Tuesday, June 10, 2014

War and shame: Can a mercenary spirit afford to have principles and a principled position? (Question to Vladimir Putin)

The other day the Saker mentioned with great alarm the Serb experience from the wars in the former Yugoslavia as a worrying possibility for Ukraine: "Several Serbian commentators have expressed their concern, if not outright worry, about what is happening right now in Novorossia. I have to admit that I now share that concern.... and as a result I am feeling a very unpleasant but persistent feeling of alarm.... As for Putin, he announced that the had ordered the FSB to close down the section of the border which had been liberated by the NDF to prevent "the passage of illegal groups". Not good.  Not good at all.  And it did remind me of Bosnia. Quick flashback: ... Milosevic agreed to cooperate with the Empire's blockade of the Bosnian-Serbs ... Milosevic sold out his own people against a promise to be allowed to rule over Serbia and Montenegro."

Indeed, in the former Yugoslavia, the West managed to achieve several things: 1) making Russia buy into the West's narrative and framing of the conflict--against Russia's own interests; 2) making Russia agree to sanctions against Yugoslavia and the Serbs and their isolation; 3) making Milosevic follow suit after Russia and impose sanctions basically on his own people--the Serbs in Bosnia and Croatia at a time when they almost won the war; 4) Milosevic then started making himself Faustian deals with the West bent on demonizing him and the Serbs and handing them eventually over to their own quislings (which is clearly part of the plan for Russia itself). In this respect, Putin's order to seal the border with the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics, which Russia seems to have no intention to recognize, has then, indeed, its precedent from the war in Bosnia. This is, moreover, happening when official Russia (Russian government) has dropped a long time ago any reference to Bandera, Banderism, the Party Svoboda, the Right Sector, fascism, and even to junta. Instead, the Russian government could not apparently even wait to declare the regime in Kiev legitimate and legal.

The parallel is evident and instructive. This also indicates that to understand Putin's, Lavrov's and Zubarev's statements, actions, and the lack of action, it might be helpful to understand what made Milosevic bow and bend and ultimately disarm and deliver the leaders of the Serbs in Bosnia and Croatia to the Hague in a similar way in which he was then himself delivered there by the then victorious Serb version of Maidan and the fifth column. In my view, Milosevic believed that he can play the game and that one can do well in a Machiavellian game by accepting its supposed rules, which don't really exist as such. There are certainly methods of how Machiavellian politics is played, but pious people used to know that one cannot trust a bargain with the devil. But Milosevic was an atheist, but one who has himself lost faith in anything but politics among Machiavellians seen as peers and colleagues.

The other great factor that made Milosevic turn himself into a tool of his own and Yugoslavia's demise was the position and pressure of Russia at that time. Russia wanted to do business with the West, to get on board, to cut a deal and certain things, many things, had to be given away and traded away--for ... well not that much ... for its allies, prestige, honor, principles, and its own weakening and eventual retreat to today's 400 miles from Moscow to a point when the Russian government does not even want to admit to itself that Strelkov is not just defending Slavyansk, he is defending of the "commanding heights" which would make Ukraine or at least eastern Ukraine one large Karachun (a hill over Slavyansk now used for destroying the city) with respect to Moscow itself.

There is something about the "late communist," new liberal and oligarchic mindsets which knows nothing of honor or fight because one must and because it is just, right, and obligatory, but which knows seemingly all that there is about deals and dishonorable deals. That's what happens when an inflated, inflamed mercenary spirit saddles a small donkey (there is a better word though) of heart and soul.

Machiavellians don't have shame. That's why they are good at waging wars without shame. But, as he himself knew, to do so one has to become a beast. One has to be a beast and no longer a human ... even though residual humanity can and still be used as a mask covering the face for the sake of appearances, as he advised. The case of Milosevic teaches this: that one cannot hope to be a Machiavellian in order to outsmart Machiavellians as one can play a devil and become a devil in the hope of prevailing over him. One certainly needs to be smart, but one has also to have principles, which, like the proverbial soul, is the first think the Machiavellian or the Empire go after.

And so the axiom formulated by Winston Churchill learned at the cost of millions of dead remains valid: If one is willing to accept shame in order to avoid war, one will get both--war and shame too. And when that happens, one's position will be almost certainly worse than the initial one.

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