Tuesday, August 31, 2004

balkanalysis.com - Interview with Boris Trajanov (Part 2)

CD: What about with the new minority language rights, and new Albanian university in Tetovo. Do you think these things will lead to federalization, with or without the decentralization?

BT: That’s interesting. Several years ago, when [the furor over an Albanian university at] Mala Recica happened, I surprised some people when I said, “why not? Why not let them study in their own language?” After all, Nikola Tesla, one of the most brilliant people in history, came from a small village in rural Yugoslavia. Right now, perhaps somewhere in Macedonia, in some small mountain village with an Albanian population, is sitting some genius of a child. He’s growing up with Albanian language only until the age of 7 anyway, and so it’s much easier for him to learn in that language. Why not give him the chance to study in his language?

So that could be fine. But on the other hand, the Albanians are generally not paying their taxes. Understandably, it becomes very difficult for the Macedonian population to see why they should support such a university, one which will not benefit themselves in any way, when they see that they alone must fund it!

So if we will share in this country, then let everyone be a loyal citizen. I was 8 years living in Germany. I paid more taxes than most Germans, but I had to because I was living there. In the end I became a German citizen. After 8 years they said, “Okay, you always pay regularly your taxes, you didn’t get into any problems with the law, here’s your citizenship.” And I was very grateful for that.

It comes down to this: if DUI wants to show their loyalty to Macedonia - not only with demands “we want this, we want that!” all the time, but to give too – they should convince their voters to pay their taxes. And not only to get their way, like in the last meeting in Radusa, by reserving the threat of war. We are not afraid because of that intimidation, and we could defend ourselves very successfully, but I think that war, as in the rest of Europe, should be left in the past. A life together, with a fair basis for all, this is our future.

A BrainyQuote by George Eliot (1819-1880).
Any coward can fight a battle when he's sure of winning, but give me the man who has pluck to fight when he's sure of losing. That's my way, sir; and there are many victories worse than a defeat.

BBC NEWS | Europe | Croatia erases 'fascist' tributes

Get a load of this blurb in the article about removal of monuments of Ustasha ("rebels" in Croatian, coming from "ustanak" = "uprising") officials:
Following the Nazi invasion in 1941, a "Greater Croatia" was formed, also comprising most of Bosnia and western Serbia.

The fascist puppet government under Ante Pavelic acted brutally against Serbs and Jews as it sought to create a Catholic, all-Croat republic. (my emphasis)

Wow! As far as I know, a republic is a form of democratically elected government based on representation of the voters. BBC continues its series of misrepresentation of balkan issues by bestowing such a noble title to a genocidal Nazi dictatorship.

Taiwan Cancels War Games to Reciprocate China's Friendly Gesture

Hurrah and Hazzah for peace!
Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian has asked the military to call off annual war games in a goodwill gesture aimed at mirroring China's cancellation of its military drills, newspapers said on Tuesday.
International News Article @ Reuters.com. Thanks Antiwar.com!

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Groupthink Viewed as Culprit in Move to War

A Los Angeles Times article has a good analysis of an important phenomenon in this day and age, which infests a wide range of organizations:
"Groupthink," an insular style of policy-making, has been identified as a chief culprit in all. And to these, the Senate Intelligence Committee on Friday added the process leading to the decision to attack Saddam Hussein in March 2003.

Irving Janis, a Yale psychologist, coined the term in 1972 to describe a decision-making process in which officials are so wedded to the same assumptions and beliefs that they ignore, discount or even ridicule information to the contrary. When members of a cohesive, homogeneous group value unanimity and agreement on one course of action more than a realistic appraisal of alternatives, they are engaging in groupthink.

Applied psychology! I love it.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Revenge of the Mahdi

The latest article by Antiwar.com's Justin Raimondo discusses an important issue: the timing of Islamic terrorist attacks. Starting of from the information that a captured al Qaeda "operative, described as 'credible' by British intelligence, told his debriefers that the attack would take place '60 days before the presidential election' on Nov. 2," Raimondo proceeds:
No one doubts for a moment the willingness or ability of the War Party to manipulate public opinion in an election season by ratcheting up its system of color-coded terror alerts. But seeing everything through this particular prism is typical Western "it's all about me" narcissism. It is blind to the reality that some people are not entirely focused on American politics, and that the terrorists come from a different mindset – one which recalls a long history of grievances against the West.

Al Qaeda is the spearhead of a movement that is still seething about the Muslims' loss of Spain, which Bin Laden refers to as "the tragedy of Andalusia." It is reactionary in the essential meaning of that much overused term: Bin Laden seeks vengeance for wrongs that, to any Westerner, seem ancient, and laughably archaic. We are faced with an invasion from the past, as 12th century Islamist warriors utilize 21st century technology to devastate the symbols of modernity.

The image of George W. Bush addressing the Republican national convention on Sept. 2, just as a few more "iconic" American buildings go up in flames, is more fodder for the kneejerk scoffers, who see everything in terms of the election. But that date has significance other than in terms of American politics: September 2 is also the 106th anniversary of the Battle of Omdurman, which marked the triumph of the British in the Sudan over an army of Islamic fundamentalists known as Mahdists. It is an anniversary fraught with significance for Osama bin Laden and his followers worldwide: the history behind it illustrates both the nature of the threat we face and the inability of the U.S. to effectively confront it.

Raimondo proceeds to inform us that:

The popular idea that the 9/11 date was chosen because "911" is the common U.S. emergency response number is typical of the ethnocentric mindset of Western universalists. That it is also the anniversary of the day Britain seized Palestine, in 1922, with the complicity of the League of Nations, would seem a bit more relevant. Anniversaries are a big deal to these fighters for antiquity: the August 7, 1998 simultaneous bombing of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya took place on the eighth anniversary of the entry of foreign troops onto Saudi soil. With targets in Britain as well as the U.S. apparently in Al Qaeda's sights, the September 2 date follows a similar pattern.

Come to think of it, forces willing to change the course of history to fit their nationalist and irredentist goals have been at work elsewhere, notably in the Balkans. All who wish to understand these movements may benefit from reading this article.
Daze of Our Lives - Club Iceberg

For the adventurous spirit on a severely limited vacation budget:
"Go Club Iceberg".

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Boris Strugatsky Interview: "We cannot do it any other way yet"

The Moscow News has an interview with one of the greatest Russian SF (sci-fi) authors, who alongside his brother Arkady wrote a number of great books I've read during my teens (Serbian translation, from the edition "Kentaur"). The intro says it all: "A famous sci-fi writer believes that the authoritarianism of Russian society is thus far incurable. So the screen version of his novel It's Hard To Be A God, now in the making, is not about to lose any of its relevancy." Excerpt:
For some reason, one outcome of a decade-long democratic reform has been the revival of the autocracy - the building of an authoritarian regime. Why is this?

Because we cannot do it any other way yet. We can only hope that all of this is but a stage in the transition from the accustomed totalitarian Russian system to a totally unaccustomed democratic system. At the end of the day, we are less than 20 years removed from classic totalitarianism - less than the lifetime of one generation.

How long could the "authoritarian stage" last in Russia - until,for example, an economic catastrophe strikes with the plummeting of oil prices?

Should - God forbid - an apocalypse, called "the crashing of oil prices," occur, a real "authoritarian stage" will set in. The present situation will be just the thin end of the wedge - nothing compared with what is to come. A new serious decline in living standards will only be compensated by a further tightening of the screws. It is another matter that the screws are not what they used to be. So what - a new Great Anti-bureaucratic Revolution? God forbid! There has been enough trouble, enough damage caused already. High oil prices impede our advancement. ("Why do we need advancement if things are going so well for us?") With low oil prices advancement raises its head, but then it turns out that this is the head of a dragon (uprising, coup, revolution, etc.).

People's tendency to swap freedom and democracy for order and security is unmistakable. Is this a purely Russian phenomenon?

This is characteristic of any country with a rich totalitarian past. In 1933, the Germans traded freedom and democracy for "order and statehood." But Nazism is a dictatorship of nationalists. Ours is somewhat different - a dictatorship of bureaucrats. The similarity comes from dictatorship. The common denominator is dictatorship. Always and everywhere it has the same characteristics: the iron hand, the rigid vertical chain command, unbridled demagoguery, the enemy stereotype, etc.

Why is there none of this today in Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, or Bulgaria? How do they - those that at one time resembled the USSR - differ from us now?

As a matter of fact, they have never resembled us. Their peoples are also different, with a different history. The same with their rulers. Their method of governance is more European. It's simply that there are no Soviet troops there now nor Soviet secret police, which were the only source of this "similarity."