In the fifth year of his trial for being "The Face of Evil" (as Newsweek declared him while we were bombing his country back to the industrial stone age in 1999), Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic died of a heart attack in custody in the Netherlands. Traces of another drug that would counteract his blood pressure medicine were found in his body, raising the possibility of suicide, murder, malpractice, or a complicated attempt to get himself to Russia by making his medical care look bad.
Demonizing Milosevic as the cause of all the carnage in the Balkans was a lot more enjoyable for all concerned than actually thinking hard about what caused the decade of troubles. Milosevic was a bad guy, but he was a symptom, not a cause of the circumstances. History has been falsely rewritten to turn him into the dynamic instigator of disaster in the mode of Hitler. As I wrote in VDARE.com in 2000:
In a lifetime of being boggled by the American press, I don't believe I've ever seen anything as baffling as their rote insistence that the last ten years of war in the Balkans were caused by "dictatorship," for which the solutions were "democracy" and "multiculturalism."
Folks, democracy is what caused the mess. Multiculturalism works fine ... under a real dictator, like Tito. He had multiethnic Yugoslavia locked down tight, nice and peaceful. But when the inhabitants got more say in their lives, they started killing each other. They wanted democracy. But they knew that to have it, they needed mono-ethnic states.
When the old multiethnic Yugoslavia cracked up, the rest of the world recognized the phony borders that Tito had concocted to minimize the size of the Serbian administrative unit within his empire. This left large numbers of Serbs living outside Serbia, where they were exposed to their historic enemies. The great Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn explained it all in The Times of London in 1997:
The bloody Yugoslav tragedy has unfolded before our eyes (and is it over yet?) To be sure, blame for it lies with the Communist coterie of Josip Broz Tito, which imposed an arbitrary pattern of internal borders upon the country, trampling on ethnic common sense, and even relocating ethnic masses by force. Yet blame lies also with the venerable community of Western leaders, who -- with an angelic naiveté -- took those false borders seriously, and then hastened at a moment's notice, in a day or two, to recognize the independence of several breakaway republics whose political formation they apparently found to be advantageous. It was these leaders, then, who nudged Yugoslavia toward many grueling years of civil war; and their position, declared as neutral, was by no means such.
Yugoslavia, with its seven estranged peoples, was told to fall apart as soon as possible. But Bosnia, with its three estranged peoples and vivid memories of Hitlerite Croatians slaughtering up to a million Serbs, had to remain united at all costs - the particular insistence of the United States Government. Who can explain the disparity of such an approach?
... Democracy also needs a "settled distribution of property." Britain's modern parliamentary system dates from the Glorious Revolution of 1688. This permanently confirmed Henry VIII's theft of the Catholic Church's properties, thus ending 150 years of turmoil. But everyone in the Balkans is convinced that somebody from another ethnic group stole valuable land from his father or grandfather or great-great-great-grandfather. These suspicions are usually accurate. (Of course, everybody conveniently forgets that the land he lives on was usually stolen from somebody else too.)
All this was well understood in the West during the century between the Glorious Revolution and the framing of the American Constitution. But it's been forgotten since, because we don't need to worry much about who owns what anymore. You don't have to worry that your house will be handed back to the descendents of the Indians who used to camp there. Your property is secure because the white race decided to steal the vast majority of the land from the red race, and then not worry about it much anymore.
That's why our leaders and media couldn't understand what was clear to the peoples of the Balkans: Tito's bogus borders left only two alternatives - redraw the borders or ethnically cleanse them.
Instead, we just decided that the Serbs were Evil. So, we had years of carnage in Bosnia until they finally ended up with a de facto three-way partition anyway. Franco Tudjman solved the problem in Croatia by ethnically cleansing all the Serbs. Kosovo was and remains a fiasco.
The good news is that, in the northern Balkans, we now are closer to normal (i.e. ethnically-homogenous) nation-states. Slovenia is a nice little European country. Croatia is calming down now that the Serbs are gone. They've at least stopped killing each other in Bosnia now that they have borders of sorts.
Also in 2000, I explained in Toronto's National Post how the NATO powers could have avoided all the bloodshed and expense of the Kosovo War for about $5 billion in buyouts.
But, nobody cares. It's just so much more satisfying to decide somebody is the bad guy and bomb them than to try to resolve problems peacefully.
A reader responds:
Your Kosovo recollections reminded me of this documentary on PBS that aired last year. It was surreal. They followed this Albanian-American (?) Businessman around as he raised money and bought weapons for the KLA. I kept thinking he'd have the FBI & ATF knocking on his door the next morning after it aired, but the documentary said it was all legal.
What I found unnerving was he alluded to fighting NATO troops, which I assume contain US troops.
His beef was that he wanted to see Kosovo re-united with Albania, and those pesky KFOR troops kept spoiling the fun.
Yes, but he wasn't The Face of Evil, so nobody cares.