USA or Russia: Strategic partner in Civilisation-II Religio-ethnic dimensions of national interest
The Anglo-American powers have always sided with Pakistan, overtly or covertly. When the terrorist insurgency started in Kashmir in the 1980s, this attitude on their part persisted for next 20 years and only now it seems to be softening. Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya are all cases in point with respect to US attitude to the Orthodox. The global arms market is so huge and involves so many players globally that it would be safe to say that the world capitalist economy would get into recession if true peace (instead of cold war of one kind or another) prevails and the armament industry of all countries is forced to close down. In the Bosnian theatre of the war it was a triangular struggle among Muslims, Catholic Croats and Orthodox Serbs. Again all three committed war crimes, but it was only the Serbs who were held guilty.
No matter what the western political leaders profess in public, they practice something close to what is described in Huntington’s afore-mentioned book. They perceive Muslim and orthodox countries as the ‘other’, a twin adversary. However, each adversary has to be handled differently. Also, there is large body of Muslims in today’s world who believe in Pan Islamism. To such Muslims America gives a clear signal, “If you attack my core, the retaliation would be swift and all out.” Such attacks on USA and Western Europe will be viewed as terrorism. But similar attacks on Russia, Serbia, India or Thailand would be viewed as freedom struggle. The secessionist tendency in Kashmir is almost as old as India’s Independence and India has fought a few wars with Pakistan over Kashmir. The Anglo-American powers have always sided with Pakistan, overtly or covertly. When the terrorist insurgency started in Kashmir in the 1980s, this attitude on their part persisted for next 20 years and only now it seems to be softening. Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya are all cases in point with respect to US attitude to the Orthodox. The Orthodox countries need not be accommodated at all, because America’s economic interest are not tied up in Orthodox countries. In fact they can be sacrificed to placate the Muslim sentiment and counter-balance the AIK factor and America has done precisely that with respect to Serbia and Russia, I will show later.
At one time America considered the Soviet Union an enemy country because it was the center of world communism. On the part of the communists the idea of exporting revolutionary ideas and overthrowing capitalism was a mission. The Cold War grew out of such circumstances. But that is a thing of the past. Soviet Union has disintegrated and the Eastern Europe has embraced capitalism and so has China in the garb of so called market-socialism. Why does America still continue with hostile posturing vis-à-vis Russia? It is because America needs an adversary for a definite reason, for the sake of maintaining an armament industry which is gargantuan in size, generates enormous employment and helps the government to spend tax money without causing inflation. The global arms market is so huge and involves so many players globally that it would be safe to say that the world capitalist economy would get into recession if true peace (instead of cold war of one kind or another) prevails and the armament industry of all countries is forced to close down. So an adversary is necessary to maintain public support and raison d’etre to keep arms manufacture and defense research going. In the 1980s President Gorbachov of erstwhile Soviet Union had offered a deal for negotiated, calibrated and gradual mutual disarmament to the United States. The offer was rejected after much pretensions and negotiations, because the leading capitalist power cannot create a serious disorder in global capitalist economy. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the new Russia again extended a hand of friendship to America, and again it was rejected. Now President Putin has reasserted Russian dominance in whatever remains of her zone of influence in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Russia has been forced to re-start the arms race.
Chechnya is a republic in Caucasus Mountains in the federal structure of Russia, inhabited mostly by a Muslim population. Recently arrived Wahhabism from Saudi Arabia has managed to displace traditional Sufi Islam practiced in the region to a great extent (Khan 1999). This has bred militancy, terrorism and separatism. President Boris Yeltsin tried to come to terms with Chechen aspirations by granting them autonomy, but that spurred them on further to export Wahhabism and separatism to neighbouring Dagestan and Ingushetia by terrorist methods. Finally Russia, led by President Putin, was forced to crack down and militarily subdued Chechen guerrillas. Thereafter sporadic acts of terrorism continue. A few years ago Chechen terrorists took over a school in Beslan which finally resulted in confrontation with security forces and a blood bath leading to death of hundreds of children. The western powers led by the Anglo-Americans had been pontificating to the Russians right from the beginning of separatism that they should give independence to Chechnya; the Chechens are fighting for freedom and self-determination, etc. After the Beslan massacre President Bush of USA uttered a homily that Russia should settle politically with the Chechens and give them freedom. This invited a slap of a statement from President Putin that America should settle politically with Osama Bin Laden and give him what he wanted. It is to be noted that the Beslan incident came well after the plane-bombing of World Trade Center in New York, USA on September 11, 2001, and Osama Bin Laden was considered the top leader of Al Qaeda that perpetrated this horrific act of terrorism. This incident shows up the American double standard with respect to Islamist terrorism and how America is prepared to placate Muslim sentiment at the cost of Orthodox Russia.
Serbia, the heartland of the erstwhile Yugoslav federation, Orthodox by religion, had been traditionally held in high regard by the West. During World War II the Serbs stood up to Hitler. In contrast, a major section of the Croats, the Catholic inhabitants of Croatia, another republic of the federation, collaborated with the Nazis and massacred the Serb Orthodox minority in Croatia under the guidance of a Catholic clergy man. The Nazis took advantage of the traditional hatred between Catholics and the Orthodox in that part of the world. Later during the 1950s Yugoslavia defended by a predominantly Serbian army defied the Soviet dictator, Stalin. It continued to defy the dictates of a domineering Soviet Union till the time of Breznev. Politically Yugoslavia since World War II had been non-aligned in spite of being ruled by Communists and endeared herself to the Western powers. Led by Tito she always pursued a policy of mixed economy and not “command economy” as the rest of the Communist block. Basic freedoms such as freedom of expression and travel were respected. All in all Serbia had earned goodwill and prestige from the western nations.
In the next phase of history after the break up of Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, Serbia’s contribution to the defeat of Fascism and building of democracy was forgotten in no time at all. In the civil war that followed disintegration of Yugoslavia, the West supported Catholic Croatia along the Serbia-Croatia border. There was ethnic cleansing committed by both sides. The evidence against Croatia was suppressed by the machinations of a NATO intervention force. Vanita Singh (1992) who lived in Yugoslavia at that time has given an excellent impartial record of these events. But the worse was yet to come. In the Bosnian theater of the war it was a triangular struggle among Muslims, Catholic Croats and Orthodox Serbs. Again all three committed war crimes, but it was only the Serbs who were held guilty. Their leaders Karadzic and Milosevic were demonized by the West. Europe for the first time saw infusion of Mujahideen warriors from non-European Muslim countries fighting on the side of Bosnian Muslims led by Izetbegovic. NATO imposed a settlement on Bosnia. And then Kosovo, a southern province of Serbia went up in flames.
Kosovo has an interesting history. Slavs entered the Balkans in 6th to 7th century AD. By 1190 Kosovo had become the administrative and cultural center of the medieval Serbian state ruled by the powerful Nemanjic dynasty. This dynasty lasted 200 years and still today Kosovo is known by Serbians as “Old Serbia”. In the Middle Ages the Balkans were occupied by the Ottoman Turks and they imposed discriminatory laws against the Christian population leading to large scale conversion to Islam. Both Albania and present Kosovo had Christian and Muslim populations and there were continual strife and see-saw struggle between Christian Serbs and Muslim Albanians/Kosovars. During Nazi occupation of World War II, the Serbs resisted and the Albanian/Kosovvar Muslims collaborated; thousands of Kosovo Serbs were expelled by armed Albanian groups, notably the Vulnetari militia. It is still not known exactly how many fell victim to this, but Serbian estimates put the figures at 10,000-40,000 killed with 70,000-100,000 expelled. Kosovo was on its way to becoming an Albanian dominated province.
There is resurgence in Islamic terrorism all over the world and Bosnia and Kosovo are no exceptions. As stated before the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and America Israel Kinship (AIK) factor are primarily responsible for this. But Huntington (1996) thinks otherwise and says, ( p.116, Chapter 5: Economics, Demography and the Challenger Civilizations), “While the rise of East Asia has been fuelled by spectacular rates of economic growth, the resurgence of Islam has been fuelled by equally spectacular rates of population growth. Population expansion in Islamic countries, particularly in the Balkans, North Africa and Central Asia has been significantly greater than that in the neighbouring countries and in the world generally.” He backs up his statement with impressive and latest birth rate data. The demographic factor may have skewed the politics of both Bosnia and Kosovo to some extent. There have been consistent reports of Albanians (mostly Muslim) pouring across the mountainous border into more prosperous Yugoslavia (ie, into Kosovo) from a Stalinist Albania through out the later half of the 20th century.
The rest of the history is brief. When the Bosnian civil war came to an end, the NATO intervention there emboldened Albanians in Kosovo and they started ethnic cleansing of the minority Orthodox Serbs. President Slobodan Milosevic strengthened the presence of the Serbian army and security forces many fold to maintain law and order and protect the Serbs. This caused an exodus of Albanian Muslims. NATO bombed Serbia proper for 3 months and into the Stone Age by destroying all power houses, utility network, road bridges and important public buildings. Serbia was forced to withdraw all security forces and the bombings came to an end on June 10, 1999. The Albanians moved back, some of the resident Serbs escaped and since then Kosovo has demanded secession from Serbia. This demand is backed by NATO. Right now NATO and Russian forces are present in Kosovo to protect the remaining Serb minority who live in enclaves. When Kosovo gains independence, what would happen to them? Everyone knows that they would have to escape. To me secession of Kosovo does not seem morally justified and I perceive close parallel with India’s Kashmir, except that there never was an exodus of Muslims from Kashmir, although the Hindu exodus of 1989-90 has not been reversed so far. If Kosovo secedes with NATO assistance, would Kashmir be the next target of the western powers, led by America? The track record of America does not inspire confidence. She has to counter-balance the AIK factor continually to placate the Muslim world.