Paradoxically, Bush & Company’s relentless push for world
hegemony seems to be Balkanizing the world, that is, splintering countries,
regions, even zip codes, into smaller units, which are more hostile to each
other though ethnically more homogenous.
Additionally, this push is having the same effect in the United States,
breaking it into red and blue states, a division beyond traditional North-South
divisions. What’s more voting districts are being split into religious,
ethnic, racial, and economic sectors as well, creating the specter of Balkanization.
This leads me to wonder if there isn’t some law of political physics
at work. That the more a dominating nation presses for hegemony, the more the
pressure produces a breaking point, scattering nations (states) into smaller
units, in essence, undoing a nation as it does an empire, as painful the deconstruction
as the creation of either.
If this seems like I’m thinking too hard, this notion occurred to me
after watching Far
From War: Chechnya, the Endless War. This moving documentary, directed by
Gustavo Cortes, poignantly chronicles that region’s mayhem. The film’s
descriptive copy reads . . .
Dubbed “the silent war of the 21st century,” the conflict between
Russia and rebels in the breakaway republic of Chechnya is put into perspective
by Moscow Chechens in Gustavo Cortés’s documentary. More than
200,000 Chechens fled to Moscow after the recent war broke out. This migration
was but one in a long series of horrific events visited on the Chechens for
centuries. Despite discrimination from Russians and apathy from the international
community, Moscow Chechens are banding together and here speak out regarding
In the film, older Chechen men tell of the 1940s, during WW II, when Joseph
Stalin deported 400,000 of their people from Russia to the freezing terrain
of Kazakhstan. Many perished from the extreme cold and miserable living conditions.
Stalin claimed that the Chechens had been collaborating with the Germans, contrary
to the fact that thousands of Chechens, including the film survivors, had fought
against the Germans in WW II.
These Chechens of the 1940s thought of themselves as loyal, patriotic citizens,
though Stalin and perhaps Russia thought of them as a Muslim minority, a conflict
that went back to the 18th century. The Chechens return to Russia in the 1950s
did not settle the centuries-old conflict, especially not their declaration
of independence from the motherland in 1991 as the Soviet Union was crumbling.
It brought us to the murders of this decade.
Admittedly, this is a thumbnail sketch of the Chechen situation and hostilities.
Chechnya and its people are examples of the larger phenomenon of world Balkanization.
An even larger, more transcendent notion comes from the lips of the Chechen
woman who narrates the documentary of her homeland and her life.
Though her two children and two of her sisters survived the most recent hostilities,
she lost her husband, parents, cousins, friends, neighbors, home, savings and
more: a spiritual and emotional locus. Her words are to the effect (and I’m
paraphrasing), that after all of this fighting over political ideas there are
so many who have been killed -- so many dead that the world of the survivors
has also been destroyed. So, one goes on blankly, knowing nothing has changed,
including the violence and especially the pointless dying.
Those feelings etched out of the pain of one human being, etched out of the
political machinations of history, reverberate these days around the world.
I see that plump-faced woman, tears rolling down her cheeks, a bottomless well
of sadness in her eyes. And I see the face of the world, the eternal mother
unable to control her own destiny or vulnerability to human beings.
I see that face in Palestine or Iraq, Afghanistan or the Sudan. At home in
New Orleans, New York, or in
a brown-black race riot in a county jail in Castaic, California; or in a
hawk-dove San Joaquin Valley Community, reported in “The Valley’s
Not So Civil War” in the February 5, 2006, Los Angeles Times. The fractionating
of racial, religious, political, even intellectual groups (for instance faux
students spying on so-called dissident college teachers) produces hateful pockets
in US communities, even as the surge to world hegemony gets meaner, more out
We find these expressions of Balkanization throughout America, from our largest
cities to our smallest bible-thumping towns. Each with their right and wrong
side of the tracks, right, left, ultra right, far left, and mean-spirited boosters.
And I’m brought back always to the warnings of that Chechen woman. And
always in the film’s background are the smoldering buildings, scattered
corpses, tanks rolling over the fractured landscape like prehistoric beasts,
jets soaring overhead and firing at will; explosions wrecking buildings, landscapes;
landmines wrecking limbs and torsos of children, women, men, animals.
Not a Pretty Picture, Macro or Micro.
And what the film brings, too, is a constant barrage of images: soldiers and
citizens running from each other, firing on each other, grappling mano a mano
or with the abstract force of bunker busters, engaged in one atavistic grimace
to dominate and not be dominated. It is an unhinged humanity, we see. And I
must say that a great deal of that unhinging began on 9-11, when the Bush administration
committed, I believe, a false-flag attack on America, thereby engendering a
reason to attack Afghanistan, to illegally attack Iraq, and now to plan to attack
In continuing this march, we Balkanize old alliances and gamble with the stability
of the world. One instance is Iran’s creating an oil bourse, using the
euro as an oil-trading mechanism. Among others, Venezuela’s central banks
will use euros to service oil demand as well, which will undermine the value
of the already shaky dollar.
As we know, China holds over $200 billion in US cash, Japan even more. China
you could say owns the exchange deficit and is really loaning money to the US.
This, as the US sags under its debt load. If these countries turned on us further,
we’d be in deadly trouble. With each grasp of ours to control some other
nation, cracks are made in political tectonic plates. The shifts can be devastating.
Again at home, by illegally spying on citizens and insisting that illegality
is a presidential power, by enacting the USAPATRIOT Act, by waging war on contrived
evidence, we Balkanize pieces of America, creating those who blindly support
and those who consciously resist.
We fractionate into smaller, angrier social groups, each demanding their way:
conservative Christians, pro Israeli Zionists, pro-lifers, the not so subtle
racist cabal that allowed New Orleans to drown.
In short, our government’s PNAC (Project for the New American Century)
agenda of world domination takes precedence over serving the basic needs of
our people: education, health care, Social Security, infrastructure, the advancment
of science, the preservation of the environment, and the development of sustainable
energy sources. All this is subjugated for our budget’s hugest line item:
defense, which is mostly offense. And thus we are a nation whose too-long standing
armies turned, as Washington warned, to building empire.
It is as William Butler Yeats wrote in the first stanza of his poem, The
Second Coming . . .
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all convictions, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
And so, when do we hear that Chechen woman’s voice, warning that domination
and retaliation are a death-dealing cycle? When do we really see its effects,
even when shown them on a home television screen or larger-than-life movie screen,
or in real life, scripted by history?
Who knows, perhaps it’s our lot to be caught in this cycle, nature’s
way of thinning the heard. Perhaps not. Perhaps there is a way of transcending
it through consciousness or simple compassion. And if not, when the Big Bang
is made on earth, will it Balkanize us like so many dead stars in the borderless
night. Till then, peace, please, peace.
Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer living in New York.
Reach him at email@example.com.