By Pavel Kollar
The joke is realistic because it states irreality. In Serb society the rank-and-file was ever a matter fact. The 19-th century Serb author, Radoje Domanovic wrote a story, "Stradija", about one blind leader who lead his followers to the brink of one gap but nobody dared to warn him because he was the leader. Their society consists of Gods, great and small and of followers. But not so when the God is non-Serb. They supported Tito and followed him but they also used to say: "It is pitty that he is not Serb". And in that time also circulated jokes about Tito in society of Grandeurs: Stalin, Chruschev, Ford and other and I need not to say who trumphed. But I was ever eager to know whether other small nations create similar jokes about their leaders or this being a Serb speciality.
The sentence " ... a brutal ethnic war ... in Bosnia and Croatia that killed about 150,000 Serbs ..." looks to be in contradiction with what was reported in IHT before. If my memory is good I think I read that the most of the war-victims in Bosnia came among Muslims and that the Krajina Serbs in Croatia have had their state and that they fled infront of croatian troops. In history books of Serbia from about 30-40 years ago and in popular knowledge Muslims were described as people of Serb nationality who converted to Islam during the occupation by Turks. But if it is true that during the war in Bosnia the Yugoslav Army(made up mostly of Serbs and lead by Serb generals) was the most powerfull group, then these 150,000 fallen Serbs are victims of Serbs by themselves, then the Bosnian war was a "brother-killing war", not so unusual in Serb history. And were these 150,000 man and woman all soldiers or civilians, who killed them, etc.? If Serbs will persists on such type of "evidence" then I think Dayton has only transitional value and will end similar as Versailles ended after the WWI. And if this number enters the history texbooks of Serbia, then the revenge in some future time is certain.
The next sentence " ... joblessnes and poverty largely due to eight years of international sanctions ..." needs explanation. Serbia can decline to 100% joblessness and US$ 0.00 GDP but it will still exist and run war. This, because it has two economies: one official which is going through GDP accounting and official statistics and the another, the second economy(underground, black or war economy) which usually takes place without money or with money but bypasses the accounting. They exercised this second economy rather a long time and the theory of this economy was lied-down not in textbooks of economics but in the so-called self-defense textbooks of Tito's era. The international sanctions are now used as aliby for keeping official GDP so low as posible in order to have reason to ask compensations or not to pay back debts.
In relation to statement that " ...no energy for political dissent because they are exhausted by the daily struggle to find work and food ..." I would say that enpoverishing of masses and isolation from the outside world was the main cause that communism in Eastern Europe lasted so long. This was a classic tactic of all communist regimes. And they were successful because, according the doctrine, communists are the sollely salvators of poor, so poor will ever vote communists. And this functions in some countries even today. This is the vicious circle of communism.
The sentence " ...Serbia's long history of occupation by others , including centuries under the ... Austro-Hungarian empires ..." is completely untrue. Serbia has never been occupied by A-H Monarchy. Bosnia yes, but Bosnia has never been Serbia. One part of Serbia was invaded by A-H troops in 1914 but the intention was not long term occupation but a punishment for Sarajevo and this lasted not long. The territories northern from Danube and Sava river were never Serb territories also(in the sense as it was Kosovo). The truth is that Serbia even today keeps occupied these territories. Then again we have the play with terms. In terminology of Serb nationalism Serbia was equal with wath was created after 1918. In this sense, one part of "Serbia" was really occupied by Austro-Hungarian empire, but the right term for this new creature is not Serbia but "Serb empire" and this was a multinational community with Serbs in minority(or about 50%). And who is to be blamed if this empire came to end today?
Who made Serb nation great? Partially they by themselves because in 1914 they succeeded to play out the EU great-powers against each other. Four years later, instead of being considered as war-makers, they were accepted as victims of 'alien occupation', were recognized as war-winner and rewarded as no one other war-winner. There was created a 'big Serb empire' on the ruins of A-H empire. Today Serbs are in ruins and are frustrated. But this is only repetition of history because in such situation were also those who lost the WWI, and it is also known what happened thereafter. Can this present Serb frustration be some indicator for the futre?
If international community today is seriously concerned not to allow the repetition of hiostory then it should propose and enforce new rules. The Great Powers should finally decide whether they will really govern the world or they will remain powers for accomplishing a dirty jobs of this world, to clean the garbage made by Milosevicis, Saddans, Arafats and who knows whom and finance these cleanings from their own pockets. The first role understands promotion of new rules, the second one just that what America and EU made in Bosnia and what they are making in Kosovo today. The first role is a socioengineering, the second one is replacing one contradiction with another. Serbia today needs a culture minister who will bring in order their history textbooks, it needs a finace minister(and/or economy minister) who will make economy functionable and several other ministers. No one of these are to be found among the members of exesting political parties in Serbia. Then why they should not be appointed by UN? This would not be "conquer of Serbia" but just make functionable those institutions that do not function today. A reparation of an engineering system, nothing more.