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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Loyalty, principle and treason

Last night I was in lovely Prague but tonight I am in more exciting but less lovely Belgrade. So let me tear myself away from my new biMac «hehehe» and give you a Balkan perspective on the articles by Dale Amon and Perry de Havilland regarding hairy John Walker in Afghanistan.

As a person who is not from what Perry interestingly calls the ‘Anglosphere’, maybe I see this matter of John Walker slightly differently. In what used to be Yugoslavia, people split along largely ethnic lines when the civil war ripped us apart. Yet many people made decisions to not let an accident of birth choose who they stood by. There were Serbs who joined the Croatian HV Army, there were Croatians who supported the Krajina Serbs, there were Croatians who joined the Bosnian ‘Muslim’ Armia rather than the Croatian HVO. There were Serbs in Yugoslavia who supported Milosevic and the paramilitaries and others who opposed them. Still others everywhere decided to support ‘none of the above’ and either refused to take up arms against anyone or moved abroad.

It seems to me, a person who turns his back on their ethnic origin and joins with another culture during a conflict is either a person of principle or a traitor. Which you are judged to be is only decided when it is all over. So for example, Croatians who supported the Serbian regime in Krajina are ‘traitors’ and Serbs who supported Tudjman’s Croatia are ‘principled’.

Why? Because if anyone can be said to have emerged the ‘winner’ in the Balkan Wars, it is Croatia. It is that simple. As the US has won the war in Afghanistan, it will be decided that Walker is a traitor. The winners make the rules and they write the history books. The winner is always right. Perry takes a position of pure and very good libertarian principle in this matter, but what Dale says is what will actually happen: the US will throw him in jail regardless for exactly the reasons he says.

It may not be fair or just or moral or even reasonable. But it is the truth. That is how the world works.

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