It Was A Good Day To Die

by Aleksandra Priestfield

November 3, 2003


It was a good day to die, apparently.

Alija Izetbegovic, possibly the main architect of the dog's breakfast that is today's Bosnia, has finally shuffled off this mortal coil. He was in his late seventies. In his wildest dreams he could not have imagined the sainthood that he would be granted on his demise.

An Associated Press news story, (1) profoundly shocking in either its ignorance or its wilful smearing of truth into innuendo and outright lies, coyly informs the world that a spokeswoman for the Hague arch-witch hunter Carla del Ponte has made a statement to the effect that Mr. Izetbegovic was "under investigation" for unspecified war crimes at the time of his death. The investigation will, naturally, be "halted" now that the investigatee is conveniently no longer with us.

If Izetbegovic was under investigation for war crimes -- as he should have been, and the proof of such crimes would not have been nearly hard enough to find as it is proving to be for Slobodan Milosevic -- then at the very least they should be made public. Izetbegovic created enough hell when he was alive -- why allow him sainthood, and a legacy that will continue to feed that hell?

The AP story goes on to commit the most flagrant lie of all. Izetbegovic, the story states, was a "political moderate." The "political moderate" who held out against all political solutions except one, the one that gave him power; the one who scuttled perfectly acceptable diplomatic initiatives because he was given to understand that the world's superpowers would stand behind him if he chose war.

Which he did. The AP story quotes the ensuing bloody conflict, lasting for almost four years, as costing more than 260 000 dead and more than two and a half million refugees who "fled or were evicted in ethnic purges." Play the ethnic card and these figures will be understood -- as they are meant to be understood -- as figures illustrating the viciousness of the Serbs in the civil war in question. It incorporates lies like the dead turning up to vote (as many so-called Muslim corpses apparently did). It probably does not incorporate the Serb dead. Those, naturally, are not the war crimes that Izetbegovic could possibly have been in the process of investigation for.

The "political moderate" leaves as his legacy the document entitled "Islamic Declaration" in 1970, (2) in which he baldly stated that "... it is not in fact possible for there to be any peace or coexistence between the Islamic Religion and non-Islamic social and political institutions." The noble refusal of Izetbegovic to "divide Bosnia" takes on an entirely different meaning when you realise that the reason for it was not that he wanted to spare the place suffering -- rather, he loved it all so well that he wanted it all for himself, in order to make sure that no "non-Islamic" institutions could sully its purity. This is the man whose flag rallied the most vicious of overseas mujahedeen, the ones that the Western press was bleating about the non-existence of even as training camps and children sired by these men on Bosnian women were being pointed out to them. This is the man whose government reportedly issued a passport to Osama bin Laden not too long before he became the alleged Angel of Death who orchestrated America's brush with tragedy on that bloody September 11. Izetbegovic is now the man whose obituaries in The New York Times call him a paragon of virtue. This is the man who goes on to say, in the Islamic Declaration, "The exhaustive definition of the Islamic Order is: the unity of religion and law, education and force, ideals and interests, spiritual society and State...the Muslim does not exist at all as an independent individual..." This is the man who named those who died in his war for power as holy martyrs, giving the Bosnian conflict the air of a Jihad - the same man who asked to be buried in the cemetery already filled with the bones of young men he already sent to hell in the years he spent bloodily pursuing his quest for power.

An anonymous Internet source (if anyone can claim this for their own, please do let us know so we can attribute it properly) has penned a "Tourist guide" for the post-Izetbegovic Bosnia. The thing is frankly scary. It reads:

Welcome to the land of economic and power-hungry holocaust.

Welcome to the land of unemployment. Poverty. To the land which still boasts the existence of miners [by that, please understand that the author means the kind of miners who crawl into the mines as little boys and crawl back out again aged forty or so and looking 103, to die shortly afterwards of lung diseases and heart diseases and of simply wearing out their mortal bodies well before their time...]

Welcome to the land of religious and ethnic hatred, to the land of gender, race, religious, ethnic, and a slew of other discriminations -- to the land of pain and suffering, to the land of medical discards and the legacy of depleted uranium.

Welcome to the land of envy, assassinations, bombs; the land of chauvinism and protectionism.

Be very welcome in the land of drugs and prostitution, in the land where people can still be literally bought and sold on the market.

Welcome to the land of full bars and nightclubs, where alcohol is both cause and solution of all life's problems.

Welcome to the land of war profiteers, of ex-"soldiers" who wander the country without jobs or futures.

Welcome to the land of shattered families, razed homes, communities, cities... to the land of destroyed lives... of unmarked mine fields... the land which once held the Olympic Games where sport is now dead... where intellectualism is dead... where conscience is dying.

Welcome, above all, to the land of policics, thievery, bribery and corruption. To the land of crime and the local version of the Mafia. To the land where police are powerless and the administration is bloated.

Welcome to the land of the Dayton Accord. To the land of the poor and the poorer.

Welcome to the land of mountains. We are particularly proud of the beauty of our mountains. It's a shame they're sown with landmines.

Welcome to the land of Balias, Ustashe, Chetniks. The land which is one country, but is really two, and in practical terms three.

Welcome to the land in which being a pensioner means living on the very edge of bare human existence.

Welcome to the land where your purchasing power depends on whether you can pay in Deutschmarks. To the land of the thoroughly modern feudal monarchy. The land of serfs and vassals. And lords and masters, naturally.

Welcome to the land of bought and paid for diplomas. The land without a dream, without a vision; the land of bricked-up horizons.

In this day and age, welcome to the land where only 27% of people even know what the Internet is, and only 6% actually knows how to use it.

Welcome to the land of lawlessness, of anything-goes. The land of pirated software, pirated music, pirated videos, pirated digital TV. Quite simply, to the land of pirates. Privateers. To the land of black market and smuggling. Of violence against women. Festering distrust and hatred.

Welcome to the land where an extra cup of coffee is no longer set aside, in case some other friend should happen by.

Do come in. Welcome. There is no reason why you too should not experience life in our 3-D horror movie...
Welcome to Alija Izetbegovic's legacy.

It was indeed a good day to die.

· · · · · ·

References and Resources

1.  "Late Bosnian Leader Was Being Investigated," Associated Press (AP), October 23, 2003. http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=518&ncid=732&e=10&u=/ap/20031023/ap_on_re_eu/war_crimes_izetbegovic (link valid as of 10/28/03)  (back)

2.  http://www.balkan-archive.org.yu/politics/papers/Islamic_Declaration_1990_reprint_English.pdf  (back)

The Balkans and Yugoslavia on Swans


Aleksandra Priestfield on Swans (with bio).

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Published November 3, 2003
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