The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 (Clark, Christopher) - Your Highlight on page 26 | location 732-759 | Added on Saturday, 3 May 2014 14:31:16 Garašanin articulated this imperative in 1848 during the uprising in the Vojvodina. ‘The Vojvodina Serbs,’ he wrote, ‘expect from all Serbdom a helping hand, so they can triumph over their traditional enemy. […] But because of political factors, we cannot aid them publicly. It only remains for us to aid them in secret.’55 This preference for covert operations can also be observed in Macedonia. Following an abortive Macedonian insurrection against the Turks in August 1903, the new Karadjordjević regime began to operate an active policy in the region. Committees were established to promote Serb guerrilla activity in Macedonia, and there were meetings in Belgrade to recruit and supply bands of fighters. Confronted by the Ottoman minister in Belgrade, the Serbian foreign minister Kaljević denied any involvement by the government and protested that the meetings were in any case not illegal, since they had been convened ‘not for the raising of bands, but merely for collecting funds and expressing sympathy for co-religionists beyond the border’.56 The regicides were deeply involved in this cross-border activity. The conspirator officers and their fellow travellers within the army convened an informal national committee in Belgrade, coordinated the campaign and commanded many of the volunteer units. These were not, strictly speaking, units of the Serbian army proper, but the fact that volunteer officers were immediately granted leave by the army suggested a generous measure of official backing.57 Militia activity steadily expanded in scope, and there were numerous violent skirmishes between Serb četniks (guerrillas) and bands of Bulgarian volunteers. In February 1907, the British government requested that Belgrade put a stop to this activity, which appeared likely to trigger a war between Serbia and Bulgaria. Once again, Belgrade disclaimed responsibility, denying that it was funding četnik activity and declaring that it ‘could not prevent [its people] from defending themselves against foreign bands’. But the plausibility of this posture was undermined by the government’s continuing support for the struggle – in November 1906, the Skupština had already voted 300,000 dinars for aid to Serbs suffering in Old Serbia and Macedonia, and this was followed by a ‘secret credit’ for ‘extraordinary expenses and the defence of national interests’.58 Irredentism of this kind was fraught with risk. It was easy to send guerrilla chiefs into the field, but difficult to control them once they were there. By the winter of 1907, it was clear that a number of the četnik bands were operating in Macedonia independently of any supervision; only with some difficulty did an emissary from Belgrade succeed in re-imposing control. The ‘Macedonian imbroglio’ thus delivered an equivocal lesson, with fateful implications for the events of 1914. On the one hand, the devolution of command functions to activist cells dominated by members of the conspirator network carried the danger that control over Serb national policy might pass from the political centre to irresponsible elements on the periphery. On the other hand, the diplomacy of 1906–7 demonstrated that the fuzzy, informal relationship between the Serbian government and the networks entrusted with delivering irredentist policy could be exploited to deflect political responsibility from Belgrade and maximize the government’s room for manoeuvre. The Belgrade political elite became accustomed to a kind of doublethink founded on the intermittent pretence that the foreign policy of official Serbia and the work of national liberation beyond the frontiers of the state were separate phenomena.