|Father Nektarios Serfes - Orthodox Spirituality||Last Modified February 2, 2003|
The Undeclared War Against Yugoslavia. A Christian Perspective
By Metropolitan Isaiah
May 6, 1999
On the eve of the Feastday of the Annunciation to the Ever-Virgin Mary by the Archangel Gabriel, while great Vespers were being celebrated in Orthodox churches in the United States, England, France, Germany, and in many other parts of the world, the president of the United States along with the heads of the above-mentioned nations and of the smaller nation-members of NATO, began a bombing campaign against the people of Serbia. On the Feastday of the Annunciation, March, 25, 1999, which heralds the promise of God to end evil and death in the world by the coming birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, the bombing of Serbia began in earnest and included targets in Serbia, Kosovo, Metohija, Montenegro, Vojvodina, and other regions of Yugoslavia.
In the history of Orthodox Christianity, the exalted person of the Ever-Virgin Mary and Mother of God has played an all-important role in the lives of God's people. There can be no question that as the immoral, illegal, and evil bombing continues in the Balkans, the holy Theotokos will again involve herself in a spectacular way for the sake of God's people who look to her and her Divine Son for intervention. The Ever-Virgin Mary will demonstrate her concern and love for all the innocent people who have been killed and the thousands more who will lose their lives as this devastation continues.
It is an obvious fact that the bombs which rain down in Yugoslavia do not distinguish between Christians and Moslems. For all people in that land have become victims of the relentless bombings. As the air attacks and the increased bombardments continue, it seems apparent that the president of the United States and his European cohorts intent to destroy an ancient people and their culture, leaving their land in total desolation.
Several days before the greatest feastday of the ecclesiastical year, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, the day of Pascha, Orthodox Christian leaders in Europe and America na´vely thought that the president of the United States would comply with their request to stop the bombing out of consideration for the Serbian Orthodox Christians. They conjectured that if he stopped the bombing in Iraq and the killing of Moslems during Ramadan this past December - and without being officially requested to do - surely this Bible-toting president would demonstrate Christian understanding. But even when the Pope of Rome made the same request, his words fell on deaf ears.
Yet, in retrospect it was not logical for any Orthodox Christian to believe for a moment that the president of our country as well as the other European leaders who claim to be Christians would stop the bombing on Orthodox Pascha when they never considered to honor even their own Easter by stopping the air attacks. Is it not an irony that the United States and NATO continued to rain destruction on innocent civilians even as the Christian West celebrated the destruction of the power of death through the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ at western Easter? It was even reported that one English soldier actually wrote "Happy Easter" on a bomb that was to be dropped by an attack fighter on his Serbian target.
The behavior of the president, whose personal morals recently were clearly projected by the media, begs the question, "Why did he not put a temporary stop to the bombing at least on his own Easter Sunday? One answer could be this frightfully simple one: He and his western Christian leaders may be following a well-thought out master plan which demands the status quo in the Moslem-dominated Middle East, but a radical change in the ethnic boundaries of mainly Orthodox peoples in the Balkans. With such a radical change in the Balkans, American and Western European influence would dominate all of the Balkans up to the western shores of the Black Sea since Bulgaria and Romania also want to join NATO. And if innocent people, whether Christians or Moslems, are killed in the process, they are expendable for the greater "good."
Of course, it goes without saying that the obviously non-Christian leaders and advisors of the president and of the European leaders who favored the uninterrupted bombing of Yugoslavia on western Christian Easter were certainly not affected in their determination to continue the bombing. But what about the Christian leaders who celebrated Easter? Is this their interpretation of an Easter celebration?
On the nineteenth day of the merciless air campaign which was carried on from very safe distances for those perpetrating this hostile warfare, on that day when Orthodox Christians observed the Great Feastday of Pascha, air attacks continued to spread evil, death, and destruction among the defenseless children, women, and men on the ground. While Orthodox Christians chanted, "Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death," American and English pilots were dropping death upon the living.
These diabolical events are most troubling especially when we realize that they are a repeat performance by the Western powers of similar events less than five years ago in Croatia and Bosnia. At that time, however, it was the Western powers which were ethnically cleansing Croatia and western Bosnia of the Serbian Christians who were expelled from their ancestral homes. At least 300,000 Serbians were forced out of Krajina and Western Slavonia. Where did they go? How are they faring? Does anyone care? And where was the television media to follow them and to hear their stories? Had they done so, they would have recorded the very same things that they are recording now; however now it is with the helpless Albanians of Kosovo whom the western powers do not want expelled, or at least they say that they do not. The human tragedy taking place in Kosovo has brought untold misery to thousands who simply wanted to remain in their villages as they had done for the past several generations. But American bombs would not permit it. Now the tragedy is even greater than that of Krajina and Western Slavonia.
How ironic it is to see so much destruction in the Balkans and yet war has not been "declared." Probably this is why the Americans and other forces do not want what they insisted on having in Bosnia and Croatia - "a level playing field." Such a reality would indicate an actual war. But since there are no two distinct combatant sides in Yugoslavia on a "level playing field," that which is happening in Yugoslavia is nothing less than a slaughter of defenseless people. It is in actuality a massacre of innocent humanity.
However, we as Americans are not bothered. For since we have legally slaughtered over 35,000,000 unborn children in our country these past twenty-five years, why should an insignificant number of innocent people in a place which Americans cannot locate on a map bother us? And the playing field is the same: the unborn could not fight back and neither can the Serbians strike back at bombers flying above 15,000 feet.
In order for our minds and eyes not to be affected by the slaughter from invisible bombs, the television networks have created very moving human interest stories from real events that stir our souls. Everyday we see man's inhumanity to man revealed on television as our eyes see the children and the elderly having left their burned-out villages, being expelled from their lands, and having no other place to go. Truly the tragedies are horrific! No humans should suffer as much as those people from Kosovo who have been removed from the place they called home. It does not matter if their culture or religious faith is different; they too, as all people everywhere, are children of God. And those who are guilty of this great human tragedy in Yugoslavia - both those who perpetrate acts of inhumanity and those who precipitated them - will one day answer to God, the eternal Judge.
Orthodox Christianity teaches that all who live in ways that are pleasing to God will find salvation and inherit eternal life, even if they do not carry the name of Orthodox Christian. The saintly Mother Theresa was born and raised in Kosovo and if she were with us today she would certainly be pleading for an end to all the bombings and the killings, not only in her birthplace of Kosovo but throughout the Balkans. She would also have insisted that all Kosovo Albanians who love their place of birth should be allowed to return.
Unfortunately, however, there are some Albanians who insist that America and NATO must continue to bomb the region of Kosovo. This is very puzzling. How can anyone wish to see his native region bombed and destroyed? Can such a person truly consider Kosovo his native land? One is reminded of the time when King Solomon had to decide between two mothers and determine whose baby was living and whose was dead; for both mothers claimed the living baby as their own child. Solomon ordered that a sword be brought to him so that he would cut the living baby in two and divide it between the two mothers. Surprisingly the mother of the dead baby agreed to divide the living child; the real mother, however, was willing to give it up without harming it. Consequently, King Solomon gave the living child to its own mother.
Based on this story, it seems apparent that there are some Albanians who do not love Kosovo as their own homeland, but who are bent on carving out a new country in the Balkans from the lands that belong to another people. After all, they must reason that if Bosnia-Herzegovina which was never an independent state in recorded history, could now be recognized as a country through the intervention of western military powers, why should there not be a new country by the name of Kosova created by these same powers?
If such a reality could be decided by America and the Western European powers in Kosovo as they did in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the tradition of "divide and conquer" which characterized western colonialism during the past few hundred years will again be perpetuated. Certainly such a division of the Balkans would benefit the United States along with England and others in league with them; for then they would be better able to manipulate the smaller countries in that region. Such a possibility is not merely theoretical: in past centuries it was accomplished in the Far East; it was done in Africa; it occurred in the Middle East. Now it seems that a new kind of economic colonialism could prevail in the Balkans. Is this happening?
It may very well come to pass that a ground war in Kosovo will be only a matter of time. This was apparently the intent from the beginning, despite too-often repeated denunciations of any such intent. Yet, the present bombing campaign serves only to weaken Yugoslavia so that a ground campaign can be waged with the least number of casualties to the invading armies. The orchestration of this military planning is uncanny! It reminds one of Napoleon conquering Moscow and finding no one there; this time, however, all the inhabitants will be dead or forced out if they are Serbians.
Already the western powers are saying that Kosovo should be an independent country and that it does not belong to Serbia. Wasn't this their plan from the very beginning? Of course this has been known all along by the leaders of Yugoslavia, and this is the reason why they have been feverishly expelling as many of the Kosovo Albanians as they have.
And what is the colonial aim of the Western powers in dividing and subjugating Yugoslavia? There is an estimated 17 trillion dollars in physical and mineral assets within Yugoslavia. Kosovo itself has one of the largest coal reserves in Europe, and a large deposit of lignite from which petroleum can be extracted. It was not coincidental that thirty-four corporate executives, who were killed along with Ron Brown in the plane crash a few years ago, were traveling to the Balkans for economic reasons. No one can refute this. Serbs have struggled not to be dominated by Croats, Bosnians, and Albanians who tried to exterminate them fifty years ago; now they must defend themselves against a new enemy: the multi-national corporations and economic slavery.
To label what is happening today in Yugoslavia as immoral is an understatement. The whole scenario reeks of evil hatred and greed by the United States and NATO. Such behavior on their part cannot be attributed to the will of God as some choose to believe. The United States and NATO have proven beyond any doubt that the more power one has, the less likely he is to exercise patience. It is reminiscent of the truism that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. All of this has to be diabolical; for it is in stark contrast to the nature of God and what God represents - just as the bombings on Easter and Pascha stand in stark contradistinction to the festive celebration of the resurrection of Christ.
God is all-powerful, yet He has infinite patience with His children. Could not the powerful Western allies have exercised a little more patience in attempting to resolve problems with Yugoslavia whose cultural roots extend back for centuries? Can we at the dawn of the third millennium be so restricted in our intellectual capacity and prowess that we have to resort to warlike tactics of the 15th century? How quickly we have reached the end of our patience! Sadly, it proves that where there is much power among men, there is little, if any, patience!
Patience, of course, presupposes concern and love for one's fellow man. But no concern has ever been directed toward the people of Yugoslavia, let alone love. And if there is no love, then it is obvious what stands in its place. The indiscriminate bombings are one expression of the hate that now reigns.
Jesus Christ came into the world to teach us patience, humility, and love. He gave up His very life for the world, so that we, His children, may learn to be like Him. Unfortunately, they who have learned from Christ are apparently not the ones who govern our nation or NATO or the world.
Can the political alliance perpetrating the events now taking place in the Balkans be a precursor of the one government world that is coming? If so, how ironic that the United States should be leading the way, the only nation in the past two thousand years which was originally founded on the axiom of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for every person. Yet the signs are telling us that our God-given freedoms are being eroded and even distorted. More and more people are being degraded as expendable and even worthless through indiscriminate killings within the nation and in various parts of the world. In our country more and more laws are being legislated to stem the tide of such killings. Our nation today has far more laws on its books than the laws of all the nations of Europe. And those of us who know what freedom is, also know that where there is true freedom with responsibility and accountability, laws are used only as guideposts. What we are now seeing, however, is that when morality decreases, laws necessarily increase.
Once the war is over in Kosovo and in the neighboring regions of Yugoslavia and the Balkans, peace will be imposed by military might in the same way that it is imposed today in Bosnia-Herzegovina. This kind of peace is short-lived, since it certainly is not based on individual freedom. One would be correct in saying that Marshall Tito imposed the same kind of peace when he controlled Yugoslavia.
What can we, the average people, do other than to watch the unfolding madness on the programmed and biased television networks? There is only one thing we can do in this world which is controlled by Satan. God hears and responds to fervent prayer, prayer from the heart. We must all pray to God many times each day for the safety and the welfare of all the innocent victims of this human tragedy, of this immoral nightmare taking place in the Balkans. No matter who the victims may be - Christian, Moslem, or other faith; Albanian, Serbian, Gypsy, Turkish, or other ethnicity - we must pray for all of them if we wish to see conditions improve throughout this Balkan region.
Through individual prayer we must all awaken to the fact that it is those who wish to promote their political and economic agendas, and who consider people's lives as worthless, who are the cause of this catastrophe, moreso than the traditional ethnic and religious causes which have been put up as the primary reason. Yet, for the Orthodox Serbians it is a historic fact that the preeminent reason for keeping Kosovo is exactly because it is hallowed ground, the birthplace of their faith and culture.
Finally, it could very well be that the United States and its Western allies believe in what is called a "just war" and therefore have no pangs of conscience about what they are doing. This notion stems from the false Western Christian concept that people are predestined for heaven or hell. It is a philosophy which is foreign and totally in opposition to Orthodox Christianity. Orthodoxy teaches that all people can be saved since all people have free will. The Orthodox Church accepts that many times wars are necessary, perhaps the lesser of two evils, but evil nonetheless. No war, however, is "just" or righteous in the eyes of God. For when anyone is killed in any war, it is an affront against God Who created each and every human being to have life in abundance. It is blasphemy; for God is the God of the living and not of the dead, as we read in Holy Scripture. Every human being is created in God's image and every human being is precious to God. No one has the right to destroy God's image. To kill anyone, especially innocent people, is to show contempt for God. It is Satan who kills, but it is God Who makes alive.
The bombings began on the Feastday of the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary by the Archangel Gabriel. This is an ominous coincidence. She who is the Mother of Life must have felt the insult when the bombs started falling. As we honored her for bringing the Savior of the world into our lives, so that death would end through her Divine Son, American bombs were killing innocent people. She is expecting us to call on her in prayer and to ask for her intervention in this human tragedy. If we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, if we believe that she brought Him into the world for our salvation, we can do no less.
Content written/compiled by Father Nektarios Serfes.
(c) Father Nektarios Serfes