30 June 2023

The New Age of Imperialism and a World Without Rules: the Serbian Case

When the West dismembered Serbia in violation of international law and the UN Charter, I said it would come back to bite them in the arse. It has.

From The European Conservative

By  Jovan Palalic

It is as if in this global chaos, a new era of empires is looming and small European nations with a strong sense of identity will have to reaffirm their unwavering commitment to freedom.

Although we have long lost the illusions that the world order established after the end of the Second World War operates according to established rules, the war in Ukraine has definitively shattered them. Deep concern prevailed after the war in Iraq and the bombing of Serbia, and many already then expressed fears that the world was plunging into dangerous chaos without any universally accepted rules of conduct in international politics. 

However, the ongoing war in Eastern Europe has given the entire process a tremendous acceleration. That is, the world order will be shaped by the politics of power, not clear international rules. Thus, a world without rules is emerging—dangerous, dark, and uncertain. Nothing is guaranteed to anyone anymore, and the United Nations Security Council has become a place not for creating peace agreements, but rather a place of conflict, vetoes, and blockades. The world will be shaped by the powerful, based on their strength and driven solely by their interests. In such a world, Hobbes’ warning that man is a wolf to man and that everything is permissible has resurfaced. 

The chaotic time caused by the Ukrainian war and the exposure of everything and everyone on the world stage has put my home country, Serbia, in a very peculiar situation. Both the West and Russia are dissatisfied with Serbia’s position in this war. The West criticizes our country for refusing to impose sanctions on Russia and exerts daily pressure on us. It hypocritically turns a blind eye to the fact that we are the only country in Europe that was illegally bombed, that was under sanctions from that same West for a decade, and from which a part of its internationally recognized territory was forcibly taken without any right. Not to mention that we are completely dependent on Russian gas and oil that it is impossible for us to procure from elsewhere. That is why we are building a strong partnership with our neighboring and friendly Hungary, as we face identical energy challenges. 

The pinnacle of hypocrisy by liberal and leftist Western governments lies in the fact that,  the  same globalist governments that held us under sanctions for a whole decade now demand that we impose sanctions on Russia, which did not impose sanctions on us back then. And that, once again, due to sanctions, this time in reverse, we destroy our economy and bring our people to hunger. They seem to not understand what it means to have common sense and an unwavering belief in independence. German Chancellor Schultz demanded very sharply from Serbia, right in the heart of Belgrade, that our country recognize the secessionist part of Kosovo as a sovereign state and that we impose sanctions on Russia, or else our European path will come to nothing. 

However, what European path is Schultz talking about when Brussels, for geopolitical reasons, grants candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova without clear accession rules, while blackmailing Serbia to ruin itself both politically and economically because it has been respecting the Brussels accession rules to the European Union for decades? Putin told the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Guterres, in Moscow that if the West can recognize the independence of Kosovo and destroy Serbian territory, then he can also recognize the independence of Donbas.

That is his interest, and he uses whatever is at hand when it comes to global politics. And Kosovo is a precedent created to the detriment of Serbia. The West can violate Serbia’s territorial integrity, but condemns Russia when it does the same to Ukraine. Serbs have literally opened their eyes in this war to witness the beginning of a general chaos where everyone only looks out for themselves.

On the other hand, Russia is dissatisfied with  Serbia for condemning its attack on Ukraine and considering it unacceptable to undermine the territorial integrity of other states through war. Serbia itself was subjected to an illegal bombing and knows well what war, refugees, and destruction mean. They are taking away a part of our territory, so how can we remain silent when they do the same to another internationally recognized state? We are firm in this position, regardless of the criticism coming from Moscow. We want to be principled because we deeply believe that it is not possible to destroy every principle in world politics. Principles give strength to our desire for freedom and independence. Most Serbs regret this terrible war between two close nations—but believe it is not our war. 

But—who decided that this should be our war in the first place? That is probably a question for all other European nations as well. Who decided that, and are the European nations asked whether they want to endure this severe economic crisis because of this war? Where is European sovereignty and independence in all of this? When it is not our war anymore, when all the rules have already been brutally shattered, why should we destroy our economy and the right to defend our interests with our own decisions? Why should we believe that Brussels will now help us secure oil and gas when we had to manage vaccines on our own during the COVID-19 pandemic without European assistance? Why should we remain silent about the violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity when we defend our own integrity that has been endangered and attacked for decades? We condemned the attack and the war, but we did not impose sanctions because our people and our companies need to survive. It is immoral to impose sanctions on other nations when you yourself have suffered so much due to sanctions. 

It seems that in this time, freedom and true independence is measured by the level of pressure you are exposed to and the dissatisfaction of all parties with your stance. However, to European nations—and Serbia is an old European nation—freedom and state independence are the highest values and the purpose of existence.

In a world without rules, created by powerful forces, we will still be the ones deciding about our interests, no matter how small or naive we may be, or what price we have to pay for it. Belief in freedom is a great strength that shatters all fears and doubts. It is as if in this global chaos, a new era of empires is looming and small European nations with a strong sense of identity will have to reaffirm their unwavering commitment to freedom. 

The multipolarity discussed by Eastern autocratic powers like China and Russia is a call for dividing spheres of interest based on old imperial geopolitics. Instead of a unipolar world order of liberal-left, globalist Washington, the world and its resources should be shared with authoritarian powers of the East. Both concepts lack benevolence towards the idea of freedom and national identity. Both concepts in one way or another seek subjugation. 

We Serbs feel this instinctively because throughout our long history, we have mostly fought for freedom against great empires, from the Byzantine Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, to the unipolar concept after the fall of communism. Therefore, we have tremendous respect for every expression of the spirit of freedom, which is now most strongly preserved in conservative movements, and we identify with it. Just as we deeply respect the firm and principled fight of American conservatives who, through unwavering defense of the fundamental values of the American people, restore the soul of the former beacon of freedom to all sovereign nations. Unfortunately, by the fate of history, such crises and wars have always been an opportunity for Europeans to reaffirm their fateful interconnectedness and to awaken, conquer, and strengthen the fundamental values of identity, spirit, and freedom. 

A world without rules, divided between left-liberal and authoritarian empires, will only be thwarted if these values finally prevail in our nations. That is the world of freedom and the world of respect for all, regardless of their power and size. The third way, narrow but always correct. The conservative way.

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