no mans land

Well, I finished watching a movie; "No Man's Land". It is now available on youtube. Google it up next time you want to see some great "black humor".

How I came to finally see it is an interesting story. It was part of the "film club" in my "international relations" course at U of T. I went there and I was the only one who showed up for it. The prof and her Teaching aide, (TA), were a bit perturbed. She gave me the disk which I took home to play and return to her at tutorials the next day.

I remember when it first came out I made a mental note to see it but never did. It is a very well done flick, very well thought out. However, there is a big hole in the middle of it that I am aware of because I followed the whole Yugoslav disintegration debacle when it was going on.

Now, I have to do a movie revue in order to explain what I will talk about subsequently. No, I will even have to give a bit of modern Balkan history to explain it. Oh, my. By the reactions of some of my fellow students at the tutorial session next day, this will be a tough one. Balkans? Yugoslavia? Where is that? What was that?

Remember when Clinton bombed Serbia for a month to stop them from massacring the Albanians in Kosovo? Back about 1999? Huh? What's Kosovo? Whats an Albanian? Who was Clinton?

Ah, well. There was once a country called Yugoslavia. More about it below, and why it got bombed, why there was all this war in the 1990's about it. As you read you will catch on. But somebody made a film about it in 2001. It got nominated for "best foreign language film" oscar.

Within Yugoslavia was the province of Bosnia which was full of Bosnians but also had lots of Serbians. The Bosnians and Serbians spoke the same language and looked alike but the former were moslems and the latter were orthodox christians. They hate each other; who knows why, but I think it has something to do with the Bosnians being the rulers over the Serbs when the Ottoman Turkish empire ruled the area.

So when Yugoslavia started falling apart the Bosnians wanted to separate. The Serbs in Bosnia did not want to be ruled by moslems again so; civil war. Soon it was a stalemate with a front line of bunkers and trenches with U.N. troops in the middle of it trying to maintain a ceasefire.

So in this movie some Bosnians got lost and ambushed by Serbs. One survivor got into an abandoned trench and hid. The Serbs sent some men to see if the Bosnians were all dead. The lone living Bosnian hid and watched as the Serbs put the bodies of his dead comrades on top of a bouncing mines so they would explode as soon as the body was lifted up.

So the Bosnian pops up and kills the Serbs, but keeps this one dimwitted Serb alive to use as a human shield if the Serbs try to take the trench. Then he discovers that his close friend was not dead but faking it. So now he is laying on top of a live mine of the kind that is armed when you step on it and blows up when you step off, spreading shrapnel all over the trench and killing everyone in it.

Somehow the Bosnian gets word to the U.N. troops nearby, who try to figure out what to do. Then a female TV reporter hears about it. They bring in a mine expert who discovers that the mine is of an advanced type which is impossible to disarm.

The U.N. soldier's commanders are more interested in keeping the whole thing quiet and not getting any of their own men killed until they can get out of there and go home. Typical organizational behavior, as we say in international relations.

The TV Janie is in her glory as she finally has something to show how incompetent the U.N. is, incidentally making it harder for the troops on the spot to find a solution. The Serb and the Bosnian soldier keep snarking a each other. Everyone is only marginally interested in the guy laying on top of the mine.

How does this finally get resolved? Go to youtube and download it. I do not want to spoil the suspense any more than I already have.

The Serb and the Bosnian had their running argument over "who started it". Actually it was the U.S. and German intelligence services which started the war. It is called "destabilization" and Yugoslavia was the model for subsequent destruction of nations that are in the way of global capital. More about just why below.

But the Serbian kissed his fancy bounce mine made for him by the European Union. The United Nations troops were totally hand tied about really doing anything. The media was there to sneer about the ineffective U.N. and the crazy locals, but offered no real analysis or solution.

The Serb and the Bosnian found a way to cooperate with each other to stay alive, but it was the media who got them shooting at each other again. The Bosnian had it right when he told the T.V. news jumpin' Janie trying to interview him to go fuck herself; he had enough problems already.

One way or another, outsiders created the conflict and then just left the victims there to die. That was true of the predicament in the trench as for the Bosnian war and the Yugoslav breakup generally. The screenplay does not quite get there, but even writers who are critical of western policies in starting and perpetuating the war have trouble crossing this line.

The Bosnian and other Yugoslav wars were created in order to break up Yugoslavia because it was too successful. It was an example of an actually successful "import substitution Investment strategy" as we say in international relations 208, international trade segment. It was independent of western capital, had a standard of living as high as western Europe, and was exporting all over the world. It had developed a worker participation system which had led to very high productivity. So of course this had to go.

This is why the U.N. troops hanging around the war zone were so ineffective; they were intended to be. The U.N. was there to make sure that neither side could win until they had completely destroyed each other. The U.N. grunts were left wondering what they were there for, and getting into trouble whenever they tried to do some good.

The film thankfully avoids painting the Serbs as the bad guys in the conflict, although the Serb character was not very bright. That is how the reality of the Bosnian war was. The Serb leaders were not evil, just incredibly stupid; they set themselves up to lose and to be made the villains. In the end, most of the people killed and displaced were Serbs.

Why am I so interested in the Yugoslav wars? Back in the late 1990s when I first got a computer and got on the internet, this stuff was going on. I became acquainted with a Serbian Canadian who was not too happy about what was going on.

This is what got me interested in international politics with an anti-imperialist slant. For awhile I operated an anti-propaganda information site that started with the Yugoslav situation and expanded to other conflicts. I folded it up as other people started doing a better job at it that me.

So that is "no man's land". The next is "The Cove" but I notice it is up on Youtube, too. Maybe given the low turnout, maybe the teaching staff should cancel movie night and tell people to download it. tr