by Andrew Korybko
PART I: Nuland’s Plan For The Balkans (And How It Can Dramatically Backfire)
US regime change expert and architect of regional destabilization, Victoria Nuland, recently paid a visit to the Balkans to preach the oft-repeated gospel of Euro-Atlantic integration. Her trip comes at a time when the region is experiencing a spike in geostrategic significance , having emerged at the forefront of the New Cold War between the unipolar and multipolar worlds. While energy geopolitics are certainly one of the main factors behind this renewed rivalry, there are also many other variables at play too, such as civilizational affinity and grassroots support of sovereign statehood. The asymmetrical advances that multipolarity has made in the region are partially attributable to the negative reaction that the population has had to the painful ‘integration’ (read: occupation) processes they witnessed in Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, and Croatia.
Sensing the turning tide in popular sentiment brought about by the political and economic incompetence of the pro-EU elite, Nuland came to the Balkans to issue a list of thinly veiled threats designed to scare the regional holdouts of Republika Srpska, Serbia, and Macedonia into unipolar submission. Ironically, however, however, some of her demands could actually be co-opted by the same multipolar forces that she intends to destroy, and if harnessed correctly, they could lead to the reinforcement of multipolarity and complementarily promote their governments’ pragmatic (albeit somewhat clumsy) attempts to pivot away from EU dependency towards pragmatic and balanced cooperation with Russia.
The article begins by describing the three themes of Nuland’s speech and contrasts her quoted words with an analysis of the points she’s implicitly trying to convey. They all lead up to her ultimate threat that “this region can fall prey once again to the risks, hatred, and outside interference that brought it grief so many times before” if it doesn’t follow the US’ dictates, scenarios of which were described in an earlier thorough piece on the topic. The second part of the article attempts to reverse Nuland’s strategies by suggesting ways in which some of her policy prescriptions could be exploited to resist the US’ intended role for the region and liberate the Balkans from unipolar control.
The 3 Steps To Servitude
Nuland envisions three steps that must be taken in order to bring the regional holdouts (Republika Srpska, Serbia, and Macedonia) to heel:
The US is adamant that the entities which have not yet formally integrated into the Euro-Atlantic space follow a so-called ‘democratic map’ in order to accelerate their progress. This is a simple euphemism for surrendering even more sovereignty than they’ve already ceded and dismantling the institutional apparatuses that stand in the US’ way. Here’s what Nuland has to say on the matter and what she really means:
“Take Bosnia-Herzegovina. Twenty years after Dayton, it is unconscionable that the unity of the state is still publicly questioned by those seeking to block reform and putting IMF assistance at risk. The EU has offered Bosnia-Herzegovina a membership perspective, and last month activated its SAA, but politicians continue to put ethnic and party interests ahead of the basic social, economic, and political reform needed to advance. The United States joins the EU, the IMF and the World Bank in urging Bosnia-Herzegovina’s leaders to make crucial reform decisions now, or risk being left behind for another twenty years.”
While not directly saying it, all of her negative criticism is directed against Republika Srpska, whose constitutional autonomy poses the strongest obstacle to Bosnia’s formal absorption by the Euro-Atlantic institutions. So long as the region remains autonomous and continues to assert its legal rights within the framework of Bosnia’s government (‘questioning the unity of the state’, as Nuland puts it), the country as a whole can never join either the EU or NATO, although portions of it (excluding Republika Srpska) could of course enter into a shadow arrangement with either of the Brussels-based organizations, much as Ukraine is currently attempting to do. Due to its resistance, the sovereign half of the federation and its elected representatives are maligned for allegedly promoting their partisan interests, which is a purposely misleading depiction of the situation meant to enflame and justify ‘reprisal attacks’ (in reality, unwarranted offensives) against the republic. If Republika Srpska doesn’t back down from legally defending its sovereign interests within the country, then Nuland hints that any forthcoming negative repercussions associated with this (‘being left behind for another twenty years’) would rest squarely on its shoulders, making one wonder what kind of punitive measures she and her cronies have in mind.
“Our message to Macedonia is equally tough: every opportunity for unity and prosperity awaits you; NATO and EU membership await you. But the major political forces must stop squabbling and get on the path to democratic reform sketched out by EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn with US support, and then move on to settle the name issue with Greece. Again, don’t squander this moment.”
Nuland is characteristically blunt in her ‘advice’ for Macedonia – it must comply with the soft coup being planned for next year (in other words, don’t prompt the US to unleash a Hybrid War ) and abandon its national identity and very sense of being. Only when it’s devoid of its self-worth can it enter the EU and NATO as a third-rate actor, useful only for siphoning off its 3.5%-plus forecasted growth rate to cushion any financial losses Germany might incur from Greece, and providing cannon fodder for the next Western War on Libya and beyond. The reinforcement of Macedonia’s democratic security and the proud protection of its ethnic, linguistic, and historical identity impede the US’ plans for the country, and as such, they ‘squander the moment’ for Euro-Atlantic integration and allow the process to drag on indefinitely ( much to the country’s advantage , it must be said). Nuland existentially opposes the very idea of Macedonia, be it as an independent state or a unique identity in whichever form, hence why she’s so adamant that the country sacrifice its political and metaphysical sovereignty in order to become a non-descript member of the Euro-Atlantic sphere.
“Meanwhile, with EU High Representative Federica Mogherini’s strong, patient guidance, Kosovo and Serbia are making progress in healing their past wounds and creating the arrangements to live as good neighbors. But the job is far from finished. We want 2015 to be the year that advances the Pristina-Belgrade dialogue so the EU can open chapters for Serbia and sign the SAA for Kosovo. But that will take courageous decisions in both Pristina and Belgrade. Again, together with the EU, America says: seize this moment and we will help.”
More than anything, the US wants to pressure Serbia into revising its constitution to omit any reference to Kosovo as an integral part of the country and consequently recognize it as an independent state. If this can be achieved (no matter the amount of terrorist blackmail or Color Revolution threats needed to get to that point), then the US can rest assured of Serbia’s satellite status and be confident in the overwhelming degree of hegemony that it exercises over its affairs. It goes without saying that this development would surely spell the end of Balkan Stream, which is why Nuland is so eager to have it happen as soon as possible (preferably by the end of the year, according to her timetable). Seizing Serbia, if one will, has correspondingly become a priority of American foreign policy, and this focus helps explain the recent events in Srebrenica. The angry, stone-throwing mob wasn’t a ‘random’ act of ‘protest’ from a people caught up in the moment, but a preplanned provocation designed to send Vucic a strong personal message – surrender to the US or face a public lynching like Gaddafi.
Patch Together Yugo-slave-ia:
Nuland’s message wasn’t all criticism, as a substantial part of it was geared towards her hopeful wishes of what a unipolar-dominated Balkans would look like:
“This brings me to the second set of challenges: regional development, integration, and energy security to promote prosperity and growth. The countries of this region will only reach their full potential when they replace old rivalries with cooperation, and embrace regional projects that bring jobs, investment and clean business practices to the whole region.
The United States strongly supports Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Berlin Process, and we have reached out to the EU to see how we can bring the International Financial Institutions, U.S. development assistance, private investment, and risk insurance to key road, rail, port, and energy projects.
We are also working closely with EU Vice President Maros Sefcovic and Energy and Climate Commissioner Arias Canete to advance crucial energy projects that will turn this region into the energy powerhouse it should be for all of Central Europe. These include investments in Krk Island LNG, key interconnectors to Hungary, Bulgaria, and Serbia, and new offshore exploration all along the Adriatic.”
In a nutshell, she’s proposing a hallowed-out version of Yugoslavia that slavishly follows the unipolar model of EU resource plunder and market entrapment. Reintegrating the former Yugoslav space is not a bad idea by any metrics (and it’s actually quite natural), but the form she’s advocating is designed to weaken, not strengthen, the countries in the region. Should Nuland get her way, then Germany will rule the Balkans as America’s Lead From Behind proxy via the fulfillment of the aptly named Berlin Process , which would finally grant it belated control over the region that it has sought to dominate for the past 100 years already. After Berlin becomes the official boss of all the Balkans, only then can the region develop and integrate, if one is to believe Nuland’s ‘prophecy’.
Just as they did during World War II, the Germans hope to use Croatia as their regional capo for retaining control over the rest of the Balkans, albeit this time via energy and not genocidal means. Aside from the enormous financial costs that LNG imports would entail, there are also political costs to Croatia’s designation as a subcontracted Lead From Behind state. If it can attain a leadership position in the region via its exploitation of the proposed energy framework, then it can begin taking the initiative to confidently promote its interests in divided Bosnia, and leverage its transit state position to inflict punishing resource blackmail against Serbia. In the US/EU vision for the Balkans, Croatia is the gatekeeper for controlling resource and product flows into the rest of the region, which would then establish a strict North-to-South development flow, the polar opposite of Balkan Stream’s South-to-North intended dynamic.
Purge Resistant Forces:
The third element of Nuland’s prescriptive policy for the Balkans is for the region to purge itself of all elements that stand in the way of unipolarity:
“As we redouble our efforts to bring growth to the entire region, we must also be vigilant defenders of our democratic values. We stand for free trade, free markets, and free peoples. We gain strength when our governments are clean and serve their people. We aspire to set the global gold standard for religious and ethnic tolerance and pluralism. In everything we do, we must support the sovereign right of nations to chart their own democratic futures; we must root out the cancer of corruption that eats away at livelihoods, democracies, and security; and we must work together to halt the spread of violent extremism and foreign fighters.
Corruption remains a major impediment to progress in this region. It is the cancer that saps strength from our democracies and drives up unemployment and civil unrest. More than that, it opens vulnerabilities that autocrats, petro states, and violent extremists exploit. All those who seek to stir up trouble here find an easy gateway when dirty money can buy corrupt politicians and undercut democratic governance and the rule of law.”
Her polemics about ‘democratic values’ and ‘setting the global gold standard for religious and ethnic tolerance and pluralism’ are empty and hypocritical rhetoric that offers no new insight into the US’ view on the region. What’s worth noting, however, is when she talks about how “autocrats, petro states, and violent extremists” are apparently summoned as a result of the corruption present in the region, which she also blames for democratic regression, unemployment, and civil unrest.
Read another way, she’s saying that the “petro state” buys off “autocrats”, which in turn breed “violent extremists” and “civil unrest”. Interpreting the euphemisms, Nuland is accusing Russia of buying off the governments of Serbia and Macedonia in order to build Balkan Stream, explaining the return of Albanian terrorism in the latter and the latest Color Revolution attempt there as mere ‘reactions’ to the ‘corrupt’ and ‘autocratic’ processes that Russia supposedly supports.
Thus, anything remotely associated with Russia must be purged from the Balkan countries, as Nuland is evidently scared that such influences fortify the multipolar processes currently ongoing there and keep Republika Srpska, Serbia, and Macedonia out of the US’ formal grip. This is why she alludes to the ever-present threat of pulling a Color Revolution in these areas when she hints that “It is not just governments that need to act. Civil society, independent media, and private citizens all need to make their voices heard and shape necessary reforms. They need to keep asserting their rights to freedom of expression, representation and peaceful assembly.”
When the US decides to go on the offensive in order to the do the purging itself (as was described in an earlier linked-to article ), then it conveniently offers up the false narrative that the violent extremism and civil unrest that’s unfolding is Russia’s fault and has nothing to do with American geopolitical intrigue and covert intelligence services, which are the real culprits involved.
(part II will be posted tomorrow)
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