The Balkans, A New Birth of Freedom & The Rise of Arab Militancy

Bismark, like any instrument of autocracy, embodied a harbinger of what was to unfold under the aegis of a resurgent Third Reich; but looking further back, this land and its memory of past afflictions of Empire, now welcomes an old militancy unalloyed from the convictions of defeated superior foes, all prostrate before an ever expanding Caliphate. While the west hampers through an intramural fight the Balkans burn from an unwelcomed yet familiar alliance with Arabia; a new dark age is upon Europe for those with the fortitude to discern the contours of an emerging threat.

The Balkans and its newly liberated nation states remain a place of sorrow and pained memory, for this landscape and its politics were always dependent on Empire, always thwarted to remain bound to a harsh rubric; the ruthless realism that underwrote the reach and grasp of Palmerson, Salisbury and Disraeli ran right through this hinge separating the east from the west. Even after the Cold War, we can discern that geography alone cannot explain the difficult determinism that has become ‘The Balkans.’

We were not fortunate in our alliances nor ideas of governance as evidenced in the trajectory and dominant personages that made the Second World War. For if the ‘self determination peoples’ mattered, so did Kim Philby and his self-governing nefarious scheme enveloping Albania. Both failed miserably. Both remain an earnest from which to shape a contemporary response to the character of bilateral relations between nation states of the Balkans, NATO and the west. What newly liberated nation states throughout this region now understand is that the past is not prologue. New ideas of man characterizing his sovereignty and reason have emerged to displace both Marxist atheism and a profound ideological militancy imported from the land of Arabia. Both deny man his true place in this world. Both are lies.

To understand how the Balkans became a ‘sobriquet of sorrow’, we need to understand the place of Islam in the social, political trajectory that characterizes our late Medieval period and the violent displacement that occurred under ‘The Congress of Berlin,’ for both denied, as superpowers often do, the necessity that accompanies growth.

Prior to the arrival of the modern period (1500 A.D.), the late medieval period witnessed an emerging Caliphate advancing a pincer movement up from North Africa through Spain running concurrently with an adjacent column moving northward from the eastern Mediterranean Bosporus toward Vienna. Both ended in disaster! When the Catholic infidel autocracies of Spain and Portugal discovered the new world and an opening around west Africa embracing the far east, the Mediterranean became a Muslim lake!

The secular ideas of nationalism that promoted a threatening pan-slavism met an expansionist Russia threatening London’s jewel of India. Much to chagrin of Downing Street in its failure to provide a bulwark throughout Afghanistan, imperialists throughout western Europe knew the soft calculus that constituted the power keg that erupted at Sarajevo with the murder of Archduke Ferdinand. It was nothing less than the return of the repressed.

With the end of the Cold War and the demise of Marxism the Balkan region is bifurcated between the appeal of a materialist west and militant Islam. The ideas of liberty, commerce, separation of church and state and numerous other political ideas that promulgate the western triumph of secularism have been checked by a faith, by moral norms that transcend an archaic appeal to fanaticism.

A resurgent Crescent will not have the last word, nor will a militant secularism that actively promotes an unnatural vision of life in radical autonomy, nominalism and an ever expanding welfare state. There is an alternative.

The alternative to relativism, nihilism, autocracy and militancy are discovered within the hearts and sound consciences of an indigenous catholicity (universalism) intrinsic to the Balkans: a Solzhenitzen, Havel, Wjoltya, Teresa.

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About William Holland

Systematic Theologian/International Relations
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