A non-European answer to
a European problem
February 17, 2008
The fate of individual societies and the world at large has often been determined by fatal illusions of the local and global elite, particularly when decisions to go to war or intervene militarily were involved. The famous American historian, Gabriel Kolko has convincingly depicted how in the previous century fatal illusions and unfounded expectations of the European elite contributed to the two World Wars bringing profound tragedy to Europe and the world.
Analyzing in particular the elite that decided to lead European nations toward the Second World War, he exposed their “endemic myopia” in relation to reality, i.e. their tendency toward a biased perception that was guided more by the principal of convenience than accuracy. The European elite demonstrated a complete lack of capability to predict not only the external consequences of their fatal decisions/strategies, but the internal social costs as well, guided by self-ascribed divine wisdom and false expectations. Accordingly, all sides estimated that the Second World War would last only a few months.
The explanation for the endemic blindness, careless disregard for facts, Kolko found in the “binding consensus”, that is, in the form of socialization that eliminates dissident voices and produces ruthless careerists – military leaders, politicians, diplomats, advisors, who are prepared to ignore or distort all discomforting facts in order to preserve their privileged position and further their advancement.
We are reminded of Kolko’s findings because it seems as if the fate of the Serbian state (as well as the world) at this very moment is being determined by the fatal illusions of contemporary power holders.
In spite of the fact that we are living in the information age, where satellites, cables and computers etc. have greatly extended our capacity to establish the truth, gather reliable information on the ground, arguments based on facts are still losing the battle against “convenient biases”, geopolitical ambitions defined irrespective of the costs, ruthless self-interest and the ambitions of career makers.
Experience has shown that facts can easily be suspended, defeated even when decision-makers are confronted with verified information gathered by civilian and military intelligence agencies, Think-tanks and research institutes of the government.
The American intervention in Iraq is one such example. The intervention was justified by a series of false arguments, intentional distortion of the findings of the UN inspectors and agents of CIA. At the same time, those who were deciding to wage a war against Iraq estimated that the intervention would be swift and efficient and that the Iraqis would welcome American soldiers as liberators. The course of the intervention revealed, once again, the full measure of tragedy which false arguments, unrealistic estimations, fatal illusions, can bring on. The arrogance of power confidently misjudged that the violence against reality can be successfully controlled and contained. The fatal illusions led to a protracted civil war whose end is not in sight, to an occupational quagmire for the American forces and their victims. Illusional estimations were present in the case of Afghanistan as well. Instead of establishing control, delivering a decisive blow to the Talibans and terrorism, creating viable conditions for development and democratization, the country is undergoing an equally tragic civil war following US intervention, as in the case of Iraq.
The relationship of EU and USA toward the independence of Kosovo and Metohija, a Serbian province, confirms that audacious irresponsibility is extending. As far as Europe is concerned, if it decides in the case of resolving the Kosovo issue to follow the path of fatal illusions instead of rational arguments based on facts, it faces the danger to once again take upon itself an enormous historical responsibility for its grave misjudgments.
Which fatal illusions do we have in mind?
It is a fatal illusion that the deconstruction of the consensus achieved after the Second World War in relation to the inviolability of state borders, will not seriously destabilize the very basis of the existing global order and extend the logic of arbitrariness and tragic violence.
It is a tragic illusion that the independence of Kosovo will bring about stability to the region, that the suspension of international law will be limited to Kosovo, that it will not spur a wave of violent secessions round the world. It is a costly illusion that EU states can painlessly ignore the data and reports of their own intelligence agencies (some Reports have been leaked to the press), depicting a catastrophic state of (political, economic, social) of affairs in Kosovo, and construct on a simulated, nonexistent foundation the building of a new European democratic state.
It is a damaging illusion that Serbia can survive an enforced solution, without new internal turbulences.
It is an illusion that EU can, without deconstructing its own capacities of rational reflection, continue to extensively reproduce administrators, diplomats, officials who privately in the hallways express one opinion concerning the issue of the secession of Kosovo, confirming that they are fully aware how things stand in reality, and publicly express another view, that is, who follow the “binding consensus”, in the vicious race to advance their careers.
It is also a destructive illusion that enforced European unity will result in an authentic deepening of the European community.
In the case of Kosovo, Europe had the opportunity to demonstrate that, after the fiasco it experienced in resolving the YU crisis, it now has a European answer to a European crisis.
Such an answer would entail: the obligation to remember the lessons that the wars on its soil generated; the respect of its own commitments that it will, deepening its integration and extending its global presence, adhere to the UN Charter, Helsinki Final Act; a sincere effort to reach a realistic diagnosis instead of distorting facts; and investing long-term patience into reconciliation efforts and negotiations instead of simulating and imposing solutions.
As it stands now, the EU elite has set its mind to choose a non-European solution to the Kosovo problem, taking upon itself the responsibility for all the tragic self-evident consequences that will occur, and that are fatally being ignored.
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