offered no evidence for his claims. It would be a little
hard to do so, since the events he is talking about have
yet to take place. His firm prediction is but preliminary
to his real message, directed at the Serbs: vote the wrong
way and you risk US military action. Milosevic "does
not have a free hand" to rig the vote, O'Brien warned.
The United States is willing "to stand up for the stability
of the region." Since the US Government has already
stated that a Milosevic victory is only possible in the
event of vote rigging, his threat is as unambiguous as it
is crude. A US-led bombing onslaught on Yugoslavia to ensure
a "democratic transition" looks to be on the cards.
Already the papers are filled with laughably absurd stories
of British troops foiling alleged plots by Serb special
forces to launch bomb attacks in Kosovo to during the elections.
is extraordinary that Americans seem so untroubled by their
Government adopting an imperial style of rule that would
have been crude even by Soviet or Nazi standards. In the
United States, it is illegal for political parties to receive
money from foreign sources, let alone foreign governments.
A US organization funded by a foreign government has to
register as a foreign agent. Yet the Clinton Administration
thinks it perfectly reasonable to corrupt the entire political
system of another country by flooding it with vast sums
of foreign money. The "civil society" we are allegedly
fostering is total fraud, with no genuine roots among the
people and entirely dependent on US Government largesse.
July 29, 1999 during Hearings before the European Affairs
Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,
Robert Gelbard, US Special Envoy to the Balkans, outlined
the extraordinary scope of US interference in the life of
Yugoslavia. There were, first, the opposition parties. They
are "best served," he explained somewhat condescendingly,
"if we provide them with technical assistance and first-class
political advice, the kinds that may seem commonplace to
us but represent a whole different way of thinking to them."
Then there are the "youth and student organizations,
as well as independent labor unions…undoubtedly…important
sources of mobilization in the future." Gelbard then
spoke of something US policymakers refer to as "independent
media" paid agents of the US Government touting the
US Government line: "What we're trying to do…is support
an alternative indigenous voice for the Serbian people through
mechanisms such as ANEM, the Network of Independent Radio
and Television." The use of the word "indigenous"
is priceless. One wonders if he managed to keep a straight
face as he said it.
a Yugoslav "opposition" made to order for Washington
has been a major preoccupation for some years. Paul B. McCarthy
of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) testifying
to the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe
that "the West should help the democratic political
opposition develop a concrete program which offers positive
alternatives to the destructive policies of the Milosevic
regime. Democratic think tanks, independent research organizations
and expert groups should be supported to develop these alternative
policy recommendations. Furthermore, dissemination of this
new democratic thinking to the broad public must be encouraged
by fostering close cooperation among the think tanks, opposition
parties and the independent media." Note the way the
NED does not for one moment doubt its right to reorganize
Yugoslav civil and political life for the sake of US interests.
of the organizations receiving money from the NED is the
International Republican Institute (IRI). Starting in 1997,
the IRI has been bankrolling political parties and student
organizations in Yugoslavia. The IRI claims that it has
"supported pro-reform political parties and student
organizations through technical support programs that training
and consultations to strengthen and enlarge the parties'
grassroots organizations and help them devise communication
and coalition building strategies that would solidify their
combined support. Opinion polls taken during this period
suggested that a substantial majority of the electorate
did not support the coalition of Serbian governing parties
controlled by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. Only
20 percent of Serbs supported the coalition's lead party,
the Socialists." Note that the language the US Government
to describe the "opposition" is almost always
identical. Everyone is continually being enjoined to unite
to oust Milosevic. Disagreements, however important essential
one would have thought to the very "pluralism"
the United States likes to lecture others about must be
set aside for the sake of the of the common good, as determined
by Washington. Moreover, the 20 percent figure is illuminating.
The recent opinion polls being trumpeted to show how badly
Milosevic is trailing all repeat the 20 percent figure.
Not 15 percent, not 30 percent always 20 percent. Apparently,
no departures from the official script are to be permitted.
IRI boasts also of having "worked with opposition leaders
to devise ways of increasing their voter identification
and ability to influence the national political agenda."
In other words, US funds were going towards providing free
propaganda for US-approved politicians. As for the much-vaunted
Otpor, a favorite of the Western media circles, here is
what the IRI says: "In the fall of 1999, the student
resistance movement OTPOR began to organize protests against
crackdowns on media and academic freedoms. OTPOR is currently
preparing plans, with IRI's technical support, for a Get-Out-The-Vote
campaign for elections in 2000."
surprisingly perhaps, Otpor sounds very much like an organization
run from Washington. Yugoslavia must undertake "full
cooperation with The Hague Tribunal For War Crimes."
There is to be "full protection of private ownership
rights, proceeded by compulsory and fair privatization,
the establishment of a free market economy, and the opening
of the economy to international financial organizations
and international investment." This stuff is straight
out of the IMF playbook. Needless to say, Otpor also urges
the formation of "a unified block of all relevant democratic
forces in Serbia with the principal objective of replacing
Milosevic and his government" all entirely in accordance
with the official US Government line.
NED funds the G-17 group of "independent economists"
which, we are happily informed, is "conducting a research
program to identify barriers to private sector development
at the local and federal levels." The G-17 ideas about
the future of Yugoslavia are apparent in the "Proposal
to the Stability Pact for South East Europe to Organize
a Regional Funding Conference for the Reconstruction of
Post-Milosevic Serbia," put forward by Serbia's Democratic
Opposition with, we are told, "assistance from G17
PLUS." The program pledges that "privatization
is …our great concern and a commitment to swift and efficient
privatization is crucial for economic reconstruction."
However, it goes on, the "first political priority
for the new reformist government will be to address the
issue of the fiscal deficit. That will require the change
of both the current tax and public expenditure policies.
Fiscal reform is a prerequisite for monetary stability and
the renewal of Serbian international credibility. Radical
fiscal reform will demand hard political decisions for the
reduction of expenditures, changing the priority in public
spending and measures to increase the effectiveness of tax
collection…. We, the democratic opposition of Serbia, are
willing to explain the significance of these reforms to
our political public. We are also ready to undertake this
political risk as we deeply believe that fiscal changes
within a general reform of the state and its apparatus are
critical to the country's future and its speedy development."
Note that a statement such as this does not even pretend
to address the people of Yugoslavia. It offers nothing to
ordinary voters. Why on earth would anyone vote for a political
group that promises to cut public expenditure, close down
so-called "inefficient" industries, and open up
the country to predatory foreign investors hunting for bargains?
The pledge of the so-called "Democratic Opposition"
is directed entirely towards the Governments of the United
States, the European Union, foreign investors and bankers,
the IMF and the World Bank evidently the only constituency
worth considering. Hilariously, the NED also boasts of funding
trade unions in Yugoslavia such as UGS Nezavisnost described
as "a multiethnic trade union confederation which opposes
the Milosevic regime." One wonders if this "trade
union" is also obligated to support the goals of "market
democracy," "privatization" and "debt
reduction." The mind boggles at how much grassroots
support it must enjoy.