12 August 2011

Criminalizing Sit-ins

Crimefighter Bühler

In the course of the current tensions in the north of Kosovo the commander of NATO forces, a Bundeswehr officer Erhard Bühler, on multiple occasions claimed the people obstructing NATO were criminals or in the pay of criminals. Bühler ascribes every aspect of local response to NATO enforced stranglehold of the north to "criminal structures" which allegedly run the whole north of Kosovo. He goes so far as to claim the people assembling at roadblocks had been paid by criminals to do so.

The German NATO general claims there are no problems in Kosovo of a political nature, troubles only arise from dissatisfaction of criminals. In other words, the Serbs have no valid reason to object to politics enforced by NATO, the only people who could object are criminals, so anybody who objects must be a criminal or in the service of criminals.

Bühler's propaganda points are as predictable as they are idiotic. Attempting to criminalize resistance to occupation has been long domain of powerful states and militaries. In the German case it begun with hysteria surrounding francs-tireurs in the Franco-Prussian War, then intensified through every subsequent conflict until it, in 1942, culminated in the formalized security doctrine of Bandenbekämpfung.

One pillar of German security thinking was that any resistance to occupation was illegitimate. A person offering resistance behind the front line was not to be thought of as a legitimate fighter — a partisan, but as a bandit, which is to say a criminal. An area where resistance existed was to be thought of as a bandit area and the people among whom the partisans moved as people harboring criminals.

There exists a perception Germany laden with a Nazi past is now more pacifistic than other comparable powers. It is a view that can not but bemuse the northern Kosovo Serbs in the sights of a belligerent German general who is resurrecting the talking points of Bandenbekämpfung in relation to unarmed people staging sit-ins.

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