the vultures are circling: the Brits are beefing up their
forces in Kosovo, an American warship is on its way to the
Adriatic and the United States government has already
announced that Milosevic will "win" by means of fraud: the
AP story headline read "US
Predicts Milosevic Win." How they know this, in advance,
is hard to say: perhaps the CIA is employing its Psychic Division,
otherwise known as the Jeanne Dixon Brigade.
DRUGS, AND ROCK-&-ROLL
any case, the campaign ended officially today, with climactic
speeches by the two principal contenders. The most puzzling
feature of this election campaign has been the unwillingness
of Milosevic and his Socialist-Left (SPS-JUL) coalition to
really take on Kostunica: instead, they have chosen to campaign
against NATO. Unfortunately for them, Madeleine Albright is
not the opposition candidate although, listening to
Milosevic's speeches, it seems that he believes her name will
appear on the ballot. Kostunica is never mentioned
by name. We hear references to "the opposition," "the traitors,"
the "hyenas" but never does the name Kostunica pass
Slobo's lips. The delusional aspect of the SPS-JUL propaganda
inundating the airwaves, and screaming in headlines splashed
across the front pages of the official state-run press, was
distilled in Milosevic's final Belgrade speech to about 15,000
peasants and party activists bussed in from rural areas. The
feverish rhetoric sounded like the final screams of a drowning
man, desperate to grasp at anything even a delusion
as he stares in horror at the face of death. The program
of the opposition, he declared, is to "spread terrorism and
crime" and "to destroy families through religious sects, spy
groups and drug lords." Where have we heard this kind of thing
before? Slobo sounds like nothing so much as some American
right-wing politician inveighing against Commie spy rings,
moral subversion, and the evil Colombian drug lords, and all
in the name of "family values." The Yugoslav strongman then
went on to denounce the opposition for "abusing children and
youth through sects and other intelligence organizations,
terrorist groups and the narco-mafia." So that's what
happened to Spiro
Agnew he moved to Yugoslavia!
DOWN AND PERSONAL
contrast with the Kostunica campaign could not be starker.
The candidate of the Democratic Opposition has always taken
aim directly at Milosevic, as in this earlier [September 20,
are given a great opportunity and a great chance to begin
a different life in a different state after September 24.
But first let's see what kind of state we live in today. Woe
is the state and wretched the life we lead in it.
is the state whose freedom depends on one single man. Woe
is the state whose welfare depends on one single man. Woe
is the state whose defense depends on one single man. Woe
is the state that is a hostage to one single man.
it must be terrifying, and burdensome, to be that man. I would
certainly fall short of such an onerous task, I must confess.
Such an enormous responsibility would no doubt scare me. I
would have to step down.
Milosevic does not want to step down. He experiences himself
as a King who is the Sun. The King who used to say: apres
moi le deluge. And who nearly flooded the state."
Belgrade over 100,000 gathered in a high pitch of excitement
to hear their candidate give voice to the hope in every Serbian
heart: that Serbia will some day be "a normal European democratic
country," where "the government is not afraid of the people
and the people are not afraid of their government." Serbia,
he declared, is "being held hostage by one man" but
he knows that this is neither the beginning nor the end of
the country's troubles. In an earlier television appearance,
and in his Belgrade speech, Kostunica denounced "NATO's criminal
bombing of Yugoslavia," which practically detonated "the international
legal order." As for the "war crimes" tribunal at The Hague,
this, he declared, "is an American tribunal not a court,
but a political instrument." The demand that a Serbia freed
of Milosevic must hand him over puts the country in an impossible
position and gives Slobo "no way out except to make
the whole country his hostage."
ROLE OF THE US
this kind of independent stance, it is crystal-clear why Washington
would not mind at all if Milosevic declared a victory on the
first ballot and called the army out onto the streets. As
Nebojsa Malic eloquently pointed out in yesterday's
Vojislav Kostunica wins the September 24 elections, whether
in the first or the second round, the United States will lose
an enemy and gain precisely nothing: no surrender of Serbia,
no secession of Montenegro, no NATO domination of the Balkans,
no co-option of Yugoslavia in the "Stability Pact," no independence
of Kosovo, no economic expansion into Serbiašs devastated
economy (all those carefully aimed bombs for nothing!).
No victory in the Balkans.
is why the US media keeps barking about Kostunicašs "nationalism"
and other supposed inadequacies. And when they run out of
accusations which happens soon, because of Kostunicašs nature
they start spinning tales about how Milosevic will "surely"
steal the elections, that with such certainty one would think
those crystal balls may really be worth something. After all,
how do they know this for sure? And they really sound like
PRAISE OF CALM
they do know. In any case, such a prediction could
easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy. From this vantage
point it looks like the two sides are both getting
ready to declare victory, with each side holding its own poll
and tallying separate counts. If, however, the election goes
to a second round that is, if Milosevic is willing
to concede even that much or if Kostunica wins outright,
you will hear the sound of the gnashing of teeth not only
in Belgrade, but also in Washington, London, Paris, and Berlin.
Serbia will be saved, once again, as if by divine intervention:
rising from the ashes of defeat, as before, like the legendary
phoenix. It is a hope, at any rate, a vision of a normal life:
as Kostunica put it in his stump speech, "We need a kind of
life in which excitements would be confined primarily to the
personal plane let the public, political life be monotonous,
even boring if you like." The Serbian people have had enough
excitement for the past half century who can deny
it? "I am absolutely sure that we have tired of all those
stormy and tempestuous events. What we need is the New-Testament
'peace amongst ourselves.' We need calm."
AMERICAN FAN CLUB
can argue with that? All the ranting lecturers of the ultra-left
you'll notice we've been giving them a forum, here
on Antiwar.com declare that Kostunica is a fifth columnist,
an agent of the NATO-crats, his pockets veritably bulging
with bribes. Yet all he really wants is calm, and the right
to a life but this is tantamount to treason, according
to the American contingent of the Slobodan Milosevic Fan Club.
In a long and largely incoherent statement
signed by Jared Israel, Max Sinclair, Professor Peter Maher,
Karen Talbot, Professor Michel Chossudovsky, and. Niko Varkevisser,
posted here yesterday, the Slobodan Milosevic Fan Club is
every bit as rabid as their hero. If Kostunica wins, they
aver, the "traitors" will
the people. KLA terrorists would infiltrate all over the country.
NATO would try to disarm the people while fascists destroyed
Serbian culture. People would be expelled with nowhere to
go. Prices would shoot sky high. Industries would be seized.
Secret lists of phony "war crimes" suspects would be used
to arrest or shoot any leader who resisted. It would be open
season on Serbs and other Yugoslav loyalists. Of course, the
Yugoslavs would not take this like lambs. Such a government
would be driven from power by the ordinary people."
SEASON ON REASON
the KLA terrorists will get past the Yugoslavian Army is not
clear. Nor is it clear, in this hallucinatory scenario, whether
the authors are talking about the imposition of gun control
under a Kostunica administration ("disarming the people")
if so, I may have to reconsider my endorsement. Secret
lists? Oh, you mean like the lists of "subversives" maintained
by Milosevic's political police? Industries will indeed be
seized away from Milosevic's family and cronies, who
have monopolized and held the economy hostage as well as the
nation's political institutions. Let the Serbian people work
out the details of the privatization process, but as Diana
Johnstone pointed out, the Serbian parliament will have
to ratify all these changes, and that is not yet in the hands
of the opposition; these elections are primarily for federal
offices, including the presidency. There is, in any case,
nothing secret about the lists of "war criminals" maintained
by the NATO-crats, with Milosevic at the top: yet Kostunica
has always denied the legitimacy of the War Crimes
Tribunal, which he (and virtually all Serbs) consider a "political
instrument." As for the election of Kostunica signaling "open
season on Serbs" what universe are these people living
in? Here we get into the realm of loony-tunes and I
wonder why they left out the bit about the child-abusing religious
sects and the drug lords.
comic footnote to all this is that the New York Times
[September 20, 2000] mistook the statement of the above-mentioned
Slobodan Milosevic Fan Club (SFMC) for propaganda written
by Milosevic's own scribblers. Steve Erlanger, in a page
3 piece in Wednesday's Times, wrote: "Just today,
in the state-run newspaper Politika, a long article
used public information from the United States including
Congressional testimony and Web site material to show
that the United States is financing the opposition." He then
goes on to quote the above-cited letter by Slobo's American
fans as if it were the government of Yugoslavia speaking:
'nongovernmental' and 'democratic' are the standard phrases
the CIA uses to describe organizations established all over
the world to destroy the governments and the societies that
the US government wants to colonize and control."
TO BE A FAN
doubt the authors of this letter are proud to have been mistaken
for propagandists in the pay of the Yugoslavian government
Politika is the voice of Slobodan Milosevic
but certainly their argument (and their appeal) is
an exotic one. Now, let's see if I get this straight: unless
a group claims to be authoritarian, totalitarian, or otherwise
undemocratic, it is automatically suspect and without
a doubt in the pay of the CIA. To be nongovernmental
is, likewise, to tread very close to treason, in their eyes
and so only government organizations have legitimacy.
In this view, "independence" is impossible: it is either Milosevic
or NATO. But is it? The people of Yugoslavia don't seem to
think so, not from the polls and the huge crowds greeting
Kostunica everywhere: in numbers and enthusiasm, they dwarfed
the invitation-only rallies where Milosevic's partisans, bussed
in for the occasion, seemed to merely go through the motions.
curious aspect of the statement of these self-nominated "antiwar
leaders" is that they seem to utilize the inverse strategy
taken by Milosevic, who never mentions Kostunica: all they
talk about is Kostunica, and they never once mention Slobodan
Milosevic, except in extensive quotations. The alleged merits
of his regime are never discussed, only implied. On the other
hand, they are very specific about the opposition: because
some elements of the 18-party coalition have received money
and other aid from the West, this is the alleged "proof" that
Kostunica is a pawn of the West. Aside from being the classic
guilt-by-association technique, utilized by demagogues everywhere,
this childishly naïve view of events also shows no understanding
of history and especially not the history of Yugoslavia.
. . .
HISTORY LESSON IN ONE PARAGRAPH
there would be no Yugoslavia if not for the vital British
aid given to Tito in his war against the anti-Communist Chetniks.
It was Churchill's decision to stop supporting Mikhailovich
and the anti-Communist
resistance, and throw British support to Tito's partisans,
that made the Communist revolution in Yugoslavia possible.
It is a naive view that the signers of this bombastic letter
display because it is laughable to believe that US foreign
aid ever leads to its intended result. Most of the time, it
has consequences that are the exact opposite of what the policy
makers envisioned. In his final speech of the campaign, Kostunica
ended his speech with these words:
is the only state the Democratic Opposition of Serbia and
I can offer to you. The country not to be bordered by bloody
rivers, the one in which we would never be menials or servants
to anyone, be they foreign or domestic conquerors."
EXCEPTION, AND THE RULE
this case, if US foreign aid found its way into the coffers
of the Serbian opposition, which then led to the triumph of
Kostunica, then the US will soon come to regret it
and I can't imagine putting US tax dollars to a better use.
If, for once, US aid somehow fell into the right hands
however inadvertently, and with consequences unforeseen
then this is the exception that proves the rule. What is clear,
in the otherwise murky scene of Serbian politics, is that
Kostunica is absolutely incorruptible, a man committed to
defending Yugoslav sovereignty as well as the institutions
of liberal democracy. He is, in short, sure to chart an independent
course and, as others have pointed out, incur the wrath
of Washington. The election of Kostunica will not be the end
of the Serbian people's troubles it will mean only
that such an end is imaginable. They deserve at least that
much: the elementary right to hope.