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the Yugoslav Election
(Originally posted September 13, 2000, before the Yugoslav Presidential elections, this article has turned out undesirably accurate. However it perhaps underestimates the capacity for clarity of vision of ordinary Yugoslav people.)
In the article "Otpor, An American Tragedy" I said I do not believe Americans should meddle in the affairs of other countries. But, as I noted, the US government is already meddling in Yugoslavia. The purpose of Emperor's Clothes is to critically evaluate political developments, especially as these relate to the US Empire, and to ferret out the truth hidden amidst what we so often find to be media lies.
It is the unanimous opinion among those who write for Emperor's Clothes that the US government is heavily invested in the Yugoslav presidential election. That its involvement is a continuation of the ten year campaign, by the US, to hobble Yugoslavia. We think ordinary people - in Yugoslavia, in the US, everywhere - can understand the most difficult political questions. Our goal is to help people understand things better. This Yugoslav election has important lessons for everyone in the world.
The Campaign of Vojislav Kostunica
People tend to cling to past impressions despite current realities, and they tend to see in events what they wish to see.
This is why many Serbs and people of Serbian descent support Vojislav Kostunica, who is currently running for President of Yugoslavia. They support him because they have respected "what he is" - his political character. We will talk about that in a moment, about what that statement means in practical terms.
There is another reason these Serbs and people who are now Serbs with a hyphen - Serbian-Americans, or Serbian-Australians, and so on - support Kostunica. It is that they hope against hope that perhaps, if only the Yugoslav people would "get rid of Milosevich" and elect someone US leaders can tolerate, the US government would be merciful.
But is this hope grounded in reality? That is a critical question. It is our opinion that this promise of mercy is a cruel illusion. More on that as we proceed.
Many people say they support Kostunica because "he is honest" or "untainted."
But in politics, it is crucial to look beyond impressions, especially in today's world. We must examine the real role different politicians play. This is especially important when someone like Kostunica, previously isolated, suddenly appears to be a major player in a country under attack.
Commenting favorably about Kostunica, a friend of ours wrote: "If Kostunica were to win [the Yugoslav elections] he would not owe this victory to anybody but himself and the voters."
But is that true?
The US government has given millions of dollars to the Serbian "democratic opposition." If we include Montenegrin leader Milo Djukanovic, the bribery figure must be near (or over) the $100,000,000 voted last year by the US Congress to support these "independent" elements..(Isn't it amazing that 'independence' is defined as taking money from a foreign government trying to shatter your country?)
$100,000,000 is a vast sum in Yugoslavia, .
The Western press pictures Kostunica as a "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington" kind of guy. In fact he is the candidate of a coalition that includes most of those who take $$millions from the US government. Whatever Kostunica may wish, he is dependent on these people and he can be cast aside in a a moment by his "alies."
Kostunica Picks (or is picked by) His Allies
On July 26, the leader of the Democratic Party, Zoran Djindjic, said:
Djindjic, notorious for being on the US payroll, was a key force in establishing Kostunica's candidacy. On August 2, 'Agence France Presse' reported that the two men attended a closed-door meeting in Montenegro. Together, Djindjic and Kostunica tried to convince Montenegro's pro-NATO government to support the "democratic opposition" candidate:
Concerning Albright's trip to Rome:
In other words, Albright offered to bribe Djukanovic to support Kostunica.
However, Djukanovic still held out, and Kostunica criticized him ('AP', 8-15) but finally, on September 11th, we read that Djukanovic came around. He has endorsed Kostunica. Did Albright finally meet his price?
Surely, one aspect of that price is for Djukanovic's party to get lots of plums in a Kostunica government. No aid is free.
Which brings us to the question: what does it mean for Kostunica to woo Djukanovic? Saying Kostunica "is just trying to win" avoids the issue. Because whatever Kostunica seems to be, whatever impression he has made IN THE PAST, he DEFINES HIMSEL:F in the present by what he does. And the key thing a politician does to define himself is: he appeals for support. By judging where he goes for support, by judging what it is those people want, you can discern where he stands, better than by his words.
Djukanovic's core base of support is pro-secessionist Albanians and pro-fascist ethnic Croatians. Within Yugoslavia, Kostunica has wooed and gained the support of pro-secessionists in the Sandjak region, in southern Serbia. And of course he is the official candidate of the US-dominated "democratic opposition." Whatever he used to be, this tells us what he ''is" now.
A few weeks ago, Kostunica attacked an ostentatious display of US interference in Yugoslavia's affairs. (More recently he actually praised Madeline Albright for restraining herself and not being so showy about who she supported!) Meanwhile, he woos Milo Djukanovic whose survival depends on US mercy - both because the US pours millions into Djukanovic's coffers and because the Italian police have the goods on his government for cigarette smuggling. If ever he should displease the US, he'd get the Noriega treatment.(1)
Kostunica Endorses G17 Principles
Meanwhile, Kostunica and his "democratic opposition" have signed onto a platform presented by the neoliberal Belgrade think tank, G17. The program is a nightmare. We will post key provisions with detailed comments on Emperor's clothes ASAP. We will also post an interview just finished with Prof. Michel Chossudovsky who knows a few things about G17. But meanwhile, here is a summary of the main features of this plan, endorsed by Kostunica and his coalition members. Frankly, the thing is so awful it's hard to know where to start.
!) It calls for the "option" of using the German mark as one of two forms of Yugoslav currency; the entry of foreign banks into Yugoslavia; the integration of the Yugoslav bank into the world banking system. These measures would strip the Yugoslav government of its ability to determine prices and wages, specifically wages of poor people, and would put Yugoslavia at the mercy of the NATO powers, particularly the US, which has vividly demonstrated in Kosovo what it would like to do to all of Serbia.
2) It calls for introducing the economic reforms which have devastated formerly socialist countries, e.g., Bulgaria. These measures do not constitute "going from socialism to capitalism." Yugoslavia is not a pure socialist economy by a long shot. It is a mixed economy. Introduction of extreme economic reforms will produce the same results as in Russia: the devastation of national industries, the impoverishment of millions. And of course, with increasing poverty , ethnic fighting.
3) It states that after a one year grace period for the poorest and most disadvantaged, complete free market principles would be imposed. The working people, including a million refugees whose conditions are already difficult, would entirely lose the social safety net. They would be buying food at European prices in an economy at a Third World level. They would be cast onto the 'playing fields of the world economy' - unprecedented in brutality - with predictable results. (We have seen it all in Bulgaria, Romania, Russia, Central America, etc. How many times does it have to happen?)
"Free markets" are not free when the market is dominated by super-rich financial giants from the US and Germany, etc. It's no level playing field. Sort of like putting a champion heavyweight boxer in the ring with a talented welterweight who, moreover, has been ill (from sanctions!) and then telling them: "Now compete fair and square, boys!"- "Compete freely!"
How would the auto workers in the bombed Kraujavac factory compete with automated factories in Detroit and Stuttgart after Kostunica's team imposes the G17 program of "integration into all regional political and economic activity, with an emphasis on free trade"?
These auto workers would soon be starving, just as factory workers now starve in Bulgaria.
4) It calls for the imposition of the International Monetary Fund, with its rat's nest of discredited economic remedies, which have ruined the lives of millions of people in Russia, Indonesia, South Korea - just for starters.
5) It doesn't mention the responsibility of the US and Europe for the billions of dollars of destruction and human suffering caused by last year's 78 day bombing. It disregards the criminal conduct of the US and NATO in Kosovo and Montenegro. The West is now training snipers in Montenegro to assassinate Yugoslav army officers - a fact admitted by the British paper, the "Independent." Yet the plan that Kostunica has endorsed talks of Montenegro, a Republic whose government is in multiple violation of the Yugoslav constitution (e.g., by refusing to take part in the common defense) as if it were the abused party and Serbia's government the abuser.
6) It advocates a new constitution which would legalize autonomy for Kosovo and Vojvodina and the federalization of Serbia, meaning the weakening of central government . Thus the picking-off of pieces of Serbia, e.g.,. the Sandjak region in the south, would be facilitated.
The US and Germany have been working all out to destroy Yugoslavia for ten years. This was made vividly clear in the interview with then US Ambassador to Yugoslavia Warren Zimmerman, given to a Croatian newspaper in the early days of 1992. (3)
But let us for the moment put aside this fact, that the US and Germany have launched a ten year attack on Yugoslavia. Forget that, and consider what Prof. Michel Chossudovsky has said about the effect of IMF-type measures, when imposed on any country. Remember, the plan is full of IMF-type measures - and it also endorses entering the IMF ecnomic orbit, adopting IMF "reforms" in order to get loans.
Chossudovsky points out that the imposition of these IMF/World Bank conditions on national states leads to their falling apart and sliding into ethnic warfare. Now, imagine how much worse this could be in Yugoslavia, where the West has been pushing ethnic group hostility for ten years. Clearly, the weakening of central power plus the economic nation-busting methods of the IMF (described by Chossudovsky below) plus the covert actions of the US and Germany and their agents, who riddle the coalition Kostunica represents and who would riddle his administration - all these would combine to produce a state of war which would bring horrendous suffering. This could happen quite apart from any wishes of Kostunica. He would be a weak force, easily cast aside, dependent for his political strength on a coalition riddled with people receiving US government cash, gangsters (the Montenegrin leadership and Djindjic) who also take US cash, and secessionists who would become far more aggressive when "their" side won the election.
Here's Chossudovsky on the splintering effects of IMF reforms:
What about 'Yugoslavia'? The program barely mentions the "Y" word.. It calls for "The prompt resolution of succession questions with ex-Yugoslav republics and, on that basis, the acquisition of necessary financial means that will make possible membership in the European Union."
What does this really mean? There has been an eight year long freeze on solving these questions.. The War Party says "you are a brand new country." The Yugoslavs say: "we are the successor state; the other five guys left."
What can "prompt resolution" possibly mean except the acceptance of US Ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrooke's conditions: agreement that Yugoslavia no longer exists, with the resulting loss of $20 billion in assets including embassies, the Yugoslav navy, the air force, a ship that is presently being held by the US, and so on.
Having a tiny party, Kostunica has to use his partners, the US-funded opposition, for the organization and personnel to conduct an election. Remember, Djindjic said "WE" have to run one candidate. Has Djindjic become a charity service? Is his attitude: "Let's all us guys help Kostunica and ask for nothing in return!" - ?
More likely: "Ask for everything in return!"
Zoran Djindjic and the other US-dominated forces would expect to get, and they would get, the dominant positions in a Kostunica government. That's how politics works.
Let's consider this matter of government staffing a bit more. Some see the smallness of Mr. Kostunica's party as a virtue. It's part of the "he's untainted" argument - he's got a tiny group because he never got his hands dirty, etc. Perhaps. But his smallness makes him unable to provide the forces needed to run Yugoslavia.
Mr. Kostunica is hardly a charismatic figure; he can't inspire mass participation on a grass roots level.. But the US-paid opposition with which he is allied, which co-signed with him the G17 program for giving away Yugoslavia, and who provide the manpower for his election campaign, has the numbers to provide government staffing. Moreover, their US paymasters want them to staff the government.
Kostunica would, if elected, be in a very weak position even if, and this is a heck of an 'if', he had the nerve to resist the US goals called for in the G17 program. And remember, he has endorsed that program. So why would he fight it?
And so the entire network of US-controlled NGO's (non-governmental organizations) fake-independent media, student organizations trained by the CIA (like Otpor) would of necessity provide the personnel for his administration. The US would then be in a position, for the first time, to infiltrate its "independent democratic forces" into high government positions. What a vindication for Clinton! (2)
And remember, this would take place in the context of a) the devastation caused by the G17 economic program, with its resulting ethnic strife and b) the "federalization" of the state. We would see the destruction of national coherence and the unleashing of even worse ethnic conflict than we have already seen. With results potentially genocidal in proportions. This is what the US elite wants in Yugoslavia. They want to prove to other countries, who may be inspired by the Yugoslav resistance, that such resistance leads to absolute misery and ethnic strife. To achieve that result the US government must install some of its paid operatives (who abound in Belgrade, in political parties, in NGOs and in "independent" media subsidized by Soros and owned by Western elite institutions) in the Yugoslav administration.
Some people say the US needs to keep Milosevich in power because they've demonized him. In fact, over the past two or three years the Milosevich government has become a major pain the neck for the US. It has not fallen for provocations. It handled Rambouillet brilliantly. It is a symbol of the possibility of resistance. It is infinitely better for the US elite to have their own direct agents in power. Then they can play both ends - creating ethnic provocations while destroying the economy and thus producing tension and fighting, thus allowing the constant intervention of NATO troops, hunting of Serb "war criminals", massacres of troublesome Serbs and other Yugoslav loyalists by the KLA (who would make their way all over Serbia soon after the ascension to power of US agents.) . Kostunica's pro-secessionist supporters in the Sandjak would be pushed further into bed with the KLA because the increasing US power within Yugoslavia would increase the prestige of US proxy force. NATO (perhaps including Croatian forces, since Croatia has now joined up as Junior NATO) could hunt down non-Serbian refugees (loyalist Muslims from Bosnia, loyalists Croats and loyalist Albanians and others from Kosovo) as war crimes suspects whose names would miraculously appear on a "secret list" whenever the US/NATO wished to remove them from the scene. (As happens in Bosnia). And so on. Dante's Hell.
All this is so much easier if the US government can get its already-paid people into power. Finally these guys would have to produce for their millions! Milo Djukanovic in Montenegro is relying on secessionist Albanians and pro-fascist Croatians for much of his political base. Why would it be any different if the "opposition" which is intimately tied to Djukanovic gets into power all over Yugoslavia? These are precisely the types of forces who would rise to the top under a government which had Kostunica as its initial fig leaf. Exactly as they rose to the top in Kosovo.
Some say: "All of Serbia's political leaders have discredited themselves in this past difficult decade -- except Kostunica. Unlike the others, Kostunica is considered patriotic, honest and serious."
There are two different statements here. On the second - yes, Kostunica is considered by many Serbs to be "patriotic honest and serious." But that doesn't mean his deeds have not IN PRACITCE tainted him. By running as the candidate of the US-funded "opposition" what has Kostunica done? He has lent his respected name to provide cover to people who would otherwise be totally discredited - and discredited for good reason. He has made the classic error of the isolated intellectual . Like Geothe's hero, Faust, he has signed a deal with the Devil (the US elite). Perhaps he fools himself that he is still independent. The Devil will collect all the same.
The Western media says that Zoran Djindjic and the other DOS leaders and Milo Djukanovic have a bad image. No! It's not an "image"! It's a bad FACT. They have taken millions of dollars from the US and are doing what US covert agencies tell them to do. That being the case, of course this united candidacy was planned in Washington.
Why hasnt Kostunica denounced his coalition allies for taking US dollars? When the US announced it was setting up an office in Budapest to aid the Yugoslav "opposition", Kostunica attacked the US for supposedly trying to discredit him and his allies by this ostentatious display of assistance. Huh? Was this the first time the US aided these guys? This was a pimple on a mountain of US aid. The US has given these guys a tenth of a billion dollars - a fortune in Yugoslavia. Was this money all given to discredit the opposition? In other words, does the US give people money because it wants them to lose (Kostunica's allies) and attack them mercilessly because it wants them to win (Milosevich)?
That is preposterous. The truth, as usual, is simple. The US has given money to the "opposition" figures because it needs to buy their loyalty. Absent the money and these guys would tell the US to get lost. And they have to give the money ostentatiously because they do not run Yugoslavia. So they need to set up organizations, hold meetings outside the country, and so on. It's hard to pump 100 million dollars into a small, poor country and do it in secret.
This lavish use of money is linked to what could be called a Jannisary strategy. The old Ottoman Empire used this strategy to control the Serbs. They would kidnap Serbian children, bring them to Turkey at a young age, raise him as Muslims, and then send him back as the elite Ottoman army.
It happens today, though of course the appearance is somewhat different. It is in essence what the US elite does with young people from all over the world, especially Yugoslavia. They are literally (or figuratively, by means of TV and movies) brought to the US and other Western capitals and dazzled with glamour and glitz, with superficiality made into a virtue - and then sent back to dumb old Yugoslavia. You can see these young Yugoslavs at elite US universitieis - aloof, super cool, ashamed of their country. Ashamed of dumb old Yugoslavia that has more richness of culture than all Western Europe and the US put together. Full of grubby farmers and outmoded economic notions etc. etc. In Belgrade these Janissaries flock to institutions such as "free" radio B292. I interviewed two staff members from B292. The interviews are posted on Emperor's Clothes. These young people have the attitude of smug treason. Consider this exchange with Gordan Paunovic:
" Jared: [Are you getting any] money coming from foundations in the US?
"Paunovic: Probably, but I don't know which Foundations. I am pretty much pissed off in putting this kind of argumentation, like Soros equals B92. That really comes from people who are not in a position to see what we are doing. We will take money from anyone. To make a good production on many levels, from radio, to TV and video productions to Internet, Books, music. You need money."
Elsewhere he says:
" Paunovic: And another thing I don't like the way we are - Like Robin Cook and Jamie Shea they made a huge damage to our image when Robin Cooke said in a Press Conference which was directly broadcast on CNN "You know we helped B92 to get satellite access" and things like that."
But then he and the news editor, whom I also interviewed, admitted it was true. It was true they were getting time on the BBC satellite - the BBC, which supported the bombing of Yugoslavia. But Gordan scorns those who think there's anything shameful about this. After all, one needs money to do glamorous things.
This Janissary mentality, contemptuous of the ordinary people of Yugoslavia, must be supplied with money. Absent money and it fails. The new global culture is just money and a paint job.
And because they loathe the backward (i.e. truly cultured) soul of their country they are useful tools. Hooked on the most superficial aspects of Western life, in their hearts they can justify anything. No price is too high for other people to pay for "modernizing" (i.e. subjugating) their country.
The plain fact is, the base of the three parties in power - the JUL, the Socialist Party and the Radical party - are the people most strongly opposed to the US attempt to destroy the Serbian people as a political force. There's just no way around that fact. Some people picture this elections as left vs. right. I think that's mistaken. The JUL is left and the Radical Party is right. They are both for defending Yugoslav sovereignty! That is the basis of their unity, despite many differences. The other side has no real politics except the dollar - all is up for purchase. They can be liberal, they can be conservative, they can be socialist - who cares? It's all image, created with smoke and mirrors. "All is money; all is garbage."
The issue here is not Mr. Kostunica vs. Mr. Milosevich. It is rather, which political forces can defend Yugoslav sovereignty? Milosevich's allies and base, including for example the splendid negotiating team at Rambouillet, is, in fact, the core of resistance to NATO. These are the people that have made astounding progress rebuilding Serbia after the 78 day bombing campaign. Diaspora Serbs who have recently visited their country are amazed at the extent of reconstruction. IF these forces were to lose power, for it is they, not one man, Milosevich, who are in power, if they were to be replaced with the Jannisary-mentality, US-purchased "democratic opposition" for which Mr. Kostunica has tragically provided a veneer, disaster could follow.
Because the US is not simply trying to destroy Milosevich. It wishes to remove from the scene, once and for all, the soul of Serbian resistance. In order to remove this militant core, USA covert agents need to get their hands on governmental positions in Serbia. Then they can manipulate events far more effectively than from outside. They can stage convincing provocations. They can stage political theater, controlling the troublemakers AND the police! 'Events' can easily be created to overcome the current resistance of European public opinion to bombing Yugoslavia or the stationing NATO forces not only in Kosovo, but in the rest of Serbia as well. (This process would be aided by the G17 program, which demands the cutting of Yugoslavia's relatively small military budget. In any event, the military would be hobbled by the deteriorating economic situation and the demand, made in Kostunica's program, for a balanced budget - a demand that is absurd in the context of Yugoslavia's economy. )
With US-dominated forces in the Yugoslav administration, a weakened and confused army under command of quislings, massive infiltration of the country by KLA elements, the possible stationing of Croatian government troops (as part of Croatia's new role as part of Junior NATO) - all this would enable internal strife and great suffering.
And it would discourage us all, it would discourage the hundreds of millions (or perhaps several billion) people, throughout the world, for whom little Yugoslavia has provided the example, the evidence that we need not let the new US-German Empire of Greed crush our own cultures and our sovereignty.