DEYAN RANKO BRASHICH was born in Belgrade, former Yugoslavia, and is an Op-Ed columnist for Connecticut's Litchfield County Times.  He writes the monthly Letter From America column for Romania’s Scrisul Romanesc, a literary magazine and is a Contributing Editor for  The Country and Abroad, another literary/art magazine where he authors the Dispatch from Abroad column. He is a frequent contributor to Pecat, the Belgrade, Serbia weekly news magazine and Britić, a magazine published in the United Kingdom. He resides in New York City and Washington, Connecticut.




The Litchfield County Times has covered the ongoing confrontation between United States lead NATO and Russia, the “invasion” of Crimea, the referendum on secession and its subsequent annexation; the ongoing unrest in the region with pro-Russian elements seeking control over territory formerly an integral part of the Ukraine. NATO is now threatening to deploy some 40,000 ground forces, including US soldiers, to Eastern European countries bordering Russia.

A speech by Thomas Graham, a managing director of Kissinger Associates, said to be an expert on Russia, was featured in an article in the Times last week. His comments and views as a former Presidential special assistant and National Security Council director were fully covered and need not be repeated except to note that he does not address the issue of a possible military response or fallout from economic sanctions.

The Times also published an interview last month with Gregory Feifer, another Russian expert and the author of “Russians: The People Behind the Power”. Mr. Feifer spoke of his observations of Russia and the course of events, historical, political and economic which have led to the present confrontation but categorically states that military action “is off the table”.

With this I agree, but as a casual observer of events without expertise I feel obliged to comment. 

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Published as Featured Op Ed Article: “Serbia: Join the EU, Not the Euro”, Britić, The British Serb Magazine, Sunday, March 30, 2014

Recently Pedja, my politically and economically astute Belgrade friend, convinced me that Serbia has no choice but to join the European Union, like it or not. To try and go it alone would be committing hara-kiri, suicide. I had resisted the reason of his argument based on my contrarian Serb nature which has little basis in fact or logic. I was finally persuaded that Serbia’s joining the EU was inevitable.

But if you must join the EU, does Serbia really want to buy into the Euro? Think again.

On January 1, 2014 Latvia became the 18th country to adopt the Euro as its official currency. Lithuania will do so in 2015. Following England’s example and that of Denmark and Sweden in not joining the euro zone, the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary have had second thoughts postponing “euro zone membership until near the end of the decade in the face of low public support” according to a New York Times report. Romania and Croatia, already EU members, have been unable to meet the necessary fiscal criteria and may join the euro by 2020, if ever, circumstances permitting.

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An edited, illustrated version of this article was published as “A Royal Funeral 1934” in Britić, The British Serb Magazine, Thursday, March 28, 2014 which includes the full account of the Funeral of Alexander I excerpted from Bill Crawford’s Log [1999] by Vice Admiral Sir William Crawford, KCB.

I was visiting with my brother a retired diplomat [Neboysha R. Brashich, Minister-Counselor, United States Agency for International Development, U. S. Department of State] when the talk veered to our family’s fleeting ties to the Yugoslav Royal Family. Our ancestor Hajkuk Veljko Petrovic fought for independence alongside the first Karadjorge. Our grandfather was decorated posthumously with the Star of Karadjeorge by King Peter I for his defense of Belgrade as was our grand uncle General Ilija Brashich. Our father was an advisor to King Peter II who was godfather to my two older daughters while Prince Andrej did likewise for my youngest. King Peter served as best man [Stari Kum] at both of our weddings. The two of us had attended New York City’s Trinity School with his son Prince Alexander.

There was yet another strangely coincidental connection. Prunella, my sister in law, is the daughter of Vice Admiral Sir William Crawford, Knight Commander, Order of the Bath who, in October, 1934, was serving on the HMS Queen Elizabeth, the dreadnought battleship and Flagship of England’s Mediterranean Fleet then cruising the Adriatic and docking at Dubrovnik’s port of Gruz. 

He and a complement of sailors were detailed to represent His Majesty’s Government at the funeral of King Alexander I of Yugoslavia on October 18, 1934. The following is his account of the event from an English point of view as written in his privately published memoir "Bill Crawford’s Log" [1999].

An edited, illustrated version of this article was published as “A Royal Funeral 1934” in Britić, The British Serb Magazine, Thursday, March 28, 2014 which includes the full account of the Funeral of Alexander I excerpted from Bill Crawford’s Log [1999] by Vice Admiral Sir William Crawford, KCB.






Presidents Putin and Obama are blood brothers joined at the hip with a like disregard of international law when it suits their country’s interest and their individual agenda; but that has been true for Russian and American leaders since at least the Second World War. The only difference is a matter of perspective

Franklin Delano Roosevelt had an evil twin in Joseph Stalin, but he was just as willing as Stalin to flaunt international law. He and Stalin callously carved up Europe into two spheres of influence at the Yalta Conference in 1945 without as much as a “how do you do” to the countries that would be subjugated by Communism for decades. Ironically the conference was held in the now contested Autonomous Republic of Crimea which Vladimir Putin has just graciously annexed to the Russian Federation.

Roosevelt had no qualms in bombing civilian population centers of no military significance such as Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki or of detaining United States citizens of Japanese origin. Stalin’s crimes were so many and so notorious that they do not need listing.     

Harry Truman inherited Stalin and acquiesced to Russia’s control of the Baltic States, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania and Yugoslavia at the Potsdam Conference. His “police action” in Korea was nothing more than an undeclared war in contravention of The Hague and Geneva Conventions.

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“You just don’t invade another country on phony pretext in order to assert your interests” Secretary of State John Kerry speaking on “Meet The Press”, March 2, 2014

Only two nation building models are currently in play. The first, invented by the United States is where disparate geographical regions with divergent interests peacefully band together to advance the common good. The same result can be also achieved by brute force. The second is where equally disparate regions once joined in a common nation state secede and separate; again either peacefully or by force of arms and civil war.

In either case nation building is constrained by physical reality and factors that are seldom in dispute. The resulting nation states must address the ethnic and religious makeup of their populations and the geographic and economic realities of their location in order to exist and remain viable.

Garibaldi, Mazzini and Cavour fought for the unification of Italy irredenta grafting mismatched areas such as Sicily and Sardinia onto an otherwise homogeneous body politic, nation building by force of arms. Prince von Metternich’s dream of German unification came into being with the Princes of the various German states proclaiming Wilhelm of Prussia the Emperor of the German Empire in Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors at the end of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871, nation building by peaceful means. The European Union initially established in 1993 is an ongoing and expanding experiment.  

In contrast twelve independent republics came into being on December 26, 1991 with a simple stroke of a pen, a signed declaration, without a shot being fired, dissolving the old USSR, followed closely by two more, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, the result of Czechoslovakia’s peaceful “Velvet Divorce” in 1993. Not so for the newly independent republics of ex-Yugoslavia: Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia et al. They were created by a bloody ethnic civil war and a peace put in place by brute force.

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