Jackals and Jackasses

“Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956)

Boris Tadic won the second round of the Serbian presidential elections Sunday, beating Radical rival Tomislav Nikolic by 8 percentage points, or some 250,000 votes. The Empire, which openly cheered for Tadic and even twisted arms to ensure support for him domestically, gave a sigh of relief. Though Nikolic’s challenge to Serbia’s current vassal status was confused and disoriented, not to mention weighted by ideological baggage, but was seen by the Empire as the sort of “crimethink” that endangers the very foundation of the modern world order.

By next week, Serbia will finally have a complete, functioning state government. Whereupon it will proceed to run itself further into the ground. This outcome was assured no matter who won the poll; the system is broken, to such an extent that it really doesn’t matter whom the individual at its helm may be.

Empire’s Favorite

The election was notable for open outside meddling, with international media and political circles endorsing Tadic and relentlessly demonizing Nikolic. For the Empire, it was more important for the Radical to lose than for Tadic to win.

Google News alone listed 380 articles (though some may have been duplicates) by Tuesday, June 29, most of them variations on the same theme: Serbia rejects nationalism; chooses reformer; West applauds decision.

For example, the Christian Science Monitor – long known for tendentious reporting from the Balkans – cheered Tadic’s election and deemed it an epiphany, an indication of “readiness to walk the long path towards integration” into EU and NATO of a country they called the “hatchery for the gruesome Balkans wars.”

Delusions of Grandeur

Fir his part, Tadic dedicated his victory to his former party boss, the assassinated Zoran Djindjic. He said, “This election has shown that Serbia knows how to recognize a historic moment,” (AP) and called it a “true rebirth of Serbia … a triumph over the dark policies of the past” (AP).

One of his supporters, celebrating in Belgrade, told AFP: “Serbia has finally begun thinking. I am happy that we have caught the train for Europe.”

This is such breathtaking stupidity, it defies comment.

Solana’s Message

The EU foreign policy commissar Javier Solana – NATO leader at the time of the 1999 war – applauded Tadic’s election and used the opportunity to “urge” Belgrade to “revitalize the process of political and economic reforms … promote friendship and reconciliation with their neighbors, and … fulfill international obligations.” These are merely euphemisms for continuing to obey Imperial demands, extradite suspects to the Hague Inquisition, and admit guilt for atrocities and genocides asserted by former foes.

He was echoed by Serbia-Montenegro’s foreign minister Vuk Draskovic, who declared Monday, “There are no more excuses for Serbia not fulfilling its international obligations.” Not surprisingly, Draskovic forgot yet again his job is to protect Serbia-Montenegro’s interests abroad, and not the other way around.

The Next Choice

Tadic presumably knows, even if his followers do not, that Empire’s support is ephemeral but its demands are very real. As president, he will have little actual power, but will be under great pressure to bend the government of Vojislav Kostunica to display greater obedience to Washington and Brussels.

Serbia continues to face several intractable issues in its relations with the Empire, as evidenced by article 35 of the just-released NATO Istanbul Communiqué:

“Serbia and Montenegro has also shown progress in defence reform, and the government has played a constructive regional role, improving relations with its neighbours. We look forward to further progress in these areas, in particular in relation to the government’s engagement on Kosovo-related issues. At the same time, the International Court of Justice cases against several of the Allies still stand. We call on the government to fulfill its international obligations, in particular to cooperate with ICTY and render all necessary assistance to secure the arrest and transfer to the jurisdiction of the Tribunal of war crimes indictees.[sic]

If Serbia wishes to join NATO’s junior vassal program, let alone the Alliance itself, it must fully submit to the ICTY and withdraw all objections to NATO’s illegal 1999 aggression, as well as the occupation of Kosovo resulting from it (effectively accepting its separation). If the actions of both Tadic and the current Kostunica government are any indication, this is precisely what Serbia will do. That explains why Kosovo Albanians welcomed Tadic’s election.

Abdication of Sovereignty

The Empire-backed DOS regime had worked hard to abdicate much of Serbia’s sovereignty until the Djindjic assassination, and despite the vicious criticisms in the press, so has the Kostunica government.

One good example is the military reform, initiated by Tadic in 2003 (when he was Serbia-Montenegro defense minister) and continued by his successor Prvoslav Davinic, leader of the NATO advocacy group the Atlantic Council. Under Davinic’s leadership, the military is being transformed into an auxiliary force for NATO. Most of the Navy is already being “streamlined” – i.e. sold off – with that end in mind. According to the new defense strategy, scheduled for publication July 5 but already leaked to IWPR, Serbia-Montenegro “cannot achieve its security objectives through an independent national security policy, but only through the application of regional and global standards.”

Such a statement is an absolute abdication of national sovereignty to an occupying power. A shining new future, indeed.

Statism Triumphant

However, it would be wrong to conclude that the problem rests in particular men, or even particular policies. It is rather in the very nature of the political system and the leaders it has produced and attracted. Appeasement of Empire is not an anomaly specific to certain politicians; the entire political class running Serbia and Montenegro at this time is incapable of thinking in any other way.

H.L. Mencken called democracy “the worship of Jackals by Jackasses,” and it is a perfectly apt description. Serbia needs a lion, but all it has is jackals.

At the same time, it is painfully obvious that the vast majority of Serbians lack any rational comprehension of key ideas. They support the politicians’ plan to reform their society, economy and even culture, but don’t know into what. They support joining NATO and the EU, but don’t know what that means. They want things to be “normal,” but can’t say what “normal” is. Worst of all, they want all these reforms to be conducted by the government, which is the one area in desperate need of real reform.

This is, by the way, not solely a Serbian ailment, but rather one shared by other Balkans and post-Communist countries. Decades of Communist manipulations of language, truth and logic have led to a situation where words have no meaning, and arguing about ideas is impossible. Considering that Communists were rank amateurs when compared to political propagandists in the West – who have, after all, managed to persuade hundreds of millions to give up their freedom and make it seem voluntary – it is hardly surprising that the Balkans is such fertile ground for some of the worst ideas of Western statism, which have nothing going for them except that they sound good.

The welfare state; centralized and government-controlled education; primacy of state over private property; conscription; state control over the economy, including controlled debasement of currency (inflation); state licensing and political correctness in the media; extensive taxation and regulation – these are all concepts and policies that few in Serbia even question, let alone challenge.

On the other hand, perhaps this is not entirely accurate. Underneath the constant chatter of politicians, court intellectuals and presstitutes is the completely ignored “silent majority” of some 51% of registered Serbian voters, who abstained from this latest circus. Whether they have been too busy scraping together a living, or simply disgusted with politics in general and candidates in particular, is hard to say. Their silence should be noted, but will most likely be mistaken for consent in the euphoria of Tadic’s triumph.


By any classical definition of statehood, Serbia is a miserable failure. Its government does not protect its territory from outside aggression; indeed, it eagerly strives to be a client-state of the Empire and submit to its every demand. Nor does it protect the lives and property of its citizens, whether from outside attack or its own depredations. That is what desperately needs to be reformed, and in short order. Tadic, however, has no intention of doing so – rather, he promises even more submission to the Empire, and even more government control of private lives, all in the name of “progress” and “democracy.”

The people of Serbia don’t know what they want, but they voted as if they did. Tadic or Nikolic, it really doesn’t make a difference; it was the system they legitimized. Now they are all going to get what they voted for, good and hard.

Author: Nebojsa Malic

Nebojsa Malic left his home in Bosnia after the Dayton Accords and currently resides in the United States. During the Bosnian War he had exposure to diplomatic and media affairs in Sarajevo. As a historian who specializes in international relations and the Balkans, Malic has written numerous essays on the Kosovo War, Bosnia, and Serbian politics. His exclusive column for Antiwar.com debuted in November 2000.