the six, NED president Carl Gershman declared: "This
group offers an incredible breadth of experience in foreign
policy and American politics. We are incredibly fortunate
that such a group of distinguished citizens will be supporting
and helping to guide NED in its mission to promote democracy
around the world." We know the political creed of these
"distinguished citizens": They are all fanatically
devoted to the following propositions: That the United States
is the last stop on humanity’s historic journey. That the
United States has the right, even the duty, to do whatever
is necessary to persuade humanity of the truth of this insight.
That through their lucrative business connections they intend
to make a huge sum of money for themselves and their friends
by promoting a US-sponsored "pro-business" and
"pro-democracy" agenda. That whatever the United
States does, no matter how barbaric.
NED is one of the many institutions of the Cold War that
not only managed to survive the fall of the Soviet Union,
but also to grow in power and prestige. Americans are barely
aware of its existence or, if they are, the magic word "democracy"
in its name frees it from serious scrutiny. Founded in 1983,
the NED took over functions that were once the responsibility
of the CIA. During the early decades of the Cold War, the
CIA would intervene in the domestic affairs of other countries
with the objective of thwarting Communist influence. In
"democratic" European countries the CIA would
covertly promote center-left political parties, non-Communist
trade unions and even highbrow journals. In "non-democratic,"
usually non-European, countries CIA operations tended to
be a little nastier. Following the embarrassing revelations
about the CIA during the 1970s, a lot of its hitherto covert
operations now received open Congressional appropriations.
The NED thus became the successor organization to the CIA
covert operations arm once run by the likes of William Colby
and Frank Wisner.
the Cold War, the US government acquired some very bad habits.
One of them was an eagerness to interfere in the domestic
affairs of other countries. With supreme arrogance, the
NED decides to bankroll certain foreign politicians and
to undermine others. Politicians who pursue policies favored
by Washington will receive US largesse. Those who pursue
policies frowned on by Washington will find themselves the
object of a campaign of vilification, originating in Washington
and transmitted back via the well-oiled NED machine. It
is important that we remind ourselves that in the United
States any organization in receipt of money from a foreign
government must register as a foreign agent. It is illegal
for foreign governments to contribute to an American political
party. Evidently, different standards are expected of others.
The NED’s commitment to democracy is the same as that of
the US government. Elections are deemed "democratic"
when they result in the victory of people favored by Washington.
They are deemed "undemocratic" when they result
in the election of people out of favor in Washington. Before
the elections last September in Yugoslavia, the US Government
made it clear again and again that a victory by Milosevic
would only have come about through fraud. In other words,
irrespective of how anyone voted, Washington would only
accept one result as the "democratic will of the people."
extent of the NED involvement in pre-Kostunica Yugoslavia
was revealed in the 1998 testimony of Paul McCarthy before
the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. McCarthy,
a program officer at the NED, boasted that, among the many
recipients of NED moolah were "the newspapers Nasa
Borba, Vreme and Danas, an independent
TV station in eastern Serbia, TV Negotin, the prominent
news agency BETA, and the important Belgrade station, Radio
B-92." Naturally, such media are always described in
the NED literature as "independent."
of the organizations currently being bankrolled by the NED
is the Serbian "youth" organization Otpor. According
to the NED, it has been doing so since August 1999. Recently,
the NED and the International Republican Institute (IRI),
which is also funded by the NED, jointly sponsored a forum
for Otpor leaders. According to NED literature, Otpor’s
notorious "he is finished" posters "helped
to galvanize public opinion against Slobodan Milosevic.
Otpor’s enormous get-out-the-vote campaign made a critical
difference in helping Vojislav Kostunica defeat Milosevic
at the ballot box… Subsequently, Otpor’s activists played
a crucial role in the street demonstrations that followed
the elections and led to Milosevic’s ultimate downfall on
goes on to say that Otpor will continue to do "grassroots
political work as a watchdog that will exert pressure on
the new government to quickly implement democratic reforms
they view as crucial to Yugoslavia’s return to life as a
‘normal’ country." The NED does not specify what "grassroots"
work entails. However, it explains, "this extensive
grassroots network can work to fill the political vacuum
that was created when the Democratic Opposition of Serbia
defeated Milosevic, and was left with no serious political
rival. Without any ‘loyal opposition’ to pressure the new
regime, Otpor intends to keep important reform issues in
front of the public and Serbia’s new leaders to make sure
that democratic progress continues." Note the repeated
emphasis on "grassroots" activism along with the
vague nature of the organization’s goals. "Reform,"
"democratic progress," "normal country"
the NED invariably uses such vacuous trivia to disguise
its true agenda.
its second National Congress," the NED enthuses, "Otpor…outlined
six key areas of reform that the group will monitor, including
economic reform, judicial reform, reform of the state security
forces, creation of a truly independent media sector, reform
of the university and educational system and foreign policy."
Sounds like a tall order. Which direction Otpor wants to
push these institutions is not spelled out. However, it
comes as no surprise when we soon learn that "Otpor’s
first major campaign was a nationwide effort to pressure
the regime to arrest Slobodan Milosevic." Imagine!
So many things to reform! So little time to do it! Yet even
so Otpor’s first priority is also that of Washington.
continues the NED, "cited concrete examples of major
hurdles the new regime must overcome, including the need
for more than 800 experienced judges; the creation of a
police and security force not led and staffed by officers
loyal to Milosevic; the establishment of an official Truth
Commission to document the crimes of the Milosevic regime
and its cronies against Serbs and others; and the creation
of a graduate program to provide
training for a new generation of civil servants." Let
us examine this list item by item. How does Otpor know that
Serbia requires 800 as opposed to 500 or 2000 or
5 experienced judges? Moreover, "experienced
judges" cannot be manufactured out of thin air since
they are the products of, well, experience, which takes
years, if not decades, to acquire. What exactly is "experience,"
by the way? Presumably, the courts in Serbia have been adjudicating
disputes and punishing miscreants much like anywhere else.
Evidently, those are not the judges Otpor and the NED are
talking about. One must assume, therefore, that Otpor is
essentially calling on the United States to insist on the
appointment of its own judges.
is revealed by the remaining items on the agenda. The police
and security forces are to be purged of all elements "loyal
to Milosevic." What constitutes "loyalty"
is not spelled out. However, given that Milosevic had been
in power in Serbia for 13 years, Otpor and its US sponsors
evidently envisage a wholesale change of staff. Note that
the sole purpose of the "Truth Commission" will
be to "document the crimes of the Milosevic regime
and its cronies against Serbs and others." This is
clearly very different from the objective of the Truth Commission
of South Africa, which had sought to compile a record of
crimes committed by all sides. Moreover, in order to discover
the "truth" about the past, the Desmond Tutu’s
Commission had offered immunity from prosecution to anyone
who came forward and openly admitted to wrongdoing. Yet
with all the talk of creating spanking-new security services,
appointing 800 new judges, not to mention the arrest and
prosecution of Milosevic, the last thing Otpor and its US
controllers have in mind is the establishment of "truth."
The only crimes being talked about are either ones committed
by Milosevic of ones committed by Serbs against "others."
British Helsinki Human Rights
Group has a very different take on Otpor. Its recent
report about the December parliamentary elections in Serbia,
describes how Otpor’s "He’s finished" campaign
was "followed up with a similar poster campaign…consisting
of the slogan ‘Overi!’ or ‘Be sure’ ie that he is
finished off. The ‘Overi!’ slogans were printed in a rather
sinister way, in menacing black letters and sometimes with
Slobodan Milosevic’s face. It is a matter of considerable
concern that ‘Overi’ is Mafia slang for the three shots
which contract killers pump into an already dead body in
order to be sure that the victim has, indeed, been finished
off. It hardly bodes well for Serbian democracy that such
vocabulary is associated with the new era." Indeed.
It is even more disturbing that US taxpayers should underwrite
such blatant threats of violence.
BHHRG report goes on: "Otpor also ran a poster campaign
with the equally sinister slogan, ‘We are watching you,’
an apparently direct reference to George Orwell’s 1984.
The motif of these posters is a bulldozer, a reminder of
the heroic vehicle that headed the ‘march on Belgrade’ from
Cacak on October 5; it also, no doubt, emphasizes the DOS’
attitude towards its opponents. The Socialists have alleged
that menacing leaflets of this nature have been sent to
the homes of Socialist Party activists. Finally, Otpor has
not hesitated to recruit underage persons for its purposes,
an action which is strictly incompatible with the duty of
political organizations not to exploit the young."
This then is what the NED is pleased to call "grassroots
political work." The task the Us Government has assigned
to Otpor is to act as the local bully scaring people into
not voting for the socialists or the nationalists.
remains interesting is why the US Government continues to
underwrite Otpor. The goals it outlines are also the goals
of the Djindjic regime. So why the duplication of beneficiaries?
Evidently, Washington does not trust the new regime in Belgrade.
Therefore, an alternative regime has to be manufactured
and kept on the sidelines. Should Belgrade once again fall
out of favor in Washington, there will be new leaders to
champion. Doubtless, the NED is already grooming the next
"Djindjic." "Yugoslavia," warns the
NED, "risks the same fate as its neighbor Romania,
which had an important democratic election, but failed to
consolidate its democratic gains and soon slipped back into
a political culture of nationalism where reformers became
divided, were corrupted, and eventually were defeated by
then is the warning the United States is issuing to all
its clients. Do not dare to vote for the "old"
parties and slip back into the "political culture of
nationalism"! Or we will unleash our paid thugs. This
then is "democracy" as the National Endowment
for democracy understands it.
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