Monday, April 24, 2017

Serbia’s Post-Electoral Protest Was A Charade

by Stephen Karganovic
Just as a week ago we speculated might happen, Serbia’s mass anti-regime protests, which started as if on cue the day after the apparently “not so free and unfettered” April 2 Presidential election, have now abated significantly, but without any obvious public reason.[1] None of the protesters’ objections (many of them legitimate and sensible) were seriously entertained by the authorities. 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, 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 stay at home? Or was there from the beginning of these “spontaneous” protests more to it than met the eye?

(Spontaneous – my foot! As, in his time, the German communist master propagandist Willi Munzenberg, from whom even Goebbels learned a thing or two, slyly noted: “These people have the belief that they are actually doing this themselves. This belief must be preserved at any price.” Indeed it must be, or the whole game is given away.)

There was, to be sure, no improvement in Serbia’s condition, which is still dismal on all fronts, that would warrant the sudden decision inexplicably taken by the many foot-soldiers of Serbia’s incipient Color Revolution to cease and desist from further street agitation. Their decision to do so was, in fact, just as mysterious and “spontaneous” as the previous decision, on April 3, to begin turning out in droves on a daily basis.

In our April 12 preliminary analysis of the protests, at a time when they were swelling day by 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 otherwise regarded as a fallacy, might yet find a semblance of applicability, it is every time when Sen. McCain pays a visit to a troubled country and soon thereafter odd effects are seen to follow.

In this case, one of the first “odd effects” 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, is 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 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 on it by weeklong unrest with all the standard features of the dreaded Color Revolution, the bully McCain delivered to the regime its marching orders. One can imagine the impact of this double whammy on Serbia’s servile and insecure leadership.

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 when they were handed down. In a nutshell, with regard to Serbia these are the chief imperial concerns: neutralizing Serbia as a perceived conduit for Russian influence in the Balkans (this 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 understandable 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. It was in fact published over the signature of Kosovo “foreign minister,” Enver Hoxhaj.[2] 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 barrage of pointedly anti-Russian public pronouncements in Belgrade was delivered in his characteristically truculent style and was most uncharmingly designed to put his fidgety hosts on the spot. It encompassed an essentially identical and practically simultaneously published litany of anti-Russian rhetoric by Hoxhaj in the “New York Times”. Viewed in conjunction, these pronouncements have all the marks of a well-coordinated intimidation campaign.

I would therefore argue that simply dismissing Hoxhaj’s lecturing as presumptuous nonsense would be a mistake. On the contrary, it is an indirect and, considering the contemptible source, for Serbian leaders a deliberately humiliating warning message. They should read it very carefully and seriously, and with the same attention that in the period of the Soviet Union would have been paid to the pronouncements of a Soviet satellite foreign minister, made obviously at Moscow’s behest and suggestion. As even a relatively unsophisticated observer is bound to agree, 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 the commitments solemnly undertaken before their stern masters several years ago, in return for being invested to rule over their satrapy.

Arguably, the wise masters have made a rational choice to grant a temporary reprieve and to induce the current regime to first complete the unfinished business, 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 final duty before it is jettisoned. The replacement team, which is already being groomed, will then take over, but with a “clean slate,” thus prolonging the life of the subservient colonial system. The new regime will be given a whitewashed human façade, and will be able to assert, with some plausibility, that while it considers its predecessors’ policy choices regrettable, oh well, pacta sunt servanda and there can be no going back on them.

That precisely was the current regime’s rationalization, when it was taking over, for slavishly assenting to the disastrous commitments made by its discredited predecessors.
We can now draw the conclusion that street unrest in Serbia that from the beginning seemed stage managed and lacked the feel of a genuine expression of popular discontentment, is at this stage just that – a charade. It was a warning dry run, a carefully orchestrated exercise to send an intimidating message to the regime and to lay the infrastructural groundwork for the real Color Revolution that is to come. It will break out promptly, and just as “spontaneously” as the current rehearsal, as soon as the foolish regime is irredeemably discredited and renders itself utterly useless by complying with the suicidal demands that have been put to it, in the vain hope of gaining favor and thus extending its tenure.

Our hypothesis will be tested and found proven or wanting very shortly. Watch carefully the overweening imbeciles’ performance on the three key fronts: Russia, NATO, and Kosovo, for signs of their imminent downfall and relegation to the dunghill at the hands of those who raised them up to ephemeral prominence in the first place.
It will be a fitting comeuppance for undereducated morons who were not paying attention in school while the class was discussing Goethe’s Faust and learning about the fate of those who enter into bargains with the Devil.

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