Otto von Habsburg: A Controversy at "Chronicles"

By Jaclyn Ryan
Monday, 8 Aug 2011

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An engrossing controversy has raged recently over at Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. The saga originated with a July 18 piece by Srdja Trifkovic, Otto von Habsburg’s Ambiguous Legacy (published on this site two days later).


In this article the recently deceased—God rest his soul“Father of the multinational European Parliament” was taken to task in terms of his attitude toward Islam and its related groups and personas. In contrast to Dr. Trifkovic’s usually lengthy pieces, this short debrief—minus “malice or rancor”—was aimed at balancing majestic obituary praises for the late Archduke.James Bogle, a former British officer and present-day barrister in London, strongly protested the “coloured article” by chiding Dr. Trifkovic with his July 28, 2011 rebuttal Archduke Otto: Responding to Dr.Trifkovic. The long, bitter piece attempted to dissect, analyze, and repudiate all points in Dr. Trifkovic’s article based on: a) broken source links, and b) quotes taken out of context.

The “Dynasty” plot thickens…

Both articles produced comments from illustrious readers on both sides of the feud with sparks morphing into one large bonfire due to Mr. Bogle’s curt attacks not solely on Dr. Trifkovic, but on the readers—not a strategic move for a person who should be swaying and winning an audience at Chronicles.

Trifkovic counter-attacked Bogle’s rebuttal with the July 29, 2011 Otto von Habsburg: The Facts, only to receive Bogle’s return fire on August 1, 2011 with Archduke Otto—The Smears, which was immediately flanked by Trifkovic’s “The Habsburgs and the Balkans: A Rich, Uneven Tapestry.

n the midst of the saga, unassuming readers became caught in the crossfire with mortars and land mine hits from an increasingly defensive Bogle. As an observer of many political and ideological debates, I enjoy a fair and intelligent argument as much as the next person—that is until an author goes rogue on commenters with insulting  statements.

The nail in the coffin—no pun intended—was delivered when Chronicles editor Dr. Thomas Fleming abruptly, yet eloquently, closed the “unprofitable” discussion when it became evident that:

“Debunking links, however, is not the same as debunking an argument, and you have not done that. Indeed, I should say you have not even attempted to make an argument but have contented yourself with personal attacks on Dr. Trifkovic and his ethnic background. That is why you lost, hands down, even with conservative Catholics who at first welcomed your participation and are now shaking their heads. Even a very well-known Catholic apologist has made this remark. What may work in an English courtroom will not work in a civil debate on our website.”

Of course, Dr. Fleming did the right thing, as logical people abide by the motto that “The louder the talk; the weaker the argument.” Most geopolitical and historical observers would agree to Dr. Fleming’s poignant observation:

“You say you have seriously studied these matters. I don’t think you realize how much you are claiming. It is very hard to study the history of the Eastern Empire and its offshoots. First there is the problem of language. When Runciman was studying the Byzantine Empire, one had to have pretty good Greek and Latin, but also–when Bury set him to work–one of the South Slavic languages... Most of what is available in English is pretty poor stuff, though John Fine’s studies of the Medieval Balkans are quite good, but little of the Serbian material has been translated and most of that quite poorly."

In light of the above quotes, one will most likely agree with and commend Dr. Trifkovic’s civilized and reserved approach to engaging Mr. Bogle out of sheer professional diplomacy. Being no stranger to Chronicles, he knew readers were enlightened to such issues, and allowing Mr. Bogle—a person clearly uneducated on the intricacies of Balkan and European History—free forum reign, he was bound to seal his own fate. Chronicles readers—armed with comprehensive responses to Mr. Bogle’s attacks—could probably compare Dr. Fleming’s abrupt cut-off to a severe weather warning breaking into the final minutes of the World Cup.

Mr. Bogle’s mission to savor the last word with impugning responses is regrettable, not becoming an author who seeks to have his position taken seriously. There were several preposterous positions asserted by Mr. Bogle that should not remain unchallenged—even by a commoner. They are as follows:

“Archduke Otto was a proponent of the peaceful co-existence of all members of the three great monotheistic religions, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Thus—the claim that he was “an enthusiastic supporter of the jihadist side” was, is and remains exactly what I claimed it was: ludicrous. More so—it is offensively ludicrous.”

For the sake of argument, let us assume this statement is correct. Perhaps Archduke Otto truly believed a peaceful co-existence—regardless of the difficulty—could be achieved. However, for a direct descendant of all Royal European Roman Catholic families who became the political leader of the International pan-European Union, as well as the Christian Democrat (Bavaria) to the European Parliament, to espouse this view would be difficult for most logical people to swallow. Moreover, since Archduke Otto was fluent in seven languages, he could not claim ignorance of history from various cultural perspectives, the ever-increasing threat of Islamic dominance included.

Archduke Otto “hated Hitler, who hated him in return,” as much as he despised Communists. Given these sentiments, how is Islamic fundamentalism different from these factions? Muslim fascination with Nazism is well documented, as are numerous Muslim SS divisions—especially the 13th Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Hadschar (1st Bosnian).

Even more concerning was Archduke Otto’s view on Muslims and Christians in Europe. He asserted “if you go into the higher intellectual communities, the Muslims know much about us, and we know nothing about the Muslims... that is reality... with these Muslims we can get very far... I like them... I admire with them [sic] first of all that they believe in God. We believe we are so great that we don’t have to believe in him, and that is one of our basic weaknesses . . . don’t have to forget [sic] that the prophet Muhammad came from a Christian foundation...”

“Is this a jest?” Actually, we know quite a bit about Islam, its origination, and Muslims. The insinuation that “we [assuming everyone but Muslims] believe we are so great that we don’t have to believe in him...” was one of the most insulting, preposterous, and generalized statements from the lips of a Catholic, moreover the descendent of an empire boasting a rich history of battling Islamic conquest.

If one were to analyze the historical changing landscape, Islam has been, and remains, a constant threat to Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, etc. Countries featuring any resemblance of “co-existence” also reveal that the constant instigator and trouble-child has always been Islam.

Therefore, Bogle’s praise for Archduke Otto’s pursuit of a “peaceful co-existence” is “incoherent.” Complete “Poppycock.” The Three Faiths Forum premise is simply too difficult to stomach and blatantly dismissing the historical facts of Islamic dominance will only result in their pan-Islamic “picnic” for the West.

“Otto von Habsburg meets Bosnian president Alija Izetbegovic in April 1997," says Bopglr. "Eh? How does this “prove” that he was “an enthusiastic supporter of the Jihadist side”? It is ludicrous.”

What is “ludicrous” is the fact that Archduke Otto would even meet with Alija Izetbegović—the author of the Islamic Declaration with pro-Nazi ties to the Hadschar Division.

Technically, Archduke Otto—given his royal heritage, understanding of monarchies, and their adherence to bloodline, political alignment, and historical relevance—should know that Alija Izetbegović descended from Ottoman aristocrats. After Serbia’s independence from the Ottomans, his family hightailed to Bosnia. It is also well known that Alija Izetbegović was a fierce critic of Kemalism.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is an example of similar loyalties. Originally elected as what people believed to be a moderate, we now witness an ever-increasing threat to secularism. A constant denier of the Armenian Genocide, Erdoğan’s lineage stems from the Ottomans. Moreover, Mustafa Cerić has made it clear to Prime Minister Erdoğan that "Turkey is our Mother. That's how it was always, and it will remain like that.” It is no secret that Cerić is striving for Turkey’s acceptance to the EU. In light of the above and the practice of Taqiyya—as well as numerous other patterns of behavior—it is unconceivable that pan-Islamists and pan-Europeans can forge a successful, peaceful co-existence.

“Moreover, Archduke Otto actually criticises Western leaders for their indecision and ends by saying what few would disagree with: “If one really wants to have peace, the only possibility is for democracy, both internationally and nationally. That means the right of self-determination of peoples. Without such being implemented, this area in Kosovo will not have peace and the region would remain a crisis centre in Europe.”

This is a touchy-feely statement and sounds great, but it is flawed. Since Archduke Otto was an early enthusiast of European integration, I fail to see how Kosovo, moreover a forced union of European nations, equates to peace, democracy, and the “right of self-determination of peoples.” For instance, the parallels between the EUs one-market system and Nazism are striking. Moreover, Rodney Atkinson’s book “Europe’s Full Circle” provides a list of Nazi-proposed policies that are disturbingly similar to the present EU. Of course, not every EU proponent has malicious intent. Many probably believe they are contributing to a greater good. However, by doing so, they advertently ignore the history of the re-gifter. Whenever complete power is seduced from the people to a select few, it wreaks totalitarianism. Therefore, forgive me if I find Archduke Otto’s position contradictory.

For centuries, the ruling Habsburgs defended the Continent against the expansion of the Turkish Ottoman Empire,” indeed; but they never did it alone. All Christians came together to fight a common enemy—the same strategy Dr. Trifkovic has been advocating for years.

“Now Mr. von Habsburg makes it clear that all nations bordering the Mediterranean Sea, including those in North Africa and the Middle East, have a place in his broad vision for tomorrow’s Europe. Malta and Cyprus are already knocking at Brussels’ doors . . . . Some may label von Habsburg as a nostalgic dreamer trying to resuscitate the spirit of the Holy Roman Empire, the Habsburg hereditary title. But those who understand the Mediterranean phenomenon know how closely linked are the populations of its coasts, dating back to the ancient Greeks and Phoenicians.”

It only makes one wonder whether this “broad vision for tomorrow’s Europe” solely belongs to Archduke Otto or is it the will of the European Union, NATO, UN, Council of Foreign Relations, International Monetary Fund, and other spin-offs? Of course, hereditary links tend to bond populations, but adding an all-in-one religious, political, and governmental faction breeds tragic results.

Due to his well-known distaste for nationalism, Archduke Otto formally renounced his dynastic claims. To be fair, one could argue that people from all nations have become increasingly hostile toward royal monarchies—an inevitable trend that would evolve in a modern, global-centric society—and renouncing his throne could have been a brilliant publicity stunt. The appearance may have changed, but the controllers of the monetary purse strings remain dispersed across Royal bloodlines.

“Let us not forget how the war in 1914 really started, shall we? Serb nationalist terrorists assassinated the Archduke Franz-Ferdinand, the heir to the imperial throne, and did so in cold blood for the sake of the same spurious ultra-nationalism that has led, time and again, directly to bloody war in Europe.”

Yes, let us not forget how WWI really started. To state that Serb terrorists’ assassination of Archduke Franz-Ferdinand was the cause of WWI is shallow. A spark perhaps; but not the cause. The causes of WWI well precede 1914 and are extremely complex—too complex for a blog. Mr. Bogle cites “ultra-nationalism” as a key factor to the conflict—true, to a degree—but what about the “imperialism” that caused “ultra-nationalism” uprise? What about European rise of militarism and arms—especially between Germany and Great Britain? Let us not forget the mutual defense alliances, which were forged well-before Archduke Ferdinand’s assassination.

Even more thought-provoking is the Habsburg Ultimatum against the Kingdom of Serbia—essentially, an arrogant imperialist power issuing demands to a sovereign nation—or else. Today, they simply invade and use the International Criminal Tribunal (ICT-“pick a country”) to hunt anyone they believe impedes their imperialistic interests. Therefore, to insinuate that ultra-nationalism was the main cause of WWI would be stretching it. Through an in-depth historical dissection, one may find him/herself actually empathizing with the Serbs who have been repeatedly clubbed like a piñata throughout the course of history. In today’s PC society, we call it “bullying,” and the behavior is repeating itself across other parts of the world.

“Let me conclude by repeating that I, too, have some misgivings about the post-war tribunals and am concerned that Serbs and their leaders be treated justly and fairly. I hope I would wish the same for any member of the human race, even my enemies.”

This statement was contradictory to a comment response where Mr. Bogle wrote: “Finally, if all the ICTY convictions against Serbs are “Mickey Mouse” then please explain why Biljana Plavsic accepted her guilt and her 11-year sentence? Was she lying?”

Coming from an attorney, this seems rather naïve. So, in essence, backroom politics, bullying, and plea deals are non-existent? If Mr. Bogle has misgivings about the post-war tribunals and concern for just and fair treatment, then I believe he answered his own question.

Serbs have been hunted down and presented as media trophies by the ICTY. For an attorney to initially give credence to the ICTY’s verdict of Biljana Plavsic, yet later try to discredit Dr. Trifkovic’s testimony, begs for a library visit (no links are broken there) to research the ICTY’s creators and proponents. Most people—even Dr. Trifkovic—never stated that “War Crimes” did not occur. It was a war. However, what gives the United Nations (UN) the right to contrive a court system that overrides national sovereignty? Are the people of one’s country too dumb to try and convict? How would the U.S. or Great Britain feel about their leaders being hunted, convicted, and placed on public display by an international court vs. his or her own judicial system? You cannot have it both ways Mr. Bogle.

Throughout history, tyrants are known for having an illustrious record of creating new laws, courts, and politically incorrect stigmas.

“Dr. Trifkovic has been an ally and defender of numerous Serb leaders, some of whom, like Biljana Plavsic and Milomir Stakic, have since been convicted of war crimes at the Hague tribunal, and for these and other reasons Dr. Trifkovic was refused entry into Canada in February 2011. Guilty by association?”

In light of the previous comments, this is the coup de grâce of ICTY ignorance, and clearly demonstrates a simplistic understanding (intentional or unintentional) of deep-rooted geopolitical politics, influential lobbying, and the power of deceitful publicity. Therefore, if the above position rests solely on Mr. Bogle’s “guilty by association” claim, then technically, he lost the Archduke Otto Habsburg argument from the start.

An even more stunning claim: “Nationhood, love of country and patriotism are important but they are not so important that they take precedence over justice, peace, and mercy—or, indeed, truth.

That is good advice Mr. Bogle, which also explains why justice-seeking, peaceful, and truth-seeking people from numerous countries and cultural backgrounds—especially within Canada—protested the Canadian government’s ban of Dr. Trifkovic and more importantly, the opposition to free speech.

[As a comment response]: “I accept your point that we must vigilant in the face of Taqiyya but your argument seems to be that there must be a permanent policy of war against Muslims at all times. Is that really your view? Or do you, as most rational people do, consider that Islamic terrorism should be firmly contained but Muslims who are willing to live in peace should remain unmolested (so long as they do not threaten the peace). Are you really saying that even Muslims who agree to remain peaceful should nevertheless be deprived of civil rights?”

Perhaps you are confused with Dar al-Harb (“House of War”)—Islam’s perpetual war against Christians and infidels. However, a Christian would be a fool not to possess a permanent reluctance toward Muslim intent or actions.

Of course, Islamic terrorism should be firmly contained, but viable solutions by logical people (even former Muslims) result in the PC police trashing them as intolerant islamophobes; therefore, containment will not happen. Where is the mass public outrage by peaceful Muslims following terrorist attacks? Yes, there are Muslims who are willing to “live in peace,” but since attorneys are only taught to present factual material (remember, no back-room politics or deals exist), one could technically argue that they are not true Muslims, as this is not what the Koran teaches. The key difference between Islam and Christianity is that Islam is a merged political, government, and religious system that cannot be separated, Mr. Bogle.

Every peaceful Muslim should, of course, be provided civil rights—as long as his/her beliefs (specifically referencing the United States, for the sake of argument) do not conflict with the U.S. Constitution, our Bill of Rights, or in the case of immigration, violate the Oath of Allegiance—which would be a treasonous act.

While we are on the topic of technicalities:

[Re Dr. Trifkovic’s claims that Eastern Orthodox clerics were not invited to attend the Archduke’s funeral]: “Wrong! Not only were they invited, but they attended . . . ” and [Re Dr. Trifkovic’s assertion that they were not awarded the honour of reading a homily or saying a prayer]: “The answer is simple: Most Orthodox clergy themselves refuse so to do! . . . The funeral organisers did not press them precisely because they respected the Orthodox clergy’s wishes.”

Hallelujah! Frankly, it is refreshing to see some Christians still uphold their beliefs. Technically speaking, Catholics—as viewed by the original teachings of the Church (Pre-Vatican II)—are not encouraged to attend, speak, or participate in any form of a non-Catholic ceremony -- moreover, be in acceptance of any religion outside the one true Church. This would have been considered as heretical as Pope John Paul II entering a Mosque or giving President Bill Clinton Holy Communion. Certainly, a descendant from the Holy Roman Catholic Empire realized this. And no—I am not a Serb or Orthodox Christian, but a former Catholic.

[As a comment response]: “You seem to argue that a government may be overthrown simply because some of its citizens think it is “imperialist and colonialist.” By what right do citizens claim to overthrow the lawful government?

So technically, Mr. Bogle would view the American Revolution as wrong? 

In the United States, it is our right and duty to question and overthrow an unlawful government. Who deems a government lawful? The people? Corrupt monarchs or politicians? Religious groups? When is it acceptable to overthrow a government? The patriots of the American Revolution would be branded “terrorists” by today’s media and government standards.

The United States Constitution has provided citizens of various cultures and denominations a relatively peaceful existence. However, political correctness and Muslims who are adept at playing the game, have coerced gullible (and corrupt) politicians and attorneys into manipulating and circumventing our Constitution and state laws to advance their 100-year plan.

Balkan and European history are as fascinating as they are sad and triumphant. The continent has not been a child’s playground, but rather an amusement park to political, religious, and economic hegemonies that have cut, merged, and pasted its peoples. Mastery of such a confusing history is extremely difficult; perhaps even impossible. However, disregard for such history—willingly or inadvertently—is more unfortunate, as it provides keen insight into the motives, strategies, and outcome of our geopolitical future.

Not all contributors to focus upon Serbia nor does each one agree on all issues. However, Dr. Trifkovic and all contributors to The Lord Byron Foundation have played a pivotal role in advancing such knowledge—not out of spite or favoritism toward a particular culture and religion—but out of passion for historical learning, human decency, and the basic principles of right and wrong. Based on his asserted principles—and despite disagreement—I would think Mr. Bogle is in unison with such standards.

Jaclyn Ryan is the nom de plume of a small business owner in Cleveland and Charlotte. She holds a B.A. in History and master's coursework in strategic intelligence analysis.