by Andrew Korybko
PART II: Nuland’s Plan For The Balkans (And How It Can Dramatically Backfire)
(Please read Part I before this article)
Having laid out Nuland’s vision for the Balkans, it’s now time to reverse her processes and show how some of them can be wittily co-opted to liberate the region from unipolar control. The article will address each of the three themes that Nuland spoke upon and highlight the opportunities that they present to the multipolar world, if properly utilized. The last part of the piece concludes with a groundbreaking proposal for a regional grassroots movement based in Macedonia and/or Serbia that would publicly advocate for de-facto Yugoslav reintegration (in all spheres except for the political one) and support the Balkans’ full pivot towards BRICS and the developing multipolar world order.
Chinks In The Armor
Nuland’s analyzed statements in Part I reveal clues as to what Republika Srpska, Serbia, and Macedonia must do to resist Euro-Atlanticism. Here’s how they can reverse the US’ plans for them:
This federative entity must continue exercising its constitutional right to partial sovereignty and indefinitely delay the Euro-Atlantic occupation of all of Bosnia. So long as it flexes its authority in line with Bosnia’s constitution (which it has consistently been doing for over 20 years already), then there are no legitimate grounds for accusing it of a political provocation that could usher in a domino scenario of US-planned destabilization in Bosnia. More than anything, the republic’s authorities must resist the temptation to overwhelmingly respond to any forthcoming ethnic provocations that will surely be launched against it, with the most recent being the Vucic stoning attempt. It’s expected that similar ethno-religious hate incidents will crop up all around the area, but the key will be in moderating the government’s reaction so that it walks the fine balance between forceful but fair (admittedly a very hard act to do under such growing external pressure). Additionally, the republic must be prepared for dealing with terrorist incidents similar to that which transpired in Zvornik in late April, and should recognize that when confronting irrefutable terrorism, no holds should be barred (unlike when responding to relatively ‘softer’, but nonetheless still serious, provocations such as agitating unrest by the Bosnian Muslim minority living in its territory or those bussed in to protest).
The Serbian government must unambiguously state its full opposition to changing the constitution in order to facilitate the recognition of Kosovar ‘independence’. Vucic has been awkwardly attempting to please his EU partners by toying with such an idea, and it’s responsible for energizing grassroots opposition to his government. If he moved forward with the referendum, it would likely fail in any case, but the danger is that the event itself could serve as a ‘trigger’ of opportunity to activate the militant pro-Western cells inside the country and recreate a Kievan scenario in Belgrade. After all, such a vote wouldn’t be simply about Kosovo and Serbian national identity (which are huge topics full of emotional significance in and of themselves), but about whether or not Serbia wants to continue moving towards the EU. Framed in such a way, which it undoubtedly would be by the Western mainstream media, it carries strong undertones of the decisive moment when Yanukovich decided to delay the signing of the EU Association Agreement, and unwittingly pushed forward the Color Revolution that was being planned against him for the next election cycle.
Instead of continuing to entertain the notion of recognizing Kosovo as an ‘independent country’, the Serbian government should move itself closer to Russia and have trust and confidence in its population that such a decision will be supported by the majority. The Kosovo issue is of such importance to Serbs that any attempt to officially change the government’s policy on the topic will be vehemently opposed by a cross-domain sector of the population, even many of those formally in favor of EU integration. This is because it touches upon the patriotic essence of Serbian identity that transcends all political affiliations except for those most opposed to the expression of Serbian sovereignty (the pro-EU radicals, which are presently thought to be in a minority). If Vucic wants to capitalize off of the positive relations that he’s fostered with Russia thus far, he needs to move as far away from the revisionist Kosovo agenda as possible and clearly state his opposition to reversing the government’s policy in this regard.
Finally, the last thing that Serbia must do is restrain itself from formally intervening in Republika Srpska if the situation rapidly spirals out of control there. Here it can learn a lesson or two from Russia, which demonstrated the highest level of restraint in refusing to formally intervene in Eastern Ukraine despite the unacceptable casualties that kept mounting against the affiliated population there. Moscow recognized that the US was trying to draw it into a geostrategic trap (the ‘ Reverse Brzezinski ’), and although it failed to ensnare Russia, it doesn’t mean the US won’t try to deploy it in Republika Srpska to entrap Serbia. It’s not to say that Belgrade must refrain from any show of support for Banja Luka – not in the least! – but that it must make sure that no formal military intervention takes place that would bleed its resources and expose its southern front to a devastating terrorist war in the Presevo Valley and Sandzak regions. It’s a herculean task to balance such simultaneous destabilizations, but if it receives Russian strategic guidance and acquires a proper understanding of the imminent threats facing it, Serbia should be able to successfully manage its resistance.
Gruevski and his government need to stand strong against the Color Revolution plots that have been hatched against them, meaning that it may not have been the wisest move to have capitulated by forming a pre-election transitional government (just as Nuland wanted ). His actions may now lead to a serious loss of control over the country’s institutional apparatuses should a trusted confidant not take his place in the interim, which could make a forthcoming election loss a fait accompli due to the rigging tactics that may be used against the incumbent/resigning (?) Prime Minister. Macedonia’s democratically elected and legitimate government has proven the groundswell of grassroots support it enjoys by successfully calling upon nearly one hundred thousand citizens to demonstrate on its behalf at the height of the Color Revolution attempt against the country in mid-May. Thus, it’s evident that it has the popular backing needed to win any upcoming election, to say nothing of its ability to stay in office until the vote is held, which makes Gruevski’s decision all the more confusing to fathom.
The patriotism that pervades Macedonia needs to be recognized as constituting perhaps the most important political force in the country. Some of those who demonstrated in support of the government last May possibly may not have supported the Prime Minister himself, but they wanted to show their resistance to the foreign regime change attempt being activated against their country. Macedonians are exceptionally proud of their identity, and they understand how threatened it is by neighboring states, especially Greece and Bulgaria . As a result, they’re well aware of how quickly it can be lost (and undemocratically at that) if a foreign-installed government comes to power and unilaterally changes the country’s name, which would instill fear among the population that a more comprehensive rollback of their identity is imminent (such as changing how their ethnic and linguistic identity is described). This means that Macedonians will not surrender their hard-fought-for identity in silence, and will do whatever they can to protect what they and their families have struggled for years to finally attain.
Should Gruevski win the upcoming early election and initiate a referendum on the name issue, he would likely be doing so in order to show the West how strongly the population opposes any modification in this regard (just as they opposed the attempt to depose him), however, he must be careful that such a vote isn’t manipulated by the Western mainstream media as a vote for or against the EU (as they plan on doing with any prospective Serbian constitutional referendum, as was described above). If the situation develops according to this scenario, then it’s likely that yet another round of Color Revolution mayhem will break out in the country, with the distinct possibility that the US would escalate it into an all-out Hybrid War to achieve its regime change ends (or at the very least, kill the prospects for Balkan Stream’s transit through the country). As a final verdict on the country, one must realize that although the situation appears to have calmed since the mid-May Color Revolution climax, such reassurances are false and misleading, and Macedonia has never been removed from the US’ destabilization crosshairs, nor is it likely to be freed from such plots within the near future.
Nuland’s proposal to essentially resurrect Yugoslavia was of the right idea, but fails miserably in its form as a subservient German proxy. However, that doesn’t mean that such restorative efforts should be discarded in another more respectable form, which is what is being advocated in this section. Nuland and the US government that she represents clearly recognize the appeal that regional integration has to the masses, as certain elements of them (even those not of mature age at the time) have developed a sort of historical nostalgia for the old Yugoslavia. While that entity is irrevocably destroyed as a result of the US-initiated wars in the region, it is definitely possible to revive it in a softer, more abstract form via infrastructure integration (which is also what Nuland proposes). What needs to change as regards Nuland’s vision, however, is both the integrationist core (Serbia, not Croatia) and the geopolitical affinity of the new de-facto entity (multipolar, not unipolar).
To offer a more constructive and sovereign template for reintegrating the lands of the former Yugoslavia (which had its prior integration networks ripped to shreds by the US-promoted wars on its territory), one needs to begin by addressing the points of ‘appeal’ that Nuland attempted to make during her speech. First thing first, she spoke of the need to lay down ethnic rivalry and move past previous divisions. What she had described is the Russian and multipolar method of handling international relations , not the trans-Atlantic cabal’s tactics of strategic state fragmentation and Brzezinski-esque breakdowns (which the region unfortunately experienced in the 1990s). Coming to the realization that her appealing rhetoric most closely resembles the Russian reality of international relations, the population can then become receptive to the benefits that a multipolar alignment would bring.
Continuing along this path of thought, if Serbia and Macedonia can hold out just a little bit longer against Euro-Atlantic occupation, then they could potentially be eligible for BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) financing. The President of Brazil’s Development Bank, one of the constituent members of the NDB, announced in an interview in response to whether or not those two countries could receive development assistance in the future, that:
“Those are the periphery of the European Union. They deserve attention, they are not fully developed economies, and I think the New Development Bank could take action in the future.”
This monumental proclamation means that the Balkans no longer have to choose between the false choice of Euro-Atlantic domination and poverty, which the West has been misleadingly presenting for over two decades, since a third alternative, multipolar support from the BRICS nations, could offer a much better deal. All that has to happen for them to remain eligible is to indefinitely remain outside the EU by adhering to the abovementioned policy recommendations. Once the BRICS countries get the hang of operating the NDB and establish projects in their constituent countries (with the first to be approved by April 2016 ), then they could begin expanding their activity to underdeveloped peripheral countries, which in Russia’s case could extend all the way to Serbia and Macedonia. If these two Central Balkan states enter into fruitful cooperation with BRICS, then they could become a magnet for more multipolar investment in the region that could possibly extend into EU-member Croatia as well (outside the framework of the NBD). The most realistic scenario for this would be via pipeline cooperation and the creation of a branch extension of Balkan Stream from Serbia/Republika Srpska to Croatia and Slovenia.
Remember – the US wants to use pipeline infrastructure to begin the reintegration of the Balkans (per Nuland’s suggestion that Croatia serve as an LNG hub for the region) – so it’s not farfetched at all that the reverse scenario, a pipeline from Serbia to the Western Balkans, could fulfill the same purpose. In fact, if there’s anything that Russia and the US implicitly agree on, it’s that pipelines (be they Balkan Stream or the LNG-sourced Croatian pipeline) form the spine of further Balkan integrational projects, and that they’re a key component of New Cold War strategy being utilized by either side. Arriving at such an understanding allows one to more fully comprehend the determination that Russia and the US are exhibiting towards the realization of their respective pipeline plans, and by appreciating their placement in each’s foreign policy toolkit ( especially Russia’s ), to not fall victim to shortsighted and premature announcements heralding the speculated end of their ambitions. In one way or another, Russia and the US are both on the same strategic page of the need to reintegrate the former Yugoslavia (in infrastructural/social [?] form, not in political fact), it’s just a question of which particular vision will eventually prevail.
Rooting Out The Radicals
The Balkans’ multipolar reorientation is being held back by radical pro-EU elements that promote their patrons’ policies inside their home countries. It’s not their support of the EU that makes them radical, but rather the extent that they are willing to go in order to bring their countries under its control. This takes the form of supporting Color Revolutions, behaving as a political fifth column (when it comes to elected and appointed bureaucrats in each state), and engaging in terrorism (Greater Albania and religious extremists). What needs to be done is for Republika Srpska, Serbia, and Macedonia to ironically follow Nuland’s earlier advice but do so in a way that promotes their sovereign and multipolar interests. As a reminder, here’s what Nuland said:
“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.”
If viewed from the multipolar perspective, then her recommendations are actually quite useful. Defending democratic values is as simple as engaging in the type of democratic security that Macedonia partook in at the height of the Color Revolution attempt against it, when patriotic citizens flooded the capital to show their support for the country’s independence and the rule of law. Supporting free trade, markets, and peoples is another way of saying that the Balkans must be given the choice to interact with the BRICS countries and move forward with the Balkan Silk Road that China is planning for the region. Being the global gold standard for religious and ethnic tolerance and pluralism just means following the lead of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, the most diverse major powers on earth. When it comes to rooting out the cancer of corruption, as Nuland puts it, multipolar supporters could take this to mean the beginning of a campaign against the radical Eurocrat elites in their country.
This needs to be extrapolated upon a bit more in order to bring it into full synchronization with Nuland’s subsequent rhetoric. She speaks about how corruption apparently attracts autocrats, petro states, and violent extremism, and seen from the multipolar perspective, this is also unquestionable. Flipping the table on what Nuland meant (which was described in Part I), one can hold the following interpretation:
Corruption is the key trait that makes the Balkan elite susceptible to EU influence, which opens the door for EU autocracy, the conniving petro state plans of Qatar and its Croatia-destined LNG, and the violent extremism of NGOs. Corruption is also the reason that foreign American fighters are based in Serbia’s occupied province of Kosovo and why Color Revolution infrastructure has proliferated throughout the region. Root out the corrupt politicians and pro-EU radicals, and the Balkans can have an entirely different future than the one Nuland wants.
The way to do this is to ironically follow exactly what Nuland said to do. In her own words, “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.” The next section will explain what’s meant by all of this.
Russia, China, BRICS, and all other multipolar actors are ready to enter the Balkans and assist with development and integration, as seen by Moscow’s Balkan Stream pipeline plans, China’s Balkan Silk Road, and the possibility of BRICS infrastructure financing. They’ve run across a major obstacle, however, ever since John Kerry officially decreed in February that the Balkans were in the “ line of fire ” between the US and Russia. He specifically mentioned Serbia and Macedonia in his threatening address, and it’s no coincidence that both are now in the crosshairs of American-initiated destabilization, be it the failed assassination attempt against Serbia’s Prime Minister or the temporarily halted Hybrid War that was to be unleashed on Macedonia in May (and is still awaiting the signal for large-scale activation). Complicating matters even further are the radical pro-EU elements that have infested both countries, such as the Color Revolution experts Otpor, and Zoran Zaev and his Open Society associates, respectively (although far from a comprehensive list). In order to create a more welcoming environment for the arrival of multipolarity and counter the hostile tension against it that’s been fostered by outside forces, Balkan citizens, specifically those in Serbia and Macedonia, might take the initiative to form grassroots movements to oppose the radical pro-EU corruption in their countries and complement their government’s multipolar initiatives.
Suffice to say, this proposed movement (or movements, depending on how it evolves and interacts between Serbia and Macedonia) would logically originate in the last two holdout Balkan states, since they are the only two that still have a chance of unadulterated ( as in, not controlled by the EU) multipolar engagement with Russia, China, and BRICS. Following Nuland’s ideas, it would promote the strengthening of pro-multipolar civil society and connect with independent (non-EU-dominated) media. Private citizens, not foreign powers, form the heart of this movement, and it is up to them to organize proponents in their respective towns and regions. By peacefully and non-provocatively applying certain tactics from the Color Revolution playbooks of “ From Dictatorship To Democracy ” and “ 198 Methods of Non-Violent Action ”, they can enact a sizeable impact on the national discussion by exposing corrupt pro-EU elites, resisting undemocratic attempts by certain figures to rush their countries into the EU, and countering actual Color Revolutions. The most important role that they would fulfill, however, is in raising nationwide awareness about the objective benefits of multipolar cooperation and the multitude of sovereign threats stemming from Euro-Atlantic occupation. Many citizens may not be fully aware of the advantages of reorienting their countries towards BRICS (while still retaining pragmatic relations with the EU) due to the deluge of pro-Western information that they’re flooded with daily, so it’s pivotal to force their attention via highly publicized manifestations inspired by Gene Sharp’s writings.
In no way is any of this meant to oppose the sitting governments – quite the contrary, civil society can take certain initiatives that the authorities cannot. Due to the tense geopolitical situation in the Balkans and Kerry’s “line of fire” threat, Belgrade and Skopje are reluctant to side too closely with Russia, especially given that they’re already catching a lot of flak for not following the EU’s sanctions policy against it. Civil society, however, is a whole other sphere, one which does not have to diplomatically abide by geopolitical conventions of balancing between Great Powers, and is allowed to be as partisan as it likes, provided that it embodies the legitimate will of the citizenry. Since it’s estimated that most of the citizens in Serbia and Macedonia favor pragmatic business relations with BRICS (which would be neutered, if not outright precluded, by their EU ‘integration’), it’s expected that such a civil movement could experience dramatic success if it’s managed properly. In accordance with the belief that each government (that of Vucic and Gruevski) is ultimately accountable to the people and wants to preserve its governing power for as long as democratically possible, they could very well be influenced by these large-scale multipolar manifestations to the degree that they feel confident enough of their citizens’ support to defiantly stand up to the US and EU’s unipolar commands and chart a brave course towards full-scale cooperation with BRICS.
Nuland’s visit to the Balkans should be read as the US digging its heels into the region, demonstrating that it has a long-term interest in reshaping it according to the vision that would be most geostrategically advantageous for it. At the same time, coming on the tail end of Greece’s financial capitulation to the EU and the premature and shortsighted fears that Balkan Stream is cancelled, it shows that the US obviously feels that multipolar (i.e. Russian) influence transcends this momentary obstacle and is irrefutably a serious threat to unipolar control of the Balkans. This is why her speech wasn’t a triumphant and condescending one that would characterize a geopolitical ‘victory lap’ if Balkan Stream was indeed done for, but rather one full of fear mongering, threats, and warnings, showing that the US government does not in any manner feel that the New Cold War is concluded in this theater. Quite the contrary, the US intends to accelerate its offensive in the Balkans and remains resolute in its determination to formally subordinate its last three holdouts (which just so happen to be the strongest levers of regional influence that Russia currently has).
The Balkans are definitely in for a tumultuous future, since it’s extremely unlikely that either Russia or the US will walk away without defending their grand strategic interests to the utmost of their capability (no matter how covertly it must be applied). That said, the Balkans are not a neo-colonial object to be bickered over between two Great Powers, as real people inhabit the region and have their own preference for which direction it should develop. Objectively speaking, the US currently holds an advantage through its relative domination of the information networks and civil society organizations in the region, but their radical pro-Western views don’t represent the sentiment of the majority. Therefore, it’s high time that the citizens of each of these two Central Balkan states band together to have their voices heard and peacefully organize to advocate for the geopolitical course that they believe their countries should take. If the US-dominated information and NGO networks aren’t sufficiently echoing the views of the majority, then the majority must rise up to oppose them and replace such entities with structures that embody the will of the people. Taking a few tips from Gene Sharp’s writings, they can assemble in innovative ways that efficiently draw the most attention to their efforts, thereby beginning the process of changing the national conversation at the highest levels and edging their governments closer to a public pivot towards BRICS.