PUTTING OUT THE FIRE WITH GASOLINE (OR DID YOU CALL MOI A DIPSHIT?)

The Balkans is often referred to as a barrel of gunpowder because of its constant tensions and turbulence, which is something you inherit from your parents, like high cholesterol, and something you leave behind when you kick the bucket. Unless you learn to swim in its tempestuous waters, you stand a higher chance of drowning. If you are from down there, rest assured you’ll live in times of disorder, commotion and unrest, no matter what generation you belong to.

We were sitting in a jet, cruising at some 30,000 ft (9,145 m) somewhere above the coastal mountains of a better tomorrow when we began to shake, rattle and roll again. For a brief moment, it smelled of hope. It seemed as if someone had turned off the engine and let us glide down gently onto the runway. However, a short period of peace and quiet after the 1996-1997 protests was the calm before the storm since the whole place would soon turn into a mad house again.

Simmering tensions between Serbs and Albanians in Serbia’s (ex-) southern province of Kosovo kept getting worse, occasionally erupting into major violence. By Feb 1998, the attacks of the guerrilla Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) against Serbian police stations triggered massive Serbian retaliation against the local population. 1998 cease-fire enabled the deployment of 2,000 European monitors. Nonetheless, the ‘breakdown of U.S.-Milošević negotiations led to renewed fighting which increased with the threat of NATO bombing and the withdrawal of the monitors’ (source: Yugoslavia – Peace, War, and Dissolution, Noam Chomsky). Voices of reason ‘warned that bombing would endanger the lives of tens of thousands of refugees believed to be hiding in the woods,’ predicting tragic consequences if NATO made it impossible for monitors to be present (source: Crisis in the Balkans, Chomsky). The crisis culminated in the Kosovo War of 1998 and 1999, during and after which Yugoslavia was once again sanctioned by the UN, EU and United States.

During the 14-month war, we were watching an old black-and-white film in which atrocities on a massive scale were perpetuated solely by THEM. The reality is impartial though, with massacres of civilians by both the separatist KLA and Serbian military, paramilitary and police forces: 34 individuals of Serb, Roma and Albanian ethnicity discovered by a Serbian forensic team near a lake, 45 Albanian farmers massacred, 80 Serbs found in mass graves, 48 Albanian civilians found dead, over 100 Serbian and Roma civilians kidnapped and placed in concentration camps, 47 of whom were killed, 19 Albanian civilians killed (including women, children and the elderly), 14 Serbian farmers murdered, 93 Albanians murdered, 22 Serb civilians murdered, their bodies cremated, 29 identified corpses of Albanian civilians discovered in a mass grave, 15 Serbs murdered, 18 corpses of Albanian civilians found, 20 Serbs murdered, their corpses thrown down wells, 25 male Serb civilians killed, 300 Albanian people killed, over 300 Serb civilians taken across the border into Albania and killed in a so-called ‘Yellow House,’ their organs removed and sold on the black market. Missing, presumed to have been killed, missing… Estimates ranging from 50 to more than 200 ethnic Albanians killed, more than 70 Albanian prisoners killed by prison guards, 100 Kosovo refugees murdered. Missing, murdered…missing… 5 Albanian leaders killed for collaboration by their own people, 23 Serbs and moderate Albanians tortured and killed in a concentration camp, 62 known fatalities , 47 people forced into a room and gunned down. Missing. Missing.…What did we miss?! Endless violations of international humanitarian and human rights law: use of excessive force, resulting in terror, rapes, arsons and severe maltreatments, looting of and forced expulsions from homes, destruction of villages, schools, healthcare facilities, monuments and religious sites (both churches and mosques), detention, persecution, kidnappings, deportations, well-poisoning, executions, killings by gunmen and grenade attacks on cafés and shops, concentration camps, mass graves, and cover-ups.

church, mosque.PNG

Then came the Račak massacre, the mass killing of 45 Kosovo Albanians, taking place in the Albanian-inhabited village of Račak in central Kosovo in Jan 1999, which made a world of difference, or so it seemed. William Walker, the head of the Kosovo Verification Mission, condemned what he labeled ‘an unspeakable atrocity’ and ‘a crime very much against humanity.’

Our flight had been shaking vigorously for quite some time. Repeated bomb threats to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) led to the so-called elevator effect, with the stomach drop feeling during turbulence. All passengers were having heart-in-mouth experience, and although quite a few were complaining of an upset tummy, rarely taking their head out of a sick bag, Médecins Sans Frontières never showed up. Once again, we were left to our own devices. The world thought we hadn’t learned from our past mistakes and needed to study harder if we wanted to pass our human rights exam that semester, blabbing: Repetitio est mater studiorum. Repetitio est mater studiorum. Repetitio.

Our Pilot in command racked his brain all afternoon but couldn’t remember where he had put the book. He could have asked, of course, or borrowed it from the library. ‘How will I ever get a passing grade without the book and time to revise?’ he thought to himself. I could always resort to cheating. I’m bloody brilliant at it. However, the rules made by the Air Traffic Controller were clear: knuckle down and bow to the King of the world. Not like that. Lower your head. He knew he’d feel dizzy while bending over, so he decided to pass…People often turn to one another at times of crisis and we were no exception. We were not prone to despair when going through a hard patch. Despair comes later, when there’s peace and apparently nothing and nobody to fight. So, even though we were slammed against the cabin ceiling during turbulence, you’d rarely hear people screaming. Our Pilot and the cabin crew knew there would be casualties, they knew lots of passengers would suffer horrific injuries if they suddenly hurtled out of their seats, as they knew we’d be tossed across the plane no matter what we did or failed to do. Still, they were reassuring us everything would be alright provided we listened to the instructions in case of emergency and went on to play a movie, a new release. The Cinema of Europe isn’t particularly good at making bloody blockbusters or films with happy endings. Frankly, who needs Natural Born Killers, Martyrs and Rambos with so many violent thrillers, actions and horrors in real life, so gory, they’ll make your eyes water.

Some passengers acknowledged and praised our Boss’ will, if not means, to fight back, especially upon seeing he was held in scorn by his rival pilots who wanted him out of the game, which helped him win additional points with his fellow travelers. To be honest, he did check everyone for seat belts before turbulence (unexpectedly) hit but then went about his business shooting at NATO with his toy guns, thinking we were capable of standing up to the big shots. Despite the panic of flight attendants being thrown around, our Pilot decided to remain composed and not tell a soul he was regularly shitting his pants. Alas, ‘a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.’ It turned out the Pilot was indisposed. I don’t have it all together today, he said to the Tower. I have no intention of landing the plane yet. Try me again later when I have it all together. Little did he know that Big Daddy didn’t get a kick out of being called a fool before the whole world besides being ‘hypomanic’ who desperately needed another fuck so that everyone could forget about his petite interne once and for all. One thing you don’t do to Buddy, the Real Estate King, is ignore him. ‘He’s the sun; he’s the center of the universe. He needs to shine’ (source: Putting Bill Clinton On the Couch). What the King didn’t know (that is, pretended not to) was that this Pilot wouldn’t give up easily and would take immediate revenge by redoubling his attacks in Kosovo, which NATO, busy setting fire to yet another detached house, had no intention of stopping. Our Pilot didn’t however have the magnetic compass for navigation, nor was he planning to touch base with the world. He simply switched on the no smoking sign and the autopilot while we waited for the inevitable.

 

MORALITY PARK

The Balkans is often referred to as a barrel of gunpowder because of its constant tensions and turbulence, which is something you inherit from your parents, like high cholesterol, and something you leave behind when you kick the bucket. Unless you learn to swim in its tempestuous waters, you stand a higher chance of drowning. If you are from down there, rest assured you’ll live in times of disorder, commotion and unrest, no matter what generation you belong to.

We were sitting in a jet, cruising at some 30,000 ft (9,145 m) somewhere above the coastal mountains of a better tomorrow when we began to shake, rattle and roll again. For a brief moment, it smelled of hope. It seemed as if someone had turned off the engine and let us glide down gently onto the runway. However, a short period of peace and quiet after the 1996-1997 protests was…

View original post 1,261 more words

Author: Blogging_with_Bojana

I'm diggin' Need to grow, have to push Flicking through vinyl and feeding the rush I dig for that one and I open the haunt It's takin' all day from the back to the front I'm diggin' and diggin' You know Sorry baby I'm gone diggin' www.bloggingwithbojana.com

35 thoughts on “PUTTING OUT THE FIRE WITH GASOLINE (OR DID YOU CALL MOI A DIPSHIT?)”

  1. The anxiety that I now feel has taken over. I need to find a dark room for a bit.

    The brilliance of the style that you chose to write this is unparalleled. Un-fucking-paralleled.

    I’ve got more…just no more words.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I too am running out of words to describe how powerful and wonderful and frightening your essay is. Thank you, B. Thank you for creating this testimony.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Ah, Bill, I knew you well. What a speaker; what a passion on your face for the plight of the common man. What a horse’s ass. Wagging the dog after shagging the stray, eh? Little changes. Far too little and far too slow.

    Is America balkanizing? The hate is palpable, the vitriol profound. How long before this powder keg ignites into violence in the streets. Will we yell at the opposition in a restaurant or at a gas station today, then start beating them in groups tomorrow? How thin is that line? I really wanna know.

    Thank you, Bojana, for continuing your brilliant tale. I don’t have time for tears, my fists are clenched. My resolve is rising. How in the world does one fight for peace? Can my cacophony lead to harmony? If I yell loud enough will we finally all talk quietly?

    I don’t know, I’m too young to figure it out yet. Ask again tomorrow, I’ll be wiser then.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your cacophony is always meaningful, Tom. HIS by contrast isn’t. Despite it, people sleep on.
      We need to scream at the top of our lungs sometimes to be heard. Internet is a powerful weapon today. Try using it more purposefully.

      Life is said to be all about balance. Be kind, but don’t let people abuse you, trust but don’t let them fool you, be content but always strive for more. Try to improve yourself and the world you live in.

      I’ll keep asking you and you do the same when I forget.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “Despair comes later, when there’s peace and apparently nothing and nobody to fight.”
    And speechlessness comes after reading your incredible writing. That was, well, eye-opening, intensely moving, and stomach churning with the ride to say the least.x

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have two supposed facts which I’d like you to confirm or dismiss. I’ve saved these two pieces of info somewhere deep but have no idea where I got them.

    1. Is it true that at the time of the bombing Serbian TV aborted all content from NATO-countries except the film Wag the Dog which it aired daily?
    2. Is it true (if you’ve heard) that after losing a stealth, NATO argued: “We do deserts, we don’t do mountains.”

    I think this bombing was one of the biggest mistakes of history and only time will tell how big.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 1. You have to know I was at my parents’ in southern Serbia back then, which at the time had only RTS, 2 channels of national TV, meaning not much of a choice. I don’t recall them playing Wag the Dog, but there were partisan movies, tons of them, every single day. For more details, you’ll have to wait till Oct. I’ll have to do some research in the meantime, and reread my war journal. I haven’t touched it all this time….I’m curious too what I’ll find there.
      2. Never heard.

      Stay tuned and thanks for reading, Manja. It was a mistake, a terrible one…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I remember the anti-American protests in Athens at the time. Strange days for Greece too: can you hang out with NATO and still keep your Serbian friends?
    The Albanian immigrants who lived here had never felt very welcome and I guess those days less than ever.
    Skata, Bojana, but thanks for reminding me.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I live in the Balkans. My situation is too familiar and the scenario is the same. I think, however, that there was another specific factor in Serbia, namely the direct interest of Moscow. This policy is currently very aggressive with regard to Serbia. How will you comment?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Russia always makes sure to secure its interests, like all other super powers (soft power and hard interests, as opposed to Washington and Brussels’ violence and hard interests). This applies to the Balkans as well, using primarily Belgrade, where they’ve gained a strong position, in its confrontation with the West.
      We seem too willing to give everything that’s asked of us. The thing is, though we appear reluctant to make more concessions towards Russia, we’re more than willing to do so towards the West. We’d sell our soul to the devil to get into the E.U. We’d sold Kosovo a long time ago.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s