Was it really a war?

A warrior returns home, to his native village. A knight, a prototype. During a break in the war, a warrior returns to the people he left, who he said goodbye to before setting off to fulfill his soldier’s duty. The political levels were not enough out there, and it was decided to “continue the politics with the help of other methods,” as Clauzewitz would say. A warrior’s military knowledge and skills are just the right thing for these politics of other methods. The warrior said goodbye to his relatives and was off for the war.

Now he comes back to catch his breath and meet with his relatives and friends. And what can he see? There is nothing left of his village, and it cannot be recognized. The houses are all burnt, and dead bodies are here and there, scattered on the ground. The corpses are so mutilated that even a relative would not recognize them. Domestic animals are all killed and disfigured: a cow, a pig, a lamb, a cat, a dog – all are dead. Everything that could be killed was killed.

There are no more young trees in the garden, no birds, no more churches. There are only ruins, on which one can see inscriptions and signs, which cannot be understood even by those who were going to those churches. The wonderful signs; they must mean the messages from God. However, our warrior knows that God does not leave such traces where he goes. Noone will convince him that there are different gods and their warriors, and that those different warriors of the different god went through his village, his life, having left emptiness, destruction, and signatures behind.

Our warrior knows very well who was in his village. He has known it for several centuries already. This is no continuation of the policy of different methods, Clauzewitz did not have a notion of such wars and warriors. The whole world does not know and will never know about it, although something like this has already happened and is happening now to other peoples of this very world.

Only our warrior knows it. He knows that his family has been killed for the hundredth time in this countless war between “us and them,” that the past and future have been destroyed, and there is NOTHING left. There is no house in which he was born, no mother, no wife, and no children. Ask Strachinja Zivak (a widely-spread name amid the Bosnian Serbs), who does not have both of his sons, who was doomed to going through all of that and seeing everything with his own eyes.

Our warrior does not have either time or the possibility to ask himself: can it all be different, not the way it is now? The others can do it: those who lead their own lives, or those who have several lives. Those who can afford not to belong to their nation, those who cannot be Serbs, but the warrior is not one of them, he would not be able to become something like that, even if he wished for it a lot. His neighbor, a hooligan from his village, a shrewish old woman, will not allow him to do that – the people who do not cost anything, like fake money, but they are in circulation and perform a certain function (Andric).

Our warrior should escape, become an immigrant in order to avoid the things that have been happening to him, - this is what has been happening to the Serbian people during half of their history. If he wants to become someone, all or nothing, to stop being a Serb, he can only leave for the place where it can happen. It is impossible to happen here. There is fate here; it has always been. Those who could avoid it, they were doing it for hundreds of years, and now he is with those who are not persecuted; he is with those who pursue.

Our warrior, who is called “a Bosnian Serb” all over the word, is not acting like that. He is living his fate. Clauzewitz did not know that parable. It is not a historic one; it is biblical. Our warrior has always suffered as much as he could suffer. There is no other nation under the sky which has suffered more than the one that is called “the Bosnian Serbs.”

He has been keeping his values and treasures deep in his heart, pretending to be awkward and not educated, but, as a matter of fact, he was a noble knight. He was concealing his Serbian soul in order to preserve it, but he could not deceive his neighbor. A murderer was tearing his heart into pieces in every war, trying to find that hidden spirit, exterminating everything Serbian, even birds on the tops of the trees – the same way as Herod did.

Our warrior understands everything: his own fate, the fate of his murderer, and the hostile calls from everywhere around. He knows that he should build his village again and have a new family. He knows that he should bear his cross as long as it is needed and say no when it is impossible to bear it any longer. This will be the time when he will finally accept his fate, experience everything, and never leave his faith in God.

That is why I bow to this only nation, Christ’s martyr, to the Serbian people of Bosnia, “who takes all whips of the fate in a worthy manner” (Sladoje). Another science and a another Clauzevitz are needed to explain its courage. Only God can understand this nation so far.

That is why I ask myself: Was it really a war? A war has its current, its reasons and goals, and constituents; a war has its own Clauzewitz. This was not the war that was so familiar to everyone. The reason of the war was the existence of one nation. Will our existence remain the reason for waging a war in the future?

Radovan Karadzic The original text was translated from Serbian by Sergey Stefanov

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Translated into English by Dmitry Sudakov

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