How to Take
Down a Government, Part
The present series has documented a clear and coordinated campaign by Western, and mainly American, interventionists to influence Macedonia's September 15th elections. As we have seen, this campaign has been executed through political pressure, economic coercion, media propaganda, and especially through the publications of Edward Joseph and the ICG.
From this evidence, it seems clear that the US is looking to depose Prime Minister Ljupco Georgievski and his allegedly nationalistic party, VMRO-DPMNE, and replace them with a coalition of the Socialist SDSM and former Albanian warlord Ali Ahmeti. The operative motive seems to be the perceived pliability of the opposition. SDSM and Ahmeti have been far more ameliatory to the US and its goals, specifically in terms of implementing the Framework Agreement. The obstinate VMRO, on the other hand, has long been perceived by the internationals as a prickly pear.
Briefly, we should incorporate the recent developments that may affect the proceedings, and make some predictions.
I am well aware that the ruling party is making full use of the present reports, by translating them in the local media (Antiwar.com's reprint policy, alas, does not extend to "rogue states" like Macedonia). Yet my intention was not to support their side, nor was it to disparage the opposition. As an American citizen, I am not concerned with the machinations of the parties here. I am merely concerned with the interventionist effect that my people have on foreign countries, like Macedonia. My articles appear to support the ruling party, therefore, in direct proportion to how the interventionists appear to be supporting the opposition. It is none of my business to tell the Macedonians how to vote. Neither is it the business of interventionist figures and institutions.
In my opinion, one of the reasons why SDSM is being wooed is that they are simply smoother than VMRO. They have better PR, their leaders do not make conflagratory statements, and they are in general a slicker bunch. Since this is how business is done in the West, it comes as no surprise that the interventionists would support the party that knows how to "play ball."
VMRO, on the other hand, has chronically failed in its public relations efforts. Under its administration, the government has killed its credibility through sensationalism, factual misrepresentation, and a reliance on quite see-through rhetoric. Its most serious failure was in not enlisting a PR company- though one American firm did make a substantial offer- during last year's war. Many Macedonians agree with what I have argued repeatedly: the war was lost largely because of a lack of public relations and the Western media's negative depiction of Macedonians.
In its desire to win through all means possible, it appears that VMRO has latched on to a rather unfortunate mouthpiece- Manifest, the new publication of Lyndon LaRouche in Macedonia. Although it would be an exaggeration to say that Manifest has taken Skopje by storm, a recent attack on George Soros actually prompted the NGO's to host a comic photo op yesterday in a local café: it was called "Meet the 5th column."
Now, it's a free country and all, and LaRouche has every right to disseminate his views. But by promoting the views of a thinker who has utterly no credibility in the West, VMRO not only endangers itself- it also insults the intelligence of its citizens. The relationship is especially harmful because the LaRouchies often criticize the same things as we do (NGO tyranny, Western intervention etc.), but for much different and more speculative reasons, ones which are ultimately supported by a rather solipsistic and untenable base of presuppositions. By pushing such a perspective, VMRO proceeds at its own peril.
Ahmeti's Future and the Albanian Parties
There are many who believe that Ali Ahmeti will benefit from his populist support base and win several parliamentary seats for his party. There are also many who believe that he will not live to see the party's victory.
"Ali Ahmeti is living on borrowed time," states one Western observer in Skopje. "If he becomes a threat to Xhaferi, he will be taken out."
The truth of the matter is that Ahmeti is not a seasoned politician, and he is actively challenging the established, well-connected veterans of the Albanian political scene. Short of starting a war against the DPA, he has little chance of success- unless he is backed by the US.
The Americans, however, are wary. Nobody likes a loser, and the US is waiting to see what will happen. If Ahmeti loses his current prestige, the US could easily dump its young protégé- who does, after all, remain on the terrorist blacklist. Otherwise, the US could just wait for independent measures to take effect. In an ominous development, a mysterious bomb exploded near Ahmeti's headquarters yesterday.
As for the DPA, the party has lately been posing as "radicals," in order to show that they are "more Albanian" than Ahmeti. The wholesale defection to DPA of many of Ahmeti's commanders, including the notorious Leka, shows that this campaign has been working. The recent drive-by murder of two Macedonian policemen in Gostivar may well be part of this campaign. Western critics of VMRO have long stated the party's potential for election violence. Yet they have ignored a perhaps greater danger of violence from the DPA. In fact, the West has been curiously silent about DPA extremism. At a NATO press conference in July, the question was raised about a recent comment from Menduh Thaci. Apparently, the DPA vice-president said something to the effect of "who needs the elections? Just give us the Greater Albania now!"
Hearing of this, EU Spokesperson Irina Guzelova expressed surprise, and feigned ignorance of the comment. Guzelova then said, "inevitably, as the elections near, knives will be brought out, and sharpened… but we can't imagine that DPA would not want to participate in the democratic process."
The West's see-no-evil, hear-no-evil policy towards Albanian aggression is confusing. Do the interventionists simply believe that it can be best managed if ignored? Are they afraid of the consequences of cracking down? Or do they have some other use for such intransigence?
As with everything else here, it simply remains to be seen.
Edward Joseph: A Double Agent?
Conspiracy theories die hard in Macedonia. The best one I have heard comes from a seasoned local journalist. Since it runs in direct contravention of the evidence, it is quite interesting to mention- even just to play the part of devil's advocate. The argument goes like this:
"I believe that the US and Edward Joseph are really supporting VMRO. Why? Look at the last few years. Although he has made public protests and spouted anti-Western rhetoric, Georgievski has always in the end done what the West wanted. He gave up the Ukrainian helicopters, he signed the Ohrid Agreement, changed the constitution, and basically conceded to every demand. They allow him to lash out against the West so that he can score points with voters, but in the end he is on their side."
This theory brings up the amusing- and quite unbelievable- thought that Edward Joseph made the most noble sacrifice in his ICG report: that is to say, he sacrificed every shred of respectability by issuing an insipid analysis, laced with errors and obviously biased, in order to cause an upsurge of anti-Western feeling that would directly benefit Georgievski. But unless Joseph is one superb actor, and utterly selfless, this theory cannot be supported: it contravenes every shred of documented evidence. Not being privy to intelligence documents or the machinations of high-level officials, I cannot agree with this theory- though the idea of Edward Joseph secretly being a double agent is perhaps even more entertaining than Austin Powers III.
Reaping the Fruits of Victory: Potential Rewards Under the New Government
Abandoning such an idea, it seems that Edward Joseph and Co. are indeed ready to benefit from their support of the potential new government. If SDSM wins, all of the key ministers and many of the state officials will be changed. This will mean that many of Joseph's new-found allies and source witnesses will be returned to the positions of power they lost four years ago. This is similar to what happens after every election in the US- the only difference being that there is no Macedonian agent of unrest in Washington preparing to reap the fruits of his efforts.
Will Joseph stay or not? This is the burning question in Skopje. At his 14 August press conference, he stated that he would remain in Macedonia at least until the end of the year, when his contract expires. He could renew it after that, and sources close to Joseph indicate that (as of August 14th, at least) he planned to do so. Whether or not he will stay now is an open question. Should SDSM somehow lose, and Ali Ahmeti be assassinated, Joseph will be left with no supporters in the country, either Macedonian or Western. It is hard to imagine him remaining under such conditions.
As for his local associates, we have already mentioned the high stakes involved. All of the SDSM-affiliated individuals (like Forum's Saso Ordanovski) stand to gain or regain authoritative positions. But as we have said, an SDSM loss could have unhappy results- perhaps even the closure of A1, Macedonia's most popular (and anti-VMRO) television station.
It remains to be seen how things will pan out. Suffice it to say that a lot of people have much riding on these elections- in terms of careers, special perks, favors and, of course, the chance to enjoy new forms of corruption.
It seems that September 15th will see just another election in Macedonia, one riven by the same hatreds, operating along the same principles, and marred by the same external intervention as always. While there will undoubtedly be a winner and a loser, the big loser will be the Macedonians themselves. By trying to manipulate foreign intervention against their enemies, they are in fact being manipulated by more powerful forces than their own. In the past few years, Macedonia has given up almost entirely to colonization: the investment colonization of the Greeks, the financial colonization of the IMF and World Bank; the intellectual colonization of the liberal West, the military colonization of NATO and, most importantly, the ongoing territorial colonization of the Albanians.
This situation reminds me very much of Byzantium in the 14th century. At a time when the empire was relegated basically to the environs of Constantinople and a few rocky outposts, at a time when the Ottoman Turks were gazing hungrily upon their desired prize, at a time when both economy and sea travel depended almost entirely on the whims of the colonizing Venetians, the fractious Byzantines succumbed to a destructive 50 year civil war and a needless schism within their own church. By the time they realized the need for unity, it was too late: in 1453, Byzantium was soon destroyed by the expansionist Turks.
To be sure, there are many differences between the two situations. Yet the underlying point remains: as with Byzantium, Macedonia is in mortal danger, but disunited. Its citizens continue to find ways of inciting inter-Macedonian hatreds and disunity, continue to seduce destructive interventionist powers, even as predatory forces crouch, poised for the kill. Now, 550 years after the fall of Constantinople, will the recalcitrant Macedonians invite the same disastrous fate?
Previous articles by Christopher Deliso on Antiwar.com
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