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´╗┐Title: Terrorists and Freedom Fighters
Author: Vaknin, Samuel, 1961-
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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And Freedom Fighters


Sam Vaknin, Ph.D.

Editing and Design:
Lidija Rangelovska

Lidija Rangelovska
A Narcissus Publications Imprint, Skopje 2002

First published by Central Europe Review
Not for Sale! Non-commercial edition.

(C) 2002 Copyright Lidija Rangelovska.
All rights reserved. This book, or any part thereof, may not be used
or reproduced in any manner without written permission from:
Lidija Rangelovska  - write to:
palma@unet.com.mk or to

Visit the Author Archive of Dr. Sam Vaknin in "Central Europe

ISBN: 9989-929-29-7




I.	Terrorists and Freedom Fighters
II.	Macedonia to the Macedonians
III.	The Black Hand
IV.	The Insurgents and the Swastika
V.	KLA - The Army of Liberation
VI.	Appendix: Pathological Narcissism, Group Behaviour and
VII.	Appendix: The Crescent and the Cross
VIII.	The Author
IX.	About "After the Rain"

Terrorists and Freedom Fighters

"'Unbounded' morality ultimately becomes counterproductive even in
terms of the same moral principles being sought. The law of
diminishing returns applies to morality."
Thomas Sowell
There's a story about Robespierre that has the preeminent rabble-
rouser of the French Revolution leaping up from his chair as soon as
he saw a mob assembling outside.
"I must see which way the crowd is headed," he is reputed to have
said: "For I am their leader."
People who exercise violence in the pursuit of what they hold to be
just causes are alternately known as "terrorists" or "freedom
They all share a few common characteristics:
1.	A hard core of idealists adopt a cause (in most cases, the
freedom of a group of people). They base their claims on
history - real or hastily concocted, on a common heritage, on a
language shared by the members of the group and, most
important, on hate and contempt directed at an "enemy". The
latter is, almost invariably, the physical or cultural occupier
of space the idealists claim as their own.

2.	The loyalties and alliances of these people shift effortlessly
as ever escalating means justify an ever shrinking cause. The
initial burst of grandiosity inherent in every such undertaking
gives way to cynical and bitter pragmatism as both enemy and
people tire of the conflict.
3.	An inevitable result of the realpolitik of terrorism is the
collaboration with the less savoury elements of society.
Relegated to the fringes by the inexorable march of common
sense, the freedom fighters naturally gravitate towards like
minded non-conformists and outcasts. The organization is
criminalized. Drug dealing, bank robbing and other manner of
organized and contumacious criminality become integral
extensions of the struggle. A criminal corporatism emerges,
structured but volatile and given to internecine donnybrooks.
4.	Very often an un-holy co-dependence develops between the
organization and its prey. It is the interest of the freedom
fighters to have a contemptible and tyrannical regime as their
opponent. If not prone to suppression and convulsive massacres
by nature - acts of terror will deliberately provoke even the
most benign rule to abhorrent ebullition.
5.	The terrorist organization will tend to emulate the very
characteristics of its enemy it fulminates against the most.
Thus, all such groups are rebarbatively authoritarian,
execrably violent, devoid of human empathy or emotions,
suppressive, ostentatious, trenchant and often murderous.

6.	It is often the freedom fighters who compromise their freedom
and the freedom of their people in the most egregious manner.
This is usually done either by collaborating with the derided
enemy against another, competing set of freedom fighters - or
by inviting a foreign power to arbiter. Thus, they often
catalyse the replacement of one regime of oppressive horror
with another, more terrible and entrenched.
7.	Most freedom fighters are assimilated and digested by the very
establishment they fought against or as the founders of new,
privileged nomenklaturas. It is then that their true nature is
exposed, mired in gulosity and superciliousness as they become.
Inveterate violators of basic human rights, they often
transform into the very demons they helped to exorcise.
Most freedom fighters are disgruntled members of the middle classes
or the intelligentsia. They bring to their affairs the merciless
ruthlessness of sheltered lives. Mistaking compassion for weakness,
they show none as they unscrupulously pursue their self-
aggrandizement, the ego trip of sending others to their death. They
are the stuff martyrs are made of. Borne on the crests of
circumstantial waves, they lever their unbalanced personalities and
project them to great effect. They are the footnotes of history that
assume the role of text. And they rarely enjoy the unmitigated
support of the very people they proffer to liberate. Even the most
harangued and subjugated people find it hard to follow or accept the
vicissitudinal behaviour of their self-appointed liberators, their
shifting friendships and enmities and their pasilaly of violence.

In this series of articles, I will attempt to study four such groups
which operated in the tortured region of the Balkans. I will start
with the IMRO (VMRO) in Macedonia and Bulgaria, proceed to Serbia
and its union with death ("Union or Death", aka the Black Hand),
study the Ustasha in detail and end with the current mutation of
Balkan spasms, the KLA (UCK).


Macedonia to the Macedonians

"Two hundred and forty five bands were in the mountains. Serbian and
Bulgarian comitadjis, Greek andartes, Albanians and Vlachs... all
waging a terrorist war"
Leon Sciaky in "Farewell to Salonica: Portrait of an Era"
"(Goce Delcev died) cloak flung over his left shoulder, his white
fez, wrapped in a bluish scarf, pulled down and his gun slung across
his left elbow"
Mihail Chakov, who was nearby Delcev at the moment of his death,
quoted in "Balkan Ghosts" by Robert D. Kaplan
"I will try and tell this story coldly, calmly, dispassionately ...
one must tone the horrors down, for in their nakedness, they are
A.G. Hales reporting about the Illinden Uprising in the London
"Daily News" of October 21, 1903

"The Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization directs its eyes
neither to the West, nor to the East,nor to anywhere else; it relies
primarily on its own powers, does not turn into anybody's weapon,
and will not allow anybody to use its name and prestige for personal
and other purposes. It has demonstrated till now and will prove in
the future that it establishes its activities on the interests and
works for the ideals of struggling Macedonia and the Bulgarian
TODOR ALEXANDROV, The Leader of the IMRO from 1911 to 1924

The Treaty of Berlin killed Peter Lazov. A Turkish soldier first
gouged his eyes out, some say with a spoon, others insist it was a
knife. As the scream-imbued blood trickled down his face, the Turk
cut both his ears and the entirety of his nose with his sword. Thus
maimed and in debilitating agony, he was left to die for a few days.
When he failed to do so, the Turks disembowelled him to death and
decapitated the writhing rump.

The Ottomans granted independence to Bulgaria in the 1878 Treaty of
San Stefano unwillingly, following a terminal defeat at the hands of
a wrathful Russian army. The newly re-invented nation incorporated a
huge swathe of Macedonia, not including Thessaloniki and the
Chalcidice Peninsula. Another treaty followed, in Berlin, restoring
the "balance" by returning Macedonia to Turkish rule. Turkey
obligingly accepted a "one country, two systems" approach by
agreeing to a Christian administration of the region and by
permitting education in foreign languages, by foreign powers in
foreign-run and owned schools. Then they set about a typical
infandous Ottoman orgy of shredded entrails, gang raped corpses of
young girls and maiming and decapitation. The horrors this time
transcended anything before. In Ohrid, they buried people in pigsty
mud for "not paying taxes". Joined by Turks who escaped the
advancing Russian armies in North Bulgaria and by Bosnian Moslems,
who fled the pincer movement of the forces of Austro-Hungary, they
embarked on the faithful recreation of a Bosch-like hell. Feeble
attempts at resistance (really, self defence) - such as the one
organized by Natanail, the Bishop of Ohrid - ended in the ever
escalating ferocity of the occupiers. A collaboration emerged
between the Church and the less than holy members of society.
Natanail himself provided "Chetis" (guerilla bands) with weapons and
supplies. In October 1878, an uprising took place in Kresna. It was
duly suppressed by the Turks, though with some difficulty. It was
not the first one, having been preceded by the Razlovci uprising in
1876. But it was more well organized and explicit in its goals.
But no one - with the exception of the Turks - was content with the
situation and even they were paranoid and anxious. The flip-flop
policies of the Great Powers turned Macedonia into the focus of
shattered national aspirations grounded in some historical precedent
of at least three nations: the Greeks, the Bulgarians, and the
Serbs. Each invoked ethnicity and history and all conjured up the
apparition of the defunct Treaty of San Stefano. Serbia colluded
with the Habsburgs: Bosnia to the latter in return for a free hand
in Macedonia to the former. The wily Austro-Hungarians regarded the
Serbs as cannon fodder in the attrition war against the Russians and
the Turks. In 1885, Bulgaria was at last united - north and formerly
Turk-occupied south - under the Kremlin's pressure. The Turks
switched sides and allied with the Serbs against the spectre of a
Great Bulgaria. Again, the battleground was Macedonia and its
Bulgarian-leaning (and to many, pure Bulgarian) inhabitants. Further
confusion awaited. In 1897, following the Crete uprising against the
Ottoman rule and in favour of Greek enosis (unification), Turkey (to
prevent Bulgaria from joining its Greek enemy) encouraged King
Ferdinand to help the Serbs fight the Greeks. Thus, the Balkanian
kaleidoscope of loyalties, alliances and everlasting friendship was
tilted more savagely than ever before by the paranoia and the whims
of nationalism gone berserk.

In this world of self reflecting looking glasses, in this bedlam of
geopolitics, in this seamless and fluid universe, devoid of any
certainty but the certainty of void, an anomie inside an abnormality
- a Macedonian self identity, tentative and merely cultural at
first, began to emerge. Voivode Gorgija Pulevski published a poem
"Macedonian Fairy" in 1878. The Young Macedonian Literary Society
was established in 1891 and started publishing "Loza", its journal a
year thereafter. Krste Misirkov, Dimitrija Cupovski, the Vardar
Society and the Macedonian Club in Belgrade founded the Macedonian
Scholarly-Literary Society in 1902 (in Russia). Their "Macedonian
National Program" demanded a recognition of a Macedonian nation with
its own language and culture. They stopped short of insisting on an
independent state, settling instead for an autonomy and an
independent church. Misirkov went on to publish his seminal work,
"On Macedonian Matters" in 1903 in Sofia. It was a scathing critique
of the numbing and off-handed mind games Macedonia was subjected to
by the Big Powers. Misirkov believed in culture as an identity
preserving force. And the purveyors and conveyors of culture were
the teachers.
"So the teacher in Yugoslavia is often a hero and fanatic as well as
a servant of the mind; but as they walked along the Belgrade streets
it could easily be seen that none of them had quite enough to eat or
warm enough clothing or handsome lodgings or all the books they
needed" - wrote Dame Rebecca West in her eternal "Black Lamb and
Grey Falcon" in 1940.
Goce Delcev (Gotse Deltchev) was a teacher. He was born in 1872 in
Kukush (the Bulgarian name of the town), north of Thessaloniki
(Salonica, Solun, Saloniki). There is no doubt about his cultural
background (as opposed to his convictions later in life) - it was
Bulgarian to the core. He studied at a Bulgarian gymnasium in
Saloniki. He furthered his education at a military academy in Sofia.
He was a schoolteacher and a guerilla fighter and in both capacities
he operated in the areas that are today North-Central Greece,
Southwestern Bulgaria and the Republic of Macedonia. He felt equally
comfortable in all three regions. He was shot to death by the Turks
in Banitsa, then a Bulgarian village, today, a Greek one. It was in
a spring day in May 1903.
The death of this sad but steely eyed, heavily moustached youth was
sufficient to ignite the Illinden uprising three months later. It
erupted on the feast of Saint Illiya (Sveti Ilija). Peasants sold
their sacrificial bulls - the fruits of months of labour - and
bought guns with the proceeds. It started rather innocuously in the
hotbed of ethnic unrest, Western Macedonia - telegraph wires were
cut, some tax registers incinerated. The IMRO collaborated in this
with the pro-Bulgarian organization Vzhovits. In Krusevo (Krushevo)
a republic was proclaimed, replete with "Rules of the Macedonian
Uprising Committee" (aka the "Constitution of the Uprising").

This document dealt with the liberation of Macedonia and the
establishment of a Macedonian State. A special chapter was dedicated
to foreign affairs and neighbourly relationships. It was all heart-
achingly naive and it lasted 10 bloody days. Crushed by 2000 trained
soldiers and horse bound artillery, the outnumbered 1200 rebels
surrendered. Forty of them kissed each other goodbye and blew their
brains out. The usual raping and blood thick massacres ensued.
According to Turkish records, these ill-planned and irresponsible
moments of glory and freedom cost the lives of 4,694 civilians, 994
"terrorists". The rape of 3,000 women was not documented. In
Northwestern Macedonia, an adolescent girl was raped by 50 soldiers
and murdered afterwards. In another village, they cut a girl's arm
to secure her bracelets. The more one is exposed to these
atrocities, the more one is prone to subscribe to the view that the
Ottoman Empire - its halting and half hearted efforts at reform
notwithstanding - was the single most important agent of retardation
and putrid stagnation in its colonies, a stifling influence of
traumatic proportions, the cause of mass mental sickness amongst its
As is usually the case in the bloodied geopolitical sandbox known as
the Balkans, an international peacekeeping force intervened. Yet it
was - again, habitually - too late, too little.

What made Delcev, rather his death, the trigger of such an
outpouring of emotions was the IMRO (VMRO in Macedonian and in
Bulgarian). The Illinden uprising was the funeral of a man who was a
hope. It was the ululating grieving of a collective deprived of
vengeance or recourse. It was a spasmodic breath taken in the most
suffocating of environments. This is not to say that IMRO was
monolithic or that Delcev was an Apostle (as some of his
hagiographers would have him). It was not and he was far from it.
But he and his two comrades, Jane (Yane) Sandanski and Damyan (Dame)
Gruev had a vision. They had a dream. The IMRO is the story of a
dream turned nightmare, of the absolute corruption of absolute power
and of the dangers of inviting the fox to fight the wolf.
The original "Macedonian Revolutionary Organization" (MRO) was
established in Sofia. The distinction between being a Macedonian and
being a Macedonian-Bulgarian was not sharp, to use a polite
understatement. The Bulgarians "proper" regarded the Macedonians as
second class, primitive and uncultured Bulgarian relatives who
inhabit a part of Bulgaria to the east. The Macedonians themselves
were divided. Some wished to be incorporated in Bulgaria, the
civilized and advanced society and culture. Others wanted an
independent state - though they, too, believed that the salvation of
such an entity - both demographic and financial - lies abroad, with
the diaspora and benevolent foreign powers. A third group (and
Delcev was, for a time, among them) wanted a federation of all
states Balkan with an equal standing for a Macedonian polity

The original MRO opted for the Bulgarian option and restricted its
aims to the liberation and immediate annexation of what they
solemnly considered to be a Turkish-occupied Bulgarian territory. To
distinguish themselves from this MRO, the 6 founders of the
Macedonian version - all members of the intelligentsia - added the
word "Internal" to their name. Thus, they became, in November 1893,
A measure of the disputatiousness of all matters Balkanian can be
found in the widely and wildly differing versions about the
circumstances of the establishment of IMRO. Some say it was
established in Thessaloniki (this is the official version, thus
supporting its "Macedonian"-ness). Others - like Robert Kaplan - say
it was in Stip (Shtip) and the Encyclopaedia Britannica claims it
was in ... Resen (Resana).
Let it be clear: this author harbours no sympathy towards the
Ottoman Empire. The IMRO was fighting for lofty ideals (Balkanian
federation) and worthy goals (liberation from asphyxiating Turkish
rule). But to many outside observers (with the exception of
journalists like John Sonixen or John smith), the IMRO was
indistinguishable in its methods of operation from the general
landscape of mayhem, crime, disintegration of the social fabric,
collapse of authority, social anomie, terror and banditry.

From Steven Sowards' "Twenty Five Lectures on Modern Balkan History,
The Balkans in an Age of Nationalism", 1996 available HERE:
"Meanwhile, the Tanzimat reforms remained unfulfilled under Abdul
Hamid's reactionary regime. How effective had all these reforms been
by the turn of the century? How bad was life for Christian peasants
in the Balkans? In a 1904 book called 'Macedonia: Its Races and
Their Future', H. N. Brailsford, an English relief worker, describes
lawless conditions in Macedonia, the central Balkan district
between Greece, Serbia, Albania and Bulgaria. In the areas
Brailsford knew, the authorities had little power. He writes:
'An Albanian went by night into a Bulgarian village and fired into
the house of a man whom he regarded as an enemy. ... The
prefect...endeavored to arrest the murderer, but [his Albanian]
village took up his cause, and the gendarmes returned empty-handed.
The prefect ... marched upon the offending village at the head of
three hundred regular troops. ... The village did not resist, but it
still refused to give evidence against the guilty man. The prefect
returned to Ochrida with forty or fifty prisoners, kept them in gaol
for three or four days, and then released them all. ... To punish a
simple outbreak of private passion in which no political element was
involved [the prefect] had to mobilize the whole armed force of his
district, and even then he failed.'

Robbers and brigands operated with impunity: 'Riding one day upon
the high-road ..., I came upon a brigand seated on a boulder ... in
the middle of the road, smoking his cigarette, with his rifle across
his knees, and calmly levying tribute from all the passers-by."
Extortionists, not police, were in control: "A wise village ...
[has] its own resident brigands. ... They are known as rural guards.
They are necessary because the Christian population is absolutely
unarmed and defenceless. To a certain extent they guarantee the
village against robbers from outside, and in return they carry on a
licensed and modified robbery of their own.'
Self-defense by Orthodox peasants was dangerous: 'The Government
makes its presence felt ... when a 'flying column' saunters out to
hunt an elusive rebel band, or ... to punish some flagrant act of
defiance ... The village may have ... resented the violence of the
tax-collector ... [or] harboured an armed band of insurgents ... or
... killed a neighbouring civilian Turk who had assaulted some girl
of the place ... At the very least all the men who can be caught
will be mercilessly beaten, at the worst the village will be burned
and some of its inhabitants massacred.'

It was not surprising that peasants hated their rulers. 'One enters
some hovel ... something ... stirs or groans in the gloomiest corner
on the floor beneath a filthy blanket. Is it fever, one asks, or
smallpox? ... the answer comes ..., 'He is ill with fear.' ...
Looking back ... , a procession of ruined minds comes before the
memory--an old priest lying beside a burning house speechless with
terror ... a woman who had barked like a dog since the day her
village was burned; a maiden who became an imbecile because her
mother buried her in a hole under the floor to save her from the
soldiers ... children who flee in terror at the sight of a stranger,
crying 'Turks! Turks!' These are the human wreckage of the hurricane
which usurps the functions of a Government.'
Four things are worth noting in Brailsford's account as we consider
the prospects for a reform solution to Balkan problems. First,
revolutionary politics was not the foremost issue for the Christian
population: nationalism addressed the immediate problems in their
daily lives only indirectly, by promising a potential better state.
Second, loyalties were still local and based on the family and the
village, not on abstract national allegiances. If criminal abuses
ended, the Ottoman state might yet have invented an Ottoman
"nationalism" to compete with Serbian, Greek, Romanian, or Bulgarian
Third, villagers did not cry out for new government departments or
services, but only for relief from corruption and crime. The
creation of new national institutions was not necessary, only the
reform of existing institutions.
Fourth, and on the other hand, mistrust and violence between the two
sides was habitual. So many decades of reform had failed by this
time. The situation was so hopeless and extreme that few people on
either side can have thought of reform as a realistic option."
During the 1890s, IMRO's main sources of income were voluntary (and
later, less voluntary) taxation of the rural population, bank
robberies, train robberies (which won handsome world media coverage)
and kidnapping for ransom (like the kidnapping of the American
Protestant Missionary Ellen Stone - quite a mysterious affair). The
IMRO developed along predictable lines into an authoritarian and
secretive organization - a necessity if it were to fight the Turks
effectively. It had its own tribunals which exercised - often fatal
- authority over civilians who were deemed collaborators with the
Turkish enemy. It must be emphasized that this was NOT unusual or
unique at that time. This was the modus operandi of all military-
organized ideological and political groups. And, taking everything
into account, the IMRO was fighting a just war against an abhorrent
Moreover, to some extent, its war was effective and resulted in
reforms imposed on the Sublime Port (the Turkish authorities) by the
Great Powers of the day. We mentioned the peacekeeping force which
replaced the local gendarmerie. But reforms were also enacted in
education, religious rights and tolerance, construction, farm policy
and other areas. The intractable and resource-consuming Macedonian
question led directly to the reform of Turkey itself by the
Macedonia-born officer Ataturk. And it facilitated the
disintegration of the Ottoman empire - thus, ironically, leading to
the independence of almost everyone except its originators.
The radicalization of IMRO and its transformation into the infamous
organization it has come to be known as, started after the Second
Balkan war (1913) and, more so, after the First World War (1918). It
was then that disillusionment with Big Power politics replaced the
naive trust in the inevitable triumph of a just claim. The
Macedonians were never worse off politically, having contributed no
less - if not more - than any other nation to the re-distribution of
the Ottoman Empire. The cynicism, the hypocrisy, the off-handedness,
the ignorance, the vile interests, the ulterior motives - all
conspired to transform the IMRO from a goal-orientated association
to a power hungry mostrosity.
In 1912 Bulgaria, Serbia, and Greece - former bitter foes - formed
the Balkan League to confront an even more bitter foe, the Ottoman
Empire on the thin pretext of an Albanian uprising. The brotherhood
strained in the Treaty of London (May 1913) promptly deteriorated
into internecine warfare over the spoils of a successful campaign -
namely, over Macedonia. Serbs, Greeks, Montenegrins and Romanians
subdued Bulgaria sufficiently to force it to sign a treaty in August
1913 in Bucharest. "Aegean Macedonia" went to Greece and "Vardar
Macedonia" (today's Republic of Macedonia) went to Serbia. The
smaller "Pirin Macedonia" remained Bulgarian. The Bulgarian gamble
in World War I went well for a while, as it occupied all three parts
of Macedonia. But the ensuing defeat and dismemberment of its
allies, led to a re-definition of even "Pirin Macedonia" so as to
minimize Bulgaria's share.  Vardar Macedonia became part of a new
Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (later renamed
These political Lego games led to enormous population shifts - the
politically correct term for refugees brutally deprived of their
land and livelihood. All of them were enshrined in solemn treaties.
The Treaty of Lausanne (1923) led to the expulsion of 375,000 Turks
from  Aegean Macedonia. 640,000 Greek refugees from Turkey replaced
them. Each of the actual occupiers and each of the potential ones
opened its own schools to indoctrinate the future generations of the
populace. Conflicts erupted over ecclesiastical matters, the
construction of railways and railway stations. Guerilla fighters
soon realized that being pawns on this mad hatter's chessboard could
be a profitable vocation. The transformation from freedom fighters
to mercenaries with no agenda was swift. And pecuniary
considerations bred even more terror and terrorists where there were
none before.
In the meantime, Greece enacted a land reform legislation in "Aegean
Macedonia" - in effect, the confiscation of arable land by thousands
of Greek settlers, refugees from Turkey. Much of the land thus "re-
distributed" was owned by Turkish absentees, now refugees
themselves. But a lot of land was simply impounded from its
rightful, very much present and very Macedonian owners. The Serb
authorities coerced the population to speak the Serb language,
changed Macedonian names to Serb ones in brutally carried campaigns
and imposed a corrupt and incompetent bureaucracy upon the suffering

IMRO never gave up its proclaimed goal to liberate both occupied
parts of Macedonia - the Aegean and the Vardar ones. But, as time
passed and as the nature of its organization and operation evolved,
the perfunctoriness of its proclamations became more and more
evident. The old idealists - the intellectuals and ideologues, the
Goce Delcev types - were removed, died in battle, or left this
mutation of their dream. The IMRO insignia - skull and crossbones -
linked it firmly to the Italian Balckshirts and the Nazi brown ones.
The IMRO has developed into a fascist organization. It traded opium.
It hired out the services of its skilled assassins (for 20 dollars a
contract). It recruited members among the Macedonian population in
the slums of Sofia. Finally, they openly collaborated with the
Fascists of Mussolini (who also supported them financially), with
the Ustashe (similarly supported by Italy) and with the Nazis (under
Ivan Mihailov, who became the nominal quisling ruler of Vardar
Macedonia). It was an IMRO man ("Vlado the Chauffeur") who murdered
King Alexander of Yugoslavia in 1934.
All this period, the IMRO continued to pursue its original agenda.
IMRO terrorists murdered staff and pupils in Yugoslav schools in
Vardar Macedonia. In between 1924-34, it killed 1,000 people.
Tourists of the period describe the Yugoslav-Bulgarian frontier as
the most fortified in Europe with "entanglements, block houses,
redoubts and searchlight posts". Throughout the twenties and the
thirties, the IMRO maintained a presence in Europe, publishing
propaganda incessantly and explaining its position eloquently
(though not very convincingly).

It was not very well liked by both Bulgarians and Macedonians who
got increasingly agitated and exhausted by the extortion of ever
increasing taxes and by the seemingly endless violence. But the IMRO
was now a force to reckon with: organized, disciplined, lethal. Its
influence grew by the day and more than one contemporary describes
it as a "state within a state". In Bulgaria it collaborated with
Todor Alexandrov in the overthrow and murder of the Prime Minister,
Alexandur Stamboliyski (June 1923) and in the appointment of a right
wing government headed by Alexandur Tsankov.
Stamboliyski tried to appease Yugoslavia and, in the process,
sacrifice inconvenient elements, such as the IMRO, as expediently as
he could. He made too many powerful enemies too fast: the army (by
cutting their inflated budget), the nationalists (by officially
abandoning the goal of military expansion), the professional
officers (by making them redundant), the Great Powers (by making
THEM redundant as well) and the opposition (by winning the elections
handsomely despite all the above). By signing the Treaty of Nis
(allowing Serb forces the right of hot pursuit within Bulgarian
territory), he in effect sealed his own death warrant. The IMRO
teamed up with the Military League (an organization of disgruntled
officers, both active duty and reserve) and with the tacit blessing
of Tsar Boris and the forming National Alliance (later renamed the
Democratic Alliance), they did away with the hated man.

Following the murder, the IMRO was given full control of the region
of Petric (Petrich). It used it as a launching pad of its hit and
run attacks against Yugoslavia with the full - though clandestine -
support of the Bulgarian Ministry of War and Fascist Italy. From
Pirin, they attacked Greece as well. These were exactly the kind of
international tensions the murdered Prime Minister was keen to
terminate and the IMRO no less keen to foster. In the meanwhile,
Alexandrov came to an end typical of many a Bulgarian politician and
was assassinated only a year after the coup d'etat.
The decade that followed did not smile upon the IMRO. It fragmented
and its shreds fought each other in the streets of Sofia, Chicago-
style. By 1934, the IMRO was a full-fledged extortionist mafia
organization. They ran protection rackets ("protecting" small shop-
owners against other gangs and "insuring" them against their own
violence). Hotels in Sofia always had free rooms for the IMRO. The
tobacco industry paid the IMRO more than a million British pounds of
that time in six years of "taxation". Robberies and assassinations
were daily occurrences. So were street shoot-outs and outright
confiscation of goods. The IMRO had no support left anywhere.

In 1934, it was disbanded (together with other parties) by Colonel
Kimron Georgiev, the new Prime Minister of Bulgaria and a senior
figure in the Zveno association of disgruntled citizenry. His rule
was brief (ended the next year) but the IMRO never recovered. It
brought its own demise upon itself. Colonel Velcev (Velchev), the
perpetrator of the coup, was swept to power on the promise to end
all terrorist activities - a promise which he kept.
The modern Republic of Macedonia is today ruled by a party called
VMRO-DPMNE. It is one of a few political parties to carry this name
and the biggest and weightiest amongst them by far. It is founded on
the vision and ideals of Goce Delcev and has distanced itself from
the "Terrorist-IMRO". The picture of Delcev adorns every office in
both Macedonia and Bulgaria and he is the closest to a saint a
secular regime can have. In 1923, the Greeks transferred his bones
to Bulgaria. Stalin, in a last effort to placate Tito, ordered
Bulgaria to transfer them to Macedonia. Even in his death he knew no
peace. Now he is buried in his final resting place, in the tranquil
inner yard of the Church of Sveti Spas (Saint Saviour). A marble
slab bearing a simple inscription with his name under a tree, in a
Macedonia which now belongs to the Macedonians.


The Black Hand

"I live and shall die for federalism; it is the sole salvation for
the monarchy, if anything can save it."
Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria

The IMRO was a populist organization established by intellectuals
(as such groups often do) but staffed by peasant, lumpenproletariat
and dwellers of the slums formed by Macedonian refugees all over the
Balkans and especially in Sofia. Its members swore allegiance on a
bible and a gun - two universally potent symbols. The nationalist-
terrorist movement which bore the improbable by-name of "The Black
Hand" was no such thing. It was elitist - only members of the
officer corps and government officials could join. But the two
shared an ethos and methods of operation. The IMRO sought to
liberate the parts of Macedonia which were under Greek and Serb
control - and the Black Hand (official name: "Union or Death")
sought to do the same for Serbs under Ottoman or Habsburg rule. The
Black Hand was the precursor of the Great Serbia dream. But whereas
the IMRO - at least until 1913 - did not enjoy the support of the
state and its mechanisms, the Black Hand was, for a long time, the
long arm of the Serb government and the Serb state. To the
generation of post-Yugoslavia It is a familiar story. In human
affairs, the dream of a Greater Serbia is no less a recurrent
nightmare than the numerable German Reichs and Serbia erupted upon
the world stage no less frequently and regularly than its northern
Serbia, Montenegro and Russia fought a war against Turkey in an
effort to capitalize on a Serb peasants' revolt in Bosnia in 1875.
The latter were mightily and rather inhumanly oppressed by the local
Moslem nobility (enmity has long roots in the Balkans). It was a
holy war for the protection of holy (Orthodox) mother church. It was
this conflict that led to the Turkish capitulation embedded in the
San Stefano Treaty of 1878. It was not the first time that Balkan
borders were re-drawn but, with the creation of Bulgaria, extending
all the way to lake Ohrid, a few taboos were broken. A new state was
created, Russia was introduced as a major player and the Sick Man of
Europe (the Ottoman Empire) was in death throes. It also generated a
new problem, the Macedonian one. The treaty of Berlin sought to
restore the balance but to no avail. The inexorable germination of
the nationalistic ideal has commenced. When the Treaty placed
Bosnia-Herzegovina under Austro-Hungarian administration and allowed
Habsburg garrisons to camp inside Serbia (effectively severing it
from Montenegro) - the seeds of discontent blossomed into the evil
flowers of violence.
No one cared what the local populace had to say. The Austrian
brought roads and railways and modern mining and forestry and
industry to this hitherto European backwater. Reversing the Ottoman
infliction was no mean feat. Yet, the Austrians chose to rule by
division, to motivate through hate and to buy the love of their
subjects rather than to earn it.

They befriended the Moslem landlords and pitted the Serbs against
each across a denominational divide. This volatile state of affairs
was only aggravated by the abolition in 1881 of the Military
Frontier, which brought hundreds of thousands of Serbs into the
remit of an increasingly and virulently nationalistic Croatia. The
Hungarians used this to their advantage by fanning Croat-Serb
hostility. After all, they had a historical account to settle with
the Serbs who quashed an Hungarian rebellion not 40 years before (in
1848-9) and were awarded with the half autonomous Duchy of
Vojvodina, an integral part of the Kingdom of Hungary.
The Ausgleich of 1867 (which divided the loot between Austria and
Hungary) deprived Vojvodina of its autonomy. The Magyars rushed back
in with German and Austrian settlers and immediately embarked upon a
massive campaign of forced assimilation. Thus, as Vojvodina
prospered with roads and railways and large commercial farms ("the
breadbasket of the empire") - it became more hate-riven and
explosive. In the Balkans, affluence and commerce seem only to
encourage envy and belligerence and neighbourly relations are no
barrier to mutual slaughter.
A self-appointed "guardian of all Serbs", the Serbian state
willingly engaged in agitation and confronted both other ethnicities
and the Dual Monarchy in its quest to safeguard the well-being,
welfare, prosperity and equal treatment of the Serbs, all noble
goals, no doubt.

Yet instability is contagious, a lesson not learn by Serb
politicians. Even as the Bosnian uprising was in progress, King
Milan stuck an Austrian knife unto its back. He agreed to not foment
rebellion in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in return for a free hand in
Macedonia and some export concessions for some agricultural produce.
In 1885, he acted upon his grandiosity to disastrous outcome. Four
years later, he abdicated in disgrace. Not till 1893 was order
restored in the person of King Alexander whose most important act
was marrying his concubine, Draga Masin in 1900. They were both
massacred in June 1903 by disgruntled officers in their own palace
and that was the end of one dynasty (the Obrenovic's) and the
beginning of another (the Karadjordjevic's). A young officer, a
member of the general staff of the army, by the name of Dragutin
Dimitrijevic ("Apis" - the "Holy Bull" was his endearing nickname,
or, perhaps, the bee, from the Latin root, as Petrovic, the attache
to the Serbia legation in London has it in "Black Hand Over Europe"
by Heneri Pozzi) planned it all in 1901. Remember this name, his
role in our history has only just begun.
As is usually the case, the honeymoon looked both passionate and
auspicious. The new King was of the reforming kind and keen on
economic progress and wealth formation. Regretfully, his
implementation fell short of his intentions. Serbian agriculture
lagged behind its more commercialized and industrialized
competitors, the population grew relentlessly and rural debts buried
the semi-feudal rustic peasantry under its increasing burden.

It is against this background of mounting and mercurial discontent
that the "Black Hand" was formed. Attesting to the spreading of the
rot throughout the Karadjordjevicean state, was its cancerous
metastasis through all levels of the army and the government. Apis
the regicide was appointed chief of intelligence of the general
staff, no less. He later confessed to planning the murders of King
Nicholas of Montenegro, King Constantine of Greece, the German
Kaiser and King Ferdinand of Bulgaria. How much of it was Balkan
delusions and how much reality is still open to debate - but the man
relished death and firmly believed in its transforming and
catalysing powers. The Black Hand became a state within a state (a
feat later emulated by the IMRO). Those bureaucrats and politicians
not already members of the shady outfit, obeyed its express or
perceived wishes out of terror, more imagined than exercised. The
army was entirely in thrall. The accelerated advance of Dimitrijevic
through the ranks serves proof of the growing influence of his
cankerous outfit. He became professor of tactics at the Military
Academy where he taught subversion and terror more than military
strategy. By 1913, he was chief of intelligence, as we mentioned and
by 1916 he was attained the rank of colonel at the age of 40.
Though formally established only in 1911- the Black Hand cast its
shadow long before. It engaged mostly in propaganda and in the
seeding of armed bands in Macedonia prior to the two Balkan wars.
Its biggest achievement was probably the inception of numerous
revolutionary cells among the Serbs of Bosnia.
The longer and more thorough the meddling, the more the languid
relationship between Austria and Serbia deteriorated. The former
imposed tariffs on the exports of the latter in an aptly named "Pig
War". As Serb subversion intensified in Bosnia, Austria annexed it
and Herzegovina outright discarding the pretence of autonomy it has
maintained. Stymied in one border - the Serbs reverted to another.
The Illinden uprising ignited Slav imagination. Serbia has long
hungered after its slice of a dismembered Macedonia and Thrace in a
banquet attended by both Bulgaria and Greece. But the fresh
atrocities - not devoid of religious and ethnic dimensions - endowed
the whole endeavour with an aura of a holy war. This delirium was
further stoked by the apparent disintegration of the Ottoman Empire
following the revolution of the Young Turks in 1908. Yet, in its
drang nach suden, Serbia found itself once more entangled with the
Austrians who had their own designs on Macedonia and Novi Pazar. The
risk of losing Kosovo and Metohija was very real and the conflict
assumed the robes of a crusade, both cultural and religious. To the
Serbs the very maintenance of their self-identity and civilization
was at stake.
This was the background to the onslaught of the Balkan Wars.

Serbia collaborated with the more potent of its potential enemies
(Greece, Bulgaria) in the Balkan League. To cleanse the Balkans of
all Turks was the explicit goals of hush-hush treaties and
clandestine encounters. The hidden agenda bespoke of Austria. The
initial triumphs against the Turkish army (reversing a trend three
centuries old) lent an air of inevitable invincibility and divine
justice to the whole endeavour. It is interesting to mention that it
was little Montenegro which was the first to declare war in almost
all Balkan conflicts. Whether as Serbian proxies or because of the
contentious nature of the Montenegrins remains unclear. Whatever the
case may be, a second war among the winners of the first left Serbia
with its agenda fulfilled and with its territory almost doubled. It
gained part of the Sandzak, all Kosovo and Metohija and the bulk of
Macedonia. Its tax paying population increased by half as much in
less than two years. Had it not been for Austria's minacious
insistence, Albania would have never been born on Serb occupied
territory. The creation of this (artificial, so the Serbs felt)
Albanian state deprived Serbia - alone among the victors - from
access to the sea. It had another cause for paranoid delusions and
deepening sense of victimization at the hands of vast conspiracies.
Relegated to the geopolitical sidelines, denuded of their conquests,
coerced by a Big Power, the Serbs felt humiliated, stabbed in the
back, discriminated against, inferior and wrathful. Frustration
breeds aggression we are taught and this true lesson was never more
oft-repeated than in the Balkans.

The raging rivalry between an eastward-bound Austria and a defiant
Serbia was bound to boil over. The Black Hand was there to provoke
the parties into a final test of strengths and willpower. Dame
Rebecca West voices her doubts regarding the true intent of the
Black Handers in their involvement (which she does not dispute) in
the events that followed. Based on all manner of circumstantial
evidence and the testimonies of mysterious friends of furtive
conspirators she reaches the conclusion that they did not believe in
the conspiracy to which they lent their support. The Black Hand went
along with the planning and execution of the assassination of
Archduke, heir to the throne Franz (Francis) Ferdinand in 1914,
disbelieving all the way both the skills and the commitment of the
youthful would be assassins.
Perhaps so. Yet there can be little doubt and, indeed, there is no
dispute that The Black Hand was introduced to a cabal of plotters
called "Mlada Bosna" (Young Bosnia), headed by one Illich and that
this introduction was effected by the 22 year old influential
Bosnian revolutionary Gacinovic (Gachinovich) who lived in Lausanne
in Switzerland. The Black Hander Ciganovic (Tsiganovitch) made
contact with one Gavrilo Princip and Chabrinovich and together with
another Bosnian, Tankosic (Tankosich). The latter - a self
proclaimed sharpshooter - immediately set about testing the sniping
skills of his co-schemers in a secluded wood. With the mild
exception of Princip, they were no good.

Despite this disheartening display of incompetence (Princip claimed
at his trial to have aimed at a general sitting next to the
Archduke), the Black Hand equipped them with bombs (of the wrong
kind, points West correctly), pistols and suicidal Prussic acid
(which didn't work). They were smuggled to Sarajevo by two
collaborating border guards. As opposed to rumours, Gavrilo Princip
was not a member of the Black Hand, nor was the Black Hand involved
in his training. Moreover, the connection between Mlada Bosna and
Crna Ruka (Black Hand) was made only a short time before the
eventful June 28, 1914.
It was a challenge and on Serbia's national day at that. The
Austrians were elated having been handed the excuse to educate
Serbia and cut it to size. They issued an ultimatum and the rest is
the history of the first truly global conflict, the First World War.
In 1917, in a surprising turn of events, Alexander, the Commander in
Chief of the Expatriate Serbian Army in collusion with the Serb
premier, Nikola Pasic, arrested Apis and 200 of his collaborators,
thus shattering the Black Hand irreversibly. It is always surprising
how really brittle and vulnerable these apparently invincible
organizations of terror are. The IMRO, after having terrorized
Bulgaria for decades and decimated its political elite, was reduced
to rubble, bloodlessly, in a matter of a few weeks in 1934.

The same happened with the omnipotent and all-pervasive Black Hand.
It vanished in a whimper. In May 1917, Dragutin Dimitrijevic (Apis)
was executed together with 2 or 6 of his Black Hand colleagues.
Finally it was death, not union that caught up with them. The trial
was closed to the public, opaque and hurried. The King apparently
believed - or claimed he did - that the prisoners conspired on his
life. West testifies in her great opus "Black Lamb Grey Falcon" that
transcripts of the trial were banned and that it was forbidden to
mention the mere historic fact either in speech or in print. The
members of the Black Hand lived secretly and dies mysteriously and
But the Black Hand - like the IMRO - was a child of the times. The
Balkans was perceived to be the gate to the crumbling Ottoman
Empire, The coveted prizes were not dirt poor Macedonia or Albania.
It was the stepping stone and the springboard that they represented
to much vaster territories, to the riches of the orient, to the
exotic realms of Asia. All Big Powers and would be Big Powers
engaged in the pugilistics of self-positioning. The demise of the
Ottomans was imminent and this imminence exerted subtle but
verifiable pressure on all the participant in this grubby grabbing
game. Additionally, in this fin de siecle, all involved felt doomed.
The rumblings of counter-revolutionary Russia, the drang nach Osten
of Austria - all were attempts at self re-definition and self-

Perhaps this explains the outlandish and disproportionate reaction
of Austria to the needling of Bosnian terrorism. assertive
minorities constituted a direct threat to the very cohesion of
Empire. And Serbia blocked the hitherto unhindered path to eastern
territories - depriving Austria of lebensraum and raison d'etre.
Faced with a limiting event horizon, Austria imploded like a black
hole, unto itself.
The driving force behind it all was really Austria and its growing
existential angst. It struck a modus vivendi of mutual paralysis in
the Balkan with Russia as early as 1897. It lasted ten years in
which only Austria and Russia stood still but history defied them
both. To its horror, Austria discovered that in its pursuit of
glorious and condescending isolation, it was left only with Germany
as an ally, the very Germany whose Weltpolitik put it on a clear
collusion course with the moribund Sublime Port. Russia, on the
other hand, teamed up with a rising power, with Britain, at least
implicitly. The abrupt and involuntary departure of the pliable and
easily corruptible Obrenovic's in Serbia bode ill to the checks and
balances Austria so cultivated in its relationship with the
recalcitrant Serbs. Karageorgevic was much less enamoured with
Austrian shenanigans. The final nail in the ever more crowded coffin
of Austrian foreign policy was hammered in in 1908 when the Young
Turks effectively re-opened the question of the administration of
Bosnia-Herzegovina by Austria.

These territories were always under Turkish sovereignty, the
Austrians "discovered" to growing alarm.  One solution was to annex
the administered units, as Austria's Minister of Foreign affairs
suggested. He further offered a trade-off: recognition of Russia's
rights of passage through the Dardanelles. The Russians accepted
only to be abandoned by the Austrians in the crucial vote. Austria
annexed Bosnia-Herzegovina unilaterally - but Russia was still
prevented from crossing into the warm waters, its ambition and
obsession. Russia learned a lesson: always back your client
(Serbia), never back down.
Elsewhere, tensions between the Big Powers were growing and eroded
their capability to institute a system of efficacious self-
regulation. Armed conflict erupted between Germany and France in
Morocco more than once. Britain and Germany were engaged in a naval
arms race which depleted the coffers and the social cohesion of
both. Italy declared war on Turkey in 1911 and even invaded the
Dardanelles. Serbia and Bulgaria struck a bargain to expel the
Ottomans from Europe (see above, the Balkan Wars). Thus, with the
field narrowing and getting more crowded, an Austrian-Serb
Armageddon was all but inevitable.
The irony of it all is that Austria presented the only viable
solution to the problem of multi-ethnicity and muti-culturalism. The
history of the Balkans in the 20th century can be effectively summed
up in terms of the contest between the Serb and Hungarian model of
co-existence and its Austrian anathema.

The Serbs and Hungarians aspired to ethnically and culturally
homogenous states and were willing to apply violence towards the
achievement of this goal either by forced assimilation of minorities
or by their expulsion or worse. The Austrians proposed federalism.
They envisaged a federation of politically, culturally and
religiously autonomous entities. This peaceful vision constituted a
direct threat on the likes of the Black Hand. Peaceful, content
citizens do not good rebels make. The Encyclopaedia Britannica says:
"Such is the logic of terrorism: Its greatest enemies are the
The Black Hand did not operate in empty space and was not alone. In
1908 Serbia formed "The National Defence". Its main function was to
agitate against the Austrians and to conduct propaganda for the Serb
cause. There were other organizations but all of them were
contemptuously labelled "intellectual" by Apis, who craved violence.
Ironically, one of the original band of conspirators against King
Alexander in 1901-3 was Petar Zivkovic (Zhivkovitch). But he soon
separated himself from the Black Hand and joined the White Hand,
another group of officers, more moderate, though no less
authoritarian. Another King Alexander (who was also murdered but in
1934), King of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later renamed
"Yugoslavia"), appointed him Commander of the Palace Guards in 1921
and Prime Minister eight years thereafter.

Zivkovic lost no time in disbanding all political parties and
(elected) municipalities. He embarked upon an endless string of show
trials of opponents of his dictatorship, communists and anti-
monarchists. He introduced a one-party, government-controlled
electoral system.
Thus, in an ironic twist of history, the Black Hand came to its own,
after all. One of its former members a Prime Minister, a dictator,
under a king installed by its slaughterous coup. Black Hand or White
Hand - the means disputed, the ends were always in consensus. A
Great Serbia for the Great Serbian people.


The Insurgents and the Swastika

"Even going back ten years it was easy to see something gripping
Yugoslavia by the throat. But in the years since then the grip has
been tightened, and tightened in my opinion by the dictatorship
established by King Alexander Karageorgevitch.
This dictatorship, however much it may claim a temporary success,
must inevitably have the effect of poisoning all the Yugoslav
organism. Whether the poisoning is incurable or not is the question
for which I have sought an answer during two months in Yugoslavia,
Bulgaria and central Europe."
"Black Hand over Europe" by Henri Pozzi, 1935

Yugoslavia was born in sin and in sin it perished. The King of
Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, Alexander I, a freshly self-proclaimed
dictator, declared it on October 1929. It was a union of East and
West, the Orthodox and the Catholic, Ottoman residues with Austro-
Hungarian structures, the heart and the mind. Inevitably, it stood
no chance. The Croats and the Slovenes - formerly fiery proponents
of a Yugo (Southern) Slav federation - were mortified to find
themselves in a Serb-dominated "Third World", Byzantine polity.

This was especially galling to the Croats who fiercely denied both
their geography and their race to cling to the delusion of being a
part of "Europe" rather than the "Balkans". To this very day, they
hold all things Eastern (Serbs, the Orthodox version of
Christianity, Belgrade, the Ottoman Empire, Macedonia) with
unmitigated contempt dipped in an all-pervasive feeling of
superiority. This is a well known defence mechanism in nations
peripheral. Many a suburban folk wish to belong to the city with
such heat and conviction, with such ridiculous emulation, that they
end up being caricatures of the original.
And what original! The bloated, bureaucracy-saddled, autocratic and
sadistic Habsburg empire. Hitler's Germany. Mussolini's Italy.
Unable to ignore the common ethnic roots of both Serbs and Croats -
one tribe, one language - the Croats chose to believe in a vast
conspiracy imposed upon the Serbs by corrupt and manipulative
rulers. The gullible and self-delusional Cardinal Stepinac of Zagreb
wrote just before the Second World War erupted, in a curious
reversal of pan-Serbist beliefs: "If there were more freedom...
Serbia would be Catholic in twenty years. The most ideal thing would
be for the Serbs to return to the faith of their fathers. That is,
to bow the head before Christ's representative, the Holy Father.
Then we could at last breathe in this part of Europe, for Byzantium
has played a frightful role ... in connection with the Turks."

The same Turks that almost conquered Croatia and, met by fierce and
brave resistance of the latter, were confined to Bosnia for 200
years. The Croats came to regard themselves as the last line of
defence against an encroaching East - against the manifestations and
transmutations of Byzantium, of the Turks, of a vile mix of
Orthodoxy and Islam (though they collaborated with their Moslem
minority during the Ustashe regime). Besieged by this siege
mentality, the back to the literal wall, desperate and phobic, the
Croats developed the paranoia typical of all small nations encircled
by hostility and impending doom. It was impossible to reconcile
their centrifugal tendency in favour of a weak central state in a
federation of strong local entities - with the Serb propensity to
create a centralist and bureaucratic court. When the Croat delegates
of the Peasant Party withdrew from the fragmented Constituent
Assembly in 1920 - Serbia and the Moslem members voted for the
Vidovdan Constitution (June 1921) which was modelled on the pre-war
Serbian one.
While a minority with limited popular appeal, the Ustashe did not
materialize ex nihilo. They were the logical and inescapable
conclusion of a long and convoluted historical process. They were
both its culmination and its mutation. And once formed, they were
never exorcised by the Croats, as the Germans exorcised their Nazi
demon. In this, again, the Croats, chose the path of unrepentant

Croat fascism was not an isolated phenomenon. Fascism (and, less so,
Nazism) were viable ideological alternatives in the 1930s and 1940s.
Variants of fascist ideology sprang all over the world, from Iraq
and Egypt to Norway and Britain. Even the Jews in Palestine had
their own fascists (the Stern group). And while Croat fascism (such
as it was, "tainted" by Catholic religiosity and pagan nationalism)
lasted four tumultuous years - it persisted for a quarter of a
century in Romania ("infected" by Orthodox clericalism and peasant
lores). While both branches of fascism - the Croat and the Romanian
- shared a virulent type of anti-Semitism and the constipated
morality of the ascetic and the fanatic - Codreanu's was more
ambitious, aiming at a wholesale reform of Romanian life and a re-
definition of Romanianism. The Iron Guard and the Legion (of the
Archangel Michael, no less) were, therefore and in their deranged
way, a force for reform founded on blood-thirsty romanticism and
masochistic sacrifices for the common good. Moreover, the Legion was
crushed in 1941 by a military dictatorship which had nothing to do
with fascism. It actually persecuted the fascists who found refuge
in Hitler's Germany.
Fascism in Hungary developed similarly. It was based on reactionary
ideologies pre-dating fascism by centuries. Miklos Horty, the
Austro-Hungarian Admiral was consumed by grandiose fantasies of an
Hungarian empire. He had very little in common with the fascists of
the "white terror" of 1919 in Budapest (an anti-communist

He did his best to tame the Hungarian fascist government of Gyula
Gombos (1932). The untimely death of the latter brought about the
meteoric rise of Ferenc Szalasi and his brand of blood-pure racism.
But all these sub-species of fascism, the Romanian, the Slovakian
(Tiso) and the Hungarian (as opposed to the Italian and the
Bulgarian) were atavistic, pagan, primal and romanticist - as was
the Croat. These were natural - though nefarious - reactions to
dislocation, globalization, economic crisis and cultural pluralism.
A set of compensatory mechanisms and reactions to impossible,
humiliating and degrading circumstances of wrathful helplessness and
frustration. "Native fascism" attributed a divine mission or divine
plan to the political unit of the nation, a part of a grand design.
The leader was the embodiment, the conveyor, the conduit, the
exclusive interpreter and the manifestation of this design (the
Fuhrerprinzip). Proof of the existence of such a transcendental plan
was the glorious past of the nation, its qualities and conduct
(hence the tedious moralizing and historical nitpicking). The
definition of the nation relied heavily of the existence of a
demonized and dehumanized enemy (Marxists, Jews, Serbs, Gypsies,
homosexuals, Hungarians in Romania, etc.). Means justified the end
and the end was stability and eternity ("the thousand years Reich").
Thus, as opposed to the original blueprint, these mutants of fascism
were inert and aspired to a state of rest, to an equilibrium after a
spurt of cleansing and restoration of the rightful balance.

When Serb domination (Serb ubiquitous military, Serbs in all senior
government positions even in Croatia) mushroomed into the "Kingdom
of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes", it was only natural for dissenting
and dissident Croats to turn to their "roots". Unable to
differentiate themselves from the hated Serbs racially - they
appealed to religious heterogeneity. Immediately after the political
hybrid was formed, the Croats expressed their discontent by handing
election victories to the "Croatian Peasant Party" headed by Radic.
The latter was a dour and devout anti-Yugoslav. He openly agitated
for an independent - rustic and pastoral - Croatia. But Radic was a
pragmatist. He learned his lesson when - having boycotted the
Constituent Assembly in Belgrade - he facilitated the imposition of
a pro-Serb, pro-central government constitution. Radic moderated his
demands, if not his rhetoric. The goal was now a federated
Yugoslavia with Croat autonomy within it. There is poetic justice in
that his death - at the hand of a Montenegrin deputy on the floor of
the Skupstina in 1928 - brought about the dictatorship that was to
give rise to Macek and the Sporazum (Croat autonomy). The irony is
that a peasant-favouring land reform was being seriously implemented
when a deadlock between peasant parties led to King Alexander's
fateful decision to abolish the parliamentary system.

King Alexander I was a good and worthy man forced by circumstances
into the role of an abhorrent tyrant. He was a great believer in the
power of symbols and education. He changed the name of his loose
confederacy into a stricter "Yugoslavia". In an attempt to defuse
internal divisions, he appealed to natural features (like rivers and
mountains) as internal borders. Croatia vanished as a political
entity, replaced by naturally-bounded districts and provinces. The
majority of Croats still believed in a federal solution, albeit less
Serb-biased. They believed in reform from the inside. The Ustashe
and Pavelic were always a minority, the Bolsheviks of Croatia. But
King Alexander's authoritarian rule was hard to ignore: the torture
of political opponents and their execution, the closure of patriotic
sports societies, the flagrant interference in the work of the
ostensibly independent judiciary, the censorship. There was bad
blood growing between the King and more of his subjects by the day.
The Croats were not the only "minority" to be thus maltreated. The
Serbs maintained an armed presence in Macedonia, Kosovo, the Sandzak
and even in Slovenia. They deported thousands of "Turks" (actually,
all manner of Muslims) under the guise of a "re-patriation" scheme.
They confiscated land from religious institutions, from the
deportees, from big landowners, from the Magyars in Vojvodina and
"re-distributed" it to the Serbs. Ethnic homogenization (later to
become known as "ethnic cleansing") was common practise in that era.
The Turks, the Bulgars, the Germans, the Greeks were all busily
purifying the ethnic composition of their lands. But it made the
King and the Serbs no friends.
The Serbs seemed to have been bent on isolating themselves from
within and on transforming their Yugo Slav brethren into sworn
adversaries. This was true in the economic sphere as well as in the
political realm. Serbia declared a "Danubian orientation" (in lieu
of the "Adriatic orientation") which benefited the economies of
central and northern Serbia at the expense of Croatia and Slovenia.
While Serbia was being industrialized and its agriculture reformed,
Croatia and Slovenia did not share in the spoils of war, the
reparations that Yugoslavia received from the Central Powers.
Yugoslavia was protectionist which went against the interest of its
trading compatriots. When war reparations ceased (1931) and
Germany's economy evaporated, Yugoslavia was hurled into the
economic crisis the world has been experiencing since 1929. The Nazi
induced recovery of Germany drew in Yugoslavia and its firms. It was
granted favourable export conditions by Hitler's Germany and many of
its companies participated in cartels established by German
corporate giants.
King Alexander I must have known he would be assassinated. Someone
tried to kill him as he was taking the oath to uphold the
constitution on June 28, 1921. For 8 long years he had to endure a
kaleidoscope of governments, a revolving door of ministers, violence
in the Assembly and ever-escalating Croat demands for autonomy.
After the hideous slaughter on the floor of parliament, all its
remaining Croat members withdrew.

They refused to go back and parliament had to be dissolved.
Alexander went further, taking advantage of the constitutional
crisis. He abolished the constitution of 1921, outlawed all
ethnically, religiously or nationally based political parties (which
basically meant most political parties, especially the Croat ones),
re-organized the state administration, standardized the legal
system, school syllabi and curricula and the national holidays. He
was moulding a nation single handedly, carving it from the slab of
mutual hatred and animosity. The Croats regarded all this as yet
another Serb ploy, proof of Serb power-madness and insatiable desire
to dominate. In an effort to placate the bulk of his constituency,
the peasantry, King Alexander established rural credit unions and
provided credit lines to small farmers and rural processing plants.
To no avail. The insecurity of this hastily foisted regime was felt,
its hesitation, the cruelty that is the outcome of fear. The
scavengers were gathering.
It was this basic shakiness that led the King to look for sustenance
from neighbours. In rapid succession, he made his state a friend of
Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and Romania (the last two in the frame of
the Little Entente). Another Entente followed (the Balkan one) with
Greece, Turkey and Romania. The King was frantically seeking to
neutralize his enemies from without while ignoring the dangers from

His death lurked in Zagreb but he was travelling to Marseilles to
meet it. A vicious secret police, a burgeoning military, a new
constitution to legalize his sanguinous regime conspired with a
global economic crisis to make him a hated figure, even by Serb
Democrats. Days before his death, he earnestly considered to return
to a parliamentary form of government. But it was too late and too
little for those who sought his end.
The Ustasha movement ("insurgence" or "insurrection", officially the
"Croatian Ustasha Movement") was a product of the personal rebellion
of Ante Pavelic and like-minded others. Born in Bosnia, he was a
member of the Croat minority there, in a Serb-infused environment.
He practised as a lawyer in Zagreb and there joined the Nationalist
Croatian Party of Rights. He progressed rapidly and by 1920 (at the
age of 31), he was alderman of Zagreb City and County. He was a
member of the Skupstina when anti-Croat sentiment peaked with the
triple murder of the Croat deputies. When Alexander the King
dissolved parliament and assumed dictatorial powers, he moved (or
fled) to Italy, there to establish a Croat nationalist movement, the
Ustasha. Their motto was "Za Dom Spremny" ("Ready for Home" or
"Ready for the Fatherland"). Italy the fascist was a natural choice
- both because of its ideological affinity and because it opposed
Yugoslavia's gradual drift towards Germany. Italy was worried about
an ultimate anschluss ("unification or incorporation") between the
Reich and Austria - which will have brought Hitler's Germany to
Austria's doorstep.

Thus, the Ustasha established training centres (more like refugee
camps, as they included the family members of the would be
"warriors") in Italy and Hungary (later to be expelled from the
latter as a result of Yugoslav pressure). Having mainly engaged in
the dissemination of printed propaganda, they failed at provoking a
peasant rebellion in north Dalmatia (promised to Italy by the
Ustasha). But they did better at assassinating their arch-foe, King
Alexander  in 1934 (having failed earlier, in 1933). In this the
Ustasha was reputed to have collaborated with the fascist IMRO
(Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization) under Ivan Mihailov
in Bulgaria. By joining forces with the IMRO, the Ustasha has
transformed itself into a link in the chain of terrorist
organizations that engulfed the world in blood and flames prior to
the onslaught of the greatest terrorist of all, of Hitler. While
some versions of the unholy alliance between the Bulgarian-
Macedonian outfit and the Croats are unsubstantiated (to put it
gently), it is clear that some assistance was provided by both lower
Italian ranks and the IMRO. The actual murderer of the King was
Mihailov's Macedonian chauffeur, Vlado Georgiev-Kerin. The Ustasha
was also known for blowing trains and for attempting to do so on
more than one occasion both in Croatia and in Slovenia. King
Alexander seemed to have ordered the systematic annihilation of the
Ustasha just before his own untimely Ustasha-assisted annihilation.
Lt. Colonel Stevo Duitch "committed suicide" in Karlsbad and there
were attempts - some successful, some less - on Pavelic in Munich,
Percevic in Vienna, Servaci (Servatsi) in Fiume and Percec in
Budapest. It was made abundantly clear to the Ustasha that it was an
all-out war with no prisoners taken. The King had to go.
It was a strange movement, the Ustashe. Claiming the continuous
"rights of state" of the Great Croatian Kingdom under Peter Kresimir
and Zvonimir in the 11th century - they nonetheless gave up Slovenia
and Bosnia-Herzegovina to Italy and, later, accepted a German
occupation of eastern Croatia. Composed of frugal ascetics and
avaricious operators, merciless romanticists and hard nosed
pragmatists, murderous sadists and refined intellectuals,
nationalist Croats and Serb-haters who had no coherent national
agenda bar the mass slaughter of the Serbs. Thus, it was a social
movement of the dispossessed, a cesspool of discontent and rage, of
aggression too long suppressed but never sublimated, of justified
social and political grievances irradiated by racism, national
chauvinism, militarism and sadism. A grassroots reaction turned
cancerous, led by a second hand, third rate Hitler-clone. A
terrorist organization displaying the trappings of a state in the
making. This is not to say that it lacked popular support. Tensions
ran so high between Serbs and Croats that daily brawls broke in pubs
and restaurants, trains and public places between Serb soldiers and
Croat citizens in Croatia. The Ustashe fed on real friction, were
charged by escalating tensions, mushroomed on growing violence.
Prince Paul, who acted as regent for 12 years old Peter II,
permitted the operation of political parties but did not reinstate
parliament. All this time, a Yugoslav opposition of democratic
forces included Croat as well as Serb intellectuals and wannabe
politicians. Vladko Macek himself - later, the epitome of Croat
separatism and the most successful promoter of this cause - was a
member. In the 1938 elections, his party - the Peasant Party - won
an astounding 80% of the votes in Croatia.

The regent, now much humbled by years of strife and paralysis -
bowed to popular opinion so eloquently and convincingly expressed.
He backed negotiations with Macek which led to a declaration of
Croat independence in everything but name. The Sporazum of August
1939, a few days before the outbreak of World War II, granted
Croatia self-government except in matters of national defence and
foreign affairs. The Serbs were now disgruntled. The Serb Democrats
felt abandoned and betrayed by Macek and his Faustian deal with the
dictatorship. All other Serbs felt humiliated by what they regarded
as a capitulation to irredentism, bound to have a disintegrative
domino effect on the rest of Serbia's possessions. It is a
surrealistic thing, to read the transcripts of these vehement and
sincere arguments just four days before the world as all the
conversants knew it, came to a shrieking end.
When German planes were pulverizing Warsaw, Yugoslavia declared its
mock-neutrality. Everybody knew that Paul was pro-German. Even King
Alexander before him signed a few secret pacts with the rising,
ignore at your peril, Central European force. The Austrian national
socialists who were implicated in the murder of the Austrian prime
minister, Dolfus, in July 1934, escaped to Yugoslavia and resided
openly (though disarmed by the Yugoslav police) in army barracks in
Varadzin. In 1935, a fascist movement was established in Serbia
("Zbor"). Fascism and Nazism were not without their attractions to
Serbs and Croats alike.

This is the great theatre of the absurd called the Balkans. Pavelic
and the Ustasha were actually closer in geopolitical orientation to
the Yugoslav monarchy (until Paul was deposed by the Yugoslav army)
- than to Mussolini's fascist Italy. They were worried by the
latter's tendency to block German designs on Austria. In a region
known for its indefinite historical memory and lack of statute of
limitations, they recalled how the Italians treated Montenegrin
refugees in 1923 (returning them to Yugoslavia in cattle cars). They
wondered if the precedent might be repeated, this time with Croat
passengers. The Italians did, after all, arrest "Longin"
(Kvaternik), Jelic and others in Torino following the assassination
of the King. In the paranoid twilight zone of European Big Power
sponsored terrorism, these half hearted actions and dim memories
were enough to cast a pall of suspicion and of guilt over the
Italian regime. Mussolini called Pavelic his "Balkan Pawn" but in
that he was mistaken. There are good reasons to believe that he was
shocked by the murder of King Alexander. In any event, the free
movement of Pavelic and the Ustasha was afterwards severely
On March 1941, the Crown Council of Yugoslavia decided to accede to
the Tripartite Pact of the Axis, though in a watered down form.
Yugoslavia maintained the prerogative to refuse the right of passage
in its territory to foreign powers.

Yet, no one believed this would be the case if confronted with such
a predicament. This decision - to give up Yugoslavia's main asset
and only protection - its neutrality - was taken under pressure from
the Croats in power at the time. The Pact was already joined by
Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary. Two days after the Yugoslav Prime
Minister (Dragisa Cvetkovic) and his foreign minister signed the
Pact in Vienna - they were deposed together with the Regent Paul.
The precocious Peter was made King of Yugoslavia by the rebellious
officers, headed by General Dusan Simovic. The generals now in
charge reverted to Yugoslavia's neutrality and refused to join the
British-Greek naval treaty, for example. But what appeared to be
spontaneous demonstrations in favour of the conspirators and against
the Tripartite Pact erupted all over Serbia. It was a challenge to
Germany which it could not ignore. The Supreme Command of the
Wehrmact (OKW) issued "Undertaking 25" (against Yugoslavia) and
"Case Marita" (against Greece). The Yugoslavs mobilized (albeit with
a surprising procrastination), the Germans invaded (on April 6,
1941) and, within 10 days it was all over. The Croats did their best
to assist the new forces of occupation, disrupting and sabotaging
the best they could army operations as well as civilian defence. It
was clear that many of them (though by no means the majority)
regarded the Serbs as the real occupiers and the Germans as long
awaited liberators.

On April 10, 1941, six days into the invasion, the Germans declared
the Independent State of Croatia (NDH, after the initials of its
name in Croatian - Nezavisna Drzava Hrvatska). Vladimir Mecak,
leader of the Peasant Party and Deputy Prime Minister of Yugoslavia
called on the people to collaborate with the new government.
Overnight, a fringe terrorist organization, (erroneously) considered
to be more a puppet of Italy that a true expression of Croat
nationalism, found itself at the helm of government in circumstances
complicated by internecine rivalries, inter-ethnic tensions, an
history of hate and mutual resentment, a paranoia stoked by sporadic
violence. The Serbs were evidently a fifth column and so were the
Jews. Indeed, Croatia's Serbs wasted no time in joining resistance
movements against the Nazis and the NDH. Anyhow, the vacuum created
by Macek's surprising passivity and by the Church's abstention - was
filled by the Ustashe. The new state included a part of Dalmatia
(the rest went to Italy), the region of Srem and the entirety of
Bosnia Herzegovina. It was the closest Croatia ever got to re-
creating Great Croatia of a millennium ago. Fearful of Croat
encroachment, the Slovenes hurried to discuss the declaration of
their own state modelled after the NDH - only to discover that their
country was split between Italy and Germany.  In Zagreb, the
enthusiasm was great. The 200 nor so returning Ustashe were greeted
back even by their political rivals. People thronged the streets,
throwing flowers and rice at the advancing former terrorist and
German convoys.

The NDH existed for four years. It had 7 governments - only 5 of
which were headed by Ante Pavelic. As opposed to popular opinion,
the Ustashe were not a puppet regime, far from it. Both the Italians
and the Germans express their continued frustration at being unable
to control and manipulate the Ustashe. Despite their military
presence and economic support - both Axis powers lacked real
leverage over the ever more frantic activities of the Ustashe. Even
when it was clear that the Croat NDH - in its genocidal activities -
is alienating the Serbs and adding to the ranks of resistance
movements throughout Yugoslavia, there was precious little the
Germans or Italians could do. They held polite and less polite talks
with the top echelons of their own creation but like the fabled Dr.
Frankenstein found that the NDH had a life very much of its own and
an agenda it pursued with vigour and conviction.
It is impossible - nor is it desirable - to avoid the issue of the
mass killings of Serbs, Jews and Gypsies. Some Croats claim that
"only" 60-70,000 were killed in Jasenovac and other camps. The very
use of the word "only" in this context ought to send a frisson of
repulsion down the spines of civilized men. The Serbs, Jewish
scholars and many international scholars claim the number was
between 300-600,000 people. The reason for the disparity in numbers
is that - despite their "German" pretensions, the Croats acted like
the least of the barbarous Balkanians in their mass slaughters. This
was no industrial affairs, replete with bureaucracy and statistics.
The massacres were atavistic, primitive, the call of blood and guts
and scattered brains. It was an orgy, not an operation.
There is nothing much to tell about the NDH. The regime was busy
enacting laws against deadly sins and minor vices (such as
pornography). The collaboration with the Catholic Church proceeded
smoothly. Laws were passed against the Jews. The NDH army fought the
partisans and the Allied Forces. When it tried to surrender to the
British army in 1945 - it refused to accept their capitulation and
turned them over to the partisans. In a series of death marches army
soldiers and civilian collaborators with the Ustashe were
deliberately exterminated. The Balkans knows no mercy. Victims
become butchers and butchers victims in nauseating turns. By 1944,
the NDH lost half its territory either to the Germans or to the
partisans. The rump state survived somehow, its leaders deserting in
droves. Pavelic himself escaped to Austria, from there to Italy and
Argentina. He survived an attempt on his life in 1957 and then fled
to Paraguay and Spain where he died in 1959.
"After all, if the Croat state wishes to be strong, a nationally
intolerant policy must be pursued for fifty years, because too much
tolerance on such issues can only do harm."
Adolf Hitler to Ante Pavelic in their meeting, June 6, 1941

"For the rest - Serbs, Jews and Gypsies - we have three million
bullets. We shall kill one third of all Serbs. We shall deport
another third, and the rest of them will be forced to become Roman
Mile Budak, Minister of Education of Croatia, July 22, 1941
"There are limits even to love... (It is) stupid and unworthy of
Christ's disciples to think that the struggle against evil could be
waged in a noble way and with gloves on."
Archbishop of Sarajevo, Ivan Saric, 1941
"Croats no longer think that German troops are present merely to
provide peace and security, but that they are here to support the
Ustasha regime [...] The Ustashas promote the impression that they
act not only in agreement with German instances, but actually on
their orders. [...] There is here today a deep mistrust of Germany,
because it is supporting a regime that has no moral or political
right to exist, which is regarded as the greatest calamity that
could have happened to the Croat people. That regime is based
entirely on the recognition by the Axis powers, it has no popular
roots, and depends on the bayonets of robbers who do more evil in a
day than the Serbian regime had done in twenty years."
Captain Haffner to General Edmund Glaise von Horstenau,
Plenipotentiary of the Wehrmacht in Zagreb, Croatia, 1941

"Our troops have to be mute witnesses of such events; it does not
reflect well on their otherwise high reputation... I am frequently
told that German occupation troops would finally have to intervene
against Ustasha crimes. This may happen eventually. Right now, with
the available forces, I could not ask for such action Ad hoc
intervention in individual cases could make the German Army look
responsible for countless crimes which it could not prevent in the
General Edmund Glaise von Horstenau to the OKW, July 10, 1941
"The horrors that the Ustashi have committed over the Serbian small
girls is beyond all words. There are hundreds of photographs
confirming these deeds because those of them who have survived the
torture: bayonet stabs, pulling of tongues and teeth, nails and
breast tips - all this after they were raped. Survivors were taken
in by our officers and transported to Italian hospitals where these
documents and facts were gathered."
Commander of the Italian Sassari Division in Croatia, 1941

"Increased activity of the bands is chiefly due to atrocities
carried out by Ustasha units in Croatia against the Orthodox
population. The Ustashas committed their deeds in a bestial manner
not only against males of conscript age, but especially against
helpless old people, women and children. The number of the Orthodox
that the Croats have massacred and sadistically tortured to death is
about three hundred thousand."
Report to Reichsfuhrer SS Heinrich Himmler from the Geheime
Staatspolizei - GESTAPO - dated February 17, 1942
"From the founding [of the NDH] until now the persecution of Serbs
has not stopped, and even cautious estimates indicate that at least
several hundred thousand people have been killed. The irresponsible
elements have committed such atrocities that could be expected only
from a rabid Bolshevik horde."
German foreign ministry plenipotentiary representative in Belgrade
Felix Benzler to Joachim von Ribbentrop, Minister of Foreign Affairs
of the Reich
" (In Croatia under the Ustasha) ...over half a million [Serbs] were
murdered, about a quarter of a million were expelled from the
country, and another quarter of a million were forced to convert to
Encyclopaedia of the Holocaust

(All quotes from "The Real Genocide in Yugoslavia: Independent
Croatia of 1941 Revisited"
by: Srdja Trifkovic, published in: www.rockfordinstitute.org and in:
www.antiwar.com )


KLA - The Army of Liberation

"(There is a growing tendency among foreign observers) to identify
the criminal with the honest, the vandal with the civilized, the
mafiosi with the nation.''
Former Albanian President Sali Berisha
"They were terrorists in 1998 and now, because of politics, they're
freedom fighters"
Jerry Seper, quoting an anonymous "top drug official" who refers to
a 1998 State Department report, in the article "KLA Finances War
with Heroin Sales", Washington Times, May 3, 1999
"The Albanian villages are much better, much richer than the Serbian
ones. The Serbs, even the rich ones, don't build fine houses in
villages where there are Albanians. If a Serb has a two-story house
he refrains from painting it so that it shan't look better than the
Albanian houses."
Leon Trotsky, War Correspondent for "Pravda", reporting from the
Balkan Wars, 1912-3
"When spring comes, we will manure the plains of Kosovo with the
bones of Serbs, for we, Albanians, have suffered too much to
Isa Boletini, leaving the Ambassadors Conference in London, 1913

"Instead of using their authority and impartiality to restrain
terrorist gangs of Albanian extremists, we face the situation in
which the terrorism is taking place under their auspices, and even
being financed by United Nations means"
Milosevic, March 2000
"Getting history wrong is an essential part of being a nation."
Ernest Renan, French historian
"We spent the 1990's worrying about a Greater Serbia. That's
finished. We are going to spend time well into the next century
worrying about a Greater Albania."
Christopher Hill, Ambassador to Macedonia, 1999
"There is no excuse for that, even if the Serbs in Kosovo are very
angry. I accept responsibility. One of the most important tasks of a
democracy is to protect its minorities."
Milosevic to Ambassador Hill who reported to him about atrocities in
"I am like a candle. I am melting away slowly, but I light the way
for others."
Adem Demaci, political representative of the KLA

The founding fathers of the KLA were Ibrahim Rugova, the pacifist
president of the self-proclaimed "Kosovo Republic", established in
1991 - and Slobodan Milosevic, his belligerent Yugoslav counterpart.
The abysmal failure of the Gandhiesque policies of the former to
shelter his people from the recrudescently violent actions of the
latter - revived the fledging KLA outfit. Contrary to typically
shallow information in the media, the KLA has been known to have
operated in Kosovo as early as the attack on policemen in Glogovac
in May 1993. Its epiphany, in the form of magnificently uniformed
fighters, occurred only on November 28, 1997 (in the funeral of a
teacher, a victim of Serb zealousness) - but it existed long before.
Perhaps as long as the People's Movement of Kosovo, founded in 1982.
The historical and cultural roots of the conflict in Kosovo were
described elsewhere ("The Bad Blood of Kosovo"). Reading that
article is essential as this one assumes prior acquaintance with it.
Kosovo is a land of great mineral wealth and commensurate
agricultural poverty. It has always languished with decrepit
infrastructure and irrelevant industry.  Kosovo's mineral riches
were looted by Yugoslavia for decades and both Macedonia and Kosovo
were the poor relatives in the Yugoslav Federation.

In Kosovo, more than 31% of all those over 10 years of age were
illiterate (in 1979) and its per capita income was less than 30% of
the national average. Infant mortality was 6 times that in Slovenia.
Kosovo was an African enclave in an otherwise Europe-aspiring
country. Caught in the pernicious spiral of declining commodity
prices, Kosovo relied on transfers from Yugoslavia and from abroad
for more than 90% of its income. Inevitably, unemployment tripled
from 19% in 1971 to 57% in 1989.
As a result, the Federal government had to quell 3-months long,
paralysing riots in 1981. Riots were nothing new to Kosovo - the
demonstrations of 1968 were arguably worse (and led to
constitutional changes granting autonomy to Kosovo in 1974). But
this time, the authorities, reacted with tanks in scenes reminiscent
of China's Tiananmen Square 8 years later. The hotbed of hotheads
was, as usual, the University in Pristina. Students there were more
concerned with pedestrian issues such the quality of their food and
the lack of facilities than with any eternal revolutionary or
national truths. These mundane protests were hijacked by comrades
with higher class consciousness and loftier motives of self-
determination. Such hijacking, though, would have petered out had
the cesspool of rage and indignation not been festering so
ebulliently. Serb insensitivity backed by indiscriminate brutality
led to escalation. As the years passed, calls for the restoration of
the 1974 constitution (under which Kosovo was granted political,
financial, legal and cultural autonomy and institutions) - merged
into a sonorous agenda of "Great Albania" and a "Kosovo Republic".
The Kosovar crowd was never above beatings, looting and burning. The
hate was strong.
Yugoslavia's ruling party - the League of Communists - was in the
throes of its own transformation. With Tito's demise and the
implosion of the Soviet Bloc, the Communists lacked both compass and
leader. His natural successors were purged by Tito in the 1960s and
1970s. The party wasn't sure whether to turn to Gorbachev's East or
to America's West. The Communists panicked and embarked on a rampage
of imprisonment, unjust dismissals of Albanians (mainly of teachers,
journalists, policemen and judges) and the occasional torture or
murder. Serb intellectuals regarded this as no more than the
rectification of Tito's anti-Serb policies. Serbia was the only
Republic within the Federation, who was dismembered into autonomous
regions (Kosovo and Vojvodina). "Getting back at Tito" was a strong
motive, commensurate with Serb "the world is against us" paranoia
and siege mentality. Milosevic, visibly ill at ease, surfed this
tide of religion-tinged nationalism straight into Kosovo, the
historical heartland of Serb-ism.
Oppression breeds resistance and Serb oppression served only to
streamline the stochastic nationalist movement into a
compartmentalized, though factious, underground organization with
roots wherever Albanians resided: Germany, Switzerland, the USA,
Canada and Australia. The ideology was an improbable mix of
Stalinism (Enver Hoxha-inspired), Maoism and Albanian chauvinism.
This was before Albania opened up to reveal its decrepitude and
desolation to its Kosovar visitors. All delusions of an Albania-
backed armed rebellion evaporated in the languor of Albania proper.
Thus, the activities of the Nationalists were more innocuous than
their concocted doctrines.

They defaced government buildings, shattered gravestones in Serb
cemeteries and overturned heroic monuments. The distribution of
subversive (and fairly bromide) "literature" was rarely accompanied
by acts of terror, either in Kosovo or in Europe.
Nationalism is refuge from uncertainty. As the old Yugoslavia was
crumbling, each of its constituents developed its own brand of
escapism, replete with revenant nationalist leaders, mostly
fictional "history", a newly discovered language and a pledge to
fate to reconstitute a lost empire at its apex. Thus, Kosovar
nationalism was qualitatively the kin and kith of the Serb or Croat
sub-species. Paradoxically, though rather predictably, they fed on
each other. Milosevic was as much a creation of Kosovar nationalism
as Thaci was the outcome of Milosevic's policies. The KLA's
Stalinist-Maoist inspiration was in emulation of the paranoid and
omphaloskeptic regime in Albania - but it owed its existence to
Belgrade's intransigence. The love-hate relationship between the
Kosovars and the Albanians is explored elsewhere ("The Myths of
Great Albania -Part I"). The Serbs, in other words, were as
terrified of Kosovar irredentism as the Kosovars were of Serb
dominion. Their ever more pressing and menacing appeals to Belgrade
gave the regime the pretext it needed to intervene and Milosevic the
context he sought in which to flourish.

In February 1989, armed with a new constitution which abolished
Kosovo's autonomy (and, a year later, its stunned government),
Milosevic quelled a miners' hunger strike and proceeded to institute
measures of discrimination against the Albanians in the province.
Discrimination was nothing new to Kosovo. The Albanians themselves
initiated such anti-Serb measures following their new gained
constitutional autonomy in 1974. Now the tide has turned and
thousands of Albanians who refused to sign new-fangled "loyalty
vows" were summarily sacked and lost their pension rights (the most
sacred possession of "Homo Socialismus"). Albanian media were
shuttered and schools vacated when teacher after teacher refused to
abide by the Serb curriculum. After a while, The Serbs re-opened
primary schools and re-hired Albanian teachers, allowing them to
teach in Albanian. But secondary schools and universities remained
These acts of persecution did not meet with universal disapproval.
Greece, for instance, regarded the Albanians as natural allies of
the Turks and, bonded by common enmity, of the Macedonians and
Bulgarians. Itself comprised of lands claimed by Albania, Greece
favoured a harsh and final resolution of the Albanian question.
There can be little doubt that Macedonia - feeling besieged by its
Albanian minority - regarded Milosevic as the perfect antidote.
Macedonia actively assisted Yugoslavia to break the embargo imposed
on it by the Western powers. Milosevic was not, therefore, a pariah,
as retroactive history would have it. Rather, he was the only
obstacle to a "Great Albania".
Within less than a year, in 1990, the Democratic League of Kosovo
(LDK) was able to claim a membership of 700,000 members. Hashim
Thaci ("Snake"), Sulejman Selimi ("Sultan") and other leaders of the
KLA were then 20 years of age. Years of Swiss education
notwithstanding, they witnessed first hand Kosovo's tumultuous
transformation into the engine of disintegration of the Yugoslav
Federation. It was a valuable lesson in the dialectic of history,
later to be applied brilliantly.
The leader of the LDK, the forever silk scarfed and mellifluous Dr.
Ibrahim Rugova, compared himself openly and blushlessly to Vaclav
Havel and the Kosovar struggle to the Velvet Revolution. This turgid
and risible analogy deteriorated further as the Kosovar Velvet was
stained by the blood of innocents. Dr. Rugova was an unfazed dreamer
in a land of harsh nightmares. The Sorbonne was never a good
preparatory school to the academy of Balkan reality. Rugova's ideals
were good and noble - Gandhi-like passive resistance, market
economics, constructive (though uncompromising and limited to the
authorities) dialogue with the enemy. They might still prevail. And
during the early 1990s he was all the rage and the darling of the
West. But he failed to translate his convictions into tangible
achievements. His biggest failure might have been his inability to
ally himself with a "Big Power" - as did the Croats, the Slovenes
and the Bosnians. This became painfully evident with the signature
of the Dayton Accord in 1995 which almost completely ignored Kosovo
and the Kosovars.

True, the West conditioned the total removal of sanctions against
Yugoslavia on its humane treatment of its Albanian citizens and
encouraged the Albanians, though circumspectly, to stand for their
rights. But there was no explicit support even for the re-
instatement of Kosovo's 1974 status, let alone for the Albanians'
dreams of statehood. In the absence of such support - financial and
diplomatic - Kosovo remained an internal problem of Yugoslavia, a
renegade province, a colony of terror and drug trafficking. The
Kosovars felt betrayed as they have after the Congress of Berlin and
the Balkan Wars. Perhaps securing such a sponsor was a lost cause to
start with (though the KLA succeeded where Rugova failed) - but then
Rugova misled his people into sanguinous devastation by declaring
the "Kosovo Republic" prematurely. His choice of pacifism may have
been dictated by the sobering sights from the killing fields of
Bosnia - and proved his pragmatism. But his decision to declare a
"Republic" was pre-mature, self-aggrandizing and in vacuo. The
emergence of a political alternative - tough, realistic, methodical
and structured - was not only a question of time but a welcome
development. There is no desolation like the one inflicted by
sincere idealists.

In 1991, Rugova set about organizing a Republic from a shabby office
building and the opposite "Cafe Mimoza". His government constructed
makeshift schools and hospitals, parallel networks of services
staffed by the Serb-dispossessed, capitalizing on a sweeping wave of
volunteerism. Albania recognized this nascent state immediately and
international negotiators (such as Lord Owen and Cyrus Vance)
conferred with its self-important figurehead (for instance, in
September 1992). Successive American administrations funnelled money
into the province and warnings against "ethnic cleansing" were flung
at Yugoslavia as early as 1993. Internally, Serb extremists in both
Belgrade and Pristina prevented Serb moderates (like then Yugoslav
Prime Minister Milan Panic) from re-opening the schools of Kosovo
and reducing the massive, Northern-Ireland-like Serb military
presence in it. An agreement signed in 1997 by both Rugova and
Milosevic to abolish the parallel Albanian education system and re-
open all the educational facilities in Kosovo was thus frustrated.
Kosovo fractured along ethnic lines with complete segregation of the
Serbs and the Albanians. To avoid contact with the Serbs was an
unwritten rule, breached only by prominent intellectuals. The
"Kosovo Republic" was far from advocating ethnic cleansing or even
outright independence (there were powerful voices in favour of a
federal solution within Yugoslavia) - but not far from re-inventing
an inverted version of apartheid.

It faced the ubiquitous problem of all the other republics of former
Yugoslavia - not one of them was ethnically "pure". To achieve a
tolerable level of homogeneity, they had to resort to force. Rugova
advocated the measured application of the insidious powers of
discrimination and segregation. But, once the theme was set,
variations were bound to arise.
Though dominant for some years, Rugova and the LDK did not
monopolize the Kosovar political landscape. Following a poll in
1998, boycotted by all other political parties, which resulted in
the re-election of Rugova as president - the disenchanted and
disillusioned had plenty of choice. Some joined the KLA, many more
joined Rexhep Qosaj's (Qosje) United Democratic Movement (LBD). The
political scene in Kosovo in the 1980s and early 1990s was vibrant
and kaleidoscopic. Adem Demaci - the Marxist ideologue of the KLA, a
long time political prisoner and the founder of the "revolutionary
Movement for the Merger of Albanians" in 1964 - established the
Parliamentary Party of Kosovo (PPK) before he handed it over to
Bajram Kosumi, a dissident and another venerable political prisoner.
The PPK was co-founded by Veton Surroi, the English-speaking, US-
educated, son of a Yugoslav diplomat and editor of Koha Ditore, the
Albanian language daily. The Albanians are not a devout lot, but
even Islam had its political manifestations in Kosovo.

The 1981 demonstrations gave rise to the Popular Movement for Kosovo
(LPK). Apparently, it gave rise to the KLA, probably in 1993,
possibly in Pristina. Whatever the circumstances, the KLA
congregated in Decani, the region surrounding Pristina. Two years
after the Golgovac attack - it tackled a Serb border patrol (April)
and a Serb Police Station (August) in 1995. Light weapons and a
crude bomb were used. The Serbs were not impressed - but they were
provoked into an escalating series of ever more hideous massacres of
Albanian villagers (the turning point might have been the slaughter
by the Serbs of the Jashari clan in Prekaz). Machiavellian analysts
ascribe to the KLA a devilish plot to provoke the Serbs into the
ethnic cleansing that finally introduced the West to tortured
Kosovo. The author of this article, aware of the Balkan's lack of
propensity for long term planning and predilection for self-
defeating vengeance - believes that, to the KLA, it was all a
serendipitous turn of events. Whatever the case may be, the KLA
became sufficiently self-assured and popular to advertise itself on
the BBC as responsible for some of the clashes - a rite of passage
common to all self-respecting freedom fighters.

The selection of targets by the KLA is very telling. At first it
concentrated its fiery intentions only upon military and law and
order personnel. Its reluctance to effect civilians was meritorious.
A subtle shift occurred when the Serbs began to re-populate Kosovo
with Serbs displaced from the Krajina region. Alarmed by the intent
- if not by the execution (only 10,000 Serbs or so were settled in
Kosovo) - the KLA reacted with a major drive to arm itself and by
attacking Serb settlements in Klina, Decani and Djakovica and a
refugee camp in Baboloc. The KLA attacks were militarily
sophisticated and co-ordinated. Serb policemen were ambushed on the
road between Glogovac and Srbica. The Serb counter-offensive
resulted in dozens of Albanian victims - civilians, men, women and
children (the "Drenica Massacre"). The KLA tried to defend villages
aligned along a Pec-Djakovica line and thus disrupt the
communications and logistics of Serb Military Police and Special
(Ministry of Interior) Police units. The main arena of fighting was
a recurrent one - in the 1920s, Albanian guerillas, based in the
hills, attacked the Serbs in Drenica.

What finally transformed the KLA from a wannabe IRA into the
fighting force that it has become was the disintegration of Albania.
History is the annals of irony. The break-up of the KLA'a role model
- led to the resurgence of its intellectual progeny. The KLA
absorbed thousands of weapons from the looted armouries of the
Albanian military and police. Angry mobs attacked these ordnances
following the collapse of pyramid investment schemes that robbed one
third of the population of all their savings. The arms ended up in
the trigger-happy hands of drug lords, mafiosi, pimps, smugglers and
freedom fighters from Tetovo in Macedonia to Durres in Albania and
from Pristina in Kosovo to the Sandzak in Serbia. The KLA was so
ill-equipped to cope with this fortuitous cornucopia - that it began
to trade weapons, a gainful avocation it found hard to dislodge ever
since. The convulsive dissolution of Albania led to changes in high
places. Sali Berisha was deposed and replaced by Rexhep Mejdani, an
even more sympathetic ear to separatist demands. Berisha himself
later allowed the KLA to use his property (around Tropoja) as
staging grounds and supported the cause (though not the "Marxist-
Leninist" KLA or its self-appointed government) unequivocally.

At a certain stage, he even accused Fatos Nano, his rival and the
Prime Minister of Albania of being the enemy of the Albanian people
for not displaying the same unmitigated loyalty to the idea of an
independent Kosovo, under Rugova and Bujar Bukoshi, Rugova's money
man (and Prime Minister in exile). The KLA was able to expand its
presence in Albania, mainly in its training and operations centres
near Kukes, Ljabinot (near Tirana) and Bajram Curi. Albania had a
growing say in the affairs of the KLA as it recomposed itself - it
was instrumental in summoning the KLA to Rambouillet, for instance.
This armed revelry coupled with the rising fortunes of separatism,
led Robert Gelbard, the senior US envoy to the Balkan to label the
KLA - "a terrorist organization". The Serbs took this to mean a
licence to kill, which they exercised dutifully in Drenica.
Promptly, the USA changed course and the indomitable Madeleine
Albright switched parties, saying: "We are not going to stand by and
watch the Serbian authorities do in Kosovo what they can no longer
get away with in Bosnia".

This stern consistency was followed by a tightening of the embargo
against Yugoslavia and by a threat of unilateral action. For the
first time in history, the Kosovars finally had a sponsor - and what
a sponsor! The mightiest of all. As for Milosevic, he felt
nauseatingly betrayed. Not only was he not rewarded for his role as
the Dayton peacemaker - he was faced with new sanctions, an
ultimatum and a direct threat on the very perpetuation of his
The KLA mushroomed not because it attacked Serbs (very sporadically
and to a minuscule effect). It ballooned because it delivered where
Rugova didn't even promise. It delivered an alliance with the USA
against the hated Serbs. It delivered weapons. It delivered hope and
a plan. It delivered vengeance, the self-expression of the
downtrodden. It was joined by near and far and, by its own
reckoning, its ranks swelled to 50,000 warriors. More objective
experts put the figure of active fighters at one fourth this number.
Still, it is an impressive number in a population of 1.7 million
Albanians. During the war, it was joined by 400 overweight
suburbanites from North America, Albanian volunteers within an
"Atlantic Brigade". It also absorbed Albanians with rich military
experience from Serbia and Croatia as well as foreign mercenaries
and possibly "Afghanis" (the devout Moslem veterans of the wars in
Afghanistan, Lebanon and Bosnia).

The influx of volunteers put pressure on the leadership - both
organizational and pecuniary. The KLA - an entrepreneurial start up
of insurgency - had matured into a national brand of guerilla. It
revamped itself, creating directorates, offices and officers, codes
and procedures, a radio station and a news agency, an electronic
communications interception unit, a word of mouth messenger service
and a general military staff, headed since February 1999 by "Sultan"
and divided to seven operational zones. In short, it reacted to
changing fortunes by creating a bureaucracy. Concurrently, it armed
itself to its teeth with more sophisticated weapons than ever before
(though it was still short of medical supplies, ammunition and
communications equipment). The KLA now had  shoulder-fired anti-tank
rocket launchers (like the German "Armburst"), mortars, recoilless
rifles, anti-aircraft machine-guns and automatic assault rifles.
Some of the weapons were even bought from Serb army officers or
imported through Hungary. All this required a financial phase
transition. That the KLA has benefited, directly and knowingly, from
money tainted by drug trafficking and smuggling of both goods and
people across borders - can be in little doubt. But I find the
proposition that the KLA itself has traded in drugs unlikely. The
long-established Albanian clans which control the "Balkan Route" -
the same clans that faced down the fearsome Turkish gangs on their
own turf - would have never let an upstart such as the KLA take over
any of their territory and its incumbent profits.

The KLA might have traded weapons. It might have dabbled in
smuggling. It might have received donations from drug lords. In
this, it is no different from all major modern guerilla movements.
But it did not peddle drugs - not because of moral scruples but
because of the lethal competition it would have encountered. That
the KLA had to resort to such condemnable methods of financing is
not surprising. Rugova refused to share with it the funds abroad
managed by Bujar Bukoshi on behalf of the "Kosovar People". It had
no other means of income and, as opposed to Rugova, it could act
only clandestinely and surreptitiously. The West was no great help
either - contrary to the myth spun by the Serbs.
Another source of income was the 3% "War Tax" levied on 500,000
Kosovar Albanians and their businesses in the diaspora (though most
of it ended up under Bukoshi's and Rugova's control). Officially
collected by the People's Movement of Kosovo, the ultimate use of
the proceeds was the sustenance of the shadow republic. The KLA made
use of the voluntary and not so voluntary donations to the Swiss-
based fund "Homeland Calls" (or "Motherland is Calling").

The USA - the pragmatic superpower that it is - began to divert its
attention from the bumbling and hapless Rugova to the emerging KLA.
The likes of Gelbard and, his senior, Richard Holbrooke, held talks
with its youthful political director, Hashim Thaci - suave, togged
up and earnest, he was just what the doctor ordered. To discern that
a showdown in Kosovo was near required no prophetic powers. The KLA
might come handy to espy the land and to divert the Serb forces
should the need arise.
"The Clinton administration has diligently put everything in place
for intervention. In fact, by mid-July US-NATO planners had
completed contingency plans for intervention, including air strikes
and the deployment of ground troops. All that was missing was a
sufficiently brutal or tragic event to trigger the process. As a
senior Defence Department official told reporters on July 15, 'If
some levels of atrocities were reached that would be intolerable,
that would probably be a trigger.'" - wrote Gary Dempsey from the
Cato Institute in October 1998. The author of this article published
another one in the "Middle East Times" in August 1998 in which the
Kosovo conflict was delineated in reasonably accurate detail ("The
Plight of the Kosovar"). The article was written in April 1998 - by
which time the outline of things to come was plain.

All along, the KLA prepared itself to be a provisional government
in-waiting. It occupied regions of Kosovo, established roadblocks,
administration, welfare offices. Its members operated nocturnally.
The Serb reaction got ever harsher until finally it threatened not
only to wipe the KLA out of existence but also to depopulate the
parts of the province controlled by it. In September 1998, NATO
threatened air strikes against Serbia, following reports of a
massacre of women and children in the village of Gornje Obrinje.
This led to the October 20th agreement with Belgrade, which
postulated a reduction in the levels of Yugoslav troops in the
The KLA was all but ignored in these events. Rugova was not. He was
often consulted by the American negotiators and treated like a head
of state. The message was deafeningly clear: the KLA was a pawn on
the chessboard of war. It had no place where the civilized and the
responsible tread. It had no raison d'etre in peacetime. It reacted
by hitting a number of "Serb collaborators" (mostly of Gorani
extract - Muslim Slavs who speak a dialect of Albanian). One of the
disposed was Enver Maloku, Rugova's close associate.

On January 15, 1999, in the village of Racak, someone murdered
scores of people and dumped them by the roadside. The KLA blamed the
Serbs. The Serbs blamed the KLA and William Walker, the head of the
OSCE observer team. The media reports were inconclusive. While
everyone was fighting over the smouldering bodies, NATO was
preparing to attack and Walker withdrew his observer team from
Kosovo into an increasingly reluctant and enraged Macedonia. Faced
with sovereignty-infringing and regime-destabilizing demands at
Rambouillet, the Serbs declined. Under pressure and after days of
consultations, the Albanian delegation accepted the dictated draft
agreement hesitatingly. In the absence of the predicted Serb
capitulation, "Operation Allied Forces" commenced.
Rambouillet was a turning point for the KLA. Evidently on the verge
of war, the USA reverted to its preferences of yore. The KLA, a more
useful ally on the ground in battle, took over from the LDK as the
US favourite. At the behest of the United States, KLA
representatives not only were present, but headed the Kosovar
negotiating team. Thaci took some convincing and shuttling between
Rambouillet, Switzerland and Kosovo - but finally, in March, he
accepted the terms of the agreement with a sombre Rugova in tow.
These public acts of statesmanship: negotiating, bargaining and,
finally, accepting graciously - cemented the role and image of the
KLA as not only a military outfit but also a political organization
with the talent and wherewithal to lead the Kosovars. Rugova's
position was never more negligible and marginal.
"The KLA will transform in many directions, not just a military
guard. One part will become part of the police, one part will become
civil administration, one part will become the Army of Kosovo, as a
defence force. Finally, a part will form a political party."
Agim Ceku, KLA CDR
The Western media hit a nadir of bias and unprofessional sycophancy
during the Kosovo crisis. It, therefore, remains unclear who pulled
whose strings. The KLA was seen to be more adept at spin doctoring
than hubris-infested NATO. It started the war as an outcast and
ended it as an ally of NATO on the ground and the real government of
a future Kosovo. It capitalized ingeniously on Rugova's mysterious
disappearance and then on his, even less comprehensible, refusal to
visit the refugee camps and to return to liberated Kosovo. It
interfaced marvellously with both youthful prime ministers -
Albania's Pandeli Majko and Macedonia's Ljubco Georgievski. This
new-found camaraderie ended in a summit with the latter, organized
by Arben Xhaferi (Dzaferi), an influential Albanian coalition
partner in Macedonia (and, many say, Thaci's business partner in
Kosovo). Georgievski, who did more for Macedonia's regional
integration and amicable relationships with its neighbours than all
the previous governments of Macedonia combined - did not hesitate to
shake the hand of the political leader of an organization still
decried by his own Interior Ministry as "terrorist".

It was a gamble - bold and, in hindsight, farsighted - but still, a
gamble. Rugova himself was not accorded such an honour when he
finally passed through Macedonia, on his way to his demolished
During the war, the KLA absorbed new recruits from Macedonia (many
Macedonian Albanians died in battle in the fields of Kosovo), from
Germany, Switzerland, the USA, Australia and some Moslem countries.
In other words, it was internationalized. It was equipped (though
only niggardly) by the West. And it coped with the double task of
diplomacy (Thaci's famous televised discussions with Madeleine
Albright, for instance) and political organization. It was engaged
in field guerilla warfare and reconnaissance without the proper
training for either. Add to this tactical military co-ordination and
the need to integrate a second, Rugova and Berisha sponsored Armed
Forces of the Republic of Kosovo (FARK) and the KLA seems to have
been taxed to its breaking point. Cracks began to appear and it was
downhill ever since. Never before was such an enormous political
capital wasted so thoroughly in so short a time by so few.
One must not forget that victory was not assured until the last
moment. The West's reluctance to commit ground troops to the
escalating conflict - as mass expulsions cum sporadic massacres of
the indigenous population by the Serbs were taking place - was
considered by many KLA fighters to have been a violation of a "Besa"
(the sacred Albanian vow) given to them by NATO.

Opinions regarding the grand strategy of conducting the war differed
strongly. The agreement with Milosevic that ended the war did not
mention any transition period at the end of which the Kosovars will
decide their fate in a referendum. It felt like betrayal. At the
beginning, there was strong, grassroots resistance to disarmament.
Many Kosovars felt that the advantage obtained should be pressed to
the point of independence or at least, a transition period.
Then, when the dust settled, the spoils of war served to widen the
rifts. Internecine fighting erupted and is still afoot. The
occasional murder served to delineate the territories of each
commander and faction within the strained KLA. Everything was and is
subject to fluid arrangements of power and profit sharing - from
soft drink licences, through cigarette smuggling and weapons dealing
and down to the allocation of funds (some of them still of dubious
sources). The situation was further compounded by the invasion of
criminal elements from Albania proper. The Kosovar crime clans were
effected by the war (though their activities never really ceased)
and into the vacuum gushed Albanian organized and ruthless crime.
But contrary to media-fostered popular images - crime was but one
thread in the emerging tapestry of the new Kosovo.
Other, no less critical issues were and are demilitarization and
Albanians and Serbs have more in common than they care to admit.
Scattered among various political entities, both nations came up
with a grandiose game plan - Milosevic's "Great Serbia" and the
KLA's "Great Albania". The idea, in both cases, was to create an
ethnically homogeneous state by shifting existing borders,
incorporating hitherto excluded parts of the nation and excluding
hitherto included minorities. Whereas Milosevic had at his disposal
the might of the Yugoslav army (or, so he thought) - the Albanians
had only impoverished and decomposing Albania to back them. Still,
the emotional bond that formed, fostered by a common vision and
shared hope - is intact. Albanian flags fly over Albanian
municipalities in Kosovo and in Macedonia.
The possession of weapons and self-government have always been
emblematic of the anticipated statehood of Kosovo. Being disarmed
and deprived of self-governance was, to the Albanians, a humiliating
and enraging experience, evocative of earlier, Serb-inflicted,
injuries. Moreover, it was indicative of the perplexed muddle the
West is mired in - officially, Kosovo is part of Yugoslavia. But it
is also occupied by foreign forces and has its own customs,
currency, bank licensing, entry visas and other insignia of
sovereignty (shortly, even an internet domain, KO).

This quandary is a typically anodyne European compromise which is
bound to ferment into atrabilious discourse and worse. The Kosovars
- understandably - will never accept Serb sovereignty or even Serb
propinquity willingly. Ignoring the inevitable, tergiversating and
equivocating have too often characterized the policies of the Big
Powers - the kind of behaviour that turned the Balkan into the
morass that it is today.
It is, therefore, inconceivable that the KLA has disbanded and
disarmed or transformed itself into the ill-conceived and ill-
defined "Kosovo Protection Corps" (headed by former KLA commander
and decorated Croat Lieutenant General, Agim Ceku and charged with
fire fighting, rescue missions and the like). Thousands of KLA
members found jobs (or scholarships, or seed money) through the
International Organization for Migration (IOM). But, in all
likelihood, the KLA still maintains clandestine arms depots
(intermittently raided by KFOR), strewn throughout Kosovo and
beyond. Its chain of command, organizational structure,
directorates, operational and assembly zones and general staff are
all viable. I have no doubt - though little proof - that it still
trains and prepares for war. It would be mad not to in this state of
utter mayhem. The emergence of the "Liberation Army of Presevo,
Medvedja and Bujanovac" (all towns beyond Kosovo's borders, in
Serbia, but with an Albanian majority) is a harbinger.

Its soldiers even wear badges in the red, black and yellow KLA
colours. The enemies are numerous: the Serbs (should Kosovo ever be
returned to them), NATO and KFOR (should they be charged with the
task of reintegrating Serbia), perhaps more moderate Albanians with
lesser national zeal or Serb-collaborators (like Zemail Mustafi, the
Albanian vice president of the Bujanovac branch of President
Slobodan Milosevic's ruling Socialist Party, who was assassinated
three months ago). Moreover, the very borders of Kosovo are in
dispute. The territory known to its inhabitants as "Eastern Kosovo"
now comprises 70,000 Albanians, captives in a hostile Serbia. Yet,
"Eastern Kosovo" was never part of the administrative province of
Kosovo. The war is far from over.
In the meantime, life is gradually returning to normal in Kosovo
itself. Former KLA fighters engage in all manner of odd jobs - from
shovelling snow in winter to burning bushes in summer. Even the
impossible Joint Administrative Council (Serbs, Albanians and
peacekeepers) with its 19 departments, convenes from time to time.
The periodic resignation of the overweening Bernard Kouchner aside,
things are going well. A bank has been established, another one is
on its way. Electricity is being gradually restored and so are
medical services and internet connections. Downtown Pristina is
reconstructed by Albanians from Switzerland.

Such normalization can prove lethal to an organization like the KLA,
founded on strife and crisis as it is. If it does not transform
itself into a political organization in a convincing manner - it
might lose its members to the more alluring pastures of statecraft.
The local and general elections so laboriously (and expensively)
organized in Kosovo are the KLA's first real chance at
transformation. It failed at its initial effort to establish a
government (together with Qosaj's Democratic Union Movement, an
umbrella organization of parties in opposition to Rugova and with
Hashim Thaci as its Prime Minister). Overruled by UNMIK (United
Nations Mission In Kosovo), opposed by Berisha's Democratic Party,
recognized only by Albania and the main Albanian party in Macedonia
and bereft of finances, it was unable to imbue structure with
content and provide the public goods a government is all about. The
KLA was so starved for cash that it was unable even to pay the
salaries of its own personnel. Many criminals caught in the act
claimed to be KLA members in dire financial straits. Ineptitude and
insolvency led to a dramatic resurgence in the popularity of the
hitherto discarded Rugova. The KLA then failed to infiltrate
existing structures of governance erected by the West (like the
Executive Council) - or to duplicate them. Thaci's quest to become
deputy-Kouchner was brusquely rebuffed. The ballot box seems now to
be the KLA's only exit strategy. The risk is that electoral loss
will lead to alienation and thuggery if not to outright criminality.
It is a fine balancing act between the virtuous ideals of democracy
and the harsh constraints of realpolitik.

At this stage and with elections looming, Hashim Thaci sounds
conciliatory tones. He is talking about a common (Albanian and Serb)
resolution of the division of Mitrovica and the problem of missing
persons. But even he knows that multi-ethnicity is dead and that the
best that can be hoped for is tolerant co-existence. His words are,
therefore, intended to curry favour with the West out of the
misguided and naive belief that the key to Kosovo's future lies
there rather than in the will of the Kosovar people. Western aid is
habit forming and creates dependence and the KLA consumed a lot of
it. Politically, the KLA has not yet pupated. Recently, it has
embarked on a spate of coalition-forming, initially with Bardhyl
Mahmuti of the Democratic Progressive Party of Kosovo (PPDK) - the
former KLA representative in Western Europe. It seeks to marry its
dwindling funds and seat at the West's banquet with the reputation
and clout of the PPDK's local dignitaries.
This coveted and negotiable access to Western structures of
government bears some elaboration. Kosovar parties and individuals
present at the Rambouillet talks were entitled, according to the
Rambouillet Agreement and UN General Resolution 1244, to serve,
together with UNMIK delegates, on a Kosovo Transitional Council
Thus, when KTC was formed in the wake of Operation Allied Force, it
was made of Rugova's LDK, Thaci's KLA, and Rexhep Qosaj's (Qosje)
Democratic Union League. There was a token Serb and two independents
- the aforementioned Veton Surroi and Blerim Shala, editor-in-chief
of the Pristina weekly Zeri.
Many newly-formed political parties, such as Mahmuti's were left out
of the KTC and the Executive Council (which is made of one
representative of each of the four largest Kosovar political parties
plus four representatives from UNMIK). This - a seat at the
cherished table - seems to be the only tangible asset of the KLA.
But it came at a dear price. The Executive Council virtually
paralysed Thaci's self-proclaimed and self-appointed government,
absorbing many of its ministers and officials with lucrative offers
of salaries and budgets. Thaci himself had to give up a part of the
plethora of his self-bestowed titles. This move again proves Thaci's
simplistic perception that to win elections in Kosovo one needs to
be seen to be a friend of the West. I have no doubt that this photo-
opportunity brand of politics will backfire. The KLA's popularity
among the potential electorate is at a nadir and it is being accused
of venality, incompetence and outright crime. A lasting
transformation of such an image cannot be attained by terpsichorean
supineness. To regain its position, the KLA must regenerate itself
and revert to its grassroots. It must dedicate equal time to
diplomacy and to politics. It must identify its true constituency -
and it is by no means UNMIK. Above all, it must hone its skills of
collaboration and compromise. Politics - as opposed to warfare - are
never a zero sum game. The operative principle is "live and let
live" rather than "shoot first or die". A mental transformation is
required, an adjustment of codes of conduct and principles of
thought. Should the KLA find in itself the flexibility and
intellectual resources - rare commodities in ideological movements -
needed to achieve this transition, it might still compose the first
government of an independent Kosovo. If it were to remain
intransigent and peevish - it is likely to end up being barely a
bloody footnote in history.  Return
Narcissists, Group Behaviour,
and Terrorism
Interview with Sam Vaknin
Published in "The Idler"

Sam Vaknin is the author of 'Malignant Self Love - Narcissism
Revisited', owner of the Narcissistic Abuse Study List, and
webmaster of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder Topic in
Suite101. He is also an economic and political analyst for United
Press International (UPI).

1. What is pathological narcissism?

All of us have narcissistic TRAITS. Some of us even develop a
narcissistic PERSONALITY.  Moreover, narcissism is a SPECTRUM of
behaviours - from the healthy to the utterly pathological (known as
the Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or NPD).

The DSM IV uses this language:

"An all-pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behaviour),
need for admiration or adulation and lack of empathy, usually
beginning by early adulthood and present in various contexts."

Here are the 9 criteria. Having 5 of these 9 "qualifies" you as a
1.	Feels grandiose and self-importance (e.g., exaggerates
achievements and talents to the point of lying, demands to be
recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
2.	Is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome
power or omnipotence, unequalled brilliance (the cerebral
narcissist), bodily beauty or sexual performance (the somatic
narcissist), or ideal, everlasting, all-conquering love or
3.	Firmly convinced that he or she is unique and, being special,
can only be understood by, should only be treated by, or
associate with, other special or unique, or high-status people
(or institutions)
4.	Requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and
affirmation - or, failing that, wishes to be feared and to be
notorious (narcissistic supply).
5.	Feels entitled. Expects unreasonable or special and favourable
priority treatment. Demands automatic and full compliance with
his or her expectations
6.	Is "interpersonally exploitative", i.e., uses others to achieve
his or her own ends
7.	Devoid of empathy. Is unable or unwilling to identify with or
acknowledge the feelings and needs of others
8.	Constantly envious of others or believes that they feel the
same about him or her
9.	Arrogant, haughty behaviours or attitudes coupled with rage
when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted.
The language in the criteria above is based on or summarized from:
American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical
manual of mental disorders, fourth edition (DSM IV). Washington, DC:
American Psychiatric Association.
Sam Vaknin. (1999, 2001). Malignant Self Love - Narcissism
Revisited, second, revised printing Prague and Skopje: Narcissus
Publications. ("Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited"
More Data About Pathological Narcissists
o	Most narcissists (75%) are men.
o	NPD (=the Narcissistic Personality Disorder) is one of a "family"
of personality disorders (formerly known as "Cluster B"). Other
members: Borderline PD, Antisocial PD and Histrionic PD.
o	NPD is often diagnosed with other mental health disorders ("co-
morbidity") - or with substance abuse, or impulsive and reckless
behaviours ("dual diagnosis").
o	NPD is new (1980) mental health category in the Diagnostic and
Statistics Manual (DSM).
o	There is only scant research regarding narcissism. But what there
is has not demonstrated any ethnic, social, cultural, economic,
genetic, or professional predilection to NPD.
o	It is estimated that 0.7-1% of the general population suffer from
o	Pathological narcissism was first described in detail by Freud.
Other major contributors are: Klein, Horney, Kohut, Kernberg,
Millon, Roningstam, Gunderson, Hare.
o	The onset of narcissism is in infancy, childhood and early
adolescence. It is commonly attributed to childhood abuse and trauma
inflicted by parents, authority figures, or even peers.
o	There is a whole range of narcissistic reactions - from the mild,
reactive and transient to the permanent personality disorder.
o	Narcissists are either "Cerebral" (derive their narcissistic
supply from their intelligence or academic achievements) - or
"Somatic" (derive their narcissistic supply from their physique,
exercise, physical or sexual prowess and "conquests").
o	Narcissists are either "Classic" - see definition below - or they
are "Compensatory", or "Inverted" - see definitions here: "The
Inverted Narcissist".
o	NPD is treated in talk therapy (psychodynamic or cognitive-
behavioural). The prognosis for an adult narcissist is poor, though
his adaptation to life and to others can improve with treatment.
Medication is applied to side-effects and behaviours (such as mood
or affect disorders and obsession-compulsion) - usually with some

2. Human collectives (nations, professions, ethnic groups) and
narcissism - stereotyping or racism?
Having lived in 12 countries in 3 continents now, I firmly believe
in "mass psychopathology", or in ethnopsychology. The members of a
group - if sufficiently cohesive - tend to react similarly to
circumstances. By "cohesive" I mean, if they share the same mental
world ("Weltanschauung") - possibly the same history, the same
language or dialect, the same hopes, folklore, fears, and
aspirations ("agenda"), the same enemies and so on.
Thus, if recurrently traumatized or abused by external or internal
forces, a group of people may develop the mass equivalent of
pathological narcissism as a defence or compensatory mechanism. By
"abuse" and "trauma" I mean any event, or series of events, or
circumstances, which threaten the self identity, self image, sense
of self worth, and self esteem of the collective consistently and
constantly - though often arbitrarily and unpredictably. Human
collectives go through formation, individuation, separation - all
the phases in individual psychological development. A disturbance in
the natural and unhindered progression of these phases is likely to
result in psychopathology of all the members of the collective.
Being subjugated to another nation, being exiled, enduring genocide,
being destitute, being defeated in warfare - are all traumatic
experiences with far reaching consequences.

The members of the collective form a "condensate" (in physical
terms) - a material in which all the atoms vibrate with the same
frequency. Under normal circumstances, group behaviour resembles
diffuse light. Subject to trauma and abuse - it forms a malignant
laser - a strong, same wavelength, potentially destructive beam. The
group becomes abusive to others, exploitative, detached from
reality, bathed in grandiose fantasies, xenophobic, lacking empathy,
prone to uncontrolled rages, over-sensitive, convinced of its
superiority and entitlement. Force and coercion are often required
to disabuse such a group of its delusions. But, this of course, only
cements its narcissism and justifies its distorted perception of the

Consider the case of the Jews.
The Jews have been subjected to the kind of trauma and abuse I
mentioned earlier on an unprecedented and never repeated scale.
Their formal scriptures, lore, and ethos are imbued with grandiose
fantasies and a towering sense of superiority and "mission". Yet,
the inevitable contempt for their inferiors is tampered by the all-
pervasive pragmatism the Jews had to develop in order to survive.
Narcissists are not pragmatic. They live in a Universe of their own
making. They see no need to get along with others. Jews are not like
that. Their creed is a practical survival guide which obliges them
to accommodate others, to empathize with their needs and desires, to
compromise, to admit errors, to share credit, to collaborate, and so

Israelis, on the other hand, are "unshackled" Jews. They believe
themselves to be the mirror image of the diaspora Jew. They are
physical ("somatic"), strong, productive, independent, in control.
They, in short, are less bound by the need to perilously co-exist
with baleful, predatory, majorities. They can allow themselves a
full, unmitigated, expression of whatever defence mechanisms they
evolved in response to millennia of virulent hatred and murderous
persecutions. Being an Israeli, I gained privileged insight into
this fascinating transformation from tortured slave to vengeful

3. Narcissism and Leadership
Are all politicians narcissists? The answer, surprisingly, is: not
universally. The preponderance of narcissistic traits and
personalities in politics is much less than in show business, for
instance. Moreover, while show business is concerned essentially
(and almost exclusively) with the securing of narcissistic supply -
politics is a much more complex and multi-faceted activity. Rather,
it is a spectrum. At the one end, we find the "actors" - politicians
who regard politics as their venue and their conduit, an extended
theatre with their constituency as an audience. At the other
extreme, we find self-effacing and schizoid (crowd-hating)
technocrats. Most politicians are in the middle: somewhat self-
enamoured, opportunistic and seeking modest doses of narcissistic
supply - but mostly concerned with perks, self-preservation and the
exercise of power.

Most narcissists are opportunistic and ruthless operators. But not
all opportunistic and ruthless operators are narcissists. I am
strongly opposed to remote diagnosis. I think it is a bad habit,
exercised by charlatans and dilettantes (even if their names are
followed by a Psy.D.). Please do not forget that only a qualified
mental health diagnostician can determine whether someone suffers
from NPD and this, following lengthy tests and personal interviews.

IF the politician in question is ALSO a narcissist (=suffers from
NPD), then, yes, he would do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING to remain in
power, or, while, in power, to secure his narcissistic supply. A
common error is to think that "narcissistic supply" consists only of
admiration, adulation and positive feedback. Actually, being feared,
or derided is also narcissistic supply. The main element is
ATTENTION. So, the narcissistic politician cultivates sources of
narcissistic supply (both primary and secondary) and refrains from
nothing while doing so.

Often, politicians are nothing but a loyal reflection of their
milieu, their culture, their society and their times (zeitgeist and
leitkultur). This is the thesis of Daniel Goldhagen in "Hitler's
Willing Executioners".

More about Narcissists in positions of authority:



4. Political and economic circumstances and emerging narcissistic
group behaviours
Pathological narcissism is the result of individual upbringing (see:
"The Narcissist's Mother"  and "Narcissists and Schizoids" ) and, in
this sense, it is universal and cuts across time and space. Yet, the
very process of socialization and education is heavily constrained
by the prevailing culture and influenced by it. Thus, culture,
mores, history, myths, ethos, and even government policy (such as
the "one child policy" in China) do create the conditions for
pathologies of the personality.
The ethnopsychologist George Devereux ("Basic Problems of
Ethnopsychiatry", University of Chicago Press, 1980) suggested to
divide the unconscious into the id (the part that was always
instinctual and unconscious) and the "ethnic unconscious" (repressed
material that was once conscious). The latter includes all our
defence mechanisms and most of the superego. Culture dictates what
is to be repressed. Mental illness is either idiosyncratic (cultural
directives are not followed and the individual is unique and
schizophrenic) - or conformist, abiding by the cultural dictates of
what is allowed and disallowed.
Our culture, according to Christopher Lasch teaches us to withdraw
into ourselves when we are confronted with stressful situations. It
is a vicious circle. One of the main stressors of modern society is
alienation and a pervasive sense of isolation. The solution our
culture offers us - to further withdraw - only exacerbates the
Richard Sennett expounded on this theme in "The Fall of Public Man:
On the Social Psychology of Capitalism" (Vintage Books, 1978). One
of the chapters in Devereux's aforementioned tome is entitled
"Schizophrenia: An Ethnic Psychosis, or Schizophrenia without
Tears". To him, the whole USA is afflicted by what came later to be
called a "schizoid disorder". C. Fred Alford (in "Narcissism:
Socrates, the Frankfurt School, and Psychoanalytic Theory", Yale
University Press, 1988) enumerates the symptoms:
"...withdrawal, emotional aloofness, hyporeactivity
(emotional flatness), sex without emotional involvement,
segmentation and partial involvement (lack of interest and
commitment to things outside oneself), fixation on oral-
stage issues, regression, infantilism and depersonalization.
These, of course, are many of the same designations that
Lasch employs to describe the culture of narcissism. Thus,
it appears, that it is not misleading to equate narcissism
with schizoid disorder." (page 19).

Consider the Balkan region, for instance:


5. Christopher Lasch, American "culture of narcissism" and the long
term effects of the September 11 atrocities
Lasch and his work are increasingly relevant in post September
America. This is partly because the likes of bin Laden hurl at
America primitive and coarse versions of Lasch's critique. They
accuse America of being a failed civilization, not merely of
meddling ignorantly and sacriligeously in the affairs of Islam (and
the rest of the world). They fervently believe that America exports
this contagious failure to other cultures and societies (through its
idolatrous mass media and inferior culture industries) and thus
"infects" them with the virus of its own terminal decline. It is
important to understand the left wing roots of this cancerous
rendition of social criticism.
Lasch wrote:
"The new narcissist is haunted not by guilt but by anxiety. He seeks
not to inflict his own certainties on others but to find a meaning
in life. Liberated from the superstitions of the past, he doubts
even the reality of his own existence. Superficially relaxed and
tolerant, he finds little use for dogmas of racial and ethnic purity
but at the same time forfeits the security of group loyalties and
regards everyone as a rival for the favors conferred by a
paternalistic state.

His sexual attitudes are permissive rather than puritanical, even
though his emancipation from ancient taboos brings him no sexual
peace. Fiercely competitive in his demand for approval and acclaim,
he distrusts competition because he associates it unconsciously with
an unbridled urge to destroy. Hence he repudiates the competitive
ideologies that flourished at an earlier stage of capitalist
development and distrusts even their limited expression in sports
and games. He extols cooperation and teamwork while harboring deeply
antisocial impulses. He praises respect for rules and regulations in
the secret belief that they do not apply to himself. Acquisitive in
the sense that his cravings have no limits, he does not accumulate
goods and provisions against the future, in the manner of the
acquisitive individualist of nineteenth-century political economy,
but demands immediate gratification and lives in a state of
restless, perpetually unsatisfied desire."
(Christopher Lasch - The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an
age of Diminishing Expectations, 1979)
There is no single Lasch. This chronicler of culture, did so mainly
by chronicling his inner turmoil, conflicting ideas and ideologies,
emotional upheavals, and intellectual vicissitudes. In this sense,
of (courageous) self-documentation, Mr. Lasch epitomized Narcissism,
was the quintessential Narcissist, the better positioned to
criticize the phenomenon.

"Narcissism" is a relatively well-defined psychological term. I
expound upon it elsewhere ("Malignant self Love - Narcissism Re-
Visited"). The Narcissistic Personality Disorder - the acute form of
pathological Narcissism - is the name given to a group of 9 symptoms
(see: DSM-4). They include: a grandiose Self (illusions of grandeur
coupled with an inflated, unrealistic sense of the Self), inability
to empathize with the Other, the tendency to exploit and manipulate
others, idealization of other people (in cycles of idealization and
devaluation), rage attacks and so on. Narcissism, therefore, has a
clear clinical definition, etiology and prognosis.
The use that Lasch makes of this word has nothing to do with its
usage in psychopathology. True, Lasch did his best to sound
"medicinal". He spoke of "(national) malaise" and accused the
American society of lack of self-awareness. But choice of words does
not a coherence make.
"The Culture of Narcissism - American Life in an Age of Diminishing
Expectations" was published in the last year of the unhappy
presidency of Jimmy Carter (1979). The latter endorsed the book
publicly (in his famous "national malaise" speech).
The main thesis of the book is that the Americans have created a
self-absorbed (though not self aware), greedy and frivolous society
which depended on consumerism, demographic studies, opinion polls
and Government to know and to define itself. What is the solution?
Lasch proposed a "return to basics": self-reliance, the family,
nature, the community, and the Protestant work ethic. To those who
adhere, he promised an elimination of their feelings of alienation
and despair.
But the clinical term "Narcissism" was abused by Lasch in his books.
It joined other words mistreated by this social preacher. The
respect that this man gained in his lifetime (as a social scientist
and historian of culture) makes one wonder whether he was right in
criticizing the shallowness and lack of intellectual rigor of
American society and of its elites.
There is a detailed analysis here, in a reaction I wrote to Roger
Kimball's "Christopher Lasch vs. the elites""New Criterion", Vol.
13, p.9 (04-01-1995):

6. Are all terrorists and serial killers narcissists?
Terrorists can be phenomenologically described as narcissists in a
constant state of deficient narcissistic supply. The "grandiosity
gap" - the painful and narcissistically injurious gap between their
grandiose fantasies and their dreary and humiliating reality -
becomes emotionally insupportable. They decompensate and act out.
They bring "down to their level" (by destroying it) the object of
their pathological envy, the cause of their seething frustration,
the symbol of their dull achievements, always incommensurate with
their inflated self-image.
They seek omnipotence through murder, control (not least self
control) through violence, prestige, fame and celebrity by defying
figures of authorities, challenging them, and humbling them.
Unbeknownst to them, they seek self punishment. They are at heart
suicidal. They aim to cast themselves as victims by forcing others
to punish them. This is called "projective identification". They
attribute evil and corruption to their enemies and foes. These forms
of paranoia are called projection and splitting. These are all
primitive, infantile, and often persecutory, defense mechanisms.
When coupled with narcissism - the inability to empathize, the
exploitativeness, the sense of entitlement, the rages, the
dehumanization and devaluation of others - this mindset yields
abysmal contempt. The overriding emotion of terrorists and serial
killers, the amalgam and culmination of their tortured psyche - is
deep seated disdain for everything human, the flip side of envy. It
is cognitive dissonance gone amok. On the one hand the terrorist
derides as "false", "meaningless", "dangerous", and "corrupt" common
values, institutions, human intercourse, and society. On the other
hand, he devotes his entire life (and often risks it) to the
elimination and pulverization of these "insignificant" entities. To
justify this apparent contradiction, the terrorists casts himself as
an altruistic saviour of a group of people "endangered" by his foes.
He is always self-appointed and self-proclaimed, rarely elected. The
serial killer rationalizes and intellectualizes his murders
similarly, by purporting to "liberate" or "deliver" his victims from
a fate worse than death.

The global reach, the secrecy, the impotence and growing panic of
his victims, of the public, and of his pursuers, the damage he
wreaks - all serve as external ego functions. The terrorist and
serial killer regulate their sense of self esteem and self worth by
feeding slavishly on the reactions to their heinous deeds. Their
cosmic significance is daily enhanced by newspaper headlines, ever
increasing bounties, admiring imitators, successful acts of
blackmail, the strength and size of their opponents, and the
devastation of human life and property. Appeasement works only to
aggravate their drives and strengthen their appetites by emboldening
them and by raising the threshold of excitation and "narcissistic
supply". Terrorists and killers are addicted to this drug of being
acknowledged and reflected. They derive their sense of existence,
parasitically, from the reactions of their (often captive)
APPENDIX - Responses in a correspondence following the publication
of this interview
Zionism has always regarded itself as both a (19th
century) national movement AND a (colonial) civilizing

See - Herzl's Butlers -


 The Holocaust was a massive trauma NOT because of its dimensions -
but because GERMANS, the epitome of Western civilization, have
turned on the Jews, the self-proclaimed missionaries of Western
civilization in the Levant and Arabia. It was the betrayal that
mattered. Rejected by East (as colonial stooges) and West (as agents
of racial contamination) alike - the Jews resorted to a series of
narcissistic defences reified by the State of Israel. The long term
occupation of territories (metaphorical or physical) is a classic
narcissistic trait (of "annexation" of the other). The Six Days War
was a war of self defence - but the swift victory only exacerbated
the narcissistic defences. Mastery over the Palestinians became an
important component in the psychological makeup of the nation
(especially the more rightwing and religious elements) because it
constitutes "Narcissistic Supply".
Bin Laden (and by extension Islamic fundamentalism) is
the narcissistic complement of the State of Israel. His
narcissistic defences are fuelled by unrequited humiliation
(Millon's "compensatory narcissism"). The humiliation is the outcome
of a grandiosity gap between reality and grandiose fantasies,
between actual inferiority and a delusional sense of superiority
(and cosmic mission), between his sense of entitlement and his
incommensurate achievements, skills, and accomplishments.

When narcissists are faced with the disintegration of their
narcissistic "infrastructure" (their False Self) - they
decompensate. I have outlined the possible
psychodynamic reactions here:


Narcissism is always concomitant with the "civilizing"
components of colonialism ("White Man's Burden") -
though not with the mercantilist elements.

"Pathological narcissism is a well defined (and phenomenological)
mental health theoretical construct.  No doubt, narcissists engage
in anti-Other discourse and other virulent and pernicious
narratives. But the existence of such a discourse is not a
DETERMINANT of pathological narcissism - merely its manifestation.

What GIVES RISE to the grandiosity gap IS socio- economic reality.
The gap is between the REAL and the IDEAL, between the ACTUAL and
the (self- DELUSIONAL and FANTASIZED. Socio-economic factors breed
narcissistic injury and narcissistic rage.


The Crescent and the Cross
"There are two maxims for historians which so harmonise with what I
know of history that I would like to claim them as my own, though
they really belong to nineteenth-century historiography: first, that
governments try to press upon the historian the key to all the
drawers but one, and are anxious to spread the belief that this
single one contains no secret of importance; secondly, that if the
historian can only find the thing which the government does not want
him to know, he will lay his hand upon something that is likely to
be significant."
Herbert Butterfield, "History and Human Relations", London, 1951, p.

The Balkans as a region is a relatively novel way of looking at the
discrete nation-states that emerged from the carcasses of the
Ottoman and Habsburg Empires and fought over their spoils.

This sempiternal fight is a determinant of Balkan identity. The
nations of the Balkan are defined more by ornery opposition than by
cohesive identities. They derive sustenance and political-historical
coherence from conflict. It is their afflatus. The more complex the
axes of self-definition, the more multifaceted and intractable the
conflicts. Rabid nationalism against utopian regionalism, fascism
(really, opportunism) versus liberalism, religion-tinted
traditionalism (the local moribund edition of conservatism) versus
"Western" modernity.
Who wins is of crucial importance to world peace.
The Balkan is a relatively new political entity. Formerly divided
between the decrepit Ottoman Empire and the imploding Austro-
Hungarian one - the countries of the Balkans emerged as unique
polities only during the 19th century. This was to be expected as a
wave of nationalism swept Europe and led to the formation of the
modern, bureaucratic state as we know it.
Even so, the discrete entities that struggled to the surface of
statehood did not feel that they shared a regional destiny or
identity. All they did was fight ferociously, ruthlessly and
mercilessly over the corrupted remnants of the Sick Men of Europe
(the above mentioned two residual empires). In this, they proved
themselves to be the proper heirs of their former masters:
murderous, suborned, Byzantine and nearsighted.

In an effort to justify their misdeeds and deeds, the various
nations - true and concocted - conjured up histories, languages,
cultures and documents, some real, mostly false. They staked claims
to the same territories, donned common heritage where there was
none, spoke languages artificially constructed and lauded a culture
hastily assembled by "historians" and "philologists".
These were the roots of the great evil - the overlapping claims, the
resulting intolerance, the mortal, existential fear stoked by the
kaleidoscopic conduct of the Big Powers. To recognize the existence
of the Macedonian identity - was to threaten the Greek or Bulgarian
ones. To accept the antiquity of the Albanians was to dismantle
Macedonia, Serbia and Greece. To countenance Bulgarian demands was
to inhumanly penalize its Turk citizens. It was a zero-sum game
played viciously by everyone involved. The prize was mere existence
- the losers annihilated.
It very nearly came to that during the two Balkan Wars of 1912 and
Allies shifted their allegiance in accordance with the shifting
fortunes of a most bewildering battlefield. When the dust settled,
two treaties later, Macedonia was dismembered by its neighbours,
Bulgaria bitterly contemplated the sour fruits of its delusional
aggression and Serbia and Austro-Hungary rejoiced. Thus were the
seeds of World War I sown.

The Yugoslav war of succession (or civil war) was a continuation of
this mayhem by other means. Yugoslavia was born in sin, in the
dictatorship of King Alexander I (later slain in France in 1934). It
faced agitation, separatism and discontent from its inception. It
was falling apart when the second world conflagration erupted. It
took a second dictatorship - Tito's - to hold it together for
another 40 years.
The Balkan as a whole - from Hungary, through Romania and down to
Bulgaria - was prone to authoritarianism and an atavistic, bloody
form of racist, "peasant or native fascism". A primitive region of
destitute farmers and vile politicians, it was exposed to world gaze
by the collapse of communism. There are encouraging signs of
awakening, of change and adaptation. There are dark omens of
reactionary forces, of violence and wrath. It is a battle fought in
the unconscious of humanity itself. It is a tug of war between
memories and primordial drives repressed and the vitality of those
still close to nature.
The outcome of this fight is crucial to the world. Both world wars
started in central eastern and south-eastern Europe. Globalization
is no guarantee against a third one. The world was more globalized
than it is today at the beginning of the century - but it took only
one shot in Sarajevo to make this the most sanguineous century of

An added problem is the simple-mindedness, abrasiveness and sheer
historical ignorance of America, the current superpower. A nation of
soundbites and black or white stereotypes, it is ill-suited to deal
with the nuanced, multilayered and interactive mayhem that is the
Balkan. A mentality of western movies - good guys, bad guys,
shoot'em up - is hardly conducive to a Balkan resolution. The
intricate and drawn out process required taxes American impatience
and bullying tendencies to their explosive limits.
In the camp of the good guys, the Anglo-Saxons place Romania,
Greece, Montenegro and Slovenia (with Macedonia, Croatia, Albania
and Bulgaria wandering in and out). Serbia is the epitome of evil.
Milosevic is Hitler. Such uni-dimensional thinking sends a frisson
of rubicund belligerence down American spines.
It tends to ignore reality, though. Montenegro is playing the
liberal card deftly, no doubt - but it is also a haven of smuggling
and worse. Slovenia is the civilized facade that it so tediously
presents to the world - but it also happened to have harboured one
of the vilest fascist movements, comparable to the Ustasha - the
Domobranci. It shares with Croatia the narcissistic grandiose
fantasy that it is not a part of the Balkan - but rather an outpost
of Europe - and the disdain for its impoverished neighbours that
comes with it.

In this sense, it is more "Balkanian" than many of them. Greece is
now an economically stable and mildly democratic country - but it
used to be a dictatorship and it still is a banana republic in more
than one respect. The Albanians - ferociously suppressed by the
Serbs and (justly) succoured by the West - are industrious and
shrewd people. But - fervent protestations to the contrary aside -
they do seem to be intent on dismantling and recombining both
Yugoslavia (Serbia) and Macedonia, perhaps at a terrible cost to all
involved. Together with the Turks, the Serbs and the Bulgarians, the
Albanians are the undisputed crime lords of the Balkan (and beyond -
witness their incarceration rates in Switzerland).
This is the Balkan - a florilegium of contradictions within
contraventions, the mawkish and the jaded, the charitable  and the
deleterious, the feckless and the bumptious, evanescent and exotic,
a mystery wrapped in an enigma.
In this article, I will attempt to study two axes of friction: Islam
versus Christianity and fascism and nationalism versus liberalism.
It is hard to do justice to these topics in the Procrustean bed of
weekly columns - I, therefore, beg the forgiveness of scholars and
the understanding of frustrated readers.

A First Encounter

"In accordance with this [right to act], whenever some one of the
infidel parents or some other should oppose the giving up of his son
for the Janiccaries, he is immediately hanged from his doorsill, his
blood being deemed unworthy."
Turkish firman, 1601
"...The Turks have built several fortresses in my kingdom and are
very kind to the country folk. They promise freedom to every peasant
who converts to Islam."
Bosnian King Stefan Tomasevic to Pope Pius II
"...The Porte treated him (the patriarch) as part of the Ottoman
political apparatus. As a result, he had certain legally protected
privileges. The Patriarch travelled in 'great splendour' and police
protection was provided by the Janiccaries. His horse and saddle
were fittingly embroidered, and at the saddle hung a small sword as
a symbol of the powers bestowed on him by the Sultan."
Dusan Kasic, "The Serbian Church under the Turks", Belgrade, 1969

Within the space of 500 years, southeast Europe has undergone two
paradigmatic shifts. First, from Christian independence to Islamic
subjugation (a gradual process which consumed two centuries) and
then, in the 19th century, from self-determination through religious
affiliation to nationalism. The Christians of the Balkan were easy
prey. They were dispirited peasantry, fragmented, prone to
internecine backstabbing and oppressive regimes. The new Ottoman
rulers treated both people and land as their property. They enslaved
some of their prisoners of war (under the infamous "pencik" clause),
exiled thousands and confiscated their lands and liquidated the
secular political elites in Thrace, Bulgaria, Serbia and Albania.
The resulting vacuum of leadership was filled by the Church. Thus,
paradoxically, it was Islam and its excesses that made the Church
the undisputed shepherd of the peoples of the Balkan, a position it
did not enjoy before. The new rulers did not encourage conversions
to their faith for fear of reducing their tax base - non-Moslem
"zimmis" (the Qur'an's "People of the Book") paid special (and
heavy) taxes to the treasury and often had to bribe corrupt
officials to survive.

Still, compared to other Ottoman exploits (in Anatolia, for
instance), the conquest of the Balkan was a benign affair. Cities
remained intact, the lands were not depopulated and the
indiscriminately ferocious nomadic tribesmen that usually
accompanied the Turkish forces largely stayed at home. The Ottoman
bureaucracy took over most aspects of daily life soon after the
military victories, bringing with it the leaden stability that was
its hallmark. Indeed, populations were dislocated and re-settled as
a matter of policy called "sorgun". Yet such measures were intended
mainly to quell plangent rebelliousness and were applied mainly to
the urban minority (for instance, in Constantinople).
The Church was an accomplice of the Turkish occupiers. It was a part
of the Ottoman system of governance and enjoyed both its protection
and its funding. It was leveraged by the Turk sultans in their quest
to pacify their subjects. Mehmet II bestowed upon the Greek Orthodox
Patriarchate, its bishops and clergy great powers. The trade off was
made explicit in Mehmet's edicts: the Church accepted the earthly
sovereignty of the sultan - and he, in turn, granted them tolerance,
protection and even friendship. The Ottoman religious-legal code,
the Seriat, recognized the Christian's right to form their own
religiously self-governing communities.

These communities were not confined to the orderly provision of
worship services. They managed communal property as well. Mehmet's
benevolence towards the indigents was so legendary that people
wrongly attributed to him the official declaration of a "Millet i
Rum" (Roman, or Greek, nation) and the appointment of Gennadios as
patriarch of the Orthodox Church (which only an episcopal synod
could do).
The Ottoman Empire was an amazing hybrid. As opposed to popular
opinion it was not a religious entity. The ruling elite included
members of all religions. Thus, one could find Christian "askeri "
(military or civil officials) and Muslim "reaya" ("flock" of
taxpayers). It is true that Christians paid the arbitrarily set
"harac" (or, less commonly, "cizye") in lieu of military service.
Even the clergy were not exempt (they even assisted in tax
collection). But both Christians and Muslims paid the land tax, for
instance. And, as the fairness, transparency and predictability of
the local taxmen deteriorated - both Muslims and Christians
The main problem of the Ottoman Empire was devolution - not
centralization. Local governors and tax collectors had too much
power and the sultan was too remote and disinterested or too weak
and ineffective. The population tried to get Istanbul MORE involved
- not less so.

The population was financially fleeced as much by the Orthodox
Church as it was by the sultan. A special church-tax was levied on
the Christian reaya and its proceeds served to secure the lavish
lifestyles of the bishops and the patriarch. In true mob style,
church functionaries divided the loot with Ottoman officials in an
arrangement known as "peskes". Foreign powers contributed to the war
chests of various candidates, thus mobilizing them to support pro-
Catholic or pro-Protestant political stances and demands. The church
was a thoroughly corrupt, usurious and politicized body which
contributed greatly to the ever increasing misery of its flock. It
was a collaborator in the worst sense of the word.
But the behaviour of the church was one part of the common betrayal
by the elite of the Balkan lands. Christian landowners volunteered
to serve in the Ottoman cavalry ("sipahis") in order to preserve
their ownership. The Ottoman rulers conveniently ignored the laws
prohibiting "zimmis" to carry weapons. Until 1500, the "sipahis"
constituted the bulk of the Ottoman forces in the Balkan and their
mass conversion to Islam was a natural continuation of their
complicity. Other Christians guarded bridges or mountain passes for
a tax exemption ("derbentci"). Local, Turkish-trained militias
("armatoles") fought mountain-based robber gangs (Serbian "hayduks",
Bulgarian "haiduts", Greek "klephts"). The robbers attacked Turkish
caravans with the same frequency and zeal that they sacked Christian
settlements. The "armatoles" resisted them by day and joined them by
night. But it was perfectly acceptable to join Turkish initiatives
such as this.
The Balkan remained overwhelmingly Christian throughout the Ottoman
period. Muslim life was an urban phenomenon both for reasons of
safety and because only the cities provided basic amenities. Even in
the cities, though, the communities lived segregated in "mahalles"
(quarters). Everyone collaborated in public life but the "mahalles"
were self-sufficient affairs with the gamut of services - from hot
baths to prayer services - available "in-quarter". Gradually, the
major cities, situated along the trade routes, became Moslem.
Skopje, Sarajevo and Sofia all had sizeable Moslem minorities.
Thus, at the beginning of the sixteenth century, the picture that
emerges is one of an uneasy co-habitation in the cities and a
Christian rural landscape. The elites of the Balkan - church,
noblemen, warriors - all defected and collaborated with the former
"enemy". The local populace was the victim of usurious taxes,
coercively applied. The central administration shared the loot with
its local representatives and with the indigenous elites - the
church and the feudal landed gentry. It was a cosy and pragmatic
arrangement that lasted for centuries.
Yet, the seeds of Ottoman bestiality and future rebellion were sown
from the very inception of this empire-extending conquest. The
"devsirme" tax was an example of the fragility of the Turkish veneer
of humanity and enlightened rule. Christian sons were kidnapped,
forcibly converted to Islam and trained as fighters in the fearsome
Janiccary Corps (the palace Guards). They were never to see their
families and friends again.

Exemptions from this barbarous practice were offered only to select
communities which somehow contributed to Ottoman rule in the Balkan.
Christian women were often abducted by local Ottoman dignitaries.
and the custom of the "kepin", allowed Moslems to "buy" a Christian
daughter off her husband on a "temporary" basis. The results of such
a union were raised as Moslems.
And then there were the mass conversions of Christians to Islam.
These conversions were very rarely the results of coercion or
barbarous conduct. On the contrary, by shrinking the tax base and
the recruitment pool, conversion were unwelcome and closely
scrutinized by the Turks. But to convert was such an advantageous
and appealing act that the movement bordered on mass hysteria.
Landowners converted to preserve their title to the land. "Sipahis"
converted to advance in the ranks of the military. Christian
officials converted to maintain their officialdom. Ordinary folk
converted to avoid onerous taxes. Christian traders converted to
Islam to be able to testify in court in case of commercial
litigation. Converted Moslems were allowed to speak Arabic or their
own language, rather than the cumbersome and elaborate formal
Turkish. Christians willingly traded eternal salvation for  earthly
benefits. And, of course, death awaited those who recanted (like the
Orthodox "New Martyrs", who discovered their Christian origins,
having been raised as Moslems).

Perhaps this was because, in large swathes of the Balkan,
Christianity never really took hold. It was adopted by the peasant
as a folk religion - as was Islam later. In Bosnia, for instance,
Muslims and Christians were virtually indistinguishable. They prayed
in each other's shrines, celebrated each other's holidays and
adopted the same customs. Muslim mysticism (the Sufi orders)
appealed to many sophisticated urban Christians. Heretic cults (like
the Bogomils) converted en masse. Intermarriage flourished, mainly
between Muslim men (who could not afford the dowry payable to a
Muslim woman) and Christian women (who had to pay a dowry to her
Muslim husband's family). Marrying a Christian woman was a lucrative
business proposition.
And, then, of course, there was the Moslem birth rate. With four
women and a pecuniary preference for large families - Moslem out-
bred Christians at all times. This trend is most pronounced today
but it was always a prominent demographic fact.
But the success of Islam to conquer the Balkan, rule it, convert its
population and prevail in it - had to do more with the fatal flaws
of Balkan Christianity than with the appeal and resilience of Islam
and its Ottoman rendition. In the next chapter I will attempt to
ponder the complex interaction between Catholicism and Orthodox
Christianity as it was manifested in Croatia and Bosnia, the border
lands between the Habsburg and the Ottoman empires and between
"Rome" and "Byzantium". I will then explore the variance in the
Ottoman attitudes towards various Christian communities and the
reasons underlying this diversity of treatment modalities.

The Communities of God

"From the beginning, people of different languages and religions
were permitted to live in Christian lands and cities, namely Jews,
Armenians, Ismaelites, Agarenes and others such as these, except
that they do not mix with Christians, but rather live separately.
For this reason, places have been designated for these according to
ethnic group, either within the city or without, so that they may be
restricted to these and not extend their dwelling beyond them."
Bishop Demetrios Khomatianos of Ohrid, late 12th century and early
13th century AD
"The Latins still have not been anathematized, nor has a great
ecumenical council acted against them....And even to this day this
continues, although it is said that they still wait for the
repentance of the great Roman Church."

"...do not overlook us, singing with deaf ears, but give us your
understanding, according to sacred precepts, as you yourself
inspired the apostles....You see, Lord, the battle of many years of
your churches. Grant us humility, quiet the storm, so that we may
know in each other your mercy, and we may not forget before the end
the mystery of your love....May we coexist in unity with each other,
and become wise also, so that we may live in you and in your eternal
creator the Father and in his only-begotten Word. You are life,
love, peace, truth, and sanctity...."
East European Studies Occasional Paper, Number 47, "Christianity and
Islam in Southeastern Europe - Slavic Orthodox Attitudes toward
Other Religions", Eve Levin, January 1997
"...you faced the serpent and the enemy of God's churches, having
judged that it would have been unbearable for your heart to see the
Christians of your fatherland overwhelmed by the Moslems
(izmailteni); if you could not accomplish this, you would leave the
glory of your kingdom on earth to perish, and having become purple
with your blood, you would join the soldiers of the heavenly
kingdom. In this way, your two wishes were fulfilled. You killed the
serpent, and you received from God the wreath of martyrdom."
Mateja Matejic and Dragan Milivojevic, "An Anthology of Medieval
Serbian Literature in English", Columbus, Ohio: Slavica, 1978

Any effort to understand the modern quagmire that is the Balkan must
address religion and religious animosities and grievances. Yet, the
surprising conclusion of such a study is bound to be that the role
of inter-faith hatred and conflict has been greatly exaggerated. The
Balkan was characterized more by religious tolerance than by
religious persecution. It was a model of successful co-habitation
and co-existence even of the bitterest enemies of the most disparate
backgrounds. Only the rise of the modern nation-state exacerbated
long-standing and hitherto dormant tensions. Actually, the modern
state was established on a foundation of artificially fanned
antagonism and xenophobia.
Religions in the Balkan were never monolithic enterprises. Competing
influences, paranoia, xenophobia and adverse circumstances all
conspired to fracture the religious landscape. Thus, for instance,
though officially owing allegiance to the patriarch in
Constantinople and the Orthodox "oikumene", both Serb and Bulgarian
churches collaborated with the rulers of the day against perceived
Byzantine (Greek and Russian) political encroachment in religious
guise. The southern Slav churches rejected both the theology and the
secular teachings of the "Hellenics" and the "Romanians" (Romans).
In turn, the Greek church held the Slav church in disregard and
treated the peasants of Macedonia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Albania to
savage rounds of tax collection. The Orthodox, as have all
religions, berated other confessions and denominations. But
Orthodoxy was always benign - no "jihad", no bloodshed, no forced
conversions and no mass expulsions - perhaps with the exception of
the forcible treatment of the Bogomils.
It was all about power and money, of course. Bishops and archbishops
did not hesitate to co-opt the Ottoman administration against their
adversaries. They had their rivals arrested by the Turks or ex-
communicated them. Such squabbles were common. But they never
amounted to more than a Balkanian comedia del-arte. Even the Jews -
persecuted all over western Europe - were tolerated and attained
prominence and influence in the Balkan. One Bulgarian Tsar divorced
his wife to marry a Jewess. Southern Orthodox Christianity (as
opposed to the virulent and vituperative Byzantine species) has
always been pragmatic. The minorities (Jews, Armenians, Vlachs) were
the economic and financial backbone of their societies. And the
Balkan was always a hodge-podge of ethnicities, cultures and
religions. Shifting political fortunes ensured a policy of "hedging
one's bets".
The two great competitors of Orthodox Christianity in the tight
market of souls were Catholicism and Islam. The former co-sponsored
with the Orthodox Church the educational efforts of Cyril and
Methodius. Even before the traumatic schism of 1054, Catholics and
nascent Orthodox were battling over (lucrative) religious turf in

The schism was a telling affair. Ostensibly, it revolved around
obscure theological issues (who begat the Holy Spirit - the Father
alone or jointly with the Son as well as which type of bread should
be used in the Eucharist). But really it was a clash of authorities
and interests - the Pope versus the patriarch of Constantinople, the
Romans versus the Greeks and Slavs. Matters of jurisdiction
coalesced with political meddling in a confluence of ill-will that
has simmered for at least two centuries. The southern (Slav)
Orthodox churches contributed to the debate and supported the Greek
position. Sects such as the Hesychasts were more Byzantine than the
Greeks and denounced wavering Orthodox clergy. Many a south Orthodox
pilloried the Catholic stance as an heresy of Armenian or
Apollinarian or Arian origin - thus displaying their ignorance of
the subtler points of the theological debate. They also got wrong
the Greek argumentation regarding the bread of the Eucharist and the
history of the schism. But zeal compensated for ignorance, as is
often the case in the Balkan.

What started as a debate - however fervent - about abstract theology
became an all out argument about derided customs and ceremonies.
Diet, dates and divine practices all starred in these grotesque
exchanges. The Latin ate unclean beasts. They used five fingers to
cross themselves. They did not sing Hallelujah. They allowed the
consumption of dairy products in Lent. The list was long and
preposterous. The parties were spoiling for a fight. As is so often
the case in this accursed swathe of the earth, identity and
delusional superiority were secured through opposition and self-
worth was attained through defiance. By relegating them to the role
of malevolent heretics, the Orthodox made the sins of the Catholics
unforgivable, their behaviour inexcusable, their fate sealed.
At the beginning, the attacks were directed at the "Latins" -
foreigners from Germany and France. Local Catholics were somehow
dissociated and absolved from the diabolical attributes of their
fellow-believers abroad. They used the same calendar as the Orthodox
(except for Lent) and similarly prayed in Church Slavonic. The only
visible difference was the recognition of papal authority by the
Catholics. Catholicism presented a coherent and veteran alternative
to Orthodoxy's inchoate teachings. Secular authorities were
ambiguous about how to treat their Catholic subjects and did not
hesitate to collaborate with Catholic authorities against the Turks.
Thus, to preserve itself as a viable religious alternative, the
Orthodox church had to differentiate itself from the Holy See.
Hence, the flaming debates and pejorative harangues.
The second great threat was Islam. Still, it was a latecomer.
Catholicism and Orthodoxy have been foes since the ninth century.
Four hundreds years later, Byzantine wars against the Moslems were a
distant thunder and raised little curiosity and interest in the
Balkan. The Orthodox church was acquainted with the tenets of
Islamic faith but did not bother to codify its knowledge or record
it. Islam was, to it, despite its impeccable monotheistic
credentials, an exotic Oriental off-shoot of tribal paganism.
Thus, the Turkish invasion and the hardships of daily life under
Ottoman rule found Orthodoxy unprepared. It reacted the way we all
react to fear of the unknown: superstitions, curses, name calling.
On the one hand, the Turkish enemy was dehumanized and bedevilled.
It was perceived to be God's punishment upon the unfaithful and the
sinful. On the other hand, in a curious transformation or a
cognitive dissonance, the Turks became a divine instrument, the
wrathful messengers of God.  The Christians of the Balkan suffered
from a post traumatic stress syndrome. They went through the
classical phases of grief. They started by denying the defeat (in
Kosovo, for instance) and they proceeded through rage, sadness and
All four phases co-existed in Balkan history. Denial by the many who
resorted to mysticism and delusional political thought. That the
Turks failed for centuries to subdue pockets of resistance (for
instance in Montenegro) served to rekindle these hopes and delusions
periodically. Thus, the Turks (and, by extension, Islam) served as a
politically cohering factor and provided a cause to rally around.
Rage manifested through the acts against the occupying Ottomans of
individuals or rebellious groups. Sadness was expressed in liturgy,
in art and literature, in music and in dance. Acceptance by
conceiving of the Turks as the very hand of God Himself. But,
gradually, the Turks and their rule came to be regarded as the work
of the devil as it was incurring the wrath of God.
But again, this negative and annihilating attitude was reserved to
outsiders and foreigners, the off-spring of Ishmael and of Hagar,
the Latins and the Turks. Moslem or Catholic neighbours were rarely,
if ever, the target of such vitriolic diatribes. External enemies -
be they Christian or Moslem - were always to be cursed and resisted.
Neighbours of the same ethnicity were never to be punished or
discriminated against for their religion or convictions - though
half-hearted condemnations did occur. The geographical and ethnic
community seems to have been a critical determinant of identity even
when confronted with an enemy at the gates. Members of an ethnic
community could share the same religious faith as the invader or the
heretic - yet this detracted none from their allegiance and place in
their society as emanating from birth and long term residence. These
tolerance and acceptance prevailed even in the face of Ottoman
segregation of religious communities in ethnically-mixed "millets".
This principle was shattered finally by the advent of the modern
nation-state and its defining parameters (history and language),
real or (more often) invented.

One could sometimes find members of the same nuclear family - but of
different religious affiliation. Secular rulers and artisans in
guilds collaborated unhesitatingly with Jews, Turks and Catholics.
Conversions to and fro were common practice, as ways to secure
economic benefits. These phenomena were especially prevalent in the
border areas of Croatia and Bosnia. But everyone, throughout the
Balkan, shared the same rituals, the way of life, the superstitions,
the magic, the folklore, the customs and the habits regardless of
religious persuasion.
Where religions co-existed, they fused syncretically. Some Sufi
sects (mainly among the Janiccary) adopted Catholic rituals, made
the sign of the cross, drank alcohol and ate pork. The followers of
Bedreddin were Jews and Christians, as well as Moslems. Everybody
shared miraculous sites, icons, even prayers. Orthodox Slavs
pilgrims to the holy places in Palestine were titled "Hadzi" and
Moslems were especially keen on Easter eggs and holy water as
talismans of health. Calendars enumerated the holidays of all
religions, side by side. Muslim judges ("kadis") married Muslim men
to non-Muslim women and inter-marriage was rife. They also married
and divorced Catholic couples, in contravention of the Catholic
faith. Orthodox and Catholic habitually intermarried and interbred.
That this background yielded Srebrenica and Sarajevo, Kosovo and
Krajina is astounding. It is the malignant growth of this century.
It is the subject of our next instalment.

T H E   A U T H O R


Curriculum Vitae
Click on blue text to access relevant web sites - thank you.
Born in 1961 in Qiryat-Yam, Israel.
Served in the Israeli Defence Force (1979-1982) in training and
education units.

Graduated a few semesters in the Technion - Israel Institute of
Technology, Haifa.
Ph.D. in Philosophy (major : Philosophy of Physics) - Pacific
Western University, California.
Graduate of numerous courses in Finance Theory and International
Certified E-Commerce Concepts Analyst.
Certified in Psychological Counselling Techniques.
Full proficiency in Hebrew and in English.

Business Experience
1980 to 1983
Founder and co-owner of a chain of computerized information kiosks
in Tel-Aviv, Israel.
1982 to 1985
Senior positions with the Nessim D. Gaon Group of Companies in
Geneva, Paris and New-York (NOGA and APROFIM SA):
- Chief Analyst of Edible Commodities in the Group's Headquarters in
- Manager of the Research and Analysis Division
- Manager of the Data Processing Division
- Project Manager of The Nigerian Computerized Census
- Vice President in charge of RND and Advanced Technologies
- Vice President in charge of Sovereign Debt Financing

1985 to 1986
Represented Canadian Venture Capital Funds in Israel.
1986 to 1987
General Manager of IPE Ltd. in London. The firm financed
international multi-lateral countertrade and leasing transactions.
1988 to 1990
Co-founder and Director of "Mikbats - Tesuah", a portfolio
management firm based in Tel-Aviv. Activities included large-scale
portfolio management, underwriting, forex trading and general
financial advisory services.
1990 to Present
Free-lance consultant to many of Israel's Blue-Chip firms, mainly on
issues related to the capital markets in Israel, Canada, the UK and
the USA.
Consultant to foreign RND ventures and to Governments on macro-
economic matters.
President of the Israel chapter of the Professors World Peace
Academy (PWPA) and (briefly) Israel representative of the
"Washington Times".

1993 to 1994
Co-owner and Director of many business enterprises:
- The Omega and Energy Air-Conditioning Concern
- AVP Financial Consultants
- Handiman Legal Services
   Total annual turnover of the group: 10 million USD.
Co-owner, Director and Finance Manager of COSTI Ltd. -  Israel's
largest computerized information vendor and developer. Raised funds
through a series of private placements locally, in the USA, Canada
and London.
1995 to 1996
Publisher and Editor of a Capital Markets Newsletter distributed by
subscription only to dozens of subscribers countrywide.
Managed the Internet and International News Department of an Israeli
mass media group, "Ha-Tikshoret and Namer".  Assistant in the Law
Faculty in Tel-Aviv University (to Prof. S.G. Shoham).

1996 to 1999
Financial consultant to leading businesses in Macedonia, Russia and
the Czech Republic.
Collaborated with the Agency of  Transformation of Business with
Social Capital.
Economic commentator in "Nova Makedonija", "Dnevnik", "Izvestia",
"Argumenti i Fakti", "The Middle East Times", "Makedonija Denes",
"The New Presence", "Central Europe Review" , and other periodicals
and in the economic programs on various channels of Macedonian
Chief Lecturer in courses organized by the Agency of Transformation,
by the Macedonian Stock Exchange and by the Ministry of Trade.
Economic Advisor to the Government of the Republic of Macedonia and
to the Ministry of Finance.
Senior Business Correspondent for United Press International (UPI)

Web and Journalistic Activities
Author of extensive websites in Psychology ("Malignant Self Love") -
An Open Directory Cool Site
Philosophy ("Philosophical Musings")
Economics and Geopolitics ("After the Rain")
Owner of the Narcissistic Abuse Announcement and Study List and the
Narcissism Revisited mailing list (more than 3800 members)
Editor of mental health disorders and Central and Eastern Europe
categories in web directories (Open Directory, Suite 101, Search
Columnist and commentator in "The New Presence", United Press
International (UPI), InternetContent, eBookWeb and "Central Europe
Web Activities
Author of extensive websites in Psychology ("Malignant Self Love") -
An Open Directory Cool Site
Philosophy ("Philosophical Musings")
Economics and Geopolitics ("After the Rain")
Owner of the Narcissistic Abuse Announcement and Study List and the
Narcissism Revisited mailing list (more than 3800 members)
Editor of mental health disorders and Central and Eastern Europe
categories in web directories (Open Directory, Suite 101, Search
Weekly columnist in "The New Presence", United Press International
(UPI), InternetContent, eBookWeb.org and "Central Europe Review".
Publications and Awards
"Managing Investment Portfolios in States of Uncertainty", Limon
Publishers, Tel-Aviv, 1988
"The Gambling Industry", Limon Publishers., Tel-Aviv, 1990
"Requesting my Loved One - Short Stories", Yedioth Aharonot, Tel-
Aviv, 1997
"The Macedonian Economy at a Crossroads - On the way to a Healthier
Economy" (with Nikola Gruevski), Skopje, 1998
"Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited", Narcissus
Publications, Prague and Skopje, 1999, 2001
"The Exporters' Pocketbook", Ministry of Trade, Republic of
Macedonia, Skopje, 1999
"The Suffering of Being Kafka" (electronic book of Hebrew Short
"After the Rain - How the West Lost the East", Narcissus
Publications in association with Central Europe Review/CEENMI,
Prague and Skopje, 2000
Winner of numerous awards, among them the Israeli Education Ministry
Prize (Literature) 1997, The Rotary Club Award for Social Studies
(1976) and the Bilateral Relations Studies Award of the American
Embassy in Israel (1978).
Hundreds of professional articles in all fields of finances and the
economy and numerous articles dealing with geopolitical and
political economic issues published in both print and web
periodicals in many countries.
Many appearances in the electronic media on subjects in philosophy
and the sciences and concerning economic matters.
Contact Details:
My Web Sites:
Economy / Politics:


After the Rain
How the West
Lost the East

The Book
This is a series of articles written and published in 1996-2000 in
Macedonia, in Russia, in Egypt and in the Czech Republic.
How the West lost the East. The economics, the politics, the
geopolitics, the conspiracies, the corruption, the old and the new,
the plough and the internet - it is all here, in colourful and
provocative prose.
From "The Mind of Darkness":
"'The Balkans' - I say - 'is the unconscious of the world'. People
stop to digest this metaphor and then they nod enthusiastically. It
is here that the repressed memories of history, its traumas and
fears and images reside. It is here that the psychodynamics of
humanity - the tectonic clash between Rome and Byzantium, West and
East, Judeo-Christianity and Islam - is still easily discernible. We
are seated at a New Year's dining table, loaded with a roasted pig
and exotic salads. I, the Jew, only half foreign to this cradle of
Slavonics. Four Serbs, five Macedonians. It is in the Balkans that
all ethnic distinctions fail and it is here that they prevail
anachronistically and atavistically. Contradiction and change the
only two fixtures of this tormented region. The women of the Balkan
- buried under provocative mask-like make up, retro hairstyles and
too narrow dresses. The men, clad in sepia colours, old fashioned
suits and turn of the century moustaches. In the background there is
the crying game that is Balkanian music: liturgy and folk and elegy
combined. The smells are heavy with muskular perfumes. It is like
time travel. It is like revisiting one's childhood."

The Author
Sam Vaknin was born in Israel in 1961. A financial consultant and
columnist, he lived and published in 11 countries. An author of
short stories, the winner of many literary awards, an amateur
philosopher - he is a controversial figure. This is his tenth book.

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Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.