Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Some Damn Fool Thing in the Balkans

I know everyone is busy and all ... but you need to keep an eye on the usual problem areas.

You would think one war in Europe at a time would be enough, but you should never underestimate the Serbs.

As with most of us who were on active duty in the 1990s, I have more than a passing interest in the former Yugoslavia - and invested my quota of effort in its wars.

Later in my career I later served in NATO with Slovenes, Croatians, and N. Macedonians. I've vacationed a few times in Slovenia and Croatia. One of my daughters has studied, twice, in Serbia.

I keep an eye on it ... and thankfully so are some smart people in The Pentagon.

The Balkans is always on the edge and has been for centuries, so it is only natural that now and then it bubbles over.

You may have missed with all the other news that the frozen conflict in Kosovo was throwing sparks again. That is why on Friday I tilted my head a bit with this announcement;

Two U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress aircraft assigned to the 23rd Bomb Squadron currently operating out of RAF Fairford, United Kingdom, will conduct low approach flyovers over Southeastern Europe scheduled on August 22.

The purpose of each flyover is to demonstrate U.S. commitment and assurance to NATO Allies and partners located in Southeastern Europe. Additionally, this will provide citizens an opportunity to take photos, videos, and enjoy the aircraft flying overhead.

That told me that the Balkans desk has run their concerns up the chain and whatever they briefed was enough to greenlight a not insignificant display.

Sure enough, off it went Monday;

A pair of U.S. Air Force B52 strategic bombers on Monday flew low over the Croatian resort of Dubrovnik and three other NATO-member states in the region as a sign of support amid the Russian aggression in Ukraine.

In addition to the walled Croatian tourist resort of Dubrovnik, the aircraft flew over the government headquarters in Skopje, North Macedonia, the downtown Skanderbeg Square in the Albanian capital, Tirana, and up the Adriatic coast of Montenegro.

The Balkans and the Adriatic Sea have lately seen increased military, intelligence and propaganda activity by Moscow, which considers the region of its strategic interest because of its access to the Mediterranean.

Serbia is about Russia's last friend in Europe and make no mistake ... the Serbs do not consider borders settled anywhere - they are just waiting for the moment to be ripe.

This too came out yesterday;

Serbia’s president called on NATO on Sunday to “do their job” in Kosovo or he says Serbia itself will move to protect its minority in the breakaway province.

The fiery televised address to his nation by President Aleksandar Vucic followed the collapse of political talks between Serbian and Kosovo leaders earlier this week mediated by the European Union in Brussels.

Serbia, along with its allies Russia and China, has refused to recognize Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence. A NATO-led intervention in 1999 ended the war between Serbian forces and separatists in Kosovo and stopped Belgrade’s bloody crackdown against Kosovo's majority Albanians.

The EU has overseen years of unsuccessful talks to normalize their ties, saying that’s one of the main preconditions for Kosovo and Serbia’s eventual membership in the 27-nation bloc.

“We have nowhere to go, we are cornered,” Vucic said. “We will save our people from persecution and pogroms, if NATO does not want to do it.”

The successor states of the Serbian dominated Yugoslavia were Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, and North Macedonia. Bosnia itself is a spot-welded confederation of Bosnian Muslims, Croatian Catholics, and Orthodox Serbians who all have a blood feud against each other. It was, is, and will be a mess.

In the three decades after the wheels came off Yugoslavia, we now find Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro, and North Macedonia all inside NATO. 

How may Americans know they are obligated to throw the bodies of their children in to an eventual Balkan bloodbath? Not many, I guess.

So, the intel is such that we feel the need to throw a B-52 brushback pitch against the Serbians.

The Serbians. 

At moments like this, I always seem to remember the words of German Field Marshal August von Mackensen;

You are going into a fight against a new enemy who is dangerous, tough, brave and sharp. You are going to the Serbian front, to Serbia, and Serbs are the people who love their freedom and who are willing to fight for it to their last. 

2022. What a year.

Pray for peace.

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