Michael Benedikt


To begin with: Each television program has something of a fascinosum tremendum about it for the writer – for someone who does not own a box of moving images. The first war images of the fourth war in the Balkans in this terrible decade viewed with a former sea captain in Dubrovnik to the point where the confusion culminated in the nightmare of chemically induced slumber. Such images prompted us to interrupt the international postgraduate course for two days on March 25, 1999 and to turn to the question of what now? What tomorrow? What after the war that was once again undeclared?

Dalmatians and Croatians directed our attention to even more horrific havoc wreaked within Bosnia and Croatia. We ourselves had only driven the direct route from Vienna via Zagreb, Split, Dubrovnik – oblivious to the skeletons of homes, hundreds, no thousands of them, that we passed by.

Serbian colleagues, on the other hand, pointed to the Ustascha units, to the coming bloodbath of Kosovo militia, to the unjustified secession movements of republics of former Yugoslavia that went way beyond the autonomy agreements.

We had to admit that we had taken just as little note of the provisional resolution presented by the Serbian Academy of Sciences and had not protested against this document announcing the use of force that was to follow. We were thus tacitly supporting the status quo. This was also true of the three preceding aggressions in which something such as a military equilibrium had resulted until the provisional horseshoe solution in Bosnia. Here, too, the conscience of Europe’s intellectuals, with a few exceptions, was ratio pigra, inactive.

But also the question as to the relationship of international law, national law (in the status of a civil war) and the law of citizens of the world, affecting each individual, was discussed, along with the issue of tyrannicide.

Dr. Knoll, the reporter accredited by the OSCD in Sarajevo, with whom we are in contact, strongly opposed our intention to continue the international colloquium in Montenegro, at least in Sarajevo. In his opinion, one of an expert, all of this would only be seen as a provocation of a group of persons not directly involved. It was suggested that we meet after the bloodbath was over.

The first pictures of destructions of civil buildings which were censured by the Croatian TV company and presented by Bosnian-Herzogovinian stations prompted us to constantly question what we saw: Croatians, Dalmatians and Kosovars claimed that the Serbian attacks had been the norm for weeks, while Serbian colleagues only saw the stilted scenario as a reason for any new aggression, which was to let President Clinton off scot-free up to the end of his presidentship even after all his domestic calamities.

The question that was raised again and again was: Why weren’t the highly applauded exact weapons directed with full force at all important targets, including the hero Milosevic himself, from the first day on? Why was it hidden to the public that there were more than one Rambouillet papers – in the end one to which Mrs. Albright had added two sanctions and which had been “emended”, largely by “adding” the following points:

1. Free access of NATO troops and their organs to all Yugoslavian public institutions.

2. Reinstatement of the Yugoslavian (“remaining Yugoslavian”) constitution and administration under military supervision modelled after “Western” democracy – opposed by the Russian negotiators under Chernomyrdin.

3. Reorganization of the Yugoslavian economy after the model of western industrial capitalism.

4. As an ultimate goal integration of Yugoslavia into the NATO – as if this country bordered on the Atlantic, if one doesn’t count Montenegro with its aspirations for autonomy, which at least has the old Austrian Adria port Cattaro to show – a port where cargo from overseas is unloaded, even French and English crude oil.

After three symposiums on the westernization of Europe, the new humanism in the countries of southeastern Europe, including Central Europe, the Czech Republic and Austria as well as on the micro- and macro-economic situation and their specific logic in view of the given situation (at the Vienna University of Business) and a number of meetings related to the INITIATIVE EQUIDISTANCE, the following perspectives and conclusions have been drawn:

1. 1 Like in the case of Ceaucescu, a regula exceptiva is recommended for the highly ravaged country of Serbia. It is unclear why the USA or the CIA have not taken the initiative much earlier.

1. 2 If there was slaughtering of civilians in all four phases of the war, as can be proven by means of macrocriminological methods (along with traditional methods), those guilty of such crimes must be indicted by an independent court which the UNO must convene at the request of a prosecutor.

1. 3 The at least five hundred if not more aggressive attacks of the NATO against civilian institutions must be meticulously examined and presented before an international court, after a prosecutor has submitted his petition to the international court.

1. 4 First and foremost, it must be examined and weighed if the West deliberately terminated the Rambouillet negotiations, given the fact that material considerations were not given enough weight, e. g., astronomic economic aid for the whole Balkan region versus the exorbitantly high cost of the war itself. However, precisely this did not take place according to all the reports we know. Thus the suspicion arises that somewhat aged war material was to be pushed off, while the most recent developments were not to be taken into account. At any rate the damage was to be paid by the community of nations, and the USA are not reliable financiers of the UNO.

2. 1 After 1. 1 has been carried out both the G8-nations, above all the USA and Great Britain, as well as the other NATO countries and the rich industrial nations are to be brought to the insight that only an adequate distribution of goods of basic needs (according to centrally controlled economy) and luxury goods according to a graduated market economy with an adequate model of taxation not only in Kosovo but also in the some twenty-four crisis herds could bring socio-economic aid, also in structural terms. This should not be influenced by demands for reparations but rather guided by the intention to introduce conditions in the Kantian sense of a beginning of a peace treaty (giving “also without harvesting the fruits”) with the only sanction being the prevention of an “eternal peace as churchyard”. The latter would be viewed from the perspective of numerous climatic and historical conditions (colonialism, despotism, macro-capitalism, etc.).

2. 2 The structuring of a future European (what is for us Central-European) order also has to take into account a number of conditions. Clinton’s claim that there is multiethnic equality in a state is a farce, as can be seen in about every state in the United States. Instead, the concept endorsed by Crown Prince Rudolph (backed by Menger), Masaryk or Kreisky, namely a federation of small states with a number of ethnic groups, should be considered. Such a model existed in the Balkans under Tito only by virtue of his aura and in view of the former multi-ethnic state which (according to studies of Dr. Zoran Mimica) at times had the international law status of three-chamber system as a result of the partisan war and the seesaw politics. In this system, however, the second and third chambers could not be associated with any party.

2. 3 The pretentious attitude of some intellectuals who postulate a constitution to end all constitutions for the fifteen EU member states, but only a charter (Habermas’ concept of an ideal postulate of communication is not an exception for reasons that cannot be explained here) for the paupers of Eastern Europe. The second Marshall Plan alluded to above, i. e., concessions without tacit demands for reparations must help counter such an attitude, which is certainly not what English intellectuals want to hear. According to Umberto Eco and others we have mainly states with many ethnic groups in Europe. Their right à la longue to the law of community, district, province, citizenship and EU law should be acknowledged along with active and passive right to vote – the quicker the better, the more thorough, the more necessary.

2. 4 The mega-corporations with their ever less transparent relationship of use in means versus end (and their Magic-Apprentice phenomenon), the relations of labor division of primarily vertical nature (and their institutional framework – the Invisible Hand) and the abstract relations of exchange (and their In-God-We-Trust) must be decoded by means of the Cartesian constitution of the argumentum a priori (always with the exclusion of the spiritus malignus) in addition to their cybernetic networking. The resulting new free scope opening up from each of the other community formations towards us must be associated with a form of new commitment. No old values, no modern relevances, only the functionalization of the abstract means referred to by virtue of the dignity of our fellowmen can make our communal system assume the commitment of fraternity which has been on the decline since 1791. Whether this is politically sufficient, whether peace might not be better ensured by a new cantonal order with two to five million inhabitants which is what Kant had in mind with a Montenegrinian bishop, is an issue of debate. It requires citizens who are responsible vis-à-vis their fellowman, without the curse of self-reflection in the other, which ruined all of humanism, already in 1844, for Karl Marx who had been contaminated by the idealism of the Hegelian rightists.

2. 5 Finally the diversity of ethnic groups and religions must be taken into account. We are hardly responsible for the way others are. For each the primacy of leadership must be redesigned as a servus servorum omnium, in the sense of a founder, up until his alleged and desired advent. In 1915 Pope Benedict XV. (according to P. van Paassen) is said to have celebrated Christmas on the German-French front. Yet the steel and coal magnates of both countries did not wish peace. By the same token, the big powers today are unwilling to give up their primacy. Thus the pope will for better or worse continue to travel to the fronts or the diplomatic sites of the given war-waging capitals and remain there until peace comes – at least as long as he still has enough strength to travel. Then one war zone would be followed by the next one. Before his strength fails the absolute monarch (with the nepotic cardinal ministers of his Curia) enthroned by the fascist Mussolini move out of the Vatikan, now meanwhile as lifeless as a museum, and move into his bishop’s church and apartment as patriarch of the Occident, into the Lateran. He should sell the Vatican to the person who offers the most and donate the proceeds to the poor, just as the founder of this often seemingly perverse salvation movement had demanded one do for the benefit of the well-being of one’s neighbor. Without much ado and pomp the prelates doubling as ambassadors would be pulled out of the respective countries, counteracting the real lack of credible representatives and giving more space to them. As wise men they could offer their diplomatic experience to peace: Shalom.