated for long. He boasted that KFOR could "remove all the barricades in the north at any moment" and was already training to do so.

    It is true the occupiers could remove the barricades, which are after after all manned by unarmed people. To overpower them should present only a trivial problem for a heavily armed occupying army. The self-confidence on display is a false one nonetheless. The technical challenge of removing the existing barricades is not the same as the challenge of ending the counter-blockade. Should NATO take over the existing blockades, it is a trivial matter for the Serb communities to erect new ones and reinstate the counter-blockade. The problem for KFOR is not how to remove the barricades, but how to break the will of the blockaded communities to resist.

    Innocents are our Concern

    Finally, Drews stated the reason KFOR is reluctant to move against the barricades is that it "would face the danger of injuring someone, of hurting innocent people". I suspect that Drews' predecessor, generalissimo Bühler, was rather more honest when he put the reasons for not escalating further as:
    "I had the option to enforce and open up the roadblock. I decided not to do it because in the meantime so many criminals and extremists and armed people are here. It would be a nightmare."
    The Serbs of the north of Kosovo have matched any escalation by the occupying forces with renewed determination and enterprise from their side, making it perfectly clear they are not going to back down whether they are being blockaded, threatened, or shot at. What is more, they did so while displaying remarkable moderation in opting for non-violent methods of resistance. Should the noose around them continue to tighten indefinitely, however, then at one point they will have nothing left to lose by adding armed resistance to their repertoire — lord knows they have the means to do so.

    Rather than NATO's concern for innocents, whom it has anyhow already placed outside the law declaring barricades illegal and non-peaceful, it is the fact that it is dealing with communities that are not totally defenseless that has so far kept KFOR at bay.

    04 October 2011

    BiH: Finally Good at Something

    Bosnia: Good at government deadlock

    Bosnia and Herzegovina just went one year without a government at state level. What is more, prospects the government will be formed any time soon are dim.

    Agreement between the parties that won the election proved impossible on a number of specific, technical issues. The essence of the deadlock, however, is that there is no government because aggressive politics pursued jointly by the OHR and the main Muslim parties alienated the main parties of the Croats and of the Serbs from Sarajevo. Fed up, they are sending a message of no business as usual. Either the SDS and SDA and their international sponsors adjust course, or they will in Serb and Croat parties have a collocutor difficult enough to ensure that there will be no government — a situation with which their constituents are perfectly happy since they have no stake in the state in the first place, but are always happy to point out its dysfunction.

    It seems likely they will remain happy for a while longer. Though the central state going without a valid cabinet of ministers should be a cause of concern for super-centralizers like the SDS and SDA this does not seem to be the case in BiH. Probably calculating a crisis makes increased foreign involvement likelier the Muslim parties have not budged an inch.

    Politicians always have an incentive to cooperate, so there is an ever present danger political parties involved will leave principles aside and rush into each others' arms, but until that happens Bosnians and Herzegovians will continue to enjoy an existence plagued by one cabinet of ministers less and BiH will remain hot on the heels of Belgium, the reigning world champion of political deadlock and not having a government.

    27 September 2011

    Drawing Blood

    American soldier on Serbian land: taking down a Serbian flag

    Recall how the government of Serbia in early August justified its agreement with the NATO ocupiers that was really a surrender, by pointing out it at least barred KFOR from using force to try change the circumstances on the ground again? As predicted it turns this reassurance was groundless. The way the occupiers figured the deal only obliged them not to act unilaterally until September, for when a new round of talks was envisioned. Seeing the pro-Imperial government in Belgrade has always capitulated before an onslaught of forces behind the NATO occupation, these in turn have came to think of "talks" as using threats, deception or force to "create facts on the ground", then having Belgrade sign under them.

    It may have worked once again except that another predictable thing happened. September 16th, when KFOR moved to install the personnel of the US sponsored Albanian government in Priština on the two crossings between occupied and unoccupied Serbia in the north of Kosovo, the imperiled Serb communities lost the last of their faith in Belgrade negotiators. Albeit the regime in place in Serbia would like nothing more but for Kosovo Serbs to stand down and accept the fate Washington has in mind for them, its one betrayal of them too many has deprived it of the means to influence their actions.

    Without the Serbian government in position to sign under a capitulation on behalf of the Kosovo Serbs and bail out KFOR, the occupiers have found themselves in a difficult position. Everywhere in the north they are blocked in. Wherever they set up a control point to curtail the movement of the imperiled communities and cut them off from unoccupied Serbia they are in turn blockaded themselves. The locals have become expert at speedily constructing makeshift roadblocks, which they then man around the clock to prevent them from being dismantled and to monitor the occupiers from. As a consequence the only new meaningful "fact on the ground" is that KFOR can move about freely only in the air.

    Today KFOR lashed out. Early in the morning German soldiers moved against a barricade near the Jarinje crossing and took it over with the help of tear gas. They tied up several people on the scene and destroyed the barrier. As word spread hundreds of people gathered on site to protest. After noon the occupiers demanded of protesters to disperse. When they did not, KFOR struck again using stun grenades and live rifle ammunition. Six people were wounded by live fire. NATO troops on the scene, a mix of Americans and Germans, did not refrain from firing at medical workers and ambulance vehicles extricating the wounded. Attempts to film the aftermath of the carnage were met with warning shots.

    Two week ago, when NATO redoubled its efforts to bring the Serbs of northern Kosovo under the control of its client government in Priština it further imperiled their communities, but by creating distance between the pliant government in Belgrade and the resolute Serb communities it actually weakened its enterprise. Today NATO inflicted further grief on these people, but it did not do itself any favors.

    22 September 2011

    A Must Read

    A paper from Dražen Pehar, a Croatian intellectual from Bosnia and Herzegovina, on his land under the tyranny of the 'international community'. He explains what the High Representative is:
    "BiH with today’s High Representative is quite a pertinent example of a tyranny, or dictatorship, practiced in a very sophisticated form. BiH is endowed with a single sovereign, the HR, who, by his key marks and his status and origins, represents a sovereign in a pre-modern sense."
    Unlike a modern sovereign who can be deposed by a free people, HR is a pre-modern sovereign, a 'Divine King' albeit in a sophisticated, up-to-date form:
    "He is the sovereign who cannot be questioned, contested, or invited to respond before the tribunal of the people; his word is ultimate regardless of its inherent quality, of the question of its rationality, plausibility, morality, fairness… He is the sovereign one cannot negotiate with, or influence."
    Pehar gives the background on how this came to be:
    "In a period of time, in the second half of 1997, the Peace Implementation Council – PIC (for the implementation of the Dayton Framework for Peace in BiH) decided to interpret Annex 10 of the Framework in a way which transformed the HR to BiH into a body with unlimited legal powers. The Council has decided to interpret the powers of the institution in an infinitely wide fashion, or fully arbitrary, i.e. as the HR, or somebody standing behind him, deem convenient."
    And why this represented a blatant power grab:
    "If you read carefully Annex 10, which enlists the powers of the HR, you will soon realize that the institution should play the role of a benevolent assistant, a mediator in the best case, to the process of implementation of the peace in BiH. For instance, the Annex says that the HR is brought into being because the very parties to the Framework, the representatives of the BiH peoples primarily, have invited him to assist them. Legal existence of the HR is due to the will of the original parties to the contract, not the other way around (Annex 10, I.2)." 
    The paper goes on to give further arguments why this situation is indefensible, to name some of the effects it has had and to propose methods of resistance. It is well worth a read for anyone interested in Bosnia and Herzegovina or the various shapes of modern imperialism. Read it here.

    18 September 2011

    Libya: Cowards' Bloody Hands

    The civil war in Libya is not over. Former regime loyalists remain in control of a few towns, which the rebels are trying to take over. NATO strikes continue. There have even been clashes among rival rebel factions. The extent of the fighting is not too great, but the extent of hardship it continues to impose on civilians is. The regime of Moammer Gaddafi has been deposed, however, ending one phase of the war.

    Intervening powers took the overthrow of Gaddafi as a vindication of their actions, but they really should not. It has not been forgotten that in the months when the rebels did not seem to be going anywhere their anxiety and self-doubt were plain to see. Literally within days of their bombing campaign the aggressors' bravado fizzled out. It quickly became apparent none of the intervening powers was willing to take center stage and take on the expectation it would take on whatever burden it took to bring the war to a successful conclusion. Even the three major powers involved told their domestic audiences they were merely one cog in a wide coalition and that they really were not doing all that much.

    Furthermore Gaddafi's regime did not crumble under the weight of NATO bombs, it was brought down when Berber rebel fighters organized by an Al-Qaeda linked jihadist captured Tripoli from Gaddafi forces. Indeed they had NATO air support, but then nobody ever doubted effectiveness of aircraft when used as flying artillery in support of ground forces. It is using aircraft as strategic assets that has never failed to produce only dubious results. What can justify all those bombing raids against Tripoli when it was still far behind the front line, raids which certainly killed many civilians, when in the end the city was taken by a few hundred Berber fighters, some Al-Qaeda organizing skill and a little NATO close air support? Even if we were to accept an idiotic a premise that Libya under the NTC will be a land of milk and candy, and an utterly amoral premise that this is worth a certain number of civilian deaths, those civilians killed in pointless raids against cities hundreds of miles from where the fighting was still died for nothing.

    16 September 2011

    Russia in Ossetia and America in Kosovo: Not Quite the Same

    Lines of control in South Ossetia 1992-2008

    Russian patronage of independence of South Ossetia and Western patronage of independence of the Albanian state in Kosovo are two relationships which are often compared. Sometimes they are compared by Western interventionists who are looking for a way to show that the two relationships have nothing in common (for example here and here). And at other times they are compared by opponents of Western interventionism who insist that the two are analogous (for example here).

    Opponents of the Empire are right to point out that having done its utmost to detach Kosovo from Serbia the West has no grounds to complain about anything that Russia does in regard to South Ossetia. Western interventionists, however, are right when they say that there are important differences between the two relationships, albeit they are wrong about what those differences are.

    Whose protégé is independent?

    The most important difference is that South Ossetia is de facto independent, but the Albanian state in Kosovo is not. This is not hyperbole. In Kosovo many of the functions normally performed by a national government are performed by officials from the UN or the EU. The Albanian state in Kosovo is not a sovereign state, it is an international protectorate.

    Who intended to go against international law since the very beginning?

    Another difference is that Russia had nothing to do with the South Ossetian declaration of independence from Georgia. When South Ossetia in the early 1990s declared its independence Russia refused to recognize it. For more than 15 years Russia maintained a principled position where it did not recognize any of the post-Soviet breakaway states. Had Georgia not launched a military invasion of South Ossetia that killed Russian soldiers that would still be the case.

    This is a far cry from Western attitude to independence for Albanians in Kosovo. In 2008 when the Albanian government in Priština declared independence, it did so in coordination with the United States and its major allies, who had been laying the groundwork for this move since the onset of their occupation of Kosovo in 1999.

    National Defense in the Great Patriotic War

    In the Second World War the Soviet Union suffered an incalculable number of war death that is usually put at 27 million.i It was the largest death toll suffered by any country in any war. The war razed 1,710 cities and towns, 70,000 villages and hamlets and 100,000 collective farms on Soviet territory.ii In terms of protecting its citizens against other states the USSR can only be judged an utter failure.

    The failure of the Soviet Union was all the greater because it was not a power that was simply powerless to do so. On the eve of the Second World War the USSR was larger by land mass than any other political entity in the world exempting the British Empire. It ranked third in the world by population size and by gross domestic product. It could boast the largest, most mechanized army in the world, an enormous heavy industry output and highly competent weapon designers.

    To be sure the Soviet Union was also faced with its challenges. It had a very long border to secure. It had to contend with a two-pronged threat emanating from Tokyo on one side of the world and Berlin on the other. Enormous distances and subpar infrastructure impeded transport and communication. Most of its populace had little education and rarely handled modern machinery. What was to be its chief opponent, the German military, was experienced and proficient in the conduct of war.

    These difficulties, however, were hardly insurmountable given the aforementioned strong points of the Soviet Union. Yet it would suffer a series of military defeats so catastrophic that at the greatest extent of Axis advance 68 million of its citizens would be subject to a deadly foreign occupation.iii What was the cause of Soviet military debacles that paved the way for suffering on such a scale?

    No Sleeping Giant

    When the National Socialists took power in Germany
    the Soviet Union was sufficiently alarmed to come out of international isolation and move closer to France.iv It interfered in the Spanish Civil War to stop a speedy defeat of the Republicans, hoping to in this way drive a wedge between Paris and London and Berlin and Rome.v It provided military aid to Chiang Kai-shek attempting to blunt Japanese expansionism in the Far East and offered itself as an ally to France in the Sudeten Crisis.vi It finally sought security by concluding non-aggression pacts with Germany (1939) and Japan (1941). The Soviet Union was not oblivious of international events, but was conscious of potential outside threats.

    Between the years 1938 and 1940 the Soviet Union fought a war with Finland, an undeclared border war with Japan, forcefully annexed Bessarabia, the Baltic States and Ukranian and Belarusian areas of Poland. In 1930s it begun throwing much of its industrial capacity into armaments production so that by June 1941 it possessed 15,000 aircraft and 18,000 tanks — more than all the rest of the world combined.vii
    The Soviet Union was pouring vast resources into its military, which had already fought to defended its borders as well as to expand them. It was anything but a complacent power that had not given thought to war.

    13 August 2011

    Government Only Good for Surrendering

    After they first objected to the Serbia-KFOR agreement that sanctifies a NATO-enforced economic quarantine of the north of Kosovo, the representatives of the affected communities met Tuesday to decide on whether to dismantle their roadblocks as called for by Belgrade anyway. They left without reaching a unified position. Since then, however, most of the roadblocks have gone down. Only one of them remains.

    Defending the agreement Serbian government negotiators admitted the deal was "not ideal", which is putting it mildly, but insisted it was "the best [deal] possible under the circumstances". That is very much true, the circumstances being the negotiations for the Serbian side were conducted by a government that has long been looking to surrender Kosovo, albeit careful to do it in a way that would not cause its immediate and dramatic downfall from power.

    The aspect of the deal that the Serbian government has been flaunting as its biggest positive is that NATO promises not to use force to unilaterally change the circumstances on the ground. No one in their right mind can take NATO seriously on this point, however, when the situation in force now is precisely the outcome of one-sided NATO action, and when Belgrade just signed under it.

    The communities in the north of Kosovo elect their municipal officials under Serbian law and election schedule. It would be very difficult for these municipalities to ignore positions of the government of Serbia, when what they are struggling for is to remain a part of the constitutional order of Republic of Serbia. The government in Belgrade is not loathe to take advantage of this predicament of theirs.

    The Serbs in the north of Kosovo were told that should they not abide by the Serbia-KFOR agreement official Belgrade would hang them out to dry. That would indeed put them in a tough spot, but it is hard to see that the present arrangement where the marionette government in Belgrade will sign under capitulations in their name is any better.

    12 August 2011

    Criminalizing Sit-ins

    Crimefighter Bühler

    In the course of the current tensions in the north of Kosovo the commander of NATO forces, a Bundeswehr officer Erhard Bühler, on multiple occasions claimed the people obstructing NATO were criminals or in the pay of criminals. Bühler ascribes every aspect of local response to NATO enforced stranglehold of the north to "criminal structures" which allegedly run the whole north of Kosovo. He goes so far as to claim the people assembling at roadblocks had been paid by criminals to do so.

    The German NATO general claims there are no problems in Kosovo of a political nature, troubles only arise from dissatisfaction of criminals. In other words, the Serbs have no valid reason to object to politics enforced by NATO, the only people who could object are criminals, so anybody who objects must be a criminal or in the service of criminals.

    Bühler's propaganda points are as predictable as they are idiotic. Attempting to criminalize resistance to occupation has been long domain of powerful states and militaries. In the German case it begun with hysteria surrounding francs-tireurs in the Franco-Prussian War, then intensified through every subsequent conflict until it, in 1942, culminated in the formalized security doctrine of Bandenbekämpfung.

    One pillar of German security thinking was that any resistance to occupation was illegitimate. A person offering resistance behind the front line was not to be thought of as a legitimate fighter — a partisan, but as a bandit, which is to say a criminal. An area where resistance existed was to be thought of as a bandit area and the people among whom the partisans moved as people harboring criminals.

    There exists a perception Germany laden with a Nazi past is now more pacifistic than other comparable powers. It is a view that can not but bemuse the northern Kosovo Serbs in the sights of a belligerent German general who is resurrecting the talking points of Bandenbekämpfung in relation to unarmed people staging sit-ins.

    07 August 2011

    Tightening the Noose – With Belgrade's Blessing

    When last month the KLA-staffed government in Priština attempted a takeover of the Jarinje and Brnjak border posts between Kosovo and unoccupied Serbia it showed itself incapable of doing so. The reaction of the local population forced its speedy withdrawal. Instead NATO took over the crossings in its place and enforced a blockade on the Serb enclave in the north of Kosovo for it. This week official Belgrade attempted to grant the blockade its official blessing.

    When the crisis first broke out Serbia dispatched negotiators to demand a return to the state of affairs as it existed before the attempted Albanian takeover. This would mean a withdrawal of American and French NATO troops occupying the border posts and an end to their barring Serbian goods from crossing the administrative border. Instead, the government's negotiators signed under every aspect of the state of affairs currently in place except under the roadblocks set up by the local Serbs.

    The settlement the Serbian government had agreed to would have the NATO blockade of the north continue. Exactly as it is the case at the moment only people would be permitted to cross the administrative border, but not goods. The only way in which the deal would perhaps improve the existent situation is that NATO would promise to let pass humanitarian aid shipments. As a precondition to the agreement becoming valid the makeshift roadblocks impeding NATO access to the border posts would have to be dismantled.

    In summary, the Serbs in the north of Kosovo who are facing a shortage of provisions and medical supplies were called upon by their government to abandon their most effective avenue of resistance and protest so that in return a NATO enforced economic stranglehold on their enclave may be formalized and they be reduced to dependence on shipments of humanitarian aid.

    Needless to say the roadblocks remain in place. The people who would be affected by the blockade rejected the deal the marionette government made in their name and ostensibly for their benefit. One thing the independent-minded Serbian community in the north of Kosovo can teach us is that the best hope for dignity lies in breaking away, not from your country, but from your government.

    30 July 2011

    Values Clash

    Vidkun Tadić

    The only true value of the current Serbian government is pathological deference to Imperial power exercised under the guise of extreme pragmatism, defeatist fatalism and supposed aversion to conflict. Appropriately, it has long been expected the government in Belgrade will act as an agent of Empire in Serbia. Wednesday, however, the government went even beyond that.

    Monday evening the Kosovo Albanian government in Priština moved its paramilitary police to occupy the two crossings on the border between occupied Kosovo and the rest of Serbia in the solidly Serb populated north of the province. This was done days after the KLA-staffed government in Priština declared goods from unoccupied Serbia would no longer be allowed in Kosovo. The ban on imports coupled with control of borders by the government in Priština would enforce a stranglehold on the Serbs in the north, with a view to subdue them, or force them out.

    When this happened the first reaction of the Serbian authorities was to categorically rule out coming to the aid of the imperiled Serbs in the north of Kosovo. (They were more concerned to prevent any rallies in their support from being staged in Belgrade.) The people there, however, have long learned not to look to the government, but to rely on themselves. Within hours they had the roads leading to the crossings blocked by setting up makeshift roadblocks and standing vigil, thus blockading the Kosovo Albanian police at the border posts.

    NATO first claimed the action of the government in Priština had not been coordinated with it, then quickly saw to it that it was. When the Serb response forced the evacuation of the paramilitary police, NATO decided to ferry in regular police from Priština to take their place. Reacting to this turn of events, Wednesday local Serb youths chased away police from one of the border posts and set fire to it.

    On this occasion, however, the Serbian government found uncharacteristic courage to issue a strongly worded attack — against the Serbs! President Tadić labeled the young adults who had demolished the border post "hooligans" and other government officials took to denouncing them as "extremists". (International media followed suit styling them "hard-line Serbian nationalist".)

    27 July 2011

    A Choice of Scenery

    With famine affecting parts of Somalia, Jeremy Sapienza at antiwar.blog takes time to remind us this is not happening in a vacuum. It is taking place in the context of disruption caused by foreign military activity.

    Ethiopia continues to interfere militarily in the border areas of Somalia even after its end of occupation of southern Somalia in 2009. 9,000 African Union troops financed by the United States contest the control of Mogadishu leading to endless battles. Meanwhile direct US involvement consists of regular cruise missile and drone attacks, with secret CIA prisons to go. Additionally Washington will finance any warlord willing to throw his lot with the internationals' clients in the 'Transitional Federal Government'.

    This is not the first time there has been a correlation between famine and foreign intervention in Somalia. Twenty years ago an intervention was not one of the causes of malnutrition, but the other way around — famine conditions brought on foreign military adventurism.

    On that occasion Americans ended up battling a warlord Mohamed Aideed whom they had initially partnered. Numerous Somalis, combatants and non-combatants alike were killed at the hands of foreign soldiers. Finally, after a media embarrassment in the Black Hawk Down incident Americans hastily withdrew. It was a defeat of American overseas adventurism as clear cut as the fiasco in Lebanon a decade earlier.

    The background to what led the United States on this path of failure is an instructive one and comes with an unlikely Balkan connection. The 1992 famine in Somalia provided the backdrop to the intervention, but the desire to provide famine relief fails as a credible cause of intervention. Humanitarian crisis in Somalia was not the only one in Africa at the time and was not necessarily the most severe of them. Additionally 'Operation Restore Hope' was launched only once the worst of the famine was already over and the lot of Somalis was beginning to improve on its own.

    10 July 2011

    Insurgency USA

    At a time when the United States is maintaining two objectionable occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, American TV viewers are watching shows that place Americans in situations not unlike those of occupied Iraqis and Afghans.

    The US is occupying two countries with a combined population of 60 million people and battling multiple resistance movements in each. Additionally, no less than six different countries (Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan) are being sprinkled, or showered, with US bombs and cruise missiles.

    Despite that, there are not many works of cinema or television being made that would have Americans or American-like people invade and occupy places, terrorize them from the air or burst into homes at night to drag away fathers and sons. Presumably proof enough that Americans would not find shows like that enjoyable.

    The kind of shows American TV viewing public does like have Americans or American-like people standing up against outside aggressors wrecking their lives and homes to wage desperate, but determined and righteous battles of survival and freedom.

    The premise of the series Falling Skies, early in its run on TV in America is that there has been a successful alien invasion of Earth. The viewer has the opportunity to follow partisans of the '2nd Massachusetts Regiment' as they try to survive, protect civilians in their midst and fight the alien occupation.

    08 July 2011

    Faking It

    I figured saying a thing or two on books I read could be another way to liven up the going on here. The first one is going to be Bosnia: Faking Democracy After Dayton by David Chandler which is the last book I read. Not a review, but a summary key things I got out of it and would be useful to remember.

    The work is based on author's observation of the first three years (1996-98) of international involvement in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    Every single peace plan put forth before the local belligerents in the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina envisaged a role for foreigners in Bosnia and Herzegovina that was incompatible with a fully sovereign and independent state. This was the case even with the very first settlement proposal, which predated the beginning of the war. So at the same time Europeans were giving encouragement to Alija Izetbegović to take BiH out of Yugoslavia and have "independence" they were already seeing themselves as managers of the place. Every subsequent peace plan tended to go further in granting foreigners power over the country.

    After the war internationals gradually intensified their grip on Bosnia. The Dayton Agreement, which ended the war, presupposed only a short, one year period of supervision by the internationals in anticipation of the first post-war elections. These were held and observed to be free and fair. Instead of getting out the internationals unilaterally extended their mission for another two years and expanded their powers of regulation in the sphere of economics. The next year they declared their mission was now an indefinite one and their 'High Representative' could exercise absolutist powers.

    Chandler explains this was done under the guise of 'democratization', which, other than its etymology, has nothing to do with democracy. The process of 'democratization' took Bosnia and Herzegovina further away from being a democracy as it piled on powers for the unelected colonial officer, the 'High Representative' and subordinated him the actual, elected, representatives.

    The language of democratization, it is explained, makes it possible for outside involvement in BiH to appear as idealistic just as it sets up a platform for self-flattery and denigration of Bosnians as less-civilized on the account of their ‘ethnic rivalries'. Unsurprisingly since 'democratization' represents the resurrection of Civilizing Mission style colonialism wrapped in the language of human rights and ethics based foreign policy.

    06 July 2011

    We Kicked ET's Ass!

    It passed by me without notice, but actually two days ago was the 15th anniversary of when we repelled an alien invasion! Good days!

    It turns out this date is not just a World holiday, but also a local holiday in the country of United States of America where it marks a beginning of an event called the American Revolution from way back, like even before ABBA.

    An interesting essay on this event - Independence Day Propaganda by Anthony Gregory. It tries to highlight some of its less advertised aspects. These include:
    • 'Boston Tea Party' was caused by anger over a reduction in British taxes on East India tea
    • Colonials resented the fact Britain had lifted its ban on Catholicism in Canada
    • George Washington worked to have the maximum corporal punishment in the army raised to 500 lashes
    • Repression against the Loyalists resulted in up to one hundred thousand people (out of a population of 2.4 million) fleeing to Canada
    • Seeing it as the less immediate threat Indians mainly fought on the side of Britain
    • At least 20,000 blacks fought for the British, far fewer against them

    The piece goes well with the podcast John A. Nagy - Rebellion in the Ranks: Mutinies of the American Revolution (from NYMAS website) which also highlights a side of the conflict that is seldom considered. There is also a video interview with Nagy, but it's done in a boring fashion, so I can't honestly recommend it.

    05 July 2011

    Strawmanning BiH Schools

    Is it a school, or... an ethnic cleansing training camp??

    Schools in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is an obscure topic. Who knows anything about schools in Bosnia and Herzegovina? Who the hell wants to??

    And jet they can not go without a mention in the Western press for long. Major news outlets will periodically take time off from reporting on blondes missing in the Bahamas to say things about schools in Bosnia. What about them?

    They are segregated abominations, that's what! *Shivers!*

    The most recent of such pieces, NYT's Bosniaks and Croats, Divided in Class and at Play starts of with:
    "Every morning at the local grade school formerly known as Brotherhood and Unity, the Catholic Croat children head to the right, and the Bosnian Muslims head to the left."

    "The Croats study in the school’s cheerful looking main building, which was recently renovated. The Muslims attend class in the crumbling, dingy annex next door."
    Why if this isn't Birmingham, 1963 all over again!

    Advancing through the article further we get more of what poses as a measure of the place. The school is on the front lines of ethnic divisions and kids get into fights. These people are hateful little bastards, those Croat types especially. They have a local war criminal guy who was convicted in Holland. And they renovated a hotel, and it has spacious hallways.

    03 July 2011

    Belgians Jet

    Belgium of the Balkans

    Nine months after elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina stil no government at the level of the central state. Doris Pack can say what she wants but these Balkanites seem to think anything Belgians can pull off, so can they. Fingers crossed they can build on this to make it a full year.

    28 June 2011

    Why Air War Will Fail

    Aerial revolution booster

    I've already touched on this, but I can be clearer. NATO's air war in Libya can not but fail. A bombing campaign is as likely to deliver regime change as you are to fell a log with a handheld mixer.

    The powers intervening in Libya are demanding Gaddafi's regime dismantle itself. This is a maximalist war aim. Aerial bombardments, as well as bombing campaigns conducted by clandestine terrorists, have succeeded before in extracting limited concessions from a government, but a bombing campaign forcing a capitulation of a regime is unheard of.

    Western powers obviously refused to learn the lesson, but their own 1999 adventure over Yugoslavia shows as much. The terms under which the hostilities were concluded was no capitulation of Milošević across the line. Yugoslavia's sovereignty over Kosovo was reaffirmed in the UN, the demand for NATO access to the whole of Yugoslavia was successfully resisted and (needles to say) the government in Belgrade remained in control over the rest of Yugoslav territory.

    Not only are the war aims in Libya greater than the demands placed on Belgrade in 1999, but they are public knowledge. In the Kosovo War the western powers kept Annex B to the Rambouillet proposal under wraps and could therefore drop it without this appearing as a defeat for them. This time they can not abandon their openly stated goal of forcing out the regime of Muammar Gaddafi without sacrificing prestige.

    Additionally, what success NATO had in 1999 stemmed from the fact it threatened to pulverize the civilian economy of Serbia. The conflict was framed in terms of NATO rushing to save Albanians from the Serbs, destruction wrought upon Serbia therefore did not count for much. Today NATO is allegedly bombing Libya in order to save Libyans from Gaddafi. It is a story ill equipt to survive NATO openly holding hostage the civilian infrastructure of Libya against the regime of Muammar Gaddafi.

    The intervening powers may yet have their way, but it will not be because of the air war. This aspect of intervention represents a complete mismatch of means and aims and will suffer a defeat. Arrogance on display in western capitals that sees them refuse drawing lessons from their military interventions means we are unfortunately assured more aggressive wars, but also the satisfaction of seeing the wars go badly for the aggressor.

    25 June 2011

    Nazi Economics

    An old piece from Reason
    debunking the commonly held myth of Hitler's 1930s economic miracle. In reality Germany under Nazi stewardship was in a bad shape, particularly its agricultural sector. By late 1935 the country was thought to be experiencing a 'provisions crisis' and Nazi officialdom agonized over a decision whether to import raw materials for the rearmament or food.

    It is interesting to think how the lebensraum theory was boosted by the failed economic policies of the Nazis. The idea Germany was overpopulated and needed to colonize new ground in the east was made even more attractive once regulation retarded the agriculture and made it produce even less than it otherwise would.