October 2015

Since we seem to be back in 2008 this year, I’m going to use it as an excuse to blog an exchange I had in September of that year with a young lady who was then working as a translator for the Serbian news agency Tanjug. I hadn’t gotten around to it at the time, and while there are no great revelations here, I did want to have a record of what she told me, given that Serbia’s detractors historically have tried to paint Tanjug as “Serbian propaganda,” despite its record of showing great deference to Serbia’s enemies, even in wartime.

Dear Miss Gorin,

I work as a translator at a Belgrade news agency…and amid piles of politically-monotonous (or should I say, narrow-minded and maliciously biased) articles from mainstream British, US, French and Italian press we are translating every day, some time ago I ran into a refreshing one written by you and defending Serbian stance on Kosovo. I was shocked to see a piece of writing on us that did not contain omnipresent phrases like ‘’nationalists, genocide, ethnic-cleansing of Albanians - or should I say ‘’Kosovars'’ whoever those are - etc.

Although I’ve just graduated recently and have been working only for a year and a half, I’ve already got used to translating things like an travelogue from [UK Telegraph] which claimed that Montenegro is much better off without tourists from Serbia since they used to come in trucks full of chickens and then would slay one for the dinner every day (!). The same article also claimed that “Dubrovnic” is the capital of Croatia, but those hapless chickens are what really got to me…

What I meant to say by this long-winded prologue is that I’m pretty sick of the media idiocy (including the auto-destructive, cowardly Serbian media who do not dare raise their voice against the blatant lies) I (un)willingly participate in as a translator…

Tanjug is basically a state agency, which means that the government imposes the CEO (if you’re not a member of a political party in Serbia you won’t get anywhere) and he dictates the house policy. And since our government at the moment is a most uncanny motley crew, with only one thing in common — they all have a lot of political (some of them maybe even criminal) baggage or are simply wusses, so they’ll swallow up any insult, humiliate themselves and the country just so as to not anger the ‘’international community'’. So, that’s the policy of Tanjug as well, I guess — accept everything with a smile.

However, only a small portion of articles we translate ends up in Serbian dailies, even if the said dailies are as self-loathing as you get. I suppose they don’t want to raise tensions among the people - there’s just so many humiliations you can stand.

Meanwhile, this may be wrong-headed, but one does get some small satisfaction that “Jug” (as in Jugoslavia) is still the root word of the agency name. It seems almost like a small act of subversion or insolence to the New World Order.

One person on the planet wrote a commentary responding to Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders flaunting his ignorance about his support for the Kosovo war. Jack Cashill, of course, of the singular WND, of course:

Bernie’s Kosovo lie (Oct. 14)
Exclusive: Jack Cashill notes truth about claimed ‘genocide’ of European Muslims

Granted, Kosovo is not a burning issue.

[Oh, Albanians are feeling the burn. The fire under their bottoms to get the heck out was so hot, it propelled them right into the thick of the EU’s Middle Eastern refugee hell.]

If asked, the handful of people who watched the CNN Democratic debate on Tuesday would likely identify it as exotic vegetable.

Still, it was the one place on the map that Sen. Bernie Sanders, a belligerent quasi-pacifist, thought best justified spilling American blood.

“Under what circumstances would you actually use force?” Anderson Cooper asked.

“Well, obviously, I voted, when President Clinton said, ‘Let’s stop ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.’ I voted for that.”

Sanders came back to Kosovo later in the debate. “I am not a pacifist, Anderson,” he insisted. “I supported President Clinton’s effort to deal with ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.”

“I happen to believe from the bottom of my heart that war should be the last resort, that we have got to exercise diplomacy,” said Sanders piously. “But yes, I am prepared to take this country into war if that is necessary.”

If Kosovo is a President Sanders’ idea of “necessary,” the nation could be in for a bellicose four years. Yugoslavia had no WMDs, no terror arm, no ambitions on its neighbors, no grudge against the United States, no sheltered terrorists, not even any oil.

What Yugoslavia did have was a world-class Islamic PR machine running overtime against it and a United States president who desperately needed a distraction from his Monica problems.

What Yugoslavia also had arrayed against it were self-deluding prigs like Bernie Sanders who were as susceptible to crude propaganda as the average Munich hausfrau circa 1933.

Despite Sanders’ claim to have “voted” to endorse military action, President Clinton did not bother getting Bernie’s approval – or anyone’s for that matter – before unleashing America’s air power.

Sanders and his cronies trashed George Bush’s actions in Iraq in no small part to attack Hillary Clinton who supported that action, but Hillary, at least, got to vote. Sanders had to lie about voting.

To bolster public support, Clinton and his people began a drumbeat about mass graves, ethnic cleansing and even genocide.

The State Department’s David Scheffer was the first to claim a six-figure death count, specifically “upwards of about 100,000 [Islamic] men that we cannot account for” in Kosovo.

A month later, the State Department upped the total to 500,000 Kosovo Albanians missing and feared dead.

On CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Secretary of Defense William Cohen repeated the 100,000 figure and claimed that the war “was a fight for justice over genocide.”

President Clinton compared the work of the Serbs in Kosovo to the German “genocide” of the Jews during the Holocaust and assured America that “tens of thousands of people” had been murdered.

The New York Times helped Clinton amplify his message. No fewer than 375 articles would contain the combination “Kosovo” and “genocide,” most of those making a direct equation.

In the war’s wake, however, international teams could find no signs of genocide. The ethnic Albanian dead numbered in the hundreds, not in the hundreds of thousands.

Spanish forensic surgeon Emilio Perez Pujol would tell the British Sunday Times that the talk of genocide was “a semantic pirouette by the war propaganda machines, because we did not find one – not one – mass grave.”

In 2001, a United Nations court ruled, as the BBC noted, “Serbian troops did not carry out genocide against ethnic Albanians.”

So upset was Sanders staffer Jeremy Brecher by his boss’ empty-headed hawkishness over Kosovo that he resigned in disgust…Clinton had U.S. forces bomb Yugoslavia from high enough altitudes to avoid taking casualties, but too high to bomb with any precision.

As a result, the constitutionally unauthorized bombing killed more than 500 civilians, and destroyed bridges, industrial plants, public buildings, private businesses and even a TV station in a Christian nation that had no grudge against us.

When asked to identify the nation’s “greatest national security threat” on Tuesday, Sanders cited “the global crisis of climate change.”

Now there is a war for a conscientious objector. In the short haul at least, about the only thing it will kill are jobs.

On the point of crude propaganda, meanwhile, let’s just note one of many parallels between, as usual, Serbia and Israel. In Israel’s case, it comes out easily enough these days that media and other anti-Israelites get their “facts’ directly from Hamas et al. (see below) Whereas people STILL don’t know that media AND Western governments got their facts and stats directly from the KLA and its minions (willing and not).

As per the KLA’s own handbook, via Tablet magazine on March 10, 2015:

During this summer’s war, the press gave prominent place to charges that Israel was firing at Gaza indiscriminately. Notoriously, the New York Times in the first week of the war began quoting estimates that civilians were over 80 percent of the deaths in Gaza, using casualty figures had been transmitted to the United Nations by Hamas, and which were proven to be vastly inflated (the actual ratio was about 50-50).

Let’s also notice yet again the way Kosovo, residing somewhere in the recesses of the public and political consciousness, is there just to be dredged up for utility’s sake, when convenient. With absolutely no awareness, naturally, of how it all turned out. But if not for political hacks, we’d have no elections at all.

A refugee riot puts a German town on edge (Washington Post, Oct. 1, by Anthony Faiola and Souad Mekhennet)

CALDEN, Germany — This German town renowned for its rococo palace threw open its doors to arriving waves of refugees. Donations from clothing drives filled four garages. The volunteer fire department pitched in to build a tent city at the airport that now teems with 1,400 migrants.

But like other Germans in a country that has rolled out the welcome mat for Europe’s largest wave of asylum seekers since World War II, residents here are having second thoughts.

That is especially true after the riot. In this quaint municipality of 3,000 inhabitants, the chaos started at lunchtime Sunday when a 19-year-old Albanian cut in the food line at the town’s new tent city, prompting a reprimand from a 43-year-old Pakistani. Pushes degenerated into punches. Soon, 300 migrants wielding pepper spray and metal pipes were attacking each other in rival mobs.

A caravan of ambulances and SWAT team vans careened down streets lined with gawking residents. More than 50 police officers struggled for hours to restore order, with three hospitalized with injuries, according to witnesses and local officials.

“You know, when the refugees started coming, I was one of those who saw people needing help and I thought we have to help,” said Harry Kloska, 46, a shaggy-haired instructor in the skydiving club based at the airport. He and his stunned clients huddled inside his office as the violence flared, Kloska said.

Germany is the single largest destination for the asylum seekers pouring into Europe, taking in more than half a million so far this year.

In Calden, 242 miles southwest of Berlin, the tent-camp riot over the weekend followed another incident in August in which Syrian and Albanian asylum seekers clashed.

Local police say there has been no noticeable increase in overall crime. [Give them a minute!] Nevertheless, nervous residents say they have started locking their doors at night. In town, one mother angrily complained that the newcomers sexually harassed her 17-year old daughter at a bus stop. “Of course we are afraid,” she said.

Mayor Maik Mackewitz said “several young women” have stopped jogging in the nearby woods “because they are afraid of all these groups of men walking around.”

Boy if that don’t sound familiar. A refrain starts to form in the mind: We are all Kosovo now…

The local Edeka grocery store, meanwhile, has hired security guards for the first time because of concerns that refugees open packages of food without paying, the mayor said. On a recent afternoon, the store’s new guards were unsuccessfully trying to eject six beer-drinking Albanian migrants from a bench in the parking lot as two elderly German women tut-tutted nearby.

“It’s chaos,” Mackewitz, 38, a former officer in the German army, said at the entrance to the refugee camp.

…A group of Afghan, Iraqi and Syrian men [in the central city of Suhl], officials say, chased the Christian man after he tried to flush pages of the Koran down the toilet at a refugee center. Six police officers were wounded trying to stop the mob.

“This has been a big shock,” said Fred Jaeger, the Suhl police spokesman. “Never before have our police been physically attacked like this.”

“There is no security, no safety here [at the camp in Calden]; nobody knows what’s happening or who to ask for what,” complained Salim Firas Shafeeq al Omari, a 40-year-old Iraqi who said he sheltered two Pakistani youths in his tent during the riot to save them from gangs of Albanians going tent to tent. “Of course there are going to be problems.”

Pakistanis need sheltering from Albanians. You got it?

The article above came with a graph showing refugees’ countries of origin and the countries taking them. If you count them up, you find there are almost a third as many Albanians fleeing their achievement, Kosovo, as there are people fleeing Syria. The number of proud but fleeing “Kosovars” is about the same as the number of fleeing Afghanis.

Meanwhile, here was an article appearing last month, specific to the fleeing Albanians:

EU Shuts the Door on Kosovans Dreaming of a New Life (AFP, Sept. 26, 2015)

(I thought Kosovo was supposed to give them that new life. Washington still says Kosovo independence is a fix-all.)

They don’t come from a war zone, they’re not fleeing persecution, and the EU doesn’t want them. [Well, they are fleeing their own victory, their hard-won prize.] But for thousands of Kosovans fleeing unemployment and poverty, northern Europe is the only place to go.

As Europe creaks under the weight of a massive influx of refugees and migrants, it is the plight of those fleeing bloody conflicts in the Middle East that have captured the public’s attention.

But among the masses are thousands from the Balkans escaping economic misery.

“There is no law or regulation that can prevent the poor, the unemployed and the hungry from trying to find a better life,” says 26-year-old Mirnije Fejzullahu, an out-of-work lawyer from Pristina.

[But isn’t that what all the Serb-killing was about?]

“If it is not possible here, they will seek it in the European Union,” she told AFP.

[Watch out, EU. As with Yugoslavia, they’ve come for your better life. Except as with Yugoslavia, they might again try to make it even better. And you’ll have to hightail it out of there. And then a decade later they’ll hightail it out of there themselves.]

Like many Kosovans, Etem Bajrami has no job but must still find a way to feed his two young children, and he sees no future for his family in this impoverished country of 1.8 million.

“Here, nobody cares about our destiny,” says this 29-year-old technician.

“That’s why I will try to travel to the EU.”

[Ah, so an Albanian realizes it was never about improving life for the individual Albanian. He was just supposed to cheer on the collective. Like a good little Borg.]

Many are hoping to reach Germany, which is seen by many as the promised land.

Of the 200,000 asylum requests made in Germany in the first half of this year, 40 percent were filed by people from Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia and Serbia. But the numbers of people arriving have exploded over the summer, with Berlin now saying it expects over a million asylum applications by the year’s end.

The numbers of Kosovans seeking asylum there have soared from 3,000 in the first half of 2014 to 32,000 in the same period this year, while Albanian asylum requests leapt from 4,500 to 29,000.

[So if you add the Albanians to the Albanians, you get 61,000 this year fleeing the Greater Albanian paradise.]

But as Europe struggles to cope with a never-ending flow of newcomers, the EU is taking steps to separate those fleeing war from those fleeing economic hardship, setting up reception centres to determine who is a bona fide refugee, and proposing a list of “safe countries of origin” to which migrants can be returned because there is little risk of persecution.

The proposed list would include Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey.

Since late last year, Kosovo has witnessed an exodus of an estimated 50,000 people, driven out by an economic crisis in a country where four out of 10 people live below the poverty line and unemployment stands at around 40 percent.

It is the biggest number of departures since the end of the 1998-1999 war, reflecting widespread disillusionment among the population just seven years after Kosovo broke away from Serbia and declared independence.

[Who could have seen that coming?!]

Despite heavy investment in infrastructure, Pristina has failed to establish a clear and effective economic policy, leaving it heavily dependent on international aid.

Many people have simply given up and hit the road west, with Eurostat figures showing that in 2014, Kosovo was the third biggest source of asylum requests after Syria and Afghanistan.

“Germans pay your stay at the reception centres, a monthly sum that far exceeds our income at home,” he said.

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic suggested recently that Germany should “significantly reduce” its financial assistance to migrants from the Balkans, saying it would solve the problem of economic migration “very quickly”.

Germany is also speeding up the procedure for examining applications from the Balkans, and in the first seven months of the year it deported 9,915 people.

Several countries have welcomed their inclusion on a safe list, with Pristina saying it would send “a powerful message”…[S]o far this year, around 14,600 Kosovans had been repatriated from around the EU, up from 4,600 in 2014. […]

So they were forced back to their Albanian paradise. And what are they to admit now about Kosovo? That the Albanians’ problems didn’t lie with any outside “oppressors” but with Albanians themselves?

Bosnia jails 4 over bid to join IS in Syria (France24, Oct. 6)

A Bosnian judge on Tuesday jailed two men for trying to join jihadists in Syria and another pair for helping them, in the first verdict over Islamic State recruitment in the Balkan country.

Nevad Husidic, 29, and Merim Keserovic, 19, both received a year-long sentence for planning to join the Islamic State group in Syria.

And Husein Erdic, 33, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years for organising their trip, which took about a year.

Husidic and Keserovic were arrested in February at Sarajevo airport as they were about to travel to Turkey where a network was in place to help them reach Syria.

“Beginning in February 2014, Erdic led and organised — with others in Turkey — the journey of Nevad Husidic and Merim Keserovic to the Syrian front, with the ultimate goal of illegally joining the Islamic State terrorist organisation,” said Judge Biljana Cukovic.

She also sentenced a fourth man, 67-year-old Midhat Trako, to 18 months in prison for financing the trip.

Of the four, only Erdic was present for the verdict at the Sarajevo court.

Bosnia adopted a new law last year allowing for jail sentences of up to 20 years for jihadists and their recruiters.

“We are particularly pleased because this is the first time that a court has delivered a verdict in this type of case,” prosecutor Dubravko Campara told reporters.

About 200 Bosnian nationals have joined jihadist groups in Iraq or Syria, according to intelligence estimates quoted in local media earlier this year. Nearly 30 of them have been killed while another 40 or so have returned to Bosnia. […]

A few week ago, I wrote the following two letters to two newspapers, responding to a pair of unrelated articles. I don’t think either was published, but in case the authors have a Google alert on their names, I wanted to reprint them here. (I did forward the first letter to the writer’s place of business, and my note introducing the letter appears below first). The bio for Mr. Duncan, writing for The UK’s Independent, says that in addition to selling Kosovo tours, he performs in a traveling production of the musical “Hair Spray.” The world would be better served if he stuck to that.

Dear Sirs,
Since I wrote the letter-to-the-editor below a bit too late, it’s unlikely to get published. Still, I wanted Mr. Duncan to know that the astonishing ignorance and callousness displayed in his Independent article of Sept. 14 didn’t go unnoticed by everyone. Below was the letter I submitted to the editors. If Mr. Duncan knew or cared one fig about the Albanians’ century-old supremacy and macabre racism, he would rag on them as mercilessly as I do instead of promoting tourism to boost their ethnically cleansed “Pristine” state.
Thank you.
Julia Gorin, U.S.A.

Dear Editor:

In a year that started with headline news about the mass exodus from Kosovo (50,000 since last year, out of a country of only 1.8 million), it is certainly a puzzle how The Independent could print Peter Duncan’s tone-deaf article (“Kosovo: Harmony prevails in this corner of the Balkans,” Sept. 14.) As Albanians flee their ill-gotten but supposedly beloved “Newborn” that the U.S. and UK helped them secure by virtually dismantling the post-WW2 international order, they cite the futureless existence there. And yet Mr. Duncan writes, “The Kosovans display the energy of a people that are fixed on a secure future.”

A reader’s eye-rolling doesn’t end there, as Mr. Duncan next dutifully repeats the simplistic blood libel that the Serbs had tried “to remove the ethnic Albanians from the region.” Really? Belgrade tried to empty a province of 90 per cent of its population? Even the international criminal tribunal reluctantly found this absurdity was never the case. After all, where were the millions of eager Serbian sophisticates lining up at the border to fill up the empty land and tackle peasant life?

Mr. Duncan nonetheless credits that late-‘90s canard for Kosovo’s statehood. As if Albanian Yugoslavs hadn’t been warning about the nationalists’ irredentist plans since the 1970s; as if the first attempt at secession in 1991 never happened; and as if NATO wasn’t already on the ground in Kosovo by early 1998, even though the Serbs’ supposed first atrocity didn’t happen until January 1999 (the Racak “massacre” that was proven to be a firefight between police and rebels).

Then Tony Blair is hailed for breaking with international norms on Albanian behalf (by acting without a UN resolution, along with Bill Clinton), even while George W. Bush is (correctly) berated by the same minds for doing the same with Iraq (the latter at least made an effort at appearances).

I realize it’s just a travel piece, and that Mr. Duncan has an interest in hyping a place he sells trips to, but a little fact-checking, please. A newspaper should still have standards. Then again, when it comes to Kosovo, there never have been any. That’s how the “standards before status” requirement for statehood was nixed and Albanians were simply given their second state despite the ongoing violence they pursued against non-Albanians. It’s certainly easy, and bizarre, to speak of “harmony prevailing” where there are virtually no other ethnicities to have harmony with. “Now the country is at peace,” Mr. Duncan closes, “the minarets have been restored.” Indeed. They’ve doubled.


Dear Editor:

Congratulations to The Globe for being brave enough to publish Stephen Kinzer on Russia (“Russia is Not the Enemy,” Sept. 19). The accompanying artwork — a fearsome (Russian) bear baring its teeth at a terrified American family that doesn’t see the hand of Uncle Sam inside the puppet — was pitch perfect. I would adjust only the part where Mr. Kinzer says that what gets our goat is Russia not playing by our rules: actually, we’re the ones who haven’t been playing by our rules: for 25 years the Cold War’s sore winner went about dismantling the post-WW2 international order — of which it was itself an architect — while Russia took numerous stands to uphold it. We promptly dubbed this Russian obstructionism.

After lying prostrate for years as we bombed and encircled its neighborhood, Russia is finally delivering the war that Washington has spent 25 years poking it in the eye to achieve, comfortable as the latter is with a familiar enemy while at a loss on how to deal with real ones. Enemies that profess themselves such on a daily basis, and do kill Americans. Too many of us have fallen for the decoy, Russia, and it’s too bad that innocent Americans — like hapless third worlders who are victims of their unrepresentative leaders’ policies — will pay the price of Washington’s intrigues. Mr. Kinzer is right that imagined enemies can be more dangerous than real ones.