Dr. Srdja Trifkovic
Speech at The Rockford Institute, Monday, December 14th, 1998
The only way we can meaningfully judge the present is by the example of the past; and this is the main difficulty of addressing the tragedy of the Balkans in today’s America. A nation that no longer remembers itself can hardly be expected to understand, or care for the history of other people. As my friend Tom Fleming has remarked, this absence of historical memory has taken many Americans through the looking glass and – in the case of the Balkans - into the virtual-reality world of CNN reportage, New York Times opinion columns, and State Department briefings, “where facts are converted into fiction, and even the fictions give up all pretense to credibility.” By now the decision-makers in Washington have acquired a bias in Balkan affairs which goes beyond any one piece of deliberate policy, and which falls outside the parameters of rational debate. They have confused U.S. interests and prestige with those of the warring factions in the former Yugoslavia and their foreign mentors, to the point where in Kosovo they foment secession by an ethnic minority which, once effected, will render many European borders tentative; in Croatia they aided and abetted the most monumental ethnic cleansing operation in post-1945 Europe, while in Bosnia-Herzegovina U.S. government policy contributed to the outbreak of the war, kept it going, and prevented its early end.