Slobodan Milosevic, 1941-2006
A Cursed, Blasted Statesman
by Gilles d'Aymery
(Swans - March 13, 2006) Slobodan Milosevic, the former president of the sorely missed Yugoslavia, and later, of Serbia, died in his prison cell in Scheveningen, Netherlands, on March 11, 2006. He had long been suffering from chronic heart ailments and high blood pressure. His condition was worsening. He had requested to be allowed safe passage to Russia to get treatment. The Russian government had assured the authorities at The Hague Tribunal that once treated he would be sent back to the Netherlands. The Russians were ignored. The request was denied. He is dead.
His death is a blessing for the kangaroo court, known as the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), that, although almost entirely financed by the U.S., has been functioning under the umbrella of the United Nations. For four years, and going strong despite his health ailments, Milosevic was running circles around his prosecutors and the judges who were so intent to condemn him. He would not let the prefabricated lynching happen without a fight for the truth. He was so successful in his endeavor that the main media never, ever, reported on the actual deliberations of the court, as they were busily dealing with other demons to assail...Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong-il, Hugo Chávez, Assad of Syria, Hamas in Palestine...the list is long -- so many terrorists among us, the losing and struggling-to-survive people of this world.
He is dead.
The official "truth" is being distilled, not like moonshining in the Southern Appalachian Mountains in the years of Prohibition but in the open corrals of Texan rodeos. It's rough, as tough as it goes. He was a "figure of beguiling charm and cunning ruthlessness" says the Associated Press. He was a "ruler of exceptional ruthlessness always ready to use force in a series of wars, from Croatia in 1991 to Kosovo in 1999," according to Roger Cohen of the New York Times. He was a dictator, the "butcher of the Balkans," a new Hitler. He was responsible for all the mayhem that befell that Southern part of Europe. The Serbo-French novelist, Vidosav Stevanovic, talks of a "mythical monster, a deceitful king." He was "a devil who learnt Serbo-Croat to betray the Serbs." He was an enemy and a criminal. A loser. His father committed suicide. So did his mother, and his uncle, and his wife's mother. "Who could be curious about the childhood of a man without childhood," wonders Stevanovic. Who could be interested, pursues Stevanovic, in "the youth of a man without youth, a man neither handsome nor ugly, of middle size, unable to run more than 100 meters?" Who, he ponders, "the intellectually curious, the experts, a few readers?" No, his "victims" who "if you add to the dead all the mutilated, the transferred refugees through ethnic cleansing, people forced to emigrate, ruined, lied to, deceived," can be accounted in the millions. In typical Serb subconsciousness, Stevanovic sees in Milosevic a "unique case" in a region where "destruction is almost a natural predisposition to public life." ("Portrait d'un dictateur inachevé," Le Monde, October 2000.)
Americans, of course, are less poetic, and never self-indulge in sorrow. Milosevic's passing will be in the news for a couple of days at most. He will be pilloried. His demise will allow the pundits to remind the gullible idiots who cannot even find their own country on a geographical map that the Serbs got what they deserved; and they will move on to demonize the enemy du jour in order to add another military outpost to the Freedom and Democracy construct made of raw materials and consumerism. Kosovo yesterday. Afghanistan, Central Asia, and Iraq today. Iran Tomorrow. Life moves on.
Who cares that the actual ethnic cleansing targeted the Serbs, whether in Croatia or in Kosovo, now almost Serbless? Who cares that Serbia is the most multi-ethnic country in the Balkans? No one does.
Milosevic was no superman. He, and many along side, tried to keep Yugoslavia whole. He also, in the wake of the Soviet Union's dismemberment, tried to hold to a socialist, humane idea of life. As he was confronted with forces much, much more powerful (neo-liberal globalization, overwhelming military power), he tried to defend Serb interests. He struggled on behalf of a different human construct, far from what we have become subservient to.
He was demonized, and the rest is history, written by the victors.
But, like Allende, Mossadegh, and many others who were crushed by the forces of greed, Slobodan Milosevic will not be forgotten.
I'm proud to stand today, in the lonesome company of people like Edward S. Herman and Diana Johnstone. To be dismissed, ignored, and vilified, does not make us wrong.