February 26th 2000

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COVER STORY: Power, strikes and privatisation


EDITORIAL: The end of General Wiranto?

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Kernot's leadership ambitions: unfinished business?

RURAL: Major debt crisis in rural Queensland

OBITUARY: William G. Smith SJ

FAMILY: The family strikes back

AUSTRIA: Haider: a warning rather than a threat

KOSOVO: They have made a desert and called it peace

ECONOMICS: Managing countries, managing companies

ASIA: Taiwan's poll a rowdy, close run thing

HEALTH: Treatable diseases rampant through Africa

BOOKS: Rabbi's defence of the Judeo-Christian culture, Rabbi Daniel Lapin

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Bush tells Canberra it won't be cajoled

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They have made a desert and called it peace

by Max Teichmann

News Weekly, February 26, 2000
Eight months in from the liberation of Kosovo from the satanic countrymen of Milosevic, it is possible to assess the results. There are very few of the 120,000 Serbs previously living in that province left; very few Gypsies. They are ethnically cleansed now having joined the masses of refugees in devastated and blockaded Serbia. Many of those foolish enough to remain were murdered; shot down or beaten to death in the streets, or in their homes and farms, before these were torched.

All this in the presence of a massive NATO military force described as "Way more than is needed" by John Laughland in The Spectator (December 18-25, 1999).

And there are more than 400 foreign non-governmental organisations registered in Kosovo, "Each with its own fleet of white jeeps". The province itself remains devastated - ruined partly by Serb cleansing operations, partly by NATO bombing. The main electricity generator in Pristina, destroyed by NATO, is still not working properly.

Outside, in Kosovo generally and Pristina in particular, the inhabitants, Kosovar Albanians and the the newcomer Albanians from which came the KLA, live as they always did in Albania proper. Stolen cars, contraband arms, drugs and people muggling. And, a familiar accompaniment of military occupation, the supply of a variety of bizarre services to the soldiers, and foreigners generally.

Just as NATO have deserted the Kosovo Serbs, and the Gypsies, so have the aid organisations failed Kosovars generally. "They made a desert and called it peace."

But something far more permanent and quite irreversible has been perpetrated in Kosovo since the Serb army departed. Populations can be returned, houses, village, even cities rebuilt, but a crucial living piece of medieval Christian art and religious architecture has been systematically destroyed over the past six months. Not only the heart of Serb history and religious iconography, but the links between late Byzantine culture and the Italian Renaissance, just getting under way at that time on the other side of the Adriatic.

Over 80 churches, including "some of the greatest jewels of medieval Christendom", have been either desecrated or efficiently dynamited.

These include the Holy Trinity Church in Muutite, built in the 14th Century with a medieval library and manuscripts from the 4th and 18th century, churches with frescoes from the early 14th century, a church of the Holy Virgin Odigitirya with frescoes from the early 14th century; the 14th century monastery of the Archangel Gabriel at Binac; the monastery of St Mark near Koria built in 1467; the Devic Monastery built in 1434; the 14th Century monastery of St Uro; the church of St Nicolas in Slovinje; the 14th century church of St Stephen in Gornje Nevodimlje; the 14th century monastery and church of the Holy
Archangels in the same village and so on, and so on.

These are all burnt, blown up or trashed under NATOs benevolent gaze. To give some idea of the historical importance of the creations, to quote from Robert D. Kaplan's Balkan Ghosts - speaking of the Church of the Virgin of Grachanitsa, Kaplan
writes: "Granchanitsa, frescoes and all, was finished in 1321, when across the Adriatic sea, the sun was just rising on the Florentine Renaissance. "On Grachanitsa's walls I witnessed a sense of anatomy and bodily sexuality (one lacking in other schools of Byzantine iconography in which the body is strictly a symbol for the immaterial spirit) that would soon find culmination in the works of Michalangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci.

"But never could any Renaissance artist duplicate the supernatural and spiritual element
achieved here by the medieval Serbs."

The tactics in operation now in Kosovo were the tactics employed by the Nazis to eradicate Jewish and Polish religion and culture. It was not enough to kill the people - for they might breed up again somehow, and reclaim their heritage and the symbols of their identity.

So the synagogues, the holy books, the ancient Talmudic scrolls and religious vessels had to be destroyed; just as Polish libraries, archives, museums and galleries had to be ransacked and torched, to remove if possible, all traces of Polish history and the evidences of Poland's formidable culture.

Having survived the Ottomans, the World War I Austrians, the Nazis, and the anti-clerical Titoists, these evidences of man's transcendence have been destroyed by Albanian yobbos, with NATO playing Pontius Pilate. Perhaps SBS will screen, a few years hence, a documentary entitled "The Lost Treasures of Kosovo". But not until the Serbs have been
taught a lesson.

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