Which is in stark opposition to great INS plans to expedite its service. When I started my pilgrimages to Federal Plaza three or four years ago, hearings were held on 13th floor. Ominous, knowing that a lot of New York high rises do not even have that floor. Today the hearings are held on 10th, 11th and 13th floor. The number of judges increased and there were still more benches in the hallways waiting to be unpacked, when I was there last month. Republicans must have been pleased. Then they shut it all down.
Yet, now with doves, olive branches in their beaks, flying all over Dayton Peace Agreement web page and elsewhere over the war vary Balkans, the U.S. might want us get back help them put that agreement to work. Germany already adopted a policy of returning Bosnians to Bosnia. Well, Germans sometimes do take things too literally, as we know.
Did anybody else notice that the longest armistice in Bosnian-Serbian-Croatian war was in place while their leaders were locked up in a foreign military base? How that nobody got that idea earlier? Instead of courting them in Geneva, London, Paris, New York five stars hotels and letting them wonder around free whenever one of them has one of his tantrums... ...Wright-Patterson air-base in Dayton, Ohio seemed to be a perfect setting. Maybe Americans should have kept them there.
Will this peace agreement hold? Parts of the agreement that regulate Bosnian-Croatian and Croatian-Serbian relations were actually agreed upon earlier. Dayton just confirmed their commitment to do so. It was the Bosnian-Serbian agreement that's new. Both Izetbegovic and Milosevic shivered when Rabin was shot, because it was essentially the same land-for-peace deal they were about to sign. Would their extremists ever forgive them? Milosevic gave up Eastern Slavonia, further conquest of Bosnia, Gorazde in particular, but Alija gave up Banja Luka region, Srebrenica and Zepa, Brcko corridor (which is actually widened for Milosevic).
For many years Yugoslavia was proud as of its multiethnic character, of its ability to remain independent - it was even one of the key countries that started non-alignment movement. Its new nationalist leaders successfully destroyed both: ethnic grievances destructed possibility of multi-ethnic living for many years to come, and in those years fragile truce of what was once Yugoslavia will be kept by 60,000 foreign soldiers, coming from 60 countries.
So far, Bosnia is cheering: Serbs, Bosnian Muslims, Croats - everybody seems to feel great relief that Americans are finally coming to take their little nasty war over from them. It is unlikely, I believe, that anybody would actually shoot Americans. Everybody likes Americans there, even Serbs. Americans are Levi's, John Wayne, Coca Cola, Led Zeppelin and Sylvester Stallone. Their P.R. machinery managed to get away with Vietnam better than Brits are getting away with Belfast or French with their stupid stubborn nuclear tests, or Russians and Germans with their horrible totalitarian past.
Behind NATO's back we may expect that they'll all try to arm themselves to their teeth while the truce lasts. Americans said they'll provide weapons and training for Bosnian Muslims. That's sure not going to float well with Serbs, or maybe even worse with Croats. But Croats already got that, didn't they? Former Pentagon officers trained them before the Krajina offensive. We'll probably have a new-world-order old-cold-war adapted scheme where now friends Americans arm Bosnian-Croat federation, and Russians arm Serbs. This is great for business. I bet that both countries military-industrial complexes are looking forward for deals to come and save them from timely extinction.
Once the Americans (and others) leave, will Bosnians, Croats and Serbs revert to war, or will the power equilibrium hold them at bay? This is difficult to say now. It will definitively be interesting to see how Americans intend to do away (or do they?) with the obvious Bosnian vassalage to Croatia. It is also easy to see both Croatia and Serbia remaining highly militarized authoritarian societies, a far cry from "civil society" that pro-democracy groups in Yugoslavia in eighties hoped for. Democracy has been successfully cheated by the war.
How long will the American commitment last anyway? Who knows? The history of America's relentless attempts to impose its particular concept of order and stability throughout much of the world, i.e. "to lead", is full of similar examples: Americans in this century repeatedly tried to establish international organizations which would put an end to warfare through legal proceedings like arbitration - yet, then, due to opposition at home (suspicious Congress, isolationist crowd...), they were reluctant to join the efforts they initiated. American foreign policy is constantly in pains between its moral ideals and the insatiable appetite for leadership.
At the beginning of the century president W.H.Taft aimed to prevent wars through arbitration of international disputes, yet then Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman H.C.Lodge (who disliked even the notion of creating a body that "might consist of foreigners". e.g. like the U.N. today) managed to amend the arbitration pacts, that Taft signed, to death before passage. Between the world wars in Paris 62 countries agreed to "renounce war" and settle disputes by "pacific means", adopting the Kellog-Briand Pact outlawing war, drafted by no less a peacenik than a U.S. Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg. The Senate immediately added reservations to U.S. ratification: no one had to act in case of a treaty violation - making the treaty worthless. Long before Vietnam, Americans were worried with the "military-industrial complex". A correct, though Marxist, idea that the WW I was partially caused by a conspiracy among greedy capitalists, weapons manufacturers - "merchants of death", lead to full-blown Senate hearings: the Nye probe - where likes of J.P.Morgan and Du Pont brothers were called to testify. The Nye probe lead to passage of Neutrality Acts, that made it illegal to lend money or export arms to belligerents - which included victims of aggression, like the Spanish Republic.
So, arms embargoed Bosnia is just another deja-vu for American war and peace politics. Turning down the boat people is an old story, too: as late as 1938 the Coast Guard turned away from American shores a boat with Jewish refugees from Germany. And proclaiming the moral commitment while withholding the ground troops is nothing new either: as late as autumn 1941, polls (those ever-present ubiquitous polls) reflected a similar kind of national schizophrenia: Gallup surveys showed that 70 percent of Americans felt that it was "more important" to defeat Germany than to stay out of war; but 83 percent opposed a congressional declaration of a state of war. The later failure of both the policy and the implementation of that policy in the case of Vietnam, made American foreign commitment just even more difficult. In a way I think that we should be glad that it is that way. They'd be less likely to do anything stupid.
Clinton just might have won the next years election on a foreign policy victories. He made peace in the Middle East, he made peace in the Balkans, he closed old wounds with Vietnam, he is almost on the way to do the same with Cuba, he bought North Koreans out of developing nuclear weapons... ...but his mandate was to be a domestic policy president, if I am not mistaken, am I? Judging the following health care example, he failed at that. A week ago I was trying to get an x-ray of my injured leg. I went to the Emergency Room at the Metropolitan Hospital (that's closest to where I live). ER implies 'emergency', meaning rapid response and things like that. Instead I was given a bracelet and was shown to a seat in the waiting room. During next four hours, before I finally gave up, I observed how the waiting room was actually used as a sort of living room by the smartest among local homeless population. Room is heated, it has a water fountain, bathrooms, pay-phones, and a TV set. All announcements are bilingual. I don't even know why they bothered to write the English part. Noticeably, me and my friend were the only "Caucasians" for the first hour and a half. After three hours I started whining, but right at that moment two young women came by. One was shaking. Her mother was just brought in in cardiac arrest. There was only one (1) single doctor to treat her and all of the rest. Which is probably even worse than in Emergency Rooms in former Yugoslavia. Third daughter and a son came by. After an hour mother died, and they were all crying and sobbing there in a mixture of Spanish and English talking on the phone to their father, etc. We left then. Conclusion: ER is nice if you are homeless and in need of a decent daytime shelter, but it is awkward if you really urgently need medical attention. This, I somehow suspect, will not benefit in any way from the government shutdown. On the contrary. Long time ago I realized that the U.S. were designed for healthy people. Sick people should stay in Europe or go to Canada.
Yesterday I met Anisa. She is from Sarajevo and she studies at St.Lawrence University, NY, as a beneficiary of Soros's Open Society Fund Supplementary Grant Program for Students from Former Yugoslavia, which was denied to me in cold blood by Soros's Empire Yugoslav overseer and hench-woman Beka Vuco, simply because I came to the States seven months too early to fit in their sacrosanct guidelines. She wouldn't want to hear that I might be dead now if I waited those seven months. So, I was kind of maliciously pleased with the obvious failure of the program: as the "Three from Dayton" initially wouldn't meet or talk to each other, groups of students from Zagreb and Belgrade, sponsored by Soros to study in the U.S., were put together in a Philadelphia classy hotel for "proximity talks", but refused to socialize at all. Maybe Soros should opt for a boot camp somewhere in Idaho in the future. Meanwhile, I still have no problems socializing with other youth from anywhere in former Yugoslavia.
Last Friday, for example, I was at the party mostly with people from Montenegro and Serbia. Although they don't really seem to see themselves that way. They do not like being associated with Milosevic's war-waging Serbia, or Yugoslavia of today. They live in the past and like a mantra sing karaoke to old Yugoslav rock ballads from Bajaga, Djordje Balasevic, Bijelo Dugme and Azra long into night. As, for the past 50 or so years of existence of Yugoslavia, Croat and Serb immigrants in the States lived in their insular nationalist past ridden with rich tradition of military-styled folk songs, not recognizing Yugoslavia as their country, now we have the same phenomenon happening with the new generations of immigrants from Yugoslavia: the generations born after the war (WW II), the generations brought up to "brotherhood and unity" of early open-air rock concerts of Bijelo Dugme, too young to remember, yet already too old to be taught "thousand years of hatred" lesson by their new leaders: the lost thirtysomethings of former Yugoslavia. In Croatia, on its way to economic prosperity, with the war won and with the international acceptance secured, they almost seamlessly slip into their new role as Croats. But in isolated, "marked" as evil Serbia, they simply go numb when outside world call them "those Serbs". When the night gets more ripe and the strong Italian red wine digs deeper in the soul, a time comes for "sevdah", a specific kind of "soul" music developed by subjects of Ottoman rule in Bosnia and Serbia (much like "soul" music was developed in America by black slaves), very different in spirit and content from nationalist marches and so-called "newly composed" folk music, or its latest offspring: turbo-folk.
Oh, and I should add what I learned from Anisa - it might be an interesting idea for future of former Yugoslavia struggling entrepreneurs. Levi's 501 that I bought in New York for twenty bucks would go in Zagreb for 100 DM or more ($60). Actually anywhere in Europe Jeans are incredibly expensive. I guess with the presence of American troops in the Balkans, bustling new businesses might get ideas. They successfully smuggled weapons and fuel all this time, so clothes should present no problem. Also, all units of UNPROFOR proved bribable. There is no reason to believe that NATO troops should be any different, is there?
There is a new zine in Zagreb: Zaginflatch, published by Zagreb's Anarcho-Pacifists. Guys maintained communication with anarcho-pacifists (mainly hard-core punks) on "other" sides throughout the war with no American military persuasion (but with a little help from Soros, who gives money to alternative media in the Balkans), mostly through e-mail (Zamir Transnational Net), and exchanging things through third countries. Zaginflatch, therefore, brings some totally amusing news not available in the mainstream press. In this summer's issue for example there is a brief report about racially biased Nazi skinheads attack on American basketball players in, of all places, Ljubljana, Slovenia (which is known as the most democratic and tolerant part of former Yugoslavia): "American basketball players were in town playing against Slovene teams. While walking through Ljubljana's main square the basketball players were confronted by boneheads shouting racist abuse. One player was hit in the head by a skin during the confrontation. When the police intervened the boneheads were checked for identification and released without hassles. The American team broke off their tour of Slovenia." Should we expect the same to happen with the American team in Bosnia, once the first of them "get a hit on his head"?