October 2, 2000
How We Help Slobo
Clinton, Vladimir Putin and Slobodan Milosovic are in a plane on
their way to the Hague. Over Bavaria the plane runs out of fuel,
and they find to their horror that their is only one parachute.
don't we vote for this?" says the ever-democratic Milosovic.
they cast their ballots and Milosovic wins. He puts on the parachute
and jumps out to safety.
I don't get" Putin says to Clinton "is how he got 2000 votes"
my joke - but one heard on a news programme on BBC Radio 4)
ON A WIN
AND A PRAYER
were fixed Ė and the
opposition won. The looking glass world of Balkan politics never
ceases to amaze. The announcement that the main candidate of the
Serbian opposition won (on the "official"
count of the election commission) 48% of the vote is obviously
a fudge. If Slobodan
Milosovic fixed it so blatantly that he claimed victory then
parts of the country would be in open revolt and the loyalty
of a substantial part of the army
would be in doubt. Conceding that he lost would not be playing to
Milosivicís character. The characteristics of a man who has got
his back away from the wall more times than Robin Cook had his mouth
to the pill bottle thinks that he may be able to pull off a last
escape. And with the help of our leaders, especially the British
leaders, he just might.
course our own hard
drinkiní, pill poppiní, power nappiní foreign secretary, Robin
Cook, could step in as Milosovicís campaign manager. He seems to
be snatching Sloboís victory from the terrible jaws of defeat. At
to the temple to vacuity, the
Labour Party Conference he was in full throttle, warning that
Milosovic had to go. Now imagine that you are a Serb listening to
reports of that speech (and believe me speeches like this are
being reported on Serbian media). "Oh Robadan Cookvic, heís
a good guy, he bombed the hospital and roads and his sanctions put
me out of a job, Iíll vote the way he tells me to. After all foreigners
in their air conditioned limos know what we Serbs have gone through,
we have to listen to them." Itís not going to happen like this,
is it? And are even Robin Cook and the Blair government this monumentally
stupid to think this? Have they paid no attention to the election,
has campaigned against NATO rather than on his record? I canít
believe that our Foreign Office
is so blind that they can not see that this would confirm Milosovicís
rhetoric. So why was the Foreign Secretary not warned, or was he
warned and thought that he'd help his fellow
Socialist by being remarkably "on-message"?
of the shallowest dimensions of the present internationalist mindset
is the way in which they
demonise their opponents. Now I know that we live in a mass
democracy and a short attention span media, but when your enemies
are portrayed as a cross between Adolph Hitler and a cartoon baddy,
what happens when the bad guy goes? An embarrassed shuffling of
feet and clearing of throats. When Joerg
Haider, whoís Austrian and has a name that sounds like Hitler,
threw out the Social Democratís corrupt rule he was derided as a
fascist. So he
quietly retired to Carinthia, where he was governor, and left
his party firmly in government. So the European Union roared and
roared andÖ did
nothing. There was no one to rail against; it was all rather
embarrassing. They were faced with a country with a government of
two centre right parties, neither of which had were anything but
democratic. Now what happens when NATO finds another person in the
Serbian presidency, will the Serbs be as easy to beat up?
what are the opposition in Serbia playing at? Theyíre
about to win an election unless it is blatantly stolen,
so blatantly that a rising would be almost inevitable. So why are
they trying to shortcut this process? The rebellion should come
after the election is stolen as (1) you will be seen as being in
the right and (2) they may in a fit of carelessness let you win
which means less people get killed that way. By
refusing to go in a run off you are at the least throwing away
a chance to throw out a tyrant, at the worst setting the scene for
a fratricidal civil war and foreign invasion. What is two weeks
when you have been living under various forms of tyranny since 1941?
Hopefully the opposition will play the game, even if it is by crooked
rules. Only threaten to take the ball off the pitch when the result
is fixed Ė the overweight lady hasnít launched into her aria yet.
over here I have been getting most of my non-internet news of the
Serbian crisis from the state owned British
Broadcasting Service. This means that certain facts have been
deliciously mis-packaged. Letís take the reporting that the opposition
won an outright majority. Now before I get incredulous e-mails,
let me say that I do think that they did. However, the BBC, and
most of the media will not report the fact that both polls,
the government and the unofficial poll, are highly partisan. Yes
thatís right the poll
count cited as authoritative is based on reports from opposition
activists, compiled in Hungary and paid
for by the Americans. Now this doesnít make it wrong, but it
doesn't make it disinterested. The fact that most voters are adult
enough to work out that the state election commissionís poll is
more suspect than even an American funded poll is overlooked, just
donít even mention that the other side is biased. I don't think
that the poll's wrong (at least the idea that more than 50% voted
for Kostunica) - itís just that even where the facts are on their
side the state owned Western media has to exaggerate Ė or skip research.
INTO THEIR HANDS
to bring down Milosovic with civil disobedience is an inordinately
risky procedure. It is also puzzling. To fight the second round
is not to say that the first count was legitimate, it can be done
while saying that the first round was rigged. In fact, to call the
other side ballot stuffers is usually an effective electoral ploy.
Going on the streets has consistently failed
to get rid of Milosovic. Moreover, even if it did get rid of
him, who would take over? In a vote, it would be obvious; it would
be the other man on the ballot, Kostunica.
In a coup (no matter how strong the popular support), it would be
those with the guns and troops in strategic places. The West's encouragement
of the boycott is probably not down to a desire to keep in Milosovic,
but it may be down to a desire to rid themselves of Kostunica.
If nothing else then an election win for Kostunica, no matter how
heavily funded by the West, would Serbia a democratic credibility
that would not be shared by the KLA,
government or even Montenegro's
current crop of gangsters. Despite reporting
in the media, it is still not
certain that Kostunica will let Slobo win the second ballot by default.
So, if any of his supporters are reading this, please tell him to
stay the course, and win on the second ballot.