Today our primer on the Balkan crisis continues as we attempt to clarify the causes and effects of the deep-seated strife and echo Our Lady's words to "Beware of the false peace!" In Friday's editorial we presented background how cross-breeding and ethnic strife from invasions by other nations contributed to the mistrust and provided lines of demarcation separating Catholic and Orthodox and Muslim. Yet they co-existed with a common bond against outsiders such as the Ottoman Empire first, then the Triple Alliance of Austria-Hungary, Germany and Bulgaria in 1908 when they renamed the area south of Croatia and west of Serbia as Bosnia-Herzegovina. This annexation reveived the fires of nationalism. Though the Croats, Serbs and Muslims have always fought bitterly among themselves, they would have no part of invaders. Much like a family fights tooth and nail among themselves - anyone with brothers and sisters or sons and daughters knows this only too well - when attacked they rally to defend their own. So also in the Balkans. This unity was powerful enough to destroy the unity of the Powers and in 1912 the three ethnic factions formed the Balkan States in an effort to expel the Turks from Macedonia. However, after successfully fending off foreign influence they returned to the internal feuding as the Serbs and Greeks annexed most of Macedonia.
In 1914, as we all know, in an effort to suppress the Austrian influence which had been so strong in Croatia, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, nephew and next in line to Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I, was assassinated on June 18, 1914 in Sarajevo. This murder provoked the outbreak of World War I. Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina were forced into alignment with the Triple Alliance again. Though it had been extremist Bosnian Muslim terrorists sympathetic to the Turkish cause who had assassinated Ferdinand, the course of history was set. Reluctantly Croats fought for the Central Powers, their only incentive in the war being that their enemy were the hated Serbians whom Russia had recruited on the side of the European Entente Powers. But as almost every skirmish between these two bitter cultures has been, it was standoff. Not so with the rest of Europe where the United States' involvement and British tenacity forced Germany to her knees.
With the defeat of the Central Powers by America, France and England, the Franco-Belgian military convention agreed to the Czechoslovak-Yugoslav defensive alliance to avert Hungarian revisionism. In 1918, as an aftermath of President Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points for World Peace, the Serbo-Croatian-Slovene Kingdom of Yugoslavia was proclaimed. After centuries of fighting among themselves, they were now forced to live in harmony bound together in an uneasy alliance. Though it might work in the melting pot of America, the resentment and long bitter ethnic struggles ran too deep to really work though they put on a united front to the rest of the world; while underneath seethed an ethnic bitterness that would spill over in blood in 1991. When World War II broke out in 1939 again alliances were along the lines of natural enemies rather than loyalties to the cause. How else can you explain the Catholic Croatians and Italians aligning with the Nazis and the Fascists? Namely because Russia sided with the Serbs against Croatia and, because Russia was on the side of the Allies, Croatia sought help from the Axis Powers for protection. After the war the communist manifesto took control in the Balkans and through the regime of Marshall Josip Broz Tito the Yugoslav Republic even put on a facade that Communism really worked with Socialist Republics of Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Sovenia.
When the hammer and sickle crumbled on the brink of the nineties, governments were left with the opportunity to become independent again throughout Eastern Europe. This included the Balkans where Croatia and Bosnia sought to vote out communist rule and vote in an independent ticket for the foundations were shaky and, appropriately enough on the tenth anniversary of the Apparitions of Medjugorje - June 25, 1991 the Croatian people had the opportunity to choose their own destiny in voting for independence from Yugoslavia and Serbian domination. Nationalism was gaining once again, but the communists and the Serbs weren't totally through. The head of Serbia and the Cyrillic empire in Belgrade Slobodan Milosevic, seeing everything beginning to fall apart, sought to keep the Yugoslavian Republic together no matter the carnage. But the people had spoken and so, stubbornly as the despot he is, sent troops to annex Croatia but the Croats were too strong and successfully expelled the Serbs. It wasn't as easy in Bosnia where a year later a bitter civil war broke out embroiling Croat, Serb and Muslim. Nowhere was this division more pronounced than in Sarajevo and Mostar, two of the major cities in this same country where the Blessed Virgin Mary first appeared on June 25, 1981 ten years before in the remote mountain village of Medjugorje to warn the populace and urge all God's children to return to her Divine Son Jesus for therein was the only achievable Peace. She even came as Our Lady of Peace. Did the people of the Balkans listen? Evidently not. But should we be surprised? After all we haven't listened either, not only Medjugorje, but Fatima, Lourdes, La Salette, and Rue de Bac, dating all the way back to Guadalupe in 1531. For Heaven it has to be frustrating. Our Lady imparted to the Hidden Flower of the Immaculate Heart in 1991, after the Gulf War and as civil war simmered in the Balkans, to beware of the "false peace." The Blessed Mother has an impeccable track record for accuracy, folks.
And, sadly, what she conveyed did materialize and for finite man it was a time of trial and tribulation in the Balkans as well as other hot spots around the world. Overwhelmingly Croatia, Bosnia and Slovenia opted for freedom which was quickly countered by the suppressing Serbs directed by Milosevic from Belgrade, seat of the Serbian stronghold which also incorporated Montenegro and Kosovo, the latter of which borders the much fought after Macedonia and Albania to the west. It was the latter nation whose people had migrated to Kosovo over 500 years ago and where much of the trouble would erupt for Milosevic sought an ethnic cleansing that would "purify" the Serbian state even though the Albanians had formed the League of Prizren in 1878 to assure autonomy for the people of Kosovo. Though Milosevic knew of this, he still insisted on erasing the Kosovars. He failed in Croatia and Slovenia, but the cost was high. Recognized by the United Nations and the U.S. as independent countries, they felt the brunt of Serbian retaliation but fended off the brutal attacks and mass murder ethnic cleansing. The cost: countless lives, demolished churches and monasteries, millions left homeless! The crown jewel of the Adriatic Coast - Dubrovnik, the old medieval walled city that withstood the barbarian hordes and the Black Death which claimed over 75 million people from 1347 to 1351 - was systematically destroyed by Serbian gunships, air power and ground militia. In 1992, Bosnia-Herzegovina, tired of Serb suppression, also voted for independence and their reward was a full onslaught of genocide and ethnic cleansing unparalleled in history - even more grotesque than Hitler's infamous Holocaust and second only to the terrible sin of abortion. Many termed this war a civil war. Oh, how wrong they were for this was truly a religious war and satan had a field day. Correct that, is having a field day for the war continues - there is no peace, all is false. It is just as Our Lady prophesied and as her Divine Son foretold in Mark 13: 7-8, "When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; for they must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These things are the beginning of sorrows." Kingdom against kingdom refers both to Heaven vs. hell as well as ethnic groups fighting among themselves. The Muslims remained loyal to their Allah, while the radical Serbs clung to their Eastern Orthodox roots which not only is not in alignment with Rome, but a far cry from the devout Orthodox faith. Many Roman Catholics in Bosnia and Croatia fought valiantly as Soldiers of Christ for their Faith, many dying as martyrs. For many their only weapon was and is the Rosary. And this faith and devotion is what the Serbians hate most, attacking every church they could, destroying monasteries, demoralizing parishioners. Over 1000 churches, basilicas, cathedrals, chapels and religious institutions were destroyed by the ruthless Serbs and Moslems. Throughout the war in Bosnia, Medjugorje remained unscathed, just as the area in Rwanda did where Our Lady also appeared. But all around there was turmoil and death.
And this devastation continues today as Kosovo has become virtually a "ghost town." Who knows how many bodies are buried in mass graves throughout this southern Serbian province that borders Albania and Macedonia.
Milosevic was rightly accused of war crimes and should be brought to justice, but not by the United States or NATO but rather his own people. Will that happen? That's very unlikely, because there is no peace, for one and secondly, because we won't do the same in our own country. As we have written often in these pages before, if Milosevic is guilty of ethnic cleansing, so is William Jefferson Clinton, the enemy of the unborn. Yet he pontificates that he has the answers and is acting so righteous in bringing Milosevic to justice. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!!! It would seem presumptious to think that an amoral politician from Arkansas could solve something that has gone on for centuries. Liberal wags and media spinmeisters may like to extol the man from Hope, Arkansas but to assume he has done anything of permanence and good for mankind is to really stretch the truth. We've often been criticized by Clinton-crazies for daring to make him accountable for his sins which have been made quite public and of which he boasts of. In fact, one disturbed writer, and we do mean disturbed, even threatened to notify the White House of our comments and so we assume we are now on their "hit list" as if we are scared since standing up for Christ and His laws are the only authority that truly counts. For as Jesus said in Matthew 22: 21, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." We pay our tributes to "Caesar" - the government - but we will not pay tribute to the devil. It has nothing to do with personality, but with souls and living God's will.
Again, we reiterate, we stand behind the Holy Father as loyal Roman Catholics first and foremost, then our country. That is why we have been highly critical of NATO's bombing raids during those 79 days of pummeling the Balkans for these victims of the bombing are also our brothers and sisters and NATO and its principals have not learned from history. In fact there have been more Kosovar Albanians eradicated by NATO than the Serbs who themselves have been killed by the thousands. While America puts on a face of moral indignation, they have destroyed any credibility on the global stage by their actions with the US media being manipulated as a publicity arm for the White House policies as the latter continues to alienate other major powers, most notably the dangerous ones such as China and Russia. It makes no sense to spend millions bombing someone and then spending millions more to rebuild something we destroyed. While buildings can be rebuilt, memories and feelings run deep - as in centuries. America, still wet behind the ears history-wise, doesn't understand that. Many finite beings don't understand that, but Our Lord and His Blessed Mother have done their utmost to communicate to us that there is only one peace that can be achieved, it begins in the heart. For division and strife we will always have as long as original sin exists. Jesus said as much in Luke 12: 51, "Do you think that I came to give peace upon the earth? No, I tell you, but division." It was another confirmation that we're not going to skate through this world on the easy path; nor are the answers in safe refuges where the faithful might be preserved from persecution. No matter what chastisements are ahead, if we place our trust in our finite leadership we have much to fear, but we have nothing to fear if we place our total trust in the Infinite and are rooted in Jesus for He said in John 14: 27, "Peace I leave with you, My Peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, or be afraid."
There you have it, folks. Straight from the Lord's mouth. So fear not. Peace can only be achieved through total commitment to Him by disgarding the world's notion of peace which can be nothing but a "false peace." The people of the Balkans, throughout Africa and South America, in Indonesia and elsewhere around the world have realized this just as the millions of martyrs over the centuries from the early Christians onward understood and accepted this truth. Our Lady says it won't be long until America realizes and experiences severe chastisements. Rather than fearing what is to come, we should stop, pause, pray and open our arms in invitation to "bring it on" and then reach out to help others, not in a humanitarian way but in the spirit of Christ, because the only way to true peace is by embracing persecution for persecution is a poignant part of the purification process!