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Slobodan Miloševic

The Lessons of History

On May 21, the people of Montenegro voted to secede from Serbia. The European Union had insisted that it would not recognize Montenegro’s independence unless at least 50% of Montenegrins turned out to vote and of those at least 55% cast their vote [...]

Miloševic in Retrospect

Looking back at it now, the death of Slobodan Miloševic seems of a piece with his life. When he reigned supreme in the Balkans, even those who claimed to know him well—and outside his immediate family circle, they were few—could never say with certainty who the “genuine” Slobodan Miloševic really was or what he stood for. Perhaps even expecting such authenticity is a Western, Judeo-Christian, or at least post-Christian-Freudian conceit, a fetishization of “essence” in the context of a man whose entire career was one of chameleonlike change that reflected the orthodoxy of the day. Baudelaire once wrote of his mistress that her eyes were deep pools of mystery behind which lay . . . nothing. My own sense is that much the same thing can be said about Miloševic. The man who went from Titoist apparatchik to reforming central banker whose views would not have seemed out of place in the Banque de France or the City of London, to Yugoslav patriot struggling to hold the Federation together, to Greater Serbian nationalist, and, finally, to Serb martyr, cannot be said to have had core beliefs—core beliefs other than in himself, that is.

The Little Box That Contains the World: Serbia After the Death of Milosevic

At the Bulgaria-Serbia border, when the train sighed to a halt between high prisonlike fences with crooked chicken wire running on top, our compartment received two official visits—first from Bulgarian customs officers and later on, a few hundred meters down the railroad, from their Serbian counterparts. Luggage was carefully probed, including the bags of the two women, but no one bothered to check mine. “What’s inside the suitcase?” a corpulent guy with beads of sweat on his upper lip demanded to know. “Personal items,” I answered, and that was that. In the ensuing silence the thump of the entry stamp fell on my passport, shattering the tension in the car. The sliding door slammed shut, and in a few more minutes the train jerked forward bearing me westward, deep into Serbian territory.