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A Balcony Seat to Our Own Balkanization?

“The United States has today formally recognised Kosovo as a sovereign and independent state. We congratulate the people of Kosovo on this historic occasion.”

–Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
Feb 18, 2008

“Then we will remember
Things we said today.”

–The Beatles

One day in the future, something like the following may be enacted in the American Southwest: Votes will have been cast, referendums held; promises, pleas and threats — all made and disdained. A new flag will have been run up, the Stars and Stripes brought down one final time. The media will have shown graphic scenes of the exodus of “ethnic” English-speakers from the lands formerly called Arizona, New Mexico, West Texas and Southern California. Some resonant name will have been found for the new nation. The air will be rent with cries of “Si, Se Puede”. (Yes, we can).

When that day might come be one cannot say. But if it should, it doesn’t take an astrologer to predict that Serbia will be the first country to recognize the new state. Following close behind: Russia, then perhaps China.
A couple of years ago I wrote an article called, “The Partition of America” outlining some historical parallels for such a scenario. Today’s superpower status is no guarantee against tomorrow’s disintegration. If this seems far-fetched, then I have two words for you: ‘Soviet’ and ‘Union’.

What Bush and Cheney — and all of us — have collectively wrought: the death of a half-million Iraqis and dislocation of four million, Milosovic, however terrible, and Serbia, a mere regional power, could never hope to match. To recall the lines from Gray’s Elegy,

Their lot forbade: nor circumscribed alone
Their growing virtues, but their crimes confined;

Today’s news reminds us once more, lest we forget, of Hillary Clinton and John McCain’s unity in diversity — their tireless advocacy of a full-court press bombing campaign against another sovereign nation — Serbia; again, one that had done no harm to the United States. It also tells us that “the mindset that got us into war in the first place” in Barack Obama picturesque phrase, was not a product of the Bush-Cheney era entirely. And at least in the matter of speaking easily about warmaking, the torch (to plagiarize from Mr. Obama’s idol) has been passed to a new generation: “I am not against all wars”, declared young Mr. Obama, putative bhakta of Martin Luther King, in the pre-Iraq War speech of 2002 so pivotal to his campaign, “Only dumb wars”.

Really? America’s Serbian war was, by measures of Washington Wisdom, a ‘smart war’. No Americans died in it (Lots of Serbians did, as did some Chinese — but who’s counting them?). Our ‘war’ ended in about two months: a neat affair, like a summer romance. Did Mr. Obama think that was a smart war or a dumb one? No one in the Press asks, because we are too busy with matters of vital importance, such as whether he stole a line or two from Deval Patrick.

A towering trade deficit, an eviscerated manufacturing sector, an imbecilic proposition that ‘jobs Americans won’t do’ (such as thinking?) is a fine reason to encourage illegal immigration, the crushing of any moral standards in the name of fighting terrorism — this is our baseline. And now, on the heels of breaking down Iraq, we are busy encouraging the break up of Serbia. We do it in arrogance. Yes, We Can, we seem to say to the world as we throw down a gauntlet.

But, does the US believe, as it ambles along parroting this pithy slogan, that similar fates are not in our own future? Now that would be a topic worthy of a Presidential Debate!

NIRANJAN RAMAKRISHNAN is a writer living on the West Coast. He can be reached at: njn_2003@yahoo.com.