by Stephen Karganovic
Just as, a bit over a week ago, we speculated might happen Serbia’s mass anti-regime protests, which began as if on cue the day after the apparently “not so free and unfettered” April 2 Presidential election, have now abated significantly, yet without any publically obvious reason. None of the protesters’ objections (many of them legitimate and sensible) were seriously entertained by the authorities. The mass enthusiasm to “bring the rascals to account,” which was so evident on Serbia’s streets before the Easter weekend, has mainly vanished into thin air. If we take the Easter weekend as the watershed separating daily mass protests involving tens of thousands, in twenty cities and towns across Serbia, from post-holiday crowds, now shrunken to barely one or two hundred, one must wonder: what changed over that weekend? Did thousands of former dissidents suddenly get religion, decide to turn the other cheek to the regime, and begin staying at home? Or was there, from the start of these “spontaneous” protests, more to them than met the eye?
(Spontaneous, indeed! As the German communist master propagandist Willi Munzenberg, from whom even Goebbels learned a thing or two, slyly noted in his day: “These people have the belief that they are actually doing this themselves. This belief must be preserved at any price.” Of course it must be, otherwise the whole game is given away.)
To be sure, over the holiday weekend there was no improvement in Serbia’s condition, which continues to be dismal on all fronts, that would warrant this sudden decision, inexplicably taken by so many foot-soldiers of Serbia’s incipient Color Revolution, to cease and desist from street agitation. Their decision to do so, in fact, was just as mysterious and “spontaneous” as their previous decision, on April 3, to begin turning out in droves onto the streets on a daily basis.
In our April 12 preliminary analysis of the protests, at a time when they were still swelling by the day, we were bold enough to speculate that if their nature and intensity were to suddenly change, Sen. John McCain’s April 10 visit to Belgrade might have something to do with it. Indeed, if a situation is imaginable where the principle of post hoc ergo propter hoc, in academic logic regarded as a fallacy, might nevertheless find a legitimate application, it is every time that Sen. McCain pays a visit to a troubled country and soon thereafter certain odd effects are seen to ensue.
In this case, one of the first “odd effects” that followed was the almost magical abatement of street protests which until then had greatly unnerved the authorities, although they tried valiantly to keep a stiff upper lip about it. McCain, be it recalled, among other things is also the head of the International Republican Institute (IRI), a subsidiary of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). His Institute’s specialty, in conjunction with NED, is organizing and financing Color Revolutions, not calming them down. Wherever McCain shows up (remember Kiev?) unrest intensifies, it does not abate. Hence, the unnatural, reverse sequence of recent events in Belgrade is very odd, and even a textbook logical fallacy explains it better than mere coincidence.
The best explanation for the hiatus in the protests is that, following closely upon the deep impression left by weeklong unrest, with all the standard features of the dreaded Color Revolution, the bully McCain came to deliver its marching orders to the regime. One can imagine the impact of this double whammy, from below and from above, on Serbia’s servile and insecure leadership. The pressure from below has been temporarily relaxed while the regime’s compliance with the demands from above is being tested.
The Empire’s demands are not especially difficult to fathom, even for one who admittedly was not a fly on the wall during the meeting while they were being handed down. In a nutshell, with regard to Serbia the chief imperial concerns are these: neutralizing Serbia as a perceived conduit for Russian influence in the Balkans (that includes imposing sanctions and refraining from military cooperation with Russia, as well as a firm commitment against any new version of South Stream – waffling on the last point was the undoing of the otherwise West-friendly Gruevski government in neighboring Macedonia), acceleration of the NATO accession process, and “normalization” of relations with the NATO sponsored criminal entity known as the “Republic of Kosovo.” The current regime, to be sure, has made significant and commendable strides in all these areas, but its hesitation to go all the way – just as open conflict with Russia looms – causes considerable dismay. History buffs will recall that the Yugoslav government was in the almost identical position in March of 1941, as it was being pressured by Hitler to make up its mind without delay and align with the Axis, thus securing Germany’s strategic rear before the start of the Russian campaign in June of that year. Mutatis mutandis, in that regard the strategic logic remains unchanged.
This particular reading of the imperial agenda, far from being overly speculative, was confirmed remarkably in a revealing April 13 Op-Ed piece in “The New York Times”. That was just days after McCain’s Belgrade visit and the dressing-down he gave to Serbia’ leadership, and while McCain was on the second leg of his tour, visiting his minions in Pristina. The text was published over the signature of Kosovo “foreign minister,” Enver Hoxhaj. Here are some excerpts from that editorial that should have been illuminating not just for the general public, but also and in particular for Serbia’s cornered leadership:
“Russia is clearly using Serbia not just to regain a foothold in the Balkans, but also to seek vengeance on NATO, the United States and the West with schemes to restore the regional prominence it lost when the Soviet empire collapsed.
“Now, in their presidential election on April 2, Serbians have not only endorsed a nationalist government that continues to defy Kosovo’s independence; they have also provided a needed victory for Russia, which only days before had authorized a new shipment of fighter jets and battle tanks for Serbia, obviously to help it regain power in the Balkans.
“In this pursuit, Serbia can therefore be expected to create, at Russia’s behest, a sphere of influence by exploiting and inciting Serb minorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro and, to an extent, Croatia and Macedonia — leaving them weak states to dominate while it pursues entry to the European Union just when the union is preoccupied by internal challenges of its own and the international order itself is exposed to multiple uncertainties.
“Similar provocative acts, backed by Russia, have taken place in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Montenegro, which experienced a failed coup attempt that would have shaken that country’s democratic institutions and prevented Montenegro from membership in NATO, a process now underway.
“The most worrisome development is Serbia’s rapid militarization, with Russia supplying air defense systems and other sophisticated military equipment. Serbia’s expanded military serves as a tool for pre-emptive coercion of its neighbors while Russia asserts its own influence in the region.”
And to drive all the preceding points home:
“It is important to see Russia’s use of Serbia in its grand scheme to regain power (…) Russia not only supports Serbia’s ambitions; it also underwrites them. Russia has never been welcomed as a broker to the Balkans.”
McCain’s aggressive anti-Russian barrage in Belgrade was delivered in his characteristically brazen style and, most uncharmingly, was specifically designed to put his fidgety hosts on the hot seat. It encompassed a litany of anti-Russian rhetoric essentially identical to what was almost simultaneously published by Hoxhaj in “The New York Times”. Viewed in conjunction, these pronouncements have all the earmarks of a well-coordinated intimidation campaign.
I would therefore argue that simply dismissing Hoxhaj’s editorializing as presumptuous nonsense would be a mistake. On the contrary, it is an indirect but, considering the contemptible source, for the Serbian leadership a deliberately humiliating warning message. They ought to read it very carefully and seriously, with the same degree of attention that in the period of the Soviet Union would have been paid to the pronouncements of a Soviet satellite foreign minister, obviously drafted at Moscow’s behest and suggestion. The views attributed to Kosovo’s “foreign minister” in fact contain some important hints of the possible motives behind the unrest on Serbia’s streets, organized undoubtedly by the Color Revolution agentur of the ultimate bosses of both gangs, the one in Kosovo and the one in Serbia.
Plainly speaking, the intended effect of the street turmoil was to generate sufficient pressure from below to concentrate the regime’s less than brilliant minds on the salutary task of fully carrying out their commitments. Those obligations were solemnly undertaken before their stern masters several years ago, in return for their being invested to rule over their satrapy.
The practical masters have decided, and quite rationally, to grant the current regime a temporary reprieve in order to stimulate it to first complete its unfinished business. That business is summarized by the three portentous words that, for the people of Serbia, are overcharged with the strongest positive and negative connotations: Russia, NATO, and Kosovo. The completion of these ignoble tasks will be the current regime’s last duty before it is finally jettisoned. The replacement team, which is already being groomed, will then take over, but with a “clean slate.” As is being done cyclically, another spent regime will be sacrificed to prolong the life of the subservient colonial system. The next regime will thus be given a whitewashed human façade, making it palatable for another brief cycle. Most importantly, it will be able to assert, and with some plausibility, that while it considers its predecessors’ policy decisions to be regrettable, oh well, pacta sunt servanda and there is no going back on them.
That precisely, it should be recalled, was the current regime’s rationalization, at the time when it was being installed, for slavishly assenting to the disastrous commitments that were made by its discredited predecessors.
We can now conclude that street unrest in Serbia that from the outset seemed stage managed and lacked the feel of a genuine expression of popular discontentment, is at this stage – a charade. It was a warning dry run, a carefully orchestrated exercise to send an intimidating message to the regime while laying out the infrastructural groundwork for the real Color Revolution that is to come. And it will break out unfailingly, just as “spontaneously” as the current rehearsal, as soon as the regime is irredeemably discredited and renders itself utterly useless by complying with the suicidal demands that have been put to it, all in the vain hope of gaining the masters’ favor and extending its tenure.
Our hypothesis will be tested and demonstrated, or found wanting, very shortly. Watch carefully the fragile regime’s servile performance on three key fronts: Russia, NATO, and Kosovo, for signs of its imminent downfall soon thereafter. It will be relegated to the dunghill by the same hand that raised its chieftains to ephemeral prominence in the first place.
It will be a fitting comeuppance for undereducated and greedy morons who were not paying attention in school while the class was discussing Goethe’s Faust and learning about what happens to those who enter into foolish bargains with the Devil.