Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Asteroids of Europe: A Guide To the Nations of Yugoslavia



(Before beginning, please play Dr. Tom Lehrer’s classic song ‘National Brotherhood Week’, which should put you in the proper mood for the following short essay on an essential subject.)

First 'twas the Hatfields, and first 'twas the McCoys.
Or p'haps 'twas the other way around.
-
Traditional Beginning of Folk Tale

Can't we all get along?
- Rodney King, American philosopher, 1992


My first introduction to Yugoslav politics came in the late seventies when a girl appeared in my classes at Ottawa Junior High School. She was a raven haired beauty and in my lameo way I tried to introduce myself. Turns out she was an immigrant from Yugoslavia. When I tried my best opening line to the girl, "Hey, I hear you're a Yugoslavian?" she tartly replied: "I'm Croatian. There's no such thing as a Yugoslavian." Needless to say my attempt to secure a date went nowhere. (That's okay; they usually did, but never mind.)

Later on, in the early 1980s, I got my second lesson. Detroit (a city with its own tradition of ethnic hatreds lemmetellya) used to hold "Ethnic Festivals" in the Plaza in Downtown Detroit. (They don't any more, but never mind.) On freeway abutments all over the city, someone spraypainted: "DOWN YUGO FESTIVAL!" Apparently someone didn't like the fact that the Yugoslav Ethnic Festival was called that instead of being held separately on different weekends for Serbs, Croats, Albanians, etc. Apparently the lesson of ethnic comraderie and a mutual party atmosphere was lost on them. (That's okay, it was eventually lost on everyone, but never mind.)

My third lesson came in a small Army Reserve outpost somewhere in the Midwest in the mid 1980s. Some Warrant Officer was briefing us on the approaching breakup of the Communist empire (this was perhaps eight or so years before the actual event so this was all cutting edge stuff--of course, nobody on high believed it). "Yugoslavia is about to have one nasty ass civil war," he warned. Little did I know that that war would transform, if not transmorgrify, my life.

Many have little to no understanding of those ethnic struggles arising in the former Yugoslavia, or why the US has had to spend more than a decade babysitting--and we do still in the little land of Kosovo... or Kosova... or whateverthehellit'scalledlately. I have therefore endeavoured to write a short essay discussing the history of the region, the differences between each of the nations and their dominant ethnic groups, and terminology best used to describe them.

As an Irish-German-Polish-Alsatian-French American married to a Rusyn with no family background connection to the region (the closest I come is a Kashoupian great grandmother who is said to have come from Gdansk; my wife's people are from what is now Ukraine) I hope I can offer a bit of insight into the politics of the region without offending anybody.... no, scratch that.

Let me try again.

I trust I can offer of bit of insight into the politics of the region while offending everybody equally.

And the fact that I needed to give a national pedigree should indicate just how insane Yugoslavia really is because it is only by doing so that I can show I don't have any agenda....

YUGOSLAVIA

Yugoslavia (now a regional term) is kind of the Asteroid Belt of Europe. Just as the Asteroid Belt in the Solar System is a planet that wasn't allowed to form because of the presence of Jupiter and Mars, so the peoples making up Yugoslavia weren't able to quite form a nation due to the competing 'gravitation' of nearby empires: Austria, Hungary, Turkey, and to a lesser extent Russia, Germany, and France. Each of its regions got tugged this way and that and they were unable to truly form a single nation. They came close--but not close enough.

Once upon a time, before Yugoslavia was formed, Serbia and its neighbors were badly ruled by the Turks and/or Austrians for hundreds of years. One by one each of these nations endeavored to throw off their imperial rulers so that they could have the privilege of badly misruling themselves. And so they did, for many many decades--decades that came to an end on a side street in Sarajevo on a hot day in June, 1914.

After the Serbian secret police accidentally-on-purpose shot the Crown Prince of Austria and his wife in an open car on that sunny afternoon, Serbia was invaded by Austria--causing Serbia to spend the war wondering why they were being so put upon.

The shooting, though famously carried out by Gavrilo Princip, a Serbian nobody, was plotted by the head of a Serbian secret police unit: one Dragutin Dimitrijević, also known as 'Apis': a man who managed the feat of being the rarest of criminals, a quadruple-regicide. Before he arranged for his patsy to kill the Archduke and his wife, he'd helped kill his own king and queen, Alexander I Obrenović and Queen Draga, in 1903.

This shooting led to millions of deaths in World War I and, indirectly, World War II: wars that can be said to have resulted from the fact that the Serbian intelligence service had really lousy consequence analysts. Oopsie.

Eventually everybody lost World War I (except the Americans) and all the lands in the area broke away from their ruling colonial powers; Serbia entusiastically took up that role almost immediately. The Serbs were more than happy to supply their neighbors with their royal house, army, and national police force, income tax service, bureaucracy, constitution, and so on, and they weren't really keen about sharing power with the other nationalities. This was the core problem ever after.

The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was thus formed out of the shards of surrounding empires in 1918. The country changed its name to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia ("South Slavia") in 1929 when its leaders found that they couldn't fit the old name on their country's bank notes.

The problem with the Kingdom of the Serb, Croats and Slovenes is that it turned very quickly in practice into the Kingdom of the Serbs And Everybody Else Whether They Liked It Or Not, a kind of mini-Serb colonial empire. Serbia found they liked the new country just fine. On the other hand, The Everybody Else in question didn't like it very much. The king, Alexander I Karadjordjević, tried to eliminate nationalist feelings by redrawing the internal map at random, like some Democrat redistricter. It didn't work. Eventually, dissatisfied customers shot King Alexander--Kings named "Alexander I" seem to have a poor track record of survival in that country--and he was succeeded by his son, a small child, instead of by some who merely acted like one. The late king's brother, Prince Pavel, ruled as regent, for all the good it did. Things had deteriorated in the country to the point where by late 1940 the country was about to blow up into civil war.

Yugoslavia was an Axis ally until it became allied to the Allies. Then the Axis gave it the ax. The country was invaded in 1941 by the Nazis and carved like a Christmas turkey by its neighbors; this invasion had the effect of patriotically uniting Yugoslavia for about an hour and a half and delaying the civil war in question by maybe a week.

At the start of the civil war that followed, the Serbs were on the Allied side, Croats were on the German side, and the Communists were on the Communist side. By the end of the war, Croats were on the German side, the Serbs were also on the German side (kinda), and the Communists were on the British side (sorta), although the Serbs and Croats somehow still managed to be at one anothers' throats.

The Croats ran a concentration camp of their very own and did unto others (particularly the Serbs and Jews) so enthusiastically that even the German SS was disgusted. The numbers killed at the camp at Jasanovac are widely disputed. The Serbs believe that some 70 zillion Serbs died there. The Croats pretend that nobody whatsoever died there and that the place never existed. Both sides are wrong (and both sides disrespect the dead through exaggeration).

As for British support of the Commies, well, when someone protested to Churchill about the fact that British were supporting Communists, Churchill, plainly having had one too many whiskeys, responded: "Look, are you going to live in Yugoslavia after the war? No? Neither shall I." True story. Not one of Winnie's finest hours.

After everybody (but the Americans) lost WW2 and everybody (but the Communists) lost the civil war, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) was founded at gunpoint by Tito in 1945, in spite of the fact that the name was even longer than that of the "Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes." The Commies proceeded to reassemble the shards of Yugoslavia using the blood of nationalists as a sort of Elmer's glue while simultaneously issuing larger bank notes.

In the thirty five years that followed, while everybody pretended to love each other in unity and brotherhood, the SFRY truly only had exactly one 'Yugoslav' ethnic: Tito himself. Everyone spent decades enjoying the fruits of his diplomacy (i.e., US and Soviet bribes), and waited patiently for him to kick the bucket, which he did in 1980(!); they kept their mouths shut because they didn't want to go to prison.

The problem with socialism, as Maggie Thatcher so famously pointed out, was that you eventually run out of other people's money. In this case, Yugoslavia ran out of American money. When it was plain that the US no longer needed the SFRY to counterweight the Warsaw Pact, the loans, which managed to maintain the SFRY a good decade longer than necessary, finally dried up. The SFRY dried up with them.

The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia died the death in 1991-1995 after Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, and Macedonia bailed out; the remaining two countries of the old federation, Serbia and Montenegro, took the name Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) in 1995, for a while.

FRY died in 2003 when Serbia and Montenegro changed the name of their common country to, oddly enough, Serbia and Montenegro--an example of truth-in-advertising most welcome in the Balkans. Eventually "Serbia and Montenegro" got an amicable (by Yugoslav standards) divorce and changed their names to "Serbia" and "Montenegro" respectively. Later on Serbia fissioned again (at gunpoint) into "Serbia" and "Kosovo."

If the process continues to its logical conclusion, by the time the process is completed the former SFRY will transmorgrify itself into a region consisting of one republic per citizen. Or more.

After the Serbians, Croats and Bosniacs all lost the Balkan wars of 91-95, the US showed up and decided to peacekeep. Their philosophy was very strange. The ancient Romans were said to have 'made a desert and called it peace.' The Americans made a shopping center and called it peacekeeping.

Let us now move on to a discussion of the different nationalities of Yugoslavia.

SERBIA AND SERBIANS

In US Army parlance, a Serbian is a Serb who lives in Serbia.

A Serb is a Serbian who does not live in Serbia.

A "Croatian Serb" is a non-Serbian term for a Serb living in Croatia. Serbs prefer the term “Serbian” (see above for the precise definition of the term “Serbian”). Once this makes sense you will see why there was a little catfight over the control of certain areas in Croatia.

A “Bosnian Serb” is a non-Serbian term for a Serb living in Bosnia. Serbs prefer the term “Serbian” (see above for the precise definition of the term “Serbian”). Once this makes sense you will see why there was a little catfight over the control of Bosnia.

Serbia was once the dominant power in old (pre-WW2) Yugoslavia as the country had a Serb king and a Serb military; their misrule alienated all the other nationalities.

A Chetnik is (a) a historical term designating Serb-national irregulars who fought originally against the Turks or (b) a term of opprobrium used against all Serbs generally; the Serbian equivalent of the “N-Word.”

The Serbs hate everybody; everybody hates the Serbs; the Serbs spend an inordinate time feeling put upon.

CROATIANS AND CROATS

In US Army parlance, a Croatian is a Croat who lives in Croatia.

A Croat is a Croatian who does not live in Croatia.

A “Serbian Croat” is a non-Croatian term for a Croat living in Serbia. Croats prefer the term “Croatian” (see above for the precise definition of the term “Croatian”). Once this makes sense you will see why there was a little catfight over the control of western Serbia.

A “Bosnian Croat” is a non-Croatian term for a Croat living in Bosnia. Croats prefer the term “Croatian” (see above for the precise definition of the term “Croatian”). Once this makes sense you will see why there was a little catfight over the control of Bosnia.

An Ustashe is (a) a historical term designating Croatian Nazis from WW2 or (b) a term of opprobrium used against all Croats generally; the Croatian equivalent of the “N-Word.”

Croatia was once the dominant power in Yugoslavia during WW2, as the country had a German-client dictator; their misrule alienated all the other nationalities.

The Croats hate everybody; everybody hates the Croats; they spend an inordinate amount of time feeling put upon.

BOSNIACS AND BOSNIANS

A Bosniac (post 1995) is a term to describe "Bosnian Muslims." "Bosnian Muslims" are Bosnian by nationality (and sometimes Muslim by religion, more commonly not, or barely recognizable as such). A Bosniac who becomes a Christian does NOT thereby turn into a Croat or a Serb. (Most Bosniacs I met were essentially amiable agnostics; among the younger women, you could generally gauge the depth of their Muslim belief as being in inverse proportion to the depth of their necklines.)

A Bosnian is a person who lives in Bosnia. Bosniacs who live in Bosnia think of themselves as Bosnians. Serbs who live in Bosnia prefer "Serbian". (See above for definition of Serbian.) Croats who live in Bosnia prefer "Croatian". (See above for definition of "Croatian"). In spite of the fact that the war is 15 years over they still have a long way to go figuring out what and who they are.

There are some Bosniacs who live outside of Bosnia (there are some 300K or so in the mountains of southern Serbia, known as “Sanjaks”); they consider themselves Serbian Bosniacs, not Albanians; they are ethnically and linguistically unrelated to the Albanians, who are also often (but not always) Muslims.

A Bosniac is NOT a Muslim by any other Islamic standard. Ask any Muslim from anywhere else in the world; you’ll get an earful on this subject. Hell, ask a Bosniac; you'll get an earful on this subject. (Come to think of it, ask a Bosniac ANYTHING and you'll get an earful on this subject.)

A Bosniac is also NOT a Turk. Originally Bosnians who practiced Islam called themselves "Turc" (Turks) and referred to the people of Turkey as "Turcic". These days, “Turk” is a historical term for the people constituting the imperial power that controlled Bosnia until 1878. Today "Turc" is ALSO a term of opprobrium used against all Bosniacs generally; the Bosniac equivalent of the “N-Word.” The term 'balije' -- the j taking a 'y' sound--means something like a combination of 'Dirty Muslim' and 'dumbshit' and serves this same purpose. (One can gauge the status of any nationality in the former Yugoslavia by the number of slurs that other nations apply to them.)

Turkey was once the the dominant power in OLD old (pre-World War I) Yugoslavia; their misrule alienated all the other nationalities and their sins attributed to all presently living Bosniacs.

Bosnia is an interesting country. After three years of random violence, civil disorder, horror, genocide, and CNN news stories, It was cobbled together with Scotch tape and magic marker and three old maps of Bosnia over a three week period in November 1995 in Dayton, Ohio, while American soldiers held guns to the heads of Slobodan Milosevic, Franjo Tudjman, and Alije Izetbegovic. Its basic law was presented for ratification as part of the peace process; only later did we find out that the constitution used was whipped up over a weekend at Michigan State University's Model United Nations undergraduate seminar final.

Bosnia has three Presidents, one Croat, one Serb, one Bosniac; one king (the pretender to the Serb throne); and one imperial satrap (the U.N. High Representative to Bosnia) who lets the Bosnians pretend to have a working government, and then rules by decree when they don't. Its flag was created by being drawn on the back of a napkin in a Sarajevo coffeeshop, the artist a deputy State Department functionary who had to fill in at the last minute for the ambassador one New Years' Eve.

In the former Yugoslavia, one friend of mine said, there are three stereotypes; the Serbs are evil and mean; the Croats are mean and greedy; the Bosnian Muslims are good but kinda dumb. I would agree ONLY to this extent: it seemed to take the Bosniacs an inordinate amount of time to figure out that when Karadzic said he wanted to wipe the Bosnian Muslims from the earth, he meant it.

The Serbs and the Croats both hate the Bosniacs. The Bosniacs don't really seem to hate anybody, but they do spend an inordinate amount of time feeling put upon.

THE MUJAHEDDIN

A Mujaheddin (or moozh in Army slang) is a non-Bosnian, usually North African, jihadist of whom about 1500 came to Bosnia during the war to fight for the Bosnian government, and about half married and settled down without leaving.

The Serbs, the Croats and the Bosniacs all hate the Moozh. The Serbs hate them because they take their Islam seriously and seemed to have commited a lot of war crimes (i.e., they beat the Serbs in combat). The Croats hate them because they take their Islam seriously and seemed to have committed a lot of war crimes (i.e., they beat the Croats in combat). The Bosniacs hate them because they take their Islam seriously and the Bosniacs are too busy not taking their Islam seriously to take their Islam seriously.

MONTENEGRINS

Montenegro (Crnogorje, or “Black Mountain”) is a little land, more than a province of Serbia but slightly less than a fully independent state until it declared its independence. It’s a largely Serbian speaking land that was so poor and mountainous that even the Turks never bothered to try to conquer it. The Montenegrins tend to act as Serbian allies, except when they don’t. If you don’t understand this, don’t worry, neither does anyone else. They still, however, spend an inordinate amount of time feeling put upon.

MACEDONIANS

Macedonia is a region south of Serbia. The Macedonians call it Makedonia. The Serbians who live to the north call it South Serbia. The Bulgarians who live to the east call it Western Bulgaria. The Albanians to the west call it some word that nobody else can pronounce. The Greeks to the south don’t call it Macedonia because they have a province that they already have that they already call Macedonia and they can’t stand the thought of some Slavic-speaking country claiming the same nationality of a psychopathic megalomaniac homosexual with boundary issues who died of a hangover 2400 years ago; they’ll likely come up with some other name if and when they ever incorporate it into Greater Greece. (Like that's gonna happen.)

The US calls it FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) if and until the Greeks give them permission to call it something else.

Most of Macedonia is Macedonian, except for those provinces which have a lot of Albanians. As the Albanians are having babies and the Macedonians aren’t (thanks to liberal Macedonian abortion/birth control laws) this does not portend well for the future for Macedonians in Albanian-majority regions of Macedonia.

SLOVENIA

Slovenia is the upper left hand corner of the old Yugoslavia, formerly ruled by the Austrians. There's not much to say about them except that they're the only country in Europe (outside of France) with a statute of Napoleon in their capital city--in remembrance of his being the first to actually recognize that there was such a place, and granting it his own Code Napoleon.

ALBANIANS

An Albanian is a member of the Illyrian people who originally controlled the whole of what is now the Adriatic coast from the Roman times until the arrival of the Serbo-Croatian Slavic tribes in the 6th century; they were pressed into a smaller and smaller area, finally being confined to what is today Albania and the lands surrounding.

“Shqipjar” is the Albanian word for an Albanian. When a non-Albanian uses the term, it is a term of opprobrium used against all Albanians generally; the Albanian equivalent of the “N-Word.”

Albanians are about 50-50 Christian/Muslim, although many Serbs will be pleased to tell you that they are 100% Muslim in an attempt to connect some little old lady in Prstina with Osama Bin Laden.

Albanians were once the dominant power in old old old old (pre-Roman) Yugoslavia, but that was so long ago everyone has forgotten precisely why everyone else hated them, but the fact that they can't remember why doesn't stop them from hating them anyway.

The Serbs, the Croats, the Bosnians and the Moozh pretty much all hate the Albanians. And only the Albanians know what they think of everyone else, except that they spend an inordinate amount of time thinking that they're put upon.

KOSOVARS

A Kosovar is an Albanian living in the formerly Serbian province of Kosovo and now known as the Republic of Kosova. (The Albanians call it Kosova; the Serbs call it "Kosovo" or more pretentiously “Kosovo and Metohija,” and American troops stationed there call it something unprintable with the appellation “when can I go home?”)

The Serbs have an unholy attachment to Holy Kosovo, thinking that the semimythical site of their 1389 defeat by the Turks is more important than, oh, getting on with life and not being considered a military threat by everyone in the neighborhood. Some actually (and blasphemously) compare Serbia's "right" to Kosovo of that of Jewish people to Israel.

As the Albanians are having babies and the Serbs aren’t (thanks to liberal Serbian abortion/birth control laws) this does not portend well for the future of Serbians in Kosovo. Add to that the uncomfortable precedent of East Prussia--a former 99% German territory, the Prussian homeland, that is now 99% Russian and renamed Kaliningrad Oblast--and I think that the Serbs are going to have to get used to the fact that Holy Kosovo is now wholly Albanian and will remain so whether they have old empty monasteries there or not.

The “KLA” is an Albanian armed movement and organized crime underground, often cited for crimes against the few remaining Serbs in Kosov{a/o}. The Kosovo Government may or may not be the legislative branch of the KLA. Whether it is or not depends on who you talk to (ask a Serb, yes; ask a Kosovar, no; ask a US soldier stationed there, they'll shake their heads in dismay and refuse to answer; ask a US diplomat and they'll artfully change the subject to something soccer-related).

The Serbs really, really hate the Kosovars. The Kosovars aren't really fond of the Serbs, either. And both sides spend a great deal of time feeling put upon.

THE UNITED NATIONS

UN personnel in the former Yugoslavia come in two flavors: the "humanitarians" and the "UN peacekeepers." Humanitarians are looked on with fondness. First, they actually help people, but (much more importantly) they are also a steady source of money. The degree to which they are loved is in direct proportion to the international aid they distribute.

"UN Peacekeepers" are looked upon with contempt due to their uselessness in the Bosnian war. The UN peacekeepers are derided to this day as "Smurfs," due to the similarity in color between the cartoon characters and the baby blue helmets they wore. The cowardice of the UN "Dutchbat" at Srebrenica--the battalion that heroically left a cloud of heel dust behind it as the Serbs advanced with popguns-- are not forgotten.

AMERICANS

An amiable if somewhat bemused but heavily armed babysitter, often a National Guardsman from Iowa who would prefer sitting in Eagle Base in Bosnia or (these days) Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo to some god forsaken hole in Khandahar Province. Once he begins to get a clue as to what is going on in what is left of the former Yugoslavia, the US Government ships him out to Iraq and replaces him with a National Guardsman from Maine. Or vice versa.

American peacekeepers are respected in a way that the UN wasn't, simply because everyone is convinced that the Americans are a bunch of crazy-assed cowboys who would shoot up the neighborhood like a drunken marine in Full Metal Jacket if they're looked at crosseyed. And the Americans, generally made up of fat middle aged cops and bureaucrats (all the youngsters are sent elsewhere to fight) are perfectly happy to maintain that illusion.

American peacekeepers do wonder, however, why it was necessary to interrupt their regularly scheduled lives to babysit a bunch of ethnic bigots who they think should have been left to their own devices, and they do spend an inordinate amount of time feeling put upon.

THE VLACHES

Vlaches are people who speak Romanian ("Wallachia" is an old term for Romania). Romanian is Romanian for Latin. People who speak Latin who are not Romanian in the former Yugoslavia are generally Roman Catholic liturgists or entymologists.

GYPSIES

"Roma" is a Gypsy term for a the Gypsies. “Gypsy” is a non-Roma word for Roma.

When ANYONE uses the term “Gypsy” it is a term of opprobrium used against all Gypsies generally. When anyone uses the term "Roma" they're trying to change the subject.

My introduction to the, er, Roma was my first road trip into Tuzla in 2001. I saw a five year old Roma girl STANDING IN THE MIDDLE OF AN AUTOBAHN TYPE LIMITED ACCESS FREEWAY holding out her left hand begging for tips from drivers. She used her left hand because her right hand was holding an infant in swaddling clothes. We called the Tuzla police on our cel phones but the kids were still out there six hours later; we saw them on our way home that night.

The Serbs, the Croats, the Bosniacs, the Albanians, the Moozh, the Montenegrins, the Macedonians, the Slovenians, the Vlaches, the UN, the Americans, and just about everyone else hate the Roma; it is the only thing on which all other ethnic groups in Yugoslavia are agreed. They would no doubt feel put upon if they stopped to think about it, but that appears to be unlikely.

THE JEWS

There are almost no Jews in Yugoslavia any more--having been well and truly put upon in the last war but one. Perhaps, after reading this last sentence, and contemplating on why it is true, the reader will begin to appreciate why the author thinks that genocide is a bad thing regardless of who the victim is and regardless of whether the perpetrators understand what they did or not.

CONCLUSIONS....

The key to understanding the former Yugoslavia is that everybody there hates everybody else for some reason or another--which is a joke because from the POV of an outsider they're all the same nationality, dammit. The differences between a Serb, a Croat, a Bosniac, a Macedonian, a Montenegrin, a Slovenian, a Vlach, a Gypsy pretty much don't matter a tinker's dam.

The differences in language are only slightly greater than the difference between a Cockney and a Liverpudlian or a New Yawker from Tennessee mountain folk and arise from the insistence on multiple alphabets when only one is needed for everybody.

Religion is held up as some sort of all rulling differing principle, but (to quote P.J. O'Rourke) the last war was fought between Catholics who never went to mass, Orthodox who never went to liturgy, and Muslims who never went to Friday prayers. Nevertheless, the sort of berzerk hatred of each other's religion--Serb for Moslem, Croat for Orthodox, Islamist for Christian--is the real wedge. It's no so much their own faith they're fighting for but the other guy's faith they're fighting against. Witness the naked bigotry on the genocide cheerleader sites (blogmocracy.com, diaryofdaedalus.com) and behold: Yugoslavia writ small. Their drink of choice is not rakia or slivovic, but fine old vintage pharisee.

Everybody wants to be on top; unfortunately, every time each group gets on top they make a bloody bollocks of the situation. The Serbs did that in the last war. The Croats did that in the previous one. The Serbs did that before WW2, and before they took over they'd provoked the Austrians into doing that in the war before that. And the Turks did that prior to that.

The other problem is that of dates. Nobody knows each other's history but every one knows their own history well enough to get a Ph.D. at most major universities. Half the time people don't know what century they're in and given the chance they settle scores from wars long forgotten--like Serb General Ratko Mladic who used a sixteenth century Turkish massacre to justify Srebrenica. Nobody seems to understand that the perpetrators of past crimes are dead and the worms have eaten them and that nobody living is the least bit responsible for the crimes of the long dead.

It is often said that we Americans have no history. All I can say after looking at Yugoslavia and its component parts is this: if this is what 'history' means then thanks be to the risen Christ that we don't.

I trust that the reader now understands the former Yugoslavia with ... crystal clarity.

[PS: This one is dedicated to all my dear friends at TheBlogmocracy.com. You know who you are.]

2 comments:

Keep it clean for gene.